Monday, November 9, 2009

Diaby shown up again: Wolves 1-4 Arsenal

I was surprised at Wenger's team selection against Wolves- coupling Ramsey and Diaby in front of the back four. True, I have been calling for the inclusion of the young Welshman, but I hoped it would be in place of Diaby, not in tandem with him.

Well, after 25 minutes or so of Wolves dominance over a lethargic-looking Arsenal, I got my wish, when we were granted the familiar sight of the brittle French midfielder breaking down injured. The difference in performance thereafter- albeit aided by two fortuitous own goals- illustrated that the once-maligned Song is now absolute streets ahead of the once-trumpeted Diaby. At the moment, Song is quite possibly the most IMPORTANT cog in the Arsenal machine.

In modern football, and certainly in a 4-3-3 as attack-minded as Arsenal's current system- the "Makalele" role is paramount. Wenger took a gamble on Saturday that, to me, looked risky from the start. He played six attackers- and two attacking full-backs don't forget- and in my opinion, though the result looks comfortable, a simple twist of fate- and of Abou's leg- may have been decisive.

It didn't take long for the folly of the initial starting XI to be consigned to memory, with three goals scored by half-time. Eduardo forced an own goal from a corner that Hennessy should have fielded. Then his chip after a quick breakaway involving Ramsey looped in (it was heading wide) thanks to a hefty deflection off the luckless craddock. Any likelihood of second period nerves was quashed with a timely killer third before the interval. Sagna- rediscovering the dynamism and accurate delivery that made him such a success two seasons ago- bombed forward, and crossed low to Van Persie's feet. The Dutchman's first-time layoff was subtle and perfect for the appreciative Fabregas who provided another cool near-post finish for this season's collection.

Arsenal were never truly out of second gear all game but what they were after Song's introduction was efficient. The midfield area is called the "engine room" with good reason, and, though I hate to be banging on about it, Diaby truly is a clunky player. Whatever the opposite of oiling the wheels is, that's what he often seems to do. Now, he can't be completely bereft of benefits to the side, otherwise recent results with him in the team wouldn't have been so impressive. But he must not play in the absence of Song unless necessary. Hurry back Denilson!

Second half involved some nice interchanges, some vintage Arsenal overplay, and a snapshot fourth from Arshavin from a half-cleared corner. craddock pulled one back late on when Vermaelen ducked as if expecting Manuel from Fawlty Towers, sorry, Manuel Almunia, to claim a corner. Another softly conceded goal to remind us of the potentially rough waters ahead, but at the moment things are going well. continuing to score at the rate they've kept up so far, Arsenal will not so much break as destroy the Premiership record for goals scored. But if a team this naively idealistic in its commitment to all-out-attack could really win the title, surely Kevin Keegan wouldn't be sitting in the ESPN studio?? The next two league games- Sundeland away, and chelsea at home- should reveal much.

Tomorrow, my long postponed ruminations on the title race overall- including perhaps some complaints about the chelsea-united non-spectacle and some guffaws about the state of Liverpool Football club.

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