Sunday, 22 August 2010

11 conclusions from Arsenal-Blackpool

Arsenal 6 Blackpool 0

1) There's been a lot written about how the goalkeeping situation has undermined Almunia and the other goalkeepers. Far less has been written about the fans getting on their backs. The first home game of the new season was really the test of this - how would the fans react to Almunia in goal?

Of course, I can only reflect on people sat around me. But the amount of disdain and vitriol thrown towards Almunia, simply for one wayward clearance when Arsenal were already 2-0 suggests the fans may force the manager's hand with regard to the goalkeeping situation.

2)Almunia is infinitely preferable to Fabianski simply because for Almunia to keep a clean sheet it is far easier - he had practically nothing to do yesterday. With Fabianski in goal, Blackpool would undoubtedly have played more 'route one football' and played it wide more to test him with crosses. In short, this makes Fabianski's position at the club untenable.

3) The truth about Theo Walcott is he was good, not great, yesterday. Part of his good performance was certainly confidence. In the past, he never had the confidence to just keep on shooting. And the fact he has taken two direct free-kicks in two weeks suggests he certainly isn't low on morale despite not being picked for the World Cup.

And he did some really great things. Twice he won the ball with headers before creating chances. And he link-up play with Chamakh was marvellous and the turn and shot for the hat-trick was fantastic.

But this was against 10-man Blackpool. At risk of coming across all scrooge-like, he would only get into those positions once or twice a game against Chelsea and he still appeared to have bad decision-making. One particular example was where he tried to square it even though the cross was on, simply because he didn't want to miss from exactly the same position twice in a couple of minutes.

Walcott had a really good game. I never thought I would ever write that. But a one-off performance against a poor team is not enough to win me over - he needs to do it consistently for three months.

4) This alludes to the blindingly obvious: Blackpool were really poor. I think the sending-off changed the game and from my seat I was unconvinced it was even a foul (I'm yet to see a replay). At 1-0 they had a decent period of possession and almost looked like the might conjure up a goal.

But more importantly, Blackpool were foolhardy. Man United and Chelsea accept that Arsenal pass the ball the best in the country; but that's why they sit back and counter-attack against us. There's a reason it's often a struggle to win games until late on - and that reason is almost all teams sit back against Arsenal.

Blackpool were foolhardy because by attacking they left Arsenal space to play in. Their fans were great and their team played proper football. But they won't stay up unless they play a lot more defensively - their style at the moment makes them too easy to beat.

5) Tomas Rosicky played arguably the best he's ever played for Arsenal. He was excellent last week as a sub, and this week it was his little touches which kept on playing Walcott in for all the glory. His passing was wonderful, his vision stunning, and his timing perfect. It was obvious why he was nicknamed 'Little Mozart' at Dortmund. But much like Theo, he also needs to string a run of games together. Unlike Theo though, he is the obvious beneficiary of Nasri's injury.

6) Marouane Chamakh will get in some brilliant positions and is very mobile. And considering he supposedly had a bad game, it's important to note he scored a goal and won a penalty. I guess the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and similarly, the success of Chamakh's Arsenal career will probably rest on whether he usually takes his chances, or he always misses a hatful. But as I said to my friends, give him a chance - it was only his second game in English football.

7) Carlos Vela looks like he's in better shape than last year. With Bendtner out injured for a couple of months, this could be his last chance. Lets hope he takes it.

8) Gael Clichy played a lot better yesterday than he did against Liverpool. Maybe it was the standard of the opposition. Or maybe it's feeling threatened by Kieran Gibbs. Either way it's a good thing.

9) Little Jack Wilshere will benefit from playing regularly. He was out of his depth against Liverpool. But by letting him build his confidence against Blackpool, this may not be the case in the future.

10) A 6-0 victory can easily influence a manager. Let us pray it does not. Nobody was signed after Everton were hammered last year. This team desperately needs a goalkeeper and a defender and I will be far more prepared to evaluate the team's chances for the season in 10 days once the transfer window has closed.

11) Any conclusions from this game have to be tempered by who Blackpool are. At Ewood Park next week, a sterner test awaits.

Keep the faith,


arsenalvideo said...

Good Post, just one thing, Clichy played better against Blackpool for sure but he had to play some not so strong attacking opposition and he could deal that alone, what can we expect from a player to deal with the like of Kyuit and Ngog alone, Clichy could have better games with someone else on left as Arshavin, let's link Vela and clichy for a couple of games and you will see the diferrence.
Also, let's give Vela his last chance, did he get a proper one once? Vela always played as sub or in Carling cup against small teams, Wenger favoured Bendtner letting him play full games even when he had a bad day. Vela deserve more respect he is a quality player

Anonymous said...

Just as I was about o say that you really could not draw any sort of conclusion from this match you beat me to it by alluding to the fact that you could not ruely draw any meningful conclusion from it.

Syida said...

Yes yes, all spot on, incisive and good. On Walcott, come on, give the lad a chance. He did score a hat trick. Would you rather he didnt? The thing about this write up is, it is all so gloom. The team won guys. Celebrate a bit. Even though it is against 10 men Blackpool. 3 points in the bag, and +6 on goal difference. Or would you rather have it differently? Only a fool will predict Arsenal's season based on this performance. But it was a good night and it's not wrong if we took a little heart in what the boys put on display.