Mikel Arteta – 2011 / 2012 Unsung Hero.

July 31, 2012

Deadline day 2011. Arsenal fans eyes still wet from the departure of our beloved captain Fabregas, while being furious about the controversial departure of Nasri, whom was dubbed ‘$amir N€$ri’ (rightly as well).

Then a moment of madness, well a day of madness, from Mr Wenger, 5 signings. Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Park on permeant deals, while Benayoun’s transfer was a season long loan.

At sometime around 3 o’clock on deadline day, news hit that Arsenal were interested in Everton playmaker and fans favourite Mikel Arteta, in which he was automatically compared to Fabregas, and was said to be replacing him, even though they are two different players completely. An hour or so later, news hit Arsenal were unwilling to pay what Everton wanted, so dropped interest in acquiring his services. An hour or so later, news hit again that Arsenal had approached Everton again about signing Arteta. Pictures of Arteta arriving at Everton, going to speak to presumingly to the manager and other various senior board members were shown on every sports new channel. Just after eleven o’clock, Arsenal announced the arrival of Arteta.

Immediately after the transfer was completed, different opinions began to arise of just how good Arteta was. One opinion was that the acquisition of Arteta, alongside the other four signings, was a sign that Arsenal FC were changing slowly into a team that had players just below the bar of ‘world class’ like Fabregas, Nasri, and could not obtain players like Hazard. Another one was that he was a poor mans Fabregas, mainly due to them both being Spanish, and Everton playing him in a similar role to Fabregas, and he was Wenger’s panic buy, as he has wasted weeks in replacing Fabregas since his departure. One more, was that he is not good enough for Arsenal, and is a short term replacement for Nasri just until Wenger has time to replace him and Fabregas properly in the January February transfer window.

31st of July 2011. Arsenal are hosting the yearly Emirates Cup tournament. Day two, Arsenal vs New York Red Bulls. All of the light is obviously on Henry’s return to Arsenal, and possibly his last (Who could have guessed he would have return on a loan deal). A more experienced team were played, which included Wilshere. Wilshere is taken off with an ankle injury, but nobody expected it to be anything worse than a month, he was promised to return to start the season. The light is again put on Henry, who had been denied the chance to play for the Arsenal team for the last ten minutes. Wilshere’s return date kept getting delayed by Arsenal, and soon it became apparent the midfield three would have too be Arteta, Song an Rosicky, a player whom had fallen out with the Arsenal fans. Arteta was deployed into a centre defensive midfield role, next to Song in the formation 4-2-1-3. This was a surprise to Arsenal fans, as he was expected to sit behind the attackers like he had at Everton.

We had a terrible start to the season. But finally, after seven or eight games, the bond between Song and Arteta became clear. They would both control the games tempo, and when Vermaelen, an extremely talented attacking Centre Back, would charge upfield, therefore leaving a large gap in defence, Song would slot in to that position. Arteta would then become the sole Centre Defensive Midfielder. If Koscielny would then also attack, or Song wasn’t where he should be, then Arteta would become the temporary Centre Back.

Arteta also, would then get Song to move into the centre of the pitch, and would then attack, sitting behind the attackers, for example against Blackburn, West Brom, and most notably Man City.

The partnership between Arteta and Song, would become a valuable asset to Arsenal, helping us to overtaking the spuds after months of ‘Mind the Gap’. As Vermaelen and Koscielny began to play regularly together, their partnership began to appear. Van Persie already had chemistry and Walcott, and developed a strong partnership with the Ox, not so much with Gervinho though. When all of these partnerships came together, it was clear that this Arsenal team had improved, the turning point being the game against the spuds. We have started the game like we had started the season. Not midfield or defensive communication, and a dive put us two nil down. But Song and Arteta began to grab the game by the throat. Song brought the ball forward and it fell to Arteta to assist Sagna. Song put the ball in the Van Persie got and scored from. Arteta tackled the spuds useless left back and it fell to Song to thread Walcott through.

Arteta did this all the way up the Wigan game, where he has sidelined due to an injured ankle. 6th of March 2012. Arsenal vs AC Milan, Arsenal four nil down on aggregate. Arteta is absent due to being knocked unconscious against Liverpool a few days later. The Ox, a winger, plays in Arteta’s role. We win three nil after dominating the game. Arteta was giving his all in the game against Liverp`ool, and was accidentally injured. We lacked his creativity and dominance on the ball, I believe if he has played, we would have won the game by four or five, but either way gone through against Milan.

