Arsenal 25 Stoke 4; Wenger left in no doubt

As the goal attempts total above suggests, it was a stroll in the park. The pro-Wenger ensemble which dominates the crowd at the Ems left no one in any doubt – among those at the matches there is total support for Wenger. “One Arsene Wenger” was heard over and over – and he got the message”.

So, what did we learn?

1: The Ems can be as noisy as anyone wants. It was very noisy yesterday, as it was at, for example, the league game against Manchester IOU. What we are not so good at is making a noise when its an ordinary game and the team are not playing well.

2: Rosicky is alive and well and not just a figment of my imagination – wonderful to see him again at the end, walking around, smiling.

3: Van Persie is as hot as ever – the free kick that hit the bar was exquisite, and the second goal of his was a master piece. Yes, it was a dopey back pass to him, but he still had to act quickly and beat the advancing keeper.

4: Alex Song is a great centre back – maybe even more so that defensive midfield. I suspect the Lord Wenger thinks the same is happening with Djourou and we know that since Gallas lost the captaincy and before his injury he was very solid.

5: There is nothing wrong with the attack. We scored exactly the same number of goals as KGB Fulham, and Manchester IOU. The defence was sorted out at the start of the 21 game unbeaten run. But in defence we don’t have enough cover for the situations in which four of the back five go missing at once. On the other hand Gibbs has been a revelation – I just hope we can hold on to him when Clichy returns.

6: Abou Diaby is an enigma. I turned to my partner in the first half and said, “It’s just Diaby who seems a bit lost – the rest of the team is clicking” and then of course he pops up and scores. But for every good pass or move there seemed to be a misunderstanding or a mistake. If he is still with us next season it will only be because the Lord Wenger knows he can get the errors out of his system.

7: Bendtner is growing into one hell of a player. He had that poor run in mid-season but now he has got all the bits you want, plus more that you don’t expect a tall centre forward to have. His ball control is exquisite and at this rate of progress, but this time next year he’ll be a regular centre forward. Better, he can influence the game playing on the wing or in the centre.

8: Arshavin on the other hand hasn’t got the hang of playing on the wing yet. Playing behind the front runner is a natural for him, but out on the wing he doesn’t seem to get the ball enough. Although maybe that was the fault of the midfield.

9: Eboue is a natural at right back.

10: Mannone as third choice keeper, didn’t have much to do, but what there was he did well – including a could of excellence saves. I wonder how long we’ll be able to hang onto him, what with him playing in the reserves all the time.

As for the rest of the reason, we learned that we have a stunning women’s side – another treble, and good to see them at half time. And of course that we have a youth team of world beaters. More on such matters in forthcoming posts.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009
Thank you to everyone who posted comments yesterday (sunday) – living as I do in the Midlands, we made a bit of a day of it in London, getting back in the early hours. So those posts that were held in moderation (because they contained links or because they were first time posts) only got cleared this morning. My apologies if it appeared I was ignoring you. Far from it.

14 Replies to “Arsenal 25 Stoke 4; Wenger left in no doubt”

  1. And I’d have to say how much Denilson has grown this season. Not only as an assured, athletic, confident midfielder but as a man. He looks about a foot taller. When he ran diagonally back to the LB area to help the defence towards the end of yesterdays match it showed what hunger and desire he has to go with his undoubted skill. If Cesc is our ‘brain’ he’s the heartbeat.

  2. I sgree with your report, Tony. The demonstration before the game arranged by Redaction was an excellent show of support for manager and team. We really are on the march and next season holds the promise of greatness, for team and supporters.

  3. Agree with steww:

    Again the game showed why Denilson is our DM while Song is a CB. Denilson positional play is much better than Song but Song is a great CB, may eventually be better than Toure. Denilson wasn’t really at fault for that penalty. He kicks out at Fuller but doesnt actually touch him – basically Fuller dived.

  4. Really looking forward to next season. It would be great if we could sign sign Vidic or Terry or Alex – but we can’t. Be great if we could get Mascherano or Essien or Hargreaves – but we can’t. And what we have got as good as Ivanovic or Evans or Skrtel, Carrick or Mikel or Alonso or Barry – with much greater potential.

    These sites that keep asking for new players get right up my nose.

    However, I do like Arsebloggers suggestion of playing a 433 – with three men not getting back. Even if we lose Ade over the summer, we still have six great forwards – Bendtner, RvP, Theo, Arshavin, Eduardo and Vela – and how else will they get game time? With Cesc, Rosicky, Nasri and Diaby we have plenty of attacking midfielders, and with Kolo and Djourou able to back up DM and Song able to back up CB, we seem to have enough to me. Add Ramsey and we have a squad of 23. And Wilshere and Merida (at least) will need a few games.

    As I said, really looking forward to next season!

