Today Tony Adams hits the grand old age of 50 and I’ve got to tell you, it makes me feel old, because I vividly remember him as the rock of our defence, so to here him hit his half century makes me feel a little bit worn. I remember him charging through the middle of Highbury, latching on to a Steve Boyle ball and belting a left foot past the Everton ‘keeper to effectively seal Arsène’s first title as manager. At that time he was two years younger than I am now. And he still had at least another three in the tank.
What a player he was. What a leader on the pitch and he was everything that embodied Arsenal. Off the pitch of course his excursions are well documented, but the benefit of football blinkers allows me to think only of the good stuff; that goal, the header against the Spurs in the FA Cup final, as well as lifting the trophy in his last game, with Sol Campbell alongside him.The benefit of getting old is, of course, the ability to look back on past times and almost exclusively wipe out any of the bad games he will have had. Time heals and all that. So above all, I’m just pleased we had a captain like Adams in our team and I’m pleased that I got to witness him play in the flesh and on TV.
If you’re after some modern day analysis, as always, have a look at Adrian Clake’s tactical breakdown on the official site. I like to think that everyone has been so bemused by Xhaka’s lack of game time, that even people within the club are now making tactical compilations to ensure Arsène knows that the whole world thinks the guy should be playing week-in, week-out. On Sunday I thought Xhaka did well, but I thought he’s had better games this season, so I’m not sure whether I’d have used the findings from the Bournemouth game to state his case. I actually thought the stand-out performed on Sunday was Elneny. Alexis got the plaudits because of his two goals and untiring approach to life in general, but I saw a much better Elneny on Sunday to the one that played against United. He didn’t seem to give the ball away much, he was always available for distribution, he closed down both in front of the back four and the opposition defence at times. So if anybody should have cemented their place for next weekend’s game against West Ham, it’s the Egyptian.
We’ve all spent the summer anticipating an inevitable Ramsey/Xhaka partnership to blossom, but perhaps the pairing that works best is with one as a more lower-key name?
It’s probably too early to be making such snap judgements with any kind of data to back it up, but midfield didn’t feel like an issue at all on Sunday, I didn’t think. It felt more that we had challenges elsewhere on the park and given that it’s been the uncertainty that surrounds the best two in central midfield all season, it’s nice to be talking about a formula that works.
What else is going on out there? Oh yeah, Takuma Asano scored for Stuttgart. Remember him? He was the lightning-quick Japanese bloke that everyone ignored because there was too much gnashing at the thought that we were going to go the whole season without signing a big first team name. Good for the lad. Whether or not we’ll ever see him at Arsenal remains to be seen. To me he looks like one of the cash cows the club brings in, so they can loan him for a few seasons and sell on. I have absolutely nothing to back that up other than the fact that Asian players don’t generally tend to make it in England – for whatever reason – so unless this kid has some kind of DNa splicing that’s gone on with Ji-Sung Park, then it’s probably not going to happen.
Still, it’s nice to see an Arsenal player on loan doing well and scoring goals. May he continue to bag hatfuls for Stuttgart and return to training with the Arsenal in summer as a monster of a player.
That’s pretty much it for now. Arsène must be due a pre-match presser today, given we’re playing in the EFL cup tomorrow and I am beginning to wonder who will get the nod, because we’ve got a few injury concerns and selection questions that he needs to ponder. For example, I suspect he’d earmarked Jenkinson to play tomorrow night because he missed the weekend, so who will play right back now? And which pairing does he go for in midfield, given than we don’t have a recognised first choice two? My head would tell me Ramsey and perhaps Xhaka, to see if that pairing works in a less important game, but I wonder if we might see more of an experimental side tomorrow in terms of it including more youth players. We’ll have to see who he talks up in today’s press conference.
Right, I’m off for another day, so I’ll catch you tomorrow for a Prs match selection of thoughts.