February 27, 2009
Despite Arsene Wenger's complaints, teams can hardly be blamed for coming to the Emirates in a defensive frame of mind, considering what happens to teams who try to play football against Arsenal. Just ask Chelsea, Manchester United, or Roma.
The problem is the Arsenal team lacks the weapons to break down defensive sides, who deny them time and space on the ball. In the past, their lack of penetration has been blamed on not having an aerial threat, which Adebayor and Bendtner now provide.
One of the team's problems seems to stem from a lack of width, with Wenger favouring players who tend to cut inside from wide positions, such as Nasri, Diaby, and Rosicky.
When Arsenal are playing well this system allows the full backs to exploit the space out wide to become wing backs. However, over the last year the team's confidence has become so frail that Clichy and Sagna, both of whom played so well at the beginning of last season, have seemed reluctant to venture forward for most of this season.
Anyone watching Robin Van Persie's skills, whenever he pops up on the left wing, may have noticed the rare sight of an Arsenal player taking on the defender with skill and pace and delivering a dangerous cross—something not seen from an Arsenal player on a regular basis for some time.
In Vela, a left-footed sprinter, Wenger may be able to add a new option to his attacking armoury. But on the right, Walcott's growing stature has been sorely missed and perhaps Arshavin is the player to inject pace and trickery down that flank, as Freddie Ljungberg once did.
But once all the walking wounded return, sometime before April hopefully, who will make the favoured line up? Nasri on the left, Arshavin on the right, but where then for Rosicki and Walcott? Arsene Wenger has given himself a different set of problems to ponder, but at least it will be a question of too many options rather than not enough.
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