Todays performance at Ewood Park whilst punctuated with some great football was undeniably an utter shambles.
Arsenal have so many problems and a few Elastoplast signings have done nothing to remedy them. Whilst Arteta is a great signing he probably has come a year or two too late to for my liking. Benayoun showed some great movement against Dortmund but he also has joined the club too late.
Arsene Wenger and the board have utterly destroyed any chances this club has of winning trophies this year by their callous and stubborn actions with regards to the clubs transfer policies, management and tactics.
They were far too stubborn over Nasri and should have sold him in June. They let Fabregas’ saga drag on for too long. Regardless of the players feelings they had him contracted for another 4 years so they should have set their price and openly told Cesc and Barca ‘this is the price, pay it by June 30th or call us again at the end of the season in 2012’. If they paid we had a full pre-season to bed in a replacement. If they didn’t then Cesc might have settled back down for a year knowing that Barca didn’t want him as much as they said they did.
The problems at Arsenal are glaringly obvious yet Wenger and the board have been blind to them or are deliberately ignoring them whilst fleecing the fans and trying to divert attentions and skirt the real issues by talking about ‘super rich clubs’ elsewhere when the first rule of football management is to look at what you are doing and not what other clubs are doing. The main issue about funding at the club is that the board are obsessed with making a profit. What’s wrong with breaking even? Sadly whilst building the magnificent stadium we now call home the club willingly undersold Arsenal and we are now sacrificing success and progression to pay for the boards shortsightedness and stubbornness. The Arsenal board were first presented with the idea of Ashburton Grove as a site for the Emirates a full year before they finally and reluctantly decided on it. If they hadn’t been so snotty (see Arsènal: Making of a modern superclub for more details) they would have built the flats at Highbury a year sooner and missed the credit crunch and recession and paid off most of the stadium debt and we may never have had to resort to selling off players and building this so called ‘self-sustaining youth policy’ which has delivered 6 (and probably 7) trophy-less years.
But our off field problems are only made worse by our on field issues.
The defence is weak, seriously weak. What is baffling is that we have some excellent players. Sagna is the best right back in the league, fact. Vermaelen is immense when fit, Mertesacker has 76 caps for Germany and despite what some say he is a good defender. He lacks some pace but John Terry proves you don’t need to be fast to be a good defender in England. Koscielny shows flashes of being a fantastic defender but is infuriating at the same time. He is the only defender I’ve ever seen that can look unbeatable yet completely and hopelessly Cygan-esque in the same match. Nonetheless he can have that trained out if him. I will reserve judgement on Santos.
But then we have the total duffers. Squillaci is just Cygan with hair, actually that is an insult to Cygan, simple facts he shouldn’t be at the club. Djourou is basically Senderos.
Then there are our summer signings.
Despite Benayoun having a great touch and being very good on and off the ball I still think that Arteta is the only decent ‘senior’ Arsenal signing of the summer.
I know many see him as a poor replacement for Cesc but I see him as the perfect peg for the hole left by Cesc. He isn’t a long term replacement, that accolade goes to Ramsey, however he is extremely experienced in the premier league which I think more than makes up for his lack of champions league and international experience. He has played well so far, fit in well with the team, hasn’t needed a ‘settling in’ period and took his goal very well today. His passing isn’t as good as Cesc’s but he is still an excellent passer and has battling qualities that I always felt Cesc lacked.
The rest of the Arsenal signings are mediocre at best. Benayoun can do a job but he isn’t a signing of quality in my opinion. Mertesacker is a good player but was only bought because someone at Arsenal decided not to pay up for Cahill or Jagielka. Chu Young, although he has not played yet, I feel is an awful signing. He isn’t a prolific scorer and was part of a team that was relegated from a lesser league. Harsh though it may be but I believe he has only been bought to sell shirts in Asia.
Santos might well be a good player and showed some flashes of it today and he can certainly cross better than Clichy but he was responsible for playing Yakubu onside for his first but I see Enrique being sold for less money, who is proven in the league and wouldn’t need an adjustment period, and I think Wenger, yet again, has missed a trick.
Something dramatic needs to happen at Arsenal and it needs to happen soon. The January transfer window could help but we need to look like we’re in the running for something to attract some decent players. 4 or 5 still need to go and a few more need to come in. Hopefully Squillaci and Chamakh at the least will go. Chamakh because he just doesn’t have the engine.
It’s a long way ’til January though and something needs to happen fast. The first thing Wenger needs to do is to drop the stupid zonal marking system he is trialling. It doesn’t work. When Samba is being given license to roam in our box because our 6’6 German monster is marking a 3×3 patch on the other side of the box you know it doesn’t work. He should have been at the near post for the own goal and Yakubu’s second and attacking the ball. Secondly he needs to sack his current defensive coach and bring in someone new. If he is the defensive coach then he needs to sack himself and bring in someone who can show the defence how to hold a line. Thirdly he needs to drop his 4-3-3 formation. As much as he bleats on that it is 4-1-4-1 he can’t fool me. Song doesn’t play DMF. When he is in that position he is excellent the problem is that he crosses the halfway line too much (as does RVP who should stay in the final third) and leaves the back four exposed at crucial moments. We do not play with wingers as such so it cannot be 4-1-4-1. The ‘wide’ players offer no protection to the full backs and we play in very tight triangles which actually leaves masses of space on the wings which cause us the most damage when we inevitably lose possession by attempting stupid passes though eyes of needles when there is a much simpler and less ‘attractive’ safe option. This needs to stop. Fourthly, he needs to play with two strikers. I think Gervinho is a good wide/wing player but Theo is not. Theo is a striker who plays on the shoulder. He is a natural striker who is best through the middle. He is NOT Henry. Henry was never a winger who was transformed into a world class striker by Wenger. He was a striker at Monaco. Juventus played him on the wing and he was ineffectual there so they sold him to us. Wenger knew he was a striker so played him there. Walcott is not ‘learning his trade’ on the wing. He is WASTING his potential. He should play through the middle with RVP in the Bergkamp role. Our players would best suit a 4-4-2 or a 4-1-3-2.
Tactically and defensively we are second rate. From a player retention, acquisition and club management point of view we are a total shambles and for the first time I really fear for Arsenal’s status as a big club let alone a top 4 club.
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