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More choices at last and more questions

Since Robin van Persie last played at the beginning of November we haven`t exactly struggled for goals scoring a respectable 24 goals in the 13 PL games since. However, in the 11 games that RvP was available to us we managed to score a more remarkable 36 goals and it is that tally that still keeps us at the top of the PL scoring charts.

Of course you can`t easily compare in one season one batch of games against another. The 13 PL games we have played without RvP included 3 against last season`s top 3 while we played only ManU in the first batch of games so any comparison is invariably not a like for like one. It isn`t that RvP`s scoring rate was in itself a key element, even without his 7 goals the remaining 29 goals in 11 games is still a very strong performance. Though 7 goals in 11 games from any player is not to be sniffed at, on the surface at least it is his effect on the players around him that we seem to be missing the most. In fact the 7 assists Robin contributed still allows him to hold 9th place in the PL assist charts. Cesc has led the scoring since with 5 goals out of the 24 which leaves us with 19 goals in 13 games from the other players compared to the 29 in 11 with a fit RvP.

Our overall performance since the beginning of November hasn`t been poor - with the odd exception of course. Even with our make do attack the 23 points we have collected has only been bettered by two teams in that period. Ominously they are the two teams above us who have both collated 28 points in the same time. Both Chelsea and United have outscored us in the same period with 30 and 33 goals respectively.

With 14 games remaining we need to find a better balance to our attack if we are to rediscover the level of form of the first 3rd of the season. Eduardo and Arshavin have looked to fill that role but neither convincingly though similarly van Persie wasn`t entirely convincing in the role in the early season games. But it is in the assists stakes that we can compare the contributions of Eduardo with 5 assists and Arshavin 2 but with much greater playing time. Similarly with much less playing time Eduardo has created far more goal attempts too. Though we have tended to look at the goals scored to indicate how to replace RvP, Eduardo`s assists show that he is closer to replacing what we have missed than Arshavin. It maybe that in time either might have been able to make a better fist of it but time is a commodity that is all too scarce when competing at this level.

It is unfortunate that the gods conspired to have Bendtner out for a prolonged period at the same time as van Persie has been out. The run of games to the end of last year seemed tailor made for the young Dane to settle into the same role and for the club to experiment with attacking options. Now it looks likely that, fitness permitting we`ll give Bendtner the responsibility for the upcoming fixtures, but he`ll have to hit the ground running to have any impact. If self confidence alone were to guarantee success we`d be on a winner.

"When you come back you know you will find yourself again, and you are going to be strong." Said the Danish striker 'You never know what's going to happen, but I'm almost back to 100 per cent now and I'm going to get better and better all the time. I feel fine in training so let's see.'

Despite his height and physical stature I`ve never really seen Nicklas as a player to lead the line but many didn`t think van Persie could be either. We`ll give it a try as we must but just as important is the effect that he can have on the players around him. The attack permutations available to us with a fit Bendtner, Eduardo, Vela, Arshavin and Walcott are more varied than we have enjoyed for much of the last 3 months. Whether we have time enough to find one that works as well as it would need to sustain a more serious challenge for the title I doubt but football is a funny game and a combination that works better than expected can suddenly find itself surprising everyone.

Importantly it is still a season delicately poised enough to offer us plenty of motivation to continue competing hard in all the remaining games. To do so we need to find a settled attack that provides us with the confidence we enjoyed earlier. We have to hope that can be discovered quickly as the season still holds the opportunity to take pride in the ability to compete we have shown so far this season.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday February 3 2010

Time: 5:06PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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As much as I would like to see the big Dane succeed, I didn't think his return or the signing of a new striker was paramount to our title bid. We score more than enough as a team and your analysis proves that point. It's the goals against that is hampering our title bid. All the permutations seem to favor the team that has conceded the fewest while scoring just enough. I know Arsene places a premium on attack and is unapologetic in this regard. Perhaps if his team placed as much emphasis on the number conceded, we may be looking down at the Chavs and Mancs not up at them. Therefore, defensive organisation will be the key to out title run-in.
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 17:43:00

Its a fallacy that we dont need a striker. We lost our main forward FFS! The fact we did not get a replacement, either on loan, or on a permamnent deal, is unbelievable! The fact that we have had to go to places like Villa Park, play ManU as well as the chavs without a recognised striker is criminal and the main reason we have seen the defence and midfield under so much pressure (as well as Almunia being garbage of course) We have known since Novemeber that we needed a striker and the fact we did not bother to sign one is almost a dereliction of duty, in my opinion. Thank ***** Bendtner is back!!! If we end up empty handed this may, then I aint sure if Wenger will be in such a position of comfort as the manager, as much as that pains me to say. t
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03/02/2010 19:00:00

IF you end up empty handed ManGoonian?
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 19:44:00

Are you still lurking around hod? Should you not be watching your team play Leeds? Your obsession with Arsenal might be seen as unhealthy
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 19:52:00

Some of us can multi task Pauly.
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 20:02:00

lol ICI has less plastic than you hodbotherer, what a tragic case! not content with being a stranger on his own vital site he'd rather be jacking his pecker on here than watch his team play!! Weirdo.
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 20:08:00

Anyone read the evening standard tonight? I lolled my kecks off at the big piece about sp*rs new megadump, this piece was written by a bitter too - comedy gold!! ....
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 20:16:00

