Arsenal win – Coq the enforcer

April 12, 2015

If this match report was written on a need to know basis then all you need to know is that Arsenal won which takes our win tally to eight in a row. Right that’s that, shall we get onto the more interesting part and talk more about Coquelin?

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Yay, don’t you find now when you watch him you can savour his timely interceptions more and more; he just gets better and better the more you watch and the more I watch, and I certainly was yesterday, the more I realise how much more he is starting to add to his game. Obviously not content with the accolade of becoming the best ball winner in Europe he is now beginning to improve his passing game both short and long range. In brief he is starting to spray the ball around with confidence and accuracy and that bodes well for his future because the lack of that skill was the only reason for Wenger to consider an upgrade in the summer.

OK, if I must, I will talk about the game, Arsenal beat Burnley away, is that big news? Nope, the only way this report was going to get read by more than three people and Chas’ cat was if we lost and we didn’t so here we are.

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It was a comfortable victory in the kind of way that for  most of the game I wished we had scored a second goal. At one nil there was always that nagging doubt running through my mind that all this lot need is a bit of luck and we would be in the brown stuff. But fortunately, as we know, that didn’t happen and we got more proof that the gods are all Arsenal supporters, as if we really needed that confirming.

Ramsey on the right, really? This smacks of trying to maintain a political harmony rather than being ruthless in the team selection. Yes, he scored the winning goal and that should not be scoffed at but on the wing when we have Welbeck and Walcott on the bench and we were crying out for pace down that flank.

Back to Coquelin, OK, enough already. The good guys did us proud again and I am very happy with the points and the performance. Is it just me or are there others who are starting to spend slightly longer and longer looking at the league table, I mean how many times did you look before Christmas? Once, twice – per month, tops, now I sneak a peak twice a day.

QPR won last week could they just do it again, come on you “R”s

Written by LB


Surprise of the season so far

April 8, 2015

We have heard a lot over recent seasons of transitional year not just for us but several clubs around the top 4, Liverpool, ManUre and even Chelsea have gone through changes that the managers and existing players have to cope with, it seems we have been in transition for eternity, but in reality we were in a status quo, Arsene getting the most out of a competent if not great squad. Finally it feels like we are in real transition from PL consistency to challengers, hopefully with a good start to next season we have a real chance of adding the big prize to the trophy cabinet.

The thing that makes me confident in this are the players that have come to the fore and surprised us and upset the apple cart that was my perceived wisdom.

“Theo must have a place”

“Arteta allows us to play our way he is first name on the team sheet”

“Szczesny will be fine”

In Welbeck, Coquelin and Ospina three players (not star names) have come along and made us all reconsider. I’ll even add Bellerin in that group with Nacho. For seasons we have been told it is lack of spending that has held us back, but this season two players created by us, a bargain squad player from an overstocked competitor and two other minor signings have all become first team regulars. They have all taken their opportunities and the real success is that they made us forget the players they have replaced.

Even Santi in his deeper position could be seen as a surprise, who’d have thought he could join in the tackling back?

Last season when Arteta was out injured we missed him and badly, whilst he was out this season and Flamini replaced him we continued to miss him, but now Coquelin has brought a new dimension to the role (namely pace and aggression) it’s hard to see where Arteta fits in.

At right back a lot of fans were worried that we were taking a step backwards by allowing Bacary to leave and only bringing in Debuchy, if Debuchy’s early performances didn’t calm those worries, Bellerin’s outstanding performances have consigned memories of Sagna to the dustbin, we are better now in this position.

But neither of these are my biggest surprise that title goes to Welbeck, let’s be honest none of us rated him that highly in a United shirt, but he has come in and staked a claim for a regular place, early on he was asked to play up top with Ollie missing, and I guess most of us saw him as a stop gap in that position and out wide until Ollie and then Theo returned. But he is keeping Theo out of the side, when they are both on the bench it is Theo who remains getting splinters whilst Danny is called upon. I think mainly because he gets himself involved, he presses, he is strong and leaves it all on the park. He has better feet than I gave him credit for and is much stronger than I thought. The only criticism at the moment is he seems too eager to score himself when others are in a better position. He has made me think it’s time for Theo to move on, and the best thing about that if it happened we would be the ones deciding it was time for him to move on, £16m for Welly was a steal, anything over £20m for Theo will be good business.

