Szczesny to Return?

April 1, 2016

The Pole in Goal (henceforth known as TPIG) has had an excellent season in Rome. Roma have enjoyed a good season so far and TPIG has been their first choice GK, missing only one game. The fans like him, the manager likes him and it appears he has rebuilt his crumbling reputation,

But is Wojciech off the naughty step at Arsenal?

I like TPIG, he has presence, he has character, he works hard and in my opinion can become an excellent GK but does Mr Wenger agree? The signing of Cech indicates a No, though in my opinion the Cech transfer was a no brainer – the man is fantastic. However, this leaves us with 3 very good GK’s all of whom are looking for first team action, if TPIG returns what of Ospina? All  3 are under contract so it is AW’s decision.

Unknown-1.jpeg

Rumours are that Ospina is unhappy playing second fiddle to Cech and TPIG will be even more dissatisfied returning to a club where he has been demoted from No.1 to not even a bench seat.

Should Ospina leave would TPIG settle for a few games in the Cups? It seems unlikely.

Thankfully this is a luxury problem – long gone are the days of Almunia.

Arsenal own his contract so if we want Szczesny to return then he will. Roma have said they would like him to stay. The media are reporting that Klopp wants him at Liverpool.

What do you think, should he stay or should he go?

written by Big Raddy


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

 

 


“Rubbish Game, Great Result”. A Fan’s View.

January 3, 2016

“Play shite and lose is unforgivable……..play shite and win is what champs are made of.”

I can’t improve on that. It is not easy making Newcastle look good but we really gave it our best shot. They are poor, really poor but the same team that were mauled at Southampton returned and it could have oh so easily been the sequel to Nightmare on the South Coast.

I felt sorry for Ozil from start to finish: an artist surrounded by journeymen. It was embarrassing at times watching Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain failing to fulfil the most simple of football tasks such as trap the ball and pass it to someone in a red and white shirt.

As I was watching I was trying to work out what had gone so wrong with those two, the only idea I could come up with was that although in training the energy of Sanchez and his determination to defend from the front has clearly rubbed off; they track back with greater determination, the problem is they also seem to both be copying the man from Chile’s unnecessary obsession of trying to beat at least two opponents before making his pass, Sanchez can get away with this – just — but it is downright infuriating when Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain try and do the same as neither of them has Sanchez’ close control; nothing like it in fact, the result is that we lose possession so easily and so unnecessarily which gifts attacking opportunities to the opposition. This happened so often yesterday I wanted to scream.

Some plum on this site wrote a match report not so long ago suggesting that the collective eleven were playing better without Sanchez; he might have had a point when the collective were playing simple, one touch, find your man football, but that was not the brand on display yesterday. Walcott or Oxlaide-Chamberlain going to keep Sanchez out of the side, I don’t think so. The Whirling Dervish can’t return soon enough as far as I am concerned.

We started quite brightly really with two excellent chances in the first five minutes both of which should have been converted and both of which should have put the game to bed but, no, we insisted on making Newcastle look better than they are by giving them opportunity after opportunity to go ahead; the most generous being at the beginning of the second half when one of their players got free and found himself one on one with Cech, fortunately the Helmeted One was on his game and saved our bacon again.

The breakthrough came our way, although, it could have just have easily have fallen to Newcastle considering the amount of chances they had. Özil sent in a corner, it pinged around a bit, Giroud did well to keep it alive and Koscielny was Johnny on the spot to tap it home which produced a huge sigh of relief around the ground rather than wild celebrations.

Laurent-Koscielny

Wenger made his usual changes with Campbell replacing the Ox, and Gibbs replacing Walcott to shore up the left flank and then finally Chambers to add some more steel to the defense.

