Grow up! … Arsenal Don’t Need To Sign Any More Players …

January 28, 2016

With the end of the transfer window looming and many supporters calling for Arsene to reinforce the squad with new additions, I thought I’d look at the age range of Arsenal’s current EPL squad including some on loan. Obviously age isn’t the prime criterion when assessing a player, but it is the significant indicator in terms of longevity and therefore team development.

When Arsene was asked recently about the signing of Elneny, he praised his attributes and added in characteristic fashion that he was 23 and that 23 to 30 was an ‘interesting’ age for a footballer. We all know what he meant by this.  For all but one position, 23-30 would be considered the peak years of a player’s career. The exception is the keeper, where experience is crucial and the toll on the body is less, meaning that they can remain at the top of their game into their late thirties … and guess what ….. we’ve got one of those!

In the past, it was the case that centre backs could still be at their peak into their early thirties, but I would argue that the pace and physical demands of the modern game mean this is seldom the case nowadays. Hopefully Koscielny will prove to be the exception to that rule, sadly it is becoming apparent that Mertesacker is not.

I don’t expect us to sign another ‘first team ready’ player before the deadline on Monday, and maybe the stats below will convince you that we don’t need to.

The area marked in yellow in the chart below represents the age group of those who are considered to be in their peak years (Bellerin is the exception to that rule) . The names in red are unlikely to be with us next season, and those in green are currently out on loan but a good prospect for the future.

I have divided the midfielders into 3 categories just so the pedants among you can tell me I’m wrong 🙂

X7

In an ideal world, the first choice players in every position would be in their peak years – in fact it would be perfect if the second choice option was also in the 23-30 zone.

But that’s not how it works, the top players are in the zone and the back up is either younger hoping to break into the team, or older and with lower expectation. This theory is backed up by the fact that both Ospina and Debuchy are in their peak years, neither are first choice and both want to leave – and who can blame them?

By my estimation, 8 out of 10 of our first choice outfield players are at their peak in terms of age. That’s pretty good and I suspect compares favourably with the other top EPL sides.

So which areas should we be looking to reinforce in the summer?

Martinez is currently gaining experience on loan at Wolves and may be the man to take over from Cech in a few years. We  have a wealth of talented young attacking midfielders waiting for their chance to make an impact on the first eleven. Unluckily for them, most of the current incumbents are at the perfect age.

Arguably centre back and striker are the two areas where we could be vulnerable. With Mertesacker coming to the end of his career, and only Chambers as back-up I can see procuring another CB as a priority. As far as strikers are concerned, we will only be able to assess that situation once we have seen Welbeck stay injury free and get a run of games. If he can replicate the form he showed before he was injured then Arsene may well believe we don’t need another striker. Personally, I’d be happy to blow £50-60m if the right striker became available in the summer.

Your challenge for today ……. convince me we need to buy another player this January!

Rasp

 

 


The two Arsenal players Barcelona fear most

December 15, 2015

I was  on my way to work this morning listening to an interview with Philippe Auclair on the radio discussing the CL draw. It was suggested to him that Barca would be very happy to have drawn Arsenal again.

On the contrary he said, there are 2 players that Barcelona fear. Immediately the names of Ozil and Sanchez sprang to mind … but no, he was referring to a different two players …. Can you guess who?

They know about Ozil, he plays with the ball on the ground in a style they understand and equally, they don’t fear Sanchez’s all action high pressing style – it’s what they do.

No, the players Barca are wary of are the in-form Olivier Giroud (he is the kind of striker they hate to play against) and Petr Cech who has put them out of the CL almost single handedly before. He is their ‘bogey keeper’, they seldom beat him. Apparently Messi has never managed to put one past Cech.

When I thought about it, this all makes perfect sense.

They should also be aware that in Koscielny we have one of the best CBs in the world and as I have said before, our wing back pairing of Monreal and Bellerin is unrivalled in the EPL.

We are a better team than when they played us last time. With the steadying influence of Cech in goal and the quality of our defence, Barcelona will not find it easy to score against us even with their unparalleled front three.

Add the fact that the FP (little joke betwee AA regulars 🙂 ) is in fine form and all of a sudden, Arsenal v Barcelona is the draw we should all welcome. If we manage to beat them, we can begin to dream…….

Rasp


Arsenal Peck Swans

November 1, 2015

Arsenal went to Swansea determined to keep their Premier League hopes alive, and yet filled with a certain tremulation at meeting a club who had outclassed and outplayed them twice last season.

