In Contrast: Two different results, two different Fabregas performances

There was one clear contrast between the Newcastle and Wolverhampton games, which revealed the difference between a 1-0 defeat and a 2-0 win. That contrast was Cesc Fabregas.

Fabregas had one of his worst ever performances in an Arsenal shirt against a determined Newcastle side on Sunday, and that game ended in defeat. Of course there are more factors than just Cesc, but his performances are a fascinating strand of this story.

Against Newcastle Cesc misplaced almost 27% of his passes during the game, and this epitomised the way Arsenal played as a team on the day. In the end the team found little rhythm or flow, and were beaten deservedly.

Continue reading “In Contrast: Two different results, two different Fabregas performances”

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Arsenal Score Six: How they took Braga apart: Highlights of The Fab Four – Wilshere, Fabregas, Arshavin, Chamakh

As Marouane Chamakh left the field last night, his name reverberated around the stadium, and for good reason. The striker has been a breath of fresh air for an Arsenal side which has all too often struggled with injuries up front. Together with the passing of Wilshere and Fabregas, and the movement of Arshavin, Arsenal pulled a new Braga side apart last night, scoring six goals.

Technically Chamakh is gifted, but this is only one of his strong points. He has the ability to create space for others, in holding the ball up superbly with a mixture of balance, strength and exquisite control. His touch is good enough that he generally holds on to the ball, even in very difficult situations, and his aerial strength means he can win headers and make knock downs.

Continue reading “Arsenal Score Six: How they took Braga apart: Highlights of The Fab Four – Wilshere, Fabregas, Arshavin, Chamakh”

How Marouane Chamakh can slot into the Arsenal system: Tactical Analysis 2010 – 11

Marouane Chamakh could essentially pose Arsene Wenger a selection problem this season if Arsenal stick to their current tactical set up, but ultimately he provides excellent cover for a team which has been stretched far too often over the previous few years.

In 2009 – 10 Arsenal played with what was widely regarded as a 4-3-3, but in effect was a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation. This consisted of two central midfielders holding the centre of the park, whilst Fabregas played between the lines. Two wide players, usually Arshavin and Nasri, looked to cut in from the flanks, whilst a single striker played as a ‘false nine’, dropping deep.

Chamakh At Bordeaux

Chamakh actually has the attributes to play in 4-2-3-1, as he played the stiker’s role in this formation at Bordeaux. The team played two slightly deeper central midfielders, with attacking support from three forward midfielders. Their line-up against Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League is a good example of  Bordeaux’s system in action.
Continue reading “How Marouane Chamakh can slot into the Arsenal system: Tactical Analysis 2010 – 11”

Arsenal vs. Celtic Second Leg: Fabregas out, expect rotation – Ramsey?

Fabregas is out for the CL Second Leg Qualifier tonight against Celtic with a hamstring problem. The injury is not serious according to Wenger though.

Fabregas was taken off at half time against Portsmouth, and went for a scan afterwards which showed that the muscle was not strained. I expect he will be back for the game at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, but if he needs more time then the club should allow him to recover.

Wenger said that he will be rotating the squad, as we saw in the Portsmouth game with several changes in defence and midfield. The players who need a rest will be rested but Wenger insisted that his selections will not be influenced by the Man Utd tie on Saturday.

“I will rest the players who need to rest. “Some players have played many, many games; if I feel they need to rest, I will do it. It is not as a result of that game [against Manchester United on Saturday], it’s just if you have a player tired, you play the player who is fresh. I will play the team who I think is most efficient to win the game considering the level of some players.”

Expect a 4-3-3 formation yet again, with Ramsey stepping up to replace Fabregas. He already has the passing quality to fit into the first team, and his goal on Saturday was well taken. What Ramsey lacks is experience so tonight will be a big test if he gets the chance.

Wenger knows that we will have to be on our game tonight, Celtic have spirit, but their awful European away record, and our 2 – 0 lead away from home definitely give Arsenal the advantage.

“I thought Celtic did well in Moscow, it makes us more on alert, we know they had a very good away performance. To be strong at the Emirates is vital for our season. Any time you show weakness at home can have consequences for the game and also your season.”

Highlights on Arsespeak after the game!

4-3-3 is the way forward, plus another Gooner signs for Citeh

The aftermath of the first home game of the season seems to be positive. A 4-1 victory over Portsmouth highlighted the flexibility of the 4-3-3 formation, which has brought us 12 goals in 3 games so far.

