In football, as in many other aspects of life, there comes that moment when new possibilities present themselves and a new direction maybe needs to be seized upon. That moment is not always so patently obvious. You are potentially aware that you may have arrived at the moment, or equally maybe you are not quite there yet but are somewhere near it, so is it really the right time? Is this the actual moment or are we still approaching it? Stick or twist? If you go too soon then it could all go very wrong but dither and you miss the moment which may not present itself again for a long time.
Right then, my ears are burning. I can hear you all saying, “enough of the Machiavellian, Cantanaesque seagulls being thrown from the trawler ramblings GoonerB, what the hell are you on about?”
Well football clubs are often no different to big corporations in other industries, and also even all of us as individuals as we progress through life, in that they/we reach a crossroads at times in having to decide whether to stick on the road you are on, because its familiarity feels safer, or to take a different road that is more unknown and is full of uncertainty but that may well just have that pot of gold at the end of it.
Still too many seagulls and trawlers?……sorry, I digress.
What I am referring to is our promotion of the younger players, or the more untested ones, into the 1st team, and as importantly, into their strongest positions. Sure we have been integrating some of them recently, but is now the time to really go for broke? Is now the time to take that different road, and really push them through rather than just flirting with it?
Yesterday’s discussion threw a lot of debate up about this. Here are a few snippets:
This from JM
Chambers’s best long term position in our 1st team will be the DM/HM position, this season and the next season onwards.
He has shown to be able defend and attack competently whenever he played in our matches (EPL, EL, EFL cup).
– That all important equalising goal against Villa (collecting the cross from Guendouzi and after his intial cutback was blocked, he was first to steal ahead of the defender, calmly controlled the ball with one touch and lifted it back into the net over the GK with his next touch.
– 3 assists in the match against Forest (the first a no hesitation 1st-timed cross to pick up Gabriel from a right-side position; next a measured cut back from left-side position to Nelson; a last a nice pass to Gabriel for his 2nd goal and our 5th.)
– he has not made too many errors when he played so far in defence (CB, RB and LB in the matches against Newcastle, Villa, Frankfurt and Forest).
This season, when every 1st team player is fit, our defence and midfield could be:
Tierney, Holding, Luiz/Sokratis, Bellerin;
Chambers, Guendouzi/Torreira/Maitland-Niles, Willock/Ceballos/Ozil
Next season onwards, with Saliba coming in (excluding any newer additions),
Tierney, Holding, Saliba/Sokratis, Bellerin;
Chambers/Luiz, Torreira/Maitland-Niles, Willock/Guendouzi
This from FGG
Football moves so quickly these days and I think everyone gets caught up in the last 3 games and forgets everything that’s come before! I agree that there is absolutely no telling how good or bad we will be with Xhaka and Sok being replaced by Chambers and Holding, but I do think that given our current defensive frailties, it’s certainly worth finding out.
Football just seems to be so black or white these days and it becomes embarrassing at times. Saw an article the other day with Merson questioning wether Spurs should sack the manager. If they win a few games he will be calling them title challengers again! It’s utterly ridiculous.
I must say though that I do like the idea of 3 of our back 4 being British players. I think a bit of an English injection wouldn’t be a bad thing, and with Willock, AMN, Saka, ESR and Nelson in the squad we seem to be getting back to that a little bit.
This from LB
Some people seem to think that things can’t get worse by removing Xhaka and replacing him from within the present squad — they can, they can be an awful lot worse, same goes for Sokratis and Luiz, the idea that Holding and Chambers are some how our saviours in waiting is absolutely ridiculous.
This also from LB
Slim, I must say that I think I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that there is a part of me that would really like to see if Holding and Chambers could do better than Sokratis and Luiz.
Over the coarse of a long season I feel certain at some point we will find this out.
Should be interesting.
And finally, this from Rocky
For what it’s worth LB, I accept the caution that goes with thinking that any returning player or non-regular starter is going to be the Messiah to answer all our problems. Usually they just turn out to be a very naughty boy.
But I feel Chambo has already shown enough for us this season (on top of his ‘player of the year’ at Fulham last season) to be a serious contender for a starting place.
