Arsène Looks To Nail Down The Draw(er)s

A change to the running order this week with Big Al donning the match report duties on Monday so yo have to put up with myself this morning. His eulogy to Abou Diaby was only a week out by the looks of things with the manager reporting that the French midfielder is likely to return to full training next week, along with compatriot Francis Coquelin. The .com headline writer is a master of the understatement, if Diaby has not been unlucky then I would hate to be the one who is described as unlucky. The sentiment is understood; the player refers to Abidal and Muamba and their situations put matters into perspective but even so, to have missed so much of his career through injury can hardly be construed as being lucky.

Attention is turning to the end of the season. Chelsea, I read regularly, will be tired when they visit The Emirates as it falls between the two Champions League semi-final matches. If not tired, the logic sways that they will be distracted. Those logicians do not seem to consider that they may be hugely bouyed by a win in the first leg; it is incomprehensible to them. Yet entirely possible and the failings of Chelsea is not something Arsène is prepared to rely on.

Crucially though Arsenal need to concentrate on themselves. When I looked at the title run-in, this was the weekend where I felt there was a real possibility of Tottenham drawing level with Arsenal on points. That basis was flawed in that it presumed matching results last weekend. Arsène highlighted a concern that has dogged his teams in recent seasons; the inability to close out games from draws when recovering deficits. Prior to this season, it was not a substantive viewpoint. Yet this term, there have been times when games should not have been defeats, where Arsenal’s desire to win has driven them to a riskier disposition on the pitch.

The manager believes it is the formative games which have ingrained the mentality into the squad,

Maybe we were always in a position from the start onwards where a draw was a bad result because we were very deep in the table. From there on we were only in a position where winning was good enough for us and that might be a subconscious explanation.

I like his description, being deep in the table makes it sound as if the club had been consumed by a solid piece of oak; Szczesny and the back four trapped in one leg with the midfield and everyone spread throughout the woodwork waiting for Robin van Persie to punch an escape route before the massed ranks of woodworm close in on them.

The pursuit of points for Arsenal this season has dominated the mindset and perhaps it takes a while to change that, seeking to close out games when level. It is understandable that it might take some time to fully appreciate that position, especially since it is only in recent weeks that they have been in control of their own destiny. They still are; match Tottenham’s results, third place is secured. It is so easy when put down on paper, why oh why oh why do they make it so hard on the pitch. Perhaps the players are human after all, not robots. Or little wood people on a quest for freedom.

Rather than putting last weekend down to a lack of desire, perhaps it is this change in attitude that accounted for the nervousness of last weekend’s performance with players caught between preserving the draw at the hour mark and using it as a springboard to attack; caught between two stools if you like (What is this obsession with carpentry this morning?).

The best remedy is a key match this weekend, one to prove the manager’s assessment correct,

We are very confident that this [result] was just an acciden. Overall the performances we have had recently and the spirit we have shown will allow us to restart in a very positive way to win our next game. We wanted to win the QPR game so much and sometimes when you cannot, you at least don’t lose it.

That is where we were a bit guilty of nervousness, especially defensively, and we forgot our priorities. They were to defend well, attack well and we wanted to attack so much that we forgot to defend well.

A positive response seems likely on Sunday if the history of this season is anything to go by. As Arsène rightly points out, a point is not of much use to either side at this stage of the season. It almost certainly will spend the end of any title hopes for City a rank failure given their summer spending and form through to the early part of this year. Arsenal had the belief in themselves, in their play. Sunday would be a useful time to rediscover it or otherwise people might work themselves into a larvae. <THWACK!>

Away from this, don’t forget your daily dose of Arsenal’s past at ACLF’s sister site, Arsenal On This Day.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on April 6, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. So, the team for Sunday:

    Szchezny

    Sanga
    Kos
    TV5
    Gibbs

    Arteta
    Song
    Rosicky

    Theo
    RvP
    Ramsey

    Personally I would like to see either AOC or Gervihno start instead of Ramsey, but I think Arsene will stick with the side side that started against QPR.

  2. Don’t think he will Andy; City are vulnerable against pace and will look to stifle Arsenal, score on the break and then pick us off as an equaliser is pursued. AOC would be my preference but I think AW will go with Gervinho.

  3. YW – I hope you are right, we will be better balanced for it. My preference would be AOC as well. He always produced moments of quality and looks a very dangerous player. To be fair to gervihno though he does put in a good shift so would offer Gibbs protection.

    I hope Arsene abandons his ideas of playing Ramsey on the left. If I am honest, I can’t really understand it given we already have good options for that area of the pitch. And whilst Ramsey is a good player, he is nowhere near the level where he must play if fit, so I don’t really see why he has been shoehorned into the side.

