Arshavin & Nasri, The Decline & The Rise…

Morning All…

In the aftermath of the United game, it’s allowed a lot of us to reflect and understand where we are right now. We’ve seen various different Arsenal’s this season – the ones that beat Braga 6-0, Blackpool 6-0, Shaktar 5-1 and of course Man City 3-0… but at the same time, we’ve seen the “why didn’t we turn up?” performances against Newcastle, West Brom and this week against Man United.

It’s extremely disappointing to see a team turn up devoid of ideas, devoid of that extra 5% that makes the difference. Our flair players weren’t exactly flairy and at the moment we’ve become two reliant on individual moments of skill to win games. Against Fulham at home, we had to look to French Player of The Year Samir Nasri to score two wonder goals for us to win the game. Against United, we couldn’t play well through our “passing game” but didn’t really have any idea how to attack. You could see in the second half Nasri was trying his hardest to create something, but he looked like the only likely source of any point of attack and United duly stuck two players on him.

Sometimes I wonder what on earth we do in training. Triangles are all good and nice to watch, but we need to use them more effectively. We need to so the one two’s into the box, and then shoot when we receive the ball again. We need to do those through balls into the area, turn and whack the ball into the back of the net – am I reminiscing too much about the days of Bergkamp, Henry, Petit, Vieira, Pires and Ljungberg… maybe I am – but surely so is Arsene? Although these players are so not in the same league.

One player for me who has lost a considerable amount of stock is Andrei Arshavin – when he first came, he was a player who could make a difference – remember those 4 goals at Anfield – but nowadays his shots barely hit the target and if they do, they are dragged slowly across the ground. Earlier in the year Arshavin actually said that he wasn’t the player he was when he joined us. I am actually quite worried about his form. Every team needs match winners, and at the moment, we have one and only one in Samir Nasri. Robin Van Persie isn’t fit, Chamakh needs service on a plate, Bendtner is not at the races, Vela is still being frozen out, Cesc wants to be in Barcelona… it’s all a little frustrating.

I still believe we have a very talented squad, but we do lack natural leaders – with Cesc & RvP being out of the team for so long, and both so unfit at the moment – they can’t be leaders and without Vermaelen in our squad at all, there is a lack of leadership at the back. We’ve played three keepers in the Premiership this season, and that shows a lack of choice – no matter what Arsene says, players like Almunia and Fabianski are not his first choice any more – trying to sign a 37 year old Schwarzer showed that. Perhaps now that Szcznesy has had his debut, he’ll become a fixture.

Who would your first choice XI be? Heck, even I can’t figure it out… Would Szcznesy be our choice?

Sagna – Vermaelen – Djourou – Gibbs

Would that we the ideal back four? Sagna has been the constant in the defence so far – Vermaelen is by far our best defender and Djourou has been absolutely outstanding and very dominant in the air – and well Clichy, as much as I love the guy, he is way too error prone at the moment. Gibbs has been remarkable at left back – he has his faults – but is definitely the best left back going forward…

Then we have the midfield, we have a plethora of players – Denilson, Song, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cesc and Rosicky are all players that play in the middle. Wilshere has been a shining light this season, but we have to understand that he will have his good games and his bad games – against United, it was one of his worst performances of the season. Yes, Arsene has a lost of trust in Wilshere, but should he really play him in every single game – from going from not in the team to suddenly play every game is very strange. Most players of his age will be in and out of the team and that helps them be more consistent. With Diaby out injured, we do lack a presence in midfield too.

And Walcott? Well, he is an enigma isn’t he? His best assets are his pace and his finishing – not his dribbling – so why is he forced to play on the right of midfield when he would be so much better up front.

Is Arsene suffering from too many square pegs in round holes? Everyone seems to be playing out of position at the moment… Does he need some help?

I don’t know… but do any of us?

I’ll leave you with a battle cry from Szcznesy… our new number one?

“I really do [want more now]. I wanted it before, but now I know how it feels to play in the Premier League so I really want to get more of it and come out with a clean sheet next time, and the three points. We know we are a good side, our confidence is not any lower than it was before the game. We are good enough to recover and if we want to aim for the title we have to get all three point.

Come on you Arsenal!

  • tesa

    I think the refusal to analyse opposition formation and the continuance of half time team talks with “Just go out there and play to your best abilities” is just plain caveman. That used to work when we have super individuals who have football brains like Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp, Pires. When you are stuck with players like Denilson, Clichy, headless chickens like Walcott, unproven egos like Bendtner, fragile glass-like RvP, confused as heck CBs, you don’t tell them to play to their best abilities simply because they have no idea what the word ability means. You sit them down one by one; tell them when to stick out their leg; when to start running; when to boot the ball out when in doubt; when not to concede stupid dangerous fouls; when to shoot when clear as sky; when to pass; when to stick to your man and not roam about uselessly. It’s funny that we have the manager once nicknamed the Professor when all he does is more towards the Nutty Professor by Eddie Murphy. Get the fricking laptop out and work out the numbers the opposition has conjured in the past 10 matches. Don’t just say you’ll learn and move on; fricking play the DVD match again and again and again and scruntinse every individual where they have done wrong at which specific video frame! We are NOT playing eye-candy football mind you, so what in the world am I trading for all these years at the expense of trophies? Get ugly get stuck in, bring in the cups and give us bragging rights!

  • manthan

    To be honest despite what the league table might read at the present time, I have to say we are not capable of challenging for the title. We can’t defend at the back and we won’t shoot at goal when a clear chance presents itself. There’s just this continual desire to walk the ball into the net, after you, no after you. Chelsea and Man Utd have sussed us out for quite a while now and the other teams in the League are on to us as well.

