Transfer window, are we finished?

August 26, 2014

Morning Gooner’s.

Less than a week until the transfer window shuts, and still speculation into who else will join the four new players we have signed. So far we have Sanchez who in the couple of games we have seen him, looks to be a fine live wire. Up next we have Debuchy a right back replacement for our beloved Bacary Sagna. Debuchy has had a quiet start, no fireworks but looks to be a sound buy. Debuchey doesn’t appear to have the attacking flair that Bacary had, but I see that as a plus, as I like a full back to be a defender that defends.

Next up we have our replacement goalkeeper Ospina, replacement for Fabianski who has moved on for regular first team football. I have to say that this was a disappointment to me as although over the year’s Fabianski was nicknamed Flappy for quite a few errors I feel that he has had rather a tough time of it, as Szczesny’s understudy. But he’s gone, and Ospina has taken up residence, still yet to be seen on the firing line due to injury, but rumoured to be good enough to give Szczesny a run for his money.

Next up we have young 19 year old Calum Chambers from Southampton. Not a lot known about young Calum, only that he is down as a right back, Wenger paid 16 million for this lad so he must feel that he had the talent. Surprisingly Arsene has included young Calum in every game since he signed, granted Per Merts had been given an extended holiday after winning the World cup, but what has surprised me more is that Arsene has played young Calum as centre back, and what has surprised me even more, is the fact that he has played exceedingly well. I like what I have seen of this youngster, his decisive intelligent play, seems to be more than I was expecting, his versatility will be very useful in the future.

Of course we cannot forget Joel Campbell, now although Joel has still not played in our first 2 games, Wenger has stated that he will be staying. Joel has been out on loan since Wenger found him, as problems with visa’s scuppered his early chances, but now that has all been sorted, and of course his inclusion in the World cup has brought this young man to the fore, still slightly a raw talent, but under the watchful eye of our leader, I can only see a promising future.

So far our Manager has secured 4 signings but in all honesty they are not additions, they are replacements, so our squad has not really been made larger, but depending on where you read your news from, Arsene has stated that our recruitment has not necessarily ended. If of course this is true, the mind boggles. Many still believe that we are a holding Midfielder short of a strong team, and many others still see Giroud, Sanogo and an unseen Campbell as still being light up front. I feel that so far from what I have seen of our starting first 2 games, that both positions could definitely be strengthened.

Of course, over the past few seasons, 4 signings would have been every Gooners dream come true, but we are now The New Arsenal Football Club, we are not a penny pinching football club anymore. so who knows what may be in store, 1 week in football seems an eternity at times, but also an opportunity for maybe a couple more bodies.

Arsene has said in the past, that too many signings in any window, can be hard to get balanced,  and can even give a destabilising  effect. Wenger has passed the amount already, so maybe talk from skinflint days gone by, when sponsors money was not available, but from the opening 3 games we do look a little unstable.

Supporters are insufferable, they ask for a signing, and get 4, they then feel we still need more, I believe if we brought eleven they would still feel we need just one more just in case. Personally I am ecstatic with Arsene’s business this window, sad of course with Sagna’s departure, but he was getting on, and at the end of the day Arsene let him go for free so he should have a very good pension.

I for one, am a very satisfied supporter, of course should Wenger feel he needs one or two more, i certainly wouldn’t shake a finger, forwards and upwards and COYG’s

Written by Steve Palmer

 


Is Giroud Plan A or Plan B?

August 25, 2014

I am sure it can’t be easy trying to motivate and improve an average CF year on year and yet that seems to be exactly what Wenger is doing with Olivier Giroud.

If the plan was to challenge Giroud ‘to up his game’ by playing Sanogo ahead of him against Palace then there is a strong case to say that it worked. There is little doubt that his inclusion changed the momentum in our favour that enabled us to finally secure the three points.

If the same plan was to motivate Giroud by playing Alexis Sanchez ahead of him as the number 9 against Everton then in view of the fact that we were two down at half time and we came back to nick a draw then it has to be said that it worked.

Giroud

It seemed as soon as Giroud took to the field everyone knew what to do again. Ramsey could run forward confident in the knowledge that Giroud would be able to hold the ball long enough before laying it off to the on coming Welshman, Wilshere could try and re-enact his goal against Norwich last season and both Debuchy and Monreal could send in those all so familiar high crosses for the tall Frenchman to get on the end of.

The argument for Giroud to start as our plan A centre forward is strong and with him up front I see no reason we can’t replicate last season and finish fourth.

