Posts Tagged ‘ Arsene Wenger ’

10 Conclusions: Chelsea vs Arsenal

 

-by M

1. What an absolutely brilliant game to watch if you’re a neutral. Alright, the defending wasn’t great from both sides but who can argue against 90 minutes of end-to-end action with 8 goals? Certainly not me. At the end, its probably the Chelsea fans who feel frustrated with what was undoubtedly the most entertaining 90 minutes of football the Premier League has served up this season.

2. Arsenal are ticking on nicely now aren’t they? A couple of scrappy wins in the bag and now a 3-5 win to remember against the neighbours. The crisis seems to have been averted and obviously they still have a lot of work to do to challenge for the title (such as learning how to defend), Wenger must be breathing a whole lot easier after Saturday’s result

3. Speaking of defending, it was an absolute horror show by both sets of defenders. As mentioned previously, it was entertaining stuff but both Andre Villas-Boas and Arsene Wenger must surely do something about their defenders. Andre Santos and Johan Djourou are clearly not up to standard. Djourou is a poor excuse for a defender and Santos was abysmal in the first half although his goal in the second half did boost his confidence.

4. Per Mertesacker is not and never will be the answer to Arsenal’s defensive problems. Culpable for Chelsea’s first and second goals, he made Koscielny look class. Not that many Arsenal fans will remember though given the scoreline.

5. How important is Van Persie to this Arsenal side? The man is sheer class.

6. Also, how good was Ramsey? The Welsh captain has stepped up to the plate in Wilshere’s absence and Fabregas’ and Nasri’s departure and was brilliant in midfield alongside Song and Arteta. His carefully threaded through pass to Gervinho for Arsenal’s first equalizer was an absolute gem. A midfield of Ramsey, Wilshere and Song should serve Arsenal well for years to come.

7. Worryingly for Chelsea fans, who have been so accustomed to see their side being rock solid in defence, it is that particular aspect of their game that requires the most work now. Gone were the days of scrapping 1-0 or 2-0 wins under Mourinho. While it is undoubtedly entertaining from a neutral perspective, Chelsea fans must be hoping that AVB does something about the situation quick. Terry is no longer the man mountain he once was and Cech is a poor shadow of his former self.

8. Speaking of Cech, he was at fault for at least 2 of Arsenal’s goals. For a goalkeeper of his calibre, he should not be beaten at his near post twice (or three times if you consider Van Persie’s 3rd goal). It might seem harsh but AVB might do well to purchase a goalkeeper in the coming January window either as competition for Cech or even to replace the Czech international.

9. In a game with high stakes and bragging rights, Torres has once again failed to deliver. Granted, he has had a spell on the sidelines but nothing he tried pulled off. Abramovich must be wondering if Liverpool delivered Torres’ twin brother in January instead of the real Torres.

10. It may be harsh but from the 10-15 minutes of what I’ve seen so far, Romelu Lukaku is NOT Didier Drogba V2.0.

Weekend Review

-by D 

Football is a curious game isn’t it. In the result-orientated world of football and to a lesser extent, life, it’s not about the number of chances that one creates or the manner in which the opportunity is born, it is about whether we make those chances count. United, Spurs and Blackburn did whilst Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Fernando Torres did not.

