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Ratings v Blackburn Rovers

1.Manuel ALMUNIA- Had a solid game with a soporific defence ahead of him, claimed several crosses, which will be important given the lack of aerial authority in defence. Did have one shaky moment when he chose to leave his goal line only to be beaten to the ball by Jason Roberts. 7

3.Bacary SAGNA- Looked to be Arsenal's only solid defender, winning his aerial battles and alleviating pressure with a number of crucial challenges. Offered a constant outlet going forward. Howver, his Terryesque decision to return the ball to the Rovers corner flag was a bitof a sickener though. Cut that out boys, leave the despicable sportsmanship to the England captain, eh?7

4.Francesc FABREGAS- Played economically given his exploits for Spain, but was also wasted as he constantly had to fill in for Denilson who is not disciplined enough to play the defensive role. However, as ever, immaculate in possession. For a snapshot of what he gives this side, watch all 27 passes that preceded the second goal. 7

5.Kolo TOURE- Could not handle Santa Cruz's height in the first half in the same way that Gallas could not handle Roberts' strength. Frequently exposed by Arsenal's lack of a midfield shield and did not have the wherewithal to organise his defence into a more disciplined unit. 6

10.William GALLAS- See above, Roberts' brute strength caused him problems he did not seem able or willing to handle in the first period. Looked completely apathetic to what was happening in the first half, he simply must improve. 5

11.Robin van PERSIE- Looks a much more involved and lively figure than he did in the first three games this season. Linked up play between the midfield and strikers and he and I commented in pre season that he and Adebayor seemed to be using Walcott as a third striker with theirlink up play. So it was again today with all three prominently involved in all of the goals. Excellent goal, unselfish team play and fit. This is the van Persie we all want to see. 8.5

14.Theo WALCOTT- Riding the crest of his midweek wave, Walcott looked exuberant, spinning players with his back to goal, riding challenges, facing defenders up and running at them, his footwork looked better. An impressive peformance, his cameo for van Persie's goal a highlight. However, his real test will be away from home in a much tighter and more physical match. His footballing balls may well be dropping as he looks a bit hungrier and less tentative. 8

15.DENILSON- Whilst his passing looked to be back on radar, the fact is that his defensive play was poor. He fouled frequently as he was so far out of position that he had to chase back and lunge into tackles from behind, often AWOL when the ball was cleared by the defence. I feel for him because it's not his game, but it is Alex Song's and now he must play alongside Cesc. 5

22.Gael CLICHY- Unusually poor performance from Clichy, Emerton was allowed to get the better of him in the first half on a few occasions, he also did not burst forward with his usual impunity. However, I'm hearing that he is a doubt for Wednesday which suggests injury may have been responisble for his anomalous performance. 6

25.Emmanuel ADEBAYOR- You can't argue with a forward that scores a 'perfect' hat trick. Always offered an outlet and used his strength to create space for Walcott on the flank. But Ade, please learn the offside law! 8

27.Emmanuel EBOUE- In keeping with his impressive start to the season, he had another excellent game. Offering protection to Sagna and using his fleet of foot to retain possession and his pace to burst forward at every opportunity. It looks as though he may actually be a decent winger afterall. 7.5


17.Alexandre Song Billong- Looked neat and tidy when he was on, tough in the tackle, good on the ball. He has to start on Wednesday. 7

16.Aaron Ramsey- Was given a chance to play in a side in the midsts of Wengerball and helped himself to an assist for Adebayor's third. 7

19.Jack Wilshere- Made some history but had little time to impress. Looked tidy on the ball when he had it, but Blackburn were hardly snapping at our heels by this stage. 7

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday September 14 2008

Time: 1:00PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Agree with you about Ade. He wasn't pleased when RvP smashed one into the side netting when he was all alone in open space ..... but he was in an offside position! van Persie, if he can go a whole season without injury, can propel us to another title challenge!!
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14/09/2008 13:29:00

Denilson won the ball back as many times as the other 3 starting midfielders combined. Song in the 30 minutes or so he was on didn't manage one single ball winning tackle. Denilson did concede 4 fouls though so maybe has to improve his timing a little but he clearly wasn't neglecting his defensive responsibilities entirely. I can understand those that believe defensive midfielders only come in one size but does Denilson's performance warrant the lowest rating of anyone in the team?
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14/09/2008 13:40:00

Why do people keep criticising Denilson? I thought he was effective yesterday anyway
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14/09/2008 13:54:00

I'd be interested to know how many of those tackles were won in Arsenal's half, I'd be willing to bet around 80% of them, because none of them were crucial defensive tackles. That's why he committed more fouls, because he was always running backwards to catch up with play. I don't know where the stat about Song came from, but I remember him tackling Steven Reid around thirty five yeards from goal, I also remember explicitly him robbing Treacy of the ball, though that was an aerial ball. I'm willing to bet money Cesc spent more time behind the ball when Blackburn had it than Denilson did. Fact is, Denilson was playing DM and he didn't defend well, in fact, he didn't defend at all.
Little Dutch
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14/09/2008 14:02:00

