What to do with BFG and Arteta/Flamini?

How to add speed and dynamism to the CBs-DM triangle?

Watching Holland battle against ‘minnows’ Kazakhstan and Iceland over the last few days, made me think about Arsenal. The similarities were quite strong. Against both teams the Dutch conceded an early goal and after that it was the typical battle against the parked busses. Both Kazakhstan and Iceland cannot be blamed for sitting back and defending a lead with all they have got, but the Dutch team can be blamed for conceding early in both games. They made it so hard for themselves and it is exactly what Arsenal so often do to themselves as well.

Beating the parked busses is becoming harder and harder, it seems. Teams are better drilled than ever and they love fighting for each other till the very end. The Dutch have formidable, classical wingers in Lens and Robben, very good CFs in Van Judas and the Hunter, and a couple of decent playmakers in Sneijder and Afellay. Yet, they struggled long against Kazakhstan and needed a fair portion of luck (soft penalty and strong deflection) to get past them; and against Iceland they got totally frozen out, never managing to score after going 2-0 behind in the first half.

The BFG - great beast
The BFG is ready!

How many times have we seen Arsenal struggle in a similar way over the last few season, despite having fantastic attackers and midfielders on the pitch?

It is so important to find a balance between urgency and concentration when attempting to crack the PTBs, but this is all made that bit harder when a team is trailing. If Holland cannot crack them with the players mentioned above – and I reckon Germany and Spain have struggled in a similar vain over the last week – it might explain to some extent why we are struggling so often as well. Especially, as we also have a tendency to go behind to some dodgy defending (set pieces or counterattack).

Having a solid defence is of course key.

Teams like Arsenal and Holland will always prefer to attack and therefore run the risk of being vulnerable at the back. The Dutch continual weakness in defence has held back a whole generation of talented footballers, and I reckon it is fair to say the same about our beloved Arsenal.

From the goalkeeper to the CBs(pairing) and our left back, we just have not been able to get both quality and stability in these key positions for a long time now. Moreover, Arsene and Steve have not been able to get them to work as a solid unit. Last season saw a big improvement in many ways, with a large number of clean sheets and a strong away record, but it all fell down when we faced the stronger teams, with embarrassing mega losses rattling the most positive minded Gooners in the process. We conceded 41 goals and managed a goal difference of only +27 in the PL, whereas the champions conceded only four less but ended up with an eye-watering goal difference of +65. One could argue that we should have scored a lot more goals rather than worry about our defensive record during the previous season. I would agree with that to some extent, but going forward Arsenal need to focus on both areas in order to make the next step up.

Arteta, always giving his all
Arteta, always giving his all

Many of us have argued that the least we must do is protect the back four better with a quality, athletic, beast of a DM. Every summer we are apparently looking for one but, for whatever reason, we end up with zilch every time.

I am a big fan of the BFG and reckon that his obvious shortcomings – lack of speed and ‘turnability’ when playing higher up the pitch – can be compensated within the team, so that his clear strengths – organisation of defence, headers, positioning, blocks, leadership – can shine through. The question is, however, whether we can play a relatively slow and ageing DM in either Arteta or Flamini in front of him…. and whether we can allow our FBs to bomb forward so much as they often do either.

Can we really afford to have so much slowness in the centre of defence and midfield whilst playing attacking, possession football?

I also rate both Flamini and Arteta enough to feel they have a place in the team/squad, but am concerned whether their and the BFG’s the lack of speed and dynamism can be compensated for in the same starting eleven. I reckon we will not make significant progress until Arsene adds speed and dynamisms – from within or the market –  in either area. In a few years, Chambers can fill the void, either at the back or in the DM position, but it would be foolish to start counting on him now. As we saw this week in his games for England, Calum is a work in progress despite a truly phenomenal start for the mighty Arsenal. Let’s use him but not abuse him.

In Gibbs, Debuchy and Koz we have potentially solid defenders capable of now forming a high-quality defence that can aid the attack as well. The goalkeeper position remains open for debate. Szczesny continues to divide opinion with mixing the sublime with the ridiculous from one game to the next, and we have not seen enough of Ospina to see whether he would bring more stability and quality to the defence. Wojciech’s impressive performance against Germany could be the start of a more solid and focussed period, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for another season at least.

