Sorry for the late post, I’ve had a busy few days and have only just managed to catch up on the Portsmouth game enough to feel able to pass comment. I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow account of it, by now you all know what happened, but just mention some good and bad bits that stuck out:
First, the good. Diaby was excellent, and not just for his goals – he roamed around menacingly all game, and was a constant threat. Eduardo provided a real cutting edge, and Gallas got his third goal in three, with another inventive finish off his face.
The not so good was the slight shakiness at the back – Gibbs looking a bit inconsistent and Almunia misjudging his leap, allowing Kaboul to get a consolation goal. I have to say though – I’m disappointed that some have used this as an excuse to have another go at our keeper. Has the Champions League match at United been forgotten so quickly?
In all honesty, it bodes well that a single error in a 4-1 victory is what people are focusing on. Some will always look to criticise, but right now material is short. Even the laboured argument that our strikers aren’t scoring is weak – I’d be far more concerned if we were reliant on one goalscorer whose streak would surely dry up. Instead we’re getting treated to a midfield goal fest, in the knowledge that when the strikers get in on the act we’ll be terrorising defences even more.
Seriously, look at who we have – Van Persie (who has come in for unfair criticism) carried us through the winter months practically single handed, Arshavin is sheer class, Eduardo is getting fitter, and Bendtner is showing promise. Walcott and Vela haven’t even appeared yet. No, I have no worries here.
I’m also beginning to think that Wenger isn’t worried about the midfield. Going forward we all well stocked (perhaps too much), but defensively we seem reliant on Song. But the more I think about it, the more I believe Wenger sees the likes of Denilson, Diaby and Ramsey as players who can play the attacking or defensive role, thus giving us more options and leaving a purchase unnecessary.
At the back, Gallas and Vermaelen’s partnership is a promising one, and they complement each other – one left footed, one right, one likes to go for the first ball, one hangs back. Both are physical, both are committed, and both score goals. Djourou is probably more in Gallas’ style, and our only real Vermaelen replacement is Senderos, for his aerial ability and the way he goes to meet the ball. With Lescott’s move finally paving the way for the Swiss to move to Everton, this is perhaps the likeliest position to see a new arrival.
But that is for early next week. First we have two games Cesc is likely to miss after coming off with a hamstring injury at the weekend. Tomorrow night’s game with Celtic is an opportunity to rotate again ahead of the trip to Old Trafford on Saturday. It’s a huge week.
But it could also be a great week. Qualification should be ensured with minimum fuss tomorrow, and as for Saturday, United have problems of their own, especially in defence, where injuries to Van der Sar and Ferdinand expose them horribly. Or fantastically, from our point of view.
It might be a tough start to the season. But this time last year we’d already performed abysmally at Fulham, and were flat. A bit like Liverpool are this year.
Let’s hope it continues.