Does Arsene finally, finally have his new Bergkamp?


Sanchez and the 4-4-2

With a whole week off before the next game, I thought a fluff piece may be in order just to get the discussions and debating back in full swing.

Watching Sanchez playing at Sunderland, everything about him just screamed “number 10” more than it has ever done before with Ozil, or even my man Jack.  It got me to thinking though, could we play an old fashioned no.10 – you know, to its fullest potential, in that crazy formation that won us so many accolades and silverware – the 4-4-2?

Do we have the quality to make this system work once again, and really provide for such an excellent player like Sanchez?

I thought I would have a go, do my best at being ruthless concerning quality and athleticism, see what I could come up with and ask you any important questions that arose during the process.


Debuchy, BFG, Koscielny and Gibbs: to be honest, apart from a lack of pace by our big man I cannot fault the defensive solidity that this group should bring to the team.  With such a lack of options here though, they are largely uncontested places and with the exception of Monreal all other options are either prospects or loanees.

Monreal, Chambers, Ajayi and Jenko would make up my reserve back line for the future, and I hope Jenko keeps up the good work he’s doing at West Ham atm.


With Cazorla, Rosicky, Arteta and Flamini all being fringe players (at best) in most midfields across top clubs in Europe, Diaby only ever one training session away from being injured and Coquelin AWOL most of the time, I decided to be ruthless and cut the lot; but who’s left as the engine room in midfield?

Wilshere and Ramsey have to be the first choice pairing for our future, with OX and Hayden representing exciting and solid prospects respectively.

For those who don’t know Hayden, he has excelled both in ability and leadership and captained at every level he has played at, both domestically and for his country.


Do we have any old style wingers left now? With OX constantly showing he prefers creeping inside over hugging the line, I can think of only two.  Luckily, one is right footed and the other left, so it makes a good pairing.  Walcott and Campbell, plenty of pace and goals in both which is a benefit.  Future prospects would have to include Gnabry and Bellerin as both are again bursting with pace and goals.

Number 10:

Ozil, once the wonderkid of this position, has now got his work cut out to defend his place here by the excellent (and in my opinion the more exciting prospect) Sanchez.  Both still have much to offer though, so no departures in this area anytime soon I hope, but who does the starting place go to?


I’m looking for pace in this type of formation, like the kind Henry used to have with the strength he also used to show when needed.  With this in mind, I am afraid Giroud and Podolski are out, but Welbeck is in.  Future prospects include Akpom who has all the attributes Henry used to have and now needs experience and Sanogo who is a bit hit and miss at the moment to say the least but could be great.

What do we end up with then?

The Blueprint:


The starting XI:

starting XI new

The second (substitution) XI:

second XI


  1. Remember the Invincibles used to play week in week out, almost the same starting line up every game, would these resulting teams have the physical endurance to do that?
  2. Our midfield was once known for its aggression and strength, although many agree that this is not needed so much in the modern game, it is interesting how the modern day users of this system (Man City) have adopted an almost carbon copy of our template from days gone by, with excellent results. Do we have this type of steel in midfield from the options we have?  Do we need it?  Are our options better?
  3. Do you feel any of the players I so callously call “fringe players” could perform better in any of the positions, and if so: who, where and why?
  4. Are there any other players I have missed that you think deserve a place?
  5. With so many favourite names cut from the teams, producing a second XI that looks more like an U21 side than a premiership team, do you think we would have enough quality and depth in the squad to make this work?
  6. Are there any players you would simply like to replace with new arrivals in January? I know BFG’s pace has become a topic for debate but are there others?

 My answers:

  1. With the exception of Koscielny (with his continuing Achilles problem) and BFG who is beginning to age a little I feel the whole starting XI have shown they have the athleticism to play week in week out.
  2. For most games I think an on form Ramsey and Wilshere pairing would excel, watching them run rings around Toure and Fernando in the Charity Shield was a joy to watch. I would be slightly worried that there is no G. Silva type option available at all other than Hayden.  I would love to see Schneiderlin added to the squad to give that option if needed, but would he move for a seat on the bench at Arsenal until needed in a particular game though?  Maybe relying on an untested (at this level) but patient and willing to wait Hayden may be the more realistic choice – though not my preferred one.
  3. I obviously don’t, all seem leggy and are nearer the end of their careers rather than their prime.
  4. Coquelin could do a job in midfield as a more defensive option but it seems (at least atm) the boss has lost all faith in him.
  5. Apart from Ajayi. who I have never really seen play, I would say yes, as a substitute XI I feel it is still brimming with talent and all would be willing to wait for their chance which means no shuffling of the starting XI just to give players game time .
  6. In that starting line-up, I see only three players who are only even slightly suspect; Campbell has yet to show his true potential, but I don’t think he’s been given any sort of chance to do so yet. Then there is Koscielny, with his ongoing injury but a warrior nevertheless, and I feel Chambers is already the perfect candidate for his replacement when needed.  And BFG, having reached his potential a few years ago now, I feel (tough as it is to say) a big name replacement here would be an excellent addition – we are talking Varane level though.

I guess the question I have to ask myself is, would I swap Cazorla, Rosicky, Arteta, Flamini, Diaby and Coquelin for just one class CB and one class DM – probably, at the moment I could see Schneiderlin and Varane offering a lot more to the team’s structure than all those players combined.

My point of view is that we need goals, we are just not scoring enough.  There was a time when we used to score for fun and it was back when we used this system.  It takes special kinds of players to make this system work though but for the first time in ages I really think we have those players in the squad now.

When I look at the Invincibles line up, I see goal scoring options from FIVE positions in the forward line, with G. Silva the only player not guaranteed to add attacking threat.  Likewise, when I look at the new starting XI I have made above, I also see goal scoring options from FIVE positions in the front line, with only Wilshere lacking in that department.

I have to contrast that with what I saw at Sunderland on Saturday;

Arteta and Flamini – not goal threat there

Cazorla – has scored 4 goals in the premiership in the last 2 years

OX – Looks threatening but is not producing for one reason or another

All it takes is for your only striker to have a slightly off day (not unusual against a team set to defend), and it’s no wonder the only goals came from Sanchez excellently capitalising on two mistakes from the opposition.

Better teams won’t make those mistakes, so where are the bloody goals going to come from?

Is it any wonder we are not scoring atm, should we really expect any different?

I feel, whether it is because of injuries or a lack of faith in the midfield pairing to produce without the safety net of Flamini behind them, that the boss has played it safe and is largely underutilizing the squad we have at our disposal.  Players are coming back from injury, we are lacking goals: it is time to take the safety net away and let the lads produce!

4-4-2 with Sanchez tip toeing in Bergkamp’s shadow.

Could we make it work, would we even want to: Invincibles or Impossibles?  Tell me what you think.

Written by: Steve

Note from the Blog owner: if you want to follow Bergkampesque and/or receive an email every time a new post is issued, you can sign up: see right side of blog ‘Follow Blog via Email’. Cheers, TA. 🙂




95 thoughts on “Does Arsene finally, finally have his new Bergkamp?

  • Fine Fellow Gooners 🙂

    I am away for a few days with limited ability to issue posts, but Steve has kindly written a bumper post that covers a large number of angles and current topics regarding our beloved Arsenal. Enjoy and catch you later tonight.

  • Brilliant post, Steve, and you know we agree on who the new nr.10 should be. 🙂

    Later more, but I am doffing my cap for a very well written, provocative, analytical, and above all, fun post. As Mrs Merton used to say: Let’s have a heated debate! 🙂

  • interesting article and very well written…. but i have to disagree.

    First of all, Yes Cazorla hasn’t scored many goals in the past two seasons but take into consideration he’s been made to play left midfield for the majority of those two years. His best contribution to us, Malaga and Villereal came when he played in a number ten position. When he did play as a #10 he excelled. It is naturally going to take some time to get back to scratch- look at his goal in the Charity Shield.

    I think Alexis would be wasted in a number 10 role. He’s made to be either an out and out winger or a fake number 9 (a la Messi) His ability to bring others into play by pressing the forward line, stretching the defence and dragging defenders all over the place are a great indicator of what he can bring. I think alot of these traits would be lost playing in a number 10 position.

    I also dont think that in this day and age we can afford to play a 4-4-2. Look at City in Europe and currently in the league- they get overwhelmed in Midfield against top notch teams. I think for us id love to see a 4-3-3 with the ball and a 4-1-4-1 without the ball

    You’re spot on regarding alot of the player on the fringe that we have that should be fringe and not starting. A look at the Chelsea vs Man utd game showed that neither had a huge amount of talent to come on and change the game. Appreciate they both have injuries.
    If we can get a great holding midfielder and a world class striker- i think we’d have the strongest team in the league. Imagine being able to call apon: Cambell, Chamberlain, Podolski, Giroud.

    A few more signings and i think we can challenge both in Europe and the League

  • Although from what i’ve seen of Zalelam and Crowley maybe the target is how to integrate them into the team. From what i’ve seen of them both I think we’re going to have some amazing talents in the next few years.

