Archive for October 30th, 2008

30
Oct
08

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Bentley's hero, Gazza, after he scored the shocker against Arsenal in 1991

The Good

It’s an Opportunity to Learn ™ that when you’re up 4-2 in 98th minute, you hold on to the ball.

It’s also an Opportunity to Learn ™ for Arsene Wenger that maybe, William Gallas isn’t the leader on the pitch that you think he is? More than smoking, drinking, and carousing at all hours, his utter lack of leadership on the pitch cost Arsenal 2 points yesterday. Individually, Gallas was fine, but when the chips were down, as we have seen time and again, Gallas disappeared. At the end of the game, when we needed him to instill confidence in Clichy, Gallas was nowhere to be seen.

Remember last year when Flamini was the one “geeing” everyone up on the pitch? If heads dropped a little Flamini would pull their chins up and get them back into the game. No one did that yesterday and I have to think that the failure to keep Flamini in this side has cost them dearly so far this year. Because while he wasn’t technically the best player, he was the water carrier and more than anyone else the emotional leader on the pitch. Arsenal obviously needed someone like that yesterday.

So, my glimmer of good here is that maybe, just maybe, Arsene will learn: the Gallas experiment is an utter failure, no one likes or respects him as captain; the Eboue experiment is similarly an utter failure, you brought him on to provide extra defense on the right wing at the end of a game we’re winning 4-2 and he failed you as he has done time and again; and most hurtful to your own pride, I think, is that the experiment where you refuse to buy an experienced midfielder and expect Cesc and the three-headed-hydra of Denilson, Song, and Diaby to do the job is most clearly not cutting it.

Statements like these make me hopeful that Arsene Wenger will shed his hubris, look in the mirror and he will do something:

I am angry. We have to look at ourselves and improve. The players are very down. We were two levels above Tottenham and they were there for the taking. It was damaging.

You’re damn right it was damaging, now fix it like I know you can.

The Bad

Almunia was dreadful.

Watching the game live and listening to the commentators I got the sense that the first goal wasn’t his fault but watch the video of that first goal again (if you can stomach it) Bentley sees that Almunia is way off his line, Almunia realizes this, and instead of scrambling to get back into position, he sort of hesitates… by the time he realizes his error the ball is already swirling and dipping and Alumina sort of half assed dives for it and… UGH. Almunia made Bentley look good there. The ball wasn’t struck into the top corner at impossible pace, it’s lobbed, right at the keeper, who is out in no man’s land.

Maybe Almunia will be an England number 1 after all, he was easily as bad as Paul Robinson ever was last night.

That hesitation on Almunia’s part, though, has to be attributed to the guys in front of him. If he knew where they were going to be, if he knew that they were going to close down space, if they could have dealt with the ball better he wouldn’t have worried at all.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t just dreadful on the first goal, he was dreadful all around: punching away corners that he should have collected, giving up rebounds for goals, ugh.

Frankly, I don’t know what Arsene does now. Strip Gallas of the captaincy? Put Vito Mannone in goal? Someohow inspire confidence? That’s what these kids need. A string of clean sheets and they’ll be back in it. Unfortunately, I have to think their confidence is shot and right now keeping a clean sheet against Stoke City on Saturday will seem like a miracle.

The Ugly

I was going to have a bit about Bentley and how he scored the goal by taking a gamble but then I went onto Arsenal.com and read what Arsene Wenger’s thoughts were after the match and… it’s really incredible.

He speaks as if we won the game or something: talking about how “we produced an excellent game and the positive side is that we were really superior to Tottenham.” No, no you were not. The score line doesn’t lie. They deserved those last two goals exactly because Arsenal DID NOT produce an excellent game. See, an excellent game is one in which you maintain focus for all 90 minutes and play defense for all 90 minutes.

I know, you all will say “what else is he supposed to say?”

Well, how about not trying to bullshit us? I don’t mind if you want to be chirpily optimistic, fine, but don’t try to pull the wool over our eyes. We all saw the game, Arsenal let in two goals in the last two minutes — had they not done that then yes, it would have been an excellent game.

But what’s most incredible is to hear him say that he wanted the team to go for a 5th and 6th goal:

I believe we were too cautious, we wanted to keep the ball in a negative way instead of scoring goals number five and six. We were not going forward with enough purpose and that is why we were punished.

You’re god damn right you try to keep the ball in a negative way up 4-2 in the 93rd minute; you dribble the fucking ball into the corner like all these other shit heels do GOD DAMNIT! Play the ball out, fall over and pull a god damn Eboue, do something but what you don’t do is attack!

Up 4-2 in the 90th minute and we’re attacking, because that’s what the manager wants. What are you people, on dope???

I said that the game would be a watershed for both teams in terms of this season. Unfortunately, I think that means Spurs aren’t going to make the drop but neither is Arsenal a serious title contender.  Defense wins championships and shipping two goals in the last two minutes is.. well.. indefensible.

Have at me.

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