Emmanuel Eboue has had a hard few months at Arsenal having been booed off the pitch. However the Ivorian still has the ability to win over the Arsenal fans, he just needs the confidence.
From being one of the potentially best right backs in the world to labeled one of the worst players in the Premiership by some people, is quite a turnaround. Eboue has been fighting a constant battle to win over the fans since his switch to midfield and seems to be lacking that confidence by the pressure put on him from fans and himself.
It has been interesting watching Eboue play since those boos in Arsenal’s uninspiring but nevertheless important wins over defensive minded opposition. He has made some good surges and looked to support the man in possession; at times he was on the other side of the pitch but ultimately he has lacked the end product. However when he made those runs he was near isolated in support; his fluidity and flexibility needs better appreciation and understanding from him and his team-mates. Against Hull a fine move concluded by a scuffed effort from Eboue showed how hard it is to defend when a team displays such movement but build up like this has been few and far between.
It has also been interesting to see people talk about the Gunners changing their formation to a 4-3-3 like Manchester United’s so that they can acheive greater interchangeability. Football is about winning battles in different areas of the pitch. Players able to ‘play between the lines’ are seen as the key to unlock defences hence why Man United went for Berbatov instead an out-and-out forward. Better movement especially in the area between midfield and attack (providing the team doesn’t park the defence in front of the box) can be explosive. Tactics counts for only some of football’s logic, it is about the players applying themselves. “When defending, great teams want many behind the ball,” says Slaven Billic. “When attacking, players from all sides. We have to be compact, narrow to each other. It’s about the movement of 10 players now.”
Maybe Eboue needs to be more dynamic instead of always looking for the give and go but his style suits Arsene’s vision of total football. He just needs the confidence from fans and the players around him clicking more often and the movement to provide support, dragging defenders out.
There are similarities between the ‘total football’ sides of Holland and Dynamo Kiev and Arsenal. Arsenal play with overlapping full-backs, quick passing and a fluid midfield and attack. It has been practiced by the reserves as stated coach Neil Banfield. “We are trying to develop a game style for them so they can interchange and there are player rotations. We have got players who can play inside or out wide so we don’t mind them coming inside as long as when we lose possession we go back to a 4-4-2.”
It is about self-expression, individuality within a system and how football should be played at around the same time and with no obvious mutual influence. Arsenal are getting there; it will require a bit more time and patience. “We need to stick to it – because this is how Arsenal is. The Arsenal way is in our system now, it grows into you, and I don’t think it’s clever to change your philosophy,” Arsene Wenger says. ”Things take time, and you often see clubs sacking managers for fun, and they don’t get anywhere. You need a long-term strategy. At Arsenal, the players have time to grow into the system, and if we stick to our principles we will get silverware.”
This is not an article to change one’s minds on Eboue and stop the criticsims because as they say, “let a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend” but instead next time he starts, watch in anticipation rather than expectation and maybe we will start to see the best of Eboue.