So who has been your biggest surprise?

Gooner in Exile


Sunny Afternoon?

April 4, 2015

Saturday afternoon. Sunny day. Liverpool at home. An important game = Excited.

It seems an age since we played a meaningful game at home to a real rival and for the first time in a decade, Liverpool can be said to be quality opponents. Last season, L’pool surprised many with a startling run of form centred around the genius of the Biter, this season shows that Rodgers team management can propel them to the Top 4 but not the title.

And why not the title? Because they are bottlers and have been since we did them in May 1989.

Yes, they have won a few Cups thanks to the type of good luck which can only come from having sold one’s soul to the devil. Their Treble showed similar good fortune to those chaps who have won the Lotto twice (though I would swap the ’91 title for a European Cup!).

Unlike Mr Wenger, Rodgers has no scruples about forcing his players to remove themselves from the international scene. Amazingly the severely injured Sturridge and Sterling  are fit to play today. If I were Hodgson I would not pick these blokes for the next few games.

Stevie Me and Scramble are banned but other than them L’pool have their first choice 11. I am saddened that Gerrard will not play, he has completely lost his mojo and is a shadow of the player he could be in his pomp. His playing would have made our winning almost a certainty, instead the points are in the balance.

We are without Ox, Debuchy and probably Welbeck from our best 11. I think Ramsey has recovered from his hamstring knack.

The rest you know ….. we have won 14 out of 16, 9 of the last 10. Of our last 11 home games against top 5 opposition we have lost 7, drawn 3 and won just one (how crap is that 😢) We are scoring regularly. Le Giroud is on fire scoring both for club and country.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin    BFG      Koscielny       Monreal

Ramsey   Coquelin

Cazorla   Ozil      Sanchez

Giroud

As always midfield will be vitally important, I was going to write match winning but given our propensity to miss chance after chance I would say that clinical finishing is more important. Coquelin vs Lucas will be an interesting battle. As will be Bellerin and Monreal’s ability to control the mercurial Sterling. If the boy is available for €50m I would buy him – after all, it isn’t my money!

We are 6 points ahead of the Scouse. A win today would be a huge plus towards our quest for second place. For Liverpool a loss would herald a season of Spursday nights.

I am 53% confident.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Coq Sure? …… or not so Sure?

March 11, 2015

For several years now Arsenal has been described as “two to three players short of a top side”.

The spot that many identified as being an urgent need was that of defensive midfield. Arsenal needed someone who was disciplined, mobile, strong, quick and aggressive. Someone who loved a tackle.

Arteta had adapted his game to fulfil the roll to the best of his ability but he lacks some of the attributes that a true DM should possess. He did the job admirably with the help of the mercurial Flamini – but neither could be described as a top drawer DM.

Francis Coquelin had been on the periphery of the squad for several years. He had been sent out on loan to Lorient, Frieberg and Charlton Athletic without ever really impressing.

He was brought back to Arsenal in December 2014 as cover for the injured Ramsey.

No one expected much of him. Arsene Wenger has been on record as saying he expected Le Coq to leave in the summer.

But something happened. Coquelin not only rose to the task – he excelled.

Since his return, he’s been man of the match several times and has hardly put a foot wrong.

His performance against manu was pivotal. He can cope with lumps like Fellaini despite giving away 6 inches in height and several stone in weight.

What I particularly like about him is that he is in awe of no-one. I love the way he shouts at his teammates to get back into position when celebrating a goal. I like the fact that he has a ‘Lauren type’ scowl on his face.

I was very vocal in calling for a big signing at DM over the summer. It didn’t happen. I can quite honestly say that if Coquelin can remain at his current level, I would be more than happy. If he continues to improve we may have to fight off the likes of Bracelona to keep him in the future.

He is 23, just about to enter the peak years of his career. He has shown leadership qualities that others lack in our team ….. a future captain? …. who knows …… anything is possible.

 

Rasp

 


Is Coquelin the answer? Poll

February 12, 2015

Firstly, there has to be a question and that is probably – Is Coquelin the natural replacement for Arteta and/or Flamini?

I have said from when Mr Wenger re-signed Flamini that he wasn’t good enough to take The Arsenal to the title or the CL Final and these must be our targets. Nor is Arteta. Both fine players and experienced pro’s who have served the club with honour and pride but quite frankly they are both limited. We need better.

