Howdie folks! First of all, a massive hi five to Debs for her excellent second post yesterday, Porto 2-1 Arsenal… Not a good welcome back to the Champions League, right?, a brilliant read and an insightful overview of the game. Before I take a look at the Sunderland game tomorrow, I just want to touch on the refereeing decision and the goalkeeping situation we find ourselves in.
As a team, having watched the game again, we weren’t that bad. It’s obvious that teams are targetting Gael Clichy as a weak link and I really hope the boy can regain some form as we know he has before. I have noticed several times that Nasri and Rosicky, when deployed on the left normally go infield or across to a more natural right side, leaving Clichy exposed, whilst Arshavin does a little better, he is often high up field attacking. On the right, most of our team do cover, most of our midfield and forward line are right footers (right footers tend to spend more time on the right hand side of the pitch than others) and Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky do provide cover there. Arsene above all, will be the person who can see this and I hope he is addressing it in the right fashion or it could undo our season.
Looking at the goalkeeping position – in the big games against United and Chelsea, when Almunia has played, he has not done much to warrant any praise and ultimately, most people feel he shouldn’t have conceded the penalty at Old Trafford and of course, doesn’t seem to be effective – as most teams score all their shots on goal. However, looking at the reasoning behind it, it is probably because when the opposition players shoot, it’s normally on a break, and harder to defend. Almunia does normally do the basics right though and he’s got over the nerves thing. The problem with Fabianski is the nerves thing. He’s better than he showed against Porto and it’s a shame that the nerves got the better of him, as he did pull off some great saves.
Looking at the first goal – very poor – very very poor – but these things happen – for every 20 great saves, every keeper has a mistake up their sleeve and for every 20 mistakes, one will be a very embarrassing one. “Nuff said”. The second goal was silly. Sol shouldn’t have touched it, but he did. Fabz shouldn’t have picked it up, but he did. Fabz shouldn’t have turned his back to goal, but he did. Ultimately, whilst a quick free kick is allowed, the referee made a mistake. If the Porto player who scored had taken the ball from an Arsenal player, then fine, go ahead, put the ball down and score. But as soon as the referee touches the ball, a quick free kick cannot be taken. I don’t know how the referee allowed what happened, but he basically bottled out of the decision and it’s severely costed us.
The errors were, as Cesc said, school boy errors (btw, isn’t he becoming more Spanish, accent etc? all the time)… but for the first time in many years, Arsene has launched an verbal on a ref that is very true, but he may find himself under the wrath of UEFA soon… the gaffer said this:
“But he missed a 100 per cent penalty on Rosicky. That is a judgement in a second that I can accept. For me, the back-pass of Sol Campbell was accidental. He has judged it is voluntary. Okay we have a difference there. That I can accept. Technically so many mistakes. His body position. Where he stands is completely wrong at the moment he gives a free-kick. He takes the ball from Lukasz Fabianski. They score. What he does doesn’t make common sense and is against the rules of the referees. When a guy makes so many technical mistakes that are not even linked to judgement, I believe he is not competent.”
Interesting and strong words from the manager, and there will be more on this later I’m sure…
Arsenal vs Sunderland Preview
Onto tomorrow’s game and we’ve lost Diaby (again) from the squad – this time with a knee ligament injury (how on earth do our players get so injured?). We do have a half fit Almunia and a more than half fit Song back in the squad too. But no sign of Gallas, Eduardo or Arshavin. Arsene has commented that Sol is very tired and may not be able to start tomorrow, so we may see Silvestre in his place. Denilson must be dropped, especially if Song does return – Ramsey surely deserves a starting berth ahead of the Brazilian? I’d personally start Walcott as we could do with some pace up front, and I doubt Rosicky can play so many games in a row…
The team could very well look like this:
Sagna – Silvestre – Vermaelen – Clichy
Song – Ramsey
Walcott – Cesc – Nasri
What do you think? What are your line-ups?
I’ll leave you with the bitter sweet news that Van Persie is out still, but back soon… how soon?
“If you ask me is it the beginning of April, I would say categorically no because he has not started any real fitness work yet. Once he starts that, it will take at least six weeks. Maybe [he will be back] at the end of April if all goes well. If there is no set-back, he should be back before the end of the season but it is very difficult to predict.”