No team has won the Premier League without a centre half.

Can a team win the prem without one?

To start a debate on this subject we need some caveats and small preface questions;

What’s the difference between a centre half and a central defender?

Is it only a case of different names for the same position? Am I engaged in nothing more than semantics? Are there actual differences in playing styles? And if so from where does the difference arise?

In the land where football began the defensive back line consists of full backs and centre halves, or centre backs, on the near continent those playing in the traditional centre half position are known as central defenders. Now is this just a case of you say “tomato” (American accented) I say tomato (English accented)?  My summation is “No” its not only a serious question it goes to the very heart of why our defence has been so leaky, and moreover its at the core of why we haven’t gotten our hands on any of home made silver wear recently. I’d go even further and state until we have a centre half in the back line winning any of the 3 home grown competitions may prove to be beyond us. Why do I say this? Well………..

Football on the near continent is primarily played full square on the ground. The leagues of real significance as we all know are in descending order The Spanish, Italian and German. That’s not to say the others aren’t important, we as a club for example have imported widely from outside of these three biggies. France, Holland and Belgium have served us very well with their player offerings. Of the three big European leagues only the German league has any form of aerial bombardment included in its play and even that doesn’t compare with the type of play so often seen in the premier league. In Europe the English Premier League is seen by many Europeans as the most exciting league to watch, with its fast paced all action helter-skelter style, but the league is also seen by many of the same, as the least tactically aware. The kick and rush style with long balls played over the top isn’t a tactic you’ll come across on the continent, and as stated above the type of aerial bombardment that’s common place in Britain is not elsewhere. So this is where the divide begins.

A typical centre half in Britain is raised with this style of play and has developed a way of dealing with it which differs greatly from a typical European central defender. What’s the difference? To answer this question I want to go back to our last great league winning defence. It wasn’t inherited as some of the uninformed like to put forward, it was built by Arsene. It contained the recently retired Sol Campbell. A more typical no nonsense centre half I submit it would be hard to find. What was the secret of this defence? Sol’s Head! Play a ball in over the top and Sol would beat whoever its intended target was and “head” it back where it came from. Fire a ball into the area from a set piece and rest assured if the keeper didn’t catch it Sol would “head” it away and out of the danger zone. I lost count how many times this would happen in games.

It’s actually in the manor that a CH will move forward and attack the ball that significantly shows the difference in approach between the two types of player fulfilling the same role. CD’s instead of moving forward to attack a ball will wait stationary, or move back to give themselves room to bring the ball under control. What does a typical central defender do that’s so different? European central defenders have developed a style of play to deal with long balls played over the top. Their natural instinct is to allow the ball to drop to the ground and immediately bring it under control, and play it out from the back turning defence into attack. What’s wrong with that I hear everyone ask? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Except in the fast paced rough and tumble of the premier league as the typical CD lets the ball drop he’s liable to have one or two of the opposition all over him like a rash. Which if its inside his own area is very dangerous and so makes playing the ball out from the back very difficult, our centre halves are raised with the idea that if the ball lands at your feet the best way to play it out from the back is launch it into row “Z”.

You see teams who play long balls over the top (think of everyone favourite Stoke) tend to rush forward and crowd the box. It’s also often been a strategy successfully employed by Taggart & Co especially in the last 15 minuets when they are either behind or desperate to force a win. Bringing up the infamous Taggart aka Sir Alex Ferguson reminds me to add a caveat. Are there any Grey areas in this Centre Half Central Defender divide? As with most things in life there most certainly are as illustrated by an ex charge of Taggart’s Jaap Stam. A central defender who played more like a centre half than most centre halves, JS as a player wasn’t particularly mobile and certainly couldn’t be called quick, but he was very strong and determined and he read the game well, and he had that trait that a centre half just has to have “A head” and Jaap Stam headed more balls away from Man U box in the 3 short years he was with them than anyone else.

This brings up a further observation why did the Campbell Toure partnership work so well? If a CH is so important why not have two? Well let’s look at how the partnership worked. A long ball gets punted up field towards a target man normally a centre forward whose job it is to nod it down into the path of an on rushing midfielder or attempt to bring it under control and hold it up while reinforcements arrive. As it’s in flight and on its way Sol sees the danger and jumps in sync with the striker. Now either he wins it out right in which case the ball is on its way back where it came from or he misses it but with Sol’s help so does the striker. If they both miss it behind them as the ball drops to the ground Kolo T mops up. Again I can’t even begin to calculate how often this sequence took place, but if we could bring up those stats I’d hazard easily more than 10 times per game.

After going 49 games unbeaten with this defensive system why wasn’t it continued? It was! I think most of the top teams analysed how and why Arsenal had been so successful and emulated the formula. I think we as a club were the only ones who didn’t; perhaps we were too close to the action. I’d say our system was most successfully copied by everybody’s favourite player of the moment John (I isn’t a racist is I Cashley) Terry and his defencive partner Ricardo Carvalho at Chelsea. Taggart successfully employed the Ferdinand Vidic model. While most recently the CH CD combo was still being work by Lescott and Toure (again). Why wasn’t it continued at Arsenal? Well Sol left for Portsmouth under strange circumstances i.e. his “Head” wasn’t on straight? Too much pressure, or whatever, and we’d ended up with William Gallas by default as a result of the Cashley Cole affair. In other words without much analysis we went with what was available to us.

The upshot of which was we suddenly had two European style central defenders in our back line and were without a centre half for the very first time, in our clubs history. The rest as they say is history! We had one of the least effective defences in the league. Without realising it, or even meaning to Arsene had proved a point about two CD’s and the Premier League. Many said the previously oh so dependable Toure just couldn’t play with Gallas. Not exactly true, played together on Tuesday or Wednesday nights in the CL they were fine, but the combination didn’t work for the Prem. How could it? Without a centre half to relieve the pressure on both the keeper and the defence in general our defence was suddenly under the microscope. If the keeper couldn’t replicate “safe hands” Seaman and collect high balls we would be pressured into conceding, and we were. We became the team that couldn’t defend set pieces and that perception lasted until very recently. In point of fact I don’t think we are particularly strong on set pieces even now. We did have a respite though when for a short period our defence was bolstered by the returning old Mr Campbell. In that short interlude our leaky bucket defence became almost water tight again, and I looked forward to the following season, knowing once again we might have a chance at the title, fate however would cruelly intervene. Sulzeer Jeremiah fell for and married a Geordie Lass and moved north so she could stay near her roots. (Love will do funny things to a man) I blame that bloody Woman! She probably cost us the title. Mind you I blame my wonderful “better half” whenever I can’t find a pair of socks or a clean shirt. Yes I admit it I’m a dinosaur.

What’s to be done? Well…………First off try to remember that successful centre halves or successful central defenders come in pairs, so partnerships have to be formed. Next up a very quick analysis of our current defenders. (With the centre half central defender debate firmly in mind).

1) Let me start at the furthest end of the spectrum by saying there are in the words of the song “reasons to be cheerful”. We now have for the very first time in an age a proper British style centre half in the squad. Step forward Kyle Bartley, he may well be only a prospect but at least we’ve got one. Why am I happy about this? Well I’ve followed KB’s progress and as this article expounds I’ve wanted a CH back in our squad for an age. I’ve wanted KB to be promoted into the first team for an age. He might be unproven in the Prem but at least we’ve got him. I hope he can be paired up!

2) I want to continue with the much maligned Johan Djourou. JD is a little bit of a hybrid he’s neither a centre half nor a typical central defender. That might be because he’s Swiss? I honestly haven’t seen enough Swiss football to know if there are any reasons for a player to develop CH tendency’s in the Swiss league. He can and does do a bit of both. When partnered with Le Kosh he immediately played more of a CH role heading everything he could. JD was a successful defender for us, as the stats show when he wasn’t played out of position and partnered correctly. Every team needs 4 CH/CD’s and I’ll be saddened if he goes although like RvP his injury record reads like a hospital casualty department list.

3) I’m choosing Vermaelen next simply because like JD is a bit of a hybrid and KB apart the closest we have to a CH he attacks the ball in the manor of a CH certainly not like a CD. You find TV5 running forward to jump and meet an incoming ball in the manor of a CH. However he also plays in the typical CD style by playing out from the back, which probably comes from his Ajax background. When fit he’s probably currently our first choice centre back.

4) Laurent Koscielny is the most typical Euro style CD we have and he is probably the best CD any of us have seen at the club. His intercepting skills are a joy to watch and if he had a CH of the quality of our dear old Sol partnering him we’d probably have the best defence in the prem. That’s how highly I rate him.

5) The BFG? I just don’t know I haven’t seen enough of him in an Arsenal shirt to really make a judgement. He’s not a CH and he seems to be a one off CD.For a big man I’m yet to see him attack an incoming high ball. He’s worryingly slow for a modern day CD because since the changes took place to the off-side rule (Passive – Active – 1st phase 2nd phase). Neither Tony Adams nor Bouldie would be deemed quick enough and the BFG’s slower than them. He does have some admirable qualities as a defender though, he’s bloody big, strong and therefore intimidating and he reads the game well and it seems he can marshal the other defenders. For me the jury’s still out.

