Walcott – Ox – Welbeck: Wenger’s English WOW-Factor

Arsenal's new signing Danny Welbeck

With thanks to The Guardian for picture.


Anyone who has watched England play over the last few years will agree that it is in desperate need of a more potent strike-force. It has been dire up-front for a long time, with Rooney just not able to deal with the pressure being put onto him when it matters most (and the Dutch suffer the same with his grey-haired strike partner). 

A lot has been said about Wenger wanting to build a strong core of British players at Arsenal. I still believe he picks the players on their talents and value to the team rather than the origin of their passports; but of course there is something to say for finding, moulding and readying for the very top of a number of players from these beautiful shores. It could well become Arsene’s biggest legacy in the long term both for country and club…. well, other than the Invincibles of course.

And with Jack, Rambo, Gibbs, Chambers, Ox, Theo and now Welbeck – all young and now playing together in a proper team that plays proper football – something beautifully, predominantly British is about to be created at Arsenal. 

I have a good feeling about signing Welbeck, but must admit I did not see this one coming. At Arsenal, his role as ‘holding striker’ will allow him to miss chances and to be able to get over it; and in return, this will build his confidence and form the basis for realising the potential he has within him. Wenger’s philosophy is based on a multi-dimensional goal-threat, rather than a narrow, super-sharp arrow at the very front. The paradox being that the better the CF is the more the other players – often very astute finishers themselves – decide to channel the attacks through to him rather than take responsibility themselves. And over time, this will make us over-dependent on him and one-dimensional as well. 

And Welbeck’s role will be about a lot more than his lethality in front of goal. We needed a nr.2 to Giroud who has enough in him to surpass him eventually. I rate Giroud highly, but there is room for improvement and Welbeck will get the time to make the holding CF position his. And in the process he will be helped by Alexis, Giroud, Pod, Theo, Ozil, and many more to share the goal scoring load. 

I am convinced that when everybody is fit we will mostly play with TAO up-front: Theo, Alexis and Ollie, but I am also getting excited about the prospect of playing Walcott, Ox and Welbeck – WOW! – up-front, with Ozil, Jack and/or Ramsey, or even Alexis…. to feet them quality balls to really hurt the opposition.

Would that not be an exciting alternative? Can you think of a trio of attackers with more thrust, speed and menace than the WOW-boys?!

I admit that all three are still a work in progress, although Theo is furthest of them all (and let’s hope the big injury he suffered has not put him back too much). Ox. like Jack, will have to move it up to the next level now, and of course Welbeck is not the finished article either. But they all have youth on their side and are surrounded by experienced players they can learn from constantly. Maybe we will even see Dennis or Thierry join the coaching staff any time soon…..

One day they will be leading the line between them for England, with Jack feeding them from behind and together creating the WOW factor again – putting this proud nation back at the level where it belongs. It is about time, and that is coming from a Dutchman! :P

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Posted in Attacking football | Tagged | 6 Comments

Welbeck To The Future: A Sensible Signing!

As yet, the signing of Danny Welbeck has not been confirmed, and as we know with Transfer Windows, we should not count our chickens till the fat bird has sung.

I would welcome Wellbeck with open arms. Giroud is our main holding striker and I have written many a post on BK explaining why he is so important to Arsene’s Arsenal. Sanogo is being moulded into the next Giroud but he has some way to go, and now that our main man is injured for three months or more, there would simply be too much pressure on the apprentice.

So what is the sensible thing to do….. to buy a player who can step in straightaway and is, in terms of development, somewhere between Sanogo and Giroud. Wellbeck has the ability to play with his back towards the goal and hold onto the ball, he is strong, passes the ball well and has great stamina. He also has PL experience and a decent goal conversion rate, and he is a team player who can be moulded further by Arsene.

Let’s just remember that Wenger is not looking for a striker ala Van Judas anymore, who might be a better finisher than Giroud but is unable to play with his back to the goal very well and put in the hard graft we usually get from our Frenchman.
Our CF needs to be able to enable our midfielders/fellow attackers to join the attack, to provide space for them, to produce assists (and penultimate assists), to form a threat in front of goal, AND, of course, to score goals himself.

