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Stoke City 3 Arsenal 1

Getting home at 03.00 is not the brightest idea when one has to leave home again at 05.30. So after a long, cold shower, designed to shake away beer induced cobwebs, I mournfully left my untroubled bed, looking over my shoulder at it like a man sent to war saying a tearful goodbye to his sweetheart. Too early even for the incompetents of London Underground, it was to be a long bus journey to Angel, spent largely fighting manfully to stay awake and not miss my stop. Thankfully, London transport will always provide you a host of chattering nutters in the early hours of the morning, whose presence fills you with just enough anxiety to prevent you from falling asleep and waking up in Walthamstow. Nobody wants to wake up in Walthamstow.

F.A. Cup away fixtures are always subject to extra allocations and Arsenal always sell them out easily, which adds to the atmosphere in comparison with a humdrum league encounter. Many are lured by the exciting one off nature of a Cup tie, others see the extra allocation and subsequently simple nature of getting a tickets a good way of boosting their away credits. (At Arsenal, tickets for Cup Finals are distributed to the season ticket holders with the most away credits. One or two away credits will virtually guarantee you a ticket). With a 5,000 throng seated in the South Stand and returning legend Sol Campbell back in the ranks, the spirits were high and the noise resplendent. Stoke on the other hand had left swathes of tickets unsold. I detect that attendances are lower in the F.A. Cup from teams outside of the top 4 cartel, possibly a reflection on how uncompetitive league has become until this year. With ourselves Liverpool, United and Everton out and Spurs facing a tricky replay at Elland Road; it will be interesting to see if that trend continues in the next round. Speaking of continuing trends, the game offered its first significant moment after 70 seconds, as Arsenal continued the trend of coming a cropper to a Rory Delap long throw. Stoke won the throw early on, Campbell barked instructions and positioned his team mates. There was a difference in approach to last year, each Arsenal defender man marking on this occasion, as opposed to the zonal marking deployed at the Britannia last season. In fairness, that approach worked well for the rest of the match, but Arsenal were caught cold when Delap`s low, flat trajectory sailed towards Fabianski, but Ricardo Fuller stole in unmarked to beat him to the ball and nudge it into the net.

Arsenal were shell shocked and took a while to establish a grip on the game. But for an excellent interception from Sol Campbell from Fuller`s cut back, Mamady Sidibe might well have doubled the Potters` advantage. The away side gradually re-established a semblance of composure, Walcott played a looped ball into Carlos Vela, but Danny Higginbotham nicked in with a last ditch tackle. The referee gave a goal kick. I seriously wonder if the referee or his accompanying linesmen had any idea of the rules governing corners and goal kicks, as they seemed to get simple calls in that respect horrendously wrong on at least three occasions. Stoke offered occasional threat from set pieces and throw ins, but Arsenal worked their way back into the game, despite having a clear lack of presence upfront, with Jay Emmanuel Thomas looking a long way off the pace and Walcott cutting a disinterested figure. But when Arsenal`s equaliser came, it was fittingly scrappy for a contest lacking in technical quality. Glen Whelan blocked Carlos Vela`s run from the edge of the area and Arsenal had a free kick on the corner of the eighteen yard box. For all the world it looked as though Cesc would shoot, but he slyly teed up Denilson in a central position and his low shot took a deflection as it ruffled the bottom corner of the net. At the conclusion of the half, it was Arsenal`s turn to threaten Stoke with a flurry of set pieces, but none came to fruition. Half time with the scores level was just about fair given the contest. Stoke had begun brightly, Arsenal have now gone behind in all but one of their games in 2010. With the clutch of four fixtures we have coming up; repetition of that particular trend will be incredibly costly.

