Newcastle away …. any answers … or more questions?

August 30, 2015

We got 3 points away from home at a ground that I am not sure will be that easy for many of our rivals this season. On the general positive front our passing and movement was excellent and only lacked that last little itty weeny bit….the placement of the ball between the white thingy’s with the mesh behind it. Ok we did place it there once but at the end you did feel we should have been far more comfortable. Also, yes, we should have had a penalty, so the officials once again conspire to undermine our season. We should be 2 points and 2 goals better off right now.

I mention the officials because the toon fans obviously felt very hard done by yesterday. However in the cold light of day and viewing these incidents again I would challenge any of them to disagree with the decisions. If anything the non penalty penalty kept them in it. With that as well as the other goal I think we would have gone on to score 2 more.

So with general all round excellent play why didn’t we put them to the sword a bit more? Does this have implications for the season? Are we lacking a world class cutting edge up front or could it be more simply that we are not quite in full gear yet? Could it also be that McClaren has them far more organised now and that Newcastle didn’t come out to play enough football and got so many men behind the ball that breaking them down was always going to be tough. If anything it possibly got tougher once they were a back’s to the walls 10 man outfit.

My stance has softened on yesterday once I stepped back and reviewed it. I actually think we looked so fluid and sharp that we forced them into a bus parking exercise.

Someone may come before the transfer window closes, to provide that extra cutting edge up front, but let’s say they don’t, and there is a very real chance of that. I still feel we have quite a bit at our disposal. Many are now looking to Welbeck to save us, because to many Giroud and Walcott can’t cut it, and I am looking forward to him getting his opportunity. However, even having been a critic of Giroud I still feel that both he and Walcott have something to offer as number 9’s, if we play them in the right way. I would also say that where Walcott is concerned he could be a number 9 option and still play as a wide player when needed.

Many will use yesterday as hard “EVIDENCE” that Walcott can’t do it. Well as already said Newcastle firstly made it difficult. Secondly from my point of view none of Walcott’s chances were gimmes yesterday. If you watch them again in most of the cases Walcott is actually latching on to balls at high speed. That automatically makes it more difficult to control any shot on target than at a slower pace. It is of course easier if the ball is on the ground as you run onto it.

He had a one on one with Krul in this situation and there is an argument that Theo could have done a bit better by chipping the keeper. Fair enough but not an easy skill at that pace and in reality it was Krul that did very well here in reading the game and coming out.

His second big chance is the one that many are referring to as almost an open goal. The one on the rebound from Sanchez shot. Look at it again peoples. Again Theo is arriving at high speed…more difficult. Secondly the ball is bouncing….adds extra difficulty. Thirdly he is not directly in front of an open goal, but is at an angle with the keeper getting up from the ground to narrow his options….again adds to the difficulty. This was no gimme. Alright it didn’t happen for him or Ollie when he came on but the great Ronaldo and the great Aguero missed easier chances yesterday!!! 

This is not a “defence of Theo” post. More I am trying to rationalise why we didn’t quite make it easier and why our striking department individually and as a whole didn’t quite pull it off as well as they could have. Theo and Ollie might not be quite good enough to push us to the title. Then again they might be and my point is that yesterday is not enough for me personally to say they can’t.

If anything I really wanted Wenger to play Theo to Giroud’s right when Ollie came on. With Ollie and no Theo teams play a higher line. With Theo and no Ollie teams play a deeper line. With Theo and Ollie they are in trouble either way. It looked a potent combination a couple of seasons back and would have meant that we had our next 3 most clinical goal-scorers (Sanchez, Rambo and Theo) all playing off Giroud. As said I don’t see any reason why they can’t rotate as striker or also play together.

Arsene got his subs right because we won the game. Fair point. I do however feel the subs were a bit negative and he could have put them to the sword with something more similar to what I mentioned above. AOC could have gone in to the heart of midfield where all those pesky Newcastle players on yellows would have been shedding a load when he started to run through the centre at pace. We have in recent times been too gung-ho, but weirdly I also feel Arsene goes with too much caution and still needs to find that balance at times.

