A work of total genius

You have to be a genius to do this – by Walter Broeckx

On November 14 the worst thing happened again. The international games took its toll and Van Persie was out for what seems to be now 4 or 5 months. Van Persie was the focus of our attack. He was scoring goals, he was giving assists.  You name it, he delivered.

Now playing Robin in that position was at first for some fans, (in particular the D&G brigade), insane, crazy and ridiculous.  And when Robin didn’t score in the first games Wenger was declared a lunatic. But we scored like crazy, we played amazing games and Wengers’ determination paid off in the end. Robin began to score and gave assists with his eyes closed.

With Robin injured the obvious person to take over in the middle was Bendtner who could use his height and ball control to fill the gap. Unfortunately Bendtner himself was already out with another injury. So the two players who could play there in the centre of attack out for a period.

And the third big guy we have, that can play as an attacker and yes I mean Diaby is still out with an injury.

So our 2 biggest strikers were out. A possible third also.  Eduardo came, Vela came but they had difficulty’s to find their feet right away. Both aren’t the tallest of players and in two difficult games we couldn’t score. Enough to put the doom and gloom brigade up in full force.

Wenger said that he maybe would buy someone because of the injury situation in the January transfer window, but it would take us a long month of December before we could buy someone.

So came the game against Stoke on Saturday. Stoke: a team renowned for its big and strong players. Eduardo the most likely centre forward injured himself in the last training on Friday so it was all doom and gloom before kickoff.

Now I’m not a Arsene Wenger, but if I had been the manager of the team and given the opposition I would look at my Carling Cup team and see for the biggest player available to put up front in the centre of the attack. I would look for a Sanchez Watt, a Jay Emmanuel Thomas or someone like that.

But what does a genius do? He doesn’t look for the obvious  solution. He goes for the unthinkable. I really think that some 99 managers would have chosen for a big player from the squad to play up front against Stoke.

I can imagine the amazement on the face of Andrey Arshavin when called him over and said: “You are going to play as a centre forward against Stoke. ” At first he may have thought Wenger was taking him for a ride.

Arshavin?  Wasn’t he just the player that has said on his own website that they lacked some height in the attack after the injuries from Robin, Nikclas and Abou ?   Come on you got to be joking!

But no, Wenger took the smallest outfield player and put him there.

Insane, crazy and ridiculous. I bet this was what a few of us were thinking at kickoff when we realised that it would be Arshavin that would play there.  I can imagine some doom and gloomers telling that Wenger has lost it completely.

And then the Russian maestro just played his game and proved that he is a much shorter version of Robin Van Persie. Good and intelligent runs, good linkup between him and his team mates, good passes, a goal and could and maybe should have had more goals. But he is saving them up for next week I think.

He showed that being clever on a football field is better than being big and strong. I don’t know who was selected as man of the match but the Dutch commentator said that he was by far the best man on the pitch and should be called Man of the Match.

Well for me the Man of the Match sat on the bench for 90 minutes. It was the man that decided to play him there.  It takes a genius to come up with this solution and this once again shows that all of us don’t know what goes on in the mastermind of our manager.


Making the Arsenal – the story of Arsenal in 1910 told through the daily diary of a Fleet Street – is available through www.amazon.co.uk or for a quicker delivery directly from the publishers.  Details at www.emiratesstadium.info

17 Replies to “A work of total genius”

  1. Le Boss is the master, give him a suituation and he’ll deliver, after the recent games in which Arshavin looked out of sorts, the boss puts him up up front and the man delivers a performance not seen since his 4 goal haul against Liverpool, is he the Messi of Arsenal?? do we need to just play hm as the focal point of a 4-3-3 system and let everyone else play around him or just let him run free and not restrict him to one postion.
    Rosicky injured again it’s a blow but not as serious as it might seem, we have Merida who can play in his postion and in the long run will be a better option as the boy needs game time to develop his game, the player who i think we would miss most if injured at this moment in time is Eboue, i know people on the other blogs hate the guy but for the life of me i just don’t know why, he gives us drive and thrust when he’s on the pitch and that defensive shield in front of Sagna, what does the guy have to do to get these guys from Le Grove,etc,etc of his back? must they always have a hate figure to spew their bile at?
    I know that when Ramsey came on he scored a goal but people forget that all that went on before and the fact that being given the run around and driven back into their own defensive area can make a team loose focus on attacking play which is what had happened by the time Ramsey came on.
    A good game just what was needed after the two recent losses.

  2. Thanks Walter. We have not played with a central striker for years. Henry spent most of time on the left wing and Adebayor spent most of his time offside. Neither had long balls played up to them to be held up until help arrived. When RvP received the ball, he had players left, right and centre to lay it off to. And the balls that Cesc used to play for Ade were over the top to use his speed, not to use his height.

