FA Cup Preview and Line-up: Let’s Make it a Dozen

Arsenal – Aston Villa  FA Cup Final Match Preview
This Is It.  Arsenal return to Wembley to try and win their record 12th FA Cup and the 6th of manager Arsene Wenger’s tenure.  Doing so would break the deadlock with Manchester United and make Arsenal the most successful club in the history of the oldest competition in all of club football.   It would also place Wenger ahead of Sir Alex Ferguson as the modern manager with the most FA Cups to his name and put him level with George Ramsey who won his 6th FA Cup with Aston Villa in 1920.
Ironic then, that to do so, Wenger’s Arsenal must defeat another Villa team, this one led by (Gooner) Tim Sherwood and featuring a revitalized group he was able to keep in the Premier League.   Like the trophy we won a year ago against Hull City, it’s another classic David vs Goliath confrontation and another must win for the Arsenal.  It’s a single football match, but it’s also a gauge for the collective mood of all Gooners headed into the summer.  Win it–ideally in less stressful fashion than we won the previous version–and it’s about tweaking the squad to challenge the best in the country (and on the continent) in the season to come.  The alternative really does not bear consideration.  Suffice it to say, any result which does not include lifting the cup will undo whatever progress we seem to have made, re-open old wounds and take Wenger’s Arsenal back to the proverbial square one.
That’s pressure and exactly what comes with the territory when you take the pitch in the National stadium.
With the exception of our steady progression through the tournament, this FA Cup has been replete with upsets and with big clubs faltering under these sorts of pressures.  The 3rd round, held that first weekend in January and representing the moment the biggest clubs finally have to play, featured no big upsets.  The 4th round, however, was one for the ages.  Playing in their home stadiums Chelsea (2-4 vs Bradford City), Manchester City (nil-2 vs Middlesbrough), Tottenham (1-2 vs Leicester City) and Southampton (2-3 vs Crystal Palace) ALL lost.  Manchester United and Liverpool both drew and had to face replays.  What a weekend.   Arsenal, having already beaten Hull (2-nil) in a replay of last year’s final in the previous round, traveled to Brighton and won 3-2.
In the 5th round, Arsenal played some fine football and got two rapid fire goals from Olivier Giroud to beat ManCity killers, Boro, but then got drawn to travel to Old Trafford and face Manchester United in a quarterfinal showdown which many predicted would determine the eventual cup winner.  Indeed, it was a memorable one.   Goals from Nacho Monreal and Danny Welbeck–in his first appearance in front of the fans of his former club–and some bold whistles by referee Michael Oliver against ManU’s band of diving divas (and the sending off of Angel Di Maria when his protestations included a shove to the referee’s back) were the lasting images.
It was a key moment in Arsenal’s season, but it would mean nothing, of course, if we then blew it at Wembley.
The semi-final vs Reading FC showed that a motivated opponent could be successful in thwarting our attack and creating trouble for us.   Arsenal slowly warmed to the fight and finally, in the 39th minute, Mesut Ozil found Alexis Sanchez whose diagonal run, cool control and quick finish gave us the lead.  We were unable to add to it in the 2nd half, however, and Reading equalized when an attack down our right side led to a cross and deflected shot which beat our cup keeper, Wojciech Szczesny.  Aaron Ramsey almost won it in regular time with a shot on frame and forced a save from Adam Federici as the extra time got underway.   In the end, it was much tamer shot from Alexis which got the better of the Reading keeper who somehow let the ball go through his body and over the line before he could fully control it or scramble it away.
Now we return to the National stadium for the final and the stiffer challenge of Aston Villa.
Their early progression in the cup featured home wins over Blackpool and Bournemouth, each one by a single goal.  Those wins, however, were not enough to save manager Paul Lambert who was fired in early February.  Sherwood’s takeover featured new chances for players up and down the squad to prove themselves.  Soon after he took over, Villa beat Leicester City in the 5th round of the cup and then West Bromwich Albion in the quarterfinals.  Both matches featured goals from one such new player, Scott Sinclair, acquired from Manchester City in January.
As Sherwood’s tenure moved on, other players emerged.  Christian Benteke, finally recovered from injury, began showing why he is one of the most feared center forwards in England.  19 year old Jack Grealish, a player who hardly featured under Lambert, was given a real run in the team and has sparked tremendous excitement with his ability to take on defenders and cause havoc in attack.  Fabian Delph and Tom Cleverly have also established a solid presence in midfield.  Suddenly, under Sherwood, Villa could score goals and their defense, riddled all season by injuries, wasn’t compromised at quite the level it had been, for example, in the league matches we had played against them earlier.  Those two were some of the most comprehensive victories of our league campaign–the first a 3 nil battering at Villa Park in September, the 2nd a 5 nil romp at our place.
As Sherwood’s Villa worked themselves away from the drop zone they appeared a team who no longer played not to lose.  By April their league survival looked increasingly secure.  Their best result of all, however, came in the Cup semi-final against LIverpool.  After going a goal down, Villa outplayed the heavy favorites and earned their return trip to Wembley through goals from Benteke and Delph.   They’ve stumbled a bit since, including losing their final two league matches, but Sherwood has accomplished what he was hired to do and this cup final surely will be seen as a crowning moment.  Unlike Arsenal, who simply MUST win in order to confirm that our 3rd place finish in the league was a positive step forward, Villa will come into this one with absolutely nothing to lose.
With that attitude guiding him, Sherwood, I think, will have his players believing they can both defend and attack as needed.  Unlike many who are expecting that he will set out a parked bus, I suspect he will have his boys geed up to have a real go at us from the opening kickoff.  If they cannot score from open play, earning set-pieces–aimed at Benteke’s big frame or off the fine right foot of Leandro Bacuna–could be the path to glory.  We should thus be fully prepared for a physical battle in all areas of the pitch.  As such, we cannot take too much from the success we had in our last match against West Brom who defended in a somnambulant style.  Villa will be much more confident that they can match, if not even overpower our midfield and backline.  Our players must cover and fight for one another and we could use a friend in referee Jonathan Moss.  My hunch is that Wenger will revert back to the more physically robust group which started 6 matches on the trot, with one exception, Szczesny in goal.   It’s a little harsh on the goal scorers from the last match, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, but we should remember that this match could go 120 minutes.  If they’re introduced they might have an extra half hour to make an impact, at which point their pace and drive might work a treat against a tired Villa squad.  Here then is my predicted first 11:
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Gabriel, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Walcott
Squad selection in an end of season cup final is a huge responsibility for the manager and he must take great care in handing the double-edged sword of pressure and opportunity to his men.  It also has implications for the make-up of the squad and the future of individual players heading into the close season.  Overall, by way of fitness or lack thereof, I think the squad more or less picks itself, except, perhaps, at the two positions at either end of the pitch: goalkeeper and center forward.  Szczesny, dropped as the number 1 keeper for league matches in January, has been in net for each round of our cup progression.  I believe he will get the nod tomorrow to compensate for having to watch a year ago as his compatriot and back-up, Lukas Fabianski, did the keeping.  A clean sheet would go a long way toward restoring equity in his competition with David Ospina for the position going into the new season.  A critical error or not being selected, however, could put his Arsenal future in doubt.
I also believe Giroud will be selected to lead our line.  His return from injury around the beginning of the new year was as big a factor as any other in our improved form in 2015.  Moreover, for this one, his height, like Szczesny’s, will be needed to defend against Benteke at set pieces.  Even though his last goal was almost two months ago and was a late one which only added gloss in our home league win over Liverpool, he adds so much more than that.  As the focal point for our attack he frees our midfielders to use him for quick 1-2s or longer moments of hold up play.  Playing an occasional ball towards his big body from out wide, if not likely to result in a goal, can at least serve as a tactic to restore a little extra attacking space through the middle of the pitch.
Obviously, any cup final is a big match.  As much as all the pressure resides on our shoulders it’s also an opportunity for players to make their marks in Arsenal lore.  For example, how much pleasure might Giroud take if he were to score a goal (or more), something a certain critic of his was never able to accomplish in an Arsenal shirt (nor in a France or Barcelona kit).  As Gooners we’d all like to avoid a repeat of the early goals we conceded against Hull City a year ago in this same match.  Still, the goals scored by Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny which brought us back into that one, plus the winner from Aaron Ramsey, will not soon be forgotten.  This is the stuff from which memories are made.
Finally, and speaking of memories… We haven’t heard plans from our fearless–but also very busy–leader, Total Arsenal, recently, but there was talk a few weeks back about shutting down the site, at least for the summer.  With less involvement from him, traffic on the site appears to have dropped off dramatically.  Of course, it may also be that Arsenal have been performing closer to the expectations of Gooners so there’s less need to vent frustration and propose easy (and often untestable) solutions.  It could also simply be that the season is coming to an end and the longer days and better weather beckons.  Regardless, I just wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed writing the match previews these past few months and that I want to offer HUGE THANKS to all who have read them and commented.  It’s been a privilege.  Like my friend, James Bond (007, our superspy…) said in his most recent post (which, sadly, was also a couple of weeks ago…), “Blogging is an addiction.”  As such, if this place closes, you will probably be able to find me in the comments section of some other Arsenal blog somewhere.  We can never know what the future holds so we cannot know when our football team will be back in a cup final nor when we will gather again in the Goonersphere to celebrate or dissect their performance.  Like we hope our team does tomorrow, let’s enjoy this one…
Go on then…
By 17highburyterrace