Fourth, fourth is that what you want?

Wenger didn’t buy Sanchez because he was happy with the way things were, he obviously bought the Chilean because he thought that he would improve things and I still believe he will.

Sanchez new kit

I have been surprised by some of the contributors on the site who seem to have written him off after only 45 minutes as someone capable of leading the line and call for the signing of a new striker. Do these same people expect that someone like Cavanni would have slotted into a new team and a new system so seamlessly that he would have scored a hat trick against Everton? Maybe they do?

I stand by my player ratings and especially the 9 I awarded Sanchez. By way of explanation, I ask you to do a mental player rating of everyone in the first half excluding the back 5

Flamini: OK but nothing special 5
Ramsey: constantly gave the ball away 4
Wilshere: looked a bit stronger (I’m trying here) but did nothing of merit 4
Ozil: no where near match fit, continually lost the ball and never made a telling pass. 4
Oxlaide-Chamberlain: poor control, poor passing, missed open goal. 4

So with the players around Sanchez playing like a bunch of blokes on Hackney Marshes what real chance did the Chilean have? And yet, his control was excellent his tracking back was superb, he made some important tackles and all in all I thought he looked good. OK there is still a lot for him to get used to but I remind myself that Robin Van Persie was not converted into a CF overnight.

If we want to improve then we have got to change things. Wenger tried a new system and I for one am very glad of it, maybe he could have waited until Leicester but there are no guarantees that it would have been more effective against them than Everton.

Giroud isn’t plan A or plan B neither is Sanchez; they both have different skills that can be deployed against teams that best suit them.

Who should start up front against Besiktas on Wednesday?

Written by LB


The underdogs fight back.

August 24, 2014

This was never going to be an easy game and many Arsenal fans would have been happy to take a draw before the game started. But not me. I wanted a win. Yet, I ended the day happy.

Everton have become a very good side, and their manager seems to have impressed a lot of people with not just his tactics, but also his ‘niceness’. They had an injury to Barkley, but we were without Arteta and Gibbs, while still bedding in our new signings. Crucially, we were also just coming off a midweek game away in Turkey on an energy sapping pitch. Like I said, this wouldn’t be an easy game.

We welcomed back 2 of our World Cup winning Germans, with BFG replacing Koscielny (presumably carrying an injury) and Ozil playing on the left. Alexis Sanchez got his first start in the striker position, with Ox coming in to add some speed and directness. This made Micky very happy. But it also seemed to make Tim Howard happy because just as Arsenal could not find their feet, the Ox could not find the goal with any of his shots. Arsenal went behind to a headed goal from a brilliant pass by Gareth Barry, huffed and puffed some more, but couldn’t cause Everton any problems.

Arsenal then conceded once again on the stroke of half time after Lukaku bundled over Mertesacker, and got a clear path towards goal when Chambers dived in instead of covering. He then passed the ball to an offside Naismith who scored between Szczesny’s legs. Yes, it was a dirty moment in the game and one that both the referee and the linesman should be ashamed for allowing to happen. To be fair, some blame might also rest on our defence because Everton actually had a brilliant chance to score prior to this when Mirallas got in behind our defence.

Still, to be 2-0 down just before half time to an undeserved goal was a bit of a kick in the teeth. Wenger then did the unthinkable and made a half time substitution (please let this not have been due to an injury to Alexis).

With Giroud providing more of a familiar figure and a target man to bounce things off, Arsenal slowly started to get into the game, although it still took them a further 20 minutes to register a shot on goal. In the meanwhile, Everton retreated, secure in their ill gotten gains and unleashed the krack-head Naismith to kick, dive, moan, and try and get Debuchy sent off. That the referee didn’t is probably a huge surprise because he was certainly aiding and abetting this behaviour. Maybe he was just feeling the love from the Toffee crowd but Arsenal ended up getting heavily punished with yellow cards and fouls, while Everton were allowed to constantly get away with worse. It made our tough task even tougher.

While a lesser team would have collapsed, we kept trying. Wenger brought on Campbell and Santi for Wilshere and Ox with around 15 minutes to go. And it was Santi who was to finally provide a sumptuous ball across goal that Ramsey turned in, as he is wont to do nowadays.

There were now 7 minutes left on the clock and only a goal in it. Game on!

