Can it really be that simple? Or have we settled for mediocrity for too long?

Written by Wigan Gooner

I’ve been thinking over the last few days about the season just gone, the season before that and the season before that. A whole lot of thinking you might wonder, well, I didn’t sleep particularly well on Sunday night, so I had plenty of time.

Some of the best results of the season started with one player doing everything we needed him to do, he was on his game and everyone saw the difference he can make.

The player I refer to is Alex Song, the enigma.

Bringing a recent game to the fore, Song against ManYoo was a force to be reckoned with and he kept Rooney shackled for the entire game. No mean feat, but should we really be surprised that he did so well?

I cast my mind back, through the sands of time to an age when we had an invisible wall, a wall so simple in its movement its reading of the game and ability to nullify an opposition threat.

Gilberto Silva, perhaps the most under-stated, under-rated player I’ve ever known. He had a fantastic way of scrambling across the pitch without looking like he was moving. His ability to stop an attack without drawing a free-kick was rarely highlighted but was instrumental in the invincible era.

His role was very similar to what Song’s should be. Sit, let the likes of Vieira, Pires, Ljungberg and Bergkamp create the magic and he would stop the counter-attacks. Behind him he had the pace and power of Campbell and Toure to tidy up anything he left.

Looking at our central-defence now, it’s better than that. Vermaelen and Koscielny are a better partnership and I believe that will be proven next year. We are scoring goals regularly so can the missing link be a invisible wall? Are we really missing a Gilberto? Or can we whip Song into shape?

For me, I don’t think we can take the risk that Song might not make it. I think we should purchase someone for that role. A busy, pacy and strong defensive midfielder. I don’t see any real need to weaken our defence by moving one of our defenders upfield. I can see people suggesting it, because we can all see our midfield is weak as a defensive unit, but putting a square peg in a round hole is a fruitless exercise.

WG

166 Responses to Can it really be that simple? Or have we settled for mediocrity for too long?

  1. goonermichael says:

    Square pegs and round holes are our trademark though.

  2. London says:

    Ah the old Alex Song, should he stay or should he go chestnut, guaranteed to whip a storm in blog world.

    That said, may I say how well this headline post is presented.

    Right then, I will kick this one off. We can debate this until the cows come home, Arsene Wenger is not going to replace Alex Song, it is as simple as that. The Cameroonian is improving every season and by the time he is 26 he will be the best in the world for his position.

  3. tommystout says:

    good post WG
    I like song, especially when he perform like he did v manu.
    I think he needs competition though i dont think from the likes of parker, pity we let diarra slip away, he’d have been poyfect!
    i dont think pingpong is the answer, he wasnt so great in the dalls cup, we need to buy, but who??? your guess is as good as mine.

  4. arsenal fan says:

    good post …but wont he decide to leave cos we woudnt have won anything by then…..

  5. London says:

    Actually talking of square pegs in round holes has anyone seen the youtube clip of Carl Jenkinson? He is playing left back while clearly being very right footed. Wenger will love it.

  6. WiganGooner says:

    Hi all,

    London, I agree with you, Song has amazing potential. But do we take a chance that he will really start fulfilling that next season? Or do we sign someone to put in those performances on a regular basis?

    Thats really the question of the article, the question hanging over the whole club. Do we wait for the magic to happen or do we sign proven players.

    WG

  7. Rasp says:

    Great piece WG.

    I can’t hang around but will put the cat among the pigeons and say that although I think Song is good enough to fulfill the Gilberto role, I think he won’t, because he doesn’t want to.

    Two reasons for this; one is that I believe Song sees himself as more of an attacking midfielder and secondly because I think AW has been weak in allowing him to go forward when he should be protecting the back four = often back two as the FB’s are way upfield. There have been games when he has obviouslty been told that he must stay back, but in other games against lesser opposition (the type of games we’ve been losing recently), he just seems to wander around aimlessly not fulfilling any role in particular.

  8. WiganGooner says:

    @ London, 9:53

    Jenkinson is actually a right-back/centre-back by and large.

    WG

  9. WiganGooner says:

    @ Rasp

    Completely agree with you. I think he is given far too much freedom.

    WG

  10. jollymike says:

    I love Song, but think he had a downer of a season. The 2009-10 was better from him. He had a different role in the team and it suited him better. I think he then played more like Gilberto. I hope he would stay more defensive in the coming season. He had some great goals and some great games going forward, but the team as a whole functioned better when he sat deep in the middle.

  11. vinay says:

    Apt, this is precisely what i have been telling to all and sundry. He is not the kind of holding mid fielder that we need. He cannot read the game and he tries to cover it up most of the times. he has improved a lot but he isnt the kind of player who we can rely upon against the big teams. please buy a defensive mid fielder Arsene, please that will solve half our problems

  12. London says:

    Morning Wigan

    My view is that the defensive midfield problems do not lie at the feet of Song they lie at the feet of Wilshere. Young Jack’s short comings force Song to play a more advanced role but rather than go into extreme detail here I might write a headline post on it.

  13. irish gooner says:

    all that song needs is a player that can fill in every 3 matchs,,,he plays to much when fit and has bad games as a result of tiredness ,,,,

  14. London says:

    Wigan

    The joke about Jenkinson playing left back in the clip was that there is the potential for Wenger to play him out of position. This amused me.

  15. Gunner2301 says:

    Song is not disciplined enough to play Gilbertos role he likes to get forward too much and involved in the build up. The indicator of that is the number of times we have been caught out on counter attacks and our back 4 have been exposed. Song is positionally naive and can’t tackle well, not cleanly anyway. The number of times he has given the ball away when not under pressure, which is a crime in his position is ridiculous, he also commits too many fouls outside our box putting pressure on the defence from set pieces.

    If we want to be champions we need to be aiming for better than Song, but we seem to have been brainwashed into thinking that Wengers prodigys are the be all and end all. Simple analogy we are a top 5 club in World Football we should be aiming for players that are top 5 quality and Song wouldn’t feature in any of the other top teams in the PL let alone Europe because he isn’t of that quality, so why do we seem hell bent on settling for the more inferior product just because Wenger says we should? Well we have seen where that has got us this season and in order to turn it around we need to invest in quality players.

  16. Red Arse says:

    Nice Post WG, 🙂

    Song is an enigma, and although I am repeating myself, he is like the parson’s Nose, good in parts and awful in others.

