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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Post Vieira Arsenal can't also do without Henry and Campbell when on the road (AND please can Arsene buy a CM in January)

This is the fact. Four Premiership away games have returned just one point. Henry was out against Boro, West Ham, and West Brom. Campbell was out for Chelsea, Boro, and West Brom. And of course Vieira is in Italy.

For the last five years, Vieira, Campbell and Henry have been Arsenal's core spinal players: each of them have supreme presence down the centre of the pitch. Play West Brom away with these three players and you can bet on three points. Play without them, plus three other world class, experienced Arsenal players in Gilberto, Freddie Ljungberg, Ashley Cole, and you have a shadow Arsenal team.

This is not to put down Clichy, Reyes, Flamini, Fabregas, Eboue and Senderos. These six are among the best young players in world football. But to field all of them away from home is not going to guarantee maximum points at this time in their careers.

In particular, I am surprised Arsene has allowed a situation to repeat itself from last year: that Fabregas and Flamini is the CM partnership. As mentioned a couple of days ago on EFT, I feel this partnership is not a great one for Arsenal. They lack physical size and experience in what is arguably the most important area of the pitch.

Saying this they played well, as did generally the whole team, at West Brom yesterday. But without experience in core areas they couldn't kill the game; didn't have the ruthless edge.

Sell Vieira and Edu, and factor in Gilberto missing some games because of travelling to South America, and the CM position was always going to test Arsene this season. He has gambled on Flamini and Fabregas being ready to play together. But with Chelsea embarrassing the Premiership this is not a season for gambles- especially if they don't pay off.

When Arsenal have Campbell and Henry back, we will be a lot more confident and efficient. And with Chelsea unstoppable there is one positive that I can see: for the first season in five we can fully concentrate on the Champs League. Arsene must draft in a CM with physical presence and experience to bolster the squad in the transfer window, and go all guns for European success which this team is still well capable of achieving.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What utter nonsense. You lacked experience? With the 45 year old Bergkamp against a defence with the 12 year old Curtis Davies? And how much Premiership experience has Darren Carter got? Oh, enough to SCORE THE WINNING GOAL! I'm afraid Arse fans have spent too long listening to Wenger's excuses. Arsenal lost. Period. They couldn't beat Chris Kirkland. And as for not having Campbell and Henry don't forget WBA were missing their best player in Zoltan Gera .

10/16/2005 12:49 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To compare Zoltan Gera with Campbell, let alone Henry shows how little you know about football... Arsenal lost.. true.. But experience does count big.. Of the whole team.. Last I checked.. This is a TEAM sport.. And Bergkamp's experience is something any team would like to be able to boast about.. Even WBA would love to have him...

10/16/2005 1:51 pm

Blogger SKG said...

as a liverpool fan i can fully appreciate what is happening at arsenal - like liverpool they need a couple of quality signings because they haven't got the quality players who can come off the bench or in fact replace injured players when needed. this is where chelsea have the advantage over every other team and hence already have the premiership wrapped up. at their best arsenal are still the best offensive side in the country so i don't think for one minute wenger is panicking, amd neither should benitez.

10/16/2005 4:09 pm

Anonymous rick said...

you say you had an inexperianced team, yet how many of your starting eleven are full internationals. lehman, toure, lauren, senderos,pires, ljungberg,fabregas, reyes oh and bergkamp aswell. Wow no wonder you struggled compared to an Albion team packed to the rafters with international quality. Maybe if you had a team spirit rather than a bunch of foriegn nancy boys you might have done better.

10/16/2005 5:00 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanx second anon and SKG. I wrote all but two lines of this article immediately after yesterday's defeat, and since then I've seen Arsene make the same points which is good. To correct a problem you have to recognise the problem, and Arsene's comments shows he is fully aware of what the problem was yesterday: lack of experience and maturity to kill the game as we should have done with the majority of chances and possession we had.

Hopefully the comments from Wenger shows that he is now ready to bolster our squad in the CM come January. This must be the priority!

10/16/2005 5:07 pm

Anonymous Fortune82 said...

Any of the ArseXI would have walked into our first team yesterday, so all this talk of inexperience is garbage. For the first time this season we took the limited chances we had, Arse didn't take advantage of the many opportunities they had. End of.