As it turned out, one man who could not wait to get on to the pitch to show what he is made of was Joel ‘Gimme a chance ‘ Campbell, as he chomped at the bit to make his career at Arsenal lift off, rather than warm his ass on the bench.

Let us take a moment to consider the nature of the Arsenal, who are like a skilled electrician who on being called out to repair a complex machine with a fault can expertly disassemble the machine in a jiffy, and only to realise that, in a forgetful moment, he did not bring the  replacement part. Frustrating? Much!

Arsenal are undeniably capable of creating magic – and can ooze with class one moment, and in the next second carelessly give away the ball and allow the opposition the gift of an undeserved chance.

01

Not yesterday! Giro scored the 2,000th goal of Wenger’s reign, by hiding behind Mert and then launching himself by using the captains’ elasticised shirt to deftly flick the ball into the net.

The second goal was an oddity, in that Flappy should have caught a high looping ball, but somehow managed to lose it and allowed Kozzer to shield it and cleverly toe-poke it into the net, leaving Swansea howling with rage. Boo-Hoo.

02

And then our man Joel’s big moment came – a strong drive across the goal area by Özil reached him and controlling it smoothly he despatched the ball with aplomb into the net for the third, final and decisive goal.

03

Referring back to our mythical electrician above, Arsenal played well within themselves, and perhaps mindful of the results of their recent games against the Swans, who had pecked up the three points previously, sometimes played silly passes, but twisted the beaks of the home team when it mattered, and had not forgotten what they had come to do.

In truth, Gomis should have blasted the Swans ahead when receiving a clever ball from Shelvey he dithered and let Hector complete a lung bursting sprint back into defence and smack the ball from his toe into touch for a corner. Determination, skill, pace from the Arsenal lad, and quite the opposite from the Swan’s centre forward — all the difference in the world, and spoke to Arsenal’s qualities and made the result inevitable.

An important result achieved – a great game – three points – thank you very much!

Ratings:

Cech – 8

Bellerin – 7

Mert – 6

Kozzer – 8

Monreal – 7

Le Coq – 6

Cazzor – 7

Mesut – MoTM – 8

Joel – 7

Alexis – 6

Girroo – 8.

Red Arse


Alexis Sanchez baby! Alexis Sanchez ooooooooooooohhhhh!!!

September 27, 2015

Alexis Sanchez was in inspired form as he scored his first Premier League hatrick as Arsenal broke Leicester’s unbeaten record with a convincingly win.

The coach trip to Leicester was a very enjoyable experience with much debate about the midweek exploits at Tottnumb with discussion around the signs being ripped off at White Hart Lane. It was a glorious day and there was a real feel good factor amongst the travelling supporters who were in buoyant mood.

However the game started in the worst possible manner with Jamie Vardy being given time and space to slot past Petr Cech. Despite the team being 1-0 down the crowd did not press the self destruct button. There were a few moans about the goal and Flamini going off injured and being replaced by Mikel Arteta. This only served to fire up the team and the Arsenal fans. Before long Theo Walcott latched onto a pass and his pace and accurate finish put Arsenal level. The team were in their groove and once again the travelling support was amazing. A few supporters in the first row, including myself, vented anger at a steward who questioned some of us about whether we were in the correct row. This resulted in us missing Theo’s goal much to our fury.

Then the Alexis Sanchez show.. A low Hector Bellerin cross was not cleared by the Leicester defenders and there was the Chilean to tap home almost a carbon copy of the goal he scored at the same stadium last season. So 2-1 at the break and the half time entertainment was a brilliant new chant being echoed in the away section.. More of that a little later.

Alexis was causing Leicester havoc with his clever runs and then on 57 mins a lovely dinked ball was met by the man of the moment who headed in to make it 3-1. Then Alexis hit a rasping shot into the bottom left hand corner a welcome hatrick. The crowd were also left purring at Mesut Ozil’s performance who was in mesmerising form pulling all the strings and always two steps ahead.

The fans then were left frustrated as Giroud could not meet a fizzing low cross with the issue about his confidence being raised once again amongst supporters. Vardy scored a consolation before Giroud redeemed himself by placing a low shot into the corner from a Nacho Monreal cross.

So 3 points for the Arsenal and a happy journey home for the supporters back to London. And as for that chant.. It is to the tune of Chaka Khan and was being sung everytime one of our heroes, Laurent Koscielny touched the ball or made a vital interception.

“Ain’t nobody! Like Koscielny! Makes me happy! Makes me feel this way! Ain’t nobody! Like Koscielny! Makes me happy! Makes me feel this way! ”

Absolutley brilliant performance from both the players and the fans.. Bring on Man Utd next weekend.. UTA!