For Arsenal, their defensive fragility and puzzling inability to defend set pieces saw them throw away a game that they had in the bag. One would have thought purchasing an experienced 6’7 German international in Per Mertersacker would solve their woes at the back.
Blackburn certainly didn’t think so and took full advantage of the London side’s weakness at the back as the Yak( see what i did with the rhyme) and Martin Olsson pummeled them with strength and pace. Not that Yakubu’s deft opener was about any of that but still, it doesn’t take much to breach Arsenal’s defence these days.
Stars players may come and go, but this lack of defensive solidity has been a chronic issue that will continue to deny them success. How Wenger and Arsenal fans must have hoped that the opposing centre-back pairing of Scott Dann and the man-mountain, Christopher Samba, were in the red and white instead of the blue and white.
Still, it was nice to see Wenger maintain his sense of humour, as he quipped, “We scored six goals and lost”. Following another pathetic fantasy week, I’m incapable of such graciousness.
As Arsenal’s self-implosion continues to evolve, lovers of schadenfreude should turn their attention to Liverpool’s faltering revolution.
A 4-0 defeat to a potential top-four contender after having two men sent off for silly fouls and your best defender hauled off due to injury in the first-half was the stuff of nightmares for Liverpool fans.
Utterly slow off the blocks and lacking any form of attacking impetus, Liverpool got what they deserved. A few glaring tactical flaws, which in fairness, are only apparent on hindsight, cost Dalglish’s side dearly.
Although Gareth Bale has had a quiet season so far, that lad still can run exceedingly fast. Like real fast. If there were a time to play Dirk Kuyt on the right, this would be it. Especially so if your right-back is a centre-back and even more so if your team goes down to 10 men.
Kenny goes ahead and plays Andy Carroll on the right after Charlie Adam’s sending off. Martin Skrtel and Andy Carroll could not be any squarer pegs in round holes.
Naturally, Liverpool were torn apart by a swashbuckling Spurs side who look like they have gotten over their teething problems. A huge part of their rejuvenation is down to the purchase of Scott Parker, whose tenacity, experience and defensive nous has given their top-heavy side of attacking talents a nice balance.
Just ask Luka Modric, who had the freedom to roam forward and unleash a stunner from 20 yards out past a hapless Reina thanks to Parker’s steady presence behind him.
Further, Emmanuel Adebayor is still in the stage at his new club when his actually gives a damn and a Adebayor who puts in the effort is a pretty scary proposition for any defender. His hold-up play, distribution and finishing was simply exceptional.
And speaking of teams which are on the rise, the top dog for the past twenty years, Manchester United, continue to show how its done. Its hard for me to even type this but its true.
Demonstrating their new brand of intricate passing football, which is fused with Ferguson’s traditionally strong emphasis on wing-play and carried out at breakneck speed, United won the game in a ruthlessly clinical manner – three goals were scored from three attempts in the first-half.
The first, an emphatic header from a wonderfully whipped cross that appeared a tad offside but was never going to be ruled out because well, it’s Old Trafford and Manchester United, they will do whatever they want.
However, there is no doubting the veracity of the second goal, which has to be one of the goals of the season as Nani gently took down a 40-yard cross field ball, slalomed past three players and rifled it into the top corner from 25 yards out.
That, my friends, is how you strike a ball.
The third was slightly fortuitous -a hashed clearance by John Terry ricocheted off a Chelsea defender into the path of an unmarked Wayne Rooney-  but irrelevant because they put the ball in the back of the net and that’s all that matters.
Which is why Ramires and to a larger extent Fernando Torres, will be rueing their respectively glaring misses for years to come. Chelsea were the better side for most parts of the game but sadly, results aren’t determined by the means.
Games are won and lost and limited chances and the only reason that United and Sir Alex have been at the top of the game is because they take those chances. Winners do that.
And as we welcome yet another miserable week of work and League Cup football, it seems that the ultimate winner is English football. Like Manchester United, they are a brand that never fails to deliver. Exhilarating, high-quality action week in, week out.
Until next week then chaps.

Manchester United Tear Arsenal A New One

-by M with help from D

As Howard Webb blew his whistle to signal the end of the game,  there were no wild scenes of celebration by Manchester United players. Despite beating arch-rivals Arsenal by a record scoreline of 8-2.

It was almost as if the dire situation Arsenal F.C are currently in dampened the celebratory mood amongst the players. Somber handshakes were interchanged and consolatory pats on the back of Arsenal players were dished out by the United players. One wonders what kind words Wayne Rooney offered to Wojciech Szczensy then.

The bigger question however, still persists- how does Arsene Wenger lift his team up from such a terrible, morale-sucking defeat? It was not as if Arsenal were expected to come away with a result against a United side who were so rampant against Tottenham last weekend.

Devastated by injuries and suspensions to key players, coming away from Old Trafford with a point would still have been realistic after a confidence-boosting mid-week win over Udinese that secured the North London’s side entry to the Champions League group stages.

However, even the most pessimistic Arsenal fans would not have been able to imagine the kind of punishment United were about to dish out on their side. Rihanna’s “S&M” comes to mind for Arsenal fans looking for a song to accompany the repeat telecast.

The gulf in class was encapsulated by the polarizing benches both teams set out. United’s bench oozed of quality and experience. Being able to call upon a substitutes such as Dimitar Berbatov, Rio Ferdinand, Park Ji Sung, Fabio, Javier Hernandez and Anders Lindegaard was simply frightening.

On the opposite end, Arsenal’s bench of Lukasz Fabianski, Marouane Chamakh, Henri Lansbry, Gilles Sunu, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ignasi Miquel and Oguzhan Ozyajup was frightening as well; for the Arsenal fan that is.

And as the match began, the gulf in class became a chasm.