10/16/2005 5:22 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

T, and Arsenal fans, I would argue that Clichy, Reyes, Flamini, Fabregas, Eboue and Senderos are not six of the best young players in the world, not in my opinion, they are good players but perhaps lack experience. They're coming through. Fielding them regardless it's a home or away match shouldn't be a problem, they are in the Arsenal first team because they've shown good potential, good enough to elbow out the likes of David Bentley, Jermaine Pennant and Graham Stack, touted previously as up-n-coming Gunners.

What happened yesterday is slightly mysterious. Arsenal had the chances to go further in the lead but it wasn't to be. WBA didnt sit back and perhaps were not as pressurised to do so as one would expect, therefore they were allowed to come forward, Carter taking the opportunity. Within Arsneal is a lack of finishing at the moment, that which they had lethally before.

It is premature to ask Reyes to give leadership and rightly that falls to Bergkamp but while he is influential nearer the last third, elsewhere had turned a bit shaky. We could analyse the match but Arsenal could field the same players and win comfortably next week. It wasn't to be and, like Wenger said, Arsenal fans should look to win the next game.

Injuries to key players have hit and it's a matter of keeping your resolve through the difficult period. Liverpool went through periods of consistent injuries and it was very frustrating. Arsenal still have a winning side with injuries. West Brom's goals very very well taken and Kirkland showed more of his better form.


10/16/2005 6:16 pm

Blogger T said...

West Brom did take their chances: I couldn't believe that Kanu finished as he did having bemoaned his wastefulness during his last few seasons at Arsenal. And the Carter thunderbolt was fantastic- I thought he was a good prospect at Brimingham and I hope he maintains a good impact at West Brom.

Thanx Redsman for your comments. Agree with you that we are presently lacking the finishing touch: but at the same time in the last two games we have run into keepers (Taylor and Kirkland) who have been on top of their game.

In my opinion Reyes, Senderos, Fabregas and Clichy are world class young talents in their positions- Eboue and Flamini less so but useful prospects. Do you remember our discussions on a young Lampard and, more recently, Drogba?

10/16/2005 10:22 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I remember Drogba was mentioned by yourself as one to watch out for. I couldn't see the potential as I didn't think he was that good for Marseille but perhaps in adapting to the English defence he has found a new yearning. Lampard was another I felt had too much hype while at West Ham and was a average figure under Ranieri (so too was Terry). Mourinho's credit is again due in transforming the homegrown players.

But getting back to Arsenal, I say once you have had a taste, you dont lose it, you simply fail to utilise it. So it is still there, just a matter of using it in the right way. Arsenal have done it many times before and they can do it again. There has been a change of display from the past seasons, notably after Vieira has gone and key injuries have occurred more or less simultaneously. But it also coincides with the emergence of Chelsea as the top team. That is to say, how would Arsenal, or the Premiership have been without Mourinho's influence? Would Arsenal have still got 1pt from four away games? Would Liverpool be in the bottom half instead of the top half? Would West Ham, Wigan be doing so well, Charlton and Man City too?

With Chelsea dominating proceedings at present, the pressure is on others to rise themselves. I have to say Mourinho was right in saying before the season started that Chelsea are coming to retain the title and the others are pre-warned. Though Arsenal failed where they were expected not to on Saturday, on paper, with the team they have they can bounce back.

Chelsea have thrown the gauntlet and so far only Wigan away and Liverpool away in the CL have been the only matches where they have been held back. I dont know about new players but the current ones now have to start being stronger and wiser if they want to play to match the Blues.


10/17/2005 4:23 am

Anonymous Phyper said...

As an Arsenal fan since the League win against the dominant Liverpool of the 1980s, I have to say this is probably the best Arsenal team since then. I knew from the start of the season the best we could hope for this year was to qualify for the CL and that hasn't changed. And this is not slight on the team. As many of you have already said Arsenal's main problem this year is lack of real match play experience. Its not a question of Premiership experience its match play. These guys can destroy any team however we should keep in mind this is the first season most of the young guns will have as many Premiership starts as they will. Even at the begining of last season I was terribly concerned after the 4-3 or 5-4 win over Spurs and though we were wining games defeat was inevitable, Chealse on the other hand were keeping clean sheets. Don't get me wrong its great to score that many goals but conceding that many is highly questionable. Arsenal afterall as technically briliant as we are, we are not Brazil. Who are quite frankly the only XI that should be happy conceding plenty of goals given what the have up-front.