Context is always important. The context at Arsenal is that we are leaking goals like a sieve that’s been hit by a shotgun. We concede more attempts on goal than just about any grown-up team in Europe.
So I’d say let’s see if Holding and Chambers can do better. They don’t have to be the answer to all our problems but if they can make us 20% better defensively that will probably translate into extra points we wouldn’t otherwise get.
And I know, I know, our defensive weakness is not just about the defenders…
There were many more examples, so my apologies if I have left you out and you’d hoped to be immortalised on here. Similarly my apologies go out if I included you and you wanted to remain more incognito 🙂 I actually agree with every statement from those I put up. The general consensus is that we should try something new and exciting, but that we have no guarantee at this stage as to whether it will work out for us or improve us.
There was something else to consider from some of yesterdays comments. There was a fair bit of talk about other potential players in certain positions that we may need to bring in. How do we know we don’t already have those players in the likes of Chambers, Willock, Guendozi and ESR? If we bring in 2-3 others in the midfield department then I doubt we are asking these new players to be back up to our emerging promising youngsters. We are effectively replacing the above. How long before our own boys move on?
It is indeed far from certain whether those players mentioned, that we already have, can give us the world class we need in certain positions, but the only way to know is to find out directly. We need to play them to find out and to ensure we do not miss the moment.
What is the moment in this case? Well for me it is the next two transfer windows. We need to play these boys so that we know what we do or don’t need before we arrive at that point. Failure to do this and the uncertainties that we have currently will still be the same and we will have missed our moment. I actually felt we missed moments or opportunities in the latter Wenger years to try an alternate route, keeping on the same old comfortable pathway, but ultimately still as oblivious as ever about what we really had once transfer windows came about and decisions needed to be made.
We have literally had a failed generation of promising young players that have not been played at the right times but often, more importantly, when played were not played in their best position, the position they could potentially become world class for us in. Let’s not make the same mistakes with the class of 2019.
It is a risk assessment exercise with no guarantee. A judgement call. I personally feel the risk is at the lowest it could possibly be right now to push through the young and the untested players for a couple of reasons. As many have pointed out the experienced and the tried and tested are far from perfect anyway. Also the tried and tested will still be here, there is nowhere for them to go right now, so why not move them into becoming the back up players for the moment and try the new. The risk of it being far worse feels low to me.
As we approach the next two transfer windows we will then know far more, but with greater certainty rather than with wishful thinking. It is also the easier way of moving on certain players that may not be quite right for us. Keep playing them and they often sit tight and refuse to budge, but let them see that someone younger and better has emerged and that their time as the head honcho is over, and they make that decision to move on themselves, with less drama, and with all parties coming out of it reasonably well.
It does indeed seem that the majority of us feel that Emery and the club have arrived at their moment. We do indeed stand at the crossroads, and I for one hope that we don’t go straight on down the more comfortable, better known, but also far from perfect road. Lets take the alternative road, with all its uncertainties because it may just be the road to something far greater.
Very positive thinking GoonerB. I too have wondered why young players don’t get their chance. Serge Gnabry springs to mind, wonderful young player that went out on loan and then was sold and now is part of the front three at Bayern.
It’ll take some bravery from Emery but having seen how exciting the young players are it would be such a shame to lose their talents.
Premier league do you think? Or use them in the cup competions?
Well argued Post.
Funnily enough I put a Post in drafts that might be a nice continuation of this debate (in a slightly different direction) tomorrow (if Peaches or Rasp deem it appropriate, of course).
Couple of thoughts…
If we promote young players ahead of senior internationals like Luiz, Xhaka, Sok etc don’t underestimate how much behind-the-scenes trouble that could cause.
Older players have been around the block and some, I’m sure, would be prepared to kick up a mighty fuss rather than “go gently into that good night.”
That potentially leads to the club as a whole being destabilised by a sour atmosphere, with lots of leaking of stories to the press and so on.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t consider it, but it would need some pretty skilful man management.
Second point, fans always want improvement and success NOW! But if we took an overarching decision to base our future around the young talent I think supporters would be more forgiving than usual if things took a while to gel. (I could be wrong of course, and they might all be calling UE an idiot for not playing his veterans as points drain away).