Written by richie

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172 Responses to No team has won the Premier League without a centre half.

  1. Dick Swiveller says:

    REALLY glad you put in Vermalen at #3 there, as it was a nicely written, cogent piece which echoed a lot of my problems with our defence 2 years ago, but a little out of date which is partly due to the Verminator. I believe Wenger messed up in letting our defence get to the point whereby nobody attacked the ball, Senderos did but he had to go due to his mentality, now we have Vermaleen who does and for your summation of Koscielny as the quintessential CD I think he attacks the ball every well too, as much a hybrid as Vermaelen imo just without the hammer of a shot.

    For what it;s worth, I’m happy with Mertesacker although you’re spot on again about the type of defender he is, his positioning is so good it helps everyone else around him to compensate for his pace and I haven’t looked at the stats but from a purely qualitative remembrance, we concede less with him in the team.

  2. silentstan says:

    for someone who says the jury is out on Per who certainly condemmed him.
    what i dont understand about bloggres is that you are all so fucking brilliant but dont have jobs in football management.

  3. SharkeySure'sGhost says:

    The consistency and quality of writing on this site shows no signs of abating (please not that OzG and stop bugging me ;-) )

    Fantastic post Richie.

    Kozzers the no. defender for me. He has absolutely everything.

    I love the Verm’s warrior like qualities, but worry about his willingness to leave his station.

    I think the BFG is simply a fantastic footballer and leader.

    Picking two from three is as tough as it gets…but its Koz and Mert for me…but only just. Truth is I don’t really need to pick a two….cos any combo from those three leaves me happy enough.

    I think Miquel looks destined for greatness, and I love the beastliness and aggression of young Mr Bartley

    Happy days….

  4. Dick Swiveller says:

    SSG, the beauty of having varied defenders means we can mix and match (at least, I hope we’re going to be doing that), so Vermalen and Bartley against Stoke, with Koscielny and Per against Swansea,

  5. SharkeySure'sGhost says:

    SilentStan – many thanks for your unique insight into how wrong anyone who expresses an opinion is, simply for expressing one.

    At what point does the author claim to know better than those in football management. Is that even relevant..?? Should we preface every post with the authors occupation and background…just for you…??

    Oh and you might want to work on your own prose before being so critical of others. Just a thought….

  6. SharkeySure'sGhost says:

    Not convinced by your name DS..but each to his own !

    I also had Stoke in mind when I mentioned Bartleys beastliness.

  7. chas says:

    Flippin heck, richie, that’s some “little something”.

    I certainly remember when Sol was playing for the spuds he always seemed to get in the way of every attack we threw at them.

    Gerard Pique failing at manyoo might also support your theory i.e. playing alongside the turtle-faced drug cheat was never going to work.

  8. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I really am getting very sick of complete wankers like silentstan. Start your own site, you little prick.

  9. chas says:

    ‘silent’ stan.
    If only.

  10. Dick Swiveller says:

    Few people are convinced SSG, but I like it.

    It’s hard not to think of Stoke when seeing the word ‘beastly’, should probably stop mentioning them though as I believe saying their name too much summons the horde…

  11. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sorry Richie,
    I am always greatful when people make the effort to go out of their way to write a post. Of course, its fantastic when someone raises such intelligent points as you have done. So a massive thank you.

  12. lari303 says:

    Great piece, obvious stuff that must have escaped le’ boss for quite some time, hope SB can infuse that quality into the current crop of defenders at Colney.

  13. silentstan's carer says:

    Here’s the sort of wonderful words of wisdom silentstan contributes to the Arsenal blogosphere. No wonder he has such high standards.

    silentstan
    what a stupid article, please dont write any more, you show yourself up

    http://gingers4limpar.com/?p=1973#comment-1503

    “-3 silentstan
    April 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm •
    ramsey is one paced and unimaginative, and a liability. i fear for 4th let alone 3rd. we are only 2 pts ahead and so defeat against chelsea will be disastrous because spuds will win so putting us 5th.
    Our options thanks to injury and wenger’s faulty purchases are woefull. Coquellin btw Martin is injured
    Diaby is 1/2 fit for a week or two and may be risked but then he is a dribbler and loser. Rosicky should take Arteta slot and Ox should come in.
    Pointless playing Gerv as he is, well, pointless”

    ” silentstan
    July 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm •
    considering the time he has been at AFC and the number of starts I do not think 5m down and 5m add ons was relatively cheap!
    he is inconsistent, cant cross, doesnt track back. sell him for 20m and buy Affelay for 8m”

    http://arsenalarsenal.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/arsenal-and-pak-choi/#comment-61336

  14. In Wenger We Rust says:

    You guys on this site talk such shit. The simple fact is all our top stars don’t want to play for Wenger and Arsenal. My beloved club is rotten from the board to the manager. They tell us lie after lie after lie and most of you guys take it and accept it. The hard core fans have had enough and aren’t renewing season tickets that’s why tickets are being offered to red members.

  15. silentstan's carer says:

    I’m so pleased “hardcore” fans like yourself haven’t renewed.

  16. Shard says:

    I believe there is a stat that no team has won the premier league without an ENGLISH centreback as among the first choice defensive partnership. Maybe that’s your point about a Centre Half, and how English players are trained to play. I certainly think you are on to something here. Although Koscielny wins more aerial battles than Vermaelen (according to the stats), and as such he’s the real hybrid.
    You are right about Mertesacker. He doesn’t really win many headers at all. But it was his first season in England. Koscielny got better this season. Per will next season. He’ll adapt, and he has the needed qualities.
    Vermalen needs to improve too. At this moment, the only thing I am sure about is that Laurent Koscielny gets to be one of the defensive pair. Between TV and PM, I’m not sure who I’d choose.

    Getting back to the English centre back (or centre half) bit. I think there might be another reason to it. Namely, referees favouring the ‘local lads’. The likes of John Terry, and Rio Ferdinand get away with a lot of fouls which aren’t called against them. Is it just to do with the style of play. I’m not sure. I remember Graham Poll (after he’d retired) making excuses for a referee not sending Terry off as the ref being aware that that’s the England captain. I think 2 seasons ago, Ferdinand had just 1 yellow card all season. Admittedly he’d played only about 20 games. Among those games was a kung fu kick on Sagna too.

    I don;t disagree with your point regarding the English league being different at all. England does have more aerial bombardment than any other major european league, and it is important defenders know how to cope with it. I guess I’m still thinking that it is possible to win without needing a defensive pairing to play those exact roles. LK and TV were quite solid when they had fit fullbacks to support them, and Arteta as the screen. Just like playing the ‘little and large’ together up front was seen as essential, I think in time, this notion of a big, beastly header of the ball being absolutely essential in defense will disappear too.

  17. GoonerB says:

    Richie, I am normally one that enjoys a tactical discussion but I must admit I got a bit confused about this tactical analysis on the CD / CH differences. I think I see what you are trying to say is that you have either mobile ball playing defenders or no nonsence clear the ball defenders, but who may have limited technical ability with the ball on the ground. I believe you are saying it has been our lack of one of the latter that has cost us and it is why you see Bartley as our possible saving grace. I agree that central defensive partnerhips should be with 2 players that compliment each other so that you can be strong in all the different types of defence that may be called upon. The style of defender is one area, but I am also aware it is important to recognise which player suits playing on the right and left of this set-up and if you have 2 lefties for instance that it could be square pegs in round holes. I do potentially have a few areas I may disagree with you on your analysis Richie.

    Firstly I read recently an article with opinions from Rangers fans about Bartley where they felt despite initially looking promising he didn’t really progress and they didn’t feel he would be good enough to play at the level required for the top end of the EPL. I don’t know if this is an accurate assumption but it is just what I read.

    Secondly if I was analysing our defensive deficiencies over the last number of months I felt we had improved massively in dealing with the direct approach and aerial balls and cannot think of too many goals we conceeded this way. TV and LK actually seem to both be quite good in the air as well as on the ground. IMO recently we have conceeded goals by being hit quickly on the counter-attack, when too many players in our team that I would refer to as part of our “defensive unit” (for want of a better term) were caught out of position leaving our 2 CD’s exposed. This so called defensive unit would include the full backs and the key defensive midfielders whose job it is to provide a protective screen in front of the back 4. It is well documented about Song’s taste for getting further up the pitch leaving a hole in front of the 2 CD’s which has resulted in the often used name of Songinho. It is also recognised that when he does keep his defensive discipline through a game that there are maybe few better out there for this role. As an example often used is when he snuffed out Rooney last season in the area in front of the back 4 that he likes to operate in.

