This was another of those games where the title of the match report could be ‘What is Diaby for?’ How many times did he go on a great run only to come to a grinding halt at the edge of the penalty box? Those long, strong legs with feet that obviously have the ball magnets in their boots have to be attached to the most infuriating footballer in our squad.
He doesn’t have to keep the ball at his feet while he’s running but he does have to keep running. His awareness of where his team-mates are is virtually non-existant. His shooting ability has never been in question so why doesn’t he look up and check what’s happening around him. BigRaddy said last night that once Theo returns Diaby will have company on his runs but that won’t be of any help if Diaby hasn’t got his brain switched on. I can run with the ball at my feet into space – admittedly not with the grace and speed of Diaby – but if I didn’t know what my next move was going to be what would be the point?
Maybe Diaby just doesn’t know what his job is – I’m afraid to me he is just a ‘headless chicken’, but he’s been like this for far too long and needs to answer some stern questions. Footballing skills are great but pretty pointless if you don’t fit into a team.
But there were positives to take from this game. Our favourite flapper was considerably more solid than I can ever remember. If Birmingham were ever to score it was going to be from a free kick or a corner and Fabianski wasn’t at fault for their goal. With a fledgling partnership in front of him in the form of Djourou and Squillaci it could have all gone horribly wrong but he was vociferous and didn’t at any time look vulnerable. Shame on those supporters who hammed up their applause of his first touches of the ball, when he’s wearing the shirt at least give him a chance.
Jack Wilshere was once again at the heart of all that was good. Some great interplay between him and Chamakh that should have yielded a goal but once again there were too many passes. Arshavin was unlucky today that none of his back flicks found a man but he kept on trying. I’ve just seen Jack’s tackle again that led to his red card and he was late and could have hurt the player – who thinks that Arsène Wenger sent him out to let the player know he was there? Obviously not and having watched Jack in pre-season I felt that he had a fiesty tendency that he’s so far kept under control – good for him, he’ll learn I’m sure.
Watching Theo, Rosicky and Nikki warming up after half-time did bring a flutter to my heart. When Rosicky came on he added great directness to the play managing to sting the keepers hands with 2 rasping shots. Nikki also got a chance to join in and could have scored with his first touch. He’s way behind Chamakh and van Persie in the pecking order which hopefully he won’t mind. I thought this game was crying out for Theo but we’ll have to wait for Tuesday night against Shaktar to see him. I don’t want to put a hex on it but its worth noting that the penalty was scored by a cool penalty taker who smashed the ball into the back of the net.
So, overall this was a game we were expected to win, it wasn’t pretty by any definition but on reflection we actually ground out a result. I’m not going to say it was comfortable because it certainly wasn’t and the last 10-15 minutes were suitably nervous as we looked, as usual, like we could concede at any moment but we hung on and added three points to our total…….. more than the chavs and the manks ha ha. Sometimes its nice to win ugly.
Here are some player ratings from BigRaddy
Fabianski. A solid performance, not at fault for the goal – it was a superb header.His distribution was a bit suspect. 7
Eboue. Added little to the attack and was guilty of a very poor tackle. Good application 5
Squillaci. Improved performance. Unlucky not to be on the scoresheet. Could be the answer once TV comes back. 7
Djourou. Still looks rusty to me. Probably the most mobile of our CB’s. Got caught under the ball for a couple of headers and was outjumped for the goal. 6
Clichy. What has happened to his positioning? A shadow of the player we saw 3 seasons ago. 5
Song. A dynamic performance. Drove the team forward and put in some fine tackles. One of his better games though his passing was wayward on occasion 8
Nasri. Got a bit lost in the midfield hurly-burly but once again was aggressive in his attacking play. Not at his best. 7
Wilshere. Our best player prior to his rash tackle, let’s hope it is a lesson learned. Strong and disciplined in defence when required, excellent link up play and moved the ball very quickly when required. 8
Arshavin. Started really well and faded. Mr Inconsistent ran about for 20 mins the first half and went missing prior to his substitution. Is he fully fit? Does he need a break? Does he know that Arsenal play in Red? 4
Chamakh. As usual worked hard. Scored , got the penalty (I believe it was the correct decision), the focal point of our attacks. He is improving. 7
Rosicky. Came on for Arshavin and immediately shot from distance (clearly under instructions). A good cameo. 7
Bendtner. Only had a few minutes but almost got on the end of a cross. 6