Friday Update, Chelsea Preview and more…

It's been a hectic week, starting last Saturday with the 4-1 win over Wigan, continuing midweek with the 3-0 win over Villareal. We've had all sort of injury problems, mainly and only to our defence, and tomorrow sees another big game in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea... and breathe...

News from Arsenal is that Sagna has not recovered from the flu that saw him miss the mid-week game. Gibbs may recover and will have a fitness test in the morning, but it looks like we will have to use Alex Song in defence.

“It’s bad news, Sagna is not back,” confirmed Wenger at his pre-match press conference.

“He’s still sick. He came to the training ground but he feels very weak and he lost some weight. He’s not right. It is a virus, we don’t know really what kind of virus it is but it’s weakening him.

“I must say that we are now short in numbers but in quality we are still strong and Gibbs has shown that. But he has as well some fitness problems which we have to assess tomorrow. He did have a little test today but not a very strong one. 

“We are now short because we many players out at the back. When you consider that Gallas, Djourou and Clichy together, and Almunia, are all out, that’s a lot in the defensive part of our squad.”

Let’s take a look at the possible formations:

4-4-2

Fabianski

Eboue – Toure – Song – Silvestre

Walcott – Denilson – Cesc – Arshavin

Adebayor – Van Persie

This formation allows us to have a more attacking line up and of course sees us accomodate Walcott, Arshavin, Adebayor, Van Persie and Cesc – but the question would be – is this line up too attacking for a game against Chelsea. They are very likely to field a 5 man midfield and if we go head to head with a 4 man midfield, will we be able to cope.

4-5-1 / 4-3-3

Fabianski

Eboue – Toure – Song – Silvestre

Walcott – Denilson – Cesc – Diaby – Arshavin

Adebayor

Of course the 4-5-1 which turns into a 4-3-3 is an interesting option. Van Persie would be the man sacrificed and if you remember the game against Chelsea this season, he’s the man who did all the damage. This formation would see us match Chelsea’s formation, and allow more freedom to Arshavin and Walcott. It’s an interesting dilemma to have, all of a sudden, we have so many options. Of course, there is Nasri too and Bendtner who both (well Nasri anyway) have a massive shout for a starting position.

I’d like to see us play an attacking line up, I’d go with the 4-4-2. Arshavin and Walcott and definitely capable of defending when required and Van Persie can drop into midfield to make up the numbers if required.

Looking at the game, Van Persie has been the main person in the news so far and he’s been talking up Hiddink and what he’s acheived – and also been looking ahead to the game and the defensive problems that Chelsea have been facing.

“He is unbelievable. Everything he does turns to gold,” the 25-year-old said. “The first thing I thought when he came was ‘oh no’, Chelsea are still in the FA Cup and Champions League and he will win something.

“When I saw him two years ago in Holland, because we use the same physio sometimes, I asked to see his hands. He said ‘yes, why?’ I said that everything he puts his hand on turns to gold. He was laughing. He is fantastic.”

“In the last two games they conceded seven goals,” Van Persie said. “It’s a bit much but they have fantastic strikers and covered everything up. If you look at Drogba, he is back again. He had some problems with his body and was injured for a while but he is back on track again and looks really sharp.

“Of course earlier in the season we showed we can do that damage against them. It will be a tight game again. They will play 11 fantastic players and we will also do that. We are both not scared to play. For me personally it will be a fantastic experience to play at Wembley because it will be my first time there. I’m looking forward to that.”

VP also commented out our sucession of games against big teams and said:

“It is a massive six weeks – unbelievable,” he said. “Over the last two and a half months we didn’t have massive games – a few occasionally.

“But we have had a massive game against Villarreal now there is a massive game against Chelsea and then Liverpool. We have Manchester United three times in six weeks, Chelsea two or three times, Liverpool once. I can’t wish for more.

“But we know the differences will be very small in winning and losing. Look at John Terry in the Champions League Final last season. He was so unlucky to miss the penalty but that meant Man United were the winner.