I realise that our attack needs to score a lot more goals as well, and as Liverpool almost showed last season, if we score more than we concede we can go all the way to winning the PL. But to really make progress long term, and to have a better chance against fellow top teams, we need to add speed, athleticism and dynamism in the triangle of CBs and DM. To do so, something has to give.

So my questions to you are:

  1. Do you agree and why (not)?
  2. What should Wenger do to add speed and dynamism to the ‘triangle’?

Written by: TotalArsenal.


40 thoughts on “What to do with BFG and Arteta/Flamini?

  • Maybe its my now undeniable frustration and annoyance with the amount of preventable goals we concede through Arteta and Per’s lack of pace and athleticism, but quite simply they both should not be in our starting XI. For one, it limits us tactically as we can not play a high line or press effectively high-up with either on the pitch bypassing the high-line means no cover and they are too slow to recover. Arteta doesnt even do the basic DM stuff like commit a soft but necessary foul to halt a counter-attack. (Watch Matic and Fernando and you’ll see what I mean) Per’s good qualities are well-known and I’m a huge fan of that side of his game, however, reality is at this level good reading of the game an exceptional intelligence and positioning will only get you so far. His lack of speed leaves us (and Kosciely) exposed a lot. I have a theory that a lot of the last-ditch tackles Koscielny has to make (and hence the red cards) is partly down to this.

    We’ll suffer through another season of those two as Wenger regards both as undroppable, but I do not see any reason why we cant be playing Diaby (when/if fit), Coquelin, Hayden, Chambers at DM and Chambers, Hayden at CB in the bigger games where the opposition has the speed, tactics and players to bypass Arteta and Per with minimum fuss e.g. Chelsea. The excuse of (some) of them being young doesn’t work when we played Bellerin at Dortmund and Wenger claimed he was “ready.” In a dream world, when Debuchy is fit, I’d like to see: Debuchy-Chambers-Kos-Gibbs Diaby-Ramsey(-)Jack in a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1. Until then, I also cant see any reason why Bellerin cant start at RB and Chambers at CB. Keeping in mind our next 6/7 games are relatively straight-forward, on paper at least.

  • easy answer –
    spend the same huge sums of money in defense that we have done in attack and sign Raphaël Varane and Morgan Schneiderlin. BFG can then remain a greatly valued presence in the team and dressing room as a second choice sub while Varane becomes the main man. Schneiderlin becomes the main DM with whoever proves to develop the best out of Diaby, Hayden and Chambers becoming his sub. Job done! 🙂

    F11ngers answer:
    whey hey!! yes @ Ra totally agree!!!!!
    Lets get the youngsters in!!!! this is what i have wanted for the longest time and great point about Bellerin at Dortmund!

    ———Sanchez——-Wilshere——The OX———


  • Hey TA… Good post… I’m not quite sure what you were thinking with the previous but at least Mr. F11ngers seemed to enjoy it. Silver lining?… No such thing (IMO)…

    The issue of lack of pace in our leadership pair is real (very real…) but my take on it is that Wenger sees the issue and made them leaders for two reasons, 1) because sound (though slower than light…) travels faster than even the fastest defender and 2) experience (plus communication….) is a better solution than trying to bring in so-called ready-made players to do these jobs. (And Steve, though hyperbolic, is correct–you either pay the uber-silly money or go with youth…) The real problem, at the moment, is that we’ve lost Koscielny to (chronic injury) and a combative (and solid) guy in Debuchy (to acute injury). Moreover, our set piece defense (defence?) suffers w/o Giroud as a second major obstacle for incoming balls (along with the BFG). Chambers out for Saturday’s match means riding our luck will likely be our best bet in the very near term…

