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Everything we’ve said about Arsenal is true

Here’s a thought.  It is taken from today’s Guardian.  Clichy has intercepted more passes than any other player in the EPL – with 118 interceptions.

The only other player to have made over 100 interceptions is… oh, that guy who the Independent called “Lightweight” a couple of weeks back, what’s his name?   Denilson.

It is just one stat, of course, and I know there are people who do a Scholari (“if the statistics say that then the statistics are wrong” he replied when being told his record was worse than the previous four KGB Fulham managers), and those who say that “interceptions” or whatever else is measured, are not important.

The fact is the line that I’ve been trying to follow with this little blog since it started 18 months or so ago, is that the Lord Wenger knows what he is doing.  There are lots of different ways of playing and just because we played one way last year does not mean we have to do it again this year.

My point has been that Henry re-wrote the way a centre forward plays (ie he stayed outside the penalty area, and spent quite a while down the left wing).  Lehmann re-invented how goalkeepers behave, but became the only goalkeeper in the entire history of the top division in the UK to play in every league match and be unbeaten.  Pires rewrote the rules for playing on the wing – although it took him a year at Arsenal to do it – that first year was very ordinary, but then….

Now new reinventions are going on – and will continue to go on.  If you saw the slaughter of the Even Tinier Totts on Thursday then you will know, from the last goal, what incredible new players we have coming through.  If you have really watched Denilson you will see his extraordinary ability to be in the place where the ball turns up – he has taken the Gilberto skill and move it up to another league.  Somehow these players know how to do it, and somehow the Lord Wenger knows how to find them and nurture them.

Indeed it is interesting to look back at the wild lunatic ramblings of the press through this year.  The central theme is Arsenal have problems because they let Hleb, Flamini and Gilberto go, and couldn’t replace them.

In fact, as I argue in the current Highbury High (get your copy tomorrow if you didn’t get it last week), there is a lot to suggest that all three players needed to go because they were not able to sustain their abilities long term.  Gilberto was a great servant of our club but it was clear he was coming to the end of his career.

Flamini gave us one year out of three, and there was good reason to suggest that year was the oddity, not the norm.  His problems at Milan suggest that analysis is true.   Hleb likewise gave us one out of three, and now like Flamini can hardly get a game.   Both are likely to move again this summer.

So who did we get to replace these three?

One was already there: Denilson – captain of the Brazil at various youth levels, and undoubtedly soon to be in their first team.   Nasri is to my mind a huge improvement on Hleb, in that apart from the twisting and turning, he is more inclined to shoot.  And then we got Arshavin.  OK it took a time – but it was worth the wait.

So, I hear you shout (as it were) if we are so blooming exquisite, why ain’t we winning stuff?   Injuries are the issue.  Just look at who is coming back…

  • Theo Walcott
  • Eduardo
  • Rosicky
  • Fabregas

plus several others.    Look who is coming through.  Try looking at Murphy for a start.  And Wilshere.  And Merida.  And even closer to a breakthrough Vela and Ramsey.  And for goodness sake Bendtner – subjected to the most awful attack in the media and by Arsenal fans, but actually a youngster who is getting better and better and still able to get up and do the business.

Of course it would be great if we had not had those injuries and were top of the league.  But I would sooner support a young team about to make it happen, than one clearly beyond its sell by date.

Speaking of sell-by dates and being beyond, I see that A Cole has said that it wasn’t his fault he screamed abuse at a policemen when utterly pissed out of his head at 2am.  The journalist made him do it.   Right.

And sorry if you’ve been put off by the strange colour changes of late.  When the sites crashed several times in recent weeks some of the formatting got lost and I had to get out my quill pen and book of log tables to try and work out how to get it back to normal.  Think it is done now.   Don’t blame me, blame… oh well, blame me – its simpler.

(c) the meanderings of Tony Attwood 2009.

10 comments to Everything we’ve said about Arsenal is true

  • Grrrr…dang, just was about to do an article about Denilson but you’ve done it before me. I’ll still do it but Grrr….. Good work anyway.

  • Arsenal

    Great Blog. Absoloutely True. Optimism is what we need; give the players moral support.

  • Travis

    Obviously nothing to disagree, as usual. Denilson may be not the greatest center midfielder in the world at the moment, but he would be one of them one day. People forget that he’s just 20 and this is his first full season. Within 10 mins I can’t find a name that impressed me as center midfielder at his age. With that kind of potential, he would be great in the next season, or the season after I guess.

  • “Within 10 mins I can’t find a name that impressed me as center midfielder at his age.”

    Fabregas!

    You honestly believe that Denilson is a better player than Flamini based on that interception stat alone? We’re 5th in the league!! That is the only stat you need to tell yourself that the currently crop are not good enough. Last season we came 3rd, 4 points behind Champions Man United!!! This season we are 5th, 16 points behind!

    Denilson may be good in 2 or 3 years time, he may not be. The fact is, he is not good right now.

  • Jimmy

    Absolutely. I was actually very impressed with the bits i saw of Denilson against West brom this week. he really does remind me of gilberto as a player that if youre not concentrating can pass you by over the course of 90 mins, but if you actually pay attention you see the amount of work and effort, not to mention pay-off as he prevents a potential problem before it even begins.
    Truth is i think we as arsenal fans got a bit spoiled by viera’s ability to do that AND break forward in his inimitable leggy style! Not every midfield can be a viera (in fact hardly any can – gerrard, essien maybe from the premier league?)
    I’m wary of the danger of continually proclaiming “…this time next year!” after the hiccups of the past few years, but surely… this time next year! Walcott, Arshavin, Cesc, Vela, Bendtner, Ade, Nasri, Rosicky, Eduardo, RVP – if you cant see anything special in that lot I suggest you get your eyes tested!!

  • pig

    i think that this ‘want it now’ culture has become deeply rooted in society. there are many teams fighting for a very small number of cups. simple maths tells us that our wins over the last 10 years is higher than average, even if we have gone a while with none.

    i totally agree with your article and i wish that the loudest voices would stop getting it wrong all the time.

  • ggs

    The Brain,

    I’m looking forward to your article about Denilson. Make it quick!! 🙂

  • I like Murphy I’m glad someone has mentioned him. Also Denilson will only improve with Fabregas playing with him so would be great to see him come back though that is obvious. Cesc’s creativity has been missed and with merida, randall, bischoff and ramsey we might need one to step up especially if he gets injured again.

    ggs: Done

  • ggs

    The Brain,

    read! thanks!

  • Valentin

    Like was said in the article, Arsenal playing style has changed.
    Arsene’s Arsenal previous version had Viera pressing people high to retrieve the ball and quickly counter attack. Gilberto was the invisible ball not pressing as such but blocking pass and mopping. Denilson position itself in such a way he intercept passes.
    The same way he also often steal the ball from opponent without tacking, but by waiting when the opponent make a loose touch and then wedging his body between the ball and the opponent.
    The problem is that the same way Toure and Gallas is not a good partnership, Denilson and Song is not a good partnership.
    Both screens the back four, but they need somebody that can either unlock a defense by a splitting pass (Fabregas) or can run forcefully run at defender with the ball (Diaby).