“When you are in the Final it comes down to little things. It’s up to us to come there. We can call ourselves one of the best four teams in Europe and that is about right. Now we want to move on and win it. Definitely.”

A mutual respect between the two, Hiddink will know all about Van Persie.

And Cescy was in the news too today, talking about the Carling Cup final in 2007 and whether he’s ready to get some revenge on Chelsea.

“I do not like the word revenge,” said the 21-year-old. “That game was two years ago and we have played Chelsea since.

“We have beaten them a few times, at home and away this year, so we know we can do it but it will be really difficult as I like them very much.

“We don’t expect to score four like Liverpool this week. That was a freak result, they are a very strong team and they are recognised for being strong at the back. They have key players like Lampard and Drogba who make them tick.”

So much going on in terms of tomorrow’s game, no time to reflect back on the Champions League. I’ll be back tomorrow with more team news and pre-game analysis.

Til then.]]>

  • debs

    Good luck to the guys for 2moro! I do think we can win, even though we´ll have like the most makeshift defence ever, but hopefully our attacking prowess will make the difference…

  • Pissed off

    Hiddink has to loose, he ain’t got choice.

  • Toby

    < ![CDATA[Definitely the first formation, (rather than the 4-5-1) only with nasri replacing denilson. Without Clichy or Gibbs pushing up we are less susceptible to be caught out by their 5 man midfield, (don't get me wrong i still would much rather either of them than silvestre). Far from the ideal back four but it will have to do!

    Come on Gooners!]]>

  • Fabrez

    < ![CDATA[THEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
    GET INNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!]]>

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[I'm totally not enjoying this match. 1-1 now. It's just not a comfortable match at all...
    come on you Gunners!]]>

  • Debs

    I absolutely hate it when we score first.

  • Debs

    Oh, and Drogba too!

  • AJ

    Honestly, fuck the lot of them, no one really looked like they wanted it except maybe Kibbs who was our best player by a mile I think, as for Fabianski, I pray to god Almunia is back soon.

  • AJ

    *Gibbs

  • Debs

    I think the team selection was dodgy and that’s one of the things that cost us today. Why on earth didn’t Arshavin, or even Song start? And what about Nasri?

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[In truthfulness Wenger made his fear for Drogba more obvious, clearly neglecting what brought his team this far. Arshavin and Song should have some how been involved.

    He showed too much respect to Chelsea, made it a lot easier for them, no cover for Fab in Midfield and the most Lousy player (Diaby) was made to play.

    Infact Wenger beat himself with poor tactic and not simply with the players we had - though in truth there midfield was class - but it isn't an excuse.]]>

  • Debs

    I’m too gutted to think straight at the moment. I did have a horrible feeling throughout the match, but I still thought we’d pull something out of the bag. Definitely not the result we needed at the moment, confidence-wise, seeing as we’re well short at the back. But credit to Gibbs, he played really well.

  • Pissed off

    I hope I don’t turn to a passive football fan by the end of the season.

  • Debs

    it’s not that bad pissed off. We’ve had a blinder these past few weeks and I guess we were bound to lose a game soon. It just happens to be the wrong one!

