For a man renowned for his love of details, it makes me chuckle a bit to think of Arsene Wenger leaving his Blackberry in London. It’s something you or I might do…in a fit of rush to get to the airport, something’s always going to be forgotten. But for Arsene Wenger, a man who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes statistics and details…well, it just makes Le Boss seem a little more like the rest of us, no? In any event, the Great Blackberry Debacle seems to have been sorted and it appears we’re on the verge of adding Laurent Koscielny to the squad from Lorient. I won’t have too much comment on the addition, nor will Andy, until it’s officially announced on the dot.com. But in reviewing a few things about our new man, he certainly put up some stellar statistics last season and if the Lorient supporters’ reactions to his performances are any indication, well, we might just be getting another Vermaelen along the back four. I won’t complain at all if that’s how he works out.
Right. Back to the 2010 World Cup. Match Day 18 brought Robin van Persie and Netherlands to the pitch against Slovakia. On paper, this really shouldn’t have been much of a match. Arjen Robben got the start for the Oranje, and all the attacking pieces were in place for a comfortable Dutch victory. But this was not a great possession match for Netherlands. Slovakia controlled quite a bit of the time, albeit a lot of midfield possession and few actual attempts on goal, but the Dutch had difficulties pushing on with sustained pressure (especially in the first half). I have definite concerns about Netherlands going forward. As I mentioned briefly from their last match, they need to tighten up at the back four, and they have some formation problems up front. Yes, all the pieces are there, but I’m not sure all the pieces are in the right place or are working together properly. There are times when the Dutch look nervous or annoyed with each other on the pitch. The attack breaks down too easily or the finishing isn’t there and the defense wobbles in a way that a more proficient squad than Slovakia would make the Dutch pay dearly. A squad like…Brazil, whom the Dutch face in the quarterfinals. Back to this match though, and it was Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder netting goals for Netherlands on 18 and 84 minutes, respectively. Slovakia’s Robert Vittek became their all-time leading scorer with a 90+4 minute penalty kick.
Frustrating Day Ends With Second Half Sub
Robin’s getting frustrated. You can see it on the pitch, and you could see it as he protested to gaffer Bert van Marwijk as he was subbed off for Klaas Jan Huntelaar on 80 minutes. As usual, Robin got the start up top flanked by Kuyt and Robben, with Sneijder at ACM. One positive thing I see is how easily Robin switches back and forth between the central role and wide right. That can only be a good thing for the upcoming Arsenal season as I expect that will happen as a regular tactic in our attack with either Chamakh or Bendtner in the flanking position. van Persie’s first real chance on goal came on 7 minutes, when Kuyt lofted in a cross from the left third to RVP in the box. It was a good chance at a header, but the pass was tipped by a Slovakian defender just as it came to van Persie and went past the touch line for a corner. A few minutes later, controlling and turning superbly just outside the box, Robin dribbled into the left area and fed Sneijder nicely for a shot, but the keeper was up to the task and made the save. Netherlands continued to mount rather mediocre pressure on the Slovakian defense, but there was no joy to be found for the Arsenal striker. Just before halftime, Robin got off a chocolate-legged attempt on goal, but like much of the Dutch attack it was pretty feeble. On 58 minutes van Persie took a nice free kick from about 30 yards out on the right that tested the keeper, but again, no joy for our man. With relatively little to show for his 80 minutes, Robin was subbed for Huntelaar. One gets the feeling that, while van Persie is the central striker, he’s not the central focus of the attack and I think this is starting to grate on Robin a bit.
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