The many sides of Andrey Arshavin: An all round performance at Villa in context

A torrid week for Arsenal ended with three points after a six goal clash at Villa Park. One aspect that caught my eye this week was the difference apparent in one Arsenal player, Andrey Arshavin, so much so that it required a little more in-depth investigation.

Image courtesy of Ronnie Macdonald

Arshavin’s poor form has been criticised of late, and not unjustly either. A goal drought extending from September, combined with poor passing, and a distinct lack of fitness has contributed to a poor season by his standards.

Continue reading “The many sides of Andrey Arshavin: An all round performance at Villa in context”

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Adebayor shows his true colours, Arsenal were unlucky: Man City 4 – 2 Highlights

Arsenal played some fantastic football at times yesterday, but we were undone again by defensive problems. As soon as we pushed for the winner at 1-1 the defence was left open, and City scored 3 goals in 7 minutes to make it 4-1. Rosicky’s goal was deserved, and we came close to another in the last few minutes – but overall a disappointing game.

Worst of all was Adebayor’s attitude. For the whole game he played like a man who was desperate to prove a point. The fact that he never played like that last season shows just how disloyal he is.

I know that he did get some stick last season – but that is to be expected when you hold the club to ransom over a transfer and get a massive new contract out of it. All that fans wanted to see was Ade get his head down and work for the team – he didn’t. In any case Adebayor did not get that much trouble from Arsenal fans last season.

In his mind though he is a persecuted induvidual with a point to prove – and yesterday it got too much for him.

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Thanks to Gunnerblog for the gif

Cesc’s ankle was almost broken, then he stamped on Van Persie cutting his face with his studs – an event that RVP has spoken out against. As well as that was the celebration which was utterly disgraceful, and left a steward unconcious after causing pandemonium in the away end.

Kolo did the right thing and chased Ade the length of the pitch to pick him up, that is a real player there. Apology or no apology Adebayor is in big trouble, and it’s only right that the FA are investigating the matter.

Apart from that it was great to see Rosicky back – he added real attacking flair with an assist and a goal.

Sadly it was defence that cost us, 3 times we were exposed on the left as Clichy came forward – and City exploited the space.

Alan Hansen said on MOTD last night that Arsenal are the only team who can play so well and not win, and he is right. It is all down to defence. On the left the cover from Diaby was poor, and Song filled in on one occasion, but his tackle was non-existent.

The only hope I can take from this game is that Arsene will be determined not to let this happen again.

There is a shakiness about Arsenal, a lack of confidence, that means even when we play our best football we still don’t pick up the points. We need to correct these problems as soon as possible, the defensive balance is something we have struggled with for 4 years now. We rarely keep a clean sheet and that doesn’t win you titles.

If Wenger can re-address the problems within the team then we could be title-challengers, until then we will continue to play good football with little to show for it.

Don’t expect signings this window from Arsenal

Every Arsenal fan is expectant of transfer signings this window, Arshavin is the favourite to sign on, and we might get him, but Wenger is keeping a lid on things at the moment, just in case we can’t negotiate a price for him. He commented today:

“We are nowhere at the moment…That means we are not close to signing anybody. We know what we want to do, we are not close to signing today. We are in negotiations, yes, but we want to respect our principles.
“I am very hopeful that something can be done in a few days because we are half-way to the end. So it will be days, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

This basically means don’t get your hopes up because Wenger will happily stick with our current squad if he can’t get the right price. Zenit have been overpricing him, in the summer Barca weren’t able to sign him, and moneybags Tottenham weren’t either, due to Zenit’s overzealous pricing regime. The fact that he is going on strike, and can buy himself out of his contract pretty soon could make the difference this time around, but don’t count on it.

“We want to concentrate on what we are doing and what we have here and how we can improve with the players we have.

“I am not a big fan of the window. I feel one of the aspects to judge a manager is to let him start with a team and let him see how far he goes with that team – or you open completely for the whole season.

“England had the right system because it was open till April and that was quite good. Now it’s cut in two and I’m not a big fan of it.

“We have a few options available, but we are no closer. But I believe we have a strong team and we want to do the maximum with the team we have.

Emphasis is on the “we are no closer” here. Negotiations for Arshavin are stalling at the moment as everyone knows, and Wenger doesn’t like the January window at all, so I wouldn’t be suprised if we don’t sign anyone. Wenger goes on to make a good point:

“We are open and don’t forget we have Rosicky, Fabregas, Walcott, all creative and offensive players who will come back at some stage, and that will be like being in the transfer market.

