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.

Unknown-1

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.


Midfield squad ……. is it good enough?

March 26, 2013

Here is my outlook on the midfield hope you enjoy it .

Oompa loopmas

Abou Diaby. Average player does his shift some games other games he’s just unreliable and prone to giving the ball away.

Should he stay or should he go?

Tomáš Rosicky.  Great player but he seems to have lost his way since the injury set back, can be unplayable at times but this season we have not seem him at his best.

Will he sign a new deal or will he be wanted elsewhere? Let’s not forget he’s getting older and we have players like the Ox who can play on the wing.

Mikel Arteta (vice-captain). I like the man from Spain, he’s a grafter and a gifted player when he feels like it .

His form has been a little patchy this year but he does his best for the club.

Jack Wilshere. Wonder boy jack is one of the best English players in the England squad when he’s not injured and he does an amazing job in midfield for Arsenal.

We’ve got to keep him – for a lot of us on here, he’s the next to wear the captain’s armband.

Aaron Ramsey. Love him or hate him, I personally think he’s doing his best. Yes he’s a youngster, but he can spot a pass and he can score a few and he’s one for the future.

We must keep him .

Santi Cazorla. Excellent, fantastic footballer and one of the players of the season so far he works hard and he can cross dribble and shoot and he’s gives 100% every game – another player who like to score.

Francis Coquelin. Not seen much of him as he’s a bit part player and is often used as a sub. When he comes on he does very well and I’m sure some Spanish clubs will be after him in the future.

Andrei Arshavin. I liked the Russian with the basin haircut, he has lost his way or he can’t regain his place in the team I can see him leaving in the not too distance future .

He will always be remembered for his one man show at Liverpool a few seasons ago .

sheep pic

MIDFIELD PLAYERS ON LOAN !.

Emmanuel Frimpong. This pong would not be out on loan, I’d recall him, he gets some tackles in and he is not scared of any player and he’s built like Mike Tyson .

What AW will do with the pong we will have to wait and see.

I’ve friends who are Wolves fans, he went there on loan before he had an injury and the wolves fans loved him and chanted his name every game.

Ryo Miyaichi. What a waste of money simples, buy him then loan him out, will he ever play a first team game in the Premier League.

Denílson. He looks to be enjoying his loan spell back home and can’t see him returning now or in the future but again I liked him when AW played him and he used him a lot.

I have not included the Ox or Theo as they play up front more than midfield but those two are another who in time will be a fantastic acquirement for Arsenal in the future.

What’s your opinion on the state of our midfield?

Sheep Hagger ™.


We All Love Nachos

February 1, 2013

So the mayhem is over and we bagged a player. That is one more than many thought we would get, but probably 10 too few for some fans on other websites. I can already hear those keyboard warriors punching in We__er O_t quicker than your David Beckham designer boxer shorts would disappear on a Come Dine With Me evening at Evonne’s.

To be fair Arsene had already expressed his distaste for wholesale buys in this window and had suggested 2 should be the limit, so he was hardly going to make himself look hypocritical and get more than this.

Nacho1

So who did we get. Step forward one Ignacio Monreal Eraso or soon to be better known to us as Nacho Monreal. I don’t know much about him but the early reports sound promising. I am sure in the ensuing AA discussion we will be able to collectively get snippets of information that will give us a better idea of what we have acquired. Peaches has already identified a song for him and I am sure if you all ask nicely the next time you see her she will give you her personal rendition of it.

There has been a consistent theme amongst us all on which areas of the squad we needed strengthening in, and this was one of those key areas. What it means to me is that our left flank will now be very strong with good strength in depth. With the addition of Nacho we have even, in a roundabout way, accrued a new attacking left winger who goes by the name of Andre Santos.

So both flanks look strong now to me, but what about the spine of the team. Up top David Villa was mentioned. Did we need another striker? I am not sure as we seem to be gelling and maturing in this department recently. Attacking central midfield I feel we are well covered in, possibly boasting the strongest in the EPL in this department. I had thought about an experienced keeper as back up / competition to Szczeny. We didn’t get one and I don’t feel the need to throw my toys out of the pram on this one, and am happy to see how it pans out this season. Ditto with the CD’s. I have mentioned the possible requirement of a beast of a CD in the Sol Campbell mould, but am happy again to defer judgement till the seasons end.

