Arsenal’s Weak Spots

September 10, 2014

Last night Aaron hobbled off with an ankle injury, and although we won’t know until later the severity, it made me wonder about our vulnerability to injury.

At the beginning of last season, I would have said the areas of most concern would have been injuries to Theo, Ollie or one of our defensive pairing of Mert and Kos.

During the season, we witnessed the meteoric rise of Aaron, and by the end of the season it could be argued he was our most valuable player. By valuable, I mean an injury to this player having the biggest negative impact to our overall play.

I think we have covered the CB pairing with the arrival of the phenomenally talented Mr Chambers.

Ollie is now covered by Welbeck as well as Sanchez, and to an extent both can play both Left and Right providing cover for both Theo and whoever is the best Left Sided option.

It is actually very difficult to isolate the weakest spot, as we simply don’t yet know how the new side will settle down, and who will ultimately play where and in what formation.

Ozil is as yet far from the pivotal player we anticipate he will become, and I’d say it is possible he becomes the most irreplaceable only if he becomes the fulcrum in the middle. If he continues to be deployed more from the flanks, then I don’t see him as being especially irreplaceable.

Again, it is very hard to assess the key players up top. Either Sanchez or indeed Welbeck could emerge as Key Men. Of course, Ollie could return rejuvenated and become a Must Player.

Overall, and it’s difficult at this early stage of the new look side, but Aaron does appear to me to occupy the “most essential player” slot right now, although overall when fit, Theo still shades it for me.

The other day, a chum asked me who I saw as our most valuable player this season. I answered Theo, but went further to add that my biggest single wish for the season was that either Mesut or The Ox would emerge to challenge Theo for that particular honour.

Written by MickyDidIt89

 

 


Does anyone know what Wilshere’s best position is?

September 9, 2014

After last night’s international there has been a lot of discussion about our Jack.

Here are some of the comments, so feel free to join in.

arnie said:GB. In general terms, I agree. However, you are looking at the interests of Jack as an individual player. Arsene has to balance both the team’s interests and the player’s. Some other managers would have looked, or tried to look, only at the team’s interest. Maybe Roy is one of them.

Now, like everywhere else in professional life, it is up to the individual to some extent. You or I cannot go to our workplace and say, we want to do the job that we are best at. We have to do the job that creates best value. Same for Jack.

I think, moving forward our DM positions will be in rotation Rambo, Jack, Calum and maybe Diaby. Rambo is currently better in scoring crucial goals, so Jack may have to stay back. And rightly so. He is young. He has to either learn the holding MF game, or learn how to score more goals at crucial times. 🙂

GoonerB said:Hi Arnie. Sorry I can’t always reply immediately and sometimes come back to a point a bit later. Re. your 9.39. I am in agreement with you that any player is not greater than the team so if a certain player has to adopt a role that is not their favourite but that it allows the team performance to be stronger in another sense then using the old cliche, they need to take one for the team.

That concept should also obviously translate to Jack, providing that when he is played out of position that the team performance is enhanced. We would need to analyse how the team played with him in his best position vs when he is played out of position. I don’t have all the games to hand but casting my mind back to last season my recollection is that when Jack was played out of position and didn’t play well that generally the whole team performance stunk. I also seem to recall that when played in his favoured role with the right holding midfield partner that both he and the team looked better.

Jack has had an up and down period since coming back from injury but I feel that he is not an ordinary utility player to cover many roles, but one that can change the whole dynamic of a game in your favour if he is utilised correctly. I feel at Arsenal with the greater competition for places that Jack will need to be more subject to rotation for a while. Players like Arteta, Rosicky, Flamini, Cazorla will slowly ease away or move on leaving a more regular role for him over the next 2-3 seasons.

The danger for me with England, who I don’t feel are blessed with players of Jack’s ability, is that we pulled it off last night with Jack played out of position. Roy and the media may think that’s it I’ve cracked it but I think when it comes to crunch time against sterner opposition the set-up last night will fail. We have seen it too many times before with England.

