Sunday, 23 August 2009

The strikers aren't scoring: we're doomed for relegation. Apparently.

If I have to hear one more time about how Arsenal's forward line is experiencing a goal drought, I may just shoot the person who professes this view.

It's unimportant because firstly, Eduardo scored against Everton; and secondly, and perhaps more pertinently, the 4-3-3 is not the ultra-attacking formation its made out to be: Arshavin and Bendtner have consistently tracked back, rather than playing as fully-fledged strikers who just play in attack.

They've played as wing forwards - the reality is, this formation has one out and out striker: Robin van Persie. And he hasn't scored in three games which means the shit must really be hitting the fan.

Imagine. One player doesn't score for three matches. The team must be experiencing a goal drought. Oh no, it's only 12 goals in three matches. But if the strikers don't score, it must mean the team is incompetent if not worse.

The stupidest thing about this, is that goals coming from the rest of the team is the hallmark of a title challenge. We've had goals up front the past four or five years - but without a couple of players willing to chip in 15 goals each from midfield like Freddie and Pires, there was an over-reliance on the forward line.

Strikers play to score goals and it was apparent yesterday that RVP wanted to score. But I have no doubt he will - not scoring in a couple of games doesn't mean you lose your finishing. Particularly when in those matches he has created several goals.

Indeed, I thought his first-half turn and snapshot yesterday was exactly what we want to see from RVP - something out of nothing. He won't score ordinary goals but this formation allows other players to do that.

I've made my mind up about RVP: having a player who can pull a bunny out of a hat can only be a good thing. Metaphorically speaking of course.

It's hard to extrapolate much from watching us play Pompey. The first goal was nicely worked but their defending was so static. Cesc had time to pick his ball to Eduardo and from then on it looked like a goal.

That said, without wanting to give this team too much hype too early, the second goal pleased me enormously. It was a lovely counter-attack which was actually played at pace. Last year, we dallied which let the opposition get back. This goal brought back memories of 01-02 in us moving the ball from one end of the pitch to the other so quickly.

And putting the opposition down misses an important point. Aside from our defeat to Chelsea last year, almost all the points we dropped in the league were avoidable. We've shown we can match Manchester United head-to-head; now we need to prove we can match, if not better them, against the rest.

For this reason, I'm not going to belittle the goals - okay, there was slack defending, but Diaby, Gallas and Ramsay all had to make the runs and time them well.

There are tougher tests to come, most notably next Saturday. But I'm starting to get a good feeling.

Keep the faith,

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