Inadequate CB-cover? Wenger might disagree!

A different perspective on Arsenal’s apparent lack of CB-cover!

Swansea City v Arsenal - Premier League

Many Gooners, including yours truly, have highlighted the risk – or should that be sheer irresponsibility? – of not recruiting additional CB cover in the last transfer window. We can consider ourselves lucky that our CB-duo of Koz-BFG stood strong more or less during the entire 2013-2014 season, as they gained us many a point with their well-organised and expert defending. But it was also good to know we had nobody else than the Verminator warming the bench in case one of the two would get injured; and of course there was also Sagna who suddenly had turned into a half-decent CB.

The latter two have gone and we signed a young, albeit very promising, CB/RB in the name of Chambers. Any decent organisation nowadays holds a risk-register, and the potential of either BFG or Koz getting long-term injured, or god forbid both of them joining Arsenal’s cosy sickbay, is surely somewhere on there.

So is Arsene/the club acting irresponsibly by letting two giants go and not recruiting appropriate, experienced CB cover?

I say yes and no, at about 30/70. The Dutch have a saying: ‘iets doen met de Franse slag’, which means something like ‘doing something the French way’, as in not very thorough or thought-through. Arsene’s approach to managing risk reminds me sometimes of how French cars used to be: looked great, fun driving experience and full of luxury inside, but not the most reliable, if you get me (and I drove a few of them…. but all company cars hahaha 😉 ).

Arsene inherited a solid defence when he first joined us, and by signing Sol Campbell – one of the very best he ever made imo – he ensured the continuation of it for quite a while. But once Sol left – how bizarre was that, hey? – we have not seen the same solidity to our defence we once were so used to.

I want to say last season’s defence came very close, but then I think back about our mega-defeats again and I am not so sure whether that would be fooling myself. We did not buy a DM either and it all remains to be seen whether Wenger has done the right thing. I hope he has but have my doubts about it nonetheless.

But Arsene has a plan, although I cannot state that I know what it exactly looks like.

He is always evolving our style of play, and I reckon he has decided to go with two ‘footballing midfielders’ in the two deep midfield positions and he will not continue with 4-1-4-1 for long. He has many a midfielder to accommodate and will feel he has great options for filling the ‘2’ in his 4-2-1-3 with real quality, and I fully expect him to play Ramsey and Wilshere there more and more from now on, but either of them can be combined with Arteta (the captain after all!), Flamini, Cazorla or Rosicky, etc.

So, although I would have loved to see us getting a proper, footballing DM, who can defend and boss the area in front of the defence like no other, I do understand Wenger’s apparent hesitation to finally get us one. This season we will see whether our soft-underbelly in the heart of our midfield will come to cost us or not.

But what about our defence? Why did he let TV5 go before a replacement was signed; why did he not buy another one before the TW shut? Is he that stupid or irresponsible?

Of course he is not stupid and neither irresponsible. But maybe the classical approach of having at least two quality players for each of the four defensive positions does not work anymore; and Wenger has come up with what could be a very effective alternative: less defenders  but with more rotation and, in the process, less dissatisfaction within the team.

Last season, the likes of TV5, Monreal and Jenkinson were largely spectators: managing just 24 PL starts between them, an average of just eight. And although Wenger should probably rotate his players more, this is inevitable as long as there are no major injuries. But football careers are short and players (need to be) hungry and ambitious: they want to play rather than just collect a payslip every week… and we don’t want those sorts of mercenaries at the club anyway… we sell them to the Northern Oilers hahaha.

cup (1)

And come to think of it, with Debuchy, Koz, BFG, Gibbs, Monreal and the brilliantly multi-functional and skilled chameleon that is Calum Chambers, Wenger might just have got the balance right between playing enough football by everyone AND having decent cover for all key areas. Say we play 55 games in all competitions this season: that is 220 games in total for all four positions – if we divide those by the six players mentioned above, we come to a fine average of about 37 games per player.

Of course there is more cover in the team as well, as Flamini can help out and the young and promising talents of Bellerin and Hayden can also be used (and there is Coquelin as well). But the older Frenchman will be used mostly in midfield and the talents will still be patient enough to accept their roles within the team.

I still think Wenger will not rotate a lot as he likes to play with a consistent back-four as much as possible: and who would not?! But suspension and injuries occur regularly during a season and this should ensure the aforementioned balance to remain effective. Debuchy, Koz, BFG and Gibbs are likely to play most of the games, but I bet both Monreal will get stints at LB as well as CB, and Chambers will do the same at RB and CB (and maybe even midfield).

We have enough cover for the full back positions, as in the classical approach of two quality players per position. And as both of the cover players can also play in the centre, Arsene might have found the perfect balance now. I hear you say, but what if both Koz and BFG get injured: we will be fecked! Well, in that case we play Chambers and Flamini or Monreal at the back, with Debuchy and Gibbs or Monreal as the FBs. Even if all first-choice players get injured or suspended, the line up of Bellerin, Chambers, Flamini and Monreal as our back four is not the worst one I can think of by any stretch.

