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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dennis and Thierry: still the perfect match

Lack of goal-scoring away from home has been a fundamental feature of Arsenal's season. And its not just the lack of goals that is concerning; the lack of overall chances being created by Arsenal's attacking game away from home is also a major worry.

The loss of our left-side attacking game because of the injuries to Cole and Clichy has contributed to this situation. The loss of the attacking drive of Vieira from the centre of midfield is another factor. And the loss to injury of van Persie as he was threatening to combine an explosive partnership with Thierry Henry can also be added to this sorry mix.

On top of all this, there is the absence of Dennis Bergkamp to consider.

Bergkamp is undoubtedly an Arsenal legend. For me he is still the ultimate link-man between the Arsenal midfield and the back of the net. I reckon that Henry is at his best when he has Bergkamp as a forward partner. And although Thierry is the captain, it is clear that he - as well as all the other Arsenal players - still looks up to Bergkamp as the number-one inspirational professional at the club.

All these positive reasons for playing Bergkamp need to be considered by Wenger when making his next team selection.

Henry's admiration for Bergkamp is obvious and has been stated many times throughout the seasons. And it is clear to me that Thierry thrives most when he has Bergkamp on the pitch directing Arsenal's attacking moves and offering a constant supply of dangerous attacking passing. Of course not every pass comes off, but he still brings a balance, composure and cohesion to the Arsenal attacking game that is unbeatable and has been sorely missed.

Bergkamp's return to the squad for the Fulham game is a big plus. I hope Wenger selects him up front with the aim of lifting - which he is capable of doing through his presence and skill - the attacking performance of the Arsenal team in what is virtually a must-win game.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couple the loss of Bergkamp with the poor form of Pires and Arsenal have no link up play AT ALL. Maybe one day Cesc can fill the role, but right now, Arsenal are stagnant.

3/02/2006 8:36 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Bergkamp's inclusion is nothing less than a plus. With RVP injured, along with the defensive three C's (Cole, Clichy, Campbell), inspiration is one factor the side needs in any quantity going. Key to that is Henry's performance, he has been practically a one-man team, as I recall his goal against Spurs when he ran from his own half, shrugged off challenges, moved to his left and scored in a 3-0 win.

But in saying that the Frenchman needs a team build-up to get going, once he is in possession, then others moving into distracting positions can open up pathways for him. Teams may probably build on a strategy to close on him if he plays solo upfront, I would implore for Wenger to play another with Henry, that other being Bergkamp. Doesn't seem to show any age deterrence, has the mind to match and if Wenger would play Bergkamp with Henry. Equally,

Reyes could play with Henry, fresh from his goal for Spain in midweek, and I would still play Pires and Ljungberg, old heads that can still run but they need to inject urgency into the play from the kick-off and raise the Gunners to the fight before they are shut down. However, I would play Bergkamp alongside Henry, Reyes on the left wing, Pires on the right as I think he too gels with Henry, Diaby and Gilberto in the middle.


3/02/2006 10:33 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep. Lets forget Bergkamp is 37 and tends to be missing during games nowadays. Lets also forget Pires can't give us more than 25 minutes of decent play. And lets also forget that statistically speaking, Cesc has been our best midfielder this season. Sure, the team is missing Pires and Bergkamp - they've been world class players. However, their time is up. They may be able to give some moments of magic, but they can't do it consistently and they can't play a whole match anymore.

3/03/2006 2:43 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With Fabregas in the team you cannot ever play Pires and Ljungberg away from home. We will get dominated in midfield. I would go with Fabregas Gilberto Ljungberg and Hleb/Reyes.

3/03/2006 9:37 am

Blogger T said...

Thanks for your comments three anons, and Redsman.

My own team for tomorrow would be this:

Eboue Toure Senderos Flamini
Ljungberg Fabregas Gilberto Reyes

I've written before that IMO the best attacking combo for Arsenal is the triumvirate of Reyes/Bergkamp/Henry.

And my midfield looks like the one chosen by anon (9:37am).

Redsman, I wouldn't start with Diaby because he is too raw. Against Blackburn he got subbed after 45 mins.. which was the second or third time already this season that Wenger has chosen to remove Diaby very early from the action.

Diaby and Adebayor, for me, should only be used off the bench until they have had a pre-season to adjust to the team.

I would play Freddie because he showed signs against Real Madrid that he is not finished... and nor should he be at only 28 years old.

Finally, to anon (2:43am), I feel that if it is a choice between Adebayor or Bergkamp to start, DB is the better option primarily because he is capable of getting the best out of his teammates. He may only be able to go 70 mintues before being in real danger of picking up a muscle injury, but at least there's no chance that he will play 120 minutes again like he had to against Wigan.