    I really enjoyed your reminiscences of Gilberto. I admit I was not over enamoured with him when he played for us, altho’ he seems to grow in celebrity as the years roll on.

    You said; “Gilberto Silva, perhaps the most under-stated, under-rated player I’ve ever known. He had a fantastic way of scrambling across the pitch without looking like he was moving.” That was probably because he wasn’t!! 🙂

  17. ben says:

    Song had such a patchy season this year… that is wenger’s fault to a degree for fiddling with the formation…
    in 09/10 he said we conceded too many goals and at the time were playing 4-1-2-3…
    so he decided to try to shut up shop by having 2 sitting mf and playing 4-2-1-3 with wilshere and song sitting… the idea being that 1 can get fwd if the other stays.. the issue however is song always seemed to be the 1 getting fwd.. leaving jack to tidy up more…

    Wenger need to make song sit, he simply isnt good enough on the edge of opponents box… gives it away too much… he can be a great dm if he learns some discipline! his best games last season were when he sat deep and didnt get too far forward and that benifits us even more with Wilshere getting more chance to push on.

    Wenger, please make him play where he is best.. the 1 no nonsense player should always be the DM and u need to teach Song this!

  18. London says:

    Hasn’t Frimpong been ear marked to give Song a break every now and then.

  19. tommystout says:

    Frimpong will need to improve.

  20. London says:

    Hi Tommy

    No doubt about that, it should be interesting to see if he lives up to the promise.

  21. tommystout says:

    I’m encouraged that wenger was looking to break his transfer record this season on jones.
    Who would you guys prefer cahill, jag or samba?

  22. WiganGooner says:

    @ London

    I’m confused. Why does Jack Wilshire force Song to play in a more advanced role?

    I’m sure Jack would prefer to be higher up the pitch rather than sitting deep and trying to battle because Song is caught up on the edge of the opposition area.

    Song should be mature enough now to know his role and tell Jack to go forwards into space to create and attack.

    WG

  23. tommystout says:

    Hi London
    Silly season is here, and i am trawling for news and gossip, somebody shoot me!!!

  24. adrian says:

    Isn’t the africa cup of nations next year?? Mr wenger had better put to bed our dm issues before that time. We obviously can’t rely on diaby to be fit for more than 3 consecutive games, or ramsey to do tough dirty shackling, and denilson is on his way out. Frimpong isn’t the answer either……..we need a proper dm. NOW!!!!

  25. London says:

    I am sceptical that Arsenal were ever seriously interested in signing Jones, it just smacks of manu PR machine using the signing to try and put us down.

  26. WiganGooner says:

    @RA..

    Well he was nicknamed “the invisible wall” – how much can a wall move before its just a “mobile obstruction”? 🙂

    WG

  27. Big Raddy says:

    WG. The Song debate is one I always enjoy.

    London makes a good point about JW whose defensive faults require Song to shepherd him. However, in this team this is what Song should be doing, not showing fancy footwork around the opposition box.

    Song is extraordinarily talented insomuch as he can play both the linking MF role and the DM. His problems seem to lie in his choice and timing of role.

    For this reason we should be buying a 29 y-o- DM who can play 15 games a season and cover Song from the bench. Thereby allowing a couple of seasons for Frimpong to develop physically.

  28. London says:

    Wigan

    I will try and explain in a post.

  29. Red Arse says:

    Hi Tommy, 🙂

    In answer to your question re Cahill, Jagielka or Samba; my answer would be none of them.

    Apart from a little more height they do not bring much else except Cahill and Samba are slower than the present incumbents, and Jag is often injured.

    Ig I had a choice, it would be Sakho, Chielini or Vertonghen. None look like they are possible tho’.

    In fairness to AW, Blackburn had agreed a fee with us for Jones, but the player preferred Manyoo. So, Arsene is trying!

  30. adrian says:

    Question is, who can Wenger get as a back up to song…?? Any thoughts?

    Oh and whatever happened to the gervinho rumours?!

  31. Big Raddy says:

    Evonne. Thanks for the link to that very amusing article.

    Marmite hasn’t been banned in DK.Once again it is a small story exploded by the English press.

    There is a shop here selling English foods (thankfully), upon inspection the Food Agency noticed that Marmite has added vitamin B12. The food agency are very stringent and refuse any foods with added vitamins without approval – Marmite is in the process of receiving that approval.

    I couldn’t care less, the last time I ate Marmite Spurs were Champions.

  32. adrian says:

    Red arse. I agree with you, sakho would make a great defender at arsenal, but what happens to djourou and the kos?? It’ll only be a matter of time before one of them gets fed up with sitting on the bench

  33. tommystout says:

    Hi RedA,
    Yes i like vertonghen too.

  34. Red Arse says:

    Good point WG. 🙂

    I think you are half right anyway in saying he was an ‘Invisible Wall’, the forst word that is! 🙂

    Actually, I am being unkind. I loved Gilberto as a decent man who really did become attached to Arsenal. He was also a far better than average player for us, it’s just that as the years go bye some of the more sentimentalist fans are almost bestowing mythic greatness on him.

  35. Kipmonster says:

    ‘ Frimpong isn’t the answer either ‘ from Adrian !! …….. Have got to laugh at glib unsubstantiated comment like that. He hasn’t yet had chance to prove himself due to serious injury. He was looking very good in last years pre season games & no doubt would have been in the mix for selection but for that unfortunate occurrence.

  36. Big Raddy says:

    RA.

    Sources for the Jones story?

    p.s. this new WordPress thing is crap.

  37. tommystout says:

    chezzer
    sagna,koz, djorou,TV

    that would be a great back line, just feel we need a decent defensive coordinator 🙂

  38. Red Arse says:

    Hi Adrian, 🙂

    With the luck we have had over the last two or three seasons with injuries, I think either or both of Kos or Djourou would still get plenty of games.

    TV has had a terrible injury, and until I see how he goes I will worry that he might not be the same player he was prior to his injury.

    Injuries like he had can be career shattering, as you know.

  39. adrian says:

    Klipmonster: so you’d go with frimpong and song this season??!

  40. TotalArsenal says:

    WG – a fine post, once again: how many of these have you got bottled up in your brain?

