Everton 1-1 Arsenal; "We're watching the season unravel"

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Quote of the Day

Timmy knows where the ball is going to land every time, if I could learn how to do that, it would be great. I’m learning from all my team-mates. They are all older than me with greater experience and I am picking up things off them.  But Tim has a similar role to me and I watch him very closely in games and during training. He’s the main man and is so decisive in front of goal. Long may that continue.

Marouane Fellaini attributes hard work, having experienced players show you the way, and good team spirit to his success. Who’d have thunk it?

The Good

Robin van Persie has now had a hand in every single goal that Arsenal have scored in the month of January. Everton, aware of that threat, used three players at nearly all times on Robin and he still scored.

Good? No, great.

He is 25 years old and reminds me so much of Dennis Bergkamp in his first season at Arsenal (who was 26 then). Just a month ago or so, I had a chance to watch those old tapes courtesy of my friend T-Town Alex and at the time I think I said something like “man, Arsenal could use a guy like that now.” If you remember Bergkamp’s first season started out rocky and then he took off, put the team on his back and went on to become an Arsenal legend. I think RvP is doing that same thing right now. While some of the players were sniping at each other yesterday, Robin was busy working hard, tackling, playing defense, making runs, and more than once I saw him leading the team. Where would we be without him? That’s not a pretty thought is it?

I also want to single out Fellaini here, because, well, there isn’t much else positive to say about Arsenal. Here’s a guy who is a central midfielder and Moyes had him playing Adebayor’s role, which he did with aplomb. But worse than just being embarrassed by having a central midfielder making the target man role look easy he made Adebayor, Song, and Diaby look like shiat with his work rate, tackling, ball handling, well, in just about every way. It seems like I say this week in and week out but seriously, Arsene, you’ve got to see that Arsenal need a player like that.

The Bad

If Song and Diaby are the “engine room” of Arsenal, then the engine room has thrown a rod. Put aside for a moment the fact that Diaby got the assist and was Arsenal’s top passer at 86%. He doesn’t dominate anything. Maybe that’s just his personality but he doesn’t act like a central midfielder; he acts like a center forward.

Worse, he’s often guilty of trying cute passes instead of just making the easy pass. These cute passes never work and are frustrating to his teammates. You could see it on their faces and in the way that Adebayor threw his hands up after yet another easy pass was overlooked in favor of some crazy back heel flick.

Your center forward is the guy who makes the crazy back heels, your holding midfielder is supposed to be the rock. The guy who you can count on to make the good decision, the easy pass. You know, keep possession, not throw it away in a dangerous area.

Song, well, when Song tries hard I like him, when he doesn’t try hard, he’s fucking useless. Since we don’t know which Song we’re going to get then overall Song’s just a little bit crap isn’t he? He’d be good on a team like Charlton, we should let him go back there and dominate league 1.

Unlike Song, I feel bad for Denilson. He is a feisty little player who may turn out to be one hell of a central midfielder one day, but he will never, ever, ever, be a wing player. I knew Wenger was going to play him out wide too. Wenger loves playing “defensive” players in the wing role it’s one of the many in his growing list of insanities.

And hey! What about that Nasri, eh? I actually don’t blame him for yesterday’s performance. If Wenger kept Clichy back, once, maybe twice, in a game, then Nasri wouldn’t be called upon to play fullback for 3/4 of the match while Clichy foraged forward and put crosses out of play. One of these days though, a strong wind will knock that ball down and that cross is going to find one of our players and BOOM Clichy will get an assist.

The Ugly

What the hell happened to Adebayor? Last year he played nearly every game like Fellaini did last night and this year he seems like he just doesn’t care. Worse though, he’s now turned to complaining at his teammates when they play a ball in to him and he stands stock still and watches it roll past him.

I literally did a facepalm in the first two minutes of the game when he and Clichy combined on a throw in and Clichy played an excellent ball into space that any striker should be able to reach and Ade just kind of stood there and shrugged his shoulders as the ball went out of play.

I would be tempted to say that Arsenal should have cashed in on him in the summer, except then we’d be left with Bendtner as our target man and, well, Bendtner is crap. And don’t even try to tell me that Wenger would take the money and buy someone else, we all know that’s just not true.

But the worst part of all this is that the goal that Arsenal conceded was just downright maddening. Leighton Baines, who I suppose is Denilson’s marker (who knows anymore, what with Wenger playing a modified 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1)  was left alone in the box for so long that I think he finished the first two chapters of Ivanhoe before putting in a cross that fell to the unmarked Tim Cahill. Disgusting, couldn’t he read something with a little more literary merit than Ivanhoe?

Conclusion

Everton is a tough team; they have a lot of heart, and they are well organized. Given that Arsenal don’t have a lot of heart beating outside of the chest of maybe three players and are in utter disarray as far as formation it was a lucky escape for Arsenal.

