The three-dimensional wall of ARS – and why we will not be buying Goetze or Hazard anytime soon

Ever since the departure of Fabregas and the long-term injury to Wilshire, I have been trying to figure out how the ‘New Arsenal’ will play this season. For quite a while I was convinced Arsène wanted to continue with his 4-2-3-1 formation of the previous seasons, and as such, he was trying to get Ramsey to play in the Fabregas position/role, with Song in the more traditional DM role and Arteta in the box-to-box ‘Wilshere’ role – which is effectively a second DM (most of the times).

I figured that at soon as the back-five would have gained enough strength and consistency, we would ‘evolve’ and start playing with one DM, and two attacking midfielders – very similar to Barcelona’s 4-1-2-3 system (pressure high up the pitch and boxing in the opponent, whilst pin-balling around till a gap is found for a deadly attack. I was convinced that as soon as Wilshire would return we would start playing Song as sole DM and two of Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta or Diaby as our attacking midfielders. This seemed the logical, final, evolutionary step of the Wengerball project.

5-3-3 System, with the three ‘mini-teams’

This might still happen, but I am starting to think that Arsene is developing a new system that is here to stay: 5-3-3. More than ever, I feel the team consists of three sub-teams: the back-five, the middle-three and the front-three. The back-five focus very hard on becoming a defensive wall that keeps clean sheets and helps out midfield and attack – especially through our FB’s – as much as possible.

The three attackers up front focus on creating and scoring goals and help out with supporting the defence and midfield as much as possible. The middle-three primarily focus on bossing the midfield, help out defence and support attack. Nothing new there, you’ll say: every team will work amongst similar lines. True, but for Arsenal this is still a shift away from what we have become used to and it seems to have helped us in becoming more focussed, and take on more responsibility, by those three ‘mini-teams’. Of course, a team functions best when all 11 positions are interlinked and work as one team. This will be the next step for Arsenal, and that’s one of the reasons I believe this team is only working to 70% of its full potential at the moment – not as a result of a lack of work-rate, but simply a lack of time of having been together/ getting used to each other as a team.

I love the way our regular front three: Gervinho, RvP, Theo work together to create scoring opportunities for each other, which, at the moment, are mainly taken by ‘Het Wonderkind – Boy Wonder’. They are becoming quite the package with a mixture of creativity, unpredictability, an all-round attacking skill-set, and an end-product to relish. It is great to see the way they take joy in helping each other to score, and the way those with the assists are celebrated just as much as the goal scorer himself.

I love the way the defence really wants clean sheets, and gets so annoyed when it is not achieved. With Szczesny and Vermaelen we have strong extravert leaders, and with Mertesacker, Sagna, Koz, and Santos we have truly focused professionals who’ll fight for the cause till the end.  There is plenty of talented back-up as well.

The Wall of ARS

But I am most excited at the moment about our new midfield. Arteta, Ramsey and Song: ‘ARS’. They have become a three-dimensional wall; the fulcrum of the new Arsenal. Like any good midfield, their tasks are to shield the defence, to boss the midfield, and to support the attack with assists and goals. ARS does this fantastically well, and there is plenty of growth/improvement still to come. ARS is not yet scoring enough and should produce more assists, but it is getting better and that’s where the additional 30% for our midfield will come from eventually.

What I like most about ARS is the unpredictability of these players. Arteta, Ramsey and Song are multi-disciplined and multi-skilled. Each of them have a great engine, each can shield the defence like a traditional DM, each can do box-to-box, each can produce a killer-pass, and each can score goals. They are total (football) midfielders.

Admittedly, Song is the better DM, and Ramsey is the best option in the more advanced midfield position of the three, and Arteta is possibly the best finisher of them all, but we have the luxury of quality midfielders who can play anywhere, and can do anything. Add to that their ability to swap positions between them during a game and this is exactly what makes us unpredictable: just think about Song’s incredible assist for RvP opening goal against BD: who saw that one coming? It also makes us extremely adjustable: just think about Arteta’s recent goals and his ability to help us ‘play-out’ a game by keeping hold of the ball at the latter stages when we are winning the game. Ramsey is so young and yet so incredibly talented: he is perhaps the best example, or the purest – if you want, of a total midfielder, out of all three of them. This is some midfield we have now and it is likely to become stronger and stronger during the next few months.

So what will happen, now that Diaby appears to be fit again, and especially when Wilshire returns? We also witnessed during our CC game against Citeh that Coquelin and Frimpong are ready to play more first team football. What are we going to do with all these fine midfielders? Just imagine the dilemma Wenger would be facing now if he had not sold Fabregas and Nasri? How times can change!

My view is that we will not change our formation at all this season: Arsenal’s multi-functional midfield within the new 5-3-3 philosophy is here to stay. Diaby and Wilshire will have to compete with ARS to get themselves in there, and for Coquelin and Frimpong the challenge will be even bigger. Wenger likes his midfielders and he is not known for easily changing things that are not broken within the same season. And this, is what makes me believe we will not buy another midfielder like Goetze or Hazard during the next TW. Arsenal might be buying another winger, and/or a striker, especially if and when one or two players are asked/decide to move on, but unless Wenger would see in them a future winger (which I doubt), for Goetze and Hazard there is simply no space at the moment.

The system of 5-3-3 is working fantastically for Arsenal and the wall of ARS is an integral part of it: I just cannot see Wenger making any changes this season and this will suit us just fine.

Written by Total Arsenal

212 Responses to The three-dimensional wall of ARS – and why we will not be buying Goetze or Hazard anytime soon

  1. Bob N7 says:

    I agree with your analysis up to a point, defence seem solid with good back up(except GK), plenty of good CMs. However where we lack is creativity on the flanks…Gervinho and Walcott great with OXO back up(MIyachi not looking like much this season) but Arshavin a busted flush and CF behind RVP is a worry. Your argument that ‘there is simply no space at the moment’ for Goetze and Hazard is flawed in my opinion. Both of them undoubtedly could play more centrally in the midfield but they are both playing wide attacking for their clubs….Hazard on the left and Goetze on the right. By splashing on one of these players it would considerably bolster the squad. Without a signing for out wide then we’re obliged to play Arshavin if he’s till with us in January.
    Of course Wenger will probably sign someone who we’ll never have heard of/considered.

  2. pat says:

    nice work TA -the mid 3 are starting to really gel which is great since the previous summer the heart was ripped out. Hoping that Ramsey scores to get himself going but they are all going well…

  3. raygunner says:

    Awesome article ! !
    I feel like u just read my mind.. I cant possibly see AW buying an extra midfielder.. We dont nid him. We hav ARS plus Jack Diaby Frimpong, Coquelin.

  4. Morning all.
    fabulous post TA, ARS? what a gem i didn’t realise what lie hidden beneath.
    I think we have been playing 5.3.3 for some time now, when guessing the weekends probable line up i always work it out as 3 separate teams as you say.
    I think Arteta has been an excellent signing, i was worried when he first came as the toffees were saying he’s past his best and injury prone, but he’s been a revelation to be sure.
    When they are all fit it will be a selection headache but hell when are they all fit???

  5. Arsedave says:

    Total
    A really interesting read, as you know I’m passionate about our midfield 3 of Song, El Bellas Artes and Aaron. AW has made Aaron into a £30million pound player. I wish Gerv would just start putting away his chances but his build up play is fine. Yeh, agree I think most of our business will be in the summer, he might buy a Zamora type player just for cover to RVP.

  6. Morning all, I like your rational, almost Spock-like, analysis of the situation TotalA although you threw me when you say “5-3-3” when to me it means 4-3-3.

    I hear Goetze is out injured for a few months, so would be a pointless buy anyway, and we have far more pressing needs up front and in the full back positions.

    Having said that there is always a need for more quality in any postion and this would motivate the existing encumbents in any position to up their game(e.g. Theo vis-a-vee OxoChamber pot).

    Arteta could get injured at any moment and I believe Song has only 1 year left on his contract at the end of this season ?

