Fabregas: Did Wenger make a mistake?

June 20, 2016

I know we have done this to death a couple of seasons ago with the general consensus being that he is “dead to us” but ….  during the Euros, is Fabregas showing us what we have lost?

Let’s compare is work with Aaron Ramsey.  Fabregas controls the pace of the team through his positioning and passes, Ramsey doesn’t. I realise they are not the same type of player but they do play in the same position and carry the same responsibilities. Which player has more influence? Sadly, you know the answer.

Or was it Little Jack Wilshere  (see, I can spell kelsey) who was the player whom AW thought would be better than Fab? Surely not. JW is a little magician but he is simply not in the same class as Cesc.

Or Ozil, though they are very different players and operate in different areas of the pitch. Imagine the two of them orchestrating the Arsenal team – would we have fared better over the past 2 seasons?

My guess is that it was Cazorla whom Mr Wenger thought was a better choice than Fabregas, in this he is mistaken. Cazorla is  undoubtedly a wonderful player however Del Bosque,who knows both players well, chooses Cesc every time.

Spain have been the best attacking team in the Euro’s and Fabregas is an integral part of their midfield. Had we re-signed Cesc he would have combined wonderfully with Cazorla and made us a better team.

Mr Wenger made his decision and Cesc was forced to sign for a morally bankrupt club guiding them to the title in his first season

BUT ….

The Euro’s have also given us our first view of Mr Wenger’s next Arsenal playmaker, Granit Xhaka. Xhaka’s stats are impressive, very impressive. The way he controls the tempo and direction of play from a defensive position is reminiscent of the Great Man, PV4. Only Pogba in the modern game holds a candle to Vieiera but nonetheless Xhaka in combination with Santi, Ramsey, Wilshere, Elneny, Ox or Coquelin could be a winning midfield.

Cesc was the past and in my opinion should have been the present but Xhaka is the future and the future is looking bright (assuming we buy an extraordinarily expensive striker)

written by Big Raddy


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.

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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

 


Jack (Wilshere) and The Beans Talk

January 21, 2016

Jack’s full of beans …. probably too many beans!

He is feisty and mercurial on the pitch. He hates to lose the ball and will do anything to get to get it back. He wants to win every 50/50 ball … actually he wants to win every 20/80 ball. It’s in his nature. It’s the man he is and the player he is.

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But is this aspect of his character the reason he has suffered so many injuries in his short career?

We love Jack and we know he loves Arsenal …. and he’s not too keen on that other lot 🙂

We all know Jack has the potential to be a world class midfielder. He hasn’t played enough consecutive games in for Arsenal for us to be sure exactly where his best position is,  but we have seen glimpses of genius. Remember that performance at home against Barcelona? He was the best player on the pitch (and that was alongside Cesc).

I see this latest return as pivotal. If he can stay injury free and play to the end of the season, he has a chance to realise his potential. But one more long term injury and the doom-mongers will say they were right and he is injury prone … the new Diaby.

Arsene is managing him very carefully this time. Apparently he is fully fit and ready to go but we are being cautious – quite rightly so in  my opinion. So maybe Jack’s biggest enemy is himself. Can he temper his natural aggression and factor a bit of self preservation into his decision making? There is no need to risk yourself on the half way line by lunging in, you have team mates who are better placed to put in a tackle.

The question I put out to you all today is …… what is the best way to manage Jack Wilshere?

Should we drum into him the need to avoid injury and in so doing risk losing that part of his game that makes him a great player, or, do we let Jack be Jack and just see how it goes?

Rasp

 

 


Some Good Advice for Jack Wilshere

November 3, 2015

Dear Jack,

Didit here. Big fan.

Thing is this Jack, you are not just a footballer to me. We share the same DNA. Gunners is what we are, and the blood is thick and the blood is strong.

So here’s the thing. While you’re away getting your legs better, I would really like you to review your attitude. Not a lot, but a little.

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With a little less Jack The Lad, and a slightly cooler, calmer head, you have everything to be an Arsenal Captain. Sure, you’re injury prone, but we know how you can resolve that quite easily. Sure, you’re a bit one footed, but then so was Chippy. Sure you’re short, but so is Messi.

