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Monday, January 22, 2007

Assured Clichy has made it a case of 'Ashley who?'

After a thrilling come-from-behind win against Man Utd it is definitely the case that these are more good times to savour as an Arsenal fan. I would not swap Henry, Cesc or RVP for any other player in world football. They have the special talent and the special motivation to make supporting them a joy and its simply fantastic that I can expect to see them play and inprove in the same team for some time to come.

Henry is Henry: and what a cool header that was to win it. I'll repeat what I said about Cesc after the Real Madrid game: he has the talent, composure, temperament and motivation to become the world's best midfield playmaker. And van Persie is simply one of the most technically-gifted footballers I have ever seen- for some time I have stated my wonder at his fantastic ball-striking technique and again he demonstrated this with his 'true-strike' to gain the all-important equaliser yesterday.

But in this post I want to focus on a player who has impressed me from the first time I saw him play in the Arsenal shirt: Gael Clichy. He has - as expected - made the departure of Ashley Cole a virtual non-event for the functioning of this Arsenal team.

Quite aside from sharing the physical characteristics and the same high defensive and attacking qualities as Ashley Cole, I reckon that he is slightly faster and a better ball-dribbler than Cole. He has excellent technical ability on the ball and is composed when having possession in tight situations.

Clichy also looks to have always had an excellent temperament which is a major reason why I have always had faith in the young Frenchman. For me, he is a player to be trusted to be fully concentrated on the pitch and this can be indicated by the fact that his consistency of performance- something which Cole excelled at - is very good.

Yesterday Clichy started up against perhaps the most in-form winger in world-football, Cristiano Ronaldo. And just as Ashley Cole memorably did in Euro 2004, Clichy gave no inch against the flying Portugese winger.

Twice Ronaldo tried to knock the ball past Clichy and fly round the other side of him to continue his dribble. And twice Clichy outsprinted Ronaldo, got the ball first, and found an Arsenal teammate. So effective was Clichy against Ronaldo that this may have influenced to a large extect Ferguson's decision to switch the Portugese international to the left wing after about 35 minutes where he remained for the rest of the game. This was a good decision by Ferguson because for me Clichy would have remained more than a match for Ronaldo.

Clichy is still only 21 years old and with all his qualities - including what looks to me a special temperament - I believe he will be a consistently excellent performer for the team for a very long time to come. Making the loss of a player of the quality of Cole a virtual irrelevance so quickly is no-mean feat, but it is one that Gael Clichy has done with seamless ease and what's more it is exactly what I expected of him. For me at least his presence at left-back has quickly made it a case of 'Ashley who?'.


Blogger SKG said...

congrats to arsenal for a terrific win yesterday.

i've said it before and i'll say it again - arsenal have some of the best young talent in europe and in a few years time, i can see the balance of power in england shifting.

1/22/2007 10:13 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would more than be willing to swap the trio (henry, cesc and RVP) you mentioned for any of the following players: ronaldinho gaucho, juninho, ronaldo (not the fat blob), ibrahimovic, adriano, totti, eto, raul, pirlo, kaka, riquelme, diarra, buffon, cannavaro, nesta, puyol and maybe a few more. lol!

1/22/2007 11:19 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, watch a game this season involving Fabregas and tell me you'd swap him for any of the players you've mentioned, and before you say it, yes that does include ronaldinho. If you can watch a game and still think you'd be happy to swap him for 30+ cannavaro who's had a nightmare in games i've seen him for Real this year (despite having emerson and aforementioned diarra infront of him for cover) and i'll say...don't bother watching football it's not for you.

1/22/2007 11:42 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like clichy's determined attitude..but sometimes he commits himself too much to tackle a ball that he sometimes misses and the opponent is free.

Also he sometimes takes shots from nowhere instead of passing the ball..or try to dribble 10 defenders or play a killer pass when the best option was to play a short pass

1/23/2007 12:08 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah. Riquelme hasnt even been in the Villareal squad for the last month. Doh! Adriano has just come into favour of Mancini and Nesta and Cannovaro have been a joke this season. Eto'o has been injured since September and Pirlo has looked a shadow of himself this season. I would possibly swap Kaka for RVP maybe. But that would mean we would have to play a 4-5-1 which I dont like. So, no, I wouldnt swap anyone for RVP Cesc Titi.

Going back to the orginial argument, I think people forgot how well Gael played in the Unbeaten season. He is the youngest ever premiership champion. He had an injury hit season and for a while I seriously doubted that he would ever play 20 games in a row for us. But doubts are gone.
I agree that Gael is a better footballer than C*** but not yet as a tenacious competitor. That will come with time, and Im willing to bet my bottom dollar that Gael will show far more humility than C*** ever did when he establishes himself at left back in the years to come.
I first noticed his temperament when we went down to a Gudjohnsen goal after 20 seconds at the Bridge but he carried on and had a great match, as did the whole team that day (Bergkamp's pass for Vieira's goal was sensational).
For minimal compensation, he is another Wenger gem

1/23/2007 12:11 am

Anonymous AusGunner said...

I absolutely agree about Clichy, I think he's been outstanding so far this year, thank god he's not English or we'd be hearing about he's the greatest fucking thing since Jesus and whatnot.

I also agree about RvP, Cesc and Henry, 3 outstanding players that I don't want playing anywhere else in their career, and I definitely wouldn't want to swap them with any other players in world football either. Sure RvP and Cesc are a bit young and raw but with Henry's experience guiding them the three of them will be huge in the next few years.

