It’s the young guns NOT playing against Borehamwood that you should be excited about.

July 6, 2019

At last … I know it’s only been a few weeks since our disappointing end to last season. I, like, many felt like I needed a break from football … but you can’t help salivating at the thought of seeing those red and white shirts strutting their stuff again at Borehamwood today.

The first team will only return to training next Friday and so we will field a side composed mainly of under 23s with Steve Bould back in charge. The exact team has not been announced at the point of publishing, but there will be plent of young talent on show at Meadow Park.

It is expected that Amaechi, Balogun and John-Jules will feature whilst Zech Medley is also likely to play along with promising young goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo. There will also be several promoted from under 18 level, the likes of Mazeed Ogungbo, Sam Greenwood and Matthew Smith.

However, more significantly, these players are not in the squad …

Eddie Nketiah

Emile Smith Rowe

Bukayo Saka

Joe Willock

 

… they will be joining the  first-team for training. This is great news and one that is likely to be music to the ears of AA bloggers following the comments this week calling for their inclusion.

Zech Medley (he’s a centre back if you didn’t know) may be one who some wish had also made the step up … does this mean we will be getting a new, more experienced CB?

Just for the record, in the same fixture last season we fielded a side peppered with first team stars and won 8 nil with a hattrick from Auba, and a goal apiece for Laca, Mkhi, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Jeff Reine-Adelaide.

Rasp

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We loved Arsène Wenger … but isn’t it time to move on ….

July 5, 2019

We’ve had some excellent contributions from bloggers over the past few days.

Our varying views have shown that there’s still a lot of love for Özil although many want him gone, some reckon that Emery isn’t the man for the job where others are ready to give him another year and many, many Arsenal supporters are still hurting from the fact that Arsène Wenger has gone. What ever happens to Özil or Emery, it’s all part of the fabric of our history as were the glorious years of having Arsène Wenger as our manager.

Our feelings about the club and our views about what should or shouldn’t happen can hamper debate and discussion occasionally, but we welcome all views on here and just ask that people try and keep calm. A wise blog owner told me years ago ‘it’s just a blog’ 🙂

There is always so much speculation during the closed season about who will come and who will go. Without actual football to watch sometimes our trips into navel gazing end in tears where in reality this forum is for Arsenal supporters to chat about the club we love in good times and in difficult times.

Yesterday’s comments threw up these conflicting views ………….

This from VP

Emery I thought got worse as the season progressed and fell in a heap. 1 win from finishing in top 4 & CL, and 1 win from finishing with a european trophy. But I’m up for what he can do in his second season (althought wouldve loved Rafa).

And this from Els

I don’t think Emery got worse as the season went on. I think they were burnt out. Emery’s intense training sessions were too much of a culture shock for a lot of players used to a more creative style of play.

I think a lot of players had nothing left to give.

Another season and pre-season in particular will help with that. Also a lot of young legs. Another reason why Emery is a good fit.

I, like many supporters, felt very frustrated that the team weren’t able to get themselves into the top four. And the thought that that lot from down the road were actually better prepared to get themselves into the top four above us quite frankly leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

I’m looking forward to the new season with hope and expectation, I shall be saying that a lot in the coming weeks.

peachesgooner

 

 

 


Unai Emery … listen to Freddie … you already have the young talent

July 4, 2019

There’s been a lot of talk about using Academy players to plump up the squad as we seem to have run out of money … thanks Stan for not putting your hand in your pocket to help your team!

I find it worrying that often when we talk about buying players we agonise over not disrupting the squad and yet there are legions of fans wanting to sell more than half of our current first team.

Back in 2008 we had a fabulous set of players in the Academy/Under 21’s and Arsene Wenger knew that he was going to need to use some of these players in the First Team. Anyone remember a stunning victory in the Carling Cup against Sheffield Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium. The game ended 6-0. A hattrick for Carlos Vela, a brace for Nicklas Bendtner and a goal for Jack Wilshere, making him the second youngest Arsenal scorer. It was a night of fabulous football, I was there as our boys tore into the Blades and I can tell you I was excited at the prospect of Bendtner and Vela playing together in the First Team.

