Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Already the lost season for Arsenal?

More injury news out of the Emirates - Cesc is out for 3 weeks due to an injury picked up over the weekend. He will join Walcott, Van Persie and Bendtner on the injury list. Add to this the fact Song will miss the next match, Diaby is not 100% and Nasri is coming off an injury and you might have to say that Arsenal might find themselves out of the title race before we even start using the yellow Nike soccer ball...I realize that the Gunners are only 4 points back from league leaders Chelsea. However there looms a large fixture against the Blues at Stamford Bridge, if Arsenal drop that match and go 7 back it might be lights out...already.

Why? First the injuries are a bit disconcerting. I realize that teams need to deal with this during the season but the injury bug has struck the forwards and offensive players heavily. Couple this with the fact Arshavin has seemingly lost his goal scoring touch (at least in the league...no counting FA Cup games) and you might have a situation that could prove too difficult to over come. Second, the inability of Wenger to sign a true #1 keeper means that the Gunners cannot hope to steal any games on the back of their keeper. Ironic that Given has recently come out stating he wants a transfer once the winter window re-opens so he can get 1st team time...maybe he should have thought about this when Fulham and Arsenal were linked to his services over the summer.

Teams need to deal with adversity, not doubt. However I do not see Arsenal with a strong enough base to fight through some of the adversity - namely having a keeper that can win a game or 2 for your club. It is unfortunate because I fear that we have seen the last of Cesc in an Arsenal kit. Wenger will need to find his midfield pillar to replace Cesc and that is not something easily accomplished.

9 comments:

philip said...

Why does Arsenal always suffer from alot of injuries every year now. This can't just be bad luck something is going on.

I still think they are in good shape though. They are still undefeated and if they can stay that way after the Chelsea match, which I know will be very hard. Then they will be good contenders

GFC said...

Agree the Chelsea game is going to be pivotal. If they can come out of that with a point and stay withing striking distance of the Blues I think Arsenal have an outside shot at the title.

With regards to injuries, not sure. I think it might be the types of players Wenger has recruited, technically gifted but not the sturdiest lads.

Richard said...

Frog, I find your footballing brain among the most informed in cyberspace, but that's an overly pessimistic assessment of the Arsenal in my view. The injuries, particularly to Cesc and Diaby, of course don't help. But this is a stronger, deeper and more experienced squad (including Almunia, at least so far) than we've had in a few years. The additions of Koscielny, Squillaci and Chamakh give us much we missed last year (Although Arshavin is proving too, too mercurial and needs a good spell on the bench so that he can rethink his role). Neither Chelsea nor Man U, still our main and possibly only challengers, can say that.

The season's five games in, and who have Chelsea played of any consequence? You could make a strong argument that the Blues' quintet of adversaries so far will rank 16 through 20 come May. Granted they've scored in bunches and conceded few, but they've got tougher matches on the way. In fact, it's not inconceivable the Gunners could find themselves one point back by Saturday evening. And Chelsea, too, are starting to feel the pain of injuries. Yes, they've got loads of talent, but the Gunners might just have the deeper squad this year, and one fully capable of taking the title, even if they find themselves seven points back in two weeks, all of seven games into a long season.

GFC said...

@Richard, flattery will get you....everywhere! Maybe I am being too pessimistic with regards to Arsenal this season. But I fear I see the same problems that have haunted the Gunners the past few seasons - questionable goalkeeping and untimely injuries. Let's face it, right now if Chamakh goes down Arsenal is in real trouble offensively. I have no faith in Bendtner coming back and being healthy for an extended period of time...and same for Van Persie.

I think this is an indication of the players Wenger loves to recruit - highly technical players...aka not big bruising tanks. Granted Squillaci might be more along those lines. But not enough of that style of player for the midfield, where I think there remains a gaping hole especially since Gilberto, Flamini and Vieira all left the Emirates. I fear that once the weather turns and Arsenal is playing on heavy pitches where the beautiful passing no longer works, the lack of more physical players who can both play that way and avoid injury will come back and haunt the Gunners.

As for Almunia, he is more veteran now, but not any better. I think he remains a very strong...#2 type keeper.

With regards to Chelsea, completely agree that they have played some cream puffs, but you play who is on the calendar and hope to get results. Which they have been able to do in spades. And we all know that if they need a player at the break...they will have the means to get said player. Not sure I can say the same about Arsenal.

Chelsea have a tough match this weekend against MCFC and it will be interesting to see how they head into the Arsenal game with regards to table position.

Overly pessimistic...maybe. I hope I am wrong!

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...

Guy,

As usual, you make a nuanced argument. But I still think the Gunners are stronger than they've been in a few years. Going back to front ...

Much of a keeper's ability depends on attitude, and I think Almunia has, maybe counterintuitively given all the talk over the summer, grown in confidence. Our back four is stronger, what with two solid additions and now also with Gibbs an option. And while I agree that an Essien or a Mikel or a Diarra might provide a missing link, I think we've got quality and depth otherwise, if not to compensate, then to ask other sorts of questions. I'm thinking particularly of Wilshere and Diaby (and I personally would like to see Eboue get more time and thrive). And while losing Chamakh right now would hurt, instead of having only Arshavin, AW has got Vela to consider.

In my estimation, that all adds up to at least a few points worth of improvement, more, I think, than either Chelsea or United can count on, particularly if either team loses one or a couple of key players to injury.

But let me hedge by saying that maybe I'm being overly optimistic ...

GFC said...

Richard, after this weekend what do you think with regards to Almunia? Confidence or not his talent cannot be faked. To me he is truly a number 2, play him every 5th or 7th game and he is fine. Play him every game and he will show his strips.

I agree with your assessment that Arsenal has gained some points is true...had they also upgraded the keeper...having not done that negates any more points they might have gained.

Oh well

Richard said...

It seems such a fine line between a good keeper and a great one. Maybe it's because he's the Gunners' #1 that I want to believe Almunia can squeeze into that upper echelon after all.

So, although the great ones by definition are very few, I'm not sure even Schwarzer or Hart or Given or Van der Sar would have done any better behind that screwy defense Saturday. (I didn't see WBA's second goal, but read Almunia let it slip through his gloves.) But he's what we've likely got for at least another three months, so I'll wish him well. This is a non-answer to your question, I know, but maybe I'm too fond of Wenger to doubt him yet. I'd rather rip into the rest of the squad, particularly Diaby and Eboue, for a sleepwalk in the park from the first whistle. I'll dare hope for a better performance -- and result -- on Sunday ...

GFC said...

I completely agree, you cannot overlook the fact some of the outfield players did not show up against WBA. But end of the day, when a keeper gives up goals it falls on their shoulders...just part of the game. While I agree that the names you mentioned will not make anyone think of Dino Zoff or Yashin, they are a level above Almunia.

This weekend's game will be very telling as to if Arsenal can challenge for the title.

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