28 November 2007

Crapping in Andalucia

It had to happen some time, & it just did within the last 94mins. Luckily, as the commentator had said, it happened when the result didn't really matter that much, unlike if it had happened in the English Premier League or in the knockout stages of the Champions League Cup.

What happened? Arsenal went down to Sevilla (1-3) at an away Champions League group stage match. Why didn't it really matter? It's coz the Gunners have already qualified for the knockout stages & could actually afford this defeat, in a way. The one consequence that comes to mind is that it may most probably mean that Arsenal will face the top team from another group. But then, it has been said by some pundits or press reviewers that some teams may avoid finishing top of a group as a strategy to win the Cup.

What matters, again as mentioned by the match commentator, is not the loss itself, but the manner of the loss that would be of concern to Arsene Wenger. I got up at 5am & watched about the last half an hour or so of the match. Deep within me, I had a sense that the unbeaten run in all competitions might end after 28 games, but hoped that the team might just scrapped it through via a draw at least. Yet, that wasn't so.

From what I saw, the teams performance was utterly terrible. Passes were not fluid (worse than the performance against Wigan last weekend) & lets not talk about the defending, particularly from a certain Swiss Senderos. I used to defend him when our department's CO, Nordi dished him on how he is a liability to the team, saying he is getting better, but after today, I believe we Gooners need to see another center back within the team's ranks, especially so when Kolo leaves for the African Nations Cup in January & Gallas can be out for longer periods when he gets (unfortunately) injured. Hopefully, Senderos' compatriot, the on-loan @ Birmingham Djourou, has better consistency that Senderos. Heck, it seems 2 of Sevilla's 3 goals can be attributed to his defensive errors. Had it not been for Toure's efforts, Almunia may not see duty @ goal again (I'm thinking that this may be Lehmann's golden opportunity to get back into the team sheet).

This game saw Wenger resting Gallas & Adebayor with Clichy joining the list of injured (he would have perhaps been the better option instead of Armand Traore to halt Sevilla from marauding through their right flank). While I agree with Wenger's view that excluding the 2 in-form players means Arsenal cannot win the game, what part of the match I saw made me think the Gunners on the field could have benefited from Gallas' commanding presence (& complementing Kolo).

Gilberto Silva had a rare start & with Flamini possibly injured, he may get more starts. Nevertheless, I am convinced that a comment from a fellow football fan that loyal Gilberto may not have the speed & reflexes to cope with the Gunners' fast paced game. On Eduardo, his performance & goal shows he can actually be a Gunner legend (not just for Croatia).

There are positives & lessons to be gained with regards to the depth of the Arsenal squad from this match. The loss may be of little consequence, but it is a loss nonetheless, & my dear bro made it known via a comment to mOAm within an hour from the end of the match.

Go Gunners. Here's to resuming our winning ways this weekend.

Till later, live long & prosper.

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