The number one wish of every Gooner


A few days ago, I wrote about the potential brittleness of our defence, and although there is still a good chance that the team will get strengthened in the next few weeks, we should also hope for a more attack-minded style of play that will alleviate the pressure on our defence to a large extent.

The coming season holds the very exciting prospect of two super fast and multi-dimensional Arsenal wings: Theo and Debuchy (maybe even Jenkinson) and Sanchez and Gibbs. With Ozil, Jack, Ramsey, Santi and Rosicky in the middle we also have the sort of players who can pick them out and send them flying forward. The one thing that is missing is a top quality, defence-minded midfielder who can co-connect the back with the front (together with the B2B midfielder), who can protect the back-four and win balls to start of our attacks, who bosses the midfield with ‘Presence!’ (with respect to the American-Kiwi Prof) as well as perfect positioning and reading of the game, and who leads by example throughout the game.

We have had many discussions on Bergkampesque on the sort of midfielder we need to add to the team to get the balance absolutely right. Some, including me, prefer a more traditional DM but with good passing skills; and others want another box to box type of player who can do a bit of defending as well. On the one hand, there are the Macharanos, De Jongs and Wanyamas and on the other hand we have the Schweinsteigers, Khediras and Yaya Toures. At this stage, I would welcome any style of midfielder, as long as they are top quality and experienced.

We have become heavily reliant on Ramsey, who had the perfect start to the season and falls more into the latter camp. He has had a long break and a true professional as he is, will be chomping at the bits for another fully committed and successful season. This could be his year. He works well with either Arteta or Flamini, but it is fair to say that both are more suited for back-up than being the all-season force we require. I am still not convinced Jack should play in the double DM-pivot, but that is for another discussion.

The one player who could fully make our season is of course Abou Diaby.

A fully fit and dedicated Diaby should be THE wish for the coming season for every Gooner. The prospect of him and Rambo bossing the midfield, supporting the back four and feeding the four advanced attackers, is just so appetising. Diaby is a pretty complete midfielder, and I would settle for him in a heartbeat IF he would be able to play a full season for us.

But we know that we just cannot go down this path as the risks are too high. Let’s give Diaby a season in which he hopefully makes 15+ starts and take it from there the season after next.

In the meantime, let’s be sensible and buy a quality DM/all-round midfielder who has everything we need to move us forward. It looks like the club is seriously looking for a quality defensive midfielder, but we have been here before and recent comments by Arsene are pointing in the direction of ‘wait and see how our midfielders will come through the pre-season’. Or is this all just bluff by Wenger to land his prime target? All will be revealed in the next six weeks, and I am curious to hear your views. :)

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

How to avoid the mega-losses: Time for a Mertesacker Plan-B?

What are Arsenal doing to avoid painful mega-losses in the new season? Answer: not much as yet!

Two months ago the season finished and there are just three weeks left till the Charity Shield commences. The question that went through my mind this morning is: what has the club done to prevent more embarrassing large defeats by title contenders in the coming season?

To a large extent this is a question about defending. There are two ways of looking at Arsenal’s defending: defending as a team and the defence itself. Defending as a team is as important as the quality of our defenders, but for this post I would like to concentrate on the latter. And for the avoidance of doubt, I see the defence as the GK, the back four and the two deeper laying midfielders.

Against Mansour City away, our defence got significantly weakened after Flamini was substituted in the second half. Against Pool away, the defence had a nightmare from the start and it was even worse against the Chavs away. These were big, big losses that hurt the club, the players and the fans a hell of a lot. I am sure not to be the only one saying that more of these heavy losses in the new season will be unacceptable. Of course, every club can have a bad day in a season, when everything goes wrong and the players get a real spanking. But with heavy losses against the above mentioned teams and a similarly painful one against Everton away in just one season, we cannot use the ‘bad day at the office’ excuse anymore.

Something needs to change.

And the club has not added to our defence with only weeks to go to the new season. Sagna and Fabianski left, and rumours remain strong that the Lion of Flanders is on his way as well. We got Debuchy to replace Sagna at right back, but nobody else has been signed to strengthen our defence.

