Transfer window, are we finished?

August 26, 2014

Morning Gooner’s.

Less than a week until the transfer window shuts, and still speculation into who else will join the four new players we have signed. So far we have Sanchez who in the couple of games we have seen him, looks to be a fine live wire. Up next we have Debuchy a right back replacement for our beloved Bacary Sagna. Debuchy has had a quiet start, no fireworks but looks to be a sound buy. Debuchey doesn’t appear to have the attacking flair that Bacary had, but I see that as a plus, as I like a full back to be a defender that defends.

Next up we have our replacement goalkeeper Ospina, replacement for Fabianski who has moved on for regular first team football. I have to say that this was a disappointment to me as although over the year’s Fabianski was nicknamed Flappy for quite a few errors I feel that he has had rather a tough time of it, as Szczesny’s understudy. But he’s gone, and Ospina has taken up residence, still yet to be seen on the firing line due to injury, but rumoured to be good enough to give Szczesny a run for his money.

Next up we have young 19 year old Calum Chambers from Southampton. Not a lot known about young Calum, only that he is down as a right back, Wenger paid 16 million for this lad so he must feel that he had the talent. Surprisingly Arsene has included young Calum in every game since he signed, granted Per Merts had been given an extended holiday after winning the World cup, but what has surprised me more is that Arsene has played young Calum as centre back, and what has surprised me even more, is the fact that he has played exceedingly well. I like what I have seen of this youngster, his decisive intelligent play, seems to be more than I was expecting, his versatility will be very useful in the future.

Of course we cannot forget Joel Campbell, now although Joel has still not played in our first 2 games, Wenger has stated that he will be staying. Joel has been out on loan since Wenger found him, as problems with visa’s scuppered his early chances, but now that has all been sorted, and of course his inclusion in the World cup has brought this young man to the fore, still slightly a raw talent, but under the watchful eye of our leader, I can only see a promising future.

So far our Manager has secured 4 signings but in all honesty they are not additions, they are replacements, so our squad has not really been made larger, but depending on where you read your news from, Arsene has stated that our recruitment has not necessarily ended. If of course this is true, the mind boggles. Many still believe that we are a holding Midfielder short of a strong team, and many others still see Giroud, Sanogo and an unseen Campbell as still being light up front. I feel that so far from what I have seen of our starting first 2 games, that both positions could definitely be strengthened.

Of course, over the past few seasons, 4 signings would have been every Gooners dream come true, but we are now The New Arsenal Football Club, we are not a penny pinching football club anymore. so who knows what may be in store, 1 week in football seems an eternity at times, but also an opportunity for maybe a couple more bodies.

Arsene has said in the past, that too many signings in any window, can be hard to get balanced,  and can even give a destabilising  effect. Wenger has passed the amount already, so maybe talk from skinflint days gone by, when sponsors money was not available, but from the opening 3 games we do look a little unstable.

Supporters are insufferable, they ask for a signing, and get 4, they then feel we still need more, I believe if we brought eleven they would still feel we need just one more just in case. Personally I am ecstatic with Arsene’s business this window, sad of course with Sagna’s departure, but he was getting on, and at the end of the day Arsene let him go for free so he should have a very good pension.

I for one, am a very satisfied supporter, of course should Wenger feel he needs one or two more, i certainly wouldn’t shake a finger, forwards and upwards and COYG’s

Written by Steve Palmer

 


Is Giroud Plan A or Plan B?

August 25, 2014

I am sure it can’t be easy trying to motivate and improve an average CF year on year and yet that seems to be exactly what Wenger is doing with Olivier Giroud.

If the plan was to challenge Giroud ‘to up his game’ by playing Sanogo ahead of him against Palace then there is a strong case to say that it worked. There is little doubt that his inclusion changed the momentum in our favour that enabled us to finally secure the three points.

If the same plan was to motivate Giroud by playing Alexis Sanchez ahead of him as the number 9 against Everton then in view of the fact that we were two down at half time and we came back to nick a draw then it has to be said that it worked.

Giroud

It seemed as soon as Giroud took to the field everyone knew what to do again. Ramsey could run forward confident in the knowledge that Giroud would be able to hold the ball long enough before laying it off to the on coming Welshman, Wilshere could try and re-enact his goal against Norwich last season and both Debuchy and Monreal could send in those all so familiar high crosses for the tall Frenchman to get on the end of.

The argument for Giroud to start as our plan A centre forward is strong and with him up front I see no reason we can’t replicate last season and finish fourth.

Fourth, fourth is that what you want?

Wenger didn’t buy Sanchez because he was happy with the way things were, he obviously bought the Chilean because he thought that he would improve things and I still believe he will.

