Arsenal v Roma Preview + clarification over Denilson and Song

Hello again – hope you’re doing well.

It was quite a day on the blog yesterday as many, many people had their say on everything from the possibility of Arsenal finishing fifth to Arsene Wenger’s team selections to the effectiveness of the Song/Denilson midfield partnership. It was an excellent debate, perhaps the best that this blog has seen in it’s almost two-year existence. 

However, judging by the some of the responses to yesterday’s post, I do feel that a few people have missed the point I was trying to make about Song and Denilson in particular. As such, before I move onto the daunting task that is Roma in the Champions League, I just want to clarify what I was trying to say about our current midfield partnership.

Clarification/Rebutle

First things first I want to make it clear that I am by no means happy with a Denilson/Song partnership in the middle. In my opinion they are both decent players who could develop well if paired with an outstanding partner – someone like Cesc Fabregas – but together they are not a good combination. I feel that neither player has the pace nor the ability to cut through the opposition defence in the same way that the likes of Fabregas or Samir Nasri do and as such pairing them together means our midfield is very defensive and devoid of any creativity.

In a perfect world I would never play the pair together. They are too inexperienced and lack the personality to stamp their authority in the way that Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini did last season. My opinion is that while Song is not necessarily the better footballer, he is the better defensive option of the pair and in a situation where the entire squad was fit my preference would be to see him partner Cesc in the middle. I know people will disagree with me but I just see more in him than I see in Denilson at this stage of their respective careers.

The point I was trying to make yesterday was that given the club’s current situation – with Fabregas and Abou Diaby both out – we have been forced to play both youngsters together in the middle. The manager has to cop a fair amount of the blame for this situation arising, but I’m sick of blaming people for something that can’t be fixed until the end of the season and I’d rather simply talk about what we can do rather than what we should have done.

I made the comment yesterday that I thought Denilson and Song did the best that could be reasonably asked of them against Sunderland; they won the midfield battle. Although they did not run the opposition ragged with their movement and passing they did ensure that we had virtually all the possession from towards the end of the first half until the end of the match. 

As a result, it placed the ball firmly in Arsene Wenger’s court with regards to throwing caution to the wind and making the changes necessary to break down a hugely negative Sunderland side. My gripe, as I tried to make clear yesterday, was that the manager did not take this option. He replaced Andrey Arshavin like-for-like with Carlos Vela but waited until just over ten minutes to go before he replaced Song. In my mind, a very poor decision and won that severely reduced our chances of winning the game.

Now these were the points I was trying to make yesterday. Somehow it turned out like I was lording Song and Denilson as the future of the Arsenal Football Club, something I really don’t believe. To be frank I’ve never seen Denilson show that he has what it takes to be a success at Arsenal while although I feel Song is doing reasonably well, he’s certainly not at the same level that Flamini was last season. Improvements could and should have been made in this area both at the start of the season and during the January transfer window. But they weren’t and this is what we’ve got, and I have to say I don’t really see the point in complaining too much more about it.

Anyway, that’s all I’m going to say on that matter. I’m hoping I don’t come across as being too self-indulgent or defensive, but I just feel that this matter in particular requires some clarification. I generally like to stay positive on this blog but I sincerely feel that I’m also not the type of supporter who glosses over the negatives to make life easier. Anyone who has read this blog for a decent period of time will surely agree.

Roma Preview

OK so, onto Roma.

To begin with, let me say that I’m delighted that there is football so soon after the Sunderland game. It means there is very little time for any doubts to creep into the squad from Saturday nor supporters’ frustrations to get out of control. It’s also another opportunity for the Arsenal boys to grab a goal, something that has been missing from the last few outings bar the 4-0 win over Cardiff.

My feelings going into this game are similar to those I feel before most Champions League first-leg ties; a mix of excitement, expectation and fear. Excitement because these games are usually wonderful fun, expectation because a positive result will see us with one foot in the quarter-finals and fear because… well… it could be all over for yet another season.

In terms of a contest I feel that Arsenal and Roma are very evenly matched. Although I’ve not seen much of the Italian side this season they have quality players all over the pitch; Doni in goals, Juan and Mexes at the back, Taddei and De Rossi in the middle and of course Totti, Baptista and Vucinic up front. Mirko Vucinic in particular scares me as absolutely every time I watch that guy play he seems to perform out of his skin and grab a goal. I rate him as a top, top player and should he start then our defence will need to keep a real eye on him.

