What if Arsenal bought no new defenders? Time to promote Miguel and Yennaris.

Will Ignasi get a chance next season?

Will Ignasi get a chance next season?

What if Arsenal bought nobody this season?

I know this is sacrilege to the transfer horny hordes out there, but it is a necessary question to ask in my opinion. The paint on the old season has not even dried and everybody is talking greedily about the players we need to buy – and I have been as guilty as anybody. We all feel we have £70m+ burning in our holsters! 🙂

Yet, I feel there is not enough recognition for the incredible feat our boys have achieved since our painful loss against the Spuddies.

Winning the last five away games in a row is worthy of high praise, and so is winning eight of the last ten games. Add to this our five clean sheets (six including Bayern away) and conceding only five goals in 10 PL games, and we can only say that our boys have done us proud to fight back with all they had after the derby defeat.

The key question we have to ask is whether we can, and should, build further on this team.

To do this properly, let’s assume nobody is going to be signed in the summer, so we can analyse the strength as well the potential in this team going forward. For good order, and to avoid the nutbums to come on to the blog in hordes, I am not saying we should not buy anybody this season.

In three separate posts, I am going to look at the areas of GK/defence, midfield and attack.

Defence

Our defence has improved from last season, conceding 37 goals compared to 49 a year ago. Yet, we know that, except for the last ten games, they have been inconsistent: often conceding unnecessarily and early on in games, after which the team is faced with big mountains to climb. In the crucial one to one matches with our nearest rivals, our defence has not been good enough, especially in the first halves of our encounters with them.

It would be wrong to put all the blame on Vermaelen, as everybody in our defence has made costly mistakes this season. It is also fair to say that as a unit they were not provided with enough protection, and the switch towards a more conservative double-DM formation in which Ramsey and Arteta were ordered to stay tightly together and focus first and for all on their defensive duties, rather than venturing forward constantly, has made a big difference.

I feel the biggest problem for Vermaelen was his inability to combine the leadership duties, both of the defence AND the team as a whole, with performing his own CB duties to a high level of concentration and execution. He failed in this, and many of us could  see from quite early on that Vermaelen was not made for the captaincy.

Other than instructing Ramsey to play more conservatively and closer to Arteta, the pivotal decision in turning this season round has to be the benching of the Lion of Flanders. It allowed  the BFG to become the organiser/leader of defence and Arteta to take on  the leadership responsibilities of the whole team.

I love TV5, and really hope he is going to stay put, and fight for his place. But this cannot be as our captain, and he will have to work very hard to dislodge the more and more solid CB-pairing of BFG and Koz.

There are some vague rumours that TV will leave this summer, but if we want to consolidate the newly found strength of our defence, Arsene needs to do everything to keep him. One injury to either Koz or BFG, and TV gets another chance to work himself back into the team. We need at least one quality, experienced CB on the bench, and TV would be ideal for this. The question is whether he would be happy to accept this scenario…

With Squillaci surely leaving now and Djourou probably not returning to the squad after the summer, there should now be a chance for Miquel. He is a very stylish player who lacks experience, and I would love to see him get first team games next season. We also now know  that Sagna can play centrally, and so we should have both two experienced – Vermaelen and Sagna – and a talented option to cover for the CB positions. However, this does mean we need to hold on to both the Belgian and Frenchman, and if we don’t, we need to replace them as we need to keep a certain level of experience within back four.

Our current CB-pair of BFG and Koz is a combination of the tall and stable organiser type with the ‘first-soldier’, highly energetic type of CB. I reckon in TV and also Sagna we have more than decent replacement for the first-soldier type CB, but we do not have another ‘organiser’ type, ready to slot in.

I believe that Miquel has great potential for this, but he would not be adequate cover (yet) if and when the BFG is out for a long period. Perhaps Koz can be turned into this type but I am not entirely sure whether this would benefit us much. TV is not that type and neither is Sagna, so this is an area Wenger might have to look at.

We are likely to see an enormous ‘Battle of the FB’s’ next season, as Sagna and Jenkinson will compete for the RB position and Gibbs and Nacho for the LB position. It is fantastic that we have two good players for each position, and only if Sagna were to leave would we need to find experienced cover – and that is why I believe Arsene will not let the Frenchman go: what would be the point?

It might also be time to promote Nico Yennaris, who can play in midfield but also as a FB. It would allow us to use Sagna more regularly as  a CB – especially in the domestic cup games – and give both Jenkinson and him a break now and again.

I reckon Szczesny has done  enough to convince Wenger he is still our nr.1 with a number of good performances since he returned to the first team. The key issue remains whether we have good enough back up in case the’ Pole in Goal’ gets injured, suspended or suffers a huge drop in form. Mannone and  Fabianski both had stints in the first team and both did relatively very well.

But I still think this is the one area were Arsene might invest a bit of money to bring in a PL-experienced goalkeeper. However, if he decides not to then the risk would be relatively low.

So all in all, our defence is looking pretty good and if we keep everybody there is no urgent need to bring in new players.

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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91 Responses to What if Arsenal bought no new defenders? Time to promote Miguel and Yennaris.

  1. James Bond says:

    thanks, TA

    if we managed to keep hold of TV then yes, promoting both nico and miguel will suffice.

    if we sell TV then no, even after promoting both of them we would need an experienced CB.

  2. James Bond says:

    from the previous post :i asked

    by the way, what’s everyone’s most nonsensical Transfer of last season ?

    for me Chelsea take the biscuit with their selling of Daniel .Sturridge and buying Ba, had Sturridge got half the playing time as BA , he would have delivered the goods.

