Senderos and Eduardo Fed to the Lions – Time to Dust Ourselves Off

Arsenal have not had a night like that in Europe since the Bayern Munich fiasco. One to forget very quickly – and as many negatives as there were in that match, it is important to not overreact to too many things.

The match started dozily for Phillipe Senderos, showing some obvious rust after not having played since October 7. Kanoute managed to pass Senderos only to shoot high over the bar. Arsenal looked like a group of pondering stragglers initially, but managed to gain possession soon after Kanoute’s miss, to start passing the ball around in their trademark way.

The possession paid off immediately when Bendtner, sidling down the right flank after a peachy back-heel from Eboue, sent in a cross to an inexplicably unmarked Eduardo, who refused to be distracted from the comical sight of Palop bundling over his own defenders. Holding his nerve, the Croat slotted the ball home for 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Arsenal had become comfortable on the ball after, pinging the ball back and forth, but Sevilla managed to demonstrate some skill in possession themselves. The game was an open affair; an exhibition of quality and control over the ball.

The only black mark, however, was the increasing regularity of Eboue’s antics. It seemed that any mere touch a defender made on the Ivorian made the winger bleed, and his complaints and tantrums noticeably affected Arsenal’s rhythm.

And so it showed: Gilberto hit a very poor clearance that found Keita, who drilled an astute outside-of-the-foot curler past Almunia from 20 yards. 1-1 and it wasn’t exactly ill deserved. Suddenly, Sevilla had taken the upper hand in the match, and started to dominate possession while Arsenal’s play became observatory-like at best. Toure and Senderos’ was not functioning; the two defenders lingering instead of hassling; pondering instead of closing down.

They were duly punished, but only by the most invalid of goals. Coming down the right wing, Jesus Navas dived dramatically over Traore to win a freekick on the flank. The kick was sent in for Luis Fabiano to effectively ghost in unmarked, and head in for 2-1.

Arsenal’s half was a shambles. Fabregas found no partners to his passing, and Nicklas Bendtner was the best of a bad bunch – the tall Dane managed to storm into Sevilla’s box before offloading to Eduardo, whose shot was saved. Denilson raced in for the rebound only to have his shot remarkably saved while Palop was still on the ground.

Halftime could not come for Arsenal soon enough, yet bizzarely, when they came on for the second, no changes to personel was evident. And the choice was called into question, with neither Eduardo nor Traore able to keep track of their players down the left wing. Eboue managed to jink into the penalty area and was upended by the Sevilla defense, only to be waved away by the referee. Replays showed that, for once, Eboue may have had a point in his protests.

Fabregas continued to be frustrated by not being able to find anyone to link onto his passes. On the sidelines, Rosicky was ready to come on, as Cesc complained of injury (a very early sub, by Wenger’s standards). Cesc was not looking happy with himself, though it was not quite clear how bad his injury was.

What was becoming an embarrassing fact was even when Arsenal beat Sevilla 3-0 at home earlier in the year, Sevilla never seemed as bad as Arsenal appeared at the Pizjuan. Sevilla were dominating Arsenal all over, particularly down the left flank left totally abandoned by Eduardo. A Navas cross was sent in, only for Senderos to play the cross with his chest – it looked like a handball; the referee called the penalty, but after a bemusing discussion, the decision was overruled by the very man who called it.

The defense continued to refuse to close Kanoute down, who had another shot off target. The only saving grace was that the score remained at 2-1, and that no matter how bad Arsenal were playing, they still only had the one goal deficit. However, that was never going to happen without any semblance of rhythm, and Eboue was destroying all of that, facing up to Poulson in another bout of handbags.

Once they finally got the ball, Arsenal could really only bomb a few crosses into an unmanned box. Yet still, Senderos continued to give away freekicks outside the box – retrospectively, it is a wonder how Sevilla did not put 5 past us. Walcott came on to replace the comical Eboue, in hope of injecting new life into Arsenal’s faltering effort.

If you thought it could not get worse, though, things got decidedly more pear-shaped, when Wenger was sent off from the touchline for allegedly berating the fourth-official. Stern as you like, Wenger refused to budge, finally being sent off a second time in the dying seconds of the game. There will be serious repercussions to come, I shudder to think what they are.

In the meantime, Arsenal continued to fail to create anything while Toure and Sagna muscled Kanoute off the ball for a penalty to be awarded, which Kanoute slotted as cool as you like for 3-1 to Sevilla, and game over.