The one area I would like to examine a little more is the defensive midfield role. Many of us, if not most of us, and I would include myself in this, have called for a powerhouse of a defensive midfielder. A beast of a man, (I do like my beasts), a midfield “destroyer”. So I thought I would look at what we have already got and what it is that we really all want for this role. What is it we are crying out for?

You could form the impression that we are all looking for something akin to a Marvel Comic Book superhero, with superhuman strength and unusual powers, and I must admit I sometimes enter that frame of mind. However, I do try and step back and ask myself what is it I want and why? I would say that in our 3 man midfield you could set up in one of 2 key ways. The first would be with 2 deeper lying defensive midfielders who can work together to provide a defensive screen. This would leave one predominantly attacking midfielder with a more free role. The second is when you want to have 2 attacking or advanced midfielders with one lone defensive midfielder sitting behind them. That obviously places a higher degree of responsibility on the lone defensive midfielder than you have with 2 deeper lying midfielders working together.

Lets look at the current main candidates who for me would be :-

Diaby, Ramsey, Arteta, Coquelin, Frimpong.

Frimpong has gone on loan so I will not dwell on him and we can assess if he can still offer us something at the end of the season.

My opinion of Diaby, Ramsey and Arteta is that they are suited to playing in the 2 man defensive midfield system but don’t quite have the necessary strengths to play the lone defensive midfield role, especially against better opposition. Just my opinion and I would love to hear from other AA’ers on this.

The player that I feel could offer us the best option in the lone defensive midfield role is Coquelin. Not big enough or powerful enough I hear some saying. The question for me would be, is size and power the most important attribute for this role? Does this player have to resemble Frank Bruno on anabolic steroids? They obviously have to not be afraid to tackle, and be willing to get stuck in. If we all go back some 10 years, how many of us would have claimed Claude Makelele as being the best defensive midfielder in the world at that time, as many of his fellow pros seemed to think. That is all 5 foot 7 inches of him, according to Wikipedia.

I have often thought what is the most important natural physical attribute for this role, and I keep coming back to pace. The ability to cover ground quickly at a moments notice, “nippiness” if you like. I feel that the defensive midfielder plays a role that is more reactionary, in other words they respond to situations as they unfold.

Makelele, as well as reading the game well seemed to be able to quickly get from one point to the next to intercept danger or put in a tackle before the opposition could get the attacking move going. Diaby, Ramsey and Arteta, for me, all share the one characteristic of a lack of pace, that would allow them to play that lone defensive role.

You only have to be ½ second slower from point A to point B and then you don’t intercept or don’t have the chance to get the tackle in and break up play.

Coquelin

Coquelin in my opinion has that surge of pace that the other three don’t. His recent games, until injury, have seen many of us give him some high praise. So my question is, injury permitting, do we already have that excellent defensive midfielder, the one we are all crying out for, sitting there right under our noses?

Written by GoonerB


A Game of Two Halves….. Again

January 21, 2013

The same line-up as for the Swansea replay, saw Francis Coquelin keep his place also meaning Jack would be able to play a little further forward and Santi able to drop back into midfield to supplement the three.

chavs1

  • Subs  Mannone, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Santos, Frimpong, Ramsey, Arshavin

 

The first half began with Arsenal creating the first decent chance with Giroud set up by Walcott. Unfortunately the big Frenchman dragged his effort wide of the post. This was to be the highlight of the Gunners’ first forty five.

Mata scored on 6 minutes after Martin Atkinson decided to ignore Ramires’ challenge which came crunching down on the top of Coquelin’s foot. Sagna was asleep and allowed Mata the freedom of Stamford Bridge. The midfield was sluggish to say the least and Arsenal seemed to be playing zonal marking in every area of the pitch. There was little closing down except for Francis Coquelin who must have run at least three times as far as Abou Diaby. Diaby did not have the required level of match fitness for three games in a week and, in hindsight perhaps it should have been Ramsey who started.

A succession of Chelsea chances eventually led to their second goal with Ramires again given acres of space in the penalty area by Sagna. Szczesny’s challenge resulted in a penalty and booking. The goalkeeper wasn’t sent off because Ramires was going sideways to the goal with Arsenal cover arriving. Lampard sent the big Pole the wrong way and Arsenal had a mountain to climb.

Chelsea continued to press forward but couldn’t quite find the third goal which would have put them out of sight. The few Arsenal chances were ruined by Theo running behind the line and being flagged offside.