Look, I know we talk about break through seasons all the time, and I also know the old captain chestnut keeps rearing its head, but a real opportunity is looming.

Great opportunities come along very rarely in life, and you need to be ready to pounce. The side is desperate for one of our own to take charge, and you are top of the list. Similarly, opportunities to cement a First XI spot appear all the time.

So take your time, get your bits sorted out properly, and come back The Man.

Arsenal need you.

Lots of love

Didit


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


The Kids Are Alright….. mostly

September 21, 2015

Sky Sports had Hector Bellerin as their guest pundit for the Barca/Levante game (ex-Barca). He was very good. Highly intelligent with perfect English, smartly dressed, good looking, GSOH, plus a fine understanding of tactics and how to defend; remarkable for a young man of just 20 who came to England just 4 years ago (have I done a good selling job?)

Plus he has said that his future is at AFC, which is great news.

We have a fine core of young players who seem to be committed to the club with Bellerin being the latest to become a first team regular. Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gabriel, Ramsey, Chambers, Szczesny, Coquelin, Wilshere, Campbell, Welbeck are all under 24 y.o and Walcott, Gibbs, Sanchez and Ozil are all just 26.

Why is this important? Because if (and it is a Big If) Mr Wenger can keep all these players happy and at Arsenal then the future is very rosy. They will grow together as a team, develop understandings both on and off the pitch and hopefully become a major force over the coming few years.

But what of the others?  Koscielny, Debuchy, Monreal, Cazorla and BFG are all 29 or 30, and Giroud is 28 (still time for improvement!). They all have a couple of years left as squad players but I expect at least a couple of them to be sold next summer.

Mr Wenger is meticulous about having a squad with a blend of ages allowing youthful exuberance to be allied to hard-earned experience.

It was unusual when AW signed a relatively aged 29 y.o. Debuchy – perhaps he knew how good Bellerin would be and bought Debuchy to ease Hector into the first team without too much pressure, though Sagna had just left and we needed a replacement.

Keeping Rosicky (34) was an odd decision unless Mr Wenger expects him to join the coaching staff and wants Tomasz to learn the ropes. Flamini (31)? Must be a contract thing. Arteta (33) still has a short-term role to play as speed has never been a part of his game and Cech at just 33 has at least 5 years as a top GK (think Seaman/Schmeichel/Buffon/Lehmann etc).

Next summer will see a few youngsters added to the first team squad, Akpom, Jeff and a couple of 25 y.o.(+-) purchases, to replace the older chaps thus keeping our squad young and fresh.

The young core of the squad is exciting and bodes well; allied to a couple of megastar purchases we will be cushtie

written by Big Raddy


Walcott, Wilshere and Gibbs to start?

May 20, 2015

Must be time for a change of first eleven, Mr Wenger – the boys are looking jaded.

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The Crown Jewels of Alexis, Santi and Ozil could be given tickets to sit in the stands with TH14 and Bobby P – just to get some quality time with Arsenal Royalty – or perhaps they could take a tour of the ground with Charlie George 🙂

This will allow JW and Theo some pitch time and stop them griping through the summer (hopefully). Kos is malade so either Chambers (remember him?) or The Archangel will start. Gibbs needs a kick about or he will also ask to leave citing a lack of opportunities in the run up to Euro 2016, as will Debuchy.

Aah, Debuchy – what an odd season for our punk right back; early promise, horrible injury, Chambers looking excellent in his position, then the astonishing development of Bellerin as Boosh gets close to fitness, a return to the first team but Hector is now so good Mathieu  cannot get a regular spot and is relegated to the bench. Sadly, he is knacked again so his time is best spent sunning himself in Dubai at Arsenal’s expense.  I doubt he will be happy about his first season at Arsenal.

Another needing games is Wojciech. Neither GK is good enough IMO but the Pole has been on the naughty step for too long and needs to be given a cuddle if he is to develop into the quality keeper I believe he can become.

