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.

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


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