  4. GA

    Think Ramsey is played on the left away from home on narrow pitches, to give us more bite in midfield. However at home I too think it will be AOC on the left

  5. Anirudh – Yeah, I sort of get that. But on a narrow pitch surely it would be of more benifit to stretch the play? Plus, we already have 3 central midfielders giving us plenty of bite in the middle of the park.

    I could sort of undertanbd it more if it were against some of hte top sides, but against Everton and QPR? Strange. I think that maybe when Eboue left he gave is damning pics of Arsne to Ramesey 😉

  6. Ramsey has only started on the left in away games; we’ll play to our (silky) strengths at The Home of Football.

  7. Paulie Walnuts

    Got a feeling Benny will start on Sunday as against Spurs.

    I`d take fourth now – third would be a bonus given the run ins

  8. i’d definately start with le ox..

  9. I’ll start with Gerv, and bring on the Ox as substitute.

    What’s up with Santos? Gibbs really must be playing blinders to keep him out.

  10. i dont really bother with the run ins..

    i know people are worried becuase spurs have an easy run in but
    they fucked up their last easy run in to surrender 3rd in the first place so its of little importance of whos plays who from here on in..

    we just need to win all our home games to secure 4th..
    anything we get away will secure us third..

  11. A couple of weeks ago I would have been more than happy with 4th. But we are thrird at the moment, so that must be our aim. Don’t really care about the run in, if we play to our potential we will have nothing to worry abuot. Even if we do have another dip, finishing 4th would still be good considering our quite bizzare season.

    I just hope we don’t do what we have done before and have another collapse. After getting this far it would be so frustrating to see us drop out of the top 4 again. I do’t think that will happen, but with us you really never can be certain.

  12. GA: Are you going to have another hissy-fit when the Boss re-deploys Ramsey on the left? Like most I don’t expect that at home but on away trips he is likely to shore up that midfield and try to maximize possession. Those are not strengths of Gervinho or AOC.

    BTW: On that narrow field QPR deployed something like a 5 man midfield seeking to always have an extra man to hit us on the counter. Barton, Diakite, Derry, Mackie and Taarabt, the latter being the most advanced in support of Zamora. Whether you like it or not, that is a very tough group of battlers. They had no intention of being stretched.

  13. Shotta – Hissy fit? Not me matey.

    Think it would be a mistake though. We should be impressing our game on other teams, and a midfield of Song/Arteta/Rosicky is good enough in possesion and has enough tenacity to match any team. The way we attack relies on us creating gaps in the back four and holes behind the oppositions midfield. The best way to do this is by using wingers and moving the ball at a high tempo.

    For all Ramseys strengths, he does not move the ball at high tempo and will come infield condensing the play. Just my opinion of course.

    We are a better team than City although they have more match winners. We shoud play to our strengths and batter them.

  14. Balls to 3rd, I want 2nd!

    Just because it was my prediction in the dark days of September…

    Although I also said we’d reach the CL final…

  15. Shotta – “BTW: On that narrow field QPR deployed something like a 5 man midfield seeking to always have an extra man to hit us on the counter. Barton, Diakite, Derry, Mackie and Taarabt, the latter being the most advanced in support of Zamora. Whether you like it or not, that is a very tough group of battlers. They had no intention of being stretched

    Of course they had no intention of being stetched. It is up to us to force them to be. As it turned out playing Ramsey on the left was hardly a roaring success was it?

  16. many interesting comments flying about this morning attributed to AW..
    transfers have been mentioned and the managers let slip abit more than he usually does..

  17. Anyway, offski.

    Early finish, so I am spending this afternoon playing guitar and sorting out my new multi effects unit.

    Dusseldorf tomorrow for drinks and cheering on Sunderland.

  18. Chelsea have two hopes of beating Barca…

    Bob Hope and no fukin hope!

  19. Interesting comments made by Arsene on Chamack today

  20. nothing we didnt know already jeff..

  21. were i to live a thousand years
    and help to fuel opponent’s fears
    they would be of this sort
    Podolski has been bought
    and ‘Arry leaves the field in tears.

  22. @ Shotta 11.38

    “BTW: On that narrow field QPR deployed something like a 5 man midfield seeking to always have an extra man to hit us on the counter. Barton, Diakite, Derry, Mackie and Taarabt, the latter being the most advanced in support of Zamora. Whether you like it or not, that is a very tough group of battlers. They had no intention of being stretched.”

    If that’s the case why have QPR lost 19 games this season, 9 of them at home?