Another attribute Arteta possesses is that he has an incredible ability to see when the games tempo is not helping his team, and he gets himself fouled. This is a great attribute for Arsenal to have, as the way Wenger has set his squad up, is that they control the games speed, have the ball for long periods in the game, and if that isn’t working, then we concede almost half the time. Arteta see’s this happening to his teammates, and when he has the chance, he will win the ball back and then wait until a player attempts to tackle him, and he flicks the ball forward and gets fouled, giving the team the ball back, control of the game, and also a rest if they have been under it for a period of time. This is proved by him being the most fouled player in the Premier League in 2005/2006, as he played every single game Everton played in. He missed a few games in the following season, including last season, meaning he missed out on a few fouls.

Another attribute Arteta holds is that he is a pure footballer. He was reported to be on seventy five thousand pounds a week at Everton, their highest paid player in history. When he signed for Arsenal, it was said that he was being paid around ten thousand pounds less, so he was virtually paying ten thousand pounds for Champions League football. This is one of the reasons that I was happy he had joined Arsenal. I had always admired his skill for Everton, and everyone could see he was clearly their best player from the minute he arrived, but the fact that he went from being on a pedestal at Everton, to being just another player at Arsenal, and possibly in the shadow of other players, van Persie and Vermaelen, with a pay cut.

Arteta also scored one goal that stood out from the rest, his free kick against Aston Villa. I believe that showed his quality for set pieces, we don’t need Van Persie for everything!

Written by Miles


Observations on Arsenal’s Asian Trip

July 30, 2012

First off, let me say I am most encouraged by the way everyone went for goal. Wenger always says he likes everyone in his team to score, and it seems they are really taking it to heart. Is it just for pre season, or is it really a new attitude?  I hope it continues into the regular season. I sometimes wonder if our guys are a little gun- shy, because we think everything has to go through van Persie. It can be intimidating, especially to the younger players, even to his friend Theo.

I am concerned about the defense, with good reason – from the way we played the last 2 matches, and the goals conceded last season. I have faith in our central defenders, but really hope the wide players can be better than they have shown. I don’t expect any signings in those positions. Coquelin may be used there while Sagna recovers, and if we are nursing a lead in a match, I’d consider moving Koscielny there to bring in another defender. But most of all, we need to help defend as a team, it’s always said by Arsene and other coaches, but our team really is guilty of forgetting this more than most. We work very hard for our goals, and seem to allow the easiest against at times.

On to the positives. Where to begin? Let me start with my favourite subject, Theo Walcott. I felt like I was watching a different player. More aggressive, scoring minded. I’m not used to seeing him drift into the middle and shoot from distance, and it looked good. He even attempted a header ! Maybe it is time to let him have his wish and start slowly converting him to striker. Of course it depends who stays, goes, and comes in. But Theo as third or fourth choice striker can’t be much worse than what we are getting there, and has a great upside potential, as well as making him happy.

Gervinho looked great, like I remember from the beginning of last season, since we know he can do it, I wont assume it’s because of weak Kitchee defense. But although he made a great pass at one point, he should have taken a strong shot instead…. still needs to attack the goal more.

I’m assuming Ryo will go on loan again, but I liked how he helped out alot on defense. great sign from a young player. Owen Coyle may have helped a little there.

The OX looked fantastic- more than just ball skills, he picked out great passes forward, long ones, and showed great touch and vision.

Our boy Jenkinson made a couple big mistakes defensively, but I loved his shots on goal, and he is a gifted crosser.. I think that’s why Arsene plucked him, not just a bargain.

Yennaris looks like a battler, I do like what I have seen from Ignassi Miquel when he has played. I havent seen enough of Bartley, obviously. Santos, I like, but he must be more dedicated to defense. But I like his attacks also. He must remember, he CAN do both. Gibbs, never seems to impress me either way. I hope he can show us soon.

And, I just have a feeling about this Eisfeld. Not because he had a couple goals, it’s a little intangible yet. But we will see.

I’m sure I left some things out.


Was Arsenal leaving Highbury a mistake?

July 29, 2012

In the 1940’s many of us Avenell Road boys used to play football using the Avenell Road gate into Highbury as a goal.

We played with rag footballs (made by my Mum) and each of us took on the name of one of our heroes (I was Jimmy Logie), it was a great time in my life, we were so very poor monetarily but so very rich in friends, family and of course – football.

Due to a job change my family had to move from Avenell Road to Oldershaw Road, N7 (long since been demolished) and I was so distraught that I threatened to leave home and stay with my Granddad in Stavordale Road, N5, but I had second thoughts when my Dad agreed.

