Arsenal may need to score in record numbers to overcome defensive liabilities
Upon reflection, the game at Anfield probably tells us everything we need to know about Arsenal at this point in the season. We have outrageous attacking talent and a defense that invites calamity at every opportunity. It’s clear now that we cannot protect our goal whether we play one holding midfielder, two holding midfielders, or eleven holding midfielders. We look the least vulnerable when we’re passing efficiently and putting the opposing goal under threat. When the ball is heading towards our net, there seems to be little we can do to stop it. So it only seems logical that we should play the rest of our games with one simple ambition: score as many goals a possible. We may have to score three or four goals to win games, so we might as well play that way from the start. When you think about it, with players like Ade, RVP, Nasri, Arshavin, Cesc, and Theo, there aren’t too many teams that are going to keep a clean sheet against us. Resting those players in favor of a player like Denilson only blunts our attacking force without fortifying the defense. So hopefully we won’t do that again.
Today United took a step closer to the league title which doesn’t really matter to Arsenal except for that fact that they didn’t appear to suffer any injuries. They did, however, look pretty pedestrian and it must be said that United haven’t looked like their intimidating best for a long time now. We are probably going to play them at just the right moment in their season.
Chelsea and Everton played to a nil-nil draw today. It wasn’t a wonderful game to watch but the better chances were clearly created by Everton. It’s amazing how mediocre Chelsea look and it’s perfectly reasonable to think that Saturday’s game should have gone much differently. But the result between Chelsea and Everton was probably just what we needed. Lately there are a lot of results going our way. Today’s draw prevented Everton from meaningfully closing the gap on fourth and leaves Chelsea somewhat within striking distance. If we can beat them at the Emirates, there’s still a slim chance we can finish third.
Andrei Arshavin is a remarkable player. His four goal tally was spectacular, but his comments about the game were genuinely unique. After scoring four goals most players would be running to the post-match interview to discuss whether they’re a target for Real Madrid or AC Milan. What was Arshavin’s reaction? He believes that he needs more time to settle into the English game. Regarding his current struggles, he said,
“If you look at the first half you never saw me except for one moment when I scored. It is difficult for me but I will try and I need time. Everybody else [is prepared] to play with each other. I still have to go through pre-season and after that everything will be in a good place.”
Fantastic attitude although I’m sure it’s a little coy. But if he believes that there’s more to come from him, then I say bring it on! It’s also impressive that he is able to do his interviews in decent English. When you look at some of the other players that have come from Russia, none of them seem to speak a word of the English language.
Arsene Wenger has been working on a good excuse for our recent defensive performances. His latest is that the players are fatigued.
“I am not happy with our defending but I believe that our defence has played many games and they were a bit jaded physically. We cannot change many players, especially at the back. Offensively we have a bit more choice but at the back we haven’t got too much choice. “
He’s right about one thing; there is one jaded Arsenal defender. The last two matches Silvestre has lacked quality but he has also lacked attitude. If Johan Djourou is not available for Wednesday night’s game with United, there will be huge pressure on Wenger to play anyone but Silvestre at center-half. I suspect that Sagna will get back up to speed and Toure will be fine. Gibbs has actually looked okay the last two matches and Eboue is always available if we need him. But Silvestre is shockingly bad and he doesn’t deserve a place on the Arsenal roster. He is such an incredible liability that it invites opposing teams to play long-ball on the theory that he’s good for at least two or three horrendous mistakes over 90 minutes. His poor play creates risks that we can’t afford to take at this point in the season. I won’t go on because I doubt very highly that anyone reading this would possibly disagree.
Ultimately, it looks like our success is tied to our attack. Wether we get Djourou back before Wednesday or not, we’re not going to have our first choice defense again this season. It’s something we can address in the summer, but defending won’t be our strong suit for the next month. We’ve now seen very clearly that two holding midfielders don’t make us any less vulnerable. So it’s down to our best players to win the games. It’s down to Cesc and Ade and RVP and Nasri and Theo and, domestically at least, Arhsavin. And that’s just fine with me. Ultimately your best players should be on the pitch for the big games. Why you would play Denilson instead of Arshavin or Nasri or Theo in a big game is beyond me. In the big games, the best players must be on the pitch because that’s usually when they really shine. Arshavin proved that point on Tuesday. Hopefully it was enough to teach Wenger an important leasson.
Not much happening until Sunday when we face a ‘Boro team fighting for their top flight lives. We can certainly beat them even with a second choice lineup, but it’s not going to be easy. Regardless, it’s really just the game before “the game.” It’s going to be a long week until Old Trafford.