No, full on premier league Peaches starting pretty soon if not immediately. We can still have the right experience in there as well so it is not a complete academy or untested team. It is just about taking it to the next level and really going for it.
I would prioritise Holding, Chambers, Willock, Douzi, ESR and Torreira over Socratis, Mustaffi, Xhaka, Ozil and Ceballos. The former represent our future. The others we can fall back on if needed but, some experience aside, don’t really look stronger than our younger and untested players anyway.
There was some talk between FGG and RC yesterday about the need for another CB, another holding midfielder and another goal-scoring number 8 or 10, and that we probably need a Kevin De-Bruyne player (very expensive if ready made).
I actually see some of the De-Bruyne’s in ESR but he needs playing time rather than the odd make or break game here and there. Both Willock and Douzi look like they have more of that all action CM about them where they could start to drive forwards more and become goal threats as well. But, they are released into being able to play that role. Torreira is possibly that type of player as well.
Chambers and Luiz could upgrade the base of our midfield and in Chambers case could actually become the player we need longer term. We need to find out. Holding and/or Saliba/Chambers could potentially form a formidable and top class CD partnership. Again we will need to find out rather than 2nd guess it.
All of those players could allow us to go far more specific and big for that one player in removing the need for 2,3,4 players that we feel we have to bring in, but we will not know this unless we find out.
Change it around and use the more known players (that less represent our longer term future) as the back up for now and promote through the younger and untested. We could potentially go to Old Toilet on Monday (fitness and injury of returning players permitting) lining up in a 4-3-3 variation (4-1-2-3) as follows:
Bellerin, Luiz, Holding, Tierney
Pepe, Aubamayeng, Martinelli
You could swap Luiz and Chambers but either way they form that more solid defensive triangle without compromising ball playing skills. Douzi and Willock are both released into all action midfield roles as we saw from Douzi in the 2nd half with Villa. Torreira could play instead of one of them if wanted.
Saka could also be interesting because he looks at the moment like a wing forward to operate from the right, but that is what we paid big money for Pepe for. Such is Saka’s all round ability and potential though could he become a more attacking 10 that can score goals. If you wanted more attack than that line up above you could put Saka in alongside or just in front of either Douzi or Willock.
Sorry, it was supposed to read that Willock and Douzi “need” to be released into playing an all action CM game, rather than sit at the base of the midfield.
Rocky, you are right that in kind of demoting certain players it could get toxic. However it seems that route has already started with Ozil anyway.
Ceballos is a temporary loan player so shouldn’t be too troublesome if riding the pine more.
Socratis is more of a veteran that I can’t see being too worried if he gets a bit less game time.
Xhaka is more the key one that has been a regular that would be more affected, but the team and its future comes first so we will just have to deal with any fall out.
Sorry to go off topic – so it’s been announced Xhaka is permanent captain.. the first game he ever captained for us was a 2-1 defeat…..at……Old Trafford…. hmmm interesting…..
As with everything it’s about balance. Sure, we have some goo youngsters, but at the moment they are only that and should be treated as such. I believe they will all get games this season in the PL and I look forward to watching them, but I don’t think that Nelson and ESR are ready yet and it’s yet to be seen how well Willock and Geundouzi will last the gruelling season, as often youngsters fade as we go beyond Christmas if they are playing every week.
Emery needs to find a balance, but the shift of power hasn’t happened yet and I expect to see the likes of Xhaka, Sokratis, Luiz, Torreira etc getting plenty of games in front of the kids.
Being late to the party, today, having thankfully missed the ding dong yesterday, I saw a few words, near the end of it that bore all the hallmarks of an oxymoron.
That is not a word as bad as it sounds, but whenever my friend G Bee says, “Just drafting a few words” I know we will get a humdinger that will rival the title of the world’s lengthiest screed, and is likely to overtake ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, by Marcel Proust, which weighed in at about 10,000,000 characters.