    I am a big fan of Song (we really only have one Song!). If we were playing a traditional 4-4-2 and our defence would be a bit more settled, he would make a very fine traditional DM. However, we play 4-2-3-1 in which both Song as well as Wilshere have shared responsibility for that role: you could say we have two DM’s in that system. Both players love to go forward as well and have very likely been INSTRUCTED BY WENGER to do so, on occassion. In a 4-2-3-1 this is needed at times to support the four remaining attackers by using up the space in front of the DM’s. The best Arsenal games I watched this season is when both Song and Wilshere played together in a 4-2-3-1 and combined defensive duties with supporting the attack if and when possible. This is a new partnership and is likely to continue to florish next season. I don’t think we need to buy anybody for those positions, especially now that Rambo is back.

    One of the best Dutch DM’s has been Edgar Davids. He, like Song now, had a tendency to go forward at the start of his career (and he was really good at this). At Ajax they expect this of any player, but when he arrived at Juventus and was given the DM role next to the awesome Zidane, he was asked to refrain from going forward. He learned to do so and the combination of Davids and Zidane in midfield did become one of the best in recent history. Song, if asked to, could make a similar transition, but for me he does not have to in the current 4-2-3-1 system.

  41. goonermichael says:

    I never really rated Gilberto. When I saw him in the starting line up against the mancs in the cup (the one where they scored 4) I thought Wenger had no desire to win the game. But that’s just me. On some other blogs he’s now up there with pele. I remember him getting slagged at the time.

  42. adrian says:

    Red Arse: good point! But can you say for certain that TV won’t be the same player he was before?!! I guess wenger must be going nuts over what to do with his defence!

  43. 26may1989 says:

    Nice write-up WG.

    Song’s good, much better than many (me included) predicted when he started. But do I think he’s good enough? No, not quite. I share Rasp’s views to a large extent, ultimately Song lacks a crucial degree of positional discipline.

    I would definitely like us to sign a DM this summer. Am not really sure who, but we need someone to add some seriousness to that crucial position. As tommystout says, Lassana Diarra was excellent. Trouble was he lacked the patience to see that Gilberto (who’d just had his best season for Arsenal) was coming to the end of his time and Flamini (who’d flattered to deceive for years) would not be able to maintain the good form of the first half of his last season with us. Diarra should have stayed but was determined to go after a crazily short time. But if there were a way of Wenger and Diarra overcoming the issues they had when Diarra demanded his move away, I’d love us to try and get him from Real.

    Re Wilshere, London, you have such a downer on him. I agree with many of your comments but am miles away from you on LJ, who has just finished his first season and has done a fantastic job. To my mind, it’s not Song backing up Wilshere that throws out the structure of the team; it’s Wilshere hanging back to cover for Song when Song goes on one of his forays upfield. LJ isn’t a DM, he is the link midfielder; Song is the one who is built to screen and intercept, but he goes off-piste too often, causing others, primarily Wilshere, to fill the gap he leaves.

  44. Red Arse says:

    Hi Raddy, 🙂

    I got the papers this morning and as usual had a sneaky look at all the ‘Arsenal’ bits in them before buying my two copies.

    The Guardian were running a story on the Jones transfer written by a Gooner Matt (?) where he said Arsenal were the first club to meet the £16.5m price and Blackburn had accepted. ManYoo were alerted and stepped in and the player chose them.

    Several others ran the same story.

    He was later interviewed on TalkSport, and apparently, Jones lives with his parents still and would not need to uproot to come ‘down south’ and anyway as a northern lad he preferred winning trophies with Red Nose rather than living in hope with Arsenal. For all the talk, it appears ‘Pool had not made an offer.

    PPS, the new WordPress is rubbish, I agree! 🙂

  45. Goonerwife says:

    Is this article a joke. Song is not good enough now? Im sorry maybe im alittle confused.

  46. goonermichael says:

    RA
    twitchy was on sky yesterday saying they had tried to buy him

  47. adrian says:

    Any news on gervinho, benzema, hazard, digne and cahill??!

  48. Big Raddy says:

    RA. Thanks. Not good news for Bartley if AW is willing to spend that much on a 19 yo CB.

    Strange there is little talk of Jenkinson, who is a fine signing for me and the first of the 3 signing I am looking for. Not good news for Eboue.

  49. adrian says:

    Ask me and I’ll tell you alex song is good player. Would any of you out there swap him for lucas levia or mikel or carrick???!

  50. Goonerwife says:

    So you gvuys are undervaluing song just like Gilberto. again. Song is staying and he is good enough.

  51. 26may1989 says:

    Maybe this Phil Jones lark is all part of a sophisticated strategy: given that we all know the Fergie and Redknapp just wait to see which players Wenger is going for (it’s an established fact, obviously….) and then jump in and try to nab the player in question themselves, I think Arsenal have decided to play the system by bidding high for the likes of Jones, knowing that Fergie will trump the offer, driving up the amount they spend. Obvious when you think about it.

  52. Red Arse says:

    Adrian,

    I was only responding to your earlier question regarding what would happen to Kozz, Djourou if we signed another CB.

    I don’t want to get too tied up in this, but no I cannot be certain that TV won’t return to his magnificant form, after recovering from his injury, but then I never said I was.
    I said I would worry about TV until he proved his return to fitness, by which time it might be too late to buy a replacement, hence Kozz and JD would have plenty of games.

    If Arsene had a way to foretell the future, last August, and could tell TV would never recover from a ‘simple’ injury for the rest of the season, he would have bought a replacement then.

    Remember, Rosicky had a similar ‘undiagnosable’ injury that kept him out for more than a season, and although he ‘recovered’ he has never been the same player since.

    Or do you disagree?

  53. adrian says:

    @26th May; really? Wenger just trying to mess with Ferguson’s head? So what if jones had actually signed for us?!!!!!

  54. 26may1989 says:

    Maybe you’re right Goonerwife; certainly, Gilberto was undervalued, and that may well be true of Song now. But objectively, Song didn’t exactly have a good 2010-11 did he? Not compared to the season before.

    I like Song, and agree he’s not about to be sold, but I don’t trust him enough when so much hinges on that position.

  55. Rasp says:

    Hi Goonerwife,

    I would sugest that many of us value Song very highly, but are bemused at his roaming role that often leaves our defense exposed and outnumbered. He seems to lack positional disciline sometimes. Maybe he’s noit content just doing a job, maybe he wants more ‘glory’. Who knows, all I can say is that his best performances last season were when he stayed back. On those occasions he was incredible as WG says and managed to subdue the likes of Rooney etc.