    It is useful to play the sort of ball we did to Bendtner at the beginning of the season – one he could take on his chest and then distribute – but if we have no players to do that, it is quicker and more exciting when we do it to feet.

    Towards the end of the Fulham – Sunderland game yesterday, Fulham started playing some one touch football and cut Sunderland apart. With all (perhaps not Eboue) of our players capable of finishing, one touch football played by forwards with the vision of AA, Cesc, Nasri and Rosicky will lead to a plethora of chances. And Ramsey, Diaby, Vela, Eduardo, Bendtner and Walcott are not far behind. And Merida and Wilshere still to come!

    It would be great to have a Torres who has great skill and threatens the goal every time he has the ball, but there are not too many of them. We certainly don’t need a Bendtner in attack. However, he is a skilful player and can fit into our style of play, and his height offers another option when we have the ball out wide. And we do want him in defence. His presence at the front post for set pieces is worth goals to us.

    Walter, on Saturday AW proved that he doesn’t need to buy a centre forward in January, and that a skilful team with zero six footers can murder a team of mid-table giants.

  3. Good argument Walter but I think AW had just the 2 options- Vela or Arshavin.

    This was not a game to put in JET or Watt, both of whom may well play against Olympiakos, & Vela had had a tough night in Manchester. So AA was the logical choice rather than genius on AW’s part.

    However the set up of the team was excellent,with Eboue a vital ingredient, as Jazbo says.

    I thought everyone pulled their weight but Nasri was outstanding for me, with both CBs doing the important work very well.

    Jazbo, I would recommend that you do not insult your own intelligence by going on some blogs, particularly the one you mention.

  4. Wenger always looks for the not obviuos solution. When the whole world was screaming at Wenger to buy a very, very big CB he bought a smaller one in Vermaelen. And I don’t know if you noticed but I think he won some 75 % of the headers on the throws from Delap.
    You don’t have to be big to rule on the pitch, it’s the brain(AA) and the timing of the jump(TV) that matters.

  5. The Genius here is really Arshavin, who can play anywhere on the pitch but the position he played in my opinion was not of central forward and certainly not a target man but of a Withdrawn Striker. This is the position he prefers and most suitable to his genius,he is the only one in Arsenal who can really play it well,since he is by far Arsenal most brilliant and able player in every department,no doubt about it,and only the really greatest players can do it well as a career, you name them;and he HAS PLAYED IT BEFORE!. Arshavin supreme understanding of space(ing),foresight of moves and the shape of the game, his all time awareness of teammates, his quick both sides turns&change of pace and angled runs,dribbling,tight control, pass precision, finishing AND toughness…Arshavin is our Messi its been said and indeed Messi played it on occasion last year (with Eto’ moving to the right).In fact Arshavin few times mentioned in his honest straightforward way that being pushed to the wing is not his best use though he can certainly do it and will do everything for the team. But I think his lost of interest and relative passivity in last few games before Stoke was not JUST his state of mind post Russia’s WC demise but the fact that after VanPersie disaster he was not singled and recognized as the obvious solution in a modified formation. I think this really puzzled him when all the candidates were queuing up.but he is a warrior and no sulk, and with an opportunity to prove a point he gave it all and with interest. Arshavin is one of those unique players who is totally aware of his worth yet is a team player.this is not just good atittude but a profound understanding of the good game, there are very few like that. Sorry if my post turns to an Ode to Arshavin, who is really one of the very best around in Europe, and it will be very interesting to see if Arsene builds his formation now around Arsh new/old role and not just for Stoke; I just find it strange these longing for Nick and Abou Diabi that one reads everywhere now, but who were so frustrating to many and slammed by many more just couple of weeks ago, but they are a good decoy, that’s for sure

  6. So, Monday morning/afternoon after an Arsenal game I sit down at work to filter through my favourite Arsenal blogs and pick up the news since the game. The two I refer mainly to, my yin and yang if you will, Untold Arsenal and Arsenal News Review. Both well written and objective just with slight slants towards a positive and a negative viewpoint respectively.

    Today I find on both to be the discussion of AA in the centre forward role and how well it worked. I truely believe Arshavin to be our most gifted player and he showed that on Saturday. We really need him these next few weeks and Myles Palmer’s view is an interesting one.
    Everyone (including AW) knows that AA is our most gifted player and that he could have played in the centre forward position so what was not tried there until now? Even for half an hour against Sunderland or something? Maybe it is, like Myles says, a somewhat stubborness on Wenger’s part as AA is not part of his youth system, and that’s why he’s not been offered a contract extension.
    I don’t agree with the point that the youth system is failing but we are never going to develop a whole first team from youth that are of genius quality. Players like AA, Ronaldo, Messi, Torres, Kaka etc are rarely produced from youth systems of elite clubs and when elite clubs get hold of these players they do their best to keep them, or at least they should do.
    I think we have a lot to look forward to and we have a much stronger squad now compared to last season even if you take out AA but we can go a lot further a lot faster with the little Russian on our side.

