Arsenal in need of inspiration

by Matt Quinn

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Why the Gunners have lost their bottle

This weekend saw the title race take yet another turn in Manchester United and, indeed, Chelsea’s direction. Another stumble by Arsenal has seen them overtaken by United, while Chelsea are now within striking distance. There is an air of inevitability to it all at the moment with the most worrying thing for Arsene Wenger being that the problems appear to be different to the accusations normally leveled at Arsenal. In the last few games, against Villa, Boro and Wigan, Arsenal did not spurn chance after chance, they did not try to walk the ball into the net, and they weren’t playing pretty passing around the area. In these games, they simply didn’t get in or near the area to throw the chances away. The goals they did get were unremarkable, scrambled, unexpected and undeserved. Key players seem to have lost their way. Van Persie looks terribly unfit, Adebayor looks lumbering since his haircut; Hleb has gone back to being a headless chicken, Gallas unstable. However, perhaps more worrying is that, Milan aside, Fabregas has looked in need of a rest. Over the past few months, his influence on games has waned, his passing has been less incisive and his early season knack of grabbing vital goals has all but evaporated.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, while much is made of their squad and their youngsters, they don’t have players capable of coming in and replacing these out of form regulars. United can afford to leave Tevez, Nani and Anderson on the bench, Chelsea yesterday rested Anelka and Carvalho, but Arsenal cannot do this, and they are threatening to burn out because of it. Over the next month, Arsenal are playing Chelsea, Bolton, Liverpool (x3) and Manchester United. By the end of this month, Arsenal could very easily be out of the title race and looking to preserve 3rd place ahead of a rejuvenated Liverpool.

I think the key to a Gunners revival could be in the unlikely shape of Theo Walcott and to a lesser extent Tomas Rosicky. Due to injuries and form, these two players should be relatively fresh for the run-in. However, more importantly, they offer Arsenal the chance to stretch teams with their pace and incisiveness. Walcott has been Arsenals most effective player recently, simply due to his pace. He allows Arsenal to get in behind teams and while his delivery and decision-making is not the best, there can be no doubt that he troubles opposition teams. Rosicky is another who can be incisive, with clever passing, direct running and long range shooting and may be equally as important.

Overall though, I can’t see anything past a United title, with Chelsea a close second. Both teams look to have the momentum and strength in depth to start to streak away from the Gunners. I would love Arsenal to be up there at the end as reward for their sublime football, but it’s looking less likely by the week. Even more worrying for Arsenal could be their prospects next season if Wenger, admirably, refuses to splash the cash on high profile players. A resurgent Tottenham under Juande Ramos, Liverpool, Villa, Manchester City and Everton will all improve next season with considerable financial backing and the top half of the premiership will concertina up even more. Arsenal, along with the other ’big 4’, will come under increasing competition over the next few years from these upstarts. It’s up to all of them to prove that the gulf still exists. Liverpool have already been sucked close to the chasing pack this year. Next year Arsenal may well be the next team in their sights.

Have the Gunners lost there bottle?

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  • Darren

    Charlie Nicholas said something that I noticed a few weeks back, Adebayor seems be playing with a chip on his shoulder, very similar to the way Henry did. He knows he won’t get subbed, and that Wenger can’t afford to rest him.

    At the start of the season I had Eboue in my fantasy league team, pre season he looked awseome on the right wing. Since then he has become very annoying and frustrating to watch. He has 1 goal and 2 assists all season, which is exactly the same problem we had last season. Our goals from midfield have totally dried up, as Matt has rightly pointed out, Hleb has become a headless chicken. He gets the ball passes it sideways or dibbles until he loses it, I’m not quite sure if he actually knows that the game of football is all about scoring goals, and to do this you have to shoot, again, very frustrating.

    The sale of Diarra was a massive mistake. It has left us with no back up in central midfield, Silva is over weight, over the hill.

    In the face of adversity we seem to triumph, so I wouldn’t bet against us being the first team to win at Stamford since we won there last time, we were very unlucky last season, only a wonder goal by Essien saved Chelsea.

    One thing is clear that if we do have 70m to spend we need natural width. Walcott is starting to look good but we need experience.

    One thing is for sure, there will be twists and turns in the most exciting title race for years.

  • mikie

    The title has Man United written all over it.

    Chelski players have no confidence in Avram Grant, Arsenal’s foreign legion can’t hack the Premiership slog & L’Pool have left it too late for a challenge.

  • Tommo

    Two things stood out for me, Eboue is a waste of space, Pleb has gone back to being the old Pleb, unproductive, goes round in circles, doesn’t realize the game is about scoring goals. So basically you have no wingers, neither have scored this year, and have 5 assists between them. crap

  • Teflon

    Problem has been Injuries to Rosicky and Van Persie and also the fact that Ebnoue, Senderos, Eduardo, Bendtner, Gilberto and Lehmann are not good enough to play for Arsenal.

  • Tommo

    I think you are very wrong, Eduardo was quality before he got injured, he had energy with a purpose, unlike Eboue & Pleb. Both of these players annoy the f**k out of me. Bendtner is ok, he and Adeybour simply can’t play together as they are to similar

  • Martin Tibbetts

    Brilliant. Arsenal are in the Champions League quarter finals courtesy of ‘the best game ever by a team in europe ever’ (copyright Gooners), and second in the premiership with it all to play for, not a bad situiation to be in at all. A month ago this was ‘the greatest Arsenal side, even better than the Invincibles’ and going to walk everything playing the ‘most attractive football ever played by anyone in the world ever’. 4 draws later and the players are all crap, team are going nowhere and its all rubbish.

    Why can’t you just be having a blip in what has been a very good season for Arsenal and accept that there are 3 other teams in the premiership who are as good as you.

    I love Arsenal fans – never a dull moment!!!

  • Darren

    Martin is right, we would have taken this before the season began. 4 draws is a blip yes, but we’ve still only lost once, thats amazing.

    Like I said in my last post, I wouldn’t put it passed us to win at the Chavs.

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