“Eduardo has recovered very well as well, and like a new signing. He is two to three weeks away.”

So we may see a new face at Arsenal by the 2nd of Feb, but if not we have great players returning from injury. I think if all of them come back earlier than expected then we will have a storng side, but I’m still hoping that we will find a way to sign Arshavin to add some strength to the midfield.

More likely the only new face we will see is DB10 as a coach. He got his qualifications for coaching and he has said that he won’t rule out a return to Arsenal as he ‘loves the club’.

Note: If this post makes you angry you may also enjoy this post.

Was Emmanuel Eboue misunderstood?

The debate over Eboue is pretty one-sided these days, since the Wigan game I’ve been thinking about the player who was at one time regarded as our best right-back.

These days people see him as more of a liability in his role on the wing. But he isn’t actually our first choice in that position.

I don’t think he is a great winger, but he is a decent defender. A few months ago I wrote a post and one of the comments left was this:

“Wenger probably has been wanting to develop Eboue and make him into a Ray Parlour type player.”

This is partly true, people criticise Wenger for selecting him, but there are several points to be made about Eboue:

  • Wenger plays Eboue because we have no choice – Walcott, Rosicky, Eduardo, Nasri are all reguarly injured.
  • We lack experienced playerswho can fill in – Walcott last year, Vela this year.
  • Wenger may also select him because he sees potential to turn him into a midfielder.

Eboue has the potential to become a good winger – he can cross, we saw that in his days at right back. His main problem is dribbling and passing – he finds it hard to go round players and his control isn’t great – his scoring ability is also reminiscent of Francis Jeffers.

He has been utilised on the left this year – as Theo has made the right wing slot his own. This hasn’t helped – he has had to cut inside to use his stronger right foot. I think that he did have some stronger performances early this season – but he has also played very badly – the Wigan game is an example, I was there.

The Wigan game and the booing have knocked his confidence, and I think that it will take him a while to regain that. It really isn’t helping the team when fans act like that.

Overall he would never be my first choice winger – he doesn’t have the pace, the control, the vision or the passing, and his dirty play and diving only piss off most Arsenal fans. He dives way too much and is extremely petulant. He doesn’t contribute to the team in the way that players like Nasri do, and many attacks end with his mistakes. But the thing is that Eboue is Wenger’s squad player, Wenger doesn’t see him as a first-teamer.

He is a useful utility player, he only gets to play so much due to our injury list. Vela seems to be playing more games, and may eventually be used to fill in on the wings as his performances have looked classy. Eboue is just filling in!

Don’t get on his back – he isn’t a great player, and he does stupid things, but a bad patch of form is just a bad patch of form, remember that he has been played out of position, and when only just returning from injury.

In the end, I’m saying that Eboue  is a useful squad player, we shouldn’t turn him into a scapegoat when things go wrong. I personally will never boo him.

Fabregas thinks the squad is a little thin

Hello Gooners. Fabregas has been talking to the press about our threadbare squad and our style of play compared to Spain.

He raises some quite worrying points about our potential for this season, but he is positive:

“We have a short squad and we are very young, behind me Denilson and Song play, and they are 20. Walcott is 19 and Nasri is 21. Can you imagine I’m the oldest midfielder? Winning will be tough for us because we are not experienced.

“Last season I scored a lot because I had Rosicky, and Flamini who used to run all over the pitch. Hleb as well, who is like my brother. They have gone now and I feel weird. We are more conservative and strong, but with less touches.”

It seems like Fabregas is all too aware of our problems in the squad, and I think he might feel a little more comfortable with some more experienced players challenging for places. Certainly we are lacking cover in midfield right now. He explained Wenger’s policy to the press:

“Arsene Wenger has crystal clear ideas, there aren’t two like him. He doesn’t want to spend money as he prefers to trust youngsters. His idea is that Walcott can’t develop if you sign Cristiano [Ronaldo].”

He was questioned about his differing roles for club and country – the fact that he isn’t an automatic starter for Spain was mentioned:

“To me it is not an issue because I’m aware I’m young, I play differently and must adapt. I’m not an attacker that plays with his back to goal because I haven’t got the body neither the agility to do it. I need to watch what’s happening because I’m not quick neither agile. I rely on my passes and my vision.