    I think it’s clear that Wenger believes in a couple of ideas when it comes to the back. Ball skills trump physicality at DM and smaller, pacier FBs (usually converted wingers) and are as important as the MFs in defending on the break. So, cry for a beast (or beasts…) all you want but you may as well make the more usual cry instead. (Uh, that would be “Wenger Out,” in case the obvious escapes you…) Short of physical dominance, these guys need to make the key tackles but also take a cynical foul now and again. Flamini is expert at this, of course, and Chambers (who, frankly, has been a miracle signing…) maybe even better. Hull at home seemed like a good one for his (five yellow card) ban, but not with Kos out too… (Debuchy, though better at getting forward was also a combatant and, as I recall, took a pair of yellows in a CL match). Will Bellerin know when he needs to do likewise? Gibbs is usually fast enough to actually have a chance at the recovery tackle and didn’t Arteta do his calf actually making a clean one vs Spuds? (Our Captain, I fear, is also our most consistently underrated player, although Ozil, Santi and Giroud might beg to differ…) I worry about Nacho, straight back into the fray, likely at CB, fouling in the box–that turning away from the attacker thing he does is super-ugly, IMO. If Hull, as rumored (rumoured?) are without the excellent Elmohamady, however, their threat from the right (our left) might be muted.

    Fingers crossed on that one. Overall, on the post, this may be one of those where the leopard (Wenger) is unlikely to change his spots. As bad (or at least slow) as people think Arteta and Mert might be, replacing them will be difficult as it will require skilled, smart and verbal sorts to do so. More physical, pacier guys for these roles might be a dime a dozen (as we say) but can they provide the structure and leadership required? Chambers will take time to get there but at least he’s learning. Another experienced (but younger) and ready made type would be a real boon (and Schneiderlein at So’ton seems the most logical choice–even if he’s still prone to the odd bad giveaway…) but they won’t come cheap. (If Schneidy is 25 million, Varane would be 60…) All told it’s an area of worry but at least the two (touch wood, for the moment) are out of the physio-room, so maybe not our most pressing concern.

    As always, this is just my take on things and sorry if it appears glum. In happier news (for some, at least…) our worst player (Ozil) is out… 😦

  • Time on your hands TA? 😀
    One way to stop getting caught like we did in the Chelsea game, would be to do what I thought they did – but I have just checked, and they didn’t – and that is have either full back that is not involved in the attack alongside Kos. That way you have pace from two to get back. Per stays up with the attack as an outlet ball, at least until the ball goes dead?
    The Chelsea example would have been difficult as both Gibbs and Chambers were ahead of Per, but you get the idea?
    Interesting thought came to me last week, watching the Under 18’s, they played with 3 CB’s?
    Not that the first team have that luxury 🙂
    Immaterial against Hull, even though they use that system. But without Kos, Hayden may well get the nod over Monreal because he has been playing recently. I also noted that when he played in the COC, he was doing some of the organising of the ‘wall’ when they had a free kick. Shows he has the communication skills, and the ‘bottle’ to use them despite his inexperience at that level. However, can he too can be caught out on the turn, so don’t expect a Kos clone moving in, okay

    As for us not scoring from our attacking set pieces, well that is a bit of a joke now. It is also quite predictable? Ether Kos and Per stand at the edge of the box, split when the ball is played in, OR Per goes to the near post. Both methods are tactically useless. Per does not do a run and jump. From the near post he can occasionally nod it on blindly, but usually, their CB has a run and jump behind him and clears. This always assumes we get decent corner kicks played in, which more often than not, is a false assumption?

    How about, just once in a while have Per at the FAR post? Not by the far post, further away. It means either they send a big man out of the middle, or he has a free header, and he can see where our guys are? The times our corners are over hit it needs someone who is 6’7″ to reach them?

    However, beyond that, when trying to counter we do need a second outlet ball, at least until Giro gets back? Either they risk playing it out, and both Santi and Jack have been known to turn into trouble at one time or another? Or it gets the big heave ho into no man’s land, or their defenders.
    In this game coming up, I think they will have take a chance and have either Gibbs or Bellerin(?) move out wide the moment we have possession back, and be prepared to run with it. That has to be an option from Szcz, or the second pass. It will be up to the backs to be in position to where the ball is played, that there is a clear line for the pass. If it goes out of play, regroup.

    Not total solutions, but managing what we have better?

  • Gerry, “have either full back that is not involved in the attack alongside Kos”
    I said this a while ago and thoroughly agree mate! it would mean a constant three at the back in case of counters.

