Chambers: a midfielder, really Arsène?

August 7, 2014

The most interesting and exciting part of Wenger’s post Emirates Cup interview to me was that he seems to genuinely believe that Chambers can play in the midfield.

Chambers 1

I don’t know enough about him to form an opinion but contrast that with Vermaelen for example?

We have spent hours and hours of blog time trying to persuade each other that Vermaelen could and should play as a DM in certain situations.

There have been games when this seemed the glaringly obvious thing to do; and yet no, Wenger has never played TV in the midfield and what’s more he has never suggested in any interview that it could be a possibility.

If I have thought about Arsenal during the off season it has been the FA Cup win that has sprung to mind rather than any other aspect of last season or at least it was, until that is I was rudely reminded by BT Sport’s advertising campaign of those awful thrashings we had to endure.

I am firmly in 26’s camp that those BT adverts which show the club and the supporters suffering so painfully will have a very positive effect; if that is, they haven’t done so already.

I have this boyish image in my mind of Wenger being shown them and then passing them onto Kroenke. My impression of these people is one of being gentle giants but those ads have been the equivalent of someone poking a big black bear with a sharp stick; the result being, that both Wenger and Kroenke have been so angered that they have gone into the transfer market with both guns blazing – and they aint stopped shooting yet.

The bad old days of Arsenal supporters either wanting Wenger to stay or wanting him to go are gone. The only divide that I can see is those who believe that he has learnt from those thrashings and those who think not.

Unsurprisingly I suspect, I like to think that he has learnt from those painful experiences and Chambers is evidence of how he is going to prevent such nightmares reoccurring.

For the majority of our games last season, and it will be the same this season, we will have 75% of the ball and we will play the majority of the game in the opponents half. In situations like this somebody shielding the back four is a waste of a player, far better to have an attack minded player like Arteta as our deepest midfielder.

But, we will also play City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manu and in those games we will not have such a high percentage of possession. Arteta is going to need help and this is where Chambers comes in. If Wenger is right and he can play in the midfield then for the first time since Gilberto (Shard will correct this no doubt) we will have a player whose skill set is first and foremost that of a defender playing in the midfield – a DM.

Let’s be clear, Arteta is not a defender; he has been converted into that role and fine as he is against lesser teams such as Palace and QPR he is another BT ad waiting to happen against the other bigger teams I mentioned above.

We have had two glimpses of Chambers so far and on both occasions he has looked calm and assured. If indeed any of what I have just said is likely to be part of Wenger’s way of thinking then the big test for Chambers will come Saturday the 13th of September against Man City, if he plays and copes there then we will know that Wenger is right and that he can play in the midfield.

Written by LB

 


Arsenal’s next Captain

July 15, 2014

The other day LB wrote an interesting post entitled “Is Thomas Vermaelen still needed? This led me to think about the player as a captain and conversely the captain as a player.

Before looking at individuals in those roles I got to thinking just what should we look for in a Club Captain, note the capital letters, in my opinion the Club Captain is equally as important as The Manager, The Chief Executive or The Owner.

So the candidate should be of sufficient stature, not just in a physical sense, but in the status he holds in the game as a whole. To attain the necessary status he must have been around a while, he must be a good enough player to command a starting place in the club’s first team and preferably in his National side as well. He should also have earned the respect of not only his own team but also opposing players and particularly the on pitch officials. Needless to say he must also be media savvy, articulate and able to offer rational answers to irrational questions at times of both elation and disappointment in post match interviews for example.

tony adams

Looking back, I can recall Frank McLintock, sleeves rolled up barking out orders to players, organising his defence at corners and free kicks and generally running things on the pitch. Similarly with Tony Adams and of course Patrick Vieira. Arguably the best Captain I ever saw was the incomparable Bobby Moore, calm authoritative and respected throughout football.

Latterly the armband has been a bit of a poisoned chalice, not only at Arsenal but also at international level with England. Fabregas and van Persie were appointed only to depart shortly after, Vermaelen suffered both a shocking loss of form and a series of injuries and could soon follow the other two out of the club and there are rumours that Arteta could also go if someone of the stature of Khedira or Bender are signed. In the England team the captaincy has, disgracefully, been swapped around more times than at a kid’s game of pass the parcel.