The Arsenal team was out early for the second 45, hopefully with a blast from Wenger and Bould still ringing in their ears. I expected to see Jenkinson on for Sagna who appeared to wish he could still be indoors with the lovely Ludivine.

The change in attitude was immediately obvious. The tempo was treble that of the first, closing down all over the pitch, teammates making themselves available and pressing Chelsea back into their own half. Mertesacker had a limp effort with his left foot straight at Cech after the ball had dropped to him on the penalty spot. Walcott hit a low drive straight at the keeper from a narrower angle and Giroud had a chance from a header from a cross by the excellent Gibbs.

The Arsenal goal came on 58 minutes and was well deserved. A fine interception from Vermaelen was carried forward by Cazorla who delivered a great through ball to Theo, standing in an onside position for a change. Theo took his chance well, opening his body up and giving Cech no chance.

 chavs2

Coquelin was replaced by Ramsey in the aftermath of the goal. The Frenchman had been well worth his starting berth. Arsenal continued to press for the equaliser and started to leave gaps at the back. Ba rounded a walkabout Szczesny on 83 minutes but Vermaelen managed to block his goalbound shot. The final 5 minutes of injury time saw a succession of Arsenal corners, but the finishing touch could not quite be found.

As predicted by BR, it was a game of two very different Arsenal performances, as good in the second half as we were poor in the first. How is it possible for the same eleven players to produce such different performances with only 15 minutes separating them? It has to be a lesson learnt that we have to come out guns blazing not just after the half time cuppa.    

Ratings

Szczesny– Couldn’t do much about either goal. His Almunia-esque rush of blood in the second half was worrying……7

Mertesacker – Made a few good interceptions in the first half. It was the mobility of the Chelsea attack from the flanks that he could do nothing about ……7

Vermaelen – Much better in the second half, pressing the ball and showing some signs of setting a captain’s example ……7

Sagna – Really poor in the first half and his attacking delivery was awful all game. Give Jenkinson a chance….5

Gibbs – Struggled a little against Oscar and Hazard first half. His second half display going forward was excellent. Gibbs is an excellent footballer  …..8

Wilshere – Jack couldn’t influence the game in the first half and seemed content to allow Coquelin to do his spadework. Again, his second 45 was much improved as he took the fight to Chelsea …..7

Coquelin – My MOTM. Never stopped running for his team. A lone plus from the first half and was perhaps starting to tire in the second perhaps causing his injury …….8

Diaby – Lazy and slack in the first half. Better in the second when those around him could make up for his lack of match fitness …..6

Giroud – Didn’t really get much change out of Ivanonvic and Cahill the whole game. A real shame that first effort didn’t go in, it would have given the whole team a lift…..6

Walcott – No idea how to break the offside trap in the first 45. Much better when more direct in the second. Took his goal well…..7

Cazorla – Santi’s passing was off in the first half but he started to buzz in the second as him and Jack took control of the midfield…..7

B.R. – A super pre-match…..10

Subs

Ramsey – Looked lively and added some drive when he came on. Still tends to dwell on the ball when he needs to shift it quickly……7

Arshavin – Andrey didn’t really add much at all unfortunately…..6

Written by chas


The Sagna Conundrum

August 1, 2012

The Sagna Conundrum

The first thing to know about the Sagna Conundrum is that it does not involve Bacary Sagna.

The Sagna Conundrum is a problem created not by his presence, but by his absence, and it comes down to this: when our super-consistent French right back is not available, who should take his place?

It’s a pressing question, given that Sagna will not be ready for the start of the new season.

The principal contenders to take his place are Carl Jenkinson, Johan Djourou, Francis Coquelin and Laurent Koscielny.

Last season, due to Bacary’s injuries, they all got a number of games at right back.

The conventional wisdom is that Djourou was a disaster and Jenkinson, despite showing some promise, was out of his depth; but that both Coquelin and Koscielny proved to be adequate stand-ins.

My own view – based primarily on memory of past performances – is that central defenders do not make good full backs because the FB role requires so much more mobility than they are used to. I prefer midfielders to step in if we are out of orthodox (or experienced) full backs.

From my recollection, Coquelin and Jenkinson filled in well, but the two centre backs – Koscielny and Djourou – struggled.

Memory, however, can be an unreliable guide, so I decided to take a more detailed look at how the four contenders fared when they stood in for Sagna last season.