Sanchez new kit

I have been surprised by some of the contributors on the site who seem to have written him off after only 45 minutes as someone capable of leading the line and call for the signing of a new striker. Do these same people expect that someone like Cavanni would have slotted into a new team and a new system so seamlessly that he would have scored a hat trick against Everton? Maybe they do?

I stand by my player ratings and especially the 9 I awarded Sanchez. By way of explanation, I ask you to do a mental player rating of everyone in the first half excluding the back 5

Flamini: OK but nothing special 5
Ramsey: constantly gave the ball away 4
Wilshere: looked a bit stronger (I’m trying here) but did nothing of merit 4
Ozil: no where near match fit, continually lost the ball and never made a telling pass. 4
Oxlaide-Chamberlain: poor control, poor passing, missed open goal. 4

So with the players around Sanchez playing like a bunch of blokes on Hackney Marshes what real chance did the Chilean have? And yet, his control was excellent his tracking back was superb, he made some important tackles and all in all I thought he looked good. OK there is still a lot for him to get used to but I remind myself that Robin Van Persie was not converted into a CF overnight.

If we want to improve then we have got to change things. Wenger tried a new system and I for one am very glad of it, maybe he could have waited until Leicester but there are no guarantees that it would have been more effective against them than Everton.

Giroud isn’t plan A or plan B neither is Sanchez; they both have different skills that can be deployed against teams that best suit them.

Who should start up front against Besiktas on Wednesday?

Written by LB


So, Why Was Sanogo Even Playing?

August 18, 2014

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

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

Sanogo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by LB


How bad was Giroud?

May 15, 2014

During the season, many people expressed… disappointment… over the performance of Olivier Giroud.  Now that the season is over, this seems like a good topic for a poll.

giroud frustrated

Everyone knows the Liverpool duo, Suarez and Sturridge, head the Premier League Top Scorers list. How poor was Arsenal’s main, and virtually sole central forward, as compared to the remaining big names in the league?  Close the newspaper.  Do not search online.  Time for a little quiz.

I wonder how the replies are distributed.  The answers are:  Aguero +1, Dzeko +0, Negredo -7, Rooney +1, RvP -4, Hazard -2.

Here’s how to rate yourself:

  • None correct:  You must hate Giroud because of his good looks.  Try to be more objective next season.
  • Up to three correct:  Sorry, work on your football attention span over the summer.  Use the World Cup, for example, to hone your skill.
  • At least four correct:  Congratulations!  You are a keen observer of the great game.  May you use your talent constructively.
  • All correct:  You have a terrible crush on Giroud.  Take a number, and wait in the lobby with the other drooling fans.

Giroud badge

One might object to the use of Aguero in the comparison, because he was out for long stretches of the season.  The same might be said about RvP, but in his case, his health history is part of the story.  Indeed, Giroud’s durability was a big plus.  At the start of the season, many people pointed out that Arsenal would be in trouble, were Giroud to be injured.  Fortunately, that theory was never fully tested because, despite the work load, injuries never kept Giroud out for long.

One might also note that Giroud’s shot conversion rate (*) was only 14%, which puts him near the bottom of this ranking (along with Negredo and Oscar).  However, the lauded Suarez, who converted at 17%, was not much more efficient.  If both took 100 shots, Suarez would score three more goals than Giroud.  Suarez goal total is so much higher because he shot about 60% more than Giroud did.  In other words, quantity and slightly better quality made that large difference.

That comparison aside, how frustrated we fans all have been to see Giroud waste clear cut chances?  Could he improve this aspect of his game?  He did not demonstrate anything better in his two seasons with Montpellier, prior to joining Arsenal.  Then, his shot conversion rate was also about 14%.  In fact, in the 2011-12 season, when he topped the Ligue 1 scoring table with 21 goals, his shot conversion rate was slightly lower at 13%.  He just shot a whole lot more that season.

Will Giroud get to shoot much more than the 112 shots he took this season?  That seems unlikely.  In an Arsenal team that shares the ball and has multiple attacking players, Giroud would not be asked to take most of the shots.

Here’s hoping he can improve his efficiency.  Giroud isn’t the best, but his bottom line number is not that bad.

TwentyTwelve

(*) I define shot conversion rate as: goals / (shots on target + off target + blocked).  The most efficient scorer was Yaya Toure at 31%; he got 20 goals from 64 shots!  The worst was Oscar at 11%; he got only 8 goals from 70 shots.


Lazy Sunday Afternoon ……………

May 5, 2014

With fourth spot cemented one wondered if Arsene would put out a strong team or rest a few players. In hindsight I was glad that he picked the strongest team available even though this was a dead rubber, yet it was blatantly clear how much we miss Ramsey.

