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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Power of Drogba highlights Arsenal's lack of an Adams/Campbell

First of all well done to Chelsea for the win today against Arsenal. They are a battling team and when on the brink forced a victory thanks to the supreme power of Didier Drogba - a striker that I was highly rating a year before Mourinho bought him to the Premier League and has proven to be a constant scourge to Arsenal.

Today was a game that highlighted for me Arsenal's achilees heel in this developing third-generation squad. When Wenger first came to Arsenal he had Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Martin Keown as centre-back options who loved a battle with a power centre-forward and often came out on top in such confrontations.

Then when Arsenal won the double in 2001/2002 and then went unbeaten two years later we also had the man-mountain Sol Campbell at the back who rarely ever lost a physical confrontation against an opposing power forward.

The defensive strength and assuredness gained from having such centre-backs in defence was the foundation for Arsene Wenger's success at Arsenal in his first and second generation teams.

Yet this third generation squad that Wenger is building to emulate these two previous Arsenal squads for me lacks a dominant centre-back who for the whole 90 minutes can win out a physical and aerial battle with a power-centre-forward of the supreme nature of a Didier Drogba.

William Gallas and Kolo Toure are excellent centre-backs but they each could do with a partner that fits the mould of an Adams, a Campbell, or a Vidic - rather than each other.

This is because for me neither Kolo Toure and William Gallas are highly dominant in aerial challenges - rather they base their centre-back play on their strengths of mobility and defensive awareness.

Chelsea looked to prey on this all day and when the heat was on at the end of the match it was the current inherent Arsenal weakness of defending the high accurate long ball that led to their downfall.

When Phillippe Senderos first came into the Arsenal side he looked like he could take on the mantle of Tony Adams. But he got a tough early education at the hands of the amazing Drogba and presently does not appear to have progressed enough to be the answer.

Hopefully Arsene Wenger, who is a highly analyical guy and is looking to build his most perfect team will replicate this summer what he did in the summer of 2001 and buy a centre-back of the pure power and dominance of a young Sol Campbell.

I have one defender in mind: Micah Richards. He is not the finished article but his potential is superb and I think he would be fantastic in an Arsenal shirt. Also in our ranks is Johan Djourou who I think has a lot of potential- but it has benn difficult to gauge his progress this season due to a loan spell at Birmingham and a long injury lay-off.

Any other centre-back's come to your mind? Or is this an over-reaction and should Wenger stay solid with the combination of Kolo and Gallas for the next couple of seasons?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Micah Richards is a good call but there are some issues.

1. He was totally dominated by Drogba when Chelsea beat Citeh 6-0.
2. He is not 6ft, some height wise he is no different to Toure or Gallas.
3. He is English, plus Citeh have cash-how much to prise him away?
4. If we spend 15+m on Richards, what sort of message does it send out to Senderos and Djorou?

I think Arsene has some serious rebuilding to do- I love Hleb to bits but its 3 seasons now and he hasnt shown any improvement in his goal return.

Rosicky is a class act but very injury prone. Beyond that, our wide options are limited and lacking quality.

We are over dependant on Cesc, we may have to find a way of reducing that without curbing his game.

Also, are the strikers good enough? Adebayor's hot streak is over and his deficiencies are clear to see. He is just too erratic. RVP is difficult to fit into a system and is also injury prone. Bendtner doesnt seem prolific, Walcott ditto. Eduardo is out til Christmas. Vela will need 6 months to adapt.

3/23/2008 11:10 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sell Gallas. He is overrated, he is emotional, he is affecting the team, he is a bad captain. He refused to track back after 90 minutes while he attempted to attack, a sign that showed that he had given up, a loser atitiude and not a winner.

People always remember how he rescue some points for Arsenal while they forget he made very costly mistake as well.

Helb needs end product, not fancy footwork.

Adebayor is fine, but we over rely on him. We desperately need some midfielders to score.

3/23/2008 11:39 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ade should have kept his dreads. It's gone wrong for us since then.

Can you remember a goal from free play? Boro? No. Chelsea? No. Wigan? No. Villa? Yes. That long ago, and I can't remember the Birmingham goals.

Last night was another occasion where we couldn't provide Ade service, and he didn't get a decent shot - let alone a 1-1 situation. Great to see VanP back, but really. We Suck.

Theo came on - didn't get the ball for 15mins, then when he did he looked electric.

Granted Phil doesn't have a great game against the Drog, but the defence never seems under so much pressure either (at least not in our box).