  • Steve. That above is anything but a fluff piece, it is introspective, inquistive, well thought-out and sounds like a mental convo Le Boss may have had with himself many times. Great write. Very little I disagree with, and that which I do disagree with isn’t substantial enough to note a big mention. For example: Chambers over Per all day, simply because Per is failing at his own strenghts this season and without that and lack of pace, hard to justify his start. Hopefully, we’ll get a quality CB for that anyway. Also need a quality DM/HM. Basically, from what we have I agree and the only way I see us imprving on your “2014 4-4-2 Two Point Oh” is by buying better players which is a bit of a “fluff/side” complain.

  • Superb Post, Steve. 🙂

    Plenty of thought has gone into that, and credit to you for gathering the various options together.

    I have somewhat different thoughts of some of the players and their positions, but I cannot see any that fly a red flag for me.

    However, Özil as a backup No.10, is just not going to happen. He will either be sold, [and he won’t be – Mr Wenger has got too much credibility tied up in him] or he will be the first team No.10.

    In addition, I just cannot see Jack and Aaron playing together in midfield, they are too similar and too slow, so I expect Arsene will buy a midfielder in January. [Well we are speculating – just hope it is not another 30 y.o. past his best, but tempting to Arsenal because he is cheap – like Flamini was.

    I agree that a wholesale departure of Rosicky, Cazorla, Flamini and Arterta would be sensible, but again, unlikely, and I do not consider Le Coq as a serious first team choice as he is just running his contract down.

    At base, no one will win the big trophies with players bought as left overs from the smash and grab purchasers, Citeh, Chelsea, PSG et al, and they make life very difficult for AW.

  • Know I’m echoing comments above– but there is alot of good grist in that post to chew on.
    And some optimism right now is a staple in short supply from many parts.

    To hit a few points?
    Schneiderlein. He was ticked because he didn’t get out of town during the summer fire sale.
    Now that Soton is playing quite well? I can’t see him wanting to be a part-timer. Carvalho may be the one (he can also cover at CB).

    Ozil as a second-teamer. Wow. Wow again.
    I just don’t see that happening. I don’t see Mesut pleased in a role such as this.
    I’m not convinced he ‘bleeds red&white’. If this season plays out in any way akin to what Steve has unfolded– I see Ozil being sold to a Bundesliga side next summer. Then we can entertain Reus/Pedro/Draxler. And if one of those arrive? Campbell may have to be sold.

    Koscielny. The largest question mark on defense.
    Not because of any lack of ability– but because he is so crucial to what makes AFC’s defense– not just good– but for stretches– he made it great. The BFG/Kos partnership was poutstanding for over a year. I’m all for seeing if it can be again. And while the name Varane was put forth– while I know of his reputation– I’ve never seen him play. In my mind Chambers is the BFG’s heir-apparent. Debuchy and Gibbs are solid. Let’s pray for their respective good health ongoing.

    The remainder of Steve’s post– as an optimist myself– is difficult to argue against. We have a boatload of young, talented youth– on-the-cusp of fulfilling their potential. We’ve seen Chambers step into the breach at age 19– and while experience is all he needs– he will be a ‘great’ someday IMO.
    Bellerin in particular. His pace is a treat to watch.
    It’s hard to tell if Ox will breakthrough as Ramsey has– as Jack seems about to do.
    Will Gnabry overtake Ox in year’s time?

    My questions have several possible answers. But the beauty of those answers is that AFC is not reliant on any single one staid combination to become better. Many combinations of those answers can yield exceptional results.

    Thanks Steve. I got goosebumps considering the possibilities.
    But back to big one? For The Prize?
    I think you may be spot-on regarding Alexis Sanchez.


  • Sorry Steve, I am in the RA camp regarding Ozil.
    I also think the ‘false 9′ is a line worth pursuing, as SG suggests’.
    Add to that, no place for Giro???
    And your plan for world domination starts to fall apart. More so if you think we we see the like of Varane in our ranks?
    I cannot see Jenks returning either.
    Finally, I also see Danny Boy being pushed out to the wing, and that will not go down well.

    Formation wise, SG hits the nail again. Ramsey and Wilshere being the engine both in defence and going forwards will not cut it against any powerhouse side in Europe, not to mention a couple at home, especially supported by ‘lightweights'(in defensive terms) in Campbell and Walcott.

    I think this idea is born out of trying to make the most of Alexis, and ‘fitting in’ everyone else bar the back 4.
    Now if you for a back 3, and a DM, you might pull it off, because of the extra midfielder?

    However, without delving into the TW, because we cannot for another two months, perhaps this is what you are looking for:

    Front pair of Gnabry/ Welbeck/Alexis
    behind them Ozil & Walcott or Wilshere & Ox, or Ozil & Ramsey … Plus Giroud with all combos
    Behind them Hayden or Chambers
    And the back 5.

    That would be a 4-1-3-2 formation, and Giro would be the deep centre.

    It is just another bit of flaffing, but hey, why not?

  • ScottishGooner, excellent points mate and one of the first things i debated with myself when considering Sanchez in the no.10 role was “would he be wasted there?”
    But with very good wing options now with Theo coming back i can’t think of another player i would prefer hurrying the defense, turning over possession and either linking up with the wingers or striker or going all the way himself. He is very multidimensional which is what i want to see from a no.10 really. If i was going for the classic style i have to agree that Ozil is the better candidate for the job but i think the high paced, physical nature of the premier league demands more than just a passing maestro.
    I must admit i haven’t seen a lot of City’s games as of late and if the midfield is looking easily beat nowadays with all the heavy midfield formations being used by opposition then you may have a very significant point but they have won a few things with this system in the past. It could also be the fact that the midfield pairing is so important to the formation and i do not think Toure and partner have started well this season. Mind you it is saying something to presume the Ramsey / Wilshere partnership would actually work lol.
    And Cazorla just hasn’t really impressed me this season really, but i take your point about him being played out of position a lot.
    Oh and you’re preaching to the choir on the future potential of our youth mate – some very good things happening there 🙂

    D-Money, got to agree matey its getting harder and harder to support BFG for anything other than the fact i just like the guy lol. I would like to see a replacement here as well and in combination with a strong DM i think this could strengthen the defensive structure of the team that has been under so much scrutiny this season.
    I think someone like Scheiderlin in that line up would actually work better with a Ramsey or Wilshere along side him rather than the two together as i have posted it, but since none of us have any idea who the boss will and wont buy and i think Hayden may be a slight gamble at this stage i left it as the “paradox duo” 🙂

    RA, yep as i have just said i definitely take your point about Ozil and i had the same doubts about the midfield pairing but for different reasons lol. I don’t think it is the lack of speed that would bother me as i prefer the midfield to pass to players with speed, its more the lack of physical strength that would worry me the most. Which i why i agree with you that a stronger player here would be a great purchase in January (fat chance). Would love to see them try and work it out in this formation though 🙂

  • Sorry but Sanchez will never be as good as Bergkamp as long as he has a hole in his backside. Bergy has got to be the most gifted player we have ever had. How much would he be worth if we had to buy him at todays rate? He will also never be as good as Thierry who is the greatest goalscorer the premiership has ever seen. Let’s stop kidding ourselves, if Sanchez is that good, why did Barca let him go? Answer – they have better players so we get their cast-offs! Wenger has got to go. Every body knows what positions we needed to fill in the transfer window and he failed yet again and we are paying the price yet again with a pretty poor start to the season. Winning the f a cup last year saved him which is a crying shame. He was a breath of fresh air all those years ago but has now gone stale. If he fails in the Jan window he should go.

  • Oh there was definitely a lot of optimism involved guys 🙂 shot down quite abruptly by Gerry there lol. But i think its what we need right now and it helps to show that half that first team i posted was missing from Saturday’s game, is it really that shocking we are playing so badly atm.
    Gerry if we can buy players like Ozil and Sanchez for huge sums why is it not feasable to think we could attract players like Varane? The chance at consistent first team action would be worth a lot to someone his age.
    You are very perceptive however, this team was built around the concept of Sanchez at no.10 but i feel the resulting shape and players could work very well tbh, certainly better than it is now 🙂
    Oh btw the 4-1-3-2 is my F11ngers XI formation, check the previous comments – i mention it so many times most are sick of it by now, but i agree with you there 100% mate.
    BUT… Thats not to say this 4-4-2 couldn’t work a treat!
    Campbell, Theo, Sanchez, Welbeck all attacking with pace, it would be a thing of beauty 🙂

  • I think its interesting to note also that with the exception of Debuchy obviously and maybe Kos still, that whole starting line up should be available to start against Burnley on Saturday.
    Ramsey and Wilshere would have an easy game to sort out their partnership in and we would destroy Burnley 🙂

  • Gerry, lol “especially supported by ‘lightweights'(in defensive terms) in Campbell and Walcott.”
    Come on you pessimist, City won the league last year with Navas and Silva on the wings or Nasri at times, you can’t tell me they are big on defensive duties lol. The problem does come from the middle though and i just find it so frustrating that the Jack and Ramsey partnership can’t work well.

  • as interesting the notion is, I don’t think he’s the no.10 this Arsenal team needs .

    in an ideal world, I would use him on the LW with Welz in the middle and Theo on the RW – with all 3 being able to interchange – the key thing here is that all 3 can play up front, all 3 can interchange and play on either wing .

