Arsenal need to bulk up to avoid blowout

December 1, 2009

It used to be said that rugby was a sport for all shapes and sizes yet the modern professional game is so dominated by massive, athletic gym monkeys that diminutive wingers such as Shane Williams are as rare as England tries.

And, if Sunday’s game at the Emirates, where Chelsea completely bullied Arsenal into submission is anything to go by, soccer could be following a similar path.

Impact and collision will always play less of a role in the round-ball game and as long as referees help out smaller players by awarding cheap free kicks, being knocked over will not always be bad.

Yet the over-riding impression on Sunday was of men against boys.

With Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Eduardo, Andrei Arshavin, Carlos Vela, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky scuttling around the pitch, Arsene Wenger’s place on the touchline could have been taken by Snow White.

Yes they are skilful, sharp and often evasive but when pitched en masse against the likes of Michael Essien, Branislav Ivanovic, Jon Obi Mikel, John Terry and Didier Drogba the confrontation more often than not ended with Chelsea in possession.

Wenger, as usual, saw things differently, telling reporters that it was “too easy to have that impression” and that a video analysis of the physical side of the match “would surprise you specialists”.

Wenger can point to the fact that Arsenal have, until their last two league games at least, been scoring at will and that many of the goals and most of the assists have come from his smaller players, but it will not have gone unnoticed by other managers how easily they were brushed aside on Sunday.

There will always be a place for a nippy little winger in football and most teams could probably find room for a few of them but there is always a balance.

I love a bit of ham but a whole plate of it will never be as good as when some choice slices are stuck between two sturdy slices of bread.

PHOTO: Chelsea’s Didier Drogba (top) and Arsenal’s William Gallas react as Arsenal score an own goal during their English Premier League soccer match at the Emirates Stadium in London November 29, 2009. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh


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Posted by Reuters Soccer Blog » Blog Archive » Arsenal need to bulk up to … | Soccer Yahoo ! | Report as abusive

arsenal is a big team but one things that we have to do is to just buy somes strongs players on our attacking zone.for realy we dont have strickers

Posted by Rene | Report as abusive

The same old archaic argument thrown up again!If people watched Arsenal a bit more they would know that they don’t need to buy second row forwards from rugby union to succeed and that this argument that they are too lightweight is rubbishWhat happened to Arsenal on Sunday was simply the result of not having an in-form striker.They dominated possession, particularly in the first half, but had no cutting edge. Eduardo was way off the pace and a long way short of confidence but if Van Persie or Bendtner had been playing then Arsenal would have had a bit more of an edge, they may not have won, but they would have certainly have provided more of a goal threat.The first half saw Denilson, Fabregas and Song harass the Chelsea midfield of Mikel, Essien and Lampard constantly forcing mistakes which resulted in stealing possession, unfortunately they couldn’t keep this up in the second.I accept your argument may have had credence in the past but not any more.Drogba did not outmuscle anyone when scoring, unlike in the past with Senderos, so I would agree with Wenger and not you.Arsenal play football as attractively as Barcelona, a side littered with small, skillfull players, but while the European champions are able to throw on Zlatan Ibrahimovic to grab the winner against Real Madrid, Arsenal, because of injuries and signing policy, throw on Carlos Vela. Until they change that, they will struggle against the better opposition and not because of their diminutive players who lack the muscle of a heavyweight boxer

Posted by Goonersauras Rex | Report as abusive

Arsenal lost because of their unwillingness to mix it, not their inability. Added to this fact were the hopeless performances of Vela & Eduardo.Eduardo’s touches and judgement wree way off the mark, while the little I have seen of Vela doesn’t impress me at all.The disallowed goal was unfortunate. There was an occasion when Fabregas sliced through the Chelsea defence with a pass to Vela.Instead of running towards goal, he decided to go have a conference with the Chelsea boys.Arsenal fans should be groaning,”Robin, Thierry, where are you?”

Posted by Karthik | Report as abusive

I could not agree more. However, it was more obvious when Arsenal crosses the ball into the box. It almost seemed as if Chelsea was allowing them to get down the wing and feed a cross goal-ward because they knew that they would have no trouble clearing. Arsenal needs to pair all that skill with a striker with the physical presence to threaten a defense or the defense will simply sit back.

Posted by Ryan | Report as abusive

I agree with Rex, This argument has been thrown over and over again and I tell you honestly that for you to make such a statement then maybe you havent been watching football at all this season or maybe just not arsenal’s matches when they are scoring. 2 Losses and the criticism starts all over again. When they score goals, noone say anything about them.Simply put, as what Rex said, arsenal doesn’t have an in form striker at the moment with Van Persie injured. Nearly all the goals that are scored by arsenal had Van Persie’s hand in it. As much as he scores goals, he holds them and makes fantastic assists as well. Take that away and Arsenal literally collapsed. They’ve been playing with him in that formation all this season so far, now he’s out, noone could fit in that role as well as him.Anyhow, I’m not gonna be bothered really with all these criticism. Come the end of the season, we’ll see which team will be at the top.

Posted by Gooner4life | Report as abusive

totally agree with Goonersauras rex.dont know which match Mitch was watching because until the goals chelsea got, arsenal played well and didnt see any bulling then.

Posted by richard | Report as abusive

Arsenal need luck and an end to the injuries, not to go out spending money on players that may not work

Posted by Melanie | Report as abusive

This is unpersuasive analysis really. The game was much tighter than the score, especially considering the own goal was a huge muddle rather than a real scoring opportunity for Chelsea. Yes, Drogba has torched Arsenal again, but one goal came from a free kick, the other from being given too much space (and from Gallas failing to at least make a play on the ball, which might have unsettled Drogba).Yes, there’s a place for more physical players in football but skill wins the day. Ballon d’Or? Messi. Hardly a giant there. As for Chelsea, they won in part because they defended with 9 and took the chances they were given. Arsenal, didn’t, and more frustratingly, didn’t test Cech on occasions where there were opportunities.The rest is the sound of football commentators trying to find something to talk about this week. Chelsea have a definite edge now, but Arsenal have a game in hand and at best are only 8 points down with much of the season left. Chelsea have a favorable schedule through the African Nations Cup, but will still drop points without Drogba and Essien. I do think Arsenal need cover for Van Persie, and depth at the center of defense. For me though, while I’d like the option of an attacker who can give them an aerial threat, they simply didn’t play quickly enough, especially on the counter, to get behind Chelsea’s line. Do that and the goals will come. Next time I’d like to see young Mr. Walcott and Arshavin in a more central forward role.Wenger will find the way, but with Van Persie out, it will take a little time to get the balance right.

Posted by American Gooner | Report as abusive

Chelsea are currently on fire, i just pity any team that crosses their path. the sunday london derby is a case of boys confronting men, what do you expect the result to be? and those that are thinkin that the blues will drop points during the african nations cup are in for a shocker. the arsenal disallowed goal was right, if you watched closely, eduador raises his leg to kick the ball after pete cech had already catched the ball.

Posted by olayinka | Report as abusive

Timely comment on this issue from some fellah called Arshaving: “We are not good on set-pieces because we don’t have many tall players – every other team has an advantage over us in this area.

“They were much stronger than us when it came to physical power. Had we possessed a tall player then things would have been better for us.

“We had nobody capable of holding on to the ball. We played good football against all these top teams but that is not enough.”

I agree that you don’t have to have a team of giants to do well but a whole team of lightweight players certainly limits your options.

Posted by pinhead | Report as abusive