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Down .... but out?

One of the positives from that shameful display against Stoke was the performance of Aaron Ramsey. All right, he wasn’t as good as he was against Manchester United but he showed courage, bravery and that mental strength Arsene Wenger always talks about. Before the game Wenger talked about this game being very good for Ramsey to be involved in.

During the game, the Welsh captain did not shirk from tackles. If anything, the Stoke players were standing off him, perhaps mindful of what happened to him a year ago. I think that performance once and for all ended all doubts that whether he will be another Eduardo. The Brazilian was magical before his injury but of the combination of his physical condition and the scarred moment in his Arsenal career, he was unable to make the complete return.

Meanwhile, Bacary Sagna hit all the right notes in his post Stoke comments here. That being said, none of what he said was a revelation. We all know and have seen it happen time and again. From this example, it is clear that our team is smart enough to realise the same thing. Which makes it even more frustrating to see them repeat the fiasco over and over again.

No one gets anything without effort. No team in the world turns up for a competitive football game and expect the match to be a walk in the park. The Invincibles gave their all in every single game. The 5-3 comeback win against Middlesbrough is the perfect example. The first half of that game was how this current Arsenal side played in the entirety at Britannia Stadium, complacent and looking at the opponent. But the team then had character and desire to come play and win every single ball to rescue the game. Sadly, none of those is apparent in the existing squad.

We’ve talked a lot about Nicklas Bendtner this season. Now, apparently he wants to talk to Wenger. Being a big professional that he is, he realises that we are still not through with this season yet and will only seek a discussion with the manager come end of the season. The topic of discussion? His contract. Not about the money he receives but more about his playing time and the lack of it, which in the end might lead to a different contract elsewhere.

You have to feel for the Dane. I’ll admit that just like Philippe Senderos, I also have a soft spot for Bendtner. I like him and I really believe that given the chance, he’ll turn into a really prolific centre forward. And that, is the crux of the argument. He’s not getting those chances to show how his talent or how he has improved. Ok, he gets playing time but try convincing anyone that he’s a wide midfielder or a winger.

Last season after the departure of Emmanuel Adebayor and the injury to Robin Van Persie, Bendtner had the central role to himself. During that period, he lead the line the best he could and did very well. Lest we all forget, he got his fair share of instrumental goals, most of which were match winners. You can only judge someone based on what we expect out of him. Wenger need to realise that not all players can be converted positionally.

The system that the team employs also plays a very important role. I do think that in a 2 striker system, Bendtner might flourish. The current formation that Wenger use for close to 2 seasons now is best used when Cesc Fabregas is in the team. It brings out the best in the Spaniard and rightly so. Why does Wenger still persist with the same formation even when Fabregas is not in the team? I’m not saying change the system for Bendtner’s sake but I am saying adapt the system according to the player’s availability and the opponent.

Clearly something to ponder upon. More tomorrow.

Happy Birthday Dennis Bergkamp.

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