In terms of the players we have available, if I was manager I’d probably go for a 4-5-1 tomorrow despite it being a home game. With Wenger no doubt set to start Denilson and Song in the middle I would probably drop Nicklas Bendtner and go for a supporting cast of Carlos Vela, Abou Diaby out wide and Samir Nasri to play a floating role behind van Persie up front. In terms of getting a positive result I think it’s the only way we can improve the fluidity between our midfield and attack and if we’re struggling to get a goal, it still leaves Bendtner and Eboue *sigh* as options off the bench.

There’s no real point trying to predict the result of tomorrow’s game – the unpredictability of Arsenal’s season renders it impossible – but I would be happy to come away with any sort of win. 1-0, 2-1, I’d even take 3-2. Unlike last season against AC Milan I don’t think a 0-0 draw will be good enough to take back to Italy so I would like to see the boys give absolutely everything they’ve got to ensure they grab a first-leg lead.

That’s all for today though. Here’s to a decent performance and result under difficult circumstances at the Emirates tonight. And if you’re lucky enough to be at the game, much sure the Italians here about it!

Thanks for reading.

Have your say on yesterday’s post or Arsenal v Roma by leaving a comment.

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59 Responses to “Arsenal v Roma Preview + clarification over Denilson and Song”

  1. MoMONEY
    February 24, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    Agree 100% about Vucinic and 4-5-1. We have to neutralize that midfield somehow and I doubt Bendtner would score anyways- leave RVP up front alone.

    The good news is that Juan is probably out and Vucinic is doubtful. Even Totti is being mumbled about being unfit but I think he will play. We need a win for sure and a clean sheet would be nice. I feel like we are being underestimated a little and that we will turn a few heads tomorrow. I hope I am right but football is pointless to predict, especially when 2 teams are so evenly matched…

  2. Spanish Fry
    February 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

    @ MoMONEY – Juan is out? That’s a huge loss. Personally I reckon Mexes is a little bit mistake-prone so hopefully without his big buddy he might make and error or two.

    I don’t think Roma will play all three of Baptista, Totti and Vucinic so one will miss out. Hopefully it’s Vucinic.

  3. MoMONEY
    February 24, 2009 at 6:54 pm #

    Yea thats what they are saying over on the Roma Offside. Juan out and Vucinic doubtful. We absolutely have the chance at a good result if that is the case.

  4. karegyesa francis
    February 24, 2009 at 6:56 pm #

    Having watched the match against sunderland on saturday i may say that arsenal tried but still the combination of denilson and song is defensive but not offensive and therefore wenger should partner denilson with Nassir and give carlos a chance to start,Ebue should also start or play 5 in the middle with RVPup front and Nassir behind him.With that combination we are likely to beat as Roma 2:0

  5. Gunnersmith
    February 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    Good post i totally agree with your formation Nasri will be wonderful in that role and we will be playing two DM so i think it ok!

  6. Dally
    February 24, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    Three years ago Arsenal beat both Real Madrid and Juventus to reach the final when I think we were unfortunate to lose the final. If what ifs mattered we would have won if Lehmann had stayed on, incidently he did not conceed a goal in any of the games that he was playing in, the 1st two games when we let in goals he was banned, and he was off the pitch when Barcelona scored. Sorry if this isn’t relevant but Arsenal have the players to progress in this competition, we have all seen the goals RvP can score and if we play 4-5-1 as suggested then we will have a backbone to the defence and hopefully with Nasri and Vela a fast outlet from midfield to attack. Living in Turkey I have to wait until 21.45 before the game starts not quite as bad as our Australian cousins.

  7. Michael
    February 24, 2009 at 7:17 pm #

    I rate Denilson considerably higher than Song, who’s never suggested he might actually turn into Arsenal quality.
    Denilson could turn out to be a useful squad player, not quite good enough to play every game but he can be thrown in from time to time. Most of the time Denilson at least tries, which is more than can be said about Song sometimes, when’s at his bendtneresque pedestrian worst.

    As for the game tonight, yes we need a win but we mustn’t concede.