Third-Gen ratings as follows:

  • Almunia – 6: Flapped at some crosses, and padded the ball straight back in front of him at times, but still did his job where the defense often failed.
  • Hoyte – 5.5: Had some good moments, though was as mired as the rest of the defensive effort.
  • Toure – 6: Did what he could to keep the ship from sinking, but seemed to be influenced by Senderos’ hesitancy. Bonus marks for some attacking intent, though.
  • Senderos – 3: The archetypal ‘Nightmare performance’. Hesitant on almost all Sevilla attacks; penalty was rightfully overturned but then adds to the comedy by picking up the ball in open play. You would hope he has something to learn from this performance.
  • Traore – 4.5: Still very naive, and not ready for this level of football yet. Crucially, however, was not helped at all by Eduardo, who hardly ever backtracked down his flank.
  • Eboue – 5: Had the odd moment of class – the backheel down the right wing to Bendtner was exquisite – but the rest of his performance was rediculous. Complained at the merest touch, gave the ball away, and wrecked Arsenal’s rhythm constantly.
  • Denilson – 4: Quiet, very quiet. Like a sieve in midfield – was not at the races, today.
  • Gilberto – 5: Seemed to be thinking of Old Ladies. An indifferent effort.
  • Fabregas – 5.5: Passes found no-one, and no-one found his passes. Frustrated out of his wit, and the injury is worrying. Replaced on 55 minutes.
  • Eduardo – 4: The goal he scored promotes him to a four. Almost refused to backtrack down his flank and help Eduardo. For this reason, is not a left winger, at all. A forgetful performance.
  • Bendtner – 6: Best of a bad bunch – tried to get many moves started in the first half, but became very quiet in the second.

Substitutes: Rosicky, Walcott and Sagna. None managed to steer the game in the team’s favour, and Sagna had a small hand to play in Sevilla’s penalty.

Overall, a performance that must be put behind the team. Wenger reshuffled the pack, and paid for it. However, Arsenal remain in Europe, and should Sevilla come unstuck against Slavia Prague (who knows?), then Arsenal can still reclaim top spot.

After the match, Arsene Wenger said he was at a loss to explain why he was sent off during the touchlines, and added there was nowhere for him to physically move or to get into the stands. Kolo Toure, who did what he could to marshall a reshuffled defence, gave credit where it was due to Sevilla, saying:

The ref sometimes helped them but when you go away it is always like that but they deserved their win. We gave everything but that’s the way football goes.

We knew that defeat would come but we need to start again and show character. To be a winner you need to come back from these hard things.

Which is all too true from Kolo – the team must simply move on from last night. The match review is scathing, yes. But simply as a match in isolation, the performance warranted it. Eduardo and Senderos will be made aware how unacceptable a performance that was, Eboue must be punished for his behaviour, and Denilson and Troare will want to put that performance behind them.

Notes must be made on Senderos, Gilberto and Eduardo, though. For the new signing, a bit of leigh-way can be granted, but he must know that that was a simply unacceptable performance. Ditto from Senderos, who makes a lot of people nervous with his lack of confidence in his own ability. Where has the Senderos of 2005 gone? The young, no-holds-barred defender who closed down expertly, and quickly, even in the ultimately doomed season of 2004/2005? Is Senderos adequate backup to Toure once he and Eboue venture off to the African Cup of Nations?

As for Gilberto, it’s getting harder and harder to discernibly say his heart is still in it. From laxadasical clearances to less-commited backtracks, he’s certainly not the Gilberto of last season – has he been given the chance to be? Arguably not, but when you consider how excluded he looks in team huddles, the Italian omens are not looking too happy for one of my favourite players.

In the end, it is far from the end of the world. A team shorn of Gallas, Adebayor (rested), Clichy and Flamini (who should return for the Villa game) and replaced with budding squad players was always going to lack rhythm and impetus. Time to knuckle down and concentrate for the tricky trip away to Villa (the second component of the ‘tricky week’ not mentioned in yesterday’s blog).

At least the monkey of an undefeated run is off our backs, and it’s back to coming back from this, and taking points from Villa. Though that’s no easy task in itself. More analysis can be made once it’s clearer who’s returning to the side, and who is not.

In other news, Aliaksandr Hleb is once again Belarus’ Player of the Year. Congrats to him, and wishing a swift return from injury.

Let’s not get all doom-and-gloom about it, though. A poor performance, yes. But we’re still in the Champions League, and we’re still top of the English Premier League. Which is more than many teams can say. Until next time, Gooners…

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34 Comments

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34 responses to “Senderos and Eduardo Fed to the Lions – Time to Dust Ourselves Off

  1. Macca

    generous 3 for Senderos!!!
    bit harsh of Eduardo, thought he showed some very nice touches. Need more playing time I thinks!!
    Eboue??? he picked up where he left off on Saturday, crap!!! No brains and I mean that in football terms. complaining on every tackle, no thanks!! we accuse Ronaldo and Drogba of the same thing do we not?
    Anyway just 1 bad game nothing serious it had to come and we are through which is the main thing!!!! nothing to get concerned about just learn form it!!