Written by Sir A Hussein


Benzema for Koscielny anyone?

June 29, 2015

Just a little poser with a twist to follow on from Micky’s post.

I feel we need a top striker but am scratching my head as to who we can get that is :-

1 Top class and able to bring that class to the more robust EPL.

2 Potentially available (i.e current employers are willing to consider selling).

3 Their price is not over-inflated and represents true market value.

4 Their wage expectation is not over-inflated.

5 The player has an interest in joining us.

Most of the viable options have some question mark hanging over them with one of these questions. I have ruled out Suarez and Aguero as we will just not get them from those clubs, even though they tick every other box. Looking at some of the other candidates (that I like) my observation would be as follows:-

Cavani – Likely to be able to adapt to the EPL as he is a reasonable physical specimen. However he is over-priced by PSG due to over-paying for him. Unsure of any real player interest in joining us. Is he still one of the world’s best or has he slipped down a notch? Most likely factor to prevent transfer is PSG’s and his unrealistic expectation with transfer fee and wages respectively.

Lewandowski – Seems top grade and will likely adapt to the EPL due to his physical attributes. However he doesn’t seem surplus to requirements at Bayern and I have not heard of any interest on his behalf, so an unlikely option due to this.

Aubemayeng – Not yet a top proven striker but I feel there is a bit of the “Thierry- convert from decent winger to top striker – Henry’s” about him so would be a very good punt. Wages and transfer fee likely to be reasonable, however recent statements from Dortmund seem to be telling us to do one so this is looking less likely.

Higuain – Seems top class but maybe will not cut it in the EPL, and was considered second to Benzema when at Real so is he truly world class? Recent Napoli chairmen statements will likely make his transfer unlikely.

Benzema – Not without its difficulties but I still feel our best bet. Real seem to be looking for a shiny new toy so he could become surplus and may feel he doesn’t want to play second fiddle. I feel the club willingness and player desire may possibly be there. Players deemed surplus at Real, (and Barca for that matter…Aleeeexiiis 🙂 ), are often still top players but are just victims of the Galactico recycling project. Is a physical specimen so should cut it in the EPL and has excellent link up play to fit with our (well Micky’s and my J ) desire to play with a fluid front 3.

Here is the twist……….

Real seem interested in Kos. Now if Kos said to AW no thanks I love it here then stop it right there and then and move forwards based on him staying. But if Kos expresses a slight interest that shows his head may have been slightly turned then maybe AW should say to Real “You only get him if Benzema is part of the deal”.

I love Kos but in my mind there are maybe 2-3 excellent alternatives to him at a reasonable price out there. The top striker position seems to be scarce and hard to fill at present, more so than the CD position IMO. Is it easier to replace Kos than it is to get a top striker in a straight off deal? Maybe this is our best, if not only, chance of getting that top striker in a reasonable deal.

So what do you guys think?

Written by GoonerB


Get off Mertesacker’s back

March 6, 2015

I am fed up with people looking at Mertesacker as the man responsible for all Arsenal’s defensive woes. I am also bored by the continual moaning about BFG’s lack of leadership on the pitch.

Let’s start with his defensive ability. Someone recently wrote on the blog that BFG may have over 100 caps for Germany and is a World Cup winner but that does not make him a quality centre back. What complete and utter tosh. He has pedigree, a pedigree that few players in the world have.

Perhaps it is his age which has turned some fans against him,  BFG is just 30, Tony Adams was 35 when he captained us to the 2002 double. This season Koscielny has been a shadow of the player we know he can be, he has made many mistakes both is judgement and in ball-play. No-one suggests that he is over the hill yet he is only 12 months younger than BFG.

Some talk about his lack of pace and let’s be honest he is hardly a speedster but neither was TA nor Steve Bould or David O’Leary or for that matter the man who is considered the best CB in the PL, John Terry. What all these men had/have in common was an ability to see and assess danger then act accordingly, BFG has that skill, though it must be said he does make the occasional error as witnessed last Weds.

Unknown-2

To have a secure defence requires a settled and regular back line – we haven’t had that for some time. All our defenders have succumbed to long-term injury since BFG signed so there has not been the chance to establish an automatic understanding. This season BFG has had to settle Bellerin and Debuchy into the team as well as Chambers and Gabriel. Plus he has been forced to “enjoy” a CB partnership with Monreal.  Is it any wonder the man is tired?

Leadership: What is that? Is it screaming at players to keep in position? Is it inspiring by one’s own performance? I think it is a natural quality – either you have it or you don’t. BFG doesn’t – very few do. Why blame him for lacking something no-one in the squad seems to have AND he is only captain because Arteta is out.