    The other problem, IMO, is that our full backs often get forward at the same time and don’t co-ordinate this timing with each other. If this happens at the same time that Song is forward we are left with 2 CD’s exposed to either side of them to attacking wide players and with a huge gap in front of them with no DM screening, but where the opposition attacking CM’s can attack and run into. I would use the Norwich game to highlight this point, as a perfect example of where we fall down defensively. If you watch it again you can see that, even before they scored, they had given us warning of how they expected to exploit us. 2-3 times an attacking wide player got in behind our too far forward full-backs and, rather than cross it in high, they pulled it back low into the area between the penalty spot and the edge of the area. Our CD’s had naturally retreated to around the 6 yard box to protect the goal and their attacking CM’s ran into the space in front of them just inside our box that our DM’s had vacated. We got away with it a couple of times with no lessons being learnt by our players before Norwich scored in this very way.

    Over the last few months I felt that this was where we were most defensively vulnerable and I would put it more down to tactical and defensive indiscipline than about what players we had or didn’t have. This is why I feel the key issue with our defence is if Bould can drill them better and make them more tactically aware (defensively) about how the game is unfolding and where their team mates are on the pitch at any given time. We need, IMO, to rein in, to some degree, this free for all bombing forwards without recognising how it leaves the shape of the team. One food for thought here is in AW’s first full year when we went on to win the league. We were well off the pace at one point and shipping goals and as I understand it the senior players, i.e the famous Arsenal defence, called a meeting where they told Vieira and Petit that they were not providing enough of a screen in front of them. They both took this on board and started to pay more attention to their defensive positioning and duties and we went on a great run and the rest is history.

    Maybe Bartley will turn out to be great and maybe Richie your analysis is correct and I am incorrect in my thoughts. Maybe we need another quality CD as many fans want, but I still feel that we have very good defenders in place at the moment and I like the TV / LK partnership and, IMO, the primary problem with us defensively is defensive and tactical indiscipline and a lack of awareness.

    P.S sorry about this being a bit long. I never intended that when I sat down to respond a bit like when I go int Tescos for 2 items and 1 hour later come out having spent £100.00.

  18. chas says:

    So Brave Sir Robin is not going on tour after all.

  19. Bryan says:

    Kos & Verm for me all day long, they are by far our best defenders.
    Been dissapointed with Mert to be honest, was excited when we got him but I can’t believe that he shows no strength for such a big man & never seen a slower defender.
    Djourou started well at Arsenal but has fallen away & I now think he is a liability, severe penalty conseding danger when he’s around.
    Bartley has yet to be proven but reports from Rangers fans seem to say he’s not good enough for prem but that I can’t comment on.
    I think coaching of the defense would help alot so hopefully Steve Boulds appointment as no2 will make a drammatic difference

  20. LB says:

    Thanks for that Richie.

    Hopefully we will get to read many more posts. I always look forward to reading your comments, when I wake up, scribed in the early hours of the morning, goodness only knows what you are doing up at that time but any way, when reading them the thought that crosses my mind is that such interesting comments are wasted; they deserve to be headline posts and that, in the middle of July when everyone is struggling for something to say, would make the lives of the owners so much easier.

  21. rhyle says:

    In Wenger We Rust – so you’ve given up your season ticket have you? Where did you sit? Hardcore fans giving up their season tickets…it’s Thich Quang Duc like in terms of the sacrifice they / you are making. Nothing like cutting your nose off to spite your face to make your point.

    There are many on here, myself included, who are critical of the way the club is run at the moment but who don’t get so…emotional…about it. “Rotten to the core” is laughable. There are a lot of positives at our club in terms of both personnel and philosophy…they’re just not driving us forward as much as a few tweaks here and there.

    Try and keep a lid on your emotions…you come across as a 12 year old who got the wrong Transformer for Christmas…this site is the most tolerant I’ve come across. I don’t always agree with the content but at least it’s always well written and you’re allowed to counter the post without being drummed out for being a AAA / AKB (I…loathe…those…terms) or being accused of being less of a fan because of your different perspective.

    And that, fella, is the essence of discussion.

  22. LB says:

    GoonerB

    Not sure if you have been on the site before but in my unofficial capacity I hope you come back because that is a quality comment.

  23. Bryan says:

    GoonerB

    I just read your 10.46 reply
    & I agree with you pretty much as my 10.45 comment has afew of your views in alot shorter post ;-)

  24. Rasp says:

    Congratulations richie, yet another epic first post from a new writer.

    Unfortunately it will be wasted on those (In Wenger WE Rust) who don’t have the mental stamna to even try to understand what you are saying.

    It is possible that half our outfield players next season will not have been brought up on Wenger ball (the last 2 years signings). I’m hoping that we have looked at why our style of play has led to conceding too many goals and the system employed will rectify that but also encourage the players to get the ball forward and wide more quickly.

    As far as central defenders are concerned, I know the stats show Per and 1 of either TV or kozzer is our best pairing but I’d certainly like to see kozzer and TV in most european games and against the prem teams that want to play football.

  25. goonermichael says:

    in wenger we rust. dickhead. My son is still 21000 on the st waiting list. I have a silver and 2 red memberships. I haven’t been offered one. You’re a fucking mug.

  26. SharkeySure'sGhost says:

    Gooner B and Bryan. Re Bartley – it sometimes happens that certain styles systems teams suit certain players at certain times.

    Think of how often a players performances can change following a move to another club or change of manager.

    One of the best examples in recent years is Boateng at AC Milan. Rejected by the Spuds, hardly set the world alight at Pompey, but now a mainstay of the Milan team. There must be many others…

    Hopefully Bartley will be the same, although I do have to admit that it is a little worrying when an Arsenal loanee is not the stand out player in the SPL.

    Fingers crossed then…

  27. LB says:

    Hardcore fans not re-newing their season tickets!

    You just couldn’t make this stuff up.

    How is it possible for anyone to miss the irony in “hardcore fan” and “not re- newing season ticket.”

  28. GoonerB says:

    Well said Rhyle. This site is a great one for logical discussion and one of 2 that I particularly like for that reason. Although I wasn’t sure I fully agreed with Richies analysis I fully respect his opinion and can see that his analysis is well thought out and presented, and fully appreciate him taking the time to do it. There are too many variables in football for us all to agree with each other entirely but it would be boring if different opinions weren’t brought forward. It would, however, be helpful if the extremists didn’t comment on this site as there are other blog sites out there that welcome this and don’t enjoy a reasoned and civilised debate. It would be nice if this site could remain untinged by certain responders but I guess in a country of free speech you can’t really prevent it.

  29. Rasp says:

    Morning GoonerB, let me echo the appreciation of others of your analysis @ 10:46.

    I completely agree with your points about our fullbacks. The fullback/midfielder partnership (sagna/Theo, Gibbs/Gervinho with other variations) is crucial and relies on the midfielder taking resposibility to cover. I don’t believe this worked particularly well for us last season (the injuries decimated our choices). I expect that if Pod plays in front of Gibbs, our defensive play will improve greatly on that flank.

  30. Bryan says:

    Yeh I agree Sharkey, but you would think in the Scottish league you should look good lol
    Forgot to say I really like the look of Ignasi, reminds me of a young Ramos, I reckon he’ll become a top defender then Barca will nick him back off us grrr

  31. Rasp says:

    I’ve got ot go out for a while.

    GoonerB and Bryan, thanks for some great comments. It would be a pleasure to publish your thoughts in a headline post sometime, please see ‘Be Our Guest’ at the top of the page if you can be persuaded.

  32. richie says:

    @LB Thanks for the kind comments. I rearly sleep before 2 in the morning often not until 4 – My 8 year old daughter as has been her habit for the last 6 years refuses to let me sleep later than 7 even on a weekend, does that class me as an insomniac? Hell I don’t know, I do know I don’t take anything for it and I’ve been this way since a teenager. I’m generally busy during the day although I often manage (as now) to steal an hour before midday. I wish I could be more involved in the discussions as they happen, but early evening times are taken up with dinner & daughter before its her bed time. Then its time for relaxation with the better half before she retires. Only after everyones is safely tucked up in bed do I vampire like have the time to enter the blogsphere.

  33. rhyle says:

    Bartley is an interesting one…it’s always hard to judge a player like Bartley’s contribution at a club like Rangers in a league like the SPL. He played for a club that was dominant (with one notable exception) and rarely threatened in defence – it just doesn’t give him much of a chance to show what he can do. Hopefully, though, it’s taught him how to concentrate and stay focused for the full 90 mins!

    I’ve read a couple of Rangers fans thoughts on him…they rate him but don’t feel he’s progressed but I think, again, that’s a symptom of playing in a position that doesn’t really get a chance to shine outside of the Old Firm games…

    For me…he’s got all the right attributes to do well and he, for me, has the most important one of all – he’s passionate about his football and his clubs.

  34. Bryan says:

    I would probably like us to get a decent left back, I just don’t believe Gibbs can stay fit for long & Santos is great going forward but not great at defending.
    Also Sagna being injured for start of season even questions, do we need another right back as Jenkinsons a long way off being good enough yet

  35. rhyle says:

    Bryan – absolutely agree about left back…willing to give Jenks the benefit of the doubt as 2nd choice RB…saw some good stuff from him last season…yes, there were some mistakes but there was also enough to show he’s a half decent player who’s got the potential to become a decent one!