164 thoughts on “FA Cup Preview and Line-up: Let’s Make it a Dozen

  • Before I go off to sleep, I have to tell you about Alex. He finally got in touch this week, and as I feared, he has had a really tough time. Alex had a very serious car accident about six month ago and was in an induced coma for two weeks and broke his leg in two places due to the heavy impact of the car incident. He is planning to come and join the blog tomorrow which would be great. Let’s give him a warm welcome if he does. COYG, do it for Alex, do it for us all. 🙂

  • If Arsenal play like in the Albion game.they will win.The problem is Wenger may be carried away buy his attacking philosophy. Last years final is a wake up call.
    If the gunners are under pressure like in the Swansea game they could crumble.If the gunners
    shoot like Walcott whoc scored three goals,they will win.How will they respond if denied time and space.

  • Hi all.. Morning..
    Another great post 17ht..

    Well.. this is our final game this season..
    We open it with a cup by beating City.. and it will be perfect if we end it with a cup also..

    I believe that wenger see this game as a very serious ones.. that’s why he bench Giroud and Ramsey last week.. but it happened by surprise that Walcott and Wilshere do their job very good indeed.. so good to be bench in this final game.. hehehe..

    For me.. I love our last week game..
    more faster and straight forward..
    So if Wenger remain with his favourite 4-1-4-1 team.. than I choose Walcott over Giroud.. but I still think Walcott as our RW will be perfect..
    But the problem is.. who will left behind..?? A performed Wilshere has make it more complicated..

    My CROCS.. (Coq-Ramsey-Ozil-Cazorla-Sanchez) had been very great recently. No one of them worthed to be bench.. hahaha.. So IF think simple add Theo.. then it will be ‘The CROCS’..hehehe..

  • Ha ha HT, I thought I might inspire you to write a counter argument to my suggestions.
    As usual, the background stuff you include in your previews all add to the sense of occasion. Great stuff.

    I actually think that your team line up has some merit. After all it was the basis of the 9 game unbeaten run. The big flaw is, imo, and the one that Sherwood hopes for … is PREDICTABILITY.

    In fact you only have to look at the three games prior to our last one to see how teams can shut us out?

    Of course, starting steady and playing for a possible 120 minutes is one way to go. I also think you are right in that scenario, to drop both Walcott and Wilshere, and keep Ramsey as a more defensive option … otherwise, with Wilshere disappearing centrally at almost every opportunity, it will leave Bellerin very vulnerable. But what I find strange about going into the game pre-supposing the thought of extra time, and is a very negative one? Last year we had all the baggage of not having won any silverware for 9 years, not to mention a few highlighted failures in previous years, and the label of not being able to play ‘under pressure’.
    Surely we are beyond that now?

    Taking on board Jack Gunner’s comment earlier, about being too ‘gung ho’ with an attacking line up, but there is no guarantee in the alternative proposed here. There is however a simple truth in football, and that is the opposition cannot score if they don’t have the ball.

    What I really liked about our first half against the Baggies was the speed and movement, and both were part and parcel of what the two players added, they injected that side with pace.

    I don’t go along with the view that it was all down to the Baggies making them look good, although scoring those goals was made a lot easier. I take the view if you pass and move the ball that well, particularly movement off the ball, then no matter who the opposition, they will get opportunities to strike. In Walcott at least, we finally saw a player be clinical, given the opportunity. I think with more time together in the meantime, that will prove to be a catalyst for Alexis to find his scoring boots too. The point about taking shots is, if they miss the target, or get a deflection, we may get a corner, or worse case it is a goal kick and we can drop back and prepare to have another go. With the team set out here, and by many other people besides, is that we are more likely to lose possession pussyfooting around the edge of the box, or have the predictable crosses to Giroud being cut out, or him overpowered by the weight of numbers of defenders in a crowded box, and they spring their counter-attack while we have 75% of our team in their half?