The tone of the match was set in the first 10-15 minutes as United were clearly the dominant force in the game. Despite being outnumbered in the engine room, the energetic duo of Cleverley and Anderson completely outran the patched-up midfield trio of Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Francis Coquelin.

After Welbeck nodded in the opening goal after Arsenal’s backline failed to clear their lines quick enough, Arsenal fans knew that they were in for a long night.

Having said that, Arsenal had their chances. After Walcott was felled in the box by Jonny Evans, Van Persie had the chance to level the scoreline only for his dreadful penalty to be saved by David De Gea. Had the Dutchman levelled the proceedings then, the game may not have slipped away as drastically as it did.

And if you don’t take your chances at Old Trafford, the Red Devils will punish you. The irrepressible Ashley Young trotted up the pitch soon after and unleashed a screamer from 20 yards out that bent past Szczesny and into the top left hand corner.

From then on, the flood gates were well and truly opened. Rooney made it 3-0 with a delightful freekick in to the top corner before Walcott somehow managed to squeeze a shot through De Gea’s legs to make it 3-1 before the break.

The Spanish goalkeeper had a decent game in goal but was once again culpable for conceding Arsenal’s first goal. If there was a chink in United’s armour, De Gea has to be it.

Arsenal threatened United in the first few minutes of the second half, prompting optimistic Arsenal fans to hope for what would have been an amazing comeback. However, Rooney dashed the Gunners’ hopes with another brilliantly executed free kick. Whatever Wenger said in the dressing room at half-time became irrelevant.

In a 6 minute blitz thereafter, Nani produced a cheeky dink over Szczesny to make it 5-1 before Park, who was barely on the pitch for 5 minutes, tucked the ball into the bottom of the net with a left foot finish.

Van Persie’s goal was scant consolation for the Gunners as Carl Jenkinson, who is clearly not ready to play week in week out for Arsenal yet, was sent off for hauling down Hernandez. Rooney sealed his hat-trick from the penalty spot before Young, who must surely be United’s man of the match despite Rooney’s hat-trick, finished the scoring with another sublime curler from the edge of the box.

So where do both teams go from here now?

For Manchester United, the skies, or Barcelona, seem to be the limit. Ruthless, free-flowing and intricate passing football played at a breakneck pace characterizes United’s play while promising youngsters in Welbeck, Cleverly, Jones and Smalling continue to shine.

For Arsenal, the pressure just keeps mounting. Lying 17th in the table with eight senior players out due to injuries and suspensions, a beckoning international week is not what they need as there is as good as a chance as any that key players such as Robin van Persie will return injured.

Furthermore, two wins from the last 14 matches since their Carling Cup meltdown suggest that their slump started way before the season begun.

Having said that, it is still early days and the footballing fratenity’s propensity to celebrate and panic is irrationally high. Time will tell if United’s class of 2011 is the greatest of them all but Wenger may not be able to stay that long to see that.

Its ok to let Cesc go

Is it finally goodbye to London?

Barcelona’s chase for Cesc Fabregas gathered steam this week, as reports of the midfielder willing to take a substantial pay cut to facilitate a move back to the Catalan side where he learnt his trade as a youngster were published in Spanish and English tabloids alike. Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood and manager Arsene Wenger have stood firm in recent times, declaring that their club captain and star player was not for sale. However, it seems inevitable now that the Spaniard will be returning to his childhood club sooner rather than later.

Before ringing the death knells, it is not all over for Arsenal. While it is fair to say that Fabregas has been synonymous to the Arsenal side ever since the departure of Vieira, there are options available to Wenger when he finally decides to let his protege leave. Samir Nasri had a stunning first half of a season playing in the centre of the park and the emergence of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey should see Wenger build his side around these three players. While it is not certain that Nasri will still be at the Emirates next season, Wenger will do well to keep the Frenchman and the triumvirate of Nasri, Ramsey and Wilshere should serve Arsenal well for the next few seasons.

While Fabregas departure may leave the club lacking in leaders, they already have a ready-made replacement for club captain in Robin Van Persie. As seen in the recently concluded campaign, Van Persie captained the team to great effect and the captaincy had a positive impact on the Dutchman, who had a stunning second half of the season after returning from injury, keeping the London outfit in the title race right till the death.

Fabregas’ departure to Barcelona seems a formality at this stage. The more negative Arsenal fans will undoubtedly be very worried about how the team is going to cope with the departure of their most influential player in recent years but as shown by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Manchester United, no one player is indispensable to any football club. Arsenal F.C will continue to uncover exciting footballing talents under Arsene Wenger and success will come inevitably to a team who arguably plays the best football in the country.