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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Van Persie is best option to replace Henry

Thierry Henry has been out of Arsenal's three previous Premiership away games. Two of these games saw Reyes start with Bergkamp and quite simply there was no clinical edge as none are lead-the-line strikers. Reyes is a left-winger who can do a good job supporting an-out-and-out striker like Henry. Bergkamp is a legend but he has always been a half-striker who supplies a finisher.

Robin Van Persie is a Finisher. When he was bought to the club 18 months ago there was talk that he was the next Bergkamp. I watched RVP and expected to see killer passes and creativity outside the box. This didn’t happen, and for a time I couldn't see what RVP's strength was.

This changed last spring when TH was injured and RVP started as the main striker. His goals against Blackburn at Ewood and then, sensationally, in the FA cup-semi showed everyone what he brought to the team: a penalty-box finisher with amazing-looking technique.

Clinical penalty-box goals soon after at West Brom and at home against Everton confirmed to me that RVP is a finisher- and a potentially awesome one at that. His technique is simply incredible. Note the penalties taken in the Cup Final and at Sunderland: unstoppable top corner swerving rockets either side with the best-looking technique I think I've ever seen in an Arsenal shirt (1988 onwards).

A super-sub goal against Birmingham and the brace at the Stadium of Light will have lifted his confidence and sharpened his focus for match-winning performances. So today Van Persie must start. He is the only pure finisher available so must play alongside either Dennis or Reyes.

Freddie and Sol's return will also boost the team today: Freddie is tenacious, experienced, and a goal-scorer; while Sol's presence and experience lifts the whole team as well as strengthening the defence. 1pm is kick-off time.


Blogger RedsMan said...

Slightly difficult to speak now since the game has finished, but Reyes is for me more the finisher than RVP, alongside or just in front of Bergkamp. Th main thing for Arsenal is that Reyes or Bergkamp can hold up the ball for the attacking midfielders and full-backs to join in. It's a renowned Arsenal strength.

Today, though I have not seen the highlights as yet, with Henry missing, the cutting edge that drives Arsenal forward was missing and it would appear on paper to be a match either ending on level terms or Spurs shading it, particularly coming from a comeback in style at Old Trafford last Saturday. With Spurs on a much better form, they were looking to the likes of Defoe and Carrick to pull the strings for a victory, yet Defoe disappointed again to follow his non-inclusion in the starting England side.

But I'm digressing as T stated who should start as the goal finisher. RVP has an unique style to him, nice left and skill but lacking at the moment in vision and killer instinct. He isnt the only one. Reyes has been less than efficient but key to Arsenal is that it isnt a one-man game. If Arsene is looking for an alternative killer instinct when Henry is unavailable, then for me Bergkamp starts with Reyes, leaving RVP to impress more when introduced.


10/29/2005 4:01 pm

Blogger Skippy said...

I like Van Persie. I would like to see Arsene giving him more opportunities. I agree with T, he is box player but he can also shoot from a distance.

10/29/2005 10:11 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for the sake of historical accuracy, Bergkamp began as a number 9, but turned into a 433 no. 10. Inter tried to use him again as a no. 9. Somewhere in the last few years, he's looked to score less and less. He does hold up the ball well like a target man, but without Henry or someone as clinical, his current play is just symptomatic of the "pass around the box" syndrome we're suffering from. I hate to criticize someone I admire so much, but he passed up at least two good opportunities to shoot from outside the box in this match alone, instead passing off to a man in worse position. This is partly his fault and partly the fault of poor movement from the midfielders. Nevertheless, we're seriously lacking someone who will just try to score. Llungberg and Reyes. Our central defenders (toungue in cheek). None of the central midfielders. And not Bergkamp. RvP yes. I don't have the stats offhand, but I believe his minutes/goals ratio is the best of the strikers behind Henry. Another reason to start RvP is that he has to be given consistent minutes to improve. Bergkamp won't be here next season, RvP will. The brilliant movement and passing we had in 01-04 and in flashes last season were the product of years of playing together. RvP can't build up that understanding and rapport if he isn't playing.

