Monday 3 October 2011

Major surgery needed at Arsenal & not just on Sagna

We'll know later today whether Bacari Sagna's fractured fibula needs surgery, but we already know Arsenal's squad needs major surgery. A right back ready to step into the breach would help. Carl Jenkinson might be ready one day, but not now. I'm not sure why Arsene Wenger can't see this.

When Sagna crashed to the deck holding his leg, with the score 1-1 against Spurs, I feared the worst. The stretcher that whisked him off confirmed my fear. Jenkinson was made as ready as he can be, at this stage in his career, and thrown into the fray. I wondered how long it would be before Arsenal conceded and sure enough a goal came from a mistake down Arsenal's right flank.

Yet, Jenkinson was not directly to blame. Yossi Benayoun had replaced Theo Walcott to give the Finland U21 international more assistance, and that seemed sensible given Jenkinson's row with Theo at Old Trafford earlier this season. Benayoun seemed ready to dig in, but unfortunately Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey couldn't decide who was responsible for Spurs substitute Sandro at a throw-in. This led to the long-range goal struck by Kyle Walker, that the otherwise-impressive Szczeny allowed to squirm in.

We can moan all we like about bad luck and Rafael van der Vaart's supposed handball for Tottenham's first goal, but the bottom line is this Arsenal squad is not good enough to finish in the top four. Just look at Arteta. Watch how he gesticulates at his team-mates. He's frustrated with them.

Ramsey was having a shocker before he scored a well-taken equaliser. The Welshman can do some incredible things with the ball, but he can also do some incredibly stupid things with it. Rambo gave the ball away unnecessarily more times than I can count. I would have hauled him off at half-time, or played him further up the park. In truth, I think Rambo is great in the opposing third, but a liability in ours. So it makes sense to put him in a different position.

But there lies the rub. No matter how poor our current squad is, we can't seem to accomodate Russia's best player in our starting eleven. And when Arshavin does come on, he has to play out of position on the wing.

It indicates there's been a scattergun approach to recruitment. Why don't we have adequate cover for Sagna? I'd rather try Emmanuel Frimpong at right back than keep Jenkinson there. Or even Francis Coquelin, who was my man-of-the-match against Spurs.

Oh well, even if Wenger won't admit away games are tougher than home ones, at least he admits there are problems at the club. Perhaps he'll get around to solving them now as 15th in the league is no way to celebrate your 15th anniversary at the club.

Szczeny 6 - some good saves, but his one bad error was costly.
Sagna 5 - at fault for the opening goal, not close enough to van der Vaart.
Mertesacker 6 - not convincing, but made a couple of good tackles.
Song 5 - set up Ramsey's equaliser, but gave the ball away a lot early on.
Gibbs 6 - struggled to deal with Walker early on, but rallied.
Ramsey 5 - great goal, but did little else.
Coquelin 8 - head and shoulders above the rest.
Arteta 6 - didn't really impress enough and got frustrated.
Walcott 5 - didn't get much service, for all Arsenal's possession.
van Persie 5 - never looked like scoring.
Gervinho 5 - struggled to beat Walker and make an impact.

Jenkinson 5 - didn't make any major mistakes, but his flank was targeted.
Benayoun 5 - tried, but couldn't do much to avert defeat.
Arshavin 5 - didn't get enough playing time to make an impact.

One other question: why was the in-form Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain not on the bench? Surely he's done enough to show he's a potential match-winner?

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