    I would have JW playing behind them 3 = sorted ? until Ozil returns anyway .

    this will work like a dream in a 4-5 (2-1-2) -1 or a 4-3-3 .

    very well written @ steve – well done , also very thought provoking and brings back a lot of memories as well – good old times ehhh ?

  • The way I see the Ramshere partnership is no different to the partnership fat franks had with Stevie G – both great midfielders , however, couldn’t quite work the way they should have for the country. if any national manager had sorted that conundrum out that I am certain that England could have surprised quite a few people with their progression in the last 10 years – they just couldn’t compliment each other or function together as well as they should have / could have .

    I hope Ramshere don’t go down the same route .

  • this one is for you @ Gerry

    Arsenal this season:

    When Wilshere is on the pitch: scored 6, conceded 15.

    When Wilshere isn’t on the pitch: scored 17, conceded 2.

    hmmmmmmm – feel free to jump in @ Steve

    those stats do tell a story or 2, no ?

  • statistical nonsense JB 🙂
    I think we can all agree its been a collective effort at under performing this season that has lead to the results we have seen thus far. Even in moments of deepest hatred for Ozil i would not single him out as the only reason we failed in a game lol.
    I’m happy to take him out the team though mate, with Theo still getting match ready in the reserves i want Jacky boy to join him in my Arsenal reserve team – then i won’t bother watching the first team anymore and just watch the reserves, just waiting on Monreal to get the starting place ahead of Gibbs 🙂

    —–Gnabry—-Wilshere—-The OX——

    Happy days 🙂

  • hey JB interesting question back at ya;
    If we did use a midfield pairing and it was obvious the Ramshere partnership was failing, and lets hypothetically say we did buy a strong DM, who would get the chop for his introduction into the midfield – Ramsey or Wilshere?

  • I wouldn’t call it nonsense nor dismiss it without giving it my 2 cents .

    for what’s it worth – JW is being played out of position, am going to change my opinion of him and his best position in the team .

    we either play him in the hole or on the LW with Ramsey playing in that central b2b role .

    I hope AW is listening, if JW must play then he must play as our no.10 in Ozil’s absence or in the LW role that was taken by Santiago this season .

  • Wilshere .

    I would move him to the LW though, and play a 4-5-1 to accommodate him for some games .

  • “I wouldn’t call it nonsense nor dismiss it without giving it my 2 cents”
    Sorry mate it was said in a very lighthearted way (even put a smiley face), then i did go on to kind of try and give my 2 cents 🙂
    I would have used your argument but then how many other players (when we scored 17, conceded 2) in that statistic were being played out of position, probably quite a few knowing AW so i don’t think Jack can use that as an excuse in this instance so i didn’t try.

    Again didn’t mean to be rude or short with you mate.

  • I take an even stricter few than you JB, I would play him as either the attacking part of the midfield pair or in the hole in Ozil’s absence – that’s it, otherwise leave him on the bench.
    I’m pretty much done with seeing midfielders and no.10’s playing as wingers, leave that to the actual wingers with pace. Or attack minded midfielders like Ramsey, Jack and Diaby being considered for the DM role. Why can’t we play players in the position they play? I am sure thats a question Ozil wakes up screaming in cold sweats every time he plays for us lol.
    I hope the much needed return of players to the team sees us go back to playing people in their rightful place. I mean Santi on the wing, did he really think that was ever going to work?

  • Steve

    You got some fine replies back, and you put so many opinions in your post that everyone can disagree with you about a few things at least. You put your neck out and we all have a good basis for debate.

    Sanchez can of course play everywhere and be a good player…. well except CB maybe… He is that good. If we were to replicate the Invincibles I would play Theo instead of Welbeck and play Ozil and Ox on the wings. The latter two could develop into a Pires and Ljunberg and Theo is more the Henry type than Danny.

    But things have moved on now and having just Jack and Aaron in the mid heart of a 4-4-1-1 formation (or indeed 4-4-2) is asking for trouble.

    When everybody is fit, I expect Wenger to name his strongest team as follows: Sz, Debuchy, BFG, Koz, Gibbs —-> Jack, Rambo, Ozil, Theo, Alexis and OG. Will we ever have them all fit together again…… it sometimes feels we will not.. But it is also obvious that we miss a DM in those eleven top players, unless Wenger will be able to turn Rambo and Jack into Schweinsteiger and Khedira, or Alonso and Khedira.

    Whatever we do, I would love to see Sanchez as our nr.10. He comes close to Dennis in many ways, but I will spend a separate post on this some time next month. Dennis was better at the deadly throughball, but Alexis is better at finishing/being in the right place at the right time. Alexis has that rare ability to be a striker, winger AND allround midfielder, just like Dennis was. Jack is more an allround midfielder than a Dennis type of nr.10, Cesc has added the offensive side to his skillset but is, just like Jack, a born midfield conductor. Ozil is an attacking midfielder with huge visionary/creative skills. Santi would fit well in a 4-4-2 but not really as a nr.10. But for me, Alexis can do nr.10 ala Bergkamp really, really well.

    So for me, the dream formation is:



    Rambo to be used constantly in the ‘2’ with the aim to develop him into a Khedira/Schweinsteiger…

  • Steve,
    I am only half way though your post, which is a good 1. I will finish reading in a minute.
    I just wanted to say before i forget, that i think Flemini should be in for Jack. Our midfield is to light weight without at least 1 more defensive mid player. People often forget that Flemini was in the squad at the time of the immortals. He was there with them and knows what it takes. He is not that old and he is committed. People often say he picks up to many yellows, but did Viera not? Viera was always getting sent off. We need a player like him. He is a good player for us for at least 2 more seasons imo.

  • Also just a quick 1, i have just noticed that Hayden and Akpom have been listed on AFC offical site as first team players now, so Wenger clearly thinks they are ready.

  • thanks TA, tbh i thought the collective culling of many off our midfield favorites in my post may have caused more of a backlash than it did, but there’s still plenty of time left yet 🙂
    I agree with you about Sanchez but (especially as outlined in your line up above) its easy to see why an Ozil type player with a larger emphasis on through ball quality would be favored by many, there’s a lot of options there for a passing maestro 🙂

    I know your favored formation is 4-2-1-3, you have used it many times, mine is 4-1-3-2 and many want to see a 4-3-3. My question then, has anyone since this season started actually used the 4-1-4-1 as their favored formation for this Arsenal team? Apart from the crazy little voice in AW’s head.

    Looking forward to reading that Sanchez post in the weeks to come!

  • But I would be almost just as happy to play Ozil in the hole and Alexis on the left. And I can also see us move Jack in the hole and Rambo next to Schneiderlin with Alexis on the wing (and Ozil given a break)…. Key thing is we need to get them all fit and then I reckon we will give every team a run for their money eventually.

  • I guess it is really seldom 4-1-4-1. It is a starting point but when defending one drops back (at least) and when attacking one or two or three join the CF. There is a lot of stretch in 4-1-4-1 but key is to get the team to know how to change shape…. and we all know this has been lacking until now.

  • There is no doubt about Wenger and us have been so unlucky with injuries again so far this season.
    It is hard to realise just how much it has affected us, i think it has been massive for at least 5 seasons now.
    Bad luck just does not do it justice.

  • Hi PG 🙂

    The problem with your suggestion is that we willnot have enough support for our attacks from the centre of midfield. Like you I love Flamini and he has a spot in our squad…. but he made some bad mistakes in recent games and it would be wrong to count too much on him imo.

  • BOOYAA!!! that’s a great piece of news proudgooner, lets hope they can prove that i haven’t been talking a load of nonsense these past months and actually do the business in the first team! Great news! 🙂

    btw Flamini is a warrior don’t get me wrong, but i think a warrior for an age gone by now and i think its time either Hayden proved himself or a new signing should come in. Either way i absolutely agree with you on the “light weight” comment which was my biggest concern with that partnership in midfield. With what we have available at the moment, in that 4-4-2, you are probably correct that the more solid option would be to have Flamini paired with either Ramsey or Jack and let those two fight it out for who gets the starting place. Fair point mate 🙂

  • PG, we could always try and mold Ramsey into the ball playing DM role as TA has suggested a while ago – that would be the best of both worlds 🙂
    I’m more of a buy Scheiderlin and be done with it kind of guy though.

  • haha great minds TA (in the crossed comments).

    I might even watch that game in a bit just to see what we got right on the day, i haven’t seen it click like that since tbh.

  • Sorry Steve, I did not mean to crush the ‘optimism’.

    I think there may be a time line differential too. You looking post TW and beyond, and I was looking more at the here and now, but post injuries.

    Talking of which, good news ad news on the Gibbs injury. Good news he may be available on Saturday. Bad news if they play him?
    I was right, it was a ‘pelvic’ injury, but last time they brought him back straight away he got his ‘hamstring’ injury. Possibly because he was subconsciously favouring a different movement with that leg? Either way, I would rather they keep him back for the return leg with Anderlecth?