“Nowadays we play in 5-4-1 with Spain and at Arsenal it’s always 4-4-2. At Arsenal I can move, do what I think I must do. The gaffer doesn’t make me to do anything. I feel free. With Spain it is different, you touch the ball, make lots of controls. There (in England) it’s more about counter attacks and going as quickly as possible in front of the goal.

“I know who I am. I notice a change when I’m with Spain but it’s normal – I don’t play (in La Liga) and people don’t see me. I am 21 and have so much to learn. I feel so important in England, but you should remain humble when you play football.”

When he plays for Spain he obviously feels like a young boy with a lot to learn, and at Arsenal I think he has some responsibility resting on his shoulders. Maybe it isn’t so good for him to have to be the main player in the squad at such a young age.

On scoring the last gasp header against Sunderland:

“It’s rare because I’m used to scoring set pieces including corners, and I’m not good at headers. But I’d like to improve because a midfielder that can head the ball is more efficient.

“Most of all I must improve defensively. I always want to attack, to score, to deliver, it’s my dream.”

I think Cesc is possibly the best player at Arsenal, without him we don’t tick, but he needs to feel that the club is matching his ambitions, and losing players like Hleb and Flamini has obviously affected him.

He doesn’t know if we can win the league this year with our current squad and that worries me.

Clichy’s inspiration + Rosicky & Van Persie are taking it slow

Morning all, first up, Clichy has been talking about an inspirational talk he had with Dennis Bergkamp, back when he was struggling with injuries and Cole was our first choice:

“I will never forget what Dennis Bergkamp told me. It was in 2005 when I was injured. I had doubts and I didn’t feel fine.

“Bergkamp is a great man that doesn’t talk a lot. One day he came to see me and asked how long it would take for me to recover. I told him I didn’t know.

“He watched Ashley Cole, who was also having a treatment, and finally said: ‘Come back soon, and if you succeed, you will get his position.’

“Dennis and Ashley are friends, but that simple sentence was so good to me. I held on, and then I recovered quickly.”

I rememeber seeing Clichy getting apperances in those days and thinking that he had a lot of promise, he was very unlucky with injuries, but it shows you how wise Bergkamp was. He could see that Clichy had the quality to play first team and his time would come. Had Cole not been a c**t and stayed in North London then it might have taken longer, but Clichy always had the talent to play for us.

In any case, he is much better than Cashley, I would say that he is now one of the most important players in the team – many attacks are based on his runs down the left. His defensive work is amazing, he has pace, and at corners he has made more goal line clearances than I can count!

Meanwhile Tomas Rosicky’s agent has rubbished the claims that he has been in hospital recently:

“What appeared in the press about Tomas being hospitalised in London is complete nonsense. Tomas, as part of his recovery scheme, visits the hospital for various therapies and the same happened last time.

“A sudden setback in his health or some headaches, as I have read about somewhere, have not happened to Tomas.

“Everything is going according to the plan. Tomas’ first comeback was rash, now we are treating the situation more carefully.

This makes sense – I don’t see why people are making such a big deal. The player has very long term problems which have been present almost his whole career. With slow and careful recovery this excellent player may be able to play again. The papers need to portray his hospital visit as an emergency to sell papers.

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Robin Van Persie is another injury ridden player taking it slow:

“After my previous injury, I made the mistake at Arsenal of kicking the ball with all my force in my first training session, I will not make that mistake again. But I do feel very good. I trained hard the last couple of days and all the tests were positive.

“I have been injured a lot lately but whatever the outside world says is not important to me.

“I just want to be fit and play as many games as I can. The entire pre-season went well at Arsenal and in the league too.

“Picking up a hamstring injury can happen to any player at the moment.”

This is positive talk from RVP – a talented player who needs more games desparately. It never seems to go quite right for him – he comes back but then gets injured within a few games. Luckily his latest hamstring problem in training doesn’t seem so seriuos, and he is taking it easier so he can build up his strength first.

Good stuff about three excellent players, hopefully we can see the return of RVP and Rosicky a.s.a.p!

Arsenal Injury Update: Rosicky, Eduardo plus Nasri, Diaby, Silvestre

Here’s the latest injury news at the Arse:

Tomas Rosicky may be playing matches by Christmas says Wenger.