Another three points gained, stretching our sequence to four wins on the bounce but as a performance, it was pretty flat.

One has to give the Man of The match to Giroud for his goal that won the game and his general overall play for the whole match. (There I have said it) His energy levels are not questionable but I still think we need another striker to compliment him. I am not sure if Podolski is the man as he didn’t impress as much and if you watch him carefully he doesn’t exert himself as much as he could. Monreal IMO is not the standard required at LB but with Gibbs in and out of the team through various injuries we have no other option unless Vermaelen stays.

There’s no easy way to say this – or an easy way to look at it. Mathieu Flamini cracked in a powerful drive from the edge of the box and Craig Dawson blocked it right between his crystals, that being the only other noticeable event of the first half  ;)

Koscielny was as usual solid in defence and Mertesacker alongside him played his part. Sagna didn’t have his best game but showed 100% commitment and if he goes I am sure we all wish him well. The crowd made it clear that they want him to stay.

Källström caught my eye and was impressive in his twenty seven minutes on the pitch.

Özil is a great player but missed the new found telepathy he has with Ramsey. Maybe his thinking is too clever for some of the players, but he will be a huge asset next season and adding goals to his game though not imperative, would make an even bigger difference.

All in all it was a bit of a training session and having just watched Norwich we may well be in for a much more physical game next week as they fight possible relegation, and with the Cup Final approaching we may see changes to the side.

This is what Wenger said after the match.

“I’m happy with the attitude, the behaviour and the consistency of my players,”

“I’m frustrated as well because we were 120 days top of the league. When you look today it’s very tight and then comes through your mind here and there the points you dropped that we should not have dropped.

“The regret as well is at the most important period of the season we had two important players out. We have many players who have only played between five and 15 games. That’s where we want to improve for next season.”

Pinpointing a general lack of goals and his side’s defeats at their rivals as decisive factors he continued:

“I would just say to be brutal in our first analysis is we missed a few goals compared to the teams who scored the most goals and we missed some big away games by conceding two many.

“Apart from that our defensive stability was fantastic, we had 16 clean sheets but in some games we were not at the start of the game and we couldn’t get into them before we lost it. The defensive stability we had the whole season was not reflected in these kind of games.

“If you look at the overall performance of the team we have done until today well in the cup, we have done quite well in the Champions League where we had a difficult group, we played against Bayern with ten men and we didn’t fail anywhere.

“The attitude of the group was remarkably consistent and of quality. But we still have missed something to be decisive in the Premier League at the moment when we were in a good position.”

Pressed on the subject of his future, Wenger once again stressed that he’ll be at the helm come the new season joking:

“Look at me! You will see me again.” (that was aimed at Mr Syrup) :)

I think that alone is worthy of discussion.

kelsey


We MUST buy a lethal striker?

April 23, 2014

Heard that before? I think we all agree there is a need but this post will investigate a little deeper.

Let’s look at the problem. We have been over-reliant on Giroud, little argument there but why have we been so reliant upon the Frenchman? Because our other strikers have been not performed this season?

Podolski: This is a chap who was a regular scorer in the Bundesliga and for his country; at Kõln his scoring rate was almost a goal ever other game (86 in 181 games), and for his country is the same (48 in 112). What is his rate at Arsenal? 28 goals in 65 appearances . Pretty consistent. What does this tell us about Lucas? In my opinion it says that he is under-rated as a goalscorer – not by Mr Wenger but by the fans. Plus Podolski has been constantly injured starting only 17 PL games this season.

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Walcott: Our top scorer last season and developing into a lethal striker. 21 goals from 43 games  in 2012/13 tells it’s own story, as does 5 in 13 this. In my opinion Walcott could become one of the best forwards in Europe. He has the intelligence and the pace but most importantly he has developed grace under pressure; his finishes are no longer a foot-through- the-ball thrash, they are curlers into the far corner, awesome volleys or dinks over an onrushing keeper – he is the read deal. BUT the man is blighted by injury and not just a single re-occurring problem, shoulder, thigh, knee, foot – he has had them all. Is he unlucky or fragile? Can Arsenal rely upon his fitness when looking at the goal scoring situation?

Unknown-2

Giroud: Not everyone’s favourite but our top cannon. His record in France was 39 goals in 85. First season for AFC, 17 in 47, this season 20 in 45. Pretty consistent and improving.At the moment he is the 7th highest scorer in the PL ahead of Dzeko, RvP, Eto’o, Lukaku, Bony and just one behind Aguero. Crap season? A cart-horse (Clydesdale of course)? Add in 10th in the PL assists and I think OG can be pleased with his work.