At the moment it appears to me that should Vermaelen leave, the only rational candidate would be Per Mertesacker, but for how much longer can he command that starting place in the team? Longer term we can all hope and expect the appointment of Jack Wilshire, but will it happen?

What are your views on both the Captain’s role as, should it be largely ceremonial, tossing the coin, handing over a little pennant and posing for a snap with the officials or, as the Manager’s voice on the pitch and the players representative off it. Surely there must come a time when a stop is put to the absurd situation of referees being mobbed by a group of angry players, then only the Captain should be allowed to approach the officials, and that will require a calm sensible approach, one more attribute needed for the job.

Who should our next Captain be?

Written by Norfolk Gooner

 


Koscielny is Key

July 2, 2014

Watching the World Cup and our players representing their countries it is possible to view their performances without the bias of an Arsenal match.  I would like to highlight our central defenders.

images-1

Having enjoyed the Germany/ Algeria game it became apparent that Mertesacker was being focussed upon by the Algerian midfield. They chose to send long balls onto a forward who was as close to Per as possible. Why? Because Per has excellent vision and pitch awareness, he knows where to snuff out danger and how to make the best of his talents, but what he doesn’t have is pace. My grandmother with bricks on her feet has more pace – even I am fleeter of foot. In the first half in particular the Algerians attacked this weakness. The German response was to use the goalkeeper Neuer as a sweeper – not the most secure defensive tactic!

Germany use Merts as the distributor from the back and as such he is always the last man and it repeatedly caused Germany problems. He does the same at Arsenal but for us he doesn’t appear to be such a liability – why?

Let’s look at France’s defensive set-up. Two attacking wingers, the best (? RM think so) young centre back in world football and Koscielny. What has become clear is just how reliant France are upon Kos’s awareness and pace. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Varane may well become a brilliant player but right now he is being educated by his centre back partner. It was good fortune for France that Sakho was injured and Deschamps was forced to play Kos whom the French blamed for the loss in their first game against Ukraine in the WC play-offs.

images

Kos is two-footed according to Sagna (and he should know), he has a prodigious leap, is tactically aware but above all is is quick – very quick. Arsene bought him for €9m and after a problematic opening season he has developed into a key player at Arsenal. When he is missing even a fine defender like Vermaelen cannot fully replace him.

Which brings me to this. To be successful one has to have a proper CB partnership – we have one of the finest. Per and Laurent complement each other. They have different skills – Kos is a better tackler, Merts is better in the air, Kos is better with the ball at hois feet and running into midfield, Merts is better at distribution out of defence.

The fact of the matter is that Mertesacker is a better player when Koscielny is by his side and vice versa.

There isn’t a better CB partnership in the World Cup than Arsenal have at the Emirates – we should be proud.

Written by Big Raddy


Arsenal to appoint a new captain

June 18, 2014

Arsène Wenger is reported to be ready to appoint a new club captain. With the departure of the present incumbent, Thomas Vermaelen, looking ever more certain the position needs to be filled. Thomas has apparently agreed terms with Man U, although so far no negotiations over a fee have taken place.

What should we be looking for in a captain? Well first off he must be an established and regular starter. He needs to command the respect of the players as well as the fans and he must have sufficient standing within the game to be able to communicate calmly with the on-pitch officials.

The two most influential captains that Arsenal have had in their long history have been Tony Adams and Patrick Vierra and so in my personal opinion any candidate would ideally be a centre-back or defensive mid-fielder and thus be in a position to see the whole game.

Our current vice captain, Mikel Arteta is an obvious candidate but as the appointment must be a long term one he perhaps is ruled out.

So I guess what I am saying is that it comes down to just two possibilities, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Koscielny is a fine player and would make an equally fine captain but overall I’d go for Mertesacker for his general calmness and the stability that he has brought to the team.

I know that a good number of people will be calling for Jack Wilshire to be given the job but as yet he can’t command a regular starting position, although in time I expect him to become our captain and to hold the post for many seasons to come.