Hleb's ok, but neither he nor Rosicky have in ANY WAY replaced Fred & Bob. Bob controlled us, provided crucial goals and great play, Fred finished things and was defensively reliable. Hleb's defending is one of his strongest points but he still can't pass a half yard, and Tomas is largely a water-carrier with very little contribution going forward. I'd have rather kept Quincy.

It doesn't help that the refs have stolen 4pts off us of late, nor that they've gifted United more than 3, but this is football and you can't argue 6 goals a game.

Painful - we need to beat the Blue Scum at the Bridge. That'll help - but we'll have to wait for next year now.


3/24/2008 12:03 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joleon Lescott would be a oerfect partner for either.....


3/24/2008 12:19 am

Blogger T said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

For me a defeat sharpens the mind more than a draw - and the defeat yesterday does allow Wenger and his staff to really focus on the whole picture and highlight small changes that can be made that will lead to big results.

Arsenal have made strides this season but given the early cycle of this squad there is room for development and improvement.

I focused on the centre-back situation in my post but your comments also highlight a second point - a lack of cover in the wide positions. Diaby is first replacement for Rosicky and Eboue is the first replacement for Hleb. Given that Rosicky sadly has clear inherent injury problems, Diaby is a central midfielder, Eboue's end-product is sub-standard, and Wenger likes to use Hleb in the hole, it shows that Wenger needs to focus on the wide midfield positions.

Wenger bought Overmars, Pires and Ljungberg so he knows how to spot a fantastic goal-scoring wide midfielder. If I was Wenger right-hand man I would ask him to put this on the agenda for his summer transfer plans.

3/24/2008 10:20 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arsenal defence always a weak point for english team to exploit, especially with long and high balls.
This has been going on for years, so why wenger doesn't fix this? Reluctant to buy big? Man U's and even chelski's defense seem solid.

3/24/2008 1:13 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time to forget about playing beautiful football .. looking for that perfect pass and perfect goal.

3/24/2008 1:16 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello thickos, Reality here. when you lot bleat on about how wonderful your football is and your all unbeatable and can play anyone off the park you wouldnt have anyone tell you you were not as good as they all make you out to be you just took in all the glory from the stupid press. Wenger had to believe because he was not spending and ow the bubble has well and truly bursted. Fantastic.

Fantasy football anyone? Just look at Arsenal. Got to show for it so far? Fuck all. Good football wonderful football but then nothing at the end. Is that what you lot call progress? You dont like it when you are up against good players on the day and they beat you. Nothing about Drogba or your defenders, you got taken and done. Thank you.

3/24/2008 3:12 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Arsenal looked to me to be as nervy as Chelsea were. The game was quite fundamental in its spoils given that Man Utd had won. Arsenal wanted to maintain their summit, the pressure, and disrupt a strong record breaking home display never done before for sixty-seventy odd games. Chelsea were keen to show more strength that that displayed at White Hart Lane earlier in the week. Particularly Avram Grant's position had come under big questioning.

Both sides appeared to threaten and cancel each other, it turned out to be a decent game, not an enthralling one as the Sky pundits tried to maintain. It took a stroke of touch from Sagna to break the ice and bring out the furore in one like Drogba. His efforts could have been avoided but those were the breaks and he got them.

I dont know if that all spells more for Chelsea than Arsenal in regards to the remainder of their respective season. I feel Toure and Gallas are well equipped to deal with Drogba but were caught out by the breaks. I dont think Arsenal need stronger centre-backs, not after Sunday's defeat.


3/25/2008 9:50 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...Yes 'T' the very point I have been making for some fact about 2 years.

My brother and I argue about many of the things that go wrong with AFC, but one thing we both agreed on immediately after Tony retired was, Arsene has no idea how to (a) construct the near airtight defence and (b) His buying of defenders up until Sagna has been pathetic.

My opinion, which means a lot to me only, is that Gallas and Kolo are NOT great centre backs at all, and are prone to panic when the ball is in the air.

I would go further and say that in my experience of many many many years....the last two players of this quality to play for AFC was Tommy Docherty & Dave Bowen. Yes im that ancient!

My point is that if they had arrived at AFC at that time they would have been told 'sorry but you are too short and not dominating enough in the air'.

Our famous Six were all great in the air especially Steve Bould. Tony was nearly as good but they both benefited from having the worlds best goalie and world class fullbacks for many years. We now have two world class full backs and a good goalie. Arsene MUST buy two class , tall centre backs who are fast and strong. They must also be comfortable on the ball...Woodgate would have been one but he is with the Spuds. As for Gallas and should be kept as a Makelele and although I love Kolo Im afraid that Billy's goalscoring ability is a valuable asset. Kolo can always be kept as a great sub for all back four positions.

Thats it all sorted...if only!

4/01/2008 4:38 pm


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