*80% of them weren't won in Arsenal's defensive half.
Little Dutch
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14/09/2008 14:02:00

I would start Song because I think he is a better defensive midfielder but Denilson was nowhere near a five. 7/8 for me.
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14/09/2008 14:32:00

Fact is he didn't play his role and we were exposed defensively as a result. It was a poor defensive performance overall, hence the defensive players were marked accordingly.
Little Dutch
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14/09/2008 14:46:00

I agree with most apart from Gallas and Denilson, when a team wins 4-0 and we didnt concede a single goal, then the lowest rating has to be a 6?? I thought Adebayor looked great but am getting more and more annoyed that he moans after every single player that has a shot on goal instead of passing to him, and the majority of time he is probably offside!!
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14/09/2008 14:49:00

Not necessarily, it is possible for inidviduals to underperform in a big victory. I recall us defending astonishingly badly in a 5-1 win at Maine Road in 2003. Forunately, we were 4-0 up before Citeh mounted an attack. The fact that we didn't concede was more by luck than judgement.
Little Dutch
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14/09/2008 15:13:00

The stats are from Actim. But irrespective of the stats how can we be sure that Denilson wasn't doing what was asked of him? Maybe it was an agreed strategy to let Cesc hold more than you would expect. Maybe doing the unexpected is quite a useful tactic. Wenger defined Eboues purpose in right midfield as primarily for defensive midfield balance in the same way that Parlour played the role. Yet we can rate Eboue highly for his offensive performance though that isn't his primary role. Shouldn't Denilson and Eboue be judged by the same yardstick?
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14/09/2008 16:01:00

If it was asked of Fabregas then it's perhaos strange that he only started doing it after forty minutes, prior to that neither of them were doing it. Cesc kept looking round somehwta confused, he clearly wasn't comfortable and wasn't supposed to be doing it. Yes, Eboue should be judged by his overall contribution to the team, just as Denilson has been, the fact is he didn't play his position at all well. Same reason I think Bridge is a terrible left back and that I didn't particularly rate Silvinho, both fine going forward but couldn't defend which was their primary purpose. Eboue had a fine all round game yesterday, defensively and offensively. Denilson was out of position and not defending and was sound forwards, not brilliant but o.k.
Little Dutch
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14/09/2008 16:13:00

I think Wenger ask Denilson and Fabregas to share the defensive and attacking duties. Thats why you see that Fabregas sometimes defending and Denilson sometimes contribute on attacking. He made a great cross for Adebayor to score and that is a good contribution for me. Even flamoney venture forward to attack occasionally and give away fouls at the our area.
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14/09/2008 16:14:00

I'm not sure why Denilson gets such a rough ride - 4 assists and 1 goal so far suggests he must be doing something right. But, some people clearly have a different view of the DM role to Wenger's. He sees Cesc/Denilson sharing the defending and forward play. Maybe their understanding needs more work as they have only played a couple of games together, but it will come. When Diaby returns he will play a similar role with Cesc or Denilson. Wenger does not seem to want a Gilberto style invisible wall any longer. He wants highly mobile, technical players who can play a more versatile game, which keeps the opposition guessing. The opposition cannot focus on just Cesc because his CM partner will fill in. In fact in the Arsenal magazine, Wenger states that Cesc needs to improve his defending in order to become a more complete player. And did you know that Cesc started out as a DM?
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14/09/2008 17:10:00

They weren't swapping yesterday, there was nobody playing defensively at all until B'burn had missed three clear cut chances and Cesc decided to do it for a bit. If that is the case, it will have to improve 50 fold, I dread to think what United and Chelsea would have done to us yesterday.
Little Dutch
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14/09/2008 17:15:00

Denilson contributed an assist, thus I think he deserves higher rating solely on that. Collectively, our defence was horrible. We would have been punished had we played against better finisher. We particularly had problem when defending crosses from deep; in those situations when our fullbacks were tracking back in anticipation of further advancement of the opponent's wingers and when our CD had to decide whether to close down on the marauding forwards or to take position in the penalty box with the back facing the the GK an apply zonal marking. I had mentioned before, effective DM contribute in a very subtle manner. In the afromentioned situation, a good DM would have relieved some pressure either from the full backs or the CD. Our last line of defence has to cover so much ground and is always exposed in compromised positions. This glaring weakness must be rectified.
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14/09/2008 17:18:00

I also reckon Denilson deserved a 7. I wasn't too convinced by his performances in the first 3 games, but he seems to be steadily improving. It seemed to me also that both him and Cesc were sharing defensive and attacking responsibilities. Our performance was far from perfect yesterday but this new strategy looks promising. It's making our attacking play less predictable, which can only be a good thing.
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14/09/2008 19:24:00

That is why Song should play. better than most defensive midfielders in the Prem.
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14/09/2008 20:08:00

I give a 1 out of 10 to Alan Hansen, and the last paragraph in this piece sums it all up:,17033,8742_4143578,00.html
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14/09/2008 20:59:00