Rasp said:Hi GB, yes that’s the point I was trying to make. Push and go is all very well but it makes you a bit one dimensional, hopefully playing with the likes of Ozil and Cazorla will rub off on him and he’ll pick up some more skills. I also saw that he would try to beat one player too many and run out of space down the line, when a quick turn and cutting inside may have been a better option.

Norfolk Gooner said : GB, does anyone know what Wilshire’s best position is? How do we know he won’t turn out to be a world class holding mid-fielder?

Wenger seems happy with what he brings to the team at present, being able to fill more than one role is something Le Professeur values in a player. He is always ready to convert players into something not previously considered by the “experts” in the media.

With the number of games to be played this season I’m sure Jack will get ample opportunities to fulfil whatever role Wenger chooses for him.

kelsey

 


Arsène helps out world cup winners and a quick look at our new signings‏

September 8, 2014

Morning all

Champions League – is it so important for securing top talent? Many’s the time I read how top players want Champions League football and will only transfer to clubs who have qualified. Manchester United’s failure to qualify seems to have proved that theory wrong. Falcao’s last minute signing seems to prove, that some top players will actually sign just for the wages a club will pay.

On a reported £300,000 a week, on a one year loan, could certainly be a good reason. If United fail to qualify next year he could be on the move again. United have reportedly paid £6 million for a one year loan with the option to buy at the end of the loan. Falcao is a top player, we know that, many Arsenal supporters were broken hearted that Falcao signed for United instead of Arsenal, and in return all we got was United reject Danny Welbeck.

Arsenal are not known for the multi buying of Marquee players. Last years signing of Mesut Ozil was a massive statement by the club, that they are now in the market for Marquee signings. Again this season the pattern changed again, Arsenal sorted out this seasons Marquee signing Alexis Sanchez very early in the window, replacements for Bacary Sagna  in Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle also went through quickly.

Replacing our No 2 keeper Lucas Fabianski with Ospina also an early addition, showed that Arsenal were not just looking for bargains as in previous seasons. Arsene Wenger has always kept his eye open for young players who could fit in with the Arsenal system, and once again he cast his eye over Southamptons  youngsters. As we know in the past Arsene has found Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlaid Chamberlain, and they have fitted in well, this time Arsene saw a young man who many of us hadn’t, in Calum  Chambers. At 19 years old, with only limited first team games for Southampton he caught Arsene’s Eye. Arsene paid £16 million for Chambers which seems a lot for an unknown talent, but being English maybe that bumps the price up.

Chambers came in early pre season, so was used in warm up games, and for the Emirates cup games, he has made an impression from the off. He was probably not intended to be used from the start of the season but because of world cup inclusion from our German contingent, Chambers was used and certainly impressed. I expect that he will now be used as cover for this season. Brought at first as a right back, so I would have assumed he would have been cover for our new signing Debuchy but has now shown that he is an excellent Centre back as well.

Chambers has now caught the eye of England Manager Roy Hodgson and been called up to play for his country in the Euro qualification matches. He came on as a sub in England’s first friendly and had a good début performance. and I am sure will be an inclusion for the foreseeable future.

My comment at the start of this post, was I am sure you know, tongue in cheek about Danny Welbeck, when I said ‘all we got’, I imagine one or two of you felt I was a little hard, on the contrary I was a very happy bunny. Its my opinion that United have made a huge mistake off loading Welbeck to us. He’s an England international and now that Sturridge has picked up a thigh injury, our Danny has stepped up to the plate. Two signings and straight away England players as well.

Of course both these players have already been involved with England, but not as Arsenal players, and I am wondering if our Arsene is working his magic once again. World cup winning teams of the past have had Arsenal players in key positions. France’s world cup had Petit, Henry and Vieira where Germany’s world cup winners had Ozil, Mertsacker and Podolski now we have England that got knocked out early this time round, but certainly could be a force next time round.

I remember Wenger saying, that we wouldn’t believe the job offers that he had received, and I am pretty certain that one of those offers might have been the England job. Obviously Arsene would have said no, he had started a job at Arsenal and wouldn’t feel that he should leave until the Arsenal were back up there challenging.

