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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Eboue is fast showing he can be Arsenal's Cafu

Last night, the 'next-generation' Arsenal completed the disposal of Juventus to qualify for the semi-finals of the Champs league for the first time in the club's history. Concentration, organisation, and application were the elements required after gaining a good two nil first leg lead, and this is what the team delivered in the Stadio Delle Alpi. George Graham would have been proud!

Arsenal's young and inexperienced defence deserve every plaudit for achieving another clean sheet in the competition. The character and resolve shown by Eboue, Toure, Senderos, and Flamini was again simply fantastic. In particular, the Swiss Guard - Phillipe Senderos - took full control of the countless long balls aimed in his direction. Capello must have thought this was a weak part of Senderos' game after studying some of Arsenal's defeats earlier this season. Time for Capello to think again!

But the number one key to our eighth successive clean sheet in the competition is that every player is contributing to the defensive effort in an organised and accomplished manner. In particular, selfless Gilberto's marshalling of the young back four has been outstanding. Also great to see is Alex Hleb's determination to consistently double-up with Eboue in defence, which yesterday saw off the energetic threat of Pavel Nedved.

After another outstanding display the player I'd really like to focus on is Emmanuel Eboue. We have been discussing Eboue on EFT since last November when a great contributor - GunnerPete - stressed that 22 year old Emmanuel should be in the first team. I first truly thought Eboue was a big prospect after seeing him a few weeks later on Sky Sports against Doncaster. Then, ever since his emergence in the Arsenal first team following his return from the African Nations Cup in February, I have really enjoyed tracking his stunning progress on this site. As I wrote after Arsenal knocked out Real Madrid at Highbury:

'Eboue is a superstar in the making. He has absolutely everything: heart, pace, strength, excellent defensive awareness, strong tackling ability, thrilling attacking drive, confidence, composure, good passing range… as I said, he has everything!'

Watching Eboue's performance yesterday made me think that he is rapidly resembling the amazing Brazilian international right-back, Cafu. His natural defensive abilities kept Nedved quiet and frustrated to the point that the Czech legend lost his cool and got sent-off, while simultaneously he constantly offered a surging attacking presence. Having a player with such a superb workrate and combination of excellent defensive and attacking qualities is undoubtedly a fantastic asset for the first team to have discovered this season.

I read Wenger say that Eboue played like the legendary Brazilian winger Garrincha against Villa last Saturday. This says it all about the spirit of the Ivorian's game; which combined with his massive natural footballing talent and the nurturing skills of Wenger makes me believe that he will progress into one of the world's best full-backs. With 'the fighter' Kerrea Gilbert also having energed this season, it's a sure thing that Arsenal now have a combination of young right-backs to rival the quality of Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy on the left.


Anonymous Meh said...

I agree.

Eboue is a God, and God is a gooner.


4/06/2006 8:29 pm

Anonymous Michael J Sullivan said...

Eboue surging runs were fantastic to watch. Just one underdeveloped skill and that's finishing into the net. I am sure he will get his share of goals, his attacks on the right do compare favourably to the one's we are used to seeing from Ashley Cole.

As an aside, I thought it was not a coincidence that both Real and Juventus were teams made of older players and that this young Arsenal team including Eboue will be a wave of the future. Totally awesome.

4/06/2006 8:55 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Excellent progress, T, and the Gooners, for they made ample use of Juventus' lack of invention, lack of cohesion, practically lack of desire in turning up. Only one team played last night in the Delle Alpi and the home side is holding Serie A to monoploy. With the 2-0 cushion it was again another 2nd leg display of focus and no-nonsense that coincided with the other qualities T mentioned and, coincidentally, Juventus were held to a 0-0 draw to go out for the 2nd season. We know the rest of that tale.

I have admired Villarreal throughout the competition as a side who seem to pull out a goal or two from nowhere and made this distinction earlier in the season. Hard to say where this semi-final will go, but the North London side are showing that they are made of stern stuff with another clean sheet and battling display. This semi-final is going to be another good battle.


4/06/2006 11:00 pm

Blogger Gunner3000 said...

One incident that could have been a catastrophe on Wednesday night and which Eboue was involved in could well have had people writing negatives about the young star. It was fairly early on in the game wgen Eboue swung back his elbow narrowly missing a Juventus players face (can't remember which)? If that had caught him, Eboue would have been off and Arsenal could have possibly lost or worse been knocked out. Luckily that didn't happen but it does send out a warning to Eboue and Arsenal that not only he, but all the players must control their aggression in these games.

Eboue is a fantastic athelete and I too believe he will go on to become one of the best right backs in the game. His best is yet to come!

4/07/2006 10:27 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says....Great to see a prediction come true.Now I would like to open it up again by suggesting that our future may well see Gibert at right back & Ebuoe as attacking right midfield. I would also like to see, Flamini stay on the left, with Cole playing attacking left midfield.

By using this 4-1-4-1, formation, Arsene has discovered that it is so easy for the speed merchants to turn it from defensive to devastating attack. The mind boggles with the pairing I have suggested, just how great this system could work ie; all four are fast, good defensively & would present us with a fantastic variation.

