This will be a short post but I hope I can inject some adrenaline into all you gooners. The season’s end is here!!!! I’m still buzzed that we beat spuds to fourth. Actually it’s less ecstasy and more relief. But that’s not what this is about.
Those of you who have read comments by JM before, will know he is very knowledgeable when it comes to tactics, formations, player attributes/qualities, club strategy/finances and transfer window developments. A few days ago, I (TotalArsenal) asked JM what he believes will happen in terms of players going and staying at Arsenal this summer.
Below you will find his response to my question (please note the response was written as a comment originally and not as a post, which makes this article a bit rusty at times. It is, nevertheless, a very interesting read) :
With regards to Sagna and Vermaelen: it would depend on the situations with Sagna (running into his last year of contract) and Vermaelen (a club captain who is benched), if they were to be around with the team next season. If both leave, the club should recruit new personnel.
The goalkeeping personnel availability next season should also be addressed (Szczesny is staying, though he will be accessed equally if a new long term contract should be given based on his performances; Fabianski is out of contract and likely moving to another club to get regular 1st team games; Mannone’s case is a 50/50, if he would prefer to remain as 3rd choice GK.
The club could promote from their reserves and youth ranks – e.g. Damian Martinez, Dejan Iliev etc). There should be new developments here in my opinion (the club have been linked with so many GKs all around Europe, or spreading red-herrings to the media on potential signings, that they might really get some respectable GK who is not in the media’s spotlight, to provide competition/guidance to Szczesny).
A quick one would be Jovetic: he is a 50/50 case. Higuain is currently agent talk. Fabregas … not next season, but could be a possibility in 2014/2015 (just as Reus could be a possibility, pending on the commercial effect of a certain new sponsorship deal in future – that of PUMA). I will recommend everyone to check PUMA’s website, look under “PUMA althetes- football” and you shall see we have Arteta, Rosicky, Giroud, Sagna endorsing their brand. Also King Henry, Fabregas Clichy. Then the international star players like Kun Aguero, Yaya Toure, Falcao, Buffon, Chiellini, Reus, Vidic, Carrick and more all endorsing their sportswear as well.
PUMA could lend a helping hand to the club with the negotiations on Fabregas, Reus, Marco Verratti and Usain Bolt (if he switches to football/soccer ). Under Nike, we shall be always in the shadow of MU and Barcelona; under Adidas, in the shadow of Bayern Munich and Chelsea. PUMA shall be a breath of fresh air. (They have also club sponsorship ties with Newcastle, CardiffCity, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Hoffenheim, Bordeaux, Rennes, Feyenoord, Espanyol, Sporting Lisbon CP, Independiente, Botafogo, the national teams of Uruguay, Chile, Austria, CzechRepublic, Italy, Switzerland, Slovakia, Macedonia, Cameroon, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Bahrain)
The club is likely to be in for 3 obvious signings, if the candidates are available. (We have 3 outs – Squillaci, Arshavin & Fabianski, so expect at least 3 new ins. Any more would depend on further departures of 1st team players). That does not include new signings for our youth ranks and reserves (a.k.a our youth players).
A lot of negotiations done could be related to our commercial partnership deals (e.g. financial agreement with Imperial Bank, related to Kenya, Uganda and African markets, the Emirates* shirt’s sponsorship – they are shirts’ sponsor as well for e.g. PSG, AC Milan, Hamburger SV, Real Madrid, Olympiacos etc) and the club management’s level of comfort when dealing with the player’s agent/agency (which also informs us why we have recruited/negotiated the signing of more players being represented by certain agency/agent and none by others)
*Emirates Group/ Airline are growing aggressively to become one of the top airlines in the world. They managed to get the shirt deal done for most of the top clubs (even Olympiacos is top in Greece) in the top 5 leagues in Europe, less Germany – as Bayern M (T-Home/Deutsche Telekom – German telecommunications company), B. Dortmund (Evonik Industries – one of the world´s leading specialty chemicals companies), B.Leverkusen (SunPower Corporation – owned by Total S.A., one of the six “Supermajor” oil companies in the world.), Schalke (Gazprom – largest extractor of natural gas and one of the largest companies in the world) are sponsored by equally major companies/holdings in their respective markets. The Emirates group would want their “investments” to the respective clubs to be rewarded in return (clubs winning trophies, signing “marquee” players), in terms of boosting market branding for the company.
