So football is supposed to be fun, you’re supposed to enjoy it. Sure, in the quarter finals of the Champions League, or the final weeks of the domestic season it can get all nail bitey, a bit angsty and talking about football starts to become like talking to a 14 year old about love – it gets difficult.
But it’s pre-season right now, everyone should be sitting back in the glorious sunshine, welcoming players like Riquelme and Thierry Henry to the Emirates, having a bit of fun playing teams you’ll never usually play, seeing some young players, having a few beers seeing new signings get their first runs out onto the pitch… it should be fun.
There were definitely positives to the Emirates cup this weekend – Traore looks, at the very least, to be no worse than Clichy and in fact had a very solid game. Gibbs didn’t explode on the pitch leaving just a smoking pair of football boots either, so there’s something. Fingers crossed for the lad that he doesn’t drop a cup on his foot or something. Jenkinson looks better than I assume must of us expected – solid, clever and defensively aware, the moment when he confidently stepped up to play offside, knowing he was the last man was fantastic. Gervinho also looks very tidy – direct and powerful, he’s exactly what Arsenal have been screaming out for up front, so fingers crossed he mangles a few defences at the start of the season.
In terms of youngsters, Afobe played exceptionally well when given the chance, Frimpong excelled in the middle and Kyle Bartley had a a miserly ten minutes in which to impress, unlucky slicing the ball into his own net. I hope all three get a chance at Arsenal this season – Bartley in particular impressed me on loan at Rangers, and I would consider him exceptionally unlucky if he is sent on loan again, considering we have Sebastian fucking Squillaci at the club. If I was Bartley I’d have already cut Squillaci’s break lines, but I suspect Squillaci drives like he plays football anyway – that is, not very quickly.
Anyway, then there were some negatives. We conceded three goals. From 2 mistakes on Saturday and a bit of good football on Sunday. Sunday’s goal was one of them. It probably could have been defended better, but it was a well worked opportunity and the ball was difficult to deal with. Saturday’s goals were…. scrappy. Again, there was a large element of appalling misfortune, Djourou’s excellent tackle somehow turning into a delightful one-two with the attacker. 1 time in 1000 that ball drops for the striker, but such is Arsenal’s luck.
I still find the “we/Arsenal need to buy a defender” club hilarious. As Martin Keown said over the weekend, buying a defender doesn’t teach all the other defenders at the club how to defend. They need to work on unity/cohesiveness, watch videos, look at diagrams, understand how defending actually works. So what if we buy Samba, Cahill, Jagielka? They’ll drop to every other defenders level at the club and forget how to head the ball and mark players at corners. We’ve currently got (in order of personal preference) Vermelean, Koscielny, Djourou, Bartley, Miquel, Alex Song, Wenger, Pat Rice, A Stick, Some Grass and Squillaci who can play there. Joking aside, that’s 6 defenders, ranging from excellent (TV), good and improving (LK, JD), young but talented (KB, IM) and shit and should never play (SS). If we bring in another player it means one of the 5 under TV will definitely go, probably our brightest hope Bartley, and this is the most important thing – the rest of the team won’t magically learn how to defend. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times – until the midfield and defence sort out that massive fucking gap that opens between them like Wenger is Moses parting the Red Sea from the touchline, it wouldn’t matter if we have 4 Christopher Sambas at the back.
Anyway, far more importantly for Arsenal is that we dominated the game yesterday and only scored a single solitary goal. It was like watching some of the toothless displays from last season – we should have been 5 goals up by the time they scored. It’s a sad state of Arsenal’s current team, but past the 1st choice attacking players, there aren’t any goals in our side. At all. Ever. That seems a far more important problem to solve to me than whether or not we buy a centreback.
Anyway, like I started by saying, football is supposed to be fun. Debate around it, discuss it, propose solutions to problems that may or may not exist if you want – but some of the stuff I’ve read in the comments here, on other blogs, on Twitter sounds angry, hateful, inciteful and just plain over the top. If football makes you that angry or upset, you’re doing it wrong. Arsenal haven’t just fielded a team of eleven one legged Glen Helders in the Champions League final – they drew two games in pre-season. You might as well kill yourself if that upsets you to the point that you need to call the manager “a cunt” or boo the team off the pitch.
As pointed out by James Maw on Twitter –
Importance of pre-season results:
Spurs in 2008 = WWDWWWWW – season starts – LLDLDLLL.
Chelsea in 2010 = WLLLL – season starts – WWWWW
Anyway, it’s been Monday, I’ve been @Kieran_Delaney, have fun and remember to smile.