Arsenal on Cruise Control

By on November 6, 2009

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It was just one of those nights. Kind of like the home wins over Sevilla or Slavia Prague match in 2007. Arsenal came off 3-nil win over Spurs at the weekend, in which they had never really hit 3rd gear, and rode that 3rd gear for much of the Champions League match with AZ Alkmaar on Wednesday evening.

It was a thorough victory for the club, which even Ronald Koeman could only admire. Even if he did try to claim that a team that has been to the Champions League semifinal and has 23 out of 25 senior internationals at any given time is inexperienced. That criticism just doesn’t wash anymore. At Cesc Fabregasleast not in the Champions League.

Cesc Fabregas continues to show why, following Ronaldo’s departure, he is the Premier League’s top midfielder. What Cesc has done so far this season has been nothing short of amazing. Unlike when he was first named captain, Cesc now looks like the captain on the pitch rather than just a guy wearing an armband.

I also have to single out Diaby for special praise. No one has been more down on Diaby in the last two years than me. I just always felt that he didn’t work hard enough on the weaker spots of his game, that he wasn’t versatile enough, and he just didn’t look like an Arsenal player. When he was on the pitch, it always seemed like Arsenal + Diaby, as his passing and movement somehow seemed out of sync with the rest of the side.

But so far this season, and especially in the last month, Diaby looks a completely different player. I’m not ashamed to admit I was wrong; in fact, I am happy about it. Diaby has fit into his slightly recessed midfield role extremely well and he looks like another player who has benefited greatly from the new formation. He is working hard when he doesn’t have the ball, putting in far less ill-timed, clumsy challenges than we’ve come to expect from him and just looks a part of the side now in a way he hasn’t before.Thomas Vermaelen

Clichy’s injury is somewhat frustrating but I feel confident about Gibbs and we will have Traore back soon. The commentators on Sky were raving about Arsenal’s depth during the match noting that they had Eduardo and Rosicky come off the bench and still had Walcott, Vela, Bendtner, and Clichy out. Not to mention Wilshere, Denilson, and Djourou.

Having only essentially swapped Toure out for Vermaelen, and sold the cancer, the side all of a sudden looks deeper than any other Premier League side. And it is solely due to maturity. This is what we’ve been waiting for. When one considers that we have 7 first-teamers out injured at the moment, including two forwards, and yet we still have extreme competition for places in both midfield and attack. We’ve improved our depth significantly by just getting older. This is what Arsene knew, and we hoped, would happen, and it is why he refused to buy.

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  1. saminator

    November 6, 2009 at 2:28 am

    diaby has improved but not that much. he still gives balls away needlessly, putting his teammates under tremendous pressure.

  2. ganesh

    November 6, 2009 at 2:56 am

    Hmmm i don have any complaints against Diaby or anyone n i don think we need a DM .. Denilson can manage in tat ACN period but i think we do need a quality keeper .. Akinfeev n we sure wont concede unwanted goals .. Arsene told tat he wud sign players who would improve the team n its so clear tat Akinfeev will bring a lot to this team .. For me Almunia wont get ant bettr wit age unlike Mannone .. So wat do u guys think ..?!?!?

  3. Erik

    November 6, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Thing with Diaby is that people atm have an “eye” on him… so in a game if he gives the ball away 5 times and Fabregas gives the ball away 6 times people will still say “Fabregas is amazing but Diaby gave possesion away too often”

    Van Persie gave the ball away against AZ and it almost resulted in a goal but I have yet to read someone commenting on this, had it been Diaby then a lot of people would be moaning even more.

    Same with Denilson last season, so many moaners going on about him loosing the ball… yet he was the 2nd most accurate passer of the ball in the league last season.

    Diaby is improoving because he is finally getting a run of games and is not getting injured, be patient and I am sure he will also become a great player for us.

  4. Dan

    November 6, 2009 at 5:42 am

    Can’t agree with the lauding of Diaby. Yes he was good against AZ, but he was totally out of tune with the team against Tottenham. He wandered round without a clue and made errors when he did have the ball. That’s why Tottenham’s tactic of getting stuck in and keeping possession affected us in the first half, because our three-man midfield was missing a player.

    And Erik, nice try explaining away Diaby’s criticism as a case of over-scrutiny. However, the problem is when Fabregas/Arshavin/Walcott etc have an off-day and lose the ball as much as Diaby, we know it’s a blip. And they’re always capable of something special. Diaby’s entire style is too slow, sloppy and one-dimensional.

    He’s not consistent: the question is, is he worth a place ahead of Ramsey, Nasri or Denilson?

  5. Raj

    November 6, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Spot on Eric..too many people see Diaby give the ball away 2 or 3 times and conclude that he’s had a bad game…I was at the Spurs game and thought he was poor but had a much improved 2nd half..

    • ArsenalStation

      November 6, 2009 at 8:02 am

      I have been guilty of that as well, Raj. The reason I am praising Diaby as such is because of how down I have been on him in the past. I am not saying he’s been fantastic over the last couple of games, but he has been much improved over his usual self.

      I also think Eric is right… Diaby is put under the microscope. Song struggled as well in that first half against Tottenham. Besides the first 8 minutes, no one was doing much until the van Persie goal.

      What I am saying, Dan, is that I feel as though Diaby finally looks like he may 1) actually be able to play as part of the team, something I highly doubted was possible, and 2) be able to develop some consistency.

      Also, I am not saying that he should now be an automatic choice for the first XI. I am just saying that so far this season, he has looked much improved over the last two seasons.

  6. clockendjim

    November 6, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I wondered at the marvellous football we played on Wednesday against Alkmaar, but after all that I felt uneasy at the final whistle. Why was this ?
    Because instead of a second clean sheet in a row, we had given away a typical Arsenal present of a goal. Firstly almost whole of the defence did not need to be up for a corner with a few minutes to go and then stand still claiming a penalty. Secondly Gibbs slips yet again to give the opposition the freedom of their right wing. Lastly but to my mind most importantly, Almunia shows his lack of ability once more by letting a hopeful toe-poke slip by him. These weaknesses will be punished by more ruthless teams like Barcelona if they are not addressed
    This could be the sole reason for being trophy-less at the end of the season – we have the weakest line-up of keepers in the PL. Just imagine us now if we had signed Shay Given. All the soft goals we have conceded this season (especially in Manchester) would have been saved and we would be top of the league right now. Someone has suggested an audacious raid on Liverpool to sign Pepe Reina. That would be amazing, but of course he would be ineligible for the CL. Whatever – please Mr Wenger do not spoil the ship for a ha’ppence of tar

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