But maybe he promised to help as much as he could and now with Walcott, Gibbs, Wilshere, Chamberlain, Welbeck and  Chambers, England have almost a full team of Arsenal players or is it a coincidence?

Have a nice day.

Written by Steve Palmer

 


Why did we loan out Jenkinson and buy Welbeck?

September 7, 2014

I am perplexed by all this loanee stuff. I understand that loaning a player helps the balance sheet and allows the loaning side to get a player off the paylist, whilst at the same time allowing the signing team to get a player without the transfer fee and risk but sometimes it is illogical.

Two things come to mind …. why have AFC not loaned Welbeck rather than buy him and why loan out Jenkinson when we are so short of bodies in defence?

Let’s look at Jenks first; we all know he is not ready to play as our first choice RB. However, he was signed to a long contract less than a year ago which indicates the Boss must have faith in him. Getting regular first team play at WHU under Fat Sam (who is a specialist at defensive play) can only assist the young man and assist his development. But why now?

We have just 6 defenders to get us through the season – or until the January transfer window – which given our players proclivity to injury is at best foolhardy. Jenkinson is a big lad and can cover for BFG (in emergencies), plus he has PL experience for when Debuchy get knacked.

You are all thinking “what about Chambers”? And you are right but what happens if one of our CB’s gets injured at the same time as Debuchy  as is inevitable goes into the red zone? Is it better to trust Gibbs will stay fit  and Monreal covers? Not in my opinion.

Perhaps there is a clause in Jenkinson’s loan deal which allows him to return to AFC  with immediate notice, I hope so.

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Which raises the question – is a loan deal contract a fixed loan? In other words if Monaco go tits up in La Ligue can they insist upon the return of Falcao? Or Negredo back to MC?

Onto Welback. Who insisted it was a sale as opposed to a loan? Did Mr Wenger get forced into the purchase by MU knowing the seriousness of our centre forward predicament with the injury to Giroud? In this case a loan with a possible purchase clause at the end of the season was the obvious course, Welbeck may well be the dog’s nuts but why take a £16m gamble?

We will never know how these transfer deals transpire which is a shame.  Were Arsenal (or MU) forced into the purchase? Did FFP have an influence (as they have at Monaco)?

What I do know is that AFC could use Jenkinson in the squad.

written by Big Raddy

 


Reasons to be Cheerful

September 5, 2014

This site prides itself upon reasoned good sense. Between us we have hundreds of years of Gooner-dom, we are Arsenal through and through.

I resent people coming onto the site calling themselves “Proper Supporters” and casting aspersions upon our bloggers just because they are critical of the goings on at The Emirates, these fellows know sweet FA about our bloggers.  However, this week has seen an unusual level of negativity on Arsenal Arsenal.

But today let’s look at the positives ….. Doomers look away 😀

1. We are unbeaten in 6 games. Why are so many saying we are worse than last season and playing rubbish? Three away games, two home games both of which have been won and a win at Wembley. Pretty good I would say.

2. Problems in midfield. Much has been written about players not gelling or being unable to play together (I am as culpable as any!). At least we have brilliant players who will definitely gel at some point, we have the most creative midfield in the PL. Time will show why Mr Wenger decided we did not need the genius of Fabregas.

3. Injuries. Walcott is returning as is Diaby. Don’t laugh, we have a huge squad and with the signing of Welbeck cover for every position (I know, I know – CB?) Last season our season suffered when Theo got hurt; we lost pace, now we have Sanchez and Welbeck pace will not be an issue.

4. Ambition. Arsenal have just spent £85m in the window. We have three times spent more than our previous record signing (pre-Ozil).

5. Had the squad been injury-free it would have supplied Gibbs, Walcott, Ox, Wilshire, Welbeck and Chambers to the England squad – 6 young men and the future of our national team. Add in Ramsey and we can be proud of our British core.

6. Youth. Walcott, Ox, Ramsey, Szczesny, Wilshere and Gibbs all started in the team as teenagers. Now we have Chambers who appears to be another youngster with a bright future. We are set up for many years of success.

