Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunderland - Arsenal: Late Review

Sunderland - Arsenal (1-0)
Darren Bent (71')

I was very excited when I saw the team sheet, I could not really believe that Arsene Wenger fielded such an attacking side, especially we were the away team. Eduardo played as the central forward (as Van Persie was injured) flanked by Nasri and Rosicky, while Fabregas and Ramsey (as Diaby was injured) played in central midfield while Song covered the back four. Honestly, I have been wanting to watch how Arsenal will perform if all their exciting, attacking players were fielded. I believe this is the desire of many Arsenal fans as well.

However, few things worried me. Firstly, this team was very different from the usual lineup. As Wenger pointed out recently as he shared about his 'green lights' and 'red lights' gameplay, he said, "When you change more than three players from game to game you take a technical risk." He did so in this game, even though mainly due to injuries. Instead of opting for the more experienced and perhaps the fitter Mikael Silvestre, Wenger chose Armand Traore, who just came back from injury, to start the game as the left-back. Also, he had to field Eduardo in central forward in replacement of Van Persie. Furthermore, he fielded Nasri and Rosicky (who were not in the line up in the previous game) instead of Arshavin (perhaps because Arshavin was late to return after the international game), while Ramsey was only playing his second consecutive game beside Fabregas. There were too many changes to the side, and this perhaps explain the lack of creativity and fluency in the game. Understanding needs to be develop, and when you have so many changes to the side, the players need time to forge understanding and confidence towards one another.

Secondly, without the presence of combative players such as Eboue, Diaby and Van Persie, the team looks fragile when Sunderland attacked. Even though we had many attacking and creative players, these players lack the grit and determination to fight back the ball as the aforementioned combative players had. Thus, the team looked sloppy and lazy, not showing any desire to win the game.

Thirdly, after watching Ramsey playing two games alongside Fabregas, it reminds me of Lampard-Gerrad combination. Ramsey is too similar to Fabregas, both have the innate ability to control the pace and direction of the game from midfield, and thus, when Fabregas plays, Ramsey seemed unable to utilise his gift.

That's all for now. As much as I am worried when I watched players like Eboue and Diaby handle the ball, I realised how essential they are to the balance of the team. They provide that extra steel and determination that the attacking players cannot give.

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