The full implications of the Stoke game have taken their time to sink in. The injury to Ramsey has obviously been dominating my thoughts. Media nonsense just made is worse as we discussed yesterday. Today, I was consciously trying to think about the future.
We are only ten wins away from the title. That’s the way I see it. Some of you might point to the word only with a dose of skepticism. Others might mention that even ten wins might not be enough. I am quite sure that if we win the remaining games we will be the champions. We could still win even if we drop a few more points, but that will be touch and go.
The next few games will be a big test. The Stoke game has knocked two of our central midfielders out. Ramsey will miss the rest of the season, Song, two games. Add to it the fact that Diaby has been out injured, while Denilson’s form has been dicey at best, and we have the makings of our next mini crisis. This time in central midfield.
The next game is against Burnley at home, so hopefully, we can manage even with the likes of Eastmond. Nasri can do an job, if necessary. Hull away might not be that easy. In any case, the injury to Ramsey means Denilson will have to step up and perform in at least a few of our remaining games. The Brazilian can win over a lot of fans if he gets his act together, at the same time, any errors in this run in and he could find himself a pariah.
In a way, I feel Denilson must learn something from Ramsey. Even though the Welshman is younger and far less experienced than the Brazilian, he has a presence on the field that belies his age and stature. Denilson has a similar physical build and a comparable approach to the game but has so far failed in imposing his personality on the pitch.
His supporters appreciate his passing statistics and the supposed intelligent reading of the game and interceptions. I have never been a fan of the interceptions argument and don’t really like any player who needs statistics as defense. However, there is no denying that Denilson plays an important role in keeping possession when Arsenal dominate the game.
What we need from him is contribution in games when the opposition is prepared to hassle us all over the field and push men into our half making it difficult for us to pass the ball out of defense. It needs an ability to hold the ball under pressure and make the right passes when the opposition is asking tough questions. Too often the Brazilian loses the ball under pressure or passes it back to the defenders making their life difficult. Defenders are left with no choice so the ball is hoofed up field and comes back within seconds.
When Song plays the DM role, Denilson finds it easier as he can just stay around the halfway line and does not have the responsibility of taking the ball from the defenders.
I feel his biggest weakness is that he does not take responsibility. Whether it’s taking the ball from the defenders, shielding it from opponents, tackling to stop counter attacks, and interceptions to stop goal scoring opportunities, Denilson prefers to stay away from the big decisions and moments in the game. Too often, we see him ambling around the action without making a contribution.
This is where he needs to learn from Ramsey. The Welshman gets in the spotlight because he is willing to take charge during the big moments of a game. I don’t know if the Brazilian has specific instructions to keep things simple, but even if he has, I think he’s too simplistic in his contribution.
Song has eight Yellow Cards in the League, Cesc has five, while Denilson has one. I am not saying picking up cards is good but to me it does show an ability to stick the foot in. For instance, Denilson could have picked one up by fouling Sidibe and preventing the second goal in the FA Cup defeat. This is one example of taking charge of a big moment. I can give many more but the point is not about criticizing a player by looking back at the mistakes.
I feel Denilson has enough ability to contribute to the squad. He can’t be in the same league as Cesc, very few can, nor will he have a dominating presence like Song. He can, however, create a role for himself if he decides to take charge. I have a feeling, if we are to win this league, we will need a positive contribution from him at some stage. Question is, is Denilson ready to raise his game?