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

 


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

 


Arsène and Arsenal’s biggest mistake.

May 8, 2014

Our season went up in smoke on January 4th when Theo Walcott was stretchered off during our 2-0 Cup win over That Lot.

Regular readers of the site will know that I am no fan of that continental Total Football nonsense. For me, it’s an outdated throw back to the dope smoking hippy days, and has its home in the Coffee Bars of Holland.

What I mean is this. I get interchangeability and flexibility, but I firmly believe in specialists.

As far as I’m concerned, the moment Theo went off, there was only one course of action. Oxlade becomes his immediate and permanent replacement for every game, with Serge as his back up.

However, what happened was that Arsène did use Ox out wide, but not always. On occasion, he was to be found playing a more central role.

Early yesterday morning, both Arnie and Goonerkam made the excellent point about how different roles for players is part of their development and education. I do agree, and have always said that I believe Ox will ultimately end up more centrally, however, needs must, and the Team should come first.

The loss of Theo left a massive tactical void, that ONLY The Ox could fill. This was not the time for Arsène to muck about. Ox’s development was actually hampered this term in my book, as he did not have the consistent runs in any one position to develop key understandings, as much of our beautiful football is played in small triangles, and telepathic understanding only comes with continuity. Thus, Ox was less effective than he should have been.

Ox played central, so it came as no surprise to me that when shunted back out right, he became unsure, or perhaps simply unused to, his role. He drifted central leaving us lacking the vital pressure release valve.

Thus, to my mind, the biggest loss to our season was not the loss of Aaron, or even Theo, but rather not playing The Ox there as first choice every available game following the tragedy of January 4th.

Written by MickyDidIt89


In praise of Arsène Wenger but give him the funds to challenge

May 3, 2014

Morning Gooner’s

While reading Arnie’s post the other day, about other clubs Managers, I left a comment Praising Arsene Wenger. Now although I don’t go back on what I said, I believe I should clarify a few things. When I wrote why I like Wenger and why I feel he should stay, it may have given the impression that I am a happy Gooner. Now I am content with him, but that does not mean that I don’t expect expect him to try and do better in the future.

Arsenal supporters expect the team to be up there with the best in the league, and granted Wenger has managed to do that. But all supporters want to see us go that step further, and by that I don’t mean third. This season we headed the league to Christmas, yes the lead went from one to another, but that was because of television fixtures, but realistically we were the leading team.

Many Arsenal fans enjoyed the feeling of that position, and many myself included, also felt we had a chance, sadly that came undone by injuries, but it also brought home to me, the deficiencies our squad had.

Theo Walcott’s injury, left us with absolutely no pace up front. That was a major blow. Aaron Ramsey one player who broke through defences also went out, which left us toothless. Oliver Giroud did his best, but he had to hold the ball up, and had to wait for reinforcements, although Oliver is a tough nut to crack, he certainly lacks the Theo pace.

Jack Wilshere compounded our misery even more, and Koscielny’s short injury added to a depleted team. Our chance went right there, why? Because we didn’t have the same talent as back up. Our record signing also joined the walking wounded, so what were we left with? Our penetrating midfield out, our best through ball passer out, our fastest winger forward out, and our best central defender out.

Holes every where, and the talent on the bench was not up to the replacement standard. Oxlade Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry and Ya Ya Sanogo are players for the future, they just weren’t ready for a season of first team football. Had everybody stayed fit, we could have used all of these players sparingly, but we had to push them forward because we had too.

Wenger in all fairness has had to work on what seems a shoestring budget, he couldn’t have foreseen so many main players going out injured, so had to rely on these youngsters. Inexperienced, they had to take on some of the best teams in the league, if not the world, and all picked up injuries for their thanks.

Not many teams could have handled the amount of injuries that we had, and still have, with some players missing the end of the season. We took a few bad hidings that supporters are not used to seeing. Bad feeling crept in, accusations that the manager had not spent in the winter window, and how if he had brought five or six players in both windows, would have won us the league.