  8. GOONER4EVER
    February 24, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    Very good and intelligent post.I see the Iqtalian side quite frequently,and sincerely,did not rate them with Inter,Juve or even Milan,but occasionally they are marvlous,as shown against Chelski.
    Agree that the Dane shoild be left on the bench,together with Eboue and with all respect Song as well.
    So my line-up will be ALMUNIA-SAGNA,CLICHY,GALLAS,TOURE
    NASRI, DENILSON,DIABY (IF FIT ENOUGH )VELA,RAMSEY,VAN PERSIE,as for the bench I prefer,FABRIANSKI,SONG,WILSHIRE,BENDTNER,DJOUROU,RANDALL

  9. Gibbs
    February 24, 2009 at 7:26 pm #

    I think we’ll win this one. Mexes is suspect at the back. If Bendy and RvP work hard enough theyll get the break through. I know Vela wont start so i wont even bother. Diaby should start in CM i think he is far more agressive than Deni and Song, we need a player like to take on DDR.

    Al
    Sagna,Gallas,Toure,Clichy
    Eboue,Deni,Diaby,Nasri
    Bendy,RvP

    This is the most realistic lineup from Wenger imo.

  10. Gooneron
    February 24, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    as much as i like the idea, unfortunately I don’t see wenger playing nasri in the middle, though he’s the most creative player we’ve got at the moment…don’t know why but le boss always seems to prefer best-side-passer-in-the-world denilson in there,(apparently he thinks the latter can shoot n dribble better and can provide the defence splitting pass!)… this season would’ve been oh so diff. if we’d played nasri in the ‘hole’ behind ade n rvp (that was where he played 4 marseille n became a star); cesc absence wouldn’t have been dearly missed as much… i totally agree with you when you say that we should start with vela in left midfield though i’d play bendtner n would really love to see one of those two villains from saturday’s game, song and denilson, be dropped…bt like u said, this seems unlikely and this is where it might all go horribly wrong 4 us… unless rvp and nasri come up with something special, I really don’t see us winning the game with these two clowns playing together…

  11. GOONER4EVER
    February 24, 2009 at 8:05 pm #

    IT’S OFFICIAL…REFEREE IS CLAUS BO LARSSON AND THE ONLY ABSENTEES EXCEPT MEXES WHO IS SUSPENDED ARE CASSETTI AND MENEZ

  12. MoMONEY
    February 24, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

    Mexes suspended? First Ive heard of this… I think you are mistaken…

    I do think Nasri in the middle is preferable but only if we have someone who can play on the left to keep the field wide. If Diaby is fit I would rather put him out there and Nasri in the middle. If Diaby is not fit then Nasri will be on the left as Vela will not start IMO

  13. wrighty
    February 24, 2009 at 8:22 pm #

    Whats becoming painfully obvious to me is that every man and his dog wants Arsenal to fail. And fail miserably too. I understand that it’s frustrating to be a Gooner at the moment (expensive too!) but we really need to pull together and prove everyone out there wrong. Excuse my lingo but Screw ‘EM! The team need us more than ever and the booing (that I can understand) probably doesn’t help them. According to Stan Collymore we are living in dreamland if we think we are going to finish in the top four. SCREW HIM TOO! Lets prove Muppet’s like him wrong. These “experts” and others are predicting our demise and they can’t wait to say I told you so. I’m fired up, and I’m sure every Gooner is, for the rest of the season. We can still achieve something this campaign despite the seemingly negative position we find ourselves in. We CAN catch the top four, we CAN win the Champions League and we CAN win the FA Cup despite the situation we find ourselves in. There is so much at stake still this season. It could still be a big one. We need an “us against the world” attitude and maybe if we Gooners show this then the players will adopt the same attitude too.

  14. wrighty
    February 24, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Of course the Emirates holds no fear anymore, our crowd are doing the opposition’s job for them, because their negativity, lack of support and booing of our players have sucked the confidence out of the team. The longer the game went on without us scoring the more anxious the crowd and the team became – it’s 6 of 1 and half a dozen of another, but as supporters, we need to stand up and be counted before we can expect more from what is a very young team, without some of it’s best creative players on the pitch. The difference in atmosphere and performance between Monday and Saturday was significant. How many times do the away fans have to chant ’shall we sing a song for you?’ before we buck up our ideas?

  15. SuperBobbyPires
    February 24, 2009 at 8:27 pm #

    Yes. It’s been exactly 7 days since we stuck 4 goals past a team. It seems like so long ago. Wait that’s only a week!

