Fourplay gets us going: Newcastle report & player ratings

February 17, 2020

Four goals, four different scorers, four contenders for Man of the Match… not a bad way to spend a stormy Sunday afternoon.

Since Mikel Arteta took over from Unai Emery we’ve had more draws than a Welsh dresser.

But with our defensive solidity and team organisation gradually improving it always felt like a matter of time before the dam would burst and we gave someone a proper spanking.

Yesterday was that day. The dam was duly breached and poor old Newcastle United (and their likeable manager Steve Bruce) were the spankees.

We started the day level on points with the Barcodes, who were on an eight game unbeaten run, so this was hardly a foregone conclusion.

An extended break in Dubai had given Arteta his first real chance to work properly with the team without the pressure of imminent games. We all wondered whether this exercise would mean changes in the look of the team and El Patron did not let us down.

Misfiring Lacazette was dropped and Eddie Nketieh preferred at centre forward; there was no Torreira or Guendouzi, with Ceballos getting his first start under Arteta; Mustafi got the nod ahead of Sokratis and Saka kept his place at left back despite Kolasinac being available.

With all that preparation time and so many bold selection decisions, it seemed inevitable we’d come out of the blocks like Usain Bolt, right? Wrong.

For half an hour we were mostly terrible: misplaced passes, lack of running off the ball, no control in midfield, no goal threat… it was as if our minds were still on the beach in Dubai.

Newcastle had been busy in the January window and had two debutants eager to make an impression (former Spud Danny Rose, who looked liked he’d eaten too many boxes of Cadbury’s Roses, and Valentino Lazaro). They took the game to us and were getting into dangerous positions at will. Lazaro, in particular, was causing problems for Bellerin.

Only a smart save from Leno (after a shot was diverted by Ceballos’s head) kept us from going behind.

It was painful viewing and the crowd was starting to grumble.

Then, about 30 minutes in, something changed. Feel free to share your opinions of what that something was, but to my mind it was that one key player stepped up and took hold of the game.

That man was Mesut Ozil, a player to whom Winston Churchill’s famous description of Russia (a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma) could just as easily apply.

Regardless of Ozil’s skills – and they are silkier than a silkworm in a slinky nightgown – people often say they wish he would “boss” games more. Well, that’s exactly what he did here.

Suddenly he was everywhere in the middle of the park, receiving passes and moving the ball on quickly, finding team mates in great positions and opening up our play. This in turn forced Newcastle onto the back foot and reduced the threat they had been posing.

It was 0-0 at half time but you could see we were getting the upper hand, and the second half continued in the same vein. Xhaka-Ceballos-Ozil had somehow transformed themselves from the Three Stooges of the first half hour into a Holy Trinity that controlled the rest of the game.

The first goal, after 54 minutes, was a fine header from Aubameyang (inexplicably unchallenged in the Toon box) after a simple cross from Pepe. Three minutes later came the best goal of the game: Aubameyang fed Saka down the left wing, the young Londoner bamboozled two defenders with a neat turn and a nutmeg and pulled back a low cross for Pepe. Pepe’s finish was pure class. I know it looked easy, but many players would have blasted it and I loved the fact that Pepe passed it into the corner of the net. That sort of composure and clear thinking in front of goal betokens many more sweet scores to come.

We had one or two scares at 2-0, including a good effort by Saint-Maximin which came back off the inside of the post, but overall we were still in control.

We wrapped it up late on, first with an Ozil tap-in following a wonderful spell of pass-and-move play. Lacazette’s neat turn and pass for the assist was nice, too. Then Laca finally ended his goal drought after nice set-up play by Willock (on as a sub) and Pepe.

After a shaky start it turned out to be an excellent team performance with many stand-out players. I have seen people suggest four different options as Man of the Match – Pepe, Ozil, Saka and Ceballos – which shows how good we were.

Here’s hoping this is the start of a run of wins and a climb up the table. The confidence this performance will bring will certainly do no harm.

Player Ratings

Leno 7

Made saves when called on. Didn’t do anything wrong.

Bellerin 6.5

Struggled in the first half hour as Newcastle attacked down our right, but settled down thereafter and did well.

Saka 8

What a talent this young man is. Fast, fearless, strong and skilful.

Mustafi 7.5

Won everything in the air against a big physical team, used the ball well and opted for Row Z when called for. A very encouraging performance.

