Season Assessment: Centre Backs

June 24, 2017

We have a lot of them don’t we? Do we need so many? Are they all good enough to do the job? Do we need to improve on their quality?

The season was definitely split into two as regards the defence, with the move to a Back 3 making giving the CB’s more support. But … one must question why we conceded so many goals whilst operating AW’s favoured Back 4 formation, Tony Adams etc were rightly critical.

Arsenal conceded more goals from set pieces than any of the Top 10 teams. Given the quality of the individuals one can only surmise this was an organisational problem, but why did things improve with the new system? How does that affect defending a corner?

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Mustafi: First season. Started well. Got injured. Came back less assured. Has undoubted quality and seems to be a leader as he is very vocal. To be honest I expected more considering how much we paid for him but then I remember that MC paid €50m for Stones 🙂

Gabriel: Love his attitude. The man is a passionate defender, grimacing his way through the game. His spats with Costa are great fun. Prone to the odd positional error. Improving but I am not sure of his AFC future as the youngsters come through.

Koscielny. Another superb season. Probably the PL’s finest CB. Pacy, determined, intelligent. The first man on the team sheet. And … a worthy Captain.

Holding. An excellent prospect. His Cup Final performance was an indicator of how good this man will be. Versatile enough to play as Bellerin’s replacement. Mr. Wenger showing he still has the ability to find a diamond.

Monreal: Has to be included as he did some sterling work in the centre. Not sure I want him there on a regular basis. Where does he fit in when we play a Back 3 and how does he feel about the signing of Kolasinac?

Mertesacker: What can one say about his single start? Perfection. I love the BFG.

Chambers: His season in a relegated team has allowed him to mature and blossom which can be evidenced by his excellence with the England U-21’s. With Kos and BFG hitting their mid-30’s the future is bright.

We have an excellent balance of youth, age and experience in the heart of defence which is not something which could be said a few years ago. No signings needed.

written by Big Raddy.

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The Case for the Defence

March 24, 2017

In the last 6 games our defence has conceded 18 goals (excluding the FAC where we played non-league clubs).

Why?

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Individually our defence looks very good. Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Kos and Monreal are all quality defenders. Ospina, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs are sine replacements. In front of them Coq, Xhaka and Ramsey are a decent shield (or should be), so how is it possible that in 6 games we have conceded more than a George Graham team would concede in an entire season?

Is it the zonal marking at set plays? Or the tactical commitment to attack? The need to entertain rather than contain? Or is it the defensive coaching? ( in which came you can tell Steve Bould because I am not brave enough).

Whatever the reason Arsenal cannot continue in this manner if progress is to be made.

So what is the solution?

BFG playing against teams that use set plays as the main attacking weapon?  Xhaka, Elneny and Coquelin playing across the middle with instruction to always have two of them shielding the back 4? A new defensive coach? Better defenders?

What do you think?

written by Big Raddy


To Think, Two Irishmen Could Have Won Us The League!!

May 12, 2010

If ifs and buts were pots and pans The Arsenal’s cupboard would be full to the brim and I’m about to add my own set to push it to bursting point.

This season’s Premier League was more exciting than most, I don’t think anyone will argue with that. However, it has also been distinctly average. Chelsea were the best of a bad lot, there is no two ways about it. They had the best squad on paper but often times turned up as if they had the game already won and ended up losing to the likes of Wigan – hardly the sign of great Champions.

Manchester United are not a patch on their former great teams. Rooney carried the weight of the team (as he will do with England) that for a finish his body broke and he could do no more. Nani is an overrated acrobat, Carrick is a hyped up English player (again) and Giggs and Scholes are coming to the end.  They hung on in the title race by virtue of Chelsea dropping points – a bit like us really…

Thing is with the signing of two players Arsenal would not only have hung on till the last month, I actually believe we would have won it.

Meet my pot and pan.

"Richard, I don't want to be the pot"

"Richard, I don't want to be the pot"

Now, we’ve all known for some time that Shay Given had been wasted at Newcastle United. He gave them many years of his career with little to show but lucky for him a goalkeeper normally has a longer career and he could move on for another challenge. Like most players that would be the Champions League. Now what team that constantly hovers around the Champions League could have done with  a top ‘keeper over the last few seasons?

Congrats you win the Tupperware, it is of course Arsenal.

Watching Flappy One and Flappy Two flap about in goals all season was a joke. To make it even worse its not like this is a new problem. Many, many, many of us said at the time that Shay Given should have been signed. He had been a top player for Newcastle for years and with them heading for the Championship he was always going to seek a top team. Despite their riches, Citeh had to fork out relatively little to get their man.

Just as at Newcastle, Given often saved the bacon of the City defenders this season. It must be a sense of deja vu for poor Shay to see such a mediocre bunch of defensive players in front of him. Imagine how much happier he would have been at Arsenal and how much happier we’d be to have him?

City’s defence was an insult to the deepening economic crisis. Kolo Toure was past his prime – we knew that. Lescott was carried for many a season at Everton by the talented Jagielka – he got found out. If I wrote down how much they cost together I might vomit…

The hilarious thing is that Citeh made way for these two by selling my pot because he didn’t have a “global” name.

Yes, Richard Dunne might not be everyone’s favourite player but I think the guy is a class act.  Before the desert dollars, Dunne was City’s best player and as soon as the money came he was dumped. He reacted though as the best do – by having the season of his life. Villa may have fallen away towards the end but Dunne was immense for them throughout the campaign.

Along with Vermaelen, he has been one of the buys of the season – now imagine if both had been in the same team with Shay Given behind them!

Not alone would we have two experienced players, we’d have had two players who know each other very well through playing for the Rep.Ireland, a Rep.Ireland whose ship Trapattoni has really steadied.

Arsenal’s problem this season wasn’t our inability to score goals, it was our crass stupidity at defending that cost us so we ended third with no silverware.

Imagine the signing of an Irish pot and pan could well have changed all that!

Now the question must be asked as to who this season’s pot and pan will be…