Late To Orient

I’m going to start by saying the unpopular though. Leyton Orient were pretty poor. There, I’ve said it. They weren’t great, they sat back, they defended for 89 minutes and looked content to lose 1-0 instead of gambling on conceding a second or scoring themselves. No one told the lad up front though and he provided the only bit of decent play they conjured up in more or less the entire second half and scored a pretty solid goal. You’ve got to hope the keeper does better there, but credit to the lad for putting the ball in the net. He seemed a bit out of the game plan anyway, in the dressing room he cleaned his boots instead of joining the huddle and then just walked out on camera. Seemed odd, especially as no one seemed to give a shit that he’d scored.

Anyway, everywhere else the media seem overly concerned with “credit where it’s due” or “Leyton Orient deserve all the plaudits”. They don’t. They were part of a dull match where one team wanted to lose by as few goals as possible and the other team couldn’t really be arsed to score more than one. Arsenal were pretty dire, but I’m not using that to suggest Orient don’t deserve credit – they don’t deserve credit because they were equally poor. On reflection 1-1 was probably a fair result, as neither side really took the initiative. Some might think I’m being harsh in my assessment of Orient, but the game was there for the taking if they wanted it. Was Denilson going to stop them? Was Bendtner going to stop them? No, of course not, but instead they conceded the game from the outset, and that deserves no credit at all.

Arsenal were dire, as I expected when I saw the team. Song was solid enough (though it’s alongside Wilshere/Fabregas that he truly sparkles), Miguel had a good debut and Arshavin looked like he really wanted to finish the week with more than 1 goal – but those three aside the rest of the team looked lazy, lethargic and dis-interested. Sagna was solid if unspectacular.

It’s something that has annoyed me for a while now. Arshavin, Denilson, Chamakh, Bendtner, Rosicky and Almunia are all players with a point to prove, all players who should be pushing for a first team place. Players who should be putting Orient to the fucking sword and giving Wenger a selection headache. Of those players only Arshavin made a claim, looking as revitalised as Wednesdays goal suggested. It irritates me that the rest of those players manage to be so lethargic. Where is the hunger in the fringe squad? The first team is settled and solid, and probably our best 1st XI for a few seasons now. But outside that there are players like Denilson and Bendtner knocking on the door. Players who do not match the hunger and desire of those ahead of them, let alone the skill.

I’ve picked on Denilson and Bendtner the most because simply, after 5 or 6 years at Arsenal they should be better. They should want to win. They should be showing the spirit and organisation that Orient showed. They should be replaying many years of faith and development by at least looking like they give a shit, not back heeling the fucking ball in our penalty area. I get that players have bad games or dips in form, but as Arshavin has shown, you just have to put your head down and work bloody hard. I’ve stuck by these players through a lot, much to the annoyance of some of you regulars – we’ve had many debates about the quality of Bendtner and Denilson in particular and I have always backed them to shine. I don’t doubt there talent, but I’m beginning to think that until they sort out their fucking attitude they might as well not be here.

You only have to look at the emergence of Jack Wilshere, a player being groomed to replace Fabregas, who is happy to sit back and do the simple stuff if it means playing. A player that doesn’t shy from 50-50 challenges like Bendtner, a player who is capable of passing the ball out of danger when it’s important, a player with intelligence but most of all, a player with heart, passion and commitment to see the lack of those qualities in the fringe squad. He’s bypassed the lot of them in 18 months since his display in the Emirates cup a while back against Rangers.

The ‘b’-team lacks leadership, passion and heart. Who was beating the drum, who was shouting, organising, pushing the players? Was the experienced Tom Rosicky doing this? No. Were any of the players? No. The only thing that passed for leadership on that pitch from Arsenal yesterday was Arshavin chasing every ball down like a terrier and for an Arsenal team that is not good enough. I understand that Rosicky is the leader of the fringe players, but he simply didn’t do enough yesterday, so let’s hope he gets some pointers before the replay.

Still, the extra fixture doesn’t matter too much, as it will mostly be the same players again (so tiredness shouldn’t be an issue), and it gives those players another chance to prove themselves. I’m also trying to work out if the replay will affect the quarter final fixture, as if we progress I think the replay may mean a possible tie against Manchester United will be put back from the same week as the Barca return leg. It may be a blessing if it means we avoid two massive games in 4 days. I’m not sure if that will come off though, time will tell.

Finally I leave you with the best of the weekends action distilled into a single image:

John Terry.

