Player Ratings: Arsenal 0 – 0 Blackburn

April 3, 2011

Well, our season is going from worse to oblivion. It seems a distant memory when we were in four competitions and now it is more than certain that we will end this season without a trophy. Has the Carling Cup final defeat really caused more damage than it seems? It has all gone wrong since then. Every performance since then can be summed up by one word, pathetic! Only one win and that too against lower league outfit. Unbelievable!

Anyhow what’s done is done. Where we stand now is all up to our own mistakes and negligence of the basics of football. You can never win a football match by not scoring goals, by not showing urgency or desire and by not fighting for the win. And with the amount of talent we have, I am still at a loss as to how we couldn’t find one goal against a team that is just two points from relegation zone.  

Realistically it is over for us because I don’t see Man United dropping points even if we win all our games. And even if they do, I cannot honestly say that we will win rest of our games. If we can’t get a result against 10 men Blackburn, when Man United got a result by being down to 10 men themselves, says it all where the title is going this season. And here I will add that I will be glad to rue my own words if somehow we do win the title. Results matter in football, good play and off the pitch talk doesn’t. We can all come up with words that we have grown up and moved on but as long as we don’t perform, we will always be chasing shadows.

Yesterday’s game was the best example of what our season has been. We started positively, the opening 10 to 15 minutes, but then we all went into our nutshells. After which we never really tested the keeper, never showed any desire, or any urgency. Movement and passing was not incisive and it seemed we were waiting for Blackburn to score an own goal. Almunia tried his best to give all the three points to Blackburn but thankfully we escaped another embarrassment. The final 10 minutes were somewhat better but you cannot win a match by playing for only 20 minutes. You have to give your best for the whole 90 minutes. Whatever happened, we are ourselves to blame and no one else.

Coming to the player ratings:

Almunia (3): What can I say about him? Tried his best to do what he does best. Enough said

Sagna (5): One of his worst games. His positioning was not good and didn’t defend well at all. Upfront his crosses were either too long or too short and never once it went to our player in the danger area.

Squillaci and Koscielny (6): Had a better than normal game as there were no noteworthy mistakes. Koscielny made his usual interceptions and clearance and did get a header on target.

Clichy (6.5): He was better than Sagna in defense as well as attack on the left. Looked lively and tried to create things. It wasn’t enough in the end.

Wilshere (5.5): Was really disappointed when he missed a sitter and on another occasion went for a pass when he should have buried the ball into the back of the net. Was decent in middle of the park but needs to improve his game in front of goal.

Song (5.5): Showed good work rate but not yet back to his best as he failed to make his presence felt in the middle of the park.

Nasri (6.5): Made a couple of very good runs and showed great creativity. Went missing on a few occasions as well. I don’t know how much the knock to his head had played a part in it.

Walcott (6.5): Looked dangerous whenever he had the ball and in the first half was one of our better players. Also went anonymous in the second half before he was substituted.

RVP (5.5): Didn’t get the support required as he had to come back to get the ball. Had a couple of shots on goal, one near the end when his header went over the bar, but never really threatened the Blackburn goal.

Arshavin (7): He was our best player out there. Created most of the chances and looked dangerous whenever he had the ball. Even backtracked and helped in defense. Was astonished to see him get substituted but I think it was more down to him getting tired.

Subs:

Fabregas (5.5) failed to make much impact as he looked rusty. Bendtner (5.5) and Chamakh (5.5) did their part and both of them went close to scoring but not close enough.


Player Ratings: Leyton Orient 1 – 1 Arsenal

February 21, 2011

Well, that was very very disappointing from Arsenal after what we have seen in the past couple of weeks. I didn’t even want to write anything about the match as I felt that a team who is going for all trophies don’t show up to face opponents like that. Nonetheless, after having a good night sleep and analyzing, I guess there are a few positives to take. One, Ignasi Miquel is one for the future, two, we are still in the FA Cup and three, Rosicky scored a goal.

The negatives I will leave for you as it was a night to be forgotten to say the least. I tweeted after the game that maybe we need a performance like this after every great win just to get back on the ground (if you know what I mean). One thing is for sure, the players who started yesterday have to step up exponentially if they are to help the team achieve something because Wenger can’t play our regulars in every match.  

