Discussing Arsenal and Over-reliance

Ankush GulatiCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2010

Arsenal have just beaten West Ham away from home. Due to West Ham's injuries and absences, it's not necessarily a result that Arsenal fans should feel the need to boast about.

All the same, it took good management to come back from a goal down and win the game, with the introduction of two match changing substitutions; just like against Aston Villa.

Against Aston Villa, Fabregas and Walcott were invited in the second half to stamp a positive result on the game. Arsenal deserved to score against Aston Villa, but were finding hard to do so against a team that boasted the best defensive record in the league this season.

Just 28 minutes later, and with Arsenal up two goals, thanks in no small part to Captain Fabregas. Inevitably, critics started stating that Arsenal are relying too much on Fabregas and the EPL would be beyond us because of that. I strongly disagree.

Put it this way. Diaby won plenty of free kicks in the beginning of the match against Aston Villa, in positions similar to where Fabregas won it. Add that to the the fact that Denilson scored almost the exact same free kick just a week earlier, Fabregas didn't end up doing anything that hadn't been done before by other Arsenal players.

Take the second goal. There were two substitutes, Walcott and Fabregas in the most advanced position. Traore puts the ball perfectly into Walcott's path, Walcott puts the ball perfectly into Fabregas's path, and Fabregas finishes it perfectly in the net.


So why was it Fabregas who scored the goal? Because he was the most advanced player with Walcott. Why were Walcott and Fabregas the most advanced players? Because they were the fresh, ready-to-counter-attack impact substitutes.

Anyone who's seen Diaby play since the beginning of the season can safely assume Diaby would have been perfectly capable of scoring that chance as well.

Fabregas opened the match up for Arsenal. That's the very definition of an impact substitute.

It worked exactly the same way as bringing on Nasri and Diaby did today. They were the right people coming on at the right time. With Fabregas bringing a cutting edge to the passing against Aston Villa, Diaby brought a necessary physical presence to help Arsenal start winning the 50-50's and before long, Song found space to make both passes that led to Vela's assists.

That brings me to my next point. There is one player we may be over-reliant on.

He's been a rock in front of the back four, making direct passes into the paths of attackers, reading and intercepting dangerous passes, lofting through balls and in general doing a great deal to make sure Arsenal remain dominant in a match, from the first to the last minute of a multitude of matches, whether it be PL game at Anfield or a FA cup game against West Ham. His composure his priceless in the middle of the park, while his attitude is perhaps the most impressive I have ever seen in someone so young.

His name is Alexandre Song.

He's going away for a month, and he is the only player I don't know if we can cope without.

To state that Arsenal are over reliant on one attacking player in the absence of players such as Van Persie, Bendtner, Rosicky (and in the presence of players such Arshavin, Walcott, Nasri etc) is completely unprovable, and it's something that's been repeated for the umpteenth time. Arsenal have won, drawn and lost with Fabregas both on and off the pitch.

However, we have only one true defensive midfielder, and now that Denilson is injured for an unknown and possibly long period of time, I would much rather Wenger buys a physical presence of a burly midfielder than an attacker who could possibly disturb the confidence that players such as Vela and Eduardo acquired from their performances today.

In the last 360 minutes that Arsenal have played, Fabregas has played 28 minutes, scoring two goals in the process.

Arsenal have won all four games, including coming from a goal down (without Fabregas), scoring 12 goals and conceding two.

Does that sound like over-reliance?