    Also sometimes i just think to myself bugger the corners, just play it short and carry on attacking high up the pitch (like Barca do with no height in their team). I don’t think we’d be loosing much in goals scored from the potential ball into the box and it would negate any immediate counter attacks that arise as a result of good opposition defending.

  • 17HT, i think i need to get myself a chamber i’m hyperbolic so often 😆

    Just in case – hyperbolic / hyperbaric mistake was a joke (play on words) 🙂

  • Hi guys, four comments four different angles. Love it! 🙂

    17 goes in defence for the older guys, Steve goes for the babies and Gerry goes for the experimental…. That’s my bloggers! 😀

    Back later to respond to individuals comments.

  • For good order, I don’t want both Mertesacker and Arteta replaced but reckon we cannot play them together if we want to make real progress. One with brains and organisation skills is needed but both being slow is holding us back. Something has to give.

  • Hey Mr. Fingers…

    As I’ve said before, it’s a big job getting a handle on your, er, perspective… The average Gooner, I think, prioritizes good results (winning) above the good football, but good action in the media/transfer market is a rapidly rising priority too… You’re pretty offhanded on these topics, it seems, but I’m always open to more explanation/correction… 😀

    What I don’t get–with both you and Gerry and many, many others–is how you guys can extrapolate decent performances in the youth ranks (or other much lower levels of football) to guys who can just slot in and do a job in the cauldron of pressure which Arsenal is. These line-ups that are suggested have to be taken as jokes–with the punch line being that they work just fine if you don’t care a whit about results… More subtle than the lineups are suggestions that even a single guy like Campbell or Bellerin or Hayden–can just slot in for experienced players without a loss in team cohesion or quality is wild. Everybody wants to praise these guys (me too, by the way…) but could it be that we struggled at Dortmund or in the CoC loss because of them? Anyhow, as I read more of your stuff, it becomes more normal to me, just as I’m forced to expect Gerry stumping for Hayden on Saturday when Nacho at CB (a completely insane notion, IMO, btw…) seems more likely…

    Anyhow, it’s all good (as we say, here in California…) Are we not gonna start Zelalem on Saturday only because he’s not English?…

  • Gerry, I think the key to our set piece troubles is better delivery (All Santi, all the time, I say…) and getting Wellbeck really making a nuisance of himself the way Giroud did with sheer size… At that point defenses can’t key on Kos quite so much…

    We will be a very small team vs Hull even if (beloved) Hayden plays. As such, moving more quickly (short corners) works for me. (Look, Steve, I’m agreeing with you on something…) Unfortunately, given extra matches (in the CL…) I don’t see us wanting to speed up the matches unless (Dennis forbid…) we’re down a goal…

    We play a SYSTEM so we’re not gonna ask players to play differently based on personnel. The FBs are supposed to rotate towards the center if the ball isn’t on their side and with true pace on both sides (Gibbs and Bellerin, for one match at least) it may offer better cover on the break. I worry (a little) about Hector’s inexperience and the excitement of both of them to want to hook up offensively with such fun players as Alexis and Santi. For the very short term, Jack may have to reprise his English, “rear of the diamond” approach and check some of his forward runs…Again, I like Santi (and his range of passes) further back, but that makes me sound almost as nutty as the rest of you lot…

    Personally, I think we’ll be a lot stronger if Arteta can do his thing. Yeah, yeah, I know, he’s woefully slow, has no business on the team (let alone as Captain), etc., etc. etc… Still, I think I might slot him into my fantasy team right now, given that I see him maybe taking (and scoring) at least one pen on the weekend… Cheaper than Alexis (the guy who might win it…)

    I guess we haven’t put out a match preview yet. Still, this topic is about finding a replacement for Arteta, Where are the calls for Le Coq or Diaby?…

    Desperate measures for desperate times? My theory is that most Gooners are desperate to extend this break from our misery, er, football, as long as they possibly can and the “solutions” are a little tougher to imagine than usual…

