Thoughts On The Emirates Cup Performances

A lot of excellent football, some dodgy refereeing decisions going against Arsenal, and absolute chaos as the back – nothing seems to have changed.

Another stupid goal conceded towards the end means that this Cup will linger in Gooner memories as one that has further reinforced, if that were possible, the need for significant defensive improvement if the Gunners want to challenge for the top honours this season.

I have been convinced for a while that without the right addition to the coaching staff this team is going to struggle. In the first game both goals were conceded from open play, even though defending from open play was considered a strength last season. So is it the same weakness or is it a new one?

Against the New York Red Bulls the goal was conceded from a set-piece after a scramble so I consider it partially a set-piece situation and partially open play. And just as I have pointed out before, there are so many different players at fault that buying one or two is never going to solve the problem. Indeed, in this particular case, the goal was conceded by a 6’ 3” English centre half who is as physical as they come.

The only way of improving is to get to the root of the issues. It’s easy to say defense is the problem. Anyone who hasn’t watched a lot of football can also identify that. But unless the real problem is diagnosed, it can never be treated. I will try delving into some details before the season starts.

There were plenty of positives to take from the two games. The players moved the ball well in both games. The quality of pressing was better. Gibbs, Afobe, Gervinho, Rosicky, Vela, Arshavin, and Walcott all offered some encouraging signs. Wilshere and Van Persie have picked up from where they left off and will probably get better.

Interestingly, the team seems to be working on a different approach to defending set-pieces. I am worried this zonal marking style is a disaster waiting to happen because the players don’t seem to be completely aware of their roles. There is still time though and two weeks of training can definitely lead to better defending with the zonal system.

On the whole though, some key ingredients are lacking and this squad does not look like championship contenders. Without Cesc, this team and this particular style of play will not be as impressive as it is with Fabregas in the side. Wenger has to sort that one out and will have to modify the playing style to suit the other players if Cesc is transferred. No one in the present market can fill in that role.

Nasri is as talented as anyone available in the market but even he cannot take over from Fabregas in the same system. For the Frenchman to succeed in an advanced midfield role the team would need two dedicated defensive midfielders behind him and will have to adopt a style similar to Inter, Real or the Dutch national side where counter-attacking is the key and the forward players are able to find lots of space in the opposition half on a regular basis. Nasri cannot thrive in the possession based style in which Fabregas dominates the show.

I hope the transfer dealings are settled in the next week or so. It is imperative the key players get settled into their roles and get some time to gel together. There are some big games in the opening few weeks and an unsettled side could easily be found wanting.

On the other hand, one can put some faith in the Arshavin philosophy. In the last two seasons Arsenal have won the Emirates Cup, and rather comfortably at that, but it didn’t lead to any success in the trophies that matter. This time it could be different.

57 Responses to Thoughts On The Emirates Cup Performances

  1. f4phantomphreak says:

    same old garbage from the same old Arsenal… what is it with this team that they cannot hold a lead late against anybody, what is with it???

  2. arvind says:

    Defensive miscues. lack of attention. lack of man marking. no communication. Defense will let us down again. Mark my words.
    I had a feeling even at the 75th mark, that Arsenal would concede. The fans, I would say need to feel confident about the D. I never do anymore.

  3. John says:

    It’s a Friendly nothing to get so angry about.

    • 49s says:

      Just like all the other shit we have seen in the last few years. Can I remind you that wenger and the shite he calls a football team has not won a thing in 6 years, and he still will not address the problem

      WENGER OUT!!

    • santori says:

      A bit worrying because whilst we can see some things being addressed (set piece defending as desi noted), we don’t seem to be working on others (finding diff means to break compact teams down for instance)

      Seems like fairly much the same tactics and I’m just not sure we will get full joy even with new players coming in.

  4. Yang says:

    There is word like attacking play decided by team’s best player however defense play decided by team’s worst defender.

    Manager is supposed to build team from back because it is more difficult to be done I guess.

  5. Danish Gooner says:

    If you think pointles sideways passing into no mans land is exciting football with the odd calamity defensive cave in then you are right.But watching Rosicky ambling about knocking long balls short and short balls long isnt really my cup of tea but then again preference is a strange thing.

