Ramsey to join Mourinho?

May 25, 2016

We are at approaching the time of year when the Deadwood express drives at Arsenal station to pick up a few passengers. Early at the station were Flamini, Rosicky and Arteta but who else will be shipped out?

Today I will focus upon the midfield.

Given that we have signed Elneny and also (potentially) Granit Xhaka, some  midfield players must be going. Ramsey, Wilshere, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ox, Ozil, Iwobi, Gnabry, plus the returning  Toral is perhaps excessive and it is in midfield that we find the biggest puzzle……. What is going on with Coquelin?

Early in the season Coquelin would have been the first name on the team sheet, it was inconceivable that he wouldn’t start. It has to be said that I am not a big fan but reluctantly started to appreciate just how much he had improved, yet Francis is firmly on the naughty step as evidenced by the arrival (?) of Xhaka – you don’t spend €30m on a reserve.

The final unbeaten run of games saw Francis on the bench with AW not picking a sitting DM preferring to play Elneny alongside Ramsey as a double pivot (™️ TA).  I doubt anyone could have predicted Coquelin being dropped.

If we assume that Xhaka is signed and that Elneny has impressed Mr Wenger  tough to be considered a sin the starting X1, then a first team place is unlikely for Coquelin and he will become a squad player. Too good to sell? Probably and we will need him in case of injury/rotation.

That leaves 4 excellent players fighting for the single forward midfield role: Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla and Ox. All deserve to be starting PL players. All are committed to Arsenal but I expect one to be sold, the difficulty is who?

I really love watching them all. Ramsey is exceptional as his work for Wales displays. But … but. Other Gooners are not so impressed. It was not a great season for Aaron. Less goals, less assists, more mistakes; nonetheless he remains a seemingly integral part of Mr.Wenger’s plans.

Unknown.jpeg

Cazorla? Brilliant player. Upon his return at season’s end we improved and once again looked like potential title winners. Had he stayed fit we would have won the title – maybe – but he is over 30, somewhat injury-prone and slowing down. Arsenal need his experience – I doubt he willl be sold.

Ox. Horrible season for him. Injuries destroyed what should have been his breakthrough season. Nonetheless, he has huge potential and most of his on-pitch problems are due to his determination to be better. He needs to relax. But can he do so at Arsenal?

Jack. Another who had his season ruined by injury and who separates fans. IMO he  cannot be allowed to leave. His energy, vision and eye for goal is exceptional but his injury history is such that we cannot rely upon JW to play 40+ games.

Can Arsenal afford to keep 11 midfield players? Can Mr Wenger keep them happy? More to the point – does he want to?

I would not be surprised to see Mr Wenger selling a big name player to finance his summer purchases. Man Utd were in the hunt to sign Aaron Ramsey prior to his making the obvious decision to join AFC; they are desperate for a Carrick replacement and Aaron is a similar player (but better). A goal-scoring midfielder with International experience and a mate of Monkeyboy (who must be a MU target) – he fits MU’s and Mourinho’s requirements exactly. Could/would AW sell him to MU?

written by BR

 


Totaalvoetbal and Are We Overcoaching?

April 28, 2016

Across the years there have been many great footballing eras. When they came along it represented times when something new and revolutionary was happening, something that would alter the way that football clubs would try and do things from that point.

The most recent era I feel came in with Guardiola’s Barcelona. Guardiola was undoubtedly the beneficiary of some fine ground work from those that came before him, but his quick passing, probing, possession football with an emphasis on winning the ball back quickly through a high press now looks to primarily be the modern blueprint for top sides.

Before this the Italian style of Catenaccio proved effective and saw the big Italian clubs as the dominant force for a period of time. Well organised defensive systems with devastating quick counter-attacking ability. Even with the newer developments with the high press you still see the art of Catenaccio proving effective today. In fact, it is almost the antithesis of the high press and the style of football most likely, carried out correctly, to still frustrate and overcome a dominant high press team enjoying superior possession.

catenaccio

Going even further back we have had Pele’s Brazil who were just….well they were just Brazil and brilliant. It is likely that a modern top team needs to borrow certain aspects from all the great eras.

