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.


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


So, Why Was Sanogo Even Playing?

August 18, 2014

I over heard this question no less than three times as I weaved my way through the throng of people drinking beer and chatting during the half time interval in an attempt to stretch my legs.

It was fairly easy to tell that had it not been for Koscielny’s equalising goal only some five minutes earlier these same people would have been asking the same question but with far greater ferocity.

Sanogo

They may have had a point: Arsenal played in the same frustrating way as they did last season against opposition who, as predictably as Sunday follows Saturday, were always going to park the bus and waste time whenever they possibly could. This is exactly what they did and I should add that part of Crystal Palace’s predictable plan would have been to try and nick a goal from a set piece and that again is also what they did.

The answer as to why Sanogo was playing was fairly obvious to me: our new system is simply not ready yet; the system I refer to is dependant on our new 40 million pound player named Alexis Sanchez.

Last season Wenger would have fielded pretty much the same team only with Sagna and Giroud. Sagna would have whipped in high crosses which Palace would have dealt with as easily as they did on Saturday when Debuchy sent in high crosses for Sanogo. The result being that Palace regained possession and we had to work harder than we needed in getting the ball back.

The other frustrating similarity to last season is that although we still have the players whose intricate passing is capable of producing the wonder goal that Jack Wilshere finished off against Norwich. This doesn’t happen enough and by that I mean that Barcelona do this on a weekly basis and so should we. We certainly didn’t look capable of producing such a goal against Palace and that, like last season, was down to Sanogo’s lack of close control which is equally as lacking as Giroud’s.

This brings me back to the new system I expect to see adopted in the coming weeks. In an attempt to explain I ask this: do you think that Ozil is going to be left out of that team? No, you do not. Now imagine Sanchez playing up front instead of Sanogo against Palace with Ozil on the right.

It this scenario it would have been totally pointless of Debuchy to send in high crosses; he would be forced to do something different. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he can adapt quickly even through the brain washing he received at Newcastle to send in high crosses time after time must be deeply ingrained.

On a side note, did you ever ask yourself after noticing that Barcelona had just beaten some low league team 46 –nil or something equally ridiculous, why the opponents don’t park the bus and waste time in the same way as Palace did on Saturday? The answer is that their opponents do try — but they fail. The reason that Barcelona are able to find a way through is that everyone of their attack has exceptional close control. Well now for the first time since Henry, Bergkamp, and Pires played together — so do we.

The combination of Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil and Sanchez is as good as any other in Europe when it comes to close control and super quick passing. They would have found a way past that tall lumbering Palace defence in no time. In fact this is the new system that I refer to and expect to be deployed with great effect against every team whose predictable game plan is to simply park the bus.

The unavailability of Ozil goes some way to explaining why Sanogo was playing but to me there is more: just look at the fixture list in March; we could have Capital One Cup games, FA Cup games, Champions League Games and EPL games. We will need Sanogo to feel part of the squad, up to speed, ready to go and the only way that that can happen is if he plays now, while he can, before the new system comes into force.

Many would have preferred Giroud on Saturday but just look how he tired towards the end of last season only having Bendtner as back up and therefore having to play so many games.

Wenger made a judgement call on Saturday that Sanogo would offer enough offensively to get a result while enabling him to take one step closer to justifiably being picked as a first team starter and he was right.

I hope this makes sense, if not I refer you to a comment made on this site after the game which sums this all up far more succinctly than I could:

“I don’t give a monkey’s “rectum” how we played, we got the three points.”

Written by LB


Ramsey rescues Ring Rusty Gunners

August 17, 2014

Some may query my headline but that is exactly what Aaron did.

I have already read countless opinions dissecting every detail of the game from time wasting by Palace, and parking not one but two buses in two banks of four, poor refereeing, first win by us in five years, only home win of the day, but most importantly we gained the three points.

Overall it was obvious how Palace were going to play as this was Pulis’s team and to give credit to them they are a vastly improved outfit and finished a creditable eleventh last season.

It was obvious from the start that some of our players were fitter than others and generally the the three debutantes had a reasonable game.

Chambers could turn out to be one of the best young buys of the season. Debuchy played his part and his whipped cross into the box will produce goals. Sanchez though by no means perfect oozes class and is also not scared to get stuck in, so all in all no complaints there.

What worried me was the predictable pattern in the game that we have seen so often.

We dominate possession for the best part of half an hour without really threatening only for the opposition to score after an initial rash moment by Szczesny,which lead to a corner and Hangeland basically had a free header to score. Yet the same could be said for the Palace defence when an excellent free kick by Sanchez left Koscielny completely unmarked, but to give him credit he guided the ball well past Speroni.

Even with substitutions at half time because of yet another in jury to Gibbs our game didn’t improve much, though as one who has questioned Monreal quite often, he contributed quite well.

With twenty minutes left we finally seemed to find our rhythm better and the introduction of Giroud proved to be a far better option than Sanogo who IMO is at least two seasons away of possibly becoming a real striker.The OX for Wilshere was the right decision.

I don’t feel it is appropriate to criticize every seasoned player on the pitch on the opening game, but one would have thought after the resounding victory over City last week, regardless of who played, that confidence would have been at a premium.

We need a top class striker but we won’t get one and more to the point are there any available, but more importantly we need a player who can cover for Gibbs or Monreal on the left side of the defence.

The three Germans returning don’t resolve these problems so hopefully a quality versatile defender who can play left side will be purchased before the end of this month.

If Koscienly suffered an injury our defence would really suffer so although Wenger has a real headache as to chose the numerous options of attacking midfielders our defence still needs bolstering

kelsey.


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