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Morning to all,

    BobN7- top comment 🙂 Agree with all of what you say, but I feel a strong need for getting another proper winger i.e. not a midfielder who is put there but really would want to play in the middle…. We need the width and the attacking intend of Gervinho and Theo and some back up would be great (and I am assuming that Arshavin is leaving us very soon).

  8. Rasp says:

    Very clever article TA. I’m not sure AW believes we can have too many ‘clever’ midfielders. I’m certain it’s his favourite type of player.

    We lost 2 and bought 1 and yet still last season therer were timnes when we were short in midfield so I reckon at some stage AW will want to sign another midfielder – probably in the summer.

    I agree Arteta has been fantastic but he is surely one of a few players in the infamous ‘red zone’.

    Chary is right, Goetze is out for a while and for the next 5-6 weeks we cannot afford to have any more injuries to key players. Lady luck will play a huge part in determining our season, hopefully she’ll spare us the one extra injury that breaks the camel’s back – if I’m not mixing my metaphors too much 😕

  9. Rasp says:

    …also, I think there is a strong chance that Song may be moving on over the summer, so if Frimpong and Coquelin can step up that extra notch he may not need to be replaced.

  10. Red Arse says:

    Good Morning TA, 🙂

    As usual, whenever I read your articles, I wonder at their excellent quality. Your command of English prose is superb and your Posts always have a captivating and interesting subject matter. This one is no exception! 🙂

    I think you have explained your thoughts very well and related them to the players available and the different tactical formations we might employ. So far so good.

    At this juncture, I have to apologise, in advance, because I don’t know how to put this in a way that won’t disappoint you and have me booed and hissed at from all bloggy quarters, it seems.
    But here goes!

    I actually agree with your main premise that AW will not buy either Goetze or Hazard in the next transfer window, or perhaps even in the summer transfer window, but for a quite different reason to the one you have put forward.

    The reason I suspect AW will not buy either of the two aforementioned players, is not because he is too mean, (that is such a facile and lame brained comment – not by you, of course, but those bloggers that delight in such puerile rubbish) but because “our Jack” will be back by mid-January, and he will rapidly re-establish himself as the ‘king’ in mid-field.

    So, why am I concerned about the boo-ing and hissing? Well, it is because I do not think your ARS midfield is the longer term answer. The weakness, in my opinion, is Arteta (the sound of breath being sucked in is ominous 🙂 ) and the sooner Jack returns to the fray, the better.

    Don’t get me wrong — Arteta is a good journeyman pro who is a cut above many others in the Premiership, and has so far performed well for us, in the absence of Jack. But I cannot now, nor have I in the past, been able to join in the misplaced eulogies to El Zorro that have attempted to paint him as a footballing Messiah.

    No! I want Jack back, and if he has yet another injury setback, heaven forfend, then I would expect, and want, Arsene to splash out on Goetze – tho’ that might be moot, as I doubt he would be available to us in any event.
    If the above turned out to be the case, I don’t think Arteta would let us down, but he is more of a Ray Parlour than a Liam Brady, to give an analogy from the past and is not a true creative playmaker like Goetze. 🙂

    OK, let the boo-ing and hissing commence — I can take it! 🙂

    In the meantime, as advised by Rocky, I will say to you — I’ll get me coat!! 🙂

  11. Wenger said yesterday that if the right player was available he would buy in January.

    The priority is, for me, a left back. With Santos out for three months and Gibbs out for who knows how long an experienced defender is essential.

    Chamakh is making want-away noises so a striker must be high on Wenger’s Christmas shopping list.

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    Tommystout 🙂 fully agree – Arteta has been brilliant. He probably is the happiest footballer in the PL at the moment and yet with less money in his pocket 🙂 He is the anti-poison for Nasri.

    Arsedave 🙂 I love the way you stick El Bellas Artes. I have the same hopes for Gerv but he has done very well in adjusting to the PL. I hope TH14 is teaching him a few tricks at the moment 🙂

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Chary 🙂 all good points. I just cannot see a defence without the goalkeeper and that’s why I prefer 5-3-3, but I can see why it could be confusing. I didn’t know Goetze got injured. He is a good player and of course I would not mind it at all if we signed him, but I prefer a quality winger or a striker.

  14. Raspers, why do I get a feeling of deja vu, last year we were told Vermaelen would be back in january and as soon as the window closed we found out he was out for virtually the season ?
    This is why I think we desperately need a utility defender who can play as a full back, preferrably Premier League experienced – yeah I know, I’m wishing for too much.
    Any manager worth their salt will look to exploit our flanks if we persist with centre backs playing as fullbacks and we all know Gibbs can’t string a run of more than 4 games together.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Rasp, I am just as worried about injuries as you, and not just to RvP. The good thing is the players have not had mid-week games for a few weeks now and the bench is looking ok.

  16. Rasp says:

    Hi chary – I think you’ve just described Jagielka, but as you know, the catch 22 is that you could not expect 2 out of TV, kos mert and Jag to be happy sitting on the bench.

    I agree with Harry, Miquel is a real prospect. He’s a very good footballer and just needs to build his strength to be able to resist being Drogbaralised.

  17. Arsedave says:

    Red Arse
    We’ve been doing so well I’ve forgotton all about Jack, in that case I would move to a 5-3-1-2 with Gerv having to give way. That means El Bellas Artes will operate behind Theo and RVP (he sometimes played this role at Everton) with Song operating just behind Aaron and Jack. Width will have to come from the full backs.

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi RA 🙂 thanks for the kind words and a great comment. I would like our Jack back as well (I so wish he would be Dutch as he is the one player Holland have been missing for a long time and he would complete the current Oranje). But the point I was making is that Arteta, Ramsey and Song have all the skills a midfield could hope for and there is no lack of creative midfield play – and the opponents do not know where it is going to come from which makes such a difference from last few season. And of course there will be injuries and fatigue this season to ‘ARS’ at one point, so Jack will get his chance. It cannot wait to see him back: it will be WARS!

  19. pat says:

    Carl Jenkinson (Back)

    Last Updated: 25 November

    Speaking on November 24, Arsene Wenger said: “Jenkinson is at least three weeks away.”

    So Jenkinson just about ready to come back?

  20. Just to be annoying and contrary the few times I’ve seen Miquel(including in a reserves game last summer) I haven’t been overly impressed and he seems a good half season off the first team.
    I’m not convinced any of our CB’s will spend long spells on the bench if a utility full back comes in as there will always be injuries and the run in to the end of any season can mean a heck of a lot of fixtures.
    We must get rid of the Squid and then run with CB’s in this order: TV, Koz, Per, Djourou with Song as emergency cover.

  21. Red Arse says:

    ArseDave, 🙂

    A good solution, but I was trying to relate my response to TA’s preferred tactical set up and on that premise, we would not need Goetze, (altho’ like TA I would not say ‘no’ to a smashing little player) and I would simply swap Jack for Artetetetaaa. 🙂

    Gerv is going to the ANC in January, so your suggestion about bringing Jack back to replace him in a different tactical formation might appeal to AW.

    That is all dependent on Jack not having a setback, of course.

  22. Devil says:

    Hey all,

    I think and I hope we’d get Poldoski, Torress and Jan this January. And since we’ve all the quota of players filled up. We’ll let go Almunia, Squillaci and some one else to make way for these 3. Torress and Poldoski at 20mil each sound like absolute bargain. They’ll earn you so much of money from T-shirt sell only.

    And as some one was talking about multi utility defender I think Jan fits that bill. I was confused whether to get him or promote Ignasi but I’d go for getting him and sending Ignasi on loan to Ajax which for me is one of the best club in the world.

    And on ARS, did any one notice when one of them is having a bad game that person sits back and lets some one else to take charge and thats how we always get one lovely chip or one jam of a pass.

  23. pieceocake says:

    Very interesting post, ditto chary, I must admit when you started talking formations with our previous 4-2-3-1 and barcas 4-1-2-3 you completely threw me when you then went on about 5-3-3, i thought do you mean we are playing without a goalie? Mate its 4-3-3

  24. Arsedave says:

    TotalArse
    Very clever, I’ve just got it, the initials spell ARS, does that happen to any other teams with their midfield 3. A midfield 3 of Giggs, Anderson and Young gives you GAY.