And sure enough, the composite Post almost made it!! 😜
I should finish reading this worthy competitor at approximately 17:30 – but I am sure it will be a wonderful classic. 🤪
Well, before I go — FGG, you have said more than once that, our youthful wannabes are good, but not yet ready to replace some of the older players that we are beginning to lose patience with.
And that may well be right.
But I have read, more than once, that when Fergie brought out a young Man-Yoo team including Beckham, Giggs and so on, the reaction was along the lines of ‘you never win anything with kids” – and they went on to sweep all before them for season after season.
Who is to say that might not happen for Arsenal too?
It’s unlikely, that’s true word – but it just needs Embers to take the plunge – as we will not win the EPL this season, and may well struggle for a top four place qualification for the CL next season, which would put his survival as coach at Arsenal in doubt.
So why should he not go for it – what has he got to lose?
I feel you may have answered your question when you suggested that if he doesn’t get top 4 he could lose his job. I honestly believe we have a great chance at top 4, but that could be jeopardised if Emery just goes all in with the kids. I’d love nothing more than to see us produce the new ‘class of ‘92’ or whatever they were, and I actually believe that we could be on the verge of that, but I don’t think it’s going to be this season.
I look at Geundouzi suddenly looking like he gets it and is starting to put in the performances needed in the PL, but at times last season he didn’t look good, and it’s taken 18 months for it to click. When I look at Willock, ESR, Nelson and Saka, I see them at the beginning of that 18 month period and not on par with the hairy Frenchman. I think another 12 months and we will really see them flourish, especially if better senior players are brought in to assist them, but right at this moment, I don’t think they are good enough to get Arsenal top 4, and I’m not sure UE will want to hang his job on them just yet.
If anyone has a problem with Xhaka being captain, just remember that since the beginning of the 2013/14 season, Arsenal’s club captain has started a total of 30 PL games. That’s 13% of PL matches.
….and they say we lack leaders….😂
What non sense to have Xhaka as captain. I hope he s a captain from the bench…
Emery played it safe with captain’s choice.
Does not even matter, as this guy put forth the ludicrous idea of 5 captains.
Going back to yesterday’s column- what do we have to lose by staying with what we know does not work? I know, I changed the premise around, but staying the same is not going to cut it. The defense is getting worse. Am not saying play the youngsters every game, but Chambers is not a youngster.
Emery could integrate the youth in games against lesser opposition, not manure away, allow them time to get their EPL bearings and legs. Not saying wholesale team changes, as it ruins balance and cohesion.
If emery plays luiz, he has got to play him in back 3, or the clown in him will continue to be illuminated, especially with Sok next to him. Or, put him back there with another defender who compliments his skill set and defensive strengths and weaknesses. Not Mustafi! And for goodness sake, Emery, think about who is in front of those guys shielding the defense and moving the ball forward in a press. 2 slow guys and another who is not a defender next to them who does not play defense is not the solution.
Real challenge, manure away, when they are in a tailspin themselves- can Emery get it right away for once?
Have my doubts…
Captain chosen by the other players according to Holding, so he must have something going for him. Maybe he’s good in the dressing room and motivates the team and behaves like a captain in training.
I suppose the ray of light for the nay sayers is that so often in the recent past as soon as a player is made captain he is shipped out one way or another.
Just to answer your question from yesterday, yes I am still a mad cyclist, I rode from Valencia to London in May just gone, loved it, a great adventure.
I am off to cycle a national park called the Serania outside Madrid, Monday week and my training for that is Brighton and back on Sunday, I will have break to eat fish and chips when I am down there though 🙂
On a viewing level, I follow professional cycling almost as closely as I follow Arsenal but it does make a nice change just to wish the best team or the best rider to win rather than the trauma involved in watching Arsenal sometimes.
Slim, from earlier.
I was actually asking a rhetorical question.
I had previously said you may well be right by sticking with the senior players we have already got, and there is no reason to change my mind.
The rhetorical part was suggesting that Embers should go all in and play more of the youngsters from the get go, on the basis that if he blows it again, like last season (altho that was the fault of the same senior players) he will get the push — so he might as well go for it with kids, because if they succeed, he will have achieved his CL target — if they do not then he will get the push anyway, so he has little to lose.
