Aug 082008

To a certain extent, you can make allowances for players not being sharp in pre-season, but just five days ahead of a Champions League qualifier, and a young side likely to play against Sevilla tomorrow, tonight’s game against Ajax was the last chance for many of the first team to complete their preparations.

With that in mind, there were some disappointing aspects. While the football in the early stages was delightful at times, the finishing was again fairly poor, although strikers can need time to find their shooting boots. I’m sure many will be quick to criticise Adebayor for his early misses, but his determination was there and he scored twice in the second half. Yes, both were tap ins, but you have to be there to score them, and positioning is one of his greatest strengths. He gets so many chances precisely because he is in the right place. That won’t stop his detractors, and undoubtedly he has brought some criticism on himself this summer, but let’s not be quick to destroy our leading forward.

There may be comparisons to Huntelaar, who showed his predatory instincts with a fantastic finish for the second goal, and I know there are those who think he is exactly the sort of striker we need. But we already have a deadly assassin in front of goal, the trouble is he’ll miss the first few months thanks to one Martin Taylor.

We will score goals, we always do. The trouble is not at that end of the pitch, it is that we are unable to win 1-0, ever. Our defending tonight shows exactly why. First an innocuous chip into the box caused havoc, and a poor defensive header was superbly taken advantage of by Suarez, and then the defence went to sleep at a free kick, Eboue especially culpable for allowing his man to run off him and head the ball back to Huntelaar. The finish was perfect, but the goal was far too easy.

Our main concern is in the heart of that defence, and the protection offered from the centre of midfield. In Clichy and Sagna we have two fine full backs, but the Gallas-Toure partnership looks as shaky as ever, and with no Flamini or Gilberto, there is no one to provide that defensive shield ahead of them.

It is a problem for Wenger to address, and I won’t be churlish enough to naysay his decision making until we see what happens. After all, Flamini himself stepped forward last season, and someone, perhaps Diaby, may do the same this season. Denilson also has a chance, and it may be no coincidence that he has been seen snapping into tackles with an enthusiasm we haven’t seen before.

There has been a lot of focus on our front line this summer, but I feel that is the strongest area of the team. The trouble is we won’t win many matches scoring once.

  6 Responses to “Arsenal will have to defend a lot better when the real football begins”

  1. The above report seems to confirm my worst fears, the defence is apparently not up to scratch especially in mid field. I normally don`t make it a point to be critical of individuals but I do feel, as do many others ,that Wenger is not facing up to facts when it comes to Eboue, Senderos and even Gallas. The strength of attack in such teams as Man. Utd. ,Liverpool, Chelsea and even Spurs will see them wanting.

    Arsenal must have a clean sheet for at least the first five games of the new season or it`s a matter of playing `catch up` and that`s just not on at this level. If the youngsters can`t fill these spots Arsene you have two weeks to find the answer. Good luck.

  2. I cannot agree more with the opinions expressed above. Senderos has long demonstrated his ineptness at the highest level, but is repeatedly being afforded chance after chance by the manager in the first team. This is probably due as much to a lack of good centre-halves in the team as to wenger’s “faith” in his abilities. Indeed if one looks at the squad, apart from toure, gallas and senderos himself, all we have are untried youngsters. However, Wenger, after being linked to a few centre-halves at the start of the transfer period, came out to say he did not want to sign anyone in that position. Dismayed, I was pinning my hopes(which i suspected might be naive and presumptuous) on Toure and Gallas forming a good partnership as Senderos clearly is not up to par. However, this latest game has shown major cracks in their abilities(such as the basic treatment of high balls- the bread and butter of a good centre-half) that the likes of rooney, torres and drogba would exploit with relative ease. I dare not even think what might happen should a few injuries decemate our centre halves. It is clearly one of our major weaknesses that the loss of excellent defensive mids such as flamini(-money) and gilberto has only aggravated. I cannot see diaby or denilson providing the sort of cover we had last season in that crucial dm position(i hope i’m wrong and wenger pulls a rabbit out of the hat again with one of his youngsters). Therefore, without trying to sound sensationalist, I hope Wenger either recognises this and does what he has to do at this stage of the season (hint:sign someone) or (which would be so typical of Le Boss) has already done so by letting one of his dark horse youngsters loose when the season begins in earnest. Clichy and Sagna are wonderful (although a lack of good subs is again a concern – but this is no surprise at Arsenal, which i think has had a strong first team but weak squad for years). I hope therefore these issues are addressed, since I would hate to see us end another season empty-handed because of problems that could be pre-determined before a ball was kicked. But, as always, In Wenger We Trust.

  3. i feel we need dm there is only delison,diaby and may be song, some one who can protect the defence a bit,flamaini steped up and i think diaby will very well as will diaby,but i complete dis agree that we need another cb,i feel songand dijouro will do very well,but that arseansls only real weajk point attacking wise we great shape and we just need bring dm

  4. i feel our manager sh’ld stop joking at the expence of our beloved club. if he cant buy players to effectively counter the rest of the teams , i predict hell as shown in ajax game .yes we won but many loop holes were exposed and this is the time wenger sh’ld buy or finish in the seventh position

  5. please, the market is still open, the Olympics menu is going on, just focus on the players we have Right Now. Yes i saw some encouraging signs from denilson too. stepping up won’t be hard to do. wait, was he injured? we were not just dealing with pre season jitters last night, it was a malaria hangover, take it easy ok.

  6. Okay, well I don’t think we’ll be finishing seventh, so there’s no need for panic!

    But bendemeer, that was the last pre season match for many players before the real action starts. Yes, Toure is recovering from malaria, and Cesc is only just back, but Gallas and Eboue looked a bit shaky too and they’ve had plenty of practice.

    As I said, I’ll be waiting to see what Wenger goes, as the window is still open, but I suspect he won’t be signing anyone in defence and that concerns me a bit.

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