I find it fascinating how Wenger has introduced Chambers. Not so long ago both Arteta and Flamini were injured and Wenger was forced to throw Chambers into the fray; he was poor. GIE wrote after the game that he felt he could never see Chambers becoming a midfielder, his body language was all wrong. This is not meant to have a go at GIE, I like a bold comment, after all where would this blog be without them and what’s more I agreed with him at the time. But since then Wenger has been slowly building this one with a few minutes at the end of a game here and few minutes at the end of the game there and then interestingly a good twenty minutes against Southampton, the more observant would have noticed that Wenger always tries to salvage something when all seems lost and in this case it was giving valuable unpressured pitch time to the young would be DM before finally starting him against Bournemouth during which he found his confidence and got better and better as that game went on to the point where we were all singing his praises at the end. Chambers is a better passer of the ball than Flamini although the latter’s experience was exactly what was required yesterday but I do expect to see Chambers start next week.

I am going to give GIE the final word on yesterday’s game: “1-0 is 1-0 is 3 points”. Can’t argue with that.

Player ratings.

Cech: I don’t know much about this breed, I could never understand why people used to give Szczesny a hard time — I do now. Another clean sheet. 8

Bellerin: This young man has set high standards for himself and yesterday he fell below them, too many stray passes, substandard crosses, positioning not so good. 5

Mertesacker: Per is not likely to start getting called the Luftwaffe of the Arsenal defence in the near future; his aerial cover is non existant, time after time Newcastle were first to get their head on a cross when it really should have been cleared by the BFG. However, that said, he was as composed as ever on the ground again. 6

Koscielny: his goal covered a multitude of sins or miss placed passes if you prefer; he was slightly better than the others and a winning goal goes an awful long way. 7

Monreal: again, way below his usual high standards, poor passes, poor crosses; still, he has a lot of credit in the bank. 5

Flamini: the Frenchman is playing with far greater control; well, apart from the booking when he tried to kick the ball when it was a good six foot in the air. Not the man you expect to score us goals but gave a decent Flamini performance nevertheless. 6.

Ramsey: his day was summed up by the pass he failed to make to Campbell for a tap in which would have put the game to bed. Too many poor decisions. 4

Ozil: People questioned his ability when he first arrived, what we now know is that the problem wasn’t his ability it was his commitment. Mesut had been used to playing with the likes of Ronaldo for goodness sake and then what, Gervinho? Santos? If that doesn’t lower a player of his calibre’s self esteem I don’t know what will and yet the change has been incredible, this man has brought into Arsenal lock stock and barrel. I mean, did you see him wearing that silly Arsenal Santa jumper, awful, absolutely awful, but he wore it and he did do with a smile on his face, now that is a man who is committed to this club. Wenger must take a huge amount of credit for patiently guiding him to where he is now and my guess is that he will continue his integration by making him captain next season. 9

Walcott: put the ball in front of him to run onto and we have good Theo, put the ball to his feet and ask him to think and we have bad Theo. Too much bad Theo yesterday. 4

Oxlade-Chambelain: how did we all get so excited about this player, someone remind me because I cannot see a single attribute that is above average and most were well below yesterday. 3

Giroud: little bear’s porridge, not too good, not too bad, played an important part in getting the all important goal. 7

As Peaches’ title says “Rubbish Game, Great result”, I’ll take that right now.

Written by LB


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 AGM. Bloody furious.

October 16, 2015

What am I so damn cross about? Well pretty much everything.

Shareholders.

Who the hell do some of you think you are? Reckon you have rights or something? Seriously, Stan owns the place that he bought with his money, not yours, and he can do whatever he bloody well likes. Do you honestly think anyone up there yesterday was actually going to answer your stupid questions and reveal anything not already in the public domain? Jeepers.

Board/Management

We are not ‘effing interested in the ‘effing finances. Don’t care how bloody marvellous you have been throughout a difficult time, but most of all, don’t ever tell us that qualifying for the Champions League is  good for the purposes of repaying debt. We don’t give a shit. We’re interested in the football and what happens on the pitch.