Luiz 7

Organised and tidy. His reading of the game was first rate.

Xhaka 7

Frustrating as his silly yellow card was, he played a full part in us taking control of the game after the first 30.

Ceballos 8

A surprise inclusion in the starting line-up, Dani was excellent throughout and was our best player in the early part of the game when the rest of the team was struggling. He can dribble and can see a pass, but I was also encouraged by his willingness to get stuck in.

Ozil 8.5 MOTM

A Mesut Masterclass. On this kind of form he is absolutely world class. He pulled the strings and Newcastle were tied in knots. His late goal shades him the MOTM honour just ahead of the other contenders.

Aubameyang 7

He was too wide in the first period of play and his touch looked off once or twice. At half time Arteta instructed him to get closer to Nketieh and that saw him become much more involved. He was involved in a lot of our good link-up play (including for Pepe’s goal) and got the scoring started with a well directed header.

Pepe 8

OK, I’ll confess I was starting to have some doubts about Pepe, but this performance blew them away. He was a constant threat and took his goal really well. If he can keep this form up we have a real player on our hands.

Nketieh 6.5

Little service in the first half hour, but worked hard. Should have got on the scoresheet with a shot that hit the crossbar. It was certainly difficult (the ball was slightly behind him) but he needs to put those types of chances away.

Subs

Torreira 6

Tidy, but had little to do.

Lacazette 7

Got his goal. More now please, Laca.

Willock 6

Not much time to make an impression, but he was involved in our final goal.

RockyLives


Dennis kicking up a storm at The Emirates ….. so what’s new?

February 15, 2020

So where were we ……… oh yes, we were on a run of draws.

As we go into each game with Arteta in charge there is a hope that ‘this’ game is going to be the one that brings a win. It doesn’t matter if I do the pre-match or Rocky does the pre-match, somebody somewhere isn’t wearing their lucky socks.

Today we have to hope that the brutally wild weather doesn’t go against us. As I write, the wind and rain are lashing against my windows and I have to wonder how much protection the high sides of The Emirates are going to afford all of us …… players and supporters alike.

It’ll be quite a contrast to the warm weather training and fun the squad have been having during the break in Dubai.

Burnley’s win yesterday means we start the day in 11th, on the same points as Newcastle who are our opposition today. We still have a goal difference of minus 2!!!!

We have won precisely 6 games in the EPL this season, the first of those was against Newcastle on the opening weekend. The hiatus of beating ManU on the 1st Jan has long since evaporated and yet as a work in progress I do feel excited at the thought of keeping a clean sheet 😁 and the attack coming together to produce some moments of magic (that end with the ball in the back of the net – no pressure lads).

I usually like to stick in a few stats about our current form and the head to head record against the opposition but our stats are crap currently although we do have a good record against Newcastle, winning 13 out of the last 14. Arteta is still talking about building defensive stability, here’s what he had to say ………

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta: “I think we have to generate some defensive stability, but not by defending deep. I don’t like that.

“It’s by defending high and pressing the opponent as much as possible. But the process – together as many times as possible in the most efficient way – has to be done properly from here.

“If not, in two passes when you arrive there, that transition is impossible to control because you are too far from the opponent. So we need to do that well first to be able to generate and sustain our attacks as many times as possible during the games.”

It’s how he makes us transition from defensive stability to scoring that will be interesting to watch. Maybe today we’ll take our early chances because that’s where we’ve been undone lately.

I’d like to see this team ……..

Leno

Bellerin   Sokratis   Luiz   Saka

Torreira   Xhaka

Ozil

Martinelli   Lacazette   Aubameyang

Actually I prefer to see Martinelli on the left as I think he and Saka have a good understanding but the front three are usually quite fluid. With a Europa game coming up, Arteta may play the team he wants to play on Thursday and use Willock instead of Ozil, how does he fit Nelson into the team? Ok, well that’s his problem.

Who would you choose to play?

Thank you to Fred for reminding us that today is the anniversary of our epic 2-1 win against Barcelona …… in 2011!!

RIP Caroline Flack …… be kind to each other on social media, such a terrible waste of a life.

peachesgooner


The future of AFC – They don’t grow on trees you know.

