The CCup was about Ramsey & Merida, not winning

I realize we are all feeling a bit low right now, but fear not.  Just four months ago people thought we’d be out of the final four.  And in just the last two weeks people are saying we are not in contention for winning the Premier League.  So lets get our socks in order.  Arsene didn’t take this game that seriously, he used it as a way to sharpen some players and test others.  In fact, this game was all about developing Ramsey and Merida.

First off, lets get the ugly out of the way, the man$ity game was not enjoyable.  The best, absolute best thing that can be said, is that it was our second team against their first team.  Unfortunately, we have higher expectations.  That being said, our lineup was a great example of Arsene being, well, Arsene.  Always a bit glad happy with his stable of attacking midfielders, he threw them all over the field tonight.  But this is no different than the strategy he has always employed: use these games to develop the talent.  Frankly, a glance at the two starting lineups made it obvious that winning would have been nice but was not the first thing on his mind.  So losing hurts, but had man$ity lost, Hughes’ job would have been in peril.

Second, no more whining about physicality.  I am tired of hearing people complain about our players not being strong enough.  We are not losing the ball because we are not tall or strong enough, we are losing the ball because passes are intercepted.  Every team plays us the same: clog the middle, let Arsenal bring it right in.  Body us up a little bit, but it’s not that hard when everyone is doing backheel flicks.  We keep trying for the 1-2 or 1-2-3 and are not connecting.  Look at the possession statistics and lack of shots.

So on to the good stuff, what was the point of this game?  This game really was about developing individuals, namely Ramsey and Merida.

Ramsey the wonder boy is so very interesting.  This game, however, highlighted Arsene’s plans for Ramsey; he wants Ramsey to gain confidence in front of the goal (the boy hesitates too much).  This is why Arsene keeps placing him in a forward position.  This make sense…SO LONG AS…Arsene gives Ramsey enough time to develop those skills.  Arsene is good about showing confidence in a youngster, so I’m not worried about the experiment getting cut short, but I hope Ramsey’s confidence isn’t shattered in the process.  The payoff is huge though. If Arsene can teach Ramsey to develop the killer instinct in front of the goal, he’s got the total package for the next 10 years at least.  In the meantime, we suffer through performances like we just saw today.  Ramsey doesn’t impose himself yet and is still timid.  And when he gets timid his passing depreciates, rapidly.  He still lacks a great deal of confidence and when he gets flustered, his entire game is thrown off.  He needs a run of a couple good games, then a bad game, and getting over the bad game to feel secure.

Merida presented an interesting case.   The powderpuffs physical game obviously agitated him, he was just angry at everyone.  Luckily the Spanish fire brings out a different side of him that might bode well for inclusion in the first team.  He’s starting to develop faster and Arsene obviously wants to develop him as a complete pitch player.  He has no problem with making a tackle, doesn’t fall easy and really has a great technique.  Most important, he was obviously told to play a different style of game for the sake of the team and he did.  He played his box-to-box position, but from a more defensive standpoint, much to his chagrin.  He wanted to charge forward.  I think Arsene wants to control that tendency, have him control from the middle of the field.  Most important, I think he did what Arsene asked of him and that’s what’s important.  I hope he and Ramsey partner in the Champs league game.  Although I said he is likely to sign a contract elsewhere, I really want him to stay.  He has more potential than Fab.

Some final comments for Young Wilshere, Eastmond and Watts.  Wilshere appeared to be told to create with the ball and when he had possession, he tried.  He tends to neglect half the field though.  Another stage of the Carling Cup would have been good for him.  And Eastmond?  He seems like a solid sort.  Plays his part, nothing fantastic, nothing horrible.  I am not entirely sure what Arsene is thinking with this young man.  Perhaps give him a shot to develop?  Maybe build up his resume before selling him and taking a tidy profit?  Watts had a cameo, wasn’t imposing, but showed what a tall, fast and strong player means to the team.  Nothing that will get him on the First Team, but enough to let us know how much we need a player that can draw defenders and open space.

One clear  bright spot was Vela.  On the field to get some game sharpness, his work rate was good, his touch was good and he had a few almosts.  He really makes you wonder, what if?  What if we had a big strong striker up there for defenders to collapse on and take one or two of the three men off of him.  Seriously, a big striker with Vela and we might have something special.  He’s that good.  He did himself quite well.

All in all, this game was the same old same old, way too much possesion for lack of scoring.  Teams know how to beat us, but we don’t know how to win.  But for Ramsey, Merida and even Vela, this game was significant.  Vela solidified his first team role, Ramsey showed he needed more time and Merida showed he might be knocking on the door.  I hope both Ramsey and Merida realize how much Arsene has invested in them: imagine the two of them as our midfield of the future in a 4-4-2.

-the student

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1 Comment

  1. […] squads.  And even then, they start them on the bench.  Arsene has particular goals when he puts in players.  It’s what makes him so good at developing talent and making money off of sales.  This is […]


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