It’s marvellous news that for 18 months we can compete, and that Alexis, Mesut and Cech prove this. Equally fabulous, that the manager has the backing of the board to compete in the market.

So don’t bloody well give the impression we have to prioritise any one competition. Of course we should never enter the bloody League Cup or whatever it’s called these days, or The Europa should we ever sink that low.

I mean, do you really think that ever once, at any point in Utd’s history under Ferguson they’d be allowed to walk onto the pitch with either their fans, or the opposition players, getting even the slightest whiff Utd weren’t that bothered?

Come on, prove me wrong. Sanchez, Theo, Mesut and Coquelin against Bayern and let’s show ‘em.

MickkyDidIt89


…….. Ospina in goal against Bayern anyone?

October 13, 2015

Thank you Arsene and Arsenal for sending us off into another tiresome international break with a warm feeling of positivity and optimism following the magnificent performance against United.

Contrast those emotions against the feelings of despair and déjà vu following the home defeat by Olympiacos and you will see the two extremes of supporters’ reactions.

It has been suggested (by LB and others on this blog) that Arsene’s decision to change 6 players for the game against Zagreb and  5 against Olympiacos was evidence that Monsieur Wenger is targeting winning the EPL over the CL.

The most controversial decision on these occasions was to opt for Ospina in goal. Why when we have finally secured the services of a top class keeper would we choose not to play him in such important games?

It has been suggested that there may be a contractual agreement to play Ospina in cup games – if this is the case we cannot argue except to question the sense behind such an arrangement. It may be that Arsene is trying to keep Ospina match fit and motivated as we never know when we might need him to step in for Cech.

Either way, I was shocked that Cech was left on the bench. The defensive unit looks far more solid and assured when he is in goal and apart from the West Ham game, he has been excellent. I think it is fair to say that Ospina has not impressed in his CL appearances.

Some say that supporters should not concern themselves with such matters – leave it to the manager and trust his decisions.

This is a personal decision and is down to every individual to support the club in their own way. Some supporters feel more engaged with the club by wanting to understand what goes on and express their feelings and aspirations – an equally valid form of support.

So back to the euphoria we are currently feeling after spanking the mancs 🙂

Most supporters believe that with the prospect of Thursday night football looming, we need to take at least 3 points from the 2 games against Bayern to progress through to the knock out stage of the CL. But how would you feel if the team for the Bayern game is announced and Ospina is in goal?

What would this tell us?

I’d really like to know how supporters feel on this matter … so place your vote and send out a message.

Feel free to join us in ‘Comments’ to explain your reasoning …. just for the record, I think Arsene will play Ospina.

Rasp

 


Arsenal show their class

October 5, 2015

First and foremost – excellent win 🙂

Second – what a scintillating first half – not only because of the goals and the chances and the fluid play but because for the first time in years (2004), I have seen a team of hungry players ready to fight from beginning to the end to get a result.

Third – Although it is hard to admit, Ramsey is proving to be our best player on the right flank despite the fact that he is even better in the centre of the pitch.

Fourth – Sanchez is back and Walcott is having a good time playing up front.

Fifth – When Coquelin and Cazorla step up their game defensively, our team just oozes confidence and flair.

Sixth – Ozil can be a real class act for us if he plays like yesterday day in day out.

Seventh – LVG got it all wrong tactially. I mean – why would he leave Schnederlin (his best DM) on the bench?

Eighth – Cech has again done us favours thanks to his saves 🙂

Ox and Giroud are good to come from the bench when we lead because they add steel and also Ox, when given space, is just outstanding.

Now – let us not get over excited and let us not talk about EPL title because we are far from being a consitantly good team…However, given the fact that City, Chelsea, Utd, Liverpool are struggling to keep form as well, this may be a good year to step up our game…

COYG!

Written by RC78


Will Petr Cech make a significant difference?

July 1, 2015

I think we can all agree that Arsenal have been lacking a truly top class ’keeper since “Mad” Jens left. Some would say that the lack goes back further to David “Safe Hands” Seaman’s departure.