It's always difficult to discuss individual players performance when you have only seen highlights of the game and what others have told you. Having now watched the whole match myself on Arsenal TV I really don't see that Denilson's performance was anything like as poor as a 5. On the contrary I think he and Cesc worked well as a pair with Denilson holding as Cesc went forward and vice versa. I don't think he inhibited Cesc in any way and generally his positioning was sound. It's early in the season still and maybe it would be wiser to judge over more games but on this performance given a choice between Flamini and Denilson I'd opt for the greater ability, creativity and intelligence of Denilson. Like any young player he has to improve aspects of his game but at the moment he seems more than worth his place. As long as he is fit I can't see Wenger dropping him just yet.
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14/09/2008 21:57:00

I also don't think Denilson deserved a 5, I thought it's more like 6 or 6.5. Not least because I don't know what Arsene's brief to him/Cesc was, maybe he told both boys to share both attacking and defensive duties? I don't know. It's true that Denilson's sometimes playing in front of Cesc and that's not the 'D'M that I personally would've liked to see. But overall he contributed well to the game. Although I don't agree, the Independent named him the MotM:
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15/09/2008 00:24:00

Almunia seems to have stepped up this season. Made a fantastic save near the end and appears to be a lot more authorative despite the trembles in front. Perhaps having the narky Lehmann nowhere near the dressingroom has allowed him to feel more established. Kolo deserves an extra point for getting his noggin on that goal bound shot when the game was still up for grabs
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15/09/2008 02:02:00

i quite like song...during the time that he was on, he looks like a guy that is intelligent and know what he was doing, looks more confident and comfortable..i think he should start ahead of denilson on wednesday, to see how he can cope as a DM, who knows, maybe wenger is just putting him down by saying he cant play as a DM so that he can work harder and proof the professor wrong.
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15/09/2008 08:07:00

There was absolutely no cover for the defence, the point Joe made is spot on. When Rovers came forward our centre backs and full backs were stretched and that was due largely to the absence of a holding midfielder, a role that is so crucial to us given the way we play. I don't believe for a second that Cesc and Denilson were told to share the role, if they were, neither of them did it well. Cesc's body language was perplexed and after Rovers had created three or four clear cut chances, he dropped back with a bemused look on his face and kept beckoning Denilson to come back, which he didn't. Denilson may have been o.k. with the ball, but he didn't defend and that was his role in the team. Even when Rovers were creating a fair few chances, he still didn't come back and defend. It's a kamikaze way of playing and it cannot continue, because better teams will punish us severely. If the game had been at Old Trafford, we might have been looking at another 4-0 reverse.
Little Dutch
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15/09/2008 09:12:00

Should the heading of this thread not have read "Little Dutch's Ratings - not up for debate" Sorry mate, I know its all about opinions and thank god we all have our own opinions and are not like Spurs or Man U supporters who can see no bad performances ever in their teams. But a small word of advice, when about a dozen people who we respect and who have proved time and again their knowledge disagree with you... maybe, just maybe its time to re-evaluate. Don't go down the stuborn road of the puple-nosed infalible one!!!!!
Bradys Chips
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15/09/2008 09:14:00

I don't have any problem with people disagreeing, that's why I've published the thread. I'm just putting across my point, as other people are theirs. Nobody appears to have a problem with that, least of all me. I'm just trying to justify why I marked as I did based on what I saw at the game. That's the point isn't it? It would be a very boring site if everyone just acquiesced to the viewpoints of others at the first sign of disagreement. As William Blake once said, "it is by universal misunderstanding that we all agree, if everybody actually listened to one another, there's no chance we'd agree on anything."
Little Dutch
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15/09/2008 12:19:00

Hehe Bradys Chips LD has his right to remain unconvinced of anyone's opinion, so can anyone else remain unconvinced of his. The editor doesn't erase stuff because of people's opinions so everyone can say whatever they think is right. Hehe I still think let's give Denilson some time to grow into the DM role for now, but I'd be just as happy if Arsene gives Song a chance.
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15/09/2008 12:35:00

Yeah it's nice to have options for the DM role and we have quite a few options. I rate Song highly as both a CB and DM but i think we need to give Denilson a fair chance before replacing him. We won't play with the same tactics against every team so I don't think he would have been as adventurous against Man U or Chelsea.
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15/09/2008 17:37:00

Of course LD is entitled to his opinion. In my experience it's always one worth listening to and always cogently made. I agree with his opinions most of the time and he may well be right on this one. It wouldn't be the first time. But I just don't see that Denilson wasn't doing his job. For that matter I don't see that our defense were under any real pressure. There were a few harum-scarum moments but you'll get them in most away games. Blackburn didn't threaten us that often and most of the chances they had came from wide positions. I really don't think the defensive performance would have been any better had Gilberto or Flamini played instead of Denilson and we might well have struggled to create as many chances for ourselves.
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15/09/2008 18:14:00

Looks like Theo Walcott had another good game; you must be pleased with his form.
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22/10/2008 14:52:00


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