    We also scored 3 goals twice in January.

    what annoys me is that there was no gallvanising of the troops

    I’m interested in how eactly you would do this? I mean, unless you’re suggesting Wenger should run on the pitch and slap Denilson in the face every time he gives the ball away, what do you want him to do? Surely the only thing he can do is give a good team talk at half time – and I’m guessing like the rest of us, you have no idea what he actually said to the team after the first 45.

    The trouble is, he had nearly three strikers on if you count Vela who was pushed right up – and despite what other people on here would have you believe, Sunderland didn’t just sit and defend, they looked bloody dangerous on the counter attack.

    So would you have Wenger take off a midfielder or defender for a striker (of which he had none on the bench) and possibly lose the game 1-0?

    You’d of rightfully called him an idiot if he did that. So let’s give the man a break.

    Let’s not think of games as *MUST WIN* and instead think of them as *MUST NOT LOSE*.

  16. zazzy
    February 24, 2009 at 8:30 pm #

    The main complaint I have about sat is that everybody seemed to have resigned from their responsibility in playing a part in scoring a goal and putting it all on Arshavin instead. So what if it was his debut. He shouldn’t have been the only one trying to make things happen. Everybody else looked completely disinterested. There was such a shocking lack of urgency about our play, that I was feeling angry. And when the odd chance fell to someone, they made a disgusting mess of it.
    And I have to agree with Kieran on one point. It wasn’t as if Sunderland were defending with 10 men throughout. They were attacking us occasionally and looked dangerous on the counter.
    I think our lack of goals scored goes hand in hand with our lack of goals conceded. I just read an article on SkySports where Sagna ‘reveals’ the defensive approach Arsenal have changed to, this season, as compared to last season. He basically says that certain people left the club and because we are a young side, and because we started to concede too many goals, they decided to change to a more defensive approach. Sagna says that now his first priority is to defend rather than to make those attacking runs we’ve come to depend on from our fullbacks. For too long they’ve been an integral part of our attack, and I think now teams have figured us out pretty well, and part of the reason why we always face a swarm of 10 defenders every time we attack is because we take too much time to wait for the fullback to make the attacking run, to pass to him.
    So the fullbacks being defensive can be a good thing. It’s certainly helped us keep quite a few clean sheets. I’d rather have my midfield and attack working towards scoring rather than relying on two defenders to help. It also gets very predictable seeing it happen in most of our attacks.
    This obviously means our midfield will have to do more work from now on. I suppose it makes sense to give more responsibility to the midfield now that they’ve had a decent few months to work together. I’m not hoping for a drastic change though because Denilson + Song is too weak to compete against most other teams in the league, let alone challenge for titles. But finally I think we’re going to see an Arsenal side that plays with penetrative, more direct wingers in Arshavin and Nasri, and Walcott, Vela and Rosicky (and Eboue even though he’s pretty useless, he is direct).
    We have drawn 3 games nil-nil at the Emirates but certain things about the team do make me feel a sense of reserved optimism. At the start of the season people were talking about Arsenal being title-contenders. Towards the end of the first half of the season we started to fall from title-contenders to champions league-place contenders. So I’ve already been through the ‘worry, disdain, frustration, anger, given-up’ phase. Now it has started to look like there’s a relatively stronger foundation to the squad as compared to the first half of the season. It’s something we can build on. Hopefully the goals will also start to come. And some of the injured troops coming back will surely help. The squad is pretty thin at the moment, so it does make a bit of sense that we haven’t been on our game as we would have liked.

  17. ian tanner
    February 24, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    since that scintillating and thoroughly deserved win against the Mancs three-and-a-half months ago, Arsenal have scored just four goals in seven home Premier League matches. The other causes for concern are less widely publicised and appreciated. We have recently lost key backroom personnel: team doctor, head physio and now our multi award-winning head groundsman, Paul Burgess. Are we to be a feeder employer for national organisations and bigger football clubs (as distinct from bigger football teams)?

    I’ve long argued that Arsenal are not and never will be a “big club” in the way that applies to ManYoo and Liverpool. Another illustration occurred at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. Ronaldo should have been cautioned for his Eboue-like kick but referees are seldom strong enough to give these when they see them; the pressure on them is intense. As Big Fat Sam summarised: “… it’s difficult to ref here …” when opining about the latest, blatant non-penalty for a Premiership away team at The Swamp. This was a game United could easily have lost and ended with 10 men, but they and their arrogance rolls on. As I’ve said many times before, there’s absolutely nothing that Arsene or Arsenal can do to change this, and attempts in the immediate future at league domination by our boys will therefore be massively handicapped.