I believe that the midfiled will be owned by Fabrigas for some years to come, with Hleb interchanging with him.

This means that Reyes would become a sub many many times, and Van Percie, plus Adebayour, would give us that extra attacking dimension.

It will be interesting to see where & when Walcott will fit into this picture, but I suggest that AW will blood him in place of Cole or Eboue, now and again. Watch out for Bentner, he could develope into a Bergkamp type player or deep forward.

I may be forecasting pie in the sky, but I see a time soon when the team could be:-


Gilbert Toure Senderos Flamini
Eboue & Cole
Hleb & Fabrigas ( Walcott)

Subs= Adebajour, Van Percie, Reyes
Campbell, Djouru. Walcott & Almunia.

This ultimately mean that some dear old favourites would go inc, Freddy, Pires, Cygan, Lauren, & of course Bergkamp, Aliadierre, Hoyte. It may even mean the loss of Reyes unless Cole decides to leave.

Sad but thats football life at the top.

4/07/2006 10:55 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...


4/07/2006 2:16 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cole and Eboue on the flanks??? No chance!! they're full backs!!

4/07/2006 4:28 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Michael J and Gunner3000 (cool name), you raise good points about Eboue so I thank you for that.

Redsman, you are right to highlight the lack of creativity and attacking drive of Juventus. When I saw the draw I said on EFT that I was not daunted by the prospect of Juve- and it was chiefly because I saw them as an ageing team without the element in football that really is fearsome: individual and collective attacking pace.

Villareal have this element, plus in Riquelme they have more creativity in one player than the whole Juve team seemed to have. They also have the fantastic Sorin featuring in midfield, so I expect a very tough examination.

I wouldn't expect anything less in a Champs League semi!

GP, your ideas are always thought-provoking. I'm not sure about Flamini staying at LB long-term because 1) he is not left-footed; and 2) Clichy and Cole are specialists in the position. That said, he has been a sensational stop-gap and his determination helps set a great attitude across the team, so it would be a shame to see him left out when the Cole/Clichy are fit again.

Also, check out this significant comment I read yesterday made by Arsene about using the 4-5-1 formation in the Premiership:

“I tried it,” he said. “But it didn't work too much because when teams bombard you with long balls, you open the two centre backs a little bit. What works occasionally cannot necessarily be a rule on a day-to-day basis. We have an attacking style, mainly through the centre. Thierry occasionally plays only there but most of the time he moves around and goes wide so you need another striker more central.”

This is the first time I've seen Wenger publicly admit the failings of the 4-5-1 in domestic football- which was my bug-bear around December/January time on EFT.

Anwyays, I'd like to sign off my comments about the Champs League with these fantastic post-match comments made by Wenger and Italy coach Marcello Lippi:

Wenger: "Every year we were expected to do well in the Champions League and were not there in the final four. This year nobody expected us and we are there. In the end maybe people felt I was a handicap so I'm relieved for that, that people will not continue to believe I'm a handicap!"

Lippi: "The most beautiful thing in the Champions League this season has been Arsenal. Their growth has been incredible."

Big match tomorrow at Man Utd. I hope for a sportsmanlike game to dispell the acrimony of previous OT mathches between the two teams. Expect the 4-4-2 to return with Adebayor playing up front with Henry; and I will be surprised if there are not quite a few goals scored tomorrow with both teams desperate for a win.

Come on you Gunners!

4/08/2006 12:29 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

A timely reminder T & good comments by all! Predictions that turn out to be true should be remembered for sure!

I pick up on Gooner3000's comments on was indeed fortunate his elbow didn't come into contact with Nedved...though Nedved did go in with an elbow first. However, FLAMINI was the one who got off lightly for not receiving a second yellow...even though he was unfortunate to be booked for the first after not making any contact with Mutu...and the striker also fell INTO him afterwards!

Back to Eboue...he's a sprightly "Lauren" for sure! Not sure where Arsene finds all these mid-fielders to convert into defenders! What I would like from Eboue is technique and vision...and there we would really get a Cafu! His failure to cross the ball first time into the box on that break was astounding....but then again...he was agressive and tried to walk the ball into the net...with his final touch letting him down. A bit more composure...improved technique and vision...and we'll have a great defender...alongside his compatriot Toure...and who knows if Senderos remains in his spot? I suspect Toure will be rested after today's game with United.

As for Flamini...I would say Clichy is still a better option...but somewhere I saw a piece on squad players (apologies if it was HERE on EFT)...and he's a classic...fits in when there is a I hope he gets another chance...he just needs some more skill on the ball to go down that wing or vision (to be learnt from Fabregas) and he'll be a great Ray Parlour...Petit...etc.

But plaudits for Eboue first...and he cashed out on keeping both Robinho...Zidane...Nedved...Ibrahimovich...all quiet! I should have put some money on all that! An old saying goes..."If there were IF's...nobody would become beggars."

Come on you gunners - show up Man U!

4/09/2006 4:09 am


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