As an example, the Emirates group/airline presence as a sponsor might have helped smooth-en the signings of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from AC Milan to PSG, during the negotiating rounds between both clubs, agents/agencies, players (where of course the formalities of transfer fees, player wages and contract, agent’s takings are all agreed upon).
I could add on of the club and management direction for investing on more English youths and the shift from recruiting and promoting French youths to Spanish (Miquel, Bellarin, Toral) and German youth players (Eisfeld, Gnabry, Gedion Zelalem, Leander Siemann) for our academy. Taking a look at our 1st team, we are left with 5 and a half French players (Giroud, Koscielny, Sagna, Coquelin, Squillaci, 1/2 of Diaby), where Squillaci is leaving, Sagna and Coquelin are question marks next season, Diaby is out till next year (and likely to run down his contract). At the end of next season, we could be left with only 2 in our 1st team.
Perhaps our new manager after AW could be Spanish? Or German? As the new generation of Spanish, German and English players from our academy go into our 1st team. That is a debate for the future.
With regards to our players’ agency/agents, I would like to add that a number of them share similar agency/agent. (which has been in similar cases with other clubs if we look into the clients/players list under the agency/agent)
Our English lads on “long term contract”:
- Wilshere, Ramsey
Base Soccer Agency Ltd
(Location: 33 Great Portland Street, LondonW1W 8QF)
(which also has Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone, Allan McGregor, Bobby Zamora, Joe Ledley, Kyle Naughton, Angel Rangel, Luke Wilkshire, Chris Gunter among their clients list)
- The Ox
Mondial Sport Management & Consulting Sarl
(Location: Bahnstrasse 17, Kelkheim-Taunus D-65779, France)
(which also has Edinson Cavani, Axel Witsel, Ramires, Fernando Llorente, Iker Muniain, Isco, Raphael Varane, Lacina Traore, Lucas, Victor Moses, Eduardo Salvio, Younes Belhanda, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sofiane Feghouli, Ganso, Dimitri Payet, Adrian, Mathieu Debuchy, Luuk de Jong, Moussa Sissoko, Marvin Martin, Rodrigo, Cristian Tello, Lisandro Lopez, Coutinho, Luciano Narsingh, Filip Djuricic, Romulo, Miralem Sulejmani, Geoffrey Kondogbia among their clients list)
SEM Group plc (The Sport Entertainment & Media Group Ltd)
(Location: 98 Cockfosters Road, Barnet, Hertfordshire EN4 0DP)
(which also has John Obi Mikel, Micah Richards, Joseph Yobo, Nick Powell, Steven Davis, Eduardo, Rio Ferdinand, David Bentley, Liam Ridgewell, “King” Thierry Henry among their clients list)
- Giroud, Cazorla, Jenkinson, J.Campbell (who is on loan)
(Location: La Rambla, Barcelona 08002)
(which also has Juan Mata, Alan Dzagoev, Keisuke Honda, Igor Akinfeev, Kyle Walker, Joe Allen, Mbark Boussoufa, Jose Enrique, Jonny Evans, Tom Cleverley, Yuri Zhirkov, Raheem Sterling, Lorenzo Insigne, Martin Montoya, Benat Etxebarria, Mario Suarez, Koke, Oriol Romeu, Shane Long, Barry Bannan, Ross Barkley, Cristian Zapata among their many clients list)
Our protracted negotiation with Walcott’s agency/agents
Key Sports Managment Ltd.
(Location: 1st Floor & 6th floor, 35 Soho Square, London, W1D 3QX)
(which also has Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson, James Morrison, Chris Brunt, Ryan Bertrand among their clients list)
on our latest signing:
(Location: C/Marques de la Ensenada 16 of.25, Madrid 28009)
(which also has Javi Martinez, Pedro, Fernando Torres, Jesus Navas, Cesar Azpilicueta, Michu, Alvaro Dominguez, Raul Garcia, Dani Parejo, Ignacio Camacho among their clients list)
And the 3 players mentioned in “the Impenetrable Triangle”:
Soccer and more Ltd.