    No, I am not having a go at Giroud. It is just not the best use of him in a game of this type. He will be much better suited coming on when their defence is tiring, rather than bring on speedy leg runners who will be on their own because our support will be knackered after running up and down the pitch between defending and attacking.

    What I want to see is our lads have the confidence to go out there and play football, OUR WAY.

    Yes there are dangers. But the attack last week showed imagination, flexibility, and real pace. If the Villa try and stop them, and I am sure they will by fair means or foul ( or more likely filth), then the ref in charge is no stranger to giving out cards, including red ones. Beyond the team that Sherwood puts out, I don’t think there is that much strength in depth, so they will have to tread very carefully?

    I am predicting that there may be only one, perhaps two, changes to the team that played last week: Per in for Gabriel and perhaps Monreal for Gibbs. Although I am coming around to the view that Gibbs might keep his place. This game is a chance to showcase the very best of Arsenal’s brand of football, and I think the team to do it is the one with Giroud and Ramsey on the bench. I am hoping AW sees it that way.

    Keep the faith ….

  • Morning All…

    Very good post 17, and I agree totally with your starting XI and subs…

    My boy and his mates are off to Wembley, but I’m gonna be on the sofa watching the TV…

    As 17 says, it may go to extra-time, and will probably be a frustrating game, but that’s the Arsenal way. If we aren’t put through the emotional wringer then it ain’t Arsenal.
    Alexis to be the match-winner in my opinion.

    And get well soon Alex.

  • Obvious to me that Alex`s self induced coma was when we started the season playing shit !……I remember this well as I was in a self induced Wankoma behind the sofa !………Come on Arsenal !….do it for Alex !……and me, before I go blind !.

    Great stuff 7eventeenho !………………….but I have to point out that even if we dont win today, we will still be the most successful FA Cup team by being in the most Finals and Semi-Finals…..officially a record !.

    It`s my birthday today and unfortunately all the well wishers and opening of cards to find hundreds of pounds will not make it a happy day unless we win the FA Cup !…….this could be my best or worst birthday ever and it`s all down to The Arsenal !………….##BREAKING NEWS##………..it`s so far a shit birthday as no bastard has put any money in the cards !.

  • Get well soon Alex………….God bless.

    Happy Birthday Cockie. Ava G8 day.

    Come on you Gunners.

  • Alex baby, coming out of a coma you can be forgiven for probably having some memory loss at first !……..so I`ll just remind you that it was an Arsenal shirt for both the winner of the UMFL and the winner of the wooden spoon !.

  • Happy Birthday, Cockers! Congratulations! You have won the Premiership as many times as Stevie G!

    Alex, get well soon. I know a thing or two about car accidents that end up with induced coma as my cousin had gone through one 6 years ago. With support from beloved ones and mental strength, you can overcome it.

    17-inho, hopefully you’ll win us FA Cup just like you dragged us all the way to third place. 🙂

  • Yes, a bit of a compromise having Ramsey for Wilshere. I might strengthen us defensively, But not so good up front, from the wide position?

    It also has implications for for who Wilshere replaces when sub time comes around?
    But at lest we are not predictable.

    I shall settle down and watch the build up, catch you later …

  • Hi lads! Really up for this game. For once I don’t envy Wenger because what a choice he’s had to make today. But I think he’s made the right choices with Szcz and Theo.

  • 3-0 or 3-1 i hope

    Make history for our great club and manager , good luck.

  • TA,
    Wenger must have thought long and hard about it, he is so fresh and on form is this the moment he becomes an out and out striker i wonder..???
    Lets hope so. OG is on the side lines if need be

  • Oh and plus the lads commentating said Og has had an allargy all week so is not feeling great sadly , it may have been a strong factor.

  • Hey fellas… Theo gets the call! Ah well, 10 of 11 (and at least the correct 18 to suit up)…

    This is different than a league match in that a nil-nil takes 120 mins and that’s too much for almost any team against this Arsenal group. As such, we may get more of a chance to play on the break… Gotta start well and show that if we do push forward they cannot break on us… Still, with Sir Chez in goal we could have some heart-in-mouth moments when he does his Neuer imitation…

    Prince William is a Villa supporter?! That’s what the US commentators are saying…

    Where’s Alex?… Very sorry to hear that news but hopefully he’s on the mend…

    TA, taking a break to watch the match?…Good man…

  • I think we’re gonna see Alexis in the #9 spot and Theo on the right and moving wide quite a bit…

    We’ve got the taller captain…that’s gotta be an advantage… 😀

  • Nobody around…or just too nervous… 😀

    Looks like I was wrong…Theo looks our most forward and central option… Chezzer getting some time on the ball seems a good thing…

    Both teams look pretty snappy on the tackle…

    First corner goes to us…

  • Too nervous 17, it’s difficult to type when your hands are covering your face.

  • Hey AN… I dunno, we look good and at least we’re not down the pair of goals as we were a year ago… Cleverly on a yellow is a good thing.. Kos header was just a bit too central… Now they also know to fear Bells in attack…you know, if we decide not to play everything down the left…

    Ooooohhh Rambo toe pokes one over…

  • Whoa…Great early ball from Ozil…Theo’s poke into space doesn’t quite come off…

  • Great chance denied…Again through Ozil and Theo… Open game thus far, eh…

  • How you doing TA?…

    Theo offside there but making his presence known…

  • I’m pretty good…My Bay Area business got delayed by a week so a tougher one coming…

    I like these couple of moments when we use the right half of the pitch…

  • Szcz a little scary going into a crowd with another punch…

    Hutton into the book…

  • That’s the plan, TA… 😀 When do you get a breather? At least you’re able to work from (your new?) home…

    Indeed, let’s get a goal here…

    Nacho, too strong on the high ball…

    C’mon boys!!

  • Coq re-breaks his nose in the celebration?…His long pass started the move…

  • True true… What an athlete (Alexis, that is…) Critical few moments here before the half (i.e., let’s get another…)

  • Did Ozil just outmuscle somebody to win the ball?… Not a bad pass into Santi, either…

  • Half time… Seemed a good one to me, but I’m biased… 😀

  • Well played lads, keep it up in the second half.