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed JB, we need to hold on to TV and I hope Arsene will be both strong and persuasive to keep TV at least another season. It is vital.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Not a transfer but a loan was the most nonsensical: Chamakh to West Ham –> how many minutes did he play for them?! 😕

  5. James Bond says:

    that’s a good one , TA

    but it made a lot of sense for Arsenal though, least we didn’t have to pay his full wages 😀

    it just goes to show that it was one of wenger’s not so great buys, he didn’t cost us anything on the transfer fee but his wages were high none the less..(60 k a week)….we should have loaned him out much much sooner than we did but no regrets, a free transfer makes it a less bitter pill.

    from chamakh’s prospective, in hindsight agreeing the loan deal only to be benched or not even be on the bench for the majority of times was a killer blow, he would have liked to have played and proved all the doubters wrong and in the process found himself new buyers in England…i’m not sure why QPR didn’t go for him…he could have done something for them.

  6. bc says:

    I would much prefer to see coquelin as the FB cover he has played right and left. For me its time to promote a number of youngsters and if I was wenger I would promote every kid born 1992 or earlier next season. That may sound like madness but its actually only 7 more. Martinez Boateng Miquel Yennaris Aneke Eisfeld Afobe. I haven’t included wellington or galindo as they are unlikelyto be involved but in that case it would not hurt to promote them either and may help their visa chances by raising their profile. There are two things to this one if any of the 7 can clinch premier or championship loand then I would let them go similarly the other youngsters like campbell ryo frimpong and coquelin. The other thing is that the remaining players left in the academy would all be born 1994 or later. This means that all would be eligible to play next gen fayc u21s and u18s meaning they could then be worked as one group playing across 4 competitions. Even the remaing three players born 1994 could still play u18s if really needed as an overage player although for me those 3 would be the first names on the teamsheet for u21s and next gen. Terry Burton or whoever could head up the academy with a set of 4 coaches that would all work together but each coach would have his own competition as well to gain experience. Similarly I would like wenger to adopt a similar approach by allowing bould and another coach like bergkamp or henry to take the reins for the domestic cups.

  7. 17highburyterrace says:

    Bond, I gotta disagree with you about Sturridge and Ba being the worst….as I think they’re very different players. You may disagree….

    I see Sturridge as a classic me-first striker with very little eye for a pass. As such he’s at his best on a lower level team. The same could be said about the other English Danny Boy, Wellbeck that is….Suarez is the only guy at Pool these days and also is hugely selfish player (but at a much higher technical level. Sturridge was able to step right in after “la mordida” (the bite) and keep making goals—after all, who cares about the team having nothing to play for, when it’s all about you?….

    Ba, I think is more in the big, mobile, team-oriented mold (mould?) and, as such, moves in and out of the Chelsea team (with Torres) in a more seamless fashion. And you can’t say that Chelsea didn’t accomplish the goals that were in front of them…. I think a player like Ba is much better at getting youngsters like Oscar and Hazard involved than somebody like Sturridge. In fact, selling Ba (or not setting the release clause higher in his contract) almost cost Newcastle a ton….

    Worst transfer…..hmmmm…..Brendan Rogers talking the Red Sox/Liverpool owner into the idea that Jay Allen was worth his 15 million pound release clause. Cheaper than Andy Carroll, maybe, but maybe not if measured pound for pound (stone for stone)….. Swans selling Scott Sinclair for half that price to City wasn’t bad business either…..

    Oh, on topic, gotta keep the Verminator, I think….

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    True, Jambo, he was not one of Arsene’s best buys. Very poor shooter but pretty good in the air…. He is quite good though in playing with his back towards the goal and in our 4-5-1 he did relatively well.

    The loan must indeed have been a nightmare for Chamakh, and I hope he’ll get a proper chance somewhere else next season.

  9. Arsenal_vcc says:

    TA – great & right question! I think that our early struggles had to do more with the members not gelling well enough and some strategy errors on AW’s part. While the team is quite good talent-wise I think that we need some support in the attack. But, I will wait till your post discussing attack to comment.

    With regards to defense – early on in the season I heard a lot about Bellerin from the youth squad. But I did not see his name on the list of potential youngsters you listed. Has his reputation got ahead of his capabilities?

  10. 17highburyterrace says:

    TA, I wrote elsewhere that I don’t see why the Captaincy issue has to be an issue at all–except that I think losing 3 Captains in 3 years would be bad….

    What was great about the run-in was that the entire team seemed able to dig down and do whatever was required to make it happen. The picture of their celebration says it all (along with something about the woefulness of the facilities up at St James Park, or whatever it’s called these days)…. Like I said, there’s something even more captainy about what the current captain did for his team compared to the ship-jumping ways of the previous two….As such, I don’t see why it shouldn’t continue….

    We need to realize (realise?) that this past season’s squad was just enough to get us through to minimum requirements only when the other distractions were gone. Arsene rolled the dice in dropping 2/3 of his central rearguard for the Munich (non) match and it paid off–not in the result there, which he essentially conceded, but in going forward for the league run-in. Come August we have to hit the ground running in multiple competitions. Rotation and a much greater squad depth will be crucial. We don’t know the league fixtures nor our draw in the CL qualifier, but chances are those will all feel like “must-wins.” After all, we don’t want to have to pay the inflated prices with panic buys at the September 1st deadline. (Or maybe we do, if we’re into the whole media inspired end of the window madness…..)

    Miquel and Yennaris have both done well in cameos and there’s no reason they shouldn’t again. So too should the Verminator (and any experienced CB or Keeper or other player) we might buy….In the end, it’s about carrying over the results from the run-in to (all of) next season’s competitions with a bigger, deeper and higher quality squad….(Boring, I know, but there it is….)