Djourou

Jenkinson

Coquelin

Koscielny

Played

11 (10 plus 2 halves)

7

5

3.5

Won

4

4

4

3

Drawn

2

1

1

0

Lost

6

2

0

1

Goals Against

16

13

5

3

According to this table the average points per game during each of the four’s tenure at right back was as follows*:

Djourou: 1.16 Pts Per Game (with an average 1.45 Goals Conceded Per Game).

Jenkinson: 1.86 PPG (1.86 GCPG).

Coquelin:  2.6 PPG (1.0 GCPG).

Koscielny: 2.57 PPG (0.86 GCPG).

Like all such studies, there are inherent problems with drawing conclusions from these figures.  For example, if you look at Jenkinson’s “Goals Against” you would think him a liability. But eight of those goals were up at Old Trafford, when the lad had hardly ever worn an Arsenal shirt in anger and in a catastrophically weakened and confused team.

Similarly, although Djourou’s stats look the worst, they include two games against the eventual league champions, one against Chelsea and one against Manchester United, as well as a dead rubber ECL game at Olympiakos where a partly second string Arsenal team lost 3-1.

Nevertheless, I feel there is enough evidence to show that our big Swiss fellow is not cut out to be a right back. Indeed, when he was hauled off at half time in the home game against Manchester United (and replaced by the embryonic Yennaris) it may well have been a sign that Arsene Wenger had finally come to that same conclusion himself. I doubt we will ever see Djourou in that position again.

Jenkinson’s stats look a lot better if you remove the Man Utd away game from the mix (and he can hardly be blamed for that collective fiasco). He then has a Points Per Game average of 2.16 and a Goals Against of 0.83.

Surprisingly – and contrary to my recollection – Koscielny’s record as a right back is very good. I recalled him seeming to struggle, but the figures prove otherwise. His three-and-a-half games included two “easier” fixtures (Norwich away, Wigan at home) but also one-and-a-half tough ones (Dortmund at home and Manchester City away).

Conclusions: For me, the table above is generally encouraging because it shows we can expect a solid performance from any of Jenkinson, Coquelin and Koscielny when they are compelled to play right back.

I am happy with Djourou in the mix as one of our centre backs, but he does not function well at full back and, hopefully, we have seen the last of him in that position.

I mentioned Yennaris earlier. Last season he took the right back spot in a Carling Cup game (2-1 home win over Bolton) and in the second half against Man Utd at the Emirates. According to those who have been watching our pre-season friendlies he seems to be showing promise.

With Jenkinson and Yennaris maturing, we may well soon find ourselves in a position where playing other players out of position at full back is a thing of the past.

Anyway, enough of my waffle. Do you think the table has merit? Does it tally with the evidence of your eyes? Are we sufficiently covered within the squad for the right back position or do you feel we should be looking to sign someone?

RockyLives

*Before the eggheads among you start quibbling with my maths, I made certain adjustments to allow for the half games (for example, if we conceded a goal during a half in which Djourou did not play, even though he played in the other half, I have not marked down that goal in his “Goals Against” column.


Arsenal’s Biggest Surprise This Season?

March 19, 2012

Fellow arsophiles, I want to pose a simple question:

In a season of ups and downs, false dawns and unexpected revivals, which Arsenal player has turned out to be the biggest surprise package (in a positive way)?

I’m not talking about the likes of Vermaelen and van Persie, of whom we all expected great things. I want you to consider the players – whether already in the squad or newly signed – for whom you had NO high hopes, but who have gone on to confound your pessimism.

The grit that turned into pearls, as it were…

You can register your own choice in the Poll below, but let me offer my own shortlist for the contenders…

Tomas Rosicky

The Little Mozart – or Schnitzel, as I am assured is also his nickname – was high on the list of players most supporters wanted to see shipped out last summer. Unlike Fawlty Manuel and Sideways Den, footballing abilities were not the issue with the little Czech – it was just that he seemed as fragile as a Ming vase. And on the odd occasion when he was not too cracked to get a run out, he usually seemed a peripheral figure: the Ming on the wing. Fast forward to today, and we see a player showing just what he can do when he stays fit and gets a run of games in his preferred position. He’s now one of the first names on the team sheet, which makes a change from having his own engraved name plaque in the treatment room.

Kieran Gibbs

Like TR7, our young English left back has often given the impression of being made of glass and was on first name terms with all the medical staff, their wives and husbands, their cousins and neighbours, even their pets. But since he got back in the side our results have improved and he has begun to show why Arsene Wenger has persevered with him for so long. In recent games he has begun to really look the part.