    Proudtgooner, unlucky with the bet

    Get well soon Alex hope you are. Enjoying this

  • Kos so close to scoring the first .
    Lucky i bet on Theo in my scorecast. Theo first and 3-0 would make a really nice day, still a lot to do, be great to carry on playing as we are.
    COYG , super proud of our first half effort and energy levels 😉

    Looks like Wenger has got the Theo call right mate

  • Ok I admit this game has been less stressful than last year. Need to keep it up though, at 1-0 villa is still in the game.

  • TA…I’m off to the espresso laboratory (also known as the laundry room…) Do you make the move to Scotland in the Summer or is it already done?… I guess I’m confused… Also, where’s Alex?…You promised… It must be the serious wee hours in Aussie-land…

    Theo with balls on target works for me…and popping up in a variety of spots seems good too. Overall, I think Tactics Tim will need to buck up his ideas here at the break…

  • Retsub,
    Thanks mate, that 1 was very close to coming of twice but lucky my Theo scorecast pays a lot better money. So could be a great thing.
    All i really want is the win though ay 🙂

  • They’ll get Gabby Agbie in there soon enough and double down on the long and high balls…Didn’t he break Rosicky’s face a couple of years back?… Of course, we can counter with Ollie and Jack…

    2nd half on…

  • I think he will come on at some point.
    But we played very very well first half and so far the 2nd, we look really good i like this team 🙂

  • Replay shows Koscielny needs a cappuccino for his bunghole… (Shirt pulled over his head, like Cornholio…)

    Let’s get some subs into the fun…

  • Hello to all and thanks for the well wishes.
    Ive been doing a cockie and been hiding behind the sofa but now at 3-0 its time to relax a little.

  • Hey Alex…Nice photo of Bella there… I hope today’s result helps in the recovery…

  • hi 17ht,
    A result like this always helps, not just me but all the sooner community.
    For good luck i asked my wife to put on a yellow ribbon on Bella all day. it seems to have paid off

  • Hi TA,
    how are you? The boys are focussed and without a doubt doing us all proud

  • I see Theo still needs to work on his composure but 4 goals in 2 games, shows that he has some form

  • That’s the Feo I remember… Gotta give him credit for the nice chocolate footed finish to open the scoring… Ollie going blonde?… Jack on for Messy…

  • Le Coq a little late and a little lucky?… Sir Chez blocking a pen might’ve put some gloss on his day…

    Speaking of… C’mon out and play 007…. 😀

  • My wife says the new Giroud ‘do is working for her…Makes him just a touch prettier and more delicate…

    Nice dribbling by Jack around the big Colombian (with the big hair)…

  • Please dont scorer again i have Theo scores first and us win 3-0

  • Bells used his arms there on young Jack (Grealish) when his hair might’ve been enough… 😀

    Pen shouts = Villa’s best moments?…

    Alexis off…Ox on…

  • I got it at 50/1 nearly there i cashed out my 3-0 so i really want this 1 it would make it a perfect day

  • I feel your nerves, PG… fingers crossed for you here…

  • Good sub to bring the Ox in, considering that he did miss last year with injury

  • thank you guys, it is so close and looks super
    lol i cant believe it lol oh well i dont care, oh fucking hell ollie lol

  • We’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen.

    I must say, a complete performance tonight when we needed it. Well done lads

  • Well played from start to finish today it seems they learned from last year’s mistakes

  • 4-nil splits the difference of the two league matches… Solid performance on the day… Timmy, I guess, didn’t quite get his guys to believe enough or something…

  • We were all hoping for you PG very unlucky.

    What a fantastic performance. Every single player deserves 10 out of 10

  • Thanks for the kind words guys.
    FA cup back to back winners and we made history 🙂
    Very happy and Proud to be a Gooner.
    Well done Arsene

  • Resub,
    Thank you mate dont feel to sorry for me i still won on my bets today.
    As you said what a great performance from all our players, they were unbelievable today it was a special performance

  • Giroud, I guess, wanted to get one over on Henry… PG was just an innocent bystander… 😀

  • @Retsub,

    agreed everyone played their part and stuck to the plan. 10’s all around

  • So, Alex…I need to ask…Are you OK?…(On track for a full recovery…) I sure hope so…

  • Well gents,
    It was great to catch up with you guys, albeit a brief one. My little Bella will be up in 2 hours and i need to get some sort of sleep before she gets up. I will be dropping by more regularly and look forward to chatting to all of you.
    Great day to be a GOONER!!!!

  • @17ht,

    All good, it feels strange not to have worked for so long but i am about 3-6 from getting back to normal, well i hope so anyway

  • 17,
    i knew Giroud would score as soon as he came on i cashed out my 3-0 great timing though lol

  • Good Man Alex!!! Stay with it, get some sleep, etc., etc. And make TA buy me my UMF shirt…It sounds like he’s working (and making money) plenty…

  • Nah, The UMF shirt is my responsibility, I will get your details from TA and ill get that sorted for you.
    Good night to all!

  • I meant to add and lol or :D…

    And the cup is in the air!!!!!

  • Team’s a bit more together than a year ago squeaking by Hull… IMO, of course… 😀

  • Total team performance, IMO… Big gulf in class between the two teams makes it tough to pick anybody… Ozil, Santi, Alexis all played great… Theo’s left footed finish was a great moment as was the ridonkulous shot from Alexis… The Spanish full-backs were dominant as was the Merte-scielny CB pairing…

    Maybe you need to write an “8 Positives” post… 😀

  • Perfect performance. 🙂 They couldn’t muster a shot on target. Le Coq was absolutely everywhere. I think two or three Villa players pissed their pants because Coq blocked them on their way to the toilet.

    All-in-all, Community Shield, third place and FA Cup = a very good year. With a good transfer window, next season can be excellent one. 🙂

    Today we scheduled a new date with Mourinho on 1st August. 🙂

  • TA, write me an e-mail about blog plans…If this is it, it’s not the worst way to go out… 😀

    Almost noon here and we’ve got a wedding at 4…and it’s a 2.5 hour drive…As such, gotta run…

    Happy Summer everybody…

  • Good point, Admir. This season has been good and the team is clearly hungry for even more. Wenger will be pleased with that.

  • I can’t remembera more dominant 1 sided cup final.
    So well played and it was not that Villa were bad, it was just that we were so good, in every dept, by every player. From start to finish.,
    I am so so happy for Arsene Wenger.
    All them years of doom when so many did not understand the difficulties Wenger had to balance the books.
    We nearly lost him to the out fans. Just look at the performance we would have missed today. Believe me when i say Wenger’s teams will only get better and stronger from here on out.
    If you were a Wenger out, it is easy to see why you felt like that at the time, but i hope you now are happy we kept him
    What a team he is putting together
    Time for us Gonner’s to enjoy the good times to come and we will enjoy them all the more for the joint pain we had over them years.
    We deserve this. It is us fans and Wenger that have been there though it all.