(Location: Alte-Kelter-StraBe 8a, 66130 Saarbrucken, Deutschland)
(which also has Papiss Cisse and Philipp Wollscheid among their clients list)
(Location: Las Croses, TheGRA46500, France)
Stellar Football Ltd
(Location: 16 Stanhope Place, Paddington, London W2 2HH.)
(Location: Yorkshire House, 18 Chapel Street, LiverpoolUK-L3 9AG)
(which also has Gareth Bale, Joe Hart, Rafael, Fabio, Darren Bent, Glen Johnson, Phil Jagielka, Ashley Cole, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Scott Sinclair, Steven Caulker, Jack Butland, Lee Cattermole, Shay Given among their client list)
These are who and what our management shall have to negotiate with in order to tie down our better players, release fringe players, recruit new signings etc. (Of course, players may change their agency/agents throughout their career as and when situations benefit them).
We choose to deal with some agents/agencies and their solicitors while not with others who offer unfavourable terms to the club (e.g. involvement of 3rd or more parties in securing the ownership of the player, dealing with “super” agents who shall command a high agent fee etc), which is one of the many reasons why some world class or quality players will never play at Arsenal FC. This, our supporters shall have to understand, before ranting.
Written by: JM.
After scoring the winner for us in our last game of the season against West Brom last year – effectively winning us a guaranteed CL-spot – Koz does it again today! What is not to love about Laurent Koscielny at the moment?!
As expected Sunderland and Everton let us down today, but we did not let ourselves down, and that is even more important than qualifying for the CL (well almost).This team has spine and spirit, grit and graft. I am so proud of our boys in red and white today!
An unchanged team seemed a bit of a risk by Wenger, and especially the inclusion of El Zorro was unexpected. Perhaps Arsene valued the psychological benefit of including the Spaniard more than his ootential technical and tactical contributions on the day. Another, semi-surprise was Giroud not starting up-front as most of us had anticipated. Other than that, there were no surprises in Wenger’s team selection.
The game basically had four phases:
- A nervy and disorganised start: we seemed all over the place and play without our usual cohesion and discipline. NU were determined to give us a game and were getting alongside and behind our defence far too easily during this phase. Arteta had to go off, and the Ox made his entrance;
- Things started to change gradually as we got more grip on the game and NU seemed to ease off a bit as well. However, we were hardly creating any chances during this phase and it was clear we needed Arsene to sort the team out during the break;
- The first part of the second half was better again, and we struck lucky when Koz powered Podolski’s assists, from a Walcott free-kick, past Harper from close range. 1-0 to THE Arsenal.
- The remainder of the game saw us play our best football in all areas of the pitch, but as we were unable to score a second – despite Theo coming agonizingly close – it remained a very nervy encounter right till the end.
In the end, there were two things that saw us through: the hunger, grit and graft of the entire team and the outstanding performance of Laurent Koscielny. His goal was no doubt the most important one in an Arsenal shirt, but what also made a real difference was his perfect defensive performance against NU today.
When Koz is in this sort of form he is simply unbeatable. He out-jumped the NU attackers all afternoon, made vital and extremely well-timed interceptions in the box – both on the ground and in the air – and stole the ball of his opponents with incredible hunger and precision – committing hardly any fouls in the process. What a player he is becoming and it goes without saying that Arsene needs to keep all defenders together this summer, and for me that includes Sagna and Vermaelen.
Other than the score (and what it means), and that performance of Koz – and I also thought BFG and both full backs had very fine second half performances – the game will be forgotten quickly: it was anything but a classic.
But the sustained period in which this team has shown the hunger, grit and determination to not get beaten by the Spuds for a top-four finish, after they beat us at the beginning of March and went seven points ahead of us, is just what this team needed. Five PL away-wins in a row – first time since 2004!! – eight wins out of our last ten PL games: what a turn around, and what a solid basis for the new season.
The foundations are laid, the walls are up, the roof is almost finished and the Spuds are stored firmly in the cellar; now let’s add some super quality furniture and polish off what we already have: Arsenal might be gunning for the top prizes next season!
But before we start the silly season, I would like to say a big thank you to all the recent regular players: for their drive and passion and for playing for the shirt with all they had. More we could not have asked for, and they have done us proud!
Written by: TotalArsenal.
Deja-Vu all over again!