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    bc that is a left field and v interesting comment. I think the time of us promoting more than the one or two youngsters a season are over now, but the romantic in me says yes to your plan. 🙂

  12. silentstan says:

    ignassi no where near good enough

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Arsenal_vcc, hi 🙂

    I think Bellerin is a great prospect but Yennaris is ahead of him in terms of experience and physical build. The Spaniard’s time will surely come, though.

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi 17 🙂

    Leadership is very important and Vermaelen struggled under the weight of expectation of it.

    I don’t agree entirely that our squad was just enough to get us through – at least not in defence. Other areas will be discussed in future posts hahaha 🙂

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    What I’m saying about “just enough” is that it could’ve been a lot tougher if we were playing a lot of extra matches and against teams that weren’t either already safe, already relegated, already champions ( 👿 ) etc., etc. In the end, I feel pretty good about our starting 5 across the back (and the immediate back-ups at GK, FB and CB)–so, as I think you’re implying….We look pretty good at the back, assuming no losses over the Summer…. (Which leads me to my oversight–I forgot to say “great post,” but I assume you know that I always think your posts are absolute Super Quality….World Class, in fact….)

    It’s not sexy and your blog will get fewer hits than if you title it something like “THIS is the Defender we NEED”….but keeping our solid players and promoting from within the youth ranks is the best way to keep improving. Everything else is a roll of the dice….

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    I know what you mean, 17, and I think we are aligned on this one as two redwoods hahaha.

    I thought the team did not play enough games in the last few months as it was hard to keep form and momentum going between the longish breaks.

    I can see your point, though, and especially BFG and Arteta could have struggled with a lot more games; and the lack of rotation by Arsene is a worry most of us have. In that respect, Wenger will have to make a decision who he is going to select as the BFG’s replacement if and when required. I see that as Wenger’s biggest challenge in defence. Who do believe would be best for this?

  17. Glic says:

    Thanks Totes.

    Not really sure about either of them young gooners !. From what I`ve seen by watching the youth games on Arsenal player, Yennaris has always plays in midfield and Miguel looks like he could do with filling out a bit !, just look at your photo of him !. Someone like Lukaku or Benteke , would eat him for breakfast !. Bellerin is ahead of Yennaris in the RB spot, that’s why Yennaris has to play midfield !.
    Anyway, I`ve no reason to think Verm will be going anywhere, I think he accepts that his performances have not been up to his and Arsenals required levels and like a pro, will stay and fight for his place. What`s the point of trying to build a championship winning squad, if someone is going to chuck their dolly out of the pram for not being current first choice, Verm will get plenty of playing time next season, you can bet on it !.

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    17, non-footie related question: what sort of wildlife do you have in your area of Lake Tahoe?

  19. Glic says:

    In this rumour, we would listen to offers for Verm, although he wants to stay and fight for place ! Do we believe paper talk though ?. hahaha

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/transfers-manchester-united-eye-arsenals-1904552

  20. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Glic, all good points.

    When I saw Miquel live against the Norwich reserves, I was very impressed with his physical presence and control, but yes it could be an issue in the PL. I guess we will only know after he has had a few decent chances.

    Re Yennaris, you could be right, but it also depends where the management believe the biggest need is, and Yennaris is a fine midfielder too. In the first team, I cannot see him getting a chance there though.

  21. babakrdaemi says:

    I wouldnt buy a center back either. DM is the most important position to me.

  22. robinsgrant85 says:

    Have you seen Hajrovic play? He had an outstanding NextGen tournament, rock solid in the middle, winning many of his headers and hard in the tackle, superb player. I think Miguel is a bit too (as you said) ‘stylish’ and continental. I was impressed when he first came on the scene and had to cover us in a couple of games that he wasn’t scheduled to play in (i.e. when he was actually under pressure and not just when 3-0 up in Carling cup). However, recent showings haven’t faired him as well unfortunately. Also, we should never let it get to the point where we have to rely on Sagna for CB role! This isn’t WW2 and we need the medic to help us out in the front! We have a good number of potential RBs to choose from – Corchia from Sochaux, a promising RB from Aston Villa (can’t remember which one!), as well as having the dependable Carl Jenkinson. I agree that we should keep Vermaelan, I think the competition will be good for him, just like it has been for Fabianski. Hajrovic though….top quality

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    TA, I really don’t go in for all this talk about “types” and why certain combinations of types work or don’t work. My hunch is that AW looks for the general notion of “quality” and then hopes that the players can “express themselves.” As such, I believe he was hoping the combo of TV5 and LK6 was gonna work out, with PM4 as the fill-in guy. My biggest critique of AW is that he’s too much of an optimist (real critics would call it hubris…) and doesn’t like planning for contingency. Combine that with his socialistic ideals (“collective leadership”) and a tendency towards being a cheapskate–and he’s just like me, but with better hair….

    So, to answer your question, I think pace in the team, even in defense (defence?), is the way to go and I see PM4 getting an early season “injury” so that Arsene can try his two shorter, faster guys all over again….maybe on a plastic pitch in a Russian CL qualifier, perhaps…. and for this reason I cannot support the BFG as anything but a 3rd choice as Captain (sorry)….

    Wildlife? Besides the tourist (and local) ladies? Hmmmm…. Things are different for me because we live in a recently (2007) burnt area (which is a whole ‘nother story, as the locals would say….Someday, when things are really slow, I’ll tell you about our house burning down and then having to rebuild it–the real cause of my hair loss)…. The black bears lost their habitat so they’ve moved, but there are a lot of rodents which means a lot of coyotes. You’d think that cats would enjoy the voles (and the mice) but the coyotes like them for a bigger meal…. Mountain lions are rarely sighted and when they are (unfortunately) people have them hunted down…. There are also porcupines, marmots and beavers and raptors (bald eagles, osprey, hawks…) and that sort of stuff…. All told, it’s pretty nice, and I tend to forget about it and merely yearn for superior, you know, culture…..When do you come for your visit?…..

