Monday, August 16, 2010

Manuel Almunia! What in a name?

Heard the boys had a tough game at Anfield yesterday, pity I didn't catch a Live glimpse of Arséne's new additions.

Well, it's obvious I didn't miss the match's highlights, and I think Almunia has improved a lot. Some people seriously believe he stood a chance against N'gog's shot, but I don't. For a split second a vast number of gooners knew the outcome of N'gog's bust, before Almunia's fingers grazed his shot. Reminds you of Dimitar Berbatov's spectacular goal against Arsenal three years ago (when he was still adored by the Spurs faithful). Lest I forget, Almunia was the recipient of that effort which is almost a replica of yesterday's incident at Anfield.

We've seen Almunia at his disastrous best, but yesterday he showed something else, something he isn't noted for - the Spaniard was positionally aware at all times even when the resultant effect of his adventure was detrimental to his team's backline.

One aspect is certain he was calm and confident. Al challenged for every ball and kept his line under constant check, if you review the highlights then that might explain why Clichy didn't jump off that goal line when that header from Gerrard's corner popped in. We played well for all I care, but Liverpool deserved a breakthrough and they got it. Although under some unfavourable circumstances. This explains the disadvantages of our fluent passing game and our intricate mobile formation, which requires constant hogging of the ball as a means of frustrating the opponent.

The bottom line is quite clear; this plan backfired yesterday, and to be sincere we can't justify blaming a mistake on one young midfielder or a hapless goalie whose imperfect timing of the ball's speed, swerve and dip proved too costly for the team's chances earlier on. Goalkeepers find it difficult saving goal bound efforts that are adjacent to their position, mainly because of the pitch's topography which to be precise isn't spherical.

To say the least Al had it covered, but couldn't stop it because he was in an awkward position. Maybe this explains why our full backs are very efficient in covering their tracks. The likes of Sagna, Clichy and the rest usually channel the match's traffic through the middle where the capable tackles of Song and Vermaelen can fend off any challenge without increasing the risk of commiting a foul.

I'm not saying our #1 is perfect, but the way The Arsenal's system is run reflects the Boss' trust in the capability of Almunia. It goes a long way to prove that the players understand each other's weakness and try to avoid mistakes that might expose the team's defensive frailties

Not that I won't welcome a new keeper, it's just that I feel some of the names listed for the non-vacant position at North London aren't as good as their agents would have us believe.