Alternatively, we could keep pressing Wenger to buy us one or two top quality CBs to warm the bench and wait for their chance – as if they are readily available and willing to accept such a role. We only have to look at TV5’s desperation to leave us – one of our most hungry and Arsenal-loyal Gunners, and club captain in the process! – to know this is far less realistic than many of us think.

Will there be no defensive signings in the foreseeable future then? Well, I reckon Nacho is on his last chance (and he has really impressed me this season) and Wenger is watching him closely till January; and in the meantime he is keeping the nr.5 shirt and a suitcase full of cash ready to pounce, if so required.

Wenger might well have out-thought us arm-chair Gooners once more! 😉

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Written by: TotalArsenal.

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56 Responses to Inadequate CB-cover? Wenger might disagree!

  1. proudgooner says:

    Great post TA 1 of your finest
    Only problem is I fully agree and there is not much else to add
    See the last couple of comments from me on the last post to see how I see how we should set up to defend against the top 4 🙂

  2. proudgooner says:

    1st comment in your face BKers
    Oh and there is a few rumours that Wenger is keen to sign an out if contract CB veteran I hope he does just incase of injuries 1 more would be great

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers, PG. I dont think that will happen PG, and I hope it does not unless he is very, very good (as per post). 🙂

  4. AB says:

    Evening TA! Yes, I think you have summed it all up very well here. I’m sure Wenger was in the market at the end for a 4th choice CB – but its a pretty hard role to fill; either a patient young prospect or an old hand happy to spend most of the season on the bench? Not sure the latter fills me with confidence, and finding the former (Nastasic sounded the part – but city not minded to sell to us) would be harder. The option of buying a DM who could fill in (well) at CB if required was what appealed the most (to me at any rate – I have no insight to Wenger), and Carvalho seemed to offer just what was needed here. But will we spend £25M plus on a defensive player? Not sure about that, but I will be happy to be proved wrong some day.

    My assessment is that Wenger took a calculated risk at the end of the TW in relation to CB cover, and it didn’t come off – i.e. we ended up light of a player; releasing Miquel as we did either indicates confidence that we would bring in as well, or else is a truly damning verdict on his abilities. The calculated part is very much as you set out – we have flexible options that would cover us for one, maybe two injuries. But we don’t have more than that I feel, and we don’t really have much depth to draw on for COC games and the like – the option of rotation is pretty much non-existent. The core of our defence is strengthened from this TW I think – I would rather have Debuchy and Chambers for Sagna and Verm, for this season and for the future. But the new two cover fewer options than the old two, so we have lost some flexibility in the mix.

    The unknown factor, for me at least, is whether Wenger has judged that we have someone truly ready to step in from the youth. The best cover though is at RB, where we probably need it least. Does Wenger plan on bringing someone on for CB rotation? I suspect we will be in the market for some sort of CB cover come January. In the meantime we just have to pray that our good fortune with injuries……, at the back at least (barring Gibbs of course) continues this season.

    At least we have more cover up front now with the arrival of Welbeck. But I shall be wincing every time one of our CBs takes a knock until we strengthen again in the area.

  5. proudgooner says:

    True
    I was watching Germany u21 v Ireland u21 and I feel we missed a trick in not signing 1 more rising star CB like Chambers

  6. proudgooner says:

    Le Coq can play CB
    We have Hayden and Hector I think will start a lot of FA cup games and all capital one game and a few EPL

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Good points, AB, and thanks for the feedback. 🙂

    But I am not fully agreeing with the general line of your comment. For the next COC game, for example, we could line up with Bellerin, BFG, Chambers and Gibbs/Monreal. I would even be prepared to swap the BFG with Flamini or Monreal (with Gibbs wide then), and we would still do fine. Key is for Monreal to develop into a new ‘Sagna’ as in able to play as CB.

    With the likes of Chambers and Monreal already having played a good number of games, it looks like we will be using the six defenders on a regular basis, which I now feel is a very good system.

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Yes PG, they need games too and if the risk is not too high, they will get a chance to get experience and show us what they can do.

  9. AB says:

    TA. Yes if they are all fit we can rotate a little as you describe – but with an injury or two in the mix? And then we have weekend games after CL games, esp the away games – playing a makeshift back line will cost us unless we have total dominance in the mid-field and all the possession on the back of it. We should never have lost at old toilet last season but we were tired from the away game and missing Kos I think.

    Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not in dooming disaster mode, but I think our current set up, without a dominant DM, means our CBs are generally exposed and we operate quite close to the edge in many games. Against the best PL teams away from home, we simply have to have a full strength back line, or else we risk another bad mauling; I really don’t want to have to deal with another of those this season. But would I fancy your notional back 4 line up away to city or chelski? Sadly not.

