Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another Saturday...Down the Drain

photo by samantha celeravia PhotoRee

Despite the cold, rainy weather, a large contingent of Blackburn fans endured a  pre-game march Saturday to demonstrate against Steve Keane continuing as their Manager. "We need an experienced manager," said one of the protesters. He's right, although never mind that Rovers already had a perfectly good one in Big Sam before they jettisoned him to make way for Keane.  "I don't blame [Keane] for taking the job. I'd do the same if they offered it to me," said another marcher. Good point -- So would I!  How 'bout it, Venky's?

o But while Steve Keane is feeling the heat -- perhaps temporarily relieved by his team's 4-3 home victory on Saturday over Arsenal -- how hot is the water beginning to get for Arsene Wenger?  That Arsenal lost again yesterday isn't really news at this point.  What is news, though, is just how bad the Gunners managed to look while losing.  I haven't previously been in the "Arsene Must Go" contingent, but even I'm beginning to doubt Le Professor after this most recent loss, in which the Gunners' defense most closely resembled a packet of Swiss Cheese.

o Arsenal's shape continues to be terrible. The defense, even with the addition of Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker -- or maybe because of the addition of Santos and Mertesacker -- couldn't hold a straight line if they were tied together to a ruler. They looked completely panicked and disorgnaized at the back yesterday -- "at sixes and sevens," as the Brits like to say -- and Laurent Koscielny in particular looked completely out of his depth trying to guard Chris Samba on set pieces.

o Arsenal's current form is poor -- and I mean really bad. The quality of their football has noticeably and truly dropped. It's as if the disappearance of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri has turned them into a team which would struggle to stay on the good end of a relegation battle.  And yet we know that the team wasn't this bad when Fabregas and Nasri were out last season -- which they were a fair bit.  I think it's safe to say that in addition to missing their two best players the London side is struggling from a real crisis in confidence right now, and it must come from the very top.  I've long believed that any organization comes to resemble the person in charge, and if this is the case, then Arsene Wenger is not the calm, cool, professorial person he resembles on the outside, but a frightened, disorganized and incompetent man on the inside.

o The Gunners looked completely and utterly ordinary against Blackburn -- like a team that well and truly deserves to be near the bottom of the table.  Gone are the tiki-taka passing triangles, replaced with misplaced passes and balls bouncing off feet, arms, legs and any other body part an Arsenal player was fortunate enough to get on the ball. The team they fielded yesterday would have been pulverized by any side that is better than average -- United would have likely beat them by more than the 8-2 scoreline that resulted the last time they met, and Barcelona would absolutely tear this current Arsenal side limb from limb if they were fortunate enough to draw them in the Champions League knockout round for the third season running.

o I've seen it all now:  Joey Barton as team Captain of QPR. Is Neil Warnock certifiable?  Seriously -- Barton as Captain?!  When was the last time you saw teammates having to drag the team captain away from a fistfight?  Referees must be shaking their heads having to deal with Joey in his new role.  Barton may not be a bad player -- in fact, he got on the scoreboard yesterday -- but he is NOT Captain material, end of story.

o Howard Webb had a bizarre non-call in the Bolton - Norwich City game that showcased a flaw noticeable in the Englishman's game ever since the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.  When Webb neglected to call an obvious offside, even though it had been spotted and flagged by his assistant, Bolton 'keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen went absolutely haywire -- after making a one-on-one save that never should have occurred.  Webb carded Jaaskelainen for the incident, perhaps for swearing in Finnish, and took the occasion to give him a stern talking to for pointing out the obvious. This seems to be Webb's way these days: take muscular charge of an incident that is trivial by laying into a player and laying down the letter of the law, yet ignore or overlook obvious early and hard fouls (I'm looking at you, Nigel De Jong) in the name of keeping a match "competitive."  His act is beginning to get a bit old.

This is farlieonfootie for september 18.

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