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Monday, June 27, 2005

Can Stuttgart/Bundesliga fans tell EFT more about Hleb?

I took time out last month to watch the second half of Belarus v Scotland on BBC Scotland. The reason: to scout potential new Arsenal player, Alexander Hleb.

Today, he has been signed by Arsenal. And I would like to ask all Stuttgart/Bundesliga watchers to give EFT their profile on Arsenal's latest signing.

My observation from the one match I've seen him play is that he is a playmaker in the mould of a Dennis Bergkamp. Some have said he is the replacement for Edu, but Hleb did not look like a player who has good defensive qualities.

He has a slender build, dribbled with the ball on a number of occassions, and attempted more through balls in this one match than Niclas Anelka did in his whole career with us. He did not play on the wing, but instead floated in the middle of the park in support of the strikers.

His scoring and assists record in the Stuttgart/Bundesliga suggests his value is attributable to supplying others, rather than finishing moves off.

The player he reminded me of was Chris Waddle. Can Stuttgart/Bundesliga watchers tell EFT how correct this writer is with this comparison?

One more question I would like answered: is Hleb suited to the deep-lying forward role in support of Henry in the Champions League?


Blogger Kim Stian Ervik said...

I sure got a crazy amount of assists for Stuttgart. Would be interesting to see some video clips of him in action.

6/27/2005 7:12 pm

Anonymous ASN said...

Alex Hleb is a creative midfielder who prefers to play in central midfield. He has great pace and is perfect for the Arsenal fast and free-flowing game. If i have to compare him with someone, that someone would be Kaka. Hleb is not so talented, but is equally quick on the ball.In The 2003/2004 season he was terrific in the Bundesliga and in the Champions League and he excelled in the World U-23 Championship playing for Belarus. However, last season the Stuttgart manager played him on the right wing and he was very unhappy with the new position. As a result, he didn't manage to repeat the previous season performances being limited on the flank. I am so happy that Wenger decided to sign a central midfielder but if he wants to play him on the right we could end up having the same problem. I think putting Hleb in front of Vieira would be the perfect solution and would also solve some of our problems that appear when we are playing against a team with a 4-5-1 formation. That way, Vieira would concentrate more on his defensive responsibilities and the creative burden would be solely on Hleb and Pires.

6/27/2005 9:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the entire Scotland-Belarus game as well. U are right. For that game he played more of a central attacking midfielder constantly probing and threading in balls for his strikers to latch on. More like a Bergkamp. Definitely not an Edu. He does not appear to have a strong defensive side of the game (I hope I am wrong). Hence I think he will be used more as a withdrawn striker (like Bergkamp's role) if both Viera and Gilberto are playing. I don't think it will be a good idea to leave out Gilberto in favour of a central midfield partnering of Viera/Helb since both are strong attacking players but are not IMO players who recover quickly into defensive positions once Arsenal loses the ball. If Helb can work out a strong understanding with Henry and van Persie, he will be another source of attacking option. Presently from central midfield, we only have Viera (and Cesc when he plays) providing those balls for Henry & van Persie to latch on.

If it is true that he does not like to play on the right side, then Arsenal is still short of a right sides midfielder to give Ljundberg some competition. Hopefully the other 'world class player' Wenger referred to is SWP.

6/27/2005 9:13 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Hello to Kim, ASN and Anon.

Goodness, sounding like yet another shrewd signing by the accomplished Frenchman. I've yet to view Hleb in action and my hat tips to TS for taking the time to view what was potentially Arsenal's target and now is their latest acquisition, subject to work permit and medical.

From the sounds of these replies, Hleb appears more suitable attacking from midfield like Vieira, and the suggestion is vieira clearly retreats back to sweep up attacks and get the team going, Hleb then assists and takes over with play and support with the forwards. I can't understand why Hleb was played out of position on the right if he became ineffective.

With former favourite Ian Wright being something of an influence, SWP could only sign for Arsenal if he is to leave Man City.


6/27/2005 11:59 pm

Blogger T said...

On behalf of EFT and its readers I say many thanks to ASN for his profile of Alexander Hleb.

ASN's excellent analysis indicates that Hleb is the new Bergkamp option rather than the new Ljungberg option.

It became painfully clear in Bayern that the lack of an expert link-man like Bergkamp was killing Arsenal's attacking play away in Europe. Arsene must have resolved then to find 'the new Bergkamp'.

RVP is a finisher, not a creator.

Hleb could be that vital link-man between midfield and Henry that Arsenal lack when away in Europe.

This is what the anon commentator and I saw from the Belarus game. We saw just from that one game that Hleb is like Magic Johnson- always looking for that killer pass.

Kim, we all soon will hopefully see Hleb's assist skills in the new redcurrent Arsenal shirt.

I agree with anon that Gilberto is a MUST in the team. He is our Makalele and Pat NEEDS him if he is to be at his rampaging best.

This writer will conclude by wishing Alexander Hleb the very best of times at Arsenal.

6/28/2005 12:40 am

Blogger Abdul said...

Hleb really does sound like a talented player by all accounts. I too have never seen him play, but from the views expressed by the EFT contributors it does indeed appear that Hleb is a creative attacker in the Dennis Bergkam mould.

But I have always thought that what Arsenal have lacked in the big matches is not creativity but a killer finisher - something that they have not had since Ian Wright. I have been saying for years that Thierry Henry is the best player in the world but I'm sure that he would like someone alongside him that can take on some of the goal scoring responsibility. I think Arsenal's search for a clinical striker must go on despite the signing of Hleb.

6/28/2005 10:42 am

Blogger T said...

Thanks Abdul, your point re a clinincal finisher is a good one.

Since Wright left, Arsenal have not had a penalty-box merchant. This is partly becasue of Arsene's style of play which requires all players to make a contribution to the quick-passing game.

Franny was bought as the fox in the box but he disappointed, and its fair to say that Arsenal have done well without such a player.

But the main point I'd like to expand upon is that RVP is our penalty-box finisher in the making.

He was said by many to be the next Dennis. But watching him towards the end of the season when he came itno his own, it became clear that his number one strength is the clinical finish.

He is a finisher, not a creator. This only dawned on me recently, and since realising this I have come to the opinion that Arsene does not need to enter the market for a finisher.

Subject to his current personal difficulties persisting, RVP will be the main man to support Thierry in the box for the season's to come.

6/28/2005 12:37 pm


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