TGIF: Behold the Russian Cometh!

PGL: What a week… Again! I can’t take many more of these. I refuse to talk about the FA cup so I’m skipping ahead to the game of the season. Tuesday night was an amazing game and we’ll be talking about it 10 years time. We shouldn’t pick holes in it but instead be happy that we were a part of it. A game like that would have seen George Graham rushed to hospital with stress, his sides had the type of defenders that didn’t allow 4-4 draws to happen, the type of defenders we’d love to have now but I’m not sure I want to watch football matches when things like that can’t happen. Isn’t the uncertainty part of the rush? Besides, when did an away point at Anfield become a bad result? On with TGIF!
PGL: The Big Issue is our defending, even Cesc has been critical, but I do think we should stop and think about a few things. Working in a defensive unit means you need to build an understanding. A few weeks ago Sagna, Gallas, Toure and Clichy finally looked liked they had that understanding and we were defending very very well, clean sheets galore! Then Gallas gets injured, Clichy gets injured, Djourou gets injured, Sagna gets sick… Come on Insiders, how could we expect there not to be holes back there?
I know experienced players made mistakes that horrified us all but as I said the unit had been destroyed. Fabianski made mistakes that hurt us too but he was bound to be unsettled with a back four of Eboue, Toure, Silvestre and Gibbs playing in front of him, not that they are bad defenders just that they had never played together before. The young Pole was given great support on Tuesday and repaid that with a great first half display in front of the Away Day Gooners.
Reading that back it sounds like I’m making excuses for the side and maybe I am but I do think, in this case, the excuse is valid. Djourou’s return will hopefully plug some of the holes in time for the next big test at Old Trafford.
FTK: The performance of our defence attracted much valid criticism, and it is interesting to try and understand the basic errors that led to our conceding sloppy goals. Arsenal have long been accused of being over intricate in playing the ball out of defence, they are accused of not being able to dispatch the ball to row Z. I heard Alan Smith talking like this on the TV commentary.
Well anyone who has coached junior football or played the amateur game like me will understand that a defender trying the launch the ball away from the defensive areas will suffer the following..

  1. He will lose possession from his team, to the deep opposition defenders , with the result that the attacking players will still be in the final third for another cross or speculative long ball into the danger areas.
  2. There is a chance of a miscue and losing the ball in the danger area which could be pounced upon by the attackers.
  3. It causes a mindset of panic and players lose their defensive shape and forget about unmarked attackers as they effectively ball watch in an attempt to be the one to clear the ball.

If you watch the highlights again and see the those basic errors made by Bacary Sagna, which were most untypical of the player. This I believe is down to players perhaps listening to much to pundits and not playing their natural game. When Arsenal play the ball out of defence, they are rarely dispossessed. Sagna had a failed defensive header and a miscued half volley which contributed to two of the goals. Sagna is a quality defender, but for some reason the panic that set in the back four was very destructive.
I think that part of the problem is the language spoken by the back four. Look at all of the back four nationalities in our best teams. Initially it was Seaman and the legendary back four of Winterburn, Adams Bould and Dixon.  It then changed to a  French/English combination. Now we have Spanish, French and English, on Tuesday we had Polish and French.  So despite English speaking being spoken in the dressing room. An inexperienced young Polish keeper would not be able to command the box as authoritatively as he will be able to next season.
PGL: I guess the biggest debate this week has been about why on earth our Russian Pele didn’t start in the FA cup. I have not been able to talk about the game all week and I still can’t quite get my head around the way it went down.
I also can’t quite get over why oh why Le Boss is trying to force Fab 4 into this advanced role when everyone can see it doesn’t suit the lad. Every game he’s played there has seen him retreat deeper in the second half and when he does we play better. It’s a no-brainer Arsene, Cesc and Song in the centre. Please? Pretty please? I’ll be your best friend?
FTK: This a classic example of Arsene Wenger getting his assessments distracted by deficiencies or over expectation in other areas of the field. Because Denilson has failed to command that vital midfield area with Song. Cesc is often forced deeper to compensate and start the movements that Denilson should be doing in my opinion. Cesc was a good forward midfielder when Flamini did all that dirty work. He scored some valuable goals. Cesc is being a good captain and seeing where the weaknesses are, and trying to put them right. Which is why we must not lose Fabregas this summer under any circumstances.
“I never doubted the character of my players. The fact they came into the dressing room very, very disappointed says a lot about their character. It shows they wanted to win and that we go for it every time. It takes quality to respond like we did today, only three days after the [FA Cup].”
PGL: That for me was the biggest thing I took away from the game at Anfield. The fact our side went 2-1 down and still had the bottle to fight back and take the lead on two more occasions. Many would have you believe that our young side do not have the bottle or the mental strength required to win the major titles, I think Tuesday proved the desire is there in abundance, it’s experience and maybe a little bit of composure that’s missing. They are things that can be learned and are being learned by a side that’s only beginning to show its quality.
FTK: I said in my post match report that Liverpool attacked in a style very reminiscent of Barcelona. In doing so they have doen us a favour. Torres is the best striker in the world at the moment in my opinion. If our scratch back four only conceded 4 goals, and win Walcott for the counter attack, my fear about the Catalans is slowly abate. These end of season games against the best teams will be ideal for giving our young players experience. Even if we fail to win a trophy, the likes of Gibbs and Walcott will be so much better for having had to play in these games!
PGL: Only one choice this week. I could write all day about Arshavin. By his own admission he had a quiet first half but when he came into the game he proved again that we have bought a match winner. He is also a player Nasri and Theo will learn an awful lot from. I think he will prove to be one of AW’s finest acquisitions.
He strikes the ball as well as Beckham, he holds the ball under pressure as well Viera in his pomp, he cuts inside likeBobby Pires and on Tuesday he was able to keep up with Theo on the break… 5 feet 7 of football heaven.
When he is available for the Champions league next season, if we can sort out our defence, I am going to predict that we can win it!!!
PGL: Anelka. Your such an idiot mate. Chelsea a bigger club than us? Come on mate your having a laugh.
‘There is a context surrounding the club because of the chairman (Roman Abramovich) that makes people speak about Chelsea, more than about Arsenal.’
Who are these people that talk about Chelsea? Where are they? Good grief Nicolas get your head out of your ass.
FTK: My finger goes to the sick minority of Chav fans,  whose racist taunting is quite unbecoming of this South London Club. I hope that we can get third place and that Everton beat them in the FA Cup final!
PGL: This week I’m thankful that Alex Song has hit form. I think his performances have been a real highlight recently. He will have to be at his very best in the Champions League semi-finals next week. He as the opportunity to establish himself as the long term partner for Cesc over the next few games and after plenty of early season criticism he may finish the season as the player that we all hoped he would be.
FTK: Alex Song needs also to be focused. We want him to develop better heading abilities if he is going to be a centre back next season, he must not sit back on his laurels and think that he is the real deal.. I really feel that his defensive midfield role has worked and we should buy a new athletic centre back. But which one? I am still a fan of the Columbian Zapata, even though he has had an ordinary season after coming back from injury.  I am thankful that we have a match winner like Arshavin who will be able to extract those extra points needed to secure third place. Lets go for it Gunners!!!

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