We have been crying out for more metal and energy in our double-DM pivot and the links with Khedira were promising for a while. But nothing has happened and the momentum seems to have gone. Quality central midfielders – either DM (my preference) or all-round midfielder ala the German rock – are hard to find. I guess we can cope for a while with the Flamini-Ramsey combo and a fit Arteta can add value as well. However, to really make a step forward we need to add real quality and the sooner this happens the quicker the new signing can play himself into the team.

We also still don’t have a replacement for Fabianski, which could bite us in the arse badly at the start of the season. Whoever we will get, they will need to practice with our back four to get to know how we play and there is now very little time left to safeguard our keeper-cover. An injury to Sir Cesny and we could be in trouble.

But just as pressing is the Centre Back situation. Sagna provided cover for BFG but he has now departed, and TV5 might be on his way as well; which leaves us with just a tired/initially unavailable BFG and Koz. One injury or a straight red, and we could be in trouble.

So what is Wenger going to do here?

Is he going to push Ignasi Miquel forward? Or does he have plans for Jenkinson, Nacho Monreal or even Flamini to become back-up CBs? Or is he going to buy? Some might argue that we need a quality replacement for the BFG in the big games anyway, as to give us a defensive plan-B when necessary. The Germans left the BFG out in the final games and they looked stronger for it (as they like to play with a high-line which can leave our Per very exposed) and we might need to do this as well.

So, fine fellow Gooners, let’s be having your views:

What do we need to do to strengthen our defence significantly in order to make painful mega-losses against our competitors a thing of the past?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 73 Comments

Ooh Cesc, what have you done?

‘If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?’

William Shakespeare

Why did Mourinho go for Cesc? Why did Wenger not take him back? And why did Cesc opt for the Chavs?

Questions we all have answers to, but none of us knows the exact truth. The latest comments by the narcissistic one have all the signs of a killer whale tossing a baby seal in the air for fun, showing off to the rest of the world – and especially Wenger – what he has caught: “I think he really wanted to come to us. As you know, Arsenal had an option where they could interfere but I think he was not open to that. He was very much in our direction. It was an easy job for me.”

This is Mourinho bluffing, as he knows he will need to get the supporters behind his pivotal man. Fabregas’ statement straight after his transfer was announced made it clear to all of us that the Chavs were his second choice. This will always stand for me. I said at the time that our former captain took a big risk with that statement, and the self-celebrating one is now desperate to turn perception round; but what is done is done and eventually it will end in tears.

I have no doubt Cesc wanted to come back and I remain disappointed in Wenger for not letting him back in. And despite everything, our ex El Capitan remains one of my favourite former Gunners. But we have to move on and so does Cesc. What I am also disappointed about is that Cesc opted for the Chavs and Mourinho: a club almost hated as much as the Spuds and a manager loathed by the whole of Spain and every Gooner. I am sure there will have been personal and financial reasons for him to do so, but I never thought Cesc would have made such a devastatingly poor choice.

A once great Gunner has become the play thing of his former master’s – and second father’s – fiercest enemy. I am sure Freud would have had a lot to say about this and Shakespeare would have written a beautifully tragic play about it, if they were still alive. Ooh Cesc, what have you done?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 39 Comments

What to do with Ozil | Sanchez the dream attacker | Khedira the final soldier?

Jack and Mesut can lift the team towards the title, if played in the right position and fitness is kind to them (especially Jack)

Jack and Mesut can lift the team towards the title, if played in the right position and fitness is kind to them (especially Jack)

Mesut Ozil is a fine player and at times it takes a trained eye to appreciate him. We are obsessed with goals and assists, and other stats, and yes they have their value. And Ozil’s stats are nothing to be ashamed of: the opposite actually. But you can also just look at him when in action. Ozil adds value to everything he does and that’s what makes him invaluable to a team. His running off the ball and positioning on the field is excellent and his first touch and passing ability are second to none. But whatever he does, with or even without the ball, it adds forward impetus to the team. He is efficient and effective and the proverbial oil to our team.

