The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

More Pool-Arsenal Notes

Not much to add to Sean’s post, other than that it was almost exactly the game I expected- Arsenal’s defense looked much better (and Almunia suddenly does as well- strange how that happens), Gerrard was largely constrained to safe areas and forced to run diagonally away from goal rather than at it, Keane scored as he was bound to do on the sort of goal he always scores against Arsenal, Van Persie produced one of those moments of individual brilliance (off a fine Nasri pass) which he’s good for about 5 of a season when healthy, and the inevitable 1-1 draw was the final.


– I don’t care to criticise referees unless there’s a good reason, but today there was one- Howard Webb, usually good, gave out a series of weak yellow cards to both sides and ultimately handed out one of the worst second yellows of the season. Simply put, the card was a dubious call at best on its own, and there was no excuse for radically changing a close game over a borderline call.

– It’s astonishing to me as it is to Sean that Keane scores those goals, though for different reasons. H always makes that run, game after games after season after season, completely un-camouflaged and with no subtlety, and still teams fall for it- especially Arsenal. Admittedly it requires fine timing and a fine pass to spring him, but he and his last two teams have clearly demonstrated they can provide that. How does this keep happening?

– Liverpool will finish 3rd at this rate. Without Torres they can only do one thing offensively, and when combined with their defensive and goaltending excellence, the result is a long series of draws. They’re up to 4 of their last 5 drawn now (two of them 0-0), with the lone win coming against a reeling, Ince-managed Blackburn. Slowly but surely, they’re becoming last year’s Liverpool.

– Fabregas is currently listed as “one to three weeks” out, which means he’ll miss the Villa game. That is, obviously, a very bad thing, especially given Arsenal’s recent record of predicting injury timeframes. One of the positives of today’s game I thought was the combination of hard-working solidarity between loud fans and players full of effort, even in the face of this injury and the red card; but solidarity and spirit will only take you so far and without Fabregas and away from home, next Friday’s match looks a hard ask. Beating Villa would get Arsenal just about back to parity with them on the year, perhaps slightly ahead depending on the margin; a loss puts Arsenal 6 points adrift of them entering the transfer window. Those numbers speak for themselves, really.

In the end what we learned from this game is that yes, Arsenal can still get up and play well against big clubs. Every player in the shirt was above their usual level this season, and anyone can tell the way they become more precise, better organized, and display much more effort than against some of the lesser sides. We were also reminded, forcefully, that in a team of slight, young, technical players injuries can be expected to many of them, and that all it takes is an unexpected injury to an unexpected player in addition to reveal how little margin for error there is. This is tue of everyone, but especially so of Arsenal given the type of player the club selects. It’s another of the many, many reasons why help is essential, even if Arsenal win on Friday; Villa are not going away, and Arsenal still have not proved that they can be consistent against smaller teams. The job is all still to do, and there needs to be a margin for error, depth and resilience. Diaby-Denison-Song-Nasri were just about good enough to hold on for a point today; I would not care to wager how many times out of ten in this situation that would be true of them. Now, imagine what happens if Nasri gets injured again some time in the next three weeks. Doesn’t bear thinking of.

A draw on Friday would be alright if signings are coming and it is therefor reasonable to expect Arsenal’s level of play to improve in the new year; if this current squad are to be asked to do it all themselvs, then a win is essential. There’s no better time to start stuffing Villa back in their hole, and allowing them a second win over Arsenal would give them all the confidence they need.


December 21, 2008 - Posted by | The Arsenal |

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