  56. Goonerwife says:

    was Lassana Diarra even at our club for six month/ i dont even know what he looks like.

    i think we should stop looking enviously in other peoples backyard and start supporting out team and players. They are pretty damn good.

  57. 26may1989 says:

    @Adrian: Twas a little jest that one. 🙂

  58. adrian says:

    Red arse,
    Spot on mate….spot on! I truly wouldn’t like to be in wenger’s position right now! Every department of the team needs mega analysis and careful tweaking, else it might not go so well next season!

  59. Goonerwife says:

    No ones season is the same every year thats just life. some are better than others. It wasnt as good as last season but it wasnt bad.

  60. 26may1989 says:

    Oh Goonerwife, I don’t think the regulars here will be lacking in their support for any player wearing the shirt. And summer is all about cricket (sorry Irish and Total) and looking enviously in other people’s (footballing) gardens.

  61. Rasp says:

    GW,

    The reason it wasn’t as good as last season was because he was less disciplined in his positional play. If he was acting under AW’s instructions then its not his fault, but I suspect that Song himself was the main reason for his change of role.

  62. Greg says:

    Wotcher, nice post.

    I agree with London, you can’t think about Song without thinking about Song and Wilshere, and how they work together. Comparing him with Gilberto only gets you so far. We played a different style and formation back then.

    These days we don’t really have an out-and-out DM in our starting formation, we have Alex and Jack as double-pivot deep-lying midfielders who have to both defend and keep possession during attacking phases. I’m not sure how much I love it. I think it’s part of the reason we sometimes struggle to score.

  63. 26may1989 says:

    There were contradictory quotes from Wenger on Song’s positional play last season (at least I thought they were contradictory): early on, he said Song loves piling forward and that would need to be curbed, but later in the season he spoke more positively of Song’s contribution in attack. My view is that Song should appear in the attacking third no more frequently than Vermaelen.

  64. tommystout says:

    GW
    He had an overly large forehead!
    Just to jog your memory.

  65. Greg says:

    Just saw Total Arsenal’s comment above, that’s exactly right. The reason he hasn’t got good positional sense for a DM is that he’s not really a DM.

  66. Red Arse says:

    Oi, (100-74),

    How dare you take the micky out of my carefully worded thesis yesterday!

    We bid for Smalling – Red Nose gazumps us; we bid for Jones – red Nose gazumps us; we are bidding for Alvarez – Red Nose is trying to gazump us; and let’s not go back to the Stam, Horseface and Ronaldo transfers.

    Sensible, well researched and beautifully written, unsubstantiated, good old fashioned bloggers logic! So watch it!! 🙂

  67. Pat7 says:

    I thought Gilberto was great when playing regularly but looked totally of the pace when he only got the occasional game as if his legs had gone & had no pace.

    Whether Song’s lack of pace as DM is due to tiredness, laziness, attitude or true lack of pace I don’t know but for me he needs more motivation like a competitor for his position & as the ACoN occurs this year let’s buy a real DM unless we’re sure Frimpong etc ae good enough.

  68. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Greg, we seem to be totally aligned on this topic!

  69. Rasp says:

    Greg,

    I understand what you and TA are saying, but if Song’s not really a DM, how come he can also play CB? – that requires the ultimate in positional discipline

  70. adrian says:

    Any news on gervinho, benzema, digne, cahill???????!!! Someone? Anyone???!!!

  71. 26may1989 says:

    RA: That’s me told! Off to do something useful am afraid, catch up later.

  72. Greg says:

    Red Arse, is Vertonghen really that impressive? He didn’t look it when Ajax lost 0-4 to Real at home. Just wondering, maybe you’ve seen more of him than me.

  73. Red Arse says:

    Hi Goonerwife, 🙂

    You might not have noticed Diarra because he joined us in August and left in the first week of January.

    He played very infrequently and that was his main beef apparently, altho’ he was also reported to be a pretty disruptive influence in the dressing room, both at Chelsea and Arsenal.

    Rumours! Football is full of rumours! I’m used to it as no one does rumours like the New York Yankees!! 🙂

  74. Greg says:

    Rasp, fair point, but I’m not saying he can’t play DM (or CB), just that he’s not being asked to.

    If you’re going to play proper Makalele-style DM you need the other midfielders to bugger off upfield, out of your way. Jack often drops back as deep or deeper than Song to pick up the ball, Song then has to push up, make runs, make himself available further up the pitch. They work as a unit, take it in turns. That’s how I see it, anyway.

    Do I get points for being the first person to mention the word “Makalele” in a thread about DMs?

  75. Rasp says:

    Red Arse,

    There were 3 signings of young English (half Finnish) players yesterday. The two to manu and pool have receieved a very positive response from the Press, ours has almost been overlooked or seen as negative pennny pinching by some. It would appear that you have to overpay to get any recognition from the media these days?

  76. Red Arse says:

    Adrian,

    I have not seen as much of Vertonhen as I would like.

    2 or 3 years ago, I was impressed with his partnership with TV when I saw him occasionally on Setanta/ESPN, although I had no idea either might come to Arsenal at the time.

    I have also seen him in internationals and liked his sensible calm persona.

    The one who might be better able to answer your question is TA, altho’ he doesn’t speak English too well!! 🙂

  77. Rasp says:

    Greg, I think all teams need a balance of flair, and solidity – chiefs and indians if you like. The best teams have a blend of both and the unsung hero is often a ‘bust a gut-type’ midfielder.

    There may be a culture that everyone has to play fantastic football in the current squad and as a result, we sometimes overlook the basics. If you divide our game into 2 halves, when we have possession and when we don’t, I think it is our play when we don’t have the ball that is the weaker.

  78. Red Arse says:

    Rasper,

    Fair point.

    I mentioned earlier that I listened to a Guardian Journalist on the radio this morning, who is a self confessed Gooner, and he said Arsene has a habit of spotting young talent, and he had no reason to doubt that Jenkinson would be a good player.

    His only concern was that none of the Charlton fan blogs or forums seemed to bothered about him leaving them, and their reaction was more of a shrug and good luck. He said that if he was a fans’ favourite or recognised as one for the future he would have expected more of an outcry.

    To most fans, buying an established EPL first team player, like Jones or Henderson, would be more eye catching than a Charlton reserve team player, so I’m not bothered that he is not seen as so newsworthy.

