Jagielka, Cahill and Hart ….. a glimpse of what might have been? – written by Rasp

September 7, 2010

Written by Rasp

After Dawson’s unfortunate injury (ahheerrmm) playing against Bulgaria last Friday, we saw the defensive triangle of English players that many had wished we could have signed this summer – and I thought they looked pretty good, but then again, they weren’t up against the most testing of opposition.

Of course the idea of us signing any of those players was just unsubstantiated speculation fuelled by a national press expert at feeding the paranoia of football fans. There is no concrete evidence that these players were available, willing to move or even the subject of interest from Arsenal.

The likelihood is that all three will all play against Switzerland tonight, so we will get a second chance to assess them. Are they any better than our trio of Vermaelen, Koscielny and Allmunia?

Vermaelen and Jagielka are very similar in height and stature. Jagielka has had two very good seasons at Everton and looks comfortable in international football. He’s strong and brave, good in the air, reads the game well, experienced (he’s 28) reasonably quick and dependable – all of which applies equally to Vermaelen, who at 24 is just coming into his peak. TV has captained club and country and scores more goals than the Evertonian, so although Jagielka is a good player, all in all,  I’m very happy to have our future captain (?) at the Arsenal.

Cahill and Koscielny are physically quite different. Cahill is 6ft 2in and powerfully built. He too is very good in the air and also looked the part when he came on for England. Both are developing their game at the age of 24 and can only improve. Cahill looks a reasonable footballer, but I’d say Kozzer has the edge in that department. It will take time for Koscielny to settle into the English game but he has huge potential. I thought he was better than TV against Liverpool but was outmuscled too easily by Diouf against Blackburn. If LK can develop into a ‘TV clone’, we will have an excellent CB pairing. He is more capable of playing wengerball than Cahill and is said to be working on his strength for the physical challenges that lie ahead.

Joe Hart can do no wrong at the moment and on current form, is probably the best keeper in the Premier League. It’s too easy jump on the bandwagon and draw unflattering comparisons between Hart and Almunia, – so I’m just going to list a couple of elements of Hart’s game that make him such a good keeper. He is confident. He has very strong wrists so when he makes contact with the ball it generally flies out of the danger area. His distribution is good and he communicates well with his defence. I expect him to be England’s number one for many years.

Almunia has my full support and has made an excellent start to the season. It is obvious that his confidence is fragile, but the more decent performances he can deliver, the more assured he will become. He should take strength from his team-mates, Eboue and Bendtner, who defied their critics and won their way back into the hearts of the fans.  The resolve of the defence and willingness of all the outfield players to ‘defend as a unit’ will also play a part in Almunia’s fate. Of course he will make mistakes – all keepers do, what is more important is how he reacts to setbacks. Arsène’s policy will be to give his keeper total support and that’s the way it should be.

We will know by Christmas whether the affable Spaniard has risen to the challenge. I would suggest that he is in the last chance saloon and if his form slips, we may yet sign another keeper in the January window.

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