From the event of the equaliser, I was incredibly confident we would go on to win the game, particularly with the likes of Rosicky, Eduardo, Arshavin and Ramsey on the bench. However, Stoke took the game by the scruff of the neck and looked the stronger, more dangerous side in the second half. Glen Whelan`s out swinging corner finding Ricardo Fuller in the area, but Fabianski beat away his effort with an impressive instinct save. Fabregas had a wicked 25 yard drive deflect just over the bar, but Arsenal lacked the guile upfront to make their possession count. Dean Whitehead found space between Arsenal`s midfield and defence and played a pass into Ricardo Fuller, who used the space that had opened up in front of him and smashed the ball over the bar when an altruistic streak would have seen him looking for his colleague Delap, who was onside, unmarked and in on goal. Arsenal were struggling to create any significant openings at the other end, Jay Emmanuel Thomas` guided header put Vela through, but the angle was against him and the ball would not settle, causing him to lash his volley across goal. In their desire to avoid a replay, Arsenal were pushing on and Stoke were cleverly adopting the counter attack. Sidibe`s low right wing cross looked destined to find Etherington on the back post but Francis Coquelin stretched out a foot to toe end the ball out of play. Arsene went all in and revealed some trump cards, Arshavin, Ramsey and Eduardo replacing Coquelin, Thomas and Walcott. Walcott`s performance had been particularly disappointing, his lack of sharpness with the ball was perhaps understandable, but his complete lack of interest in tracking back saw Fabregas puff out his cheeks and do his running for him on the right flank. Whilst the application is admirable, Cesc will have to learn that, as skipper, he would be better served verbally enforcing Walcott`s responsibilities. Being a captain doesn`t always mean being a nice guy. Then again, William Gallas learned how sensitive and precious people are nowadays the hard way, so it`s perhaps little wonder that his successor as captain is not comfortable administering a telling off.

Arsenal went for broke and pushed on in their desperation to avoid a reply. On the morning of the game, we always swap predictions on the game ahead. Lord Lowe`s was thusly, that with the scores at 1-1, Arsenal would over commit in their desperation to avoid a replay and lose a late goal. Such sage prophesy was given valediction when an Arsenal attack broke down with Traore high up the pitch. A mixture of inexperience in the full back positions and lack of recovery pace in the centre back positions left Arsenal exposed as Sidibe raced to the by-line, clipped in a precise cross and Ricardo Fuller rose to head home a simple chance from close range. From there, Arsenal never really looked like retrieving the game. Vela`s pull back was met by Ramsey, but he could only steer a difficult chance over the bar. Stoke broke away again when a tired looking Craig Eastmond surrendered possession to Matthew Etherington, he nipped down the left wing, leaving the creaking limbs of Silvestre and Campbell trailing in his wake and crossed the ball for Dean Whitehead to tap in a simple chance from close range. Arsenal were out of the cup, disappointingly so given the calibre of the potential opposition that has been deforested for us.

In the end, it would be incredibly difficult to argue against the fact that Stoke deserved their victory. When pegged back to 1-1 they cleverly exploited the counter attack and in the closing stages, the younger players not used to competition of this level tired, whilst our two centre backs tired for different reasons. Sol Campbell did however have an impressive match, assuming responsibility for organising the back line and using his physical stature to good effect. Arsenal went for broke at 1-1 when I would have been very comfortable with a replay; confident that a scratch side could have disposed of Stoke. That Arsenal have become so frightened of cup replays is lamentable, I think it fosters a mentality that the cup is unimportant whilst also sending an explicit message that the manager doesn`t believe his squad can manage it. Fatigue is as much mental as it is physical, when you`re winning games, you don`t feel tired. Arsenal have come out of a congested period with good results in spite of a crippling injury list, that`s confidence at work and surrendering psychological advantages is a dangerous road to go down. Doing so hasn`t served Arsenal particularly well over the last four years in any case. In Wenger`s three title winning seasons, we have reached one F.A. Cup Semi Final and won the trophy twice, so there doesn`t seem to be much of an argument that the cup and the extra games it brings are an unwelcome distraction. When did football clubs become so ball achingly frightened of playing football games? I have absolutely no qualms with the team selection, I didn`t have any before the game and I don`t have any now. But our approach in the last fifteen minutes was over zealous in my eyes. That said, a victory would have seen us draw yet another Premiership away side, so the feeling that this was clearly not to be our year for the cup is pervasive. Given the very comfortable run we enjoyed to the semi finals last year, it`s perhaps instructive that the draws have been unkind to us this year. There is now even greater pressure on the quadruplet of matches that approach as Arsenal`s best chance of a trophy has now gone and the naysayers will be cracking their knuckles and sharpening their knives as we speak.LD.

