Is anyone on this team the new (fill in the blank)?

Prompted by Wenger’s statement prodding Abou Diaby to make himself in to the “New Vieira” I thought I might take a look at some of our current squad and see if any of them are the new anything. Hey, what else are we going to do during the international break? Sit around wondering if van Persie is leaving? I’d rather not.

The New Vieira

A couple of things here: first, we have to remember that Wenger’s system was different when Patrick Vieira terrorized opposition midfields. Vieira was paired with a more traditional defensive midfielder during his tenure at Arsenal (Petit, Gilberto, Edu, etc) which freed him to play the box-to-box role. If you look at how this season has gone so far, I think we’ve seen Arsene change his lineup to this more “traditional” Wenger lineup with Diaby in the box-to-box role and Song and Denilson in the defensive role.

Other than a sort of formational similarity, though, Diaby doesn’t really play like Vieira. Vieira was a hard tackling midfield tough guy. Yes, he distributed the ball well, but really, when it came down to it, Vieira was on the team to give lumps to shit kickers like Blackburn and Newcastle.  Diaby on the other hand has the dribbling ability of Alex Hleb and, unfortunately, Hleb’s tackling ability as well.

Wenger has encouraged the big fella to model his game after Vieira and for me that means getting stuck in a bit more. Hey, if I said Arsenal could have a player that dribbles like Hleb and tackles like Vieira would you turn that down?

So, maybe he’s not the New Vieira and is more like the new Vieirahleb. Once he learns how to tackle properly, that is.

The New Henry

There isn’t one and never will be.

Adebayor’s goal scoring record last year was impressive and threatened to reach the heights of Henry but this year has been a bit of a let off. Henry never had a let off (except his last season which doesn’t count!).

Not only did Henry score year in and year out but his numbers were eye popping. In 2005/06 Henry scored 33 goals in 45 games (including subs) on 172 shots, 87 of which were on goal. 51% of his shots were on goal, 38% of those shots resulted in goals, and he had a massive return of .73 goals per game.

In comparison, the return from our current three strikers is appallingly low: Robin van Persie is .46, Adebayor is .42, and Bendtner is .31.

But Thierry Henry was a once in a lifetime player, it’s not fair to put Bendtner in the same category when he so clearly is not a once in a lifetime player. He’s a fine lad with tons of confidence who scores good goals and works very hard and I like him, but he’s no Henry.

No one is.

The New Lehmann

Do we want a new Lehmann? I mean, there was a certain charm in his insanity but in the end I think he cost Arsenal a bit. Getting sent off in the opening minutes of the Champions League final will always go down as a black mark in my book and erased whatever good will his antics raised.

No, after Lehmann it feels good to have a steady hand at the till. If we could just get Almunia to be more, erm, assertive in his area then we’d really have something.

I do see a bit of The Madness of Jens in Fabianski but right now it just manifests itself as being very aggressive in the sweeper-keeper roll and not in the fally downy bizzaro antics that Jens perpetrated.

So, there isn’t a new Lehmann, thank the Gods!

The New Adams

Wenger simply does not create this type of player. He mints technically gifted midfielders faster than the US prints money but he’s never gotten his head around making a huge, hard as nails, defender who can not only withstand the pressure of playing in Arsenal’s back 4 but captain the team to boot.

Mind you he’s tried. Senderos was going to be the New Adams, before he had a mental breakdown and needed a vacation in Italy. Sol Campbell was going to be the New Adams until he had a mental breakdown and needed a vacation on the South Coast.

Djourou? No, he’s a good player and all but he’s already 22 years old, which by that time, Adams was Arsenal captain. Again, it’s a bit unfair, Adams was a once in a lifetime player and no matter how good Djourou is or turns out to be he can never fit in Tony Adams’ shoes.


I was looking at the team roster and I thought, well, maybe Diaby can be Vieira-esque but really what I’d rather have is Diaby be the New Diaby and Arshavin be the new Arshavin and Cesc the new Fabregas on down the line. I really do like a lot of the players on the team and I like them for who they are, not who they aren’t.

Sure, we’d all like to see Adebayor and Bendtner increase their conversion rates, or Djourou step up in a leadership role, or more hard tackling in the midfield but those are qualities that can be taught and with time I think all those players will gain some of those qualities.

But ultimately, that chapter of Arsenal’s history is written, those players are legends, and these are the players we have right here and now. These guys need to write their own legends. Imagine if this team wins the Champions League, every player on that Arsenal team will be remembered not as the new (fill in the blank) but as Diaby, Bendtner, Cesc, Almunia and Djourou: the guys who won Arsenal’s first Champions League trophy.

That’s what I’m hoping for.


7 Responses to “Is anyone on this team the new (fill in the blank)?”

  1. 1 Stu5
    March 24, 2009 at 8:00 am

    viera was not in the team to lump the shit out of players. he was in the team because his tackling was excellent, his passing was fantastic not just ‘good’ and he was always making barnstorming counter-attack runs before playing fantastic through balls in for the strikers. he carried the ball with good pace and players had a tough time taking the ball off him. frankly if you think he just ‘distributed the ball well’ and was played to kick lumps out of players i’m not sure you really paid much attention to him at all.

    diaby is no viera (yet) but besides his stature, he carries the ball the same way as viera, making those power bustling runs. he also has great passing ability, although he’s highly inconsistent and needs to work on that.