  25. pat says:

    Huntelaar going good – any takers?

  26. Red Arse says:

    TA,

    I cannot argue with the premise that there is every reason to be satisfied with the way the ARS (I like that) have performed this season, and you are right too that the departure of Cesc, and to a lesser extent that prat Nasri, has changed the dynamic of the team.

    As you may have guessed, I sometimes like to act as an ‘agent provocateur’ to posit an alternative to a well reasoned argument, and you and your excellent Post deserve a really good run out from the regular AAers, like me, 🙂 however inadequately I might express myself.

    Makes it fun for all of us! 🙂

  27. Red Arse says:

    The Torres story, is probably just that – a story. Then too, I just do not see our conservative transfer policy being prepared to blow £20 million on him, if he did become available.

    But ….but, but, but, like others have said, (especially as it is not my money 🙂 ) I would like to take a calculated punt on him — he was dynamic in Spain and early on for the ‘Pool.
    Yes, I would go for him — then blame AW if it did not work out!!!! 🙂

  28. Devil – I agree, I don’t think Miquel is ready. The prospect of him playing against Ashley Young or a pacy tricky winger has me cringing.

  29. lengi08 says:

    Very optimistic article TA. The thing about this side is we need someone who will hit the ground running, like Arteta. I think we need someone in every department; defense, midfield and attack. My fear is that Wenger will not spend as much as expected or more importantly as needed. I am looking foward to January first then I will see if it will be worth looking foward to the rest of the season. Reason being, there are many good squads in the legue, question is, are Arsenal good enough?

  30. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Total,
    An enjoyable and technical insight post. Zorro has surprised me, mainly because he hasn`t got injured yet ,but he is doing a great job in there.
    Have to agree though with Redder`s @10:15, so there`s no booing or hissing from me, your not quite the panto villain yet. 🙂

  31. Glic “Oh yes he is”

  32. Gooner In Exile says:

    5-3-3 is right (GKs union why should we be excluded from the formation) as Olympiakos proved the defence should almost definitely be considered as a 5 as it was when SafeHands was in his pomp.

    Nice article TA and you are of course right in your analysis of the three teams. I think we are starting to see some gelling between the lines now too.

    Devil @ 10:40am good point re the midfield 3 rotation based on performance.

    A little word in shell like of those who think Song will be off in Summer:

    Song : “Arsenal means everything to me. I came here when I was just 17 years old and now, at 24, I’m just not the same guy. Arsenal has given me everything and made me very happy – I want to give that back to them.”

    And another quote from Arteta to fit today’s discussion.

    Arteta : “For me Arsenal is a role model as a football club in everything it does, but especially in terms of three key aspects: respect, class and enjoyment. Those three words sum it up for me.”

  33. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    chary, 😆
    “he`s behind you” (with chopper in hand )

  34. Red Arse says:

    You naughty man, GLIC, leave my chopper out of this!! 🙂

  35. Ahmed says:

    Infact,2 b candid midfield z nt our problem @ d moment,all we need nw 4 january window z a very good goal machine 2 b a cover up 4 van p just cuz of d 2nd half of d season,cuz i knw some weaked soul in epl must hv bn thinkng of hw 2 injure him nw…n i knw deh wont succeed by god’s grace

  36. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    And I thought it was hard to understand some of Redder`s writing`s! 🙂

  37. VCC says:

    Total. Top post. I agree entirely. The only worry I have, has been well documented. I worry about our goalscoring if RvP gets injured. You only have to look back at the Everton game and when Persie is not on song (his own admission too) we struggle in front of goal.
    By the way I love the ARS.

  38. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    I dont need a dictionary, I need a hoody ! 😆

  39. Gooner In Exile says:

    GLIC 😀

  40. VCC says:

    chary. AND his RedArse.

  41. VCC says:

    is behind him.

  42. VCC says:

    O yes it is.

  43. Glic/VCC – and what a chopper Redders has too !

    Random fact: the other half’s initials are ARS.

  44. Arsedave says:

    VCC
    I hope Persie isn’t on Song, and Ahmed I’ve got a headache.

  45. VCC says:

    Arsedave… and you sir have made me cry.

  46. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    GiE, @11:22am, I take it you got those comments off Arsenal.com?. What about Robin`s comment, surely he`s staying!

  47. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    chary,
    If redders chopper is 12 inches, then it`s not a chooper, it`s a foot !

  48. Glic – and if his chopper is small it’s a tomahawk.

  49. TotalArsenal says:

    Redders 🙂 you are a good agent provocateur, but you just say it to nicely and I cannot get angry with you on that basis 😛

    Devil 🙂 good point in your last paragraph @10.40

    GiE 🙂 Those quotes are brilliant – makes you feel warm inside!

    Ahmed 🙂 if anybody tries to injure RVP they will RIP. The team would kill that player.

    GliC, I feel you are warming up for a day of cheeky commenting on AA. You cracked me up on numerous occasions over the last few days. I am starting to think the cakes ‘with content’ you bake/transport have something to do with 😛

    Cheers VCC, I just have a feeling that this will be RvP’s season and that he will not get a big injury this time. He looks after himself and everybody else does as well. But like you and every other Gooner in the multiple universe, I am worried too!

  50. Arsenal says:

    Very very good post that was a pleasure to read. Really clever ARS, never spotted that. Anyways onto the usual rubbish, transfer talks. I agree a midfielder is not necessary as we have Song, Diaby, Arteta, Coquelin, Frimpong, Wilshere, Ramsey who (when fit) are premier league quality. To buy Götze would be fantastic but a rather unnecessary addition. The more pressing matters are that we sign one versatile defender (who can play either side of the flank) and one striker/winger. For the defender, I’d like to see Paulo Ferriera don the red considering he can play anywhere in the defense, is experienced in UCL and in PL, and will be available on the cheap during January. For the striker dilemma I would like to see either Poldi or Loic Remy join us. Poldi is more powerful and experienced (and isnt ucl tied) but Loic Remy is the better technical footballer, and would serve a more long term purpose. With that I conclude my monologue

  51. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Lengi08, why fear Wenger might not spend? He bought a lot of players this summer and he is obviously building a new Wenger team. It is very hard to buy a player who can hit the ground running, especially attackers, at mid-season. I trust Wenger to do the right thing again. Let’s get through the next 5 PL games (in 16 days!!) and see where we are then, in terms of position in the league and fitness of players. We have the money as well, so all is looking good 🙂

  52. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    chary,
    Put a toe on his tomahawk, and he will have a tomahawk missile-toe, I`m certainly not kissing under his weapon of mass destruction!

  53. TotalArsenal says:

    Arsenal, hi 🙂 thanks for the monologue. I am quite happy with our defensive cover now, but I can see where you are coming from. I would love the see Remy join us as he looked very promising against us (although a bit hot and cold during the games – he seemed to disappear a lot). Podolski?? I just cannot see an established top-striker wanting to join us with RvP in the form of his life. Would you?

  54. Rasp says:

    Welcome ‘Arsenal’,

    A very well reasoned comment. Not everyone would agree with you about Podolski but I agree he would give us the sort of attackling option we’d hoped would be provided by Chamakh. Moussa Sow is a player who wants to come to us but that wouldn’t be before the summer.

  55. Gooner In Exile says:

    Indeed I did GLIC, there are some great comments over on that page. If we were still struggling for posts I was going to collect a few from past and present players and put into a post.

    One that nearly brought a tear to my eye was on the fans stories page but maybe I’ll leave that one for the post.

  56. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Total,
    Another great post from our own Dutch Master.

  57. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Arsenal
    Completely agree about the two types of signing needed. I have spent two summers now shouting the praises of Vertonghen. Can play anywhere across the back, as well as DM.
    As for up top, I have no idea, but someone surely. Ou of interest has Podolski been making gunner type noises? Its his name on everyone’s (not mine) lips. There must be something I don’t know.
    Loic Remy would be very Arsene like for so many reasons.