I am also a great fan of Arsene. I may not agree with his belief that most teams are defensive in their play. The fact is they do what they have to to survive and it is up to the Arsenal to break them down. It is sad we haven't really learnt that from the defeat to Ajax a few years back. What I'd say is we need players that will run at defenders and down both flanks. For too long we have relied on the left flank, and when Man U closed that down we lost every single match. Man U and Chelsea have credible breaks down both the flanks we don't seem to have the same impact as these two teams. You just sit down and compare the 3 teams and you'll understand what I mean. This is why for me Hleb was a move in the right direction and as the season goes on I wouldn't be surpised to see Ashley Cole playing more in his original left midfield position with Clichy as left back. We've already seen last season that this can be an effective move.

However, I still think Arsene has done extremely well with what he has. Afterall Arsenal for all our success can not compete with Man U and the Royal Bank of Stanford Bridge when it come to the transfer market and when you have a reputation like his with your hands tied in transfers you can't publicly push for players you may want. Recall the Chairman of Real Madrid when he stole both Robinho (to a lesser extent) and Baptist from our clutches said all he has to do is see who Wenger wants and he knows to enter the race for that player.

The fact is Arsene is probably the best at picking potential talent and when you're playing in the big money league you have to be able to spend. Arsenal can't do that. Which is all the more reason why all this talk of "...oh Arsenal are pack with foreign nancy boys with no heart" really pisses me off. Are all of these people so stupid to think that Arsenal would have been able to afford the English players good enough to compete for first team places with the likes of Henry, Vierra, Bergkamp, Pires, etc. I also beleive those Arsenal fans that go on and on about the loss of Vierra and replacing him should heed my next words!!!!!

Just because Arsenal have done extremely well domestically since Wenger arrived does not mean Arsenal have or ever had the depth in the squad to match Man U and now certainly not Chelsea. And let us not forget this was exactly what Alan Hansen (foregive my spelling) said after our Charity Shield win over Man U last season. The fact is ((((and I hesitate to say this given what Arsene Wenger has done takes real talent and dedication)))) we have been overarchievers and until the new stadium is complete Arsenal have to rely on secretly (or a la the Farbregas debacle with Barcelona) aqcuiring players on the basis of potential and not on proven talent. The fact that the likes of Fabregas, Van Perse, Reyes, Flamini and Snadros may make the cut for their respective national teams is more evidence of thier talent not experience. Recall that when Thiery joined Arsenal he was a washed out Inter Millan right wing reject that could bearly make it on the first team. Now he is second only to Ronaldinho in player rankings. And who had heared of Vierra and all these missing or lost players Arsenal fans now idolise. Wenger bought Anelka for was it £500,000 and sold him for over £20m with 2 seasons. The fact that Wenger has only spent £37m on players as of the end of last season should show you the type of players he has bought. And don't forget £21m of that was on Reyes.

The upshot of this is the in ability to kill off games is a problem we have had since the departure of Goerge Graham and the bulk of the famous back 5. It is somthing we will continue to have until the new class has settled properly or we can truely compete in the transfer market for more Sol Campbels. And whilst some may argue that Vierra and Edu's depature has cost us dearly, I'm enclined to disagree. The fact is simply this, even with Vierra in the team we leaked loads of goals this time last season. In fact and I may be wrong here but I actually think Arsenal have let in less goals than this time last season. The only differnece therefore is that this time round we are not as clinical in from of goal as we should be, and that is an experience thing. Moreover perhaps Henry leaving may be a good thing because we seem to rely on him too much for our goals and this may be also why we don't do well in Europe. Note after being contained for long periods of their game Chelsea pulled out 4 goals in 9 minuetes or so. Lets face it if the root of any attack is strong midfield play Fabregas and Flamini have done extremely well because we have created the chances all season we just haven't translated those chances into goals.

10/17/2005 5:04 am

Blogger T said...

Phyper, thanx alot for your comments. A point that deserves re-emphaising is that Arsenal have been at the top in the last eight years while being in a lower financial league than Man Utd and now Chelsea- and that is all down to Wenger and his supreme coaching abilty.

I diasgaree with you about not missing Edu and Vieira. Sure we conceded a lot of goals last year but that was becuase of the absence of our only defensive midfielder: Gilberto. When he came back in April the defence had more protection and Vieira had license to do what he did best- drive forward. Gilberto and Faregas is a good partnership for Arsenal- but I'm concerned at the lack of depth in this importnat area of the team- hence the call for a CM to come in in January.

My brother told me about the Real President's quote in the summer and it struck me that Wenger is like a mastermind whom the spies at Chelsea and Real watch and listen too intently so they can pounce on his targets. SWP gets grabbed by Chelsea after Wenger's public comments in admiration last season:

"He is a guy we have an eye on and we follow his progress.

