I don’t think anyone could argue against the fact that we had leaders at the back last night. William Gallas showed last night how to lead the defence. Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna tend to give off the aura of being experienced because of the reliable quality of their performances. They were all excellent last night and the strong sense of leadership at the back meant the inexperienced one in defence, Johan Djourou, again flourished.
But from where I sat there was no leadership in midfield. No player who could put their foot on the ball and control the pace of the game. No-one who could make the inexperienced yet talented players around them improve their performances to the quality that should be delivered by an Arsenal midfielder. Abou Diaby, Denilson and Alex Song ran around like chickens with their heads cut off last night because none of them have the experience to lead a midfield.
Before anyone gets on my back I must make it clear that I’m not blaming the midfield trio. No-one at the age of 21 should be expected to lead the Arsenal midfield. Cesc Fabregas can do it because he is an exceptionally gifted player and a natural-born leader, something that is perhaps rarer than people realise in professional football. But games last night are won by having leaders in the right positions with the ability to provide the stability for the creative players around them to flourish.
The biggest problem with last night’s performance was a lack of quality service for Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor. I’m sure there will be many people that criticise Adebayor for his performance, but I can’t see how a striker can be expected to shine when the ball is given to them so infrequently and with such inaccuracy as it was against Everton.
When the passes were going astray there was no-one with the balls to step up and say; “Come on fellas! We can do better than this!” either through word or deed. Again, I’m not blaming Denilson, Diaby and Song; they simply do not have the collective experience required to turn around a poor performance and change the balance of a football game. People will point to Stamford Bridge as evidence to the contrary but we won that contest via the same means we snatched a draw in this one; through an outstanding contribution by the Premier League’s in-form striker.
The big question is what can be done to fix things? With Fabregas and Tomas Rosicky injured the only fit midfielder I consider to be a leader is Nasri. The signing of Andrei Arshavin – if it goes through – might be enough to change things if he and Nasri can avoid injury until the return of Fabregas. If they can’t or the Russian does not sign then we will continue to struggle to perform up to standard in games like this one.
It’s certainly not all doom and gloom. At the end of the day a point away to Everton is a decent result and would certainly have been seen as one by the club at the start of the season. But the worrying lack of leadership in the midfield means that these sort of results will continue to occur and with Aston Villa creeping away it’s starting to feel like a very tense time for the Arsenal Football Club.
Thoughts? I’d certainly like to hear them.
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