More analysis from the City game
It’s been a quiet start to a week in which Arsenal play their most important game of the season so far. The second leg of the Champions League qualifier against Sparta Prague kicks off on Wednesday night and Arsenal go into the match with a two goal advantage thanks to an excellent result in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, there has been no hint any updates on the injuries suffered by Philippe Senderos and Bacary Sagna and at this stage it is impossible to say whether or not they will be available for the game.
Update: Physio Room has only three Arsenal players listed as injured (Jens Lehmann, William Gallas and Emmanuel Eboue). This means that Senderos and Sagna should both be available but whether they play or not is a different story.
I mentioned yesterday that I did not get to see the Manchester City game but I now have a very good understanding of how Arsenal performed thanks to an excellent new Match Analysis program available on Arsenal TV Online. Two fellows called Dan Roebuck and Stuart Robson discussed the match and were quite critical of Arsenal’s performances in a number of respects. The major one was that they thought the defence struggled to effectively deal with Manchester City’s counter-attacking style, mainly due to Alexander Hleb’s inability to provide adequate cover in front of Mathieu Flamini. As a result, Martin Petrov was often able to surge forward down the left and on another day, he could have had a couple of goals. Hopefully Wenger will get in Hleb’s ear a little bit and ensure he is giving whoever is playing right-back against Sparta Prague the support they need.
The importance of Flamini
There was also a discussion about the performances of Gilberto Silva and Flamini who filled in for Senderos and Sagna respectively. Personally, I would feel quite comfortable if Gilberto and Flamini played in defence again against Sparta Prague. Flamini had a tough time of it against Petrov but there is no doubts in my mind about his ability to play as a full-back. I often think Flamini’s contribution to the club goes unnoticed by a lot of supporters and the role he plays is absolutely essential. Every great side needs hard-working squad players who can come in and do a job and that is exactly what Flamini is. In a recent article by Jamie Obertelli on the consistently engaging Goal.com, Flamini’s value to the club is summed up perfectly:
“Whilst most fans will agree that Flamini is not technically gifted enough, or physically imposing enough for a regular first team spot, his recent performances have highlighted his importance to the club. Flamini displays drive, commitment and desire every game and has actually pitched in with some important goals during his time at Arsenal. Add to that the versatility of being able to slot in at either full-back position and it is clear why Wenger decided to keep him.”
Anyone who saw the Arsenal Crossbar Challenge video would’ve noticed the chants of ‘Gattuso! Gattuso!’ that went up from his teammates when Flamini went to take his kick and I think that says a lot about how he is viewed by the rest of the squad. Indeed, Robin van Persie, who spoke today about his anger over Arsenal being labelled as a weak club, singled out Flamini as one of the toughest players at the club along with Fabregas and Gilberto. The respect is definitely there within the player group, but sometimes I feel as though it is missing from the supporters. So far Arsenal have been able to handle their injuries quite well because of guys like Flamini and I think some Arsenal fans need to realise this.
What do you think?
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