The goals are coming from all over the park which is good, as in the past we have suffered from a lack of goals from midfield. Our top scorers in all competitions are now Gallas – 3, Cesc – 2, and Diaby – 2. The strikers we have are proven goalscorers too, the likes of RvP and Eduardo for example.

Defence also seems strong, with new signing Vermaelen looking particuarly solid in the air and on the ground on Saturday.

The 4-3-3 formation looks solid, allowing midfielders to get forward, and the likes of Eduardo and Arshavin to be creative in attack.

Song, Cesc, Arshavin and Wenger all discussed the new system in the Portsmouth matchday programme, and emphasized the redefined roles they will play. They also pointed out that we can switch back to a 4-4-2 when needed.

I think the formation also suits our players, as we have many attack minded midfielders, and a fluid style of passing and movement. The new formation allows us to keep balance in the team, not too defensive, but not leaving the defence exposed either.

On the transfer front things are still pretty quite for Arsenal, but I expect we might see one more face come in the next week or so.

City have signed Silvinho from Barca, increasing their numbers of ex-Arsenal men. I don’t blame him for taking the opportunity, his playing days are nearing an end and he will most likely be on generous wages.

Joleon Lecott is also set to sign for City today, becoming the 3rd most expensive defender on record. I wouldn’t say he was worth £20m plus, but if they have the money then why not.

Thats all for today, should have more stories and a Celtic preview tomorrow. check out Untold Arsenal for a great review of Premier League club debt, makes interesting reading as always.

Fabregas needs to grab the opportunities against Man Utd. Champions League Build-up

Ahead of the game against Man Utd at OT on Tuesday the press have been setting the stage for what everyone expects to be a Champions League classic.

United are going to be up for the game and they have experience in these matters. Meanwhile Arsenal only have 3 players remaining from the squad that took us to the 2006 Final just 3 years ago.

That in itself shows you just what transistion the team is going through. I think the experience of the last two years has been invaluble, but our opponents have the advantage in their steady squad.

Vidic knows how to stop us – He says that the key will be stopping us scoring. This is no mean feat as we have been scoring freely recently and Man Utd have started to concede reguarly.

I can’t see the game being goalless, and Wenger will know our best chance is to attack. But their defence is still decent and we will have to be at our best because as Scholes says:

“We don’t really care how good it is to watch or how much pretty football is played, as long as we get to Rome.

“We are looking forward to the challenge [but] I don’t know how much of a spectacle it will be.”

I think the game will be exciting, but it may be a little tense in the first half. All we need is an away goal and we have a massive advantage.

Fabregas’ leadership will be a key factor in the game:

“It doesn’t get much bigger than a semi-final against Manchester United”

“When English teams face each other in the Champions League it can look like a domestic of a League Cup match that Arsenal’s in a European game, but we need to realise it is not like that and we just want to be in the final again.”

Even Flamini is supporting us, you can read his interview on the BBC:

“They deserve success because they have worked so hard and have great quality – I feel they are capable of big things.

If we can keep the defence reasonbly tight against Man Utd’s fluidity up front, and keep possession then the game will be very even. We have had good results against United in recent years, and it can be maintained, but we are the underdogs tomorrow.

More to follow ahead of the game.

Arsenal 3 – 0 Villarreal (4 – 1 agg.) Through to the semis!

Arsenal 3 – 0 Villarreal: Walcott 10, Adebayor 60, Van Persie 69 pen. Highlights from Arsenalist.com

I’ve just returned from a glorious Arsenal win against Villarreal. Three goals, and it could have been a lot more the way we were playing!

Image courtesy of wonker

Walcott’s goal after 10 minutes was sublime, a Cesc backheel fooled the defence and Walcott lobbed the onrushing Lopez. I thought it was going out until I saw the back of the net ripple.

Wenger on Walcott:

“We know he can finish but now he is transferring that to the games. His level of confidence has gone up”

The game progressed well and we passed it around nicely. Defensively Toure and Silvestre looked solid in the centre. Gibbs looked alright, although he wasn’t seriously tested, and Eboue did well. In midfield Song was solid, as were the attacking Fabregas, Nasri and Walcott.

We were first to every ball and RVP was back to his best, battling to win the ball and laying it off for Adebayor – his amazing pass set Ade up for his 9th CL goal in as many games.