  23. I have to agree with Goonerandy, in that I think Ramsey on the left does not seem to be working out. Gervinho or AOC or Benny would be a beter option for me. Playing Ramsey out there is akin to playing a 4-4-2 in my opinion, albeit one where Ramsey is in an advanced role.

    Paul-N – Nawrlins would have been fun mate as we had perfect weather, not too hot or humid and even the mosquitoes stayed away for the most part, but the little ones are more important. If I am ever in Texas or you are back in NYC, we will have to get in touch.

    Bill – I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how many ‘nice’ Yankee fans there are! My cousin who lives in Long Beach, Mississippi may be moving to San Antonio in the next few months, her husband’s family is from there and yes they are Texas Ranger’s fans. Come to think of it, if and when they move that should give me a good reason to visit Texas!! 🙂 Might even get to take in a Rangers – Yankees game if possible.

    Goonerkam – A happy Passover to you my friend. I will be spending it in Richmond with The Girlfriend’s cousins. Looking forward to it, lots of food and wine. Although I must admit this roadtrip has put on a few pounds, still when in Rome….. So far we stand at 2,824 miles driven on this little jaunt of ours, with a further 300 odd to go and so far it has been a blast. I am sure as always you are having great weather in California, so enjoy Passover buddy and fingers crossed we can knock Man Citeh for a few this weekend and take a firmer hold on third. And maybe even make second look doable? Also looking forward to Barca (buch of *unts I know) run riot over the Chavs 🙂

  24. Yogi.

    Great post

    If we play well during the run in then the qpr game will be nothing more then an unfortunate blip on the radar. Absolutely no excuse for us not to finish the season strong and end up in third. We are a better tem then spurs and we are healthy and rested and we have a lot to play for. Our 2 toughest gams are at home. The lads need to prove to themselves and the world that they can put the mental strength issues of the past behind them.

    Irish.

    Just teasing, my best friend from school days lives in Westchester and works in Brooklyn and is a life long Yankees fan. I hate the Yankees and now the angels because their spending mentality yet I am overjoyed when my team spends huge amounts of money on a Japanese pitcher. A double standard no doubt but I don’t care, who says sports fans have to be consistent. 🙂

  25. Thanks IRISH, hope you experience the full glory of Passover. I’m sure you will enjoy. A nice road trip you had there buddy. Like you, I hope we get a good result against the blue mancs and for some results to go our way in the other games. DEXTER is waiting for his belated birthday gift and I wouldn’t mind getting mine a week early. I don’t want anything else if we can consolidate third in the coming days. Well except for a happy ,healthy and fun holiday for all. Cheers.
    And I can’t wait for chelski/barca either. a good opportunity to pile it on my chelski supporting cousin. And have a few good laughs. I wonder how many times. JT will bounce off the pitch, using his face. Drive carefully you globetrotter you.

  26. Re The entertaining of Man Citeh on Sunday, none of the comments have referred to the return of Nasri. That’s good because it means we are all focused on OUR team, its likely line-up and tactics. The near 60,000 of us attending have an important part to play in supporting our boys 100% from start to finish.

  27. The Real Stew Black

    “The entertaining of Man Citeh on Sunday, none of the comments have referred to the return of Nasri.”
    Doh!

  28. Silver Gunner

    I think raised is due a big game if he plays I however would prefer to see either gervinhio or benny on the left and the ox in amc, show real attacking intent man city just won’t be expecting such a line up. Heah that’s just my view anyhow..

  29. @ stewblack,
    Doh indeed!

  30. Clerkenwell Gooner

    Nasri clearly did not enjoy the barracking he got when he played in the Carling Cup. Weren’t there handbags in the tunnel? I am more than convinced after seeing that game that we can beat them on Sunday.

    Captain Vantastic better pull this one out of the bag. He is due a goal.

  31. I like where chelsea lie beaten on the table right now. 6th position? Ha Ha.

  32. 34 posts has to be a record low number

  33. Understandingly not really active blogging here today.

    I agree with those who would take the 4-th right now, assuming of course that Chelsea will not win the CL.

    I think the 3-rd was lost last weekend.

    I think the away form is generally a worry and needs being sorted out as a matter of high priority for the next season. We do not seem to have the tactical options for away games.

    Where is Diaby???

  34. Hey family!

    My new baby girl!

  35. We will finish atleast third!

    sv, square yu blow wow shoulders! Third lost my foot!

  36. @Paul-N
    I hope you are right.

    Subconsciously I fear we still have a collapse in us. It’s just the pessimist in me and the experience from the recent seasons.

    Congratulations with your baby girl.

  37. What a sweet sweet little girl. .million dollar smile too. You are truly blessed….

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