Coquelin has been a revelation – most interceptions, most tackles etc etc in his short run of games and importantly he appears to be tactically disciplined. Plus he seems to be a pitch leader, unafraid to guide the players around him through the game. His tackling is strong and he seems to have eradicated his tendency to jump into tackles. – less yellows per game than Flamini or Chambers.

However …. is he good enough? I mean can he be world-class? Can he be Ozil, Alexis, Koscielny class?

Any really great side has a world class spine – think Lehmann, Campbell, Vieira, Henry  or Seaman, Adams, Vieira, Wright. What do they have in common? Yes, even you can see it is PV4, and it is Patrick who must be the benchmark for the future Arsenal lynchpin. Can Coq be that good? You tell me, but I have serious doubts.

Doubts are not certainties and Coquelin has the perfect opportunity to cement his place in the Arsenal team. It would be marvellous if a lad who just 3 months ago looked Burnley quality can improve the team, it would be proof that hard work allied to ambition can overcome prejudice.

I wish him well but would like Mr Wenger to be saving his money for another transfer raid on Southampton or even better to spend huge and sign Pogba. We need a central player to build the team around and we haven’t had one since Gilberto.


Is the Arsenal Youth Academy value for money?

January 8, 2015

The other day Arnie put up a picture of an Arsenal Youth Cup squad and Exile listed their current whereabouts. Only three of the players shown are still at Arsenal, Wilshere, Gibbs and Coquelin.

This led me to ponder on the value of our Academy, I’ve been unable to find out just how much is spent annually on it but mention was made some weeks ago about a plan to upgrade the facilities at a cost of several million pounds. I understand that it is already reckoned to be among the best in the country

Despite the money spent and the best efforts of the coaching staff the output, as far as future first team players for Arsenal is concerned, is pretty minimal

Indeed we are continuing to hunt the globe for promising youngsters at other clubs academies. It looks likely that Wenger is planning to sign a young full-back from Ipswich Town, while during our recent defender crisis it was not considered feasible to play any of our home-grown talent either at centre-back or left-back.

You have only to look at some of the incoming youngsters to see what can be done at other academies, a certain Spanish mid-fielder, Walcott (a terrific player but injury prone), Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Chambers.

I know that it is the socially correct thing to give local youngsters the opportunity to make a career in football, but is hoovering up the young talent from around the globe the right thing to do. Particularly when so many are discarded after a year or two.

Is the Arsenal Youth Academy a worthwhile project, or should it be scrapped and the money saved put into the kitty to buy established players?

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Do we need Wanyama?

June 14, 2013

Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla,Ramsey, Rosicky, Frimpong, Coquelin, Oxlade – Chamberlain, Eisfeld. Everyone a midfield player whom I would be happy to see play in most games. Yet ask most fans what is missing and they would say a muscular defensive shield – someone we have lacked since Gilberto Silva.

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But do we really need this player?

The performance of Arteta last season was superb; he kept the team going forward, he worked tirelessly to cut out danger and in tandem with Ramsey proved we can hold onto a one goal lead. The final few games when the defence ensured our progress to 4th showed we can be effective with Ramsey and Mikel working in tandem.

Coquelin and Frimpong? Reports from the trenches are that Frimpong ‘s injuries will severely hamper his aggressive style of play and I expect him to move on following rehab. Coquelin is difficult because I see a quality player in this fellow. He has energy, an eye for a pass and technique. What he lacks is tactical awareness but that can be taught and Francis is still young. Sadly, I expect him to ask for a transfer, though perhaps he is not good enough to become a first choice DM.

The attacking possibilities are so good there is no need for an addition – probably a cull is in order!

Eisfeld is an interesting player who appears to have a big future ahead of him, but will he get any first team chances and if not will he say “Thanks but no thanks”, as he sees a future on the bench.

Who gets dropped if we do sign a quality DM? Ramsey? Arteta? Don’t talk to me about rotation because a settled team is an essential in my eyes and a big money DM will insist upon a first team place.

I have no idea what Mr Wenger will do in summer, nor how he will pick his midfield next season. I cannot tell you who would be my midfield 3 or 4 and would like to hear your opinions.


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