By Avenell Dave
Driving back from Old Trafford on Saturday evening, it was hard to think of much positive to say.
Coming up against a side with so many defenders, including the Brazilian twin full-backs in midfield instead of at the back and with Darren Gibson the only recognised midfielder to start the game for the hosts, we should have had enough to beat them.
That we didn’t, despite putting out the strongest side we could have fielded, says much about the weakness of the squad.
Arsene Wenger can say what he likes about this being the strongest squad he has ever had or that the side has steel, but the facts are there for all to see – we have neither the strength in depth nor the mental resilience to cope with the demands of top level football, once you go beyond the fist XI.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Abou Diaby and Denilson are simply not good enough.
Denilson can’t run, can’t tackle, can’t pass, can’t shoot any more (despite scoring a few long range beauties when he first broke through) and brings nothing to the team. If Aaron Ramsey and Emmanuel Frimpong were fit, I really don’t think he’d have played half the games he’s been involved with this season.
If you don’t believe me, listen to the fans. Everyone around me at Emirates and at Old Trafford on Saturday say the same thing, and it turns their faces blue that we continue to hope that he gets opportunities and continually disappoints.
Diaby looks like a kid playing football on the beach, half thinking about the party or the hot date he is going on later in the day. There is no doubt that he has skill, but where is the determination, the speed of thought or movement and the persistence required at the top level? It’s simply not there.
According to @Orbinho, Arsenal's win % with Diaby & Denilson starting since June 2008 41%, with only one or neither starting 64%.
Arsenal had plenty of the ball – 60% if you look at the stats, but came up against a goalkeeper in Edwin van der Sar who repelled all we could fire his way. For that he has to take much of the credit for M*nure’s victory.
When we got the opportunity to break, almost inevitably, Diaby would slow things down. Long gone are the days when we would attack with pace and purpose, cutting through teams and scoring before they had a chance to get back and reorganise.
Of course, it’s not just down to these two.
If only every player showed the same determination and fighting spirit as Jack Wilshere. Player of the season ahead of Samir Nasri for me, if everyone chased down the opposition and fought to try and make things happen in the way young Jack does, we would be a lot better off, that’s for sure.
Despite his indisputable talent, it’s Jack’s fire that makes him the player he is. He never gives up, he wants to win and that’s something too many of the others don’t seem so focused about. Losing should be the worst thing that these guys can experience, not something that makes them shrug their shoulders and just accept it as a habit that they are used to.
I was surprised to hear my fellow Addicts talk almost in concert on Saturday about the need for another striker, a fast goal machine the likes of which we haven’t had since Thierry Henry.
I made the point that in RvP we have one of the top strikers in world football when he is fit, but the truth is, we looked better when Chamakh came on to give him added support and someone with pace may well have made a difference on Saturday. We cannot simply expect RvP to score all our goals.
The loss of Johann Djourou makes winning the title even more difficult given the challenges we have in defence, particularly when Sebastien Squillaci plays.
Djourou has been immense for us this season and has to be one of the first names on the teamsheet, whoever is fit.
He will be sorely missed and while the chances of seeing Thomas Vermaelen back again this season seem remote, we need to do everything we can to get him fit for the final 10 games of the season.
The Premier League title is there for the taking, regardless of the clear inadequacies of this squad.
But a few players need to have a long hard look at themselves and ask themselves whether they are happy being gallant losers or really want to win things at our beloved club.