  • I am slightly wired 17HT agreed but its just the way i’ve always seen the “Arsenal way” as being.
    I have always agreed with the motto “you can’t buy class” even to the extent that if i’m being completely honest i saw both the high profile signings of Ozil and Sanchez as unnecessary – not unwelcome but certainly unnecessary. In my mind i would have just promoted Wilshere to the Ozil role and OX to the Sanchez role – again crazy i know but someones got to be the crazy one to let all the rest of you feel normal 🙂
    And there are examples of youngsters being crucial parts of many big teams all over the world (Varane only turned 21 just before the summer for example), why is it so strange to think we don’t provide the same level of potential here at Arsenal?
    Trust me the likes of Akpom, Hayden, Chambers and Bellerin will all make a telling contribution soon, mark my words 🙂
    Zelalem is not mentioned (by me at least) because we have no lack players in that position in the first team that are just as skillful and adept at fulfilling the task. Where we lack (either through injury or player deficiency) is in defense and in DM hence the list of players that i deem so valuable to Arsenal in promoting effectively to the first team. Akpom is just one of those players that i just know would score a lot of goals in pretty much any team 🙂

    So yes a bit weird to be sure but maybe an Arsenal purist also? (trying my luck on that one lol)

  • Very good…Steve…You meant “weird” up top, but spelled it “wired.” Hmm, interesting… Speaking of, I need to roast up some (coffee) beans…My nice blend of Costa Rican and Indonesian is running low… Luckily, I’m well stocked on greens…I’m thinking of going Brazil-Ethiopia at the moment, but I reserve the right to change my mind…

    From the outside, the change of Arsenal from a local, English club to one with much larger aspirations must be pretty jarring; the wild swings since the stadium move from French and French-African players to this new British core, even moreso… (AB’s recent excellent posts and comments from long-time supporters brings it home for me….) Given that we’ve got the Wal-Mart wife as owner–whose interest seems completely devoted to upping HIS bottom line–it’s all the more painful, esp. if you pay to get into the stadium. We who enjoy our lovable losers on the telly actually have it pretty good…(Every match is available to us over here, including the 15:00 starts…) unless, of course, we find the losing not so lovable…

    My point, which guides me, is that expectations determine experience. We’re in the age of the Sheik-o-Garchs (new seeding protocol in the CL must’ve put a few quid in Platini’s pockets…) with a bit of trickle down to the (greedy?) Americans or the bankers who back the national teams (your Barcas, RMs, Milan/Turin teams and Bayern)… Arsenal will be in the upper tier, but truly competing with those willing to lose money seems a stretch. The regular supporter who just wants a fun day out–ALWAYS–bears the burden. Unfortunately there are not that many who see a good run in the league cup with a bunch of kids as such an experience. Losing in the final on a rookie keeper error (or a Drogba goal and fight full of Ivorians, even if our Diaby almost kicked a Terry head clean off…) doesn’t do it…FOR MOST… For many, including your friend the Cockster, buying an Ozil (or an Alexis) IS the highlight of the season…With the lesser thrill of now having him hurt, a close 2nd…

    As such, weird, wired, wild or wacky are all fine…As long as you explain yourself and give a nod to the sufferings of the more normal types…


  • A little UMF announcement here. I am doing the general collecting of the UMF this weekend.
    VCC is tied up with a birthday party,but will post the results on Tuesday.
    I posted the message on the UMF side too, and I go off air around 8.30am Saturday morning.
    Any entries after that time will have missed the boat I’m afraid.

    I trust this is okay with you TA – I got the message earlier, and I’ve been busy getting the thing up and running. All entries in up to my own.

  • first and foremost – so sorry to hear about your loss Gerry, please accept my sincere condolences, she was gorgeous – can tell from your avatar .

    I know I’m late but better late than never ehhh ? I didn’t forget about it, just that I haven’t been able to post as much as before .

    Also, where art thou @ GLICS

    come out come out where ever you are .

  • nice one skipper – not sure if I disagree with anything you have written, but for now, we don’t have Arteta Available, so the way I do my thinking is based on our “available ” options which don’t include players from the reserves by the way .

    this is how I see it – you keep the BFG , you get in Diaby in MF instead of Arteta and Flamini.

    what this does is that

    1: Gives you height and presence in both boxes .

    3: Gives you presence .

    5: Gives you presence .

    you see where am going with this ? regardless of the lack of pace associated with BFG – he offers us presence and Diaby isn’t too slow either – this will allow our attackers to do what they know to do best knowing they have Diaby in that Triangle with Per – who makes the 3rd one in the triangle for tomorrow may well be Chambers ? but normally that be Koc .

    sorted ?

