After FA Cup frustration, is Arsenal squad strong enough?

By Avenell Dave

Happy New Year everyone - let's hope it's a year to remember for all the right reasons.

After the frustration of Citeh, Leeds came to town looking to repeat their win at Old Trafford last season.

One of my fellow Addicts brought a Leeds fan to the match with him and he joked that he might celebrate (despite being with the home fans) if Leeds scored a late consolation.

"Don't be too sure - Arsenal have a bad habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory or taking so-called lesser teams too lightly."

How provident that turned out to be.

With the exception of Woijech Szczesny in goal, all who started have been considered first teamers for Arsenal and yet few would be first choice.

Johann Djourou, who is proving to be our best defender at present, and Alex Song were probably the two most senior starters, and how it showed.

While Djourou is commanding and seems to have found his voice to talk to the rest of the back line, the rest of them were a bit of a shambles, weren't they?

The prospect of Manu Eboue facing Barca sends shivers down my spine, while Seb Squillaci is proving to be nothing more than a fourth choice centre back.

Kieran Gibbs is getting a lot of hype - and it was great to see him get through a game without injury - but he is still raw and needs matches and experience if he is to push on and take over from Calamity Clichy.

In midfield, Denilson and Tomas Rosicky continue to frustrate.

I stand by this - when was the last time Tomas Rosicky changed a game positively for us?

He is simply ineffective and obsessed with flicks that rarely come off. When he starts, he is usually captain and yet he doesn't lead the team or show the experience to create the chances he is on the field to forge.

Surely if we sign Eden Hazard in the summer, he will be on his way.

Further forward, if Nick Bendtner thinks he is a world class forward, then so am I.

The Danish international and I have plenty in common - I can't head the ball very well, my touch isn't good enough for the speed of top class football, my passes go astray and under pressure I'm not the most accurate of strikers.

Same goes for Bendtner. If he was even half as good as he thinks he is, we would be fine.

It summed up his game at the end that he had a clear header and a shot down the left channel which could both have won us the game but ended up off target.

Special thanks to Andrey Arshavin too, who jogged as if to go off every time a substitution was about to be made, only to sheepishly return to the field when he discovered that it wasn't his number.

Lazy, languid and seemingly disinterested, while the stats say he is effective, the body language suggests he can't be bothered and there is no worse sin in my book.

With Ipswich on Wednesday, I suspect Wenger will rotate again and perhaps give some even lesser-known players a chance.

It's a shame Henri Lansbury is still at Norwich - he and JET would be perfect for the semi-final first leg. Hopefully Aaron Ramsey will at least get some game time.

Either way, while the first team plus Thomas Vermaelen are a match for anyone in this league, Saturday's display suggests the strength in depth isn't quite as strong we we would like it to be.

And you know how many injuries Arsenal get.

Thankfully, despite the inconvenience of another game in a couple of weeks, we're still in the draw for the fourth round and a tie against Huddersfield.

It says much about the development of Theo Walcott that he terrorised the Leeds defence and fair play for admitting that he dived when it initially looked as if he had won a penalty late on.

But if there's one conclusion it's impossible not to make from Saturday's match, it's that Cesc Fabregas is vital to making the side tick.

We have quality players, but none as brilliant as he is at driving the team.

Let's hope he stays for a good deal longer...