In the 90th minute Ramsey overhit a cross from the right, which was kept in by Ignacio Monreal. He in turn crossed to Giroud, who got between Jagielka and Distin to score with his coiffed head. He might have missed a chance early in the second half, (which I felt wasn’t an easy one to take though no doubt people will say a ‘world class’ forward would have scored that) but he made no mistake at the end of the second half. Arsenal tried to continue attacking, but time was running out. Sadly, Giroud’s final act of the half was to get injured trying to block a clearance and the manager says it’s not looking good, and so we get to maintain our record of an injury a match.

However, even that does not dampen the positivity around the spirit we showed in very challenging circumstances. A point gained rather than two dropped, and now Arsenal  switch their attention towards reaching the Champions League, where no toffee has gone before.

Match analysis written by Shard

Player ratings from LB

Szczesny: another solid game as far as I could tell, don’t really see how he could have done much to stop either of the goals. 7

Debuchy: made a huge stride forward, I thought, better defensively, better in attack, better all round, if he can improve that much in the space of three games he is going to be all and more that we hoped for. 7

Chambers: this was the stand out player for me over the whole 90 minutes, there was one slip again which naturally gets highlighted but Mertesacker does that every game and certainly did today on more than one occasion the difference being that if the opposition don’t score no one bats an eye lid. 8

Mertersacker: good to have our vice captain back, yes, he looked a bit rusty but what did we expect, it was his first competitive game, got more and more into his stride as the game went on. 6

Monreal: we shouldn’t forget that the Spaniard is a stand in for Gibbs; yes, he got skinned on more than one occasion but as he was the one who sent in the cross for Giroud to head home and save a point all is forgiven with me. 6

Ramsey: had a poor first half, his passes were going all over the place, but just when you are about to get frustrated with him he pops up to score the goal that gave us a life line. 6

Flamini: his role is not a glamorous one, protecting the backline is a thankless task on the best of days, he’s not bad but he’s not good. If we qualify for the CL I hope the potential revenue generated is spent on an upgrade in this position. 6

Wilshere: if he is not an attacking midfielder which he clearly isn’t, then what is he?
We have so many better options. 5

Oxlaide-Chamberlain: well we got our wish, he played but was not that effective I have to say, lots of running, all the chances falling to him in the first half, not quite what we hoped for: 5

Sanchez: first time playing up front, I thought he was brilliant; he was my MOTM for the first half. The problem of course was that the new system was so different nobody quite knew what to do. It wasn’t that he was doing things wrong it was the players around him. 9

Ozil: we heard all the jokes about him still being on the beach; still, changing flip flops to boots at half time helped, obviously not match fit but got better as the game went on. 6

Subs

Giroud: there is not a plan A and a plan B, different players are better suited to play against different opposition. If Wenger attempted to motivate Giroud by playing Sanogo ahead of him then it worked to an extent but nowhere near as much as it fired him up when he saw Sanchez get the nod ahead of him. This man had a point to prove when he took to the field for the second half. Competition for places, you gotta love it. 8

Cazorla: he aint a left winger. If he is played in Arshavin’s grave yard then we should expect below par performances. We shouldn’t forget that the reason we fell in love with him was because he used to play in the hole just behind the CF. We got a glimpse of it when he came on; he is still a quality player. 7

Joel Campbell: a few good touches, not enough time to influence the game.


Mesut to the Rescue

August 23, 2014

For a fanatical gooner this has been a difficult week. The results were acceptable but there has been disappointment in the manner of our play. And yet ….. today our Germans return.

Mr Wenger has stated that not all will play and I think he means Podolski. We miss a spark, we are too predictable, too slow on the counter as the final ball is ill-conceived. We need a will o’ the wisp and thankfully we have one.

By now you will have realised that I am putting my faith in our World Cup winner and most expensive signing. He must be rested, having spent the last few weeks bobbing about on a luxury yacht (or whatever young mega-rich chaps do). Am I being foolhardy to trust in Ozil? Can he step up to become the player around whom our forward line play? Is he as good as his reputation? This season will tell. Ozil must be hugely confident at present and desperate to get out on the pitch to enthral us and against Everton he will hopefully find the space to enjoy himself.

Everton gave us a lesson at Goodison last season and they were very good at The Emirates. They have maintained their squad and bought Lukaku (who could have foreseen Everton spending £28m on a player?). The long-term injury to Ross Barkley must have been a blow to Martinez –  though Naismith is a decent replacement he is hardly of the same quality.