    Diaby = the solution to all our problems .

  • 17teen o – the match preview will be out for Saturday – HH’s I think he said
    In between time, my little ditty on all things Mesut will be out later this evening/tomorrow morning.
    Despite what you read, it was written before the Bell-end’s one liner.
    But it leads nicely on to what you are discussing above. Mind, the way the players are falling apart, we may have less choice than you think?
    Early this morning when I looked down the NewsNow stuff, I saw a bit from our new fitness guy.
    He says our injuries are self-inflicted because we over-train the players, and they go on to the pitch fatigued, rather than fitter. Not quite as simplistic as that, because what he actually means, we are training too hard during the playing season
    That has resembles what a well known racehorse trainer said recently, when asked how his two top class horses compared at home. He said ‘We don’t work them together so I would not know. They all do the same 5 or 6 furlongs cantering. To do anything more would simply leave their races on the gallops’.
    So what has been missing these past few seasons while they have been doing these goodwill tours, is proper pre-season fitness training. This coincides with the rise in injuries. Worse this year with the World Cup. So instead of doing a lot of work during the season while they are playing games, they should be just doing light exercise.
    I wish him luck in getting that message across 😀

  • Sorry to contradict you 007, but you need work less/post more and/or sharpen your spy work… 😀 Of course, I would love to get me a little Diaby out there…

    From the horse’s mouth (aka Wenger from the dot.com)…

    “on Arteta…
    Arteta is back in the group, and will be in the squad.”

    Speaking of which, re: the above comment… I don’t click on goal.com (amongst many, many others…) but isn’t the getting tough rather in the eye of the beholder?…

  • Nice one Makayeh – It has ring of truth about it. AW was certainly wound up on the touchline.

    The writer, is related to one of the board members? Anybody? Veysey. It rings a bell.

  • ah, haven’t got my Wenger fix yet, am gonna go and check out the news myself on the official website – cheers for that me amigo ; )

    hey, that’s rich coming from you considering I was the one indulging with Steve yesterday, ha

    off to watch the press conference or team news now .

  • Well Walcott is back in the squad … but he is playing Friday night, so at most he will make the bench. Arteta with no games, I doubt it. Coquelin will be the cover for Flamini’s dismissal err sorry, substitution.

  • laters @ Gerry

    right, the way I am bisecting this is that we possibly have the following coming back in 7 days – give or take





    Diaby ?



    not bad at all, considering we can ease them back in as we have a few sort of less demanding matches ? ones I expect us to win even with a stretched squad as long as we don’t lose players to injuries , I reckon things are looking quit promising on that front .

    hopefully by next friday, we will have 90% of the above involved , one way or the other ?

  • Well, I guess I missed Gerry… but one final thought on Arteta/BFG…esp. in light of that little anecdote about over-training…

    Having Captain and Co-Captain being non-internationals, I think, is a huge positive. It makes these (hellish) int’l breaks (where our best players travel, play–usually at a far lower level–and risk injury…) a little better in that the leaders can work with the kids and the others left behind, recovering from injury, etc., so that we can face these groups who don’t travel in a better state. How many Int’ls, for example, play at Hull?…

    Anyhow, in an idealized world, where the Club game truly took the front seat, slower, older players who are likely at (or even past) their physical best wouldn’t have a shout at the top level to which we aspire. As it is, in important “organizational” parts of the pitch, they may not be quite so ready for the rocking chair… (Could a factor in Chelsea’s early season domination be that the horns of the devil are firmly on the head of an older, English CB, retired from Int’ls, who clearly–from his skin tone–didn’t spend any time on the beaches of Brazil?…Nah, probably not… Skint Wenger and passing on the Spaniards prolly explains it better…)

    Finally, I dunno about the optimism, 007 (even if I find it your most appealing feature)… I feel confident about this weekend (and the home matches, generally…) but 2 matches a week and travels to those teams with the better Arsenal keepers (Sunderland and Swansea) are a worry…


  • look, at the same time last season we were at the top of the table – with no Sanchez, no Welz ,

    this time we have a fully fit Wilshere, OX, Sanchez, Welz and Santiago (fresh as he wasn’t used for Spain)

    all I know is that I know nothing .and the next week will be very promising leading up to the big ones .

    keep believing and keep the faith .

    our season is just about to start from tomorrow – officially 🙂

  • Wenger on the lack of defensive cover: “I agree we could have bought one more player,”
    BUT…“We didn’t find [him]. We will try in December to rectify that because we are a bit short with the injuries we have and, overall, I think we will rectify that on the transfer market in January.”