Written by Norfolk Gooner

 


Ramsey’s 15th and Jenkinson’s 1st – match review

May 12, 2014

Many called this game a dead rubber but most were thinking first and foremost who would start and more importantly how to avoid injuries while keeping up the momentum of four successive wins in preparation for the Cup Final.

We weren’t disappointed. We started the first half in quite a cautious fashion and Ruddy made a couple of excellent saves, although I thought Giroud should have scored around the 32nd minute. Having said that, I thought he had a very solid game. Giroud has been improving as the season drew to it’s conclusion and the deadlock was broken when he lofted a beautiful ball for Ramsey to volley home.

What a player we have in Aaron Ramsey and one wonders how much nearer we would have been  to the title if he had remained fit all season.

Jenkinson settled the match with his first goal for the club and his facial expression on scoring will live long in the memory.

All in all the whole team did just enough that was required though I thought Ozil had a very quiet game. Maybe he is saving himself for next week.

With Fabianski starting one could presume that he was given his last game today and our Number 1 will be in goal at Wembley.

One can never second guess Wenger even after nearly two decades and when he said afterwards

if you look at our overall season I think we need to focus first of all in keeping everyone together” and when asked about possible transfers in the Summer he said “World Cup transfer markets start after the World Cup, usually.”

We will see if those words run true.

Those who read my comments know I am a great Sagna fan and yet again he didn’t let us down playing with Koscielny in central defence, regardless that it was against Norwich, so keeping everyone together by the boss was an interesting comment.

To see Diaby back after a full fourteen months was greeted with loud applause from our fantastic away fans and he even applauded them as he came on.

Jack had a cameo and it was hard to tell if he is absolutely fit, though not spectecular,  it was good to see him come on and by all accounts we will have The Ox back midweek, so it will be really interesting as to who lines up for The FACup Final.

Finally Wenger said he would still be here next season. I just wish  he looked a little happier.His post match interview was very low key or even sombre and subdued, which frankly, surprised me.

kelsey

 

 

 

 


Just two minutes of Magic and Mozart Composes another beauty.

March 17, 2014

North London Derbies are always that little bit special and with the tightest race for years as to who will eventually become Champions, together with the implosion of United and the resurgence of Liverpool and of course not forgetting the two big mega bucks clubs, this was a game we just had to win.

Within under two minutes the ever enthusiastic Oxlade Chamberlain set up Rosicky to what can only be described as a wonder goal, if not our best long range shot of the season.

We were ecstatic and yet not for the first time, instead of taking advantage of the early lead, we handed possession to Spurs and apart from Oxlade Chamberlain missing a sitter or passing to Podolski we retreated further and further back and left Giroud as a lone attacker. For the rest of the match he was largely nullified except on the few occasions he was brought into play.

Alex v spuds

This is a dramatic change of tactics by Wenger as we have been always an attacking team with neat fluid passes which more often or not produced pleasing football to the eye and invariably some spectacular goals. A better team may well have punished us. Spurs huffed and puffed had 60% of the possession but in all honestly only mustered one or two half chances

It’s a dangerous tactic to employ especially with practically the whole game to play after the early lead. Having said that Mertesacker and Koscielny were outstanding, is there a finer defensive partnership in the League ?

kos per and olly

We have several players still out and perhaps the after effects of the Bayern game took the edge from our overall performance but the need for support for Giroud with a world class striker really became apparent in this game.

Three points in the bag though. I wouldn’t say we won ugly and we certainly weren’t at our best but a massive improvement is needed next weekend against what I consider our hardest game in the run in, or so my crystal balls tell me :)

I have to give Rosicky Man of the match purely for the reason that his goal won us the game. Koscielny a close second and The Ox for his never ending drive and directness always looking for goal.

Finally a word on Szczesny. Allowing for the fact he had missed the last two games and made a fairly straightforward save, twice in a minute he dropped a cross, once he was fouled but on the other occasion he got lucky and if you look carefully was flapping and nearly brought Adebayor down, which could have resulted in a penalty. He is by no means the finished article and I still maintain he needs competition for his place.