Coming to player ratings:

Almunia (4): I didn’t want him to start yesterday as I said in my preview that we must keep Szczesny in goal. Why? Almunia demonstrated it with the manner he let that ball go past him. Didn’t have to do anything for the whole game and when the time came….. you saw what happened.

Sagna (6): Nothing special from the Frenchman. At the back wasn’t tested much and up front didn’t contribute significantly.

Squillaci (6.5): A good game from the centre back as he was composed and didn’t make his usual mistakes. A good block with his face to deny Orient a clear goal although he didn’t knew much about it.

Miquel (6): He is one for the future as I said before. Was calm and comfortable on the ball and did well on most of the occasions. Should have done better when Tehoue went past him to score the equalizer. I won’t blame him, though, because Gibbs was the senior player there and he should have done better than him.

Gibbs (5.5): I have a feeling that he needs a lesson in ‘how to defend’ as he demonstrated with his naivety in letting Tehoue go past him to score the goal. Upfront, however, he was useful as he made a couple of good runs and should have had an assist. Needs to improve his crossing through.

Song (4): He just moved up and down without any positivity.

Denilson (5): Did what he mostly does. Enough said.

Rosicky (7.5): He had a good game as he was one of the two better players out there for us. Moved around well and dropped deep to make things happen. Scored a very well taken goal and could have had another if not for the Orient keeper. Had the players around him been better, he would have had a very influential game. Keep it up Rosicky!

Bendtner (6): Poor finishing, poor first touch and add to that selfishness and arrogance (some may call it confidence) you get Bendtner. Again no end product.  May be I am a bit harsh on him as he isn’t playing at his favored position but still, he needs to play for the team. I thank him for the good assist though.

Chamakh (2): No comment.

Arshavin (7): The second of our two better players. Despite not at his best he looked lively at times and moved around well. Could have gotten a goal, as he hit the post, and had an assist, keeper saved Rosicky’s effort.

So, another extra fixture that we have to play now and I hope, if similar players start again, they will play better at the Emirates. I would not want them to start together again but the timing of the fixture is such that we cannot play our whole first team. I hope when the time comes, Wenger puts up a good balanced side that can finish the job.

Time to turn our focus on the Stoke game now as we cannot drop points in the League.

Have a great day!


Arsenal 1 – 1 Leeds report: Should we be dissapointed or relieved?!!

January 8, 2011

I am dissapointed because we would have easily won this if we had taken our chances and yet I am relieved that we are still in it.

The way we started and had we been a little clinical in front of goal, this game would have been easily over in the first half despite us not really dominating the game.

Arshavin had the first chance to score from when he was through on goal, the ball provided by Rosicky. The keeper, however blocked his shot. It was followed by another stinging shot from Arshavin which was again stopped by the keeper. This was followed by three goal line clearance by Leeds in a space of only minutes. A minute later Denilson tested the keeper from range. Besides this we were looking dangerous on the set pieces. Bendtner was creating space for himself and taking shots. The goal looked imminent!!

At the other end Leeds had their chances to score. However, we went into the break with the scores leveled and the game for anyone to take.

We started the second half well. There was some good pressure, but somehow, we weren’t getting the end product. In the final third we were very wasteful. Leeds on the other hand got their breakthrough when Max Gradel was brought down by Denilson in the goal area. A simple penalty and Robert Snodgrass stood up to take it. Szczesny judged the direction but still could not stop it as Leeds took the lead in the 54th minute.

Wenger brought on Fabregas for Song, and we started pushing forward again. Walcott was brought on for Chamakh. We were still going forward and building up nicely but in the final third we were very poor. On the occasions where we got the shots on target, the keeper would save it. Time elapsed as we searched for the goal. Vela was brought on for Rosicky and we still searched for the goal as it grew really frustrating.  Leeds in between would get their chances to finish the game off but Djourou did well on plenty of occasions to deny them.

The 90th minute was nearing when it appeared that the ref had given a penalty to us. However, in all the confusion it wasn’t as it was just an offside. I thought that this was the end. However, Walcott was held back in the final minute of the 90 when through on goal and this time the ref pointed to the spot. Fabregas stepped up to take it and nailed it. We were leveled and it was just over 90 minutes.