I reckon Wellbeck can be turned into a ‘Giroud’ quite quickly and he should be able to form strong competition for him within the next six to 18 months. Of course he is not the marquee signing many of us had wished for, but he will fit into our system well, and at this stage of the season this makes total sense.
Will he be a success at Arsenal…. I reckon he will. Welcome to the Home of Football Danny – Enjoy the right.

Written by: TotalArsenal

Posted in Uncategorized | 187 Comments

Arsenal’s 4-1-4-1 is wasting our talents

Time to change system and formation?

There have been calls by Gooners around the world for Arsene to splash the cash to add some defensive steel and world-class finishing to our squad, but this article will address an issue that goes beyond the addition of any new pieces that we could find in the transfer market. Sure, the addition of a proper DM would give our back four necessary protection and allow our creative players more license to attack, and an additional striker could either add depth during our injury crisis or provide us with a world-class finisher to match the likes of Chelsea, United and City.

WengerWincing (3)

However, one look at our first-team squad and no one could claim that we are short on quality. With the amount of creative talent between Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere and Sanchez alone, there should be no problem creating scoring opportunities. Yet, in most matches this season, we have lacked tooth in attack, remained slow in our decision making, creating very few clear cut scoring opportunities as a result.

You can criticize Giroud all you want, but every time he has stepped onto the pitch, we have been given a focus in attack to play off of up top, and he has created opportunities for others and himself to bring us back into games. He’s clearly not a world-class finisher, but without him, the attack seems rather deflated. So, is this a call for another replacement striker while he is out for four months? Or, is there an inherent problem with the system/formation?

My belief is that it does not matter who we purchase, because both the system and formation need to be addressed first (or simultaneously). If you have taken the time to watch both Swansea and Liverpool in the past two seasons, you will see constant free flowing football with attacking intent. Despite also having a focus on possession and slick passing, both of the aforementioned clubs are always moving forward and direct in their approach. The players are very active in finding open spaces to open up passing lanes for their teammates and will make quick decisions to play them early. On the other hand, I have always felt that Arsenal are too static in their build-up play, waiting to see if passing lanes will open up, instead of proactively going in search of them. Changing this mentality does not require a complete overhaul of the squad, but adding some urgency in our play to move the ball forward (opposed to sideways and backwards) and requiring our current players to work harder for a full 90 minutes.

Of course, playing in this ridiculous 4-1-4-1 has not benefitted the squad: as roles are fairly undefined in midfield, the center of the park becomes congested and we are largely wasting the creative talents of Ozil, who has been pushed wide. In addition, playing so many central midfielders, means that players are not making incisive runs into the scoring lanes. I’m fairly certain that, even if we buy a new striker without addressing the system and formation first, we will still be left disappointed with the end product. We simply do not create enough chances to score and win games, and we cannot become reliant on certain players to “save us”.

Buying is not always the answer and we have the talent here to at least create more scoring opportunities against mid and lower table clubs. Would new purchases help us though? They certainly would as greater talent and depth at each position can create better competition for places, pushing players to perform better as a result. Still, with the eventual return of Theo, we will add an essential versatility to our attack that is currently missing, which could benefit us in a big way. Until then, the coaching staff should really re-evaluate their approach to the game and try to better involve the pieces already within the squad. Of course, it’s still early on in the season, but the sub-standard performances to date are not promising for the season that lies ahead.

Written By: Highbury Harmony

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Giroud the ‘Holding Striker’ was, is and will be ‘Plan A’.


Everton – Arsenal Afterthoughts

Never was the cliché of ‘a game of two halves’ more appropriate: 45 minutes with Alexis up top and 45 minutes with Ollie up top made a world of difference. In principle, we all like the idea of three ‘free to move’ attackers up top, who terrorize the opponent and bang in goals for fun. But this is not something we just do by lining up very good players: and Mesut, Alexis and Alex are three very fine attackers indeed. It takes time and practice: players have to get used to each other, understand each other weaknesses and strengths and develop an automatic, telepathic understanding with each other.

The first half was very hard on the eye. Our midfield worked well and we had a lot of the attacking play, but as soon as we got near the box it was total mayhem. There was plenty of movement and energy levels were high, but many passes went astray – especially in front and behind the opponent’s ‘D’. We looked clueless and, most importantly, shapeless and like our attackers were put together up-front for the first time.