    • santori says:

      yes, I don’t seem to recall us being this over complicated in the past.

      We used to combine patient build up with the threat of direct attack.

      certainly gervinho has redressed this somewhat with his more direct cut and thrust approach. The moment he goes off though, we are back to old habits.

      I think it will benefit us NOT to get another playmaker (Mata for instance…who is in any case too short) but instead to get a more direct player (such as Miyaichi).

      I wouldn’t mind an additional strong running striker up top if nasri gets sold as oppose to another creative midfield type.

  6. coob23 says:

    the thing is, when our first team play ie. verm and kos centre backs, gerv, rvp, wilsh, sagna, shezza etc. we look good. rarely conceding goals and playing with edge, but with players such as squid, chamakh, vela, we look average at best. however, we are by far better than liverpool and we will be challenging, make no mistake… however, unless we sort out fab and the fat ponce soon, and buying mata and preferably vertonghen or samba or even jagielka, then we will really struggle… this is make or break and if wenger doesnt pull out the ‘war chest’ he sneakily hides under his bed shouting ‘non’ if anyone gets near it, we will be struggling…
    biggest positives for me… having verminator back, gervinho looking a real handful, rvp being magnifique constantly, wilshere’s genius and ramsey getting game time
    negatives… left back still a problem, neither gibbs nor traore are good enough defensively, squad depth at centre back as squid is shite and jd20 looks out of it after looking so good last year and still attempting to pass the ball into the net… atm we are probably still a 3rd or 4th place team… WE NEED TO IMPROVE

  7. Danish Gooner says:

    Now we cant even win friendly games anymore,since late january we have managed only a handfull of victories including pre-season that is diabolical.Get that stubborn egomaniac out of our club

  8. Danish Gooner says:

    No need to put extra pressure on us right now,quote Arsene Wenger.WAKE THE FUCK UP YOU FRENCH TWAT,we will not stand for another season of caving in because you are a stubborn egomaniac and wont spend 5 cent on anything.

  9. quan says:

    I’m done with defenders. But with mildfielders, too much misunderstanding in short passes, doing shit pass around the box, they dont even run for each other, no one attempt to get in the box.

  10. RmanGoon says:

    I think we need someone thats been there and done it at the back. Not Bartley, yes he’s English(I dont see why this makes him different) tall and physical, but he lacks premier league experience. I do think one proper experienced defender will sort them out. Someone who is not afraid to shout at the team. A real leade. Just shout at the defence! Even for no reason, just sort them guys out!

    • santori says:

      Bloody yes!

      I’d like an experienced player WITH quality.

      wenger has applied a quick fix and short changed us with Silvestre and Squillaci, both coming in with experience but alas not the quality required.

      What we need is someone like Alex 9whom Chelsea may release). Juventus is tracking him and he is rumoured to cost 6m quid! that’s a steal considering he is excellent at set pieces and can fire them in with a cannon of a shot (useful for our lame free kicks)

      and he’s an organiser at the back which we desperately need.

      If not at least someone like Haangeland (Capt for Norway) or maybe even a Lugano (albeit the lack of CL games will count against him. But leadership skills is also paramount for our Cback.

  11. joey says:

    walcott? Desi you are slacking lol

  12. Ken says:

    Players such as eboue Chamak squalachi and rosiscy clearly not good enough no bids made for players same old same old wenger and the board profits before success policy struggle for top 6 this season for sure

  13. Stewdog says:

    Its a disgrace how so called fans ‘boo’ after a friendly game. It is the start of a new season yet the same old negativity surrounds the fans as a result of the ridiculous media witchhunt which surrounds Arsenal! Yes we need to make a couple of signings but people who thinkin that everything will be ok once we sign ‘cahill and jagielka’ etc are off their heads.

    People just want us to spend for the sake of it, but spending doesnt guarantee success. look at the spuds, they finish below us every season yet everyone seems to rave about how good they are just because they spent a bit of money!