    What do we think about the Pedro rumours then? If he and Sammy K both come in January, that would mean Mesut and Alexis would be reunited with former team mates?
    However, the impact on the transfer budget would kiss good bye to a Hummels signing at CB -doubtful in any case, imo – but the young 20 year old German, who is a self proclaimed Arsenal fan – I know shades of Jackson Martinez, but at least this one did despite interest from moneyed club Chelsea, which immediately gets him my vote 😀
    Not to mention Cavani?
    Like an earlier question, who will these players displace?
    My answers would be, in reverse order:
    The CB would oust Chambers back to RB, or (future) Dm?
    The DM would displace Arteta and Flamini, and or any other partner of the B2B selected. Hayden might be safe if SK went for the B2B role occasionally.
    The striker would displace any midfielder at the moment plying their trade on the wing first and foremost. Squeeze Campbell, Welbeck, OG, Gnabry, and Alexis in to ONE. Cover Walcott through any injury, and thus displace Ox into the centre midfield. Ultimate sacrifices would be Poldlski and Cazorla, may be Sanogo and Campbell too, due to lack of playing time?

    That is quite a big impact fro a mid season TW?

  • Hey F11ngers…Just getting around to this one AND my original (more mild-mannered) response has disappeared into the ether… I actually wrote it BEFORE pulling my first coffee but I must’ve failed to protect it (save it) before giving it a proofread… Ugh. As such, this one could be blunter…

    Obviously, you enjoy this sort of exercise, taking some interesting (if pretty radical) ideas and moving step by step to an upbeat conclusion. It’s not my bag, of course, but to each their own and if you live on an island maybe you need different ways to float your boat… I will say this. Even if your ideas seem wacko to me, the writing is very good…

    Seriously, nothing but love for you contribution, but when I see your teams (in that formation) I see disaster. Well, not disaster, but booted out of Europe even more quickly than usual and not competing (at all) with the better English teams. Comfortably mid-table, I think, but you never know. We’re only 6 points above the relegation places, at the moment, so it wouldn’t be that tough to get drawn in…

    Things HAVE changed and Wenger has NOT built this team to be an up and down, wide to central sort of squad which might have dominated in the early oughts. Moreover, Alexis IS a great player but he’s a dribble and shoot first–pass second–kind of guy. That’s a good thing as we need goals and our team is truly struggling with injuries (and cohesion and general quality) at the moment, A #10 (however, IMO…) needs to be thinking about what he can do to make his teammates better first, only taking the shot himself as a final option. This is less necessary if he’s played as the (so-called) second striker, but then I’d like to see him as a legitimate target for crosses. At 5′-7″ Alexis will get some shots from pull-backs coming from out wide, but goals from crosses seem few and far between… Campbell on the left and Theo on the right racing to put in crosses (through a field of giants) to not so big Danny Welbeck and truly tiny Alexis? Meat and drink to all those teams than barely stay up and buy guys like Hangeland, Kaboul and Senderos from those who go down…

    Even with the drastic ideas about personnel–cutting older guys because they’ll never be world class but elevating young ones assuming they will?–It’s clear the actual manager has very different ideas. We get what little width we have with converted wingers playing at FB and the remaining 6 guys almost interchangeably working the middle of the pitch. (OK, at times one or two of the MFs sit a bit deeper, but they’re still expected to move the ball on smartly…) This is a good thing as we create overloads (by playing keep away in triangles and then moving the ball forward) and by pressing the ball and forcing turnovers from the front. Yes, it leaves us a bit vulnerable to more physical teams who whip the ball in from the sides–or through the middle when we fail on the basics, Still, Szcz is a tall and relatively quick and decisive keeper and the Kos-BFG pairing embodies these qualities in the two guys themselves. Ideally, even if those sorts of teams get a lucky goal or two, we have enough at the other end to outscore them.

    That’s the current trouble and Alexis at the center makes sense right now. Get Ozil healthy and he and Jack and Rambo (and Santi and the Ox) finding a better balance between possession and ambition (with early touches and runs) while using the wide guys (the FBs) AND the off the shoulder runners (Theo and DW) with some quick 1-2s and the goals will come. Assuming Giroud can come back strong, that ability to hold the ball and bring guys into the play will give us a better chance on the counter and improve our set-piece work (at both ends). Reinventing the wheel or going back to the sledge (the 442) is not the way forward, IMO, esp. with midgets…. Instead, I propose baby steps from where we are, with a nightly bath, draining off a little of the dirty bath-water, each time… Slowly (but surely) we need to let our baby grow into something with a bit of maturity if not outright manliness…

    Sorry if that’s seems a little negative. All in a good spirit, I hope… 😀

  • Gerry, looks like you’ve been indulging in a bit of NewsNow… I think I like it better when you’re scouting the U-21s… 😀

    There are a lot of matches between now and January and they will all be tough ones. We need good news on the injury front (including that bit about Gibbs)… I was hoping we could get through this period shipping very few goals but (even with the clean sheet at Sunderland) 3 in 3 isn’t so great. Kos *could* probably play but with Ospina out longer term we need a collective effort which is somehow successful and builds confidence in those who are available. I don’t see much upside in (ever) playing Flamini and Arteta together, but, on the other hand, it “worked” at Sunderland…

    Overall, we just need to remember that the manager looks at transfers differently than most fans. We see short(er) term needs, he sees long term commitments which can turn out good or bad. Staying with the thread topic…Alexis seems a very good buy. Let him get his goals (and maybe and assist or three) and (slowly) try to move the burden of carrying the team (all by himself) onto other shoulders…

  • HT – I read my reduced reading list on NN every morning. My usual starting point is the BBC gossip. I don’t get carried away believing these things will happen, but sometimes players fit a script.
    Half the time it is agents feeding the market where they think we could be interested. Truth has nothing to do with it.. Personally I do not see SK arriving at our door come January, or in the summer. The German CB on the other hand has a Wenger touch to it – Cheap. Young. And with Potential. But if he is that good you would think he would be a Hummels replacement?
    But he was a Chelsea interest first, so that makes it more fun.
    Pedro, Reus, Draxler are similar types, but my guess is AW knows already that the middle one is heading elsewhere, and the latter one is a tad expensive? So this may may legs.

    On the injury front, I am more in favour in taking the safe route back for long term gain. Kos we may not see until the Christmas pile up of fixtures. Walcott is only going to do an hour or so for the next couple of games, and then another 4 or 5 to get up to speed with the players around him. What I am saying is, the players we have up and running at the moment are the ones to see us through until December. Then with Ozil back, Walcott in the groove, may be Gnabbers sharing the Ox burden, OG to put in a cameo, Campbell to do his ‘thing’, and Hayden to be the player we have been waiting for, we might actually sail through those hectic 10 days.
    Then we have the FA Cup to unleash Akpom, Crowley, and the Mesut mini on to an a career shaping assault for all to see.

    That’s optimism for you!!! 😆

  • Loving the responses- I think the problem we have is trying to showhorn everybody in one team. Its just not going to happen. What id like to see is AW say well here’s my BEST XI and rotation and people pushing themselves into the team is the way its going to be. Look at Real and Mourinho, he benched IC- one of the most decorated Keepers in Spanish history. Crazy to think, but it showed that if you drop your standard you drop your place.

    I would pick Ramsey over Wilsere everyday. He tackles more, he scores more and most importantly he contributes more. I love Jack and when fit and on point he contributes so much to the team- just not as much as Ramsey. I know people will mention he needs time- but look at Rambo, he was always making the right runs and being in the right place- just missed the composure. Once that came- everything fell in to place.

    If you’re being honest would you not agree that there’s more than just one piece missing from Jacks game?

    Id love a proper DM- none of this Khedira stuff. He’s always been a Box 2 Box and unless he’s going to be converted into a proper DM- i’d rather we stick with what we have.

    Schneiderlain would be up there along with Carvalho and i would really like us to get a CB from Dortmund. They have Subotic, Hummels and Socratis. All are fantastic, id take anyone.

  • Indeed, very upbeat, there Gerry… And agreed…that we’re just not quite shopping at the very top of the market. At least we’ve moved on from the Buy Low, Sell High mantra (not much fun watching Cesc and RvP playing on Sunday, I thought,,,) to the Buy Low (or Medium…) and Hold…

    My hope is that the short-term needs will not be so glaring come January and thus we’re not limited to those areas already short in the market (CBs, DMs, Strikers)… And on that note I’ll even allow a hint of excitement about Akpom and Hayden getting “official” first team status, whatever that means…

    SG… How can you criticize JW? He didn’t play in the last match and we looked poo… 😉 (Except that we won and “results don’t lie.” (more winky) Rambo (except for the cameo at the end), I guess, goes in for the same analysis or critique… Both back for Burnley, I would think… (Flams and the Ox sit out?…)

    Competition for places IS a good thing when you’re steamrolling (as they do in Spain…) and not trying to make do with players injured in body and/or confidence. (Ozil might be an example of a player banjaxed both ways…) The manager’s job gets a lot tougher when he can’t field a full team strong in both body and mind… It’s all fine and good to say, “Well, that shouldn’t matter at what they’re paid,” but, I fear, it does…

    The world of Arsenal is far from ideal, esp. right now… As such (just like you’re saying about “fully fit first 11s…) I think it’s a mistake to imagine such things as they will never materialize. (In other words, “I agree.”) For some (Steve, I think…) it doesn’t matter, or results don’t matter. and flights of fancy are just that…I know, however, that when I indulge, my hopes (and expectations) rise, with the disappointments just around the bend…


  • Yes!! I knew i could trust you to debate most things 17HT, Makes for an entertaining evening 🙂
    You wrote a lot mate (also very well – as usual) so i will try and get to most of it mate.