Players after spud victory

Written by kelsey


What do you think of Tottenham?

March 16, 2014

Easy answer to that question :-D

Thing is, as my nephew keeps telling me – Spurs are having a very good season (by their standards) – and that should they win today they will be just 3 points behind with us facing a death cluster. My reply  ….  Always in our Shadow.

Kaboul gets sent off for a dubious red giving away a penalty – his card is rescinded. Koscielny does the same – banned for a game. FA bias? As if!

Injuries could have some effect upon the result. Spurs are without Dawson which is a huge blow to the Arsenal. The man is hapless and a secret agent paid by Mr Gazidis. So far he has done well, let us wish him a speedy recovery.

Spurs have looked Up North for inspiration as they attempt (yet again) to break into the Top 4. They could have based their plans upon Man City or Liverpool and develop an attacking , fluent style of football. They didn’t. They chose to “ape” the playing style of Stoke! With £100m to spend they bought Orcs.

The skilful Lamela, who is Spurs record signing, hasn’t had a sniff of the first team, instead they have 7 players over 6 ft. all of whom are trained in the Dark Arts.  The long-suffering Spurs fans put all their faith in a 21 y.o Dane because he is the only one who can use the ball on the ground. Take out Eriksen’s free-kicks and there isn’t much else in terms of ball skills.

Unknown

Adebayor. When he plays against other teams he really amuses me in his haplessness, unfortunately he seems to excel against us and we must hope he will have a quiet game today.

Having been thrashed by a fine Benfica team they will be refreshed today. I can only assume they played with today’s match in mind because Spurs were pants.

Tim Sherwood: Can you imagine such a knob as our manager? The man has passion – I will give him that, and a huge desire for Spurs to do well. My wife has the same and also has the same level of team management experience. How could Levi give this fellow the job? Was it a money-saving exercise? That said, Sherwood’s record is no better or worse than previous Spurs managers because you could employ Noddy or one of the Teletubbies as Spurs manager and they would do just as well.

Arsenal: I am saddened that Ozil will not have another chance to silence his critics today, instead we have another opportunity to show just how deep the squad is (or isn’t). A midfield of Ox, Santi, Flamini, Rosicky and Arteta is still strong and the decision to load the squad with mid-fielders has proven to be sensible. In the past when we lost, for example, Cesc, we were at a loss, now we have options.

At this point can we all laugh at Chelsea!! :-D

Monreal will be a key player today as Spurs will probably look to hit on the break through the pace of Lemon and Ade. The midfield battle will be just that, Spurs have monsters and they like to “put it about”, if Sandro plays the match-up with Flamini will be exciting.

This is a day for The Ox. He plays well, we win. For this reason I expect Sherwood to tell his team to target our young maestro, expect to see rotational fouling – which has become the norm – and we must hope for a strong and fair referee. In recent times we have suffered from homer after homer; watch the BM game and see dreadfully biased refereeing. Watch the Stoke game – see JW get horribly kicked throughout the first 30 minutes and then see a highly dubious penalty given by yet another homer ref. It must be so frustrating for Mr. Wenger.

My Team:

sp v a

I hope we shall see the wing play of Gnabry at some point or the power of Podolski

Tottenham: Regular readers will be used to my rambling on the origins of the city in which we play. To find the origins of Tottenham we have to go back to the 11thC. This was the time of the Battle of Hastings and King Canute and Harald. A Royal edict was written which proclaimed  that London (Londinium) was becoming unhealthy thanks to the cramped living conditions in the city. Under this Decree  the Nightmen had to take their wares to an area of flatland by the River Lea. A Nightmen’s job was to clean the streets of the night’s “refuse” which was thrown out the windows into the streets. This unpleasant mess was taken by barge down the river and over time the excrement and rotting vegetation developed into a slimy ooze. The area was avoided by sane people and yet there were some drooling, bewildered unfortunates who made this stinking morass their home. Originally known as Shittingham it was re-named Tottenham during the late 19th century.

Big game today – always is. Take 3 points today and we close the gap at the top.

Let it be so….

COYRRG

Written by BigRaddy


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