    And Glic, don’t believe what you see in the papers….even on page 3…. 😆

  24. robinsgrant85 says:

    Just want to add that I think Yennaris is one of our best talents and should definitely be called up ASAP, he’s just such a hard worker and so good at what he does. I can see why he is a midfielder, he’s got a good engine in him and I admire that he’s willing to play RB for the team, really hope we sell Coquilen and promote Yennaris, quality player. And yes, a DM is very high on my list of positions required

  25. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Robinsg 🙂

    You are making a fine case for Hajrovic. I have not seen him play much, so cannot give you my opinion, but will keep an eye out for him.

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    17

    The types are very important for me. Adams/Campbell/BFG/Koz(?): same types. Keown/Toure/Vermaelen/Gallas/Koz: same types.

    Combine these two types and you usually have a more solid and effective defence. The thought of having to rely on TV and Koz for a large number of games, would not fill me with any confidence for the coming season. For me, BFG is first on the team sheet in defence. 🙂

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    17

    Sorry to hear about your house burning down. If you would like to talk about it away from the blog, just drop me an email! 🙂

    Love the wildlife you can see in your area. Never heard of the term raptors before! Would love to see a mountain lion ‘in the wild’. You are a lucky man, and I would love to take the family to another holiday in California, but it is probably not going to be this year (too long to leave the puppy behind). Of course, I would come and see you then, and unite the two daughters, teachers and most importantly, the two crazy stay at home dads/Gooners hahaha 😛

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    Night all 🙂

  29. 17highburyterrace says:

    TA, my daughter is actually a son…. and indeed, I am a lucky man, but just as in football, you make your own luck, or so they say….

    I think we’re going to have to do the agree to disagree thing about types. I’m newer to watching (a lot) of football than many but I think pace is very, very important, esp. in England where so much of the culture (the fans pressuring the ref) is based around keeping the game going. Pace (plus confidence, if he can get it back) would make TV5 a better type (and our game a whole lot prettier. Playing the high line is tough when recovery speed is poor.

    That said, there’s so much upside to Per—Intangibly, being able to recover from those moments when he looks silly is priceless and a great element of his leadership by example. And, of course, his size presents such a problem for opposing players as they try to place corners or FKs. Still, there’s a reason why the manager gave the armband to TV5. With his getting benched (the nuclear option as my favorite American blogger, Tim from 7amkickoff, called it) I thought, “Whoa, that’s it for Tommy.” But, because it worked(!!) I now really don’t see him leaving. We cannot compete with the big money clubs in the transfer window, but we can compete on the pitch–if we can carry over our results from one season to the next…

    The economics of football (see my posts with 007 at the bottom of the last thread) is such that the crazy money teams can turn players’ heads AND make it smart for teams to sell. If you’re Arsenal there will always be a price no matter how great the player. Still, we can make that price silly high IF we can make players believe they are needed at the club. Even though he didn’t play down the stretch, we NEED players willing to sacrifice their own games for the team….(Which again, might make Vermaelen a better Captain than Cesc or RvP….) Plus who’s really gonna spend the big money for an Arsenal bench warmer 😉 (Barca’s been burnt too many times, I think, Madrid maybe—Do we still have rights on Sylvestre? That’s the guy to sell to United…..)

  30. jgc says:

    TA

    Innaresting as always.. My thoughts:

    a. Promote defenders within and keep Sagna and Verm unless a ridonculous offer comes in. I think Sagna will be 31 and perhaps lost on a free or not but worth it in this case to keep. Verm has 2 more years, I think, but willing to be corrected, so he is not next years problem until next year.

    b. Regarding pace as others have noted, yes important, BUT, in good football, positioning and team shape can defeat a heckuva lot of pace. See what others do to Theo sometimes! That’s where BFG covers more for me. Yes, a pacey BFG would be perfect but size, form and fnction dont always work together THAT well! 🙂

    Thus, best to focus elsewhere first, ST and DM for me personally. Then GK. Although if a truly great bargain happens by, one doesnt say no and adapts.

    Finally, I am more willing to believe Glic’s stories than TW links and rumors! 🙂

    cheers — jgc

  31. ash says:

    “Winning the last five away games in a row is worthy of high praise, and so is winning eight of the last ten games. Add to this our five clean sheets (six including Bayern away) and conceding only five goals in 10 PL games, and we can only say that our boys have done us proud to fight back with all they had after the derby defeat.”

    now i’m as happy as anybody that we’ve made it into the top 4 and the cl, but we need to be honest about things. look at the results of 2013:

    Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal
    Arsenal 4-1 Wigan
    QPR 0-1 Arsenal
    Arsenal 1-1 Man Utd
    Fulham 0-1 Arsenal
    Arsenal 0-0 Everton
    Arsenal 3-1 Norwich
    West Brom 1-2 Arsenal
    Arsenal 4-1 Reading
    Swansea 0-2 Arsenal
    Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
    Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa
    Sunderland 0-1 Arsenal
    Arsenal 1-0 Stoke
    Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool
    Arsenal 5-1 West Ham
    Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal
    Arsenal 0-2 Man City
    Southampton 1-1 Arsenal

    we won 8 of the last 10 – but we did it against teams we should be beating anyway, if we want to be realistic about being in the mix. we need a major restrengthening, as all this is showing as that we are flat track bullies, beating those who we should, but not those around us.

    miquel has looked shaky the times i have seen him play in the reserve matches – he has a long way to go to make it, and frankly we havent got the time to wait. he needs to go out on loan to speed up his development, so him playing is not an option for a couple of yrs i would guess..

    i certainly believe we need a cb, ideally a left footer as i believe kos is our future and ideally he should be playing in the right side. the bfg has had a lot of praise, and though he’s been a steadying influence, i personally dont think he is good enough for us to be thinking about winning games. there is a reason he played for werder and has been ousted from the national side. and did anyone see the match against newcastle, he got pulverised in the 1st half by both wingers and their lb, who is a cb by trade. i think after a striker, the next signing should be a cb. i think we can do without a midfield signing, although a cdm would be nice..