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[AJ - absolutely spot on mate. Nobody looked like they wanted it, apart from Gibbs and Toure. Fabianski made silly mistakes and leaked 2 goals in. Eboue made some silly mistakes too. He looked like his old over-dramatic self again. Not doing the basics right. Silvestre was always a liability and I was praying somehow he didn't play, or at the very least, didn't play CB. And you've all seen why.
    Denilson was having a poor game too. Making too many mistakes. The occasion was too big for him, and Fabianski and Eboue. But not for Gibbs.
    VanPersie was wasted at LM. Cesc and Adebayor didn't have a good game either. Diaby lost the ball too much, as usual, but looked like he could do some damage. It's a shame Cesc didn't see him, on one occasion, when he passed it to Walcott instead who managed to cross it. Diaby in the central area would've been a better option. He was unmarked and had a clear route to goal.
    In hindsight it's easy to lay blame, and people are wondering why Wenger didn't start with Arshavin. I was surprised as everybody else was, too.
    But regardless of hindisght, I would never have gone with Silvestre at CB. I'd probably have kept Gibbs at LB, and brought Song in at CB. And I'd probably have gone with a proper 4 - 4 - 2 with VanPersie and Bendtner at the front (since Ade had 80 mins midweek and he looked completely jaded today), and maybe Arshavin at LM and Diaby and Cesc in the center. But yeah, that looks a bit weak at CM, defensively. That's the problem with us. We need too many people to do what should be one person's job.
    Or I'd have gone with VanPersie up front with Arshavin behind him and Diaby at LM, with Denilson and Cesc in the center of midfield.
    Walcott was also pretty good, alongwith Gibbs and Toure. Everybody else was pretty average.

    The other thing I found worrying was that when Chelsea looked to be under pressure, early on, Hiddink used his brains and made some changes. I was expecting Wenger to be doing the same. I was hoping he would also try to make amends and adapt in a positive way. But he just sat there and sulked and sulked. Never looked like he was thinking about how he could change something to get us the upper hand. It worries me sometimes that he lets frustration get the better of him, and it worries me that he's not like Mourinho and Hiddink, who make changes when they think something needs changing. It was easy to see that we needed some changing, but our manager just didn't have any answers. Very dissappointing.]]>

  • zohaib

    Now I just hope this defeat doesn’t cause a problem in mentality. We need to bounce back from this loss. Not make it weaken us further. We shouldn’t think too much about it. We need to concentrate on the next games. We’re still in the Champions League and now we need to realize how important it is to not loose in the semifinals against ManUtd, since it’s our only chance of silverware.

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[I do expect the guys to bounce back from this, cos like you guys have pointed out, it didn't seem like a lot of the players really wanted to win badly, except the English guys. I'm definitely sure they'll all be well up for the CL, seeing as it's also a last chance saloon for a trophy this season. I would really love to hear Wenger's honest assessment of the game/performance, but I'm sure we won't get that- I just hope the dressing room does.
    And by the way, anyone got an update on Eduardo? He's not even on the Arsenal website's injury news. I honestly thought he would have made a huge difference in this game, our FA cup hero.
    But yeah, this game is done and dusted and hopefully we'll get back to winning ways against Liverpool on tuesday. Villa drew today, so the gap between us and 5th is widening a lot, and maybe we may even pip Chelsea to 3rd. Payback time maybe?]]>

  • Pissed off

    Zohaib spot on as always. It still bits me why you don’t consider Song.

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Denilson and Diaby in midfield is similar to playing me and my lousy elder brother in midfield. Besides the game we won against a hapless Newcastle side , I can't think of a game we won with both players in midfield. And the way Wenger is handling the team , it looks like we won't be winning anything in a long long time. Of cause the CL is within side, but after this loss it seems farther than I earlier thought.

    If Arsenal don't win the CL I don't see why Fab and VP won't leave the club, unless they still want to be Super outsiders in everything.

    And clearly the DM should be advertised to agents.]]>

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Oppertunity missed for the lads today. Am gutted for them because Chelsea weren't playing at their best today. We even had good spells where we dominated and outsmarted some of our oposition. But Drogba and Lampard were the difference for them. Theo seemed to be the only player who managed to get the ball forward, and whenever he crossed there wasn't enough of our players in the box to put them away. Gibbs didn't do too badly either. What let us down were the nature of the goals we conceded, and how little we managed to create for ourselves because we were so defencively minded. As well as we may have played in parts of the game, that doesn't matter now. In a way though, Chelsea may not get many more chances of winning silverware in seasons to come considering the age of their key players, so perhaps they have to make the most of what they have now.