In fairness, most coaches would go for the safe, and sensible route, and back their senior players, and I think Embers will do just that.
I hope he is proven to be correct – especially with the return from injury of 2 FBs and 1 CB.
As regards Xhaka and the captaincy, following on from my acceptance that Embers will stick with the senior players, I think he (Xhaka) will be OK as captain, and there are no other players who are standout captain material.
Xhaka is a strange case. He is not a terrible player, and altho his slowness is the bugbear for many of us, if Emery changed the tactics, and that means making sure he (Xhaka) is forbidden from crossing the halfway line, because that makes him more likely to intercept breakaways, then we might see a better performance from him?
As usual, I finish that by saying – “who knows’ – but where there is a will there is hope. 😳
Fair enough. I actually think we see the best of Xhaka with Torreira as a partner but I guess Geundouzi’s recent form has made him difficult to drop. Why not just play all 3 and see what happens. Maybe Xhaka deep with those 2 in front. It would certainly have energy and lots of running power.
I think that would work very well, Slim.
With Xhaka behind the relatively speedy, energetic Gwen and Terrier, he would add to the security of the CBs — and is exactly the kind of change in strategy that could make a big difference to the defense, as pace is not as important, with no futile chasing back from the opposition half involved.
I agree with you.
It is a bit unfortunate that so many ex-pros, and ex-coaches are questioning the appointment of Xhaka as captain, because he has been appointed and it is what it is.
Anyway, Embers has named 4 other captains (in order) to replace Xhaka if he is injured.
That — I feel is a bit weird — altho Arsene used to say something like “there are 11 captains in this team”.
That was a bit weird too — if you substitute the word ‘leader’ for ‘captain’ (which describes the reality) – it shows that is a flawed message — you cannot have 11 leaders — and survive in business, or in football.
For example, Tony Adams was a good captain, and he was THE captain.
Looking at the squad though there aren’t many candidates.
Holding – inexperienced and relatively unproven
Leno – not been with the club long enough and not commanding enough
Sokratis – too volatile
Luiz – too error-prone
These are the views that would’ve been expressed by the ‘experts’ regardless of who got the armband. I feel it was a no-win situation for Emery and the fact he let the players decide says it all about the lack of an out and out leader. If Tony Adams was in the squad then Emery wouldn’t even have bothered asking!
I think Xhaka is an able captain and hopefully the extra responsibility lifts his game. I don’t think he’s anywhere near as bad as people make out but the Arsenal fans love a good whinge these days and they seem to be lost without someone to point at.
Geundouzi has future captain written all over him though, as does Holding, so there is hope that we can break the captaincy-curse in the next few years.
We better win vs Man Utd. They are toothless at the moment. I am keen to play a robust squad vs Utd. Put them under pressure.
Leno – Chambers, Holding, Luiz – AMN, Torreira, Guendouzi, Willock, Kola – Pepe, Auba
As a guy who has ridden and raced for a couple of decades, we all know who is going to win in pro cycling before the race even starts. Think team skY/ineos, whatever $ team, and the most boring cyclist ever-froome. Why even turn on the tele?…Not counting classics and monuments.
Typical Emery, let the squad pick who’s captain..Complete $h*te…does this guy even have a pair?
FGG, love a good whinge especially since Emery has been in charge for over 60 games, has no definitive style, and we look like $hite most of the time, except for those far and few between moments of beautiful futbol, but I will chalk that up to the excellent players who say F this and just play ball. Oh, and the elephant in the room, our D has regressed- how is that even possible? Not counting the last game though.
RC.. I’m really nervous about the game.. because how many times have the mancs been “toothless” before & we’ve still struggled against them!
I hope UE doesn’t go all defensive on us, just put out an attacking team please!! And i hope Granit puts in a captain’s performance! IF we do come away with all 3 points, I’ll be the happiest girl on the planet!
LB.. good luck with your training in Brighton. Doesn’t sound like you’ll need it though 😉 Valencia to London – very impressive!
I used to love cycling (not at your level though 😀) now i prefer power walking (with my dog!) 😊
Morning all …
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