I’m not sure they ever played together in the First Team, I remember that van Persie got injured and Bendtner became his replacement. But the special way that they had played together that night was never seen again.

Last season we witnessed another night similar to that one in 2008 when several young guns lines up against Vorskla away in the Europa league in November.

 

We won the game 3-0 with goals from Emile Smith-Rowe, Ramsey and Joe Willock. Eddie Nketiah also started the game. In the second half more youngsters were given a chance of game time with Medley, Saka and Charlie Gilmour replacing Holding, Ramsey and Guendouzi. It was a fabulous display, the young guns knew how to play together and it showed on the pitch. We saw some of them individually later on in the season but not in numbers. They’re used to playing together, they know how to read each other, I feel we need to use them as a group.

What I’m trying to say is that they have to be given a chance to play regularly if we are going to reap the rewards of the fact that they’ve been playing together since they were tiny tots.

Arsene Wenger wasn’t brave enough to do this consistently but maybe Freddie Ljungberg will be and Unai Emery will listen to him. I hope so.

peachesgooner


Emery is wrong … build the team around Özil

July 3, 2019

Confusing times …

We have a manager who I took against within about two weeks of his arrival. Because I seemed to be in such a minority, I drifted away from the two or three Arsenal supporters’ blogs that I was in the habit of reading. Everyone liked the new energy, the direction the club was taking, and certainly the results during the first half of the season justified the optimism. I didn’t like it – any of it.

When you have a set of round pegs, you can try to squeeze them into square holes, you can throw them away and buy new square pegs, or you can create round holes into which to fit them. From the outset, Emery forced his round pegs, and the rounder they were, the more he tried to crush them into his shape of choice.

When you have three of the most potent, exciting, skilful footballers in the world, you can start your system with them, and build around them – or you can mess around with them and make them what they’re not.

When you have some of the best talent coming up through the Academy, you can encourage them, fast track them, utilise them: or you can bring in other exciting young players to block their progress.

For me, Emery failed in every one of these aspects.

Many months ago, I wrote on here that I thought Mesut Ozil could not fit into the new system, and was criticised for that view. Ozil is one of my all-time favourite players, second only to Dennis in garnering my admiration. I choke at the thought of him not playing in red and white any more. I was apoplectic at the way Emery treated him (I’m convinced this was a reaction to his losing the PSG dressing room). Alongside Ozil, how were Lacazette and Aubameyang treated? Confusingly. When they were both fit, the manager took far too long to play them together.

Unequivocally, in the right system, those three together would rip defences to shreds (as they all too occasionally have), at least as potently as the Liverpool front three.

Five of our best youngsters were farmed out for experience. All well and good; probably the right thing to do. Emi Martinez has been our best goalkeeper for a while now, but has been consistently shunted back, and then loaned to Reading, where they think he’s a hero. Callum Chambers was player of the year at Fulham in a DM role. Krystian Bielik pulled up trees making a massive impression at Charlton. Reiss Nelson and ESR furthered their education in Germany, and certainly Nelson impressed, making the shortlist for Rookie of the Year.

 

The point is, what now? The latter two are attacking players, wingers or attacking midfielders. But we’re bidding for Zaha, Brahimi, etc. Chambers and especially Bielik might well be the answer to our DM shortcomings. Chambers is maybe a bit slow. Bielik isn’t, is a big unit with all the skill. He’s had a few growing pains, but he’s possibly through them at last. If he doesn’t get his chance this year, we’re going to lose him. Martinez should certainly be allowed to vie with Leno to start – I personally think he’s better.