  32. JM says:

    Our 1st defence should be mostly intact, with only possibly an addition of a new goalkeeper should both Fabianski (out of contract) and Mannone (loan out/transfer out to start more regularly) go.

    Miquel can be our backup CB to the 1st team, while remaining the captain of our PDL team. Yennaris can step up to take over from Coquelin(when he is likely to leave on a loan/perm. transfer this coming summer), covering when required at FB and DM/CM.

    Finally, we could be welcoming our new DM/”Destroyer”/”21st century Liberio” midfielder who is also adaptable to play in CB when we require of him (e.g. Mertesacker being rested).

    From my dossier reads:

    (1) Etienne Capoue (Toulouse and French international, 1st team)
    (2) Maxime Gonalons (Lyon and French international, backup squad)
    (3) Victor Wanyama (Celtic and Kenyan international, 1st team)
    (4) Stefan Reinartz* (Leverkusen and German international, backup squad)

    *Reinartz also shares the similar agency/agent(s) with Marco Reus. He is also at a right age of 24yrs, tall (1.89m/6ft 2in) with strengths in passing, ball interception and concentration.
    This initial contact with his agency will assist in opening ties for the future negotiation of Reus.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan_Reinartz
    http://www.whoscored.com/Players/40942/Show/Stefan-Reinartz

    (Interview)
    http://bundesligafanatic.com/exclusive-interview-stefan-reinartz-our-game-does-not-just-consist-of-counter-attacking/

  33. Milo says:

    Miquel is a very slow runner. He has improved this somewhat, with his training at Michael Johnson’s track academy, but it will never be his strong suit. The same can be said about his strength and physical aptitude as well. What he is good at is positioning (most of the time) and ball retention and distribution (all of the time). I think there is a reason Barcelona were after him, and he could be our version of Pique, when on form. Pique WAS a great defender from 2008-2011, but lost a lot of his form due to personal, as well as on-field issues. I would hope that Miquel would work a lot harder than Pique has done in the past season or so, and keep improving so that he doesn’t lose form like Gerard has done.

    Yennaris is every person, who follows the academys’ dream!!! He started with us, and hopefully will finish with us. My gut tells me though that he will find his situation to be similar to that of Coquelin’s, in that he will be used more for cover and utility, than for starting matches. Everyone wants to see him do well though, including me, as I admire his leadership, organizational, as well as playing skills. He won’t wow you with defense-splitting passes, or even an array of forward passing, but what he does have, as someone mentioned earlier is a great engine, an ability to defend (mark, tackle) and is an inspirational player in my eyes. I hope he makes it in to the first team, if only on the premise that he can be used for back-up.

  34. Arsenal fans should not be deceived by the club’s record in its last 11 matches of the season (8 wins, 1 loss, 2 draws). As admirable as those performances were, it must be kept in mind that the club was no longer competing in any other competition other than the league at that point. That will not be the case next season when the club will be not only be competing in the league, but in the CL, FA Cup and League Cup competitions.

    While Wenger can use youngsters in some of the matches of these competitions, Arsenal will need to have sufficient quality depth in order to have a chance to win silverware in them as these competitions move on and the opposition becomes tougher. As this past season showed, Arsenal’s squad as presently constituted simply does not have sufficient quality veteran depth to hold up over six or more months of playing twice a week with the inevitable injuries that will occur–even if it doesn’t lose key players for an inordinate amount of time.

    There were times this past season when you could literally see the fatigue factor wearing down some of Arsenal’s key players, but Wenger couldn’t really afford to rest them because there were too many big matches to be played and not enough healthy quality on the bench. Even though Wenger and Arsenal fans can–and should–expect a couple of Arsenal’s youngsters to step up and fill some of the need for quality depth, the fact is that relying on the youngsters on hand to provide all of the quality depth that the club needs to compete with the top clubs in the league and the CL as well as the cup competitions is a recipe for disaster and yet another title-less season.

    Arsenal doesn’t need to go on a Chelsea/Manchester City-like spending spree in order to add the kind of quality depth that is required–2-3 high-quality, judicious buys at key positions combined with 2-3 youngsters stepping up their game to the next level (and the kind of improvement that can be expected from young players like Wilshere, Ramsey, Jenkinson, Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Szczesny, etc.) should suffice if the club doesn’t lose TV or Sagna. In fact, too large an infusion of new players could prove to be counter-productive as the new players would need time to settle in and get acclimated to their new teammates. But thinking that Arsenal can get by without adding any additional high-quality talent and still challenge for silverware next season based on how the club performed when it had only one competition to concentrate on at the end of this season simply doesn’t take into account what is really required to compete for a title in four different and rigorous competitions. As things currently stand, the club is one long-term injury to a key starter at certain positions away from risking being worn down–or, worse, suffering another serious injury at the same position–due to fatigue. That’s not the way to win titles–no matter how good the quality of your first XI.

  35. Flemming, DK says:

    I totaly agree, only wood like to see a w.ellproven keeper.

  36. hajrovic has been released by the club. fyi.

  37. jgc says:

    All

    Some simple context, perhaps, on defense.