  58. Rasp says:

    Hi TA/GiE,

    A question for you both:

    It is widely accepted that most top clubs will have 4 strikers of which 2 are first choice although not always guaranteed to start together. Who do you think our 4 are and who is the other 1st choice next to RvP? Obviously a heavily loaded question 🙄

  59. Red Arse says:

    GLIC, just popped in and read your comments — 🙂

    Oh, goodness, did I just type ‘popped in’? 🙂

    You are hopelessly funny. Once Mr Micky Did It89, or is it Mr T.V. Producer sorts out who he is, I look forward with great anticipation to see the pair of you quipping in tandem! 🙂

    Actually — is ‘pair’ and ‘tandem’ an example of tautology?

  60. gunnern5 says:

    From Arsenal.com

    ……………………………………………………………………………………

    Wenger – It has to be head over heart

    By Chris Harris

    Arsène Wenger let Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry leave Arsenal because he did not allow his heart to rule his head.

    The French stars left for pastures new in 2005 and 2007, and although they enjoyed success elsewhere, Wenger believes he made the right decision.

    Speaking at a supporters’ Q&A at Emirates Stadium last week, the Arsenal manager explained the factors behind those difficult decisions.

    “In general, what is very important to understand is that we survived at the top in selling our good players,” said Wenger.

    “What happened is that we sold them around the age of 29 and 30. Why? Because we needed the money and for them to not go for free.

    “I adopted a way of thinking that it was better to sell a player one year too early than one year too late. If you sell too late you don’t get any money and you cannot buy anymore. If you sell a player early he can still sign a longer contract somewhere else.

    “In the cases of players like Patrick and Thierry, they were players who had given us nine years – their best years. Patrick could have made twice as much somewhere else with a four-year contract, but I did not want to give that to him.

    “What happens in football is that a player goes over his peak and you still have to pay him the maximum money. There’s always a difference between the moment when a player is well paid and his performance – there is a delay.

    “When you get to a player who is 29, 30 years old and you want to renew his contract, you pay mega money knowing that he will give you two years at his best when he is a striker.

    “You have to be calculated and ask if you can pay this money, then ask if you can keep five or six players who are into their 30s and cannot give you their maximum.

    “Of course in these situations you can only achieve things as men, with heart and respect. But in these situations your intelligence has to rule your heart. That is vital.”

  61. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Micky 🙂

    Many years ago MOTD introduced a game between Chelsea and Arsenal as something like: ‘today Stamford Bridge stages the exhibition of two Dutch masters: Ruud Gullit and Dennis Bergkamp’. Back then, I was a lot more proud of being Dutch than I am today, and it gave me goosebumps allover.

  62. gunnern5 says:

    From Arsenal.com

    ………………………………………………………………………………

    Ramsey – Midfield bond making us stronger

    By Joe Brewin

    Arsenal’s growing understanding in midfield is setting the team up for a bright future, according to Aaron Ramsey.

    The Welshman, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Boxing Day, is one of a number of rising stars in Arsène Wenger’s engine room.

    The likes of Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong have broken into the first team in recent seasons while Mikel Arteta and Alex Song offer vital experience in that area.

    “There’s plenty of young talent there and we have to bond even more and gel as a team throughout the years,” Ramsey told Arsenal Player. “Hopefully we’ll make it successful for many years.

    “It’s important that you have that core, that you’ve been together for a few years and you understand each other.

    “It’ll only make us stronger because you realise what to do on the pitch.”

  63. gunnern5 says:

    From Artsenal.com

    …………………………………………………………………………………..

    Mertesacker – Judge me after a season

    By Chris Harris

    Per Mertesacker wants to be judged on his first season as an Arsenal player – not just the first three months.

    The Germany international was a transfer deadline-day signing from Werder Bremen and has been a virtual ever-present in Arsène Wenger’s team since making his debut against Swansea City in September.

    Mertesacker has brought experience and a calm authority to Arsenal’s back four but, like any new recruit, he needed time to adapt to English football. The 27-year-old believes he’s getting better with every game.

    “I’m feeling good and I think that’s the best thing,” Mertesacker told Arsenal Player. “It was quite a short time for me to settle in and make the transfer happen – it was very close to the deadline so it was a tough month for me.

    “I think in England the best players in the world are here. They have a lot of strength, a lot of speed, it doesn’t compare to the Bundesliga. The technical [ability] is similar but the speed and the physical power is different.

    “If you have no pre-season with the team then that makes it more difficult. People think it’s easy to connect with your club, your team-mates, but it takes time.

    “It’s getting better and better and hopefully I can keep improving now. Let me play a season and you can get [the full picture] of my personality and my ability as a footballer.”

  64. gunnern5 says:

    TA:

    Great post, thank you.

  65. TotalArsenal says:

    RA, a pair can be totally ‘(in-)tandemless’, but one always needs another person (or more) to achieve any degree of tandemness.

  66. TotalArsenal says:

    Rasp, are you any good at Chess? I bet you are! I will have to think about my answer to your 4-striker question! 😛 I’ll be back.

  67. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers G5, good articles again!

  68. Rasp says:

    😆 TA,

    I expect the answer to be something like, “we don’t play a system with traditional strikers therefore why would we require 4”

  69. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rasp that’s the angle I was going to take…..actually I was going to ask for examples of other PL or Eiluropean clubs that have four strikers, two first choice.

    At the moment I can only come up with Chavs and Manure.

  70. Big Raddy says:

    TA. Super post. You have a Dutch understanding of tactics – a high compliment 🙂

    I do not think WA will sign an FB – it is a knee-jerk reaction to an injury blip which will soon be resolved (Sagna early Jan, Gibbs soon and Jenks almost fit). Plus the 4 CB’s he is using ATM seems to be working well as a temporary solution.

    Having Vermaelen at LB will allow a DM to get further forward, and as many a blogger was calling for him to be tried out as a DM – let’s see how he does.

    Where I hope he will buy is the problematic CF position. RvP cannot keep this up and needs backup. Chamakh will sadly not achieve his potential at Arsenal and AW clearly distrusts Park.

    Wingers? Why do we need one? With Walcott, Gervinho, Chamberlain and Miyaichi plus Arshavin, we are well covered.

  71. Red Arse says:

    TA,

    Thank you for your incomprehensible explanation in response to my rhetorical question at 12:53 — it was very sweet of you!!! 🙂

    I was being slightly disingenuous following a comment from Ahmed which was another incomprehensible (to me) communication! 🙂

    I originally wrote:
    —- “I look forward with great anticipation to see [the pair of] you quipping in tandem!”

    I knew full well I could have dropped the bracketed words and retained the meaning as below;
    —- “I look forward with great anticipation to see you quipping in tandem!

    The words — “the pair of” — were superfluous in the original sentence, and therefore I was indeed guilty of a deliberate tautological statement! 🙂

    You see, I am very tricky! 🙂

  72. Wonderman says:

    Great post Total!!! And I think it is fantastic that you are including the goalie in the formation as the accepted convention completely ignores them. Ironically, i think the loss of our full backs has served to curb the kamikaze situation we often found ourselves in with both full backs in the attack and has added to our solidity. It will be interesting to see how Jack and Diaby are integrated into the starting 11

    I disagree that Ramsey is the best attacking option see link

    http://thisisfutbol.com/2011/12/blogs/forget-rvp-this-man-is-arsenals-mvp?

    But I think we are witnessing the development of a formidable midfield

  73. Hi Radders, sorry to be curmudgeonly, but we only have 2 wingers, with Oxo not being risked outside of the CC and a dead rubber in the Champions League and Miyiachi barely seen and injured anyway. As for the Arsh, well you could count him as one at a pinch however I don’t think we are overstocked in wingers.
    I’m coming to the conclusion that Park was bought merely as a marketing tool for the Far east market; he’s been used so little that I can’t form an opinion on him.
    The obvious does need to be restated occasionally, if Robin gets injured we are royally screwed.