  2. jammathon

    Several readers wanted Denilson to start over Diarra, in which I felt he was too raw to start such a game. I was vindicated in that department; of course, I was equally let down by Gilberto, who I also said should start.

    Macca’s right – nothing to be overly concerned about. Just so long as such things are not repeated in a long time. Villa remains a tough fixture.

  3. Shobhit

    I think the loss had to come sometime or the other… its good in fact it was now… Its clear we need a GOOD Centre Back… Sendros is not a replacement for toure….
    As for Traore and denielson… they should understand that they are not yet upto the mark…
    Eboue is not a midfeilder in my opinion… he cannot think once he is in an attacking position… we need a winger in Jan too..
    Gilberto… one of my favourites too… but its time to say bye bro… making place for a young central midfeilder..
    Eduardo and Bendtner still need time… hopefully sooner than later the duo will show us what they can actually do…
    In the end… a win against Aston Villa will put things back on track… falter (cannot imagine it happening tho..) and it will be a cause of concern for our youngsters…
    Wenger knows best…

  4. Adam

    Also, Hleb and RVP missing of course. 6 of our best team out of the squad and with Sagna and Rosicky on the bench so not the end of the world indeed.

    I was a bit worried before the game as I think the rotation didn’t appropriately reflect the importance of this game (as in Prague). Finishing first in the group to me should have been a priority. Perhaps this is an indication that Wenger’s priority is actually the Premiership this season.

  5. PDM

    This was a meaningless game. We had 4 players from the first team starting. You know arsene would have preferred sending the reserves, but would have been criticized in doing so. What was really sad was that sevilla players and coach and the fans were acting if it was a cup final. rest your players and try winning a few games in your league instead playing your first team in a meaningless game.

    whoever wrote this completely missed the point as well…it was a chance to give traore, bendtner, eduardo, hoyte and denilson a run in a hostile environment…that’s it.

  6. jammathon

    I wrote it. Hence the glitzy green highlight around my comments.

    There’s no point to miss. The fact it wasn’t our first string can only mean they were given a run out to gain experience, yes, in such an intimidating atmosphere. They didnt exactly pass with flying colours, though Bendtner can be satisfied with his performance, at the very least.

  7. Macca

    PDM. hey man our players and manager’s reaction and mine was the same when we earn’t a point against Manure was it not. This was a crunch match for them against one of the best sides in Europe and they won with ease. Does not matter to them who lined up it was still Arsenal. They won and deserved it.
    This revealed we have weaknesses and they need to be addressed. Thats all it is not a big drama just a warning we need to strengthen the squad come Jan.
    it had to come and it did, so what. How we play next match is vital and Villa will be a tough match. Just hope Eboue does not get a start. Not saying sell him just saying jury is still out on him. Jury has decided on Senderos though, waste of space anyone who makes Bramble look good has got to go. Did the Finger Lady travel to Spain?

  8. jammathon

    Senderos had a shocker. But dont stoop as low as Bramble. He has a monopoly on nightmarish existences.

    In my heart of hearts, Senderos still has 04/05 somewhere in him. Remember his performance at Highbury against Bayern Munich? Or away to Charlton? Surely a rejuvinated confidence could see him return to something close to those performances. Last night refused to grant that confidence back, evidently.

    Furthermore, the only reason we go into such depth with regards to such a ‘non-important’ result (as if) is that whenever Arsenal players pull on the Arsenal jumper, the fans want them to do honour to the shirt, the badge, the club. Tonight was lacking in that honour.

  9. MagicHat

    jammathon, not sure if you saw the match, but Bramble was absolutely brilliant for Wigan against us over the weekend… He was definitely their best player!! Senderos, on the other hand… WHAT A DONKEY TONIGHT! And Gilberto was horrible too. I realize you can’t expect players who haven’t played in a long time to be at their best… but still, you have to expect more from these two. I wonder if Senderos will EVER succeed. All that said, however, in a strange way I’m glad we lost this match. It was the perfect one to get spanked in — ultimately meaningless… gets the winning streak monkey off our back… and will put some humility into the side and make them realize they need to work hard for every ball. I think it’s a blessing in disguise. And Bendtner showed his true class, I think he will definitely get more matches off this display.

