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

 


Is Thomas Vermaelen still needed?

July 12, 2014

Before it starts slipping from memory I want to show my respect to Thomas Vermaelen for the vital role that he played for our wonderful club last season and the inspired decision it was, to not only keep him captain, while injured, but to allow him to collect the FA Cup at Wembley; even though, he didn’t play a single minute.

Vermaelen FA Cup

We all know the football saying that you are only as good as your back up well this is where I am coming from on this one. In my opinion it was vital that TV was kept on side and happy, ready to go if called upon.

It would have been so easy to have passed the club captaincy to either Arteta or Mertasacker during the long unfortunate periods of injury that TV suffered last season; but no, Wenger persevered with him and rightly so in my opinion.

Vermaerlen is still a very good CB and could still become a vital part of a first choice paring. This may be hard to imagine with the CB partnership of Mertasacker and Koscielny looking stronger than ever.

But, let’s not forget that there was a time, not so long ago, when this site out of respect and admiration had a picture of Vermaelen leaping like a salmon placed permanently in the top right hand corner.

vermaelen leaps

The question now is what to do next? Personally, I think it is essential that we keep him others might think an upgrade is the way forward.

Over to you.

Written by LB


She Wore.

May 17, 2014

There are signs up in Islington warning about traffic disruption for the Arsenal Victory parade on Sunday – I don’t like it. We fans know that there is many a slip twix’t the Cup and the Lip :-D

But today is a day to rejoice; a day when we can enjoy the pre-match excitement until the kick-off and a day to hail the efforts of our great team to bring us to Wembley. After kick-off is another matter entirely. For BR it will be an afternoon of prayer and working out which of my family can be sacrificed to ensure victory. Needs must.

Let’s be honest, if this was a league game at The Emirates against a depleted Hull, we would be confident – make that very confident – it is just that the game is at New Wembley (where we have yet to win in 90 mins) and is hugely important to the fans and the team. And most importantly we have screwed up these games before. Lack of bottle? Poor tactics? An inherent weakness in recent Wenger teams? Who knows – all I know is I still feel the pain of our last Wembley disaster.

images

He wore, he wore …

Another chap who probably squirms at the word Wembley is young Szczesny, which brings us nicely onto the first of our selection considerations. TPIG 1 or TPIG 2? Does Mr Wenger reward Fabainski’s work over the years he has been at the club or does he give his first choice keeper the shirt knowing he will be here next season? Both will do the job, both are excellent keepers. To me this is a head or heart question. Head = Chesney, heart = Fab. Given how pragmatic Wenger is it would not surpass me to see Fabianski on the bench, but I really hope he gets picked because without his heroics in the semi-final penalty shoot out, we wouldn’t be there (though TPIG 1 is an excellent penalty stopper).

Given this is likely to be a midfield battle should Flamini play? Huddlestone is a big unit and probability Hull’s best player. Can our lightweight MF’s cope?

Sanogo? He has started games in the cup matches and even in the Champions League. I know – no chance!!

If we win and Vermaelen is not on the pitch, should he go up to pick up the Cup? Terry did. Or will it be Arteta?

In reality the team picks itself. Had JW made an early recovery from injury he may have had a shout as a starter but he didn’t.

My Team:

fa c 2

I would love there to be space for Rosicky, JW, Ox and TV but sadly they will be riding the pine. This team is our best eleven at the moment and has easily enough skill, power and above all imagination to beat Hull.

I suppose I should write a little about Hull. Trouble is I wrote about them just a couple of weeks ago and although I am sure you have forgotten all of my post it is just repetition.

What is for certain is that the Hull team will be bursting lungs, arteries, muscles and blood vessels to beat Arsenal today. Imagine saying to your children “this is my FA Cup Winners medal” – how fantastic must that be? Certainly better than “We got to play at Wembley but got beaten and this is my Loser’s medal”.

Squishy Nose Bruce will be saying the undeniable “It is just eleven vs eleven and if you want it enough you will win”. He is right except our heroes also are better players. Hull’s best chance is to battle and harry, to “get in our faces”.  They have the players to do so.