  5. Another comment, if I may.
    I agree with all you have said about Denilson – I think he is great. However, I think the form of Eboue after his little mid-season interlude has been excellent. Eboue and Gibbs are the best second choice full backs in any league.
    As for your comments about Hleb, I am not sure that you are correct. I think he was kicked out of the EPL!
    I watched yesterday’s match on Arsenal TV, with Arsenal commentary. I think the laws have changed and nobody has told me. In the first half, Song was shepherding the ball near the goal line when Fuller pushed him in the back. Stuart Robson said that Song was lucky to get away with the error. Later, Walcott was barged in the back while competing for the ball. Robson said he was not strong enough!
    Against Chelsea, Essien made a scissor tackle from behind and got the ball. A clear cut yellow card anywhere else on the field, but this tackle was made in the penalty area, so it was lauded as a great tackle and no penalty was awarded.
    I find it difficult to watch a game where I don’t know the rules. Can anyone help in this regard?

  6. yesterday had a real ‘day at the races’ feel about it.

    I agree with Tony about Diaby but feel that the odds are 60/40 in favour of him departing this summer. Given the statements already made by Arsene Wenger regarding transfers, he will bring in a central midfielder. With Rosicky fit and nasri available also(and a better footballer), not to mention Vela, Diaby would find himself rekegated to carling cup games and warming the bench. far better to get £4-5 million for him and using it to strengthen where required or secure RVP and Co.’s contracts.

    I think that it is unavoidable that during next season, both Denilson and Song will have a less prominent role in the first team. For what they both cost and have delivered when thrown in at the deep end, they have been fantastic. they will both mature into superb players and a season where they get a little more downtime wont hurt in the least.
    In fairness denilson must be absolutely knackered! In excess of 50 games at his age is amazing.

    Personally I think that the signings that are coming are fairly cut and dry. we don’t need any more attacking players and the probable sale of Adebayour will most likely provide a necessary venting of the pressure building up in the overcrowded offensive ranks.

    The one area that (whilst not exciting) I am interested in is whether Arsene Wenger will sign another experienced Goal-keeper. I have become a big Almunia fan but I believe he needs more competition for his position and given the possibility of injury at a key time, I would rather a more experienced keeper available than Fabianski who has demonstrated that he is not ready yet. I believe that the rest is paint by numbers.

    On a slightly obscure note, wasn’t it great to see Nichoals Anelka to nick the golden boot from Ronaldo? I know some fans have a grudge gainst him but I choose to remember him helping us win our league and cup double back in the day. his sale also brought us Thierry Henry in exchange. It would be a petty man indeed who would claim that we didn’t get a great deal there.

    well done Nicholas! And great big haha! goes out to that synchronised diving, tantrum spouting, primadonna/ballerina/ladyboy up in the rain-sooden climes of Manchester who believes that TEAM is spelled “ME-I-ME-I” A player who treasures personal accolades far more than team ones will feel the sting for years.


  7. Just a quick one about Diaby:

    I’m one hundred per cent sure that Wenger can erase Diaby’s errors. When Diaby perform he’s man of the match.

    The greatest example of this is Fenerbache away this season. Probably the best performance in a match from an Arsenalplayer together with the likes of Arshavin at Anfield and a few couple of others.

  8. Some good comments today. Not sure why you think Denilson and Song will have lesser roles next year. Maybe worth again looking at the full season performance of Denilson who I believe has fully vindicated AW’s decision not to break the bank on Flamini.

    2007/8 Flamini (Full EPL season)
    Tackles won 104 (lost 61) success rate 63%
    Pass Interceptions 57
    Passes 1,501 (successful 90%)
    Assists 2
    Goals 1

    2008/9 Denilson (Full EPL season)
    Tackles won 103 (lost 28) success rate 79% (5th in the league for won total)
    Pass interceptions 155 (best in the League)
    Passes 2,533 (successful 87%) best in the league
    Assists 7 (7th)
    Goals 3
    Fouls won 78 (4th in League – Ronaldo had 79)

    Champions league he was 2nd in Passing and 2nd in tackling across all of Europe. Vieira and Gilberto have described him (this year) as an amazing player. Even Arshavin said he was MOM against Portsmouth in leading such a young team to dominance. So the question must be raised that as a young man that has just turned 21 what more should he have done this year? Yet still some fans fail to give him any credit.
    I would be utterly amazed if AW dropped him in favour of some mythical “monster” CDM that some are baying for. There is simply no one out there that comes close to what he does in tackling and especially intercepts (some are good at one or the other but few at both). And he chips in well as a DCM with goals and assists to boot.

