Arsene’s got 99 problems but Liverpool ain’t one
- Gunners’ late concession of 2 goals in the help of Aaron Ramsey and Luis Suarez gives them only the credit of one point from two games.
- The eventual sale of Cesc Fabregas and the potential it being Nasri too, as well as injuries to the back line sees this as a terrible time for Arsene.
I only caught the last fifteen minutes of the game between Arsenal and Liverpool, after waking up late. Seeing the game having zipped through the first three-quarters of it, I was a little frustrated that I didn’t get up in time to watch the game itself. Then I had realised that firstly it was raining outside and second no goals had been scored – that in itself calmed me down that this wasn’t going to be a terrible day after all.
But trying to indulge myself into what was left of the 0-0 and seeing a surge forward from Thomas Vermaelen only see his shot go marginally wide of Reina’s goal, it was to be the goal that would (should I say it?) sum up the entire month for Arsenal, and Wenger too. The Reds were onto the counter-attack and had both Suarez and Raul Meireles getting forward. A one-two pass was tried between the Portuguese and the Uruguayan but was quelled by the Arsenal defender in Ignasi Miquel, #49; only for it to hit off the chest of Aaron Ramsey and lob dumbfounded goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. A terrible way to concede, especially at the death of the game. The Arsenal fans inside the stadium had seemingly had enough, as there seemed to be less people at the time of the goal than there were before it. It was no matter for the away support as the rings of “You’ll never walk alone” echoed around a ghostly Emirates Stadium, and into the soaked ears of Arsene Wenger, alongside his backroom staff.
Then along came the second goal, which was much better and far more deserved than the first. A great piece of play by the trio in Lucas, Raul Meireles and Suarez to once again beat the young and weary Arsenal back four for a second, as well as wrap up what I heard to be an interesting game in terms of events. An injury to Laurent Koscielny inside the first fifteen minutes of the game meant that Arsenal were forced to make a substitution, and bring on young Spaniard San Miquel to replace him. Then, it was the matter of Emmanuel Frimpong getting himself sent off for a second yellow and bringing the Gunners down to ten men. Wenger tried to compensate for that loss with Henri Lansbury, followed by Theo Walcott coming off for Nicklas Bendtner. Samir Nasri started, so I would believe a hostile reception was given to the Frenchman in the light of his potential move to the Etihad Stadium. That, I would believe, would have been sounded with the boos and jeers of 60,090 spectators inside the Emirates as the game commenced.
An Arsenal that looked de-motivated, under-strengthened and very much lacking in a flow of creativity, not to say that Fabregas was why they lost the game but even with the suspension to Gervinho on his debut last week against Newcastle, Liverpool looked the stronger – on paper and on the pitch towards the last ten or twenty. With that all down on paper, the return tie of Udinese in the UEFA Champions League play-offs and the trip to Manchester United leaves Arsene in a swarm of problems to deal with. Injuries, suspensions, the fans’ calls on signings and dealing with the sale of another important player doesn’t make for good reading, but Jay-Z’s song in “99 Problems” would fit well with this time.
Koscielny now the seventh player on the injury list
And now alongside Swiss centre half Johan Djourou. According to PhysioRoom.com, Arsenal sit third in the injury table and behind rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United coincidentally – who hold seven and eight injuries to their players respectively. The recent injuries to Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand in United’s 2-1 win over West Brom on Saturday, compounded with more stress in the backline to Patrice Evra and Rafael, means that there is a high possibility that Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans will have to cover the United back four for the next two games in at Old Trafford. The Red Devils play host to Spurs on Monday, whilst doing the same for the travelling Gunners six days later and after their return from Italy in deciding the fate of their chances in Europe over the course of the season.