One of the greatest eras that saw a revolutionary change in the landscape was that of Totaalvoetbal, or better known to most of us as Dutch total football. It is this concept that I wish to touch more upon today. It could be argued that it wasn’t a completely new concept at the time of its recognised development. The great Brazil, Hungarian and Madrid sides preceding this could have been viewed as total footballing sides. However, it certainly became recognised as an entity in its own right in the 70’s, mainly through the Ajax side of Rinus Michels with the great Cruyff (RIP) as its most famous offspring.

Bergkamp & cruyff

I am sure some of our Dutch contingent can add far more to my more limited knowledge on the subject but the basic idea is that you coach a team of highly technically skilled players that can take up the position of any one of their team-mates at any time in the game thus creating a fluid attacking system with interchanging players.

The question I have is – can it still effectively function on its own in the modern game, to the point where other styles and systems need not be considered? Alternatively, does it still have its place in modern football but not in its full purist all-encompassing style that was seen in the 70’s? Can the total football style still be a key component in a modern football club but it is now necessary to know where its effectiveness ends in the modern game?

In today’s game I feel you can still see great merit in this style of coaching, particularly with the academy player’s skill set development. I will put my neck out and state that I feel that Arsene Wenger adheres to its principles in his footballing philosophy and utilises it in the development of our academy players.

I wonder though if we take it too far in this modern era. By this I mean is it now an effective concept in modern top level first team football beyond the development period of the academy player. It seems to me that Arsene frequently carries its concepts into our first team, and even at this point still likes to move certain senior first team players around into different positions.

Personally I feel the 70’s total football concept is excellent for youth development but that, in the modern game, once a player is considered a regular first team player it becomes more important to discern where their key strengths and weaknesses lie and to identify that players best position and then let them then develop their skills further to become as effective as they can in that role.

I have harboured a feeling for a while that we are almost over-coaching many of our more senior young players, beyond the point of where it is useful, and that then it becomes a hindrance to their further development. Are we creating too many Jack of all trades master of none, and does the modern game requires a greater number of specialists than was required back in the 70’s where a greater number of adaptable players was effective?

chambo

The player that really comes to mind for me is Oxlade Chamberlain. I feel he has been shunted around too much and we have not found his best position and allowed him to develop into it. This idea could be applied to other players as well and I do wonder if this is why we are seeing the likes of Oxlade Chamberlain seemingly stall, if not go backwards, in their development as a player once they are more regularly in the first team.

Anyway…..Discuss🙂

Written by GoonerB


Ninety Seconds of Ecstasy

February 8, 2016

Bournemouth at Dean Court and tickets for away fans were as rare as rocking horse effluent. Saturday’s results for Leicester and the spuds added weight to the feeling that this fixture was a mighty crucial one if the Gunners were going to get our season back on track and have any serious hopes of a tilt at the title.

Second-guessing the manager is always difficult and the announcement of the line-up for the day always elicits murmurs of dissatisfaction or approval from the tactical experts amongst our fans. Gabriel kept his place alongside Kos, The Ox was preferred to Joel and Mr Levulinic Acid kept his place as pointer-in-chief. Some were quick to diss the club about Elneny not featuring again but the subsequent news of the birth of his child does provide some perspective perhaps. emoticons_small

Predictions of an apocalyptic storm were also a little premature as the worst of the bad weather was due to hit later in the day. This was good for The Arsenal as poor weather often levels the playing field and it becomes difficult for real quality to shine.

The game began tentatively for us when Gabriel got wrong side and Petr Cech was forced to sweep up the danger. In the 8th minute Flamini nearly ruined our chances by jumping into a tackle. Lee Mason would have had no hesitation in sending him off. Luckily for us, we had a friend in Kevin and he, quite rightly in my opinion, deemed the challenge a yellow as Mathieu clearly got his feet to the ball long before the Bournemouth player got anywhere near. I wouldn’t go as far as Arsene when he said it should have been a free kick to us, though. emoticons_small

Our first big chance fell to the left foot of Alexis from a curling ball from Rambo. Unfortunately he just couldn’t keep the ball under the bar.

