No surprise that Arsenal were beaten in Borussia Dortmund.
The whole world seems to know that Arsene Wenger needs a high-quality holding midfielder but for some reason he chooses to ignore that inadequacy in his squad.
Mikel Arteta is a nice footballer and does his best in an unfamiliar role but he is not a defensive midfielder.
Arsenal need more quality defenders, too. Especially given that Wenger encourages his full-backs to play so high up the pitch. It puts extra pressure on the centre-backs and Per Mertesacker in particular.
I do wonder how much Arsenal look at videos of the opposition in their preparation for games like the one they played on Tuesday. Watching the match it seemed like they hadn’t given Dortmund much more than a moment’s consideration. All Wenger and Arsenal appear to think about is how they are going to approach the game and how they will play. Which is fine if you win all the time but not if - like Arsenal - you haven’t made it out of the Champions League’s last 16 for the previous four seasons.
I felt for Danny Welbeck, who had chances to score. I rate him as a player but I have said before that he is a 10-15 goals a season striker, rather than a 25 goals a season man. He needs to practise his finishing more. As a striker you really do suffer for missing chances.
I admired Mesut Ozil as a player at Real Madrid but it is no use playing him wide. He is not interested in defending and he needs to be in the centre, among good quality players who get the best out of him. He has that languid style which makes it look like he isn’t trying. I am sure that isn’t the case but he is struggling to find his form and he is too good a player to waste.
Watching Manchester City against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night I felt it was the same old story in the Champions League for Manuel Pellegrini’s team. Yaya Toure’s lack of defensive work in midfield has become a major problem for them.
The amount of time I saw opponents get in behind him in the game in Munich was quite remarkable. He just did not look interested. Alongside him, Fernandinho is having to do the work of two players defensively and against Bayern that was always going to cause City problems.
If they have any chance of breaking through the last 16 in the Champions League this season then City need to play two holding midfielders who are prepared to work back, rather than just one. In that case, Pellegrini would be looking at either leaving out Toure or moving him further forward. He would have to play Fernando or James Milner alongside Fernandinho.
When United won the Champions League in 1999 we played 4-4-2 and often I would find myself left out in favour of two in centre midfield from Roy Keane, Nicky Butt or Ronny Johnsen. Playing away in Europe the manager knew that he needed those two defensively minded players. The priority was the result. Playing attractive, attacking football was best done at home.
City could have been three or four goals down within the first half an hour had it not been for Joe Hart. They cannot afford any passengers in Europe. Toure just seems to amble about. He might get away with that in the Premier League but there is no hiding place against the best teams in Europe.
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