  10. Macca

    Hey you guy’s what do you reckon Senderos and Cygon used to talk about during their time together? Laughed when Big Phil went to sink to welly into a clearance and came off his ankle straight into the path of the on comming winger, then later played a perfectly weighted pass of 30 yards into the path of the on comming forward. Never a dull moment with the gooners. Then Gilberto’s elegant swagger across the defensive line ball at feet then a swooping pass straight to the feet of a forward. Then Hoytes innocent look of non belief as he got away with stamping on soemones balls (or near enough). Just a night to forget and learn but had its funny moments. what do you think Toure thinks and feels when Big Phil is at the back with him he he he!!! I love this club!!!!! Normal service will be resumed against a good Vila side. anyone know if RVP will be back!!!

  11. indian gooner

    dunno if this has been mentioned before. putting in a relatively weak first team has really not helped us .if we finish second in the group as expected now our possible opponents are real madrid/barca/milan/inter with marseille or porto being a slightly easier draw.although wenger did stress he wanted to win the group but the squad put out for the last two champions league game suggests otherwise .atleast one positive is there will be four worried “european heavyweights ” during the draw hoping not to get us. btw not sure if u can call inter a european heavyweight 🙂

  12. jammathon

    Inter and Marseilles are the draws I’d want the most. Porto are always difficult away from home. This is of course assuming we’re coming second, which is likely all the same.

    There will be a full report on our Rnd/16 prospects in the leadup to the draw, which I believe is on the 21st of December.

  13. Tsabo Tavoc

    What the f***? Eduardo was our best player on the pitch!!!!

  14. jammathon

    The Eduardo that lost so many balls, the Eduardo that refused to backtrack down the left wing exposing debutant Traore countless times?

    No, that honour belongs to Bendtner.

  15. lang

    its too harsh on eduardo …being the centre forward that he is it is harsh to ask him to play on the left as a winger so naturally you would not find him backtracking and mr Wenger bought him as he needed someone to put those chances that we so often create at the back of the net…someone in the nistelrooy mould…a fox in the box

  16. Arsene knows and that is it! It was good experience for the second string players. We will beat anyone whether we are drawn with Barcelaona or Milan.

  17. lang

    i dont think we would be goin too far with manuel almunia..need t obring back jens or go for jaaskalinen….rem our campaign year before last it was jens who took us all the way….i dont see manuel doin it

  18. Pingback: Arsenal FC Blog » Blog Archive » Arsenal loss no disaster but is Senderos a lost cause?

  19. Meanwhile, Wenger is not worried by the fact his team have lost their unbeaten record in all competitions this season, insisting it was more important to rest players like Emmanuel Adebayor and William Gallas.

    “I’m not concerned about losing our unbeaten run in The Champions League,” said the Frenchman.

    “It is more important to stay unbeaten in The Premier League and we have a tough December coming up.”

  20. Croative

    I agree with you, Tsabo Tavoc: “What the f***?!!!

  21. Billy

    What a fool! Well to harsh on Eduardo he showed good technically ability and great strength on the ball he lost the ball no more than anyone else so I can see no reason for you to single him out as the villain!

  22. Matt

    Far to harsh with your summing up of things. When you make lots of changes to a side you can’t expect them to the level of our strongest side. If there’s anyone to blame for this performance then, for the first time in a long time, it’s got to be Wenger, I’m afraid he got it wrong yesterday. Yes we’re already through but with the quality of teams in the Champions Leagues this year we should have secured top spot yesterday, a draw would have been fine and then you don’t have to worry about the ‘top top’ teams in the next round. Seville are undoubtedly the best side in the group (bar us), we had two very rusty looking players returning from injury (Gilberto & Senderos) and a majority of ‘squad’ players starting. You can’t make that many changes against a top side and expect a performance or a result.

    Also, very unfair with Eduardo’s rating, as you stated he’s not a winger + he got a goal + he looked fairly decent when he got the ball into feet. Held the ball up well looked pretty lively and will only get better as he gets more games under his belt.

    As for Senderos, I expect to read a million articles on his consistent poor displays this season. He’s simply not good enough, end of….case closed!!

  23. jammathon

    We’ve chastised Alex Song for terrible performances when out of position. Eduardo is no different. Play Sagna as a striker and see if he gets an 8. The performance was simply not acceptable – Eduardo’s goal merely disguises how exposed he left Traore.