Do you think Mr Wenger will make so many changes? Neither do I but I hope he does because this is why we have such an expensive and high quality squad.

Oh, and I would love to see Rosicky play tonight.

Who are we playing? I had to look it up and it appears we are playing Sunderland who seem to have got themselves into somewhat of a pickle. Good. Any club who spend millions and pin their hopes on an ageing Defoe deserve to go down (hope he doesn’t score tonight!). But IMO they are safe as Newcastle and Hull are both desperately trying to earn their season in the Championship.

Sunderland will defend in depth. Swansea’s win by resorting to bringing the entire South Wales contingent of buses to The Emirates was a bad, bad result for anyone who enjoys watching football. Even the Chavs play defensively when coming to Arsenal and so will every other team in the PL apart from the few who, like Arsenal, believe that football is an entertainment.

I detest this park the bus crap – what was the best game of the season – the one that had all the pundits raving about the quality of entertainment? Barca vs Bayern. Why? Because Guardiola had the nuts to send his team out to attack in the belief that is team could and should compete. Why can’t others do the same? How many of the teams who defend in depth at THOF get a result? Very few – so why not try and give some joy to the paying punter?

Rant over.

Sunderland need a point to guarantee safety, we need a point to ensure 3rd spot. A draw seems likely but thankfully Mr Wenger doesn’t work that way.

I am 63% confident.

COYRRG


We’re all going on a summer holiday….

May 7, 2015

It was good to see Jack Wilshere return to first team action, albeit for just twenty-five minutes against Hull City. He looked sharp and appeared to be fully fit, he didn’t look afraid to take the ball into situations where he would get tackled.

If, as is rumoured, Santi Cazorla leaves in the summer, Jack will be in direct competition with Aaron Ramsey for a midfield berth and it will be difficult to choose between them. They are both effective but in different ways, Jack is the more dynamic player, happy to run with the ball at his feat, drawing in defenders thus creating space for the strikers. Aaron is better at picking out passes but tends to slow the game down at times. It must be a case of horses for courses. Different opposition and different game situations demanding different tactics.

Of course, everything is dependent on Wilshere’s fitness, he has been out since November, he has a history of breaking down when returning from injury, perhaps returning too soon.

With only a handful of games to go in the season it is difficult to see him getting much game time, particularly given the form of the current starting eleven, and it’s game time that he desperately needs if he’s going to be able to play a part from the start of the new season.

The UEFA European Under 21 Championship is taking place in the Czech Republic this summer, Wilshere is qualified to take part as an over-age player, it would get him the match time he needs and would keep him out of trouble for a few weeks, it would also give a very good indication of his future fitness and would be excellent preparation for the new season.

If Gareth Southgate could be induced to call him up, would it be a good thing for him to go? Or should he be given the summer off to relax in the sunshine with his mates?

………Should Jack go too?

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Wilshere’s Return?

February 21, 2015

I am excited. No it’s not the inviting look Mrs Raddy just gave me, nor is it the new piece of tech I have bought to while away a dull day. No it is the return of Little Jack Wilshere to the first team squad.

I know some are less than impressed by JW and question his place in our increasingly strong squad but I like the fellow – he is the nearest thing we have had to the Spirit of Charlie George since Charlie Nick came south from Celtic. If we lived in a Beano-World Jack is a chap who wouldn’t be out of place in the Bash Street Kids, and we all know who would be Billy Whizz!

Sadly, (or not) JW is unlikely to start today but I am sure he will get pitch time as Mr Wenger will want to use him in the PL run-in.

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The Spirit of CG

Onto Crystal Palace. They have been resurrected by the tactical ability of Alan Pardew (a little sarcasm there!) and will be tough opponents especially at a noisy and enthusiastic Selhurst Park. Pardew has organised the defence and given the team some balance which was missing under the previous incumbent which is strange because Warnock is nothing if not pragmatic; maybe the players respond better to a bloke in a well cut suit.