    “Things HAVE changed and Wenger has NOT built this team to be an up and down, wide to central sort of squad which might have dominated in the early oughts.”
    – Very true mate but i was attempting to show that it has the potential to be that type of team should he wish it.

    “Moreover, Alexis IS a great player but he’s a dribble and shoot first–pass second–kind of guy.
    He needs to be thinking about what he can do to make his teammates better first, only taking the shot himself as a final option.”
    – Christ don’t we have enough of those players already lol, everyone sat in a line looking for a run to pass to and nobody making that run. I would actually love to see the passes come from midfield into quick runners and no.10 that can score, i’m getting pretty bored of this slow passing (many of which are unnecessary btw) up the field. Just to see if we could actually play like that again 🙂 I can’t remember the last time we had an Arsenal style break on the opposition.
    btw Only nine players in history scored more goals at Highbury than Bergkamp, I see Sanchez replicating that kind of excellence a lot faster than Ozil.

    “Campbell on the left and Theo on the right racing to put in crosses (through a field of giants) to not so big Danny Welbeck and truly tiny Alexis? Meat and drink to all those teams than barely stay up and buy guys like Hangeland, Kaboul and Senderos from those who go down…”
    – Not all crosses into the box have to be high 17HT lol, in fact that was never our thing in the old days either, stats show out of Henry’s 120 goals in the EPL only 5 where headers, 3 of the 87 that Bergkamp scored where from headers. Clever balls across the ground not balls lobbed in high, that’s the way we play.

    “We get what little width we have with converted wingers playing at FB”
    – Which is the very reason we are so open to counter attacks and bloody out manned when it does happen.

    “Still, Szcz is a tall and relatively quick and decisive keeper and the Kos-BFG pairing embodies these qualities in the two guys themselves.”
    – That’s why they make the starting XI 🙂

    “Ideally, even if those sorts of teams get a lucky goal or two, we have enough at the other end to outscore them.”
    Well not so far this season but with Theo, Campbell, Welbeck and Sanchez all in the line up then i definitely believe this to be true, which i what i was trying to show, plus you would have Ramsey making late runs.

    “going back to the sledge”
    😆 those buggers up at City looked pretty happy holding their trophy on that sledge last year 😆

    Don’t forget this is a bit of a fluff piece 17HT, more of a “i wonder if we could make this work” type question posed to the guys. There are definite flaws, the main one being the Ramshere partnership in midfield which i don’t think you mentioned but i think (with a touch of optimism admittedly) that this team could punish loads of teams.

  • ScottishGooner @ 14:16, agree with everything you said mate apart from i would reverse the Ramsey / Wilshere order 🙂
    Especially with what i have seen this season, Wilshere has been great so far and Ramsey has looked a little off form – no idea if that the new system of play though tbh.

  • Gerry, I hope the boss puts all potential attacking signings out of his mind and concentrates on what we really need in the TW;
    CB to force BFG out of the first team – Varane
    DM to replace Arteta and Flamini – Scheiderlin or Carvalho

    That’s it job done 🙂

    imo we already have cover for Kos in Chambers 🙂

    Striker wise (when the injuries return) we will have;
    Giroud and Walcott
    Welbeck and Campbell
    Sanoga and Podolski
    Akpom and Gnabry

    Do we need anymore really?

  • F11ngers…Please don’t copy and paste my stuff directly… Unless you really want to make the posts obscenely long… 😀

    Also, you leave out some little items I wrote that would indicate we’re almost totally in agreement here… like the bits about pull-backs (rather than crosses aimed at heads) and that, indeed we have a ton of #10s, so let one of them actually play there(!) Alexis is so fit (i.e., can cover so much ground) that I think he’ll be more dangerous moving central when there’s a space to fill and one defender has to let him go, hoping another will pick him up… Formations are fluid, even if starting positions seem fixed, after all…

    This, in essence is what you miss with Ozil and why it’s no big deal for him to start out wide as long as other boys are willing to move out there on occasion.. He’s always looking (with the Avatar-eyes, to quote the ridiculous Ray Hudson…) for guys to open some spaces so that he can fill them. (I call this “intelligence” or “the essence of team play,” you say “lazy” or worse…) Wilshere was doing alright in this regard but Ramsey is a step behind as he often has to take a few “recovery touches to get balls under control… (So maybe we agree there, too)… Once the team starts doing that–with all the #10s (including Alexis…) we’ll start humming… It’s my contention that only by using width, not in the traditional, English sense, but more as just another part of the pitch where we can work the ball in triangles, can this team reach its potential. It’s the modified Tika-taka that JM quotes from Pep G’s book… Of course, what level we’re at even when we hit our stride is another question entirely… 😦 The bottom line is that we NEED guys to not only get on the ball and go (Alexis style) but also see where their mates are headed and use the space accordingly. As crap as we are at the moment Alexis is really the ONLY bright light. As our better players return to fitness (or from suspension) getting them working together is essential…or else they work against each other (called clogging, not in the dutch sense, but in the spatial one)… Of course, “different” players like Giroud and Theo back in the team will help “expand” the pitch, if you know what I’m saying… I think you only cut one of them, in your set-up, so we’re at least half OK… 🙂 Some springy through-balls, even just at the center circle, from another victim of the cut (Arteta) will help too…In that part of the pitch it’s even more important to not abandon space (unless a teammate covers for you) in case possession gets lost…

    Right now the balance is off and el Ardilla (Alexis, read my link, somebody, please…) just taking over (pouncing on mistakes…) is getting us results against the run of play or despite the lack of anything else. To get to the next level we’ll need quite a bit more…

    Anyhow, that’s not very sexy from a (new) formations and (new) players perspective, but it seems closer (in my opinion…) to what might actually happen… 😀

  • Steve, re: transfers, I think you dream even more about what’s possible in that realm than you do with kids stepping up, if that’s possibly possible. 😆 A fit Varane would be a record signing and the French fellow at So’ton would be close. Ain’t no way, I would say… It might be easier buying Kurt Zouma from Chavs except that Abramo-ho will never quote us a reasonable price… What do people know about the Dutch guy at Celtic?… He at least fits our price-bracket…

  • Cheers Fingers, great post.

    Sanchez the new Bergkamp? Not for me mate, to different in style.

    Couple of years ago, going to games you see the whole pitch, I started to notice how static are front three were. Theos got great runs, but a lot of the time hes pretty stationary. Funny enough, though he didnt quite cut it, Gervino was the most busy and mobile attacker.

    This is why I think Arsene went for Suarez, and then f course Sanchez. He wanted dynamic and perpetual movement up front, a bit like Ramsey gives us in the middle.

    Sanchez is a Hornet style player. Have you ever been stung by a Hornet Fingers?

    As a kid i remember, though ive tried many times to forget, a time my mum and dads roof had a Hornets nest.

    Now these f*uckers were big. They were so large that you could identify each Hornet by facial charataristics. When one of them got in the house me and my three brothers, to reach the front door first used to fight each other with baseball bats.

    One night, I had just put on my Rocky Rocastle pyjamas for a good nights sleep when of all a sudden i heard a sharp humming sound. I lept out of bed, hitting my head on the ceiling, when my worst fears were realised. One of them had slipped into my Rocky Pyjamas

    I thought Christ Noooo, and prayed it wasnt the one we named Felix, a real evil looking f*ucker. And then the searing pain on my groin. I knew the game was up and yelled “Dad, Dad, ime shafted, my Cocks finnished”

    It was only the marvelous intervention form our wonderful National heath Service that saved my scrotum and ensured that in future I would enjoy many satisfying nights of internet porn addiction

    Thats what Sanchez done to gormless Brown and poor old Vito. He stung them.

    I bet you any money Fingers, that after the game Brown and Vito checked there groin and breathed a sigh of relief.

    The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring

  • Good stuff, TMTH, as always… Gives me a fond thought for Fozzie B. and his friend Marley Kaze… I might even have to change my avatar to the bug-eyed bug I always picture…

  • Steve @18:27 – I really don’t want to rain on your parade, but seriously, Varane is a great talent without doubt, and we did try and get him before he broke into the first team at RM.

    He has just signed a new deal which ends in 2020. Two things players like apart from money, is playing regularly and winning things. Why would he leave Real Madrid now, for any other club?
    On BFG:
    If we could have got Kurt Zouma we would not be worrying would we? Did you see how lean and mean he looks now, when he came on late for Chelsea?
    According to JM we will not get our joint offering from Lyon, who again looked very good on Sunday night, but it might happen if they hit a sticky patch financially?
    But realistically, Hayden is the more likely to take over from BFG, and the unnamed German would be your Kos replacement. Let Chambers earn his corn at RB..