  79. Morning all

    I’ll have to be careful what I say today as I know what London’s headline post will contain and so don’t want to spoil the debate for him.

    Song can be awesome, he can also be very annoying as he sometimes gives the ball away cheaply having just won it back. Gilberto was also guilty of giving the ball away cheaply ie winning a tackle and spraying a pass either to no-one or to the opposition but what Gilberto did that I don’t remember Song doing was then to go after the ball and try to win it back. If Song could add this tenacity (Rasp 🙂 ) to his game that would be a real improvement IMO

  80. What sort of problems are people having with the new WordPress layout?

  81. adrian says:

    Still waiting on any news on gervinho, benzema, digne and cahill……………………….anybody at all???

  82. Hi Adrian – who knows how long we’ll have to wait, it could be weeks 😀

    As others have said on here I reckon the deals with be done with other clubs before we know anything sadly

  83. 26may – love the idea that AW is bidding for players as a way to get Red Nose to spend more money, excellent 😛

  84. Greg says:

    Rasp, couldn’t agree more. We were at our best in the early part of last season when we were pressing the ball like Barca to win it back as quickly as possible. Don’t know what happened to that approach…

  85. Greg – browny points coming your way for the Makele comment 🙂

    With a mid-field as creative as ours we don’t need Song to be part of that action as often as he thinks he should be, we have enough dilly dallying around on the edge of the penalty area and often Song just gets in the way.

    Song, if you’re reading, Arsene thinks you could be an amazing DM that’s why he stuck with you while you were learning the art of becoming one. Stick with what you know and if you get a chance to score a couple of goals a season then fantastic but the team shouldn’t need you to go searching.

  86. Red Arse says:

    Peaches,

    I do not know if it is the new WordPress causing a problem or if it is just my laptop, but when I type a comment and press ‘Post Comment’, it does so, but the comment remains in the comments box and has to be manually deleted.

    Only started doing this since the new Face Book, Twitter system was started.

  87. WiganGooner says:

    I think it’s worth reiterating, I’m not saying Song can’t be out defensive lynchpin in the midfield. I’m just concerned that we can’t rely on him maturing in his role for next season and if Arsenal is focussed on winning silverware then is it a risk too far to hope that he will turn into a marvellous player?

    WG

  88. Hi RA – I’ve noticed that too, that the comment gets left in the box sometimes, I’ll send a message to them, I’m sure we’re not the only ones experiencing that. Thanks

  89. Hi WG – nice post 🙂

    It’s all in the coaching isn’t it? Song could do exactly what we think he should be doing but for some reason he doesn’t …………………….

  90. WiganGooner says:

    Hi Peaches,

    Agreed! Coaching and the right mentality to work hard and earn the results on the pitch.

  91. WiganGooner says:

    ..And thanks everyone for your nice feedback 🙂 Its appreciated

    WG

  92. London says:

    26

    The last time we had a misunderstanding over Wilshere was because I started my comment with “Wilshere is going nowhere” to which you took it to mean that his career was going nowhere, in my next comment I apologised to you for the misunderstanding. My comment “Wilshere is going nowhere” was meant to mean that I do not foresee him leaving the club…….remember when there was talk of him going to man city?

    So with that in mind can we dispel this misunderstanding that I have a downer on Wilshere? Like you I think he has had a fantastic first season, like you I think he will have a wonderful career with Arsenal but unlike you these two these two perceptions do not stop me from analyzing his performances on a game by game basis.

    I refer you to Greg’s extremely insightful comment at 11:11am.

  93. London says:

    Oh Greg where have you been all my blog life? lol

    I have just read your 11:32

  94. RockyLives says:

    Very good post WG – on a subject I have written about in the past.

    Song, when he plays with discipline, can be as effective a DM as anyone in the EPL and this has been shown in many big games against ‘big’ opposition.

    But when he feels he has licence to roam, we get into trouble. I don’t happen to think it’s Jack’s fault (although I’m happy to leave that debate until London’s post on the subject is up), but round the opposition penalty area Song just does not have the touch, technique or speed of thought that players like AA, Nasri, Cesc, RvP and JW have, so he often messes up our moves.

    If we can get him to stick as a DM we’ll have a more successful season next year. And if he does that, I don’t feel we need to import a DM from outside.

  95. 26may1989 says:

    @London: No problem with any of that, all your opinion, save the “unlike you” bit. It’s a little bit patronising isn’t it, to tell me what I do and do not take into consideration.

    You’re right re the misunderstanding about Wilshere “going nowhere”, though to be honest, I’d forgotten about that exchange. When I said I thought you had a downer on Wilshere, I was thinking of your previous assertions that he can’t shoot or make a defence-splitting pass, as well as your view that he can’t defend well. Taking into account that Wilshere has only just stepped up to the senior level, that sounds like having a downer on the player to me.

    Or perhaps I’ve got you wrong again.

    Anyway, no worries, catch you later.

  96. chas says:

    Nice one, WG.

    Personally, I don’t like the double-pivot DM system (or whatever it is) we play with Jack and Song. It reminds me of that long unbeaten run a few seasons back where Song and Denilson were playing all the time. We couldn’t score many goals then either resulting in loads of nil-nil draws.

  97. WiganGooner says:

    Thanks Chas,

    You’ve hit the nail right on there, a big issue with last season was the impatient way we played due to us struggling to create clear-cut chances when teams defended deep against us.

    This impatience led to us piling everyone forwards to try and nick a goal and Song was rarely in our half to break down the counter.

    In my opinion Song needs to learn to sit and defend.

    WG

  98. Rasp says:

    Hi Rocky,

    Here is the link to your article on the same subject back last autumn

    https://arsenalarsenal.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/songs-position-in-question/

  99. Big Raddy says:

    Let me be clear from the off….. I don’t like MU, But,…..

    I really admire the way they do transfer business. They buy early in the window and they almost always get their man. Equally importantly they sell early. The deadwood is moved on and SAF is clear to work with his squad. Scholes, Brown and Gibson have already departed , O’Shea is on his way and I am sure there will be more to follow.

    Would that AW could do the same.

  100. 26may1989 says:

    Did you see that, Raddy said he loves United and thinks Alex Ferguson is the bee’s knees???!

    😉

    I agree Raddy, we should everything sorted early on. It’s another manifestation of our need to change our trading mentality from scrimping and saving to big club: the amounts paid for Jones and the Spanish keeper might be bananas, but they include a premium to make it clean and quick. One price for doing clever deals the way we have done in the last 5 years is timing.