    I think afobe, frimpong, miyaichi look like real prospects havent seen enough of bartley to make a judgement. Jenkinson will must certainly have to improve on the ball if he is to make it and gervinho is full of pace but will need to improve his touch and link up play but defo an improvement on bendtner. Traore was ver

  14. Stewdog says:

    Traore was very impressive against boca and koscielny gets better with every game! i must say im not the greatest fan of song tho!

  15. Gerry Lennon says:

    The result fueled the thoughts that many had before the game. As with the day before, wholesale changes disrupted the control the teams had in the first half in both games.
    Bartly in particular, was given a dificult task with Sagna off and Eboue on. You cannot take those 20 minutes to judge his prospects for this season, surely?
    But people see what they want to see. Ramsey gets high praise, but he is a long way short of the ‘new Fabfegas’. His passing around the box was poor today … over-hit most of the time, and his chips over the top were just hit flat so the ball ran to the keeper. Unlike Wilshere’s to Gervinho, which had backspin on it, the way Cesc does it.
    Again, Song gets some stick, but he is far better around the box because he not only sees a pass quickly, he manages to thread the through pack defences. So by all means demand a new DM, but at the expense of Song, but alongside – more the way the Flamini/Fabregas partnership worked?
    Gibbs is another who gets blinkered criticism for his defensive positioning, without seeing the potential he has for being a brilliant left-sided midfielder. He is quick, crosses well, and the perfect balance to Walcott on the other side. So, by all means, demand a left back, but not if you are going to lose his attacking capabilties? Should the transfer Mata’s go pear shaped, he would not be the worst option to build on?
    Given there will be additions to the squad, I think we could see an exciting young team develop this season, and be in full bloom come next May … with or without Nasri and Fabregas

    • Stewdog says:

      I agree with everything you say here apart from what you say of Ramsey, he wasnt at his best today but he will be a top player! ramsey 20, wilshere 19, frimpong 19!! thats could be our midfield for 10 years, technical ability with british bulldog spirit

      • santori says:

        British representation is strong these days. Walcott, jack, Ramsey, Gibbs and Jenkinson (yes he’s playing for Finland currently but he could swwitch)

        If we get jagielka and toss out Squillaci, it will be the first time in a while that there will be more Brits in the first team than Frenchies!

  16. Stewdog says:

    The players still seem a little behind fitness wise!! I wonder if the asia trip has had an impact!? when we go to austria the players are normally a lot sharper by now! I noticed the midfield to be struggling fitness wise towards the end of both games, i hope we hit the right levels by next week!

  17. Dcgooner says:

    The first team vs NY today looked very good and the midfield even without wilshere and cesc looked very dangerous. I was impressed with Rosicky performance today his passing and movement seemed to be stop on. As well Ramsey and Afobe had very good games. Gervinho will obviously be very positive for the side as the season gets under way linking up with RVP and Theo etc… The quality of football was very high as we dominated the entire game but we lacked the finishing once again. People say our defense is the main problem I think the finishing is. We have so many opportunities that other contenders man u, city, chelsea would pounce on. Minus RVP we have really lacked the quality finishing in the final third. Maybe Gervinho, Nasri, and Theo will step up. We should of won today by 3 goals imo. I like the first team back four as well with Vermaelen, Kos, Gibbs, Sagna all four looked good until they were subbed. And we had the classic scatter brain moment where we conceed late in a game we should of won by 3. All in all there’s a lot to work on but we have the quality we just gotta figure how to put these teams away.

    • santori says:

      what worries me (and this goes toward what Desi was saying) is that we don’t seem to be exprimenting or finding a different tactical set up in breaking some of these deep sitting teams down.

      Instead we continue to play 4-3-3 with over complicated passing.

      In particular, when the forward is more limited (Chamakh), we don’t seem to work the team to his strengths 9although Traore did attempt some decent crosses).

      Gervinho for me, seems to be refreshing because he is direct and attack minded prefering the shortest route to goal. I certainly hope that our Arsenalitis will not start it’s effect on him as well.

      If fab has to go, I would like to see prehaps a Montolivo come in, someone who can play deep lying playmaker but also hold as DM.

      It may afford us an opportunity to go 4-4-1-1 if need be loading heavy up top andplaying to Chamakh’s strengths. I think the Moroccan may benefit from someone playing closer to his shoulder.