It is no surprise that Khadera, Mueller and Kroos got all the plaudits for Germany’s humiliation of the overhyped Brazilians. Ozil will not even mind, as he will be happy for the team. I have never seen Ozil play a bad game; at worst, he had a few under-par games last season. For Ozil to do really well the team have to do well, as the silver service he offers requires team mates with fine taste buds. And for Arsenal, it is all about balance: when we had it last season the team purred occasionally, but when we did not, we often looked unimaginative, predictable. Ozil cannot fix us on his own, but he has so much to offer and we should bless our socks he is a Gunner. And to the few doubters I say: you either see it or you don’t, and if you don’t you cannot be helped! :)

Watching Ozil play for Germany has strengthened my belief that he can play everywhere behind the striker and does not necessarily need to play in the hole. This is important, as we need to be able to slot in Jack if and when he reaches full fitness in the coming season. Regulars on Bergkampesque know that I was desperate to get Fabregas to come and join us, as I feel we are missing our former/a conductor in the current team. But now he is not coming we need to look at how we can get the best out of our squad. And Ozil is versatile and can play everywhere but it remains to be seen whether he should play as our CENTRAL conductor again next season… I believe he is best served with a ‘free role on the wing’, interchanging with the nr10 – Jack, Sanchez, Rosicky, Santi – frequently.

The additional fire power up-front of Sanchez is just perfect: another versatile player who can both assist and score a lot of goals (one in three for Barcelona and even better for his country, says it all). We will now be fielding a very strong attack, especially when everybody is fit. I would love us to play regularly with OG upfront, Ozil and Theo ‘on the wings’, and Jack or Sanchez in the hole. But we can also play with Ozil in the hole, Sanchez and Theo on the wings and OG to hold it all together; and what about Sanchez as the holding striker, Pod or Ozil and Theo on the wings and Jack, Santi, or the almost forgotten Rosicky, in the hole? Add to this the likes of Ox, Sanogo, Campbell, Eisfeld (is this his year?) and Gnabry and you can see Wenger has a lot to play with: mouth-watering prospects, and surely we do not need another attacker now!

Key is, though, that they get good support from the ‘Double-DM pivot’ players. Ramsey has arrived as a first choice player and he has become our very own ‘Kroos’. A fully fit and rearing-to-go Flamini can do a job for a while, but as said on many occasions, we need to strengthen in this area during the summer. The overusing of Flamini cost us dearly as his discipline started to slip the more knackered he became. I expect him to be rearing to go and do a great job again, but it will not be enough for the entire season.

So the rumours re Khedira are encouraging, although it now sounds he might not be coming after all. This is the most important position for Arsenal to fill as the World Cup demonstrated to us once more. The phenomenal likes of Macherano, Khedira, Schweinsteiger and De Jong have been among the real superstars in Brazil. Key for me is that Arsene now appears to take the filling of this vacancy very seriously, and Khedira would just about be right: he can be our new Vieira, who we never really replaced. I still prefer an outright DM (who can pass as well) but I would also like us to put the wall of RamDira in front of our back four and behind our magical attacking options.

So, things are looking up, especially if Arsene does get us that quality DM, allround powerhouse of a midfielder as soon as possible. Add a RB (seems sorted?) and a young, up and coming CB and we are ready for battle – and Vermaelen needs to stay, tough titties! :)

Less than a month till the Charity Shield opener and many friendlies and Emirates Cup before that…I am starting to sniff the new season is upon us. CoYG!

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 153 Comments

What determines a successful season? Geoff’s theory.

How world cups, seasons and teams work


Watching this years World Cup and thinking on prior ones in all sports and decades of watching seasons of various teams I have developed a few ideas that I think define a season. These ideas, I think, can help us as Gooners think about how we evaluate our seasons and cup pursuits.

Note that I am writing while watching the World Cup final but may or may not so comment later! The theory stands alone without worrying about whether Argentina will have their perfect game or Germany their horror game.

And that defines it. Perfect games and horror games. As fans we all expect perfect games, and think that horror games are not allowed. I posit the  following for a World Cup or cup competition.

  1. Each team plays to its current form or level. It’s coaches and player form that determine this, but over any cup period it is relatively constant (usually, though Agentina has in my opinion risen some in this cup). Over a season it varies based on team depth (fatigue) and injuries, around which coaching and preparation can fine tune or manage the level.
  1.   In a cup, any team going past a short group stage visit will have:
  1. One Horror Game, where everything goes wrong or most of it. Well below form. Ideally one has this in the group stage and versus inferior opposition so you can win. An arguably not truly great Brazil team may have over achieved to get to the semi-final where they had unarguably their Horror Game.
  2. One Perfect Game, where everything goes right. IMO, unarguably also, Brazils horror game tragically coincided with Germany’s perfect game. The outcome was, well, ouch!!