  36. richie says:

    @Bryan check my analysis at this moment in time its very obviously Verm & Kosh for me too!

  37. Bryan says:

    Yeh sorry Richie, I know you were saying that, I was just stating my opinion on the current set of defenders.
    As I said have been dissapointed with Mert but he may just of needed a season under his belt so judge him better this season as I will Gervinho because I would sell him tommorrow on last years perfomances ;-)

  38. TT says:

    Thanks for a well written article, richie. It seems to me, from the limited times I’ve watched Arsenal play, that the team’s problems with the high balls are: a) the defenders do not direct their headers strongly enough to clear the danger and/or well enough to a teammate to control, and b) when the defenders do head the ball back, the midfielders/forwards do not manage to win/control the returning high balls. As the result, I feel that possession isn’t retained, even when Arsenal defenders win the aerial duels. The opponent would recycle the attack again, and it becomes a matter of time. It seems to me, Arsenal clear the danger much better when playing on the ground.

    Sorry none of this has any stats backing, nor do I claim any great observational power. Could be totally wrong here.

    p.s. by the way, does anyone (Chas?) have a compilation of the 49 league goals Arsenal conceded this year, please? Horrible as they maybe to watch, they would be helpful in discussions like this.

  39. TT says:

    Sorry, that should be… goals Arsenal conceded last season, obviously :)

  40. richie says:

    Very well said GoonerB @11:43 I like reasoned open debate, moreover I’m willing to be won over by someone offering me a more logical reason than I have previously seen. That doesn’t make me weak, I see it as a strength in others if a person can change a previously held opinion once a truism is pointed out, I could never lay claim to having all the answers in fact I often have nothing more than questions. Which is precisely why in my sub heading I asked a question, I know that thus far as pointed out by Shard@10:43 no team has managed to win the prem without a first choice British style centre half. To all Gooners this question should be important because, if they like Vermaelen and Koscielny as I do then we will be attempting something thats not been done before. To win the prem without a British centre half.

  41. JM says:

    3 men main defence with a 4 men midfield shield in front.

    Mertesacker – Libero. Intercept and sweeps up 2nd ball.
    Koscielny & Vermaelen – Centre-backs (stoppers), attack the 1st ball into danger area.

    Sagna & Gibbs/Santos – Wingbacks/Side midfielders (covering mainly the length of pitch from our defensive 3rd to our attacking 3rd, unless tracking wingers or attacking fullbacks)

    Song & Arteta – Centre midfielders (Engine room) providing shield to defence & initiating attack.

    Bartley & Djourou – backup centre-backs (to Koscielny & Vermaelen)
    Miquel – backup libero (to Mertesacker)

    Jenkinson (& Coquelin if required) – backup wingback to Sagna

    Coquelin, Wilshere*, Ramsey, Lansbury, Frimpong** & Diaby* – to get adequate game time while backing up to Song & Artera in the engine room.

    (* Both Wilshere & Diaby are recovering from long term/recurring injuries and should only play when 100% fit. Diaby could be loaned out to get match fitness & test on his durability of playing regular competitive 1st team football)
    (** Frimpong is recovering from injury & might be loaned out for match fitness)

    =================================================

    Off- topic reports:

    1) Manuel Almunia’s heading to Watford.

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11095/7918418/Hornets-to-land-Almunia-Hall

    2) George Graham has questioned Arsenal’s ambitions.

    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/1125832/george-graham:-arsenal-are-no-longer-contenders

  42. chas says:

    TT,
    I can’t imagine anyone making such a video. Except maybe silentstan or the rusty chap.

  43. richie says:

    @Chas9:59 Sol might’ve got in the way of everything we threw at the tiny totts when he was with them, but he did no less for us when he played for us. He was so often first to the headed ball played over the top that it could be taken for granted that no one was going to get in behind us. It is the centre halfs weapon of defending choice, developed simply because so much of our football isn’t played on the ground, for whatever reason? Be it bad pitches cut up so that a ball doesn’t or can’t move normally. (Sometimes this is done on purpose) Be it that the opposing team doesn’t have the technical ability’s and so wants a real physical game, head tennis style if you will. Its such a big part of coping with games played in the prem.

  44. Red Arse says:

    Hi richie, :-)

    A really good Post, and had me thinking — which is unusual for a dodo like me! :-)

  45. goonerjake says:

    To, In wenger we rust

    I am so very sorry. I normally allow any of my fellow gooners to express their opinions and even though i may disagree i dont like to critisise as differing opinions is what makes football so great. However you have come on here used profantity and basically shown a lack of friendship / loyalty to your fellow gooners.

    This IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. We are The Arsenal, we stick together when times are good and when times are bad.

    Again i appologise for trotting out my favourite saying but “VICTORIA CONCORDIA CRESIT (VICTORY THROUGH HARMONY) ” The clubs motto. People on ‘this site’ as you say dont talk rubbish (ok you did not use that word) the just offer their opinions and are happily in the most part glass half full people.

    Please please stand with us again. Remember our motto.

    All the very best

    goonerjake

  46. chas says:

    richie,
    I really like the idea of the post, but I’m struggling to remember many goals we conceded last season caused by the lack of a big centre half in our defence. TT’s request for a goals conceded video prompted a quick scan of last season’s fixtures. Less teams hoof the ball than they did when Sol was at his playing peak.
    Perhaps an analysis of the 49 goals would be very useful indeed.

  47. Red Arse says:

    Go for it Chas!

    We could spend hours analysing and debating all 49 goals conceded. :-)

    On the other hand, I hate seeing goals scored against us and have a very selective memory which conveniently forgets them!! :-)

  48. Rob Lucci says:

    Interesting post richie..

    We actually went unbeaten for whole 07/08 seasons at home, the first time Kolo and Gallas played together and that was the first and the last time that happened since the invincibles.

  49. chas says:

    RA,
    My selective memory suggests that most were own goals, unjust penalties, lucky deflections, handballs (Van der Faart) or just plain offside (Yakubu, Suarez). :)

    This was a curious goal scored by the Orcs. The crowd cheer when they think the free-kick is going straight out, then we suddenly realise it was planned that way. Even Sol would have been bypassed!

  50. Red Arse says:

    Well said, by the way, goonerjake @ 12:59.

    Unfortunately I think you are wasting your time — Rusty Bucket has rabbited the same twisted and unoriginal crap, that he stole from someone else, for well over a year now. Yawn, yawn.

    However much rusty gets ridiculed and laughed at on every site, he still blusters on. Hard core? Yeah – right! :roll:

    It is impossible to ‘cure’ his stupidity!

  51. Shard says:

    chas,

    Arsenal were actually defending very well that whole match and not letting Stoke have any chances. Including this free kick. It never should have been given. Koscielny simply won the header (over Crouch I think), and was called for a foul. That’s what my selective memory tells me anyway :)

  52. Red Arse says:

    Chas,

    Your memory is spot on!! :-)

  53. Red Arse says:

    Chas,

    That score board bugged me. It should have been screaming out NO GOAL!!! GET A GRIP LINO!!!

  54. Bryan says:

    Yep, I remember Kos winning the header fair & square & the referee giving a freekick to them just because he thought there was no way Kos could out jump Lurch – I get so fed up of seeing freekicks wrongly given against us then we concede from them

  55. GunnerN5 says:

    From BBC Sports.

    Same old Arsenal summer saga – only the names have changed.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………….

    Arsenal have dismissed Manchester United’s bid for Robin van Persie.

    Offers from both Manchester City and Juventus also fall short of the Gunners’ valuation of the 28-year-old.

    It is understood City, United and Juve tabled offers for the Netherlands striker, who has a year left on his contract, but Arsenal are keen to hold out for a fee of £25-30m.

    Van Persie in numbers
    •Van Persie earned Arsenal 27 points last season, based on his goals and assists – the most of any player in the league
    •In the 2011-12 season, he scored a goal every 111 minutes while he was on the pitch
    •His total of 30 Premier League goals was more than his combined total from the previous two seasons
    •The Dutchman converted one in five chances last season, while 58% of his 141 shots were on target – the best record in the league

    Skipper Van Persie, who joined Arsenal from Feyenoord for £2.75m in 2004, says he will not sign a new deal.

    The Dutchman scored 41 goals in 53 games for club and country last season and was named both the Professional Footballers’ Association and Football Writers’ player of the year last season.

    However, he suffered a disappointing Euro 2012 campaign, scoring only once as the Netherlands were eliminated at the group stage.

    After meeting with manager Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis in mid-May, Van Persie revealed he had disagreed with both men on the way the Premier League club should move forward.

    “I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract,” he wrote on his website.

    “This was a meeting about the club’s future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed, since that is not my priority at all.

    “I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.

    “Out of my huge respect for Mr Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.”

    Arsenal are scheduled to play matches in Malaysia, China and Hong Kong over the next two weeks.

