Under 21s: Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2

September 12, 2014

I am going to talk about something that I don’t know much about, some may say: what’s new?

The under 21s are a bit of a mystery, snippets of who is good and who isn’t make their way onto the blog from time to time, the odd YouTube clip appears which, as we know, makes every player look like the next Maradonna but for the majority I think last night’s game on Sky was the first chance to focus and formulate an opinion on many of the up and coming stars.

As much as I tried to judge the game as an entity I struggled as I couldn’t stop myself from thinking how each player would fit into the first team or how far of they are away from it.


Bellerin, O’Conner Hayden, Ormonde-Ottwill

———-Coquelin, Diaby, Zalalem

——–Miatland-Niles, Akpom, Crowley

Martinez: good to go, no problem should he be needed in the first team.

Bellerin: fine if needed in the first team for a game or two but as a long term replacement, should Debuchy get seriously injured, I would worry.

O’Conner: sorry I didn’t notice enough to give a view.

Hayden: well this is why the club sold Miquel, Hayden is as good if not better and certainly is an able forth choice CB.

Diaby: we should see him play his first game for the first team against Southampton in the Capital One Cup.

Zalalem: further away from the first team than I expected. BR mentioned that he was strong through out, and having thought about it I agree.

Maitland-Niles: a couple of good efforts, still a long way to go.

Akpom: I am bouncing off peoples comments here: Steve was critical of him for not being a team player; he is a number 9, surely selfishness is an asset, think Ian Wright. That said I think he is miles away from the first team, maybe a cameo in the COC.

Crowley: this was the one that disappointed me the most; I think the reason is that I expected too much. He is years away from the first team but as he is only 17 that shouldn’t be such a surprise. He is either a number 10 or attacking midfield who last night was shunted out to the left wing, (sounds familiar). There was a lot to get excited about as he inevitably drifted into the middle.

There has been much debate recently about our midfield during which the term box to box player frequently came up. As obvious as the term first appears I started wondering if everyone shared the same definition, so in an attempt to clarify I ask………….

What is a Box to Box player?

I don’t see Ramsey as one, well not yet anyway and I certainly don’t see Wilshere as one, so maybe before I carry on I should explain my own view of the role and having given it some thought I think it can be best explained by the way of an example.

Patrick Vieira was the last Box to Box player we had. Why, because he operated from one penalty box to the other. In Paddy’s case his skill set was skewed towards defending rather than attacking; he didn’t score enough goals to be considered simply as an attacking midfielder.

Which brings me to the reason for bringing this up: Diaby is our only box to box player, and he must be the reason why the club didn’t buy a holding midfielder in the window. Wenger is clearly going to give him one last chance. This makes sense on many levels; he was pretty damn good last night and in my opinion really does have everything needed to play a pivotal role in our midfield.

I hope the Frenchman grabs the opportunity that is about to come his way because what with Flamini coming to the end of his contract and Arteta coming to the end of his physical ability, Wenger will have no choice but to make one big name signing to replace the lot.

Unless, that is, Woy’s plan to make Wilshere a holding midfielder comes off, but perhaps that debate is for another day.

Written by LB

Is it time for round pegs in round holes?

September 11, 2014

I started to write this post after Alexis started up top against Everton, before we decided to bring Welbeck into the fold, and before we knew the extent of Giroud’s injury.

This is probably Arsene’s biggest weakness as a coach, I am not sure if it is due to pressure from above, the players or maybe even the fans but I feel that he is guilty on occasion of playing players because of their status rather than because they are best suited to the position, I’m not sure this was the case at Everton definitely more to do with a well holidayed Olivier Giroud, but far too often we see square pegs in round holes to get the best 11 names available on to the pitch rather than the best team on the pitch.

Before the Everton game I was convinced that Alexis wasn’t the answer to the centre forward conundrum but also that playing him there for any length of time would result in the team suffering overall.

Let me clarify I think Alexis can play up top he proved as much in his performance against Besiktas, but in our current style of play and because of his other attributes I do not see that position as being the best utilisation of his skillset. He is fast, he is hungry to win back possession and can score goals from wide, these three ingredients make him ideal to play on the wing. When he loses possession the defenders are not given time to clear their lines, he often wins the ball back and his presence on the pitch stops opposing fullbacks pushing on as much as they normally would. (Have you ever seen Kolarov so deep before?)

