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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Southgate underlines his potential as broken Arsenal are fallen

Arsenal lost their unbeaten league record earlier today and it was to deserving opponents. Middlesbrough have not been at their best this season but they have good players and I personally rate Gareth Southgate - he is a strong analyst and a fighter and I like that combination when looking at the potential of this young manager.

When he was a young player at Crystal Palace I wanted George Graham to buy Southgate for the Gunners- I liked the fact that he could play in defence or midfield and that he was intelligent. I followed his career with interest and admired the way he positively reacted to being the 'fall-guy' who missed the penalty in the Euro 1996 semi-final. He was a good captain and professional for Boro until the end of his playing career and is exactly the sort of individual I would like to see given a chance as a Premier League manager. The Boro chairman has a good reputation for loyalty and he should definitely maintain this quality with Southgate - I think he has the character and analytical ability to be a really good manager.

The signings of Tuncay and Aliadiere show that Southgate is interested in signing mobile and technically good players that can get Boro playing a more sophisticated style of football. Equally, the signings of Luke Young and Gary O'Neil show that Southgate can also spot a good and committed professional (both were young captains at their former clubs) who can inspire a good work ethos throughout the club.

All four were at their best today - as were the rest of the team. Its a great thing for a club and its supporters when all eleven players play at their best level and this is what I saw today from Boro. They were technically good in possession and were fully determined to pressure their opponents when Arsenal had the ball. I was hoping they would tire at some stage but they didn't - and with Southgate driving and instructing them from the sidelines it looked a day when Boro simply would not be denied.

As for Arsenal... I wrote on Thurday that I would like to have seen Denilson introduced for this game, fearing that a Gilberto/Diarra partnership lacked the creative and dynamic qualities that Cesc, Flamini and Hleb crucially bring and upon which much of the Arsenal game is built. I don't know if it would have made a difference to the result as Boro were so up for it today but my fears about the Gilberto/Diarra combination were unfortunately vindicated because they lacked the ability and composure to get a grip on the game and introduce a good passing rhythm in the midfield zone.

Combined with Eddie still adjusting to Premier League pace, Eboue finding dead-ends and Ade looking fatigued it was a broken Arsenal for me today. Four consecutive away games in 13 days with a depleted squad looked to have taken its toll and its time to regroup at home and hopefully get some of our injured players back in to freshen things up.


Blogger Skipper said...

Great article T.

I also like the way Southgate tries to rally his troops from the sidelines. He speaks so eloquently and shows great understanding of the game in his analysis. He has potential there is no doubt.

You seem to echo the sentiments of your manager in your analysis on Arsenal. You do have a lot of injuries at the moment. I think Arsenal need to get some of their injured players back asap.

Eboue; Why does he play in this way? He should have got a red card yesterday. He is very good player but always seems to be involved in altercations – he often gets away with it. He must have a great telepathic understanding of where the officials are.

12/10/2007 8:55 am

Blogger Abdul said...

T I agree that Southgate has the potential to become a good manager, as evidenced by his record against the big four. However, he really needs to be able to rally and organise his team against the mid ranking and lower ranking teams. Its not enough for Boro to raise their game when the big guns arrive in town.

I have to agree with Skipper on Eboue. I think that cynical and dangerous fouls are a far bigger blight on football than diving, although you hear and read so much more about the latter than the former. However, Eboue is frequently guilty of both diving and dangerous tackles!

To be fair, I think most Arsenal fans deplore Eboue's conduct, good player though he may be.

12/10/2007 6:04 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks Skipper and Abdul.

Must agree with Eboue. Nearly every game now he is involved in something stupid - and this is no coincidence. It is tired to watch and it takes away from what is almost universal good conduct by the rest of the team. It is also counter-productive - he could be sent-off one of these days and also his antics rile the opposition and fans - which is not good for the rest of the team.

I will write a post on this the next time I see Eboue do something that he shouldn't.

12/10/2007 8:11 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny that. Southgate getting praised for rallying his players when they have done little but lose games. Could have been more had Eboue been brought up for his slapping and other thing he did. And they say other teams get away with things.

12/10/2007 8:32 pm


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