Patrick vieira feels that Arsenal’s problems off the field are due to the team being divided. He was interviewed on Sky sports talking about Arsenal’s problems and William Gallas and how the loss of the captaincy affected Gallas. He maintains that William Gallas is determined to prove that he can still contribute to success at the club. He also mentioned the midfield of the current squad.
“Maybe they have been having too many problems outside the pitch. I think it has knocked the spirit of the team,”
“They have got the talent. I think they are better with the ball than without the ball and sometimes in the Premiership you need more fighters than anything else.
“When you go to places like Middlesbrough (where the Gunners were held 1-1 on Saturday), you need to play well to win games. When Arsenal are not passing the ball well, they miss something else to win games.
“It is a team problem. They probably play better football than they did years ago. They need to find a balance. They are conceding too many goals and that is a team problem.
“What is important to Arsenal is to keep the fluid football they are playing at the moment. I don’t think one or two players will make a big difference. I think what they need to do is to work more as a team when they don’t have the ball.”
This is a sensible analysis, and after the game at Middleborough, I believe that the first real signs are there that the team ethos is returning. Despite not winning, the performance gave us insight as to whether the past divisions are being healed. Onlookers will have seen many changes over the last two seasons. The post match huddle was something I found disturbing last season. It seemed so superficial, it was not false, but the failure to have a huddle after a defeat showed that Gallas played to the gallery and the media rather to the real team ethos of togetherness.
One cannot blame Gallas for preventing Aliadiere’s goal on Saturday. To be fair to Gallas, at least he was in the right position, his misfortune was that Aliadiere wanted the ball more than he did, and his skill was amazing in converting this half chance. Yet there were times at Middlesboro’ where the team played as a unit, running off the ball for each other. The number of passes and the intricate triangles and one touch passes which is associated with our beautiful game re-emerged for brief moments. The power of our game is in the midfield, and that is why the January transfer window is so crucial to the outcome of our season. We need a real partner for Fabregas, a partner of true quality and with world class credentials to match.
The other aspect of our team play which needs to return is the ethos of working for each other. On Saturday the encouraging sight of players diving into tackles together like a hungry pack of dogs after the first real meal of the day was something lacking from our past performances. I recall seeing Denilson and Song trying to dispossess a Boro player near the touchline. The tenacity of the tackles and the desire to regain possession is what all Arsenal fans want to see. It is that lack of effort that has been so damaging. With effort comes self belief, with self belief comes confidence, with confidence comes victory. The lack of confidence in front of goal is still not there.
My analysis of the troubled season so far is fairly basic. We have demonstrated our desire in the big games only, and what we have lacked is the killer instinct in games that we should have been able to take for granted. The solution? Well people will know my two mantras. “Success begins at the back” and “Victory comes through converting our chances” We are establishing a secure unit in defence, and we have Johan Djourou to thank for this. His presence and improvement means that the need to buy a centre back is not quite so pressing. If Arsene Wenger can find the right partner for Djourou from Gallas, Toure and Silvestre, then we have hope. Remember that to be just one point outside the top four and in the final sixteen of the Champions League, with the worst start to a season for ten years, means that we are far from out of it.
The need for a goal poacher is now more pressing than ever. If we had converted just one of our chances against Burnley in the Carling Cup, then the outcome would have been different. The failure of our strikers to do what they are paid an immense amount of money to do is very disappointing. Adebayor has shown that he still lacks the technical skills to enable him to make the next leap to a striker of world class quality. He lacks the touch and finesse necessary, yet he has the other attributes in that he gets into good positions and can hold the ball up well. He has pace, which is so vital. If Wenger could get Adebayor to rectify those weaknesses, then we would win many games.
Robin van Persie has yet to find consistency, but is improving. I cannot refer to Bendtner, as he is must now be considered a super sub, a striker who may come on and turn the game, but not a regular starter. This is why many will be watching Eduardo’s return tonight with so much hope and anticipation. Many of us feel that Arsene Wenger never gave Eduardo his true chance to shine, and when he had the opportunity, he delivered so well. Finding a partner for Eduardo is important, and using Eduardo down the middle is also important. Arsene Wenger has shown that his previously good selection of players in positions that are not their favoured is failing. Now is the chance to allow Eduardo to show what he can do down the middle as the main striker.
If Adebayor can use his height and pace to become a provider instead of a lead striker, then I believe that Arsenal can do without a buying a striker in the transfer window. Remember that my position has changed only because of the financial realism that must occur due to the fall in the value of stirling as outlined by Vic Crescit yesterday. We may only be able to afford one player. That player as Patrick Vieira hints must be a midfielder. Xabi Alonso is a pass master, and whilst he is not the defensive midfielder that everyone is crying out for, he will provide what we really lacked. He is not a “Flamini”, and the people saying that the difference between this squad and the last the absence of Flamini are wrong in my opinion.
Flamini was good I agree, but his presence on the field was that of setting examples and linking play. His ability to win fifty-fifty balls was good, but it was his partnership with Fabregas that was important. What I believe we lack is a ball carrier and passer like the players Hleb and Flamini combined. Alonso can fufil that role, which will allow Wenger the luxury of allowing Diaby, Song and Denilson to fight it out for the defensive midfielder position. Alonso will combine well with Fabregas and most importantly, his pass accuracy and vision will enable the likes of Eduardo and Adebayor and van Perise to have the quality of service that they deserve. So my choice as the purse strings shorten is the midfield wizard who will be on display on Sunday. Watch his body language closely, for I believe that he will be making a statement to all Arsenal fans. The statement that he is good enough and exactly what we need…
Fabregas the King.