February 15, 2020

Morning all, following on from some interesting and varied comments on RC78’s team balance post we had recently, I thought it would be an idea to analyse how strong I feel we currently are in each department, to ascertain which positions we feel we need to spend big on, which positions we need to add more moderately priced back up to, and which positions should we defer adding to and be patient while we establish whether we already have what we already need, likely through the rapid emergence of a young prospect?

My opinions are really just that, so I trust and hope that you will all contribute as to what you feel we should be doing in the summer transfer window, and why. Obviously feel free to obliterate and rubbish any of what I suggest.

My pragmatic head says that we will not be able to recruit and get every position spot on and top drawer after half a season with Arteta. I have often referred to us as being at the start of the Liverpool / Klopp route of development towards an end goal of a high quality title challenging squad over the next 2-3 seasons, and that every 6 months more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle should fall into place. As such I would suggest that after this summers TW, and going into next season, we should have plugged some much needed gaps, but may still have certain question marks, and be left waiting to find out whether some of our current players, especially the young ones, can become what is required before we “over-recruit”.

Going through our team from back to front I would say the following:

Keepers – I am happy with our first choice and back up keepers. Leno, Martinez, and even a couple of our youth prospects all look very good to me right now, and yet all still have further room to improve in certain aspects of their specialist position. Any expenditure here would be a waste of funds much needed elsewhere in my opinion.

Full-backs – I am happy with our first choice and back-up full-back options when fully fit (Bellerin, AMN, Tierney, Kola) but would probably play AMN ahead of Soares. AMN has done well recently in Arteta’s improved tactical formations so why would we play someone who couldn’t get in the Southampton team over a home grown lad? Is Soares not a loan of convenience to suit all parties before we get players back from injury and he seeks somewhere else in the summer. If he does have more about him then we will find out, but that will be a nice problem to have. Again I feel overall that this position would constitute unnecessary expenditure in the immediate future.

 Centre backs – this is a difficult one to assess because we have Saliba arriving who, if highly encouraging reports from France are to be believed, seems destined to be a 1st choice CB immediately, even at his young age. Luiz has played well recently and, again if fully fit, I feel both Holding and Chambers have the potential to be a 1st choice CB, and we will have that option on Mari as well once we see him more.

I do feel there will likely be some movement in and out in this position. We have the numbers for this position but may be looking to upgrade in quality. Arguably we need another high quality additional CB as well as Saliba coming in, but then I would say that 2, (or possibly 3), of our current incumbents will need to go. Who though?

Defensive and Central Midfield – At defensive and central midfield we arguably need an Ndidi type player, but again under Arteta’s improved tactics we have looked more solid with both Xhaka and Torreira sitting at the base of the midfield sometimes together and sometimes with a box to box type. Willock and Douzi both strike me as more number 8 or box to box types, and Emile Smith-Rowe could also be added to those two as one of the two positions he could eventually become a key player in. If we do add someone I think we may potentially need to lose one of the above due to excessive numbers resulting in a lack of game time for one or two of them. Again who would that be?

Attacking mid-field options – Looking at the ACM / number 10 and the attacking wide position in conjunction we have a lot of options. At attacking CM / number 10 we arguably need an addition with Ozil’s time left with us being limited, but also his consistent effectiveness in the role being questionable. There are some games where he still seems to be the man but it is not consistent and all successful top teams have a consistent, rather than sporadic, creator in chief. Could Lacazette move there as more of a deep number 10 striker, rather than an attacking central midfielder, as an option that many of us have suggested. That seems to split opinions and I do see both sides of the argument with this.

After that consider our other young options from what we already have. I concur with some others that ESR, a player who I feel has a very high ceiling (injuries and correct development permitting), can become that player. Not only that, but we have a number of other quality young players that at the moment would be considered more as attacking wide players but some of whom may be able to play the ACM or number 10 role.

For me any of Martinelli, Saka, Pepe, Nelson could become a great option at ACM or number 10 as well, but we would need to find out by trying it. Any extra addition to the attacking wide or central positions will thwart one or two of these youngsters and I think 1-2 will be forced to leave before we have even found out how good they can become. That is why I would potentially turn down the pursuit of a player like Grealish, despite the fact that I really rate him.

