Emirates Cup, day 2

Thats Arsenal there at the bottom of the pile

That's Arsenal there at the bottom of the pile

Arsenal have officially sunk lower than George W. Bush’s approval ratings.  Ok, not really, but come on, that’s funny, RIGHT???

They did “lose” yesterday 1-0 to Juventus after the official failed to see an obvious offside.  Ironically, I just tuned into justin.tv to get ready for today’s Arsenal v. Real Madrid and the linesman blew an equally and opposite offside which would have seen Juve level their match with Hamburg.  So I guess it all works out in the end.  In fact, it’s looking like Martin Jol’s men are going to win the Cup, they’ just beat the piss out of  Juve 3-0.  I don’t know how that fits into my “football karma” scheme quite yet but rest assured I will let you know as soon as I figure it out.

Oh well, back to yesterday’s game: Arsenal fielded a team of hopefuls and I have to say the youngster’s looked damn good.  Again, Wilshire has made a case for himself to be included in the adult squad.  If he wasn’t 5’2″ I would think he was in his mid-twenties.  At one point, he took a shot at goal off the volley and I damn near spilled the laptop onto the floor it was so exciting.  Maybe it’s because it’s the first real match of the season, but I was duly impressed with the kid, he seemed to be everywhere, and totally fearless in front of goal.  Arsenal have needed someone like that for quite some time.  Ramsey, similarly, had a pretty good first half playing in Cesc’s spot in central midfield but I have to say that the weight of expectation seems to hang more on him than Wilshire.  In fact, he reminds me a lot of Walcott three years ago: a bit uncertain, afraid to make mistakes, and too deferential to his teammates. Wilshire, on the other hand, is just straight up balls to the wall and that’s what makes a great player, in my mind.  This kid is seriously one to watch.

Partnering them in midfield was dumb and dumber: Denilson and Eboue.  Ok, I’m being hard on Denilson, but he did have a pretty terrible game.  He just seemed, erm, lost out there.  If he had paid any attention Denilson could have learned a few tricks at CDM as Momo Sissoko gave him one hell of a lesson.  Right now, Denilson is straight up not ready to play first team central midfield, both temperment wise and footballistically.  There was one moment that perfectly illustrates this: after making a horrible, long back pass that was fortunately saved by an astute William Gallas, Denilson gets the ball back only to lose it again to some Juve hack.  His response?  An elbow to the head.  15 years ago, that’s what the league wanted in an enforcer, but now a days, with cameras and post match re-play I could see Denilson get a 5 match ban for that kind of stuff.

And if Denilson isn’t ready then Eboue is equally, nay, doubly unready.  I understand that the boss plays him because he likes the “defensive balance” that Eboue brings, but he’s just plain “not good” in attack.  Whatever they worked on this summer still hasn’t sunk in because he looked just as lost yesterday as he did all last year.

The defense looks very solid, Senderos captained well, and personally made several important saves, good for him.  More than just about any other player, Senderos thrives on confidence, and it’s good to see him have a good start to the season.  His central partner, Djourou looked a very solid player as well and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get some starts this year.  On the wings, Gibbs and Hoyte filled in ably and I could see them also filling in when needed.

Up front, Bendtner and Vela started and did OK, but it was the subs that everyone is wondering about.  Despite a few boos Adebayor came on and did reasonably well.  He was clearly rusty and had two real chances that he might have put away last year, but both went wasted.  He did have a great turn and shot that just missed the net and so, I bet he shakes this rust off soon and regains his form.

Despite the loss and despite my negative tone about Eboue and Denilson, I really do love this squad that the boss has put together and yesterday’s game confirms everything that people like me have been saying: trust Arsene Wenger.

As I type this, Arsenal are playing a 4-3-3 against Real Madrid with Sagna, Gallas, Senderos, and Clichy at the back; Nasri, Denilson, and Diaby in the middle; and van Persie, Walcott, and Adebayor up front.  What a line up!


5 Responses to “Emirates Cup, day 2”

  1. 1 Alex
    August 3, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Tim, I love the lineup as much as you but my concern is that even when you throw Nasri in the mix, we have enough depth and ‘bench’ to line up 1.5-2 decent teams – not enough for credible runs in 3 or 4 competitions. And I am assuming we get Eduardo and Rosicky back. But it sure looks like a fun team to watch.

  2. August 3, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Well, yes. In the strictest of senses you are 50% correct. Nasri, for example, is Arsenal’s only wing player. But in several key positions Arsenal actually have a log jam and there will be some disgruntled players this year. Striker, for example; if Bendtner doesn’t get enough playing time I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him agitate for a move elsewhere.

    The key thing I keep thinking about is Dave Kitson’s quote about Arsenal last year. After we lost Thierry Henry, he said, we’re like a machine; if we lose what seems to be a key part we just plug someone else in there. Because everyone is taught the same, they all play the same type of football and they work together as a team.

    If you believe that notion, which I do, then the team has plenty of players at her disposal. No other team, ever, has consistently moved as many players around from position to position and had as much success at it (both from a team and an individual perspective) as The Arsenal.

    I think Wenger sees the players not as positional but as talent and he uses their talent to exploit weakness in his opposition.

    Did you watch the match today? Pretty good one eh?

  3. 3 Alex
    August 3, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Come on now :-) You must be counting all these 15 year olds as credible alternatives.

  4. 4 CaribKid
    August 3, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Arsene’s Arsenal is based on the system and players brought into the squad are merely “pawns” of the system.

    Although the squad is young, it brings a lot of versatility in which the “pawns” are able to play in a number of differing positions based on the requirement of the system at that specific time.

    Although Imothyt suggests we only have one real winger available at this time, in actuality, not counting Wilshere, we have Nasri, Vela and Walcott who can slot into these positions, Rosicky coming off injury and the hidden threat in Traore, who may yet become a very influential part of the Arsenal scheme in the not too distant future.

    More and more, this Arsenal team reminds me of the great young Ajax team of the 70’s which dominated club football for almost a decade.

    Yes, we do have individual weaknesses at this time, but I was very proud of the manner in which we handled the Real “Galacticos” earlier today and the 1-0 surely did not reflect the dominance we inflicted on their over inflated egos.

    As a football, or should I say SOCCER, purist I am looking forward to another great season from the lads at the Emirates.

  5. August 4, 2008 at 4:23 am

    You can call me Tim and Vela and Walcott are strikers. You putting them in to the winger category just confirms what we are both saying; that Arsenal players are largely interchangeable. Hell, Wenger has even used RvP on the wing in a pinch.

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