And that is exactly what Gunners realised at the end of 90 miniutes at Fratton Park. It was here at the end of last season that Arsenal had failed to score in the league and they repeated it at the same fixture in this year. And when the opposition defend well, Arsenal failed to find a leader amongst their packs.
Fabregas & Hleb looked off-colour and probably fatigue has caught up with them. Particularly Fabregas gave away the ball too easily. Well Fratton Park is always a difficult place to get all three points especially when Campbell, Distin and Lauren have a wonderful game. Papa Dioup came up with some timely tackles to kill any sort of move that Arsenal were able to build.
I do not like this 4-4-1-1 or 4-5-1 that Wenger is employing for the last few matches. There are lots of issues with that formation and last nite’s game in general.
1. Ade can do the holding job and get back and work the ball from mid-field and move up, but he definetely needs a striking partner. He has played in too many matches and I think needs a break once in a while atleast.
2. Maybe Wenger didnt field Bendtner along with Ade coz he feels that both of them have similar playing style. Lets see if he switches to 4-4-2 when Van Persie is back.
3. If Eboue was going to be replaced why Diaby, he should have atleast changed the formation with Bendtner and tried it for 30 minutes. We saw how Bendtner influenced play after his arrival. And Eboue’s play-acting is getting irritating now. Also he makes a good deal of bursts into the box but shoots awkwardly. If he improves that he can score 5-6 goals in a season.
4. Many teams this year will look at defending well against Arsenal and sometimes we do not have any answers for that. I am surprised Wenger doesnt think of a tactic to counter it. I think we will have to live with this kind of a tactic from the opposition now.
5. Rosicky had two of the best chances in the match. Again he is another guy who needs to know how to convert these half chances. One of his shots was coolly taken by James. Trust me James just made it look so easy. It was a great curler of a shot and an even better take from the best GK in England. (And please stop writing abt Almunia for the England job)
With Chelsea playing a 4-4 draw against Aston Villa atleast one of the contenders for the title has slipped too. But Manchester United’s strong form continues and for all the Gooners this will be a concern. If someone had told me at the start of the season that at halfway stage (which is now) Arsenal will be one point behind the leaders, I would have taken it. So nothing is lost yet. In the next series of matches if Arsenal win and Manchester United draw, then the Gunners would be on top by a point.