Monday, 6 December 2010

Defend Song! - Djourou's win record - England goalkeeper and striker targeted - Sagna's important week - Naris is better than Bale

Morning Gooners.

We're top of the league for the first time in ages so I'll grant the Gooners who are celebrating that fact some leeway.

But I would rather be celebrating at the end of May than going overboard now.

Often Gooners criticise those fans of that club down the Seven Sisters Road for having a small club mentality, but do you think supporters of Chelsea and Manchester United would celebrate like some Gooners did on Saturday night after seeing the result come through from Stamford Bridge meaning that Arsenal were top of the league?

Granted, I will give them some leeway. But I want to focus on the issues at hand rather than taking the champagne off of ice and start celebrating like we'd one the league.

I know it feels good. I'm not that cold hearted. But just think how good it will be to party like there is no tomorrow at the end of May should we be consistent enough to win the league.

There is one area of our team which is troubling me and has been for some time. The role of Alex Song.

Last season he would sit in front of Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas and patrol the area in front of them.

This term it appears, with a slight tweaking, of the system he's been given more license to roam forward.

Playing two players in these deep lying midfield roles - one player who generally sits and the other acting as a box to box link up player - has some how seen Song play more often the second role advancing further up the pitch into attacking positions.

This is arguably not a role which suits the team. It leaves Jack Wilshere exposed as the midfielder who is least advanced and our central defenders not having the cover they desperately need.

Song is no longer playing the Gilberto role. The Brazilian would slot into a defensive position in place of one of our attacking full backs when they had bombed forward.

This season the Cameroon international is more likely to be supporting that attacking move rather than stopping a swift counter attack against us.

Now I believe with a bit more thought to the defensive side of his game, he would be aiding the team more than he is currently doing.

Song appears more defensively minded away from home. So why can't he do what he does away at the Grove?

I've often wondered if Song has taken it upon himself to get into advance roles or whether it is the manager's decision and today we have the answer.

It appears to be a tactic of the Frenchman.

He said:
"My philosophy is not to be in trouble, but to fool the opponent into trouble.
"The teams close us down so much high up because they know we play through the middle, that I push my midfielders at the start a bit up to give us more room to build up the game.
"Song is a bit naturally high up because I want him to be."
I don't think I'm alone in believing this is an error. Song is better equipped than Wilshere in terms of experience and build to play the defensive role.

I can only hope the manager will reconsider this tactic soon because this team could get that consistency needed if we had a bit more defensive forethought than we currently do.

One other area which seems to be coming under the radar of opposition managers is our central defensive pairing.

Mark Hughes said Fulham targeted Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci. So I can only hope that Johan Djourou has an extended run in the first team. 

This term the Swiss international has made eleven starts and two substitute appearances for the first team. His record is won 11, lost two and the caveat with the two defeats is they were away matches in the Champions League. Not too shabby, I'm sure you'd agree.

Defensive team mate Bacray Sagna has said this is the most important week of our season so far.

He said:
"If we want to be successful, we have to win these big games.
"In our first one of the season – against Chelsea – we dropped points. But we have dropped so many points at home we need to win these games.
"We do not want the season to be over at the end of December. We want to win these next matches and give even more power to the team."
Two wins in the next seven days would be perfect. A win on Wednesday night is a must. 

There is a bit of transfer speculation around this morning.

The Daily Mirror believe we're interested in Middlesbrough goal keeper Jason Steele.

Whilst the Daily Mail again link us with a move for Ipswich Town striker Connor Wickham.

Elsewhere there is a small piece in The Sun saying Andrey Arshavin upset Jack Wilshere because Russia won the right to host the World Cup in 2018.

And finally, it's the question you wake up asking yourself every morning. Is Samir Nasri better than Gareth Bale? And of course the correct answer is yes. But not if your Jamie Redknapp.

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