Anway, discuss A.A’ers.

 

 

Written by GoonerB

 

 

 


Ozil to win it for Arsenal?

August 29, 2015

Newcastle. What do you think of when hearing that name?

I have a mental image of SuperMac, Keegan arriving by helicopter, Dirty Shearer with one arm raised, Dire Straits, Bryan Ferry, that TV series with Jimmy Nail and the bloke who became Inspector Morse’s assistant, unintelligible accents, dreadful beer, Gazza, Sir Bobby Robson, Ugly Beardsley, Fat Football fans and much more (add a few if you have the inclination!)

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And in recent years a total road wreck of a football club. Managers sacked, dreadful players bought and sold, fan unrest, an owner who is hated by the fans and a top quality, traditional institution  which could attract the very best becoming a selling club.

Newcastle have spent 5 times as much money as AFC in this window (so far)!  IMO this is a dreadful state of affairs and questions must be asked. I do not accept that players are not available – if they chose other clubs one must question the negotiating skills of our buying team. It is claimed that Thauvin chose Newcastle having been approached by AFC, if this is true our boys really do a crap job.

McClaren is a good manager and will bring discipline into a difficult club who were lucky to escape relegation, he has bought young, pacy players who he hopes can change the atmosphere in both the changing room and the stands. Their start is worse than ours which brings some degree of hope.

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Her Maj in Her Home Kit

But we need points and we need them NOW.

How do we get them?

The usual …… hard work, team play, concentration, fast attacks, clinical finishing. A little bit of intricate passing and a sprinkling of magic.

Could Chambers play worse than his first half on Monday? It would be difficult. There is a fair chance he will start alongside Paul Easter and if he does then AW has to instruct his midfield to give better protection.

Theo to start? Would be good but who gets dropped? Giroud is the obvious choice though he is our only goal scorer this season (how rubbish is that?)

Dare AW drop Cazorla and play the Ox thereby adding some pace and width down the right? Or Ramsey? Or both and play Theo and Ox.

I don’t know and I am not paid millions to make such a decision. What I do know is that at present things are not as they should be. There is imbalance in the team both vertically and laterally. We need more cohesion in front of goal, better understanding between the defence and the midfield, and less reliance upon left-sided attack. It has to be said (and it was by LB!) that if you have Ozil and Sanchez on the left then we are likely to use them. I really fancy Ozil to score today and will bet a fish that he will.

The season start has shown that we have no idea how the team will perform today – who knows today could be the launch pad for a run of wins or it could signify the start of a difficult season.

I will be watching from behind the sofa.

I am 54% confident

COYRRG


Are Arsenal’s fullbacks good enough?

August 28, 2015

The general perceived feeling on the forum is that we are doing fine on the full-back position as we have four reliable full-backs at our disposal:-Debuchy, Bellerin, Monreal and Gibbs.

I tend to agree that are “good full backs” but I am not convinced that they can take our club to the next level as they still suffer from defensive lapses, do not create enough assists or goals and worse, do not bring enough width to our game at times when we are stuck with fruitless possession in the opponent’s half…You look at Ivanovic, Alves, Rafinha, Lahm, Alaba, Alba and even Baines, Coleman or Clyne (he still needs to confirm though) and you realize that our FBs are not doing enough for our team…

What is your take on it?

Written by RC78


Mixed Feelings ….. Arsenal v Liverpool

August 25, 2015

So Petr Cech has showed us we have have a world class keeper now. Happy with that. Again the footballing gods have betrayed us……a proper goal incorrectly ruled offside and Mignolet pulling out a couple of blinders (the only problem is so did Cech so that probably cancels itself out).