Tomas has been out with hamstring problems since January, and had surgery in May. He was training and expected to return sooner, but according to the Czech international coach he had suffered some ‘set-backs’.

Wenger told the press:

“The recovery process is slower than we expected at the start. It doesn’t look worrying but the delay is longer than expected.

“He had a re-attached tendon that was loose in his hamstring, and that demands a lot of time to re-coordinate the movements of the hamstring. That makes it very difficult to predict exactly one week more or less how much time it will take.

“But I am optimistic that before Christmas you will see him in a good shape.”

Rosicky said:

“Everything went well, according to the schedule. When I was running long distances, it [the hamstring] gave me no problems at all.

“But when I started on the ball and tried to change directions of running and changed pace, the knee reacted badly. So far it does not allow me to go on in the recovery so it has stopped my training for some time. I am not resting completely, though.

“I can lift weights and do other exercises. The knee simply must get down. It does not mean at all though that I have to end my career.

“Every such treatment can bring unexpected problems with it. That is what has happened now so my return will be delayed.”

So it sounds like there are still problems, but nothing which can’t be fixed. It would be great to see Rosicky get a good run of games and come into some form. He really adds a different dimesion to our game when he’s on the pitch.

Also Wenger says Eduardo is a little ahead of schedule in his recovery, he sounded optimistic, so we may see Eddy back sooner than was expected!

Nasri, Diaby and Silvestre are all still out too, but we have no new injuries, Wenger commented:

“For Diaby, I would say two more weeks [until he is fit], Silvestre and Nasri should be available for Hull [at Emirates Stadium on September 27].”

So if all goes to plan we should have something resembling a full squad in within the next week. But no-one will be back for Bolton away tomorrow, expect a few players to be rested for that game.

Arsenal Injury News: Rosicky, Nasri, Silvestre

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Just a quick injury update:

More bad news for the injury-prone Tomas Rosicky, the Czech international team coach Petr Rada reported to the press:

“Tomas has started another stage of recovery, including training with the ball,”

This is another problem in a long line of injuries, the worst ting is that he would be an amazing player if he wasn’t injured all the time.

I don’t know if it is worth keeping him at the club if he continues to have setbacks like this. But lets wait and see.

Also Nasri is doubtful for the Blackburn game tomorrow, but he’ll have a fitness test today to see whether he can make the team.

And Mikael Silvestre may be fit enough to make his debut tomorrow too, if reports are correct. But his spot isn’t guaranteed.

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Wenger on Rosicky and Eduardo

According to Arsene Tomas Rosicky should be back in September and Eduardo in November. Tomas has struggled with injuries since joining Arsenal and I feel his creativity was sorely missed last season. Meanwhile, Eduardo was unlucky to get the nasty injury at Birmingham, just as he was starting to score goals reguarly.

Rosicky has been out of action since Jan 26, and has been reguarly injured while Eduardo got a fractured leg and open dislocation to his ankle in late February.

They took part in Members’ Day yesterday and afterwards Wenger commented:

“The situation is positive for both players,”

“We believe Tomas could be available in September and Eduardo maybe in November.

“Also it was good for them to be back in this kind of atmosphere. The players enjoy a day like that.”

Both of these players are crucial to Wenger’s squad and the plan for the season ahead. If they and Robin Van Persie had been available last season then we would have had a much better chance of silverware.

Remember that we spent many games watching Eboue on the wing and Ade up front on his own. With Rosicky, Eduardo and RVP in the line up the team looks very balanced. You can see how Wenger has built a great team, but it cannot perform when key parts are missing.

Rosicky off the crutches

Rosickytomas.com has some good news regarding Rosicky’s recovery:

“To lose the crutches has been a great relief. For six weeks after the surgery I was strictly ordered not to make a single movement without the crutches. Now that is over, but I will not remember it kindly”

“Wednesday was the first time I walked without any support. It is nothing great, but at least I can walk. I am stumbling and getting used to it. After a long time without proper movements, my knee is stiff. It just needs time.”

“In a few days I am flying to England. In London there is a more sophisticated rehabilitation schedule waiting for me. I don’t know what it will be like, but at least I will be doing something at last. I am sure the Arsenal specialists have thought it through well.”

This is great news, what we need next season is a Tomas Rosicky who is incredibly fit, consistent, not injured and scores goals from midfield!

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