  101. Red Arse says:

    Not that I wish to climb on a Raddy, 26, bandwagon, but I too prefer the Manyoo /Red Nose methodology.

    I was somewhat taken aback to hear that Arsene intended to go to South America next month to do some scouting.

    Next month? Scouting? I thought we had a famous worldwide scouting set up to do all that.

    Arsene wanting/needing to be the chief cook and bottle washer? Disappointing really. So it will be the old rush job on the 31st August then?

  102. 26may1989 says:

    RA

    A South America trip seems a very sensible way for Wenger to spend his July. After all, we’ll have signed Benzema, Samba, Cahill, Vertonghen, Diarra, Willian, Hazard, Alvarez and Ashley Young by then, and we’ll have secured Fabregas and Nasri and sold Arshavin, Bendtner, Denilson, Eboue, Almunia and Pat Rice…….

    Have just heard from a reliable source that Mel Goldberg really has been trying to badger Gazidis into agreeing to buy Jermain Defoe. Sounds like our bloke gave the required knock-back.

  103. TotalArsenal says:

    RA, he just wants to put his holiday costs on expenses… Oohlala.

  104. Red Arse says:

    26,

    Sadly you missed out on the most important acquisition of all.

    The Uzbekistan President (?) Usmanov (not our fatso) has said he is proud that Arsenal have made an offer for the midfielder club captain of some Uzbeki team, (who’s name is inexplicably hard to remember! 🙂

  105. Red Arse says:

    Hi TA, 🙂

    I’m surprised you are still speaking to me as I did my best to cast doubt on your grasp of English this morning! 🙂

    Greg wanted an appraisal of Vertonghen and I suggested your knowledge was greater than mine. Although mine is much greater than 26’s, of course! 🙂

    Your suggestion regarding Arsene’s travel expenses sounds very reasonable to me. But I would love him to sort out the transfers first, before departing to S. America and winding Ferguson up! 🙂

  106. Red Arse says:

    TA,

    Speaking of English, I should have written ‘before departing to S. America and winding up Ferguson!

    Ending a sentence with a preposition is a definite no-no! Don’t want to set bad examples for the glitterati! 🙂

  107. Big Raddy says:

    Should we sell (?) Vela and NB we have space for a striker.

    Having just Chamakh, RvP and Theo is a recipe for disaster given our injury record. I never want to see Arshavin leading the line again.

    I was asked yesterday if I would like to see NB sold given that he is not getting regular 1st team action. The answer is No, I want him to stay and prove that he is the player we believe he can be. I want him to make AW play him centrally by working hard in training and forcing AW’s hand. Why watch him develop elsewhere?

  108. Red Arse says:

    TA,

    Time for a little poetry. With Arsene’s transfer travails in mind, perhaps a little haiku would be appropriate.

    Every transfer he touches
    with tenderness, alas,
    pricks like a bramble.

    Not precisely the proper haiku format, but it does the job, don’t you think? 🙂

  109. Red Arse says:

    Raddy,

    I am only saying this so as to give you the courtesy of a reply, but you already Know my views, I suspect.

    In answer to your question, “I was asked yesterday if I would like to see NB sold given that he is not getting regular 1st team action.”, I would venture that he should not be sold for that reason.

    His lack of action is a consequence of the fact he is just not up to scratch, and I don’t think he ever will be playing for us.

    In any event, his agent/dad has burnt his bridges with his less than respectful utterances, so it is a moot discussion really.

  110. kelsey says:

    he touches a lass with tenderness every transfer, pricks like Bramble.

    headline in the Newcastle Echo circa 2006

  111. Big Raddy says:

    RA. I was solely being polite in answering a direct question. I agree his mind is made up and he will leave. Bad news for Raddy as Danish TV will halve the number of AFC games shown and concentrate on their lovechildren – MU and Liverpool.

    Hope Livefootieonline stay in business!

    p.s. A fine attempt at a haiku. Well played.

  112. gunnern5 says:

    BR:

    I can only think of one game when I was over the moon with Bendtner and that was when he came off of the bench and headed in a corner against Spurs. I cannot remember a single game where he started that he could have been considered the man of teh match.

    His opportunties have been limited due to his inability to step up to the bar and show AW that he was deserving of a starting position.
    How much oil do you keep giving to a squeaky wheel?

    If only his ability were as large as his huge ego…………..

  113. TotalArsenal says:

    Red & Pink Elky Arse, missed your comments (busy painting with daughter).

    Liked your haiku, but what is the essence of a it, i.e. what are the ‘rules’? Kelsey’s response was very funny!

    Vertonghen: I have seen him play a few times and he reminds me very much of TV. Belgium are blessed with three good to great CB’s in V Kompany, TV and Vertonghen, and as I said a few days ago, Holland would wish one of them would be Dutch: the CB position is the only real weakness for the Dutch national team. Vertonghen is good in the air and on the ground, has got a good long distance pass and scores regularly for Ajax from set-pieces. He would fit in very well, as far as I can judge. I cannot see him leave Ajax though; not this season anyway.

  114. Big Raddy says:

    GN5. I really do not want to get into a Nik B discussion – I have expressed my opinion on too many occasions. The man is a CF, has the build of a CF, the heading ability of a CF and the first touch of a big man. PLay him outwide and he looks what he is …. a CF playing out of position.

    What infuriates about him is that he has so much ability.

    He hasn’t fulfilled his potential at AFC and perhaps that is not ALL his fault.

  115. Red Arse says:

    TA,

    The haiku is a formal Japanese poetry form, that should conform to 17 ens (?) in their language, but usually is bastardised into 17 syllables in English, which strictly speaking is not the same.

    It is not necessary or desirable for it to rhyme, but it must have a meaning, usually philosophical and perhaps esoteric and wistful.

    The structure should be a-b-a; hence 5 syllables – 7 syllables – 5 syllables.
    (I am cringing here about my explanation, in case any student or master of haiku is reading this — thankfully unlikely tho’ it may be) 🙂

  116. TotalArsenal says:

    RA, I looked it up (haiku) and liked this example (reminded me of Wenger’s transfer style):

    Ancient pond
    Frog leaps
    Splash!

  117. Red Arse says:

    Raddy,

    I agree it is not conducive to our usual good humour to wonder at Arsene’s odd habit of playing some players out of position.