  74. Rasp says:

    Thanks GiE, I think the blunt point I was trying to get across is that we only have 1 striker (2 if you include MC and 3 if you include Park), the tots 3, mancs 4, pool 3, chels 4, citeh 38.

    But as we have been discusing over the last 24 hours, finding a player either as a stop-gap or squad member in January is going to be close on impossible. If Chamakh does go, I’d like to see us take a punt on someone with a track record of knowing where the goal is ….. obviously within the usual constraints of price and wages.

  75. Rasp says:

    Calling all bloggers …. the post cupboard is bare, we need an article for tomorrow and Friday.

    Rocky is very clever at picking up on a comment and turning it into a post for the following day …. there must be plenty to stimulate your creative juices from the excellent responses to TA’s post today.

  76. TotalArsenal says:

    Rasp said: A question for you both (GiE, TA):
    It is widely accepted that most top clubs will have 4 strikers of which 2 are first choice although not always guaranteed to start together. Who do you think our 4 are and who is the other 1st choice next to RvP?
    Short answer: we only have one 1st choice striker at the moment.
    Is it widely accepted that top clubs have four strikers? I could not name four for Barcelona and I would struggle to name them all for Arsenal’ winning teams in the last 15 years. But ok, especially those teams who play with two strikers, four is a minimum. You know of course the Arsenal striker situation: we have RvP, Chamakh and Park for the one ‘pure-striker’ position. But what about Theo and Gervinho (and the Ox and Arshavin): are they assist-producers or goal-scorers? I’d say three strikers are enough for our current system and RvP is obviously our 1st choice. In this system we cannot really afford to have another 1st choice striker, especially with RvP being our captain as well, he would almost always be our 1st choice, and the other 1st choice striker would spend a lot of time on the bench. Who would want to be second fiddle to RvP, whilst being of more or less the same quality? Only those who come purely for money will accept such a situation, but that does not really fit Arsenal, in more than one way. You and I know that the real problem is Chamakh’s apparent demise and Park’s lukewarm start to the season (which was to be expected): we do not have a good, confident number two at the moment. Of course this can still change.

    The other problem we have to deal with is our team’s focus to create scoring opportunities for RvP. I have argued before this is making us a little bit one-dimensional upfront and very dependable on Boy Wonder. Yet, as someone mentioned before, we have other goal scorers in this team, and especially Theo and Gervinho have a lot more goals in them. Chamakh is the sort of striker that allows/enables others to score, but he has been struggling to rekindle his earlier form. I know how you feel about Chamakh and I am pretty sure you would not want us to risk keeping him and not buying a replacement for the rest of the season. I am still pretty sure that if RvP gets injured for two/three months, Chamakh would do a decent enough job to help the team score the necessary goals. But, there is a risk that it will not work out (quickly enough) and his recent performances do not fill us with much hope. But there is also no guarantee that Podolski or any other established striker would do much better joining us at mid-season (just think about Torres at Chelsea and Carol at Liverpool). So, no easy answers from/for me.

    I have a slightly bigger worry and that is with regards to our wingers. Theo and Gerv are now so important in our current formation/system and I don’t think we have the right back-up. The Ox, yes, he is top top quality and can replace Gervinho or Theo to some extent, but Arshavin and Ryo, for different reasons, are not of the same calibre as Theo/Gerv. I expect Arshavin to move on in January and Arsenal to buy another winger, who hopefully can also play upfront if needed. That would be my biggest Arsenal wish for this Christmas, followed quickly by the purchase of quality striker (a typical Wenger-gem).

  77. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Wonderman, thanks for the link. Very impressive article about Song. He has been phenomenal this season 🙂

  78. Arsedave says:

    Clubs are slowly moving away from the 4 striker set-up. If you think back to when it first evolved it was the Mancs with Yorke, Cole, Sheringham and Solskjaer. What more and more clubs are doing is playing a 4-3-3 (5-3-3 for TA) where the front two wide men then drop back to make a 4-5-1. Barcelona have taken that system even further and sometimes play a 3-7-0 or 2-1-7 (Xavi the 1) with Villa and Pedro actually out on the wings leaving space behind the defenders for Messi and Iniesta (now Cesc) to exploit. This idea was first introduced by Venables reign with England, everyone old enough will remember the Xmas tree formation. Even though Sheringham and Shearer were his two main strikers he made the midfield 4 interchangeable which was very hard to mark. This meant with a little bit of discipline players like McManaman, Redknapp, Gascoigne, Waddle, Platt and Anderton could all get forward.

  79. Wonderman says:

    TA you are welcome, no more impressive than your post.

    On the 4 striker debate, I think it is a red herring. IMO our success will depend upon our midfield contributing to the goal tally . We need at least 2 of them in double figures

  80. Red Arse says:

    As a club, we never seem to have had more than 1 or 2 out and out strikers over the past couple of decades.

    We have always had a policy, at least since Arsene arrived, of the whole team being expected to score.

    Going back in 5 year tranches(ish), do any of you stato guys have the details?

    2011: RVP + ??

    2006: TH + ??

    2000: TH + ??

    1995: IW + ??

    Sorry, I admit to being hopeless in this respect! 🙂

  81. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    With Totals “ARS” and Arsedave`s “GAY”, I thought about Chamakh,Oxlade-Chamberlain,Kos” ,We also have the shareholders, Friar,Usmanov, “Chips”, Kroenke, anyway enough of that Gay Arse Cock Fuck, I just want to get one over them Completely,Useless,Nonsensical,Tottenham, Scum !

  82. VCC says:

    glic….you should be on stage.

  83. VCC says:

    glic.. also you should belong to the Great Linguistical Inner Circle.

  84. Arsedave says:

    GLIC
    I reckon that’s taken you the best part of a day to come up with that, but well done in the end

  85. evonne says:

    TA – you are this blog’s Het Wonderkind!! What an intelligent and well presented prose, well done kid!

    I think you are spot on about the split of roles and responsibilities of the current squad. What amazes me is how quickly the new members have adjusted to the Arsenal ways. Truly remarkable. It makes me wonder if Gervinho, Santos and Jenkinson, even Arteta were rushed, necessity purchases? It doesn’t seem that way, they fit like a glove, as if they were there for yonks.

    One more thing that surprises me is my memory. I can barely remember names and faces of new acquaintances, yet Arsenal players unpronounceable names sink into my gray cells without any obstructions. Selective ? 

  86. Rasp says:

    Wow TA, what a detailed response! …. there is the post I was asking for tomorrow, but you’ve relegated it to the status of a comment. Its an interesting subject and obviously I was playing agent provocateur.

  87. Redders, my attempt at your quiz: 1995(perhaps 1996) – Kevin Campbell, 2000(surely 2001 ?) – Anelka, 2006 – RvP, 2011 – Chamakh(lol)

  88. Red Arse says:

    Hi CharyB, 🙂

    Thanks for that. It seems to bear out my gut feeling that we have only really had 1 or 2 ‘strikers’ at anyone time since AW became manager. I suppose Bendy, altho’ he played out on the wing so much, could be include in there somewhere.

    Wonderman said he thought the 4 strikers point was a herring of a reddish hue, and I am inclined to agree with him! 🙂

  89. Red Arse says:

    The Orange Man (aka Phil Brown has been sacked as Preston Manager).

    Aaah, shame! 🙂

  90. AfroGunner says:

    @pat i dont agree on creativity.
    The strikers are roaming always creating problems for defenses with the switches. as opposed to the static out and out wingers. In attack there is an arrow with 3 strikers in the box for followup. giving room for the left and right backs to supply the crosses.thus not forcing the midfielders into too advanced positions. This is evident in the cut backs for RVP

  91. It’s strange Redders, not so long ago Wenger was saying that since most Premier League teams play 4-5-1 and we were, up till the mid 2000’s I’d guess, still playing 4-4-2 he said he expected there to be less out and out strikers around as there was less need for them in the more popular 4-5-1.