I think we all understand number 1 over a season. IMO, last year Arsenal were too thin on quality up front and too injured for, let’s call it verve, in the midfield. The result was our form dropped and we had to play and win ugly for the second part of the season. Thus, the euphoria so far for this TW over getting another top ST and defenders etc… Equally, my delight over the German national team physio/trainer for keeping us at a higher level longer.

It’s number 2 however that determines the final result think. Last year, for me, Man City had the depth of SQ to be dominant and the lack of enough injuries to affect that. And they won, right? However, it was very very close. I think one could easily put this to misplaced perfect and horror games.

Let’s posit that in a 38 game EPL season, you have 28 form games, and 5 horror games and 5 perfect games. These are rough estimates, but I think we could easily point to those games for Arsenal last year if we are honest, although they are sometimes hard to recognize. Our first game against Spurs was a perfect game, despite closeness, and at the time we thought it was a horror game for Spurs who we later realized were merely playing to their form despite their acquisitions.


So, ideally, one would prefer to have perfect games or form games against top teams, if one is a top team let us say! :) … Horror games should be against lesser teams who you can still beat. For Man City, however, they had their horror games against opposition who were having perfect games – and perfect from the bottom of the table beat horror from the top. This made it far closer than not.

For Arsenal, a few thoughts. Horror games versus Man City away (form at home) and that Pool game now immortalized by BT. IMO, away against top teams is the way to go, unless you can call up the perfect one! Horror games against mid table are where unaffordable losses come from, and equally perfect ones against bottom table are wasted.

So, what does it mean? Overall, I’d say that Arsenal had a good season and was more affected by form than by horror or perfect games. In contrast, Man City almost missed out as a result of them. Thus, for this season with some increased depth to keep players in top form and rested should see us maintain too form. Equally, last year, OGs loss of form was fatigue and hurt us like injuries as there was no comparable replacement.

Aside: it’s half time and 0-0, with both teams going to form in my opinion.

Thus, the real question, can we plan and manage these horror and perfect games? Can we minimize one and maximize the other?

Anyone can look back and say that was perfect that was horror and so on… It’s what makes blogs like this to an extent as it is impossible to really show, although clearly perfect (or horror) games are clear (think Napoli in the CL last year as perfect). So, I would posit that it is “impossible” to change my arguable number of 5 each (could be 3-4 :) ). Why?

I think what determines these games is a matter of circumstances. Response to pressure, conditions, particular player form? Equally, things we might blame, like maturity and experience, to me play into overall team form. A hugely talented team without maturity.

For example, 2 mins into half 2, Messi is through and you’d think in the box there is nothing Neuer can do versus such a clinical finisher. But, he scuffs it wide. Really? Or hmm…

And that is perhaps my point. Horror games may well come like perfect ones from individual elements that have an off game or cannot get going. In City’s losses, the talismanic Yaya was often missing, and for Arsenal in their horror games it was failures at a normally solid back line and defensive midfield that failed to respond like normal to the first goal and mistakes.

Can these be minimized with substitutions or tactics? I leave that to you to discuss? Certainly the coulda, woulda and shoulda brothers play a role in discussions that are difficult to prove!

Overall, I think that seasons are defined on form, but the fine tuning of the last few places revolves around these specific 8-10 games. We were fourth mostly on form last year, while City had a worst combination of these games, and, to my mind, Pool had a best one…

Ok, so I have a theory and some arguable data, but I think it’s a different way to view a season, after and before. During is hard to figure it, but we can look forward to these special games, or at least half of them!

So, to you, the following questions:

  • What were our horror games last year, what were our perfect ones. You are limited to 3-5 of each in equal number!
  • Will a new trainer help our form remain higher?
  • Without becoming City, whose “depth” was fined by UEFA, will we have enough depth if we get Khedira or similar this summer?

So, it’s 0-0 at 64 mins with both teams having their opportunities, and their mistakes….

