Thursday, April 30, 2009

Safety first?

I don't know. I just don't know. Safety first ... I guess?

Arsenal have leaned on that 4-5-1 formation a lot in Europe in recent years. Last night was not a night in which they either should have done that or in which they saw it work. The attack was mostly toothless, the possession was mostly vacant and the pieces not working nearly hard enough to pull it off.

Arsenal are not a long ball team. Launching the ball up front to a player who - while he can turn out a brilliant display of athleticism on occasion - can all-too-often appear to be disinterested or even that dreaded l-word (lazy), will not win you a game against two of the best center backs in the world and a team that possesses one of the most dogged back-tracking strikers around in Carlos Tevez.

A lot of things were needed for Arsenal to play their game ... that fluent style of football that so many have come to either admire as supporters or fear as opposition. Granted the team has a score of injuries to deal with leaving personal stretched thin, but the solution - the approach that allows them to play their game - is right there.

Nasri on the left. Cesc in middle where his vision, control and overall masterful understanding of the game will have a true impact (NOT as a withdrawn striker, I repeat NOT as a withdrawn striker). Song, playing better and with more confidence each week, as the other central midfielder. The not-so-secret weapon of Theo Walcott on the right ... there to dazzle, there to strike and there with a formation that supports him to make every foray needed to find and assert the difference he can make. That's where the thrust of this team exists. And that's where people play in their positions, with their roles clearly defined and a full understanding of the expectations.

Up front? I just don't think Adebayor - much less any other striker - is well-suited to play alone, stranded as they are against what is, in this instance, an admittedly terrific back line. It's an incredible burden and must present a mental strain. Were he to actually pull down the ball on any one of those lofted long balls (honestly, long balls?), what exactly was he expected to do with it? Eh? Anyone? Certainly Diaby wouldn't have been able to rush onto it ... Cesc possesses none of the speed of Nasri or Walcott, and while he's capable of scoring he's certainly not a poacher in the mold of, oh I don't know, ED-FREAKING-UARDO! Didn't this game just call for him? For a little Purple Rain? (I mean really, it's not just a myth we've constructed at this point that drives up the excitement - the guy scores goals!)

Look, the team were without their best striker, Robin Van Persie. He'd have complimented Adebayor up front and might have allowed the preferred Arsenal 4-4-2 formation. In his stead? Bendtner and Adebayor would have clattered into each other all night long, that's no good. Walcott has clearly been entrusted with the right wing. It's down to Eduardo at that point isn't it? Why, then, will he not play? Is he that off the pace after time out? Can't be trusted to step into a massive role in a massive match?

I don't know, I just don't know. So as it ended, the team came out in a formation that one would expect to lean toward safety first problem there is the parts were out of place. Diaby? Not a wing, and clearly not nearly interested enough in helping out in the back (could do for watching a bit of Tevez). Nasri? Cesc? If you're going with that formation then flip them, I'd feel better with Cesc reserved deeper and orchestrating from the back while Nasri can unfurl his back of tricks zipping around the big man Adebayor who may well at that point have a place to go with the ball.

After a cleared heard and a deep breath, it's not over. 1-nil heading back to the Emirates. Can we erect a statue of Manuel Almunia? What a performance. Everything left to play for and six (lord help me), count 'em six days of gut-wrenching agony, second guessing, looking to the stars, speculation, aggravation, fury and hope that the team will show and play their game in the return leg.

Will there have ever been a less significant match then the trot out at Pompey on Saturday? Eduardo should start, Arshavin should start, Djourou should start ... as should Jackie Wilshire, Aaron Ramsey, Cesc's third cousin and me.


Jamie said...

edurado is injured... what the fuck.

has any team in the premier league history, ever had as many injuries in a season, as us?

let alone two consecutive seasons!

that's a real question. i am not a football fan... i am an arsenal fan. so i dont know...

Arsenal4ever said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arsenal4ever said...

Wenger's biggest mistake was to play Nasri as a defensive midfielder... wtf was he thinking there? Clearly Fletcher/Carrick/Anderson are going to run rings around him.

Secondly, taking off Waclott [after what he did against Liverpool in the 88th minute last season] for Bendtner - that was a shocking decision.

The only positive is that it is only 1-0, and that means Wenger will have to play a fit again Van Persie up top with Adebayor.

Here's my starting XI for the 2nd leg :

Almunia,Sagna,Toure,Djouru,Gibbs,Nasri,Walcott,Denilson,Fabregas,Van Persise,Adebayor (4-4-2) .