  18. woodyd says:

    Arsenal played the entire game with their backs to goal. More movement away from the ball and more creative passing is a must. If Arsenal isn’t even going to try and challenge the goal from 20 yards + there is no point to the game they are playing.

    Rosicky, Gibbs, Sagna, and Afobe looked the brightest and most interested. Song and v. Persie were effective but the team looked flat and disinterested on the whole. I like v. Persie playing deep, and he seems to naturally prefer this position. Too bad we don’t have an effective holding forward for v.Persie and Nasri to feed from.

    If Cesc leaves Wenger needs to invest in a playmaking midfielder to help mask this team’s defensive frailties. Ramsey looks nervous on the ball and appears to be needing a full season to (hopefully) gain some creativity and presence. That being said Wenger needs to buy an experienced left back and another passionate and experienced CB to pair with Vermaelen.

    I’m hopeful for the new season and feel we have better depth than previous years but Arsenal are really in need of defensive experience and a playmaker.

    • santori says:

      Ramsey was much better against NYRB but he has been hot and cold for some time, although I’d cut him a bit of slack since he has only recently gotten back from the long lay off.

      Still his vision has been improving and I like the way he isn’t afraid to take a snap shot from distance.

      Interesting to note that Diaby has not been anywhere as guilty as Ramsey in giving away the ball cheaply (for the extremely short duration he played for us last season) but yet is the target of flak.

  19. Jon says:

    I don’t even see cahill, samba or jagielka benching kos.

  20. coob23 says:

    think kos will be class soon… not saying we dont need a commanding centre back, but i have never seen a centre back who reads the game like he does, and with so little experience, will be massive soon. hope he gains a wee bit o’ bulk though

    • woodyd says:

      Agreed that he has quite a bit of class but he’s not ready to partner with Vermaelen to hold the line game in and game out. His positioning and decision-making in the area still need some work. Once he consistently sorts out those issues, and puts on some muscle, he’ll be a handful for any striker. He has the pace, will, and passion but needs seasoning.

      • coob23 says:

        well yeh that’s what i meant… never meant he was ready to partner him yet, but i still think he will be awesome in a couple of seasons. irritating it seems to be another for the future though right? but they will become a very, very good partnership…

      • santori says:

        They seem to be doing a good job together. Koscielny has excellent reading and his speed is useful in concert with Vermalen’s positioning and general covering.

        Koscielny and Djourou is also a reasonable partnership (end of season not withstanding). It’s when Squillaci gets thrown in when we are especially shaky 9although it isn’t of course entirely his fault)

  21. Phil23 says:

    I will repeat what I have been saying for 2 seasons now… Our imbalance is in the midfield. We don’t have adequate protection in front of Vermaelen and Gibbs. Wilshere is constantly going forward leaving gaps to be exposed. When we are wanting to defend a lead we should have two defensive midfielders on the pitch. Frimpong is good backup for Song but his passing is not good enough for them to play beside each other. We need to sign a player who can play back up to Vermaelen as well as defensive midfield. Its simple really… Vermaelen is our heading defender whether people like it or not. Koscielny is good enough to start so I don’t see what another non versatile CB will do. Gibbs is exactly what we need as we just don’t have enough men forward to score enough goals. I think his attacking form will be key for us this season. This would improve greatly if he had a bit of protection. I am growing tired of our players not making enough runs because they know that if the pass is intercepted they are going to have to sprint back down the other end to scramble away a counter attack. In essence, our defensive frailty is holding back our attack as well. If Cesc goes we MUST buy a defensive midfielder or we will regret it for years to come. The most frustrating thing for me is that we just don’t score enough goals imo. The off the ball movement is pitiful and made to look more pitiful by Gervinho’s piercing runs.] Hazard and Gervinho made much better runs constantly at Lille. I finally understand why Hazard no longer wants to come to Arsenal… Its a pity too because if he came we would be a new beast altogether.

    • santori says:

      I’m not so sure.

      Come 70th minute, our output flagged as we took off Gervinho and RVP.

      It seems immeidately apparent that those brought in in place (Vela, Chamakh) carried less threat up top and therefore (IMMEDIATELY), NYRB were able to get back in the game where they were completely non existent before.