10/29/2005 10:28 pm

Blogger polyclinic records said...

RVP needs more games...I dunno wats the deal with the boss...issit a case of temperaments? lack of faith? I rember last season when he scored a blinder from a tight angle against southhampton..the equaliser I think...cant shy RVP away like he almost did with cesc last season..only because of injuries issues and gd of winning games when the gilberto cesc viera combo was sealed...the draw against the spuds today,,abeit disapointing...but i take again what i see in RVP...HUNGER-DIRECTNESS I wont be entertained by stray passing around the box..if tt's arsene's idea of entertaining footy...our defence is kinda settled...we leaked to a sitting header..but its forgiveable... lack of firepower?...NO I wont like tt at all.

10/29/2005 10:56 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'RVP has an unique style to him, nice left and skill but lacking at the moment in vision and killer instinct', a quote from the first writer. This is absolutely wrong. Maybe if you took your time and see what RVP does in alot of game, then you might be convinced. There are so much game you can take positive from. The last game, when he came he literally made Ledley King loose his balance to the floor. The 20 yards pass to Reyes from one edge of the box to the other side with just a glance at him. Vision, that's a joke, he has alot of it. This guy has vision and I think he could take over Henry whenever he decides to leave. Henry is a top player, but this guy, RVP, is really speacial and everytime I watch him, he seems to always prove me right.
His left foot is deadly,with the way he moves the ball, beating defenders with little touch on the ball and striking the ball with power. This guy can only get better. Watch out......

10/30/2005 10:48 am

Blogger T said...

Redsman, your opinion on Reyes having more killer instinct than RVP definiely does not concur with me as an avid Arsenal fan and analyser of their play. The last anon picks you up on this and I agree with his views.

Reyes and Bergkamp started yesterday and as predicted by those who watch Arsenal immensely closely, they did not attack the box; had no goal threat. Boy, I was hoping for half-time to come along with us just a goal down: Wenger is a gentleman and slightly stubborn so I knew he would not have made a change before half-time and embarrass the player coming off, although it was needed.

Pires came on for Flamini- which was the right move, simultaneously allowing Francesc to revert to his favoured central midfield role and gaining Pires' unique ball retention, attacking and goal threat.

Then what sealed things was RVP coming on for Ljungberg (I wish he'd stop getting injured becuase he is a key player)- and Reyes reverting to his favoured left wing position.

With these two changes we suddenly had round pegs fitting round holes- instead of square pegs being shoved into round holes (for want of a better analogy!).

RVP is a natural box player and this made a huge difference to Arsenal's attacking edge. He nearly scored twice, when Reyes and Bergkamp (I completely agree with first anon on analysis about Bergkamp's shot shy attitude working well with TH but less so with others) did not look like doing the same.

Reyes is a brilliant left-winger who can also play up front when supporting a main striker like Thierry or RVP. He is not a main striker himself: and here I disagree with Redsman analysis.

The evidence from a number of games when he has been selected with Dennis backs my opinion up. He doesn't get in the box; is not a natural finisher; does not have the movement of a striker; and gets knocked around too easily by big centre-backs!

Would like to end this comment by saying that I was really happy to see Arsenal's resilient spirit back in funictioning order in the second half. To me, Arsenal is not fully Arsenal if they don't have this capacity. Wenger's obvious happiness with the second-half fightback- saying that 'we were reborn'- underlines that he agrees with this.

(I'm going to elaborate about lessons learnt from Wenger's team selection later this week- and thanx to everyone who left comments to this piece)

10/30/2005 1:01 pm

Blogger T said...

From the Arsenal site are these comments from Arsene:

on Robin van Persie
"I feel Van Persie has made a great improvement. He looked a threat when he came on and that is very positive news for the team. He looked like he could score at any moment."

