Once again the British media and more than a few Arsenal fans are displaying their lack of understanding of the game this morning, following Arsenal’s woeful performance yesterday against Boro. It seems that all signs point to Eduardo as the reason for our demise, and he should therefore be hung out to dry and shipped off quicker than a Brazilian with a dodgy passport. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Of course, I’m not going to tell you that he had a blinder because he clearly didn’t. It was a very poor performance from the man, but look what he had to work with. A prolific goalscorer for club and country in the past couple of years, Wenger is oddly employing him in a left-sided role in order to accommodate Adebayor as the main striker. Now, for a man who lives and breathes goals and is an ace poacher in and around the 6 yard box, this is akin to telling Luke Skywalker that he can go and fight Vader, but minus his lightsabre – it’s just madness. No doubt there is a method to Arsene’s madness (as is usually the case), but it’s patently obvious that the Adebayor-Eduardo ‘partnership’ doesn’t work. I mean, how can Eduardo be expected to read Ade’s game, when the big Togo man doesn’t know what he’s going to do next himself? Couple that with Adebayor’s dreadful control of the ball, and you could see we’d have problems scoring yesterday. The return of RVP is becoming more and more important by the day.
So on to our goalscorer yesterday, the Willem Defoe lookalike, Tomas Rosicky. This lad was signed before the World Cup, where he scored a couple of sublime goals for the Czechs before their early exit. It looked like we had a real star on our hands, but it hasn’t quite worked out for him. Now I’m not going to go down the Hleb route of writing him off just yet, as we’ve all seen with Alex just what is possible with a little bit of luck and confidence. But Rosicky is frustrating to say the least. He lacks responsibility for me. He should’ve been taking the game by the scruff yesterday, probing and creating in the absence of Fab and Hleb, running at defenders and giving them something to think about. But he was pretty anonymous, his goal coming when the game was already done. His constant injury problems must also be a concern for Arsene, but I think he’ll be given until the end of next season to show us what he’s really made of. There’s an exciting and dangerous footballer beneath those elfin features, I’m sure of it, but I really wish he’d start to show it sooner rather than later.
As for the rest of the chaps, well, they just didn’t turn up really did they? It was as if they were resigned to defeat, or at best a draw, before we even kicked off. The players, in their minds, have become reliant on the missing midfielders, and probably feel like they’re in trouble without them. Like when you used to play Sunday League football, and you turned up in the snow and realised that the star striker hadn’t bothered coming because he was hungover – the game was lost before you’d even kicked a ball in anger. It’s a hugely different standard of football, but a footballer’s mentality remains the same. Kolo had a real shocker, no need to concede the penalty, stray balls all game and positionally poor – and don’t get me started on his ingenious free-kick routines! Gilberto needs games, but, unfortunately, you have to hope at the moment that he doesn’t get them (meaning the return of Cesc/Flam), Diarra just has too much to do to cover Gilbert’s slow legs, and the defence weren’t the best. Almunia showed some great handling once again, and I really think he’s proved that he can handle the pressure. Not the best ‘keeper in the world, but he’s certainly more reliable than I would’ve ever thought he’d be.
So a poor defeat, but the chance to make it ancient history by beating the Chavs on Sunday. If we get some key men back, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t. I’ve said all along that I’d be over the moon if we were still within 6 points of the leaders by Xmas – we’re ahead of schedule.