    Without wanting to reignite the old “Is it a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3 ?” formation debate our formation seems to only have room for one striker.

    It’s no surprise the Oilie’s (sp?) have scored so many goals as they have so many pure strikers on their books. Just one more finisher would make me feel a lot less uncomfortable about our precarious striking position

  92. RockyLives says:

    TA
    Splendid post. You bring a cerebral intensity to your posts but never at the expense of an easy and accessible style.

    ARS is a genius spot! And I am totally (no pun) happy with you referring to a 5-3-3. Anyone objecting is just being pedantic.

    Redders
    First of all, you taut me all I know.
    And second of all, to answer your question at 2.40…
    surely for 2000 and 2006 it’s TH & DB? (Or have I just fallen into a trap?)

  93. RockyLives says:

    Micky and I have now connected via email and have discovered that, not only do we know each other, we used to live on the same street, we also share two ex wives, were once held captive in Borneo together and are, in fact, conjoined twins.

  94. Big Raddy says:

    RL. Congratulations.

  95. Arsedave says:

    Shame about the Orange Man, Lancashire clubs in a bit of a slump at the moment with Blackburn and Bolton at the bottom with Wigan, Blackpool and Burnley both relegated in the last 2 seasons and Preston North End really struggling to pick a point. I remeber our cup tie at Preston back in the late 1990’s, 2-0 down, what an atmosphere at that place then Petit took over and we won 4-2.

  96. chas says:

    Great post, TA.

    Loving the ARS, the Arsenal Rhythm Section.
    They do seem to be playing closer together and interchanging positions which gives us greater stability and cohesion.

    Compare and contrast the average positions of …..

    Frimpong, Rambo and the Fat Bench Warmer against the dippers
    Liverpool (H)
    http://twitpic.com/7t86vl/full

    with….
    Song, Rambo and Arteta against Everton
    Everton (H)
    http://twitpic.com/7t8822/full

  97. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    I think Total should be applauded for two posts in a day. I love this site. I was going to list the great talent but thought I`d just say look at the list of AA authors, not only are they clever bastards but they know their football. 🙂

  98. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Evonne, the new players have indeed fitted in like a glove and I am sure they were not panic buys. The Arsenal negotiators waited so long as to move themselves in the best possible bargaining position. I would have loved to see those players join us in July, but I can see why the board waited in order to get the bargains. They probably saved themselves between £5m-10m in the process.

  99. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Rocky, Micky, No , It cant be, your not the Arsenal loving conjoined twins that I was engaged to, as I previously commented on here. No, they were girls, or was they ? 😯

  100. evonne says:

    TA – agree, perhaps even more

  101. evonne says:

    Rocky – 🙂

  102. TotalArsenal says:

    GLiC, you are in fine form today. I guess you are just trying very hard to forget you have got to travel to the land of Orc tomorrow… 😦

    Thanks Rocky, the main reason to use the 5-3-3 was to focus on the ‘mini-teams’. The great thing about Szczesny is that he is not only technically very competent, but a good communicator and team-player: he is an integral part of the defence mini-team.

    Good to see you and Micky linking up again!

    Hi Raddy, did you succeed with your book search?

  103. Rasp says:

    😆 Rocky, in keeping with the panto season…. He’s behind youooooo……

  104. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rocky,
    And there was me thinking we had a clear understanding not to mention the little incident in Borneo!

  105. Herb'sArmy says:

    Hi TA,
    enjoyed reading your post, the Norwich possie (you and GiE) seem to have a knack of consistently putting out quality posts.
    On your point about saving £5-10m, was it worth it for the start we had, bearing in mind all those who travelled to OT had to be compensated?
    It galls me that Man Utd dish out the odd thrashing to us, yet throughout our history we’ve never been able to do it to them.

  106. TotalArsenal says:

    Wow, Chas, how do you do it: everything you get for AA is useful and to the point. I wish I had those graphs before I wrote the post! 🙂

  107. RockyLives says:

    GLIC
    It was a dark night…

  108. Rasp says:

    I feel no sorrow for Phil Brown, he has consistently broken the trades descriptions laws …… he’s plainly Phil Orange, and was never a football manager

  109. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Chas,
    I thought Total’s ARS was astute, but your Arsenal Rhythm Section is superb.

  110. VCC says:

    evonne, are the invites going out yet for the Queens Park Rangers game?

  111. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Herb, thanks. If we knew the exact facts, it would be a great post to write: was it worth it?

  112. RockyLives says:

    Micky
    Sorry about that. I should have remembered: What happens in Borneo stays in Borneo…

  113. Herb'sArmy says:

    Sorry, forgot to mention well done Micky and Rocky, what a great story!
    Phil Brown – a.k.a. Karaoke King, after singing to Hull fans when they’d just been beaten by Man Utd reserves at home, but stayed up because Newcastle lost at Villa.

  114. evonne says:

    VCC – not that I know. But I think Raddy is coming to UK for that week, Raddy? And then there will be the usual suspects – Rasp and Peaches, Chas, 26may, me

  115. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I know it suits many here, but home games on Boxing Day as well as New Year’s Eve is one big bugger for me. I have already completed my fixtures for December 😦

  116. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    I think i have to christen you “TotalMaster” after that article TM, only a dutch could break it down so well. Will be fascinating to see how our tactics and formation develops.

    Now, i am not a bitter or vindictive man, and generaly avoid been rude, but Phil Orange can go suck Fat Sams cock.

  117. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Herb,
    We join the elite gang of Peaches and Raddy.
    I bet LB’s Winter Furry Thong there are more here.

  118. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Nice and to the point Mr Transplant 🙂

  119. VCC says:

    evonne, looking forward to it. Do you all wear Red Carnations for identification?

  120. Rasp says:

    I think that’s what turned him orange in the first place TMHT

  121. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    hahaha, think your right Rasp

  122. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Total , Thanks for reminding me, I wonder If evonne would like me to Extract Rory from Orcland ?, I`ll have him cleaned up and delivered to evonne`s place for interrogation, I`ll even supply the towel`s to clean his balls, I`ll expect to have him back in a Delapadated condition !

  123. California Gooner says:

    A couple of days ago I thought “why not make a cheeky. 20 mil bid for Torres”, but was too busy with real work to bother posting… and then this rumor that Chelsea is ready to write-off 30 mil this year surfaced. now, when I think about, it seems like too much!

  124. LB says:

    My red and white winter furry thong is staying put.

  125. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Cornwall, Evonne would have to get past Pullis first, seems he lkes a bit of manly towel flicking at steamy shower time.

  126. Big Raddy says:

    evonne. Sadly I am only in town for the Boxing Day game. I have to be back in CPH for New Years. But Peaches is taking me out to lunch !!

    CG- “too busy with real work”. yeah…. right 😀

  127. LB says:

    Hi TA

    Just to say how much I enjoyed reading the post, this kind is one of my favourites, one that I enjoy reading slowly to make sure I have understood all that is being attempted to be said.

    I agree with so much up there, certainly that Goetze and Hazard are not needed, certainly that we are still performing to 70% of our capability, certainly that Wenger will not change the midfield system for the rest of the season.

    All in all I agree with your observations, but as I read down, I was getting excited that soon you would express your opinion.

    Unfortunately, that did not happen. You say that you expected Song to move back to a more pure DM role but you do not say whether you agree with it, for example.

    You have seen enough of my blogging to know that I am very opinionated but I do it on purpose as I know it generates conversation and that is what I believe makes a blog interesting.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your accurate observations but I would have been just as interested to know what you would like to see happen in the midfield?

  128. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Terry, Rasp, nice! 😆

  129. Rasp says:

    Red alert…Red alert…Red alert….

    We need posts for tomorrow and Friday. The RHWP is very tired and does not want to have to resort to mental torture and harassment 😕

  130. LB says:

    Rasp

    I am glad you changed that word to “does” I was thinking poor peaches.

  131. Rasp says:

    😆 LB – for once, not a Freudian slip!