Francis Coquelin

This cocky French cockerel was not on most fans’ radar at the start of the season and it was generally assumed that Frimpong was ahead of him in the midfield pecking order. But while Frimpong’s inexperience was exposed in some early season games, Coquelin took every opportunity that came his way, whether deputising at fullback or playing in his preferred midfield role. Undoubtedly the season of first team football at Lorient is what put him ahead of his young English rival, but he looks to have the quality to be a first team regular in the future. Sadly both he and Frimpong have been unlucky with injuries.

Theo Walcott

OK, I know this is a bit of a controversial one. But so many people were so down on him in the close season and at the start of this campaign that I feel it’s right to include him. Personally I have never understood the level of abuse he gets. Being a winger means you are always trying to do the pointy-ended bits of the game – beating defenders, putting in crosses, making goal assists, hitting the back of the net. Inevitably, things don’t always come off, but with eight goals and 11 assists his contribution should be recognised. If you doubt his importance, just look at how Robin van Persie values him.

Per Mertesacker

Quickly christened ‘The BFG’, our supersized German centre back was written off by some before he had even kicked a ball for us. He was too slow, not good enough in the air despite his height, he wouldn’t be up to the speed of the English game etc etc. Up until his injury, however, big Per showed us that he is, above all, a footballer of the highest quality. I know many supporters believe Koscielny and Vermaelen are our first choice CB pairing, but I really feel Mertesacker adds a level of composure to our transitional play from defence and is brilliant at reading the game and I would start him alongside either of the other two.

Carl Jenkinson

A young fullback, signed from Charlton Athletic with only a handful of first team games under his belt… what was Arsene thinking of? Well, our Carl is a Gooner through and through and when he has had opportunities to play he has shown great promise. His engine is fantastic and, for my money, he’s the best crosser at the club. He’ll be England’s right back in a few years time.

Andre Santos

A Brazilian we had never heard of, signed from the Turkish league. Surely this was another piece of craziness on our manager’s part. And when he turned up with what looked like 20lbs of hashish in his shorts the doubters were even more skeptical. But Santos quickly won people over with his adventurous style of play (it was his goal that got us back on track away at Chelsea) and his infectious enthusiasm.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Isn’t it funny that many of the same people who were furious when we signed Oxo (“we need proven quality, not another punt on some untried youngster for Chrissake”) were exactly the people booing when Alex was subbed off for Arshavin towards the end of the home game against Manchester United. We knew he was very highly regarded at Southampton, but many thought he would be “one for the future” or “Walcott mark two”. Instead he has already made himself a fan favourite and is another player who has everything it takes to be an Arsenal great.

OK, that’s it.

If you would like to suggest a different candidate please click on the “Other” option below and make your suggestion in the comments.

RockyLives


Match report – The fantastic story of Theo, The Ox and the Fox in the Box

February 5, 2012

 

How long have we been hoping for a result like this? We said for a long time that somebody will get a hiding from Arsenal sooner or later and today Blackburn – together with a handful of wasted bin bags, filled with nothing but hot air – were taken to the Bin-Bangers.

 Arsene decided to rest the tired Ramsey and also Sagna, who only just returned from a long injury. Blackburn’s Steve Kean did us a massive favour by leaving out the always-impressive-against-us Samba, and Yakubu was still suspended. So, given the weaker line-up by Blackburn, and the fact we were playing at home with a relatively strong line-up, we were of course expected to win. But, haven’t we been here a few times before this season …?

First Half

Arsenal started brightly and got just what the psychiatrist ordered: an early goal. Rosicky found Walcott with a through-pass towards the by-line and Theo kept his composure to pass a fine ball in between the stranded Robinson and the Blackburn Defence, resulting in an easy tap-in for the always alert Robin van Persie: 1-0 to Arsenal in the second minute!

After that, Arsenal dominated without being particularly dangerous in front of the Blackburn goal, although Vermaelen came close once with an effort against the post.

Blackburn tried to keep it tight and were reasonably well-organised in the first part of the first half. Although Arsenal totally dominated in the first half, our lack of thrust and creativity after the early goal, started to subdue the crowd. Out of nothing, Blackburn earned a free-kick in a dangerous position, after Koscielny made a wrong judgement, allowing the ball to bounce after which he had no option but to hold back Anthony Modeste with his arms. It came as no surprise that Blackburn levelled with a superb free-kick by Pedersen. He is one of the best free-kick takers in the PL, and also on this occasion he produced a very fine effort which Szczesny did well to still get a few fingers to, but to no avail: 1-1.