    Strikers? Actual strikers, not pretend ones like Walcott/? 1 down. Akpom, next years up and coming. 2 down. Sanogo will possibly go out on loan, if he can stay fit. 3 down. Podolski will leave in Jan if he doesn’t get more starts. 4 down. Campbell? I want him to do it, and now might be his chance, while Welbeck recovers, and Walcott gets fit? If not, loan out, summer sale. I am not sure he could take the solo role either, so he becomes another wide to middle forward. 5 down
    In fact beyond Giroud and Welbeck, Gnabry possibly holds the physical aspect best?
    So numerically we have a strong forward line, but no guarantee they will all be around after January. Pedro is similar to Walcott really, playing across the front line, and reasonably two footed. However, I only put his name up via the rumour, and thinking AW might just want to get proper attacking width. Add to the previous interest in Draxler and Reus, this guy might come a bit cheaper, and having played with Alexis before, so he could be a contender?
    Lots can happen between now and then, including how Welbeck and Alexis get on with Giroud?

  • 17HT you’re probably right mate, i’m just going to have to get used to even more triangles (now in the wide positions as well) whilst a set and ready opposition back 9 wait to counter 🙂

    TMHT, no hornets here buddy but i grew up on a farm and the worst memory i have in regards to a beastie attack would have to be being pinned by a bull. punctured the left side of my abdomen and broke two ribs but apart from that got out of that situation pretty well, my old man beat the shit out of me once i had recovered though lol (shouldn’t have been in the bullpen). I don’t remember the bulls facial characteristics (too busy shitting myself) but i am sure mine looked a lot like that of Brown and poor old Vito 😆

    Long may it continue! keep it up Sanchez! 🙂

  • I am having an 8 o’clock shut eye problem, so I catch up with our future developments tomorrow.
    Night all

  • Benik Afobe can’t stop scoring – the lad is scoring for fun week in week out and was denied off the line last week .

    he is our very own Demba ba – you can talk about Akpom and other prospects, but this lad is a real striker and will have a very bright future with Arsenal if he keeps this up .

  • GOAL

    MK Dons 1-0 Sheffield United – Benik Afobe (67 mins)
    Posted at 21:11
    The competition’s leading scorer is at it again – Benik Afobe dispatching his spot-kick with aplomb after Delle Alli had been brought down by Craig Alcock.

  • Shrewsbury have scored against chelsea 1-1


  • Swansea winning against liverpool 0-1


    gotta love the micky mouse Cup I mean the Capital one cup 🙂

  • Steve, overall a wonderful post but there’s a few points that I have to argue with.

    First of all, Alexis will never be like DB10. Bergkamp was the most technically gifted player for us, and while Sanchez is quite gifted as well, he is nowhere near the level of Bergkamp. And their playing styles and attributes are very contrasting. Bergkamp was a slow player,although he made up for it with his passing and goal creating prowess. He was always looking to create and feed people with delectable and sumptuous passes. Sanchez however is a very pacy player. He is hardworking, energetic and always give 110% for the team. He is, at times, selfish and is always looking to score himself. If I had to choose a player that Alexis resembles, it would definitely be Ian Wright.

    All that said, like you, I think Alexis would make for a good no.10. However, I have a feeling that he would be better being used on the flanks or as a second striker. Imo, Alexis also resembles Aguero. He is fast, deceptively strong and has an eye for goal. But like Poldi, he needs someone like Giroud to feed him and hold up the ball like how Dzeko does that for Aguero and City.

    Also, you mentioned in your answer for the last question that you feel that Koz needs to be replaced as he is injury prone. I have to argue with you, why should he be replaced? He isn’t injury prone like how you believe he is. An Achilles injury is caused by fatigue and overuse of the muscle. As a marathon runner myself, I too have gotten this injury. And let me tell you, it freaking hurts. Despite all that pain, Koz put in wonderful performances and he has been a rock at the back this season. He deserves much more credit for all his work and sacrifices.

    As for Per, I feel that he is way past his prime. He may have been an excellent player for us last season but once Koz returns from injury, I feel it’s time to drop him and give the younger players a chance. He needs Koz to cover for his deficiencies but Koz can play just as fine without him. Give Chambers a go at CB with Koz and Bellerin at RB, it’s time to give the youngsters a chance. Like Yaya Toure, he may have been good last season but even the greatest players have to come to an end. Personally, I’m doubt Varane will leave RM for us. I personally wouldn’t mind having Antonio Rudiger, an upcoming German talent. I have seen him play and he is quite impressive. I also like the look of Laporte. For me, he would be the ideal replacement for Per as he has all of Per’s attributes with the added bonus that he can actually run.

  • Hi Shrillex, I think what you have said is shared by a good many, re Alexis and DB10.

    To be fair to Steve, I think he had in mind, when he used the phrase ‘old fashioned No 10’, to be more a second striker in the middle, rather than the more modern version of a creative player ‘in the hole’. Hence your line on Aguero.

    Thanks for the input on Kos too. Would you set out on a marathon if you already had the tendon niggles? What you did not say is how long it takes to clear up?

    As for pairing Chambers with Kos I think it would fail in the same way the TV5/ Kos did. It takes too much out of Kos’s game to do the organising of the defence, and Chambers has not got that experience to command in the CB role. Hayden, on the other hand, has, and would be my first choice to rest Per from our current squad. Not that you would get absolute pace from him, but it is a role he could do well in.
    Much as I love to see Bellerin playing, I think he will struggle later, as oppositions work him out.
    Lack of height for one thing. Which is why he is placed away from goal when we defend a set piece, using his pace to pick up loose balls. Which is why I would rather have him in the wide right position in midfield, in any 4-3-3 set up? Much more likely to run the line, and has a good pass to feed the front three. His crosses are a little more hit and miss, but a run of games would help there. It might help Chambers too, from not getting out of position and feeling the need to take a yellow?

    With a good week’s rest, and against a struggling side who will be fearful at the Emirates, I think our momentum will gather pace …. just as another interlul brings it to a halt. 😀
    Not forgetting Anderlecth before that happens. That game will measure how much, if any, progress we have made?

    Plenty to look forward to I think …
    Keep the faith

  • Gerry, the time needed to heal an Achilles tendon injury really depends on how serious it is. The most I’ve needed to recover is a maximum of 1-2 weeks. I have a friend who felt a niggle yet went on a 8km marathon, he needed about 3 weeks to fully recover. For Koz’s case, he felt his tendon quite early on in the season. When you get this injury, you should immediately rest and try to recover. But Koz didn’t. He soldiered on despite the injury until he had a DOUBLE tendon injury. If I had to guess, he would need about 3 weeks to heal it and another week to fully recover, maybe even longer. So don’t expect to see him anytime soon.

    To be honest, I don’t really trust Hayden for replacing Per. And as we all can see, neither does AW. Look back at the beginning of the season, he and Koz were starting to form a good partnership before Per returned to the squad. But I agree with you, they are too much like for like. They are basically similar players but I expect that the Koz-Calum pairing maybe be better than the Koz-Per pairing at this moment.

    Totally agree on the lack of height. The only reason I can think of that is keeping Per in the team is his height. Without him, we would be able to defend corners and as it is, we already can’t.but sooner or later, he would need to be replaced. Preferably with a tall, powerful, young CB that can run. In this case, Antonio Rudiger or Chris Smalling would make the cut. Antonio Rudiger is fast becoming a good CB. As for Chris Smalling, it is another case of a decent player that isn’t given enough game time to reach his potential, like Danny. Both this players are good, strong and both are pretty tall. I personally prefer Rudiger over Smalling as he would give us a little more strength at the back.

  • Article on for Alexis:

    Our top performer, so far, in this season. He has been rightfully rewarded as our player of the month in October (as well as in September). He is developing his all-round attacking game more with us.

    What makes Alexis so dangerous in the No.10/shadow striker role is his anticipation, closing down work rate, technical ability (especially in finishing, acceleration and dribbling) and footballing intelligence. This player (position) has a clear direct threat towards the opposition’s goal in a breakaway run once the ball has been turn over to us in our attacking third (where Alexis operate with 2 or 3 other teammates), and Alexis usually delivers in a 1-vs-GK situation.

    Alexis, Theo and Mesut are all same age. The growth and combinations of these trio of forwards/wingers/attacking midfielders would hopefully be one of the main ingredients to playing better football from our club.

  • Sorry if someone has re posted this, but here is Arteta talking about the 4-4-2 and Sanches playing behind Welbeck:

    “I felt really comfortable with [Flamini]. Last year we played some important games together and I think we understand each other well,” Arteta said, according to Arsenal’s official website.
    “We wanted to give a bit more freedom to Alexis, playing a bit behind Danny [Welbeck], more like a 4-4-2, which we haven’t played for a while. It worked – I think Alexis did very well today so we’re happy for him.”

    Clearly not alone with your thoughts on Sanchez as the Second Striker

  • SG, 4-4-2 with Sanchez behind the striker – damn i thought i was being original but clearly i was just subconsciously picking up on something the boss was trying out already in the last game. But if that was the case then Arteta and Flamini the choice for the midfield pairing? and OX and cazorla (two players who never stay on the wing) playing on the wing? I wouldn’t have really predicted that working well and in practice on Saturday it didn’t really look anything like a 4-4-2 so i think we have to take Arteta’s comments with a pinch of salt 🙂
    Would be nice to know the boss was trying to reinvent the wheel though 🙂

  • Shrillex – Thanks for coming back on the tendon stuff. AW has said already that there is no return date for Kos, so we assume he aggravated badly?.Whether he will be so keen to rush back this time is another matter. Gibbs in a similar position, and I guess he will only make the bench on Saturday.