Being an Avenell Road boy my heart will always belong on the street where I was born, I estimate that I attended close to 1,000 games at Highbury (including reserve games) so it’s no wonder that I was upset, but understanding of our reasons, when the club decided to move to Ashburton Grove.

I always believed that our familiarity with the snugness of Highbury worked in our favour and by the same token it created big tactical issues for our opposition – this caused me to think that the sheer size of the Ashburton Grove pitch would not be suitable to the style of football that we were accustomed to playing. However looking back over our record in the first twenty seasons of the EPL some very surprising facts emerge – the Emirates has proven to be a more solid fortress than our fabled home at Highbury.

These are the statistics for home games at The Emirates vs Highbury:

We score more goals per game 2.03 vs 1.97

We have fewer goals per game scored against .79 vs .83

We have won a higher % of games 65.79% vs 62.50%

We have lost a lower % of games 11.40% vs 13.24%

We have tied fewer games 22.81% vs 24.26%

We have more points per game 2.20 vs 2.12

We have a higher % of points won 73.40% vs 70.6%

Here are the statistics for our away games, while we have been at The Emirates:

We score more goals per game 1.78 vs 1.38

We have more goals per game scored against 1.28 vs .94

We have won a higher % of games 44.74% vs 43.75%

We have lost a lower % of games 28.07% vs 29.41%

We have tied more games 27.19% vs 26.84%

We have more points per game 1.62 vs 1.61

We have a higher % of points won 54.10% vs 53.6%

The move to the Emirates has proven to be the right decision in almost every aspect with the notable exception of goals scored against in away games and the recent lack of silverware. Looking at the data I can only conclude that while we showed improvement we did not improve at a rate high enough to be consistently ahead of our opposition.

Was leaving Highbury a mistake?

Not in GunnerN5’s opinion.

Will Arsenal Prove van Persie Wrong?

July 28, 2012

At the time you read this, some events may have overtaken it, and I truly hope that is the case. Names in, or names out, either would make me feel good. Like most of you, one of the first things I do each day is check the news about Arsenal. Again, like last summer, this is not a normal transfer season. For me, it’s filled with anxiety, partly because of the betrayal of Van Persie.

But I have to be honest, we can’t blame it all on the RvP situation. To me, we as a club have something to prove, and I don’t mean on the pitch.

When I say we have something to prove, it is to people like van Persie and Na$ri, but also our competitors, media, and football watchers everywhere. You’ve heard the phrases, “big club”, “small club”, etc. Trust me, I am not just talking about spending, I don’t expect us to splash 30 mil on a Hazard or Benzema. It’s about how the club does business in general.

At the close of last season, we were all hopeful of keeping RvP, and watching him end up as an Arsenal great. And I personally was hoping to see a couple moves by the club to strengthen.

I like the early Podolski move. I think he was meant as a more aggressive scoring winger, and RvP back up. After that, I didn’t want to fixate on any specific players, because I see that Arsene is less likely to go for the names thrown around in rumours and the press.

My biggest fear is that RvP was right, and that the team is unwilling, or unable to add some quality to put us over the top. Would we have paid for Giroud if RvP extended with us? I doubt it. But, you see, that’s the point. Giroud is exactly the kind of player a club with ambition would want as another option to mix in or use creatively with RvP. Not inexpensive, but if you are an attacking team, serious about challenging for titles, with an injury prone striker- you should expect an addition like this.

We all envisioned ways of using van Persie with Giroud and Podolski. Let’s face it, it’s less exciting without RvP. On top of that, we don’t know if the club was ever considering us having both.. We will get the answer to this– it WILL BE in the price and destination of RvP, or if he were to stay. I am on record here that keeping him rather than taking a low offer shows everyone that we are not sellers desperate for money, and that the club and Arsene make decisions, not disloyal players.

I worry that we are not closing deals coming in because we are on hold because of RvP’s status. Either we don’t intend to strengthen, or we can’t afford it. That would be bad news for a club of our size. If there is a quality player available, that would improve our line up, or strengthen our depth over the long season, we should be able to do it without selling our biggest players. It appeared we needed to sell Cesc last season before adding Mertesacker, Arteta, and Santos. I considered Gervinho as Nasri’s replacement and profit, so i was satisfied with that.

Just look at our starters at Old Trafford last season. There will always be injuries, of course, but also bans, the annoying African cup of nations, and who knows what else. We already know that we have very important players who will not be ready at the start of this season, like Jack, Sagna, and Rosicky, and he is dealing with an Achilles ! They will all have to be worked in slowly and carefully, for their future health, and the good of the team. I won’t even mention the perennially injured players by name, because I am wishing good luck for them.

