Getting off the piggys back.

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Nov 1st, 2011

I haven’t posted in a while, mainly because I’ve been super busy but also because when I’m not venting I want to blog about something that either hasn’t been touched on or from an angle that hasn’t been used.

I wanted to do a big post about Arsenal’s form, how great it is to be picking up wins and building confidence. How I think the defence is getting visibly stronger game by game despite all of the doom-mongers and Arsenal hating journo’s who want to exaggerate every little mistake or make a good bit of attacking play look as though it was just poor defending. For example, John Terry’s goal, yes Mertesacker could have done better (on Franks goal too) but I felt Per was forced into making a mistake and falling like timber by excellent movement by the England captain. John Terry has always been a threat at set pieces but all of a sudden because it is against Arsenal he only scored because the Arsenal centre half was rubbish!

I also wanted to do a post about how great it was to see Arsenal beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and how even though they let in three goals they kept on going forward and forced a win. RVP’s first goal was a pure Arsenal goal, excellent build up passing, a great ball through from Ramsey and a really unselfish pass from Gervinho. Santos’ goal was good attacking play, forcing the defence back and a fantastic pass with the outside of his foot from Song. Bosingwa was out of position and that in my opinion can be the only goal from Arsenal that can be said to be from bad defending. Theo’s goal was class, he was fouled, got back up quickly to the surprise of the Chelsea defence, took two fantastic touches to get past two men and blasted the ball past Cech. Not bad for a guy that supposedly has no final ball. RVP’s second goal was a unfortunate slip from Terry. It happens. It doesn’t mean the defence was bad. Players were slipping all over the place in the first half, the pitch was just a bit too wet. RVP’s third goal was a good goal and wasn’t really down to bad defending. The journo’s that want to say that Chelsea were poor and that was the only reason Arsenal won want to cover their backs because they’ve been saying that Arsenal are finished. The Arsenal fans who are bemoaning the defence obviously haven’t seen the massive improvement and are willing to believe all of the negative things about Arsenal.

For what it is worth I think this team is poised to be better than last years’ team. The team aren’t as used to each other just yet so their possession stats won’t be as good but that’ll come in the next 10-15 games. I think that with Arteta we have a solid passer and someone who I have seen to be a more robust and willing tackler than Fabregas was and a bit more of a fighter. He’ll never pass like Fabregas but if he loses the ball he fights like hell to get it back and that is the one criticism I always had of Cesc. I miss him and wish he never left but his heart wasn’t there in the last two seasons and Arteta looks so happy to be at Arsenal and you can tell it is a privilege to him. That to me is worth a Fabregas. The defence is better and will be even better when TV5 is fully back and after Christmas I think Mertesacker will be properly acclimatised and Wenger will have a selection headache at centre half for once.

Moving on to my real post I want to make a defence for Andre Santos.

The guy has only played 7 games for Arsenal and he’s getting a rough time already from some fans, bloggers and journo’s.

I admit to being frustrated with him as much as the next man and in the heat of the game I was screaming for him to come off in the first half at Stamford Bridge.

First things first I want to point out that he is a porker. He is overweight and you can see it is troubling him at times. He looked absolutely shattered at the weekend. Having said that he shows sparkles of being a solid defender (when not being breezed past because of his weight) and he has reasonable pace albeit marred by a lack of stamina. He is also a good attacking full back. At the end of the game I decided to compare him to the man he replaced and see if we have actually bought a good player. Clichy is a player I have long wanted to leave Arsenal. I always thought him poor in attack and prone to idiotic defensive mistakes and poor positioning. The one thing he was good at was stealing  in from nowhere, taking a loose ball or a ball off an opposing player and bombing up the wing to a mediocre finale. This moment of brief excitement is what I believe caused so many to claim we didn’t need Ashley and that Clichy was a great left back, probably the best in the league and deserved to be in the French squad. Well…. he didn’t. Evra is better than him, Cole is better than him, Baines is better than him, Gibbs is better than him (when fit), Assou-Ekotto is better than him and Enrique is better than him. That makes him about 7th. Santos at the moment is probably about 7th too (knocking Clichy down to 8th) but he has only played 7 games and could be third or fourth, who knows, he might stay 7th but he’ll still be better than Clichy.

When I looked into it further I realised that Santos after 7 games is already looking to be a better buy and this is why I think we should all get off his back until he has at least started 20 games for us.

So far this season he has scored two goals in 7 games. The same amount as Clichy did in 264 games. Clichy did also make 10 assists in his EIGHT years with Arsenal. Compare that with Sagna at right back who has scored three goals and made 17 assists in 185 appearances (or 4 and a bit seasons). Sagna makes an offensive contribution roughly every 9 games so at least 4 times a season in the league and at least once or twice in our cup runs (CL included). Clichy was once very 22 games so if we look at our minimum season, 38 PL games, 6 CL games, 2 cup games he just about makes two contributions to Sagna’s 5/6. Santos has so far made a contribution once every 3.5 games (that he has played) or one every 6 if we look at how many games Arsenal have played this season since he joined. His Fenerbahce stats included it is one in 4.5. So far, statistically he is much more like Sagna and therefore a more effective player than Clichy. Time will tell if he is going to be a better defender but from my point of view we can’t get much worse than Clichy. Remember, it was his stupid mistake that let Birmingham equalise from the spot on that famous day where our title bid when tits up when we were 5 points clear. That was the turning point. Who knows what would have happened but if we had seen that game out at 2-1 then we might not be staring at 8 years without a trophy.

So follow my lead if you will and get off of Santos’ back, he deserves our support until he proves otherwise. And whilst we’re at it lets get off of Arshavin and Theo’s backs. They are both effective players and they’ll never pick up form if the fans keep getting at them every time they try to get a bit of confidence.

Come on. Support your team and maybe we can get a cup this year and finish in the top 4.

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About "" - 509 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

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