    I know the example I gave was for a COC game, and having banked the FAC we might revert to treating these as optional. But Southampton will give us a game for sure, and if we get past them we won’t want to get knocked out by some minnow, or get thumped either by a top PL side. I’d be happy going into the Southampton game with your back line though. As I say, if we are lucky with the injuries then we will be fine, but Gibbs seems to be a time bomb still, so a bad injury to Kos would leave us pretty vulnerable I think.

  10. AB says:

    Hi PG. I confess I had pretty much assumed the Coq would never make it with us – I don’t know if we lack options to place him elsewhere (I presume he’s not another Bendtner?), or whether Wenger has seen him come on again. I remember Flamini the first time seemed to be for ever a second rate player until he finally came through and promised so much – sadly wasted in Italy though. Hayden I know gets spoken of well by many, so I’m hopeful that Wenger thinks he might be nearly up to first team level. But I’ve not seen anywhere near enough of him to form a view – he has not exactly exploded through our youth team though, so my hopefulness is somewhat muted for the moment.

  11. Malaysian gunner says:

    Wenger might disagree. He always thinks he is right. I say wait till the
    games are played. If the gunners lose all the time,it will show his
    failure to address the cd,is a problem.

  12. steve says:

    Great post TA, especially as it gave me an excuse to remove myself from the family nonsense i am dealing with at the minute 🙂

    I would have liked to see Wenger sign one extra CB because i feel Flamini and Monreal as reserve CB choices would be quite risky, hell Flamini is risky in midfield let alone defense lol.
    But i do take your point that there may be more of a plan there than we give Wenger credit for, i just hope it leans more towards the youth rather than playing players out of position.
    In my mind first choice and reserve would look something like this;

    Debuchy—–BFG ——Koscielny——Gibbs
    ————- Who ever—–Flamini————

    Bellerin—-Hayden—–Chambers—-Monreal
    ————Who ever ——-Arteta—————

    Anymore injuries than that and bring back jenko

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Well yes, AB, we would need a strong(ish) line up against the Oilers away. But only if we would have both Koz and BFG out, I would be worried. Chambers can play with either of them, although this is not without any risk, I agree.

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    Steve, good points. 🙂

    Hope the family issues are sorting themselves out. Never nice.

    Until now Monreal has been okay when played as CB and there is hope he would be able to grow further in this role, if required. I admit Flamini is a bigger risk but his experience and leadership skills go some way.

  15. steve says:

    Cheers TA
    I hope Monreal becomes as useful at CB as Sagna was when he played there, that would be a turn up for the books 🙂

    AB, (re the COC)
    Its got to be the kids and a few reserve first team players for Southampton surely?
    Especially with Spurs, Galatasaray and Chelsea our next three games after it.
    Something kind of like this maybe:

    ——————–Martinez———————-
    Bellerin—–Hayden—–Chambers——Monreal
    —————Diaby——Coquelin —————-
    Campbell———Crowley—————-Akpom
    ————–Sanogo or Podolski—————–

    Can’t see us risking the likes of BFG and Kos before that run of games, but hey what do i know lol

  16. alcide says:

    Really excellent post TA, agreed with PG that’s one of the best. It’s late and I’m tired so just a few comments (mostly repeating some of yours) in no particular order.

    Nacho has been good so far this season; maybe he was dismissed a bit quickly last season – he was poor in a poor team and a defensively weak left wind and as the LB was more exposed to criticism than others? I can’t remember where I read the following but it is a good summary of our antithetic left backs: Gibbs is great offensively, but can’t cross, Nacho nowhere as good at beating his man but is very good with crosses. Nacho has good defensive positioning, but can lose one on ones and has no speed to recover, Gibbs is not as good positionally but compensates or can recover with his pace.

    Agreed with the big risk taken – is there a plan, or did the plan fail? Were we confident to sign a 3rd CB? Was Calum hired for LB or CB or both, and did Arsene change his mind at some point? Was Hayden thought to be 4th CB (but he wasn’t given any play time)? What you say about letting TC leave is also true about Jenks – when he was put on loan, what was the plan? Bellerin as our #2 RB, or Calum?

    Now we do have some depth but very young with Bellerin/Hayden, some flexibilty with Calum (but just a tad more experience), and further flexibility with non specialists Flam & Monreal, but that is far from perfect. I do think something didn’t go as well as intended. Are we intersted in getting Yepes “just in case” (don’t say anything bad about him, he had a massively underrated career, and I love the guy ever since I saw him play for FC Nantes)?

    DM – you know my thoughts TA, and as you mention I don’t think Arsene wants a “pure” single DM to play in front of the back 4, he just wants “2s” as in 4-2-3-1. I for one would be really happy with (in the “whoever” role, next to Rambo) a faster version of Arteta (i.e. focus on ball skills) or a faster version of Flamini) (i.e. focus on destroying(!)) – with the (expensive) dream of having both in 1. We had a uick conversation last year, and having 2 versatile box-to-box players in the DM is an option to me (better of course if they have different physical attributes).

