Archive for September 27th, 2007

Carling Cup: Player-by-player Analysis

1 comment September 27th, 2007

Right, after yesterday’s shoddy effort: a proper blog. I’m not going to rate players out of ten as it’ll only lead to a tonne of emails from people who disagree with my choices. For those who missed them, here are the highlights, with player reviews below:

Lukasz Fabianksi
Had an extremely solid game. He is deceptively tall (about 6’3″, in fact), and put that height to use by claiming the majority of crosses that came his way. He seems to favour a catch over a punch, which is always reassuring. Made one excellent save from an Obafemi Martins header, and didn’t do a whole lot wrong when the Nigerian rounded him late on. An encouraging display, and I’m delighted we’ll be seeing more of him in this competition.

Armand Traore
Quite possibly the man of the match. His pace and power alone would make him a great player – he is a phenomenal athlete. But ally that with quick feet, whipped crosses and a cannon of shot from his kick-boxing legs, and you have one hell of a full-back. Of course, being so inexperienced his positioning is sometimes in question, but like Gael Clichy he possesses the recovery speed to get him out of the deepest of holes. Set up Bendtner’s goal with a peach of a cross, and barely gave James Milner a kick at the other. Outstanding.

Justin Hoyte
A typical Justin Hoyte display – solid but unspectacular. I did feel for him playing behind Walcott – it’s difficult for him to play a one-two with his fellow Englishman as Theo has difficulty retaining the ball under pressure. I would still feel fairly comfortable if Hoyte had to play for us in the bigger competitions.

Philippe Senderos
One remarkable goal-line clearance apart, the skipper for the night worried me again. He seems to be playing with no confidence whatsoever, and ,whatever your position, that can be crippling. Seeing him beaten to header after header by the dwarf-like Martins was very worrying indeed. Without wanting to castigate Phil on a night when we did in fact keep a clean sheet, I hope William Gallas is back as soon as possible.

Alex Song
Well, Arsene called it, I jumped aboard the bandwagon, and I think it’s fair to say pretty much everyone was amazed. Song appeared to be very, very accomplished at centre-half: powerful in the air, tough in the tackle, and with accurate distribution. I kept trying to think of a player he was comparable too, but it’s difficult – his ambling style makes him quite unique. Imagine Samba of Blackburn, but cut in half, and wearing a wig. Anyhow, it was only one game, but perhaps Song has found a position in which he can justify his inclusion in the squad. Thumbs up from me.

Theo Walcott
Super quick. But not much else. Yet. In the final third of the field, he clearly has no idea what he should be doing. He can’t decide whether to pass, shoot, or cross, and inevitably resorts to just dribbling round and round in some kind of bizarre Sylvain Wiltord tribute. Looked marginally more comfortable when he switched to the right, but he badly needs a goal. Soon.

Emmanuel Eboue
A little rusty on his return from injury, but I’d still have him ahead of Walcott in my pecking order. At times he was our only player prepared to take on a shot from outside the area, though he ofted wanted too many touches when inside the box. Still, 60 minutes under his belt will do him no harm.

Lassana Diarra
An outstanding debut from the former Chelsea man. He has a very swift and effective change of foot and pace which enables him to get away from a clutch of players with ease. His passing was tidy and his interceptions intelligent. Another strong contender for Man of the Match: I personally believe that it won’t be long until Diarra is starting the odd Premier League game for us.

The Brazilian now has his first goal for the club, and what a cracker it was too. I actually felt he didn’t have his best game, though he grew in stature as Newcastle tired. The biggest obstacle to Denilson will be his greatest quality: his inescapable similarity to Cesc.

Abou Diaby
Replaced Emmanuel Eboue and made a big difference, being involved in the moves for both goals. Still managed his customary sitter-miss in the dying moments.

Had one header cleared off the line and went close with a scrambled effort at the far post. Some have said he was ineffectual, but on another day he might’ve had a couple of goals, and ultimately that’s what he’s there for. Sniffs chances out of nothing.

Nicklas Bendtner
A towering header gave him a goal on his first start, and he arguably could’ve had more, powering a similar chance over the ball and desperate for a squared pass when Diaby fired straight at the keeper in stoppage time. Put in an impressive striker’s display, showing good awareness of his team-mates and the ability to play them in after holding the ball up. He will score goals when given chances.


So that’s that. I’d crow more about our amazing youngsters, but then you have to remember the likes of Man Utd could do just the same.

Oh no, wait.

They can’t.

West Ham news tomorrow.

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