With Giroud now out until the new year there is a vacancy up top, I hope this is filled by Welbeck rather than anyone else, mainly because he is a centre forward and unlike Sanchez does not offer much more to the team than an end point for fast attacking moves. And if Welbeck isn’t fit? Then I’d rather play Sanogo or Podolski.

In my view our best attacking front three all fit would be Theo, Giroud, Alexis. The centre backs never push on, but the pace of Theo and Sanchez wide would be a constant question in the full backs mind and prevent them helping their wingers regularly. However Welbeck has a chance to stake a claim for the shirt with Olivier out but he needs to show the ability to assist link up play and to be better than Oli use his pace to get on the end of the return pass.

Theo is probably not the best at winning the ball back but if it becomes a new ethos in the team I can see Campbell giving him a run for his money before long if he does not add this to his game.

Santi and Ozil are not wingers, again they should be utilised where their attributes are used to greatest effect, unfortunately for them that means they compete for the same spot in the side, and if Welbeck is out I don’t want to see Theo or Alexis moved central to use one of Santi or Ozil out wide, if Theo or Alexis get injured I want to see real like for like replacements so Campbell or Ox.

Then we have the box to box midfielder that’s Aaron or Jack, and holding midfield well that’s Arteta or Flamini.

At the back we have three centre backs, although another body in there would have completed a capable defence, should an injury befall Debuchy I think i’d rather Bellerin be used than Chambers keeping him fresh for when he is needed in the more key central position.

So please Arsene let’s stick to players in their positions rather than finding a spot for them in the team.

This is how I see first and second choices from the current squad.







That leaves Martinez, Hayden, Coquelin, Rosicky, Podolski, Sanogo to make up the squad numbers when absolutely necessary.

It is not an easy task keeping players happy, but squads need rotation in the modern game, so Santi will not be sitting on the bench for weeks on end, to play him ahead of a more natural and pacy winger is appeasement of the player rather than for the benefit of the team and the system. And I’m sure at this point many will be saying “but x is too good to be a squad player”, well Petr Cech is too good to be a no 2 keeper, Sagna too good to be a no 2 right back, or BSR too good to be no 2 striker, they all probably are, but what City have shown in the last few seasons is that ready replacements playing in their natural position in the attacking half of the pitch is much more important than like for like defensive cover.

What say you?

Gooner in Exile

Arsenal’s Weak Spots

September 10, 2014

Last night Aaron hobbled off with an ankle injury, and although we won’t know until later the severity, it made me wonder about our vulnerability to injury.

At the beginning of last season, I would have said the areas of most concern would have been injuries to Theo, Ollie or one of our defensive pairing of Mert and Kos.

During the season, we witnessed the meteoric rise of Aaron, and by the end of the season it could be argued he was our most valuable player. By valuable, I mean an injury to this player having the biggest negative impact to our overall play.

I think we have covered the CB pairing with the arrival of the phenomenally talented Mr Chambers.

Ollie is now covered by Welbeck as well as Sanchez, and to an extent both can play both Left and Right providing cover for both Theo and whoever is the best Left Sided option.

It is actually very difficult to isolate the weakest spot, as we simply don’t yet know how the new side will settle down, and who will ultimately play where and in what formation.

Ozil is as yet far from the pivotal player we anticipate he will become, and I’d say it is possible he becomes the most irreplaceable only if he becomes the fulcrum in the middle. If he continues to be deployed more from the flanks, then I don’t see him as being especially irreplaceable.

Again, it is very hard to assess the key players up top. Either Sanchez or indeed Welbeck could emerge as Key Men. Of course, Ollie could return rejuvenated and become a Must Player.

Overall, and it’s difficult at this early stage of the new look side, but Aaron does appear to me to occupy the “most essential player” slot right now, although overall when fit, Theo still shades it for me.

The other day, a chum asked me who I saw as our most valuable player this season. I answered Theo, but went further to add that my biggest single wish for the season was that either Mesut or The Ox would emerge to challenge Theo for that particular honour.