  • Admir , TA,
    I totally agree only the big oilers stayed above us and that gap is defo closing.
    Arsene is by far the best man to take us forward and challenge them.

  • Seems I’ve missed the post match chat?

    They played like I thought they should – With confidence, pace and movement. As I said before kick off, we weren’t predictable.

    It is really good when the team put it altogether and play like that?

    It just shows that with the usual back four in place, Szczesney can keep a clean sheet … Do we need to spend £10m on a new ‘keeper?

    Does the Ox gets a bonus prize for the quickest assist? Obviously not PG tips 😀

    Catch up in the morning … Night all

  • Gerry,
    I could not believe it i thought the cash was in my account lol you have to laugh what else could i do lol

  • Alexis goal was Arsenal’s best goal of the season or was it? It is probably my fav what a strike and in the final. What a player

  • Good morning all. I too think it was a better season than we could have hoped for with such a poor start. 3rd spot and tback to back trophy is very good indeed.

    Well now the dust has settled a little, and we can bask in the glorious way we won the FA Cup, it is a sobering thought the it is only 10 weeks before the start of the next season …2015/2016.

    Yes 10 weeks!

    Think of that as 1 week less before we play Chelsea in the community Shield,
    2 weeks of pre-season training, add another week for the foreign tour with the fringe players …
    So I make that only 6 weeks away before part of the squad are gathering again. Then with the Transfer Window not officially opening until 4 weeks on Wednesday, means that most clubs will want to get their business done in that short 2 and a half period before getting down to business?

    I think this explains why so much activity has been going on prior to the TW this time. If it is not done deals, it is setting out possibilities from the various managers short lists. Hence the scattergun appearance of the rumour mill. Yesterday I reading something along the lines of a quadruple £80m ‘swoop’ for players that had us buying two player for the same DM position??
    These headline bloggers just don’t think it through do they?

    Of course sometimes the managers welcome these ‘leaks’, for a variety of reasons:
    1, They might want to a rumour to deflect away from the real target.
    2, They might want to spur another club into action if it is their target, so knocking out one rival bid.
    3, They might even hope that any interest elsewhere might mean their target player may come at slightly lower price.
    But what they will not want is to identify a player of interest to rivals, who may make their own enquiries … if they haven’t already done so? Which, given they are all fishing in the same pool, it would be surprising that agents are fielding lots of enquiries.

    However, any player from around the world watching the Cup final yesterday cannot help but think that Arsenal are an attractive club to come to?

    So who do I think we may sign in this ‘Window?
    Well Schneiderman is one we would like to, but not at £25m. That was last year’s price. He has narrowed the field down to CL clubs, two of those, Chelsea and Man City have the money, but do they have the need? Man Utd have the need and the money, but are not fully in the CL yet, and are away from the South coast. Which leaves Arsenal to agree a fee with Southampton?
    But it is not a done deal. Cheaper alternatives will way heavily if AW is trying to spread the cash elsewhere. Pogba would be nice? Not cheaper, but nice. But not if he is angling for a move to Spain (although I think he may have tempered both the Spanish giants enthusiasm, by clumsily naming both RM and Barca in his desire, and thus offending both because they are not his top choice?). I see the Vidal rumour as a smokescreen, but you never know. He would cost more than MS though, and their hangs the tail?
    Conclusion: If not MS, then a cheaper alternative.

    In the front line, despite Theo’s latest showing, I think there is a desire to get a clinical finisher in there, who can work alongside Giroud, or replace him the way Theo has in these last two games. I guess we do not know if Mrs G is still hankering to move back to France, but I don’t see Olly going anywhere in this Window. Despite all the ‘agreed fee’ nonsense going about, I don’t see ‘In your dreams’ Jackson Martinez ever coming here. I don’t think he fits the bill. We are an 11 man team, not 10 and a goal scorer. We may even wait until closer to the end of this TW, or even the next in January, if Arsene hasn’t seen the ‘right’ player. It is a pity Wolves did not gain promotion, as then we could have a better view of our ‘ex’, and joint Golden Boot winner Benek Afobe, coping with life at the top? He is the sort of player we might be after?
    Then there is the progress of Serge Gnabry to consider. If he hits the high sport with the German team over the coming weeks, he could be a serious contender? Chuba Akpom could also be in the mix if we are going for fast moving pacey front line, but he’ll have to prove himself in pre-season, or else he will have another spell on loan?

    I think both full back positions will be looked at, and they may just cash in on Monreal if he is not committing to a new contract, as ‘rumoured’ today. I thought he had another good season with us, but if he goes, then a back up for Gibbs would be all that is required. The nice young man from East Anglia, who we were linked with last season, fits the bill?
    On the other side a lot will depend on Debuchy in pre season. I hate to say this, but Bells does not convince me with his defensive play. He is still very young and achieved an awful lot in a short space of time … but he will have to work on his one-on-one defence if he is to keep that spot. Further forward, no problem. Nat Clyne has been mentioned, and he could leap ahead of both if that came to fruition? But I cannot see it happening now we have made a Europa spot for Saints? But I would not be surprised with with a new body here?

    In midfield, apart from the DM above, we seemed to be okay, but the problem is, a lot of players have similar attributes. Cazorla is a stand out, but probably has one more season left before returning to Spain? I don’t think any of our current youngsters quite fill his shoes, so a lot will depend whether somebody of high quality is available this year, and so be ready to take over next season having fully bedded in with the squad. That might have repercussions, as would buying an attacking mid, of the Reus type. Much as it would be nice, I don’t see it happening?

    That leaves the GK position? I have two views on this. One, I don’t think AW will spend big on a GK, fee and wages combined. And secondly, unless he has completely lost faith in WS1, I do not see that any ‘keeper will move in our direction in this window.
    I believe that most of this ‘need to buy’ is externally driven by commentators, ex-players, bloggers and fans alike. Thy may not be wrong, but they are not AW. I think he will be very pleased at Szcz’s application yesterday, and it could influence his thinking that between him and Ospina we have a good set up. Both very capable, and one very much a long term prospect.

    So apart from a scattering of teenage signings to improve our future prospects from within, that is my view of this window. Any surprises will be under the radar ones, but in the key positions I have mentioned. Therefore, unlikely to be a high profile name as of the two previous seasons, but they will be what we need!