Unhappy supporters who’s pride had been hurt, can be very hurtful, when their Spud and Manc mates take the pee. But when they see the season out, and see what we have achieved, even with all the problems we have had, must see that this season is slightly better than last.

I have a lot of time for Wenger, but I would urge him to go to the board and say to them, I am only human you know, I need help and I need funds, we cannot keep buying kids, we have to have more Ozil’s, and we need them now, before the talent we have at the moment get itchy feet.

Wenger knows as we do, that sponsorship money has come in, yes we still have big debts, but we also have fans by the thousands, that deserve top players. They have had the big defeats, and now they want us to inflict them. Its time for our board to find the funds, as Wenger is needing that help now. We may not win the league next season but at least give us the chance.

Wenger if he signs, has 2 years left, give him the dammed money.

Written by Steve Palmer


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?

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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

 


The end is nigh. Nine Premier League games remaining. What are we after?

March 19, 2014

I cast my mind back to the final stretch last season, and we were in a battle for Top Four. For the sake of this discussion, I’d like to put aside the hunt for Trophies, and delve deeper into what there is to look forward to.

Following the loss to Spurs a year ago, momentous events followed. Principally, was the cementing of the partnership between Mertesacker and Koscielny. This was in tandem with a new found restraint from our Full Backs who proceeded to show more discipline.

What was laid in those final nine games, were the foundations of a new defensive stability that continued to serve us so well into this seasons’ campaign.

Apart from the sunny Spring time fixtures, the meeting up with chums and the inevitable excitement that any game of football brings, I wonder what little gems lie in wait.

Injuries present opportunities, and the largest recipient this season has been The Ox. He has benefited from injuries to both Aaron as well as Theo. Might the remaining fixtures see him finding a definitive starting position for next season? Talking of definitive positions, we have the Jack issue.

Looking across the midfield, I still wonder who is the No 10 of choice. I understand there is a fluidity in this area, but with all the injuries to key players, I certainly don’t know how my First XI would line up. I have a feeling we will begin to see the real Mesut emerge as the midfield pivot around which all that is good orbits.

I can also see Gnabry getting more playing time, and have a gut feeling he is one of those players that will rise to the top very quickly. Remember the Aaron of last season, and we see how certain players can suddenly blossom.

Like the pairing of Kos and Mert, it can be an unforeseen partnership that emerges, and this can happen in small couplings anywhere on the pitch, which is why I see a possibility of this between Mesut and Serge.

Now, how about some dark horses. Kellstrom and Diaby, who peaches informs us is at altitude not skiing. With Aaron returning, how will the midfield set up?

With some mouthwatering encounters around the corner, there remains much fun to be had. Who knows where we end up, but I reckon, as with last season, there are surprises in store outside of the results themselves.

Prior to the Spurs game and the wonderful blast of a goal from Mr T. Rosicky, I would have liked to see a couple of long rangers, but another one or two wouldn’t hurt. Oh, and is there any chance a genuinely quality free kick specialist might emerge in the mould of Noddy Talbot? That would be long overdue and a real bonus.

The one thing I’d like to see more than anything over the remaining fixtures would be a new found venom from the true fans towards the early leavers. A mass mocking, naming and shaming, a Faceoff Campaign, anything. Some suggestions on how to deal with this, my biggest beef, and a real solution would leave my season ending on an even higher note.

Written by MickyDidIt


Surgery, Victory, Injury, Jittery

January 17, 2014
 

 Last Friday:

  Walcott turns down a quick fix

The news came that Theo had opted for the most risk free treatment for his ACL injury. It is also the treatment that will keep him on the sidelines for the longest time.

Theo will undergo a patella tendon graft which is thought to offer the best long-term guarantees after a gruelling period of rehabilitation. Using a synthetic tendon could have got him back in time for the World Cup but there is a risk of the body rejecting it. Likewise with using a tendon from a dead body. He could have chosen to use a sliver of his own hamstring but as his game is based on speed his hamstrings are vital.

