Archive for April 9th, 2007

Arsenal 0 – 1 West Ham: Extended Thoughts

348 comments April 9th, 2007

Saturday’s Initial Thoughts was probably the most reactionary and negative post I’ve ever written on here. But I still stand by it. Yes, yesterday’s game was extraordinary – we dominated and created many chances, only just failing to score. But it’s happened again and again this season. Even Arsene’s “we could’ve scored ten” press conference sounds familiar.

I’m not going to go through the chances we missed – it’s too painful – but it’s worth a word or two on the players who failed quite so spectacularly.

The centre-backs were a complete mess for the goal. As individuals, Kolo Toure and William Gallas are two of the best on the continent. However, they urgently need to establish some kind of partnership. Toure’s form is in all kinds of trouble, and Gallas looks like a player disillusioned with a move he was so positive about in August of last year. There’s a lot of work to be done in the Summer.

The left-hand side of Clichy and Rosicky is one of the few areas that I believe doesn’t need too much tinkering. However, both players are flawed in their own way – although Clichy’s recovery pace is unbelievable, going forward he often lacks end product. In spite of this, there’s no reason to replace him this Summer. Gareth Bale is a decent player, but other areas need attention more urgently. Rosicky is a good player, and can be a valuable member of the squad. But if he wants to play regularly, he needs to score more. When he arrived I thought he would be a 10-15 goals a season player.

I don’t know why I laboured under this impression. He scored just 19 times in 149 appearances for Dortmund. Alex Hleb, meanwhile, grabbed a mean 13 goals in 137 appearances for Stuttgart. What on earth made Arsene think that in a harder league, playing out of position, they would somehow fair better?

The right-hand side needs a complete overhaul, which might even include Rosicky switching to the right. Either way, a new full-back and winger must come in. I was leafing through an old programme today – from the Watford game back in September – and in Arsene’s programme notes found some praise of our right-side:

“Eboue and Hleb have formed a great partnership because one can slow the game down and keep the ball, and the other can overlap and then the ball comes through from Fabregas or Hleb.”

And at the time, it was true. Now, both players can be considered liabilities. Hleb certainly “can slow the game down“, but for all the wrong reasons. On Saturday, his positioning, passing, and dribbling was atrocious. I didn’t even like his hairdo. Eboue too is failing to show the form of last season’s Champions League run. When does “bad form” become “rubbish player”?

Cesc and Gilberto almost deserve an article to themselves. Brilliant as individuals, they don’t win us games. I for one hope Abou Diaby starts in the centre today. You can praise Cesc all you like, but no league goal this season? Not good enough. I’m not asking for thirty. I’m asking for five.

Upfront, Emmanuel Adebayor worked hard on Saturday and actually had a good game. Even so, he should have scored with at least one of his chances. He’s a good hold-up player, but he’s hardly Alan Shearer when it comes to finishing. After the failure of Baptista, we need more goal-hungry players in the squad – and I’m getting Klose to identifying the men we should target.

I think that’s enough for now, especially when you consider we’ve got to worry about Newcastle this afternoon. With the cloud of negativity surrounding the club, it won’t surprise you to know I’m already worrying about what Obafemi Martins might do to our defence.

I’d take a point. Let’s see.

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