We don’t lack for numbers in players who can take up attacking wide or central positions; Pepe, Martinelli, Saka, Smith-Rowe, Nelson. If we were to add a creative CM or another number 8 type, I would suggest it would have to be one of a high level of proven quality in the EPL and not just another developing type or someone unproven in the EPL. It would have to be a Grealish or Maddison, if that addition were to effectively call time on one or two of our other young prospects in their development through lack of game time, and therefore their future at the club.

Our number 9 – Now to the final position and the one that I, possibly controversially, think we should be looking at as the most serious and high level investment in this summer….the number 9. That would seem strange bearing in mind we currently have 2 senior strikers in Lacazette and Aubamayeng who most teams would be very happy with. Both of those players have been linked with other high profile clubs, possibly less Lacazette on recent form, but this is the key position in the team where we have the most uncertainty.

We have Martinelli who can potentially play there, but such is his energy and ability from wide and deeper positions I think we would stifle him, with less contact time on the ball, by playing him as a 9. I would prefer to see him continue as a goal-scoring attacking wide player or possibly a central slightly deeper 10 where he can still drop more and get on the ball as well as into the box.

I want to see both Nketieh and John Jules brought more into the first team environment as number 9’s, but it would be extremely dangerous to assume they could step in and replace what Aubamayeng and Lacazette give us. Those 2, like Martinelli, give us great alternative options and possibly top level first choice solutions in the future, and as such should be focussed on in bringing them through. They would, however, require another senior striker, to lessen the pressure on their development, in the absence of both Aubamayeng and Lacazette.

Signing a contract extension or moving our two senior strikers on needs to be decided with both of them this summer (ideally before the Euros), and both have been holding back on signing extensions and maybe have an eye on being elsewhere. Also, from our own end, their ages will be starting to count against them in what they can provide at the highest level and for how long. I wonder whether more than a couple more seasons at the top level will be seen, maybe 3 in Lacazettes case, so this needs to be factored in to consideration.

In addition, despite both being very good strikers, there remain question marks over how effectively we can play them together, or if not together, how we rotate them with each other while keeping both happy with being rotated. That is a lot of stars that need to align for both our current senior strikers to represent our future beyond this summer, and for us not to have a significant need in high level recruitment in this position in the summer. However………..these types of players don’t grow on trees you know.

You only have to look at the January transfer window which saw many top clubs scratching around trying to find strikers to cover them or strengthen them. There seems to a dearth of top quality proven options in a good age group. In our case, and the case of all top EPL sides, we need a striker with both the qualities of being effective at European level, but also to have the right attributes to be effective in the more physical EPL. This narrows down viable options even further for the top 6 EPL teams compared to other top European clubs.

There is one striker I feel fits the bill though, and one I feel could be on the move so will be attainable, and that is Moussa Dembele from Lyon. In the summer he will just be turning 24 so is an excellent age, but still with time to improve even further. Before Lyon he was at Celtic for a successful stint, so has a proven pedigree in a more physical “British” league. He has an excellent goal-scoring record at both Celtic and Lyon and looks quick and very strong, ideal requirements for the EPL. I just can’t see another striker out there, or emerging, that has all of these attributes.

We would not be without competition for him, so we would need to sell it to him that Arsenal is the best place for him for the next stage of his career. If our 2 current senior strikers, or at least one of them, were leaving that would indicate he would be the main man, which is a big selling point. He will not be cheap either which is why I am suggesting that the greatest part of any budget we have, and any funds from other sales, goes on this player.

As I have mentioned we cannot realistically get high quality and expensive upgrades in all areas of the team in this next transfer window but, as I have outlined, I think we can be considered reasonably well covered in most other positions in the squad, if we just retain what we have and bring a couple more young prospects into the fray more. However I feel a top number 9 that can be prolific in both Europe and the EPL is not only currently hard to come by, but will remain so for the next couple of years, so I feel we should go in big and strike now before the opportunity passes us by.

If you made it to the end of this I have one simple question…….what do you think? 🙂

GoonerB

……………. and then RC78, who is obviously not finished with this topic, sent a further follow up which has been tacked on here ……………..

If we do not buy any players and rely on our current crop of young players, our squad could look like this under Arteta in 2 years:

Leno – Bellerin, Chambers, Saliba, Tierney – Torreira, Douzi – Pepe, Willock (or Smithe Rowe), Saka – Martinelli

Do you think that with two years more, this team could fare well in the EPL or do we need to strengthen this summer in key positions with players that are currently above 25 years old but that come with more skills and experiences like Koulibaly, Milinko Savic, Brozovic and Grealish?

