Another Saturday and another Arsenal friendly for your humble scribe (having made the trip to Underhill last weekend with the ArsenalArsenal crew), but thanks to the vagaries of the M25 I missed the first 20 minute or so of the pre season friendly against Blue Square team Welling United, known as ”The Wings”.
The aged turnstile attendant told me “Its one-one mate” as I finally arrived at the Park View Ground in Welling, one of my old stamping grounds(my school was a misplaced Bendtner shot away from the Danson Park end of the ground); technically in Kent, but in reality an outer London borough that borders north west Kent. It is also a short five minute drive away from the original home of the Gunners, Plumstead Common, so you could say we were back to our roots in this game.
The feeling in the ground that the £11 admission was a bit steep and the quality of the play, certainly from us, tended to support that view. To their credit Arse.com did say that is was very unlikely any first teamers would feature so I suspect it was Welling United who were responsible for the pricing.
Having missed the first two goals, a screamer from Gavin Hoyte and a supposedly generous penalty for the Wings after a chap called Pires was upended in our area; the remainder of the first half saw the Arsenal X1 keep possession fairly well in the centre of the park but as usual over elaborate as the penalty area was approached. No one especially impressed and in particular Randall seemed quite content to stroll around midfield waiting for opportunities to play the odd flick or lofted pass. He barely seemed to be out of breath at any point in the first half.
With the first half being fairly lack lustre you would have thought the second half would see Arsenal come out with renewed vigour after a Liam Brady rocket had been placed up their complacency.
What I saw was a Welling side fighting for possession in the midfield and at any set piece a hesitancy in the defenders which screamed out that we would concede with a corner or a cross -which sure enough we did.
To my eyes it seemed the centre backs were waiting for each other to clear the ball and on one of those occasions a Welling player pounced for a tap in. One of the centre backs, Ignasi Miquel, is another one of those Catalans we stole from Bankruptalona against his will. Should he come good then it would behove us to return him “home” as long as the DNA test proves we have a moral obligation to do so.
Of the last two goals one was as a result of a forward having a try from distance, surely that’s not allowed? The other goal was a goal keeping error as the goalie fumbled and an opposition player pounced and scored from the rebound.
Now does that not remind you of the first team somewhat?
I’ve heard it said that one’s greatest strength can be ones greatest weakness also. Arsenal’s possession game is played from the top down, from the first team to the reserves and the under 18’s, which – when it works is all well and good – so in that respect all our teams have a consistent approach which I don’t have any complaint with.
However our lack of decisive defensive play leads to a more willing and industrious opponent being able to exploit counter attacks when the possession game falls apart. This was very much the case in the second half.
It didn’t help that I had a Welling supporter behind me bellowing “Break his legs” whenever one of our midfielders brought the ball forward, the fact that none of our players reacted to that taunt from only 10 feet away shows we expect to hear that sort of goading. He then crowed “Who are you?!” when the fourth goal went in. Ah, the joys of the terracing.
So the problems of the first team were mirrored here – namely centre backs who don’t cut out crosses and make effective headed clearances and a reluctance to shoot (although I believe Chuks Aneke did try his luck with a few shots towards the end of the game.)
I was hoping to see this game in order to watch a glimpse of our future; however the problems of the present were flagged up again.
Still, the upside was the new home kit still looked smashing and I’m looking forward to member’s day when I can see the next stage of Arsenalisation at Ashburton Grove.
Written by charybdis1966