  132. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    I did like Micky and Rocky`s exchanges yesterday, It was heart warming stuff,I could hear violins in the background and could feel myself welling up waiting for the conclusion, It was like “Brokeback Emirates” 😆

  133. Red Arse says:

    GLIC (aka Busty Marilyn)

    It is all coming together, (tho’ in the circumstances perhaps I could have chosen a different phrase).

    The conjoined Micky and Rocky (see even the last 3 letters of their names are the same) are indeed male, and you are —- well you are Busty — say no more.
    Your love making the first time was to two sheep, (of which I was the bouncy one), then you had your evil way with one of those two innocent boys, while MerryT (damn this dysxlexle) was interfering with the other one, behind your back, which, he said, took some doing.

    Unlike Raddy, I am not Sucatraps, I am in fact an evil genius journalist — read tomorrows paper where I shall reveal all about the black hole of Cornwall!! heeeeeehhheeeeee!!!!

  134. Big Raddy says:

    GLIC. You are top form tonight. That is the second time I have burst out laughing!!

    RA. Good spot re: the 3 letters….. spooky

  135. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Redders, hahahahahahahahahahaha.

  136. Red Arse says:

    And by the way TA, let’s get down to it — this 5:3;3 busines has bugger all to do with Goalie shmolie, it’s simply because you could not add up and made a mistake, is all!! 🙂

    Admit it, or I will reveal you as the the Flying Dutchman, aide to Busty Marilyn!

  137. RockyLives says:

    Listen you lot, I’ve got work to do but there’s such a lot of really funny banter on here today that I have to keep popping back to check up on it.

    GLIC, Redders, Rasp, LB, Terry, conjoined twin et al… if I get fired it’s your fault.

  138. MickyDidIt89 says:

    GliC,
    Brokeback Emirates! Precisely how much do you know about the Borneo Incident?

  139. Gooner In Exile says:

    There’s a lot to love Arteta for….but sometimes someone can have a bit too much

  140. Right you rotten lot, sat here all day blogging while I’m out in the wind and rain creating wonderfulness in a garden – we have no more posts in the cupboard, nada ……………

    If someone has an idea for an opening to tomorrows blogging I’ll be really grateful …………….. and Friday and Saturday

    Actually isn’t Friday the Champions League draw? Would someone like to do a pre-draw post …… just an idea ……..

  141. evonne says:

    VCC – no, we don’t wear red carnations 🙂 LB wears furry thong, that’s easy to spot in the Tavern 🙂

    Chas and his many companions sit at the table by the window on the right hand side of the bar; the rest of us will be with Chas or if GiE is coming -then outside puffing. GiE is easy to spot too – the biggest guy in the Tavern, 2 pints of Guiness and a fag

  142. evonne says:

    Raddy – 😦 next time then

  143. Red Arse says:

    GIE,

    You come on here with your declaration of love for Arteta, when we are at a very sensitive time for GLIC, and the conjoined twins! Now we may never know who gets what bit!

    Do you have no shame?

  144. MickyDidIt89 says:

    LB,
    You can’t get out of honouring your debts that easily Matey. As if we believe the Winter Furry Thong is all that remains in your wardrobe. How about the Cycling Lycra Thong, The Quick Release Party Thong, Formal Thong, Wet Weather Thong….
    Rumbled my friend.

  145. Red Arse says:

    Hi Peaches, 🙂

    Ahh yes – I remember being out in the garden having wonderfulness too. The wind and the rain always seemed worth it tho’, so stop complaining! 🙂

    Evonne which days comments are you responding to? 🙂

  146. Red Arse says:

    Micky, you forgot to mention the sing thong.

  147. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Peaches,
    I’ll do something. Tomorrow or Friday. Need a think, and that can take time.
    Lunch with Raddy. Lucky Man is in for a treat me thinks.

  148. MickyDidIt89 says:

    RA 🙂
    The list is actually horribly long.

  149. Thanks Micky, I kinda need to know if it will be in for tomorrow – or rather Rasp does. Hopefully someone will come up with a pre-CL draw analysis for Friday.

  150. RockyLives says:

    And for our next CL game, LB will be sporting… wait for it…
    a thong for Europe 🙂

  151. chas says:

    Peaches,
    I’ll have a go at a CL draw post for Friday.
    As long as I don’t get blamed when we draw Madrid. 🙂

  152. That’s fantastic chas – thank you very much

  153. evonne says:

    Yeah, Chas is a top bloke, but only if you ask, he happily ignored Rasp’s pleas 🙂

    Thong for Europe, come on LB

    RA – oh, just replying randomly, I am not pedantic 🙂 Blond hair can come very useful when making excuses or driving in a wrong lane 🙂

  154. Haha evonne, what chas didn’t know is that I am currently masquerading as peaches – she hasn’t even typed her last 3 comments.

  155. Rasp says:

    Its true 😆

  156. chas says:

    Evonne,
    How dare you suggest I’m a sucker for the persuasive charms of the female of the species.

    Rasp,
    Slap a wig on and I’m game.

  157. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rasp,
    Tranny

  158. RockyLives says:

    And I thought Redders’ ramblings were a flight of fancy! Now, here we are, with one of the leading lights of AA doing the blogworld equivalent of cross-dressing.

    I’m shocked.

    And so is my twin.

  159. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Micky (real name Mandy) and Rocky( real name Sharron) ( well that was their names before I knew they were ladyboy conjoined twins), I remember It as the boneo incident and the crumbs were everywhere. It started in a Marks &Spencer car park, these were no ordinary conjoined twins, these were M&S ones (Mandy & Sharron). They were arguing, normally they would settle an arguement with a arm wrestle or a race, but this was heated, they were trying to head butt eachother, Mandy said, I hate you, you never give me any space, every time I look around you`re there. It was ugly, so being the gent I am , I thought I`d better try and seperate them !. After helping cool thing`s down, we talked and found out we all had the common love of Arsenal. I soon found myself taking a fancy to Sharron,she was the one with the blonde hair, which helped as I was struggling to tell them apart. Anyway thats how I met them.

  160. evonne says:

    Chas – it wasn’t that difficult – you are the only one on this blog with such distinctive give away avator 🙂

  161. evonne says:

    Ok, all will be revealed shortly – only Peaches knows the answer to this question – who sent you a letter I am bursting to tell the world about?

  162. But you have to admit I could do a pretty good Nigella myself huh 😀

    That’s me, not Rasp, he really doesn’t do Raven Haired Princess well 😳

  163. evonne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  164. evonne says:

    No, it is Rasp. You are having a bath, cannot blog in the shower!!! Rasp you imposter!

  165. TotalArsenal says:

    RA, Mertesacker counts for two anyway 🙂

    Hi LB 🙂 I would like our midfield of ARS to just continue as they are: Song as the ‘first DM’, Ramsey as our most advanced midfielder and Arteta bossing the midfield and helping Song and Ramsey out. But this is only the starting point as during the game the three of them take on different positions and swap with each other. It seems that Wenger has given them the freedom to decide between them who should play where at any given time during the match, depending on what they feel is required and what is best for the team. They have become a mini ‘self-managing’ team where roles are swapped regularly and are not rigidly set from the start.

    I would like that to continue as I see it as a real advantage. In previous season we became so dependable on Fabregas finding the holes and the passes, and some teams were able to keep Fabregas quiet and we struggled sometimes subsequently. Now we have a self-managing team of three midfielders of which anyone can pick a killer pass, anyone can end up at the edge of the box and score a goal and anyone can help shielding the defence etc. I am really excited about it and for me nothing should change this season. If and when Diaby and Wilshere come back they should also become multi-discipline midfielders in a this self-managing midfield concept.

    Hope this answers your question LB. And don’t worry about being direct – you are a great fellow AA-blogger, who obviously loves the Arsenal incredibly! 🙂

  166. No, it really is me ……….. the lovely one 🙂

  167. evonne says:

    who sent the letter??

  168. evonne says:

    what is the 3rd letter of the person who sent The Letter??

  169. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Slow down Total. That’s three posts so far today. I’m struggling to think of one idea for tomorrow.
    Something will germinate overnight if I sleep upside down. Could work.