Should Gabriel take his place this season? Of course not. Gabriel has had less than 2 games for us against poor opposition and has been fortunate not to concede goals to stupid mistakes. I am sure he will become a fine CB at Arsenal but right now he is a fine back up, nothing more.

I see Mertesacker’s difficulties in recent weeks as exhaustion. Unlike Ozil and the other WC players BFG has had no rest, he has carried the defence without pause. He deserves plaudits not criticism.

Leave our Big Friendly German alone. (Peaches Mother Rule!)

written by Big Raddy

 


Is Coquelin the answer? Poll

February 12, 2015

Firstly, there has to be a question and that is probably – Is Coquelin the natural replacement for Arteta and/or Flamini?

I have said from when Mr Wenger re-signed Flamini that he wasn’t good enough to take The Arsenal to the title or the CL Final and these must be our targets. Nor is Arteta. Both fine players and experienced pro’s who have served the club with honour and pride but quite frankly they are both limited. We need better.

Coquelin has been a revelation – most interceptions, most tackles etc etc in his short run of games and importantly he appears to be tactically disciplined. Plus he seems to be a pitch leader, unafraid to guide the players around him through the game. His tackling is strong and he seems to have eradicated his tendency to jump into tackles. – less yellows per game than Flamini or Chambers.

However …. is he good enough? I mean can he be world-class? Can he be Ozil, Alexis, Koscielny class?

Any really great side has a world class spine – think Lehmann, Campbell, Vieira, Henry  or Seaman, Adams, Vieira, Wright. What do they have in common? Yes, even you can see it is PV4, and it is Patrick who must be the benchmark for the future Arsenal lynchpin. Can Coq be that good? You tell me, but I have serious doubts.

Doubts are not certainties and Coquelin has the perfect opportunity to cement his place in the Arsenal team. It would be marvellous if a lad who just 3 months ago looked Burnley quality can improve the team, it would be proof that hard work allied to ambition can overcome prejudice.

I wish him well but would like Mr Wenger to be saving his money for another transfer raid on Southampton or even better to spend huge and sign Pogba. We need a central player to build the team around and we haven’t had one since Gilberto.


Chambers: a midfielder, really Arsène?

August 7, 2014

The most interesting and exciting part of Wenger’s post Emirates Cup interview to me was that he seems to genuinely believe that Chambers can play in the midfield.

Chambers 1

I don’t know enough about him to form an opinion but contrast that with Vermaelen for example?

We have spent hours and hours of blog time trying to persuade each other that Vermaelen could and should play as a DM in certain situations.

There have been games when this seemed the glaringly obvious thing to do; and yet no, Wenger has never played TV in the midfield and what’s more he has never suggested in any interview that it could be a possibility.

If I have thought about Arsenal during the off season it has been the FA Cup win that has sprung to mind rather than any other aspect of last season or at least it was, until that is I was rudely reminded by BT Sport’s advertising campaign of those awful thrashings we had to endure.

I am firmly in 26’s camp that those BT adverts which show the club and the supporters suffering so painfully will have a very positive effect; if that is, they haven’t done so already.

I have this boyish image in my mind of Wenger being shown them and then passing them onto Kroenke. My impression of these people is one of being gentle giants but those ads have been the equivalent of someone poking a big black bear with a sharp stick; the result being, that both Wenger and Kroenke have been so angered that they have gone into the transfer market with both guns blazing – and they aint stopped shooting yet.

The bad old days of Arsenal supporters either wanting Wenger to stay or wanting him to go are gone. The only divide that I can see is those who believe that he has learnt from those thrashings and those who think not.

Unsurprisingly I suspect, I like to think that he has learnt from those painful experiences and Chambers is evidence of how he is going to prevent such nightmares reoccurring.

For the majority of our games last season, and it will be the same this season, we will have 75% of the ball and we will play the majority of the game in the opponents half. In situations like this somebody shielding the back four is a waste of a player, far better to have an attack minded player like Arteta as our deepest midfielder.

But, we will also play City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manu and in those games we will not have such a high percentage of possession. Arteta is going to need help and this is where Chambers comes in. If Wenger is right and he can play in the midfield then for the first time since Gilberto (Shard will correct this no doubt) we will have a player whose skill set is first and foremost that of a defender playing in the midfield – a DM.

Let’s be clear, Arteta is not a defender; he has been converted into that role and fine as he is against lesser teams such as Palace and QPR he is another BT ad waiting to happen against the other bigger teams I mentioned above.

