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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Time for total focus and total effort at Arsenal

Arsenal definitely visited sucker-punch city last week and it was quite a humbling experience. They beat Wigan in a game of great spirit and effort, but lost. And then our under 23s went up to Bolton and were looking the more likely team to score before Sol Campbell (slightly over 23- how did he get into the team!?!) failed to push up and played Stelios onside for a text-book headed finish.

But if there is such a thing as affordable losses in football they are in domestic cup competitions. And this is especially the case for Arsenal in a season of many injuries and patchy Premiership form that has made Champs League qualification look uncertain.

Now there are no more games where Arsenal can afford a loss. Every game demands a total focus, total effort, and the best possible result. It’s the Premiership and Champs League from now on… and no other distractions to take AFC off the eye of doing our best in either of these competitions.

Lauren is the latest injury victim for AFC but the fantastic Kerrea Gilbert will not let anyone down as his replacement. Cole is not going to be back until next week at the earliest, but when he does return we will have a far better balance and stability to our defence. The Thruam-like Kolo Toure plays Cameroon and Samuel Eto'o at the weekend- which opens up the prospect that he could be back sometime next week along with Eboue. The return of Cole and Toure to our defence will be massive boosts for AFC.

Up front, Adebayor will be available for selection very soon, as will Theo Walcott. With Van Persie and Dennis Bergkamp also back to fitness- AFC's sheer variety of attacking options in the next few weeks promises to be at its greatest for quite some time. It may hopefully also see Wenger decide to abandon his - one goal in nine matches - 4-5-1 experiment.

The addition of Diaby is significant! He has the presence in midfield that AFC were crying out for, and has all the asset's to develop into a magnificent squad member. I have also been impressed with Flamini in recent games, who is developing quickly into a promising midfield organiser. I'm hoping Fabregas will also flourish with the pressure now taken off him to play every game.

So in every department there is promise for improvement very soon. This is what gives me grounds for optimism that AFC can fight back over the important next few weeks and months. A good result against West Ham tonight will be a fantastic way to start things off.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Great insight as always t!

My analysis...

With Bentley, Quincy sold...we've definitely got a squad that is competitive. I just hope that Wenger truly plays players that ARE on form all the time...and not just a core team that sometimes doesn't put in enough effort since they feel they will be in the team week in week out...we shall see...Wenger's rotation policy has been rather schetchy to say the least in his time here...and his substitution timing even worse...heh...

Gilbert luckily has had a bit of exposure...so with Lauren out...it looks like he might be able to make the grade. It's looking promising.

With the rest of the team...I do think some truly playable lads like Diaby, Adebayour and Walcott...really spices things up. I just hope we step on the pedal and catch up with Liverpool and Man U...Tottenham will probably self destruct sooner than we will...heh heh...well I HOPE...they have been doing good though.

The Champs league will be interesting as well...with a revived Real Madrid looking quite dangerous actually...fighting back to win in a few games. It'll be tough...but not impossible to get an away goal...which is very valuable...given the result of the Wigan game!

Come on you Gunners...give us fans some value for money and bring it on at West Ham! No more stupid mistakes!

2/01/2006 1:23 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad to see Bentley go as they have always been talking about him having the potential to be the next bergkamp (which is the kiss of death for anyone really) and also the fact he was english was also a plus point.

I never really saw him do the things that were expected, and with an inflated ego as well, I think it's right to let him go.

I never saw Quincy play a great game - too many elaborate step overs and not enough simple quick balls I'm afraid.

All in all I think it's been a good transfer window for us though - I'm very encouraged with Diaby.

Well done Arsene - maybe we didn't get the experience that some of us hoped for, but experience costs and maybe we don't have the cash at the mo.

COME ON THE GUNNERS!

2/01/2006 1:44 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Thanx guys for the comments.

I hope everyone is getting over the defeat yesterday.

I was in slight shellshock after the match: I simply couldn't believe how the match panned out.

The team started like a house on fire and should have been at least a goal ahead before Sol's nightmare five minutes.

Arsenal than snatch a goal just before the break, and come out for the second half fired up for a great comeback. We came close to getting the equaliser...but not close enough.

A defensive lapse by Larsson- who otherwise filled in well at LB for the second half- then lets in Harewood who squares across an open defence and Etherington finished to effectively end Arsenal hopes.

Pires got a goal to in the 89th which opened up the faintest of hopes for a grandstand finish but annoyingly the linesman wrongly put up is offside flag twice so it was not meant to be.

Conclusion: the spirit was there, the effort was there, the possession was there... but we shot ourselves in the foot with flimsy defending against the West Ham counter-attack.

As long as we show the same spirit as in the last three games I can never have complaints. Just tidy up the defensive errors and the rewards will come.

In this respect the return of Kolo can;t come soon enough. I have always really liked Kolo and known his importance for the team. Now I know just how much he is needed by Sol too.

2/02/2006 10:36 am

 
Blogger T said...

P.S. A couple of days before the Everton game I changed my desktop background to a picture issued on Arsenal.com showing Highbury bathed in the most beautiful sunset.

Since then AFC have had four games with really disappointing results.

So I've changed it this morning to an old favourite. Hopefully this will do the trick for AFC!!