    Half Full: four consecutive clean sheets, three goals conceded in the last 10 games in all competitions, and 16 unbeaten since Citeh away, if one not unreasonably ignores two 2-0 away reverses – at Porto and Burnley – by our second string. But whereas Blackburn had a reported 24 (!) attempts at goal – 16 on target and hitting the post – opponents at E******s have shown very little ambition recently, which I regard as a very encouraging trend. Bolton were totally devoid of ambition, West Ham were little better and, after a bright first few exchanges, promotion-chasing Cardiff mounted an exercise in damage limitation. Sunderland passed the ball extremely well at times, but as the match wore on their impressive striker, Kenwyne Jones, became increasingly isolated. Almunia had just to maintain concentration in the second half, so redundant was he. In the first he had only to deal with two speculative shots from distance.

    Adebayor, Eduardo, Theo, Cesc, Diaby and Rosicky are all close to returns. These players will add to our potency, either directly and / or indirectly. And then there’s Arshavin, but only when he’s adjusted fully to the English game (despite Saturday’s highly encouraging first half display from him, please don’t expect too much too soon). It may come too late to rescue a CL spot for next season – our best route may be to win the thing! – but the future is a lot brighter than many think. I can understand the boos of frustration at full time, which I think was largely down to the lack of second half chances than to a third consecutive Premier League stalemate. Whilst our team gets older and more mature, the ManU manager will also get older, though not more mature. One day quite soon Old Red Nose will retire, and Old Trafford will be a less intimidating place to officiate. We may soon have a more level playing field; and silverware will follow.

    Keep the faith.

  18. cital
    February 24, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    SF, There is a very subtle, yet crucial point made in this – if we do not concede tonight, we will go through…and our strength has been surprisingly defensively of late…we know that we can score a goal away despite drying up lately, but to concede tonight would be suicidal
    Taking a 0-0 to Rome would, in my opinion, be a good result and the pressure would be on them because every attack could mean a counter by Arsenal and a goal would virtually eliminate them!

  19. Jay
    February 24, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Tonight i would go with this.
    Almunia
    Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy
    Denilson
    Vela Diaby Nasri
    Bendtner
    Van persie.

  20. Jay
    February 24, 2009 at 9:06 pm #

    But we all know it will be…

    Almunia
    Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy
    Eboue Denilson Song Nasri
    RvP Bendtner.

  21. MoMONEY
    February 24, 2009 at 9:13 pm #

    It is essential that we do not concede. However we cannot sit back and defend. Play 4-5-1 and try to control the ball. Eboue will start I think and I hope Diaby does but on the wing and not in the center.

  22. cital
    February 24, 2009 at 9:20 pm #

    Ok its pancake today is this a sign that we can put roma in a frying pan and flatten them? Can we turn up the heat at the emirates and change them to aroma? Ha ha seriously upset I cant make this match have to bloody work! I hope for the sake of Arsene wenger not having egg on his face we get a result because if he doesnt well the Sun will have a field day lol. Then again last year the chavs got done by Fernabache and they ended up in the final so just saying nothing is done after the first leg either way. Diaby coming back is good as our injury list along with ineligible players robs us of quite a bit of depth. As much as he has been terrible all year long these are the kind of games that Adebayor usually sparkles in however, if Bendtner gets the nod he should be just as effective as long as he remains a target in the box no need for him to drop short as he only ends up giving the ball away. I have heard he has been looking better to be honest I havent seen all that much change but hey im just a harsh critic. For the love of God please do not start Eboue! Its time to show that famed belief and quality wenger always goes on about!

  23. frichie
    February 24, 2009 at 9:20 pm #

    Sad to say but the team will be

    Eboue, Den/Song, Nasri
    Bendtner and RvP

    Mark my words.