21.FABIANSKI, 35.COQUELIN (16.Ramsey `68), 31.CAMPBELL, 18.SILVESTRE, 30.TRAORE, 37.EASTMOND, 15.DENILSON, 4.FABREGAS©, 14.WALCOTT (23.Arshavinb `68), 38.THOMAS (9.Eduardo `68). Unused: 7.Rosicky, 24.Mannone, 34.Bartley, 41.Frimpong.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday January 25 2010

Time: 11:56AM

Your Comments

Wenger going for it in the last 15 minutes was understandable and I agree with it. There is nothing wrong in going for broke (i.e. a win) in a Cup tie. However, it is a huge risk, as we found out 2 seasons back (losing 4-0 to ManU) and losing the League after that. Losing the momentum is not a good idea, and it will be interesting to see how this team reacts. As for team selection, playing Cesc was the only risk (in case he got injured), whilst the other selections were all justified.
prits
On the bright side we get a free weekend before the porto game. it might be an idea that next season, we play the kids in the FA cup and a more mixed team in the CC, as in the later rounds of the FA cup are always before a champions league KO game and its already the Semi's of the CC.
Steve bould Flick on
I think we should have gone for the replay too rather than going gung-ho in the last 20 minutes. Our kids at home are a different proposition than they are away. As it transpires the luck of the draw in knockout competition means that our reward would only have been another resource taxing tricky away tie against City. It's true that we seemed to find it easier to go for cup and title in the earlier years but these are different times. The cosy duopoly that existed between us and ManU then didn't have to contend with the financially inflated squad size at Chelsea. Only Chelsea - now being joined by City have a squad (costing them 40% more than we or ManU can spend) with the depth to compete in both competitions without needing to rely on the draw helping them to the same extent that we or ManU would. Taking into account our present injuries at a time when the ACN also affects our squad options it is a little romantic to think that we don't have some unwelcome choices to make.
Amos.
Cant complain about the majority of the team line up as they were enforced by injuries etc. RB we had no other choice, LB Clichy was not going to be risked having only played 20 mins since october, Campbell was a better choice than Gallas for this particular game in my oppinion, Vermaelen has played every game this season, The midfield 3 were our best available. This left the front 3 which were all poor to be honest. I still have hopes we will sign a striker to give another option but i doubt it will happen.
paul_ownz
I don't think we had much choice with team selection, i was surprised Fabregas and Walcott start. (Walcott doesn't look hinself, i know he's been injured alot but he loses the ball far too often). It was never going to be an easy game and id rather have the week off to get ready for chelsea than play the replay, we have a small chance of the elague so lets go for that, FA cup could become a distraction. Dont get me wrong i would love us to win it again, but id prefere the league and were in a good position so i dont mind focusing on it! If we win Wednesday then it will be a good choice to rest a few, if we dont we will get the usual media slating!
ades_arsenal
also is Fabianski there to make almunia look good! He could have come for everyone on the crosses that led to goals!! We need to bring Seaman back!
ades_arsenal
The defence as a unit were poor yesterday. Campbell showed himself to be reliable but it was clear this back four had not played together before. As good as Traore was going forward - some great crosses were coming in compared to Clichy's usual efforts - he got caught out of position too often.
MeetTheGunners
"he got caught out of position too often" -- that's because Traore's positioning is consistently dire, suicidal even. I'm really not convinced he's LB material as I was when I watched the younger versions of Cole and Clichy. Last season I was furious with AW for not putting on Arshavin and Song in our CL semi. This season I don't think anyone can be upset with AW -- we're decimated with injuries, we have an extremely tough fixture schedule coming up and Stoke away is a very difficult game even for a full strength top 4 club. I'm not surprised we've been eliminated. What worries me is that injuries and the ANC have left us relying on the likes of Denilson and Theo, who are very poor right now. And it's incredible the amount of luck Chelsea have: they've owned the FA cup competition in the last few years because of their consistently easy draws with lower league opponents. And then Ivory Coast gets knocked out of the ANC. I bet you Cameroon will beat Egypt today, with our luck.