  170. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    TotalTactician, More superb stuff, out with Rice ,In with Total !. 🙂

  171. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Total,
    If Robin hits the treatment room, I would seriously consider playing Diaby up top, as I did two seasons ago, when we ended up with our little pocket Russki up there.

  172. RockyLives says:

    Micky
    @7.29
    Good call. He’d be a real handful.

  173. chas says:

    TA,

    Here are the average positions for Wigan away. I know Rambo might sit deeper away, but how uncanny is it that all three are virtually on the centre spot?
    http://twitpic.com/7t9qyq/full

  174. TotalArsenal says:

    Hey Micky – I would love to hear about the latest developments at the whiff-whaff club. Have you shown your fellow whiff-whaffers any of the Szczesny tabletennis contests with fellow players: it might be a way of getting ‘Arsenal games are a good reason for postponing whiff-whaff meetings’ back on the agenda…. 😉

    GLiC 😛 I think Wenger should hire you for pre-match entertainment sessions to loosen the nerves and muscles!

  175. TotalArsenal says:

    Chas, that is pretty incredible. Did you see that the Gerv is very close to the midfielders in the centre, but just in front of them. I really thought Gervinho kept us as wide on the left as Theo does on the right, but in this game he played a lot more central, behind RvP it seems…

  176. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rasp/Peaches.
    I’ll do a post first thing. A comment from today has given me an idea. Send in by 8:00’ish am.
    Off out for the evening.
    Nite all.

  177. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    Dear evil genius RA, I look forward to your journalistic findings on the ” black hole of cornwall “, thats if i can escape the “event horizon” of Tony Pulis`s black hole, I think there will be more than Rory Delaps Sphere`s in there, I`ll catch up later pm. 🙂

  178. RockyLives says:

    Nite Twin

    Total
    I think Gerv’s position is misleading. He and Theo switched wings, which may explain why he “averages out” somewhere near the middle. And why Theo also averages out fairly centrally.

    I’m sure Redders would do a much better explanation of this than me but, basically, a player could spend 50% of a game hugging the left touchline and 50% hugging the right touchline and his “average position” would be in the centre of the park, even if he never set foot there! (I think).

  179. TotalArsenal says:

    RL, I hadn’t thought about the switching, good point. Will have a close look at Gervinho and Theo next game though!

  180. LB says:

    TA

    Thanks for taking the time to answer, I have to say I agree and share your view of the midfield, present and for the rest of the season. No controversy there, I will have to try harder.

  181. chas says:

    Dead right, Rocky.

    Interesting how Theo’s and the Gerv’s heat maps vary, though.

    Gervinho Wigan
    http://twitpic.com/7tau3a/full

    Walcott wigan
    http://twitpic.com/7taugs/full

  182. RockyLives says:

    Ah but LB…
    If AR, MA, AS, AD and JW are all available and fit, which three are first choice?

    Right now I would say it will be heard for JW or AD to walk back into the team and that the current trio are first choice even if the other two are available…

  183. RockyLives says:

    That’s weird Chas
    It’s like Gerv did a lot more wandering than Theo.
    In my perception/memory they seemed to switch and switch back again at roughly the same time.

  184. chas says:

    I’m not sure how the heat maps work, Rocky.
    Maybe it’s when they touch the ball, in which case Theo touches it much less when he switches on to the left, Gervinho being more involved on both flanks, maybe?

  185. RockyLives says:

    Could be.
    Maybe Theo generates less heat when he’s on the left flank ‘cos he hasn’t got his arse in gear!

  186. TotalArsenal says:

    Chas, RL, there appears to be some correlation between the four images. Theo sticks more to the right, whilst Gervinho moves around and can be found in the middle a lot. It is worth watching the next few games to see whether this is indeed the case.

  187. Gooner In Exile says:

    Think the heat is definitely touches.

    Hence Gerv as we all know being equally involved on either flank. Theo needs the ball passed to him, Gerv goes and finds the ball.

    It’s also why Theos touches are further up the pitch.

  188. gooner lost in cornwall says:

    chas , would love to see a heat map on a full Arshavin game, to see if he is as lazy as we think, in fact it would be nice to see all the players heat map stats. I wonder if it shows up the amount of running on and off the ball ?, as Ramsey seems to cover some mile`s !

  189. Rasp says:

    Here’s a prediction for you all, Bobby Zamora to totnum in January…… remember you heard it here first 😉

  190. TotalArsenal says:

    Rasp, you usually get these things right 🙂

    Night all and thanks for the great blogging today. What a great bunch of Gooners we have on AA 🙂 🙂

  191. Gooner In Exile says:

    Not Arsenal Rasp?

  192. Gooner In Exile says:

    We may be unlucky with injuries but not since Perry Groves broke his leg having a shower (or some such incident ) and Dave Beasant dropped a bottle of salad cream on his toe (I think ) has a story about an injury been so unfortunate.

    We’ve all done silly things playing with toddlers but cruciate knee ligament damage?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/16184828.stm

    Now google strange football injuries or weird injuries and you realise it has nothing to do with the Red Zone just plain old bad luck (like the Danish keeper who had to retire after injuring his shoulder folding down an ironing board!)

  193. SharkeySure says:

    TA – Masterpiece !

  194. SharkeySure says:

    thisisfutbol.com/2011/12/blogs/forget-rvp-this-man-is-arsenals-mvp

    How must Fergie feel watching our ARS, especially Ramsey?!

  195. evonne says:

    Hi Sharkey, what is that link you added?

  196. oz gunner says:

    cheers TA usual brilliance, and rocky loved your pieces the other day.

    @ Chary

    Miquel has you cringing if opposed to young? BAHlony! He took johnson to school when we played city. Johnson > Young (poor mans walcott)

  197. oz gunner says:

    wheres my manners, morning all.

    Remi would have been a good buy a season or two ago, would of been alot cheaper too. We were linked with him heavily, as were liverpool. I’d grab him in a heartbeat!

  198. evonne says:

    Oz – where are your manners and where were you the last few days? I watched the Warrior on sunday

  199. evonne says:

    Europa League – “The likes of Porto, Ajax, Udinese, Lazio and Paris St Germain lurk menacingly in the draw for the next round. Further on, Schalke, Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, PSV Eindhoven and Birmingham City are among the teams to avoid. United might fancy their chances of waltzing past most of those teams. Then again, they fancied their chances of waltzing past Basle as well” 🙂

  200. oz gunner says:

    Sorry evonne, working full time in a hot stockroom has left me buggered most days so fell a few days behind. I read that you watched it, predictable yes, brilliant…yes also. One more negative comment about the movie and the friendships over haha.

    @ GLIC

    you and a few others on here like RA and Micky are comic geniuses. I love how AA is not only a combination of intelligence, good stories, and great discussion, but it’s also side-splittingly funny.

  201. Morning Evonne, yeah, Basle Brushed ManUre aside………..badoom dush !

  202. oz gunner says:

    Why did tevez have to turn into a sook. If he stuck around he, mario and aguero could of held down the attacking positions leaving dzeko frustrated and wanting an exit. Leaving arsene to snatch him up at a discounted price. Well done tevez you selfish so and so

  203. Big Raddy says:

    Oz. True, but Dzeko may have stifled Ryo’s potential 😉

  204. evonne says:

    Chary – I am scared now that one of the polish teams (morning Raddy) will get the Mancs. Both Szczesny and Fabianski are like me from Warsaw and Legia Warszawa is in the draw.

  205. Radders, Dzeko would “have killed Riyo” in Wenger parlance 🙂

  206. Evonne, don’t worry ManUre will get the minnows of the draw as usual – UEFA rules apply – let ManUre always get the easiest draw/group possible.
    That reminds me, Greavsie, an ex-Spud player/commentator, used to call your hometown team “Leg-over Warsaw”.
    What a wit he is.

  207. Rasp says:

    Morning all……

    ……New post ……..

  208. oz gunner says:

    haha good call BR

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