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Vermaelen proves we’re not a one-man team in a disappointing week

by on December 1, 2011

It looks like it’s that time of the week again for me to chat about Arsenal even though we haven’t, unfortunately, had the best of weeks. First off I just want to say that I thought our team on Tuesday night did a fantastic job against City in the Carling Cup. We all knew it was going to be tough, and the fact Mancini started with so many first-teamers just proved that even though we were playing a fairly second-string team, we were still a threat, and I thought they did the club proud. I thought it was a very unlucky result for us, but up front was where the difference was; the fairly ineffective Park and Chamakh combination never really got off the ground and while we kept Dzeko fairly quiet, Aguero was never going to miss his chance to win it in the final ten minutes.

Those were my first thoughts for today’s post, but I’ll go back to the Fulham game on the weekend and come back to the City game later. Our Premier League match on Saturday was certainly a test for us on the back of a fantastic result in Europe against Dortmund. But you could see the hangover from the Champions League victory was evident, it was just one of those games that never clicked, and it just didn’t go for us. I felt it was a very frustrating game because Fulham were very organised and we found it hard to create chances up front.

Vermaelen, it seemed, was getting a bit fed up of the ‘one man team’ claims and so set about proving that he was in fact the one man in our team… Obviously not, but it took an own goal for him for us to find the urgency to score a goal that came from Vermaelen. Of course it was very impressive that someone other than Robin van Persie scored our goal for once… I’ve spoken about Robin van Persie probably in every one of my posts but just one thing that came to mind, I’d much rather have a dedicated captain and top striker like Robin van Persie who scores, admittedly, the majority of our goals, than a £50million waste of money Fernando Torres who couldn’t find the back of the net if it sat on his face. I don’t know why the media can’t portray his form in a positive light, that Robin van Persie is having the type of form right now that strikers get once, or sometimes never, in their lifetime. It’s only fair to let him enjoy it. The same goes for people calling for him to ‘save’ us in every game we play. I don’t think there’s any need to put pressure on him.

The 1-1 with Fulham and the rest of the weekend’s results kept us at 7th in the table. With the majority of the season left, it’s still fair to expect a reasonably high finish for us.

After our Premier League fixture came our Carling Cup quarter-final tie at home to Manchester City. The team Wenger fielded mixed things up a bit. With fears that Robin van Persie, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott were all ‘in the red’ fitness wise, it was only natural to get some fringe players a run around on Tuesday night. Frimpong, Coquelin, Miquel, Squillaci, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chamakh and Park all got starts at the Emirates and they certainly rose to the challenge of the night.

It’s fair to say I was really impressed with the way we conducted ourselves. To see names like De Jong, Dzeko, Nasri etc on Man City’s line-up it was only fair to feel a little apprehensive of what the night would bring. Considering our team had nearly no regular first-teamers, with the exception of Koscielny who didn’t play against Fulham, we were the younger and more inexperienced side. Despite this I thought we bossed the flow of the game for the majority of the match, and Frimpong and Coquelin were confident in midfield. The boys did the club proud and even though they fell at the last hurdle, seeing the well-earned draw out to extra-time, they can still hold their heads high after a fantastic performance. It took a goal in the closing stages of the game from Sergio Aguero, from a position where he was never going to miss, to end our Carling Cup hopes. Even though Man City beat us, our team cost equivalent of just one of their players, and while Wenger’s philosophy lost to Mancini’s big-spending approach, we certainly gave them something to think about, with a team of kids. I don’t think they deserved a win but at the end it just came down to the difference in quality, the difference between Chamakh and Aguero up front and our wasteful chances in front of goal.

The meeting brought the return of Samir Nasri to the Emirates. I can’t say how annoyed I was that the game didn’t fall at a more convenient time for me to have gone to it, because the chanting about Nasri was in fact priceless. I don’t normally think it’s fair to boo players, except in circumstances like Nasri’s and while the fans enjoyed themselves in the stands, Frimpong was most certainly enjoying himself on the pitch. He looked like he wanted to eat Nasri for most of the game. I personally am glad to see the back of him, I don’t care that he left on Tuesday night with the win with his new club; he is a complete and utter sell out and deserves every bit of abuse hurled his way. The fact he was playing though made the defeat that bit more frustrating because we were the better team.

Despite the unlucky result, I think many positives can be taken from the game, especially the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a threat up front, and a skilful and talented player. There can be no doubting his talent, it was evident even against a strong City defence, and he was giving Zabaleta a very tough night down the wing. On the other side, I thought Miquel did well in defence, alongside Djourou and Squillaci, even though he was caught out a couple of times by Adam Johnson’s runs.

For Chamakh, I thought it was a perfect opportunity for him to prove himself, for him to assure Wenger back-up was there if he needed it. He didn’t however look involved enough in the game and wasted a golden chance at the end of the match to equalize. He looked weary and maybe as if he is nearing the end of his time at the club. I don’t know what quite went wrong with him but I think once he stopped getting games, it was hard for him to keep his form going and it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better for him in terms of games given the fact we have Robin van Persie.. Park was his companion up front for the game, and he too seemed pretty anonymous. I think this is the only worrying thing that we can take from the City game – that besides from van Persie, our striking options are few and far between. It leaves the club to decide whether a move will be made in January to spend some money and bring a top striker to the Emirates to join Robin van Persie at the top of the score sheet.

Well that’s me for today and this week. As usual hope you enjoyed the read and follow me on Twitter @AMMueller if you fancy it! Oh, and Happy 125th Birthday Arsenal, I look forward to another 125 years of success, glory and a red North London.

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One Comment
  1. Adedokun Yusuf Babatunde permalink

    My fellow gunners don’t let us deceive ourself we need a compelete striker!!!

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