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Sanogo: Before coming to Arsenal he had scored at almost 1 every two games  (26 from 55). He was France’s centre forward  and top scorer in their U-20 WC winning team. He has yet to score from 10 appearances for AFC. It is too early to judge but he could be the type of player who once he starts to score cannot stop. The strength, pace, energy and determination are all evident. He just needs to calm down a bit. The jury is out

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Bendtner: What can one say? Best leave it :-D

 

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Attackers out on Loan: Joel Campbell has already shown he can score at the highest level, 21 y.o 8 goals in 21 for Olympiakos and 9 in 31 for Costa Rica is impressive. 20 y.o. Chuks Aneke has a done well at Crewe scoring 16 in 40 – could they step up?

So, given what we have at the club, what do we need? A lethal finisher. But here-in lie problems. Who, how much, where does he play but most problematic of all is that most other teams are looking for the same player.

Chelsea will surely buy a frontman or two or three, Man Utd have serious problems as Welbeck is not consistent enough and RvP is 31, injury prone and unhappy. Man City will sell Dzeko, have wasted millions on Jovetic and are reliant upon Aguero – they will be in the market. So will many of the Oiler clubs around Europe as they look to attract new fans to their “brand”.

Where and how will these teams look to sign their striker? – easy -they look at the top scorers in leagues around Europe – just like we did when we bought Giroud and Podolski (and Sanogo).

As it is certain we will be outbid, both in transfer fee and wages, for the best strikers we have to look elsewhere. Young players with potential to become the next Suarez or Ronaldo, but these players are also in huge demand. Just look at the Draxler situation: The lad is just 20 and yet it seems half of Europe are trying to sígn him. It may well be that Arsenal are in the box seat but if you were him (or his agent) wouldn’t you look at the money? What about the football I hear you say – do Bayern or PSG or City play worse football than us?

What about a British striker? Who? Wellbeck? Sturridge? Lambert? There isn’t one. We just have to look at how toothless the England team is to know the cupboard is bare.

So what is the solution? In my opinion we spend the whole summer looking for the elusive striker – perhaps one will magically appear and at the same time, buy a proper young defensive midfielder who can allow our attacking MF’s to get forward and score. Had Ramsey stayed fit he would have scored as many as Toure.

In my opinion we have the goalscorers already at the club. Our problem has been keeping the guys who supply the ammunition fit. With no Ozil, Wilshere, Walcott and Ramsey, OG was left to fight a lone battle. With no proper DM, Podolski is forced to play deep in his own half – we have seen in recent games how lethal he can be when playing further forward.

If possible add one more, give Sanogo some time and perhaps we will be fine.

Perhaps.

written by Big Raddy

 


3 goals, 3 points and we are back on track.

April 21, 2014

Arsenal fans always seem to find a whipping boy just now it’s Arteta and of course Giroud, but I will come back to that in a moment.

There is no such thing as an easy game in the PL (ask Chelsea)  and confidence seemed to be coming back after the midweek win against West Ham so expectations were high for our visit to Hull, especially with the return of Koscienly, Ozil and Ramsey. However, for the best part of half an hour we again seemed off the pace and Hull created one or two chances notably when Livermore hit the post from distance.

This seemed to be a wake up call. I had asked beforehand if Cazorla and Ozil could play together, but more importantly open up a very physical and determined Hull defence? The answer was an emphatic yes, but it was the inclusion of Ramsey, who is going to be a world class player, that gave us the extra impetus and it was he who opened the scoring, ably assisted by Ozil and Cazorla.

ozil and rambo

Ozil seemed to have a free role and after a reasonably long lay off showed all the doubters that he oozes class. Further excellent goals by Podolski, sealed the match and at times we were seeing the Arsenal of old with pace, fluidity and a renewed confidence.

ramsey v hull

Giroud comes in for a lot of stick from many sections of the fan base but he laid off the ball for the second and takes a bruising every single game. Despite his twenty goals this season, he is not a natural clinical striker but he has a part to play in the squad and we will see come the end of the season if he stays or goes or even possibly gets demoted to an alternative forward if we venture into the market .

poldi scores v hull

Arteta is slowing up and still had a reasonable game but we need someone with a more physical presence for next season. My only beef about him is that often he slows the game down especially when we are counter attacking.

All in all it was a pleasing performance and still kept us on track for CL qualification yet the main talking point was how much we had missed the Welsh Wizard who considering his long lay off really made a huge difference to our attacking options.

Confidence, returning players,and goals are back in abundance, so all in all a positive position to be in for the final run in.

kelsey


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