For example,Coquelin will be needed at RB at times, so we are not that deep in DM. If we brought in a quality DM, it would free up Arteta to help out in more advanced areas, and get him the rest he needs also. Song would be free to sit out the occasional suspension, ACON, -and again, — I dont want to worry about him refusing to sign an extension this season, he already said no last season, so it would be nice to have someone in place rather than scrambling at the last moment.

Up front, there’s too much to discuss, with Theo, RvP unresolved, and all the rumours going around. Again, let’s keep some pressure off Wilshere and Ramsey. Wilshere- physical pressure, Ramsey- psychological. I’d also like to work the Ox in more than last season, but not depend on him yet.

I know that most clubs have unresolved issues, but I am only concerned about ours. And, our first few fixtures this season are very difficult.

For me, one more good addition would make me very happy, two, and I would be thrilled. I don’t want to speculate, but the names linked to us lately, at AM, and DM, if brought in, would give us incredible depth. They would, in my mind- put us ahead of United and Chelsea.. leaving us fighting for a title with city. As we say, in my humble opinion.

So, the clock is ticking. Will we let our lack of depth, and RvP holding us hostage ruin the beginning of another season, which, in turn leaves us only fighting for fourth again? Or will we show everyone that we as a club, mean business.

Written by jnyc

The key to enjoying Arsenal’s football is lowering our high expectations

July 27, 2012

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” Sir Winston Churchill.

High expectations are a curse and ruining our enjoyment of supporting Arsenal.I have, in recent years, noticed a lot of dissatisfaction, in myself, as well as in many other Gooners, over the lack of silverware won by our beloved Arsenal. We have been so frustrated about not winning anything for seven years and counting now, that we run the risk of losing the joy of watching and supporting our team in the process.We are tense, we are grumpy, we are dissatisfied – we are a pain in the arse to ourselves, our friends and our partners. Our incredibly high expectations, based on an overrated belief in our abilities, are mainly to blame for this.

Our high expectations are a cocktail of being one of the biggest teams in England; our historical successes, but even more importantly, our recent successes; the completion of a brand new, state of the art new stadium, and the raised expectations that come with this; and having a manager at the helm who has delivered so much for us in the past.

In the meantime, the Premier League has experienced a massive and very nasty, paradigm-jump: the sugar-daddy clubs, who operate, paradoxically, completely outside the ethical and economic laws of both socialism and capitalism. Chelsea, initially, and now joined by Manchester City, are happy to make enormous losses in order to buy titles. They tell us they have a long-term strategy, and will make profits rather than losses in the future, but let’s not be fooled: owning a football club that ‘wins’ silverware is very big ‘bling’ for those who live in bottomless abundance. They have got to do something with themselves to counter the unbearable lightness of their being – to feet their insatiable egos.

We have to live with this, at least for now. Some, including me, are keen for Arsenal to stick to its self-sustainability model, whilst others are desperate for Arsenal to compete on an equal basis with the Oilers, and as such, have pinned their hope on our own, desperate-for-recognition billionaire: Usmanov – whatever the long-term consequences of this could be for our club.

For the foreseeable future, with regards to the way the club is managed, nothing is going to change, whether we like it or not. It is a fact.

Maybe it is time for us to lower our expectations now, in order to find some peace of mind with the given situation – maybe it is time to start the season with a glass half empty attitude, with a reality-check.

This should, by the way, not be confused with a lack of ambition by the writer of today’s blog.

Recently, I read a great article in the Guardian Weekly that might give us some advice on how to deal better with our expectations, and subsequently become a lot happier: ‘Failure can be inspiring’ by Oliver Burkeman.

The bit I thought particularly interesting from the article was the view held by psychologist Carol Dweck of how we appear to look at talent and ability. Burkeman summarises Dweck’s theory as follows: “….our experiences of failure are influenced overwhelmingly by the beliefs we hold about the nature of talent and ability – and that we can, perhaps quite straightforwardly, nudge ourselves towards a better outlook. Each of us can be placed somewhere on a continuum, Dweck argues, depending on our “implicit view” – or unspoken attitude – about what talent is and where it comes from. Those with a “fixed theory” assume the ability is innate; those with an “incremental theory” believe that it evolves through challenge and hard work.”

