If you have been reading AA over the past few years you will know that BR knows sweet FA about tactics. This makes it difficult to judge the effectiveness of our full backs whose jobs change depending upon the formation. It was much easier to critique a performance in the days of Bob Mcnab and Pat Rice; things changed with the excellence and athleticism of Ashley Cole.
So, full backs or wing backs? How did they perform last season?
The first thing to say is that we improved once Mr Wenger tried the Back 3, the gaping holes in the defence disappeared but can the FB’s be blamed? You decide?
Monreal: Dreadful start to the season. Unable to stop attacks down his flank which led to crosses and shots flying towards Petr. By season’s end he was back to being one of the best FB’s in the league but was he now a CB, a FB or a WB? Nacho has made over 150 appearances for Arsenal and as much as I like him I still hope AFC will sign a better defender. That said, one of my highlights of the season was the triple block of Costa’s shot in the FACF by Nacho, Holding and BFG. Real commitment.
Monreal always gives 100%, is passionate, versatile, combative and this season scored a vital goal at Wembley. He signed a long-term contract in 2016, so I guess it will be Gibbs who is leaving.
Gibbs: I hate to be critical of a proper Arsenal man but Gibbs hasn’t achieved his potential. A sparkling early career leading to England caps had me thinking he was the successor to Ashley. He isn’t. Good player for sure but we need better (and hopefully we have already signed him).
Keiron started only 5 games last term, and 3 of those were at left wing back – a position he did well in and we certainly improved defensively with both Nacho and Keiron working in tandem.
For his sake, he needs regular first team football and I expect Keiron to be sold in the summer.
Bellerin: Fantastic player when fully fit and in form. Amongst the very best in his position as is indicated by the media hyping a move to Barca. Hector had his worst season in the shirt thanks to a series of injuries. IMO he returned too early to the first team which affected his performances and it was only at season’s end when we saw the real Bellerin – a player with tactical awareness, a superb tackler and the fastest player in the squad.
Some awful haircuts this season as Hector attempted to be become a fashion icon. What is wrong with a short B & S?
I expect him to leave in a couple of season’s but by then he will have won the CL and PL with Arsenal.
Holding/Ox/Gabriel: In here as an addendum because they all filled Bellerin’s position during the season. Not did the job as well as Hector but nonetheless were not embarrassed . The Ox at RWB worked better than expected.
Will we see the Back 3 experiment continue next season? And if so, where does Hector fit into the formation? Perhaps this is why there is so much media speculation, possibly activated by Bellerin’s agent.
All in all, our FB’s did not give enough defensive support to their CB’s and this resulted in too many goals conceded from wing positions. Could do better.
written by Big Raddy
Come on, you get my drift. Pret à Manger, Pret à Porter, Footballers to Buy.
Anyway, France v England tonight (and on proper telly) in a friendly, and oh garçon, do they have some good footballers.
Looking through their squad there are quite a few who I reckon would look excellent in an Arsenal shirt, and don’t forget, the list does not include Benzema or Martial.
Defenders: Lucas Digne, Christophe Jallet, Presnel Kimpembe , Laurent Koscielny, Benjamin Mendy, Djibril Sidibe , Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Kurt Zouma
Midfielders: N’Golo Kante ,Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba, Adrien Rabiot, Moussa Sissoko , Corentin Tolisso
Forwards: Ousmane Dembele , Olivier Giroud , Antoine Griezmann , Alexandre Lacazette , Thomas Lemar , Kylian Mbappe , Dimitri Payet , Florian Thauvin
Personally, I can’t stand England because of the filth that follow them, so couldn’t care less who wins, but I will watch with my Arsenal eyes glued to the French.
Guessing we’ll buy three players this summer, and with one excellent looking signing in the bag already, I would be very happy to select two more from that French lot.
Written by MickyDidIt89
Dust has settled, we have silverware, no CL, the manager contract is signed. It is time to look back …
Let us start this series at the back and the men between the sticks.
Prior to the Back 3 experiment our keepers were under pressure as we conceded goal after goal. I will question why when critiquing the defence, but the fact remains that we conceded more goals than any other season of AW’s reign apart from 2011. Were the Keepers at fault?
I have to say No. There were times when mistakes were made but nothing in the Fabianski-mould. Conceding 4 goals from 4 shots vs Liverpool in our opening match may bring the GK into question but they were all unsaveable. Or the 10 vs BM? Again one should look at the men in front of the GK.
Cech: IMO he had a fine season belying his advancing years. A difficult start to the campaign ended with perhaps his best performances for Arsenal in the run-in.
I love to see the urgency Petr has with the ball in hand; his first thought is to get the team on the front foot and his distribution is superb.
I am sure he would have been disappointed when missing the FAC Final but Petr must have known about AW’s Cup decision from season’s start and he seemed genuinely delighted at the final whistle (and got another medal for doing nothing).
How long can Cech continue to be excellent? He is 35 and probably has, at best, another season or two in him. Both Seaman and Lehmann were kept for too long. Will AW give more game time to Martinez or sign a top young GK? We shall see.
Ospina: Difficult to criticise despite him picking the ball out of the net on too many occasions . Our Cup GK and as we won the Cup it must be successful season. We were never going to win the CL though David must have been embarrassed to concede so often. Given the open spaces in our defence this was rarely his fault.
Leaving the club this summer. We must be grateful that such a fine GK chose to ride the pine at AFC since 2014 as this is a man who has been on the Ballon D’Or long-list and played 77 times for Columbia!