    They face a Malaysian XI on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, then head to Beijing to face Manchester City on 27 July. The Gunners finish their tour against Kitchee FC in Hong Kong on 29 July.

    Van Persie will remain in England while his team-mates are away on tour, working on his fitness at Arsenal’s London Colney training base.

  56. TotAl says:

    For Richie and for poorer, that is a very fine post. What a great maiden post for AA! :)

    I agree with everything you are saying in your post, but I also believe in what a few others have been saying today, and that is; the PL is changing rapidly now. More and more teams are playing on the ground, and we have actually struggled a lot more with that last season than the high ball bombardments. Swansea, Norwich, Wigan passed us to bits at times, but there are many other examples when we struggled to keep up with our opponents on the ground: Liverpool away (we got away with murder there), West Brom away, Bolton away, Fulham at home.

    I guess a mixture of styles would be helpful and I agree with you that JD comes quite close to a Campbell sort of defender. Have not seen much of Bartley, so I cannot give an opinion. Also agree with others that Miquel is a very promising, classy prospect.

    Top stuff, Richie: definitely more Barolo than Rioja! :lol:

  57. chas says:

    This was one of the low points of the season 2-3 at Swansea.
    First goal not a penalty.
    Second and third goals, we have no left back. In fact Miquel was playing left back that day. I don’t think he played there again!

    Haha, no mention of the spuds in the race for the CL. Perhaps they collapsed or something. :)

  58. richie says:

    For all those who regurgitated the Rangers misgivings about Kyle Bartley, I know the fans seem to want him back, after his first showing and they chanted his name. I can’t say I watched him week in week out and I’m basing my judgement on seeing old firm games
    so I have limmited knowledge but he did well in the games I saw, acting as a proper centre half should, defending with his head.

  59. I thoroughly relish reading the fine posts ,especially the technical,tactical ones , on this site. Good work !

    On the topic of discussion, I feel most of the 49 goals conceded last season were due to poor positioning and lack of concentration ,and hence we got caught on the break. The best example is the Carling cup game vs City….we dominated the entire game(Frimpong making Na$ri his bi**h was the highlight) but City scored on their only chance from a counterattack. We need a player in midfield who stays back ,especially during these counterattacks. Arteta and Song are good players, but none of them are ‘destroyers’ or a ‘Makelele’ kind of player (closest we have is Frimpong, but still a long way to go for him).

    If someone can write a similar kind of post highlighting the difference between a ‘Makelele’ style CDM and a ‘Song’ style CDM, then I feel it will be very informative. I would have written a post of this kind , but currently I am suffering from writers’ block thanks to all the transfer speculation messing up my brain and the uncertainty regarding the future of a certain gray haired guy who we called ‘Captain’ last season. :/

  60. Bryan says:

    I do agree that we got caught out on the counter alot with goals but I do believe I’m right in thinking we conceded the most goals from set pieces than any other team in the Prem.
    We always look most likely to concede from corners or freekicks around the box.
    Also lack of concentration as Sagar quite rightly says is a big facter, certain individauls making mistakes they should not be making.
    & Total with all due respect if JD comes close to Campbell sort of defender, I think its time for you to leave the mushrooms alone ;-)

  61. TotAl says:

    Hi Bryan :) I was referring to style of defender, not necessarily quality – which would be hard to do as our JD is still only 25 Springs old.

  62. TT says:

    Thank you for digging out those goals conceded, chas. 4 down, 45 to go! (Just kidding of course. :D ) Thank goodness Arsene and the Arsenal staff do not have selective memory like we fans have :)

  63. richie says:

    @Bryan Verm is our closest to a Centre half in the way he attacks an incoming ball, but for a CH he doesn’t do it anywhere near enough. Djourou played in his prefered position is a very high quality defender especially as a second choice. His problem has been who he’s paired with (anyone paired with Squilla is made to look bad) and being used as a full back which he’s not. Same with Miguel he’s a prospect (no doubt) but he ain’t a full back that much has now been proven. Which is why we ended up with Yenaris who was totally prem unproven but at least a full back, in other words at least he knew where he was meant to play, and wasn’t found to be wondering around like John the baptist.

  64. Bryan says:

    Hi ther Total
    Oh fair enough haha, I think JD seems to of gone backwards, I would put him in the offload category now & if he stays, please Mr Wenger never ever play him as right back again no matter how desperate we are.
    I still can’t help but think that if JD didn’t give that pen away at the San Siro to give Milan 4-0 lead we would of done it, although I might add I didnt think it was a pen & Ibra won it by cheating

  65. JM says:

    Arsene & Ivan “scouting”, in the rain, on the Brazilian Olympic boys @ the training ground.

    http://www.101greatgoals.com/blog/video-arsene-wenger-scouts-neymar-as-brazil-train-at-arsenal/

    (youtube embedded)

    Check list of midfielders & strikers, excluding Neymar & Pato(too $$), Oscar(heading to Chelsea) & Sandro(with Spurs):

    Lucas? Ganso? Casemiro? Leandro Damiao? Romulo? Giuliano?

  66. richie says:

    I would also like to agree with TotAl@2:05 the prem is changing a quick glance at the teams in the 2012-13 league reveals that Stoke apart (yeah them again) in the main the teams are football floor playing sides, but this won’t stop teams that we’ll face from mixing things up. A Liverpool team with Caroll in it immediatly comes to mind especially after his great header for England in the Euro’s.

  67. Bryan says:

    Richie, I wrote last comment before I saw yours but I used to think JD looked like he was going to be a very good defender but as I have stated I believe he has gone backwards & I really don’t think he’s Arsenal back up quality, I think he is a liability when he plays

  68. Bryan says:

    JM

    I’ll be happy with Ganso & Lucas haha the others can go to whoever ;-)

  69. TotAl says:

    Hi Bryan, agreed that penalty against Milan was painful. :(

    JD is an enigma to me. You might remember the Christmas/NY period of the 2010/2011 season. Every time he played we were solid – winning against Chelsea at home and Brum away, and every time we rested him, we suffered (draw away to Wigan). I really started to like the combo of JD and Koz back then. JD was pretty solid in the air.

    I guess his biggest problem is staying fit, and how many CB’s can come in from the bench and perform straightaway at top level?

    Hi Richie, the other one I worry about is Sammy Allerdici’s WH. He only recently said ‘Don’t blame the long balls, blame the forwards’, and the classic: ‘I don’t remember [WH] playing [slick and exciting football]. Is outpassing teams and losing matches entertaining?”

    Yep, that is what are going to have to put up with. But then again, not all the Neanderthals disappeared in one go….and his time is surely up now…..me hopes :)

  70. RockyLives says:

    Richie
    A fine and thought-provoking Post. Congratulations and welcome to the Roll of Shame (oops, sorry, AA Authors List). Your Post deserves all the plaudits it has received.

    I have been loving the detailed responses too – some fantastic comments there chaps.

    Richie, I like your distinction between CDs and CHs and I feel there is something to it.

    But, following your logic, I come to the conclusion that our best pairing is Kozzer and the BFG.

    Kozzer, in that scenario, is the CH (although his on-the-ground skills are also pretty good, perhaps making him more of a hybrid player). He always attacks the ball and is never afraid to put his bonce in where the boots and heads are flying.

    BFG, I feel, confuses people because of his height. We expect him to be aerially dominant whereas, in fact, his great skill is as a footballing defender – a true European CD (to follow your labelling). He is not great in the air because he has a poor jump and just does not seem to be “that” sort of player. However, I have not seen a better ball-playing, game-reading, interception-making defender at Arsenal since O’Leary. When he plays, most opposition attacks get snuffed out before they reach the danger stage. He also seems the best organiser among our defenders.

    Of course this does leave the question of what to do with TV5, who is our best competitor, yet possibly our third best central defender. Thank heavens that that’s Arsene’s problem, not mine :)

    Finally, I also agree with Bryan about the FB issue being at least a strong contributory factor in quite a few of the goals conceded last season. Hopefully this is something Stevie Bould will help fix.

  71. Bryan says:

    Yeh thought he was good then but he has steadily got worse injuries or not & he can’t keep his hands off players attacking in the penalty area, that is why I believe he is a liability. Senderos looked good once, don’t forget Sederos was part of the defense that still has the CL record of 10 concescutive clean sheets (still can’t believe weve got that record haha) When I read Juve wanted JD recently, I was hoping he would go – We are Arsenal & we should have better defenders than him, even as back up

  72. TotAl says:

    I guess next season will be make or break for JD. I am still inclined to give him the benefit of doubt.

  73. RockyLives says:

    As for Djourou, I feel he has shown enough to cement his place as our fourth choice CB.

    But he should NEVER be used as a FB. In fact it’s not just a JD issue. TV5 was pretty poor as a LB when he filled in last season. I also remember Kolo costing us crucial points (and giving away the penalty at Anfield that saw us crash out of the ECL) when he filled in at RB in his final season.

