By Walter Broeckx
Some fans are obviously unhappy with the team performance last Saturday. And yes we were not as good as we can be. Now you can jump off the cliffs after every setback and call for heads of players, managers, boardroom, stewards, policeman, ball boys, and the person who serves you a pint during half time. Well it usually doesn’t change a lot to the final result to do this.
But what does help sometimes is to see the game again (like I always do for my ref review) and try to look at things with a less passionate point of view. (again like I do for my ref review)
For those who are allergic for excuses they can stop reading now as I don’t want to make someone sick. Other people who believe that football in real live is completely different from the version you play on your computer and where you just by starting your computer you can have your players at full fitness, can carry on reading and see if there can be some things that could give a partially explanation to some things that happened in the game against Blackburn.
So when I did my review I also noticed a few things in the way some players performed. Now I am not going to give ratings for the players you know on the scale of 0-10 but some observations I made during my reviewing of the game.
Almunia had not much to do. Had 2 scary moments one on a diverted shot and the other when he failed to make contact with a long punt from Robinson. But for the rest rather solid. This season Almunia has played 8 league games and no international games.
Sagna played his usual game. Solid in the back against a fast player so had to be a bit careful at times. Attacked a lot but his crosses found nobody in the box. He didn’t look tired towards the end of the game. Sagna has played 27 league games so far (3 missed because of a red card) and played only last weekend in the international break.
Squilacci played a solid game in defence. He did what he had to do, we didn’t conceded a goal so not that bad I would think and he kept his focus for the whole 90 minutes without looking to get tired.. Squilacci has played 19 league games so far and no international games in this break.
Koscielny also did what he had to do and that is stop the opponents scoring. He also looked sharp till the end and not tired. Koscielny played 24 games in the league and no international games in this break.
Clichy also kept the opponents away from our goal. So our back four had a good game in total. At the end of the game he looked more tired than Sagna as the attacks mostly went over the right. Was he getting more tired than Sagna because of the international games? Clichy has played 28 games in the league so far and played for France on Tuesday night.
Alex Song. Made his first start after being out for 5 weeks. He looked very energetic apart from the last 10 minutes. After a header he came down on his knee and was in pain. Was it the knee he sustained his former injury on? But he looked less mobile after that. Song has played 25 games so far this season and no international games in this break. But it was his first start in 5 weeks. So being a bit rusty can be expected.
Wilshere. Very lively for a very big part of the game. Energetic, aggressive overall a good game. But after some 70 minutes he disappeared. Maybe it was with all those big body’s surrounding him but he became a bit invisible. Or was there another reason? Wilshere played in 27 league games so far (missed 3 after a red card) and he has played almost 2 complete games for England in this international break. Was it fatigue at the end?
Nasri started very lively. But then he got that head clash with Nelson and for us at home we could see what an egg he had on his head. That must have been painful. After that he disappeared out of the game and we had a bit more difficulty in keeping our game alive. Nasri played in 24 league games so far this weekend and he played 2 games for France in the international break. A combination of a head ache and fatigue?
Walcott also made his return after an absence of 6 weeks. Started good early on and looked sharp and fast. But as time went by he slowed down. But I think this is down to not being fully match fit after his injury. So again this is something that can be expected when you have been out for a while. Walcott played in 20 league games so far and was because not fit, not on international duty this break.
Robin Van Persie looked to be the pale version of himself in this game. He did tried to force a few things but he wasn’t at his best. As he was doubtful before the game because of his injury sustained with the Dutch national team it might have something to do with his silent performance. Van Persie played in 17 league games so far and he played in the two qualifying games for Holland until he was kicked off the field by some Hungarian butcher. So not just fatigue but also get rid of a knee injury?
Arshavin also looked very lively in the opening half. I think he had a good game. But after being brought down by the Blackburn players without Dowd even giving fouls he was substituted by Fabregas. Arshavin played in 29 games in the league so far and he has played in two international games in the break.
Fabregas came on as our first substitute. And he also has been out since the Stoke game. I know he played against Barcelona but well it was just being on the pitch in that game as his hamstring had gone early on in that game. So a first comeback after some 6 weeks out. He didn’t look at this best at all. He reminded me like when he came back against Manchester United in December when we were trailing with 1-0. He couldn’t change the game like he can. Maybe still some fear in the back of his head at occasions to get a recurrence? Despite some great balls due to his great vision but not the Fabregas who runs the game we could see in this game. Fabregas has played in 21 league games so far and because of his injury didn’t play in the international break.
Chamakh was rather invisible after he came on. So not much to say about his performance except that he played in 25 league games so far and had two international games with Morocco in the international break.
And finally Bendtner. He was more visible than Chamakh almost scored a goal which was saved on the line by Salgado. Bendtner has played a part in 13 league games so far and was doubtful before the game because he got an ankle injury last week when training with Danmark. It didn’t stop the Danes from playing him twice for Denmark in the international break.
So when looking back at it all I had the impression that the players who didn’t play at the international break or those who only played one game looked fitter during the whole game. Sagna, Squillacci, Koscielny and Clichy spring to mind.
The players coming back from injury looked rusty apart from Song. But Walcott, Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas didn’t have their best game of the season one could say.
Then you had several players who have played 2 games for their country and they looked more tired the longer the game went on. Players like Wilshere, Nasri, Arshavin, Van Persie come to mind.
Now some of you might say: well the other teams face the same problems…and …. But then again Arsenal has so far played far more games than the other teams. So fatigue can creep in and certainly when half of the team has played 2 international games. And when the other half of the team (okay 1/3 in fact) comes back from a lengthy spell being injured you can have a lot of players who are not really match fit.
And we also have to include the travelling times for these international breaks. Players coming back on Wednesday or Thursday and then you can start preparing the next game. But you have to look after the players coming back with a knock so you have to be careful with them.
So not an ideal combination to get a good result. And despite all that we could and we should have won the game. We had the best chances (well almost all of the chances in fact) and we just didn’t put the ball in the net.
And then it comes to being sharp and fit. To finish things off you must be fit. A bit like that nice kid from Liverpool who likes to swear a bit when he scores a hattrick. Because as we all know Rooney was sent home after the first international game against Wales and could have a nice and calm week of preparation for the United game. A preparation our players didn’t have. Did you Jack?
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