Of course, it did not help that we conceded a poor goal from a set-piece and that bad refereeing allowed the second one to stand. Just as against CP, when we also did not score in the first part of the first half after a dominant phase of the game, we conceded unnecessary as a result of bad defending of a set piece. There is work to be done there, but as the BFG is back now I am sure we will get on top this gradually.

I was actually quite shocked to see Wenger starting without OG up-top. I reckon he did this to save him for the most important game of the season so far – our second CL game on Wednesday (and not to ‘punish’ him for a bad performance in Istanbul).

I have tried to explain to fellow bloggers on BK why Giroud is so important to Wenger’s Arsenal on a number of occasions over the last few years. Ever since Chamakh was bought, Arsene has been meaning to have a ‘holding striker’, for lack of a better word, who enables midfielders and ‘wing players’ to get involved in our attacking efforts: this is vital to his next ‘Wengerball’ team. OG’s three top performance objectives are: level of effectiveness in holding on to the ball and cooperating with fellow midfielders and attackers, setting up attacks and assists, AND score goals – and in that order of importance. Most fellow Gooners judge OG’s performances in the reverse order… and that is where you are getting it wrong in my humble opinion, and why I understand, to some extent, your frustrations.

When Van Judas was injured for the first half of the season a few seasons ago, Chamakh played the holding striker role and we banged in 2.3 goals per game. In the second part of that season, and the subsequent season too, we managed about 1.9 goals per game, even though the traitorous ‘I will Always Be a Gunner’ grey-haired one was in the form of his life. We became dependent on him and all our attacking play was aimed at him: he delivered but as a team we were not scoring enough. Yet, under Chamakh’s attacking guidance, the team did very well, albeit with super midfielders in the team, like Cesc and Nasri, who knew how to put them away all right. And there is a hint for you all. ;)

Chamakh did not score enough himself and he could not deal with the criticism very well, so on comes Giroud from Montpellier. Giroud was an improvement of Chamakh, as he could play the holding attacker role really well, whilst also scoring more goals in the process.

It was amazing to see how much criticism was labelled at OG, and how little was aimed at the underperforming midfielders yesterday. Ox lacked composure and missed an easier chance than OG, Ozil was rustier than the Titanic, Ramsey’s boat was not floating and Jack is still missing the final sharpness. Yet, very few, to my despair, picked up how much OG changed the game for us once he came on. We had shape and focus again, there was directness to our play and OG was in the middle of much of it. Yes he missed a decent chance after being thirty seconds on the pitch…. unforgiveable! :)

Everton were very well set up though, and their double DM pivot made it really hard for us. But it was The Gunners and not the Toffees who travelled and played in Istanbul just four days ago, and who still had the endurance and energy to push on for the full 90+ minutes, and somehow overcome a 2-0 deficit – for the first time in three seasons apparently – and win not just an important point, but a lot of team spirit and belief in the process too. The latter is absolutely vital for a side with trophy winning amibitions!

I am convinced that if we had started with OG, and Alexis and Mesut (or Alex instead of Mesut) ‘on the wings’, we would have beaten the Toffees yesterday. With Sanogo still injured though, and OG in need of resting for the Besiktas cruncher, Wenger had not much choice but to try Alexis up-front. It did not work out, and he was right, however unusual, to revert back to plan A straight from the start of the second half.

OG’s reintroduction made all the difference: not because he is the prolific striker so many are longing for – far from it; it is because he gives shape to this team’s attack more than anybody else and he is vital in Wenger’s plans – for 2014-2015 at least.

Wenger knows he has a lot of work to do to get the other four attack minded positions effectively populated and to get the best use of a plethora of high quality midfielders and attackers. We still have two important games to come: Besitkas at home and Leicester away. It will take time to find our form again, but with the team spirit on display in recent games, I am positive we can get the needed results. And if we do beat both, we can look back at a very successful mini-start to the season, however unattractive and messy our football has looked at times.

Bread and butter first, the bacon and marmalade will follow soon. :)

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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Giroud rested & Alexis to lead the line | Ozil & BFG to return? Preview and Predicted Line-Up


Let’s not beat around the bush with our best ‘elevensies’. Arsene picks the team. All we can do is hope he picks the right one, and they do their bit for 90 odd minutes.