  24. butterfingers
    February 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    @ wrighty you are right about the crowd but it’s always been this way at the emirates as highbury was so trenched in history from the perfect blades of grass to the marble halls with the bust of herbert chapman and with 38,000 fans so close to the players they knew they were being adored as the 5-1 drubbing of Middlesbrough in 99 was the last game I watched before coming over to oz and the feeling was awesome but even with my new fancy telly it just doesn’t sound like the same. I wonder if all those same fans like the people across from highbury that used to sell merch from there front door steps and run over to watch the match were able to pay the new inflated prices for the new seats at the emirates or being in a new home they might not feel as comfortable yelling at the team to “come on” as they are around unfamiliar faces, as my uncle used to call all the season tix holders around him his extended family and spent more time with them talking about arsenal than anyone bar me in our family (they are all chavs).
    I just hope I get over and see what the emirates is like just to see if the new breed of fan (plastics) took over our much wanted seats and people complaining about 3 0-0 draws imagine sitting in my seat when gg was in charge and watching adams hoof the ball up the pitch time after time. When our team is all fit and unbiased refs towards manure are gone then we will see the glory days back and hopefully I will hear some chanting in the morning from my fancy telly.

  25. shambogunner
    February 24, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    cant say i agree SF bout playin 4-5-1 tonight,weve had lesser teams than roma come and shut us out at our place.were playing an ITALIAN side,these teams are tradionally ultra defensive away from home so id guess playing that formation could result in another 0-0 or worse.you cannot play RVP alone up front,he cant retain possession in that situation,he lacks the physicality and aerial power and hes a link up player,we need to play to our strengths…my team for tonight would be 4-3-1-2
    ALMUNIA
    SAGNA,TOURE,GALLAS,CLICHY,
    SONG,DENILSON,DIABY,
    NASRI,
    RVP BENDTNER

    I understand why some people wanna play 5 in midfield but it really wont change the mindsets of song and denilson,,it wont make them anymore offensive or creative,in fact they would prob play 10 yard cross field passes until theres 10mins left and realise theres a game to be won!!!
    This formation would free up nasri while still havin the def influence of song and deni.Id just like to see us grab a game by the neck from the KO and have a real good go, at this stage of watching so many boring draws at home it wud be refreshing to see AW at least try something different

  26. Peter Georgiadis
    February 24, 2009 at 10:23 pm #

    straight from skysports….

    this is good news for us:

    Roma, though, could see Arsenal ripe for the taking as they look to edge the Emirates Stadium fixture ahead of the return leg at Stadio Olimpico next month.

    Head coach Luciano Spalletti may be forced into a late reshuffle after star striker Francesco Totti and right-back Cicinho both failed to complete training on Monday night.

    Totti is said to be carrying a groin complaint and Cicinho has been struggling with a knee injury, while injured pair Juan and Mirko Vucinic look set to miss out.

    Roma currently lie sixth in Serie A after mounting some impressive form following a difficult start to the season.

  27. Gibbs
    February 24, 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    I hope we go through to the next round. Cesc and Rosicky will be back in just 3 weeks, Walcott and Eduardo are 2 weeks away from returning. If we get past Roma, we’ll stand a good chance of winning the CL.

  28. Fatboy
    February 24, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    @ butterfingers and wrighty – you’re both right that the atmosphere at the Emirates isn’t a patch on what it was at Highbury. However, that was nicknamed “the library” by opposing fans because it could be quiet as well. It seems it’s just an Arsenal thing. The range of songs sung by Arsenal fans is small compared to most other clubs. We sing the same songs that were sung 20 years ago. There’s very little imagination in this area. I’ve been going to Arsenal games for well over 20 years and it’s always been the same. Arsenal crowds only seem to respond in big games for some reason. Having said that, I would challenge anyone to get excited about the dross that was on display on Saturday!

    @SF – Good points about the midfield mate. You’re quite right that the Song/Denilson partnership is poor, and that AW shoulders the blame. However, what do you think about the point that someone made yesterday about Kolo doing the DM job? Denilson definitely isn’t a defensive midfielder.

    Re: Roma. I agree that 4-5-1 would be prudent. this doesn’t have to be a defensive formation, especially if the wide men push up. I confess I haven’t really seen Roma this season. I do know that if we concede, we’ll be in trouble; we certainly don’t want to be going to the away leg needing to score.

  29. buxton
    February 25, 2009 at 12:20 am #

    I love this kind of attitude. If only more Arsenal blogs would carry on this upbeat sentiment. Rather than hammering Song and Denilson, they ought to acknowledge that these two have strengthened the midfield and helped us to gain defensive stability as of late.

