Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Not 'just' Cardiff

Since last night, fans of other teams have been criticising Gooners. They say we shouldn't be so happy to have beaten Cardiff.

They miss the point. It's not a celebration of beating Cardiff; it's a celebration of the manner in which we beat Cardiff

For weeks now, Arsenal have been insipid. I put a brave face on it, but I made a twelve hour round trip to see us create one chance at Ninian Park. We were left to draw positives such as 'the defence did well to shut out Carlton Cole- he's in form'. That was the crux of why last night was such an important result.

Beating Cardiff at the Grove is no achievement in of itself. We should never have had to play them again. But once we did, the manner in which we dispatched them was exceptional.

The problem with the way we had been playing is that Arsenal fans had accepted the lack of trophies in recent years because the football had been beautiful. But for two or three months, not only were we misfiring in terms of results, our football was God awful. One first-half goal in the whole of January tells you all you need to know. We were relying on fitness rather than finesse.

With the return of Eddie Silva last night, that changed. Suddenly, we were playing with two genuine wingers and as a result we had width. We used the large pitch at the Grove as it has been designed: to give our opponents the run-around. And it taught us a few things.

Vela is not the finished article, and Eboué is not as bad as some people make out. But I'd much rather see Vela in the team over Eboué. Before last night's match I was starting to think Vela lacked the talent to make it at Arsenal, otherwise he would have played more. Now, it's apparent that is not the case. Arsene has to give up on Eboué. If Sagna is injured, by all means play him. He is not just a competent right-back: he is a very good one with an understanding of how to play the position.

He does not have that at right wing, or at least he hasn't demonstrated it. So, Arsene, I implore you: pick the players in form - Vela is definitely one of them.

Nasri also showed us something last night: what with playing right wing and the blonde highlights, he reminded me of Cristiano Ronaldo circa 2006/7. If he can progress to be as good as him, we're in for a treat. As is, I think that although popular opinion is that he should be played in the middle, that is simply because he can pick a good pass. However, he also plays well on the wing as he is so comfortable on the wing.

When we have those two option out wide, I know it sounds obvious but it gives us genuine width: Eboue and Diaby are played as wingers but they don't give us this.

That is the fundamental point we learnt from last night: that with the right team selection, this Arsenal side can still play football. And that, is why it wasn't just beating Cardiff that happened last night.

Keep the faith,


Anonymous said...

Some good stuff here...
Cant wait for Arsh to get involved too.

Anonymous said...

It must be terrible for you seeing Arsenal stumbling towards 5th place. 'Falling giants' is how i would put it.
Enjoy the blog though :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting. From a Man United fan's perspective, the comparison with Ronaldo is especially interesting. Whilst he was exceptionally effective last season, the 2006/7 season was him playing utterly beautiful football, and he probably would have won the Ballon d'Or if AC Milan hadn't won the Champions League. I remember Samir Nasri tearing Gary Neville apart in November, and I see where you're going with this. Of course, Nasri will never be as complete a player as Ronaldo (e.g. the heading) but he is more creative.