Well by my reckoning we should be at least 7 points from 9 after 3 games, and I say at least. So we sit on 4. It is easy to say that this is not so much a problem so early in the season with so many games left, but the EPL is so competitive these days that a top team like us, (capable of winning the EPL), could probably lose it in the first 5 games if they leave themselves too much to do.  I believe playing catch up is now far harder to do and you will not see the likes of our overhaul of Utd in the 1997-1998 season again.

I believe playing catch up is now far harder to do and you will not see the likes of our In the last 2 seasons we have either finished as the winners in the first half or second half of the season but have not put 2 great halves of the season together and won the title. Consistency I guess is the order of the day. We could probably argue that injuries have played a large part historically, and I couldn’t disagree with that. Not quite having those extra 1-2 quality players in the right positions could also be an argument. I couldn’t disagree with that also.

However, despite all this, and my personal feeling we still require 1-2 key top players to be an absolute certainty as a top team, we still have a squad with the potential to beat any team out there and win the top prizes. So it is my assertion that we are not making the most of what we have available to us.

Boring I know to mention it again, but I still feel Arsene has a blind spot when it comes to favouring playing the types of players that he likes most as opposed to playing the best balanced side.

Don’t get me wrong, Liverpool are not a bad outfit, but are a side in transition with a lot of new players and are not ready for a serious title charge. We did play parts of the game in the ascendency with some good spells but the sheer quality of the players on the pitch tends to guarantee that at times. One of the serious title challenging teams will expose Liverpool this season and the fact that we didn’t do this, and also win the game, potentially doesn’t bode well.

In a more general sense I would say that I can’t think of a modern successful team that doesn’t have an abundance of pace and penetration from 2-3 sources in attack. In this game we really only had Sanchez as a true pacey attacking player from the start of the game. When we did introduce the extra pace players was it too late to have the time to influence the game

I said before the game that my biggest worry this season was not in who we did or didn’t recruit but in how we used the squad we had available to us to get the most balanced and fluid of teams. Others may see our problem areas as different of course and I always enjoy a different perspective, this is just the main problem as I see it

Walcott and AOC left on the bench for more slow but technical ball players? Were they introduced too late in the game? Were we just unlucky? Is it too early to make a judgement on us this season? Are bad habits resurfacing that will see us fall just short when we didn’t need to

A draw with Liverpool need not be a source of concern under normal circumstances, but for me there were possible worrying signs that we haven’t learnt from the past and that would be a shame for a team that I feel could win the EPL with what it currently has. Aside from the injuries this reminds me of the start of last season when we had a great team on paper but looked out of sorts. Arsene needs to sort it out quickly or we may end up the EPL champions for the 2nd half of the season again, and unless I am wrong they don’t give you a trophy for that.

Written by GoonerB


Loopy Lovren to do a Kolo?

August 24, 2015

Liverpool at home is always an exciting prospect and the first home night game makes it even more so. Wish I was going 😦

Plus this is a big test against a team who have spent almost €200m in two seasons! Selling your best players doesn’t help but Rodgers has to prove his success of two seasons ago was not purely a result of having a brilliant striker in the form of his life.

AW has been there; selling your best players inevitably has an effect, fortunately the past two seasons has seen us keep our players and add to the quality of the squad – who knows who will be arriving at AFC over the next 7 days!

So …. Liverpool. Never liked them. Hate the awful dirge of YNWA. I think I would even go so far as to say it is worse than Yellow Submarine! Just think of the dorks who have worn their shirt…. Keegan, Owen, P.Thompson, Dalgleish, One Minute, Emlyn Hughes, Suarez – the list is endless … but they are a very good team when in full flow, always have been.

The question is, has Rodgers put together a winning team? The lack of a quality finisher (in the absence of Sturridge) hurt L’pool last season and the signing of the excellent Benteke gives them considerable attacking strength. Add in the wily Firmino and the excellent Coutinho and we can see why L’pool are confident of an improvement on last season’s disappointments.

We smacked them last season when Kolo repaid AW for bringing him to Highbury – I doubt dirty Skrtel or Loopy Lovren will do the same.