    2011-12 – 70 points, 25 goal difference with 74 for and 49 against
    2012-13 – 73 points, 35 goal difference, 72 for, 37 against

    OK, we are 4th this year, but both years 1 exact point ahead of Spurs.

    We gave up 12 less goals this year than last and only scored 2 less! Yes, distribution of a few of those goals could have been better over some games and a new striker and DM beast will help that I think.

    But, I think the tale is that simple for defense. Keep as is, strengthen a touch only if possible. And, since a lot of goals (relatively) came by GK mistakes, then by adding some GK experience and competition would be my first choice there.

    Thusly, … ST, DM, GK .. in that order perhaps..

    cheers — jgc

  38. jgc says:

    Further

    – Only City gave up less goals than us (3, with 6 less scored)

    And

    – Only MaU (14 more with 6 more given up) and Chelsea (3 more with 2 more given up than us) scored more..

    Thus, if we can hold the line on defense, and add say 8 more goals, we might be right well in it.. that’s again a ST and DM to not only help defense but launch our best weapons more quickly. The GK should also be worth 2-4 less goals…

    Goal differene wise, +8 and -3 would put us into a goal difference of 46 which is ManU this year…

    We could be that close by the numbers..

    cheers — jgc

  39. jgc says:

    And thus, reason to be more optimistic than we are perhaps??!? 🙂

  40. Gerry says:

    TA- Fine post, and Part one, I fully agree with. Looking forwards to Parts two and three?

    BC and others – There is a massive clear out in the academy this summer, with many of the regular Under 21’s departing, if not already gone. Boateng, Aneke, and Afobe likely to be amongst them. Whilst many have shown enough to make a career in professional football, it is tough to break into a top four side unless you are truly exceptional.
    Some, like Charles Reece- Cooke, may indeed prove to be such a player? Alas it will not be with us. He has been unfortunate with injuries, and being around at a time when we have 5 very good Junior/Reserve goal keepers on our books, Martinez and Iliev being top of the pile.

    Injuries to youngsters does have a common theme running through many, particularly those out on loan, Frimpong, Ryo, and Afobe to name but three. It may be that the requirements in Spain could be better suited for their development, so I hope that the link with Real Betis comes good. I can see the likes of Eisfeld(if not better used in the first team?), Frimpong, and Ryo getting regular games and improving their skill level there? Mind, we do have to offer a new contract to Frimpong or he walks for just a development fee … that can be enacted in just over a week’s time??
    It will be an interesting couple of months before the next season starts to see just what the squad/back ups will look like. I too, hope both TV5 and Sagna stay. We need that familiarity whilst new blood take their time to fit in feet, and it begins with having a solid back five.

  41. jgc says:

    Sooo lonely…. hellooo? 🙂

  42. Minassie says:

    Niko and Ignasi are both wonderful talents, who I think can be the future ‘Lee Dixon’ and ‘Tony Adams’ respectively (assuming those Barca opportunists don’t lure Ignasi back). But still, in desperate times like this when we are begging for silverware we need some reliable experience in the back, even if Per and Koz get injured. Therefore, I still urge Arsene to buy Williams and keep TV5 in order to have a strong back line.

  43. Red Arse says:

    Good Morning Fellas, 🙂

    I think that is a really interesting Post, TA, and I agree with what you say.

    There is a balancing act with bringing young players through, and it is obvious that when there are only 11 spots in the team, one players fortune in being picked is another’s disappointment.

    There have been many guys who have sat on the bench waiting for their chance, and waiting, and waiting week after week after month.

    It’s not easy, unless, like Jack they are totally exceptional from the get go.

  44. JGC says:

    Annnd

    Of you read this, we were third in league in errors leading to goals, with 14. ManU, City, Spurs have 7, 8, 9 respectively.. So those are 5 more goals of difference a new GK et so might add, or just organic improvement…

    http://www.eplindex.com/32621/infographic-error-prone-teams-premier-league-201213.html?

    Cheers — jgc

  45. TotalArsenal says:

    Morning all 🙂

    Enough rain overnight here to fill up Loch Ness again. It feels like autumn but without the footie.

  46. TotalArsenal says:

    17 🙂

    Apologies for confusing your son for a daughter: I don’t know how I managed to do that! 😳

    Wenger gave Vermaelen the armband because he was longer at Arsenal, and I also don’t think he really values the importance of (having the right) captaincy. With Per, it is his ability to organise and anticipate the game that makes him so special, and not only Koz is benefiting from this imo.

    Best not to speak about Sylvestre hahaha 🙂

  47. TotalArsenal says:

    jgc 🙂

    A heckuva innaresting comment – are you trying to sound professory hahaha? 😛

    You wrote:

    ‘Thus, best to focus elsewhere first, ST and DM for me personally. Then GK. Although if a truly great bargain happens by, one doesnt say no and adapts.’

    That’s it in a nutshell: can we go home now? 😛

  48. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Ash 🙂

    I agree with almost nothing but nevertheless a good comment. Has Per been ousted from the German team? He played both last encounters if my memory serves me right….

  49. TotalArsenal says:

    JM – thanks for the links. 🙂

    It is correct to talk about a destroyer when we are discussing our defence, but I would like to wait in responding after i have written the post about midfield.

    But Stefan Reinartz sounds interesting…

  50. JGC says:

    Hi TA

    I are a perfessor! 🙂

    Just adding some in inarresting numbers that came my way. Then realized I spent all your night largely chatting with myself! Turns out I’m remarkably bright, insightful annnd interesting! So, I responded to me, since 17ht wasn’t there to catch my tossed toys and … You can read the rest!

    Cheers — jgc

  51. TotalArsenal says:

    Milo 🙂

    Very astute observations and you are one of our specialists when it comes to our youth players, so cheers.