jaelle
I have to say that although all the arguments are there for the justification of the selection policy what infuriated me was certain players inabillity to perform when called upon. We all know that the talent pool of young players is deep at Arsenal, with players such as Merida considering their futures due to lack of playing time. It infuriates me that players like Emmanuel Thomas under performed - he could not control the ball to his foot if it was covered in superglue! Walcott, sorry - I love you Theo, was absolutely rubbish and has been rubbish every time I have seen him this season (which has not been often). Fabianski looked like he was auditioning for the happy clapper bus rendition of swan lake and the less said about Silvestre the better in my opinion - I have suspicions that he is still being paid by Manyoo to sabotage our endeavours. In fact the best part of the game, apart from Arshavins silly hat antics was that ropey old Campbell had a fairly solid game and Cesc still has the use of his rather glorious little legs. Rant over.
herobeard
I think Denilson could have done more when tracking Sidibe for Stoke's second goal, even just given away a free kick. You would think if Song was on the pitch, he would have done better in that particular situation. I don't think he's playing well, wasn't that impressed with him against Everton either. I just hope that we make a signing to give the team a boost like Arshavin did last year.
Gooner_Vin
We have to make choices for sure, but I'm not convinced they're the correct ones. Do Chelsea have a bigger squad than us? I'm not convinced they do and in any case they don't really use it in the Cup- the likes of Terry and Lampard still play. But as I said, my objection on this occasion wasn't selection- which was about 95% enforced. (Fabregas and Arshavin were still involved, which surprised me actually). I just think the "defeat better than a draw" mentality in the cup is counter productive and it's one that has consistently served us badly for the last four years now- so I don't see why we persist with it. All the evidence suggests it's bad for our league and cup form.
Little Dutch
Hats off to Stoke, but I can’t agree with our team selection because we've helped abandon our winning streak and that has an impact which isn't appreciated. If we were going to come out of this saying we lost it because the youngsters weren't up to it, then fine, but we put 3 experienced subs and our captain out on the field and they tasted defeat, which like it or not, they carry to the next game. If Wenger was trying to avoid injury, he still exposed them for 30 minutes so that argument is a bit void. I don’t like this half-half policy, because when it fails, both the kids and the seniors have failed. Maybe it’s the stomach-wrenching 4-0 at OT a couple of years ago, but it’s the worst way to lose, and though I cant remember all the games, the last few seasons have shown that we’ve not bounced back well from this sort of thing. I would have put Vermaelen in the middle and Silvestre on the right instead of Coquelin; Rosicky and Arshavin in place of Eastmond and Thomas. Then even if we lost we could say that our squad was a bit thin or our strikers are poor etc. To say it’s not so bad anyway as the reward would have been a game at Man City is almost delusional, making excuses for ourselves and missing the momentum argument. Right now we are playing for the league and the CL and the feeling in the camp is - we saved ourselves for this (sort of) and we almost can’t afford to screw up now… that defensive mindset is not going to win you as many games as “***** we’re in all 3 here, playing twice a week, knackered, but we’re going for this hell for leather” Maybe that’s romantic but the pragmatic argument has been shown to not work either. I’m left sitting here hoping that this season we’ve grown enough to be able to shrug this off and move on.
Andy-bayor
Oh and great report by the way LD... how the hell did you manage to get back at 3am... Don't tell me - you walked right?
Andy-bayor
No, no I got back home at 3am on Sunday morning, before the game. The advantage of an early kick off was that I was back home with a pot of tea by 7.30pm. For the record I agree that the pragmatic approach doesn't seem to work. I think picking and choosing and going half way between results in you getting nothing- our results for the last few years bear that out.