"He is a Wright - and the Wrights have a big love affair with Arsenal.

"At the moment I do not want to say we are buying him but he is one of the interesting players on the right flank in England.

"Could he be at Arsenal one day? It is not impossible but I don't know yet."

and then Real jump into the bidding for Baptista. Wenger must keep his targets to himself in future!

Redsman, your comments make a lot of sense (as usual!). I still feel you are too grudging about Drogba: 29 goals in that season at Marseille- plus knocking out Liverpool and Newcastle of the UEFA which I pre-warned you about.

10/17/2005 11:19 am

Blogger T said...

One more point in relation to Phyper's comments: if Arsene signed SWP as I was calling for when Pat departed, our right hand side would have had that increased threat that you rightly believe could be improved upon.

Hleb, by account of comments made on this site by Bundesliga watchers, is not as good on the right as when he has a floating role in the centre of the pitch. He has impressed me when picked on the right but he is not an out-and-out right midfield specialist.

10/17/2005 11:27 am

Anonymous Phyper said...

t Said you are right about the defensive midfield role but again that is proof of my point about our squad not having the depth required. Chelea for instance have at least 2 capable players for each position. Though and with all due respect to Jose, I feel he is just a benefitiay of Ranieri's years of hard work building the team. Afterall he was the one that signed Joe Cole, Lampard, Terry, GoedJohnson (who typically changes the complexion of matches whenever he plays) and I think Makalele not Jose. And these guys only needed time to gel. I still think Ranieri could have won the title last season had he been allowed the chance. Whether he'ld have bought the same set of players is a different matter but Chelsea saw well on its way under him. But we'll never know. However I do still think that Flamini is doing a good job in the DM position he just doesn't have the physical presence Gilberto gives over the full 90mins just like Sol gives to the defense. But then how old is he? 20-23.

I also agree with you about SWP and I also feel that Wenger should have pounced on Rooney after what he did to us at Everton but perhaps for all Wenger's skill he's not as fast off the draw as he needs to be. Because by the time he started making a credible move for SWP Jose had stepped in. So Arsene was left over the summer making the comment that Arsenal had to see what Chelsea do first before making a move for the player. I can only assume this was due to not having a bottom less pocket. Though, I wonder if the whole SWP affair was a ploy to take people's attention away from someone else he is or was looking to sign. I don't think Hleb was his first choice for that position though he may ave been hoping to get Baptista, SWP and Hleb. Which no doubt would have seen a huge change in our style of play. Rumours were that he planned to make Baptista a striker with Henry, possibly moving Reyes to the left and putting Hleb into a Bergkamp type floating role just behind those 2 with SWP on the right and eventually letting Pires go given his age. However this is just conjecture and I know there are now Arsenal fans, especially following the Spain-Denmark game, calling for the signing of Fernado Torres and rumours that we are looking to take another youth player from Barcelona.

10/17/2005 1:39 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Phyper, love the time and effort you've taken to view your opinion, very solid comments. I felt I was the one on EFT making long contributions!

T, I remember your comments re Drogba. I still felt he had some way to go, and he hadn't single-handedly beaten Liverpool on that night. But I sense he has brought a new persona to the Premiership that the majority of defenders have yet to have experienced. A tall, strong, determined, tenacious, pacy striker, who else does that description prior to Drogba's introduction? Perhaps someone can think of a player who did or does other than Drogba.

On Chelsea, phyper mention Mourinho has taken over the house that was built by Ranieri but not installed correctly. Jose has found a slick way of turning everything on, I agree with phyper.

Arsenal. It would seem from the recent comments, mainly of T and phyper, that there is a crisis now or one looming to appear. WBA fans should admit that Arsenal would be favourites to win and as they didn't, because they miss key players, Arsenal fans feel they had not seen the Arsenal of old. It could be this, it could be that WBA became more acute than Arsenal, but the game has finished and its to put it right next time.

But on a whole, it would seem that Wenger's movements in the transfer market are questionable. Do Arsenal need another CM of Vieira/Silva stature, or, as previously suggested, could Toure drop to CM with Senderos and Campbell partnering, particularly if Silva is injured? Are Arsenal suddenly lacking on the wings, lacking sharpness in front of goal or was it they were not acute on Saturday but can be more so in the week or next weekend?

