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Zonal Marking Lets Arsenal Down But Diaby Could Feature In Turkey

Arsenal's win on Sunday was more encouraging than it was disappointing. Some people out there, especially those who choose to vent their frustrations on Twitter, seem to see the glass half empty even when it's overflowing. I beg of you not to listen to those miserable bastards (although I'm sure they're lovely people underneath all of the complaining), and instead, see the brighter side of things.

For instance, I give you Calum Chambers. A 19 year old playing like he's been in the game for decades, with the calmness, tactical awareness, and cool factor of some of the best. I'm not saying he's anywhere near that level yet, but it's really astonishing how experienced he looks considering he's only played 23 Premier League games in his life. When you hear some Southampton fans saying they never thought he was anything too special, you've really got to hand it to Wenger and his scouting team for seeing something in him that no one else did. The kid's got quite a future ahead of him.

And while you might combat that positive point by saying we played like sh!te, I highly disagree. While Tony Pulis did indeed part ways with Palace just a couple of days before the match, the team's defensive solidity and focus wasn't altered one bit. Their usual tactic of parking the bus and hoping for the best on set pieces and counter attacks against the big boys was maintained, and as always, it was quite a task to break them down.

For this reason, I don't think you can blame us for looking like we lacked options, because we really did. When ten men are in between the ball and the goal, it's a little difficult to squeeze it in. Sanogo, who usually wreaks havoc upon any back four faced against him, found no space to run into, and therefore made his game pointless. The only reason he excelled against such teams as Bayern Munich and Manchester City is because they gave him room to exploit.

There's really no point in looking too hard at the way we played today, because any game against Palace is guaranteed to be a hard one. I thought we performed really well, and as Le Prof would say, "We displayed great mental strength." Coming from a goal down against one of the most frustrating defences in the league isn't exactly bad going.

Having said that, the goal we conceded was absolutely awful in every way. While I can sort of understand the benefits of zonal marking, especially when it's executed correctly, the number of set-piece goals that we've conceded thanks to our relentless trust in it is so incredibly annoying. If you're going to put me through watching a bunch of blokes standing around, letting the tall people run around freely, at least make sure that our defenders attack the ball when it comes in the area. If all of our men are stagnant, as they were today (bar Alexis, who started chasing Hangeland and then realized it was utterly useless), then all the other team has to do to score is take a run up to the header and they'll get there first.

I thought Steve Bould was supposed to help with our kryptonite in dead-ball defending, but I've seen no improvement what-so-ever. I know I just had a go at everyone complaining, but this ignorance when it comes to one of the most important aspects of the modern game really gets on my nerves.

Anyway, that doesn't matter now, because we scored off a set-piece ourselves anyway. What a goal it was, too. Alexis' beautifully placed ball expertly guided to the corner by who other than Laurent Koscielny. Can that man physically score a goal that isn't vital?

The second involved a healthy amount of luck, but who cares when it's in stoppage time? Debuchy's shot deflected into the feet of Ramsey who knocked it in with such style and coolness that I actually let out a bit of wee. The celebrations were fantastic, even from new boy Mathieu Debuchy, who I thought had a decent game himself.

So, overall, not a bad day, right? Alexis showed off a bit with his circus-like controlling of the ball (watch it on YouTube), Chambers gave the most exciting defensive display I've seen in quite a while, Wilshere had a solid performance, and my fantasy team flourished. I'm happy about it all, and you can't bring me down, you grumpy gits.

On Tuesday, we head to Turkey to play Beşiktaş in a game that I'm weirdly confident about. I'm usually pretty wary of relatively unknown (to me at least) European opponents, but the good vibrations of back-to-back trophies have continued into the season. I think the side we put out will be fairly makeshift, with a lot of rotation to keep everyone as healthy as possible. I don't know how fit Diaby is, but if he's at least 85% there I think he'll get some minutes. All my fellow Abou lovers would be very pleased with that.

One player I really hope gets some time to impress is Joel Campbell. I want to see more of the guy after an impressive World Cup and preseason. There's still some talk hanging around of him departing, either on loan or permanently, and Wenger didn't exactly quell the rumours. He looks like an exciting, explosive, and unpredictable player, and that's always useful to have in your ranks.

As far as arrivals go, Manolas is seeming more likely to arrive at the club with some media outlets going as far as saying he's having a medical. I don't think we're quite there yet, but he'd be a great player to bring in for a reasonably low price.

It's cheap enough to allow a couple of other players to come in, with PSG duo Adrien Rabiot and Edinson Cavani both quite heavily linked. I don't think the latter will happen, as much as I'd like it to, but Rabiot is a definite possibility. He seems like he's a great prospect, and I think he'd be really suited to Arsenal, but he'd also be a bonus. Don't expect him to fill any of our holes or be our defensive-midfielder, as he's quite frail for a guy standing at 6'2".

The need of someone to add some world-class quality to that role is still pretty high, and while it doesn't exactly seem likely to be filled any time soon, I don't think we should rule anything out. From what I've heard (I'm not an ITK, before you get your knickers in a double constrictor knot), there's plenty of money left in the bank, and I think a wildcard might be on the cards. An Özil-type signing, if you will, but instead of a creative midfielder, I think a striker or holding midfielder is most likely. Who knows, maybe we'll get both, but I really don't think we can totally rule anything out anymore. The times of shopping only in the bargain department are gone, and we have the power to buy nearly anyone in the world. Try to not get a little bit excited for what might happen, I dare you.

In not-as-happy news, Gibbs got what seems to be a hamstring knock in the Palace game. It's really awful news for a player who's had his fair share of injuries in the past, and hopefully it will only be a couple of weeks before he's back out there. If he could just stay fit I think he'd be the best left back in England, and that's a pretty bold claim. Hopefully Shad won't let it happen again.

And finally, lets all laugh at Manchester United again. I can get used to this.

Anyway, that's all for today. Hopefully the boys'll return from Turkey will a couple of goals to the good, and we can play our U-21's for the home leg.

Enjoy your week and don't let the haters bring you down.

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Tags: Arsenal, Arsenal FC, Goonersphere, Campbell, Sanogo, Arsenal Football Club, Chambers, Set Pieces

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