We know what to expect from a Martinez team, a commitment to hard work in midfield and to attack. He has the players and in Lukaku a player to ruin Monreal’s day as he did when Martinez played him on the left last season. However, I believe that a defence of Distin and Jagielka is vulnerable to pace and ingenuity.

images

It is a shame Arteta will not play today, he retains much respect at Goodison where he spent so much of his career. We are ham-strung by ham-strings. Gibbs, Myachi and Sanogo are all out but otherwise we have a strong squad.

The most exciting thing about today will be to finally see how Sanchez can play with Ozil, and how Ramsey fits into this triumvirate of genius. Once Theo returns and possibly takes the central role he craves, we will be Kushti. Mark my word …. Kushti.

There is always the possibility that Mr Wenger will rest Sanchez who has played our last 3 games and could use a rest. I hope not but should he do so it opens the way for Rosicky.

It is a shame for young Chambers that he will be riding the pine for the foreseeable future (or until one of our CB’s gets crocked). I flag this up to herald the return of one of my very favourite players the BFG. I was delighted when Mertesacker signed a 2 year extension to his contract because this bloke is the fulcrum of the team. He may not be the best CB in the world but he is one of the best in the Premiership and his partnership with Koscielny is outstanding. Welcome back Big Man.

My Team;

Football Pitch 4

Hopefully Mr Wenger will be on better form than in Turkey where, in my opinion, he did not pick the best team nor react fast enough to enforce a win. We have such a strong bench that he can afford to tinker. Joel Campbell could well start on the left, it must be time to test him but I expect Joel to get his first appearance at the Emirates.

We have not beaten Everton for 4 games which is the longest run against any PL team (according to The Independent!) and to be honest I can see the run continuing. Everton played well but were held to draw at Leicester and will be looking to start their home campaign with a win over a direct rival. Martinez says the Top 4 is his target and one Everton could have achieved after the 3-0 win at Goodison had the Arsenal not won their last 5 games whilst the Toffees fell apart to finish 7 points behind.

An interesting game against one of my favourite opponents, I would take a point but prefer three :-D

As no-one (meaning Big Raddy) has come up with an interesting theme for the season (physicists was mooted but I know sweet FA about the sciences) I leave you with a picture of The Man…..

images-1

Written by Big Raddy

 


Ramsey and Wilshere. Together?

August 22, 2014

Chalk and Cheese. Lampard and Gerrard.

Bacon and Eggs. Sausages and Marmalade.

Some things do. Some things don’t.

If I am being completely honest with myself, then I must admit that had I been The Manager against Palace and Besiktas, we would have won both games. The reason is simple.

Right now, I cannot see any situation, or team set up, in which Ramsey and Wilshere can fit together.

It’s a kind of process of elimination. Back five. Minimum of one defensive midfielder. Three front boys and a play making No 10’ish . That leaves one slot.

Ok, you could argue, as Arsene appears to, that from the front three, at least one does not need to be some kind of goalscorer, or even speed merchant, and I can imagine him playing Mesut as a part of that threesome. You could also argue the case for two deeper defensive types of midfielder in the mould of Arteta and Flamini, but that in itself leaves the problem of where to play the undroppable Aaron.

I watched those two games and saw how an Arsenal midfield containing both Aaron and Jack nullified the creative talents of Santi, who found himself shunted out of position.

I believe Aaron and Jack only work in tandem in a 4-4-2. Kind of Vieira Petit style. This is not going to happen, so it’s an either or.

To be clear, I still have faith in Jack and believe it would not take much for him to rocket on up a few levels in the same way Aaron did, but for now, he’s fighting with Aaron for the same spot. Quality in depth is one way of looking at it.

What’s the answer?

Written by MickyDidIt89


Arsenal Supporters’ World Cup Hangover.

August 21, 2014

I have been trying to put my finger on it, trying to work out what is going wrong? I have watched two competitive games now and don’t quite understand why we are playing like spluttering diesel vans rather than the slick Ferraris that we all surely expected? Didn’t we?

The club have brought in four quality players, justifiably raising our hopes. We addressed the main problem that most people identified last season; that being, the need for a player with pin point accuracy and superb close control; you know, the one we all thought would bring out the best in Özil? I am obviously talking about Sanchez. We all saw how good he was on telly in the World Cup; in fact, we watched a month’s worth of good players and a month’s worth of high quality football.

MPO World Cup

It was this thought that made me realise where the problem may lie. Having been fed a diet of high quality football for a longer period than we are used to, it has been hard to readjust to the more pedestrian fare of the EPL and the qualification stage of the Champions League.