    Am very surprised that Arshavin didn't start the game, as I was hoping he'd be part of this game for us. Wenger seemed to go for players that had previous experience against the Blues, and there's a noticable improvement in a few of them, but I guess that it wont win us the FA Cup for now. Am proper gutted for the team. But onwards to Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday.]]>

  • AJ

    I agree that Wengers tactics were off and when I saw Song and Arshavin on the bench I was slightly nervous, I didn’t agree with Diaby and Denilson starting, if should have been one or the other, with Song starting, he has that bite that the others don’t and him and Gibbs for me have been my favourite players of late. I also couldn’t believe that Wenger took so long to bring on Arshavin and throwing on Bendtner was a futile move I think. I was left quite upset when we lost and felt pretty let down by Wenger and his tactics on the day and the players looking like they wanted to be at home (except for the first 20 minutes or so), it brings back memories of last season (I think) where we played United away in the FA cup and just didn’t show up. The team lacked any real drive after the first 20 minutes and seemed content in sitting back, which was evident in counter attacks where one of our players would get the ball and run up the field and no one was with him.

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[It looked like Wenger was saying 'either we win it with these players or we don't' and then let it be.
    Shocking stuff, yet again, in the FA Cup. He didn't really seem to care. I'm nowhere near as experienced as Wenger but even I could feel that the team needed changing after the first 20 mins. I wouldn't have started with Silvestre and Adebayor in the first place, but when you see something that's not working, it's better to try to make changes than to sit there and sulk and hope it magically gets better. At the very least, after the game had started, I would've made some changes at half time. Brought on Song and Arshavin.
    But Wenger's too arrogant and stubborn to do that. Clueless prick. He just doesn't have the guts when it really matters. I've called him a coward and a liar before, and I'll call him that again. Because he truely justified it yesterday. He said he'd go and attack, and what does he do ? He goes and plays Diaby for more defensive cover, and plays VanPersie out of position, making him useless going forward, and only helping out midfield instead. Shocking tactics. But what angers me more is that once he's made the decision to start with certain players, why doesn't he change it when it's not working. I'd bet you that if Hiddink or Mourinho was in place of Wenger, they'd have changed something during the first half or at half time. But monseiur Wenger needs a lifetime to think about it. Or he's too busy sulking away, to make the necessary changes.
    He's let us fans down yet again. Shown yet again that he doesn't really care when it's not going his way. Doesn't have the answers when it's not working. Isn't brave enough to make changes at the right time. Takes too long to make changes. Overthinks rotation a bit too much. And yesterday he got the team selection completely wrong. You don't f*cking play Silvestre against Drogba you hopeless buffoon.]]>

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[Ok Zohaib, I think that's mightily harsh. Deep breaths, no? lol
    We all seem to agree that he got it wrong, but the picture you're painting just isn't how it was at the time. His mistakes just happen to be magnified in hindsight. We almost made it work, or at least force extra time if not for Fabianski's unfortunate mistake. We were capable of winning the match with the team Wenger put out and it was simply individual mistakes that cost us in the end, coupled with Drogba's brilliance. Silvestre couldn't handle him, and I doubt any other player we have could have handled him- that's Drogba for you when he's got the bit in his teeth, and he did so yesterday. A stronger starting line-up probably could have won the match quite easily, but that's not to say that the team we had out couldn't have won it the hard way. We didn't, time to move on I guess.]]>

  • AJ

    Just wondering if you guys know a while ago we almost signed Drogba for 100k.

  • Pete

    Yep, that was in the papers yesterday. Would have been interesting to see how he’d have fitted in. Imagine him partnering Henry lol.

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Debs - my point is exactly that. Why do we need to field a weakened team at all ?! Why the crap can't we just put out our strongest side and take it from there. Wenger's constant fielding of a slightly weak starting 11 with strength on the bench, is getting a little too frustrating and useless, in my opinion. Why on earth would you not put out your strongest side from the start. Why on earth wouldn't you want to have a good start to a game. Somehow he seems to believe that a good start means a bad finish. Absolutely shocking.

