Clichy believes Arsenal are tougher than ever
Arsenal’s exciting left-back Gael Clichy has spoken of his belief that his side now have the physical presence on the pitch to match their technical ability. Arsenal beat a very physical Sparta Prague side 2-0 to all but book their place in the Champions League group stages. Following the match, Clichy was adamant that the Czech side’s approach to the game may not have been the best one against an Arsenal side looking to acquire a tougher edge.
“Maybe they think this is the way to play against Arsenal. We have to show that we are not the same team as before and are ready for the challenge. Every weekend, we play against a side like this in England. This season, we believe we have the football quality and the physical quality.”
I’m not sure I personally agree with Clichy, at least not at this stage. Arsenal have played two games this season – against Fulham and Sparta Prague – and whilst the results have gone their way on both occasions it was obvious their opponents still managed to trouble the side playing in a physical manner. Whilst the side has looked quite good out wide the central midfield combination of Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini has come under enormous physical pressure and not always stood up to the task. Fabregas is not the biggest of lads and whilst I like Flamini very much as a player I think he needs someone like Gilberto Silva or Abou Diaby next to him in the middle to bring out his best qualities. Blackburn this weekend will provide another major physical test and if Arsenal can come through it then I’ll be a little bit more convinced with Clichy’s statements.
Assists more important for Fabregas
After scoring his first goal of the season against Sparta Prague Cesc Fabregas has commented that it is more important for the team for him to provide assists for his teammates rather than get the goals himself.
“For me, the most important thing is to create goals really. My Spanish coach Luis Aragones always says the most important thing is goals and the feeling you get when you score is amazing. But I have been educated since I was very young to make assists and make the team play.”
I’d say that I’d prefer a little from both worlds. It’s obvious that Fabregas is right when he says that making the team play is the most important thing but I also wouldn’t be against him bagging 10 goals this season. He is such a brilliant passer of the football that he is always going to get assists from midfield but if he can add to that a reputation as a regular goalscorer then he will become the complete package. Personally, I find it difficult to take a coach like Luis Aragones seriously when he has previously used racism as a form of motivation and his comments that ‘the most important thing is goals’ just serve as a reminder that he is not the smartest manager going around in world football.
Eduardo set to play against Blackburn
There is good news for Arsenal in the build-up to the weekend’s encounter with Blackburn Rovers with the word that new signing Eduardo da Silva is likely to make the squad after recovering from an ankle injury. Manager Arsene Wenger revealed that his side pulled up well from their physical encounter against Sparta Prague on Tuesday and that Eduardo – as well as young Brazilian midfielder Denilson – should be available for the club’s second English Premier League game of the season.
“The players who come back available could be Denilson and Eduardo. I don’t think we’ll lose anyone else from last night apart from that little question mark over Eboue. We have played two hard and physical games this season already so we need fresh legs.”
Wenger’s comments seem to suggest there will be some changes made for the game against Blackburn. I mentioned earlier that Fabregas and Flamini have taken a bit of a battering in their first two games and with Denilson available it wouldn’t surprise me to see him replace Flamini in the centre of the pitch. If Emmanuel Eboue is a risk then Wenger will either probably start Theo Walcott on the right. There is also the option to pull Alexander Hleb out to the right and play Eduardo in behind Robin van Persie but I would be very disappointed if this eventuated after the blistering start to the season that Hleb has had in a support striker role.
My personal thoughts are that Hleb should stay where he is and Eduardo should start on the bench. It seems that Emmanuel Adebayor is still unavailable and if Wenger decides van Persie needs a rest then I would love to see Nicklas Bendtner get a start up front. He did well against Fulham and his big frame would cause Blackburn a lot of trouble.
What do you think?
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