In fact, as I sat there watching Everton outplay Arsenal at every turn, and score despite the fact that they were using two midfielders as strikers, I couldn’t help but think “this is what it looks like to see Arsenal’s season unravel.”

But here’s the silver lining to all this. From now on, whenever Clichy plays a ball into row Z, or Diaby plays a back heel that goes straight to the opposition, or when Eboue is mysteriously introduced, or Adebayor is seen balancing his checkbook on the pitch rather than getting back and trying to win the ball, I’m just going to accept that this is the team that we have.

What else can I do? None of this makes any sense. Arsenal say they have a huge pile of cash reserves and yet they act like a team on the verge of bankruptcy. I mean, surely if I, some cock sandwich AMERICAN blogger, can scout Fellaini over the internet Arsene Wenger, a God among coaches (right?) with a vast scouting network, can see that Arsenal need a quality player like Arteta or Fellaini or Lucas or Diarra or Flamini or FUCK ANYONE BUT SONG in the midfield and go out and buy that person and bring them in and save the season.

No. I’ve resigned myself to the reality that they don’t want to save the season. Either that or the whole club has come down with acute Neurosyphilis and are barking mad. I’m going with the latter, it’s the only thing that explains anyone at the club still thinking they have a chance to win the title.

22 Comments on Everton 1-1 Arsenal; "We're watching the season unravel"

  1. Tim, I think with today’s blog, you finally reached the last stage of grief: Acceptance 🙂
    I have been there for about 2-3 weeks. Tell me if this is not you:

    ACCEPTANCE:
    During this, the last stage of grief, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.
    You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.

    EPL title… rest in Peace.
    But I think we have a good shot in a cup type competition like the FA cup or the CL. Anything can happen in a 1 or 2 match situation. We just don’t have the team for a long league season.

  2. Calm down man, it wasn’t that bad, I don’t think the team is that bad either. You are right that some players seem to not perform consistently, but think about this, we are grinding out results, we are not getting beat easily, we try until the last second. All this has been achieved with many first team players missing. It’s a good basis to start from, because when they get their fluency, it could be great.

  3. Yes i think Abe does not want to be there he misses to many chances do you think if the ball had fallan to him rather than RVP we would have drawn the game?
    W e used to eat Everton every year home and away have Everton got better or have we been in decline sonce we lost Pires lumburge Berkamp veirra etc etc and tried to do things on the cheap
    I am sure if you want to be a top 4 club you have to buy some top players
    Players such as Song,Denilson,Abe,Eboue and Diaby are just not top 4 players as simple as that we lack pace and we have become like Liverhoof just kicking the ball up to ABE who is no croach in the air
    We realy will play UAFA cup football next season Wenger and the board i include both because we dont know who is to blame have had the last 3 transfer windows to put things right
    We are only a few players short of a world class squad 1.Goalkeeper 1.Central defender 1. Holding midfielder .1 attacking midfielder 1. World class striket to play alongside RVP
    Please Arsen try this team and in these positions for the home game with west ham you might be suprised

    Almunia
    Sagna Dujoru Gallas Clicy

    Wiltshire Kolo Nasri Denilson Vela

    RVP

  4. Well said Tim, i too am completely mystefied as to what’s going on. We’ve needed players for a good while now and it’s not happening. I know many think we should turn to our youth as saviours but i’m not quite sure that is such a good idea as we’ve too much youth already on the pitch. Not sure why we can’t attract quality as we have in the past under Wenger. Can we afford to wait several more seasons for Diaby, Song, etc, etc, to develop(uncertain) if we fall out of cl places and our best older players shove off? As i’ve said it’s a mystery why we’re taking this risk. Should we gain a top four spot at the end of it all, it will have been with the most insipid side under Wenger.

  5. keith…why so down on almunia….i agree about our other needs…but a keeper isn’t one of them if you ask me…sure he’s not a fantastic keeper, but they don’t grow on trees you know

    denilson will be a great holding midfielder type at some point…his work rate puts diaby and song to shame…nasri looks lost away from the emirates…we need another creative player and a legit holding midfielder and we need it fast…we are sorely missing walcott and fab right now

  6. After seeing the starting line-up I kind of lost hope. Diaby, Song, AND Denilson? I’m not going to say these guys don’t have their own merits but playing as a triumvirate(sp?, much too lazy to correct myself) of lazy, ball-losing, half-tackle super-friends how the hell can we form a single attack? I used to always get furious when people would cry out “buy, buy, buy”, but seriously, BUY BUY BUY. Rosicky won’t be back until march…and by then he “might be playing with the reserves”. Fabregas is still a bit out and god damnit we still don’t have a powerful midfielder.

    But, like you said Tim. This is the team we have *le sigh*.