2/02/2006 10:38 am

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

T, liked the positiveness from your comments. And you were right, Arsenal started ever so feverishly they were over West Ham like a rash. Henry's effort was blocked away from goal, Van Persie wriggled and hit the post, it seemed only time before they broke through. As for Campbell, Wenger said he wasn't mentally right at half-time. I wonder if Campbell was right from the kick off. It could be something personal, and yet still he played on, and that has to be commended. It has been suggested his recovery pace has waned, but I don't know. However, Arsenal went 0-2 down and fought back well before half time, so to an extent Campbell's involvement in both goals could have been changed to be mere setbacks.

I admire Gilbert and Djourou, particularly the right back, they know the level expected for the club, for Arsene, and they have to help in the absence of stalwarts Lauren, Cole and Toure. I said before from the Everton match that Toure's presence is missed. However Anton Ferdinand, for one, was quite dogged for the Hammers, and their defending was all hands on deck.

Whatever it is that could be troubling Campbell, Arsenal need not lose him now of all times. He is a lynchpin and iron rods break on his back, and I anticipate he will be there at St Andrews, come high, come low.


RedsMan.

2/02/2006 2:07 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Further to my comment, Campbell has been omitted from selection for the weekend. Gilbert has a back injury and the club awaits news on Lauren's season.


RedsMan.

2/02/2006 8:59 pm

 
Anonymous Nturtle said...

I hope your wallpaper changing does the trick T!! No sunsets YET at Highbury....(2000th game it was and 151 goals for Henry...but still a disappointment)...

Thanks for the additional commentary guys.

It's such a shame Gilbert is injured...can't believe the luck we've had in defence...

Campbell going mental...it is surely a troubling time. When will we be able to get back to a solid back 4 who stick together for a while?!? Gonna be difficult I think.

Well...I think I'll just pray that the Swiss duo show their stuff...and Flamini and Larsson get to grips with their new positions. I think they can make it with some practice...I definitely DON'T want Gilberto in the back line as Wenger threatens to do so in the papers...he's too slow and fragile!

2/03/2006 12:53 am

 
Blogger T said...

Redsman, your intuition - as it is on most things- is spot on re Campbell. It appears from comments made by classy Robert Pires this morning that Sol has a big worry on a personal level.

This explains his uncharacteristic lapses in concentration, and I wish him all the best.

Nturtle, I can't believe what's happening to our defence! Djourou and Senderos look to be our only fit defenders- which is pretty incredible.

If I was Wenger I'd adopt an all-out attack approach tomorrow and just hope to score more goals than Birmingham. My fear, however, is that he'll play a 4-5-1 to support his patched-up defence- and we'll end up scoring no-goals again.

Certainly interesting times to be an AFC fan!!

2/03/2006 10:07 am

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

I have mentioned before that Arsenal's weakness was in their defence, around the time of Lauren, Campbell, Toure and Cole, and that in itself showed how strong the midfield and forward line was, including Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp, Pires, Ljungberg. I may have mentioned that the last 2 lines rely on speed and movement to subdue the opposition, which takes a big amount of pressure off the defence.

Now, it is a defence that needs to stand up and battle like a WW, and why I mentioned the above paragraph is in response to T's comments on a 4-5-1 to bring that same pressure off the defence. Birmingham may change shape when the team sheets are read but I'd wager them having a 4-4-2 as Steve Bruce was confident with Sutton and Heskey following the Anfield game, even against an Arsenal (possible) 4-5-1 that could be regarded as shaky at the back.

Despite absentees, Arsenal can form a strong midfield four or five. I understand Reyes and Fabregas are back, Adebayor can feature as Togo are out of the ACN. Am I right in saying Flamini will be at RB, Larsson LB, Djourou and Senderos in the centre? Reliance will be on Ljungberg and Pires on the wings, with Gilberto and Bergkamp, behind Henry and Van Persie, would that be a good 4-4-2? Or in a five-man midfield, you could have Ljungberg on the right, Bergkamp alongside Pires, Van Persie on the left and Gilberto just behind the four in the tip of a diamond formation?


RedsMan.

2/03/2006 12:42 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Sorry, forgot to include Diaby's availability.


RedsMan.

2/03/2006 12:43 pm

 
Anonymous Nturtle said...

Indeed Redsman & T...it'a going to be interesting! *sigh*....unfortuantely I agree with a weak defence...but don't forget...Wenger has promised attacking foodball...so no more "boring Arsenal" or 1-0 to the Gunners!

So..hopefully that will make up for it tomorrow. "FEAR is for the fearing"...let's show Henry we've got some backbone!

2/03/2006 1:45 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Yep Redsman, you look to be right about Arsenal's defence. I have just done my own team for tomorrow in a post that I've just published@: good old 4-4-2 with Bergkamp up front, plus Reyes and Fabregas on the flanks... Reyes being more attacking and Fabregas coming inside when necessary.

I like that quotation Nturtle... it would be great to see Arsenal come through this adversity!

2/03/2006 4:47 pm

 
Blogger Steven said...

The game tomorrow will be very revealing, regardless of outcome. We'll know whether Arsenal are the same team that used to overcome adversity with a spirit that was tough to break. We'll likely get a taste of what Theo Walcott is like. We may even seem Manu Adebayor, although Wenger tends to rest those returning from international duty.

And we'll see if Wenger does indeed recognize the utter folly of the 4-5-1 with this squad, and goes with a more traditional 4-4-2.

2/03/2006 9:02 pm

 

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