    I think you perfectly summarised Yennaris with your last sentence:

    ‘He won’t wow you with defense-splitting passes, or even an array of forward passing, but what he does have, as someone mentioned earlier is a great engine, an ability to defend (mark, tackle) and is an inspirational player in my eyes. I hope he makes it in to the first team, if only on the premise that he can be used for back-up.’

    I think it is his energy and enthusiasm that will give him a bigger chance to succeed than Coquelin at Arsenal. This guy has something about him that makes winners

  52. TotalArsenal says:

    hahaha I meant LESS professory 😛

    I know you are a prof – in every sense of the word!

  53. TotalArsenal says:

    AmericanGF, welcome 🙂

    Well written and argued comment and mostly agreed with. I am concentrating on our defence in this particular post, and I reckon there is enough strength of depth now to compete properly next season. Maybe Arsene believes we need to add another quality CB this summer to have more strength in depth, but I somehow don’t he will, or needs to do.

  54. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Flemming and thanks for the update GoonerAppa 🙂

  55. TotalArsenal says:

    jgc

    thanks for the stats. It’s interesting that a ten goal improvement in goal difference only gives us three extra points. I guess we can only properly discuss this once the third post has come out (about our attack).

  56. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Gerry

    Thanks for visiting and sharing your views on the youngsters. Injury misery must be the biggest concern for youngsters making it or not. One of my house mates during my student time was a very promising striker, who even got a proper trial at Roda JC (then top-five in Holland). All was going well until he broke his leg…. never got back anywhere near that level….

  57. TotalArsenal says:

    Welcome Minassie 🙂

    You have got a point there. I’d say even Per and Koz get both injured at the same time, we could play Sagna and TV and still be fine in most games. And during the home games we could give Ignasi a chance. I would not mind Williams to come and join us though, or maybe even get Kolo back.

  58. Glic says:

    Morning Broke Back Bastardildos 😆

    17 ht, you telling me The Sun has other pages than page 3 !, news to me !, what`s on them ?.

  59. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Redders 🙂

    All agreed – it is about seizing the opportunity when it arrives and I guess a good portion of fortune as well. And yes some have that special, special talent that makes it all a lot easier.

  60. TotalArsenal says:

    Morning Glicster – a pair of boobs a day keeps Dr Glic away, right?! 😛

  61. JGC says:

    TA

    I think it’s luck and goal distribution. Against top teams who beat and drew us we scored not quite enough.. Figure this 3 goals, just 3 in right spots turn three draws into wins, and 6 points puts us 2nd.

    That’s a discussion for later.

    Cheers — jgc

  62. Glic says:

    Kolo back !. He`s not the player he was !. He has weight problems, cant control it, it`s up and down like a Yaya !.

  63. TotalArsenal says:

    Wenger would bring him back to his old best, Glic, YoYo!

  64. Glic says:

    Talking of Boobs. Now the nice weather is upon us, most of the places I deliver to, have young ladeez wearing quite revealing tops !. I use a technique to get an eye-full ( The Glic Technique ! ). They have to sign for the goods, so I always place my clipboard on a low table for them to bend down and write their signature, they ( the boobies , of course ! ) all but nearly pop out !. They scribble, I dribble !. hahaha

  65. Glic says:

    Should have added a BOING ! there !. hahaha

  66. TotalArsenal says:

    Glic 😛

    Oh no madam, only full signatures will suffice – dribble dribble – and please add your address – dribble dribble – as well 🙂

  67. Admir says:

    Hello, people! 🙂

    Very nice analysis, TA. I agree that – with current level of defensive commitment – we don’t need new signings in defense. I’d like Vermaelen to stay as we have had a lot of injury problems in the recent past and we never know when it can struck us again.

    Dr Glic, a philosophical question:

    is it true that Boing 747 got its name because someone mentioned Isco 747 times in your presence? 🙂

  68. TotalArsenal says:

    hahaha Admir 🙂

    Glic is just full of airbus up his Arsenal!

    Thanks for the new post – it will come out tonight! 🙂

  69. TotalArsenal says:

    Out for a bit CYL 🙂

  70. Glic says:

    You f**ker Admir, I was going to use the Boing 747 in a comment !. I don’t know whether to say hahaha or kill you !. I suppose we can share the middle ground of great minds think a like !. hahaha

  71. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Very nice post TA. Its nice to be able to chat about a couple of guys that we know are at the club, rather than potential signings which will probably materialise.

    I like the look of Miguel, but i agree with Cornwall he needs to bulk up. He has all the required qualities but along with build lacks experience. Lets eee what he does in pre season.

    I cant see Nicos making it. I have a soft spot for the lad, hes half greek with a chinese mum i believe. Half European, half chinese look tends to create the Genghis Khan look, which i find very appealing. Especialy when i intend to invade Rome on horse back. hahaha

    From what ive seen, he lacks the required quality, but ive been wrong about players so many times that my thoughts are irelevant.

  72. Glic says:

    I might have to stop using BOING !, I`ve just discovered it`s used as the official name on the Tea Baggies site ! ( WBA )

  73. Glic says:

    Morning Stretcharobics !.

    Back to cutting an acre of grass, by the time I`ve finished, I`ll have two acres !.

  74. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Morning Cornwall

    Rather you than me, ime crap at things like that. If Mrs Terry gives me a light bulb i stare at it for a few seconds before using it as a football. hahaha

  75. TotalArsenal says:

    Just saw this save by Sagna again – we just need to keep him and after a summer of rest, I reckon he will be back to his best.

  76. alexgunners says:

    Hi TA,

    Great post and I am a big believer in using some of the younger lads to get experience and gel with the first team to see if they have what’s required to make the first team squad. That has been a deficiency of ours in the past. Our squad has always been rather thin with the injuries we’ve had in the past and simply promoting the youngsters in to sit on the bench has done no good for us. They are not prepared to step up as they’ve had no time in which to test themselves against other top flight teams.