Arsene Wenger said;

“Theo is handling it as well as you can when you have had such a shock because he is mentally strong, he’s very balanced as a person and he can put it into perspective. We know that he will have the dedication and serious attitude to come back as strong as ever”.

Diaby suffers new set-back

Arsene Wenger says he is unsure if Abou Diaby will play for Arsenal this season after he suffered a new setback in his rehabilitation.

Diaby, who has been dogged by injury trouble during his time in north London, has not played for the club since last March after damaging his cruciate knee ligaments.

The Frenchman was expected to return in the next few weeks, after having extensive rehab in Dubai, but Wenger says he is nowhere near ready to come back; ‘His recovery is going very slowly,’ said Wenger.

‘Will he play again this season? I don’t know. He is still on a long-term recovery programme.’

Diaby has told supporters at a recent charity event that he hopes to be back on the pitch shortly, but Arsenal are no longer giving a predicted return date for the midfielder.

 

 

Saturday:

A predictable win for the Chavs over Hull City saw us toppled from the top, temporarily we hope as a win against Villa on Monday would see us bounce back regardless of City’s result against the Magpies on Sunday.

More Morata speculation, the loan deal could be on again as Real Madrid, after initially ruling out any departures during January, may be willing to let him go “later in the month”.

A bit of late news, and by late I mean two days late, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain played the first half of an U21 match against Fulham on Thursday evening, he came off at half-time in a pre-planned substitution, it was the lad’s first action since getting injured on the opening day of the season against Aston Villa. Now it seems that he could be on the bench against the same opposition on Monday.

Oh! And I forgot to mention, Eisfeld scored the only goal in the win over Fulham.

Sunday:

Arsene Wenger compared Oxlade Chamberlain to Steven Gerard, speaking on www.arsenal.com le professeur said

“At the moment he is still in formation. It is good for his education as he plays left, right and centrally when needed. After [the age of] 23 or 24 you settle in a definite position”.

“He will be deeper as he has a good long ball, penetration from deep and a good quality to distribute and penetrate individually. Certainly he has the same qualities to Steven Gerrard.

Now I may not have Wenger’s insight but to compare the gracefull, pacy, youngster to that lumbering carthorse “Stevie G” is just a bit unkind.

Monday:

All the results are in, the calculations have been done and the outcome has been tabulated, Arsenal drop to third in the table but with the chance to bounce back by beating Villa later in the day.

Kieran Gibbs announced on his instagram page, whatever that is, that Theo had a “successful” operation on his knee and is recovering in hospital.

Team news, Monreal came in for Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ozil and Gnabry mixed it up in mid-field while Giroud mixed it with the Villa centre-backs.

Tuesday:

Wilshere drives Arsenal back to the summit

A goal by Wilshere followed by one for Giroud, from a Wilshere pass, just seventeen seconds after the restart, was enough to take us back to the top of the table despite a second half goal for Villa.

Injuries to Nacho Monreal, possibly a fractured metatarsal, and Tomas Rosicky, a broken nose, were not good news and both players could be out for a while.

Bacary Sagna, whose contract expires in the summer, is set to renew talks over an extension. Sagna’s preference is to stay at Arsenal and finish his career at the club but the best offer so far is two more years at about the same wage £70,000 per week. Sagna has never agitated for more money or for a move away but feels his loyalty and experience deserves some recognition. Come on Arsenal, give him three years and a raise, you know it makes sense!!

Two more players in negotiations are Tomas Rosicky and Per Mertesacker, can we afford to pay them more or can we afford to lose them?

From The Evening Standard:- Mertesacker made his 100th appearance for the club against Villa and has come to epitomise this galvanised Arsenal. He is the organiser-in-chief, the debt collector and, last night at least, every inch the captain of this team.