How do you think the game will develop? I am hoping to be three up at half-time, Didit will be looking for a last minute of extra time winner (he is a young man with a strong heart). Whatever happens I want us to win – I would love us to do so with brio and Wengerball but I would take a scrappy own goal and a poor display – as long as we win.

Prediction: Podolski or Cazorla will score a screamer from the edge of the area and if Ramsey plays well we will win – there I’ve said it and put a bok on the lads. They are likely to play terribly :-(

Like the vast majority I will be watching this at home, bereft and sad that I am not with my heroes. I wasn’t there in Paris for the CL Final, I wasn’t there for the Birmingham caper,  I wasn’t there for the FAC Final losses to West Ham or Ipswich. My point being that my non-appearance at a final can be costly, in other words …. does anyone have a spare?  I can fly over as long as I have a few hours notice!

That said I wasn’t there for the ’71 double win against Liverpool and I was in Paris for the “Nayim” loss – so they aren’t all bad portents for this afternoon.

To those lucky blighters who have tickets, Big Raddy and the entire Arsenal world wish you a fantastic day.

Today is 6 weeks since our good friend and great Gunner DanDan died.  Wouldn’t be a fitting end to his final season if Arsenal won the Cup? Let it be So ……

COYRR Gunners

written by Big Raddy


Wham Bang, thank you Arsenal.

April 16, 2014

What I want to know is this: exactly what happened in the dressing room at half time? Any ideas? Was it even legal?

The first half was one of those end of season games between two mid-table sides with nothing to play for. Only it shouldn’t have been. Sure, the odd bit of skill here and there, but generally looking more like twenty two footballers who had never met before.

So, the first half rumbled on until, and oh thank you West Ham, a goal, and then all change. Arsenal reacted, and no surprise it was Podolski who pulled us level. The Man can shoot accurately and hard.

Into the dressing room at 1-1. Now, I’ve never had Arsène down as a natural motivator, which is fine so long as you have natural leaders and fighters on the pitch and I’ve had my doubts that we do. I was beginning to believe the gutter press, particularly with regards to Santi, but he in particular, but also the entire side in general, were clearly introduced to each other at half time, and a new side emerged for the second forty five.

Energy, drive, understanding and desire was evident from the Arsenal XI.

In the fiftieth minute, Ollie climbed into DB10’s football boots, controlled the ball with the most exquisite of touches and buried the ball with a superb finish. Sheer quality. Twenty odd minutes later, and Podolski slammed home his second and Arsenal’s third. Job done.

At this stage of the season, and given the closeness of the battle for forth with Everton, it was always the points that most mattered, but the nature of the second half performance gave room for massive optimism.

Verm played a disciplined and excellent game, and the importance of quality in depth was further highlighted by the introduction of Aaron late in the game. With the likely return of Mesut for part of the run in, and of course my favourite Ox in the wings, I’d image we could be savouring some great performances as well as the necessary points.

Written by MickyDidIt

 

We have two posts today, here are kelsey’s thoughts on the game……….

 

Arsenal burst West Ham’s Bubble.

Many questions were asked before the game. Would the draining one hundred and twenty minutes on the Wembley turf would take its toll on our depleted squad with only three  days respite between the two games? Who would have recovered in time yet keeping a balance in the side?

Wenger decided to make five changes and in the end they were more than justified. Every game in the run in is a massive match and the jostling for fourth place might not see an outcome until the final day.

For the first half an hour apart from a glaring miss by Giroud, our play was nervous and generally lacked pace and a real threat, then invariably in one of West Ham’s rare attacks Jarvis scored a header which in all fairness was a messy goal and thoughts returned again to “oh no”.

Of course the ideal situation is to fight back immediately and just before half time Podolski let fly with his lethal left foot.

“Goals change games” , a phrase often used and the Arsenal team that came out in the second half had a spring in it’s step and was more like the side we had been watching a couple of months ago .

Giroud, the enigma he is, scored a fantastic goal and the when the tired Rosicky game off the introduction of Ramsey showed how much we had missed him and within minutes his dinked header into the path of our left footed German nearly broke the net, and the game was won.

