Sunday, September 12, 2010

I didn’t see us beating Bolton 4-1

"From the two games against Blackburn and Bolton, two years ago we would not have taken six points.”

- Arsene Wenger, pointing out the improvement in the Arsenal

I'm pleased to say that I was wrong. In the end, we beat Bolton quite comfortably 4-1, with goals to Koscielny, Chamakh, Song and Vela. It wasn’t as comfortable as that scoreline suggests with the last two goals being scored in the last twelve minutes, but still, it’s a good result and one that I’m very pleased with.

Since as I slept through it, I’m not going to comment about it.

However, I am going to comment about Wenger’s aforementioned quote. I actually attended Blackburn away and Bolton away during the 08-09 season. We won both games 4-1 and 3-0, or something similar. I remember we were great going forward, but we were terrible going back. In Blackburn away especially, they played right through our midfield and sliced us open. It was a case of the Arsenal being great at the things that Wenger is passionate about, but terrible at the things he dislikes.

So, have things really changed? We’re still good going forward. We’re probably a lot more effective going forward now that we’ve converted to a 4-3-3. But we’re still unsteady in defence. I remember watching the Blackburn match from a couple of weeks ago, and I was genuinely fearful whenever the opposition had the ball. I don’t trust the defence, I don’t trust Song when he’s roving upfield, and I definitely don’t trust Almunia. There are just too many liabilities for me to ever feel comfortable with this team. Without some sort of defensive tactical discipline, I always think we’re one slip-up away from conceding.

Okay, we showed a bit more resilience. Song and co. are 2 years’ more experienced, and that shows up in their play. They don’t crumple in games “up North” when things go bad. They score more late goals. They try harder when the mood suits them. All these things are a natural consequence of having played 60+ more league games.

But is that enough?

I’d feel more confident in the team if we got ourselves a goalkeeper. And if we could nail Song down in front of the defence. And if I knew we could trust Koscielny and Squillaci with the centre-back positions for the rest of the season. And especially if we could stop conceding weak goals from corners, set-pieces and fast breaks down the flanks.

I’m probably being a bit harsh. We’ve got 10 points from 12, and we’re second on the league. We’ve played two of our bogie teams and got 3 points from each. We’ve played Liverpool away and got a point from that. So we’re not too bad. We could definitely be in a much worse position.

So on the 225th last day of my 20s, I had deep, serious thoughts about buying an iPhone 4. I have an embarrassingly old phone which serves my needs quite well, and which is virtually indestructible. I don't really use it, other than for SMS and the occasional call.

And yet, I was playing Veggie Samurai on a friend's iPhone this afternoon, and I realise I really want a phone which would enable me to dice numerous digital vegetables as fast as manically possible. I want a phone which would enable me to access youTube videos on the go, watch highlights from Premier League matches, check Facebook and email every five seconds. I want something sleek and black and coated in shiny, cool glass.

I realise it's just irrational, but I don't seem to get over Apple-related tech-lust. The last two times I had it, I succumbed to a MacBook and an iMac respectively. There's something so seductive about Apple products. You know that they're expensive, that Steve Jobs is probably evil, and there are cheaper, more effective equivalents out there, but still… there's nothing on the market that's as cool as an Apple product.

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