The Germany international provided composure amid the chaos. He knows the importance of maintaining Arsenal’s advantage at the top of the table and developing that ruthless efficiency required to win major honours.

Contract negotiations? Just get on with it Mr. Laws!!

Wednesday:

More recognition of the vital part Per Mertesacker is playing in Arsenal’s so far successful season came in an article in The Telegraph. Together with Laurent Koscielny the pair have brought a “perfect blend for solidity” Arsene Wenger has often in the past described Arsenal’s defending as naïve, yet no team have conceded fewer goals (19) or registered more clean sheets (nine) than Arsenal this season. The statistics behind the centre-back partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are even more compelling. Monday’s 2-1 win against

Aston Villa was their 28th completed game together and, in those, the club have registered 20 wins, eight draws and 16 clean sheets. Also very much to the point is the fact that we are unbeaten in those 28 games.

Mertesacker and Koscielny have formed a natural partnership. Koscielny’s speed and athleticism have often covered for Mertesacker’s lack of pace, although the German’s organisational skills have been perhaps the biggest single factor.

While they both remain fit and available our title challenge should stay very much on track.

Any chance of signing Schalke’s Julian Draxler were scuppered when it emerged that the 20 year old has damaged his ankle ligaments and will be out of action for up to three months.

Thursday:

Le Professeur revealed the latest fitness situation ahead of Saturday’s three o’clock kick-off against Fulham.

On Theo Walcott’s surgery…
It went very well. The damage was real in the knee so he will have to take the needed time, so let’s not be hopeful that he will go to the World Cup – that is not possible. But overall his long-term future is very positive. It’s about being fit for next season now.

on Monreal and Rosicky…
Monreal looks a doubt for Saturday, a big doubt, because he twisted his foot on the kick. It is not the bruise, he turned and twisted the ligament. Rosicky had surgery with a general anaesthetic for a broken nose in two places. With a mask he may be available, but we have to monitor it closely.

on Arteta (calf), Vermaelen (knee) and Ramsey (thigh)…
Ramsey and Arteta are both out for this game. Vermaelen too. I personally believe the three will miss the Coventry game as well and will be available after that.

on Bendtner (ankle)…

He has a little chance to make Coventry. But in all probability it will be after that.

Thanks to

www.arsenal.com for permission to reproduce the above.

Jack Wilshire is to appear alongside Lionel Messi in the 2014 advertising campaign for Pepsi.

Arsenal will red and white shirts with white shorts and socks, the ‘keeper will be in all green for Saturday’s match. The referee will be Lee Probert who drew this comment from Wenger after officiating in the same fixture in January 2012 when Johanne Djourou was sent of and Arsenal lost 2 – 1. “The referee influenced the game completely the wrong way in my opinion,”

That’s it for another week.

Norfolk Gooner.


One week for Arsenal …….. Six months for Walcott

January 10, 2014

Last Friday:

Le Professeur had little good cheer to offer on the injury situation at his Friday news conference. Giroud 90% out, Ozil, Bendtner, Ramsey and Gibbs definitely out. The one bright spot was that Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to resume normal training next week.

Gilberto Silva was training with the first team, the last ex-Arsenal alumnus to do so was a certain French mid-fielder who then signed a contract and has been an important part of a successful first half of the season, could the “Invisible Wall” be back?

One important bit of news, whilst not exclusively Arsenal related was worthy of note, Mr. Blatter opened his mouth, and for once didn’t immediately put his foot in it, when he launched an attack on cheats.

In his FIFA Weekly column he urged a global crackdown on the “cheating” players who dive in football and even suggested “time penalties” to stop those feigning injury from immediately rejoining the game.

Blatter also reminded referees to continue with play “unless there is a serious injury”. “The ball is in the referees’ court” he said “The instructions are now clear on this matter: if a player is lying on the floor, the opposing team are not required to put the ball in to touch.