It was a much changed team and it was nice to see Cazorla back to his best after a slow start. He seems to save his best performances for Home games and I just can’t work Giroud out. He generally misses the easy chances yet converts the more difficult ones. Maybe with him and even Podolski to an extent it’s just regaining confidence.

Another who surprised me was Arteta, though not foot perfect, he and mainly the whole team seemed to have been revitalised after the Cup win, and that bodes well for the run in.

I keep repeating it, but Sagna should be retained if possible. He even found himself in the centre forward position on one occasion and his energy levels are amazing. He maybe getting on,but a player who can naturally play in at least three different positions is invaluable.

All in all a very satisfactory performance and a vital three points. Others are still to come back and by the weekend including most probablty Ozil and Oxdale-Chamberlain, we may well then  have a selection problem. It’s a “Funny old game”, that’s why we love it and emotions swing up and down several times in just ninety minutes.

Well played lads, today we are smiling :)

Written by kelsey


Can he inspire us to another win in Germany?

March 11, 2014

One of our own is out there. A solo mission without backup and on his birthday. Can he do it again? Can Didit’s positive energy inspire The Arsenal to another surprise win? It has worked before so it could work again – perhaps he is the lucky charm.

Big Raddy is a logical man, not prone to flights of fancy nor believing in things which cannot be proven …. and yet …. I still believe in lucky socks, lucky wine, lucky mints +++ When I go to The Emirates I have to take a certain route to the ground and drink in a lucky pub. My guess is that you have rituals as well, so why shouldn’t Micky’s presence affect the result?

I could write at length about this wonderful Bayern team – you will have read or heard all the stats – they are the best team ever in the Bundesliga which is some achievement. They have averaged almost 3 goals a game at home and have only lost twice in 100 home games – we know who inflicted one of those losses  :-)

Unknown-1

So, despite Guardiola’s assertions, BM are huge favourites to win the game and the tie. But  ….. we have reasons for quiet confidence. We have won there before, we have just beaten a good Everton side, we were better than BM prior to Szczesny’s sending off and we are The Arsenal. Plus we have our secret agent  ……

It is remarkable that we have beaten both Bayern and Borussia in their own grounds on our last two visits to Germany. Which other team in world football can say the same? I will tell you …. none

My Team:

b v a

Gibbs has a late fitness test and Monreal is just recovering from his foot knack so given the inexperience of both Jenks and Bacary playing left back I would prefer to see Captain Fantastic playing there  – he has done so in the past and it allows us to play the dreaded 3 at the back.

Give Podolski a run on the hour and perhaps give Gnabry a kickabout should we be losing (highly unlikely)  on 75 minutes – just to show the Germans what they have allowed to slip away.

Munchen: In Old German means “place of the monks” (unsurprisingly) because the Benedicitne monks established a monastery in the area. It was officially granted city status in 1175 and was a stopping point on the Old Salt Route through Germany. The city expanded rapidly when Duke Louis of Bavaria was crowned German king in 1314 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1328. He gave Munchen the salt monopoly which brought great wealth into the city and by the 15thC it was a gothic centre for arts and architecture.. By 1506 Munchen had become the capital of the independent  state of Bavaria (later to become a Kingdom) and remained so until the unification of Germany in 1871 .

Pre-match we will be split in our predictions between the optimists and the other less smiley people but come match time we shall all unite behind our team. There is a chance we can recover from an undeserved home defeat and without belief all is lost. A similar scoreline to last season will take us to penalties  …. errrm  ….. we need to score 3 !

A final note …. About now Micky will be climbing Mt. Wank singing songs from the Sound of Music – which song do you think he will sing at the summit? I am going for “High on a Hill was a Lonely Goatherd”. :-)

Written by BigRaddy


The centre-back conundrum that nobody mentions….