7. Experience. Most of our young men have 100+ PL games already. Add in the older members of the squad and we have battle hardened squad to take us to success. Some of our players are easing themselves into good form and we struggle when Ramsey etc are half a yard off the pace but it will come.

8. Centre Backs. We have one of the best CB partnerships in the PL. Pace and wisdom. Many point out the weakness should injury befall either of our CB’s but Chambers looks the real deal and it should be remembered that Tony Adams captained AFC at 21. Chambers is the nearest to the Great Man I have seen at Arsenal for over a decade. He will be adequate cover. Should both CB’s get injured I accept we will struggle.

9. Attack. Let us start with Ozil. The man has been criticised about his lack of impact. He has played 3 games since winning the WC, of course he isn’t up to speed! Mr. Wenger clearly realised that at the moment Sanogo is not good enough – he has the attributes but appears to try too hard and this makes him look clumsy – so Welbeck was bought. Should we have paid twice as much to get Falcao for a season or three times to get Cavani? Perhaps, but Mr Wenger has clearly decided that OG, Walcott and Sanchez is a formidable forward line, and he is right.

We have Podolski and Campbell to come on as impact subs.

10. Oxlade-Chamberlain. This will be his season. He can play almost anywhere; behind the front three, on the left wing, right wing, central midfield and some have suggested (including Mr.Wenger) that he has the talent to become a defensive midfielder. With his pace it is quite possible.

I could and probably will go on giving Reasons to to be Cheerful but in essence we have reasons to be confident and not slam the club when things are going reasonably well. Sure there are areas to improve upon – there always will be but we are not going to do an MU and not even make the Europa.

We are the 5th most expensive team in the PL and will be fighting as ever for a top 4 place. We have the capability to win the title and with a bit of luck, a tail wind and  some good form for our players we may well do so.

Oh, and in the last 3 months we have won Two pieces of silverware. Why worry?

written by Big Raddy

 


Arsenal versus Manchester United

September 4, 2014

Three things inspiring this short conversation starter…………………….

 

  1. Watching England, and comparisons between Rooney and Welbeck as Central Striker.
  2. Both AFC and Utd signed defenders from Southampton in Shaw and Chambers.
  3. Both added World Class Forwards in Sanchez and Falcao.
  4. Yesterday, 26 posted his combined AFC/Chav XI.

Few things to consider.

Falcao is on epically massive wages, and something of a crock, so how will that pan out in terms of team morale.

It’s a tricky one to select a combined XI given LVG’s penchant for a 3-7 formation, so let’s settle on a 4-3-3, but you can muck about if that’s your thing.

I realize that squad depth will be a major factor over the season, and here we have to choose just one starting XI.

Finally, who did the better summer transfer business?

MickyDidIt89

 


On what planet is Chambers not an upgrade for Vermaelen?

September 3, 2014

It has been very interesting to watch Chambers’ assimilation into the Arsenal fold. People like me made bolshie assertions that the sixteen million pound signing from Southampton would feature no more this season than Jenkinson did last. Other, wiser bloggers like Shard saw the folly of my statement and took me to task.

I was wrong to think that this season young Callum would only be, at best, the second choice right back. But I was not the only one; I share this error with none other than Arsene Wenger.

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Wenger made clear, shortly after signing him, that he had noticed Chambers when we played Southampton and decided then to buy him as a right back even though he was obviously aware that he could play central defense and defensive midfield. At this point no one really cared or took that much notice as we were all still drunk on the news that we had signed Alexis Sanchez.

We then arrive at the Emirates Cup: Benfica being the opener. With first choice right sided centre back, namely Mertasacker, still on the Copacabana and our Belgian back up in the all too familiar surroundings of the sick bay, Wenger opted for Chambers and Monreal to play in the centre of the defense. Yet again, no one took too much notice; they were both obviously just holding the fort until the more experienced players returned.

Koscielny was available but Wenger must have wanted to give Monreal a bit of practice in the doomsday scenario that he might be needed to play there. The idea of Nacho playing CB in a competitive game probably scares the life out of many but he scares me far less than had Miguel been forced into that role. Monreal played as was expected against Benfica but it was Chambers who caught the eye of many a fan.