With Thomas Vermaelen surviving the crisis, Wenger has few options to choose from. Gibbs, Rosicky, Wilshere and now Koscielny will most likely be unavailable for the trip to Old Trafford next Saturday and so will Gervinho. That leaves the main attacking options in Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin to supply the flanks and Robin van Persie to lead the line in the attack. But, if you read my first article, you will find out how Arshavin could fit the bill as an alternative (temporarily) to the departed Cesc Fabregas. In spite of Nasri’s desire to move, Wenger has been adamant before that he will be played and that he will still be a part of the team – regardless. So, with all of that information and leaving out the European tie at Stadio Friuli in a few days, the formation against Manchester United will probably look like this:
Please bear in mind that I am temporarily without Adobe PhotoShop and will be using www.this11.com – a free website where people can sign up for a free account, make and post tactics, as well as comment on others. Please contact me if you are unable to see the image, and I will fix it. And I understand that this will be subject to constructive criticism, but feel free to add your own comments and feelings on what this could be like. Both teams are weakened without their main players on the pitch to become big game changers, but nevertheless curtail strong sides. Sir Alex will be looking to a new and younger back four in Fabio, Jones, Evans and Smalling instead of the usual Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand and Rafael. The same defence that eventually materialised later last week and, despite the concession of a Shane Long goal, still went through to win 2-1.
As for Arsenal, Wenger is without Djourou, Koscielny and Gibbs, so Sebastian Squillaci will be most likely in-line for a chance to make his first appearance this season in a Gunners’ shirt and Carl Jenkinson to re-appear on the team sheet. A worrying sight for the majority of Arsenal fans since they are no longer with the marauding full back in Gael Clichy to be so assertive in going forward, but must now rely on the Finnish-Englishman to hold his own until either Kieran Gibbs returns from his lay-off or Arsenal are in the market again whilst there are only eleven days of the transfer window left. But, there seems to already be an unlikelihood that he (Arsene Wenger) will force his own hand into what will be a tumultuous week and a bit of August left whilst he contends with the need of surviving a possible onslaught in Italy and an important match in Manchester.
Moving into the midfield; I have just realised that I made the mistake of including Alex Song into Arsenal’s midfield since he is currently serving a three-match suspension for his actions last week in the heat of the Newcastle game, so that also leaves question marks into who will partner Ramsey in the centre, against the possible duo of Anderson and Michael Carrick. Thomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere will not be on the team sheet, due to injury, so that leaves the likes of Henri Lansbury, or the shift of Samir Nasri to the centre to compensate. That then leaves a possible debut for new signing for Alex Oxlade Chamberlain? Or Nicklas Bendtner starting out wide – it’s a difficult selection, with all the suspensions, injuries and lack of options.
The transfer window and signings
Over the course of the summer, Arsenal were heavily linked in the possible moves of Everton’s Phil Jagielka, Bolton’s Mahamadou Sakho and even Valencia winger Juan Mata to bolster the squad ahead of the new campaign. So far, £24.5million has been spent and just over £8million profited. None of them were Jagielka, Cahill, Sakho or Mata. In fact, Mata has reportedly signed for Chelsea but that is subject to a medical and personal terms to be decided between the Blues and los Che. But some have argued that there is little need in buying a centre half when that was one of the strongest parts of Arsenal’s team last year. Arsenal held the fourth strongest defence in the league with 43 goals conceded, with Koscielny, Sagna, Clichy and Squillaci attaining a wealth of appearances which totals up to 162 in all. Vermaelen did not make that list due to a long-term Achilles injury suffered in August against Blackburn Rovers and would make him unavailable for selection until March the following year. That left him with just 5 appearances to his name.
But there is no question that signings have to be made. A left back seems necessary as the compilation of Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson all season doesn’t seem very logical. And then, the hole left in the attacking midfield slot left by Cesc Fabregas opens up a different can of worms in itself. Does Arsene:
- Replace him with a different player entirely? Or does he…
- Build a squad around him, and change formations back to the 4-3-3 that he regularly played the season before, or even the 4-4-2 before that?
He himself knows that the current squad cannot go through the whole season unscathed and have the fans not calling on him to buy someone (whilst others call for his head) but also had the entire pre-season to have signed more than just two players. Granted Gervinho was a good signing and is yet to prove that he can do more good than bad, but Alex Chamberlain maybe could’ve come at a later date, and certainly for far less than £10.5million. Notwithstanding that, it’s still a crisis and one that can be dealt with in eleven days’ time before the window shuts tight. That would mean Arsenal cannot invest until next year and trudge through half season in the hopes of not slipping into a slump of more injuries, more suspensions, angry players and fans, and more importantly, more than 100 problems.