3/03/2006 1:20 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I see good sense in those choices, all. I still find it somewhat unpredictable in football when you are choosing who to play. The player who seemed mediocre last week and was taken off is the one who scores twice to win the next match, or vice versa, the player who was sensational last week then plays something of a nightmare and was party to the conceding of a losing goal in his next match.

I mentioned that this season would be the one of peril for Graeme Souness in pre-season. I also mentioned it was of peril to Ljungberg, therefore he needs the games to shine, otherwise he will become a bench regular and possibly be disgruntled if it interferes wth his international selection. And the thing is he is one of Wenger's babies, where else could he go to play the way he has for Arsenal? The same could be said for Pires, though I believe if he had to leave he could do well in a French side.

With Eboue, Gilbert, Djourou, Diaby, Adebayor and Hleb, plus RVP and Reyes, there seems a revolution on the horizon, and a number of old hands have to be exceptional to retain their place at the club. New stadium, bigger ground, more playing space and fresh faces sees inspiration for Arsenal. I have mentioned this before that Henry may well dwell on how he will accommodate the fresh faces after the old hands have moved on. Not saying the old hands will, but given the run of form, and Arsene mentioning it as a big concern, the old hands can find they are nearer to the exit, unless they right now turn in exceptional performances. Bergkamp did so last season to persuade for his signature this season.


3/03/2006 2:06 pm

Anonymous Lost Key said...

Bergkamp is certainly up there among the top 5 of the best ever players in the premiership history, so far.

3/03/2006 2:35 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Being brave...and sometimes rather foolish...I am going for the prediction that Gilberto will NOT start. His facial expression when subbed against Blackburn was plainly surprise...and "who me?" He played poorly...and I don't know how to forgive him...except to give him ANOTHER week long break before playing like he did against Real Madrid.

I like the Bergkamp theory...but I feel that the TEAM needs to just gel and support each other a bit more. There are no other "passing" teams like Arsenal...and yes it takes some time to gel...but clearly players relish the challenge and just need to be "on the ball"...pun definitley intended. Blackburn broke the rhythmn of our fluency and all the teams do it to us...except for Madrid recently. To break that mould takes strength and also teamwork in getting back control of the game. Not being allowed space means CREATING space...and that is where Bergkamp does his classic thing...and where Pires has been doing it in the past. We HAVE the players...just not the fitness or willpower sometimes.

If Henry can draw two defenders...that leaves someone else to score...NOT for us to lob balls to him! Football was made to be a simple game...let's try to outwit the opponent's not hard to see what they will do...let's counter it!

A team of midgets (with no disrepect) against a team of giants...can STILL win the game...although it wouldn't be "header country". have to reinvent yourself and evolutionise...not necessarily revolutionise. I'd rather have Cesc than Viera to be honest...CREATIVITY seems to have put him in the Spain squad for 90 minutes...not brute force.

Back to T's article - I would just say again...let's see a break in the mould. Adebayour CAN be the Bergkamp if need be...just a different kind....drawing defenders AWAY from Henry...and with Cesc supplying things...Bergkamp is less needed as might have been the case in the "vieira days." HOWEVER, I love Dennis...and I do hope he can rekindle Arsenal with some magic and belief and experience in just putting the round ball in the back of the opponent's net!

3/03/2006 2:55 pm

Blogger T said...

I fully endorse that Nturtle! Plus, I totally share your wish to see Arsenal gel more and get their passing game back to its best... for me I currently see no one better than Dennis to act as a catalyst to get our passing game back on track.

Thanks Lost Key and Redsman for extra comments...

Redsman, I know what you mean about the unpredictibility in picking your own team. If Adebayor starts tomorrow and decisively contributes to a winning effort I will look to have been too hasty to drop him... but then again I definitely won't mind if this happens!!

Good luck Gunners!

3/03/2006 7:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff this site. But as far as I know, Adebayor is cup-tied in this season's CL. But I rate him highly, he's quicker than he looks, and got great movement - an exciting prospect.

3/08/2006 11:34 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is this basically an arsenal blogsite?

3/08/2006 7:30 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks anon(11:34 am)for kind comment about the site... I liked what I saw of Adebayor against Fulham and he DID prove me wrong by scoring the decisive second goal and generally contributing well to the victory.

I agree that he looks like an exciting prospect!

3/09/2006 12:36 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Anon (7.30PM), this is a football talk blogsite, all clubs are considered. Feel free to submit an article on any football issue of your choice, something about your team, or football in general, to: Address can be found on our homepage.


3/10/2006 11:50 pm


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