  2. 2 WC
    March 24, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Hmm let me try my hand at this because I have a few thoughts. Firstly Diaby is definitely not Vieira. They’re both tall and French – it pretty much stops there. OK Diaby puts in a few tackles but Patrick was feared not just physically but psychologically. When have we ever not seen Vieira shouting and arguing with refs? He commanded respect on the field while Diaby is more content to play the game. Being captain maybe forced Vieira to be the man he was but for some reason I think he would have been that way anyways – captaincy just gave him further validation. Diaby isn’t the leader Vieira was – he seems reluctant to rally the troops the same way Vieira did.

    I really dislike people underestimating Lehmann and branding him the Jeffrey Dahmer of goalkeepers. Was his head screwed on wrong? Perhaps. Was he the best keeper we’ve had under Wenger? I think so. Rarely have I ever had my heart in my throat when Jens came out to collect the ball. He was tall, commanding and when he came for the ball more often than not he took it. Almunia is getting more confident as a keeper but half the time he looks like he’s struggling to get the ball and his tendency to punch rather than catch puts me off in a lot of ways. Lehmann also commanded his defense much better than Almunia. Seaman was a good keeper but really it was due to a lack of options that he was England’s #1. England doesn’t have world class goalies nowadays. He was still better than most keepers but not the best one Wenger has had.

    I can see alot of Overmars in Arshavin, that is perhaps the best comparison of old and new. Cesc is unlike any player we’ve had I would say and maybe you could argue Rosicky is Ljundberg-esque. Nasri has attributes like Pires and if he manages to develop a rapport with the frontline like Bobby did with Thierry then he could very well be a new, faster version of Pires – more goals wouldn’t hurt the cause either. RVP is not Bergy, very different players but similar skill – Bergy enjoyed supporting, RVP enjoys leading the line. There’s no Thierry Henry, possibly never will be but Huntelaar could make a similar goal return as Thierry did if we manage to pry him from Madrid in the summer. Oddly enough Huntelaar is scoring goals in a dismal Madrid team.

  3. 3 dj eboue
    March 24, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Vieira’s technique was definitely better. Countless time I saw him flick balls over barricades of heads. Diaby’s decision making is his only weakness. He must learn when to dribble.

  4. 4 Tim
    March 24, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Stu5, I didn’t say Vieira was there to kick lumps, but he did kick lumps when needed, something Diaby cannot do.

  5. 5 barnaby
    March 24, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Have to agree with most of the comments made and I simply do not understand why wenger persists with these irrelevant and potentially harmful comparisons. Vieira was a midfielder in the classic sense, diaby is not a box to box midfielder and diaby’s temperament compared to vieira is a joke, please, the countless moments diaby shirked tackles and defensive obligations is frankly an insult to vieira. Thanks to wenger, diaby can now spend the next few years falling short of his appointed role model, i fail to see how this helps the player or any of our players, it’s just a ridiculous comparison.

    Many of the comments i read regarding diaby as the new vieira strike me as emanating from fans who either never saw vieira or remember him well. Can diaby assert himself one day and become a midfielder with attacking flair? sure, but a vieira clone and cm creator/enforcer? on available evidence to date, i thnk it unlikely. I perfer to let diaby be diaby and express himself and his fullest potential his way, perhaps, and i say this with some hesitancy, that perhaps he is best deployed as a creative midfielder who can one day replace cesc, but he has undoubtedly things to learn before that can happen.

  6. 6 joe king
    March 24, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    is black the new white?isTHia Season the worst under wenger?Is our club hiding a financial crisis?Am i drunk?

  7. March 24, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I think Fabregas is the new Vieira, and we’ve spent the last 4 years trying to find someone to be the new Petit. Finally found him in Flamini, and then let him go. Wenger’s always gone for two bruisers in the centre of the park who can play a bit (Petit, Vieria, Gilberto), but because Cesc’s a bit small and not physically ready at 18/19, he had to rejig in a bit and get a genuine defensive midfielder; hence the advent of the miracle known as Song. Ultimately, I think we’ll get a combo of Denilson/Fabregas or Ramsey/Denilson if Cesc leaves, which is still shrimpy, but physically okay.

    I think Walcott’s the new Henry. He’s got the finishing and the speed to get behind defenders, but he’s not up to it tactically. Hence his time on the wings. After this spell as a winger, we’ll bung Nasri on the left, the Owl on the right, and put the little fella up front to run down through-balls.

    Good call on needing a new Tony Adams.

    Furthermore, I think Kewell is da man, and could’ve been one of the best players in the world if injuries hadn’t wrecked him. Still get teary at the thought that he turned us down for Liverpool. He could’ve taken the Bergkamp role, and alternated with Ljungberg and Pires. He could’ve been awesome, and would’ve kept van Persie and Rosicky company at the physio’s. What larks they’d have!

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