January 11, 2014
Since the beginning of the season, Arsenal has been solid defensively in most games (the game against Man City, remaining one important exception) as the team has learned to defend as a block but has also benefited from the strong defensive display of the “Per-Kos” pair and the discipline and dirty work carried out by Flamini and/or Arteta.
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However, Flamini, Metersacker and Koscielny are very much prone to injuries (all three of them!) and/or suspensions (esp. Kos and Flamini). With everybody calling our for a new striker or forward to enhance our bid for our first EPL title in a decade, one should not overlook the importance of having quality defensive players at our disposal…
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If Flamini can be somehow replaced by the likes of Arteta and even by Ramsey/Wilshere/Rosicky on occasion (Will Diaby ever get fit again?), it seems that at the moment, we are a bit short at the centre-back position. Vermaelen is not the “Verminator” anymore and although he is hard-working and committed, his injury and error-prone records in the past two years does not really make him a “truly reliable” back-up. As a result and since our team’s good form this season has been strongly based on our defensive strength, wouldn’t it make sense to (also?) look into purchasing a quality centre-back to give reliable back-up to the “Per-Kos” pair?
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If so, which players could be approached?
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Written by RC78

Old wine, or new bottle, or old wine in new bottle?

December 31, 2013

End of the year, and part of the ritual is to take stock, and look forward towards the future with glorious plans and renewed expectations. And what a fantastic year this has been for Arsenal fans! At the midway stage in the Premier League last year, Arsenal was lying 7th, well off the pace for Champions League qualification, and even off Spursday football places. Qualifying second in their group, Arsenal faced a tough round of 16 encounter against Bayern Munich, one of the best teams in Europe at that stage. With significant changes to the Board, a new owner in tow, there were uncertain times for the club management. The fans were up in arms, with substantial ammunition provided by a negative press, dubious pundits and even the Arsenal Supporters Trust. Difficult times indeed!

But Arsenal managed to make a fantastic turnaround. Attaining qualification for CL was nothing short of a miracle! Yes, Arsenal lost out in a two leg epic battle against eventual winners Bayern, but before that showed their mettle in an amazing 2-0 away victory. Despite all the negativity, good progress was made in the summer transfer window. The progress continued in the current season, and Arsenal is sitting at the Top of the Premier League at the halfway stage. Qualification to the Champions League was gained from the aptly termed “Group of Death”. Grudging acknowledgement of Arsenal’s strength and mettle is gently arising from beneath the rubble of disdain and the green fumes of envy. Indeed, if the league was played over the calendar year, Arsenal would have been Champions of 2013. Oh, what a year this has been!!!

 

per and kosser

All in all, a good year in prospect. There are plenty of challenges yet to be met. Plenty of time still before we even begin to celebrate the achievements of this team. But, also plenty of positive vibes and expectation in tow. So AA ers, looking towards the future, what did we learn new about Arsenal this year, and what were we reminded of afresh, that we did not know with so much certainty one year back? Let us discuss. Here are a few of my tentative suggestions. It was not all rosy, though. Injuries continued through the year. The squad seems a bit thin. Progression to the round of 16 in the Champions League was gained, but only in second place. Like last year, we have drawn Bayern Munich. Lovely games in prospect, but significant challenges as well. And if the vitriol from the fans is a bit subdued due to the sustained run of fine results and resilience in the field of play, the negativity from the press and pundits continues unabated. Perhaps most importantly, whether by luck or design, Arsenal continues to be at the receiving end of poor refereeing decisions. Alas, some things never seem to change!

First, same time last year we did not know what a fantastic central defensive partnership, together with a very competent goalkeeper, we were developing. Indeed a large part of our success this year owes itself to the fantastic defensive pairing of Per and Kos. What a duo!!! And what a great leader in our beloved BFG! When Verms got injured, who would have thought we would have such a strong defence where even a fit squad captain cannot find a place?

Per and kossser 2

Second, one of the best revelations of the year was the discovery that Ramsey had developed into such a fantastic player. He was the subject of much of the blame and vitriol during our indifferent showing in 2012. Perhaps somewhat undeservedly. But our beloved Rambo rubbed all these adversities off his shirt, returned in style from his long standing injury, and has grown to the stature of one of the best midfielders in the League, perhaps in Europe as well.