  24. Casicky

    although um tryna be calm inside i am absolutelty boiling i know some of the players who came in were not match fit ie Senderos,but come on how long are we going to come upwith excuses for that guy.we alwaus go on bout Liverpool relying on history and um afraid as far as Senderos is concerned we starting to do the same.Senderos came in for Sol,an paleyd absolutely brilliantly but since the he has done RUBBISH,admittedly his been injured mos fo the time but please how long can we keep finding excuses for him…um usually like this when we lose…but his getting on my nerves with his performances and we are supposed to hope that when Kolo goes to ACN then he is going to some how switch into that replacement mode like he did before…NO WAY!!!

    Eduardo though doesnt deserve that little i think he did what was asked of him mostly well,he plays on the wing of an attcking midfield not as an outright winger the difference being the the latter requires the winger to help with defensive duties.i feel if we had gone for two defensive midfieldrs in Diarra and Berto than Denii we would have mre cover for Traore and Cesc wouldnt have had to help out defensively too much.Denii was in Cesc’s way last night and he popped up everywhere and not in the nice way,and Cesc was puhed back alot alongside Berto…so i really think Le Boss got it really wrong.

    Berto was a disappointment surely he cant expect to keep out Flamster with that kinda performance,its been w hile since a team made us look so bad in the past when we have lost its becoz we didnt put away our chances or jus pure unlucky but yesterday we were played off the park,but with our full strength we would have done way better,but we will not always have our best tem so therefore our fringe players had to stand up and be counted and um afraid they didnt make us proud

    RANT OVER….

  25. Big Raddy

    WTF are these people writing? FFS we are top of the EPL, through to the next round of the CL. WTF do you want? Sure there were some dodgy performances but Sevilla are a fantastic side, and have a real chance to win the CL.

    What do you expect when a player who has yet to start an EPL game (Traore) is matched against Dani Alves, someone who would walk into any team in the world….. yes, even ours. Sure Eduardo did not defend as he should have, but he is a forward not a midfielder like Mozart or Hleb. And he is hardly experienced in this Arsenal team. Give the man a break, he scored FFS !

    We got outplayed by the Sevilla first team,. So what? Had we played our first team, do you think we would have let go from a goal up? No way.

    The reaction on the site is hysteria.

  26. jammathon

    Exactly, Big Raddy. Morpheus said it best when he noted “we are still alive…”. It’s good to have gotten the defeat out of the way – I value the experience players like Denilson and Traore would have gained – but it was not a good experience, that is for sure. The match review reflected the abjectness of the performance – whether that be against Sevilla or Bournemouth, it does not matter. Bad performances are bad performances, and I’m not going to award higher marks for ‘trying’ just because someone’s new or they’re playing against a good side.

    It merely disguises the fact that it’s a defeat we can come back from, and that has not dented either campaign that much to be fatal.

  27. tsatsaronis

    HEY MAN UR A FAGG

  28. Donjohnni

    Seriously – we played a B-Team. Sevilla played their reserve team. Imagine it would have been the other way round at Emirates. We would have raped them for a new Champions League record. Put it in perspective. We got skanked by Big Phil. Without that fuck up we would have probably won. We lost one game – boo-fucking-hoo!!!!!! It’s a stupid inconsequential game anyways. The boys got valuable experience. Who cares if we get a hard team next in the draw? We’re going to have to play all the hard teams anyway if we want to win. We need to beat a big team to get confidence. BRING ON BARCA.

  29. Donjohnni

    I meant Sevilla played their first team.

  30. mike

    senderos im sorry but i can’t trust you when you play like that, its been comin for matchs in past sliping up or stupid tackles no, i think i liked eboue as a right back, buy queresma show man u that we have portugese flair as well, richards for senderos???

  31. Yusri

    Why, we must worried about lose to Sevilla… Dont pust Alarm button too early… Dont Panic!!!… Be COOL…

    Before Jan, Prof Wenger need to know a performance of each player… He may make a little bit change in Transfer window this Jan… Give a time to our Prof…He know what he doing… He has 70mil pound to spend…So, He also want to make a big impact this season… Dont Panic… BUT We need Prof. Wenger Do something If we want to be a Champion!!!…

    Senderos, Ebou, Hoyte, Troare need time to show his talent… But Prof. Wenger MUST! MUST! MUST! bring in a “NEW WORLD CLASS PLAYER”…

    Especially in : 2 more Defender ( JOHN TERRY or DE ROSSI) , 1 Midfielder (LUKA MODRIC) and 1 Center Forward (KAKA)…

  32. jammathon

    All donations sent to the ‘Arsenal World Class Player’ fund. Be generous.

  33. Paul

    kaka’s not a centre forward he plays on the right- but we do need a right player ne way—————————————————harsh of armand troare thought he played quite well considering was basically only him defending alves and navas————————————————time to get sendros u idiot!

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