Our first league goal since Anfield was a joy to behold. A teasing, floated highball into the box from Aaron was met with a superb header back across the box from Ollie, followed by a gorgeous thump from Mesut with his right foot. What a marvellous feeling it is celebrating a goal of such beauty!

mesut

The away boys were still singing the new Mesut song when the ball broke to Rambo on the edge of the D. He fed The Ox whose laser-guided strike cannoned in off the foot of the far post. There were 88 seconds between the goals. It only takes a second to score a goal and only 88 to give Gooners worldwide that floaty feeling that maybe this could be our day for a welcome change.

Consolidation was required and I can’t remember too much more from us on the attacking front for the rest of the first half. Gabriel got the wrong side of Pugh again after 30 minutes and Hector’s speed came into its own with another brilliant last second tackle. Nacho was caught unaware of the position of the player outside him just before halftime but Petr continued to confirm what a magnificent buy he was by snuffing out the danger in an instant.

the ox

The second half began slowly but was enlivened by a Sanchez fizzer which the keeper did well to get a hand to. Giroud managed to get a firm header from a Mesut corner but his effort was too straight to be too dangerous. Then came a superb run from Alexis around the outside of the Bournemouth left full back and only required a tap in. As RA commented, Giroud did look a little as though he was ‘scratching his a*se’ instead of busting a gut to get into a more dangerous position. I noticed in the Leicester v City game that Okazaki always tries to get in front of the defender at the near post whenever an early cross is about to be fired in. Arsenal, beware.

Much of the second half was taken up with speculative long range pot shots from the Cherries which would have looked more at home in the Six Nations matches. Gabriel grew into the game (as Rocky pointed out) and, along with Kos, looked more and more assured in the second half. I also think GIE is right that Gabriel’s pace will be really useful against Leicester’s counter attacks next weekend. (Guaranteed now that the BFG will play!)

Our final chance fell to Ramsey on the break in the last minute of the 90 and it was annoying he couldn’t seem to control the ball long enough to either beat the keeper or set up Giroud with a tap in. Petr Cech yet again showed his class with a double save in the final minute of the 3 extra. The first Bournemouth shot was fired in from 12 yards and saved with his left leg, his view partially obstructed by an outrushing Kos, and the second was made at full stretch from a longer range drive low down to his near post. What a purchase the man was!

Conclusion and Questions

A vital 3 points and, having overcome the inertia of our poor run, the start of some upward momentum, hopefully.

Will Gabriel continue to play in place of the teutonic telegraph pole?

Will Le Coq achieve the required sharpness to displace the Flamster?

Can the Chuckle brothers find some real form for the run-in?

Mohamed Elneny – congratulations emoticons_small

Ratings

Cech – Another clean sheet – I wonder what his final record will be set at? – 9

Bellerin – his magnificent recovery tackle soon after we went two up was important – 8

Koscielny – I always feel reassured when he’s playing – 8

Gabriel – slow start but game time improved his play immeasurably – 7

Monreal – Not one of his marauding performances but competent – 7

Ramsey – MOTM according to the TV, better first half than second and instrumental in the goals – 8

Flamini – Please stop leaving the ground with both feet, Mathieu. Thank heaven we still have him in the squad, though – 7

Ozil – “We’ve got Ozil, Mesut Ozil, I just don’t think you understand” – 9

The Ox – Super goal, tried hard, yet to find his best form  – 7

Giroud – Great assist for the first, some fine layoffs – 8

Alexis – it’s so nice having the livewire back in the team – 8

Subs

I thought Le Coq looked a little rusty and can see why the Flamster is still getting a game. There’s no substitute for match sharpness. Likewise for Gibbo (though with much less time on the pitch yesterday, admittedly) – I’m not sure either knew exactly what their role was when they came on.

Written by chas


Black Cats in the Cup – Not For Long?

January 9, 2016

This is a mobile pre-match from your roving disgraceful supporters Ant and Duck. Apologies for any lack of quality. BR has technical difficulties.

Rumours are that Fat Sam will field a weakened Sunderland line-up. No-one rates the FA Cup anymore except Micky.

Who would you like to see play today for the good guys?

Ant and Duck predicted line-up

Ospina

Gibbo Gabriel BFG Debuchy

Chambers Arteta

Ramsey

Ox Giroud Walcott

Sunderland is one of our favourite away trips, but we really could do without a replay. Will our second string have enough to beat their ‘weakened’ team?

I’d imagine we’ll have a strong bench in case of emergencies.

