With the next game coming only on Saturday, Arsene Wenger has a little over 5 days to ponder on his options. What was evident from the Everton game was the fact that Denilson cannot perform in the same capcity as Alex Song and that the surprise effect of Arshavin playing as the main striker has wore off.
From the off, Denilson was a bundle of nerves. On 2 separate occasions, he was trying to keep ball while holding off an Everton player. Both time he lost it to the opposition. The easier option would be to release it to the nearest available team mate. When this is done in the middle of our own half, any possession surrendered could lead to a counter attack from the opposition, at a time when the flanks defenders have already pushed forward. That could leave us in a 2-on-2 situation.
Now that Denilson has once again succumbed to another injury and will be doubtful for the visit to Reebok Stadium, it begs a question. Is 5 days sufficient for Wenger to get cover from the transfer market? The answer will most probably be no. Then, the boss will need to look at the reserve players. Both Eastmond and Coquelin have featured in our shortlived run in the Carling Cup and deserved to get another chance. From what I had gathered, neither will be too fazed by the occasion and the experience will only serve them well in the future. Wenger took the gamble before with Song and it worked, no reason why the same cannot happen with these 2.
Further up the pitch, the decision to play Arshavin in the middle was pushed by the fact that we had no other available striker at that time. To be fair, Arshavin did well initially but his impact has faded over time. It is rare to find players who can excel in 2 different positions on the pitch, especially ones which requires being a focal point, either in defense or in attack. Flamini may have done well at left back during the 05/06 season but, let’s be honest, left back is a slightly easier role compared to being a target man. Once the Liverpool game was over, it was fairly easy for future opponents to pick up some tips on how to handle Arshavin the striker. Sticking close to him and denying him space to manoeuvre was essential in stopping the Russian. To a certain extent, most teams that came after Liverpool were able to do this efficiently.
As if we needed any supporting data, Arshavin duly provided it in a cameo against Everton. Twice, he peeled away from the Everton markers and drifted to the left touchline. Both times, when the ball found him, we saw the very best of him. Turning and sprinting away from the defender, Arshavin was able to get behind them each time and get a shot on goal. Unfortunately both times were denied by the Tim Howard. That 2 incidents were the perfect example of why we need to switch him back to the wide area of the field. Arshavin is at his best facing the goal and running at it, not with his back facing the goal. I fear, the longer he stays out in the middle, the more disillusioned he becomes with his game.
Bendtner’s return cannot come any sooner. 2 weeks is the shortest time which we can expect to see the No.52 Danish striker. In the mean time, Arsenal need Arshavin, the playmaker that shone in Euro 2008, playing as the classic no.10 and not Arshavin the diminutive striker. Luckily while we wait for Bendtner, there’s the return of one Cesc Fabregas for this weekend’s tie.