    I insist on fast because (keep repeating myself, sorry) the reason we were close to satisfied with our back four last year, is that with Per we have one of the best CB in the world – when facing forward – but also one of the worst in the world – when running back. And this significantly limits our options in playing a high(er) and terms of “gegen-pressing” as we could/should with the type of midfield setup we have, and leaves us largely exposed either with too much space to play between our lines, or huge space behind the defense if we push up. What I found shocking in some of the Everton pictures posted by steve is the clutters of Arsenal players 20 meters behind the ball, in no man’s land, without any opposition players around as Everton counter attacked. Rant off – I really love Per, but with the better teams, he (and Mikel and/or Flam) need help, pacier help.

    I’m tempted to add the DM thing back on the table – what was the plan with the DM – is he happy with Flam/Arteta alongside Rambo, with Jack, or even Rosicky as backup options? Is he counting on a few games from Diaby? Did we fail in finding available players that would improve our current options? Is he only interested in a top quality DM (i.e. Ozil/Sanchez level signing) as opposed to “squad player” level that would fill a spot for years to come and “prevent us” to getting the DM he really wants? I know (well I think) Arsene does not indeed want a pure one man defensive midfielder, but I do think he wants a (second) very good deep midfielder, and maybe that is why he is procrastinating?

    Laters. Sturridge injured, Diego Costa injured (hamstring), Balotelli subbed out of friendly game after a hard tackle – what is going on? Can other teams’ players also have injuries on the int’l break now?

  17. Milo says:

    Hey TA, what’s your personal e-mail? I have no videos up of myself playing, BUT there are videos out there of compositions that I am currently playing. I do not want to post them as I find music to be one of the most deeply personal preferences anyone can ever divulge to anyone else.

    It is really coming along though and I am now confident that I can make a living from it.

    Back to Arsenal, this might/must have already been mentioned, but did anyone else notice the horrible tackle that piece of shit Fabregas, laid on Debuchy in a FRIENDLY??? I was really hoping Cesc and Costa would be injured. I know that sounds horrible and it is, but anyone who decides to play for that idiot Mourinho and THAT club, I wish ill upon. Anyone besides Schurrle that is, hahahahaha. I’d have him at Arsenal any day!!! Hopefully Welbeck can be our very own!

    Later Man.

  18. H Bo says:

    Top post Totes I do think your right keeping top players happy on the bench is difficult but how do the other clubs do it?
    Also can’t remember who said (it’s late I’m tired) about buying 25mil player to sit on the bench but think really you don’t buy any player to sit on the bench yes he may not tactically suit the current formation but he needs to make the boss rethink it with performances in training and in matches I’m sure these things are discussed in negotiations before purchasing a player.
    Although I do believe with what I have seen Hayden and Bellerin look quiet useful and need to get a chance at some point hopefully it’s with one of either BFG or Kos at least at first anyway, which takes us to 8 defenders 2 in each not with the type of quality our midfield and forward positions have but a it’s only 2 players who will rarely play except COC games .
    In terms of a DM well an out and out DM it’s never gonna happen we will blog about it till the cows come home, it doesn’t suit Wenger’s style of play that’s why I think he is reluctant to buy one an just thinks he can cope with Flamini it’s just not right.

  19. geoffchase says:

    Hi TA

    Some quick thoughts:

    A. I agree mostly, and add like PG, two out, two in.

    B. Of those … One is much younger but already very good, Chambers, and the other equal or more.

    C. IMO, Hayden could come up, orrr Debuchy could move in. As could Nacho. Debuchy with Koz might be too much aggro, but with Merts, might be good. One quick, aggressive, good in air Frenchman for another, non? Then there is Nacho and … For those worried, I think we could get Jenks back if truly need be.

    D. Defenders these days get injured but not like mids. Could AW be following a new balance based on how things currently work. Thinking of injuries, we’ve had less, for far less long in our defenders than mids. This seems, very vaguely/broadly a general EPL trend, perhaps due to it’s unique pace, physicality and style of play(?)

    E. As I’ve said, perhaps he did want a more physical “complete” midfielder at TW, but not a second tier type. And, they weren’t available(?). In that role it’s Carvalho for me over any other as young age means he can develop. Similarly, I’m beginning to think Chambers was the buy of the last several years in price, delivery now, and potential…

    Just some bits to consider… Or random rantings to be alliterative…

    Cheers — jgc

  20. geoffchase says:

    That said,

    F. I think getting younger versions in for Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky are key things to consider going forward. Whether from youth ranks or outside. If Welbeck LANs out I expect that to be most of the focus…

    Cheers — jgc

  21. Rich says:

    I stoped reading halfway, there’s no excuse not to have another centre half.