Arsenal-v-Liverpool-Premier-League

As to us, we have to improve. WHU – terrible, CP good for 45 mins, tonight – who knows? And that is what concerns me; we have the potential to be brilliant and very successful because this is the best squad for a very long time but as yet we continue to be unpredictable. Consistency is what wins titles and can you honestly say you are sure we will play well tonight?

Thankfully we have an almost fully-fit squad (apart from Abou Wilshire and Abou Rosicky). Mr Wenger “just” has to pick his best team. Not easy – my guess is that if we all put in our best 11 that there would be many different 11’s. Theo or Ox? Theo or OG? Ramsey on the flanks? Cazorla alongside Le Coq? Monreal or Gibbs? Czech or Ospina etc etc.

It is being suggested that pace will win this game for Arsenal thanks to L’pool’s static central defence – I agreee and would certainly start with Theo alongside OG in the middle. The problem with this is that it results in the Ox having to ride the pine. The Ox is one my favourite players and he needs to know he has the confidence of AW to be a central cog in this team – he is too good to be a bit-time player.

It should be a good game between two attack-minded teams with Arsenal edging it.

p.s. Hope Rodger’s master-signing Balotelli plays 🙂

I am 52% confident

COYRRG


Arsenal’s Oldest Fan – JC’s cards

August 23, 2015

A massive ‘Thank You’ to everyone who sent (or tried to send) a card in response to my earlier post about the impending 90th Birthday of a certain John Alfred Churchill esq. Mr Churchill loved receiving the cards and I sent him a copy of the original post with all of your kind comments attached. GIE’s comment was my favourite, “JC is a legend – I’ve missed being asked when it’s due”.

A certain pie salesman from Cornwall’s card was regarded by JC as an ‘Official’ one and much appreciated.

The Danish royalty card written in best tour-guide Danish prompted JC to say, ‘I’ve even had one in a foreign language’.

JCcards1

 

Rasp even managed to find a pop-up Emirates Stadium.

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Peaches’ card was perfect for an old boy who still has an interest in pulling the birds! “I’ve still got all the equipment, but I’ve lost the instruction manual”.

GN5 wrote a paragraph about growing up near Highbury and being an Islington boy which was much appreciated by JC as another local lad.

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Joney’s card (bottom right in the above photo) was based on 1925, JC’s year of birth.

It includes some 1925 information….

Headlines – First John Logie Baird TV picture transmitted,

New Arrivals – double decker buses with roofs, water skis, salad cream and Woodcraft Folk (?).

In the ‘Keeping You Entertained ‘ section – Top songs – Show me the way to go home, Yes Sir, she’s my baby and Dinah (as in ‘a yard above the knee’?).

Shopping Costs – New Morris Oxford £275, Bottle of Scotch 63p and 4 bed Detached house £1400.

A few of my favourite postmarks and stamps.

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A special thanks to GIE for sending a special mini Gooners card. Harry bears a striking resemblance to JC even though there’s 88 or 89 years between them

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Thank you all again. Your efforts in response to my request really made the old boy’s birthday a little different and special. Ta.

Written by chas    


How fair is the gift of the Olympic stadium?

August 20, 2015

Morning Gooners,

Rant Friday has brought many excellent rants, hopefully this one will compare. Topical subjects seem to grab the headlines, and at the moment West Ham are drawing attention. Clubs are up in arms, asking is it right that West Ham United are now going to stage their games at the Olympic stadium. There was a bit of a race before West Ham got the go ahead, a few clubs had put their names down to be considered, but it now seems clear that West Ham has won the day.

Of course the Olympic Stadium was built by tax payers money after we had won the bid to stage the Olympics in London. Plans were drawn up as to where the events would take place, luckily the infrastructure was already in place and even a few existing venues could be brought into use. Many like myself were not so delighted that we won the bid, as I knew that money would be no object to build structures that would probably only be used a few times, when London and Britain are crying out for tax payers money to be spent on more important things like health service schools even prisons, but where politicians tell us that funds are low to inject vast amounts of money into services that are used daily, but overnight funds were available to build projects like those to be used as Olympic stadia.