We also know enough about Everton that they will not gift us one point, let alone all three. We will have to be better than our last couple of games, and that means that the best ‘fit’ available eleven should play, and above that, play well together. Anything less and you can write off this season as being an ‘invincible’ repeat.

What we know about Arsene Wenger, he does not like to make too many changes …

So I will start with what we know … the players available for selection: 

Goalkeepers: Szczesney(play); Martinez(bench).

Centrebacks: Chambers; Koscielny; Monreal; Mertersacker(possible); Miquel or (Hayden), (bench).

Fullbacks: Debuchy; Monreal; Bellerin(bench); Flamini(emergency);Miguel(emergency).

Midfield: Ramsey; Wilshere; Alexis; Ox; Rosicky; Flamini; Ozil(possible); Chambers(possible); Cazorla(possible/bench); Hayden(emergency); Bellerin(outside chance).

Attackers: Sanchez; Campbell; Giroud; Sanogo(if fit); Akpom(unlikely).

The Under 21’s play Friday night, so Akpom and Hayden are very unlikely to do both. That also applies to Zelalem for those looking for a midfield miracle?

I have two thoughts about Mertersacker playing.

1, He was quickly dispatched to the training ground on Monday, and not on the plane to Turkey. Which may mean in order to be right for this game?

2, Given the others are working their way into top gear, it is a bit much to think he will be the ‘rock’ of last season, at such short notice? It may be a choice out of desparation, but if he plays, he starts. It is not a position where you can come on late and change the game? Unless that pushes Chambers into the DM slot. Not likely in a high profile game like this?

So I can well imagine the same pairing of Chambers and Koscielny continuing.

Just one little thought, although unlikely, it could be that Per drops in the middle of a back three, where he will not have to do much of the physical stuff, other than mark Lukaku at set pieces, but would be there to organise the back line, and allow Kos to do his own thing. This would mean having two quick CB able to push out and cover the gaps left by high line FB’s?

That is the back possibilities. Now for the defensive midfield.

This depends on the make up of the back 2 or 3. With two CB’s, as part of a back 4, then the ‘double pivot’ will be the order of the day. Most likely JW10 and AR16. If he goes for the back 5, then it might just fall to Flamini or Ramsey.

Ozil has similar doubts to Mertersacker, and if he starts, I doubt he will last the whole game. Less risk here, so I expect him to be the CAM. We need that creativity he brings, and hopefully the frontline will benefit if they are on the same wavelength this early in the season.

The final three positions from the squad will be either alongside Ozil, or just ahead of, in the central striking role.

It is not hard to think Giroud will be on the bench for this. His lack of sharpness on Tuesday night was notable, and a third game in 7 days is not going to help, imo. Sometimes Arsene has a different view? I think at the back of his mind that comment about him not being ruthless enough to be a top manager that is circulating will be something he wishes to disprove? Not that he will admit as much, but that is the nature of the beast.

A front 3 of; Ox, Alexis, and Campbell is very much on the cards, especially if Mertersacker plays to give that height in defence?

So, option 1, and the most likely?:

Eve v Arsenal Option 1

Attack minded with pace?

Option 2, If Arsene wishes to try it?:

 Eve v Arsenal Option 2

On the bench for both options is much the same: Martinez; Bellerin;(Chambers); (Wilshere); Rosicky: (Cazorla); Giroud(Campbell).

Option 2 possibly offers better defensive cover, but if the sharp attack of Option 1 brings early dividends, the sub of Bellerin for Ozil late on, moving Ox into the middle would shore things up?

Arsene tends not to pay too much attention to the opposition, or so it is alleged, so I will not either.

Just to say, Everton are also ‘bedding in’ new players, and will be without the dangerous Ross Barclay. They will have Lukaku as the central battering ram, and McGready and Naismith to do the ‘inside the box’ support late. Both were on the scoresheet last weekend. Pienaar and /or Mirallis pulling the strings, with Barry and McCarthy doing the defensive work in front of the back four.

They too have a solid bench to call upon.

So don’t kid ourrselves it will be easy. This team must work together in attack and defence. But with the pace on show, we could counter attack very well and put it to bed early on. But to do that, we need to be cutting out the sloppy passes and missed chances of the last two games.