    My other point was that, okay he's fielded a decent team, BUT IT'S NOT WORKING !!!!! What should a decent manager do ?! Make changes ! That's what. Did he ? Hell No. He's too big for that. He's too big to show people he got it wrong at the start. And the only reason he made the change was because VanPersie had an injury concern. He should've thought about making changes at half-time. But instead he's too busy sulking or not being interested at all, which is what it looked like. And that really pissed me off. And then he makes changes when the game is almost already over. Way to go daddyo. Great management.

    Does it even matter if we loose the game against Liverpool ?! No it f* doesn't. Which is all the more reason why he shouldn't have had any excuse to rest Song and Arshavin like he did. If the excuse for benching Song was that he wanted some defensive cover in the event of an injury to the back 4, then that's a pretty faulty theory too. Since if Song had been on the pitch he could've slotted in at CB. Hell I'd have had him at CB to begin with.]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[AJ - That's just Wenger being cheeky and cute again. Useless idiot. He was trying to play mind-games with Drogba, but thanks to his 'highly rated, second-choice, birthday-boy keeper', and the Manchester United 'agent' Tweety, it backfired.

    Fabianski was to blame for the first goal too but it was 30% Eboue's fault also. Cheap defending. He didn't really look like he was concerned that it might go in. Lazily ran around expecting Malouda not to hit the target. Wasn't quick enough or determined enough to win the ball.]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Wenger's making himself look like a bigger idiot by admitting that he was close to signing all these brilliant players that are playing so well now, that we missed out on.
    People who are calling for his head have yet another reason to add to their argument - why the hell didn't you sign them you schmuck ?!.]]>

  • zohaib

    He should just keep his mouth shut.

  • Debs

    but Wenger always says that he doesn’t like making changes too early in the match, just in case he needs to make an enforced change because of injury and stuff. But I guess we’ll never know what exactly was on his mind yesterday. A change at half time was what we all expected, whether it would have made a huge difference, we’ll never know. But the point I’m making is that you make it sound like Wenger was just a 10-year old manager in charge of his first game and that’s what I think is harsh, not so much your view on the game and what went wrong basically.

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[I'm going to make an attempt to drag this conversation from the negativity to a different subject, hopefully making us feel a bit better.

    Has anyone noticed the Fergie + Allardyce comments about Rafa ? My opinion is 'what a load of rubbish'. Does it seem to anyone that Allardyce and Phil Brown are possibly Fergie's agents too ? It definitely seems that way to me. As are some referee's.

    It's absolutely shocking how corrupt English football really is. And it's absolutely disgusting what ManUtd get away with. C*nts - actually that's too nice a thing/word for them.]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Debs - another reason why you should never field a team which is not your strongest. You're relying on substitutions and then you're also saying you don't want to make them to save for an injury. That's slightly contradictory.

    At the least he should've made one change. At the most 2, at half time or around 50 mins. 70th minute is too late.]]>

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Agree with you about Fergie and co. They do tend to come across as a bunch of a bullys imo, even towards their own players at times. Pathetic. Whatever people think of Rafa, he at least gives as good as he gets concerning Fergerson. Not sure how true this is as it was from the sports pages, but apparently Allerdyce met with Sammy Lee after the Liverpool - Blackburn game and never once mentioned Rafa's "gestures" to him, so make of that what you will.

    This kind of thing ends up spoiling the game a bit too.]]>

  • Eddy

    < ![CDATA[The man has no ambition of any sort. Imagine him blaming the pitch for the bad performance. so much so for a world class coach. The man is just kidding the fans and supporters. Am so sorry for you lads who have faith in this voyer of a guy.

