Thursday, 4 November 2010

Bigger fish to fry, but Wenger got this one wrong

This wasn't the most crucial game ever, but getting something would have made life easier. We had a severely under-strength line-up, so what could we have done to get a positive result?

The first thing we could have done was picking a stronger line-up. I don't think Wenger approached this game correctly. It was a bit like "we're in a strong position, so we can afford a defeat". That's what it seemed like to me anyway.

What conveyed this to me was the team selection. OK, if it was a risk playing Fabregas then I agree to leave him out. And, depending on how much of a risk it would have been to play Arshavin and Song, I could agree with that too. But couldn't we put Denilson into the midfield? I'm sure his knock wasn't too bad- I bet if we'd have been playing Chelsea at home in league last night, he'd have been available to play. Plus, I don't think he'll play against Newcastle on Sunday- or at least he shouldn't in my opinion. So unless he was genuinely injured, I disagree with not playing him instead of Eastmond as he would have given us a better passing ability than Eastmond, a better sense of positioning, he's experienced and knows how to play in this sort of game more and would probably have made our midfield more solid and protected the back four more. Some may disagree with me on that, but it would have been an improvement, and I don't believe that he was genuinely injured.

I don't think it would right to go on about that too much as I don't know how injured he may or may not have been so I'll move on. Resting our two most reliable available defenders was a mistake for me. First of all, why did they need "resting"? Koscielny has just returned from injury and only played two games and Sagna could be "rested" if he desperately needs to be against Newcastle on Sunday, I would say that is a better opportunity to "rest" him and play Eboue in  a game that suits Eboue more.

On a more positive note, this wasn't the be all and end all so it shouldn't turn out to be a massive setback. Also, if on the 4th October after the Chelsea game, I had been offered 5 straight wins against Birmingham, Man City away and West Ham in the league as well as a Champions League rout against Shakhtar and a Carling Cup rout at Newcastle followed by a defeat away against Shakhtar, in our most difficult CL group game I would have taken that.

Additionally, we still top the group and have two very winnable games left in the champions league so we are still in a good position.

Thirdly, the players should be nice and fresh for the Newcastle game to continue our fine form in the league. And hopefully, I'll be writing after that game about an Arsenal victory and a Liverpool favour.

Overall, an extremely under-strength line-up so not the most worrying defeat and we're still in a good position in the champions league group, so there's no need to set the panic alarms off.

Here are my player ratings:

Fabianski 7- continued his solid form and couldn't be blamed for the goals
Eboue 5- very poor- as poor as I've seen him play at right back, rubbish going forward, got caught out a few times defensively, especially first half
Squillaci 6- could have been a bit better and lead by example
Djourou 7- pick of the back four, did alright
Clichy 5- second goal puts him down to a five, terrible mistake for an experienced footballer, especially just before half time, away from home
Eastmond 5- showed he's not ready yet for this level
Rosicky 5- poor, should have had more of an influence on the game. had a decent spell in second half with a couple of good passes but overall not good enough- should have lead by example
Wilshere 7- did quite well, always trying to create but didn't get deep into their half enough, however was on his own most of the time in trying to create chances and dictate play
Walcott 7- did excellent for the goal, and had a few decent efforts on goal in the second half
Bendtner 5- not really invloved
Nasri 6- Did well first half but faded and shouldn't have passed to Chamakh (see Chamakh)

Vela 6- not much impact, worryingly average at this level
Chamakh 5- should have made a better impact and his first touch and cross were pathetic late on when Nasri broke towards goal and passed to him
Emmanuel Thomas 6

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