Little Dutch
http://www.arsenality.com/2010/01/arsene-wenger-makes-terrible-mistake.html Take a read. Very funny read on our injuries
paul_ownz
LD, you make a good point. The annual debate about our approach to the FA cup and the CC always leaves me flummoxed. For example, others have pointed out that in recent seasons, during trophyless periods, Chelsea and Utd both used their wins in the CC as a base to build momentum for more trophies. But I just can't see how--with 10 players injured plus Song and Eboue away--AW could've risked more of our remaining first team players before this intense league schedule coming up in a game where at least one of them was bound to be injured, given Stoke's physicality. I was scared to see Cesc in that game, frankly.
jaelle
Said it so many times now, success breeds success. I'm convinced that with our overt approach to cup ties like this rubs off on the pitch, sometimes the players play like it's a punishment to be selected for a, gasp, domestic knock out comp.
shewore
LD, correct me if Im wrong but I think you meant uninterested , not disinterested. As I see it , I rather lose here than at CoMS.
Sajit
I don't know what the answer is. The difference with Chelsea is that they just don't have as many injuries as we have. I thought they had a bigger squad than we do also, am I wrong? It's this constant plague of injuries that's damaging our trophy quest and as I've said many times, until it's sorted out, we won't win anything.
jaelle
Chelsea's squad is only marginally bigger but their back ups tend to be more experienced than ours - with fewer injuries currently. Plus PNE away is probably less demanding too. I am sure that if we had had a fully fit squad that our approach to this game might have been different.
Amos.
We suffer more injuries than anyone else. We have 9 compared to Chelseas 4. On top of that Clichy, Ramsey & Walcott have just come back from injury and Eduardo & Rosicky were long term injuries who are still finding their feet. Sounds feeble on the surface but it is a reality. Song & Eboue away too means we have 16 players away/injured or returning from injuries.
paul_ownz
Like I say, my gripe isn't so much the team selection, more the mentality. For a start, I wish Wenger would stop using every opportunity to say the F.A. Cup is the 3rd priority. We all know that's the case, but repeating it ad nauseam is detrimental to the way the players we do play approach it. The "would rather lose than draw" mentality is also counter productive for me. I'd have taken a replay in every round if it meant winning the trophy. By all means go for victory as the team always does. For instance, we took much the same approach after we equalisedat West Ham and it worked. But I don't think the manager should be so desperate to verbally undermine the competition at every turn. It's a game, go out and try and win it, simple as. Stop adding the caveat that the league is more important prior to every cup match.
Little Dutch
I think too much of a big deal is being made out of this .... which is also counter productive. The in-and outs of whether Wenger's team selection/mindset/tactics could be analyised until the cows come home, but what's done is done. Claiming that putting an "all or nothing" stance on our league and cup duties is piling on the pressure is only serving to add to that pressure. I stand by Wenger's decision to try and get the game finished on the day ... and as with muc in life, it didn't turn out right.
Rocky7
That's fair enough LD but it's pretty certain that if Wenger said nothing there'd be just as many people demanding that he tells us just what his priorities are. I've no doubt that he tried to win it and I've no doubt that's why we lost. We were playing well enough with what we had to warrant the draw. We could have come away with that and then cursed our luck at gaining the replay only to get another away draw against PL opposition. The decisions would still be there. The priorities would only change if the draw were kinder or we were out of the running for the CL or CL qualification. The FA Cup isn't even our 3rd priority - it ranks behind PL, CL and CL qualification.
Amos.
One of my favourite things about Arsene Wenger is precisely that he doesn't pander to idiots and reveal every little facet of information about the club- he does what he thinks is right for the team and doesn't think another thing of the pressure put on him by people that don't. The players aren't stupid, we all of us know the F.A. Cup is secondary to the objectives you raise- most of us agree. I certainly do. But I don't see it as necessary to play down the importance at every turn. Making excuses before the game even happens is, again, a detrimental tactic in my eyes.
Little Dutch
Had Wenger not made the substitutions I think we would have drawn the game and perhaps done better at home with the same team in the replay but it’s not to be and in the great scheme of things I don’t have a problem with that. I personally think we have the quality to win the Premiership and /or the CL so, at this stage, I’m happy not to have the distraction of the Cup. Unfortunately, there are some caveats there. Our injury list has to improve and the players coming back from injury must get themselves match-fit quickly. Aston Villa on Wednesday takes on supreme importance now because it’s not just the three points we’re playing for but the mindset and belief that we can see off the threat of ManU and Chelsea. I fear the implosion of our season during the next three weeks if we don’t.