It was around this time that the Vermaelen to ManU/Barcelona story was starting to gather pace. In Wenger’s Friday press conference he was pressed on the subject to which he replied: should Vermaelen leave, the club will find a replacement because the Belgian is “an important player in our squad”. It is this promise that people are now waving at Wenger and blaming him for not fulfilling, some even going as far as saying that he has been negligent.

But wait, let’s look at the dates?

Wenger made that statement on the 1st August and the game against Benfica wasn’t even played until the 2nd of August. Now it may be true to say that Chambers caught the eye of many a fan in that game but we still had a way to go before outrageous questions such as: should he keep his place ahead of Mertasacker were being banded about. The blue touch paper had only just been lit at this point; the media rocket that propelled him into hyper space with all their grandiose expectations had not fully started in earnest.

Much of the hyperbole was justified: demands for an England call up seemed realistic even Arsenal’s new Tony Adams is not so wild but I for one certainly feel that it went a bit too far. The downward trajectory was inevitable and it started, in my opinion, with the statement pointing out that the nineteen year had played just two competitive games as a CB and had only ever played right back for Southampton.

The truth, as they often say, is somewhere in the middle. There is no doubt that Chambers has been a fantastic buy; he has got quality centre back written all over him, certainly good enough to play the same central defensive back up role that Vermaelen played last season.

The question now is: if he has this unexpected skill set in his locker what else is hidden? Could he be equally adept at playing HM? We have been given a tantalizing glimpse; watch how smoothly he plays the ball along the ground oooh, the accuracy. Add precision passing to the ability to defend and you have got the essentials of a very good HM. I wait with bated breath on that one.

So where are we? There is no doubt in my mind that Wenger misjudged this one; he did not realise how good Chambers was as a CB, who did? But the thing is, mistakes don’t always have to turn out badly, sometimes they can turn out well and they certainly did when we signed Callum Chambers.

Written by LB

 


Transfer Window Review

September 2, 2014

 

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                           Centre Forward   

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Centre Back

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Discuss ……


Leicester 1 Arsenal 1. Still think we can win the League?

September 1, 2014

There are a few things in football that are certainties. I don’t mean the kind in which a particular team is certain to win the league; this often turns out to be wrong. Neither do I mean the kind in which the club with the largest wage bill like Manchester City fields a team that is certain to beat a lesser light such as Stoke City.

No, the kind of certainties I am talking about are the smaller ones, the kind Arsenal encounter against teams like Leicester: you could have bet your mortgage that they were going to park the proverbial bus and try and hit us on the break and unsurprising to everyone, or at least it should have been, that is exactly what they did and they did it well.

As predictable as it was Wenger fielded a team designed to be able to find a way round such a stubborn defense. The team selection made complete sense to me: with the defensively able Flamini sitting in front of the back four whose principal jobs were to be alert when the breaks inevitably came. The rest needed to possess super close control, precision passing and all be capable of scoring; in other words, there was no need for Wilshere. Or so I thought.

It also made sense to give Sanogo a start; it was only Leicester, the team who had been embarrassingly knocked out of the Capital One cup in the week by a team from a division I had never heard of.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the answer to that question is our game plan in which we were supposed to stroll home with all three points, that’s what went wrong.

It was a very frustrating afternoon in which a collection of some of the best midfielders in the League managed to play as disjointed as a chicken after Sunday lunch.

If that is the best team we can field for the next four months and let’s be clear here — it is, then we have got a lot more problems than any of us dared imagine.

Things, of course, didn’t start off this gloomy, the team took to the field with their game plan in tact, followed the script by laying siege to the Leicester goal and got the break through. It wasn’t pretty but we were ahead and I thought that this is one more game in which the players could use to iron out the rough edges on their quest for the Holy Grail of Wenger Ball.

But the one step forward made by Sanchez scoring his first league goal was reversed with the two steps back caused by Koscielny’s injury. Should he have stayed on, shouldn’t he have stayed on, I don’t know, the fact that he did stay played a huge part, in my opinion, of Leicester getting an equalizer.

