Kostatis

March 5, 2019

I have been thinking about age. Not mine –  the team, and in particular, the defence.

It seems that, at last, we have found a central defence which works – Koscatis or Sokrielny. 63 (almost 64)  years between them. In other words a short shelf life, or is it?

If a CB loses his pace and agility is it so important? BFG was magnificent at 32 and crap at 34 when he retired but then he never had pace or agility. But what of Sol or Kolo or Keown?

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We can survive with these two whilst the young Guns of Holding, Mavro and Chambers come up to speeds

I will not write of the younger Mustafi as my fervent wish is that we get shot ASAP.

So the age demographic at CB appears to function but what of the FB’s. It is here that we need major surgery. On the right we have the wonderful, but crocked, Hector, who at 23 y-o. will surely (should he stay) become an Arsenal stalwart.

Lichtsteiner is close to the bus-pass, which leaves … who? AMN is clearly not a full-back. It must be a great disappointment to both Ainsley and Emery that he hasn’t grasped his opportunity, just as Hector did when Debuchy got injured. Will he, Can he? I sincerely hope so. But unless we have a young tiro coming through the youth teams we need to buy.

On the left is an even worse picture with Monreal, 33 and unlikely to maintain his excellent form of the past few years. We don’t know if the Wardrobe (25 y.o) is a full back or a midfielder. Let’s assume Kolasinac can develop the discipline required to augment the defence, though it seems Emery sees him as a vital attacking cog.  So … reinforcements, please.

How could this come to pass? Surely if I can see the imbalance in the age demographic then the experts at AFC can? Which loonie signed Lichsteiner and not a young developing RB?  Are Arsenal going to continue to buy older players for a supposed short term gain? Be honest, as fine a player as PEA is, don’t you think he saw his best days at BD? We needed a rock at the back and signed a Sokratis with at most 3 seasons in him – actually, this one I can accept because we have fine young CB’s coming through.

Reading this through it strikes me that this is an Old Man’s gripe. Poorly thought through and without purpose – but it is raining hard and I have to go to Sweden for a tooth implant – you can allow me to be grumpy!

written by Big Raddy

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Interlull Injuries

March 23, 2018

Not only is a 3 week lay-off mid-season inordinately dull, it is also costly to the Arsenal squad.

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Both Wilshire and Koscielny have been withdrawn from their respective squads for games this weekend.

Fortunately both injuries appear to be wear and tear and not something as devastating as JW’s ankle knack when playing another meaningless game for England.

How does this help the club which pays their wages?

There isn’t an answer. If I were a player my ambition would always be to represent my country and friendlies, as crap as they are, are still a cap.

Let us hope nothing untoward happens to our Internationals before we play Stoke at home

written by Big Raddy


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.


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 Ozil or not to Ozil? That is the Question.

March 4, 2017

Hard to predict this one; we could win handsomely or get tanked. Neither team is playing well and yet both are capable of pulling out enough moments of quality to win the game. Should be interesting.

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We lost at home on the opening day of the season in a strange game – we dominated for 70 minutes – Liverpool had 5 shots all game yet we conceded 4.

Good news: No Henderson, no Sturridge. Bad news: Mane, Firmino and Coutinho are back and playing well.

Good news: Liverpool are struggling at the centre of defence. Bad news: We do not have a centre forward in form.

Good news: We play better away from home. Bad news: Liverpool are very good at home and just beat Spurs.

Good news:We have few injuries, OG, Ramsey and Koscielny are available. Bad News: Ozil has been off sick and is a doubt.

Once again, Mr Wenger has to find the midfield key. With Ramsey, Xhaka, Ox, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi and Ozil to choose from he has yet to find a combination that delivers security and creativity. I don’t know either!

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin      Mustafi      Koscielny     Monreal

Ramsey     Xhaka     Coquelin    Iwobi

Walcott    Sanchez

Theo gets an hour to prove he is still an important player at Arsenal. Seems unfair to drop Oxlade-Chamberlain as he has been playing well but IMO Ramsey is a more adaptable player.

There have been calls to rest Ozil as his performances in recent weeks have not reached his usual excellent standards, I tend to agree. Even Dennis got rested when he was out of form. We have so many attacking MF options that giving Ozil a reminder that every player has to fight for his place will do no harm. On the other hand it may convince the German Genius that his future lies away from the Emirates!

We have been crap away to the big clubs this season and Liverpool have been very good at home, the portents are not good, but if Arsenal are to stay in the Top 4 they cannot afford to keep losing against direct rivals, as such this is a huge game for us, and let’s be honest, we haven’t played well since before Xmas.