So what to do? Give a chance to our youth and hope they develop into fine players or give them less playing time and buy some more confirmed players?

The choice is yours…


Arsenal’s Worst Team of the Decade – according to AA readers

February 14, 2020

Yesterday we revealed the Arsenal Team of the Decade (2010-2019) as voted by the readers of Arsenal Arsenal.

Now, by popular demand, here is the Worst Team of the Decade – in other words, the team made up of the players who received the fewest votes in each category.

Where players are tied on the same (low) percentage of votes (because of rounding up to percentages), I have dug into the actual votes cast to see who got the smallest number and earned a place in our Team of Shame.

I can’t say I’m entirely happy putting out our Worst Team of the Decade for public consumption. The players in this team, regardless of how highly we rate them now, all had my full support when they pulled on the Arsenal colours and many of them had good spells and excellent games from time to time.

In fact, when you look at the team, it could actually perform quite well with a fair wind (although I think it would struggle to score goals).

Still, it’s a Darwinian world and where there are winners there have to be losers.

One surprising factor in our week of voting for the best players of the decade is that every single player received at least one vote. No-one scored a zero, which just goes to show. What it shows, I have no idea.

Below we’ve listed the results in full for every player in every category. Peruse at your leisure.

But first, here’s the line-up for a team that won’t be receiving any Valentines Day cards from Arsenal fans today:

 

Vote Results in Full

Goalkeeper

Leno                  38%

Szczesny           37%

Cech                   18%

Fabianski           3%

Ospina                3%

Almunia             1%

Mannone            1%

Right Back

Sagna                 71%

Bellerin              20%

Eboue                   3%

Maitland-Niles     2%

Debuchy                2%

Jenkinson              1%

Lichtsteiner           1%

Left Back

Monreal              66%

Clichy                   23%

Kolasinac               6%

Gibbs                      4%

Santos                     1%

Centre Backs

Koscielny              41%

Mertesacker         33%

Vermaelen            13%

Gallas                       4%

Holding                    2%

Gabriel                     2%

Sokratis                    2%

Mustafi                     1%

Djourou                    1%

Squillaci                   1%

Defensive/Holding Midfielder

Arteta                     30%

Song                        22%

Torreira                  21%

Xhaka                      11%

Coquelin                   7%

Flamini                     7%

Denilson                    2%

Elneny                        1%

Midfielders

Cazorla                    38%

Fabregas                  28%

Ramsey                    13%

Ozil                            11%

Rosicky                        5%

Diaby                           3%

Wilshere                     2%

Guendouzi                  1%

Benayoun                   0% (Rounded down to 0%, but Yossi scored a single vote!).

Wide Attackers

Aubameyang            38%

Walcott                       15%

Arshavin                     12%

Podolski                      11%

Nasri                              9%

Oxlade-Chamberlain  6%

Gnabry                          3%

Iwobi                              2%

Campbell                       1%

Gervinho                       1%

Mkhitaryan                   1%

Central Striker

Van Persie                   54%

Sanchez                       18%

Giroud                          13%

Lacazette                        5%

Eduardo                          3%

Welbecl                           2%

Bendtner                         2%

Chamakh                        1%

RockyLives


No place for Sanchez, Ozil or Hector: Arsenal’s Team of the Decade – how you voted.

February 13, 2020

Sound the drumroll, raise the curtain,  set off the fireworks. Here it is: Arsenal’s Team of the Decade (2010-2019) as voted by YOU, the wonderful readers of AA.

Feast your eyes and let it sink in:

That’s right, there’s no place for Petr Cech, or for Aaron Ramsey, or Mesut Ozil, or Alex Song or… well, you get the point.

The line-up looks to me like a strong team that would give anyone a tough game (especially when all these players were at their peak), but I have two big reservations about it:

One, I suspect that there won’t be a single supporter who is fully happy with this line-up and who would not prefer to tweak it. That’s the drawback with the public vote format. For example, in midfield, Cazorla and Fabregas were first and second in votes, but how many people who voted for either would have preferred them alongside a more box-to-box player like Ramsey?

Two, even though these are our best players of the decade as chosen by you, I don’t think I could put my hand on my heart and say that this team would have won the league in any given season between 2010 and 2019. Possibly in 2015/16 when Leicester City were champions, but even then I’m not sure.