The principle idea is that those with an “incremental” mindset are more prepared for, and more resilient against things going wrong, and are more likely to achieve sustainable success: Those with a fixed mindset believe strongly they will succeed and find failure “especially horrifying”. Burkeman puts it as follows: “The incremental mindset is the one more likely to lead to sustainable success. But the deeper point is that possessing an incremental outlook is a happier way to be, whether or not it leads to any outstanding success”.

Although the above statements are aimed at the individual, I can see a strong linkage with the way we, collectively, view our beloved Arsenal. Is it fair to say that over the last few years we, as supporters, have started to believe our club’s ability is innate, simply a given; that we are so good and so big that we simply should win silverware constantly, and that anything less means unacceptable failure? Have we perhaps, consciously or subconsciously, been overrating our ability, whilst wilfully ignoring what has been happening around us?

It is about time for us to drop this idea that we are simply entitled to success and to start again from a more humble base.

We need to accept that the challenge ahead is a daunting one; that we need to work very hard, and work towards success incrementally: step by step. We need to give ourselves time and take into account we might not win anything major in the foreseeable future. And we need to find our peace with this.

Many Gooners will be going into next season with very high expectations once again: some because they simply demand success after seven years of ‘failure’ – anything else is not good enough, others because they are glass half-full people.

But this time round, not this Gooner.

I am going to be realistic with regards to our current qualities and ability, regardless of whether we sign some more players or not, and will adjust my expectations accordingly. I will also try to refrain from my natural instinct towards unwarranted ‘glass half full’ thinking at the start or during the season, as this is deemed to lead to disappointment in the future.

I believe Arsenal still has a chance to win the PL or CL, even this year, but it is a relatively small one. I am not going to count on us winning anything major this year, but will remain hopeful. Because with Arsene at the helm, there is always hope.

I like our squad, I believe in Arsene, and through an incremental approach by all involved: some healthy humility, hard work on the training ground and on the pitch, aiming constantly to get the very best out of the players, and concentrating on just one game at a time, and of course, a lot of luck, something magic might happen next season.

But more than this, as a supporter, I will be taking every game as it comes, try as much as possible to enjoy the positives and aim to share my experiences with those of fellow Gooners as much as I can. And I cannot wait till the season starts again: I am as excited as ever!

By collectively letting go, at least for a bit, our sense of entitlement to silverware, caused by a romantic clinging on to the past and a denial of the new reality which was forced upon us recently; and instead, work our socks off in all areas related to our football, we should be able to enjoy Arsenal’s football a lot more the coming seasons.

Paradoxically, by no longer expecting to win something, we might actually still end up victoriously.

Written by TotAl.

Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

Sir Winston Churchill.


FA Right To Charge Frimpong

July 26, 2012

I don’t know for sure, but I would hazard a guess that Emmanuel Frimpong does not have a detailed knowledge of the Second World War.

He might have seen a movie or two and he has probably heard of the Nazis, Hitler and the Holocaust without ever achieving any depth of insight or understanding.

If you asked him about the Final Solution, he might well reply that he does not do crosswords.

And if his knowledge of 20th Century warfare is thin, then it’s a safe bet that he will know little of the pogroms of the Middle Ages, when Christians massacred Jewish communities in countries across Europe, including England.

You can’t really blame the lad. He has been caught in a pincer movement between, on the one hand, the woeful inadequacies of what passes for state education in the modern age and, on the other, his gift for football, which will undoubtedly have taken his focus, time and effort away from academic pursuits.

So when he replied to an abusive Twitter troll by calling him a “Scum Yid” I doubt that he realised what he was saying.

Growing up as an Arsenal supporter and, dream of dreams, an Arsenal player, young Emmanuel has probably always associated the word “Yid’ primarily with supporters of our local rivals, even while being aware that it refers to Jewishness.

He must also have known that Tottenham fans often refer to themselves as “Yids” and “Yiddos”.

To Emmanuel it probably carries the same weight as calling a Chelsea fan a “Chav”, or a Liverpool fan a “Bindipper”.

All three terms are offensive and all are used as insults, but only one of them casts a long shadow of hate, persecution and mass murder. For that reason it’s quite right that, in modern society, we refuse to deem “Yid” an acceptable word, just as we refuse to accept words like “Nigger” or “Paki”.

So even though our combative midfield enforcer may not have realised the full scale of the potential offence when he dished out the insult to a Twitterer (who, incidentally, had Tweeted that he hoped Frimpong would suffer broken arms and legs), it was important that the Football Association did the right thing and charged him.

A statement from the FA said Frimpong had been charged because he “posted comments amounting to improper conduct and/or which brought the game into disrepute, which included a reference to ethnic origin, faith or race.”