Promises from the government that british builders would be inundated with building jobs were diminished seconds after it was stated as a foreign building firm got the contract, and as I passed the site on my way to work I saw the fleets of buses that ferried in the workers.

As we know the stadia were built and the event went off smoothly. London Olympics was supposedly a big success, while the organisers patted themselves on the back, the British public was asking just how much and how have we benefited by this vast outlay. Of course after the event many of the structures put in place became redundant, many closed down while others were utilised to help in some way or other, but the Olympic Stadium where the bulk of the money was spent was looking a little like a ‘White Elephant’.

I can remember years ago where another stadium was built in Manchester from tax payers money at huge expense and it looked like it would also be unused only to become the home of Manchester City. They took over the stadium and pay to  rent it. I don’t know how much it would have cost to build but they have continued to invest in it by building another tier.

I think that now is the time for my Friday Rant. Arsenal moved from old Highbury to a new site, The Emirates stadium. Arsenal needed bigger premises and with very little help available to fund the new build they chose to fund it themselves using the development of Highbury and to borrow money from the banks.

You all know what happened in the next ten years, frugal spending, top players sold and a mortgage that was going to choke us for years and years. Britain’s government didn’t built our stadium, they never even found a little Olympic money to help us, but now its built and what a magnificent structure it is.

Getting back to West Ham’s fortunes. They will be taking over a state paid for Olympic Stadium. They have contributed very little to the conversion costs which have been funded by us, the tax payer. The running costs will also only be part funded by the club with the balance paid for by the tax payer. Many of the London based football clubs are banding together to complain that this is unfair. West Ham have wealthy owners who should be dipping their hands in their own pockets.

Unfair, I feel its a disgrace, Arsenal have had many years living in a kind of suspended animation, paying off our debts gradually, keeping our expenses down and being ridiculed by all , but we did it as it was the only way forward. We are now over the worse and our investments are now recovering, and now we see another Football club being given a helping hand. I hasten to add that had Arsenal buckled after the enormous expense, and failed to meet our debts we would have been deducted points  and could have lost our position in the Premier league.

How can these happenings be fair to all, what’s your views on this?

Written by Ranter Palmer


When did your love for Arsenal start?

August 20, 2015

Well mine started when I was as an infant; I was one of the few who happened to be born within the sound of Highbury roars and with my entire family steeped in Arsenal tradition it seemed as natural as drinking milk made from Cow and Gates milk powder.

Arsenal in WW11

The war years of the 30’s and 40’s were bleak times and most of the men in the family were away at war, the Arsenal players and club were also deeply involved in WW11. In fact during WW11 42 of Arsenal’s 44 full time players were drafted into service, along with most of the administration staff. Arsenal stadium itself was turned into an ARP “Air Raid Precautions) facility. Arsenal played its war time home fixtures at White Hart Lane; Tottenham had used Highbury for some of its home games during WW1.

The Arsenal stadium also paid the price when it was bombed in 1941. The North Bank was wrecked after a fire broke out and the roof collapsed and much of the terracing on the South Stand was damaged too and these had to be repaired before Arsenal could return home after the war. Another bomb, weighing 1,000lb, had fallen near the stadium in October 1940. Meanwhile tonnes of concrete that had been blown over the Clock End terraces needed to be removed.

Seven Sister Road WW11

Arsenal was one of the leading sides during the Second World War, having dominated English football for much of the 1930s. They won the League South ‘A’ title in 1939/40 but lost the League War Cup Final the following season. Leslie Compton missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Preston at Wembley and Arsenal lost the replay 2-1 at Blackburn. Arsenal followed the example of other clubs and used “guest players” most notably Bill Shankly, Stan Mortensen and Stanley Matthews. In 1941/42 a number of London clubs formed a breakaway London League and Arsenal romped to the title with 108 goals in 30 matches.

