You could put 100 Arsenal fans in a room and 97 of them would think Senderos isn’t Arsenal quality and the other 3 are me, Arseblog, and Arsene Wenger. Wenger has his reasons, he’s Phillipe’s coach so he knows this player’s qualities and frailties inside and out. Me, I don’t have reason, I have emotion.
I’ve followed him as a player since he first broke into the team and had the pleasure of actually being in the Emirates on a freezing Monday night in February when he scored a rare goal against Blackburn in 2008. It seems almost inconceivable that since that exact moment his career has basically disintegrated in front of my eyes. You’ll remember that February 2008 was THE season, Arsenal were 5 points clear of United on that night, playing very well, and everyone had high hopes that the club were going to really push for the title.
I flew back to America, adjusted time zones, and nipped off to the pub to watch the Man U-Arsenal FA cup match. Disaster. That was the Nani “seal dribble” match, if you’ll recall. A match which saw Eboue sent off, which saw United send an emphatic message that they weren’t done yet, and left the club thoroughly eviscerated. That was followed by a poor 0-0 draw at home against Milan and then the match where Martin Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg. I don’t have to remind you how much that effected our season.
For Senderos it might have been a case of too much too soon. Thrown in to the center of defense on an Arsenal team who’s whose attacking philosophy often exposes center backs to route one embarrassments. But the thing is, he did really well during that time. He started the FA Cup final in 2005 which saw Arsenal win our most recent piece of silverware and then continued in a rich vein of form throughout the next season when Arsenal had a record breaking run of 10 consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League. In fact, many people think that Wenger’s substitution of Senderos and Flamini for Campbell and Cole in the final is what cost us that match.
But it was the 2007/08 season mentioned above which seemed to be his undoing. After Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg, Arsenal played Villa to a 1-1 draw and Senderos scored an own goal. From there, it seems like it was all down hill. He lost a large part of the crowd and for a 22 year old, under enormous pressure, at one of the biggest clubs in the world, the crowd is simply vital. I don’t have to remind you about the rest of that season, it was simply disastrous, and by the close of the season, Arsenal fans from nearly every quarter were calling for Senderos to be sold. He went off to Milan where he mostly sat in the dugout and a year later and really not much more experienced he’s back here.
This is his second chance, Senderos 2.0. He’s only 24 years old and though the boss isn’t calling it a second chance he is highlighting the fact that Senderos was once a player who he thought could be Arsenal captain and pointing out that this guy, this central defender no less, is just 24 years old.
I don’t believe he is starting his career with us again because we know how good he is but it is a new start let’s say. We have already seen his quality and he is still very young for a centre back. He’s 24 years-old and he has the future in front of him. The best 10 years are now coming for him.
His position at the moment is that we have four centre backs and he is one of the four because Djourou is out for nearly the season. In this job you have always to be ready and the day you get the chance you can do well. If you are not ready, everybody will say he is not good enough to play for Arsenal Football Club.
Now he is back with us so we will just give him a chance.
Just Give Phillipe a Chance, wasn’t that a song by Yoko Ono?
Seriously, I think a lot of the criticism of Senderos has been over-the-top and I’d love to see him prove the critics wrong. At the very least he’s a better replacement in central defense than Silvestre (his partner today) and has as much potential to be a great squad player as anyone in the team… if we can just forgive him and get behind him.
As for the rest of the team today it seems that Wenger might have learned some lessons from the Senderos saga and is refusing to throw Wilshere in the deep end as he did with many other players. That said, he’s a certain start tonight on the right side of the attack.
On the left (yes, they’ll be playing a 4-3-3) I think we’ll see Traore. Le Boss was talking him up in his pre-match interview and I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t start him.
In the middle, Wenger tipped his hat the other day and said that Sanchez-Watt will get the start. I don’t know anything about him apart from what I’ve read and what I saw in pre-season. I guess he’s got incredible pace.
The middle three will be Randall, Ramsey, and Merida with Randall and Ramsey holding and Merida in Cesc’s spot. I have seen plenty of these fellows and I can say that they are up and down, as will happen to youth players. Let’s hope that are up today, they’ll need to be because WBA are no slouches.
At the back will be Szczesny, (who would like to buy a vowel, Pat) the aforementioned Silvestre and Senderos, Gibbs, and Hoyte The Younger. That’s about as strong a defensive team as we could field given injuries and the approach Wenger takes to the League Cup.
West Brom for their part reportedly have a gritty AND flowing attacking team who can grind out results, which is what I would expect if the terminator cross-bred with all of AC Milan. They are currently leading the Coca Cola Championship and they are both scoring loads and conceding few goals. They beat Middlesbrough just a few days ago 5-0 so they will not be an easy match by any stretch of the imagination.
In the season preview I mentioned ease of schedule as a crucial factor to the youngsters advancing in this tournament and it looks like we’re not going to have that this year. So, it looks like “old fashioned ass whuppin” is our route to the next round. I have no doubt in the quality of all of these youngsters and I’m sure they can do it.
Unfortunately, the only way to watch the match is going to be via Arsenal TV Online, after the match is done. That’s what I’m going to do today after work; get on over to the market, pick up a 6 pack of Carling (actually Carling is hard to find here, so any lager will do in a pinch) and fire up the ole computer and watch some red and white blobs play against some blue and white blobs — should be a real good time.
See you tomorrow for the Good Blob, the Bad Blob, and the Ugly Blob. Until the UP THE ARSE!