  7. Hey Tim, Great post, made my day. Your blog is rapidly becoming my favorite, keep up the great work. And thanks for your detailed post on traveling to see a game live — I have referred to it extensively and will be at the Fulham game in 4 weeks.
    – GRP (Boston)

  8. Well said T-Town Alex, I have been there for the past month and it hurts as if I’ve lost a child and there are no words adequate to express my sorrow, for surely, we have seen the passing of the glory days and Arsenal are in severe decline. This has been precipitated by a manager who surely has lost the plot and is unable to see the forest for the trees.

    I beg to differ with Timothy on Denilson however. Denilson will never be a great DM in his career, especially with Arsenal. He is snail slow, can’t head the ball for shit, not positionally aware (therefore gets caught out of position), Eboue like in his finishing, non creative in his passing (passing stats are great due to diagonal passes) and is only a decent tackler. He makes Flamini look like PV. Hard working? yes. Diligent? Yes. Uncomplaining? Yes. Committed to the clause? Yes. Good looking young man? Yes. Great teammate? Yes. Great DM? Not in a million years.

    But, this is not about Denilson, it’s about Arsene. He did not replace the talent level which exited last season, takes too long to adjust tactically (if and when he does) to imbalanced pairings, is too dogmatic and predictable with his substitutions, suddenly unable to gauge talent levels (omission of Vela and continued playing of Eboue, Denilson and Diaby), and his penchant for making money for the club rather than winning games.

    Frustrated? Yes

    Disgusted? Yes

    Angry? Yes

    Happy? Hell no

    Just a long overdue rant to ease the pressure (lol)

  9. i actually think denilson is a good tackler…true he is too small to be a great header of the ball, but the reason he gets caught out of position is because our team has no real attacking threat from the Midfield right now so he pushes up more than he should….when fab was playing well earlier in the season, denilson looked good as the holding midfielder and held his position well…his workrate is a vital trait of a good def. midfielder

  10. @VolsnCards5

    Point in question?

    I hire a financial analyst to take care of my financial database for a multi-million $ project and rather than perform his presumed role he continuously get’s involved in areas outside of his expertise and neglects his basic duties.

    What do I do?

    I fire his ass because he is not performing within the framework of his assigned tasks and is therefore letting the whole team down.

    Nuff said.

  11. OK people, enough negativity – $5 bet that we are winning the CL this year. Any takers?
    Be careful, I will track you down and collect. 🙂

  12. @ T-Town-Alex

    Hate to dampen your enthusiasm, but will give 3-1 odds on a $100 bet. You win, you get 300, I win, I get 100.

    For the first time in my life, losing $300.00 would make me the happiest man in the world. (LOL)

  13. “can see that Arsenal need a quality player like Arteta or Fellaini or Lucas or Diarra or Flamini or FUCK ANYONE BUT SONG”

    Great Line

  14. @caribkid….not sure your argument holds up…if you pay a financial advisor to manage your money and he dabbles in other things, then yes you should fire him….but if you hire a financial advisor to build a house, then thats on you, it doesnt mean he is a bad financial advisor, but that you have made a mistake…that is the crux of the problem with denilson…he is chronically played out of position…when he is played as a DM with Fab as the creative midfield force, denilson does his job pretty well…not as well as other DM’s mind you, but he shows that in the future he could be a very good DM

    we are arguing two sides of the same coin here i think

  15. @VolsnCards5

    Again I beg to disagree, but then again we are both being subjective. When I have seen Denilson play with Fab in the center it has been noticeable that Fab plays deeper and Denilson plays in a more forward role and this ultimately reflects in some part on Fab’s lack of scoring and assists this season. Whether it’s a role defined by Arsene or not, I have no idea.

    As I said in my previous response, Denilson does not have the physical tools to become an excellent DM. He can improve his positional awareness, tackling and passing but he lacks pace and aerial ability. With his skill set, I have always seen him as a Fab clone, rather than a Fab partner.

  16. Every year I bet £10 on Arsenal winning the Champions League. This year I got 9-1 odds, just about enough to cover my previous losses. Oh well. Come on you Gunners!

  17. Tim, thought you might take a shine to fellaini. There’s not much to dislike about him, but for 15 mil not sure he’s in our price range. Good size, good skill, good energy, good attitude as you say, and good mobility but maybe not the quickest but altogether very respectable, yes we could use one like him no doubt about that. Our counterpart to him, diaby, is brilliant at times but too damn young, inconsistent and immature to impose himself on the game, yes very much centre forward personality which we simply cannot have in our midfield. Ideally, diaby should have been on loan the last few seasons to a second division side perhaps in spain where he can learn and grow with players his own age out of the limelight and intense scrutiny of the epl so that when he does arrive he’s not timid and fearful but eager and mentally and physically ready to make an immediate impression.

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