Sir Henry
Stoke deserved to win the tie but we did our best to help them. Not sure what Fabianski was supposed to do with the 1st goal, a long throw that nearly reached the 6 yard box at waist height? someones got to head that away. Coquelin and JET played out of position, Walcott doing nothing to suggest he knows how to get out of the rut he's in, Denilson looking like Zola Budd racing Usain Bolt when chasing Sidibe. Shame our squad was so thread bare that we couldnt use our real shadow squad.
iceman10
What is the answer to our injuries every year? I know Wenger says they are investigating it as he is not to sure. Could it be because we fill the team with smaller, versatile, speedy type players who weeve about the pitch at a very fast pace and are targeted by opposition to slow them down?
paul_ownz
To emphasise i dont mean that all injuries are inflicted by the opposition, but also because of the agile and twisting movements and speed they play are more likely to pull muscles.
paul_ownz
You may have something there paul_ownz, to play the passing game that we do requires constant movement to find space and to provide options for the player on the ball. The exertion on the legs when changing direction at pace must be intense. Does this account for the spate of back injuries that we’ve had recently though? We shouldn’t underestimate the opposition’s contribution either, more off the ball than on it. Whatever it is, the problem is definitely peculiar to Arsenal
Sir Henry
I should hold my peace until full time, but Cameroon is down 1-3 to Egypt; 3rd goal given wrongly though, as the ball did not cross the line. It is 1st half in extra time and looks like no way back for the C'roons. Against my cautious predictions, I must note.
Naijagunner
LET US SING FOR SONG... SING FOR SONG....YAY
arseneknows
CAMEROON ARE OUT!!!
jaelle
Song is watching Villa game in person to be tuned up for the ManU game.
Naijagunner
Walthamstow is the end of the line in more ways than one. Re our injuries, I do have to question the gen that Jacky was pulled because of a sore throat, I mean seriously WTF?? Is this what things have come to? Can anyone confirm this is for real? I find that unbelievable. Get the feck out there and run it off! We are in serious danger of breeding a squad of hypochondriac wet wipe nursemaids. You got an ickle knock on your shoulder Banger? Get the feck out there, this is war and your club needs you! Thank kerrrist Song is back, his team are more like indomitable mice than lions but he will be a massive boost for us against manure, credit to den he comes up with jammy goals but his form has been pretty Kieran.
nikolaijns
Concur with the general tone of comments made but I just wonder are we underplaying the performance by Stoke? The game appeared only to be lost in the final 10 minutes hardly a stick to beat ourselves by. The back four were playing together for the first time and perhaps we need to give returning players to the team an opportunity to get match fit. I never watched the game so my comment only comes from remarks from people who were there. Nevertheless no one can deny we have had more than our share of injuries. Great to maintain team that is winning but would that not mean in the end repeats of previous champions running out of puff? Hmm Song now available, and RVP coming back perhaps the run of the green as far as injuries go may be returning may be in our court for the latter part .
alwaysgunner
I dont think Zola Budd is fit (Denilson). Ever since he came back from that back injury he's been terrible but ironically notching goals?
iceman10
Looks like Song is coming home, Cameroon lost to egypt.
gronedrone
I'm heartily sick of the injuries excuse. Anyone that goes into a season expecting full contributions from RVP, Rosicky, Wally, and the rest of our calcium deficient waifs is optimistic to the point of insanity. We have injury prone players, this is indisputable, they are class players, but lightweight flair players in the worlds most physical league. If this is to be the future (and tbf we will never be shoutin beeeeaaast at Wilshere) then we need to act accordingly and take our squad number to the maximum legal limit. To be down to the bare bones (again! ffs) for one of the worlds biggest clubs is not unlucky it's self inflicted and verges on negligence.
nikolaijns
This aint a knee jerk reaction btw just cos we're out of the cup at the hands of stoke as we were never gonna get a result with that line up and I had fully prepared for the loss, which in itself is a pretty damning indictment of a club as prestigious as ours. I'm far from sure too that the whole resting/priority thing works. Who out of our first teamers that played is going to benefit from that yesterday? Resting players is zero guarantee of an improved performance in their next game. We've all witnessed games post CC matches where our entirely rested first team have not turned up. All we have done is instill doubt and disappointment into an already mentally fragile squad.