His two superb saves in the FA Final will live long in the memory. Thank you David.
Martinez: Is he good enough to be Cech’s understudy? I have no idea. 2 PL and 3 League Cup appearances is not enough to judge, but what I have seen is a man who looks comfortable and is well prepared for an exciting future. Emiliano has been at AFC since the age of 17 and at 24 he needs to get more games or leave and develop his career elsewhere.
I expect him to stay, join the first team squad and get more games next season.
Summing Up. Responsibility for our defensive frailties cannot be laid at the hands & feet of our goalkeepers.
written by Big Raddy
Well I’m already standing and I have more hope for the future of our club than I have had in many a long year.
You may ask why?
The answer is that I want the Arsenal Football Club to be a club that all future generations of supporters can be as proud of as I have been in my seventy years of support. It is my opinion that in order for us to achieve that we need a manager who is honest, successful, and brings us stability along with common sense player decisions that are within our fiscal budget. Arsene Wenger brings all of that in spades and his twenty one seasons have been the most successful in our club’s history.
2016/17 was the only season that Arsene has not got us into a Champions League place – but with sixteen games remaining we were still in a good position to gain our accustomed spot. However the next eight games were disastrous causing Arsene Wenger to reconsider his tactics and switch to a back three in defence against Middlesbrough and it turned out to be very successful, as is shown in the chart below, but it proved to be too little too late as we missed our customary CL spot by a single point.
Not to be forgotten was our fantastic victory in the FA Cup Final when
Arsenal beat Chelsea 2 -1 while utilizing the same back three system.
There have been many periods; some lasting for many years, when I have been disappointed in our lack of success or ambition but my pride in the club has never waned.
The very worst period that I have personally experienced lasted for thirty three seasons.
During this period of thirty three seasons we won one League title, two FA Cups and one Fairs Cup and for the vast majority of the time we started off the season with little or no hope of winning anything. Looking back at these years is a stark reminder of just how bad we were as a team and how much we suffered as fans. Our first double in 1970/71 was, understandably, one of the few seasons when we fans could hold our heads high and we all oozed with pride.
Then along came George Graham (1986 to 1995) and he helped to lift our heads up by winning two League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and one Cup Winners Cup, ending up with an average league position of 5.11. Unfortunately his demise was one of my lowest moments as an Arsenal supporter when he was fired after being caught accepting illegal payments from an agent whose players were transferred to Arsenal.
However the black cloud that it cast over Highbury turned out to have a silver lining as in 1996 Arsene Wenger was hired as our new manager and he quickly turned our frowns into huge grins as we won our second double in 1997 -1998. His record to date has made him the most successful manager in our long history putting him up on the same pedestal as the great Herbert Chapman (1925 – 1934) who won three league titles and one FA Cup and was a trail blazer in introducing multiple new innovations to the game.
Arsene’s level of consistency over his twenty one seasons with Arsenal is deserving of high credit and the only manager in history to have a better record over such a long period of time is Alex Ferguson. However, that is not a simple comparison as the conditions they managed under were very different.
Fergie inherited the Class of 1992 and these young players became the nucleus of the United team that dominated the Premier League; given United’s deep pockets Fergie was able to import some of the World’s top talents to round off his team.
Arsene inherited our famous Back Four – they were a top class but aging group of players. Ian Wright was approaching the end of his career while Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira had just joined Arsenal. These players formed the core of Arsenal’s initial team. Arsene, unlike Fergie, has had to work within a strict financial structure that became even tighter with the decision to build a new stadium.
With the signing of his latest contract it means that Arsene he will be with us until at least the end of the 2018/19 season. Given that we have to win our way back into a Champions League spot it will mean that Arsene will only have one season in which to win the trophy – if he wins then he will retire – if not I predict that he will extend it for a further two seasons.
Written by GunnerN5
It’s an important day at The Emirates.
A new contract for Mr Wenger; yet to be confirmed but the media are convinced he will continue for another two years. No details of wages, sporting directors, new coaches or any real change but perhaps that will happen during the summer.
I have a question … why could this not have been announced at Xmas? Why the cloak and dagger? Do you think the club will explain their delay? No, neither do I, and it is high time the club took the concerns of the fans into consideration.
There seems to be a lack of understanding at Arsenal that the club does not exist without the fans – WE are the Arsenal, not Kroenke, not Gazidis, not Arsene Wenger or even the players; they all come and go, we don’t.
Am I being naive? Perhaps, but what would happen if the “magnificent” new stadium was half empty every week as fans become frustrated and find other entertainments to spend their wage on.
Are you happy AW has re-signed or would you prefer if he had resigned?
I love Arsene but have two concerns – one is that he will die in the job. He looked terrible in early Spring, clearly not sleeping well and under tremendous stress. The other concern is the obvious – can he turn the current squad into PL Champions? Time will tell.
The other big news is the signing (subject to a medical) of the young Nigerian, Henry Onyekuru.
An important signing. Arsenal have a huge fanbase in Nigeria thanks to King Kanu, and from the Youtube clips, this chap is going to be special. Already doing well in the Belgian League (and before you get all sniffy think Hazard, Lukaku, De Bruyne etc) he is the cut-price Mbappe.
Cheap as chips, his signing will not prevent AFC buying a €80+m player or two in summer – at least I hope not.
Mbappe plays on the other wing or centrally so I have not given up hope.
Rumours abound about Mahrez. After his performances in 2016/17 his price must have plummeted. Could be the type of bargain our manager relishes.
written by Big Raddy