  22. Retsub says:

    Well writtenI guess you never know how good some of the kids are until you chuck them in at the deep end. I remember Flamini filling in for Cashley at left back the year we reached the Champions league final and performing really well. Fact. Is as pointed out we are only two injuries away from meltdown. As others have alluded to, would we really want to play at City, Chelsea or god forbid Spurs with Monreal and Chambers as our cb pairing? That’s assuming Gibbs is fit and we don’t need Monreal at left back.

    Your mention of French cars is spot on. I always fancied a Citroen DS (you either loved them or hated them). Looked very good cruising along, but when they broke down they were a big problem. Mertesaker and Kos could be referred to as a Mercedes and a high end Peugeot and filling that gap with a Seat (sorry Nacho). Even though it has performed well recently just isn’t going to go the distance

  23. Gerry says:

    Yes TA another timely post looking back on the TW ‘might have been’s’, and forwards with how we manage with what we have. Great stuff.

    As for a great supplementary read, I recommend DesiGunner, on’ Welbeck and the TW’.

    I mention that, because he draws upon someone else’s analysis regards players time on the pitch. The conclusion is that ALL Premier league teams rely on 20 players, the other five are fringe players, no matter how good they are. For example TV5? So as an exercise, we could all draw up a list of twenty players and then just see how many defenders you actually have space for?
    I think you will find, the combinations that you come up with, will not be too far from what AW has left himself to work with.
    The corollary to that is, why spend a chunk of transfer funds on a 4th CB, who basically would be a fringe player. You could of course spend a huge chunk of funds on replacing Per Mertersacker, if one was available?

    So unless we do get more than our usual double injuries, AW’s gamble will likely pay off. The biggest risk is undoubtedly injury to Per, as he can organised a lesser partner than Kos much more effectively than the other way around. The scary thought of them both being out at the same time, against any team, let alone top 4, would not fill me with great confidence. I have to save, dropping Bellerin as a full time replacement for Debuchy worries me more that having Hayden partner Arteta at DM, or Per at CB. I think Chambers is the more natural number 2 behind Debuchy, as his initial purchase might suggest? That would promote Monreal to 3rd choice CB, if Calum was used at RB. Who covers Gibbs in case of a triple calamity, I would guess Flamini?

    As for the COC team line up, I doubt if you see a huge number of changes, 4 or 5 may be?
    Ospina, Hayden, Campbell, and Sanogo, and a senior like Rosicky would be my short list?
    They need to get through this round, and hope to have it easier next time, then play your Akpom, Bellerin , Coquelin, etc.

    Right, I’m off to sort my 20 players list … needs a lot of thinking time?

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    Alcide, great follow up comment, covering all the key thoughts re CB and DM. I reckon nothing went wrong too much in the TW, but both positions were not treated as priorities, with Wenger either dithering, or simply believing in his squad as it is. And re defence, I reckon if Nacho can perform well at CB when required, he will not sign anyone in January.

  25. TotalArsenal says:

    And you know we roughly agree re the DM role. Arteta and Flamini come close but not enough.

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    That would be great, Milo. Just send it to @gmail.com 🙂

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    Jgc, good point about less injuries to defenders than midfielders. I also believe that if players don’t play regular games, they become more injury prone if and when, often unexpectedly, they have to play at top level. Regularly involving Chambers and Monreal – and I would not be surprised if Wenger has promised them a decent number of games as a minimum – might just be the right solution.

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    Milo,

    Just add name of blog before @

  29. TotalArsenal says:

    That’s fine, Rich. The prerequisites to enlightenment are focus, openness and stamina. 🙂

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    Retsub, good points, and agreed re Flamini – a gamble can open up new strengths.

    All clubs would have issues if and when their main CBs are both injured, and would vulnerable, so no, Chambers and Monreal/Debuchy would not be too bad IMO. 🙂

  31. H Bo says:

    Gerry this would be my full 25 this is using the first team squad from the website (cut and paste) and if you wanted to swap 5 players for youth players to include an extra defender those are the dudes in brackets next to the player to be replaced or who is most replaceable IMO but as you can see our midfielders which now includes the Ox who was previously a forward but just using the clubs roles for players

    GOALKEEPERS
    1 Wojciech Szczesny
    13 David Ospina

    DEFENDERS
    2 Mathieu Debuchy
    3 Kieran Gibbs
    4 Per Mertesacker
    6 Laurent Koscielny
    18 Nacho Monreal
    21 Calum Chambers

    MIDFIELDERS
    7 Tomas Rosicky
    8 Mikel Arteta
    10 Jack Wilshere
    11 Mesut Ozil
    15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
    16 Aaron Ramsey
    19 Santi Cazorla
    20 Mathieu Flamini (Bellerin/incoming DM who covers CB)
    24 Abou Diaby (HAYDEN)

    FORWARDS
    9 Lukas Podolski
    12 Olivier Giroud
    14 Theo Walcott
    17 Alexis Sanchez
    22 Yaya Sanogo (Akpom)
    23 Danny Welbeck
    27 Serge Gnabry
    28 Joel Campbell

    The only reason I replaced Diaby who is one of my favourite arsenal employee (saying player is not appropriate as he doesn’t that much) is his reliability however if fit would replace Arteta who gets his role due to being the only one disciplined enough to sit, Flamini gives me nightmares I think Akpom is better than SaNOgoal, as for keepers one gets injured call up Martinez and on keepers nice to Ospina fit for a call up.
    Funny thing is still thought that’s need an acquisition but it’s manageable out of 9 midfielders there is little difference in jobs they can do really well and only 3 positions.