Here we are again…feels like Deja Vu’ all over again, doesn’t it? Another final day heart stopper! I have to say, watching Arsenal these days is enough to test even the most resolute (not you GLIC, you’re just a blouse who hides behind a couch haha). Add in the angst of the Chelsea and Tottenham games and we are in for a wild ride. We all know the ramifications of this one, but here it is again:
If we are winning I’ll be furiously flicking between our game and the Chelsea vs Everton game. If scores are level or we are losing I’ll be swapping back and forth to the Tottenham vs Sunderland match. I don’t know what will melt down first…me or the remote. I’m confident we will only have to rely on the Toffees in this final fixture (Chelsea without Terry and Hazard will help the cause). Chelsea draw and we win 1-2 it’s a playoff fixture…no thanks we are limping over the line as it is. If Di Canio’s Sunderland are required, I sure as hell hope they can do the deed (Yes we apoligise for loaning you Bendtner, but we did inadvertently hope you’d be beating Wigan in the last fixture!). Just sit 10 men on Bale, he is single-handedly dragging his knuckles across the pitch hauling the rest of the team with him.
I am under no illusion that 3rd or 4th is great result for us. It is the bare minimum of what we should achieve! But when the season is all over and done with we can all breath a little bit easier knowing that Arsene has Steve McQueened this season again.
Anyway that’s that (It’s hard to think of the game when there is a bigger picture at stake), now to the game. Personally I think Newcastle have clocked out for the season; their previous results undermine what they are truly capable of. Second season jitters…I think not. We all know at their best they are good enough to challenge for Europa League football. Unfortunately, the loss of Demba Ba along with a whole host of injuries really has crippled their season. Fifth last season. Relegation scrap this season (until they defeated QPR in their last fixture). However, we could be in for a rude awakening if we take Newcastle to easy in this one… they do have match winners at their disposal.
Missing in Action:
Arsenal: Diaby (malicious bad luck resulting in repetitive injuries), Arteta (calf) faces a fitness test
Newcastle: Sit on top of the premier league injury table with a host of injuries to key players: Krul (shoulder), Ameobi (knee), R.Taylor (ACL), Sissoko (ankle), and Vuckic (knee) will miss this one. Elliot (red card) will also sit this one out. While Tiote, Hairdara, Santon (all hamstrings), and S.Taylor (virus) should be available subject to fitness tests.
Tough one to predict this time around. It all comes down to the fitness of Mikel Arteta. While he hasn’t been in the best of form as of late he is vital to our setup. He’s a small chance for this one after sustaining a calf injury against Wigan in our last fixture. Do we risk bringing in a player that may only be 70% fit given the implications of this match? I’m not so sure. What I do know is Arteta is a consummate professional and if selected he will give every bit of himself to the cause.
If he doesn’t pass the fitness test who do we select? Ramsey can slot in to Arteta’s position like he did so admirably against Liverpool, but who plays next to him? Wilshere can but his injury concerns are well documented. At the moment Arsene has him encased in glass with the words ‘In case of Emergency’ written on it. Once again though, if selected Jack will leave everything out on the pitch. Or as Highbury Harmony pointed out do we go with Coquelin? After all it is his preferred position! We could move Rosicky back, move Cazorla to the attacking midfield position, Podolski to the left and Giroud up front. Sounds good but it could leave us a little lightweight in midfield especially with the bull Tiote on the pitch. Then again, Tiote is prone to a yellow card, and if he grabs one early he may just retreat into his shell. Lastly, Vermaelen to defensive midfield. Sounds like a great move to me…but just not now and in a game so important. Last thing we want to do is experiment.
Who plays up front? Giroud or Podolski?
I’m going to have to go with Giroud in this one. He’s back in the fold after a shocking decision which left him sidelined for 3 matches. Podolski (like Wilshere) is due for surgery come season’s end but he really has delivered when we’ve needed him most. I don’t profess to know what has gone on behind the scenes with Podolski this season, but clearly injuries have taken their toll on him. Giroud is the fresher of the two and should start. Podolski…one more game mate, give it all you’ve got, get fixed up in the off-season and come back firing on all cylinders next season!
The rest of the team picks itself.