    Ambitionsless cork***k. Won,t smell anything this season, mayne next because of Arshavin, but certainly wont cope with man u in CL. Sorrry lads, if you want relentless happiness join the red devils]]>

  • Debs

    I think Arsene and Ferguson ended up making the same wrong decisions, team-selection wise, even though Man U managed to fight to the end. It sort of makes me feel slightly better about yesterday. Even great managers can make very costly mistakes. I just hope we learn from ours.

  • Pissed off

    Debs funny; Fergie’s was with purpose, Arsene’s was purposeless.

  • Debs

    I don’t think so. I think Fergie simply thought that the team he put out was going to win it- he underestimated Everton and it backfired. It’s so got nothing to do with priorities. They don’t play until Wednesday and I don’t think they’d have suffered any disadvantage if he’d played a full-strength team. If he was playing Arsenal or Chelsea or Liverpool, you can bet that he’d not have played this team. I think it was arrogance all the way.

  • http://kierandelaney.net/ kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[Pissed Off - what exactly was Fergies purpose today then? He risked resting his stars because he thought his youngsters would beat Evertons 1st team. And he was nearly right, except they didn't quite have the quality in the final third.

    In my mind Wenger was trying to rotate his squad, find a way of playing both RVP and the woeful Adebayor and still keep a 5 man midfield to nullify Chelsea's threat. If it wasn't for Silvestre being to old and slow to marshall Drogba properly (and i don't mean that in a bad way, but Djourou would have at least kept up) or Eboue watching the ball rather than the man then it would have worked.

    It was a close tight exciting game, in which Kieran Gibbs was our man of the match, Van Persie showed some real maturity in the face of some horrific Ballack goading and Walcott showed great composure to seal the game.

    I'm definately not surprised though that Zohaib is back to wanting Wenger sacked, and everyone's suddenly got a better answer. It's always the same, fickle.

    Arsenal were knocked out because our defence wasn't up to scratch - but we did have 3 of our first choice defenders out. Chelsea had two shots on target more or less and scored them both. They were hardly rampant and for 80 minutes we gave a good account of ourselves.I was especially excited at the prospect of Arshavin and Nasri on for extra time as i felt their influence and Chelseas tiredness would win us the match.

    It wasn't to be and clearly I would have preferred to see Arshavin on the pitch from the get go - but that doesn't mean it's right. People on here would do well to remember their opinions wouldn't necessarily have changed the result and could have got us beaten by more than one goal.

    One thing is for certain - Silvestre is not cut out for high level football anymore - punching the ball away should have seen red and a penalty so i guess sods law was always going to mean he was the defender who let drogba sneak in.

    On a positive note, what a nasty little cunt Ashley Cole is/was and how nice was it to see the look on his face when it dawned on him he punched it past his own keeper!]]>

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Kieran you are being too sentimental about the team, Its understandable though. But we as fans felt he should have fielded a better team and not make it too easy for Chelsea. I believe strongly in balance, do you think with Arshavin and Song we could loose the match that easily.

    Last season teams struggled against us because we had Rosicky, Fab, Hleb and Flamini - the team was so compact that you wonder if the team will ever loose a match. In a way I feel the same if we have a balance of Arshavin, Walcot and of late Song. Teams will always struggle-that's the picture I really want you to some how figure out.

    Wenger's strength has never been tactics its always been his players, any time you see him attempt tactic by resting players, he ends up loosing the match or struggling against the opponents. From the last FA cup we won where he played Berkgamp as a top striker (LOL) to last seasons FA where he dropped Ade and Flamini to allow Hleb and Fab suffer (that started our misery). You see patterns in Wenger's mistake yet you wander if he is the gaffer or what kind of spirit guides his decision. I still belief that dropping Arshavin was a mess for me and sure am sure for most fans, he had no reason not to play him. Or may be he wants the world to view him as a tactical genius. For me if you know your strength use it; Wenger's is on good quality players and not tactical prowess, simple.]]>

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Not that he doesn't know basic tactic, but that his tactic lets him down sometimes. May be a refresher course might help ( LOL,sounding like Zohaib now).

