As usual, with any lull in actual football there comes a flurry of activity in the press. For the last three years each of these spells has been primarily negative for Arsenal and this one is no different.
What I can’t understand is why the headlines never match the quotes, like this one from ESPN: “Rio rules Arsenal out of race for title”
Reading that headline I fully expect a ganja induced tirade about how Arsenal lack the quality, need to spend big, and are going to drop out of the top four and fire Arsene Wenger. Instead the quote is:
It is not beyond Arsenal but it is my personal opinion that it will be between the other three this season.
So which is it? Are we written off or not?
Or this gem from the Guardian: “No one scared of Arsenal any more, says Vieira.” Wait a minute, that’s not what he said, he actually said:
One of the problems for Arsenal as well is that they are conceding too many goals. I think that teams now play against Arsenal knowing that they can score so that can be a little bit psychological.
Far cry from “No one scared of Arsenal any more.” Every team that faces Arsenal know that they are in for a good fight. Sure, there are teams that have taken points and as Zola pointed out yesterday, that’s more down to clubs figuring out how to play them. Please note that Zola points to all of the “big four” as teams who clubs have figured out, not just Arsenal.
I really like what Patrick Vieira actually had to say about our young team as it comes from the outside and flies in the face of the conventional wisdom I read every morning. Basically, he urges the fans to have patience, support these Young Ones, and appreciate the talent we have because we probably aren’t getting anyone new. Read it for yourself, it’s pretty good stuff.
I especially like his estimation of Denilson. This young Brazilian is often the butt of criticism with places like Arseblog now offhandedly calling him out for not being a quality player. But Vieira, who’s opinion about Holding Midfielders I hold in the highest of esteem, sees it otherwise
When you look at the talent of Flamini and the talent of the new Brazilian guy [in midfield], Denilson, it’s not the difference. He is really talented but maybe he needs more time to express himself. He needs to learn more because the more you play, the better you will be.
Denilson has put in some very good performances and some poor ones as well, but there’s no denying the talent or commitment of the player. He lacks the pace of a real wing player and yet when asked to do it, he’d play anywhere on the pitch. The only thing he’s lacking is that last little bit of killer instinct on both ends of the pitch, well, that and the size that Song brings.
But more importantly is that the team doesn’t seem to be playing as a unit right now and that exposes the frailties of every player on the pitch; with me even calling out Cesc.
But I’m thinking that it’s our long term injuries and some misfortune at the outset has cause this team to get mixed up in ways that is not conducive to team play. Think about it, the entire squad of Wing players are currently injured; Nasri, Theo, Eboue, and Rosicky have all had various long and short term injuries. Sure, Wenger should have seen that Rosicky would be out for a large portion of the season and that Eboue might not be up to snuff but still you can’t expect all four of them to go down. And so, we end up with Diaby and Denilson on the wings. All credit to them for trying but that is clearly not their best position. This throwing players in to unfamiliar roles makes it very difficult for the team to gel and also undermines their individual belief.
Given all that, it’s no wonder the team are struggling, but do they lack the quality to win the league? Really?
Dudu to Play
It’s now being confirmed that Dudu will play tonight. Hopes are high, but let’s be realistic, he was moments away from losing his leg after Martin Taylor’s horrific tackle. Let’s all wish Eduardo the best of luck and give him some room to breathe, he may never be the same again and we all need to accept that.
Other injury news has Theo coming back in February and Rosicky is seeing yet another specialist though there is no time-line shift on his return with “March” as his supposed target. No surprises there.
Also, you may have missed this story but Arsenal signed a big name defender to a long term contract yesterday: Hoyte the Younger.
Right, that’s it, I have to brave the treacherous ice covered streets of my city and go to work.