      And once we took Sagna off for Eboue, things begin to compound for us at the back 9remembering that the goal came in from out left)

      The same thing happened with the Boca Jr. game. Immediately after we switched to Squillaci and brought off our more effective front pair, our output started to sag.

      I think both Song and Frimpong played well and there is enough verve in midfield.

      But when we lose the sharp end, we (quite naturally) invite more forays from our opponents. This coupled with the wrong personnel at the back is a lethal combination for disaster.

  22. pk says:

    This is all bull for shit..arsenal now esp in this so called Emirate cup is no arsenal at all.i feel arsen shld be dismissed,for a change to occur we need to rid of the thing that precludes it.A CENTRE BACK,LEFT BACK N AN ATTACKER…is ma proposition

  23. MSL says:

    I never understood how one defender could fix all your problems. But, one defender can mess up the entire system. Squillaci has been disappointing.

    Another aspect to consider would be communication.

    Cahill is good but Jagielka is the more intelligent defender of the two. He may fit in better.His experience and work with Moyes could be valuable.

    I am quite worried about bringing in a new coach and Ray Wilkins would be a good choice.Seems like a stable, calm and assured character,

    • santori says:

      I am not convinced with Jagielka particularly at 15m quid but I suppose he is fairly mobile which is what we need n defending from open play (remembering that Everton are an attacking side). He’ll have some pace too which we will need if Djourou is playing.

      The other thing about Jagielka is that he could cover DM if need be, therefore back up for Song and young frimpong.

  24. fa says:

    this team is not look like a champ already…

  25. Gunzblazin says:

    the problem is arsene only cares about strengthening the attack, he doesnt care too much about the defense and thats why we constantly see mistakes at the back, wenger needs to understand that you build a good team from the defence not from attack, teams that are succesfull are good defensively.

    barcelona are the best team in the world at the moment right, but do people remember the barce vs inter game’s ?????, inter beat them over 2 legs simply because they defending as a team and stopped barce playing, we did that to barce aswell in out first leg in CL, but defending as a team for one game is not enough, the team need to be commited and play with fight and desire all the time.

    i dont blame kyle bartley for the own goal as hes young and inexperienced, any player can make a mistake, but as team we need to be organised and defend alot better.

    • santori says:

      I do like to see Kyle get more time with the first team.

      he certainly looks promising own goal aside (must be a new initiation rite for our new defenders!)

  26. Aussie Jack says:

    Arsenal still carry a number of ineffective players, some who are not good enough, some who are not interested and others in limbo.

    The L.B. and C.B positions are still to be addressed.

    I would dearly love to see the team selected for Newcastle to include Mata, Van Persie, Gervino, Vela (just behind the strikers) Wilshere, Ramsey, Vermaelen and Sagna plus a new LB and CB and one of the Polish lads whose names I can never spell in goal.

    • santori says:

      Vela is rubbish… he is clearly capable of the sublime but then falls into mediocrity for most of the time, losing the ball with over complicated moves.

  27. 037 says:

    I’m looking forward to your post more specifically looking into why Arsenal’s defence is so prone to mistakes

  28. Mik says:

    And here we have the doom brigade complaining why Wenger doesn’t give his young English CB a chance (Kyle Bartley) and when he is part of the team and the team messes up they boo them out.

    Let’s face it but with our main CBs we didn’t concede goals. Djourou is 3rd choice, Squillaci 4th and Bartley is not close to the first team. Many people love Djourou and while he had some good games he is still quite error prone.

    What worries me though is that we don’t have a replacement for Clichy yet. Gibbs, another fan favourite, is nothing but an inexperienced prospect and we can’t count on him to perform consistently when it matters. I haven’t seen him performing well in an important game so far. Traore used to be very error prone before his loan spell and I wouldn’t count on him.

    • santori says:

      Djourou needs to improve but I have to say that (apart from the end of season) he had a great patch with Koscielny. Ditto pre-season.

      When Squillai plays next to him and he is bereft of a pacy cover, he starts to panic and make simple errors.

      for that matter, we get the same result when Koscielny plays with Squillaci.