    In general I feel that MFs make better stand-in FBs because they have much greater mobility than most CBs (think Flamini, Coquelin for example).

  74. TotAl says:

    RL, very good point. We learned last season that not anybody can play in the FB position. For a long time we missed two breaks as well as two gears going forward.

  75. LB says:

    Re – BFG

    “However, I have not seen a better ball-playing, game-reading, interception-making defender at Arsenal since O’Leary.”

    This is very astute.

  76. SharkeySure'sGhost says:

    I am SharkeySure, and I’d like all of you to re-read my post at 4.18 that somehow came up as a CorkyElvis post. I’m not sure how that happened, but I’m just not having Corky take the credit for my sterling work

    Juts like how today’s headline post, written by yours truly, has also got someone else’s name tagged on to it.

    Oh and GoonerB’s epic earlier was also one of mine.

    Just so we’re all clear…..

  77. Bryan says:

    Yeh I think Merts qualitys are his passing & reading of the game, totally agree but am hoping for a better season from him.
    Also was very impressed with Coquelin when he played LB or RB can’t remember which side lol

  78. SharkeySure'sGhost says:

    Thanks LB ! ;-)

  79. SharkeySure'sGhost says:

    Bryan…Le Coq was very very good on both sides !!!

  80. Bryan says:

    sharkey lol are you Sharkeysure about that haha :-D

  81. Bryan says:

    Ok guys, thanks for the enjoyable comments, I’m off now, everyone have a great weekend ;-)

  82. TotAl says:

    Sharkey Coq-sure :P

  83. TotAl says:

    Hope you’re back soon Bryan – enjoy your weekend. :)

  84. Red Arse says:

    Arsenal have rejected offers for RVP from Citeh, Yoonited and Joovay.

    All were around the £15m mark. AFC looking for £25m.

    Heard that on local radio, and it might be heavy on speculation and light on facts!

  85. TotAl says:

    BBC sports are saying the same, Mighty One! :)

    Btw, ESPN have 3 live Arsenal matches between 24-29 July. The drought is over!

    http://tv.espn.co.uk/gb/espl/espn-news-updates/espn-news/espn-to-show-more-than-20-friendlies-across-the-summer

  86. evonne says:

    same news on Smooth Radio :(
    Surely he’s worth more than £25, hardly worth selling

  87. richie says:

    @TotAl 5:22 Amen to that I mean I know we ain’t been long without football (the Euro’s have only just finished) but it seems like an age since we had any Football that I’m actually passionately interested in seeing.

  88. richie says:

    I think only Money Citeh will pay £20Mil+ I’m not worried about selling a 29 year old (best years behind him) injury prone needs 3 chances to score player to City

  89. TotAl says:

    Richie, I cannot wait to see what Wenger is going to do. Especially the friendly against Citeh will be interesting. Early days of course, and nobody will be breaking a huge sweat, but I want to see how we line up and how the new boys will perform. :)

  90. richie says:

    I’d take £20Mil because that would cover his £2.75Mil buying fee plus 8 years of wages = RvP played for us for 8 years costing nothing but Physio fee’s.

  91. richie says:

    TotAl, thats just it! I want to know what Arsene’s thinking re-the Giro-Pod and our formation. I don’t mind possession play but I’m hoping for a return to one touch fast attacking football as epitomised by Arsharvins goal against Barca. Thats my holy grail of football because Barca had no answer to it and nor will anyone else!

  92. Red Arse says:

    Thanks for the ESPN friendlies update, TA!! :-)
    The Arsenal football withdrawal symptoms are becoming difficult to bear.

    I trust all is well with my polyglot friend? Personal good news I received, today, was that my treatment is being extended to fortnightly! :-) Yaay!!
    The downside is that the decision was made because the weekly (bi-weekly) treatments were wiping me out!! :-(

  93. johnnie nyc says:

    Rocky, on the money about Mertesacker. great analysis..I think he doesnt get enough credit, because he doesnt make the spectacular plays…but he’s always in the right position, reading, intelligence, and most importantly, instinct…..he’s exactly what we needed back there.. so true, he’s not good in the air, but i also think that he is not as slow as people think, his long strides are deceptive and his reach is great.
    — and sometimes, when you dont notice a defender for long periods, or hear his name called, it’s really a good sign that he’s getting the job done quietly.
    i think he was part of our best defensive run of the season as we climbed back.— and clearly we could have used him down the stretch to the end, when we were so undisciplined and disorganized against wigan and others.
    so, with BFG, i love our first 3 cb’s, and im not unhappy with the 4th -djourou.. i like what i saw of Miquel, need to see Bartley, but he sounds interesting..also -would love a tiny bit more discipline fron Vermaelen, especially when we are trying to keep a lead.

  94. LB says:

    The idea that Man city are really interested in Brave Sir Robin baffles me.

    I just don’t understand why they would want to buy him for any other reason than to stamp their financial authority over us.

    Isn’t it obvious that he has the resale value of a two week old dead fish? Would you really want him over Tevez, especially when the whole of their team would have to be built around him as ours was?

    Still, it made no sense to me that they wanted to buy Clichy?

    Let’s hope they pay through the nose again.

  95. Red Arse says:

    The fact Arsenal have not repeated the usual mantra that RVP is not available under any circumstances, means that he is going, and we are now in the ‘phoney war’ negotiating period!

    Hope Yoovay win, and get him out of my sight!!

  96. RockyLives says:

    If we can’t sell him abroad, I would keep him for his final year rather than let him go to either of the Mancs.

    However, it seems like we’ll be selling him to Citeh and we leaked the Manure bid to try and get the Light Blue Oilers to up their offer.

  97. LB says:

    “Wenger denies Van Persie Juve link. Wednesday, 20 June 2012. Arsene Wenger remains confident captain Robin van Persie will stay at Arsenal next season.” (Independant)

  98. RockyLives says:

    Hello Johnnie
    I remember you commenting before about Big Per’s quality. I hope he proves us both right this season!

    LB
    I have to agree about Citeh and RvP. If they sign him, someone or ones) out of Aguero, Balotelli, Tevez and Dzeko is going to be unhappy. I could see him going to Citeh and playing 16-18 games a season.

  99. RockyLives says:

    And Greedybayor may still be there as well!

  100. Red Arse says:

    Rock-a-Billy, :-)

    I hope you, TA, JNYC and others are right about the Jolly Green Giant, because I must admit to being underwhelmed about him, so far.

    You guys must have finely attuned antennae, because you all seem to be very positive about Theo too, and, damn it, sadly, I remain undecided about him too!

    Woe, woe, and wibbly woe, I felt much the same way about Julius Caesar, and the Ides of March, and see what happened to him – he never made it to the 16th March!! :-(

  101. LB says:

    I find the idea that Citeh being interested in RvP as being difficult to fathom but I find the idea that manu are interested as being absolutely imposible. They are in the same financial position as we are; they can only buy from the 12 million part of the shop moreover they are already trying to get rid of an ageing striker in the form of Berbatov.

  102. LB says:

    Hi Rocky

    I had forgotten about Balotelli — why on earth would they want to sign RvP?

  103. LB says:

    It was a very smart move to get the Giroud business sorted before this crap storm started.

    For all those who wished that the club learn from last year’s transfer window kicking should, I would imagine, feel that it has happened.

  104. Red Arse says:

    Where is that Glic?

    I have made him a nice din din, and put his bestest beer in the cooler for him, and all I ask is for him to appear on AA to amuse us all, and the b*gger stays out with his tarty wall girlfriend, and does not even call me. :-(

    Award winners!! what can you do???

    And don’t get me going on that stay away handsome Adonis who goes under the incomprehensible synonym ‘Syrup’!!!

  105. GunnerN5 says:

    Summer saga latest news.

    ………………………………………………………………..

    Fergie confirms van Persie bid

    Friday 20th July 2012 13:36

    Van Persie: United have made approach to sign him
    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed they have made a bid for Arsenal captain Robin van Persie.

    United, Manchester City and Juventus are all understood to have all declared their interest in buying want-away striker van Persie but have so far failed to meet the Gunners’ valuation of the 28-year-old.

    Ferguson told MUTV: “Obviously Arsenal have given out the fact that we’ve made a bid for him.

    “We try to keep business as close as possible to us until the moment we conclude a deal. There’s no point talking about something that might not happen.

    “There are other clubs interested in the player. We’ve shown an interest and that’s where we’re at at the moment.”

    United, City and Juve are said to be happy to pay somewhere in the region of £15million but Arsenal are thought to be demanding in excess of £20million for their star player.

    The Gunners are said to be prepared to hold out for more than £25million for Van Persie, who they appear to have all but given up trying to convince to sign a new deal at the Emirates Stadium to replace the one that expires next summer.

    They will announce on Friday afternoon whether last season’s Premier League top scorer will join them on their pre-season Asia tour, which they leave for on Saturday.

    According to widespread reports, manager Arsene Wenger will opt against including van Persie, who this month went public with his desire to quit the club.