If Steven Taylor passes his fitness test he should take Williamson’s position alongside Coloccini. Harper will play his last ever game for Newcastle thanks to Krul’s shoulder injury and Elliot’s red card last week. I feel sorry for Harper. Not only did he have to contend with Given for much of his career and more recently Krul, but he will be forever immortalised in highlight dvds thanks to this from Xavi Alonso:
Gouffran will sit behind Cisse and the dangerous Ben Arfa out on the wing.
Arsenal 7 – Newcastle 3
The score really doesn’t paint the full story. 3-3 at the 69′ until a late flurry saw Theo net 2 more goals to secure a hat-trick and Giroud score 2 in the space of a couple of minutes. Phew!
For those who missed it here are the highlights (love our friend with the commentary again):
Arsenal 2 – Newcastle 1
Vermaelen scored in the final seconds to ensure victory after a tough battle that saw tempers flare and Dutch compatriots square off. HIT HIM KRUL, HIT HIM!!!!
The damning stat is we have only beaten them once at St. James since 2004!
Form Guide: Arsenal: WWDWD Newcastle: WDLDL
Our form has been up and down for most of the season but our form really has come good when we needed it most! We are unbeaten in our last 9 league games (best run in 2 years) and sees us sitting on top of the premierleague.com form ladder.
Stats can paint Newcastle’s form in two ways. They have won 4 of their last 6 home games; however, The last 2 have been a 0-3 loss to Sunderland, and a devastating 0-6 loss at the hands of Liverpool. It’s safe to say their confidence is at an all time low.
This week I’ve dipped into the archive by continuing with the déjà vu theme. That’s right our final game at Highbury which just happened to (along with some dodgy cooking) stop Tottenham from finishing in the top 4.
One to Watch:
Santi Cazorla – Rightfully or wrongfully excluded from the PFA team of the year I couldn’t care less. He’s a gem of a player and I’m happy as Larry he’s in our team. He was in sterling form again providing 4 assists against Wigan. Give him time and space and he can hurt you in a number of ways.
Hatem Ben Arfa – Proven match winner when he can stay on the pitch. Hamstring injuries have plagued his season and probably should have sat out for the remainder of the season weeks ago. However, his importance to Newcastle was shown by Pardew, who called upon him to sheer Newcastle throw their relegation battle. Give him a sniff at goal and he will take it!
Ben Arfa vs Kieran Gibbs
Although Nacho tends to be the preferred left back for away fixtures I’d go with Gibbs in this one to quell the influence of Ben Arfa. Last season Gibbs saved us with a brilliant season defining tackle. He put his body on the line and threw himself in front of an on-rushing West Brom player who was about to pull the trigger.
He has the speed to go with Ben Arfa and has a good understanding with Podolski. Gibbs will have to be cautious though, neglect his defensive duties and Szczesney may well be picking the ball out the back of the net. Gibbs should win this battle though.
This season’s final finger goes to the stress Arsene Wenger and us supporters have had to deal with all season. It hasn’t been an easy ride that’s for sure. If seasons like this one continue we’ll all have hair like Brave Sir Robin in no time at all (even Terry’s syrup’s will start turning grey!). For the first time in a while I’m excited to see what the transfer window holds for us. Knuckle down in pre-season, add 2/3 players, sign Sagna and there is no reason why we cannot challenge for full honours next season!
Pre-Match pat on the back:
The final pat on the back goes out to all the Arsenal supporters who have stayed tough this season in spite of everything. The away supporters who continue to do us proud and outsing the home crowd. TA for starting a blog that allows Gooners from across the globe to converse and talk all things Arsenal. Every single person who writes a post or comments on Bergkampesque; with each new contributor this site raises another level. To VCC for developing (and corrupting) the UMF league, it’s been great. Finally, the Arsenal…without you we’d have to spend more time with our loved ones and less time drinking in celebration or drowning our sorrows!
Ooh to! Ooh to be! Ooh to be a Gooner!
‘Ask the opposition’ returns again this week. It is designed to get some friendly banter from our opposition fans and get their insight for the match ahead. This week we see returning Newcastle fans Paul from www.nufcblog.org , and Kev from http://www.newcastleunited-mad.co.uk. Thanks for your help again gents!
1) What’s your thoughts on the PFA Team of the Year?