I would take a draw though a repeat of 26/6/1989 would be preferable.

COYRRG


Arsenal Player Ratings and match report

February 22, 2015

It was tense wasn’t it? Even when we scored the second there was a nagging feeling that if Palace scored we would be under pressure and so it proved. How can it be that at two up the team doesn’t relax?

Let’s start with the pitch. It was awful and clearly designed to upset our ball-players and assist the long-ball game. It was uneven and the grass hadn’t been cut since Wright and Bright were banging them in at Selhurst. Perhaps Pardew recognised our difficulties playing on the ploughed field at Stoke and instructed his groundsmen. It is often said that it is the same for both teams but have you ever heard anyone complain about on the magnificent Emirates pitch? Is it unfair to long-ball teams and Man Utd that we have a billiard table to play on?

I was surprised how clean a game it was. I expected Pardew to send out his men to kick our chaps but that didn’t happen, what happened was that CP pressed us from the first, not allowing any player time on the ball. The pundits say this is the best way to play Arsenal and perhaps it is but this should result in Arsenal having more space in the final minutes as an exhausted opponent slows down – it didn’t happen yesterday, in fact the opposite happened – we hung on for the win. Why?

Tactics? Substitutions? CP wanting it more? Fear? You tell me

Pardew identified the wings as the place to attack us. Monreal grew into the game, Chambers didn’t. I like Chambers and am fully aware he is a very young man but is he really a Full Back? A modern FB needs speed, lots of it and this is not an asset Chambers has. In time he is sure to be a fine CB but against the very speedy Gayle and Bolasie he struggled.

So far I have looked at the negative but we won the game, picked up the points, and sit in 3rd place. This is a Happy Gooner.

In midfield Santi surprised me at how well he linked with Coquelin; Palace were unable to play through the middle. Ozil floated through the game finding space and played a wonderful pass to Alexis at the beginning of the second half to Alexis – who should have looked for Giroud for the tap-in.

Ultimately, the result is all that matters.

Player Ratings:

Ospina:  Made some decent saves, distribution good but could have cost us the game with a touch of the Flapianski’s in the last minute    7

Chambers:  A difficult afternoon and a yellow card. 5

BFG: CP poured crosses into the box and BFG did well until the final 5 minutes    7

Koscielny: Our best defender …. again   8

Monreal: Thank goodness Zaha has no final ball. Nacho struggled. 6

Coquelin: Good game for him to show his battling qualities. High energy and focus.    7

Cazorla: Worked so hard on a pitch which was designed to stifle his skills. Lovely pass to Welbz to set up OG. Scored the pen.  8

Ozil: Quietly sets up the team but this wasn’t his sort of game or pitch    6

Alexis:  Not his day. Some lovely runs but no end product    6

Welbeck:  I am yet to be convinced of his partnership with OG. Drew the penalty. Assisted for the OG goal   7

Giroud: Scored. Led the line.  Did his job    7

 

written by Big Raddy

 

 

 

 


Do we need a Centre Back or a Defensive Midfielder? Vote.

December 31, 2014

To CB or DM, that is the question?

We are rapidly approaching the January transfer window and let’s be honest we are aquiver with excitement (slight exaggeration!) We have a gaping hole in our squad and AW is sure to fill it, but how?

CB: Do we need another centre back? With Monreal, Debuchy and Chambers all able to understudy BFG and Koscielny, is another CB essential? Will we be able to attract a young player to sit on the bench or will the new chap take over BFG’s starting role? There are fears that Kos will leave in summer, I have not heard anything which convinces me he is Barca-bound but who knows? If he is then a big money signing is a must – Hummels or someone of his standing will be the order of the day. BFG has played almost every game this season and he needs a break – is it any wonder his form has suffered, but perhaps his loss of form is permanent as the Big Man becomes even slower.

But if they both stay and we buy someone who will be benched? My gut reaction is neither as we will try to continue with the personnel already at the club.

DM: Flamini’s contract is for 18 more months, Arteta is starting to creak and is prone to muscle injuries – his absences are costly as Flamster, despite his energy and commitment, is simply not good enough. We need to sign someone who can play DM and at a push CB. But they are much in demand and expensive. Carvalho – the flavour of the month – is valued at over €25m and the only time I have seen him the man was anonymous. However, we are in need of a direct replacement for Arteta or are we? Can Ramsey, Wilshere or Ox or even Chambers play the role?

What do you think?

Written by Big Raddy