ANR reply from Nick : Cesc and fighting qualities

Myles,

I have to agree with a lot of the points Dan made.

Nasri and Rosicky played poorly during the second half of last season, but they remain very good players who just seem to have lot their way.  Eboue and Walcott have flaws and neither is genuinely World Class, but neither are first choice at Arsenal and are good squad players.  Song is not spectacular, but a holding midfield player is not meant to be, and I believe he is emerging as a genuinely World Class player in that position.

Why did Arsenal fall away so badly last year?  I wish I knew the answer.  Injuries are the easy excuse, but there has got to be more to it than that.  Where I do agree with you is that there are players who have become lazy and that their prima donna personalities have been pandered to. 

Of the players you have highlighted, I would include all but Eboue and Song in this list.  Song always appears to give 100% and Eboue has since he got over his own well publicised issues.  The others are inconsistent, as have been Arshavin (I know you feel he walks on water), Diaby, Eduardo, Sagna and Clichy.  These are all very talented players, but far too often they look like they lack focus.

The great 1997/98 team had several workmanlike players, but it never lacked commitment.  In many ways the Invincibles were the turning point, with more and more focus on talent and less on heart.  Now I don’t want to turn Arsenal into Bolton, but there must be a middle ground. 

I think that Wenger has realised this, with both Vermaelen and Koscielny being noted for their “fighting qualities”.

With the economic clouds descending on many football teams (notably Barcelona) and the new UEFA strictures on team sizes and financial matters, and with Arsenal (due to the bank-imposed prudence during the Emirates/Highbury development periods) being one of the most soundly financed teams in Europe, they have the opportunity to be at the top of the pile, but they need more heart.


Myles replies:

I don’t think anybody walks on water. I don’t really suffer from hero-worship.

Footballers are people, actors are people, singers are people. Stars are people with specialised abilities

Yes, Arshavin is an enigma with special abilities

He did it for Guus Hiddink. He did it for Dick Advocaat. He hasn’t done it for Wenger.

He did it at Anfield when he scored four goals in a game Arsenal could not win when they were 4-2 up with a few minutes left. If I was disappointed by that, how disappointed was Arshavin? You score four goals at Anfield and draw?

That would depress me. I would wonder about the meaning of life if  I scored FOUR GOOD GOALS at Liverpool and my team conceded four at the other end.

I’d wonder what kind of idiots I was playing alongside.

I remember being at the Emirates to see Arshavin debut for Arsenal. After 15 minutes I thought he should be playing behind the striker. His shooting ability and vision were wasted on the wing, even in a team as fluid as that one.

It’s a good that Arsenal has less debt now.

But a tidy balance sheet doesn’t get me jumping out of my seat and punching the air.