A demoralised Arsenal support …
There is no doubt that there is a sense of depression and waking up to harsh realism from the fans that gather to the Emirates every home game, and travel to the away games. That particularly showed in today’s match versus Liverpool. As the match wore on, the seats were starting to show more of the Arsenal emblem than it was to be the fans themselves battling in the war of the loudest in terms of songs to cheer on their own teams. It’s clearly not a good sign and that was belted in hard when the final whistle was blown and the entire stadium rang out boos to Arsenal and Lady Luck sitting firmly on the shoulder of Kenny Dalglish.
The Arsenal vs. Liverpool game was meant to be quite an exciting game as it has proven to be in the past. Before this match, Liverpool had never won at the Emirates Stadium. Last year, the concession of a late penalty by both teams only just gave more ecstasy and possible heart attacks, whilst a couple years ago, Andrey Arshavin scored 4 goals in a thriller. Fast forward into the first game of the season, and Joe Cole is sent off on his debut for Liverpool whilst Reina concedes a hash of a goal. This game? Dreary, dull and not for the Arsenal support to feel happy about.
On Twitter, some players in the forms of Jack Wilshere, Sanchez Watt and Emmanuel Frimpong cried out for the support to be in full blast the following day, but that had only fallen on deaf ears. Strangely enough, Wilshere didn’t start because of his injury, Sanchez Watt wasn’t even considered and Emmanuel Frimpong’s match was cut short due to being in the referee’s book twice and earning him an early shower, joining the rest of the team on the bench. What is to become of Arsenal’s trip to Italy? A small section of Arsenal fans will probably make their way to Udine for the clash in the hopes of holding out the 1-0 lead that was courtesy of their own in Theo Walcott, but also to possibly be the shining light in what has will be the last full week in August, and the shortening days before AW (Arsene Wenger) can invest. So overall there is knowledge that the time is ticking, fans are watching and the ink is still wet.
And finally, Samir Nasri
Probably the 99th problem in this collection of issues. If it’s not this month, it will be next year, or at least in four month’s time. Samir Nasri, who is the latest player to be walking out of the door this year will have most likely left a bitter taste in the mouth of most people at the Emirates. The temptations of a move to Manchester City has gotten the better and denounced him of being a fan favourite. Reports are coming in that the move has broken down and could be delayed until January, but at the moment, Nasri could be going in the same footsteps as former team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor. Remember him? During the time of Mark Hughes’ two-year spell at the Eastlands, City were in the early stages of their newfound investment, to which Hughes was given the ability to sign almost anyone he laid eyes on. In this, he signed three players that will particularly stand out at his time in Manchester – Jo, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz. All three of them have made little marks or inscriptions, but rather shoved into the reserves while looking on and seeing the new and improved side that has been put in by current boss Roberto Mancini.
Emmanuel Adebayor left on poor terms and is now seen as ‘public enemy #1’ every time that he walks into north London. He controversially celebrated a goal in a match against the Gunners a year back and has been instilled in people’s minds ever since. This isn’t dissimilar from Nasri. In spite of scoring some absolutely wonderful goals during his time, it has been washed away. Or at least could be when City and the Gunners meet on a later date. There is no real sense of empathy from Arsenal fans that I have seen, nor have they compiled that ‘he will always be a legend’ (not to say that he is by any stretch of the imagination) and rather that, replacing the ‘s’ in his name with a dollar sign. Na$ri. Bitter? Perhaps.
But then AW has that problem. Two players gone inside the space of two weeks would not make for good reading and nor would it be good for the follow-up of games that they have ahead of them. More players would have to step up, more injuries could be caused due to the lack of breaks and the on-rush of appearances and the loss in a player that would usually dazzle the left or right flank with his quick feet, close-control dribbling and cheekiness to twist and turn, jerk in and out of the full backs to score some completely devastating goals. Examples?
That would have include his goal in 2008 against Manchester United, but it has seemingly disappeared into the compilations of him on Youtube. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful goal and it deserves credit. So do the other two goals that I have just linked.
So what is the answer to all of these problems?
- Sign a few players before the transfer window closes.
- Get back to the winning ways that were of 2010/11.
- Play Nasri in the matches ahead should his transfer to Manchester City be called off, and see if that will bring a positive effect on things.
- Not to sack Wenger.
And we will see what happens.