I don’t know about other AAers, but I for one would love to see a crackdown on the diving cheats and on the spurious injuries that waste so much playing time. I’m sure one of our stats fans could tell us how much of the ninety minutes playing time is taken up by such antics. I feel sure it doesn’t all get added on to the “injury time”.

Saturday:

Not even a hint of speculation about who we might buy, and Arsene ruled out any approach for Berbatov.

The dreaded sickness bug struck again, this time Giroud is suffering, is it time to buy the player’s lunches from a different kebab shop?

The pre-match entertainment on AA was supplied by Ant and Duck, on their alcohol fuelled  peregrination to the Emirates.

 

Sunday:

No question who has the NLD bragging rights, firmly fixed in the Arsenal camp!

There was a feeling of inevitability about the game from the very start.

Watching at home, it soon became obvious that the poor old Spuds were considerably less than the sum of their very expensively assembled parts. I had spent the early evening watching an excellent performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Little Theatre in Sheringham, a traditional Christmas pantomime, and later watching Spur’s twin strikers floundering and failing I felt I was again watching two traditional Panto characters, the Ugly Sisters.

One rather sour note towards the end of the game, as Walcott was being stretchered off he, and the para-medics carrying him, were pelted with coins and bottles and subjected to dog’s abuse by the Spurs “fans”. The selfsame “fans” who, last season, had jeered at Bacary Sagna as he lay pitch-side with a broken leg. Walcott’s response, a two fingered reminder of the score, was more than justified in my opinion. The FA would need to be entirely witless if they decide to take action against him.

Two more injuries to contend with, both Walcott and Vermaelen could be out for a while, while the latter is a cut shin, the former could well be a longer term ligament injury.

Hey Ho! Coventry at home is a good draw for the 4th round and will present le Professeur with more chances for squad rotation.

Monday:

There was no definitive news on the Theo Walcott injury, If it’s a knock he could make the Villa game, if it’s ligament damage he could be out for a month. Olivier Giroud is expected to be fit to play next Monday, as will Jack Wilshere who took a knock on an ankle. The scan on Thomas Vermaelen’s knee will be assessed this week.

One piece of definite news, we will not be signing Lewandowski either in this month or in the summer, he’s going to Bayern at the end of the season.

The FA are to consult with Police and “look into” the behaviour of the Spurs fans who hurled not only abuse but also missiles at Theo and the medics as he was carried off on Saturday. Obviously Arsenal were correct in reducing the Swamp Dweller’s ticket allocation for the game. If that’s the way they are going to behave the allocation should be reduced to zero.

The FA announced that they would be taking no action against Theo following his gesture towards the obnoxious crowd of loons purporting to be Spurs supporters.

Tuesday:

On a cold, wet and windy morning what could be worse than to wake up to the headline:-

MY WORLD CUP DREAM IS OVER

world cup over

Theo Walcott sidelined for six months with serious knee injury

Yep! The news we had all been fearing turned out to be worse than we thought, a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament means that Theo misses the rest of the season and almost certainly the chance to play for England in the World Cup Finals.

Dare we hope that Theo could emulate Roberto Baggio who, in 2002, returned from a similar injury in just 77 days? That entailed half day re-hab sessions eleven times a week.

At the moment the plan is for Theo to have surgery in the next week or so, depending on how quickly the swelling goes down, to be back running by June, complete a full pre-season programme and be ready to play when the new campaign kicks off.

Wednesday:

The FA Cup fourth round tie against Coventry City will take place on Friday 24th January, kick-off 7.45pm and will be live on BT Sport.

Coventry have already complained about the Friday evening spot, claiming it will make it difficult for their fans to attend, are so many of them subject to curfews?

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in full training, could he feature in Thursday’s U 21 game away to Fulham? Another run out in the following week’s U21 match away to Middlesbrough and all being well, he could be ready for the FA Cup tie against Coventry.

Arsenal U18s thrashed Peterborough 6 -1 in the FA Youth Cup on Monday evening.