The point is before the match there were little worries. Senderos fit, Toure fit, Arsenal could still give WBA a hard game, probably win. So opinion, even without Hleb, Henry, Campbell, Cole, is that Arsenal still had the players who could win the game. Saturday's game is one to put down to experience of playing without a number of key players.

Hearing today that Henry is included to travel to Prague, Van Persie returns and Silva is back from international duty, sounds a boost Gooner fans could well do with. But now Ljungberg injured for a fortnight and Bergkamp not travelling further depletes the experience Arsenal could do with, against a side who are, for want of a better word, 'tasty' in passing around, moving and running fast off the ball but have been overall shot-shy.

I sense Arsenal can use this game to help strengthen their European campaign. Correct me if wrong but Wenger could either throw in Henry at the start or use him as sub to come on if the balance of the game is still level after 50-55minutes:


Lauren Toure Senderos Clichy

Fabregas Silva Flamini Pires

Reyes Henry/Van Persie


10/17/2005 3:23 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Forgot to add that the suggestion the Real Madrid president Florentino Peres scouts out those mentioned by Wenger as potential transfer targets may well be a good one. Rafael Benitez was rumoured to be interested in Real Betis' winger Joaquin, and he quickly refuted them. That is not to say he is but it is best to keep one's intentions to oneself!


10/17/2005 3:27 pm

Blogger T said...

Phyper, your Arsenal analysis is impressive. As you say, Torres talk is only that at the moment. If Arsene did want Torres he must negotiate privately and make it a condition that Atletico Madrid and Torres' advisors stay quiet. However there is little chance of this cos Madrid would want the best price and Torres may want the best wages...

The price inflation Chelsea caused with SWP and Essien was staggering... the hope is that Arsene goes after a great player who Chelsea don't want.

Redsman, I think you are spot on with your line up for 2mo. I don't want to see TH start, rather ease him in with 15 mins to go. The worst thing that could happen is TH start and re-aggravate the injury.

10/17/2005 7:42 pm

Anonymous Phyper said...

Redsman you are right that on paper Arsenal should have won the game comfortably, I'm not making excuses for the defeat and the bad performance so far. To be honest I don't believe Arsene even sees himself as playing with a weakend side because in two years time this will be the regular lineup. However, it just strikes me that the goals just aren't there. Last season at this time TH and Pires were in the top 5 goal scorers. This time round its as though they couldn't find the back of the net even if the the goal was empty. A fact born out by the fact that since TH got injured most of the Arsenal goals have been scored by defenders.

The Toure suggestion may make sense actually. I guess I'm of the old school opinion that central defenders should be at least 5'8'' or 6 foot tall and, to borrow an ice hockey term, punishers. The only problem is long-term who will replace Sol Campbell.

Baptista playing for Arsenal as a partner for TH was allegedly meant to be Arsene's move towards a Drogba like play system. I guess there'll be another Baptista at some point soon. The Reds are trying something like that with Crouch but I'm not too convinced about him and the sytem just yet. Only time will tell.

On transfer silence its very difficult to maintain. For one both the selling club and the player's representative are looking to get as much from a deal as possible so its in their interest to be loud mouths especially if its a player they'd rather keep hold of but know they'll eventually have to let go.

Personally I think they Deine should send Bergkamp to a hypnotist and a shrink all this not flying is just too much. But I guess when you loose friends in a plane crash its understandable. I don't think TH will start but if and when he comes on depends on what happens in the first half.

10/17/2005 8:10 pm

Anonymous Phyper said...

With all the talk of formation of late does anyone have a clue exactly what formation Arsenal played tonight after TH came on following the Czech SAVAGREY which ended with Reye's broken rib.
May be it was because we were playing so deep giving prague all the play but I could have sworn that TH was on the left wing much of the time, Pires was floating all over the place and Van Percie was any where but up front. Gilberto was sitting in front to the back 4, Cygan was hardly ever in defense well all the Clichy blunders covering the CDs leaving a gapping whole on thier right made me very nervous.Fabregas and Flamini were in the CM as you'd expect. I'm confused!!!!!!

10/19/2005 1:38 am

Blogger T said...

Phyper, seems to me that for the majority of the game TH played on his own up front, with RVP drifting over to the left, Fabregas drifting over to the right, and Pires floating about the centre. To be fair, the Prague opposition were lightweight so a loose 4-5-1 after the first goal was scored was okay.

Gael did look shaky. If Sol comes back this weekend that should help his nerves.

10/19/2005 12:01 pm


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