Defensive Hangover & Sunday Paper Round
It is hard to know what to make of yesterday’s 2 – 2 draw with Boca Juniors. The first half and opening exchanges of the second saw Arsenal in control before a collapse for the final quarter of the match, conceding a two goal lead in the process. Had Vito Mannone been a slacker then Riquelme’s late free kick might indeed have produced a late winner for the visitors.
Samir Nasri received a mix reception, significantly more positive in volume than negative but a sign perhaps that all is not forgiven. His performance was as mixed as that of the team. He did not dominate the midfield, that was a role gobbled up by Jack Wilshere’s mix of energy and quick passing / movement.
The first half defensive pairing of Djourou and Koscielny were far more secure than when Squillaci replaced his compatriot for the second forty-five minutes. The jitters of the crowd transmitted to the pitch or was it vice versa? Either way, a clean sheet that had been protected with hard work in the first half – and a little luck – was always under threat; the equaliser inevitable once the first goal conceded.
Arsène recognised that weakness post-match but as of yet, has not addressed it. Koscielny looked more assured, confidence borne from some extra gym work perhaps? It is a fair assumption that he and Thomas Vermaelen will form the first half pairing today, Djourou resting following a full 90 minutes yesterday.
Elsewhere, Carl Jenkinson filled most with confidence that he can deputise for Bacary Sagna, his willingness to push forward continually without over-exposing the defence a good sign. Aaron Ramsey scored a peach of a goal following good work by Carlos Vela but was not able to dominate the midfield in the way that Cesc would. Samir Nasri’s failure to step into the breach indicates that a change in style would most likely follow the captain’s departure unless a direct replacement is sourced, an unlikely outcome.
Gervinho and Arshavin both worked the flanks well in the first half, interchanging frequently so as not to let defenders settle but most joy came when they were on their notional sides of the pitch, the former and Jenkinson worked well in the attacking third.
As for the rest, adequate is a word I would use to sum it all up. Traore did well in some situations, not so well in others. van Persie needs to shake the rust from his set pieces but was sharp as a tack for his goal, a good sign. Chamakh, positive but needs to develop a more ruthless streak similar to the one that brought ten goals in his first seventeen Arsenal games.
In fact that point could be levelled at the whole of the team. Too often in key areas, sideways passes is met with resistance, neat flicks, twists and turns are baulked by visiting defences. A bit more responsibility in shooting from distance or even early needs to be taken. That does not mean every time, simply that more variety needs to be introduced.
As for Boca, Arsène wanted to see what style they brought to The Emirates. It was not so much style, more stereotype. Ask anyone what they expect of an Argentine side and its a fair chance that they will say a mix of Sir Alf’s words and Maradona. It was like watching a skilful Manchester United side with all of the bitching and whining that went on at the referee. Still fair play to their manager, I did not believe it possible to find a winger who was shorter and fatter than Andy Reid but Boca have such a man.
Post-match, Arsène broke out his Mary MacGregor songbook when speaking of his captain being torn between two lovers, the Spanish media believe it is only the small Mata of Juan signing before Cesc leaves. Oh, that and the £5m the Catalan will forgo to leave Arsenal. The Daily Heil believes that we are all stupid; there can be no other reason for them really expecting us to fall for the old ‘Arry’s Gonna Sign Someone Good gag. I’m still waiting for someone to link Adebayor back to the club. Perhaps Arsène could do that to take some of the heat off Samir Nasri…
Arsène declared that he was going to do business sooner rather than later, tantalisingly offering the thought that he is going to be spending somewhere between £10m and £30m on a player or two. Or perhaps that’s £6.50 on players and the rest on private resuscitation facilities, the thought of money leaving the club too much for him to bear…
That’s harsh to be fair to the manager as the purchases will be funded by sales although how Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Eboue can be on the verge of leaving the club when Arsenal are not close to agreeing deals is an interesting example of manager-speak.
AC Milan want Cesc to leave Arsenal who want Eden Hazard to leave Lille. There’s not much chance of either deal happening so things really are quiet in media land. Henri Lansbury received a vote of confidence despite speculation about his future – presumably he’ll sign for Norwich or Brighton this week. Joel Campbell meanwhile could not resist the overtures of Big Richard Law(insert your own gags here) and will sign for £1m when Costa Rica fly home from Columbia.
Posted on July 31, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 462 Comments.