Hello again. Nice to see you. Sort of. The ‘see’ bit, not the ‘nice’ bit by the way. If you catch my drift.
I had a pretty good day yesterday despite the lack of Arsenal happenings. I went to Suncorp Stadium to watch Australia give Qatar a 4-0 thumping – in the pouring rain I might add – to move to the top of their Asian World Cup qualifying group. I thought it was an excellent performance by Australia against a half-decent Qatar side, with Josh Kennedy and Tim Cahill the standout performers and incidentally, both grabbed a goal.
Cahill’s performance was a little worrying for the simple fact that Arsenal come up against his Everton team this weekend. He always seems to have a goal in him so I’m just hoping he gets affected by some serious jetlag from his trip back to the UK. Sorry Timmy.
Although no Arsenal players took part in the Australia-Qatar match, there were a handful of players who took part in other World Cup qualifiers. However, none of them really did anything so I’m not going to waste your time going into what they didn’t do. I hope you understand.
What I will speak about (before moving onto the shirt giveaway – woo!) are some rather candid comments made by one of the players who did do something for his country last night, Cesc Fabregas. Speaking about the apparent lack of experience and quality in the current Arsenal midfield and the way it might be affecting his individual game, young Fabregas had this to say:
“I scored 13 goals last season but then I had plenty of allies. Rosicky was around, Flamini covered every blade of grass and Hleb was like a brother to me out there. The team played with a lot of skilful touches, we were as solid as a brick wall and our opponents would not get a look in. Now none of those players are in the side and I feel like a rare being. We are more defensive-minded and sturdy as a team but we don’t play so much skilful stuff.”
These are very interesting comments for two reasons. One, because they’re exactly what every Arsenal supporter bar Arsene Wenger himself has been saying since the transfer window closed and two, because they’re coming from our best and most important player. If Fabregas, the spiritual leader and undoubted future of the Arsenal Football Club, is making comments like this than I think we as supporters have every right to feel a little worried.
Fabregas has been so faithful and positive during his time at the club but for the first time I am genuinely concerned that he might be looking else to continue his football education. Whether he moves on or not is another thing entirely, but what matters is that what he is saying about the decrease in quality in the midfield from last season to this season is 100% true.
The most striking comment Fabregas makes is about the effort that Mathieu Flamini put in last season and there is a clear undertone from the Spaniard that noone else at the club is quite up to his old buddy’s standard, a point I tend to agree with. I am a firm believer that if and when Abou Diaby gets back to full fitness we will have a central-midfield partnership worth crowing about but his body is so unreliable that it’s almost irresponsible for Wenger to be counting on that solution to the problem. Which is frustrating.
Cesc’s admission that the side has become more defensive is down to the fact that he is having to defend more. Last season Flamini’s boundless energy and enthusiasm freed Fabregas up to be deadly going forward but this season it has just not been possible. Denilson has struggled in the more defensive role while Alex Song – a far better fit alongside Cesc, in my opinion – has been used sparingly.
Anyway, that’s all I’m going to say about it now. Sorry to come off so negatively but I’ve said time and time again that Flamini was an exceptionally important part of our side last season and it’s frustrating that he has not been replaced. Granted, Diaby might prove to be the long-term answer but if his long-term development comes at the huge cost of Fabregas losing patience and leaving the club then it will prove to be the biggest mistake Wenger has made in his career.
On to the competition! The kind folks at SoccerPro have kindly donated an official Arsenal home kit for me to giveaway to one lucky reader of the blog. Woo!
There is one tiny eensy weensy catch to this competition and it is that only subscribers of the Arsenal FC Blog mailing list are eligible to enter. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I just changed my mailing list software to AWeber and, as a result, this competition will only be available to those who have since signed up to my new mailing list. It is, of course, free and you can read all the details of how to sign up to the Arsenal FC Blog mailing list in yesterday’s post. Or just sign up here.
Once you’ve done that all you have to do to enter is answer the following question:
Which former Arsenal and Nigerian player is Emmanuel Adebayor’s footballing hero?
So, just send your responses to SoccerProComp@arsenalfcblog.com to be in the draw to win. I will be announcing the winner in next Friday’s post to allow for any technical issues with subscriptions and give as many people as possible the chance to enter. Good luck.
Anyway, that’s it for today. Thanks for reading and I’ll speak to you tomorrow.
Have your say on Cesc’s comments or the Arsenal Home Shirt Competition by leaving a comment.