...on Freddie Ljungberg's injury
"It was a cramp. I don’t feel we’ll lose anyone from today for Wednesday night [against Sparta Prague] and maybe we’ll have Thierry Henry back."

Good quotes!

10/30/2005 1:08 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Well, RVP was sharper yesterday, perhaps his sharpest since the beginning of the season. That is what I based my opinion on him from, not on one game. Share a contrary opinion to mine, that's fine, but to say I'm 'absolutely wrong', well, I don't know. I commented before seeing the highlights, I stated that. But for me, Reyes in those goal-scoring potential situations may well have finished. It seems to be a sin to consider Reyes ahead of RVP. Goodness. But Arsene Wenger must be sharing the same opinion as myself why he has started with Reyes ahead of RVP.

Against Newcastle, Reyes wasn't available, RVP came on on 72mins and scored.

Against Chelsea, Reyes wasn't available, RVP came on on 26mins.

Against Fulham, Reyes started, came off on 79mins, RVP wasn't used.

Against Boro, Reyes completed the game, scored, RVP came on 72mins.

Against Everton, Reyes came off on 86mins, RVP came off on 67mins.

Against West Ham, Reyes came off on 73mins, RVP came off on 82mins.

Against Birmingham, Reyes completed the game, RVP came on on 70mins, his effort led to the single goal of the game, now officially given as a Stephen Clemence own goal.

Against West Brom, Reyes completed the game, RVP wasn't available.

Against Man City, Reyes wasn't available, RVP wasn't used.

Against Spurs, Reyes came off on 90mins, RVP came on on 65mins.

So why is it that RVP has started as a substitute mostly since the season began? Because Reyes, currently, is considered to be a better bet to start with than RVP. From what I have seen of Reyes, he enjoys the through balls that Henry thrives on, to run onto them and execute them sharply with his left. When I mentioned RVP's qualities, I said he was lacking at the moment, not that he doesn't have it at all. If I am suppose to take my time and see what RVP does in a lot of games, to be convinced, then so does Wenger. 'polyclinic records' said RVP needs more games, presumably to complete more games, and the Dutchman could well be in line to do so more often after his contribution at White Hart Lane. As T stated, quoting Wenger from the official club web-site, " I feel Van Persie has made a great improvement."


10/30/2005 8:53 pm

Blogger T said...

Good stats Redsman: like a skilled advocate for the defence you support your case with evidence. They certainly prove Wenger's preference for Reyes in the centre forward position, which clearly myself and other Arsenal watchers are not convinced is working.

I am not adverse to your praising of Reyes- I too think he is has good runs into the box with the driven finish on his left foot. But as stated before, he is not a natural- he is a left winger at heart who is best up-front when supporting a fully fledged striker like TH or RVP.

RVP is the box man who is more suited to playing with Bergkamp. He missed pre-season after being held in prison for at least a couple of weeks on suspicion of rape. The mental side-effects may be the reason behind Wenger's early season easing in of RVP?

Apparently Henry may be fit for Sparta Prague and we will have the luxury of all four main strikers to pick from- what a magnificent prospect!

To move things away from Arsenal- I must say that the Boro 4-1 win over Man Utd was astonishing to watch. Alex Ferguson's team gave away so many chances and looked so disorganised. I've had my question marks over Ferguson for a long time now- and one more has been added this weekend. Not to take anything away from Boro, and McClaren, who used 3-5-2 with amazing effect.

10/30/2005 10:28 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certainly you can argue that Wenger's preference for Reyes indicates he thinks he is more effective. In my opinion he is starting Reyes for his pace more than anything. When Henry returns I would bet Reyes returns to the left wing, with either Bergy or RvP up top.