The equaliser tested our patience and resolve. Of course it was against the run of play and therefore undeserved, but that’s how football often goes. Luckily, we did not have to wait long to see whether Arsenal would respond in the right way. A very fine through ball by Song – he assists when he wants, it seems – reached Theo in an identical spot as where he was for the first goal. Also on this occasion Theo kept his composure, as he put in a subtle cross to the once again alert super-Dutchman, who loftily lifts the ball with his ‘inferior’ right foot over the leg of a defender to slot in his second goal: 2-1.

Two minutes later and Arsenal score the goal of the afternoon. It not only was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain first PL game, but his goal, and RvP’ assist, were reminiscent of a DB10/Th14 goal in our recent, glorious past. RvP just showed with his assist what a complete football player he is. After scoring a Poacher’s brace already, this time he finds a Bergkamp-esque through-ball to the Ox, surgically carving open the Blackburn defence in a split-second. AOC takes the ball into the sixteen yard box with a fine first touch, and with an even better second touch gets himself in an excellent scoring position. The adrenalin must be boiling inside his 18 year young body, but he stays calm and scores with the coolness similar to Thierry Henry’s in his very best days: 3-1.

This was the pivotal moment of the game, not just in terms of quality, but also by having created a two-goal lead, Arsenal had settled its, recently so over-tested, nerves. However, Arsenal were then helped further by a reckless lunge of Givet on RvP, after which the former was rightly sent-off. Luckily, very luckily, RvP managed to lift himself off the ground, a fraction of a second before Givet’s two-footed impact. With a 3-1 lead, against 10-men Blackburn all was looking good for the mighty Arsenal.

Second Half

Arsenal meant business from the start of the second half. It clearly was not prepared to sit back on its lead and soon it was rewarded for its attitude. Arteta, who throughout the first half had made football look so easy with his composure and positioning, pounced on the rebound and slotted home a decent shot from just inside the box: 4-1!

These are the sort of goals we have been missing this season and it was just what we needed to keep the momentum going.

In the 54th minute, 3 minutes after the fourth Arsenal goal, we scored another fine goal. Theo Walcott, who played with real verve and focus during the entire game, made a strong run across the Blackburn sixteen-yard box after which he found the Ox in a bit of space. The Ox did not hesitate for a second and took Theo’s pass in one go, shooting past Robinson’s right-hand corner: 5-1.

Then it was Coquelin’s turn to provide an assist, which RvP despatched once again from close range with this right foot: 6-1.

An easier hat-trick he will never get! Coquelin was impressive throughout the game; he plays with a confidence, maturity and physicality which are way beyond his age. On top of that he has a classy style about him, in the way he runs and he passes the ball: another fine prospect! After that, Arsene made a couple of substitutions: Benayoun and TH12 came on for The Ox and super-Song. Very surprisingly RvP stayed on the field!

Understandably, the game lost some of its intensity after the substitutions and the 6-1 score. However, just before the end TH12 scored a somewhat fortuitous seventh goal from another RvP assist, to complete the total rout: 7-1!

Conclusions

This is a very good result for Arsenal and just what we needed. Of course it is just one game and it would be wrong to get carried away. Blackburn was weakened by the omission/non-availability of Samba and Yakubu and the sending-off of Givet was also helpful. However, seven goals from eleven shots on target is a fantastic return, and four ‘non-RvP goals’ in one match is also very encouraging and much-needed at this stage. Results like this build confidence and bring back the feel-good-factor.

The Ox was phenomenal: his goals were classy and taken so maturely for his age, but on top of that he carries such a threat and thrust with him, every time he starts an attacking move. He reminds me a bit of the ‘Portuguese Ronaldo’ and also a bit of Messi. It is early days of course, but the Ox is the sort of player Arsenal has cried out for, ever since the departure of Dennis Bergkamp (not that they are a similar type of football player).

Theo proved that he can recover from one game to the next and I guess we all have to get used to the fact that he will have good days and average days throughout his career (most wingers suffer from the same problem). It will be interesting to see how the Gerv, Theo and The Ox – and eventually Ryo – will compete for the wing-positions. I wish I could incorporate Arshavin, but it feels his time is up at Arsenal.

