Sunday, August 22, 2010

Arsenal 6-0 Blackpool but...

in the words of The Wolf in Pulp Fiction, "let's not start suckin' each other's dicks just yet".

Walcott and Rosicky both performed as well as they've ever done for Arsenal. In both cases, there has to be caution. Walcott's best display last campaign was at home to BURNLEY, so he is flirting a little with the "flat track bully" tag; then again, this time out it wasn't just raw pace and some tidy finishing that stood out, but some intelligent decision-making, leading the manager to suggest that he's become "more mature". He scored three and but for the profligacy of others might have made as many.

Remember, too, that Walcott's hat trick for England against Croatia in the Autumn of 2008 was a prelude to his best (fleeting) run of form, before injuries derailed his progress. Maybe the chastening snub from Capello in the Summer will indeed prove the kick up the backside that he needed. Can he develop a semblance of a football brain? Or is that simply something inherent to a player, something that can't be learned? Don't get me wrong, I'm still skeptical. But a little more optimistic now. I reserve the right to make these U-turns. Expect another one next time Theo runs into a competent left back...

As I've been saying, Fabregas, Nasri, Rosicky and Arshavin would all probably prefer to play in the same position- off the frontmen. Fabregas had his most productive season from there last time out. Nasri's best performances invariably come when he plays there. And it's no coincidence that Rosicky produced his best display in years when he was finally unleashed in the central creative role. He was at the heart of a lot of the best play on Saturday. I hope he stays fit for the season, but it is sad in a way that he will probably be shunted out wide or into cameo roles when Fabregas is ready to play regularly again. Could they both play centrally, with Song doing the donkey work? Maybe, but a team with a defence as suspect as Arsenal's can't really afford to compromise solidity much more. Then again, Fabregas is more a classic midfield player than he is a half forward, and frankly, Diaby and Denilson often don't look to be working hard enough to shield the defence anyway. So why not Fabregas, Song and Rosicky/ Nasri across the middle, in home games at least?? Something to ponder.

In the final analysis, it was a handsome win, though aided by Blackpool's concession of a dubious penalty and loss of a man at 1-0. Before that, they had exposed Arsenal's defensive frailty at times. It was the right fixture after the difficulties at Liverpool, and this Arsenal team has to prove that they can perform in the big games that define seasons (although, to be fair, the anaemic showing at Anfield was, it could be argued, largely due to rustiness and ill-preparation). Blackburn next week will be a lot more telling.

Scorers: Walcott 3, Arshavin pen, Diaby, Chamakh.

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