Can someone remind me how it is that we thought, and I am as guilty if not more, of thinking that the arrival of Ozil and his play last season was something akin to the second coming. Genuine question, I am seriously struggling to remember what it was. Perhaps the first assist when he squared the ball to the on rushing Giroud, this could turn into the “Life of Brian” sketch of “What have the Roman’s ever done for us”. It is interesting to note that he was playing on the left wing that day, just saying.

You all saw the game, we huffed and we puffed but it is just as well that it came to an end after 90 minutes rather than the next goal wins or they could still be playing now.

I want to give special mention to Szczesny whose fine save towards the end of the second half kept us in the game. I also thought Sanchez did very well down the left. I am going to keep a little something back before Sanogo gets both barrels as I want to see what happens when he scores; so much changed for Sanchez when he got his goal against Besiktas in the week that I want to see if the similar uplifting feeling has the same effect on the young Frenchman – but I am not holding my breath.

Not the easy win that some of us foolishly expected and still miles away from the idyllic flowing football envisaged by many, the good news is that Stan is in town, and you know what that means?

New Toys……….Yippee.

Written by LB

We were lucky enough to have two posts for today, here are kelsey’s thoughts.

Are Arsenal just wobbling or is it worse than that ?

Every man and his dog can see the deficiencies in our squad and it wasn’t pleasant viewing yesterday as it was obvious that the whole balance of the side was wrong and I feel that Wenger is still experimenting with his best formation.

Let’s be absolutely honest Leicester deserved to win the game and bar a couple of fine saves by Szczesny we would have lost.

We only know one way of playing and that is Wengerball and it just doesn’t work anymore.

For all the flack Giroud gets he does a good job against the majority of teams, but when you look at how close we came last season, the opening games are showing me that we have regressed.

We have more money than for many a season and the buying of Sanchez showed that we can buy quality players but one can’t honestly say that Sanogo or Campbell are at this moment of time the type of player to fill the void and score vital goals when we are playing against a resolute defence.

People talk how much we miss the speed of Walcott especially down the flanks but at this moment of time no one knows for sure when he will be ready and fully fit to play and at a guess that could be several weeks or months judging by our track record.

We have had all Summer to address the problem and Debuchy is a more than adequate replacement for Sagna and Chambers impresses a lot but was he meant to be playing so regularly at this early stage of the season.

Just look at all our games so far, have we been convincing ?

Winning ugly doesn’t apply as for all our possession, in the majority of games, we have failed to take our chances time and time again. But more alarmingly, every single team has sliced through our defence on the counter attack and IMO we have been fortunate not to concede more.

When I hear our manager speak it’s all double dutch to me or the same old excuses like fatigue from the World Cup or a player needs time as he is still recovering from an injury, or negotiations are extremely difficult when trying to secure a player, but the latter applies to all clubs.

We were predictable to an extent last season but there were times when there was far more fluency to the team.

Why does Wenger keep playing players like Ozil out of position? He adds absolutely nothing out on the wing.

Podolski, regardless of what we think of him has been out of favour and invariably has been a sub, but now our manager states he is an option at Centre Forward. A week ago it looked likely that he was being sold or at least offered in part exchange.

Many of you will say that we are only three games in but just look at our forthcoming fixtures which on paper will provide a much bigger test.

We are into the last day of the transfer window so let’s see what happens, if anything at all, and even if we buy,we will get “the player needs a bedding in period”.

I really think whoever we play in midfield the balance is wrong and there isn’t enough physical presence and again the system we play leads us to be alarmingly cut open by every team we have played so far this season.

Dreaded injuries reared their ugly head yet again and at this moment of time it is not clear how serious they are to Kos, Ozil and Oxlade- Chamberlain.

Silent Stan was in attendance yesterday though I don’t suddenly see him changing his track and even expressing an opinion.

I have to say after careful consideration and allowing for the fact that one accepts that Wenger has total control on absolutely everything, there are too many issues on the field that he should have addressed earlier.

I would like to be proved wrong but my gut instinct tells me we are in for a a very difficult season.

kelsey