December 11, 2005

The Gunners' Achilles Heel?

Two Premiership defeats back-to-back for Arsenal is an unfamiliar event, more so considering the class of their opponents. That's also 3 games Arsenal have gone without scoring a goal, including the goalless draw against Ajax.

Not crisis stuff, of course, but given Chelsea's relentless march on the title and Liverpool's continuing resurgence, Arsenal need to get back to winning ways quickly if they don't want to be left behind by the top three.

The main problem for Wenger to contemplate - besides wondering which other striker can step up if Henry gets injured or suspended - is how to deal with teams who get physical on the pitch.

Both Bolton and Newcastle used every ounce of their players' strengths to out-muscle the Gunners, and while the Magpies were lucky not to have half their players sent off for their robust approach to the match in the second half, Bolton used their physical advantage to completely outplay Arsenal and fully deserved their win.

Other lower ranked teams watching would think this is the way to beating Arsenal - go toe-to-toe with the players, fight for every blade of grass, forget about the passing game, just fight their way towards goal.

Players like Pires, for example, have a well-known aversion to tackling back, while the other creative types prefer to run away from defenders into space as opposed to battling it out.

In games such as these, the lack of midfield steel epitomised by Patrick Vieira is so glaringly obvious.

Wenger urgently needs another midfield general to revitalise Arsenal. Trouble is, not too many of them are out there and available at the moment.

The January transfer window could be very interesting for Arsenal supporters....

On an unrelated note, Liverpool notched up 10 successive clean sheets yesterday, equalling the club record set in 1987/88. For the younger of you Liverpool supporters, the 1987/88 season was a spectacularly great season, brilliant attack, brilliant defence, and if not for the unfortunate upset in the FA Cup Final, would have been a second double-winning season for us.

Meanwhile, let us all look forward to seeing Liverpool becoming World Champions, shall we?


Bex said...

First of all, am proud of Reina for having equalled a defensive record that is about as old as I am even though he has hardly been tested in the last 10 games.

A few days ago, Wenger said that he would've gone for Owen if he didn't have his young players' future to think of. And you have to wonder if these younger players have the ability to cope on the pitch when things get physical like it did in the Newcastle game. (Not like Owen would be of much help if he was there in terms of the physical side though, lol!) And with Arsenal's recent league form, you kind of have to wonder whether it's working for them.

Or maybe it's purely a case of them not being able to achieve the balance between Europe and the EPL. In the previous seasons they were always poor in Europe but this season, it seems to be the complete opposite. Of course, losing Vieira didn't help either.

Bex said...

Oh and strangely enough, Newcastle only seem to be able to score from open play when Michael Owen is playing, even if he's just hanging around doing nothing or just getting into positions but not scoring. It's like what Shay Given said, the players seem to be waiting for 'key players' to return from injury before getting into top gear and although it was a bit of a dodgy win, the most important thing was that they got the 3 points I suppose.

vincent said...

So how come Manyoo is in CRISIS but Arsenal aren't??

Bex said...

Ask the media.

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