nikolaijns
Jiggas a gooner lol, drag Beyonce down Hova that'd really hack off a certain ex player :) http://uk.news.launch.yahoo.com/dyna/article.html?a=/100125/340/iv119.html&e=l_news_dm
nikolaijns
He should bring out a remix of money, cash, hoes for Beyonces Stalker. Start a beef with the Togolese talker/rapper.
iceman10
we got 99 injuries but a b1*ch ain't one
nikolaijns
Its a Hard knock life
iceman10
nikolaijns
I know im this particular forum's Denilson fan, but has he really been that bad? I don't think so.
Tom14
Im no Denilson hater but the Zola Budd running vs Sidibe? The platoon moment vs Everton? Normally his positional sense is very good but its been missing recently. Personally I think Wenger needs to give him 1 role in the side and stick to it instead of keep asking him to flit in and out of being defensive and attack minded.
iceman10
Watching him give up on chasing that sidebe lunk who was trundling along at 5mph before finding Fuller with his cross was pretty unforgivable Tom. It was like a waking slo mo nightmare we were all powerless to stop, I would ragecap "Jus feckin tackle him!!!" but in honesty they'd be more despair caps.
nikolaijns
JayZ: "This 1's for you Harry Redknapp.....ur a hustler baby I just want ya to know, it aint where youve been, but where ya bout to go...."
iceman10
I don't think Denilson's looked as good since Song has gone, but I'd imagine his lack of pace in chasing Sidibe was probably down to the fact that he has been playing with a back injury for most of the season, which has bad effects on your mobility. I don't think he's played as well as he can lately, but I think the mixture of playing with a debilitating injury and, as iceman points out, being asked to play a different role in every game, doesn't help.
Little Dutch
Nikolaijns - that Jayz thing's awesome, someone should get it on the main page!
Gooner_Vin
It's an improvement on Dido Vin - thass a fact!
nikolaijns
But obviously still lacking the clout and dignity of yer Chas and Dave.
nikolaijns
Does anyone know when Bendtner is back? I think he was doing quite good on the right prior to his injury. And what has happened to Theo, he has been shockingly bad the last few times he's played?
Cesc is King
Of course he's not playing as well as he did last year and at the start of this season, but the guy clearly has a back problem and hasn't player in his first choice position for a bit.
Tom14
back problem? that'll be it then, who could play well when suffering with that? :) http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jan/25/william-gallas-arsenal-arsene-wenger
nikolaijns
To be fair, its a totally different position. But Gallas is the best in the World, what else should we expect?
Tom14
It's true, they are in different positions, Gallas doesn't have to rely as much on recovery pace- which is largely due to the fact that his positioning is faultless. That comes with experience. But Gallas had a very similar chase against Tim Cahill in a similar position in the Everton game and he lost it hands down. You'd have to expect that Denilson's back injury has been worse than Gallas', Gallas' is a muscular problem, Denilson's is vertebrae, hence the reason he was out for 2 months and has been out with the same injury another two times this year whilst Gallas has been able to soldier on.
Little Dutch
Maybe Denilson's problem is that he's not quite an attacking midfielder and not quite a defensive midfielder. Reasonably good at both, but not a good enough replacement for either Fab or Song. As for Traore, he looks like a pretty good winger, but as a defender he's rotten.
krismon1
Don't think there's any 'maybe' about it Krismon ;)
shewore
I dont think Bendtner will start a against Villa or Man U considering he has the last time he played 90 mins of football was in September. I think Wenger will be very carefull with Bendtner.
gronedrone
What's the go with Sagna for Villa anyone? Is he back? And is that crazy African Eboue back in town yet aswell? All these questions need answering before i decide what team to put out against Villa :P
FuiKaka
Ah. Now, you want Wenger's job too, Fkk?
Naijagunner
Ah. Now, you want Wenger's job too, Fkk?
Naijagunner
Well, Song is back and Sagna will start; plus, Bendtner and Nasri will be on the bench against Villa, tonight, says Arsenal.com, the club's official website. It will be a fiery game tonight, for which we will need cool heads and must try to score first to win it.
Naijagunner
 

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