Monday, 23 May 2011

Theo Walcott

It's quite hard to believe that it's nearly 5 1/2 years since we signed Theo. In that time he has played 174 times for Arsenal and his progression has been somewhat hampered for one reason or another. What is clear to me is that his days at right wing are numbered. Arsene Wenger has said that he sees Walcott as a central striker in the future but how long do we have to wait for this transition to take place.

The Right Winger

Theo's outstanding quality is without doubt his pace. However, pace alone will not see you through every game. Theo lacks the ability to deliver a telling ball, something highlighted when David Beckham tried to teach him about the art of crossing before being sensationally axed from Englands World Cup squad. Now since then Theo's crossing hasn't really improved. So either he didn't learn anything from the greatest delieverer of a football in modern times or it's an attribute that he doesn't possess. Theo's other problem is much like Beckham's main criticism, the ability to beat a man. If we can slip a ball in behind a full back, great. There's no stopping him. Unfortunately this is easier said that done. Often he has to confront a left back and if truth be known, he doesn't have a catologue of skills and tricks. Full backs get tight to him and he has little space to manoeuvre, always looking to drop his shoulder and get to the byline, there isn't an awful lot wrong with that but rarely do you see he do such things against the likes of Evra, Cole & Enrique. Theo is coming off his most successful season (13 goals) for Arsenal and only when you realise that do you think his performances really aren't living up to the expectation that his signing appeared to bring with it.

The Striker

Now first of all we have to get away from this unsuccessful 4-3-3, which is obviously easier said than done. However, if AW decided to bite the bullet and revert back to the tried and tested 4-4-2, I can see a good partnership in the making with him and Robin Van Persie. Theo can get into positions between the full back and centre half and latch onto balls into the channels. When he confronts a keeper head on his finishing is pretty impressive, often he takes his shot early and it catches the keeper in no mans lands somewhat. Look at the finishes v Shaktar, Newcastle x 2 and T@ttenham. Theo's best work in an Arsenal shirt often happens between the width of the box. His runs at Liverpool, his role v Chelsea this season & how he exposed Barcelona last season all demonstrate this. He can prove elusive when marking and when we gets one on ne the aim is much easier, get your shot in. He has options, left foot, right foot or assist. Whereas his right wing position is somewhar easier to predict. If TW14 was to become a striker he would certainly have to improve on his strength but that is something that can be rectified quite easily. That's not go get away from his main strength, his pace and that is something that troubles centre backs much more than full backs.

Will it happen? Probably not but with the likely departure of Bendtner and Vela we will be rather short in attack, even if we persevere with 4-3-3. Wenger often promotes from within and a positional change could be as good as a new signing. I think Theo can get 20+ goals and if he could strike up a partnership with the best striker in the country then we could be laughing.

Monday, 16 May 2011

An alternative look at our defeat v Villa.......

It would appear from yesterdays game that the players had their own 'walk'. Unfortunately for us it was displayed on the pitch for 90 minutes, starting at 16:00. Apparently it was called the White Flag Movement (Not sure how it got that name) but nobody told RVP, as he worked tirelessly to get us something from the game. The walk consisted of a refusal to defend for the first 20 minutes, which meant you weren't allowed to track your man, ball watch at every opportunity & not save any shots. Michael Oliver (The Ref) was also in on the act, as any foul in a significant area of the field could not go in our favour, it was only fair. For the remaning 25 minutes of the half, the players adopted a netball approach, where RVP was the only player allowed shoot in the opponents area, but he was allowed to be joined by Walcott (playing the role of goal attack) but he (TW14) wasn't allowed to shoot (saves embarrassment). So half time came and we were 2-0 down. Splendid.

Instead of sorting out tactics during the interval AW took the players up to the Diamond Club and they players had a 'gourmet hot dog off'. Early reports suggest Jens Lehmann won by a mile. RVP came second but the medical staff were unaware that having horse placenta fluid in his body it instantly burns off calories. Another misdiagnosis from our ever excelling medical team.

The players, not happy with their 1st half display took a while to adjust to playing on a full stomach and became completely immobile. To us it looked like a lack of urgency, but really it was because they all had the athleticism of Rick Waller. AW refused to take this seriously either, throwing on Chamakh when we were in desperate need of a goal. Oliver later disallowed a goal scored by Chamakh because he realised something most have been up for him to score. We weren't to be denied though as Nicklas Bendtner, poorly controlled a cross and whilst he never had any intention to score, the ball ricocheted into RVP's path to make it 2-1 . Only then did he realise what was going on, everything was explained en route back to the halfway line. Then with seconds remaining we got a free kick right on the edge of the box, prime position for RVP to strike. But no, he layed it off to a player who has barely walked since September. Needless to say it didn't go in. FT 2-1.

The players weren't finished there though, as it was a nice mild day they took the opportunity to walk around their beautiful surroundings and throw the occasional wave, as they won't see their home for another 3 months. Its been emotional for them all.

Walk over. Supporters OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Christopher Samba

Since our defensive nightmare at The Brittania on Sunday, one man has been earmarked as the saviour to our defensive frailties. That man is Blackburn Rovers stand in captain Christopher Samba. Now I can appreciate knee-jerk reactions but it appears many fans think we must sign this man. My opinion of Samba is simple, he's average at best. So to back my opinion up I trawled through countless footage of Samba. Well actually there's virtually no footage of him apart from a free kick he shanks 30 yards wide and a goal scored against us last season. There is however highlights of Blackburn's 7-1 rinsing at the hands of Manchester United. So in true George Graham style I'm going to do a report of him as he's playing against a big team away from home. Before I do though, why not take a look for yourself first and the click the link here

Now, if you chose to watch the highlights you'll see Samba had an absolute mare.