Ramsey

He has shown a very mature head as well, leading for his country at a very young age. In tow, Jack Wilshere is developing into a fine player, if somewhat idiosyncratic on occasions. Together with Theo, the Ox, Gibbs and Jenks, they also form a British core to the team which had been somewhat deficient for a while. Who would have thought a year back that Rambo would develop into such a fantastic and dependable player, and Jack’s game will be coming along so nicely as well?

The English players

Third, one of the most encouraging developments of the year, at least for me, was the maturity with which the owner Kroenke, Gazidis and the Board conducted themselves. Perhaps the best development was that the Board did not interfere in footballing matters, leaving team and signing decisions to the people who know best, led by one Arsene Wenger. If you think that this is not a surprise, look around at other clubs. Several clubs have met with significant disasters as a result of owner power, such as the Spuds, Cardiff and even the Chavs, and in some others the environment is not very nice even if the performance has not been equally devastating.

The principles of the club, that a fantastic team can be developed without wasting money on the wasteful purchase of overpriced bench idols, was not compromised by a new owner and a new look Board. Surely, this was not a given at the start of the year, after the club had gone through a rather aggressive ownership contest and change of hands.

Fourth, amid the mantra of financial fairplay and traditional hesitancy to spend big money, and the recovery from an expensive move to the Emirates, who would have thought that Arsenal would spend their money where it mattered most?

Ozil

In the procurement of one Mesut Ozil, who despite his tentative adjustment to English football and the Arsenal way of playing the game, has given the team something really special, Arsenal showed purpose and ambition, and real ability to deliver trophies. This came together with the free transfer of one Mathieu Flamini – ah, what a fantastic transfer move!

flamini

Fifth, against the backdrop of significant unrest and disquiet among good-weather fans, ably supported by the press and pundits, who would have thought that the positive outlook of a sane fan-base would shine through? The struggle against the doubters and doomday-usherers still continues in earnest, in ArsenalArsenal and elsewhere, but The Home of Football still reverberates with the positive chants and outlook towards the new dawn awaiting in the New Year!!!!

AA ers, what do you think? My final thoughts are:

COYG! Onwards and Upwards!! A fantastic year 2014 awaits!!!!

Written by arnie

Arsenal Record 2013 Calendar Year

P W D L F A GD Pts
38 25 7 6 70 34 36 82

Where would 82 points put us in seasons past?

SEASON Winners P W D L F A GD Pts AFC on 82 points
2008-09 Utd 38 28 6 4 68 24 44 90 4th
2009-10 Chavs 38 27 5 6 103 32 71 86 3rd
2010-11 Utd 38 23 11 4 78 37 41 80 1st
2011-12 Oilers 38 28 5 5 94 29 65 89 3rd
2012-13 Utd 38 28 5 5 86 43 43 89 2nd

Chart by MickyDidIt

2013 Calendar Year League Table

P W D L F A GD Points vs Top 7 Total Home Total Away
Arsenal 38 25 7 6 70 33 37 82 10 19 19
Shitty 38 25 5 8 86 39 47 80 10 19 19
Chavs 38 23 8 7 71 40 31 77 10 20 18
ManUre 38 23 8 7 70 37 33 77 11 19 19
Spuds 38 21 10 7 55 46 9 73 10 19 19
Dippers 38 21 9 8 87 39 48 72 9 18 20
Everton 38 18 13 7 54 35 19 67 11 20 18
Toon 38 16 6 16 51 62 -11 54 13 19 19
Southampton 38 12 15 11 49 43 6 51 13 19 19
Villa 38 11 10 17 50 58 -8 43 11 20 18
Swansea 38 10 12 16 44 54 -10 42 12 18 20
Norwich 38 9 11 18 37 62 -25 38 12 20 18
Fulham 38 11 5 22 39 67 -28 38 12 19 19
West Ham 38 9 11 18 41 57 -16 38 12 19 19
Stokies 38 8 11 19 34 60 -26 35 11 19 19
WBA 38 7 13 18 45 61 -16 34 12 18 20
Sunderland 38 7 10 21 36 62 -26 31 12 19 19

Stat Overkill by GiE


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