Frankly, we can’t lambast football bodies for dishing out miniscule fines to national associations whose fans make racist chants, then argue that an Arsenal player who uses a racial insult should not face punishment.

Mind you, if the FA follows UEFA’s lead when it comes to sentencing, then Emmanuel can expect to get 10 push-ups and three Hail Marys.

Hopefully when he gets called before the FA beak, the player will be able to demonstrate that he did not realise the full offensiveness of the word. I imagine he will use ignorance – or at least partial ignorance – as a defence (and probably an honest defence, at that).

The mitigating circumstances should mean he is not punished unduly heavily. Certainly there would be a bad taste in the mouth if Frimpong were to be banned from games while that fine, upstanding Mr Terry walks free despite making clearly racist comments in front of 30,000 people and a TV audience of millions (and I know the FA may still rule in the Terry case, despite a court of law finding him not guilty).

It’s a cliché, but there is no place for racism in football and Emmanuel Frimpong will probably pay the price for crossing the line.

Of course there is a legitimate debate to be had about abuse in football generally. I have never used the term “Yid” in my life. I hate it. But I have hurled all sorts of foul-mouthed abuse at opposition players. I once spent a good 10 minutes in the old Upper East stand at Highbury chanting (along with everyone else) “you’re ginger and you know you are” at Gordon Strachan, who was walking up and down the touchline.

Strachan had a sense of humour and gave us all a smile and a wave, but it was still abuse.

Where are the boundaries? What is reasonable and what is not?

It’s a difficult one but I would appreciate your thoughts.


Note from admin:

The word ‘yid’ is one of just a few that are banned on this site. Any comment containing the word would normally go straight into spam. For the purpose of today’s article, it has been removed from the list of banned words so that bloggers can debate the issues raised in a mature manner.

Would Arsenal benefit from purchasing M’Vila and Cazorla?

July 25, 2012

Arsenal have always not been big spenders in any transfer window, always opting for purchasing players at the age of 15 and 16 for £400,000, rather than spending £25 – £30 million on proven talent, and hoping they become the next big thing. Fabregas is one of the rare occasions where it has actually worked. When Arsenal has been linked to players who have proved themselves at high levels and play for a smaller teams (which happens a lot), we never seem to win the signature of the player, fas was the case with Hazard, and now seemingly Hulk.

This transfer window may be different. The purchase of Podolski before the window and Giroud early on for a total of around £23 million represents more players than had been expected – but is that a good thing?

We have continuously been linked with M’Vila, for months before the Euros. Arsenal fans have differing opinions of him. We are now being linked with Spanish international Santi Cazorla.

M’Vila is a defensive midfielder, like Song, who was voted our second best player last season. What you may not know, is Arteta, our fourth best player of the season, was a trainee for Barcelona, and they planned for him to replace Josep “Pep” Guardiola, as a centre defensive midfielder. It was only at Everton, that he was made to play in a attacking role. At Arsenal, he has gone back into that defensive role with Song, which I love to see, and then he can attack when he wants, as well as going into defensive when needed. That’s two defensive players. Wilshere is also due to return early next season, who we have missed, who plays as a box to box midfielder, who is started in a defensive midfield position. So M’Vila would be our fourth defensive midfield player, and like the other three, he would expect first team football.

I have seen M’Vila in a few matches and he is an obvious talent, but he is a player with a poor temperament He was fined by the French FA for his strop after being subbed in the Euro’s, and he reminds me of players who think they are better than they actually are, Bendtner for example. Would Wenger be able to control a player with his attitude? I think the mixture between Arteta and Song’s attacking and defending talent is good, and better than if M’Vila was in the mix.

Then we come to Santiago Cazorla, a talented winger, but again, there is the same problem of already having players in that position. Walcott firstly, if we extend his contract. He’s a player who seems to under preform continuously, we see him start and many think ‘if he doesn’t play well we need to sell him’ and then he plays well for a game or two. Frustrating!

We already have the amazingly talented Oxlade-Chamberlain. Fans beg Wenger to start with him, even Rvp was moaning when he was subbed against Man United.

In addition there is Podolski, a goal machine for Germany. We can’t say whether or not he will be any good, I believe he will. Add to those the young and inexperienced Ryo Miyaichi, who impressed when on loan at Bolton, as did Wilshere. I think he will be the next best thing personally, and hopefully he will. Do a mixture of experience and youth there, and again, all of them want first team and Cazorla would as well.