    Suffice to say, you are quite right in your 5:34, and it is a pity that someone with such potential has not fulfilled it, for whatever reason.

    He is a CF who needs an excellent service from a good winger. He is not a winger, and who would he cross the ball to anyway?

    Disappointing.

  118. dandan says:

    TA like this

    Little piggy
    In the street

    Motor car

    Sausage meat

    . .

  119. TotalArsenal says:

    BRaddy, the first touch in this video is excellent, almost Bergkampesque!

  120. Red Arse says:

    TA,

    That is excellent. 🙂

    Although it is as close to a haiku, as an elephant is a cousin to a mouse. 🙂

  121. Red Arse says:

    Hi Dandan, 🙂

    That is even funnier. 🙂

    But I hang my head in shame to be associated with you lot taking the micky out of the Japanese culture!! 🙂

  122. TotalArsenal says:

    RA, I got it from a haiku website, but you are right it does not seem to fit the rules at all!

    Very funny DanDan!

    Here is another one, I just read:

    A banana burps.
    Goofy farts and piggies pop.
    The flowers chortle.

  123. dandan says:

    You didnt work for them for 20 years. 🙂

  124. dandan says:

    Two little rabbits

    Hopping along

    one rabbit stops

    the other hops on

  125. Red Arse says:

    TA,

    That is truly terrible! 🙂

    Actually, it is very close with the syllables count, per line.

    すべての日本人の友人に、私は謝る!

    (that’s me apologising to the Japanese, for my part in this.) 🙂

  126. Red Arse says:

    Dandan,

    My 6:03, ditto to you! 🙂

  127. TotalArsenal says:

    Finally from me a haiku in French to give us hope regarding Arsene’s transfer policy:

    Dans la dernière barque
    qui regagne le rivage
    la plus grosse pêche !

    In the last boat
    to reach the shore
    the biggest catch!

  128. dandan says:

    Deal not done,
    Red nose tarried

    Ashley pissed off

    He’s getting married 🙂

  129. dandan says:

    .Nice one TA 🙂

  130. Red Arse says:

    How is this one?

    Trusting Arsene, good and bad,
    To the departing season.
    I bid farewell.

    Not quite a-b-a (5-7-5) but it does have 3 lines, it is close to the syllables required per line and it is philosophical. 🙂

    I will have to distract you with something else before I lose all credibility! 🙂

  131. dandan says:

    RA

    Those accountants knew

    What arry rednapp had to learn

    that.numbers counted.

  132. Red Arse says:

    These are all genuine comments made by rugby players. Oh my! 🙂

    — “Nobody in Rugby should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”
    – Scott Hamilton

    — “I’m going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes.”
    – Andy Ellis on University

    — “You guys line up alphabetically by height and you guys pair up in groups of
    three, then line up in a circle.”
    – Robbie Deans

    — “I can’t really remember the names of the clubs that we went to.”
    – (Chris Jack on whether he had visited the Pyramids during his visit to Egypt.)

    — “He’s a guy who gets up at six o’clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.”
    – Robbie Deans on Rueben Thorne

  133. Red Arse says:

    Dandan,

    That is really excellent! 🙂 Spot on haiku format, philosophical and meaningful.

    Quit while you are ahead!! 🙂

    TA, if you understand the rugby nonsense above, you are a gifted polyglot! (Not sure I want to be a polyglot myself, mind) 🙂

  134. Red Arse says:

    You two have blown my brain, I am off! 🙂

  135. dandan says:

    Off to babysit Gnite

  136. London says:

    26

    “Unlike you” I was in a hurry, bad choice of words, I apologise.

  137. goonermichael says:

    You taking the piss out of the Japanese? You’ll have my wife to answer to! Is Nasri going?

  138. RockyLives says:

    Man opens football blog
    Finds so little football there
    But learns new poem form

    And that’s why AA is GREAT!

  139. RockyLives says:

    Not commenting much as have had a couple of surgeries today and yesterday (on me mincers, in case you’re wondering: none of that proctology business that was all the rage on here last week).

    But am thoroughly enjoying the informative and bizarre discourse on here…

  140. Red Arse says:

    Just popped back to see how my naughty students were behaving, and found you encouraging them, Rocky. 🙂

    GM, if you show your wife my bit of Japanese above, that will get me off the hook!! 🙂

    Sorry to hear about your teeth (?) Rocky. Anyway leave my bowelly thing out of it!! 🙂

    Nite all!

  141. Red Arse says:

    Sorry Rocky, forgot to compliment you on your haiku. Probably the best of the day! 🙂

    Definitely nite now!

  142. 26may1989 says:

    No worries London.

  143. RockyLives says:

    Redders
    Mincers: rhyming slang for eyes (mince pies).

  144. London says:

    Why does alcohol taste so good?

  145. RockyLives says:

    London 🙂
    I have been pondering that same question myself a lot lately. There’s no getting away from it, I just love the TASTE of beer and wine. Less so spirits, but a nice single malt every now and then…

  146. TotalArsenal says:

    Promise-full season
    Own reflection in silver
    Merciless Spring descent

    For master Cul Rouge

  147. dandan says:

    Liverpool make their intentions clear with £5m bid for Gael Clichy From Todays times

    Liverpool have made their second statement of intent in a matter of days by launching an attempt to sign Gaël Clichy from Arsenal.

    Less than 48 hours after a deal valued at about £20 million was agreed with Sunderland for Jordan Henderson, Liverpool made an offer in the region of £5 million for Clichy, who has just entered the final year of his contract with the North London club.

    With Clichy having shown no willingness to sign a new deal with Arsenal, Arsène Wenger, the manager, has become resigned to the probability that the left back will leave this summer. But the expectation was that he would move to a team on the Continent rather than rivals in the Barclays Premier League.

    However, Liverpool’s determination to rejoin English football’s elite has led to them making an ambitious move for the 25-year-old and the early indications are that Clichy would be willing to make the switch to Anfield if the clubs can agree a fee.

    From being a summer in which they were expected to show their own ambitions in the transfer market, Arsenal now run the risk of losing two key players to domestic rivals, with Samir Nasri, the attacking midfield player, continuing to interest Manchester United.

