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5 Things We've Learned This Week

1 -Aaron Ramsey is good, but not that good ... yet
He`s Welsh, played one great game after being absent for the rest of season; this year`s player of the year is not Aaron Ramsey, but a season full of performances like that in the future and one day he may well be. His movement was like Sir Alex post match, constantly yards away from people who just wanted him to stand still. His touch was good, his passing accurate and sharp, but most importantly he didn`t shy away from any tackles.

The fine gap between potential and realisation is bridged by mental qualities, not physical attributes; just ask Stan Collymore. If the United game was not a one off, but the game of man finding his feet work again, then there`s no reason Ramsey cannot become a world class midfielder.

However, his emergence should not presuppose the exit of Fabregas. Wenger`s argument against buying experienced players has always been that youngsters can gain experience themselves through being given games. To go down this route only to sell players when they finally get to the level of Fabregas would be counter productive. Put simply, for Ramsey to maximise his potential, Cesc must stay.

2 - Alex Song is that good, now.
Wayne Rooney has been tearing teams apart since Christmas, since he got his fat new contract and since he realised he owed the United fans having shown he`d leave for an extra 10% on his wage. His aggression, movement and touch have simply been too much for each opponent.

On Sunday he looked pedestrian. There were brief flashes of inspiration, but for the most part he looked lost in the vast expanses of The Emirates. This time though it wasn`t because he was too busy thinking of how many extra zeros he`d like each month, but because of the constant attention of Song.

The Cameroonian marshalled Rooney superbly, reading balls before they reached him, turns before they were turned. Song laid the platform for Wilshere and Ramsey to dominate the midfield. A major reason in Wilshere`s impressive form in his first full season has been the discipline of Song, allowing Wilshere the freedom to play his natural game.

He`s still only 23 in a role that players traditionally develop late into. Makelele was 27 when a move to Real Madrid gave him the chance to develop into one of the world`s greatest holding midfielders. Song is more mobile, more effective with the ball.

Not bad for £1million.

3 - This has not been a season of under achievement
At the start of the season the criticism of Arsenal was that they lost too many of the big matches. They wouldn`t challenge said the pundits. They should be worried about getting 4th spot.

Barcelona, City, United, Chelsea; all big teams, all beaten. Arsenal have been victims of their own success. Had they started slowly and worked their way into contention, pundits would have spoken of steps forward, of youngsters starting to fulfil promise.

Carles Puyol was 26 before he won the first of his many medals. Fabregas is 24, the average age of what could well be a very special team. The title was challenged for, 2nd is a realistic possibility and the big teams have been beaten. This season has been part of the journey, not the destination.

4 - Money matters
It might be boring, it might be repetitive, but Arsenal`s approach to finance should not simply be held up as a good model for football, but for life generally. When the club wanted a big purchase such as the stadium, they made savings elsewhere and bought it with a long term strategy at repaying the debt. Instead of making a cheap fix with players, the club invest in coaching, in improving what they already have.

The reason the banks fell apart and peoples` debts racked up like Blackpool`s goals against column was the same reason pundits are criticising Arsene Wenger. Not happy with what you have? Spend, spend, spend and spend a bit more, before pausing to shred your repayment notices and spending some more.

Football matters. When it`s talked about non stop and each pundit repeats: 'the only way to succeed is to pay out money you don`t have,` it seeps into the national consciousness. Yes they have an old boy`s mentality, yes they`ve ignored racism and homophobia in football for too long, but with the financial fair play rules, UEFA have at last got something spot on.

5 - Arshavin isn`t all that bad
He may not have been the explosion we saw blow teams open with 4 goal bombs in his first year, but the Russian has not been shocking this year; far from it. He has treble the assists of player of the season Bale, and is 4th in the Premiership with 11. That`s more than Etherington, Van Der Vaart, Ashley Young, Charlie Adam.

If anything, Arshavin has fit into the system too well this season. It`s when he goes solo, shoots from 25 yards, tries to take on 3 players when there`s an easier pass that he`s at his best, his most unpredictable and his most destructive. Just let him play.

Special Mention
It`s been a week when Pep Guardiola refused to condemn his player Sergio Busqeuts for 'allegedly` racially abusing a black player by calling him a monkey. He even went so far as to call him "an example of professionalism and honesty." Players will continue to feel they can get away with such despicable actions when even their own manager won`t check their arrogance.