Written by: JGC

Posted in Uncategorized | 61 Comments

After Sánchez and Debuchy, who next for Arsenal?

He got his man! Well done Arsene and team to get one of the very best in the world to the home of football and so early on as well!

He got his man! Well done Arsene and team to get one of the very best in the world to the home of football and so early on as well!

In recent days all we’ve read about is Alexis Sánchez’s and Mathieu Debuchy’s transfers. However, Arsenal still needs players in other positions in the squad, the main two being a beast of a defensive midfielder and a solid backup keeper. There are many targets that are both heavily and tentatively linked with the club, so let’s go over a few.

Welcome to the home of football!

Welcome to the home of football, Alexis!

In recent years Arsenal has often been criticized for lacking bite and presence in the midfield. Here are a few targets that would provide just that, in the order we should be going after them in my opinion.

  1. Sami Khedira

The big German is not only a quality DM, but also one of Özil’s best friends! Arsenal has supposedly submitted a bid of around £24 million for Khedira and he is apparently interested in reuniting with his friend Mesut. Khedira is a big lad standing at 6’2” and has a lot of strength in his locker. He is also experienced at age 27 with over 50 caps for Germany. He brings a lot of physicality and presence to the sides he represents on top of being a solid player on the ball. He is also capable of chipping in the odd goal. He is currently still in the World Cup with Germany which may slow down any move, but don’t be surprised to see rumors heat up after the World Cup ends as his contract expires in a year’s time.

  1. Fabian Schär

A player many people may not have heard of, Fabian is a fantastic 22 year old Swiss centre back currently playing for Basel. He is like the perfect mix of Vermaelen and Koscielny. He is defensively sound, with some pace and great ability on the ball. He is tall at 6’1.5” and is also a goal scorer with is heading ability and the fact that he is Basel’s main penalty taker. People who think Vermaelen should be converted to a CDM will definitely think that Schär should. Fabian was also in Switzerland’s World Cup squad this summer. Schär’s contract also expires in a year and he could likely be picked up for around £10-£15 million and would likely be a bargain for a young player who could easily cover both CB and DM and be an amazing prospect for the future. As many people will not have watched him as much as I did this past season, here is a video of some of his highlights:

  1. Lars Bender

Lars Bender is another German international on the list. He is relatively young at 25 and could learn a lot under Wenger. He could be considered like a younger Khedira, but not quite as slow or as talented in the air. However, he is still a talented DM who could learn a lot at our club and provide the big physical presence and cover for our back four that we need. He could likely be picked up for around £20-£25 million, despite his contract not expiring until 2019.

  1. Morgan Schneiderlin

Schneiderlin is the only BPL experienced player on this list. A great season for the Saints saw him receive a call up for the France World Cup squad this summer. At 24 years old the young Frenchman would probably love to work under Wenger and vice versa. His contract doesn’t expire until 2017, but given the exodus currently happening at Southampton don’t be surprised to see Schneiderlin leave. Likely for the bargain price of around £15-£20 million.


Another position Arsenal need cover in is the backup goalkeeper spot. Here are a few goalkeeping targets, also in the order we should be going after them in my opinion.

  1. Asmir Begović

Asmir is an extremely experienced goalkeeper in England who would provide amazing cover and competition for Szczesney. However, he isn’t likely to want to be a second choice goalkeeper. Maybe the prospect of Champions League would tempt him, but Stoke are unlikely to let him go for anything less than a major overspend. However, if available, he should be first choice on the list for his vast experience and skill.

  1. David Ospina

The Colombian keeper had a stunning World Cup and the interest in him is high. His contract with Nice has just expired and he is available on a free transfer. It would be amazing business to pick him up and he might be tempted by the prospect of working under Wenger. He has great reflexes and would be a great addition to the club. Also, at age 25 he could battle it out with Szczesney for years to come and learn more from our current goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches.

  1. Iker Casillas

Casillas had a shocking World Cup and he is a shadow of his former self, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a talented keeper. He is incredibly experienced and is a great leader. He is likely to leave Real Madrid in search of first team football and supposedly Wenger has already made personal phone calls to him to convince him to join. Fellow Spanish internationals Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla could also convince him to join the club. He would likely be available for a reasonable amount of money, but given his form and at age 33, he is a little further down the list.