Written by MickyDidIt89



Does anyone know what Wilshere’s best position is?

September 9, 2014

After last night’s international there has been a lot of discussion about our Jack.

Here are some of the comments, so feel free to join in.

arnie said:GB. In general terms, I agree. However, you are looking at the interests of Jack as an individual player. Arsene has to balance both the team’s interests and the player’s. Some other managers would have looked, or tried to look, only at the team’s interest. Maybe Roy is one of them.

Now, like everywhere else in professional life, it is up to the individual to some extent. You or I cannot go to our workplace and say, we want to do the job that we are best at. We have to do the job that creates best value. Same for Jack.

I think, moving forward our DM positions will be in rotation Rambo, Jack, Calum and maybe Diaby. Rambo is currently better in scoring crucial goals, so Jack may have to stay back. And rightly so. He is young. He has to either learn the holding MF game, or learn how to score more goals at crucial times. :)

GoonerB said:Hi Arnie. Sorry I can’t always reply immediately and sometimes come back to a point a bit later. Re. your 9.39. I am in agreement with you that any player is not greater than the team so if a certain player has to adopt a role that is not their favourite but that it allows the team performance to be stronger in another sense then using the old cliche, they need to take one for the team.

That concept should also obviously translate to Jack, providing that when he is played out of position that the team performance is enhanced. We would need to analyse how the team played with him in his best position vs when he is played out of position. I don’t have all the games to hand but casting my mind back to last season my recollection is that when Jack was played out of position and didn’t play well that generally the whole team performance stunk. I also seem to recall that when played in his favoured role with the right holding midfield partner that both he and the team looked better.

Jack has had an up and down period since coming back from injury but I feel that he is not an ordinary utility player to cover many roles, but one that can change the whole dynamic of a game in your favour if he is utilised correctly. I feel at Arsenal with the greater competition for places that Jack will need to be more subject to rotation for a while. Players like Arteta, Rosicky, Flamini, Cazorla will slowly ease away or move on leaving a more regular role for him over the next 2-3 seasons.

The danger for me with England, who I don’t feel are blessed with players of Jack’s ability, is that we pulled it off last night with Jack played out of position. Roy and the media may think that’s it I’ve cracked it but I think when it comes to crunch time against sterner opposition the set-up last night will fail. We have seen it too many times before with England.

Rasp said:Hi GB, yes that’s the point I was trying to make. Push and go is all very well but it makes you a bit one dimensional, hopefully playing with the likes of Ozil and Cazorla will rub off on him and he’ll pick up some more skills. I also saw that he would try to beat one player too many and run out of space down the line, when a quick turn and cutting inside may have been a better option.

Norfolk Gooner said : GB, does anyone know what Wilshire’s best position is? How do we know he won’t turn out to be a world class holding mid-fielder?

Wenger seems happy with what he brings to the team at present, being able to fill more than one role is something Le Professeur values in a player. He is always ready to convert players into something not previously considered by the “experts” in the media.

With the number of games to be played this season I’m sure Jack will get ample opportunities to fulfil whatever role Wenger chooses for him.



Arsène helps out world cup winners and a quick look at our new signings‏

September 8, 2014

Morning all

Champions League – is it so important for securing top talent? Many’s the time I read how top players want Champions League football and will only transfer to clubs who have qualified. Manchester United’s failure to qualify seems to have proved that theory wrong. Falcao’s last minute signing seems to prove, that some top players will actually sign just for the wages a club will pay.

On a reported £300,000 a week, on a one year loan, could certainly be a good reason. If United fail to qualify next year he could be on the move again. United have reportedly paid £6 million for a one year loan with the option to buy at the end of the loan. Falcao is a top player, we know that, many Arsenal supporters were broken hearted that Falcao signed for United instead of Arsenal, and in return all we got was United reject Danny Welbeck.

Arsenal are not known for the multi buying of Marquee players. Last years signing of Mesut Ozil was a massive statement by the club, that they are now in the market for Marquee signings. Again this season the pattern changed again, Arsenal sorted out this seasons Marquee signing Alexis Sanchez very early in the window, replacements for Bacary Sagna  in Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle also went through quickly.