  32. Gerry says:

    Sorry H Bo I am going to clarify the rules of this exercise.

    1, Name in order the players that will play the most games this season
    2, When you reach 20, name the rest in order of most games played … until you get fed up if you are using the academy list 😀
    3, If you had two transfer wishes granted, in any position, and insert them into your list of 20 or 25 appropriately.
    4, Ignore unforeseen injuries. Assume every body stays fit, and just rotates.
    Then you get a better picture of who we needed to spend money on, because if they don’t get in your top twenty, then it would be money for a bench sitter, when we may already have in the greater squad?

    If we play say, 50 matches, then any player playing less than 10 games would be where you will be looking for the 21+ players. You could go beyond 30 and have a player playing once or twice, the the real test is finding the core 20 who will play, by that I mean start games, say a minimum of 10-15 games.

    Do another copy and paste from your post above and move them around. You will see why I needed more thinking time. I will put mine up later, I have my regular racing challenge to do now.
    Cheers for the attempt though 😀

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Gerry 🙂

    All good points. Yes Flamini or Coq, or even Jack as third option at LB. If BFG is out for long we might suffer as it would be a big ask for Calum to cover for BFG. But Koz could be the natural leader and Callum te calm head, no?

    I like the 20 player philosophy. Makes sense to me.

  34. allezkev says:

    Great post Total….

    Some really interesting points…

    Not sure that I agree mate.
    Arsene, with his knowledge, should have been able to secure those two players (C/B, D/M) that we need… He had long enough and the money was in the bank…

  35. RA says:

    Superb Post, Total, 🙂

    There are always so many variations on a theme for the manager when deciding what actions to take in the transfer window.

    The obvious thought for most of us fans, was that Arsene had already prepared a plan of action when he let TV go, and I suspect that was the young Greek CB Manolas.

    We were heavily linked with him and it appeared to be just a question of dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s. Out of the blue it seemed that Roma came in and the player decided he fancied Italy more than the UK. It happens.

    Next up he settled upon one of Terry’s cousins with the unpronounceable names Papapostwinkle or something, but yet again the player could not agree terms or his club said Nyet.

    Wenger being irresponsible or negligent? No way – these things happen in football all the time, and meanwhile a young fellow with terrific potential showed that he was a just the cover we wanted and was already at our club — as you pointed out – his name is Chambers.

    In addition we have young Hayden chomping at the bit in the reserves and is someone who would not let us down if he is asked to cover.

    The CDM many of us have been calling for is just an opinion as to what is necessary, and Mr Wenger does not agree.

    He has often said we attack as a team, and we defend as a team. He was quite explicit that he does not see the need for a CDM as it does not fit the way he wants Arsenal to play.

    He may be wrong, and only time will tell, but negligent or irresponsible? No way.

    He is the man who makes these decisions, and will stand or fall on them – as is right and proper.

    Others will have their own opinions on this, and they are entitled to them of course, but without wishing to be argumentative, I would vote for our manager and his decisions over the opinions of those fans who disagree with him.

  36. I think Wenger has his CMD in young Chambers… just watch him during his recent games for us. He wins the ball back, actually quite easily and wothout too much force…. and then watch his passing ability…….. I think the stats say he has had 100% pass success since joining us. What more would you want in a DM. He’s still young but has shown real maturity in his play. So AW has found our Defensive Midfielder and he can play quite well at CB as well. The only problem I see is if injuries happen to any of the CB’s. Then we may have a problem.

  37. jnyc says:

    I wss hoping that we had reacned a level financially where we could overpay a few million to avoid going into a long season worrying about our depth ag a key position. Last season, striker , this year is cb.

    We should have pulled the trigger somewhere, or tried harder. We knew tommyv was leaving since before the end of last season.. a versatile dm cb also could have been amazing.

    No way to dress it up or make excuses. Our situation is better, but we are not with the big boys yet..

  38. steve says:

    nothbank1969, same here mate Chambers for CMD all the way mate no question.

  39. I got those stats wrong, Chambers has 94% pass success but has 100% tackle success according to Arsenal.com. What more would you want from a CMD. Just in front of the CB’s, and he can move forward with confidence before moving the ball onto the forward midfielders or one of our wing backs. He reads the game well, a bit like the BFG and can cover for the CB’s if they move forward. All round player from what I’ve observed so far.