Thursday:

Our midfield maestro

Mesut Ozil has been named Germany’s national player of the year following a fans’ poll conducted by the German Football Federation. Mesut has won the award for the third time in a row, beating Bayern Munich pair Phillip Lahm and Thomas Muller.

Theo Walcott has been voted December Playmate I’m sorry PLAYER of the month.

In transfer speculation it has emerged that although both Arsenal targets Diego Costa and Jackson Martinez have release clauses in their contracts (£31.4 million and £33 million respectively) they do not come into effect until the end of the season. The Daily Mail seems to think that we are in with a chance of getting Real’s Alvaro Morata if we pay a £1.7 million loan fee.

Niklas Bendtner may be back sooner than expected, he could resume training in the next few days.

One piece of truly World shattering news, (not Arsenal related) is reported by Sky Sports, Fulham have not made an enquiry for Man City’s Joleon Lescott and, in case any doubt remains,nicole
I can report that I am not dating Lewis Hamilton’s ex,

Nicole Scherzinger.

Bayern Munich received 18 thousand requests for tickets to the Champions League clash at the Emirates despite the price of £62 each, Bayern are to subsidise each ticket to the tune of €30 thus reducing the price from €75 to just €45. Perhaps other clubs could take a leaf out of the German club’s book and help out the away support. What about it Arsenal?

According to The Metro Arsenal teenager Serge Gnabry is a summer target for Borussia Dortmund as they seek to rebuild following Robert Lewandowski’s agreement to join to Bayern Munich. Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has been impressed by the attacking midfielder and is ready to splash out on his services as he transforms his side following the departure of the jewel in their crown. Well Herr Klopp Serge is one of the young jewels in Arsenal’s crown so keep your sticky fingers off!!!

That’s it for another week, enjoy the relaxing weekend.

Norfolk Gooner.


Theo replacement?

January 7, 2014

Late yesterday afternoon, the news broke that Theo Walcott would be out for the remainder of the season. t w 2 0 From my point of view there is a terrible irony.

I was about to write a post in which I looked at the current top six sides contesting the League, and decide which team was most vulnerable to an injury to a single player. I was thinking of Toure at City, Brave at Utd and so on.

Guess who I had penned in at The Arsenal?

At some point of last season, I described Theo as our most valuable player. This never meant I considered him our best player, simply most irreplaceable, given what he offered the team in terms of goals, assists, and pace in attack. Against Tottenham, we saw what Theo may offer through the middle. Now, I don’t believe he would be the right choice in that role in every situation, but his performance certainly made me think we could get through this season without recruiting a striker.

Now what? Gnabry has the pace, but I doubt he will have as many goals in him as Theo this season. Ox? Again, pace but, he will not have Theo’s goals yet, I doubt. I have read through yesterday’s comments on here following the news. As would be expected, there are sensible thoughts from both camps ie the need to replace Theo in this window, as well as the “we’ll be ok” camp. My view? No more squad players, therefore serious quality or not at all. The player must offer an alternative attacking and threat to the Ollie/Nick option. In other words pace, power, and goals.

This season we have reached the half way point and are serious contenders for a Trophy. We face a massive opportunity, and the Theo news cannot be viewed as anything but a very serious blow. There is one other point worth remembering. Arsene made a bid for Suarez. This tells you that he is after a world class goalscorer, and I am convinced he would move for one again this summer. Given the position we are in, why would Arsene not move heaven and earth to bring that move forwards to January.

There are three weeks left. I will make one assumption. Arsene knows who his summer targets are, therefore paying over the odds for one of those may prove money well spent.

Written by MickyDidIt89


The Rosicky, Gnabry, Walcott Show – Match report

January 5, 2014

I’m really getting into this business of constantly getting tough draws. We’ve had six so far this season: in Europe, we’ve drawn Fenerbahce, the Champions’ League Group of Death and Bayern Munich; in the League Cup, West Brom and Chelsea; and in the FA Cup, Spurs for the Third Round. And most of those ties have proved to be very enjoyable.