    I don’t think AW doesn’t trust Hayden, as he look an almost certain starter before he got the training injury. Talking of injuries, Sanogo has still got a yellow marker by his name on the Fantasy Premier League, but he must be close to getting back?

    I think you sell Per Mertersacker short if you think he is only in the team for his height? He has been the glue that the back line hangs on. Calm and capable of organising the others.
    Can I assume that the ‘unnamed German’ that we shall hereafter refer to as AR2, plays for ‘Leverkusen? One blog suggested we should buy him and Dick Van Dyke for £20m … which might ease a crisis, but I cannot image the second one coming for bench warming? But they would be the right age to take over from Per and Kos in a couple of seasons?

  • Good stuff JM. If we can get confidence up front, I think it will be that edge we need to get a run started?
    SG – I doubt anybody read my review comment on Monday, as it was just before the New Post was announced, but I did say this:

    ‘It was noticeable how much more central Alexis was in this game, and looked the better for it?
    I think a 4-4-1-1 is beckoning very shortly, and Gnabry could be an Ideal foil ahead of him while Danny has a well earned rest?’

    But I agree with Steve, the 4-4-2, only looked like it because of the ‘2’. However, along with the dual pivot, it does show that AW is a bit flexible at times? Mind, it is stretching it to say it worked well, as both goals came from mistakes, albeit ones forced by pressure from Alexis. For the rest of it, only the defence looked more solid. But then again, much as I wanted them to have a shoot on site, with a little more accuracy from Santi and it would have been a comfortable win?

    Steve, you can still take credit for picking up on the same observation I made, as your post was written by the time I put my comment up … Just ‘great minds’ and all that? 😀

  • haha i think my mind is a bit deluded most of the times Gerry lol

    Did u see Gnabry’s goal the other day, what a strike 🙂 and he was almost through earlier as well. There seems to be a lot more long balls over the top and down the channels in the reserves – makes for a much more entertaining game attacking wise imo, it makes it look much higher paced as well.
    A pretty generic observation i know and a lot more variables are involved but just couldn’t help thinking it while watching their games.

  • Steve I don’t mean to take away anything from what you said. The fact is the detail of your article put a lot of context into why 4-4-2 would work.

    I think gnabry is going to be a superstar. He very much reminds me of Gareth Bale. But the Gareth Bale of now not at 18. He has so much pace and power and trickery. I just can’t see him not breaking into the team soon.

    wenger is going to have some headache with the world class wingers we’re going to have… When fit. Can you imagine sanchez up top. Walcot on the right and gnabry OK the left (inverted winger)….. Pace for days.

  • SG, haha sorry my writing is terrible when it comes to portraying an emotional context, I meant to sound cheekily vindicated by the boss’s choice in using the same formation i suggested in the post 🙂
    But in reading it back i can see how it could come off as sounding snippy – 😆 the complete opposite of what i was trying to convey 😆 (as i said shit writing)
    It definitely did not play like a 4-4-2 on Saturday though (apart from the Sanchez role) so i’m staying nice and quite on the biging myself front 🙂

  • btw when i see Hazard playing so well for the Chavs it really annoys me that we have three of the same type of player (tricky, fast, low centre of gravity, gaol scorers) and yet i still doubt there’s a way to put them all in the team together.
    The three btw: Sanchez, OX and Gnabry.

    How would you fit all three in the team with Walcott and Welbeck and Campbell?? and you would still need a maestro according to many so you would have to include either Jack or Ozil as well.

    I suppose that goes back to what you were saying SG about AW having to start setting the first team out now with little rotation.

    how about

    —————Back four————–
    The OX—–Sanchez——Gnabry

    With Jack as the quarter back passer like Cesc is for the Chavs now. Only one missing is Campbell
    We would be buggered when it came to defending though 😆

    Anyone else come up with something better?

  • ——————————-Szczesny———————————
    Bellerin——–The OX——Sanchez——Gnabry——–Gibbs

    Anywhere play 22 a side? 😆
    If so i’m going for a 4-3-2-1-5-4-2 formation 😆
    Defensive midfielders
    Creative midfielders
    Attacking midfielders, with all out wingers wither side
    Fast strikers
    Tall hold up strikers

    and you though our midfield was cluttered atm 😆

    Sorry had a couple tonight and nobody else is on here so i am entertaining myself lol

  • Actually Steve I think you first attempt was pretty good, bar a tweak followed by a couple of either or’s. Something like this perhaps?:

    __________ Back 4________
    _________DM – say, Hayden for the moment__
    Then on the same line, but for graphical purposes-
    _________Ozil or Wilshere/Ramsey_______
    Walcott or Ox __and ____(Reus – for JB) Campbell or Akpom__
    __Gnabry or Welbeck and Alexis or (Giro-when fit) Sanogo-if not out on loan

    As you see, I have always seen the Gnabbers as more of a outright striker, not a winger, so I push him up to the front line. Welbeck has the experience, but Gnabry has a striker’s instinct, and a more powerful shot?
    Pun Alert!! – It could be a case of daylight robbery …
    as Alexis Snachez and Serge Gnab’s : D .. Oh suit yourselves.

    I love the 22 line up. That tasty DM 3, Gibbs and Bellerin on the wings. Not so sure on the box to box pairing, but I guess on a double size pitch it might work out? I would tweak the formation by pushing Serge forwards alongside Giroud, with Sanogo. However, I cannot help feeling that someone, probably Akpom this season, needs to make way for Cazorla?
    That said, accommodating the youngsters it is easy to see how quickly he drops off the radar?

    Talking of the youngsters, those on loan could enter the reckoning by the end of the season.
    Afobe is clearly high on confidence with his goals at MK Dons. It might be he is just better at that level though? Toral could get his first start for Brentford this weekend, and cement his place if he comes good – natural replacement for Santi if he does fulfil his potential, imo. Olsson too, plying his trade abroad, is another if progress is continued. Wellington Silva now has his Spanish passport, but has yet to fill his boots ( 😳 ) on his European travels, but you never know?
    Barring injuries, Toral would be my pick, but the TW may say otherwise?

    More flaffle as we near the weekend.

  • i can’t really argue with that formation Gerry 🙂
    I think you are right with what you said earlier in the comments when you said Gnabry is the closest player we have to Aguero. However i think he could be just as adept at performing the narrow winger role, more so than Akpom and if you watch Akpom he is definitely an all out striker – the guy is ALWAYS somehow on the goal line ready to poach a goal. Every time i watch play develop and suddenly loose sight of Akpom, when the ball comes in there he is right on the line in the right place – very greedy and selfish, boy do we need that type of player again 🙂
    So for me i would swap those two round but the structure of the formation i cannot fault mate.

    Something i think you might find quite interesting: (add an “h” to the beginning of the link, i don’t want to post a great big vid lol)

  • Top link Steve. It does it for me, and once we can get the disciplined DM to hang it all on, it should suit our midfielders quite well? That is if the pairings are right, ant just thrown together?

    The video also points to what I said a while back,about not getting hung up on the 4-4-bollix, because it is never a stationary sport. You need the player to make the most of the potential the 4-1-3-2 brings.

    I accept your point on Akpom, but my feeling is he will be kept sparingly until next year. But like other before, AW does like his youth projects to get a taste of the wide positions?

    The thing on Gnabry, I think you got two comments blended. It was SG who thought Alexis was ‘our’ Aguero, I just said, for me Gnabry is more a second striker. But agreed, he is yet another who can do the wide thing and move inside. I just got stuck for someone with pace, having moved Walcott back on the other side. Campbell and Akpom was all I could come up with.

    If you haven’t read this already, then do so. It has some great insight. One doesn’t reflect too well on Wilshere’s maturity, and another is a testosterone fuelled challenge. V.funny.
    here is the link:'s+fucking'+excellent+-+an+Arsenal+blog)


  • Gerry,
    Glad you liked the link mate.
    As far as DM; I am completely split at the moment between understanding that we need a tried and tested DM to come in as a new signing and wanting Hayden to go on and make that place his. As you know i very much prefer to see youth develop into the first team but that position is vital to get right as i think has been highlighted well so far this season. My heart still says Hayden though 🙂

    “AW does like his youth projects to get a taste of the wide positions?”
    yeah good point actually! almost religiously!

    Just read that link, went down very well with a cuppa, very funny and probably not far off accurate 😆

  • In the here and now, I agree, Hayden the best. However, if we stick with the duel pivot in this next game, I would love him to get a start. Arteta would teach him quietly, Flamini would keep him alert. I just hope he is fit?

    Yeah, the Playstation link made me smile. Top man that Danny. I hope the Coventry manager gets in touch 😀

  • How good would that be! Arteta schooling Hayden to be his replacement in a double pivot – NICE!
    From what i have seen of Hayden his accurate balls forward and the ability to start a move off from deep in midfield were what first interested me in him, the fact that he has the strength and height and discipline to play at CB was just a bonus. But that would be excellent to see in upcoming games and i am sure he would learn a lot.
    After watching Jack’s England performances in that role i find myself thinking of a Hayden and Jack dual pivot. – going to have to some thinking about that 🙂

  • Steve,
    I think Hayden for DM really does have merit.
    He is the clear and obvious choose to succeed Arteta and Flemini, it is a shame he could not have got a good run of games in the capital one cup. To 1 shows us fans just how good he is and 2 attempt to show form to push for starts in the PL.
    But I still think he must be close to getting a chance to play DM in the league anyway.