  40. Gerry says:

    Right here are my top twenty, in descending order:
    These players should start in excess of 30 matches
    1, Mertersacker
    2, Koscielny
    3,Debuchy
    4, Ramsey
    5, Ozil
    6, Alexis
    7, Welbeck
    8, Szczesney

    These players will likely start 20 to 30 games
    9 Giroud
    Insert – WC
    10, Wilshere – 11, with transfer
    Insert AR
    11, Arteta – without transfers – 21, with transfer
    12, Walcott, – 13, diito
    13, Gibbs – 14, ditto
    14, Chambers- 18, ditto
    15, Monreal
    16, Ox-Cham
    17. Cazorla

    These players should get between 10 and 20 starts
    18 Hayden__18, Chambers – ditto
    ___________23 Hayden – ditto
    19, Ospina
    20, Campbell

    Players likely to start less than 10 games, but more like to be the main subs.
    ____________21, Arteta – ditto
    21, Rosicky – 22, diito
    22, Sanogo – 24, ditto
    __________ 23, Hayden ditto
    23, Flamini – 24, ditto
    24, Bellerin – 25, ditto
    25, Podolski -26 ditto

    To clarify: Numbers on the left are gained from games starting.
    Numbers to the right realign that with the two transfers added
    One loser would be Arteta.
    Big loser would be Hayden, but as it stands, big gainer in DM mainly, but the odd CB start?

    N.B – WC is the DM(Carvalho); AR is the B2B (Rabiot). My choices.
    This list may need revising should any player excel over the next few games.

  41. steve says:

    Can anyone help me out i’m stuck – When Wilshere first moved into the starting eleven he was playing in what Ramsey’s role is now along side the likes of Song etc with Cesc playing the CAM up ahead of him. Can anyone one name one game where Wilshere has actually played in the CAM role himself, other than when he played and excelled there as a youngster?
    That’s where i see him best suited but i just wanted to see if there were any games where he had already held that role so i could watch how he did – been looking and thinking for ages but can’t think of one.

    btw Gerry loving the analysis, right up my street mate nice job 🙂

  42. Gerry says:

    jnyc – Here is a test for you. Name your CB. place him in whatever group of players you think he might start in from my list.
    Yes for peace of mind, a CB could have been had, but if he is too far down the list he is a bench warmer. with Chambers, Hayden, and Monreal all capable short term. I think the AW gamble will pay off?
    I do not expect our top pair to miss many, and that trio are capable of cover. A dual purpose LB/CB would have been the most obvious if one was willing to sit out in both positions?
    At what cost? £16m was refused for Theodorecrapilopdus, Hummels would cost a hell of a lot more?

  43. Gerry says:

    Steve – Another torn newspaper clipping from Oct 2010, Wilshere was top dog in a 4-0 beating of Shaktar. Too torn to give you the line up though.

    Try the Top Twenty list yourself, it is qute revealing. And you can add two subs(had we bought them).

  44. Gerry says:

    I’ve just looked on the Club’s website and found a Cup match against Spurs, away, in Sept 2010. it appears from that that Wilshere played behind Rosicky and Nasri, with Vela up top. It was Lansbury’s first start. 1-1 at full time, 1-4 after the first period of extra time 😀 Arshavin scoring the clincher.

  45. steve says:

    Your a legend Gerry i shall have a watch now mate.
    Just watched that Shakhtar match, it was 5-1 btw 🙂 Wilshere scored but he was still playing the deeper role, can’t wait to watch your new pick – cheers mate.
    OH and Eduardo scored the goal in that 5-1 and we all cheered for him – great memories, i had a massive smile on my face watching that again.

  46. steve says:

    Gerry, He was still in the deeper role lol
    Him and Denilson playing behind Lansbury, Nasri and Rosicky, with Vela up top
    Its a difficult one mate, i can’t think of a game that he has actually played there lol

  47. TotalArsenal says:

    Jnyc, Allezkev,

    I respect your point of view and to some extent I agree. But let’s now get practical: name me a player who is better than Chambers or Nacho, who is available AND willing to play second or third fiddle to Koz and BFG, being happy to play about 10 PL games or less. Cause that’s what Wenger has to offer them. No dressing up, Johnnie…. Just facing real management issues rather than playing a game. It is hard for a top club to attract a top quality ‘third CB’. Using the the second choice FBs as first CB cover is a clever solution in my eyes, especially with back up for them. 🙂

  48. AB says:

    Evening TA. As per your question of 19.47, Nastasic would be the young potential who is available for 3rd choice CB. But equally Carvalho as DM who could take on CB if required. As before, I fully accept there is no way we would attract quality to sit on the bench, so it needs to be either a flexible option or a young player. I agree with your general analysis about having flex across the back 4 as an efficient part of the squad. But we need our mid-field to click soon and start generating the goals, and I think this will happen sooner enough, AND that we stay lucky with the injuries at the back; I’m more worried here.