Then there are the others, who stayed at the club. Jordi Osei-Tutu has gone, a really promising pacey right back, who might have been tried in order to free up AMN for a more suitable role, but never was. Willock was a way better player than Guendouzi and Xhaka last season, but got his chance too late. He’s fleet, skilful, proper box-to-box, good defensively, and has an eye for goal (even if he had something in it in the Europa Final!). The same things could be said of Ainsley Maitland-Niles who has endured being put at right back in order to get into the team.

The players who Emery picked: Xhaka, good when the team is dominating and not exposed to the fast break, but awful if rushed, because of his lack of pace, which forces him into rash challenges; Torreira, everyone’s favourite because of his insane commitment to the cause, but actually too lightweight, and not really quick enough; Guendouzi, a player full of promise, but whose main contribution was falling over to draw fouls.

 

What of Emery’s tactics?

We were promised measured playing out from the back to draw the opposition out of position. That was a disaster, especially when Cech was in goal, more so when Mustafi was the defender. Even Leno abandoned it late in the season. We were promised a high press to win the ball back early and near the opposition penalty area. It spluttered throughout the year, and was less used towards the end. He did have a magic touch in the first half of the season, with his substitutions and timing thereof, but even that waned. I’m not aware of any other tactics, or tactical shifts during games. He did tinker with the old back three/back four dichotomy, but the result seemed more confusing for the defenders than helpful.

And the man himself? He was much lauded for his determination to speak English from the get-go, but I found him incomprehensible, no less so after a year in the job. When I did understand him, he spoke in totally meaningless platitudes, and entirely without humour – how I missed Arsene’s wit and wisdom.

Well now he wants new toys to play with – Zaha et al. And as always at this time of year, the fans are in a frenzy to buy this star, that rock, the other tyro. This is why I thank fellow blogger Fred for pointing out the obvious, that you can’t promote youth AND buy stars. It doesn’t compute.

Me? I’d start with Ozil Lacazette and Aubameyang. I’d have AMN, Willock and Bielik as first/second choice midfielders, in any combination according to circumstances. I like several of the attacking youngsters, who should certainly be in the squad, along with Iwobi. Martinez would be my goalie. Central defence and left back might need a bit of shoring up, although there’s not much wrong with Papa, Holding, Chambers and Mavropanos. Monreal has lost too much pace. Koscielny needs a final season like Mertesacker’s. Mustafi… well, Mustafi! Let Xhaka go, let Torreira go back to Italy, sell Elneny, Jenkinson and Mhkitaryan. And Mustafi… Hopefully, Bellerin will return undiminished. So maybe Tierney to fill left back is the only player I would consider.

Sit back with a rock solid defence, fast transitions with AMN and Willock to Ozil, unlock the strike force. Easy.

Written by Maxwell


Zaha …… the best we can afford?

July 2, 2019

I love our club but why are we offering £40m for a player that is widely valued at £80-£100m? Does his love of Arsenal mean that he’s going to be successful for us or is he just following in the footsteps of other English players who we want to be better than they turn out to be?

I know sometimes you have to take a punt on a player but surely not at that price. I can see this becoming embarrassing while Palace dig their heels in for more and Zaha comes out and says he’ll only play for Arsenal.

Is the desire to buy Zaha (and Tierney to some extent) linked to the Homegrown Rule where in a squad of a maximum of 25 players there have to be 8 homegrown players over the age of 21?

Arsene Wenger (or Gazidis?) always made sure that there were sufficient numbers of Homegrown in the squad to satisfy the rules. Losing Welbeck means we must replace somewhere with homegrown, similarly if we sell Jenkinson and Chambers. Homegrown means that a player has to have been at an English (or Welsh) club for three years before they turn 21 ……… so Bellerin (Spain) counts as homegrown having come through our academy.

One of our bloggers summed it up for me yesterday ………….

I think we could buy Zaha for £45 million plus the likes of one of our lower earners (but half decent players) as Jenks or Elneny etc. but the only reason I see for having him would be that we wouldn’t have to face him again and the increase in our penalty count.