Feel free to make your starting 11, but do not expect any signings from the TW to give any more options from the squad I gave above.

Keep the faith. It is a long season, and we have only just started!

Written by: Gerry

Posted in Uncategorized | 193 Comments

Arsenal v Besiktas Afterthoughts: Let’s not be too harsh!

Rusty, ugly and below par but the team fought like lions 

It was not vintage Arsenal tonight: at times we played frustrating football that was hard on the eye. But the boys worked hard for each other and there were some real positives.

I was doubtful about Monreal being the right choice against Besiktas but he played a near blinder. Nacho was tenacious and driven and supported our attack well at times!

Chambers had another fine game, and in a way I am happy he made a mistake or two tonight. That shows he is human and there is some room for improvement: and that is what you expect from a nineteen year old who just joined a new club. He reads the game well and is so decisive with his interventions, and his distribution is very good too.

Koz showed he can be vulnerable at the right side of our defence but he still had a very good game. He works well alongside Chambers, and now I cannot wait to see the young Englishman paired up with the BFG: the German will be able to coach Chambers really well, I feel.

I also liked what I saw from Debuchy. He worked very hard again and keeps supporting the attack. The final ball still needs to improve, and so does his cooperation with Sanchez (and eventually Theo), but I like what he brings to the club.

Jack, Rambo and Cazorla were all disappointing, and the same goes for Giroud. Sanchez tries and tries and he does get a lot of the ball by the team, but the rest are yet to raise their level, which I am sure they well. We all know that our midfielders can play much better than they did tonight (or on Saturday), and we just have to be a bit patient.

But 0-0 is a good result and the boys worked hard to not concede, especially after Ramsey forgot himself for a moment, resulting in a second yellow card for shirt pulling.

Ox came on late and was unlucky for not scoring but hitting the post after a mazy, Messiesque move into the box. It would have been harsh on Besiktas though, who played some good football at times and produced the better chances. It was nice to see Ozyacup doing well and I hope the boy comes good at Beziktas. 

Although I did not enjoy watching the game from a purist perspective, I commend the boys for working hard for each other and all putting a shift in. At this stage of the season, that is all I ask for and the quality of our play will come with time.

Next up are the Toffees, and this will be a big test for the boys. Bring it on! :)

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 178 Comments

TA’s Arsenal Dream Team v Besiktas

With thanks to the best paper in the country, The Guardian, for the picture.

With thanks to the best paper in the country, The Guardian, for the picture.

Football is back, and although it might not be ideal to play Besiktas so soon after our battle against Palace, I cannot help but really look forward to our encounter in Istanbul. And although we won on Saturday, we all want to wash away the taste of a laboured and under-par performance with a committed, passionate, and above all winning, performance tomorrow night.

Rather than go safe and sit back to invite pressure, I hope we start with full throttle and go on the attack from the first whistle. My dream line up for the Besiktas game – rather than the predicted one as I never get these right anymore – is a 4-5-1 formation with real speed and thrust whilst also having some solid support for the back four.

I would like to see Flamini replace Gibbs for this game. We will play with Chambers again, or maybe even Miquel, and so we can do with the extra experience and calm of our French terrier. The rest of our defence picks itself right now, although I would not mind to see Bellerin getting a chance on the right wing tomorrow.

In midfield I would play Diaby if he is fit. He has travelled so he must be fine again. Diaby and Ramsey should be the deeper laying midfielders, but they are also very good in the transition and going forward. In the hole it is Sanchez for me, with OG in front of him. And on the wings, like many others have said in the past 48 hours, I would like thrust, speed and hunger and both Ox and Campbell have plenty of this.

My Dream Team:

Arsenal v Besiktas dream team

I would also be very happy to see Rosicky start instead of Campbell: Sanchez could move to the left and Rosa could play in the hole… but I would really like to see Campbell play again at some point at least tomorrow.

What it is your favourite line up for tomorrow’s game?

Let’s go for the jugular and attack from the start.

We are The Arsenal – COYG!!!

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Final Note:

We hold two competitions on Bergkampesque: Fantasy Football and a Predictions League and all are free to join – the more the merrier! :)

For Fantasy Football League see link:


For Predictions League see link:


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