Thomas Vermaelen made an instant Impact when he came to Arsenal from Ajax. He became a crowd favourite, made the PFA team of the season that year and it came as no surprise when he was made captain upon the departure of Van Persie. However, his form mysteriously dropped, he gave away a cheap goal to Van Persie at Old Trafford, was benched by Kosceinly in the second half of last season and there were even serious rumours that he could leave the club. Whenever, his name appears on the team sheet for any game, there is suddenly a fear among gooners that the game is already lost. Its so painful that a once shining light of the Emirates has suddenly become the ‘calamity Thomas’ of the club.
However, there is some good news for the Belgian. With Koscienly injured, the Captain stepped up to take his place and despite the fact that many people were skeptical about him playing, he actually gave a very super account of himself and was one of the best gooners on the pitch. Here are some his stats on the night:
- Gave 47 passes, none of the Chelsea back four gave that high number of passes.
- 98% pass completion, more than any other player on the pitch ( apart from Mertesacker who also had 98%).
- Gave 5 successful out of 5 long balls.
- Made 2 tackles; and when you consider that it was against an attackless Chelsea side, that was decent.
- Made 4 interceptions ( Mertesacker made none); better than all the Chelsea back line combined and second only to Sagna with 5.
- Made 13 successful clearances, the highest made by any player on the day and more than any Chelsea defender.
- In addition, made one blocked shot and made one successful offside.
These stats would not make him become suddenly endeared to the gooner faithful, but it is certainly a start. He would have another chance to impress at Upton Park and would have to deal with the physical approach of Sam Allardyce men.
To the next issue, Olivier Giroud. This has become a real talking point among gooners, especially when he missed two glorious chances against a boring Chelsea side, the first was very hard to take in, the second was a good block from Terry.
That display seemed to open his can of worms among the Arsenal fans. His weaknesses were put on the table for everyone to see and make jest of. What we have forgotten is that there is no perfect player. Gooners are used to seeing the creativity and finishing power of Bergkamp, the pace and power of Henry, the super left foot of RVP, the skill of Ian Wright or the finesse of Adebayor ( when he was still a footballer) that when we see Giroud, it makes us sad.
Who am I to blame for Giroud misfortune? It is the entire playing and coaching staff. Why would I say so?
Every player has strengths and weaknesses. It is the responsibility of the playing and coaching staff to see the strength of that player and play with it. For example, when a Peter Crouch or a Zigic enters your team, you know that the game plan would change to a ‘pump the ball into the box’ or ‘look for his head’; their team mates would hardly put the ball on the run for them to run too.
Also, if you have a Messi in your side, the game would have to be a passing on the ground style, it is not often that you see Barcelona crossing the ball into the box. Imagine if Stoke were playing tiki-taka and Barcelona were playing ‘cross and nod’, these two players would not be famous today.
What I am trying to say is the Arsenal team is not playing to Giroud’s strength. Oliveir is a player that loves to have crosses into the box, to put the ball onto his feet (remember goals against Aston Villa and Tottenham). How many quality crosses have been fed to Giroud, instead they play the ball into space and expect him to run and catch the ball, it rarely happens.
Giroud is also known for his ability to hold the ball in the air and feed off a team mate running behind him. Giroud brought the ball down a lot of times against Chelsea, where were Walcott, Ozil and Ramsey to make those penetrating runs behind him? Nowhere to be found.
I am not a fan of Olivier and I feel that he needs to work a lot harder but the truth is that he is all we got for now. He would not be a Henry overnight. It is therefore imperative that we play to his strengths and try as much as possible to hide his weaknesses; because the more we expose his weakness, the more the media criticize him. The more the criticism, the less his self-confidence, the more low confidence he has, the more our title challenge would be derailed.#COYG
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