    The Van Persie saga is shaping up to be a carbon copy of those that saw Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri both sold last summer, something which dragged on towards the tail end of the transfer window.

    City and Juve have long been linked with Van Persie but the apparent interest from United is something more recent and could spark a bidding war for his services.

    Arsenal have already signed two new strikers in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud but are also said to be lining up Spain star Fernando Llorente were Van Persie to leave.

    .

  106. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Thanks for the post Richie. For many years i was of the belief that an ugly brute was required at the back, now ime not so sure. We do tend to play a very high line so perhaps for us the key is mobility rather than height and power? I cant make my mind up about this one, which of course means its a damn fine question. hahaha.

    Redders,my man, good news that time between your treatments has been extended. We need you fresh and raring to go with your wit and logic for our title charge.

    “Infamy, infamy, theyve all got it in for me”.

  107. RockyLives says:

    True LB
    We are in a position of (relative) strength having signed Giroud.

    Assuming Brave Sir Robin (who came up with that? Was it Chas? It always makes me smile) does leave, do you think we need another striker?

  108. RockyLives says:

    Redders
    Come on, own up. The real reason your appointments have been extended to fortnightly is because you’ve been “bothering” the nurses again with tales of “strange attractors” and “coupling constants”, haven’t you?

  109. Red Arse says:

    Terry, :-)

    I am glad you are saying “they’ve all got it infamy” — could be a different story if they all had it out for you — and don’t tell Glic, for goodness sake!! :-)

  110. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Redders, Cornwall sent me a mangled text message begging that i call him an ambulance. Apparently he has taken his love affair with the great wall to for and cemented himself inside it. It seems the completed wall now has Cornwalls bum as an unseemly appendage at one end and his contorted face at the other. Not a lip reader but the mouth seems to be muttering hellllppp.

  111. chas says:

    Rocky,
    The Brave Sir Robin was from twitter spotted by GIE.

    http://arsenalarsenal.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/if-robin-stays/#comment-178457

  112. RockyLives says:

    Redders
    @ 6.34 :D

    Chas
    Thanks for that… presumably you’ve already uploaded the Monty Python clip at some point…

  113. chas says:

    Yep,
    This version was my favourite.

  114. RockyLives says:

    Haha – great stuff Chas

  115. Red Arse says:

    Terry,

    That’s really sad news about the Glicster.

    A word of advice — when you say you are “Not a lip reader but the mouth seems to be muttering hellllppp.” — I would caution you to stay upwind — that may not be his mouth!!!!!!!

  116. Red Arse says:

    Chazzer,

    I loved that vid this morning, and I laughed all over again this evening!! :-)

  117. TT says:

    Hi LB @ 6:10pm. ManU does have more financial flexibility than Arsenal because of their higher turnover. Last year, ManU match day was +20m, TV +30m, and commercial deals +50m over Arsenal. True they also have a more expensive squad, but that is only -30m. This could allow them to shop in the more expensive 15-20m aisle than Arsenal?

    (All numbers cribbed from the Swiss Ramble. All rounding errors mine though.)

  118. glic says:

    Where are all these fine writers appearing from ?, more top stuff.

    Terry and Redders, that wasn`t my face in the wall, it was my talking todger !, you`ve heard the Pink Floyd song, ” all in all it`s just another p***k in the wall ” !.

  119. glic says:

    I`ve been to Truro, Falmouth, The Lizard, Mousehole, Sennen Cove and St Ives. The weather was scorching and all the ladeeez were out semi-naked, it`s lucky I had my shades on, my eye`s were a cross between Marty Feldman and Ozil`s on steroids !. What a crap job!. :lol:

  120. Gooner In Exile says:

    Richie first things first, a smashing war and peace look at our central defender, not bad for “a little something”.

    I think Kos is our most complete CB, he is good in the air, quick footed, stays in his feet to tackle and reads the game exquisitely. He regularly picks off attacking passes that are obvious from the upper tier but take an intelligent and gifted player to see at pitch level.

    As others have said he is first name on the team sheet for me at the back. Now here’s the crazy part from me, his partner in my view should be BFG. When partnered with TV you end up with halving the game that Kos is good at, he has to sit and cover more. BFG brings a calmness he may not be blessed with pace but he reads the game well and always seems to be in the right place. Both are very able passers of the ball. And Kos can marauding forward happily from the back, if memory serves he won the penalty against Villa in the cup with such a run.

    TV is a worthy back up to either as is JD. And as you say I am looking forward to Kyle Bartley getting more games, his future partner will be Miquel I think they perfectly represent your view on centre half/central defender. So imagine this, four/five more years of Kos/TV/BFG, by then Bartley and Miquel will be prime centre back ages of 25/26. I’m beginning to like what I see at the back.

  121. johnnie nyc says:

    im not liking the direction this rvp thing is going… unless we get 25 or more..id keep him, and prepare him for that… take him to asia, play him, etc..
    i think we would be foolish to sell for less than Nasri.. .to a rival ?? embarassing… out of england for 20-25 mil maybe—… less than that and we are acting pathetic.

  122. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    hahaha, cornwall, for such occasions ive developed a rather fetching eye crossing technique. Works a treat, no one can work out what the hell your looking at. Had to stop it though because the scope started following the crosss eye. hahaha

  123. glic says:

    Seeing as you fellow AAers are all gooners ( except VCC, he`s a closet Queen……………………….s Park Rangers fan ), I`m going to let you into one of my favourite prank`s, dont tell anyone else though as you`re now in glic`s inner circle also known as glic`s ring of peace ( something like that ).
    Them Metal detectorists ( you know them , they all look like Angelos Epithemiou, who happens to look like one of Terry`s relatives ) , when you see one on the Beach, bury a little rusty box in the sand with a note inside saying , ” we`re watching you , you sad bastard, get a life !”, and try and keep a straight face !. Or write something else, maybe, ” whilst your reading this, I`ve buried something in your wife ! “. :lol:

  124. RockyLives says:

    Some fine dry stone wit from the glicster :)

  125. glic says:

    Sorry , I`m off , the BBQ is on fire !.

  126. RockyLives says:

    GiE
    Couldn’t agree more (indeed I said exactly the same earlier in the comments, regarding BFG and Kozzer being our best starting pair).

  127. TotAl says:

    Richie@ 5.54 – that is exactly what I waiting for: will it be possession footie with a bite, or are we going towards your preferred sort of footie. I would not mind that either, but I cannot see it happening.

    Hi RA, sorry I missed you earlier. I am usually cooking food between 5.30 and 6.30 for my hungry girls. So good and bad news re your treatment de-intensification. Keep it up buddy! :)

  128. TotAl says:

    I thought this for a long time too – that BFG/TV is our best CB-duo. But in the last ten games of the season the TV/Koz combination basically pulled us through, as they compensated for RvP’s goal drought by having a big part in our 5 out of 10 clean sheets.

    As a result, I am not so sure any more. Would be good to see the stats of clean sheets of BFG-CB games.

  129. LB says:

    TT

    I think it is common knowledge that manu have a bigger turn over than we do but forget the expense of their squad compared to ours look at the annual payments they have to make to service the loans the Glaziers have taken out against the club compared to the payments for the stadium that we have to make.

    Manu do not have more financial muscle in the transfer market than we do.

  130. Red Arse says:

    Just back for a minute Terry, but having read Glic’s 7:25, I am so relieved you did not mistakenly try mouth to mouth resuscitation!

  131. Red Arse says:

    TA, Thanx for your comment @ 8:19.

    Hope your girls appreciated their dad’s culinary efforts on their behalf. I am sure they did. :-)

    See you tomorrow? Ta ra.

  132. glic says:

    I`m also back for a minute. I caught site of Terry going berserk in Bounds Green, digging large holes everywhere, his detector if going haywire !. How long shall I let him keep on digging before I inform him that wearing steel toe capped boots was`nt the best of idea`s !

  133. evonne says:

    LB – i think it could be a smart move from Shitty – both Arsenal and ManU would benefit from RvP’s services; it weakens both competitors if Shitty get him

  134. TT says:

    LB, ah good point. Their debt payment is indeed roughly 30m more than Arsenal, so in the end they only have about 15m in more in profit. If you’re right, then perhaps SAF (along with AW) is playing a little game of bid-up-the-price on City?

    AW: Roberto, just between you and me, SAF is gunning for Sir Robin.

    RM: I don’t believe it.

    AW: It’s true. We got a bid.

    [Cue SAF looking pissed]

    SAF: Arsene, why did you tip our hand?! We try to keep business as close as possible to us until the moment we conclude a deal. Etc..

    More shenanigans to come?

  135. Gooner In Exile says:

    TA I think it would be difficult to compare as quite a few of Koz/BFG games were without recognised full backs.

    Rocky I just about made it through the post let alone all the comments :D

    The question is what do we do with Verm?

  136. Gooner In Exile says:

    Just reading the BBC article on RvP and this paragraph continues to annoy me for its irony:

    “I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.”

    Well stay, and help “the team” and “the club” win trophies, even if it’s not about the money as he suggests surely the above should read.