    The ANR article

  7. There are probably three or four good reasons why Wenger has previously played Arshavin out on the wing…….but I think the main reason is that once Arshavin plays as the supporting attacker, he becomes the focal point of the team, and constricts AW to a 4-4-2 formation.

    The real depth of resource in this squad though is in attacking midfielders, and 4-3-3 is the natural solution to accomodate the kind of players AW has at his disposal.

    Were Fabregas to go, (which would please no-one except the accountant), we could still field a midfield of Song-Denilson-Ramsey/Merida, or Song-Merida-Ramsey………..

    that is not even taking Nasri, Diaby, or Rosicky into account………..

  8. t00farg0ne

    I don’t know if you are a ‘wind up’ or not but I assume not.

    ‘Objective’ & ‘slightly negative’ are not words I would personally use in describing the writings of Mr Palmer. He now writes with all the poison of Arsene’s horribly jilted lover & has lost all credibility, in my view.

    Look, we are the PL’s highest goalscorers, at the moment, despite playing a game less than most. RVP had been the nominal focal point in a front 3 but all the attacking players have been interchanging all season, with AA amongst the others spending some time in the middle.

    RVP is an exceptional player, who is going to be missed. AA was intelligent on Saturday, played the very roll well but still without being at his best because his touch has often let him down all season.

    I think we will get over the RVP situation by even more interchanging during the season, with AA playing a leading role. We need more hight at times but most of all we need the forwards that are here to be available for the rest of the season.

    I don’t know if AA will be a stayer or not. I have got a feeling not but he hasn’t been here a year yet so why the talk of a new contract? If they want to go they go.

    You need a team of high quality players, not 11 geniuses, 3 or 4 would do nicely though.

    I don’t think we are going to be in a position to buy a ready made known ‘genius’ for quite a while yet & maybe never. That is just a fact of life & one I am more than comfortable with I enjoy the development of a team, mainly from within. It is a system that has provided the backbone of all the successes of my time.

    The budget for players includes the means to keep your best ones, so Arsenal, as a prudently run club, are careful about spending big money on transfers so that we can afford to keep the exceptional talent we have. Football is in a totally unreal world that means if eg Man City offer AA £200k per week & he is of a mind to go, he will go, contract or not.

  9. flint;

    Good points…
    I wanna say that although man city can offer anyone 200k, they can’t buy everyone. What I mean is that there are different types of players out there, the ones who always go for the money ended up in man city. Of course Toure couldn’t have decided to move there foe only money, but many did.

    Players like Arshavin or Cesc will never play for a club like them, they are simply players who put both their career and bank account closely bonded.
    Players like them will never ever make a move stepping lower unless they’re too old and still wanna play ball (Pires – who didn’t move for money but for regular football in a decent team).

    It’s year 2009 but money can’t buy everything still…..

  10. Great points Flint @ 4.16 pm

    I don’t get this worshipping of Arshavin. He did no more than we should expect from him in every match given his quality and experience. When I see him perform like that on a consistent basis then I will join in singing his praises. One good game a season is not enough to hail him as our best player. The switch worked against a limited Stoke team at home. If it works away from home or against better quality opposition then it will be worthy of praise.

  11. I know this is not the place to put up personal messages but I hope Tony lets me have this one because I just got the news : WE ARE ON OUR WAY FOR THE GAME AGAINST VILLA ON DECEMBER 27 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ticket have arrived so now its final!!!


    Sorry for this, but gonna have a party tonight. 🙂

  12. As a self confessed Ashavinite, I don’t claim objectivity. For me, what makes AA a priceless asset is his combination of footballing talent, intelligent play, and typically Russian determination in the face of adversity. If he has a weakness, it is that he needs to score goals. Stu

  13. Arshavin had a great game on Saturday. However, before proclaiming him to be the new messiah, it is useful to remember he has had a few stinkers sprinkled with great moments in past games. Greatness is earned and is not simply the casual gift of an indulgent football fan.
    We don’t need another cult of the personality at Arsenal; it is not good for the team and it not good for Arshavin. We had a near cult-like adulation of the long-gangly fellow in 07-08. See what that gained us in the long run. Think about it.

  14. agree with shotta-gunna,Arshavin need to perform week in week out and not 1 match every few .I always thought we were going to get the best of him as a striker than a winger.Wenger need to stop playing him on the left wing .
    Anyway Shoota is only one cult Hero in my view in our squad,he is Eboue..All hail Eboue :D……and of course his master our dear Lord Wenger 😉

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