    Song has had a good year playing in a variety of roles and is better than Denilson in the air and brings a more physical presence that so many fans want. But he does not have the same positioning and all round game as Denilson, hence he is more likely to be used as no 2 DCM and also backup CD. AW will also use him with Denilson when he wants to DCM’s (tried on a few occasions this year)

    Lastly Denilson has only once been called up to the full Brazil squad – when Gilberto was ill. So this is in many ways a positive (fewer games and less travel). He is the only first team player that is not (yet) in his national squad. But it is interesting that at the beginning of this season AW told Gilberto that he would be no 2 to Denilson, hence Gilberto moved to Greece, to ensure he would still have a regular first team football. When will Dunga of Brazil also wake up to fact of who is the better player?

  9. jbh,
    Agree with you but only up to a point. Given that Denilson is so good why did Arsene retreat to 4-5-1 with Song as DM and 2 ball-keeping CMs when he played against the big boys (except for the last MU game)? That comes off as a puzzle for me.

  10. Nhan Le – at the time Denilson was looking a little jaded having played the most games of all Arsenal players. Arsene may have thought Song’s physical presence and prowess in the air was preferable for those particular games. But just because one player is favoured over another on some occasions, does not necessarily mean one is better than the other. Song may just have been more suitable to the overall balance of the team at that time. In fact a rested Denilson came on against Chelsea at Emirates and I read a statistic somewhere that he made more interceptions in his 20 minutes than the rest of his midfield colleagues put together (jbh can probably confirm?). He was also excellent in the league game against Man U at Old Trafford.

    I also disagree with those writing off Diaby. That serious ankle injury has obviously been a major setback for him. We’ve seen flashes of what he can do and if he could just get a run of games in the centre of midfield, then we could see what he is really about or not. Arsene has been so patient with him and only extended his contract last season, so I think he has at least another season before any decision will be taken. Arsene wants to keep the team together, so there will be very little movement out other than peripheral players (or anyone who desperately wants to leave) and more likely 1 or 2 incoming if he can find or reach agreement for the right players.

  11. AW played Denilson in every PL and every CL game except once when injured (West Ham) and the 2 CL semi’s against MU. Why not MU? I’m not sure, can only surmise that he wanted more physical presence with Song in midfield, height (no Diaby in those games) and because of Song’s strong form in a couple of games prior to the semi’s. Or possibly Denilson was not as strong in training.

    AW often tests key players in the end of season games. He ran with Denilson (successfully) late last year. I think he’s taking a close look at Diaby this year which explains the full games he is getting at the moment. Based on his close scrutiny of these performances will decide whether AW sells Diaby and promotes from reserves or buys for his squad place.

    I think defence is still the biggest headache particularly with Toure, Eboue, and Song away on the ACN this coming season. Those absentees plus a few unexpected injuries could be fatal.

  12. I’m not really trying to start a debate here guys but Le Boss is going to buy a defensive midfielder and a centre half. He is not going to buy them and bench them. It is that simple. Nobody is disputing what Denilson and song are capable of or their contribution to the team this season but they are young and it has been too much too soon. I’d rather see Denilson play 25 games instead of 55.
    He has a great engine and I would hate to see it burnt out prematurely.
    Both those players will go on to be regular first teamers but for now they need a rest and a more gradual inclusion. Just because they didn’t drown when thrown into the deep end doesn’t mean it is the ideal way to teach them to be endurance swimmers of the highest order. It is too much to ask of them especially when they may be the target for any blame should a key game go astray. Time is needed for our less fervent fans to become comfortable with their inclusion. This in turn will lead to better reception whilst on the pitch and more confidence for the players. We may have them both for a decade.
    There is no rush eh.

  13. Diaby was made to look bad because he missed many middle of the park routine passes. What they don’t understand is what those routine passes are not as easy as they look from the stand (or on TV). Diaby missed his past most often when he came out of tussles with 2 or even 3 opponent players. The game in Rome is an example of this. His missed passes made people forget the incredible balance he showed to possess the ball in the beginning. Then there are always the “invisible walls” like Denilson or Gilberto who pop out of nowhere to cut your passes and make you look foolish.

    That’s why Cesc and Denilson are such outstanding players – at least 90% of their passes are routine probing passes across midfield either to buy time for teammates or to force defenders out of positions and they rarely get caught.

  14. One thing that strikes me in looking at who is coming in, is that this past season we have twice suffered a near complete wipe out of a particular part of the team.

    First, the entire midfield seemed to be injured. Second the entire defence was out.

    In fact it also happened to the forwards at one point – but the only reason we noticed it less was that we had an extra forward, and we had Arshavin who can play both forward and midfield.

    I suspect that what we are going to see is the bigger more flexible squad, rather than a big money transfer who takes on one fixed position. It might be that like Arshavin, the player is flexible, or it might be that the new player has a fixed position but then allows another player already in the squad to become flexible.


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