You’d hope there would be plenty of goals from the front three plus Cesc and Santi, but we’d be relying on Arteta as a deep lying creative player rather than a midfield stopper like Song or Torreira. Will that provide the back four with enough protection?

What do you think?

First some facts and figures. I won’t go through all the numbers today, but here is how the voting breaks down for the most popular two or three players in each category:

Goalkeeper

This was the closest head-to-head, with our current ‘keeper just edging out the Pole in Goal. I expected Cech to gain more votes than he did.

Leno                38%

Szczesny          37%

Cech                18%

Right Back

No doubt about who the winner was here.

Sagna              71%

Bellerin           20%

Left Back

Perhaps a little surprising that Nacho romped home so comfortably ahead of the likes of Clichy, Gibbs and Kolasinac, but he was our most consistent LB during the decade.

Monreal          66%

Clichy               23%

Centre Backs

These three were well ahead of the also-rans. I wonder if the fact that it’s been so long since we saw Tommy V in Arsenal colours kept his vote lower than it might have been.

Koscielny         41%

Mertesacker    33%

Vermaelen      13%

Defensive/Holding Midfielder

Another close one and a bit of a surprise, to me at least. It seems voters favoured control and playmaking from deep over defensive tenacity. However, it’s nice that our current head coach is in our Team of the Decade.

Arteta              30%

Song                22%

Torreira           21%

Midfielders

I expected Cesc to walk this one, but we were spoilt for choice and I can’t say that Santi doesn’t deserve to be top choice.

Cazorla            38%

Fabregas         28%

Ramsey           13%

Wide Attackers

A clear winner, but it was close between the next three (Nasri was not far behind Podolski).

Aubameyang   38%

Walcott           15%

Arshavin         12%

Podolski           11%

Central Striker

Robin was a terrific player but I was surprised he was such an emphatic winner. Alexis did well here, but I’m aware some readers would have preferred to have him as an option in the Wide Attackers category.

Van Persie       54%

Sanchez           18%

Giroud             13%

Using the most popular choices after the winners in each category, we have the following (very strong) Substitutes Bench*:

Szczesny, Clichy, Vermaelan, Song, Ramsey, Arshavin, Sanchez.

*Based on the current EPL rules of allowing seven subs.

Before you get stuck in in comments, AA would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who voted. We had well over 1,500 votes in all the categories so we really can say this poll is representative of how we fans feel about the players who were with us during 2010-2019.

Tomorrow we’ll reveal what the LEAST popular starting 11 of the decade is, according to the votes. And we’ll highlight some other interesting, unusual or downright shocking points to come out of the process (like the fact that not a single player – not even Chamakh, Gervinho and Mustafi) received zero votes. Perhaps some of them voted for themselves? Or maybe their mums and dads have been busy…

RockyLives

 

 


Sanchez? RVP? Giroud? Laca? Vote for Arsenal’s Team of the Decade Part 7: Central Striker

February 12, 2020

And so we come to the final choice to be made by you, the readers of AA, in our search for Arsenal’s Team of the Decade.

If you have not yet voted in the previous categories (Goalkeeper, Fullbacks, Centre Backs, Midfielders, Wide Attackers) you can still do so. Just follow the links in the ‘Recent Posts’ sidebar below.

Tomorrow we’ll have the grand reveal.

There’s just one position left to be voted on: a fairly important role – that of central striker. Who’s going to be the primary goal-grabber in your Team of the Decade? Here are the options:

Eduardo

The first season of the decade was the last at Arsenal for our unfortunate Crozilian. The horrendous broken leg he suffered away at Birmingham in February 2008 derailed what was looking like a really promising career at Arsenal. His return to the Emirates in the colours of Shakhtar Donetsk was an emotional occasion.

Robin Van Persie

Another brilliant player whose reputation is tarnished for some fans by the nature of his departure. After we stuck with him for years through persistent injury problems he cleared off to Man Utd as soon as he’d got a single full season under his belt. Nevertheless, it’s indisputable that he was a brilliant striker.

Carlos Vela

Never quite made it at Arsenal, but Vela showed promise for a while and scored some sweet goals with his trademark chips from the edge of the box (reminiscent of Ian Wright in an earlier era).