Paul: It seems fair enough to me. I’d already tipped Verthonghen for a place on there when I was banging on about how Newcastle United should have signed him. Your lot should made more of an effort to sign him as well, you already have his best mate, the Verminator. Perhaps your Cazorla could have been in with a shout but all the ones in there have been very good.
Kev: No thoughts at all to be honest with you. Doesn’t concern Newcastle United I’m afraid.
2) Is Fergie’s retirement going to reel Man United back with the rest of the competition?
Paul: David Moyes is no Alex Ferguson. Then again, Kenny Dalglish was no Bob Paisley at Liverpool (the first time he managed there), but he kept on winning with a little help from Paisley himself. Perhaps we’ll see the same sort of thing at Manchester United?
Kev: Moyes? You have got to be joking. 11 years and no trophies. Yep, that’s the sort of CV Man Utd fans have craved for, isn’t it? I wouldn’t want Moyes at Newcastle – never mind Man Utd. Yep…they will be in turmoil by Xmas.
3) Newcastle…what happened this year?
Paul: Alan Pardew, he isn’t very good and he never was. Lots of managers like Peter Reid, Danny Wilson, George Burley, Steve Coppell and so on… have had very good seasons as a “surprise package,” won the LMA “Manager of the Year” award then sunk like a stone. Pardew is another one on a fairly long list.
Kev: How long have you got? Injuries have had a lot to do with it, but Pardew’s tactics haven’t helped. All in all, a bad show from players and manager.
4) Are you expecting much transfer activity in the next transfer window?
Paul: If you mean with all the teams, yes, quite a bit because if the increased Premiership TV money. If you mean Newcastle United in particular, maybe a few but not a huge amount.
Kev: Let’s hope a new boss comes in and Ashley backs him. If Pardew stays, I think Ashley will not be as thrifty.
5) Who do you think Arsenal need to buy (one or more) to start winning things again?
Paul: Since Arsenal last won a major trophy, besides the usual top teams, Portsmouth, Birmingham City, Swansea City and Tottenham (ouch) have all won major trophies with lesser squads, so perhaps you need to take a risk with another manager rather than another raft of big players? Of course, Newcastle United are even worse though!
Kev: It’s crunch time for Wenger. Chelsea, Man U and Man C will have new managers, and I think Arsenal will gain from that. Who he buys is up to him. He knows better than me, I’m sure.
6) Who would you rather finish in the top 4 Arsenal or Tottenham?
Paul: I don’t mind. I don’t have anything against either team and as I live in North London, most of my friends are either Arsenal or Tottenham fans.
Kev: That’s a personal thing as I don’t talk on behalf of all Newcastle fans. I have been to Arsenal (both stadiums) many times and never had any trouble. I’ve been to Spurs just as often, but they aren’t as friendly. Arsenal for me.
7) Prediction for our upcoming match?
Paul: Arsenal to win, not sure about the score.
Kev: Last two home games we lost to Sunderland 0-3 and Liverpool 0-6. If Arsenal score early we could suffer. Depends who scores first. 1-1
We have too much to play for, Newcastle have nothing left to give so we should walk out winners in this one quite easily I feel. Szczesney to be rarely tested. 0-2 to the good guys. This rollercoaster ride is about to come to an end…with us sitting in 3rd spot!
To our Tottenham friends:
Written By: Oz Gunner
The Curious Case of Francis Coquelin – and our youth academy in general.
After seeing Arteta limp off the pitch against Wigan on Tuesday, there have been questions surrounding his fitness for this Sunday’s crucial tie with Newcastle. Will Arsenal be able to cope without its fearless leader, engine, and one half of the blossoming DM-pivot partnership? Who will replace him in the starting line-up if he is indeed not fit?
The obvious choice, if healthy, would be Jack Wilshere. However, Arsene is reluctant to use Jack unless it is an absolute necessity (in which case this may be one), since he is on heavy pain relievers until he goes under the knife to remove a pin in his ankle once the season concludes.
The next logical option would be Francis Coquelin.
Once labelled as the DM of the future, together with Frimpong, the two young Arsenal academy products were seen as the ideal midfield combo to lead our team for years.
So then, what does Arsene now do with Coquelin? There is plenty of promise to his game, but he is either not receiving the minutes he needs to properly develop his play and confidence, or his progression is simply not living up to the expectations demanded from him.