10/30/2005 11:01 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks, T. I have written on the 4-1 defeat in an article but I'll say here that seeing Boro's formation and then Utd's, the Boro line-up looked strong and attacked minded. You say 3-5-2, I say 3-2-3-2 but the difference between the two is very little, and it could come as an alternative effective formation to Chelsea's 4-5-1 or 4-3-3. Boro's line-up looked to have 3 midfielders behind the front two and a C-shaped 5 to protect the goal. Perhaps if Utd showed more passion and grit they could have made more from the game but Boro's line-up and Utd's reluctance to step up a gear made for the North-East win.


10/31/2005 2:10 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Hey guys - great discussion. My only theory with Reyes is playing him to keep him settled...and perhaps luring a few more Spanish players to Arsenal?!?! HA! I think he has played well for the Spanish teams, with his pace etc. Funnily enough, I think I saw a compilation for Baptista...and Reyes almost passed/assisted every goal when he was at Sevilla! LOL

Personally...I think Flamini should be benched - respect for the youngster...but he has looked a bit desperate. Maybe Reyes can then slot in the on the left, Ljungberg on the right, then Gilberto & Cesc in the middle. That leaves RVP and Bergkamp/Henry up front. It is not a problem having RVP being a sub actually...that keeps him on the edge and I think pushes him harder! Look at Pires...a bit of benching worked wonders! He certainly played better than I saw for the last 10 matches.

Sorry to go off topic re: the Man U match. Didn't watch it but it just sounds like they haven't sorted themselves out yet...a bit like Arsenal at times. Just wish Chelsea slipped up a few more times!

10/31/2005 2:38 am

Blogger T said...

I agree with anon (12:01am) and Nturtle. Nice conspiracy theory re tempting other Spanish players: Fernando Torres?!!?

Yep, I've commented before that RVP has super-sub potential when Thierry is fit and firing. Remember a few years ago Arsene always had two super-strikers ready to come off the bench if the team were in trouble: Kanu (when he was good!), Suker, Henry, Dennis, Wiltord, etc all had this role. Such substitute depth has been missing this season so I'm happy to see all 4 strikers may be fit for the first time and give us this bench scoring potential.

10/31/2005 9:42 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

LOL T - you got it in one! A lot of people say that...but Arsenal need to move up the table by Jan to lure Mr. Torres from Athletico...and it won't be cheap!

Yeah - your super-sub tactic is something we are missing a bit. Maybe it is the balance of the bench that is the problem - all you need is perhaps eboue for defense...then add in more strikers for some action! Still waiting to see Lupoli and Bendtner in action against the big teams...and quincy more often. The former two are more prolific...but Quincy looks like a good Reyes/Wiltord type of player.

I do miss Wiltord....he is a bit like Ljungberg - never gives up...tries hard...and was just thrown away by Wenger...look at him at Lyon! He's doing great! I guess it is down to balance...and Wenger has to see that sometimes it doesn't work well...unless they practice it more in training! 4-5-1 nope...defensive "solid" mid-field...nope...where's plan B?!?! HA!

Hopefully he'll figure it out!

10/31/2005 11:27 am

Blogger T said...

Nice one Nturtle! We are on the same wavelength because I also liked Wiltord's unflashy contribution for the team which included a lot of vital goals. Lyon are a great team- maybe the closest in style to Arsenal in Europe, and I'm happy for Sylv's success.

As for Arsene figuring it out- I think he is having a good go and will somehow stumble upon the right formula for plan B- pls no 4-5-1 with Reyes as a right winger a'la the cup final!....

Check out the buy of Bendtner: he is 6 foot 3 inches and still growing! He will be our first big striker since Hartson- and hopefully a lot better! I would like to see him get a run out in the Carling Cup.

10/31/2005 6:50 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

I have always found it difficult to understand why van Persie has not started more games when Henry has been injured. He offers a genuine goal threat. I was really impressed with him towards the end of last season.

T, I'll look out for this Bendtner - the new Hartson but better, what a great description!

11/01/2005 9:45 am


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