The game against Sheffield United still baffles me – the lack of any actual desire was the biggest disappointment but does this display highlight some real problems with the team?
1. Our attitude against ‘lower’ teams in the league.
We’ve lost at Manchester City, Fulham, Sheffield United , Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United – but won at Old Trafford and drew against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The fact is Arsenal need to quickly learn that they have to play their best in EVERY game, not just against the top teams. But is the problem with Wenger and his team selection or with the players on the pitch?
2. Our ‘phyiscal’ presence.
This arguement has been put forward by many Arsenal fans, especially since Vieira, Edu and Campbell left. Since the team were roughed up at Old Trafford a couple of seasons ago Arsenal haven’t been the same at all against the more ‘physical’ teams in the league. Bolton away seems to be a game Arsene can no longer win and we usually struggle in away matches unless it’s against a team that wants to play football like Manchester United or Chelsea.
3. Our squad players.
I’m not sure how Aliadiere actually gets into the Arsenal first eleven even with all the injuries. He wasn’t good enough for West Ham, Celtic or Wolves so how can he even be considered to be in the Arsenal squad? Surely players like Bendtner and Stokes deserve a shot before Aliadiere? Baptista looks like he’s going to need another year to settle which Wenger probably won’t give him. Losing Jose Antonio Reyes looks like a big mistake with Ade and Henry out at the moment, especially without replacing him with someone of the same class.
4. Fielding players out of position.
Playing Julio Baptista on the left wing was surprising, since we were told that he started his career in defensive midfield and progressed into an attacking midfielder and centre-forward. This video shows his goal scoring exploits for Real Madrid only last season – with injuries to Henry and Adebayor wouldn’t it have been a good idea to play ‘The Beast’ upfront instead of the useless Aliadiere?
5. The lack of Plan B.
We play intricate passing football which is great and probably some of the most entertaining football in Europe, but Arsenal need to learn how to dig out a result. On a wet, sticky pitch in the likes of Sheffield or Bolton in the winter months our passing game simply won’t work. This was highlighted against Sheffield United when Phil Jagielka was untested when he was in goal for the last 35 minutes – Arsenal still tried to pass the ball into the net instead of shooting!