    “I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies and to do that I feel I need to move elsewhere”

  137. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Just back from digging holes, wow. you find some great things, ive now got a pair of shoes. They dont quite match but they look great.

    I found some old diary. hard to tell the name but i think it was by some bloke called Robert Von Persius. Its not very nice. he goes on about how he loves money but cant tell anyone until he becomes the richest man on earth. Also found this funny looking plastic thing. it vibrates a bit when you touch it, very strange. Has the name Nasro carved in it, i wonder what it was for? also found a bundle of bank statements belonging to about a hundred different people. some one was trying to rub there name out and put emanuel adebatty on them instead. Why would someone do that?

  138. chas says:

    His goal celebrations, especially the ones where he seems to embrace the fans, now make me feel a little bit sick.
    How could he do it to us?
    Brave Sir Robin ran away. (No, I didn’t. I only wanted to win trophies)

  139. richie says:

    @LB 10:45 You see the house is now silent save for the 2 fingered tapper all abed and now I ‘m burning the after midnight oil.

  140. oz gunner says:

    Bit late on the scene but great post Richie. I always thought along those lines too, 1 dominator and 1 sweeper to clean up the mess.

    However, in typical Arsene fashion he has tried to evolve the position by using Hybrid defenders that can do both really well (verm and Kozza are great in the air and on the deck). It is logical because then they have no weaknesses and are less likely to get caught out, not to mention our marauding full backs leave big holes at times so we need agile/quick CB’s to dispense with the trouble as soon as possible. One week Crouch, one week suarez, it doesn’t matter. This way also big towers like Crouch and co can’t sit on the sweeper and win headers because Kozza or Verm will beat you in the air.

    Arsene is a visionary and has managed to do it all over the ground e.g
    *Song (great DM but now has a few passing tricks up his sleeve)
    *Gibbs and Santos (more Wing than fullback)
    *RVP (now capable of leading the line, who knew that would be possible? He didn’t even know he was capable!)
    *Jack (an AM who played a whole season deeper so he could become a more complete midfielder)
    *countless players in past lineups

    It’s all about versatility, with it we can’t get caught out when injuries strike, and we are less likely to get closed down in certain positions (e.g stick tight to cesc close down our attacking threat. Not going to happen these days). Barcelona is a prime example of this, but they have taken it to the extreme playing midfielders bloody everywhere.

    Arsene copped a lot of criticism when Gallas and Toure were playing together because they were too a like (as you have expertly pointed out richie). However, I’m sure he thought Senderos would develop quicker to take over the CH position from Campbell (thank you Drogba), and also Djourou (thank you injuries).

    Djourou is a great CB to have as fourth choice. He is very much a confidence player and after his shoulder injury it dipped a bit. Add that to playing out of position at RB and it crashed to an all time low. As TA stated Djourou during 2010/2011 was a force at CB, he was dominating week after week, and his injury left us begging for him to play out the remainder of the season, when clearly he wasn’t right too. I have no doubt if he had an extended run with either verm or kozza he would return to that form. But how quickly most fans forget, ‘he played awful at right back, quick burn him at the stake, booooo boooo booooo’

    As for BFG i thought he was going to be a force in the air also, but the chelsea game showed he lacks the strength and jump to compete with brutes in the air. I wasn’t sold on him until I saw him dispatch aguero time after time. Miquel will be great with more game time (perhaps a loan to a lower team would work wonders like it has for tottenham CB Steven Caulker). I just hope he doesn’t bugger off to Barca in the future

    Ahhhhhh…we are spoilt for choice! in a couple of years time we will be able to flip a coin to see who starts:

    Miquel
    boateng
    kozza
    verm
    BFG
    djourou
    bartley

    decisions decisions decisions

  141. oz gunner says:

    @ RA

    glad to hear they’ve given you a bit of a break, but I’m with others, the nurses have probably handed around a petition, and the Doctors are sick off you making them walk around with a dictionary and making them look bad!

    RA: “thanks Doc (insert big word), you (insert big words)…(few more big words).”
    DR: (whispers to nurse) ‘what did he say?”
    Nurse: (whispers back to Dr) “I think the perve said thank you!”
    DR: “you are most welcome Mr Arse”
    (Dr walks around the corner flipping pages in his pocket Websters dictionary, thinking ‘I’m sick of this!’

    Hope the recovery is going well, you’ll be back to bear hugging ex-players and intimidating punk kids in no time at all

  142. richie says:

    Rasp @11:09 As I stated for me the jury’s still out on the BFG I’d need to see him play a full season to be in a position to give my opinion because it might just be that the 21 games he played for us so far are giving a false reading, making his stats look really good, and they do. Despite his height I’ve not seen any evidence that Per can head a ball, and certainly not attack an incoming high ball, and although he seems to marshal our defence, I’m yet to see him throw himself in the way to body block, and with his size he could body block and then some.

    Notwithstanding that I’m more than willing to accept that my perception of BFG could be coloured by my view that he lacks enough pace for the modern game. A quick comment along those lines, many of us are (incestuiously) glad that Arsene has kept things in the family by appointing Bouldie. However it must be remembered that with the rule changes re-off side laws (passive, active, 1st stage 2nd stage). Our old guard of greats Adams Keown & Bould would probably be considered too slow for this modern interpretation. I hope our old Stevie B will be able to help tighten up our defence but please bare in mind its a newer faster game than the one Bouldie played. Long gone the days of our back 4 all stepping forward with their arms raised. All players are now athletes and they need to be. Mertasaker has already shown he can read the game well, his positioning is good, I hope he’s quick enough both physically and mentally and I hope he’s enough of an athlete for the modern game.

  143. richie says:

    LB@11:11 The funny thing is you just know that he’s gone back to Arsenal truth (that really is an irony) or le grove full of his zelotry beleaving in what he said. I can just imagine his mate spectrum agreeing with him. Yes its true! “Hard core fans are not renewing their season tickets” Its amazing to me when we have the blogging equivilent of a suicide bomber show up and openly advertise their wears. As you say you just couldn’t make it up

  144. richie says:

    Thanks to all the Gooner family for their comments including all those who disagree with me. I’m not SAF I don’t only want “yes” men. More thanks naturally to all those who offered me encouragement.

  145. RockyLives says:

    You’re welcome Richie – that was a stonker of a debut Post.

  146. richie says:

    Sorry to plug someone else’s blog but I know many of you highly intelligent bloggers on this site with really enjoy reading this well written heart felt article from a fellow Gooner. (Who’s not a doomer) it should touch a nerve, it did for me.

    http://www.arsenalvision.co.uk/my-vision/4101-losing-faith.html article.

  147. richie says:

    @RL 3:09 Thanks “G”!
    Another Gooninsomniac or what?

  148. RockyLives says:

    Not really Richie – I just happen to live in Canada and it’s only 10.45pm here!

    That article you linked to was wonderful. Echoes a lot of what many of us feel, I’m sure.

  149. chas says:

    That Arsenal Vision post is superb, richie. Cheers

    When I stop reacting emotionally to behaviour like Brave Sir Robin’s, that’ll be the time I’ll stop going to games.
    I really hope it’s some way in the future.
    I’d hate to be thought of as “hard core”.

  150. chas says:

    A bit bouncy for first thing, but I like it.

  151. oz gunner says:

    morning chas,
    I’ll counter your bouncing with the perfect morning song to raise the spirits. Who doesn’t love a good whistle?!

  152. chas says:

    Morning oz.

  153. chas says:

    That Mark Cavendish chase and sprint finish yesterday was one of the most exciting live sports events I’ve seen for ages.
    Thanks again to those who inspired me to watch the TDF2012.

  154. Gooner In Exile says:

    Unsurprisingly I follow MeanLean on twitter, very good blog., thanks for the link Richie.

  155. Gooner In Exile says:

    We could afford £10m for Moses right? Sell Theo sign Moses….sell Robin sign Odemwingie? Job jobbed

  156. Gooner In Exile says:

  157. evonne says:

    morning all
    I’ve been googling all combinations of Wiggins and Arsenal fan, but no luck. Shame he ain’t a Gunner; otherwise a perfect gent

  158. evonne says:

    GiE – obviously. Na$ri never played as good as he did when he was looking for more money.
    Van Persie did exactly same, prick

  159. oz gunner says:

    agreed evonne, only difference is RVP claimed to love the club and torn all of our hearts out in the process

  160. LB says:

    Morning Chas

    Glad you liked that sprint, there should be another just as exciting on Sunday. Unfortunately I only have two more days to go, the TdF has been my Methadone. No doubt I will have a horrible come down waiting for the real drugs arrive on the 18 of August.

  161. LB says:

    Evonne

    As a boy Wiggins used to go and watch Arsenal and I am not just saying this for effect. The verbatim interview is taken from the Cycling bible “Rouleur” but this is not available on line. In the same interview he expalains that as he lives up North now and last season went to see Liverpool beat Chelsea which he said he loved.

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