    Just kidding in the first paragraph. Come on guys lets see what we can get from the league and CL. FA is gone and gone forever. So lets hope Alumina, Djourou, Clichy , Sagna (they are too much) and possibly Rosicky will help bail Arsene's Arsenal in the CL.]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    < ![CDATA[Pissed Off - the last time we won the FA Cup Arsene's tactics were spot on. I do agree though that his substitutions are a bit annoying.

    However, I cannot agree about the team. With the exception of Song instead of the woeful Diaby, and maybe Arshavin on the left and Van Persie upfront I wouldn't have changed the team. Let's face it Adebayor was always going to start - so who would you have taken off for Arshavin?

    Nasri is getting fatter and fatter and more unfit as time goes on. And I believe Song had taken a knock in training.

    So my question is (and I like the fact we are having a rational firendly debate, lets keep it up! :) ) who would you have taken off to accomodate Arshavin?]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    < ![CDATA[

    Or may be he wants the world to view him as a tactical genius. For me if you know your strength use it; Wenger’s is on good quality players and not tactical prowess, simple.

    I actually agree with this – partially. You’re right, he’s not a tactical genius and his strengths lie elsewhere. I don’t think he’s a total dunce though and as said I think he made a perfect call with a five man midfield – who for 98% of the match contained chelsea incredibly well and who frustrated Lampard brilliantly.

    I don’t think in this case Wengers tactics were that wrong. He got the formation right, he bought on fresh legs as it looked like extra time was looming, and what a pair to call on, Arshavin and Nasri.

    If Arshavin had of scored in extra time, everyone would be loving it, so I guess my point is, there is such a fine line between winning and losing a match like that, and so a fine line between being a hero who made a bold and clever team selection and the villain who doesn’t know what he’s doing.]]>

  • Pissed off

    Absolutely Kieran.

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Good debate you got going on guys, nice one!

    Personally I was surprised with the omission of Arshavin from the starting 11, as he didn't play midweek. And lets be honest, how many of us saw that coming? I think most, if not all the starting 11's we'd guessed prior to the match included him on the left. But as Kieran said, with the benefit of hindsight it's easy to say what we feel should have been done to win the game, and any criticism made should be at least fair.

    The frustrating thing is on another day with the same players and same formation, we'd have beat Chelsea. It wasn't as if they slaughtered us to victory, even with a makeshift back 4 plus keeper. They just edged it (well, Drogba and Lampard at least) towards the win. Also with the prospect of playing Everton in the final, we'd be favorites to win the Cup (no disrespect to Everton), so it does feel like an oppertunity missed in this competition, especially when you consider how tough it would be to win the Champions League by comparison. But then we're not the only ones, just look at United yesterday.

    But with hindsight, and only with hindsight (and there's no guarentee that this would have worked) perhaps starting Arshavin ahead of Diaby in a 4-1-4-1 may have worked. Reason being, Arshavin has played more games than Diaby recently and would have been up against Ivanovic (a makeshift rightback for Chelsea. Plus the 4-1-4-1 would have offered width, protection for the back 4 as well as support for the attack.

    But it must be stressed how easy it is to come up with this idea now, 2 days after the match was played and rendering any usefulness it may have had redundant (typical lol). I didn't guess this before the game so what do I know lol :D

    Anyhow, good luck to the lads for Liverpool tomorrow, hope we come back strong!]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Kieran - you've misunderstood me. I don't see where I've said I wanted Wenger sacked. Are you sure you're reading this article and not confusing it with another one.

    I don't know what you're on about. The discussion has nothing to do with Wenger being sacked or not, anyway. We were all talking about how he's screwed up the starting 11 and the substitutions and the timing of the subs.

