Saturday, September 27, 2008

Our Defense

"What makes me happy at the moment is that we have a good combination of defensive balance and offensive efficiency... at the moment we are combining the two and it means when everyone puts the effort in we still can be very dangerous going forward."

Arsene Wenger, a bit bullish at the moment

It's a bit like that with the Arsenal. We can go games and games without conceding much and scoring freely, but then freeze up in a game we really should win. We'll miss shot after shot, our passes will go astray, and we'll concede a cheap goal through a set-piece. 

When it suits us, we do okay at the defensive part of the game. When everyone's focused and determined, we're quite good. We hustle their midfield out of the game, our defenders mark their men, and we even cope with the odd long-ball pretty well. The problem is that we don't set up to defend well, so that when our player's aren't as focused as they should be, we leak costly goals. 

Throughout the first half of the Blackburn game, I kept think it was only a matter of time before they equalised. They scythed through our midfield, they dominated set-pieces, they had chance after chance, and we didn't have enough pressure on their players to stop it. The fact that we went into the break 2-0 up was due to very, very good fortune and nothing more. It was better in the second half, when the defensive pressure from Cesc and Denilson was more apparent, but still... it was scary for that half. 

The encouraging start to the season is telling Wenger that we don't need a central midfielder in January. Denilson and Song are both improving by the game, and there's still Diaby to come back. But I disagree with Wenger. I'd still like someone experienced, either a Flamini-type who can be relied upon to hustle for 90 minutes, or a Gilberto-type who's dedicated to shield the back four. 

Because we need a Plan B in case the youngsters fall by the wayside, right? 

I'm in London again. I've seen my folks and showed them around the city. They'll be leaving tomorrow, and then, a few days later, I'll be flying to Norway. It'll be interesting. Never been to Norway before. Haven't even been to Stansted airport before, either. I wonder which will be more exciting?

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