Let me axe you something

Arsene Wenger has promised to wield the axe ahead of tomorrow’s match with Porto and though I agree with the sentiment completely, I believe his hands are tied and he won’t be able to do anything significant.

Pretty much every Arsenal fan knows that Gallas is the one player who most needs a “rest:” his performances have been shockingly poor both individually and as captain. You need look no further than the defensive scramble that let Hull score their second goal to see what I’m talking about. I know, it’s popular to say that Gallas is “short” (he’s 5’11”, a mere 3 inches shorter than Daniel Cousin) and that’s why he concedes goals from corners but that’s a load of crap. Mr. Shortymcshorterson wins headers on the offensive end all the time and he wins headers in defense all the time, in fact (and I know I’ll get stick for this) he’s a better aerial player than Kolo Toure by leaps and bounds.

No, Gallas’ problem isn’t the fact that he’s an inch shy of the 6′ mark. Gallas’ problem is that he’s a reactor and not a planner. Watch the replay of Hull’s second goal, it looks to me like Gallas doesn’t want to mark Cousin — so, he’s trying to get someone else to do it when the ball’s played in and “oops” he’s out of position and Cousin scores while Gallas is leaping helplessly behind the ball. Leaders who are reactors can be very valuable because they are capable of rapid change when needed but if they start panicking then that’s when they lose the plot. Unfortunately, Gallas has started panicking, he started the trend last year at the end of the Birmingham game and it’s continuing into this year as has happened now three times this season.

Gallas has to be dropped for the Porto match tomorrow and I would go a step further and strip him of the captaincy — make him earn it back, like I did in boot camp. Stripping Gallas of his captaincy would cause a massive disruption on the team but I think that’s exactly what’s needed right now; people fighting to be leader and let the guy with the biggest balls win it. It remains to be seen if Wenger is willing to risk the facade of harmony he’s built this season, after all, Arsene Wenger is not a reactor, he’s a planner.

More than just Gallas, there are a lot of players who looked pretty ordinary on Saturday; van Persie, Denilson and Cesc could all use a “rest” as well. So too Theo has to be running out of steam and could use a day or two off, but let’s face facts, who will the boss bring on if all 5 players are dropped? Jack Wilshere? Song? Silvestre? Nope. Nope. Nope.

Wilshere is hungry but there’s no way the boss is putting a 16 year old in the cauldron that is the Champions League, so Cesc will start there. Song is injured, as the link above shows, so that means Denilson will start there because the only other option is the 17 year old Welsh wunderkind Ramsey. Nasri is back (yay) and so we might see Theo come off the bench not because he did poorly but rather because he’s played, like, every day for the last month.

That leaves just van Persie and one of the two central defenders as viable options. Replacing van Persie with Bendtner or even Vela isn’t that hard a decision but I wonder does Arsene have the balls to replace Gallas? I don’t think he does. If anyone in the central defense gets a rest it will probably be Toure.

We’ll see.

So, tomorrow is a bit hectic but I am going to have some time to catch the game. It’s live on Setanta at 11:30am local time which, as always, means a trip down to Doyle’s. Maybe I’ll see you down there? Until tomorrow.


6 Responses to “Let me axe you something”

  1. 1 Stu
    September 29, 2008 at 7:21 am

    I see you mention resting RvP but not Ade even though for all Robin’s poor performances, he’s still been better (and has endless ammounts more natural talent) than Adebayor.

    Robin’s finishing was poor on Saturday (although he did have the one good strike at the end), but his passing was mostly excellent he held the ball up very well most of the time.

    I didn’t see the Blackburn game, so I’ll assume Ade played well in that game since he got a hattrick, however having watched every televised game this season I’m still waiting on a single good performance from the big man.

    Wenger has said multiple times ‘if you are good enough you will play’, I hope he has the balls to back that up against Porto because don’t tell me that Ade or RvP are in better form than Niklas and Vela. They also make a better partnership than the aforementioned.

    There’s only so long we can sit around waiting for our best players to hit top form (this applies to any position). Gallas should be dropped for Djourou or Silvestre should be given a chance if he’s up to it (I don’t know so remain neutral on that one. Song should be playing alongside Fabregas in a 4 man midfield once he’s fit and Bendtner and or Vela should be playing whether vela is on the wing for Eboue or otherwise.

    It’s great news that Nasri is coming back, I think we will see a big improvement with his return!

  2. September 29, 2008 at 7:59 am

    Adebayor more than makes up for his lack of natural talent with his work rate. I’d be surprised if the boss rests him because Wenger is a huge fan of hard work cf. Eboue’s inclusion in most starting lineups.

    Besides which, as Gunnerblog points out(p), van Persie is more talented but also more of a diva than Adebayor and also a lot less versatile: he can’t head the ball, can’t receive the ball on his right foot, and doesn’t work as hard as Adebayor.

    Finally, since Adebayor comes in for criticism from everyone else and I don’t really agree with it, I kinda figured I’d let everyone else do the criticizing. I’ve only seen him have one poor game so far this season and thought he had a good game against Hull, my only criticism is that he looked to be trying to pass too much and for once we needed him to just frikin shoot.

    I sort of agree about Vela and Bendtner and I can see one or both of them getting a start. Regardless, I just want to see the boss mix things up a bit.

  3. 3 Jav
    September 29, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Stu, you’ve hit the nail on the head with your comments.

    I hope Gallas gets dropped as it’s he’s made 3 mistakes this season all of which led to goals for the opposition. Please Wenger give Djourou a chance.

    Walcott should be coming on after and hour (when the opposition starts tiring) and not starting as he does not offer any defensive cover on our right if our attack breaks down. Eboue (until Rosicky becomes fit) is still our best.

    Van Persie is not looking comfortable up front perhaps a left wing role would suit him better for the time being? Thinking about it, I’ve never truly felt comfortable with Adebayor up front as Bendtner greater technicality means he can play with any of our other centre forwards. I’ve seen Bendtner form effective partnerships with Eduardo, Walcott and now Vela but I’ve never seen Ade effective with a strike partner only whenever he has been the lone forward.

    Formation I would like to see for next game?

    Vela Bendtner

    Nasri Eboue


    Clichy Djourou Toure Sagna

    with Van Persie (coming on for Nasri), Walcott (coming on for Eboue), Denilson (coming on for Song) after 60 or so minutes.

  4. 4 Matt
    September 29, 2008 at 9:39 am

    I would like to see Cesc taking the corners and getting van Persie into the box. Yeah, I know he has no game with his head, but he is a solid finisher and would be of worth when Cesc whips in a ping-ponging corner.

    I am taking tomorrow afternoon off for the game which means I can have a pint or two with the match. Champions League matches are the only ones I can drink with, league matches are on too early…:-)

  5. September 29, 2008 at 9:50 am

    he he..

    I was totally going to abstain until my birthday but now that you mention it… Tuesday… afternoon… football… lunch… beer…

    Too much temptation!

  6. 6 Keith Barham
    September 29, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Your headline today made me think I was still at work. I know this means nothing to anyone except me, but honestly, it is like they are going out of their way to sound ignorant.

    I’ll show myself out.

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