Just a short and punchy Thursday blog before I slink off to my room and enjoy a little bit of an afternoon nap.
A host of Arsenal players have been speaking about the 5-2 win over Fenerbache on Tuesday night. First up was stand-in captain for the match, Manuel Almunia, who called the game as crazy and similar to a training match due to the number of chances that both sides created. In his own words:
“It was a crazy game. There were so many chances it seemed like a training match. Personally I had a strange feeling about the match, everything seemed much easier than normal in the Champions League.”
I got the same feeling watching on the TV so I can definitely see where Almunia is coming from. People have criticised the rickety nature of the defence against Fenerbache but I just think it was one of those crazy games where things go a bit mental and both teams put the emphasis on attacking. Fenerbache really came after our boys after we skipped two ahead and the fact that they only pulled two back while we scored a further three suggests that continuing to play an attacking game was the right decision by Arsene Wenger and the team.
On a personal level Almunia put in a fantastic performance as captain. There’s little doubt that once William Gallas returns to the side he will resume the captaincy but the armband seemed to galvanise Almunia and he played particularly well. I still don’t understand when people say he’s not good enough to play for Arsenal, at the moment he’s probably the most consistent goalkeeper of any of the big four sides in England and – for my money – remains hugely underrated.
Another player who has been gabbing since the win in Turkey is the human polariser, Emmanuel Adebayor. The big Togolese striker who opened the scoring against Fenerbache, has been speaking about the differences between last year’s team and this one and come to the conclusion that things are going just fine. Observe:
“What we did last season is behind us now. We have not lost a lot of players. We have only lost Hleb and Flamini but we have changed them. Nasri and Denilson have come in and are both playing good football.”
When he makes those comments it’s clear he’s focusing on the starting eleven and in that regard, he’s not far wrong. However, while I agree that Samir Nasri looks and improvement on Alex Hleb I just don’t agree that Denilson is playing as effectively as Mathieu Flamini. People keep speaking about giving Denilson a chance and quoting statistics relating to his passing percentages and tackling ability but at the end of the day he’s not doing enough to support Cesc Fabregas and he lacks the physical presence of Flamini.
Denilson will usually perform well when supported by an extra-midfielder in a 4-5-1 but I just don’t think he has what it takes to be the defensive half of a two-man midfielder in a 4-4-2. Although Abou Diaby played in quite an attacking role against Fenerbache I firmly believe he is the one who needs to play alongside Fabregas in the middle, even despite the manager’s suggestions that he is a more attacking rather than defensive player.
As such, it will be very interesting to see whether Diaby starts against West Ham this Sunday or whether Denilson holds his spot next to Fabregas. You know what I’ll be hoping for.
Just before I go today I want to give you all a final reminder that if you’re keen on winning the FREE Arsenal home shirt kindly donated to the blog by SoccerPro, you can enter the competition here. As I’ve said time and time again this week you need to be a subscriber of the blog to enter, so if you’re yet to subscribe you can do so here. I’ll be announcing the winner of the shirt in tomorrow’s blog so stay tuned!
In the meantime I’m off to have a nap. Have a good Thursday.