In my opinion, starting Coquelin in such a crucial game this Sunday would be setting him up for failure. He has not started a match since mid-February and would clearly be off-form. His confidence will surely be very low and we cannot afford to allow a player time to “shake off the rust”, with Champions League qualification at stake.
Media circulated rumours are swirling that Schalke 04 have inquired about the availability of purchasing Coquelin on a permanent transfer. Many Arsenal fans, including myself, are extremely reluctant to let such a promising talent leave the club, only to blossom elsewhere. However, at what point is a move away from the club for first-team opportunities in the best interests of the player?
We’ve started to see academy players leave our club in search of first-team action, such as Bartley to Swansea, Angha to Nuremburg, Ebecilio to Twente etc. It remains to be seen if these prospects will ever amount to anything, but Arsenal also seems to lack the presence of a club like Barcelona, where their youth products are always itching for an eventual return to their boyhood club.
One must now ask the unavoidable question: is our youth academy failing to produce the necessary talent for the first-team, or is AW not affording our youth the opportunity to prove themselves at the highest level?
Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to this question, but I do speculate it is a combination of both aspects, with a heavier emphasis on our youth simply not developing at a rate quick enough to match, or better, the level of quality needed to compete at the top.
Now, this is not to say that the youth academy has been a complete waste, since there are some promising players coming through the ranks in Gnabry, Eisfeld, Bellerin, Zelalem, Olsson etc.
However, there are some key questions which need to be explored a bit further:
- Will these players be given first-team opportunities early, and consistently enough, to satisfy their desires for top-flight football?
- Or will we continue to see an exodus of our youth, and eventually have a few come back and haunt us as overlooked top talents?
- What effect will purchasing top quality, established players from other clubs have on our youth and academy in general?
Fine, fellow Gooners, I would now like to open the floor and hear your thoughts. Would you start Coquelin this Sunday? Will we regret neglecting our promising youth in search of top quality players that can help us now?
Written by: Highbury Harmony
Since Arsene dropped his captain and first choice goalkeeper to the bench, after the painful and costly loss against you know who, Arsenal conceded just five goals in ten games: 0.5 goals per game.
Vermaelen has started just one game out of those ten (against Norwich) but Szczesny was reintroduced to the first team against Everton, after which he started in all games again (five in total). Koscielny basically took his chance with both his floppy ears and never looked back. Fabianski did well in his five consecutive games, conceding just three goals. But then he got injured, apparently, and his last chance to claim the nr.1 goalkeeper position at Arsenal went up in smoke.
We will have to see what will happen with Fabianski and Vermaelen this summer, but I reckon not many of us are expecting them to be here come September. I hope the Lion of Flanders will stay and fight for his position, but for Fabianski it would no doubt be best to find himself a team where he will be regarded as the nr.1 goalkeeper.
Nine games of (new) partnership between Koz and Mertesacker are not really enough to make a strong claim about the long term viability of it, but with conceding just four goals in all games, including Bayern, MU, Swansea and West Brom away, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.
Of course we should take into account the additional support our defence has had in those last ten games, by both playing Arteta and Ramsey in a more conservative and deeper set-up in midfield and by clipping the wings of our full backs to some extent. But the German and Frenchman have formed a great partnership that deserves credit.
For me, despite Fabianski doing well too in his games, both Koz and BFG are not complete without Szczesny behind them. This is a very promising triangle in the heart of our defence and I am starting to feel very positive about it going forward. Somehow, these three get the best out of each other, and the whole is a lot greater than the sum of its parts.
Szczesny is an extrovert and ‘confidence-player’, who imposes himself on his opponents. He also has great technical ability, but his cocky-nature can get him into trouble which sometimes leads to poor and costly mistakes.
Mertesacker is an imposing figure and a natural organiser; he has great overview, and is a fine reader of the game. He is also calm under pressure and deals well with personal mistakes and set-backs for the team. However, we also know he is not the fastest and gets beaten in one-on-one situations at times.
Koscielny is very energetic and athletic, a great tackler and strong in the air. He reads the game, and positions himself, very well. But, his over-exuberance makes him prone to the odd mistake which sometimes leads to costly (own) goals against us.