They returned to the Football League South a season later and, in 1942/43, won the championship and the League South Cup. Reg Lewis netted four times in that 7-1 Cup Final win over Charlton. He would of course go on to become an even more significant Wembley winner seven years later, grabbing both goals as Arsenal beat Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup Final.

Underground during WW11

During air raids my family used to take shelter in the Arsenal Underground Station or in the Caledonian Road Underground if we were visiting family in N7.

Bombs droppd on Highbury Oct 1940 to June 1941

Even though these were very bleak years in most peoples lives to us kids it was our reality, we were poor, hungry, scruffy and always grubby; but kids being kids we made our own fun and games. Kicking our rag footballs against the chalk goalpost we drew on the Avenell Road entrance to Highbury and imaging we were Arsenal players was to us a joy and it, along with my family’s tales about the clubs history and its players made me an Arsenal fan for life……

Tell us when your love for Arsenal started?

GunnerN5


Arsenal Are The Best Club In The World – Right?

August 19, 2015

Controversy is the life blood of football, from the shenanigans of the governing bodies FIFA and UEFA who are no strangers to dubious practices, which are nonetheless seen as acceptable by half the world, and as reprehensible by the other half, as well as the all powerful clique of clubs and the cabal of managers noted for their self serving behaviour, often to the detriment of the fans, and then the football tribalism of the same passionate and committed fans warring among themselves.

As passionate, knowledgeable Gooners we would not find it at all strange or contentious to wholeheartedly agree with the question posed in the Post headline because, with certain reservations about the transfer policy of the manager and the Board, or the exorbitant cost of seat tickets, and similar concerns raised by one faction, or the other, we do believe that Arsenal are indeed the best club in the world, and that is why we support them, and many have done so for the whole of their sentient lives, and will continue to do so until the grim reaper taps them on the shoulder.

It does rather beg the question though as to why the supporters of rival clubs will vehemently disagree, if told by Gooners that Arsenal are the best club in the world, and will enthusiastically, if rudely, respond that their own club is the best in the world.

Why is this? Can’t they see they are wrong? 🙂

Perhaps it is the human condition of tribalism that is at play here, and the urge or need to conform to community norms albeit in the differing environs of North London, the Midlands or Oop North to share a ‘belonging’ with those we have grown up with or, in footballing terms, the sense of belonging to the community of fans who support a particular club. Not that this necessarily speaks to the many fans throughout the world who are equally supportive of their chosen club.

It would be futile in a short article to try and look at this issue at every level, so in addressing only what makes fans tick, let’s have a look at some current-ish issues that have cropped up recently.

There has been a big hoo-hah over the very public admonishment and shameful questioning of the Chelsea club doctor’s professional competence which Mourinho lamely tried to disguise as a footballing knowledge requirement on when to run on the field of play to help an injured football player — in other words when Dr Maureen says so. Pissht.

Many fans, including most of us Gooners, thought this was a shabby display of dictatorial and sexist behaviour on the part of the manager even though he had in fact belatedly included a male employee in his tirade.

But that was not the view of the vast majority of the Chav fans, who were supportive of Maureen and gleefully told themselves this was an example of the manager’s winning mentality – even though they did not win that game – or the one against Man Citeh, where two Chelsea players went down simultaneously and the replacement Chelsea doctor had to be helped out by the Citeh medical team running on. Did they respect your medical/football knowledge wishes too, José?

This not a refection on the Chelsea fans who saw nothing wrong with Mourhino’s stance, because it is unquestionably the case that if this scenario had been played out at Old Trafford, instead of Chelsea, the ManUre fans, who for years were well versed in supporting Old Red Nose in some of his wildest rants, would have supported their manager in the same way – and conversely the Chav fans would then have joined the rest of us in pillorying the ridiculous attitude of the Manure manager in this hypothetical instance.

Was it the case that, in these instances, the outcome was the result of the tribal instinct to which, as fans, we are all prone?