1-0. Samba appears rooted to the spot as a united player goes on to challenge Robinson. The ball richocets out wide and a cross is swung in and Berbatov scores. Samba had no idea where he was, who he was making or where any of the danger actually was. He was focused purely on the ball throughout the move.

2-0. Samba again with eyes only for the ball, which results in him getting far too square , Ronney plays in Park who strolls through to score.

3-0. A very poor pass back allows Berbatov in to score. Samba faultless but his reaction to the mistake wasn't the best. It barely raised a reaction, what would have happened if Robinson saved the shot? Could have been better.

Free Kick. Nani whips in a ball and Vidic completely loses Samba but he heads wide. A let off or the law of averages kicking in.

4-0. Samba ball watching again, he has no idea where Berbatov is. He gets attracted to the ball and the Bulgarian gets his hat trick.

5-0. Nani gets in behind the full back and scores. When the ball is played through to Nani the gap between full back and centre half is unbelievable. This allows Nani to come inside and smash home. That centre half by the way was Samba.

6-0. Samba blocks a Park shot after a pull back and whilst on the deck he swings a leg at the ball and directs it straight to Berbatov who is approximately 1 yard away. Goal.

7-0. Berbatov scores again, this time playing on Nelson. He gets a lucky rebound of the Blackburn defender to get his 5th goal of the game.

7-1. Samba scores. Sign him.

Now some of you may think highlighting one performance may be a little harsh but this highlights a lot of weaknesses that the Congolese defender has. He's immobile, he ball watches (a lot), gets caught out position, struggles against pace and he makes poor decisions (like Djourou did yesterday). Whilst I know some folk saw his block against West Ham as him being the answer to our problems because he's what we are missing, he isn't. I've also heard that his Premier League experience is an advantage too. What differnce does that make? We compete in 4 competitions and all be it we have come up short for too long, he's a player that has not played over 40 games in a season in his career (Koscielny is currently on 43) and given his 14 1/2 stone (according to that he weighs, I'm going to say he's not in any sort of condition to be playing week in and week out for us. There's also the issue of price, well if we do sign him maybe BlackScarfMovement can walk against the wasting of money on useless players? Seriously, I'd be disappointed if we signed him on a free. He's a player who would do well to attract interest off Villa or Everton. We are Arsenal, one of the top sides in europe and we think a centre half from a side 15th in the table is the answer? We may not have world class central defenders but we certainly don't need one that is worse than we already have (squillaci included).

Anyway I see news is doing the rounds about Karim there's a signing I'd love to have. Oh wait, I think he's over rated. That's for another day though.

Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Pro's and Con's v Man Utd

Our win over United on Sunday was a nice little confidence booster as the season winds down but what can we take from the game? He's my view on the performances of 4 players.

Alex Song

AS17 was immense . He was disciplined throughout, he protected the back four, he won his tackles and he kept possession.This is the player we need on a regular basis. Not the maudering midfielder who leaves us exposed but instead opting for a mature approach and realising his true worth to our side. I hope to see these performances on a regular basis and display that this is not an area for improvement as and when this team needs strengthening.

Aaron Ramsey

It's great having him back, isn't it? What more could we ask for? Maybe I've not picked up on it or has Ramsey's goal not received the hype it deserved? It was a finish of the highest order. The technique display was majestic, he executed a deliberate measured finish into the bottom corner past the keeper of the season. He could have easily lashed it and watch it sail high and wide into The North Bank, given the time he seemed to wait there for RVP to realise he was free. A bit like Jack did in the opening few minutes when he skewed his shot wide. Aaron's all round game was tidy and he looked comfortable in possession throughout the game. Hopefully the psychological issues caused by a horrific leg break won't hinder Ramsey as much as they did with Eduardo.

It's easy to forget before he was injured at the home of thuggery and violence that Ramsey was already showing signs of the promise. Yesterday led to a few individuals going along the 'Cesc who' route, which is so far wide of the mark it's untrue. Yesterday was one game and it certainly doesn't mean we should cash in on our star asset. Yes Cesc might leave one day but I'm pretty confident it won't be in the next couple of seasons. Aaron can learn from Cesc and his recovery from that horrifc injury will not be over until he's played a full season and he needs his midfield partner to achieve that.

Wojciech Szczesny

I really love the influence Szczesny has had on our side and the fact that he has resolved our ongoing goalkeeping issues. However, there is one side to his game that is beginning to frustrate me and it has played it's part in us dropping points. His distribution when we are under pressure is woeful. Away at Newcastle in the 2nd half from hell he launched ball after ball towards RVP, who stood little chance of a) winning the ball and b) keeping it and waiting for the cavalry to arrive. Against Liverpool he launched a massive hoof downfield and we lost possession and suffered directly as a result. Then yesterday whilst taking the ball to the furthest corner of the box (clever!) before thumping it downfield (defeating the object) and miles beyond anyone and allowing United one more attack! I hope someone at the club picks up on this because it's not really a case of lack of experience but going against Wenger's possession policy.

Gael Clichy

Left Back is very much a position of scrutiny and one that I have been pretty critical of myself. However on Sunday Gael struck lucky when his clear foul on Owen was missed by the hapless ref and his blind assistance. Just over 2 weeks since Eboue's awful decision cost us 2 points in a title race, Clichy showed a naiviety around the box that should cost us. Even though we got away with it, Clichy still warrants a form of criticism. It is these crucial moments in games that cost us in the title race and we can ill afford lapses in concentration.

All in all, Sunday was a very good day. Ultimately we didn't prove anyone right or wrong as the pressure wasn't on and those key issues will remain unaswered. However, if Chelsea beat United on Sunday we could find ourselves 3 points behind the league leaders and that 'what if' keeps growing ever stronger!