Sunday, September 27, 2009

An "Unbelievable" Performance

"He kept us in the game with some unbelievable situations. He has shown he has the potential to be a top goalkeeper. He loves football, has outstanding physical qualities and reflexes, and works hard every day to improve."

- Arsene Wenger, on Vito Mannone's performance

I was wrong about this one. Vito Mannone played in goal. van Persie scored a goal. And the Arsenal were lucky with a 1-0 win against a good Fulham side. But I was right at least in thinking that this is an "unbelievable" squad.

For me, it's "unbelievable" that this squad will be able to win anything this year.

Something needs to be done to this squad. It needs a bit more defensive nous. It needs a bit more squad depth. It needs a better goalkeeper. The problem is that these are the things that were needed five years ago, and nothing's been done to address the issues. And I don't believe they'll be addressed anytime soon.

Somewhere along the line, I stopped being a wide-eyed, optimistic Arsenal fan and turned into a cynic. It's not fun being a cynic. You can never enjoy a victory for its own sake. You can't enjoy performances like the 4-0 against Wigan without thinking back about being beaten by Man City and Man Utd. You feel relief more than elation after escaping with a 1-0 win against a plucky Fulham. You're forever focused on the title race, and sweating at whether points dropped now will have a bearing on the results at the end of the season.

I'm not sure how the optimism's going to come back. I know the first step would be a few significant signings in January. Or an indication that the much-vaulted kids have the talent to win the league. But what are the chances that this will occur?

Anyway, it was a good performance by Mannone today. He showed a lot of guts to play like that today, especially after the horror start of Standard Liege match. He should keep his spot for the time being. I don't know if he's got the talent to keep it permanently, but I think he'll do a better job than Almunia.

Well done, Vito.

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