1/23/2007 2:03 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And adebayor is good 2!

1/23/2007 3:52 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CLICHY is better than Asley and I am shocked that I am saying this so early on in his career. The only egde Asley has is his shooting finish. Clichy has a lot of edge, his ball control, passing and speed. Before I forget he has an unbelievable desire to improve and I think that is what makes him so much better than Asley. Ronaldo was scared of Clichy; can you imagine that. Watch the game again and you will see that most of the time Ronaldo got the ball he wasn't confident to take Clichy on.

I can go on about this guy and him, Cesc, Tomas, Eboue, Toure, Ali,Titi, RVP, Ade and so on require time to write about them.

They must continue to show that passion if they are to do well in all competition.

1/23/2007 4:25 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4:25, I have to say I agree. He has to put in those performances for another year or two to fully anoint him. He was already very good when he first came, but he's improved greatly since then in his awareness, positioning, anticipation, passing, crossing, decision-making, and right foot. He's technically better than Ash apart from his shooting as you pointed out. In him and Evra, France has two very good LBs for the future. In fact, I'm surprised he hasn't gotten a call-up, but perhaps that's not a bad thing considering Domenech's penchant for ruining our players for pointless friendlies.

I would also say that Cesc is already the best and most complete CM in the Premiership. Part of that is down to the general lack of quality at the position, but you can't argue with the fact he's leading the league in assists. He's improved his tackling and physicality tremendously. His shooting has also improved; now he just needs to put them in the back of the net.

1/23/2007 5:32 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...well done 'T', as usual we see things the same way. As you know I have been an advocate too for Clichy & Eboue. Now I would like to reiterate my views made last year about the talent known as Traore. After all we have said about Gael....I think Traore will be even better. He has for a 17 year old such guile & speed..that Ive struggled to remember any young player this good, and I cannot better him. So hang on a while and we may have the two best left backs in Europe very soon.

1/23/2007 12:08 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Another thorough Arsenal article, T. Man Utd started the brighter on Sunday and it seemed strange to see Arsenal being pegged back for some 10mins and then Arsenal started to find their feet and played back against Utd. Arsenal had the majority of possession without challenging van der Sar thoroughly. I was also surprised that, as Andy Gray said, Utd had Rooney wide and Giggs central leaving Larsson on his own. both sides would cancel each other under attack and the game seemed to turn towards a 0-0 draw until rooney managed to leave Clichy for his goal.

Yet even after that I expected utd to up the tempo and press Arsenal, either in search of another or to deny them the space and time to mount anything in search of an equaliser. I watched Neville and felt he was somewhat unsettled out there and seeing RVP come on and then take place against Neville appeared to be a plan, allowing Henry to draw on Ferdinand and drag him away from goal to expose Neville.

Then came RVP's goal. Scholes and Giggs may appear to have shown age as their usual working legs were not so. Scholes lost the ball which Evra gained and Scholes lose it again amidst the pickings of Rosicky and Fabregas, Rosicky then capitalising and crossing. Man Utd just seemed restrictive coming forward as Arsenal enjoyed more of the ball, and as T stated Ronaldo had standard tricks but no end product too often, something which he had done seasons before. The one-two around Evra was sharp, Eboue crossed well and you could see Ferdinand expecting nothing to come off the cross why he stood off Henry, to his and Utd's cost. Had to be a superb touch to beat the 6ft 5in keeper, and minutes before the final whistle too.

I watched as Henry savoured the moment and read it felt so much for him and the team to win against Utd. For the record Fabregas v Carrick: Fabregas. I didn't need to tell Gooner fans that but I watched his every pass and he hardly failed to find an Arsenal player, whereas Carrick for me was non-existent and came up more in the second half to collect the second ball on occasion and not much more than that. Good game.


1/23/2007 12:40 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

I watched the game with a few Liverpool fans and we all agreed that Clichy was brilliant on Sunday. Seems to have a very level head and I really admire that in this jet-set age in football.

I dont think either team were at their best on Sunday, but credit to Arsenal for playing pushing for the winning goal after other teams might just have settled for the draw after the late equaliser.

Redsman - have to disagree with you re Carrick. Fabregas might have had a better overall game, but I dont think its correct to say that Carrick was non-existent. I thought he had a solid game and kept possession for United better than most other players.

What I was disappointed by is seeing Wayne Rooney playing out wide on the right for most of the match. I understand that he had to play an important role in pegging back Arsenal's adventurous full-backs but I think that we missed the outlet he provides through the middle. The ball was just not sticking to Larsson up front on his own.

1/23/2007 2:05 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Great contribution all round ladies and gents. For me...Clichy is a little raw...but what amazing tenacity to be up for things after being out injured so recently...and to be improving in almost every game. He still needs that experience to make himself a more solid defender like Toure...but certainly...he's already matching Eboue in technique and attitude...and has a much better football brain...and no falling over or diving that the Ivorian has taken too in the most crassy fashion...Lauren should have stayed around to show him a thing or two.

Ahsley I still admire...up til the point he became Cashley...and now he's history in my mind. Evra I never rated...but certainly his intelligent run and fantastic cross to Rooney was super...and if Clichy can do more of that...he'll be up there with the best.

Let the experience come in and let's build this thing up properly...

1/24/2007 2:28 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks everyone - a lot of quality comments!

1/27/2007 12:11 am


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