Monday, February 21, 2011

Arsenal are a hard team to support

Arsenal are the hardest team to support and love, at least for me. Not so hard since I left doing so, though I still want to like them. The issue here is my realism. They play well, I agree and they do not get above a set bar, which I hate. That is why they will not be my favourite for a while.

It becomes easier for people who do not know the difference between heartache and joy to follow the Gunners. For those who can differentiate, they abandon the team, taking a sabbatical or keep a cardiologist next to them 24/7. How on earth do the Gunners beat Barcelona and draw a team 3 divisions below their league? Lucky, Arsene Wenger rested a few players. They could have performed worse.

There is no question on the quality of the passing game they play. My problem with it is, its effectiveness in penetrating the defenses. Their play sets up the opposition to be in good defending positions and then Arsenal will try to break this organised unit they helped to build. I have always made a comparison with Barcelona, which many wrongly believe have a similar style.

Barcelona play their football across field, drawing away the opposition from good defending zones. This creates ample space between the central defenders and the goalkeeper. Barca attract defenders into areas they are not comfortable with, and then pounce. They rip teams apart by sudden acceleration forward through the middle or wings. First, they create that space beforehand to run into. Their wing backs are caught offside more often that attackers.

Arsenal close the very space they need and then try to be geniuses in breaking down these walls. This is the reason why those who love the Gunners do. When this operation is successful, there is so much unbelief and joy. This scenario of success, unlike the Barca case, happens once in a while, and sometimes, like in the FA Cup against Leyton Orient, by chance. Arsenal depend merely on chance and it is now too often.

There is no doubt that they will crush the small team in the replay at the Emirates, but does it have to take so much labour and time? They scored that goal at their unlikeliest time, tactically, to get a goal the entire match. Twice the Gunners handed the title away due to this approach. It;s the Arsenal way, but sometimes they have to play football.