  • PG, me too mate i was well pissed off we got dumped out of the comp, it would have been a perfect stage to show off the talents of the younger talents especially Hayden.
    I’m hoping you are right about the league start 🙂

  • It could be argued that we got dumped from the CoC by trying to play too many in the “extended” squad…Even if it was (perhaps) the older guys who fingers (not F11ngers, necessarily…) might point at for the scoreline…

    I will believe in the glory of Isaac Hayden when I see him play a few matches at this level…Seems set for a bench spot, however… In the meantime, Chambers and Hector el bailarin seem pretty worthy…

    Baby steps, I’d say, but these next two (home) matches do seem a chance to work in a couple of guys who haven’t seen much action…

    Results first, of course… 😀

  • Steve,
    It is the Wenger way, apart from Chambers he has not brought any young talent though for a while. It is looking like Hayden will be next after Gnabry then Zaleem to me.
    All are very talented .
    Mind you Campbell has been on our books for 3 seasons and he looked great when he came on . I want to see a lot more of him too.

  • Gerry ,
    On Hayden again, when I watched him play for the first last season v West Bron in the cup Wenger played him as a DM along side Arteta. He could well go to CB but from that I think Wenger will play him as DM.
    He is also a captain for the youths and has done for England , all stands him in a good position.

  • 17,
    I agree with what you said about why we got knocked out of the coc.
    It was also that Southampton played there first team and are playing well.
    Speaking of Southampton I would be just as happy if we got Wanayama in the TW as Morgon , we should have got victor the first time IMO he is a great player.

  • I hope you do get the chance to see him play 17HT, preferably at DM but i won’t hold my breath 🙂

    PG, good shout on Wanayama I think he could actually be the player that the hype is making Carvalho out to be. Being lost in that hype myself i must admit that in the games i have seen Carvalho play he has not greatly impressed. Wanayama on the other hand has impressed this season and looks to be the powerhouse of the pair, where schneiderlin is the more Arteta type player who can also hold his own at defending.

    Which would you prefer to see at Arsenal?

  • Gerry,

    Of course I didn’t mean Per is only in the team just for his height. What I meant was that his height is his most significant attribute while defending.

    As you mentioned earlier, I too would also like to see Campbell play more often. He adds something different to the team, pace and good pressing, something that has been missing before the arrival of Alexis.

    You also mentioned about players on loan. There are rumours going about that Ollson will leave the club at the end of the season, though I cannot confirm how true it is. And Afobe is doing good so far, though maybe another season on loan may do him some good. Last but not least, Wellington Silva. I heard he finally got his work permit. Good for him. He looks like a wonderful talent, the so-called new Neymar, And he sure has the skills to prove it.

    Steve, I would definitely choose Wanyama over Schiederlin. He adds more height and steel to the midfield and he would be a rock for us should he join.

  • Steve, another case of not holding your breath – TA said he wasn’t coming back until Friday, so the post may have to wait until Saturday …
    Unless we have any volunteers from the back there?

    I’m a tad busy this morning, but if I get a theme in my head for something, and nobody else is offering, I’ll trot it out this afternoon. Lack of communication from TA suggests the water has got into his lap top? They have had a lot of rain up in Scotland, but he might get a decent drive home. So unless he has prepared something already, there should be something for tonight’s late discussion.

    You are stuck with me doing the UMF for a little while longer, and there are a few more entries still to be made. Hopefully I will be error free this week as I will try a new error check method before putting up the table. It has not been the case of me not putting your entries in right, just me not reading inputting the right amount of points. Bear with me ..

  • It seems like common sense is returning regarding Gibbs, as he is now doubtful.

    It is a great shame that he has these problems just when he is showing his best form. There does not seem to be any predictive warning either. Two possible solutions: Play less often. Not ideal, as basically you are have to have two LB’s, or at least a dual purpose player to cover.
    The other is to move him forwards, back to being a left winger? That would at least mean he is not doing length of the field dashes to get back in position.
    Neither solution is guaranteed to work though. This latest pull happened in the first half, and he had not been getting forward as much as usual. Remember these are non contact injuries.
    Which means a certain technique he does when he is not ideally placed, and it pops.
    It is possible that the strain of the previous hard game does leave the muscles in a more fragile state, without actually giving him any problems. So there is no warning.
    I remember when he was out for a long time he took up ‘tai chi’ in order to strengthen certain muscles, so I am guessing he was advised of some sort of skeletal weakness? Now whether there is a major surgical answer might be something he may have to consider, even if it means writing off yet another season? Big decision. In ordinary life you may be able to get around quite all right with a loose hip joint, but in an athletic sportsman it is not so easy.

    From an Arsenal point of view, I think either Monreal steps up and takes the defensive duty, or they get someone else, while Gibbs gets his dream move and be our left sided attacker, and just see how that works out? A few more finishes like the cool one in the last game, and it could be a win win solution for all?

    How that effects the team selection is a matter for the preview post …

  • Morning FFGs

    I got back last night, very knackered as driving in the dark on the notorious A17 & 47 is no fun. Over 100 miles of hardly any dual carriage way….

    I have a post from Geoff which I will issue later this morning.

    Gerry, would you be willing to do a match preview?

    I will be at the Burnley match tomorrow so will do a review on Sunday.

    Great comments over the last few days. Alexis the new Bergkamp, yeah baby! 🙂

  • shrillex, This just about says it all about Wanyama:

    Always comes down to the boss though. does he want that type of player or a more ball playing DM like Schiederlin or the much linked Khedira. I think he’ll go for the later which is why i always mention Schiederlin but you know me and my view that the team needs a “non-female part” player to sit in there, if i had the boss’s ear i would be saying DM beast please and Wanyama looks less of a gamble than Carvalho atm. It will never happen though.

    Gerry, i’m impatient as usual 😆
    Sh*t balls! i can’t believe its another bad one for Gibbs that’s bad news indeed and thanks for the in depth update mate very thorough. For me (when fit) he has been one of the most consistent players this season and is quite literally the second name on the team sheet after Koscielny for me – great shame about the news.
    I think if it was a problem they could fix they would have done so by now with all the money and medical access they have so i just hope he recovers quickly, real shame though.
    I read on the Arsenal website (and i’m paraphrasing) that Gnabry is coming back well but Diaby is further behind him – are we ever going to see Diaby?? how can Gnabry be ahead of Diaby in fitness, Diaby has been training for ages now, is it time to call it a day?

    TA, morning buddy glad you got back safe, hope you enjoyed the trip, good to have you back 🙂

  • TA – It should be okay later this evening.

    Steve, before you think what I wrote on Gibbs is thoroughly researched, let me put you straight. It is not. It is how I arrive at conclusions from intuitive guesswork and deductive reasoning.
    I think Gibbs has had this same thing flare up at least three times. The last time he came back too quick, and I am guessing in order to compensate for the original problem, he tweaked a hamstring. Anybody who has put their back out will know just what I mean. I think I am right that it is always his right leg, not the one he uses to cross and pass with, which is contrary to what you might expect?
    There is a medical term for having a shallow ‘cup’ in the pelvis, and it is possible to have surgery to either make it deeper, or build up the ridge. But as you can imagine, that is a long rehabilitation period. What his special exercises are, and again I am guessing, to strengthen the muscle tissue in the thigh so it holds the leg in place much tighter. The fact that it works for many games, suggests to me that one or other options above could prolong his career?

    I shall watch your Wanyama video shortly, but I am always wary of ‘clips’. I am more interested in how he plays week in week out for Southampton. Balotelli could be shown to look good in some big games, but his bread and butter stuff is decidedly average at Liverpool.
    Yes, I did see that game he(Victor) played for Celtic,but I also saw many other games for Celtic when he wasn’t a stand out player. So I am not sold on him either. I watched the earlier link to Romelo, and the blog gave him the great big build up of how he had great skills and the dicipline to be a DM … but then linked to a video from two or more years ago when he was playing as an attacking midfielder??

    On the Diaby thing, let me take you back to last season’s recovery. He said he had finally got everything sorted, but his body was out of kilter. His long rehabilitation on one leg had left it skinny with little muscle tone. The other leg was only a few matches short of playing fitness.
    Big difference. So he went away during the summer and worked on getting both legs up to the same level. Back up to date, what is now showing up is there seem to be some minor differences that only appear when he plays. That is what happened in his last Under 21 game. Another minor niggle that needs balancing up.
    Gnabry on the other hand, was relatively straightforward in that his injured leg was in good shape prior to the injury, and once that cleared up his rehab brought everything back in line relatively quickly,despite being out for a longish time. Same goes for Walcott.
    If Diaby gets the luck he deserves, he must be pretty close to coming off the pitch twinge free, then, and only then, can he get serious with what remains of his career?

  • Thanks Gerry, that would be great. Please note I will have little time in the morning to issue a post, so please could you send me something before 11pm today? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s