Monday, August 29, 2011

North London Looting Continues Unabated

A couple of weeks ago, the Metropolitan Police were held largely culpable for their ineptitude and lack of response to the rioting on the streets of North London. Yesterday the defences (we use the term loosely) of Arsenal and Spurs stood idly by as both halves of Manchester helped themselves to goals in much the same way as the urchins on the streets had helped themselves to flat screen TVs.

The game at White Lane was actually a thoroughly entertaining one and had Spurs offered some protection to their back four it could have made for a far closer match. Indeed had Peter Crouch not spurned an excellent but tough chance at 0-1 it could have made for a pulsating match.

Edin Dzeko was much maligned after his arrival in January but now the focal point of a system that suits him, his ability looks to be without question. Two excellent first half finishes, a poached third and a stunning fourth provided a fantastic return from an excellent all round performance. That being said, the simplicity of the first three goals belied the soft centre that is Spurs' perennial Achilles heel.

There is no doubting the quality of David Silva, Aguero and Nasri but the space they were afforded in their opponents half and the opportunities they were given to run at an unprotected back four showed up the lack of strength in the Spurs midfield. Scott Parker would do much to remedy that situation but the entire lack of mobility of the Spurs central defence is also a huge issue. It is hard to imagine even Jamie Carragher or John Terry allowing Aguero to simply run around them like Dawson did for the fourth goal last night.

For City, there is much to be excited about but issues in defence need to be addressed. It is not City's attacking verve that is causing them to leak goals but rather an Italian induced tendency - Eriksson schooled in that country oft did the same with England - to sit back once a lead is forged that is inviting teams on to them later in matches. For all their pretensions to win trophies, a centre back pairing of Kompany and Lescott looks short on quality also. Nevertheless it was a fabulous performance with the gloomiest faces (next to Old Droopy in charge of Spurs of course) belonged to Tevez, Balotelli, Johnson and Milner all wondering how on earth they will ever get a game.

In Manchester, Arsenal endured complete humiliation after granting Ferguson's rampant side the freedom of Old Trafford. The vultures have been circling over Wenger since the end of last season and there can be no doubt whatsoever that Arsenal are being taken in completely the wrong direction. Even in their darkest days last year, you could not imagine a Liverpool side for instance shipping eight goals to ManYoo. It was an utter disgrace.

Arsenals' teamsheet yesterday included five players on the bench who had not played a single Premiership match. Wenger can complain about injuries and suspensions all he wishes but the strength of the squad is down to him and he with his belligerent refusal to buy new players has left Arsenal bereft of the players needed to challenge for honours, he is guilty of gross mis-mangement.

With the exception of possibly Thomas Vermalen, it is hard to see how yesterday's result would have been altered by returning Arsenal players. They did after all start with Rosicky, Van Persie, Arshavin, Walcott and Ramsey, hardly poor players. It is the character of the side that is severely in question. Having said that, the young Jenkinson at right back looked like a frightened rabbit and the sight of Walcott remonstrating with him conjured images of a teenage school prefect admonishing a first year student.

That Arsenal scored two seemed down to an almost sense of disbelief amongst the Manchester United players as to how bad the opposition were. Indeed had they stopped resorting to trying to walk the ball in to the net in the second half, we could have seen double figures for the first time in the Premiership, Arsenal were that bad.

For the two Manchester clubs, the title already looks like a straight fight between the two unless Chelsea sign some attack minded players with more urgency. Both sides have a huge array of attacking talent but with enough frailty at the back to make the season highly entertaining. For North London, they may be fighting it out for a Europa League spot at best - No Nonsense.