However, Koz has hardly made any mistakes recently and the same goes for Mertesacker and Szczesny. There seems to be a growing a fine understanding between the Frenchman, the Pole and the German and they are compensating for each other weaknesses to a large extent.
Mertesacker’s organisational skills and natural calm seem to help Koz and Szczesny with balancing their energy levels, composure and decision making. Koz and Szczesny’s speed of thinking and ability to act quickly and decisively are covering well for the BFG’s slowness in turning and vulnerability of being left in a one-on-one with fast and agile attackers.
The three of them are bit by bit forming an almost impenetrable triangle and it also looks like the FB’s are both benefiting from this, as well as adding further value to our solidness at the back.
Sagna and Mertesacker work well together, but I have also noticed how Jenkinson and Mertesacker form a fine partnership on the right side of our defence – both compensating for each other’s weaknesses (inexperience and positioning in case of Jenkinson).
Koz and Gibbs are also starting to gel and support each other better and the same goes for Koz and Nacho. Although, the latter partnership is still more of a work in progress.
All in all, there are some really positive signs with regards to our defensive solidity and although it is still early days, I reckon this is an area Wenger and Bould do not have to worry about too much this summer (except for adding some strength in depth in case Vermaelen does not stay).
But would you agree with that?
Written by: TotalArsenal.
Twenty-four hours later and our victory over Wigan still feels very good. After a number of recent ‘one-nil to the Arsenal’ scores it was great to score four goals, and have all three attackers involved in either goals or assists. Arsenal needed this game to give us new momentum, and with that the believe and energy that we can finish the job against The Magpies this weekend.
A lot has been said about the need to introduce a more complete defensive midfielder this summer, but it cannot be denied that the combination of Ramsey and Arteta is working for us right now. At times, these two remind me of MU’s Carrick and Fletcher in previous seasons: solid midfielders with little flair but with a great work-rate and positional awareness. These are not the sort of footballers that will keep you awake at night, but they are like the feet of the swan working their socks off, allowing it to move graciously along. Not that we have been gracious a lot in recent months, but I hope you get the gist…
We all know that Arteta brings this to the party, but the current player of the month, Rambo, might now have found his niche within the team, by occupying the spot next to El Zorro. There is little doubt in my mind that Arsene needs to make changes in midfield over the summer, but he will be very glad that the Rambo-Arteta tandem, among other changes, has made such a difference in the final, and most vital, part of the season.
Ramsey could well become our Parlour of this decade, as he has a similar drive and great motor, and does not mind to do the dirty work at all. Any good team can do with a player in the squad – not necessarily in the first-eleven – who brings such energy and commitment in midfield, and Ramsey fits this role really well. We should also take into account that he is effectively only 21, having missed up to 1.5 years as a result of his horrific leg-break. He will get better, possibly much better in coming seasons, and it is essential now to keep him in the squad.
The injury to Arteta is quite a worry right now. We know from the previous season we can struggle if and when Arteta does not play, so hopefully his injury is not too bad.
But let’s have a look at how Arsenal can replace him. Wilshere does not look fully fit and it is questionable whether he can play an entire game, so a combination of Rambo and him does not look like a good option. We could try Coquelin and Rambo, but the Frenchman did not have many games in the first team, and I for one, would feel uncomfortable bringing him into our crucial game against NU.
As a few others have mentioned on the blog in the last twenty-four hours, Vermaelen would be a very good option to play next to Ramsey. He would bring extra steel – tackling and aerial power – and energy, and I am sure he would be really up for it. Key would be for him to stay calm and time his tackles well, and as he could be a bit rusty, there is some risk of this. I am not entirely sure how good he would be at reading the game in midfield, but I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, as his other qualities will be very valuable at least. So Vermaelen-Rambo for me on Sunday.
Finally, I like to say something about Theo. How important has he been for us in the last few games? Scored the only goal against QPR – two points worth – the only goal against MU – one point worth – and scored the all-important second against Wigan last night. Theo with consistency would be as valuable as Ronaldo, but he clearly is not of that calibre; although, he is also still young and will develop further.
His stats this season are fantastic again and what an important (re)signing he has been for us. And when he goes through a difficult patch again, let’s stay behind him and know that sooner or later he will bring home the bacon again.
Written by: TotalArsenal.
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