With that in mind a special mention to Alex McLeish, who refused to back up his diving player Craig Gardner, going so far as to make him apologise to each and every member of the squad. McLeish showed what he is, a boss: "He has to learn." Guardiola would do well to take the same advice. - Lewis Wright




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The Journalist

Writer: Lewis Wright Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday May 4 2011

Time: 3:16PM

Your Comments

As one of the more negative posters here, I have to hold my hands up and recognize when I'm wrong. Agree entirely with your article. I just hate hearing stories about Arshavin possibly leaving us because I really do think he can still give us a lot. And any talk of letting Cesc go because Ramsey can easily replace him is just delusional. Ramsey's got a long way to go yet. Song was imperious on Sunday. Just wish we had a good back-up for him. It's disappointing to see Guardiola--a manager I greatly respected--defend & support players who not only systematically cheat but also now express racist insults. Speaking of which, Barca fans greeted Ade last night with loud racist monkey chants. Still have yet to see a journo report on that.
jaelle
You can't expect Guardiola to victimise his players, you can't expect any manager to do so. Did you see Wenger force Eduardo to apologise? Fergie to tell Nani to apologise? Mourinho to tell Di Maria to apologise? In football management you have to stick by your players no matter how wrong they are.
TheFamousNo7
Jaelle - appreciate your comments, and agree with them all. #7 Whilst I can see your point, I have to say I disagree. For one I think Wenger should have sanctioned Eduardo. I can see it makes managers' lives easier to defend their players, that doesn't mean they have to. McLeish has proved that. Also racial abuse is not just a theartrical part of football; it's an actual crime. I think if Busquets played for a Premiership side he'd be booed out of the club by his own fans for what he did. Look at how Hoddle was forced out for his comments about the disabled. In that respect Spain is a long way behind, and its no surprise when men as intelligent as Guardiola refuse to act when racism is presented so clearly in front of them.
deaduncleted
I don't expect Guardiola to publicly trash his own players but neither do I expect him to praise them glowingly as paragons of honesty and ethics the way he did. That's what he did, I saw his interview. He talked about them like they're absolute paragons of integrity, honesty and good character. He could've said something else entirely-not attack his own players but something much more circumspect.
jaelle
On a side note, it's interesting how UEFA are doing nothing about either the comments, or the chanting about Adebayor. All in the same fortnight they've, quite rightly, forced Rangers to play behind closed doors for sectarian singing. Just like when 2 Leeds fans were stabbed to death and UEFA did nothing, British teams are being punished far more harshly than other European teams.
deaduncleted
deaduncleted - I think that's because the premier league is the most watched league in the world. They like to make an example (not that, that is a good excuse!).
FuiKaka
With regards to Arshavin, I think his contribution was my favorite part of the United game (aside from Rambo's goal of course), it was awesome to see a flair player getting stuck in. And it wasn't a load of "forwards tackles" either, they were precise, perfectly timed, tough tackles. I bet Fergie couldn't believe it. I didn't expect to see the tackle in such quantity, but I have noticed an increase in AA's work ethics and improvement in his defensive duties, something that is comepletely unnatural to him. Massive props.
Rocky7
My issue with Andrei is that he doesn't do it against the smaller teams. He seemed to have lost his hunger. His first 6 months with us were absolutely amazing and we owe him champions league qualification that year. Since then he has retrograded..really. The frustrating thing is if Arshavin wanted to nail a spot in the 1st like Cesc or Robin, he so easily could. Maybe he needs a rest this summer.
Gael-Force
Arshavin, a fantasy league nightmare! Is he gonna play at all? Is he gonna play and do nothing? Is he gonna score 12 points? ...Too scared to have in my team. I do rate him, but he did have a massive rough patch where he was rather on the *****e side of the fence. Against Leeds at the Emirates he was woeful, seemed he couldn't put a simple pass right. I'm glad there's the competition for the 2 wing spots between Samir, Arsh and Theo now. Arshavin seems to try harder when he is on.
FuiKaka
Unfortunately, gamesmanship is a big part of football these days; you only need to watch Barcelona to see that. They play magnificent football but spoil it all with carefully rehearsed tactics designed to disrupt the opposition and pressurise the referee. When I say “spoil it all”, I mean from the spectator’s point of view and undermining the principle of sportsmanship. But it works, they have excellent players and some chap called Messi. Augment these with childish histrionics and you get a winning team. As all this seems to be readily accepted by UEFA, it would be naive to reprimand your own players for using the same methods. Until FIFA/UEFA recognise the problem we have to join them if we want to compete, but you have to practice first to make it all look plausible. Just like Barcelona.
Sir Henry
Sir Henry - I take your point, and agree with it; Barca do spoil their football with their antics. The irony is, their best player, Messi (as if I needed to say) is one of their least theatric. Condoning racism however is awful and it's a disgrace that no action has been taken against Busquets
deaduncleted
 

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