    There will come a time – maybe sooner than we think – when Wenger will either wake up and see the light and spend big or on the other hand finally tire of defending his overpaid underachievers and decide to call it a day. And I know which one my money’s on.

    So here’s a topic of debate, if we get beaten by Chelsea (again) and torn apart by Real Madrid or Barca and Arsene calls it a day at Arsenal who would Gooners want to succeed him?

  • Kodjo

    @ Dev

    Did you mention Diaby???? its funny now, that a few blogs out there are also pointing to the lack of presence in the middle ….and guess who’s name they are mentioning…DIABY!!!!

    I am happy that in his absence folks are now noticing the role he plays in the team even if he is is not consistent and infuriating.

    Sure Diaby frustrates but there is definitely more to his game…

    In the case of Wilshere i expected an up and down peformance from him….it will take him a while to be consistent…and he has adapted his game to suite the deep lying position that he plays in…he used to be a short quick and explosive player in the last third. Obviously, he now needs to pace himself to last the full 90 mins. I expect him to be moved further forward once Diaby & Cesc returns.

    Point that i have made in the past is the lack of efficiency in the wide areas. By this i mean crossing the ball more often and quickly rather than running or passing the entire lenght of the pitch to make a final pass. This enables opposing teams time to cover.

    With a great header of the ball in Chamakh i am afraid we do not utilize this advantage mainly bcos of the system we play …bcos he has to drop off the centre halves most of the time to pick up balls and then lay it off to the other attacking midfielders. Case in point is the quick goal we scored at Wolves bcos Song took the initiative and crossed the ball early…this caught the defence completely off guard.

    I have seen Chamakh make those runs into the box expecting a cross only to see the ball played square.

    I think we could score a lot more and be efficient if such details are taken into account.

  • Fo

    @ Kodjo:
    Well said. I thought everyone hated Diaby… People only realise that he is good when he is not injured!

  • lego

    Well as we get closer to the half way point we have to admit that although we are right in their we have shown weakness lately.

    Losing to spurs was a real shot to our credibility and we have dropped our fair share of points at home too. I think that the ‘straight talking’ Arshavin deserves a short ride on the bench as he has not been in the best of form. I think that Theo should get a chance as he has improved the pace we play at. Nasri should be deployed where he will get most touches on the ball when Cesc is not playing and thats the centre of the park. Also why cant him and Fabs take that position in turns? He is sometimes wasted on the wing because against the better teams he gets less touches.

    I really think that Nasri has been our star player so far and we need to ride the wave he is making to the fullest if we want to win anything. Clichy needs to be taught how to stop a situation in defence. He just seems to always need to make one or two more moves to kill a move when if he made his first move quicker there would be no danger.

    Also he needs to learn to cross a ball and how to shoot. he literally has one string to his bow in attack and its run run run and no end product. I dont hate the guy just think he can do more with the skills he has. Overall we are hanging in there and the Carling cup has been good to us but we need to be more ruthless. We are starting to look like the vulnerable elite club thats not the tag we want. We need to strike fear into the league again by dishing out a few spankings. An to do that we need to play our best at all times no more soft under belly business.

    I think by now, Wenger ought to sit down and study the videos of the last 4 games against Man Utd and Chelsea and see how to beat them;at some point, we just have to find a way, at all costs, to beat them! Its more than just 3 points;its about a ‘psychological advantage’ more than anything else. Because, we are careless about these type of games, the Dumber One of Manchester United, after explaining to Nasri that his pre-match comments were ‘misconstrued’ s now come out again to say ‘he was right about those comments’ that Arsenal is a training ground, UNLESS someone in the media, for lack of what to write, is being ‘mischievous’ just to rile Arsenal players and fans.

    My take on these big games is that I ‘ll rather we play out a dull, drab, tight 0-0 draw against Man Utd and Chelsea home and away than lose to them again! No more! Sort it out with your players Wenger! Ferguson knows the psychology of playing against his title rivals and would rather play a drab, defensive formation than lose to any of them as he did against Man City and will do against Chelsea again. In contrast, even though he adjusted it in the last game against Man Utd, Wenger often sets his team up to play ‘our game’ and this error, repeated over and over in the last three seasons, has made Arsenal players ‘freeze’ when playing these teams.

    The way to it, is to have a ‘Bullish Formation and Lineup’ for these games, knowing that they will be physical, tight and keenly contested from start to finish with the winners claiming more than just 3 points! I think a formation set up to defend first, and counterattack will help. To do this, we need to close down our flanks first by playing Eboue in front of Sagna on the right, Nasri in front of Clichy on the left, with the specific instruction to both ‘flank-men’ to ensure that no one is allowed to put crosses into the box or get past the Left Back. Secondly, play Song and Diaby as holding players behind Fabregas(and keep Rosicky, Denilson and Jack out of such matches!). Ensure that Song and Diaby to keep to their defensive midfield roles of covering the back four and battling for control of the midfield for the 90 minutes. Then play Chamakh as CF with the instruction that he should never stop harrying the CBs and dropping back into the midfield to hassle for the ball. As CBs, play Djourou and Vermaelen or DJ and Squlliaci to give us physical presence and aerial prowess.

    Right now, a wrong mentality is being formed that seems to suggest that we are no longer as good as Man Utd and Chelsea and as long as we keep losing to them, that mentality will continue to affect the players and even at their worst and at our best, we may still not be able to beat them! These losses have got to stop!

  • Sam

    Dev – you used to be more positive than this!