Replacing our No 2 keeper Lucas Fabianski with Ospina also an early addition, showed that Arsenal were not just looking for bargains as in previous seasons. Arsene Wenger has always kept his eye open for young players who could fit in with the Arsenal system, and once again he cast his eye over Southamptons  youngsters. As we know in the past Arsene has found Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlaid Chamberlain, and they have fitted in well, this time Arsene saw a young man who many of us hadn’t, in Calum  Chambers. At 19 years old, with only limited first team games for Southampton he caught Arsene’s Eye. Arsene paid £16 million for Chambers which seems a lot for an unknown talent, but being English maybe that bumps the price up.

Chambers came in early pre season, so was used in warm up games, and for the Emirates cup games, he has made an impression from the off. He was probably not intended to be used from the start of the season but because of world cup inclusion from our German contingent, Chambers was used and certainly impressed. I expect that he will now be used as cover for this season. Brought at first as a right back, so I would have assumed he would have been cover for our new signing Debuchy but has now shown that he is an excellent Centre back as well.

Chambers has now caught the eye of England Manager Roy Hodgson and been called up to play for his country in the Euro qualification matches. He came on as a sub in England’s first friendly and had a good début performance. and I am sure will be an inclusion for the foreseeable future.

My comment at the start of this post, was I am sure you know, tongue in cheek about Danny Welbeck, when I said ‘all we got’, I imagine one or two of you felt I was a little hard, on the contrary I was a very happy bunny. Its my opinion that United have made a huge mistake off loading Welbeck to us. He’s an England international and now that Sturridge has picked up a thigh injury, our Danny has stepped up to the plate. Two signings and straight away England players as well.

Of course both these players have already been involved with England, but not as Arsenal players, and I am wondering if our Arsene is working his magic once again. World cup winning teams of the past have had Arsenal players in key positions. France’s world cup had Petit, Henry and Vieira where Germany’s world cup winners had Ozil, Mertsacker and Podolski now we have England that got knocked out early this time round, but certainly could be a force next time round.

I remember Wenger saying, that we wouldn’t believe the job offers that he had received, and I am pretty certain that one of those offers might have been the England job. Obviously Arsene would have said no, he had started a job at Arsenal and wouldn’t feel that he should leave until the Arsenal were back up there challenging.

But maybe he promised to help as much as he could and now with Walcott, Gibbs, Wilshere, Chamberlain, Welbeck and  Chambers, England have almost a full team of Arsenal players or is it a coincidence?

Have a nice day.

Written by Steve Palmer


Why did we loan out Jenkinson and buy Welbeck?

September 7, 2014

I am perplexed by all this loanee stuff. I understand that loaning a player helps the balance sheet and allows the loaning side to get a player off the paylist, whilst at the same time allowing the signing team to get a player without the transfer fee and risk but sometimes it is illogical.

Two things come to mind …. why have AFC not loaned Welbeck rather than buy him and why loan out Jenkinson when we are so short of bodies in defence?

Let’s look at Jenks first; we all know he is not ready to play as our first choice RB. However, he was signed to a long contract less than a year ago which indicates the Boss must have faith in him. Getting regular first team play at WHU under Fat Sam (who is a specialist at defensive play) can only assist the young man and assist his development. But why now?

We have just 6 defenders to get us through the season – or until the January transfer window – which given our players proclivity to injury is at best foolhardy. Jenkinson is a big lad and can cover for BFG (in emergencies), plus he has PL experience for when Debuchy get knacked.

You are all thinking “what about Chambers”? And you are right but what happens if one of our CB’s gets injured at the same time as Debuchy  as is inevitable goes into the red zone? Is it better to trust Gibbs will stay fit  and Monreal covers? Not in my opinion.

Perhaps there is a clause in Jenkinson’s loan deal which allows him to return to AFC  with immediate notice, I hope so.


Which raises the question – is a loan deal contract a fixed loan? In other words if Monaco go tits up in La Ligue can they insist upon the return of Falcao? Or Negredo back to MC?