  30. Peter Georgiadis
    February 25, 2009 at 12:21 am #

    just in

    Totti, vuccinic, Cicinio, Menez, Juan, Panucci, Casseti all set to miss out tonight!!! and Spaletti is toing with the idea of Danieli De Rossi to play CB…

    let us pray that this is all true!!!

  31. Pridesfoe
    February 25, 2009 at 12:59 am #

    Roma are great opposition to face. They are going through their own injury issues, but that not withstanding they still have class spread out through their team. In recent weeks they started scoring from unlikely positions, which tells me that we need to watch the entire team as opposed to trying to single out major threats. They pass well, they counter well, and sometimes their combination of pace (Vucinic) and power (Baptista) is the football equivalent of Shock and Awe. That being said, we can totally take them. C’mon ARSENAL!!!!

  32. Filipino Dan
    February 25, 2009 at 1:14 am #

    Both sides are missing key players, so I guess it will go down to who have the best squad and how they play on the night.

    Wenger has been saying for ages that the youngsters will prove how good they are. He has brought them through and groomed them for years now. he has shown faith in their ability when others were unsure and stubbornly stuck by them through thick and thin.

    With Denilson, Song, Vela and Bendtner all likely to feature at some point, this is where they will be judged. Tonight – the Champions League knock-out stages.

    I personally belive that we can overcome Roma. Absolutely. Even with their added incentive to get to the final (which is held in Rome).

    It’s all very exciting stuff.

  33. jay-jay
    February 25, 2009 at 1:49 am #

    I have a couple of things to say:

    1)Appartently Fabregas has told AW he is fit enough to play but the boss isnt going to risk playing him. I would say bring him on off the bench.

    2) AW usually goes for a 4-5-1 and therefore im going for this:
    Almunia
    Sagna-Toure-Gallas-Clichy
    Nasri-Song-Deni-Vela
    Diaby
    Van Persie.
    I think Diaby works well in that position. It also allows the Deni and Song partnership to be defensive and that may see them play really well. The same wide man as the Cardiff game, for me that just worked! Who else but Rvp upfront, in form and id pick him over Niklas any day. Now our back 4 have been very good recently and so i would go for the same back 4 but we have options of Gibbs (LB), Djourou (CB) and if needed Eboue (RB), we have Ramsey, Fabregas to rotate in the cm and Cam positions, and i hear Walcott could make an appearance too. Bendtner does relatively well in the UCL and does better as a sub so i think thats a guarenteed sub.

    Lastly) our midfield can change a lot.
    -Samir Nasri – CM/CAM/Either Wing
    -Denilson – CM/RM
    -Alex Song – CDM/CM
    -Abou Diaby – CDM/CAM/CM/LM
    -Cesc Fabregas – CM/CAM
    -Carlos Vela – LM/ST

    even Johan Djourou has played as a CDM, but we hav a lot of options for our mid to play so if our starting formation doesnt work, I feel confident that we can swap players around and eventually grind out a result.

  34. guyfrmars
    February 25, 2009 at 3:15 am #

    A draw as Cital said is a good result. Arsenal tends to play better against better teams and Roma is the best opponent against us. In fact, i bet my money for us to win.
    The attacking players have to buck up and prove their worth. If we get players taking shots in the first 15 mins in the first half and later early in the 2nd half, we could win this.

  35. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 5:35 am #

    The team is just as i predicted.
    Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Toure, Clichy, Eboue, Diaby, Deni, Nasri, Bendy, RVP. subs: Vela, Fabianski, Ramsey, Gibbs, Djourou, Song, Merida

  36. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 6:30 am #

    1-0 to the Arsenal. RvP

  37. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 6:37 am #

    Decent half from the Gunners. Diaby and Deni are giving DeRossi a tough time in CM.
    COYG!

  38. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 7:18 am #

    Wow, Eboue is having a brilliant game, Nasri too, and RvP, Deni, Almunia, everyone in general is putting up a good performance. 1 more goal and we’re through to the next round, DeRossi is suspended for the 2nd leg

  39. ramugunner
    February 25, 2009 at 7:45 am #

    Surprising, we were the only team to win the game today. Feels so good. Our boys were motivated to perform in a big game. Everyone played part in a solid win without conceding goals. Van persie, Diaby, Sagna, Clichy, Nasri and Denilson were exceptional. “Finishing” was the only thing missing today. Bendtner and Eboue got both cocky. Horrible finishing’s. Still I am happy tonight. Lets celebrate.

