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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Van Persie and Walcott = much need added firepower

Arsenal have stagnated in the league in the last month. In the course of a season it was bound to happen to this young squad that they would hit a sticky patch. Ironically it came in a run of matches that in relative terms aren't the most severe - Birmingham and Wigan away sandwiched between a home game against Aston Villa. Three consecutive draws is no embarrasment - but in the context of a title race it is substandard form.

For me the Eduardo injury in the opening couple of minutes of the Birmingham match cast a unique black cloud over that match and it seemed darkly appropriate that it then ended with a last minute debatable penalty decision costing the team two points and halting their momentum. However, if the fates looked to be badly against us in Birmingham, the same can't be said in the folowing league matches against Villa and Wigan where the team were flat and it was clear that there was a lack of freshness in performance, imagination and most importantly options.

Adebayor, Cesc and Hleb have shouldered the attacking burden of the team in the last couple of months due to injuries to van Persie, Rosicky, Eduardo, Diaby and the African Nations Cup plus suspension ruling out Eboue. And against Wigan this trio looked to be physically tolling and playing on memory rather than relying on physical and mental sharpness (Walcott would have been perfect for the Wigan match as his pace, current confidence and relative freshness could have made a big difference... what a mistake it was to play him in that Colorado Rapid exhibition match just a couple of days before where he sustained a knee injury).

In this context and with a big couple of months coming up it is great to see the super-skilled forward who started the season in fantastic form, Robin van Persie, set for a starting place for the Middlesbrough match today, with Walcott waiting in the wings as a super-sub option. Their freshness, firepower and attacking options will be a big boost for the team and particularly Adebayor, Cesc and Hleb.

For me it is also good to see Eboue come back - his finishing pass or shot leaves a lot to be desired but he does have exellent running power and an ability to make openings with his inside and outside dribbles down the right. And looking into the near future, fingers will be crossed hoping that the underrated and experinced Tomas Rosicky can come back in time for the run of powerhouse matches Arsenal have lined up at the end of this month/start of next month.

Arsenal need options at this time. We need van persie, Walcott, Eboue and Rosicky to be available so to add to the variations and firepower that Wenger can choose from while alleviating the pressure on Hleb, Cesc and the Ade to be the primary producers of goals and assists every match - a pressure that had been looking to weigh heavy in recent matches.

Having TW, RVP and Ebu all back for today's match is therefore great for me to see. And if they can help contribute to three much needed points against Boro - with van Persie getting a full 90 minutes under his belt - this will be perfect.


Blogger T said...

Not a perfect result - but rescuing a point is better than none at all.

Van Persie looked understandably rusty - but 60 minutes of first team action will be good for him.

Arsenal have not scored a first half goal for some time and today got hit early on by a classic counter-attacking goal. The free kick leading up to it was harsh I thought - but credit to the Boro player who lofted a quick over the top ball for Tuncay to run onto wth Arsenal caught off-guard. Slight controversy in that Tuncay laid on Aliadiere for the goal who was a couple of yards offside when the free kick was taken and took advantage of that head-start as Gallas could not catch him up. When Tuncay laid on the cross for him did that open up a new phase (aas I assume the referee saw it) or is it part of the same phase of play?

By the way well done to Aliadiere- I've said a number of times on EFT that he is a good mobile striker worthy of first team play in the Premier League.

Boro sat back well and plugged all gaps. At the same time Arsenal struggled to get into a good rhythm - with Hleb, Van Persie and Adebayor not sharp enough with their passing in the final third.

Good to see Walcott come on and he looked dangerous. He possesses real pace and is willing to take on his full back. For me we looked more dangerous for his introuction.

I think we just about deserved our equaliser - we might not have been at our best but we were striving hard for the goal and it would have been a real blow to have walked off the pitch with nothing.

The point keeps us within three points of Man Utd - assuming they win their game in hand (a strong assumption).

Arsenal are now clear underdogs for the title. I hope that in a way this helps the team - perhaps this relatively inexperienced side has buckled under the expectation that front-running brings and will play with more freedom now that Man Utd are now in this position?

3/15/2008 7:51 pm

Anonymous Bet Blogger said...

The most crucial period of the season is about to be upon us and suddenly the Gunners look shot of confidence. I've read elsewhere that the players are still struggling to cope after Eduardo's injury, but surely that can't be the reason for the recent indifferent form? There's seasoned internationals in the squad who should be able to cope with this. Don't get me wrong, it would affect you for that game and maybe the next one but this can't be used as an excuse for poor form. Injuries happen in football and if some of the players have been as affected by the injury as apparently they have then stronger characters need to be brought in.

3/18/2008 1:42 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boring. I have only ever heard you go on about Arsenal, you would think you lot were untouchable. Thing is you are not and you are now being found out. Three creditable draws? Two at home to Aston Villa and Middlesbrough where they took the lead and you managed to scrape a goal back?? And your explanation for this is there will be a turnaround with Van Persie and Walcott? Dependency without Fabregas, Hleb, Adebayor and your defence? Sounds like you are worried.

You managed to get a snap goal from nowhere at AC and they were rocked when you got a second when they were poor from start to finish, took you long enough and now you lot think you are so good you will roll into the Champs League final? Crack on then, because Eduardo is no excuse for bad form. You have the players and the God, so what's the problem?

Funny though, now I dont see the usual rubbish comments from Gooners about how wonderful their team will be doing/are doing, they are probably worried too. Especially when your captain starts a sit-down protest and begins crying. That is not a leader. Thought I would share that.

3/21/2008 10:22 pm


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