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has described the plans as "incoherent” and “awkward.....National heritage says they present “a serious and significant level of harm to the historic environment”........The writer then states 'The new development would remove the current stadium, no thing of beauty, and would brighten up its dingy surroundings' Plus 'Externally, the proposed stadium is a silvery, swooping thing, none too subtle and a bit blingy. .' PMSL!!! :)
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03/02/2010 20:20:00

Goal Defoe!
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03/02/2010 20:25:00

Aah bless he's happy about leading against a 3rd division team, how sweet.
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03/02/2010 20:29:00

oh sorry did I say leading?
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03/02/2010 20:34:00

My rather substantial wager of a Man.Utd Tottenham double is only slighty under threat.
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 20:37:00

what does that mean?? you bet on your own team to lose??
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 20:50:00

oh sweet jesus you didn't bet on them to win something did you?? or laugh of laughs win two things????
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 20:52:00

that kit makes them look like sailors
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 20:54:00

Do sailors catch your eye sweetheart? Big wager landed. Will be back for the Chelsea Arsenal review.
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03/02/2010 22:14:00

You're a tragic little man hodbotherer.
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 22:16:00

They've been coasting the waves of mediocrity for long enough......
Little Dutch
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03/02/2010 22:18:00

Now that he's gone(hodwhatever) I think this is the best chance Bendtner is going to get to lead the line because I don't think Arshavin and Eduardo are comfortable up there I will admit I don't think much of him but If Bendtner is the reason Wenger didn't sign anyone in the window who am I to argue Wenger has shown great faith in him
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 22:28:00

I like the link to the stadium piece Niko "I write this as a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. Having been born in Hastings to a largely football-hating family" - an almost perfect background for a spud. Finding someone to do what RvP was doing is more than about how many times he can hit the back of the net. Arshavin doesn't do it on either count. Eduardo is struggling with the role. If Bendtner doesn't do it or it's going to take too long for him to perfect it we're going to have to find another way to organise our attack. Either way it's the wrong end of the season to have to work these things out.
Report Abuse
03/02/2010 22:38:00

It's the wrong end of the season for sure but given a choice between wasting Arshavin up front on his tod failing to win any of Almunias' hoofs or having Bendtner up front with him I'd choose the latter every time. Nik always seems a better bet as an impact sub than as a starter but I'd like to see him start a few games and see if him and Andrey can get something gelling. Is the big lad small lad routine too traditional for Arsenes' vision of total football? Despite his claims of total faith in his squad and dismissal of purchasing a new striker you feel that Wenger knows Bendtner is some distance short of the finished article. No 4-3-3 away to chelski please! Arsh, Bendy with a Cesc Song Diaby if fit and Rosicky midfield, take den out of the firing line for a couple of games as he badly needs some time out to mentally recuperate!
Report Abuse
04/02/2010 00:18:00

A question for me would be what do with Clichy. He's been badly exposed since his return; can we afford to carry him against Chelsea? You'd have to think Chelsea would have noticed his performance against ManU and are going to target his side of the defence. Problem is, if we leave him out, who replaces him? Traore and Eboue aren't much on the defensive end either.
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04/02/2010 04:36:00

Before you all roll around laughing what if we switched Vermaelen to LB bring Sol to fill his role for at least the first half. Clichy is short of match practise and that might give him a chance to go flat out for 45 minutes instead of 90. Just a thught.
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04/02/2010 04:49:00

Really high hopes for Big Nick this season - so I was gutted about his injury. Gotta admire the lads unshakable belief in his own ability. I hope he stays strong, is physical and gives the Chavs something to think about. The boy has huge potential.
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04/02/2010 11:39:00

If only we had 2 Vermaelens i would play one in Midfield with Song & Fabregas.
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04/02/2010 12:18:00

Bendtner works hard; we need grafters at this time. He should start alongside Arshavin; that combination will trouble the Chavs defense. I agree that Clichy does need time off; replace him with Sivestre, I say and you will find that he will get better with each game and become the solid LB he can be, with some attacking threat (at least, his crosses are more vicious than Clichy's). If Diaby can play 90 minutes, Deni may be allowed time on the bench. Overall, I expect the team to show some restraint with its well known all-action style and play with more patience in build ups. This will surprise our opponents to our advantage.
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04/02/2010 13:22:00

Czar is spot on. We need to stop leaking goals so that the goals we score have more value. I think we have to accept that we cannot play our expansive football against the top teams so we need to adopt a defensive stance early on against Chelsea and establish a bit of solidarity to regain some defensive belief. Clichy must not play at LB because, clearly, his vulnerability at Villa Park was duly noted by SAF and Nani (unbelievably) did the job. Ancelotti will do likewise. As a team we can score from anywhere and with a frustrated Chelsea we can always nick a winner.
Sir Henry
Report Abuse
04/02/2010 14:14:00

krismon, right now I actually trust Eboue defensively more than I do Clichy.
Report Abuse
04/02/2010 17:42:00

jaelle, that's frightening isn't it? Eboue and Traore are great as attacking wing-backs, but very suspect defensively. But I probably agree with you. Clichy can probably get back to his best eventually, but right now, he looks unfit and short of confidence. That said, he was criticised for his failure to shut down Park when the Korean scored, but I'd put much of the blame on the rest of the team too, since no one else was tracking back. If Clichy had commited, Park would have cut back to two open ManU players. Still, I'd be tempted even to try Gallas at LB and have Sol and Vermaelen at CB. The last person I want to see out there is Silvestre.
Report Abuse
05/02/2010 03:03:00

krismon, Silvestre at Chelsea? Please, don't give me nightmares!!
Report Abuse
05/02/2010 14:31:00


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