In other news Swiss Ramble put a brilliant thread on Twitter about the state of our finances, have a read if you get a chance, we have really dropped down the pecking order against the other top six sides. Shockingly our income from commercial deals is well below the other clubs ………… and we’re supposed to be a self sustaining model.

I’m sure there’ll be more mad news today ……..

peachesgooner


Nearly Kieran Tierney

June 29, 2019

According to AA’s transfer correspondent RC78, all the signs are that Kieran Tierney will be the first top quality player to join Arsenal this transfer window.

In characteristic  style, we are testing the water with bids well below Celtic’s valuation. So far offers of £15m and then £17.5m have been rejected with Celtic holding out for a package thought to be in the region of £25m. It seems likely that if we dig a bit deeper and come up with £20m plus add-ons, the player will be ours.

Celtic are prepared to sell and the player wants to come to The Arsenal. Much as I admire Nacho, he’s been a great servant to the team, but we need to invest in the future and 22 year old Tierney is a much needed upgrade.

The Celtic supporters love Tierney. Although still only very young, he has captained the side and consistently put in performances to a very high standard. He has his own song on the terraces, and this one  was was released … it’s worth watching for the bullet left foot shot into the top corner from 40 yards ….

Don’t get too carried away by that goal, he’s not (currently) a prolific goalscorer having scored 5 goals in 102 league appearences for Celtic, but he does embody all the attributes that it appears Unai Emery seeks in his players.

He’s strong, aggressive in his play, works very hard but has the pace and skill to get forward and deliver quality crosses into the box. Physically he’s perfectly built for the role of left back. He’s 5ft 10in, lean and muscular … and brave. He’s not a player to give up on a 50/50 ball or to shirk a hard challenge .. he’s a winner.

We need to spend our £40m transfer budget wisely. If half of it goes to buy Tierney and we can find another player of similar age and quality to reinforce elsewhere on the pitch then the task or rebuilding Arsenal will be off to a good start.

Arsenal have had many great players from North of the border over the years … and from Ireland for that matter. Let’s hope that with KT, we return to some of those great old traditions and put some Scottish steel in our back line.

Rasp 


World Arsenal Exclusive …. this is the real thing …

June 28, 2019

NOT!

We are all being subjected to the usual summer torture inflicted upon us by the click harvesters who will go to any depths to get you to take the bait. We know we’re being conned, but we still can’t resist clicking on that ‘exclusive’ story to see if we really are going to sign that world class player.

The title of this post is just such an example … oops! … but rest assured, no one on AA profits from a click … we just want to get you involved in a healthy debate whilst we while away the days/hours/minutes/seconds before the new season starts and we experience a different type of torture all over again.

This is one of Nick Hornby’s many brilliant quotes from Fever Pitch  …

It is a strange paradox that while the grief of football fans (and it is real grief) is private – we each have an individual relationship with our clubs, and I think that we are secretly convinced that none of the other fans understands quite why we have been harder hit than anyone else – we are forced to mourn in public, surrounded by people whose hurt is expressed in forms different from our own.

Now I know that you (like me) won’t be able to do it, but if you really want to reduce the self flagellation, here are some of the phrases in headlines just this morning that you definitely should avoid clicking on ….

“Arsenal star” … who ever says that?

“Arsenal fans react to” … yeah right, lazy journalism and some tweets from muppets!

In fact anything that uses the word ‘fans’ … fans are for geishas … we’re supporters

Any headline containing the phrases containing “hint, rumoured, set to happen”

“Transfer boost”

“Set to leave”

“The player Arsenal should …”

I could go on and on … but as this is a return to an old AA format of Rant Friday, I’d better stop … no one reads on a Friday any way … so I’m wasting my time …. and  that’s another rant off my chest 🙂

If you’ve got a rant … share it with us and we can all get upset over nothing together.

Alternatively, have a relaxed weekend fellow gooners, bask in the sun and give yourself a rest from the media’s bovine scatology …

Rasp