Spurs arrived at the Home of Football on a mini-high, having, in their last four games, won three and drawn one. They’d summarily ditched the manager who’d given them one of their best starts to a Premier League season, and given the job to Tim Sherwood, highly thought of within THFC circles but completely lacking managerial experience. And apparently he’s also a Gooner….

Sherwood appears to come from the Harry Redknapp school of thought: all swashbuckling flourishes, and bugger the planning. The answer to the failure of Soldado under AVB was to sacrifice a midfielder by pairing Soldado up with the ever-lovely Emmanuel Adebayor, in a 442 formation. That’s all very well when playing a team with a substandard midfield, like Man United, but, whatever our other faults, that isn’t going to fly when facing this Arsenal side. It’s always going to be tough to avoid ceding complete control of the midfield to us when it’s five quality midfielders against four, especially when one of the four is Aaron Lennon and another, Nabil Bentaleb, was making his full debut.

And so it was. Arsenal bossed the midfield, and that assured us the victory. Arteta was utterly assured throughout. Rosicky was effervescent, his constant movement making it a very uncomfortable evening for anyone in a white shirt (well, a white shirt with a splash of red on it). Wilshere didn’t have quite the performance he had against Cardiff, making some of his old overambitious errors of judgment, but he still had a good match. Cazorla was back to his very best. And Serge Gnabry was tremendous, linking up again and again with his partner in speed, Theo Walcott. Gnabry plays without fear, enabling him to get the best out of his obviously significant talents. He certainly looks to be the real deal.

In defence, Mertesacker was rested, at least initially, with Thomas Vermaelen getting a much-needed run-out. Monreal continued at left-back, with first picks Koscielny and Sagna also chosen. Fabianski got a chance to get his shirt dirty.

The big question for Wenger was what to do up front, with Giroud unwell, Bendtner injured and Podolski having been unconvincing against Cardiff. Walcott got the nod. How would we cope with a short guy up top, when a key component of our success this year has been the solidity afforded to us by tall Giroud’s tireless efforts? It turns out we coped well, very well indeed. Our play was faster than usual, with Walcott (5’9”), Cazorla (5’6”), Rosicky (5’10”), Gnabry (5’8”) and Wilshere (5’7”) buzzing around, quickly exchanging passes and looking for any chance to run at the Spurs defence. It worked a treat.

Spurs had a couple of moments in the first half, including when Eriksen capitalised on an error from Koscielny to go one on one with Fabianski. But Fab stood strong and pushed the near-post shot round the post. Setting such moments aside, Arsenal were the dominant force in the first half. Our diminutive attacking force worked its magic.

Having tested Lloris on a few occasions already, the breakthrough came when Sagna attacked down the right wing, passed inside to Gnabry, who (while Walcott made a decoy run to stretch the defence) fed it to Cazorla, who was in buckets of space. The little Spaniard arrowed a first time shot into the far corner. It was an excellent finish, but it was made easier by Lloris misreading matters, and diving to his near-post.

cazorla v spurs

So we went into halftime with a deserved 1-0 lead over the old enemy. The fly in the ointment was the premature departure at halftime of Vermaelen. I thought it was a preventative step, to avoid the Belgian getting a second yellow card, since he seemed to have been targeted by Spurs after picking up a booking. But after the game I learned that he had in fact suffered a cut knee or shin. In any event, it was a pity for his day to be terminated early, with the BFG being brought on.

If we were the better side in the first half, we were doubly so in the second. Frankly, I was expecting more from our friends from the other end of Seven Sisters Road, but they were pretty lame and tame. Adebayor reverted to type and was anonymous throughout, save when he fluffed his one decent opening (cue lots of laughter). Soldado was poor, and Lennon not much better. Eriksen wasn’t too bad, and was the source of most of their interesting moves, but even he didn’t look a patch on any of his opponents.