    Arsenal club Chairman Sir Chips Keswick:“As you know, your board backs him 100%. If he has a plan, we back him. If he doesn’t have a plan, we keep quiet. So don’t let’s be in a muddle about who calls the shots about football. It is not the chairman, it is not the fans, it is Mr Arsène Wenger.”

    1. The (Wenger’s) inability to identify and more importantly actually follow-up and get the deal done and sign players is bordering on plain incompetence now. Really is. How many more years must we go without a proper DM, even if its a ball-playing DM if that’s what Wenger wants? Vermaelen informed the club in May that he was leaving, we had enough time to identify and sign suitable cover. Judging from what Chipswick said the buck stops at Wenger.

    2. The fact that the board basically say that Wenger is not held accountable I(they keep quiet) is a disgrace and that is fundamentally what has been wrong with AFC for years.

    Sorry, I digress but I came across the AGM quotes just now. Besides the notion that Wenger is toughening up is too far-fetched to enterytain for me at this point in time as I look forward to lining up against Hull with Nacho at CB.

  • Many peope thought the BFG and Kos were the best centre back pairing in the league last season.
    He is clearly not the fastest player but i think he is a great player and his full commitment to Arsenal is clear.
    On playing the high line argument i think playing the high line in the EPL is just not really possible any more, there are to many super fast Forwards that would punish even the fastest CB’s. imo

  • Kos is clearly a big problem for us though, lets hope for a quick return, but not so quick that it is rushed.

  • TA,
    I agree with what you are saying, but i am quite happy with our team, DM i the only position in our side that can be argued that is a problem, Flemini is in good form and when he is, he is very good. We do need another CB as well of course but only a signing can sort that or Hayden

  • Isaac Hayden. Born competitor and leader. Arsene has a great track record with young playmakers, or more offensive players, but aside from Vieira and to a lesser extent Lauren, and to miniscule extent Senderos :D, he hasn’t had as much success with more destructive types. Anyone noticed how Johan Djourou has played pretty well so far at club and international level?

    Back to Hayden, this young man’s father rode him hard and placed a tonne of responsibility upon his shoulders. Isaac grew up in and around football. I am going on gut, but aside from his penchant for the odd reckless challenge (not out of malice for the vast majority of his bookings) he has a firm gasp of the tactical side of football. He’s not just a reckless powerhouse like Tiote (who I actually kinda like when he’s sane). He has subtlety. He is driven.

    I like Chambers as a centre back.

    Look, this is how I see it, we ain’t gonna win the title this year, unless something crazy happens. Maybe that something crazy could be Arsene giving Isaac his initiation 😀

  • Good morning all. I see not a lot was added after I left, so I will quickly work up from the most recent.

    Milo, I am with all the way with Hayden. From what I have seen of him this season, those ‘reckless’ challenges are a thing of the past. He looks more confident this time around, and that is what is helping him make the right calls. It does look like he may get an opportunity for a run of games, probably at CB while Kos is out, so that cover we need could be him? Not forgetting he could make a case for the ball playing DM later on.
    Just touching on that. I tried to watch the Portugal match last week, but my early mornings made me nod off a couple of times. But I did notice WC putting in some tackles. Nothing spectacular, but a big improvement on his previous game. £28m? Perhaps not..