  • Fo

    “They were part of a dull match where one team wanted to lose by as few goals as possible and the other team couldn’t really be arsed to score more than one.”

    Great summary!

  • nkdon

    Let me just say to start that I am weirdly unbothered by this. Maybe it’s because I really did feel like something like this was probably going to happen, or maybe because I just don’t think it’s that bad a result for us, but I think it’s probably fine. The way Wenger is using his lineups at the moment, I actually don’t think fixture congestion is that big of an issue, since the guys who will play in the replay are, I suspect, pretty much the guys who played today, and those guys generally need more, not less, playing time. And I think we should really be able to handle them pretty comfortably at the Emirates. So it’s an extra game for guys that need an extra game, it’s a home match which brings in a couple million pounds of revenue, and it’s an extra couple of hours of my life I can spend watching Arsenal instead of facing reality. Not so bad, really

  • spanishgooner

    The best of the weekend’s action distilled into a single image – SUPERB !!!

    Agree about the B team . They couldn’t have given a shit yesterday – awfull attitute .Hopefully the seasons end will see a clear out of the dead wood with it being replaced by our loan players coming back and slotting in as and when . Fantasy ? I don’t think so .Wenger has consistently proved he knows (most of the time)what he’s doing so I expect him to have it in hand.

  • Arsefan101

    Personally, it was a “bleh” game. The fans weren’t bothered watching it – and the players thought they were too good – they never learn, do they?

    From Barcelona at the Emirates to Leyton Orient away – the biggest come down ever, right?

    Let’s hope we have a bit more desire when we play them at home and let’s hope that we learn from this and put Stoke to the sword on Wednesday!

  • BergkampBurger

    Great picture of John Terry there.
    Am loving the slow but sure decline of Chelsea.

    Can you do a run in thing soon so we can see who is left for all the major sides to predict if we have a chance of the title?

  • Berth

    Alumnia was certainly transparent; am convinced about that.

  • barcafarca

    I wish we kick amunna out of our club. i mean what is the use of this guy? I totally agree with your bit on Denilson, Rosiky and Bentner – these guys are really being given the chances to shine and they’re ballsing up big time. I personall think they are psychologically accepted the fact they are the B team – so they play like one

  • yemi

    Is it true that arsenal has never won a match with squillaci in the team ? Or with B5 and chamack playing at the same time ? Researchers please help find out !!!

  • devday

    LOL Yemi!!

    I had a look on the site and couldn’t see a game where we had all three in the starting line up and WON!

  • Thierry Bergkamp-Wright

    @Yemi

    Buddy, don’t be so harsh on Squillaci. As it happens, I have kept a list of every team that has played for us in every game (league + cup) this season. And my records prove that for a time, after Vermaelen was injured, Squillaci was 1st choice ahead of Djourou and Koscielny. Until our home game against Chelsea.

    In his first three starts for us against Bolton, Braga & Tottenham (away in the carling cup), we won 4-1, 6-0 and 4-1.

    The line-up for the 3 matches were:

    (Away at Bolton)
    Almunia, Eboue, Gibbs, Koscielny, Squillaci, Song, Wilshere, Fabregas, Rosicky, Arshavin, Chamakh

    (Home with Braga)
    Almunia, Sagna, Koscilney, Squillaci, Glichy, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin

    (Away at Tottenham)
    Fabianski, Eboue, Koscilney, Djourou, Gibbs, Lansbury, Denilson, Wilshere, Rosicky, Nasri, Vela

    We ought to show more support to our players, rather than trying to scapegoat individuals after less than sparkly group displays.

  • Thierry Bergkamp-Wright

    @Yemi

    Squillaci also started in the Sunderland away game (mid september), which was just before the Todfttenham match, we drew 1-1. We played with 10 men after Song had been sent off and Rosicky missed a penalty after he came on as a sub for an injured Fabregas.

    And the squad were:

    Almunia; Sagna, Koscilney, Squillaci, Glichy; Song, Fabregas, Wilshere; Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin

  • CON-MAN

    agree with most of you and the review. Not to bothered about the draw, will probably whoop em at the emirates in the replay

    that said you’d expect the 2nd teamers to have a bit more fight about them. very lethargic

  • yemi

    @ Thierry Bergkamp-Wright:

    I just heard that comment and wanted to to find out. I sure do prefer him to Silvestre/Senderos/sol(now. I think he is just getting used to a new kind of league. The hardest, toughest, fever pitch, high tempo adrenalin pumping league in the world.

    This term there is hardly a team you can predict you will beat. The odds might be in your favour unlike before