    There, I have officially opened the TW chatter … 😆

  • Ok Gerry I’ll bite, might as well do it now before TA shuts us out from chatting about this fantasy stuff over the summer lol.

    First off I should state that these are MY wishes for this TW that stem from how I would want the team to play which is probably for the best since there is no point in actually trying to guess whats in Wengers head for next season – at least this way I can be accurate and logical in my suggestions because I have a solid grasp on what I would want to achieve with the signings.

    With this in mind I’ll get straight to it and point out that I think we should be emulating Barca in a 4-3-3, playing with three pacey dynamic front men, one of whom should be left footed to give a proper balance up front. Stick the left footer on the right and watch him cut in and score, on the left and he should have enough pace and guile to become a scoring winger capable of getting passed players and whipping the ball in for the others in the box – combined with an equally talented right footed wide front man these two swapping periodically during the game it will keep the opposition guessing.
    In midfield you want one player at least to have the engine and drive to keep going and going, like Rakitic for Barca and another who is more of a styled maestro like Iniesta. Obviously the goal is to have a maestro with an engine in both positions.
    Lastly lets not forget a DM who has the discipline to stay back and do his duties but also has the technical ability on the ball to start moves also.
    So not too much to ask for lol

    In a club that is going for the title should be a squad that comprises of two top class options in each position (as nearly all clubs strive for these days) but at a level that is almost interchangeable in as many positions as possible, plus a youngster in each position for emergency cover – a bonus that the size of our club and the quality of our academy provides us as a top team.

    Oh and I’m not touching the GK nonsense, I know way too little about the candidates and situation, I will leave that to others.

    First team – premier league and champions league


    Players in: Bale, Schneiderlin and Hummels

    Two things to note here, first is Cazamsey lol this is my way of simply stating that Cazorla is by far the better midfielder but I feel he doesn’t have the engine to provide his excellence at this level for the full 90 and would work best when supplemented by a Ramsey substitution sometime in the second half. Secondly is Walcott up front and not Lacazette as I (any many others) have been suggesting recently, I simply came to the conclusion that an on form fit Theo (like atm) playing as the main man up top for a top two side in the French league all season could most probably tally up quite a large goal total as well and maybe we should give Theo his turn up front before we go for the French Defoe.

    Second team – FA cup team and first choice subs for premier league and champions league

    ——————–The OX——————–Wilshere———————
    Gibbs—————–Gabriel————-Van Dijk—————-Jenko

    Players in: Van Dijk

    Third team (U21) – Carling cup team and emergency cover for premier league and champions league

    ———————-A-M-N—————–Crowley or Zelalem———

    Players in: Jetro Willems, Matheus Doria and Patrick Roberts

    That makes a 23 man squad and a full XI of U21’s that don’t count towards the allowed 25 man squad number and still have 2 or 3 years before they start impacting the squad numbers. The remaining two places would go to:

    Giroud – The only man we need to completely change our whole style of play should we need to tactically, put him up front in a 4-2-3-1 like we are used to atm and he will bring the midfield into play more in the last third. He is the best in the league (imo) at doing this and is panicle to us having a plan B if the front three style of play isn’t working – he must be kept in the squad.

    Rosicky – Probably our most complete midfielder, a maestro with an engine like I was saying before plus he’s not shy of a tackle and he provides more experience than anyone else in our squad. He always looks fit as a fiddle when he comes on despite his age and would provide excellent emergency cover to the midfield should the young candidates not be up to such a pivotal task.

    Players in:
    Van Dijk

    Players out:
    Mertesacker – obvious lack of pace and mobility is a weakness we cannot afford in a title chasing season
    Arteta – As a lone DM (in the formation I wish to see us play) he suffers from the same weaknesses as BFG im afraid.
    Flamini – same as the previous two players.
    Diaby – Injury concerns
    Podolski – Fitness and stamina
    Miyaichi – Hasn’t developed to the level he needs to be at to play for Arsenal.
    Sanogo – Another loan spell

    I think you will know most of my suggestions maybe not Roberts so this is the best i could do (usual youtube rubbish lol), when him and Crowley play together for England they look class 🙂

    That my fantasy TW effort Gerry, what do you think? 🙂

  • Sky sports have just said that James Milner himself has come out and told them himself so it defo true that he is in talks with Arsenal 🙂
    I rate him he works very hard Ramseyeqsue can play in the middle out wide or as we saw this season up front.
    GHe would be a very good buy and is English

  • How would Milner fit in ? Would he be a starter for us i would say yes but not every game.
    I think him and Rambo have perhaps the best engines in the PL there work rates are second to none.
    I am going to try and put a mock team up with Milner in, i am quite excited about this one.

  • Alexis……………..Walcott…………..Welbeck

    With his possible signing, expect midfield sales . I have to think Diarby ness he is really back to fitness, Arteta, Flemini and likely to leave i think they will move on before Rosicky
    It is a sad thought as i love all of them as players. But they can’t all play and the best thing for them and the club is let them play elsewhere instaed of wasting the final years on the bench.

    What will Wenger do with Campbell and Podolski, we know Podolski whats to come back to us and of course Campbell will want to, Campbell stays i am not sure what he will do with Podolski, i like Podolski but there is no way he is getting the nod ahead of Alexis ay.

  • PG, where would you place Milner in the list of our midfielders?
    as an attacking or box to box midfielder in cannot see him bringing anymore than these guys already do:

    And as a defensive mid i would rather have Schneiderlin.

    Sixth choice midfielder lol, count me as very much not excited about this one i’m afraid.

  • Also Sami Khedira is now out of contract with Real surely he is worth snapping up on a free he is worth up to 30m he may be the best DM out there on offer?

  • Good point Steve 11,
    But i think he is a great player for our squad , Wenger clearly likes him, the good thing is he can play all the positions you just said plus on the wing and even up front.
    I like MS but i think surely Sami K has to be worth a good think about and looking at, he would fit in great with his fellow Germans to.