We have had two glimpses of Chambers so far and on both occasions he has looked calm and assured. If indeed any of what I have just said is likely to be part of Wenger’s way of thinking then the big test for Chambers will come Saturday the 13th of September against Man City, if he plays and copes there then we will know that Wenger is right and that he can play in the midfield.

Written by LB

 


Arsenal’s next Captain

July 15, 2014

The other day LB wrote an interesting post entitled “Is Thomas Vermaelen still needed? This led me to think about the player as a captain and conversely the captain as a player.

Before looking at individuals in those roles I got to thinking just what should we look for in a Club Captain, note the capital letters, in my opinion the Club Captain is equally as important as The Manager, The Chief Executive or The Owner.

So the candidate should be of sufficient stature, not just in a physical sense, but in the status he holds in the game as a whole. To attain the necessary status he must have been around a while, he must be a good enough player to command a starting place in the club’s first team and preferably in his National side as well. He should also have earned the respect of not only his own team but also opposing players and particularly the on pitch officials. Needless to say he must also be media savvy, articulate and able to offer rational answers to irrational questions at times of both elation and disappointment in post match interviews for example.

tony adams

Looking back, I can recall Frank McLintock, sleeves rolled up barking out orders to players, organising his defence at corners and free kicks and generally running things on the pitch. Similarly with Tony Adams and of course Patrick Vieira. Arguably the best Captain I ever saw was the incomparable Bobby Moore, calm authoritative and respected throughout football.

Latterly the armband has been a bit of a poisoned chalice, not only at Arsenal but also at international level with England. Fabregas and van Persie were appointed only to depart shortly after, Vermaelen suffered both a shocking loss of form and a series of injuries and could soon follow the other two out of the club and there are rumours that Arteta could also go if someone of the stature of Khedira or Bender are signed. In the England team the captaincy has, disgracefully, been swapped around more times than at a kid’s game of pass the parcel.

At the moment it appears to me that should Vermaelen leave, the only rational candidate would be Per Mertesacker, but for how much longer can he command that starting place in the team? Longer term we can all hope and expect the appointment of Jack Wilshire, but will it happen?

What are your views on both the Captain’s role as, should it be largely ceremonial, tossing the coin, handing over a little pennant and posing for a snap with the officials or, as the Manager’s voice on the pitch and the players representative off it. Surely there must come a time when a stop is put to the absurd situation of referees being mobbed by a group of angry players, then only the Captain should be allowed to approach the officials, and that will require a calm sensible approach, one more attribute needed for the job.

Who should our next Captain be?

Written by Norfolk Gooner

 


Koscielny is Key

July 2, 2014

Watching the World Cup and our players representing their countries it is possible to view their performances without the bias of an Arsenal match.  I would like to highlight our central defenders.

images-1

Having enjoyed the Germany/ Algeria game it became apparent that Mertesacker was being focussed upon by the Algerian midfield. They chose to send long balls onto a forward who was as close to Per as possible. Why? Because Per has excellent vision and pitch awareness, he knows where to snuff out danger and how to make the best of his talents, but what he doesn’t have is pace. My grandmother with bricks on her feet has more pace – even I am fleeter of foot. In the first half in particular the Algerians attacked this weakness. The German response was to use the goalkeeper Neuer as a sweeper – not the most secure defensive tactic!

Germany use Merts as the distributor from the back and as such he is always the last man and it repeatedly caused Germany problems. He does the same at Arsenal but for us he doesn’t appear to be such a liability – why?

Let’s look at France’s defensive set-up. Two attacking wingers, the best (? RM think so) young centre back in world football and Koscielny. What has become clear is just how reliant France are upon Kos’s awareness and pace. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Varane may well become a brilliant player but right now he is being educated by his centre back partner. It was good fortune for France that Sakho was injured and Deschamps was forced to play Kos whom the French blamed for the loss in their first game against Ukraine in the WC play-offs.

images

Kos is two-footed according to Sagna (and he should know), he has a prodigious leap, is tactically aware but above all is is quick – very quick. Arsene bought him for €9m and after a problematic opening season he has developed into a key player at Arsenal. When he is missing even a fine defender like Vermaelen cannot fully replace him.

Which brings me to this. To be successful one has to have a proper CB partnership – we have one of the finest. Per and Laurent complement each other. They have different skills – Kos is a better tackler, Merts is better in the air, Kos is better with the ball at hois feet and running into midfield, Merts is better at distribution out of defence.

The fact of the matter is that Mertesacker is a better player when Koscielny is by his side and vice versa.

There isn’t a better CB partnership in the World Cup than Arsenal have at the Emirates – we should be proud.

Written by Big Raddy