      Bottom line is Squillaci is a weak link and should make way for a better senior man.

      read somewhere in the trades today that Alex is being sought after by Juventus and the going price is 6m. That’s a steal and I’d take him even if the price was doubled.

      In agreement with Gibbs/Traore. I like them and they look promising but I just think w should hedge on caution with someone who can cover just in case. Using our best Cback as back up just won’t do.

      Bastos is an interesting option as he can play both wings in the event of a Nasri departure. He could help steel the flanks when we need to close shop 9a tactic I have hitherto seen being practised)

  29. el bizarron says:

    Wow. Already boos at the end of a preseason friendly. A friendly featuring the return of Thierry Henry, no less. I shudder to think what will happen when Arsenal drops their first League points at home. A full scale riot, maybe?

  30. tuneric says:

    i really like your post and i must use your points to analyse my views.
    On the whole though, some key ingredients are lacking and this squad does not look like championship contenders. Without Cesc, this team and this particular style of play will not be as impressive as it is with Fabregas in the side. Wenger has to sort that one out and will have to modify the playing style to suit the other players if Cesc is transferred. No one in the present market can fill in that role.

    Nasri is as talented as anyone available in the market but even he cannot take over from Fabregas in the same system. For the Frenchman to succeed in an advanced midfield role the team would need two dedicated defensive midfielders behind him and will have to adopt a style similar to Inter, Real or the Dutch national side where counter-attacking is the key and the forward players are able to find lots of space in the opposition half on a regular basis. Nasri cannot thrive in the possession based style in which Fabregas dominates the show.and if i must add,same goes to Rosicky.if we add players with experience to the squad,it is very ok but really our problem is in the playing style where we rush to pass quickly and only do it in the midfield.Whilshere_Ramsey_Song is best to bring stability without fabregas.but the question is,can they play a whole season of more than 50games considering national team aswell?
    so if cesc goes,we will need a solid CM to help out JW19&AR16 or a solid DM to pair AS17 to accommodate either nanas08 or little Mozart.

  31. santori says:

    Good piece Desi.

    Fully in agreement that coaching is our biggest weakness and you touch a key issue with the zonal marking which I blieve Keown tackled too at half time.

    I really hope Barca (as normal practise) don’t cough it up for Barca DNA and that we retain fabregas.

    I think if they miss the boat this time (and bearing in mind Sanchez was prioritised over him) he may get a touch sick of their dittering and decide to settle to our cause for a couple of seasons more at least (or until 2015)

    As you mentioned, there is no one really of his quality in market 9that we could afford at least)

    And I think if Cesc stays, Wenger may be tempted to sell Nasri (hopefully off shore and not to a peer threat in the PL)

    In which case, we may be in for another winger (hence the mata rumours…although I don’t quite see him as the answer) or since Gervinho has been more than useful out wide (and pending Miyaichi’s work permit) maybe another striker instead.

    Looking forward to your detailed breakdown of our defensive issues. Complete agreement that it is not wholly the fault of the defense although Squillaci for me is redundant and should be sold on.

  32. santori says:

    Did anyone miss Henry’s free kicks?

    what has happened to our free kicks these days and why does RVP take corners?

  33. santori says:

    Also a note on the emrirates cup. Strange format.

    Should not all the teams get a chance to play each other in which case should not Arsneal play PSG and Boca Jr play NYRB?

    I know it’ll have to be a weekday but then start the tournament on friday for goodness sakes. Who cares if the attendance is slightly lower. These teams have travelled a long way. why ntot play the extra game?

    curious to say the least. Baffling.

  34. dukung_arsenal_nepikamodar says:

    Djorou always make me worried… always… even when he played for his country.. hope koncielny & verm not injure… yes we need strong and good central defender and DM..

  35. Manama says:

    While I agree dat we dnt look lik serious title contenders,i feel dat d emirates cup achieved its set out goal for this year:test hw strong d arsenal B team is.we conceded all d goals wen wenger weakened his team;d other teams hardly havng a go wen a stronger team played.i feel we hav a 1st 11 dat can beat any1 but wt injuries n fatigue it’l b d same old story

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