    My opinion before the match started, on the starting 11 was, that we should absolutely not have Silvestre at CB simply because Drogba was going to play and possibly Anelka too. I was hoping we'd see Song at CB since Sagna, Djourou and Gallas were all out. I would've wanted Song at DM instead of Denilson but since I had him at CB, that wasn't possible. I expected Arshavin in place of Adebayor ( I don't think he can play two 80 min matches in the space of 3 days, and I think that's become quite obvious now ), and VanPersie up front. With Walcott at RM and Cesc, Diaby and Denilson in the center. And if Denilson was having such a poor game, I'd definitely have substituted him at the start of the second half with Nasri.

    I'm not saying we would definitely have won with my formation. So there's no advantage of hindsight that I'm basing my argument on. It is my opinion though that we would have seen a far better performance.]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Everybody seems to agree that Wenger made some dodgy decisions regarding the starting 11 and the substitutions and their timing. And I'm merely venting out my frustration. Of course it's party because we've lost but mostly because of the rubbish performance that we saw from our players. And specially because I don't think Chelsea had a great game either. We should've capitalized.

    And I forgot to mention something in my earlier comment. My opinion about the starting 11 was mostly based on the fact that Cesc, Nasri, Song and Ade had 90 mins in the previous game (Ade had 80). And I did expect that some of that lot might get a rest. But when you look at the defence and see Silvestre against Drogba, you don't think twice about putting Song in at CB. As it is a CB doesn't have to do as much running as the midfield so he wouldn't have got as tired. So it wouldn't have been a bad decision. Cesc had to start because we've pretty much based our whole game around him. Nasri I could understand, but I thought Arshavin would start in place of him. And I have no idea why Adebayor started. I don't know what he's done to show us that he has enough energy to play 2 full matches in the space of 3 days, when he can't really play at a 100% throughout one match. He was clearly tired. And as it is he doesn't give us any real aerial threat. And we don't really play for that anyway. We play more on-the-ground football and Arshavin in place of Adebayor would've been a better option. But with the condition of the pitch, you could argue why we didn't play more long balls.]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[There's a brilliant article and video up at SkySports. Anyone seen or read it ? You must ! And post some opinions after you've seen it.

    skysports.com/story/0,19528,11096_5195936,00.html]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    < ![CDATA[Zohaib, the thing I don't understand is Song is not a centre back. Are you really saying you would have preffered a central midfielder to play in defence alongside a lad making his 15th compettitve start and Eboue at right back?

    What the defence needed was experience alongside a young lad and a player out of position. I'm not sure Song would have offered that.

    Silvestre is out of shape, unsharp and lacks pace but he did bring some experience.

    The hindsight part is it certainly couldn't have been any worse - but I certainly think even more people would have been unhappy with the selection if Wenger had of played a midfielder in defence.]]>

  • yemi

    why in the world was song left on the bench ? and also arshavin ? beats me

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Kieran - I'm sure you've seen Song play CB before. And as much as I've doubted his qualities as a CB, he hasn't done much to make me think he's as hopeless there as you make it sound. And anyway, if it's a question of Silvestre vs Song, I'd take Song, which is what the argument is. You're making it sound like I've chosen him as my first choice CB out of everyone we have available.

    Hasn't Wenger said in the past that he though Song would make a good CB, or something along those lines. I know for a fact that he has.

    Yes he doesn't bring in as much experience as Silvestre, but what good was experience when he was left alone with Drogba. He has neither the pace or the strength to keep up. And Song was having a pretty decent time lately. He's in good nick and would've been confident, and I for one wouldn't have questioned it one bit if Song had started in place of Silvestre. In fact I said before the match I hope Song plays CB instead of Silvestre.

    And another problem which was highlighted against Chelsea, was that we don't have decent backup for RB.]]>

  • zohaib

    And let’s not forget why Silvestre’s here in the first place. He wasn’t needed at ManUtd anymore. What does that tell us. He can’t cut it at the top level anymore. Against mid-table opponents he’d be okay. But no way would I play him against Drogba, Torres, Carew etc.