Song and Arteta had great games and Rosicky made a decent enough contribution too. The BFG, Koz and Vermaelen had relatively easy games and made no mistakes (except for Koz in the first part of the first half).

TV looks like a Bouncer at a Tea-Party in the LB position, and I am sure he wants to be back as CB asap. Szczesny had also little to do but what he did was good (except for one moment in the first half when he decided to come to the edge of his box to clear a high ball which he messed up: it could easily have resulted in an embarrassing outcome for him).

Coquelin was superb and I just cannot believe our luck that we have so many young players coming through and making it into our first-11 at the moment.

But, ultimately this is the story of the Theo, The Ox, and the Fox in the Box:

Theo: 3 top assists, 0 goals.

The Ox: 0 assists, 2 goals.

The Fox in the Box: 2 assists, 3 goals.

Total: 5 assists, and 5 goals. Simply fantastic!

Player ratings:

Szczesny, Koz, TV, BFG: 7. All did their jobs well, but they were not tested much today.

Le Coq: 8. Fantastic game, with a fine assist as well.

Arteta, Rosicky, Song – ARS: 7.5. All did their jobs well today and all brought something extra to the game with either a goal (Arteta) or an indirect assist (Rosicky, Song).

TheO, The Ox, and the Fox in the Box: 9. Together they are my Men of the Match.

TotalArsenal.


What now for Project Youth?

June 22, 2011

Written by Gooner in Exile

Some time ago I wrote an article slightly jokingly about the vines that Arsene had planted and how we were now seeing them produce some wonderful fruits. A few months on and with another trophyless season under the belt there is a serious question to be asked.

I am not talking about the current squad, they are mostly at an age where they should be delivering on the Premier League stage week in week out (except for Little Jack and Rambo who are still learning their trade).

I am concerned mainly with the youngsters out on loan or kicking their heels in the reserves last season the remnants of the FA Youth Cup winning side of 2008-09.

The players starting both legs were as follows:

  • James Shea
  • Craig Eastmond
  • Thomas Cruise
  • Kyle Bartley
  • Luke Ayling
  • Henri Lansbury
  • Francis Coquelin
  • Gilles Sunu
  • Jack Wilshere
  • Jay Emmanuel – Thomas

Emmanuel Frimpong started the first leg but was replaced by Sanchez Watt after an early injury. Sanchez Watt started the second game.

Of that group of players at least seven impressed me enough to think they may have a future at the club…..Bartley, Wilshere, Lansbury, Coquelin, Sunu, JET, and Watt. I didn’t get to see enough of Frimpong due to his injury. All are 20 except Wilshere and Frimpong both 19.

Only Wilshere so far has forced himself into a regular starting berth, Watt spent the end of last season on loan at Leeds, Emmanuel-Thomas at Cardiff, Lansbury at Norwich, Bartley at Sheffield United and Rangers whilst Sunu and Coquelin were at L’Orient. Frimpong had to make do with a season on the treatment table as a result of the knee injury picked up in pre season.

On top of these lads there are now another bunch of youngsters pushing though, headed up by Afobe, Aneke, Murphy and Henderson.

The majority of these lads have a love of Arsenal they have been raised here since young, the club is in their blood, the lack of this is one of the most common complaints about the current squad. A Tweet from Frimpong recently proclaimed

“I will never leave Arsenal even if I get released I will beg on both knees to stay they gonna have to escort me.”

Additionally they have all been brought up on the Wengerball philosophy, the kind of ball control and ability to pass so absent from the recent England Under 21’s they could slot in to most positions on the pitch if required.

However if Wenger fields these players I am sure the same detractors would also complain that they are not experienced enough.

The other thing you frequently hear is we don’t have enough winners, well this lot have done it:

Three questions remain:

Are these boys good enough for senior level?

Will Wenger give them a chance?

Will the fans accept it if he does?

If as expected we see some of the squad players moved on this year we should expect the vacated positions to be filled by these youngsters, they must be given a chance to play (Carling Cup and possibly the FA Cup). They need Premier League experience too how many of our players who have been loaned to lower league sides have actually improved as a result?

In turn when they are on the pitch they must be fully supported by all in the ground, no groans, no moans, these are young lads they are our future, they are The Arsenal.

For those who didn’t see it here are the first leg highlights of that teams success.

http://bcove.me/1s1cljpq

“The catalyst the playmaker once again Jack Wilshere” thats a phrase we will hear for many more years I am certain, but what about the rest, what do we do with so many youngsters?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 474 other followers