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Anorak | Gunners Offer No Defence

Gunners Offer No Defence

by | 2nd, February 2005

‘WHATEVER the result of last night’s showdown between Arsenal and Manchester United, the real winners were bound to be Chelsea.

”Fergie dreams of holding the Premiership trophy”

So much emotional energy did the two sides expend in 90 minutes of fouling, preening, whinging and kicking the football that Jose Mourinho should be rubbing his hands in glee.

As it was, United emerged 4-2 winners and now look to be the only side with a chance of catching the Blues, who will be 11 points clear at the top if they beat Blackburn tonight.

Afterwards, Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira had no complaints, admitting that “they played a bigger game than us and deserved the three points”.

Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, accepted that his team’s title challenge was over and blamed a defence that has now conceded 29 goals in the league for the situation.

“Overall we concede too many goals to go for the championship,” he told the Guardian.

“With the way we gave goals away, you see the players don’t have the same confidence at the back that they had last year. The same players concede goals now who didn’t concede goals before.”

That’s not entirely true, however. Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia looked out of his depth last night and was certainly to blame for two of the United goals.

The Times agrees, suggesting that Arsenal’s defensive malaise has its roots in Almunia’s lack of authority.

The malaise at the heart of South African cricket can also be put down to a lack of authority, this time on the part of captain Graeme Smith.

The hapless Smith turned 24 yesterday, awaking to reports of yet another row among the selectors.

Among cricketing nations, South Africa is a special case because of its recent political past – and racial issues are always going to play a part in team selection.

But race is not responsible for most of the perverse decisions that the South African selectors have made during this tour, which has seen regular changes of personnel and line-up.

“It is important to find combinations and stick with them,” Smith tells the Times. “We need to believe in guys and give them everything they need to be successful.

“We have to have a plan and know we are going somewhere.”

If the South African selectors look like they have learnt from England of the mid-1990s, the current England panel should be their benchmark for the future.

For instance, the Indy reports that wicket-keeper Geraint Jones has been assured that he will be given a decent run at the top of the one-day batting order to see if he can become England’s version of Adam Gilchrist.

Not that Jones himself is making the comparison.

“There’s only one Gilchrist,” he said.

More’s the pity…’



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