  • Sami K is said to be Juva bound though but i am sure we could turn his head.
    I am not sure any of them have that much more to offer then Le Coq imo
    How much better can they really do then him? Not much if any the way he played he bearly put a foot wrong in fact i cant remember a single thing

  • 1 more is Dutchman Ibraham Afellay Barca winger is out of contract be nice to hear TA view on him

  • Steve – 10 ! out of 10 … for effort and thinking it through. 😀

    I think the acquisition of Bale might just wipe out the budget for at least half of your other choices. In the same way my thought on Pogba would .. Nice to have, but …

    Just sticking to your list for a moment, I don’t rate Hummels, and why would we bother when we have Gabriel? … and Mertersacker, in my book.
    Schneiderman I agree with, or at least that type of player. We may end up with Cabaye if the price is low enough??
    Van Dyke is OTT with Hummels as well. You have him playing 2nd string, but a player of that calibre (and price) will want regular first team play?
    But again, with Debuchy and Monreal who both can do adequate back ups, with the three we have already, even allowing Per may take the step back this coming season. DV would be a better single choice, but I don’t see it happening for the above reason.
    Bale is a real fantasy thought, but not impossible, just very unlikely. It really depends on their new manager, and whether CR7 stays?
    Willems and Doria have been mentioned on peoples wish list before, but again, they are of the stature who get regular first team play, and would want that to continue? I think you will have to trust AW to find a hidden gem or two?
    Roberts and players in that bracket I think we may try for, and would be very welcome.

    Sorry, only 2.5 out of 7 there.

    As to the playing lay out, that is a bit fantasy stuff too?

    If you take the 18 players you have in the squad, who barring injuries, are going to be the vast bulk of players involved, with rotation. So unless you are going to involve a lot of under 18’s as ‘spare parts’, then the only other games available for your full time professionals is the under 21’s, and you can only have 3 over age players in those games. Which if I take any 7 out of your 2nd string that leaves 4 who will not get a regular game, plus 4 unused subs? One might have to be either 2nd or 3rd choice keeper. And no matter how much rotation you do, you are not going to have top players twiddling their thumbs. Wilshere already looked a bit pee’d off during the celebrations yesterday, probably because he did not get the nod over Ramsey. The only non playing members that looked really happy were the older ones, Osina, Arteta, Rosicky, and the young ones like Gibbs who was the best of the bunch, along with Calum Cambers. Even Gnabry looked pleased. I think that is the best way to expand the quality of the squad, and still keep most happy and willing to improve their game, is by keeping the real top quality players down to a minimum, but back them up with very good older players, like Per and Rosicky, and exciting younger ones like Ox, Gnabry Hayden Gibbs who fill all the gaps.. The thing is we do not have bottomless pockets that we can pay a player oodles to sit on their backsides for most of the season, like City did with Sagna for example?
    Even Bellerin is not going to like being third tier for too long, let alone your new buys?

    Narrow your thinking down to one SQ player if you must, but trim the list to just another two established players, and you might be in with a shout?

    When you talk of systems, that really changes with the players available. Walcott changed the dynamics of the way we played yesterday. Not because he is Walcott, but because of the type of player he is. Quick! By having players like Ozil and Cazorla who can think the game at speed, and having Alexis who has that unpredictable element, it works. But that doesn’t mean Giroud cannot adapt into a quick fire play. If he drops deeper to be the route one element, and then makes late runs into the box he might have more joy that being the predictable target for crosses. It was notable how the wide players quickly adapted to playing low balls into the box in the last two games?

    Well that is my 5 penn’orth 😀

  • Don’t rate Sammy K that much TBH, PG. Wages not the lack fee would be a major worry too.
    I’ll have a go at this one, but you will know who I mean,. ‘Pool were after him last summer. Koplyenka? Whatever …

    He is also available on a free. I think he is playing in Ukraine. He looked quite speedy when I saw him in a CL game. Not sure AW wants to trust any Russians after the Arshavin experience though?

    I think, going back to Steve’s point on energy levels, and Ramsey seems the only one capable after Alexis to last the 90, I think he will target South Americans where he can.

  • haha Gerry sounds like you rate Hummels about as much as i rate BFG lol, but just for arguments sake lets say we kept BFG as first choice along side Kos, the cover for each would be GP5 for Kos and Van Dijk for BFG.
    For Van Dijk thats a great deal, to be second choice to an aging, slow moving lump like BFG it wouldn’t be long till he sees action and at a £10 mill price tag he would be £6 mill cheaper than Chambers lol.
    So if you take Hummels out of that wish list and keep BFG, the only three players i would sign both for the first team and the first choice subs are:
    Van Dijk

    The rest are U21 dreams lol. But it basically looks like i agree with most pundits (embarrassingly) in that we need some strength in the spine.

    Btw Gerry when you say “you are not going to have top players twiddling their thumbs” – i think pretty much every title winning team in every league this season has that very situation mate, thats why they are title winners 🙂

  • Yes Steve, on that last point, but they leave and then need replacing.
    If they are not contributing, and cost a lot, what is the point?

  • Gerry:

    ——————–The OX——————–Wilshere———————
    Gibbs—————–Gabriel————-Van Dijk—————-Jenko

    The only one who cost a lot in that subs team is Wilshere and he would probably get subbed on in almost every game and would have the opportunity to prove that he should be the one starting (as i believe he should be), don’t forget there WILL be injuries this is Arsenal after all. And you have to realize that with 3 players in but more players going out (in my suggestions) then the situation wouldn’t be any worse than it already is now lol, better in fact.
    We need this competition for places in a title chasing season imo 🙂

  • Steve 🙂

    On what planet do you live? We just won the FA cup and you can only talk about bloody transfers, not even mentioning our glorious win…. 11 fingers of freakiness! 😦

  • fair point TA my bad, awesome job done by the lads yesterday!!!
    I think i got all my celebrating out the way last night in the real world, got over my hang over this morning and i guess i just forgot to say my praise and congratulations in the cyber world – my bad.

    Hey!! plus it wasn’t me who brought up transfers bung hole lol, throw some shit Gerry’s way boss man!! 🙂

  • Well I suppose if Debuchy goes then Jenks may come back, but without that, and if they don’t sell him they, are talking of another season long loan

    Now your still holding a candle up for Campbell, why? It was him that was agitating for a loan move because he was not playing enough. As a full international you can understand why?
    It isn’t going to be any different this time around?
    Silva could be amazing, but until he comes in on the pre-season tour we are not going to know.
    He too might prefer playing, than waiting around hoping.

    I think this whole 2 top players in every position is a myth. What you have is a squad of player who can play in other positions. The actual core is probably around 16. Our problem was that we did not quite have that when too many got injured at the same time.
    Talking of title winning sides, Chelsea I think used the least amount of players until the points were in the bag. Then they consented to used a 17 year old who would have been a regular starter here.
    As I said before, setting out three layers of players means very little if the 3rd tier guys are not going to get past even the 18 in the squad, except may be in the early rounds of the COC.
    And take out VD, Silva, Wellington and Jenks, the rest are the squad?

  • Well I was hoping a Review might be forthcoming, and there was not much point gettuing in ahead of that, beyond what was said last night.

