Archive for February 26th, 2006

From Bernabeu to Blackburn, and Good to Bad

27 comments February 26th, 2006

For so many Arsenal fans, Madrid represented a turning point. The moment when Arsenals boys became men. But yesterday’s defeat to Blackburn, our tenth in the Premiership this season, showed the Real game to be nothing more than another false dawn.

I only saw the highlights, so can’t comment too much on individual player performances, but reports suggest that it was a fairly insipid performance from most of the side. The loss leaves us in sixth place, but even not even that shows just how much trouble we are really in. We’re level on points with West Ham, who have a game in hand, whilst Bolton are two points but three whole matches away from us. If they perform well in the coming weeks, we might be struggling even to qualify for the UEFA Cup.

It’s fairly disastrous stuff, and there’s no point denying any of it. We have yet again been bossed out of a game away from home. It’s become very predictable. Even the inclusion of the more physical Emmanuel Adebayor and Abou Diaby didn’t help yesterday.

Many of you will counter my suggestion that this season has been a failure with our excellent European form, and this is a proposition I am more than willing to entertain. However, it strikes me that our success in Europe is in fact connected to our domestic failures. So obsessed has Arsene been with pursuing the Champions League that he has built a side which fits it’s requirements superbly: lot’s of pace, lot’s of technique, and tremendous passing ability. The results back this up.

However, chasing that rainbow has left the team’s domestic requirements unattended. The more physical players (the Kanus, the Vieiras, the Keowns, the Edus) have been allowed to slip away and have been replaced with the likes of Fabregas and Reyes: skillful but very slight.

If Arsene wants this team to be competetive in the Premiership next season, a major overhaul is doubtless required.

He needs to stop chasing Champions League glory, and remember that the first part of his job description is success in the Premiership. This season is showing the error of neglecting those committments.

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