We still would have gone on to win from here had we taken the numerous chances in the stoppage time that we got. Leeds keeper, Schmeichel, still had time to make a brilliant save from Denilson’s long range shot. However, with Bendtner missing a couple of chances along with Walcott the game ended with scores level.

Thoughts

Well we are still in the cup and that counts. However, we need to score goals. These last two games have shown that if you do not score you can easily lose or drop points despite dominating proceedings.

I don’t know what to say of our attack. In simple word, we missed a lot of chances and were overall very poor upfront. Some credit by the way also goes to the Leeds defence and their keeper becuase they were excellent.

However, we need to be decisive in the final third. We were very wasteful today and some of the decisions upfront were just bad.

We have to play one extra fixture now, but we can handle it with our squad strength. However, if we are playing this extra game, we would need to be more clinical than we were today and make it count. It will do us no good that we play an extra match and still go down.


Wenger on the team’s performance and his regret about the game

January 6, 2011

Despite dominating the whole game against City, it ended in a frustrating draw for Arsenal in terms of losing ground against United.

Arsene Wenger, however, is taking encouragement from tonight’s game as Arsenal did play well despite the game ending disappointingly. Wenger, after the game, said that the performance by the team was there, the result however is not. Mathematically it has ended in favor of Manu as Wenger said that the players are all disappointed. He further added that over all the belief has to be maintained and in the coming games the response should be with more quality.

With a flying start to the game by Arsenal, they struck the cross bar twice and Wilshere and Walcott both went close to scoring in the first half. However Arsenal failed to continue with the same momentum as the game entered the second half.

Wenger went on to explain that it becomes really difficult to keep the same momentum and freshness against the whole team back defending as the game goes on. There were long periods in the game where Arsenal had to find space among 10 players with even Tevez back in his own half. Wenger, however, regrets not taking the early chances to score. With Man City playing for a draw they got the result they wanted but according to Wenger had Arsenal scored one goal; the game would have changed altogether.

Wenger said that:

I feel we had the performance and not the result. But I take a lot of encouragement from tonight’s game, even if mathematically we are all frustrated and the players are very disappointed. But overall there is no way we should lose courage or belief in our team. It is the opposite. We should even come out with even more belief in our quality and be more resolute in the coming games because we have shown we have what it takes to be a serious contender in this League.

The regret I have tonight is that we did not take our early chances because that would have changed the game. They came here to have a 0-0 and they got what they wanted. I believe had we scored the first goal it would have changed the run of the game tremendously. We faced long, long periods in the game where we faced 10 men as Tevez – I have never seen him so deep. When we lost a little bit of sharpness and freshness in our movement, we looked less dangerous, because you need to play against 10 men like that in the final third. Quality passing, sharp movements… they became more difficult as the game went down.


Randoms thoughts on: Arsenal 0 – 0 Man City

January 5, 2011

A disappointing result in terms of points but we played very well.

First things first. We were the only team that went out there to get the maximum points and we were good for the full ninety minutes. We were pressing, passing, looking for openings, organized in defense, the whole team was helping each other out and we had shots on target too.

Man City came out only to defend as they hardly challenged our back line or keeper. The credit also goes to our good pressing because as soon as we would lose the ball we would get it back. They were very organized at the back and at times when they were beaten the woodwork or their keeper came to their rescue. Their tactics, however, were pathetic with the amount of talent they have.

In terms of the chances created, I feel we should have done more regardless of twice hitting the post. We did play great football at times with intricate passing and movement. Some of the decisions in front of goal, on a few occasions, were disappointing; otherwise we were very fluent in our movement and took our shots on goal. I feel, at times, we should have opted to go for the aerial ball.

Anyways, It was good to see the forward and midfield players coming back to defend and this is where we have improved in the past 10 days.

The result is frustrating no doubt but I am delighted by the way we are playing. We can only try and that is what we did today. We deserved to win today after playing so well and Man City didn’t even deserve a point IMO.

We just have to continue with the way we are playing see what happens at the end.

One thing is for sure, Man Utd, after this result, sits very comfortably at the top. And as hard as I don’t want to admit it, the title is United’s to lose now.