Gnabry wasn’t quite as much a force in the second half as he had been in the first, but Rosicky, Cazorla and Walcott remained as energetic as ever, and they were a source of problems for Spurs’ suspect defence and undermanned midfield. The quality of our play and superiority deserved a second goal, and that arrived just past the hour, when Rosicky, breaking after we’d defended a corner, caught Danny Rose in possession on the halfway line. Having stolen the ball from Rose, Rosicky broke forward – Walker tried to make up the gap, but Rosicky held him off and, as Lloris came out, dinked the ball over the Frenchman and into the net.

rosicky v spurs 2014

With Özil and Flamini having been brought on for Arteta (who got a knock) and Wilshere, our remaining substitutes had been used up by the time Walcott picked up a knee injury. We have to hope it will prove not to be serious, Walcott certainly looked fairly chipper as he was carried around the pitch, like a mini Caesar in front of the entire bank of Spurs fans, who took the chance to bait the England man. Some might say it was silly for Walcott to respond, and there is something in that, but I can’t help but smile at the pics of Theo with his “2-0” figure salute. In response, coins rained down on Theo and the stretcher-bearers. And we had to play the remaining ten minutes of the match with ten men, which brought Spurs onto us. But they couldn’t do anything with the advantage, the closest thing to a goal in those minutes being Özil’s effort, which was well saved by Lloris.

And through we went to the 4th Round.

It’s always great to win a North London Derby, even if our superiority deserved at least one more goal, and the FA Cup does retain something of its old appeal, even in these less sentimental times, but perhaps the significance of the match is the success of playing without a hold-up striker. It probably wouldn’t work against sides stacking their defences (Cardiff, Sunderland, West Ham, Chelsea etc), but against the more ambitious teams, who will give us space, it is something we could make more use of. Walcott certainly showed how well he can function in that set-up, so long as he has plenty of support and options from the attacking midfielders behind him. But I am sure Podolski could do very well there too, even if he was off his game in his last match. It will be interesting to see if Wenger deploys it in other matches.

Fabianski: Spurs didn’t give TPIG2 much to do, but he did his job well. Good save from Eriksen. 7/10

Sagna: Excellent game from Bacary. I think he won every aerial battle he had, and didn’t put a foot wrong throughout. Linked up with Gnabry well. 8/10

Koscielny: Dominated Adebayor, generally excellent, but fluffed his lines once when under pressure from Eriksen. 7/10

Vermaelen: Did well, snuffed out Soldado’s one break. Shame that his game was ended early. 7/10

Monreal: Completely blocked off Lennon, and the Malaga link-up with Cazorla was a fertile source of opportunities. 8/10

Arteta: Ran the midfield, made Dembele look ordinary and generally allowed the side to keep its shape. 8/10

Wilshere: Not as good a game as against Cardiff – not that he played badly, but his attempts at creating attacking moves resulted in lost possession on more than one occasion. 6/10

Gnabry: Superb performance from the youngster, especially in the first half. Had a fantastic effort that was only fractionally too high, and linked up brilliantly with others, Walcott in particular. Showed maturity, creativity and bravery throughout. 8/10

Rosicky: What a fantastic performance from our Czech genius. He was everywhere, he seems to become more energetic with time. Great goal, both in its creation and execution. Sign him up, quickly. 9/10 MOTM

Cazorla: Back to his best, he really tormented the Spurs defence. Took his goal clinically. 8/10

Walcott: Fantastic performance from TW14. He and Gnabry were able to threaten Spurs with their combined pace, and lots of good link-up play. As for his injury, all Gooner fingers should be crossed. 8/10

Mertesacker: As ever, the BFG was solid, did everything right. 7/10

Flamini: Did his job well without anything standing out. 6/10

Özil: Nearly scored and played a number of good through balls. He did mess up once when on defensive duties though, and gave away a freekick in a dangerous position. 6/10

Written by 26May1989


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