Archive for December, 2005

Why Thierry Henry will Never be a Great Captain…

148 comments December 31st, 2005

Because he’s a striker.

And a striker is fundamentally too selfish to be a captain.

The reason he glowers and shouts at people when he doesn’t get the right pass is because he’s a brilliant goalscorer, and all the best goalscorers have that attitude.

When people talk about the way in which Michael Owen and Ian Wright “destroyed their partners”, it’s due to a similiar trait. Although Henry provides a lot more assists than those two ever did, at heart he is still a goal-hungry predator.

People will point out examples of captains who were strikers who have been successful. Eric Cantona is often touted in this discussion. But did you ever see Cantona cajole and rally his troops? No. He played in the same team as Roy Keane: one of the great natural leaders in world football. Cantona’s role was to be the emblematic standard at the front-line: to lead by the example of his excellence.

Thierry is more than capable of that. But there is no Roy Keane behind. No, dare I say, Patrick Vieira. And certainly no Tony Adams.

Henry is a brilliant striker, and one of the world’s best players. I hope that he nets a couple today to win three points at Villa Park. But for me, he’s just not captain material.

However, as long as he stays at the club (which itself is doubtful), he will be skipper. Taking the armband off him now would only serve to push him even further in Barcelona’s direction. As if losing all the time isn’t already doing so.

But should the time ever come when Thierry does take his leave, I wouldn’t look to a striker for my skipper. Being a forward is the most selfish position on the pitch, and subsequently entirely unsuitably for a captain.

Central midfield or centre-back, on the other hand, are ideal.

My pick?

Kolo Toure.

It might never happen, but it’d make me happy. He really has got the spirit for it, hasn’t he.

In the last three seasons, he’s been a real diamond. A shining light. Let’s hope he can keep up with the pacey Baros and Moore to shut Villa out today.

Come on Arsenal.

Portsmouth dispatched; Villa up next…

1 comment December 30th, 2005

I was at Highbury to see Arsenal demolish Portsmouth with a four-goal first half blitz.

7 mins: Mathieu Flamini burst through the centre and played in Reyes on the left flank, who cut the ball across the Bergkamp to poke home. 1-0.

13 mins: Henry broke into the box, side-stepped a defender, and laid it off to Reyes, who side-footed into the roof of the net. 2 goals in 2 games for him, and 2-0.

37 mins: Another powerful surge from Flamini followed by a slide-rule pass allowed Henry to round Ashdown and make it 3-0.

43 mins: After Reyes was tripped in the box, Henry chipped home the penalty. Not yet half-time, and it was already 4-0.

The star performer was probably Mathieu Flamini. Wenger himself remarked that, “Mathieu is improving very well but people forget he is only 21 and to play central midfield at that age at this level is very difficult. He is very dynamic. His vision is improving and he is simplifying his game. He can run unbelievably.”

He’ll be required again tomorrow, as we face the far sterner test of Villa away without the injured Gilberto.

ps. Goodbye Stackie.

4-5-One Nil to the Arsenal

336 comments December 27th, 2005

Jose Reyes’ first Premiership goal since the 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough back in August gave Arsenal a crucial one nil win yesterday – only our second away win this season.

With a need for greater strength and stability in midfield, Arsene deployed a 4-5-1 formation, looking something like this:

Reyes was easily our man of the match; covering for Cygan’s failings, whilst looking a threat going forward and eventually netting our winner: a scrappy effort with his weaker right foot.

Personally, I’m all in favour of using this formation away from home. It allows us to play both Hleb and Fabregas, two creative players, in a 3-strong midfield. What’s more, it allows an unfit Thierry Henry to be used in a link-up role playing in two pacey wingers: he is no longer required to be the front-runner going in behind the defence.

Whilst I still have a lot of affection for 4-4-2, and believe it inspires a far more attractive playing style, at this stage in the season what we need is points, and 4-5-1 might be the way to grind those out.

We play again tomorrow night, and it’s Harry’s Portsmouth at Highbury. They’ll be without Linvoy Primus, Laurent Robert, and possibly captain Stefanovic, so it’s a good time to be facing them.

For us, Robin van Persie is still out, but Dennis Bergkamp is set to start, possibly along with Robert Pires, who may get a new contract after all (despite poor form and falling behind Alexsander Hleb in the pecking order).

Prediction? 3-1 to our boys.

Arsene Wenger is a bit like Father Christmas

2 comments December 25th, 2005

Well, think about it:

  • He is loved by many (eg. Arsenal fans)
  • Thousands believe in him, in spite of plenty of contrary evidence (eg. this season)
  • Everyone is wondering what he’ll bring us for Christmas. Well, in the January transfer window at least.
  • Lastly, as the above picture conclusively shows, he looks a hell of a lot like him.

The more observant among you, though, will have noticed a critical difference. Santa is jolly. Arsene is not. This Christmas, there’s little festive cheer in the Arsenal camp. This’ll only get worse if the only thing that arrives in our stocking is Marco Né.

On Boxing Day, Charlton have kindly invited us over. They’re in good spirits: they’ve seen our away record. With doubts over both RvP & Thierry, it could be as disasterous as Pizza Express’s festive pizza (including stuffing).

However, at this time of giving, hopefully they’ll gift us a couple of goals.

There have been some awful jokes in this blog. I love it.

Have a brilliant christmas everyone,


Arsenal Creep Into Carling Semis

5 comments December 22nd, 2005

Despite twice going behind, a young(ish) Arsenal side managed to see off the excellent Doncaster.

With just 4 mintues gone, calamitous defending from Eboue and Almunia let their winger, McIndoe, in to give Donny the lead. That was to be the last of Almunia’s mistakes – he was the man of the match, making a string of stunning saves – the 2 most important of which came in the decisive penalty shootout.

A deflected Quincy effort brought us back into the game, but when, 13 minutes into extra time, subsitute Paul Green gave them the lead, it looked to be all over.

However, it was not to be for unlucky Doncaster. Astonishingly, against all odds, captain Gilberto Silva popped up to prod home a last second equaliser.

Penalties it was, and when Almunia pawed away Green’s effort, Arsenal had completed their great escape.

It’s a two-legged tie against Wigan in the semi-finals now, leaving the mouth-watering possibility of an FA Cup Final Rematch: Manchester United vs. Arsenal. That, and our appalling league form, make this competition very appealing all of a sudden. What’ll be interesting to see is how experienced the side to face Wigan is.

Ps. I mentioned Zokora earlier in the week. One to watch.

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