We’ve seen a few come and go, Almunia, Fabianski and Mannone, while a few more have stayed, Szczesny, Ospina and Martinez. All have been given a chance to make the Number One shirt their own. None of them have been entirely successful.

The signing of David Ospina during last summer’s transfer window came as a bit of a surprise to most Gooners, he had had a good World Cup, was one of two first team ‘keepers at French Ligue 1 side Nice but was not happy to share the gloves with the young Joris Delle and so signed for Arsenal for around £3 million. He had a good but not spectacular first season and now seems likely to leave for pastures new.

So we come to our latest recruit Petr Cech, one of the rocks that Abramovich’s Chelsea were built on and a mainstay of the side since he joined in 2004, his 333 appearances say a lot about his consistency as well as his talent. There can be no doubt that he played an enormous part in the many successes that Chelsea have enjoyed since Abramovich injected his roubles into the then ailing West London club.

I don’t think there can be any doubt that Arsene Wenger has signed one of the best goalies in the world. I believe that Cech will bring an air of calmness into our defence and will give some confidence to our defenders. My personal belief is that he will certainly make a significant difference to our team and it’s prospects in the coming seasons.

What do other Gooners think?

Written by Norfolk Gooner.


Is it Cech Mate against The Pole in Goal?

June 18, 2015

It is with a heavy heart today that I delve into the defensive side of our game. The Goal Keeper.

The blog world is alive with stories of the imminent arrival of Petr Cech for an apparent £14M.

Sz had an absolute stinker against Southampton for sure. Maybe he was hungover from New Year’s celebrations. The game was on January 1st after all.  Who knows. Then, of all times, he chose post match to have a fag in the shower when he was already in the dog house. Got demoted to Cup Keeper, and in came Ospina as No 1.

Thing is Arsene played Szczesny in the final. You can read that as a “thanks and goodbye” or Arsene effectively re-instating him as No1 (it’s not true AW always sticks with the Cup Keeper in the final). Either way you read that choice, a fairly substantial level of forgiveness had to be in the air.

My personal thoughts are that Szczesny still has everything to be a top keeper. He needs to grow up fast. To my mind, there are strong similarities between him and Nic Bendtner in terms of a casual professional attitude, but that is very much my own guesswork. Even top keepers make mistakes, and take away the shocker of the Southampton game, and I think our Pole had a very good season.

Would Cech coming in help, or hinder (he’ll want first team football) our own current keepers, and more importantly, the overall strength of the defence?

written by Micky Didit

 


Arsenal’s best keeper for next season is ……….

April 13, 2015

Apparently David Ospina has the highest win ratio (92%) in Premier league history after 11 wins from 12 games played. Obviously this is a meaningless statistic since when he came into the side other factors will have influenced our current run of 8 games unbeaten in the EPL – not least the emergence of Le Coq as the midfield enforcer we always wanted.

But I have to say that I am mightily impressed with Ooooospinnnaaaaa (that makes me laugh every time I hear the crowd sing it 😀 ). For a guy who is 5-6 inches shorter than the likes of Courtois and De Gea, he certainly makes the most of his attributes. As our resident GK expert GiE has observed, it is Ospina’s calmness and the timing of when to come out for the ball that make him a better keeper than Szczesny at this particular time.

I have heard us being seriously linked to Petr Cech recently as he has been consigned to the bench by the emergence of Courtois. Now Cech is a good keeper and a very decent man – but is he a better keeper than Ospina? Moreover, we are second in the table to Chelsea, why would we want to enlist their second choice keeper if we aspire to be better than them? It makes no sense.

What also makes no sense to me is why we didn’t go for Lloris a couple of years ago. I can only assume Arsene had hoped that Szczesny would iron out some of the rough edges to his game.

So the question I ask is, who would you like to see between the posts for Arsenal next season?

Rasp