  • Fair play, Steve. I just don’t get guys like you at times. We don’t need anybody new, just keep our broad squad fit is all we need. Nice to haves are another DM and right winger/Alexis type. Time for a summer sleep 😉

  • hahaha TA, we don’t need anybody new then you suggest two positions you would like signings in lol, i only made three suggestions in the end lol.
    I just don’t get guys like you and me 😆 😆 😆

  • Okay Your On! I’ll do it on the dragon talk and edit when I have it done.
    What is the time limit?

  • Great, Gerry. As long as I have before 8pm tomorrow evening. Later is fine too but then it won’t be published till end of week. 🙂

  • Well well, what a fcuking birthday that was ! 😆
    Last years final was one of the most stressful I can remember, probably due to the fact that we had lost our 3 previous various finals 2-1.
    I did my usual thing of taping the final and when I expected it to be over asked the missus…”did we win !” ( so I could then watch it in stress free mode knowing we had won but not knowing the score ! )…….the missus said……”no”…….for a split second I was suicidal, before she got out the rest of….” it`s still being played ! “.
    Now, I obviously knew the game had ended in a draw and we were in extra time !, this was agonizing and honestly I went up to my bedroom and hid under the covers shaking like a leaf in stress !……half an hour later, my son came running in from his Shaque D`Amour cheering and I the relief was like heaven and I then watched the game semi-live not knowing the score !.
    This Cup Final was on my birthday and I had run my superstitious 4 mile run which meant we were going to win it, but could I watch knowing all the planets were aligned with it written in the heavens and all the gooner soothsayers cocks hard in a stone henge type circle ?…..no !. Scaredy bastard went to Plymouth to watch Marvels Avengers !……this was another sort of superstitious play as Avengers is how A Wenger`s is pronounced !.
    I got the 5:20 pm showing as I knew this would take me right through the game and more (extra time ), so I could come out of the Cinema and ask the missus….did we win ?.
    Three quarters through the film her mobile kept buzzing and she was on and of of it `till the end of the film !…I had a good feeling about this but couldn`t bring myself to ask what the messages were, but deep down i knew it was my son ( who unlike me is brave to watch live games ! ) texting to say we had won !. Before the film ended my missus said……”well, do you want to know ?”…..I let out an almighty …”YES!”…as I knew she wouldn`t have asked in such a way unless we had won !.
    I promised an Indian take-away to celebrate and driving out of Plymouth was quite surprised how many Gooners wearing colours were around the City center celebrating, there were over a hundred !.
    By the time I had got home and eaten the Ruby and finished watching the “live” game it was gone midnight and so ended my best birthday ever !.
    Anyone else as weird as me in the gooner stakes ?
    I loved it when Koz was appealing for the penalty with shirt over head not knowing BFG had scored….priceless !.

    Yesterday was like the perfect storm of football for us…..The Arsenal Artistry Academy !…….there could have only been millions of world wide viewers being impressed with such a display and any who were looking for the first time would have been hooked into Goonerdom !. A display like that would have only helped in new shirt sales of those wondering what team to follow !.
    Arsenal couldn`t have picked a better promotional advertisement for our club if Kroenke had rubbed a magic lamp and a Genie called Saatchi and Saatchi appeared !.

    3-0, 4-0 and 5-0……..I reckon Villa must be sick of the sight of……..Right Angles !…………….a builder may get that one !…..and Ron Vlaar !!!…..sounds like a Klingon warrior !……..he must have thought……”what is this invisible defensive shield technology they have ?”……………it`s called Le Cog Bloque….Qapla !
    There`s also another angle of delight that may escaped your thoughts !……….the warm glow and may I say quite aroused feeling I got of knowing how sick and pissed off the Spuds must be feeling !. hahaha
    As for TW stuff !……I expect some business but in our current climate, I expect that it will be a case of cherry picking 2/3 absolute quality players….ones that will push us to the next level of competing for the title !…….so that means no more days of Kalstrom klangers !…..we are in the position to mean business !……..I want us to be at such a level that Sofas will be outlawed and a thing of the past !. hahaha

    I love this headline on newsnow !……………”Women ARE better at remembering things than men – and males can boost their memory by helping out more around the home”………………now if only I could remember where I left the TV remote !. hahaha

  • Now you’ve thrown me TA – I thought you wanted it tonight?

    I have just dictated the first draft, but embellishing and edit will take a little longer, 45 miniutes?

  • Yeh, I always under estimate how long it takes to get it so it is a least readable. Sorry about that.
    If, or when it comes out, I should warn it is not an in depth review, but I tried to capture the three main themes of the day. I’ll leave you to judge whether it is acceptable.

    But today is another day, and one that is going to deteriorate weatherwise, so I will leave it there … unless there is anything outstanding in the gossip columns?

  • Well there is one news story worth mentioning, and is about Arteta.

    There was a hint of some announcement being made once the Cup game was out of the way, but I am guessing it has not been quite so easy to conclude.
    Rather, it suggests ongoing talks?

    JM made the suggestion the other day that Arteta was going to combine coaching and playing, or something along those lines. It could be that AW sees him as his possible successor?
    However, the comments quoted today suggests that Arteta still wants to be in the squad, and feels he has more playing time in him. I think they will reach an agreement, two year deal perhaps, which may include a him as a player this year, but a reduced role in the next year?

    That would tie in with Arsene’s own contract length, which he did not preclude from extending, but knows that is down to the BoD. Kroenke’s son is known to be in favour of Thierry Henry, but his time on the Sky Sport’ panel I think has severely damaged his creditability. If he wants any sort of future role at Arsenal, he needs to drop that link, get on with his coaching badges, and get serious about his desires. If he thinks he can just trade on his name then he will almost certainly come up short as a future manager.

    Other news is mainly about pouring scorn on us ‘buying big’ in this TW. Quite rightly pointing out that two of the best players at Wembley did not cost a fortune – Cazorla and Coquelin.

    Of course these comments have a dual practical purpose; one, getting the supporters hopes of a big signing(s) lowered. Secondly, to other clubs with players for sale, if you ask for too much for your player, then go elsewhere.

    That may well be the case regarding Morgan Schneiderlin, who rumour has it, Man U are now likely favourites to sign him … as they will pay the £25m.

    Tough one that. But as I wrote yesterday, there are other alternatives. MS was just the ‘type of player’ needed, to support Coquelin, or replace if needed.
    Following on from that, Vidal talks are denied … but, as us oldies will remember the oft quoted Mandy Rice-Davis .. ‘He would say that, wouldn’t he?’
    Younger readers should google reference if interested.

    That’s it for now.

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