  40. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 7:47 am #

    Good performance, but im disapointed with only 1 goal, we deserved more. But no worries, Eduardo and Theo will be back for the 2nd leg, 1 goal in Rome should be enough to take us through to the quater finals, it will be smoth sailing from there on with Cesc and Rosicky back in the team.

  41. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 7:53 am #

    Btw, Barca arent invincable, im not intimidated by them anymore and Inter is really not good, if thats the best Italy has got then the Serie A is not as competitive as i thought.

  42. Spanish Fry
    February 25, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    1-0, a good performance but we deserved a bit more. Bendtner and Eboue’s misses were very disappointing, as were our attacking efforts in the final half-hour.

  43. henrykissinher
    February 25, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    bendtner couldnt hit the back of a cow with a banjo.

  44. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 8:08 am #

    @ ramugunner

    Im not celebrating just yet. This was a big game, we know our lads are superb in big games. Its games against weak oposition that concern me, ill start celebrating if we convincingly beat Fulham on Saturday. So its 23 home games unbeaten in the CL, and 19 games unbeaten in all competitions. Maybe this run will stretch to 50 games (how great would that be huh?) unbeaten b/c we do look unbeatable at the mo (even though we dont score many) our defense is pretty strong.

  45. Spanish Fry
    February 25, 2009 at 8:09 am #

    🙁

  46. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    Whats with the sad face SF? WE WON FELLA!

  47. Spanish Fry
    February 25, 2009 at 8:30 am #

    Oh, it was in response to ‘henrykissinher’s comment. Poor Bendtner.

  48. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 8:36 am #

    Oh lol! He did miss some sitters, he single handedly shoulve guaranteed us a place in the last 8 by scoring a brace if not a hattrick

  49. ramugunner
    February 25, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    Oh Oh; That’s my comment from Daniels’s laptop.

    Gibbs, By saying lets celebrate, I didn’t mean this tie is all over. We will have another hell of a game in Rome. Roma are very good when playing in their ground. Vucinic and Totti will be fully fit for them.

    I was surely disappointed with Bentdner’s finishing. Also Eboue. Seriouly I could have scored goals on that kind of situations. For all season, I defended Bendtner but today I had to think twice about his ability in front of goal. If Eduardo would have been there, the game would have been over. Any good finisher could have grabbed 2 goals with those chances. Very sad with Bendtner’s effort. Eboue missed a shitter but had his best game this season. Diaby and Denilson partnership is more productive than Song/Denilson. If you guys noticed, after Song entered the field we were attacked by Roma. Thanks god they didn’t score.

    Our fullbacks were outstanding after a long span of time. Looked like last season’s Sagna/Clichy.

  50. Daniel Highbury
    February 25, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    Gibbs; One plus + point for 2nd leg is that De Rossi will miss the game. Huge advantage for us: me think.

  51. ramugunner
    February 25, 2009 at 9:06 am #

    That’s me again guys. My computer is broke.

  52. ramugunner
    February 25, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    Is it only me or everyone felt that Denilson was superb tonight.

  53. Spanish Fry
    February 25, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    Denilson was excellent.

  54. MoMONEY
    February 25, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    We always make chances. Period. There have been very few games this year where we didnt (maybe Villa/ Everton) but they are always there. The problem is finishing. Even last year when we beat Milan- we barely won when we dominated so much of the game and the opportunities. I really feel like we need another natural, deadly striker up front with RVP. Hopefully eduardo can do that but selling Ade for one would not be a horrible option IMO…

    The second leg will be quite tough. They have confidence and second life and we absolutely must score. Hopefully we get some of our injured players back (Walcott, Eduardo, Adebayor at least…)

  55. MoMONEY
    February 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm #

    http://www.footyfilms.com/footyvideo.php?vid=2ff3bce92

  56. Gibbs
    February 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    Deni dominated midfield, it was DeRossi wasnt even there, it shows how good he can be with a decent partner, thats why he excelled before Cesc’s injury. I like the idea of Deni and Diaby i CM, it must be tried again against Fulham.

  57. Isukings
    March 31, 2009 at 8:07 am #

    I love arsenal fc as all time supporter.Goodluck 2 all arsenal players,coach and fans all over d world.

  58. BloggerDude
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