Well, it has been said on here, and elsewhere, that the support Maureen got was borne out of misplaced loyalty, and that the Chav fans really did know he was in the wrong, but were more than happy to indulge in a little bit of cant and hypocrisy as part of the ‘defence’ of the Chelsea community and a manager who has been successful for them.

In human beings there is a complex and powerful desire to conform to the group mood or ethos, and those fans supporting their manager are not knowingly intending to lie or pretend. This human condition actually makes our brains rationalise the facts and to change the way they are perceived, which is different to how others see them.

Take the rationalising of penalty incidents, for example. This inevitably results in opposing sets of fans seeing the same incidents in very different and opposing ways too. “He deliberately chopped our player!” “No, he is a diving cheat!” and so on, and on.
The same incident, if reversed, would have the same fans crying out the opposite views, if it were the other team’s player involved.

There is a phenomenon that occurs on all blogs, and it is something that we are all aware of and it relates to the fact that we can quickly become aware of other people’s biases, whether it is towards certain players, or the behaviour of the managers, or the ethos of other teams, or, dare I say it – other bloggers – and yet at the same time we are completely detached or impervious to our own biases, which are obvious to others.

There is a formulaic phrase that is becoming common, and which some see as essential to protect good relations between bloggers with opposing views, after it has become all too obvious that further discussion has descended into being a pointless dialogue of the blind, and that is “we will have to agree to disagree” which is immensely useful when it becomes clear that no purpose is fulfilled by further debate.

So, Arsenal are the best club in the world, right? Umm – Yes —and no — it depends on who is being asked. 😀

Written by RA


Are we asking too much of Francis Coquelin?

August 18, 2015

There is no doubt that since his recall from loan at Charlton Athletic Francis Coquelin had a great impact on the team.

Coquelin

Playing as the long awaited defensive mid-fielder, he has helped stabilise the centre of our team. He is very good at breaking up opposition attacks, winning back the ball and playing simple but telling passes to our more offensively minded mid-fielders.

Having joined Arsenal in July 2008 he got a few games during that season and became a regular in the Reserves the following season 2009/10. He also played in the League and FA cups without really distinguishing himself. He then opted to go out on loan and played for Lorient, for the whole of the 2010/11 season before returning to Arsenal where he made his debut for the first team in the 8 – 2 defeat by Manchester United. At the end of the 2012/13 season he went out on loan again this time to Freiburg and then on to Charlton Athletic. At this stage it did not look as though he had much of a future at Arsenal.

Since his recall last in December 2014 he has been a revelation, playing in the most difficult position he has become an “ever present” and established himself as one of the top defensive mid-fielders in the Premiership.

Playing in the centre of the field as he does, there is a fine line between winning the ball with a clean tackle and being a fraction of a second late thereby “catching” the player and receiving a yellow card.

His position is made harder by the fact that Arsene Wenger’s choice of Santi Cazorla as his partner leaves too much for him to do. Santi is a wonderful player but is not the most defensively minded of characters and too often drifts too far forward leaving Coquelin to fight the fires behind him alone.

We have an excellent array of gifted, attacking mid-fielders, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Oxlade-Chamberlain and, when fit, Wilshere. The temptation to fit in as many as possible seems to be too great for Wenger to resist. Consequently we see too often Coquelin fighting a lone battle in mid-field and picking up yellow cards on too many occasions. Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace being a case in point, only a surprisingly lenient referee allowed him to remain on the pitch to commit a further series of fouls even after being booked.

If the present situation is allowed to continue opposing players will start to look for opportunities to go down at the merest touch and Coquelin will become a card magnet.

Last season the manager introduced a slightly more pragmatic approach to defending, the result being a fine run into third position in the league and another FA Cup triumph. Perhaps it’s now time to take a step further and sacrifice one of the attacking mid-fielders in favour of, perhaps, Mikel Arteta to play alongside Coquelin.

Written by Norfolk Gooner.