It obviously follows that things will improve with the return of Özil to the starting line up or at least I certainly expect things to. This should, as I suggested on Monday, herald the start of the new system of a collective front line who all have superb close control and are all capable of super quick passing as a means of finding its way round tall lumbering defences – Palace being the prime example.

Would it have worked against Beşiktaş, even though no one can accuse them of parking the bus? I certainly think so.

The Giroud doubters have been out in force and are letting everyone know who will listen that they are not surprised by his performance in the CL. I slightly disagree with Kelsey who said (and I paraphrase) that he doesn’t think that Giroud has the natural instinct of a number nine. I think he does, he just doesn’t have the speed or close control to carry it off.

Giroud’s performance, I would suggest, is also the reason why Wenger is trying to fast track Sanogo. Arsenal could have got an early goal against Palace which would have forced them to come out, this in turn would have created space for Sanogo in which he would have run amuck and could quite possibly have got a hat full. (think Benfica)

In my opinion, if fit, Sanogo would have been a better choice than Giroud against Beşiktaş. Right now, the younger Frenchman has the same level of close control but his age still gives him the possibility of improving this skill; where as, Giroud is too old in the tooth for such a possibility. This I can imagine is debatable to some but the one thing that cannot be denied is that Sanogo is quicker and that attribute would have been very useful against Beşiktaş.

And on the subject of speed: Theo would have been a better choice as CF than either Giroud or Sanogo, the defenders were lumbering giants and there was ocean’s of space behind them for him to exploit.

This all points to the obvious fact that we have more possibilities up front than we have had in years: Giroud has a place; he was a major factor in our win against Palace. Sanogo will have another Benfica day, Walcott will return as will Özil.

Memories of the World Cup are starting to take a back seat as the EPL and the CL come into sharper focus. I don’t expect Arsenal to be playing Ferrari football this weekend but a trade up from diesel vans would be a step in the right direction.

Written by LB


First leg verdict : Two slightly differing opinions.

August 20, 2014

Shard’s appraisal

The game yesterday. Frustrating, but not too bad I thought. It was an entertaining enough game. They had at least two glorious chances to win it, but I thought we could have won it as well, despite playing like numpties on ice.

Giroud will undoubtedly get a lot of stick today (when does he not?) and he was pants. Utterly terrible. BUT.. That is not his real level. He’s better than that. I would have liked to see Campbell but I think Wenger wanted Giroud to play through his bad form rather than take him off and have him dwell on it. Height may have been another concern, and once Ramsey went, I don’t think he was going to come off. I also think Wenger isn’t entirely sold on Campbell. The way he talks about him. He says all the right words, but I think he’s a little undecided.

Ramsey’s sending off, I saw it exactly like GIE did. Wilshere looked like he was getting better. Not great yet. Not at his best even. But getting better. Wilshere’s hard tackle when Ramsey was kicked in the abdomen was exactly what was needed. Not reckless, but a response to Besiktas’ increased physicality in the second half.

Besiktas were pressing well, but for the most part we played through their press with calmness (as long as Arteta was there) and I couldn’t help but thinking that a fitter, more settled Arsenal side would have torn them apart. But as we know, we are not at our free flowing best. 0-0 is a bit of a dangerous result, but I still expect us to beat them at home. Even without Ramsey.

Hopefully the returning Germans and some increased rotation will help us against Everton, because that will not be an easy game.

Kelsey’s appraisal.

On the whole I am disappointed with the overall performance yet we live to fight another day.

One can’t make excuses about the pitch as it was the same for both sides,and one can only give an opinion on the players who actually played.

0-0 is okish but at the back of my mind next week there is always the possibility of conceding just the one goal.

The Turks showed their intent from the first few seconds with the cheeky shot that nearly caught Sczsceny by surprise
.
They were really up for it, were as physical as any team such as Stoke and we never really let us get into a rhythm.

To me we looked lethargic and a lot of our play was similar to the Palace game.

Ramsey should have known better but these things happen and as Raddy just said Arteta’s injury could keep him out for a few weeks.

If we had lost 3-1 we couldn’t have really complained so luck was on our side and it was a magnificent save from Chamberlain’s shot.
Giroud showed yet again that he is a work horse but not a game changer.
Chambers again thrown into the deep end only made one real mistake and looked very composed.

Debuchy as well looked the part but generally our small lightweight team never feel comfortable in these sort of games
.
If the three Germans are back next week that may well make a difference but our defence still looks very vulnerable and now we have the daunting task of Everton Away before we even think of the return leg.

Two games in and and the injuries are already mounting up.

kelsey/Shard


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