Fab was King, Diaby a warrior, Song a Saint and still people whine.

8 in the morning watching a tape delay of the game at the local Gooner pub.  But it was still glorious.  At 5:30AM the pub delayed the broadcast and everyone gathered a little bit later having turned off their phones and shut off any nearby televisions.  Cheering on the team was even better given the importance of the game.  Yet still.  Still!  I read complaints about the players.

Trolling around the Gooner blogosphere I can’t believe the various player ratings and overall commentary about the game.  Lets get something straight: Aston Villa are a very good EPL team.  They might not be Champions League challenging yet, but O’Neill and Lerner have been building a solid foundation.  Their success this year, against Liverpool, ManU and Chelsea gives them creditability.  But this game showed the Arsenal’s class more than people seem to understand.

First and foremost, Arsenal dominated the game.  They didn’t score in the first half, but that was more because of the strong organization by Villa.  Villa, however, was lucky we didn’t score early.  Eduardo had a clear shot that he choked on.  Besides that, Villa defended well, but was forced to constantly chase the ball, which eventually wore them out.  Don’t be misled by the coverage; the second half goals were not an accident.

Second, Diaby has continued his strong run of games.  His injury time goal was a sweet play that he deserved after all of his work for the first-half.  In fact, his play absent Fab has been superb and top of the class in the EPL.  If people weren’t so down on Diaby they’d notice that teams really haven’t been able to handle him.  In addition, he and Song have developed a great partnership.

Third, people don’t understand Denilson’s role, at all.  It’s unfortunate too.  Too often the boo-boys have undercut Denilson because he’s not the “hardman” they want.  As a result, they’ve missed the fact that Denilson has been the team’s second most improved player behind Saint Song.  He might not play like a Cana, but that’s to our favor.  His control, technique and calmness in the back has been gaining steady consistency and giving an easy outlet pass and great positioning has helped the defense.  Besides, Cana isn’t that good.

Speaking of the midfield.  Arsene has a couple big issues to deal with.  With Alumnia being shaky in the back, the defense has begun to depend on Song as their spine.  Alumnia showed flashes of his potential today, knocking the ball away, but losing Song can’t be overstated.  Luckily we have a couple of weaker opponents coming up, but Arsene really shouldn’t pull his usual and wait until the last minute to sign a DM.  We need to plug someone in as soon as possible if he’s serious about going for the double.

We can play a Diaby-Fab-Denilson, but any injuries to Fab and Denilson and our midfield is looking a bit weak.  One injury and our midfield goes from solid to very very vulnearable.  While I don’t expect Arsene to make many purchases, at a minimum, the need for a DM to replace Song is terrifyingly evident.

Finally, Eduardo is really struggling.  This is a difficult situation.  Pulling him now and we kill his confidence.  But Eduardo’s problem is in the system, a 4-3-3.  Playing in the free-flowing movement upfront has been a debacle for this goal scoring machine.  To his benefit, he’s tracked back and has committed himself to the team defense necessary for a 4-3-3 to succeed.  Honestly, I think he’d do much better in a 4-4-2, an issue another Gooner and I talked about.  But perhaps most importantly, the need for a real striker is pretty apparent.  Thankfully, Arsene has dropped enough hints that he plans to buy a striker.

So big ups to the team and thanks for the beautiful scores.  And now everyone bow your heads and pray Fab is not that hurt.

-the student

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