Nicklas Bendtner

Often mocked, but Bendy was an excellent asset off the bench during his Arsenal career. In fact the current squad could do with someone like him. In his best season for us he scored 12 from 21 starts and a handful of substitute appearances.

Marouane Chamakh

Good in the air and showed early promise, but his goal return was never enough to justify a place as our lead striker.

Olivier Giroud

Loved by the fans and a terrific all-round striker, Ollie was nevertheless somewhat underappreciated. He scored some absolute blinders and played a huge part in our goal of the season versus Norwich in the 2013/14 season (scored by Jack Wilshere).

Alexis Sanchez

Powerful, dynamic and direct, Alexis had a couple of great seasons at Arsenal. Fans appreciated his non-stop effort and his goalscoring ability. On the down side he lost possession more than any other player in the squad.

Danny Welbeck

A popular guy with the supporters and his teammates, Danny’s progress was blighted by periodic injuries (in contrast with Giroud, who seldom had long spells out). A willing worker who scored some fine goals in our colours but never seemed likely to be our main source of goals.

Alexandre Lacazette

The Frenchman arrived for the start of the 2017-18 season and quickly demonstrated his deadly finishing. He may be going through a goal drought now, but in the seasons under scrutiny for this exercise he netted 36 times in 69 starts, which is pretty awesome (and worth remembering by his current critics).

RockyLives


Nasri? Auba? Theo? Vote for Arsenal’s Team of the Decade Part 6: Wide Attackers

February 10, 2020

Sticking to the 4-3-3 system we’ve adopted for the sake of clarity and simplicity, today it’s time to vote for two wide attackers to form part of our front three.

There are plenty of juicy options to choose from, so have fun…

And remember, you can still vote for the other positions in the first five Posts in this series (links available in the ‘Recent Posts’ sidebar below). Tomorrow we’ll vote for the last unfilled role – that of central striker. The results will not be revealed until the full team has been assembled.

Today’s selections:

Samir Nasri

A fractious figure and not loved by the faithful after he decamped to Man City, but Nasri could be a devastating attacker when he put his mind to it. In the first two seasons of this decade, before he left us, he bagged 20 goals from 75 starts.

Theo Walcott

Theo seemed to frustrate a section of the supporter base for long periods, but his stats stack up pretty well. In his final season at Arsenal he scored 19 times from just 28 starts and eight substitute appearances. He scored some memorable goals against the noisy neighbours.

Andrey Arshavin

There was a dreadful spell when Wenger played the diminutive AA as our sole central striker. Needless to say he had a tough time. But cutting in from the left (particularly) or the right he could be lethal. There is always a sense of promise unfulfilled about Arshavin, but how about the 4-4 draw at Anfield where little Andrey scored all four of our goals?

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Wanted to play in central midfield but was generally played wide. He could be excellent but was a little inconsistent and his goal tally could have been better. But he’ll soon have a league champion’s medal at Liverpool.

Gervinho

Gerv the Swerve – strange player. He had plenty of skill but seemed to go to pieces in front of goal and would do anything he could to avoid shooting. However, maybe we just never got the best out of him: he had a significantly better strike rate at Lille before he joined us and also at Roma after he left us.

Lukas Podolski

A real fan favourite (not least because of how bonkers he was), Lukas’s left foot was rocket powered. He never earned the full confidence of Arsene and consequently was in and out of the team. Scored some crackers.

Serge Gnabry

I know he’s highly unlikely to make our team of the decade, but his later exploits at Munich suggest we should have made a bigger effort to hang onto him.

Joel Campbell

The Costa Rican had only limited opportunities at Arsenal but was much appreciated by the fans when he did play. Showed a surprisingly good eye for a defence splitting pass from time to time.

Alex Iwobi

A powerful runner with an occasional eye for goal, but perhaps Alex’s overall awareness was somewhat lacking. Most fans were happy when we got £40m out of Everton for him.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Arrived as a makeweight in the deal that saw Alexis Sanchez go to Man Utd. Had a few good moments early on but seldom imposed himself on games.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang

An outstanding addition to the squad. Arsene was bizarrely reluctant to use him as a regular starter at first, but he eventually established himself as the most reliable scorer in the squad. In the final season of the last decade (2018-19) he netted 31 times in 42 starts in all competitions.

RockyLives