  1. David Marshall

Marshall had an amazing season for Cardiff despite their relegation to the English Championship. At 29 he is experienced, but still with a few years ahead of him. Premier League and Champions League football is likely to tempt him and he is likely to be available for a cut price £5-£10 million given Cardiff’s relegation. He could teach the younger keepers at the club some valuable lessons and would provide sufficient cover when needed.

As usual, I will leave some questions to spur discussion:

  1. Who are your main targets for the defensive midfielder and goalkeepers positions?
  2. What other positions might we need players in?
  3. How much do you predict Wenger to spend this summer and on how many signings?

Thanks for reading! :D

Written By: Dylan.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 278 Comments

Ozil and BFG or Koz and OG? Campbell to slay the Dutch?

BK World Cup discussion

Joel Campbell in fine world cup form

Joel Campbell in fine world cup form


The Torture Window is open for business again and it seems like we are being linked to every top player in the world apart from Messi, Ronaldo and Bale. That’s a corny cliché, and I know it, but it feels like that to me. The media always seem to have a story and some sort of news on every top player around and why we are interested in him and/or why he wants to join Arsenal. So every time a top player, who you think might be ‘off the radar’, pops into your mind, expect the media to have an article on him, when you wake up in the morning to read the latest Arsenal transfer news.

Is it me or does anyone else get the feeling that when top players are continually linked to other top clubs, like Chelsea, the player actually signs for them? The stronger the link between the player and the club, the more likely the player is to sign for that club. When it comes to Arsenal, however, it seems to be the entire opposite. The more we are linked with a player, the less likely we are to sign him.

The media seems to be one step ahead of us Arsenal supporters but no one, not even the media, seems to be one step ahead of Wenger.

We may well have to deal with two more months of terror.

Thank God the World Cup is on this year! I have seen some great football so far, especially from the South American countries and it seems that the gap between the big, ‘powerhouse’ countries and the smaller ‘walkover’ countries has become a lot smalle; and it seems that there are no easy games in the World Cup. This reminds me of how the EPL is now, where there is no easy match. In future international tournaments I can actually see some of the ‘small’, ‘weak’ teams surpassing some of the ‘big’, ‘powerhouse’ teams.

The four quarter-final matches we can look forward to are:

France vs. Germany

Brazil vs. Colombia

Argentina vs. Belgium

Netherlands vs. Costa Rica

The winner of the France vs. Germany match will face the winner of the Brazil vs. Colombia match in one of the semi-final ties and the winner of the Argentina vs. Belgium match will face the winner of the Netherlands vs. Costa Rica match in the other semi-final tie.

The winners of the two semi-final ties will face each other in the final and the losers will face each other in a match for 3rd place.

I believe it is impossible to call the result of any of these quarter-final ties. I can see the matches getting even tighter now we have reached the latter stages of the 2014 World Cup and the gulf in quality between the teams in each tie seems pretty small. This is just one of the reasons I can see a lot of matches going to extra time and even penalties. Other reasons behind some of the matches going to extra time and all the way to penalties, might be because of the playing conditions and the players of the teams possibly adopting a ‘safety first’ approach. A cautious approach will minimize any possible mistakes and the last thing players want to do is make a silly mistake in matches of such high importance, which might lead to less attacking football.

Whatever happens we will be treated to some great games of football!

But what I really want to know is what you guys have made of the World Cup so far. So without further ado, I would like to hear some of your views and predictions relating to this current World Cup. Below are some questions to get your juices flowing.

1) Which teams do you think will win their ties and make it into the semi-finals?

2) Which teams do you think will make it to the final?

3) Which team has impressed you the most so far throughout the 2014 World Cup?

4) Which team has disappointed you the most so far throughout the 2014 World Cup?

5) Which player has impressed you the most so far in this World Cup?

6) Which player has disappointed you the most so far in this World Cup?

7) Which player do you think will win the Golden Ball (best player) award?

8) Which player do you think will win the Golden Boot (top goal scorer award) award?

9) Which player do you think will win the Golden Glove (best GK) award?

10) Which player do you think will win the Best Young Player Award?

Written by: AFC.

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