Fat Sam allegedly said that a full press causes leg injuries – his teams need strong necks!

written in a huge hurry by Ant and Duck


An unlikely Arsenal Hero

January 6, 2016

Not even a flicker of an eyebrow was detected amongst the Arsenal faithful in January of last year, and of course I refer to the return from loan of one Francis Coquelin.

Returning from an uninspiring mere five start loan period at Charlton Athletic, this multi-functional  utility player went on to transform the Gunner’s midfield, and develop into one of the first names on our team sheet as our defensive midfield lynchpin.

An unlikely hero if ever there was one.

Could such a phenomena occur again this season, and if so, who are the unlikely candidates.

Serge Gnabry

Joel Campbell

Callum Chambers

The Egyptian

The Ox

Errrr

Ps Errr is where your thoughts and suggestions appear :)

Written by MickyDidIt89


Gabriel and Ox to start?

December 28, 2015

How can our team beat the Northern Oilers and then get absolutely demolished by S’ton? It is so typical of the last 10 years. Unfathomable.

If I had to pick a first 11 out of the 22 that took the field on Boxing Day 10 would be Gunners. Is this my AFC bias? I don’t think so – which is why such a defeat came as major shock. An unlucky one goal loss like WBA away one can understand but a 4 goal drubbing??

images-1

Mr Wenger will be looking to get us back on track today against a surprisingly in-form Bournemouth. Let there be no doubt, B’mouth can leave the Emirates with a good result. A 6 game unbeaten run including wins over Chelsea, WHU and MU are evidence of a team brimming with confidence but today I expect us to recover some pride.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Ox could find some form? The man has unquestionable quality and is one of England’s great hopes but what has happened? Is it confidence, over-training, trying too hard – whatever it is he needs to get back to form or face a career as a squad player.

I would like to see Gabriel start, he is going to be a top CB and needs pitch time to establish a partnership with Kos, though today I would like to see the Frenchman rested after a poor game against the cheating Long.

Chambers in midfield? Surely not. Gibbs instead of Monreal? Unlikely. Ox to play instead of whom? If it is to be Giroud then Theo plays centrally.

We are at home, Leicester have a tough game, we can be top going into 2017.

Let it be so

COYRRG


Who is more likely to succeed: Oxlaide-Chamberlain or Joel Campbell?

November 2, 2015

A political hierarchy exists at Arsenal as it does at most clubs. Players with a greater potential long term value will get priority over those who may be as good but are not seen as being as big an asset in the future.

This has driven me to distraction on occasions. Many times I have thought that Walcott got picked over someone better suited, most infuriatingly during 2007/2008 season, the one in which Eduardo broke his leg. Theo was being selected for no other reason, as far as I am concerned, than the price we paid for him and his perceived future value to the club. Remember when everyone used to call out Theeeeoooo, Theeeeoooo, honestly, more often than not he was so ineffectual it was like playing with ten men. I remain convinced that Walcott’s continuous selection was the core reason we failed to win the league that season.

Being selected when better options are available also applies to Wilshere. At the beginning of last season Wilshere was being picked ahead of the outstanding Cazorla which made no sense to me. Looking ahead though, now that Santi has moved further back it is easier to see where Jack’s future lies, subject to injury, there will eventually be a straight swap. Wilshere will play deep midfield — not attacking midfield.

I digress, back to the point.

To a similar degree the same is true of Oxlaide-Chamberlain’s selection over Joel Campbell. The Ox is not obviously better but he has a far higher sell on value than Campbell does and so, in the past, has been chosen ahead of him; to be clear, I am not suggesting that the club have plans to sell OC but they wouldn’t want him to get too unhappy or he might start thinking about moving himself, this applies to an even greater extent with Ramsey who himself has been shoe horned into the right wing. Now, with Oxlaide-Chamberlain injured Wenger no longer has to inadvertently take future importance into consideration.

If you think about it, the last time we saw Campbell surrounded by decent players for a length of time was in the World Cup and he was impressive. Campbell’s goal against Swansea will do him the world of good; he should now be able to relax and give us a bit more of what we saw of him on that global platform.

As for who is most likely to succeed out of the two, I think the Ox may edge it, but Campbell could keep him out for most of this season if he continues scoring.

LB