They have dangerous attackers, none more so than the rejuvenated Chamakh. I liked the big galloop when the first wore the red and white but the man couldn’t handle the intense pressure of leading the line for  The Arsenal. Good in the air, delicate touch for a Big Man, hopeless with his back to goal, dreadful haircut and as lethal for Arsenal as Chris Kiwomya, he has found his place – in midfield!. Just think ….. not so long ago we had Bendtner, Chamakh, Gervinho and Theo upfront, now we have OG, Ozil, Alexis, Welbz and Theo. Reasons to be cheerful??

If I were Pardew I would look to my pacy wingers to pressurise our FB’s. Bolasié and Gayle are both good players and will look to feed Frazier Campbell. But we have become used to teams playing this way against us; we are also used to the “midfield press” which is also touted to be a method of defeating our heroes. The return of CP captain Jedinak will give them a boost – he was linked with us last season but IMO is too old.

Speroni is a terrific goalkeeper whom I hope will be busy this afternoon (preferably picking the ball out of his net. Of Palace’s other players I like Scott Dann and thought he could be a good signing for us pre-Paul Easter and Zaha is starting to show why MU wasted €12m on him

Arsenal: Ox is almost fit and in the squad but like JW unlikely to start. There are question marks about Bellerin’s fitness. Should BFG retain his place or should Mr Wenger give Paul Easter his PL debut? Theo or Welbeck?

Much has been written about a strong squad allowing Mr Wenger to adjust his selections to the opposition. I am not so sure – I like the idea of a settled first 11; it worked for the Double teams and the Invincibles. The difficulty is that we have such fantastic alternatives it is difficult to keep everyone satisfied which is why Mr Wenger earns the Big Bucks. Rotation, Rotation, Rotation.

My Team:

pitch away to palace

Strong bench should we get into difficulties late in the game.

This has been an unpredictable season with Arsenal playing well interspersed with lack-lustre performances (MU, S’ton, Spurs etc). Mr Wenger has played with our tactics and in recent games has concentrated on a more pragmatic approach as opposed to our normal flowing attacking possession football. The win at Man City was excellent but led directly to playing the same system at Spurs and the subsequent painful loss. We are away today and perhaps Mr Wenger will continue with this tactic – I hope not because given the wonderful attacking options we have I want us to show why we are ” the greatest team, the world has ever seen”.

101 years ago today saw the start of the Battle of Verdun in which almost a million soldiers died – no account was made of the injured. The battle lasted until December and is the longest and costliest military battle in history. I have visited the battlefield and left with an understanding of how lucky I have been to be born at a time when I was not forced to go to war. We cannot imagine the horrors and fear experienced by the millions who fought there.

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As I sit and worry about whether Arsenal win today I will try to keep a football match in context, win or lose it is meaningless sport – trouble is it is hard to do, isn’t it?

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy

 

 

 


Is the Arsenal Youth Academy value for money?

January 8, 2015

The other day Arnie put up a picture of an Arsenal Youth Cup squad and Exile listed their current whereabouts. Only three of the players shown are still at Arsenal, Wilshere, Gibbs and Coquelin.

This led me to ponder on the value of our Academy, I’ve been unable to find out just how much is spent annually on it but mention was made some weeks ago about a plan to upgrade the facilities at a cost of several million pounds. I understand that it is already reckoned to be among the best in the country

Despite the money spent and the best efforts of the coaching staff the output, as far as future first team players for Arsenal is concerned, is pretty minimal

Indeed we are continuing to hunt the globe for promising youngsters at other clubs academies. It looks likely that Wenger is planning to sign a young full-back from Ipswich Town, while during our recent defender crisis it was not considered feasible to play any of our home-grown talent either at centre-back or left-back.

You have only to look at some of the incoming youngsters to see what can be done at other academies, a certain Spanish mid-fielder, Walcott (a terrific player but injury prone), Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Chambers.

I know that it is the socially correct thing to give local youngsters the opportunity to make a career in football, but is hoovering up the young talent from around the globe the right thing to do. Particularly when so many are discarded after a year or two.

Is the Arsenal Youth Academy a worthwhile project, or should it be scrapped and the money saved put into the kitty to buy established players?

Written by Norfolk Gooner