    We need to start incorporating these guys on a more regular basis to also improve their confidence and the confidence that the manager has in them. You have mentioned Miguel and Nico. Miguel has the skills but he lacks the strength to play in such a vital position. Yes he needs to bulk up but also he needs to read the game a little better that is from the little that I have seen of him. Nico I have a soft spot for. A true Gooner and has The Arsenal running through his veins. I am not sure if he will make it, but i would like to see him at least given a go.

    Apart from these 2 guys there are others that need to be introduced to the senior team throughout this coming season. The academy has suffered a few losses in players moving abroad since they are not getting the opportunities they crave for. Let’s make sure Gnabry and Eisfeld don’t have to look elsewhere for first team opportunities.

  77. TotalArsenal says:

    HI Alex 🙂

    Fine comment and mostly agreed. I reckon Miquel is stronger than most give him credit for, but we need to see him tested properly to confirm this one way or another. He is very athletic with a great leap and I personally believe he reads the game well. He also has that great ability to produce a long, accurate pass which is lacking in our team right now.

    All agreed on Gnabry and Eisfeld: very exciting talents!

    How’s the weather in Melbourne?

  78. alexgunners says:

    The weather in Melbourne. We are know for having 4 seasons in one day and today was a reflection of this TA. This morning at 6 i could not see 20m in front of the car and was icy. By midday I had taken off 2 layers of clothing (out of the 5 i was wearing) and the sun was out. It is always crazy this time of the year. I do envy the autumn weather in Perth where OZ is. 20 degrees is a lot better than a miserable 5-14 degrees in Melbourne.

  79. TotalArsenal says:

    hahaha Alex, and Oz complains about the weather as well. Everything is relative, as one famous scientist once said 🙂

  80. Red Arse says:

    Terry,

    I read your comment at 11:42 with interest, even with your own special spelling to distract me, but I was puzzled by your final comment;
    –“my thoughts are irelevant”.

    What do your thoughts have to do with an elephant?

  81. Glic says:

    Good and bad rumours on the TW front !.

    Bad rumour : 😦 Verm to be sold for £5M !!!, what c**t writes this bollox !.

    Good rumour ( for a few of us doubters ) : 🙂 Blow Jobetic will stay in Italy !.

    Right bastards, back to cutting grass ! hahaha

  82. Glic says:

    The blonde one on stage, nice puppies !. 😯

  83. James Bond says:

    17ht,

    sure, that’s one way of looking at it but when i looked at that transfer i went yikes, Chelsea buying Ba when they already have Lukaku to recall if they wanted a different option up front.

    also, Sturridge was more effective and efficient as a striker when he was paired with Suarez as opposed to him playing in the absence of Suarez, suarez slotted on the left wing , center or right wing in a free role and had developed a good understanding with Suarez in a short space of time, next season Liverpool will finish higher than Tottenham if both are able to play together (Suarez not being sold).

    Joe Allen one is an interesting one with the majority seeing it as a mediocre signing or a poor investment ? me on the other hand thinks he’s a good signing and has plenty of potential to deliver the goods next season…watch this space re- joe allen .

    out of all the rumours currently out there the one that makes me chuckle the most is us selling TV5 for 5 million and that to man utd, ha ha ha (lightening doesn’t strike twice, no chance in hell we’re gonna sell the mancs anything now unless there is also a “little boy” inside of TV crying” then that’s a different scenario 😀

    i really want us to keep hold of TV 5.

    on a different note, nico has the potential of being our own Frank Lampard, he’s basically played every in the back 4 and midfield, is being developed further and further which is a good sign….for me the future is looking sound with the likes of bellerin/nico/Miguel/Eisfield/Gnabry/Zelalem (i would be very very surprised if we were to sell any of these players or allow them to leave in the next 2 years)…..Gnabry and Bellerin for me a re special talents and one with the X factor for me (wow factor).

    TA @ 11:58

    sagna sadly is past his best days i reckon, it saddens me but i doubt if he will be returning to his peak now unless we played him as a CB or perhaps tried him in a DM role, Jenko is the way to go now

  84. James Bond says:

    oh la la @ the video Glicster posted

  85. VCC says:

    GLiC, 18:20…….mmmmmmm nice.

  86. Glic says:

    I tell you what, after watching that vid, I`m not coming for the freeze your bollox games in winter !. It will be August or May games when the suns out and more flesh out as well !.

  87. James Bond says:

    sounds like a perfect plan to me 😉

  88. James Bond says:

    HH,

    where art thou :O:

  89. Glic says:

    Why cant the 3 month break from football be in the winter ?. Surely making it be more of a spring,summer, autumn game would be better and maybe increase revenue ?. Anyone know the reason ?. I hope it aint something to do with poxy cricket….boring, yawnnnnnn !.

  90. James Bond says:

    good question, Glicster and i’ll let the winter people address that one 😀

    so Song has been slapping and punching his team mates, does that mean he is less likely to be staying in spain ? do we have a return clause which allows us to take back song for 5 million 😀 i wouldn’t mind taking song back for 4-7 million.

    it appears that we’re out of the race for both jovetic and higuain, if true then we should make a move for ISCO (Glic goes BOOING), 20-25 million should be enough to get him onboard i reckon and doing a player swap on loan ? (let’s give them ramsey, ha haha)

    back to reality, Isco is likely to join Real Madrid with CR moving to England, i suspect Bale will be joining RM as well at some point.

  91. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 😛

    Admir has written a beautiful post about the need to find that extra bit of quality this summer. Enjoy. 🙂

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