    Ra, I think there is a bit too much analysing over these board statements. This time I think they are trying to keep to themselves what they can, and not have it ruin their transfer business like last time. Take the reported £20m in the January kitty, and statements ‘we have not got hordes of cash’. A couple of weeks ago we were in for a £60m triple signing and/or a £50m Cavani signing. So January sellers are being led to expect a lot less forthcoming from Arsenal, unlike the Gazidas statement last time, coming up to the summer window ‘…we can match the top clubs now’? That I think scuppered our chances of getting players at a realistic(Arsene Wenger) value. Prices were slapped on players that made no sense in a commercially. They played their hand at ‘poker’ and it failed. But if Calum Chambers had not have been required for an extended period at RB, we probably would not have been having this discussion? Add to the fact that very few players would jump at the chance at being a 3rd choice CB either.
    DM is slightly different. But I think they gambled on, but too late in the window, to get the aforementioned WC, but not realising the 3rd party wanted their full share of the release clause, not a share of the reduced sale price. But trying an instalment plan scuppered that. You have to remember, AW had is eye on other signings to, and the pot is only so big?
    I also think the press are making a big thing of the £3m paid to a Kroenke owned company. From my understanding, the company was involved in attracting a lot of sponsorship and other deals that brought in a lot of revenue. The guy that worked on that has now come to work for Arsenal full time. So we have paid a commercial transfer fee for ‘head hunting’ him. Far cry fro the headlines ‘Kroenke is taking money out of Arsenal’, and worse?

    PG, sorry I almost missed your point about playing a high line. If you are talking about leaving a gap between our last defender an the GK, when the CB’s are on the halfway line? Well my suggestion there is let Mertersacker go forwards and leave one of the fullbacks with Kos. If you set the back line deeper, yes it reduces the gap to the ‘keeper, but cedes territory in front of them. Where the high line uses the ‘off side’ to keep them back, you could have more than one attacker in the ‘gap’ in front of them? So rather than 2 on1, it could be 2 v 2 with them already in possession? Not many forwards have Costa’s acceleration to be fair?
    If you are talking more about ‘high pressing’, well that is indeed where the solid DM comes into his own?

    JB – The name I would most like to see on your list is Gnabry playing up front with Welbeck? If we play a 4-1-3-2 it could work a treat. It might just give Danny Boy a bit more time and space, and if Serge can sharpen up his shots from the edge of the box, it could be a win win situation?
    Oh, and thanks for the Flossie message. She was and always will be, a super dog to have.

    17HT – Your last paragraph suggests you have gone over to the dark side re Szczesney 😀

    Agreed on the experience helping the older players get a longer career at club level … almost full circle here on the Sagna debate, and lack ofCB cover? Ha ha.

    Let us see who is likely to be fit after the reserves match today. Or more importantly, who actually plays?

    Cheers all.

    Don’t forget the UMF entries!

  • A greatly valued presence in the dressing room whilst being second choice…. does not work Steve. The line up is one for the long future but will not win us anything. winning is not everything but surely we are in it to win it, no? 🙂

  • Great comment seventeen. The only thing I dont get is the link between wanting a beast of a DM and crying Wenger out…. Maybe you can explain.

    Comms is indeed key, yet it does not replace pace. I believe we can have one slow player in the triangle and not two and I don’t think you have convinced me that we will be fine with just continuing with both BFG and Arteta/Flamini. It would be fine if we would a lot deeper and counter football, but we do not and lack speed through the centre of midfield and defence. That is the real problem imo, although a long term injury to Koz would be truly disastrous indeed.

    Re your penultimate paragraph. Remember I believe both BFG and Arteta add a lot of value but should not play together if possible. That way we keep the organisational skills but also add speed and dynamism. The latter is absolute key for me but I accept that you believe we can do without it in the centre of defence and midfield.

  • Cheers Gerry

    What did you mean to say with your first line? Is the post too long… ? 😕

    You have a lot of trust in Hayden but my question to you is can we afford to bed in another youngster or is it better to a ready made, experienced CB/DM who can push us forward straight-away…


    Yes Diaby would be great and it would be prudent by the club to buy another ready to rock Diaby/DM type so we don’t rely on him (for obvious reasons).


    The BOD will look at different things when evaluating the value of Wenger. They know they have the best possible manager for their business and to keep him they give him freedom. It is not a disgrace but business sense…..


    But we will play high up the pitch a lot as it is in our nature… something has to give?

  • Milo Smilo 🙂

    Very good comment and further proof that you should be commenting more regularly with your interesting angles and insights (and raw passion! 🙂 ).

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