Amid all the obituaries for Arsenal it was easy to lose track of the “Liverpool positives” that came out of Sunday’s game.
It will be cold day in hell before anyone gets a complement out of Arsene Wenger as he’s to busy griping about being hard done by when perhaps his concerns should be more insular. However perhaps we can take some back handed positives for his observation that
“We dropped two points. It was a difficult game against a Liverpool team who basically only defended.”
Saying that we only defended is like saying it rained and all they did was stand there with an umbrella. Of course we spent most of our time defending Arsenal, as the home side, were blo*dy well attacking. I’m not entirely sure this is true anyway, we had nine attempts on goal to Arsenal’s twelve not the massive gulf that Wenger implies?
Defending is not a dirty object to be brushed under the table or subject to be spoken about in hushed tones in darkened room! It is as much a part of football as attacking is. Sometimes you need to defend to see the game out or take the sting out of it? Examples? Oh, let’s think …. when you’ve just gone 1-0 up from a penalty with only one minute of added time left or perhaps when you’re 3-1 up away from home against your local rivals!
I think Kenny was spot on when he said about Sunday
“They went through a wee bit of adversity, losing Fabio Aurelio early on and putting a 17-year-old Jack Robinson on at left-back. Losing the captain (Jamie Carragher), having a right-back in John Flanagan who’s only 18, losing a centre forward, losing a goal eight minutes into injury-time, and they still didn’t want to accept they weren’t going to get anything from the game. I don’t think I can speak any higher than that. Everybody will be sat there proud at having seen their team produce a performance like that with the attitude and commitment.”
If you had asked me a few weeks ago where our weakness was I would have said in defence. I was feeling pretty pessimistic about it. Too many players were getting muscled off the ball and there were too many errors, be it marking up from set pieces or generally in the way we set ourselves up when the opposition is attacking. However injuries to players such as Aurelio, Agger, Johnson and Kyrgiakos, all experienced players, have meant we’ve had to place our trust in youth and it’s been a great and pleasant surprise. Jack Robinson, John Flanagan to add to Martin Kelly and in midfield Jay Spearing all of sudden the future looks much brighter. I still think we need an experienced top class defender during the summer however, perhaps the need for an overhaul isn’t so widespread?
Although our hands were tied because of injuries, it makes sound sense psychologically to play the youngsters. With not a great deal at stake this season mistakes aren’t going to do any real damage and hopefully we are going to get performances like the ones we saw on Sunday as they are trying to seize their first team opportunity. This presumably galvanizes the more experienced players as all of a sudden they facing competition from some young whippersnapper! The results so far speak for themselves, only one goal conceded (a penalty) in two games against so called top four clubs.
You have to hand to Kenny for trusting the younger players and giving them the chance. It is another facet that he has bought to the team since he took over. There has been the odd blip or two but on the whole the results and the style of play speaks for itself. Since he took over many players, experienced and new, have spoken in complementary terms about Dalglish’s influence. Jose Reina was the latest
“We all want him to stay, if he stays here on a long-term basis, I would be very happy. Like the rest of the lads. We have improved since Kenny became manager. We have beaten all of the big teams. But it is important as players to repeat that in every game. We need to be consistent; with the aggression and commitment, everything.”
And Dirk Kuyt who seems to have thrived under Kenny
“He gives great confidence to players, especially to the younger players who come in. If you can give confidence to younger players as a manager, then that’s a great plus.”
The only uncertainty regarding Kenny’s position as manager seemed to be from the owners but perhaps we have now seen the first signs of movement from their apparent state of inertia. News that first team coach Steve Clarke is undertaking talks over an long term deal suggest that Kenny will also be offered something more permanent? About time to, Kenny wants it, the players want it and the fans want it – go to it Fenway!