    Steve @23.31. I think the COC line up you have there is one for desperation, not for where we are as now. We need to be winning games and building fluency and confidence – a B team and getting knocked out of the COC is no way to do either. Depth is key to the best squads; it allows small changes constantly, with a ‘core’ remaining pretty constant from one game to the next. We have this in the midfield, as well if not better than anyone else; but we are a player short for the back IMO.

    I’m sounding like a doomer here, and I’m anything but! But are we all really confident that we will have the same good fortune with CB injuries over the coming season?

  49. TotalArsenal says:

    AB 🙂

    I cannot see Nastasic wanting to come as third choice. Surely he would stay at Citeh if that’s on offer? His next move would need to be somewhere he is a first starter, no?

  50. AB says:

    Not sure TA. He is 5th choice now at city; 3rd looks a bit more attractive with us? And at 20/21 will he get first team play in a top order club? Not in the PL – does he fancy a move to Turkey or Eastern Europe? We have PL, are based in London, and have a history of playing youth. That plus a small squad with a 30 yr old 6’6” CB (can’t see Mert still being on a field at 34) provides the option to grow into the first team. Thoughts? Now it could be that Chambers does all this – but if we need him in the DM, or as RB then what? If Chambers is to be groomed for the DM role, then he needs to be given the chance to play there, and I think he will play a lot at CB this year out of sheer necessity.

  51. AB says:

    We have CL…

  52. TotalArsenal says:

    I really cannot see why he would come if he is not first choice, but I respect your arguments. Then, for us, I cannot get too excited about him joining us. Is he better than Monreal, or even Hayden? Not really the level of TV, I reckon….

  53. AB says:

    Hard to judge TA, and I’m not claiming to know Nastasic’s potential – he just looks like he should be one for the future. Monreal will never be this – for CB I mean, I still rate him pretty well for LB (its tough being the back-up and expected to perform at the drop of a hat). Hayden, well we shall see, by how Wenger plays him. If he believes he has the potential then I would expect to see some positive selections here, as per Wilshere, Ramsey and many others over the years. If he is only called on in emergency, then it suggests otherwise? It would be great if Wenger sees he has a real future for us. I agree we can’t compare him to Verm – but this is not a real comparison as Verm is really a first 11 quality player in a top side; he cannot/should not be just a bench warmer. Given our preference for relative stability at first 11 then we will never operate (for long) with SQ as 3rd choice CB. Again, only IMO. Stability to me looks like 2 quality CBs, 1 young developing CB and a range of flexible alternatives. As you point out, we have most of this. But where we are vulnerable is in the left sided CB/LB – as Gibbs has a bed kept warm for him in the sick bay and an injury to Kos/Nacho leaves us wide open to attack down our left; which is hardly known as our strong point at the best of times….. The right side looks fine to me, but I don’t buy Flam or Coq holding down our LB with Nacho in LCB; I think we would leak goals down this side against any decent opposition.

  54. TotalArsenal says:

    That is a good point, AB. So maybe Arsene’s biggest challenge is to get stability on the LB side. Gibbs needs to become robuster, Monreal needs to become more consistent…. otherwise somebody else might be bought.

  55. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 🙂

    Nik stands up for the dream of a player we have! 🙂

  56. H Bo says:

    GOALKEEPERS
    1 Wojciech Szczesny: 20-30
    13 David Ospina: 20-30
    I feel there will be a lot of rotation to get David use to the prem

    DEFENDERS
    2 Mathieu Debuchy: 30
    3 Kieran Gibbs: 30
    4 Per Mertesacker: 30
    6 Laurent Koscielny: 30
    18 Nacho Monreal: 10-20
    21 Calum Chambers: 20-30
    39 Hector Bellerin: 10
    42: Isaac Hayden 10
    This hoping Gibbs stays fit and would be surprised if hector or Isaac play much at all

    MIDFIELDERS
    7 Tomas Rosicky: 10-20
    10 Jack Wilshere: 20-30
    11 Mesut Ozil: 20-30
    15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 20-30
    16 Aaron Ramsey: 30
    19 Santi Cazorla: 20-30
    20 Mathieu Flamini: 10
    8 Mikel Arteta: 10-20
    34 Francis Coquelin: 10
    24 Abu Diaby: 10
    Arteta and Abu would trade places if I thought he would play at all, also I think there will be a lot of rotation in midfield with 4 key players and the captain battling it out for 3 positions.

    FORWARDS
    12 Olivier Giroud: 20-30
    14 Theo Walcott: 30
    17 Alexis Sanchez: 30
    23 Danny Welbeck: 30
    9 Lukas Podolski 10-20
    28 Joel Campbell: 20-30
    38 Chuba Akpom: 10
    27 Serge Gnabry: 10
    Up top I feel less rotation will take place by the time Theo is fit I feel him and Sanchez will play most matches even Danny if starts well.

    Overall I feel a lot of the 0-10 players won’t get a look in maybe COC but with so many 1st team players not starting I feel they will play the 10-20 and 20-30 ones to try and keep them happy.

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