So both of these players will want first team football. One has attitude problem, and both would be trouble if they weren’t played every week.

But again, both have a lot of talent. Would you like one of them or both at Arsenal?

Written by Miles

A football match at last …………….

July 24, 2012

There’s a football match today and although it has little significance to the upcoming season, we like a pre-match on Arsenal Arsenal so here goes ……..

I know absolutely nothing about the opposition but I do expect that we’ll see lots of different Arsenal players during this game as Arsène makes the most of giving a run out to as many as he can.

The game is on at a ridiculous time for us in the UK – 2.45 I ask you – so I shall be hoping my sky+ works and I can settle down to watch it later.

Yesterday’s open training session seemed like a lot of fun and the supporters looked really delighted to have our boys out there playing in front of them.

Hopefully we’ll get to have good look at Giroud, Podolski is scheduled for the Nigeria trip so we won’t see him for a while. From the pictures on Arsenal.com it looks like there’s a fit Diaby in the squad and a smiling Theo.

I’m hoping to see a clean sheet or if we concede at all let it be a wondergoal rather than our mid-field being carved open. I’d really like Szczesny to have a few games not picking the ball up from the back of the net. I hope Steve Bould has been working hard on defensive awareness, I know it’s only a friendly but those supporters have come to see their heroes and they’ll have mates that support the teams from Manchester so bragging rights are going to be important to them too.

I hope the stadium in Malaysia will be rocking and we get into the groove quickly. An early goal from Giroud made by Theo will make it easier on the team to not miss Brave Sir Robin.

What would you like to see this afternoon, what are your expectations?

Written by peachesgooner

Arsenal Lifeline for Chamakh?

July 23, 2012

It’s no secret that “transfers out” remain as much a priority for Arsenal this summer as “transfers in”.

Leaving aside the likely departure of Brave Sir Robin, Arsène Wenger has stated that any more arrivals are contingent on selling players who are surplus to requirements or who want out.

The players in the Out Tray include some or all of Marouane Chamakh, Nicklas Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin, Sebastien Squillaci, Johann Djourou, Lukasz Fabianski and Ju-Young Park.

If you can detect the sound of creaking when you read that list, it’s because those players are often referred to in the Arsenal online community as “Dead Wood.”

The conventional wisdom is that they all failed to reach the standard required for Arsenal. Some (like the defender we so optimistically christened “the Squid”) through not appearing to have sufficient ability, others (like the Walt Disney character known as Little Andrey) through lack of application.

Most fans would probably be happy if all were shipped out in the next few weeks, especially if there is a decent few million quid coming back in the opposite direction.

But hold on just a moment.

Lest we throw out any babies with the bathwater (a particular risk for the tiny Russian, it must be said) maybe it’s time to take one last look at those players we are so eager to discard.

Could any of them still contribute to the Arsenal cause?

In the Poll below I would like you to vote for the player (or players) whom you feel could have a chance of going on to have a successful career at Arsenal. But first let’s take a look at the individuals concerned:

Marouane Chamakh

Our carefully coiffured Moroccan is one player who, to my mind at least, has not been treated fairly since moving to the Hallowed Land of N5, either by Arsène or the fans. In his first season, while van Persie was still injured, he showed himself to be a very capable front man, holding up the ball well and scoring goals. When the Dutchman returned, Chamakh got very few opportunities and was never able to find his groove again. The reason I feel Arsène was unfair to him is that, although we may have acquired him as a Plan B, we hardly ever played to his strengths. Ironically, in a team without van Persie and with a more direct approach to attacking (as the arrivals of Podolski and Giroud seem to indicate), the Chamster might just come good again.

Nicklas Bendtner

I will always have a soft spot for Nicki B. He is a ludicrous character, with an ego the size of Denmark and as much self knowledge as a Satsuma. But he can score goals and got some vital ones for Arsenal over the years. He has never had the class to be an Henry or a van Persie, but as a back-up striker who is used to the Premier League… could he still have a future?

Andrey Arshavin

Remember that winning finish against Barcelona? Remember the four goals away at Anfield? What about the superb cross for Thierry Henry’s winning goal up at Sunderland earlier this year? There’s no question that Arshavin has class, but he also often appeared lazy and uninterested. Mind you, he has spent his entire time at Arsenal playing out of position. He’s not a wide left attacker – he is a classic “creative”, someone who sits in the hole behind the front striker. Arsène is said to be scouring world football right now for a creative attacking midfielder. Maybe he already has one…

Sebastien Squillaci

Poor Sebastien. He arrived at the club two seasons ago as, you would imagine, a third or fourth choice CB. Almost immediately Thomas Vermaelen got an arrow in his Achilles and was out for an entire year and our other defenders were so injury blighted they might have been Irish potatoes. The Squid actually played some very decent games for us, but coming in and out of the team, always with different defensive line-ups, meant that he soon started to cop the supporters’ wrath for bad results. His time may well be up, but he is a better player than many seem to think he is.