    Wenger has vowed to keep Nasri out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s clutches, insisting that he will not countenance the departure of one of his star players to the champions. But the Arsenal manager is aware that Clichy’s exit seems inevitable and Liverpool have attempted to steal a march on their rivals for his signature by lodging a bid to which Arsenal will have to give due consideration, because the France defender would be eligible to leave on a free transfer next summer.

    One attraction that Liverpool can boast is the presence of Damien Comolli, the director of football. Clichy’s potential was first spotted by Comolli when he was working as an Arsenal scout and it was on his recommendation that Wenger signed Clichy as an 18-year-old from Cannes.

    He became the youngest player to win a Premier League medal as a member of Arsenal’s “Invincibles”, who went unbeaten throughout the 2003-04 season.

    Clichy has since gone on to establish himself as Wenger’s first-choice left back after Ashley Cole’s transfer to Chelsea in August 2006, but he has recently become disaffected to such an extent that his readiness to leave has been an open secret for some time.

    Given Liverpool’s failure to qualify for European competition, a move to Anfield from a club who are expecting to participate in the Champions League would represent something of a surprise.

    But it would also be a coup for Liverpool and would support the assertion of Kenny Dalglish, the manager, that the club’s stature is such that they can still attract international players even if they are not in a position to promise them European football.

    Henderson has already become the symbol of Liverpool’s desire to re-establish themselves, having all but completed his move from Sunderland. The capture of the 20-year-old midfield player is expected to be the first of many, with Clichy being joined on a lengthy wanted list by Charlie Adam, the Blackpool midfield player, Stewart Downing, the Aston Villa winger, and Connor Wickham, the Ipswich Town forward, among others.

    Their transfer strategy is built around a concerted effort to recruit players who are predominantly under 26. Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owner, has determined that it wants a youthful team to be constructed, one who can challenge for honours for several years and who are constantly bolstered by graduates from the club’s academy, the work of which has been praised by Pep Guardiola. In an interview with Catalan Radio, the Barcelona coach explained his respect for Liverpool’s revamped youth set-up, saying: “If they can manage those lads, then maybe 20 star players can arrive from that academy

  148. London says:

    Cheeky hub cap steeling so and sos

  149. 26may1989 says:

    Having seen his performance levels nosedive over the past few years, if there wasn’t the threat of being hugely underpaid for selling Clichy, I don’t suppose there would be much concern from Gooners about him leaving, even with the residual concerns about Gibbs. But £5m to a club that has just paid £20m for Henderson (and before that £35m for Carroll), that would be galling.

    I don’t really see why he should feel disaffected; there can’t be many in the squad individually more blame-worthy than Clichy for our failures.

    All of that said, I still like Clichy, he’s been an honest pro all these years and has plenty of talent.

  150. 26may1989 says:

    So Barca say their transfer budget is only €45m. So any agreement to buy Cesc is more likely to be a player-plus-cash deal than pure cash.

    I wonder which player.

    Given the subject of today’s post, here’s a suggestion: Javier Mascherano plus a wedge. After all, he’s only been a squad player there, often playing at CB, but (I reckon) remains a great DM.

  151. RockyLives says:

    Cinqicento de Maio
    IF Cesc goes, cash plus Mascherano wouldn’t be a bad fallback.
    I suspect we might be serious about our interest in Hazard and he would probably be the one to try and fill Cesc’s boots.

  152. London says:

    It’s true; when it comes to blunders Clichy has amassed an embarrassing collection. The thing that sits uncomfortably with me is that whoever picks him up now would be getting a mature version, someone less likely to add to that collection while we, after giving him the environment to learn from his mistakes, are left to reflect on his school boy errors.

  153. chas says:

    Can manyoo speak to Nasri’s representatives in the close season without Arsenal’s permission?

    Heaven only knows if there’s any truth in the rumour. Just wondering.

    I wish I could do as Sharkey does and only get my updates from AA!

  154. tau says:

    i liked the article, it speaks to the real issues and wat w got to do as a team. i suspect with a bit of strengthening we could fight for the championship next season.

  155. MickyDidIt89 says:

    London,
    Why would Clichy be less likely to blunder? He may have plateau’d. This may well be as good as it gets. There is always a fear of change.
    Chas,
    Can? It happens me thinks, legal or otherwise.

  156. chas says:

    Diaby wears a spuds shirt at home.
    Again, may not be true, but if it is, nice timing mate!

  157. dandan says:

    Chas do what I do and hide all the mickey mouse bloggers, like M Palmer and all the transfer tavern type entrees on news now.

    BBC, AFC ,The Times, Sky, AA and a heavily censored news now are about the limit of what I read.

  158. dandan says:

    Chas cant we allow these guys to enjoy a laugh, just like we do. That could be some private banter or even a forfeit type punishment among the squad, why do we take things so seriously, when we only know what the papers think they know.

  159. chas says:

    This made me laugh from a guy on twitter.

    LittleDutchVA Tim Stillman
    A quick twitter survey shows a lot of Arsenal fans are broadly thinking on a number of themes…….

    We want to sign experience but we’re terribly annoyed that we missed out on a 19 year old.

    We want more aggressive commercial strategies to maximise revenues, but we hate new shirts being released every summer.

    We want to pay Samir Nasri £110k a week, but we want ticket prices to go down.

    dandan, the Nasri story is everywhere.

  160. Evonne says:

    Morning all Gunners
    Something to kick start weekend fun; guess what they are advertising here. Clue – ManU are called that sometimes :
    http://www.noob.us/humor/you-will-never-guess-what-this-ad-is-about/

  161. chas says:

    I’m not taking it seriously, dandan.
    Again, if true, the shirt was a present from his mate Kaboul.

    I’d rather cut my leg off than wear a spuds shirt!

  162. goonermichael says:

    The press and internet are in overdrive about our “crisis”. I’m banning more and more on newsnow dandan.

  163. Big Raddy says:

    I hide the crap as well. … such as that nonsense about Liverpool posted above (sorry DD). There is nothing of substance in the article. No direct quotes. just supposition. The suggestion that Lpool will buy another centre forward after buying Suarez and Carroll is highly suspect..

    For all his errors Clichy remains our best LB. Gibbs has much to prove to usurp him.

  164. Big Raddy says:

    Evonne. Thanks – very good.

  165. Evonne says:

    Hi Raddy, I must admit that I was doing the RA logic and thought it was an advert for dirty sex for over 70s 🙂

  166. Rasp says:

    Morning all

    There’s a New Post ………………

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