The final goal was from a penalty, which at the time I thought looked like a foul on Walcott, but seeing the TV replays it seems there wasn’t contact – Theo tripped on the ball. In any case the goal was deserved, and Van Persie put it away – Adebayor and Eboue got him to do their little dance cameo in celebration.

The atmosphere was very good, and it was nice to hear Robert Pires get a standing ovation several times during the match, and at the end of the game, this was his goodbye to the Arsenal fans.

We now face Man Utd in the Semi’s after their 1-0 win over Porto in Portugal from Ronaldo’s 40 yard strike. Wenger commented:

“I would not like speculate on any weakness of Man United. They will be strong on the day, but it should encourage us to be at our best”

It’s going to be an interesting run in – we now face Chelsea twice and Man Utd at least three times in League and Cup competitions combined. Our form is excellent – but this is a huge challenge for the Arsenal team. Their chance to prove themselves is now.

Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal. Good result served with injuries

Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal: Senna 10, Adebayor 66. Highlights here.

Arsenal came away with a valuble away goal against Villarreal last night, which places us well for the Quarter final second leg at home next week.

adebayor-villarreal-bicycle-kick

Adebayor scored an amazing bicycle kick in the second half to equalise after Senna had scored a long range goal in the fist half. The fact that we got the goal is most important – I will take the result, even though we could have finished them off in the second half.

The Fabregas/Adebayor partnership again provided crucial goals – making it 3 in 2 games for Ade, with Fabregas providing every assist!

I didn’t see the game, I downloaded highlights after the match – and I was disappointed to see us go a goal down. It hurt to lose Gallas and Almunia, and as Wenger said – this meant he couldn’t change things around at half time.

Gallas has knee ligament damage – so he may be out for the rest of the season – a blow seeing as our defence has been very stable since December. Almunia is out for a few weeks with an ankle injury – so we will have Fabianski in goal for the next few games which will define our season.

I think Fabianski will do good – but he has made rash decisions at times during games this season – this is his chance to prove himself – he made some good saves last night.

Overall a good result – some annoying injuries – but this looks promising. The fact that Porto got two away goals at Old Trafford means that they have a good chance of going through – no British team has ever won at Porto – and they have the advantage!

What do you think Arsenal’s chances are? Leave a comment below.

Arsenal 2-0 Man City, a sign of things to come?

Cesc Fabregas and Adebayor returned triumphantly against Man City, Cesc set Adebayor up for both his goals – and it showed how much we have missed his incisive passing.

Image courtesy of mcaparrotta

The 4-2-3-1 formation really plays to our strengths and allows all of our more attacking midfield players to get forward – yesterday Arshavin, Walcott and Fabregas were all over Man City, whilst Song and and Denilson provide cover.

Another clean sheet was a good step in the right direction – Almunia made some good saves, and the defence looks a lot more alert compared to earlier this season!

The only thing that could worry me is that all of our victories have come against lower teams – but that is good, as these are the teams we dropped points against at the beginning of the season, and we know we can beat the other top 3.

This means that the team has started to raise their game against smaller teams and understand the value of every game. A few months ago we sometimes played like we had won the match before it began – and that cost us points!

So a great result, and with our captain back from injury things are looking up!

Fabregas was tapped up by Real, but Ivan says it doesn’t matter!

It turns out that Fabregas really was tapped up by Real Madrid in the summer, the tide of transfer rumours is rising and it’s only the beginning of April! There are rumours over RVPs contract, Clichy, and of course Fabregas. So Ivan Gazidis has stepped in to put the record straight:

“I can’t marry the stories that I read with reality,” “We are very confident that this team will stay together, progress together and achieve success together.”

He went on to firmly state Cesc’s commitment to Arsenal:

“Cesc is extremely happy at Arsenal and totally committed to the club, and that’s every message that Arsene Wenger or I have ever received from him or his representatives,”

“Arsenal offers good money..It offers a great development programme and a superb environment so it is difficult for me to imagine why players would want to leave.”

Some people will raise the old arguments that we don’t spend as much as the other big teams, but Gazidis went over some of the sound economic principles behind our policies:

“Arsenal is not a gambling club, it is a very conservatively-run club… The revenue levels to service the contracts are levels we are comfortable with and those players’ contracts are at levels that are sustainable to us.”

Basically, stay sustainable and prosper is the rule.

Fabregas and Van Persie will be here for a while longer, but don’t expect them to stay at Arsenal forever – the call for them to leave will get stronger every year we go without a major trophy.