Johann Djourou

The Big Swiss may be the least deserving of a place in this selection, as there is little evidence that Arsene has any intention of selling him. However, his name regularly appears in the fans’ hit lists of defunct timber. His Arsenal life has been badly hit by injuries and he proved last season that whatever his merits as a CB, he certainly ain’t no right back. But, he has also looked very, very good when he gets a proper run alongside one of the senior CBs. At the very least he has a strong case to be considered an excellent fourth choice CB.

Lukasz Fabianksi

I suspect many Gooners would be happy to keep our only remaining Fab as back-up to Szczesny. The problem appears to be that the older of our two Poles-in-goal wants regular first team football. His error-strewn past means he will never get the top job at The Grove (despite Szczesny’s best efforts to out-Fabianski him). But would you keep him if he was prepared to remain as Number Two?

Ju-Young Park

Er… yes… ahem… Anyone got any ideas what he’s like?

Now – time to get voting – and remember, you can vote for more than one player.


Koscielny for Captain?

July 22, 2012

Koscielny to be our new captain, now that he has agreed a new five-year contract?

The Guardian has been reporting this weekend that Koscielny has agreed a new five-year contract, and if this is true then that is fantastic news.

With TV and Mertesacker already on long contracts, it should mean that we can finally expect some consistency in our central defence.

Over the last few days, we have discussed the importance of consistency in our defence, and it also became clear that most of us believe Koscielny is our best central defender at the moment.

I reckon Laurent would also make the perfect new captain for Arsenal, and if it is true that he signed a new contract – and the Guardian appeared to be very sure about it: “Laurent Koscielny, meanwhile, has agreed a new five-year contract”, then he will definitely get my vote.

For many seasons, ever since Vieira left, a great number of Gooners have been saying that Arsenal lacked real leadership on the pitch. Many of us are longing for the powerful, outspoken, ‘heart on the sleeve’ leadership during the years of Adams and Vieira. Henry and Fabregas were brilliant at leading by example but most of us felt something was missing: they were not naturally born leaders and as a result were struggling with some vital aspects of leadership we were craving for.

Robin van Persie was a fantastic captain last season, however much it pains me to say that. But, even if he were to stay, which is very unlikely now, he should never be our captain again.

Arsenal is desperate for a new, very capable leader on the pitch. A good captain leads by example, is extravert on the pitch, can galvanise a team when we face adversity, is an excellent liaison manager between the management and the rest of the squad, has authority and diplomacy in dealing with discipline issues on and off the pitch, and plays for Arsenal with total conviction.

I reckon Koz has all these qualities, although he might have to develop one or two once he has become our captain.

You are invited to vote for our new captain at the end of this article. To help you make up your mind, I have summarised below the key characteristics, as I see them, of good captaincy of our beloved Arsenal.

A good captain:

• Leads by example: not just with good personal performances, but also with high energy-levels/commitment, and a never-say-die attitude. He never spares himself, always gives everything and plays with his heart on his sleeve. He will also stand up for his players and let nobody be bullied by the opposition;

• Is blessed with a high level of social-emotional intelligence: he understands what is going on inside other players, and is able to support them accordingly, on and off the pitch;

• Is extravert: he is not a constant shouter, but he likes to talk to this fellow players and make himself known when things are not going right;

• Is a great communicator with the crowd/fans, and an ambassador for the club. He understands what the fans want and are concerned about, and gives good interviews to the press, by always representing the club professionally and with real passion;

• Is a great ‘liaison-manager’ between the players and management. He has got the respect of Wenger, the coaches and the players, and is able to translate messages, up and down, and down and up, effectively;

• Is a team player/ team builder: he will regularly praise, on and off the pitch, contributions made by others and helps the team in becoming a strong unit.

A new captain should also be on a contract that has at least two more years to run, and ideally more than that. It should also be a player who has a passionate, rather than a calculative, commitment towards our club: one who is likely to stay for a long time.

Luckily, we have a number of candidates for the captaincy role, and I am sure, we will all have our preferences.

Please, feel free to elaborate on your choice for captain with a comment.

Thanks for taking part!