Onto Welback. Who insisted it was a sale as opposed to a loan? Did Mr Wenger get forced into the purchase by MU knowing the seriousness of our centre forward predicament with the injury to Giroud? In this case a loan with a possible purchase clause at the end of the season was the obvious course, Welbeck may well be the dog’s nuts but why take a £16m gamble?

We will never know how these transfer deals transpire which is a shame.  Were Arsenal (or MU) forced into the purchase? Did FFP have an influence (as they have at Monaco)?

What I do know is that AFC could use Jenkinson in the squad.

written by Big Raddy


Reasons to be Cheerful

September 5, 2014

This site prides itself upon reasoned good sense. Between us we have hundreds of years of Gooner-dom, we are Arsenal through and through.

I resent people coming onto the site calling themselves “Proper Supporters” and casting aspersions upon our bloggers just because they are critical of the goings on at The Emirates, these fellows know sweet FA about our bloggers.  However, this week has seen an unusual level of negativity on Arsenal Arsenal.

But today let’s look at the positives ….. Doomers look away :-D

1. We are unbeaten in 6 games. Why are so many saying we are worse than last season and playing rubbish? Three away games, two home games both of which have been won and a win at Wembley. Pretty good I would say.

2. Problems in midfield. Much has been written about players not gelling or being unable to play together (I am as culpable as any!). At least we have brilliant players who will definitely gel at some point, we have the most creative midfield in the PL. Time will show why Mr Wenger decided we did not need the genius of Fabregas.

3. Injuries. Walcott is returning as is Diaby. Don’t laugh, we have a huge squad and with the signing of Welbeck cover for every position (I know, I know – CB?) Last season our season suffered when Theo got hurt; we lost pace, now we have Sanchez and Welbeck pace will not be an issue.

4. Ambition. Arsenal have just spent £85m in the window. We have three times spent more than our previous record signing (pre-Ozil).

5. Had the squad been injury-free it would have supplied Gibbs, Walcott, Ox, Wilshire, Welbeck and Chambers to the England squad – 6 young men and the future of our national team. Add in Ramsey and we can be proud of our British core.

6. Youth. Walcott, Ox, Ramsey, Szczesny, Wilshere and Gibbs all started in the team as teenagers. Now we have Chambers who appears to be another youngster with a bright future. We are set up for many years of success.

7. Experience. Most of our young men have 100+ PL games already. Add in the older members of the squad and we have battle hardened squad to take us to success. Some of our players are easing themselves into good form and we struggle when Ramsey etc are half a yard off the pace but it will come.

8. Centre Backs. We have one of the best CB partnerships in the PL. Pace and wisdom. Many point out the weakness should injury befall either of our CB’s but Chambers looks the real deal and it should be remembered that Tony Adams captained AFC at 21. Chambers is the nearest to the Great Man I have seen at Arsenal for over a decade. He will be adequate cover. Should both CB’s get injured I accept we will struggle.

9. Attack. Let us start with Ozil. The man has been criticised about his lack of impact. He has played 3 games since winning the WC, of course he isn’t up to speed! Mr. Wenger clearly realised that at the moment Sanogo is not good enough – he has the attributes but appears to try too hard and this makes him look clumsy – so Welbeck was bought. Should we have paid twice as much to get Falcao for a season or three times to get Cavani? Perhaps, but Mr Wenger has clearly decided that OG, Walcott and Sanchez is a formidable forward line, and he is right.

We have Podolski and Campbell to come on as impact subs.

10. Oxlade-Chamberlain. This will be his season. He can play almost anywhere; behind the front three, on the left wing, right wing, central midfield and some have suggested (including Mr.Wenger) that he has the talent to become a defensive midfielder. With his pace it is quite possible.

I could and probably will go on giving Reasons to to be Cheerful but in essence we have reasons to be confident and not slam the club when things are going reasonably well. Sure there are areas to improve upon – there always will be but we are not going to do an MU and not even make the Europa.

We are the 5th most expensive team in the PL and will be fighting as ever for a top 4 place. We have the capability to win the title and with a bit of luck, a tail wind and  some good form for our players we may well do so.

Oh, and in the last 3 months we have won Two pieces of silverware. Why worry?

written by Big Raddy



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