Wenger and Wilshere are Right, and Xhaka Will Make the Difference

Whether we agree with Arsene or not about his performance in the transfer window (which is still open – so I reserve judgment), it is the lads on the pitch that will need to give it everything this season. Like many supporters, I would like one or two more faces but there is no doubt we have a super, top-talented squad.

In my view, the main thing last season acting as the undercurrent of our weak performances was mentality and leadership. I think that by correcting this, other aspects of our game such as conversion rate will improve as well.

I get the impression Xhaka has been brought in as a key part of improving the team’s leadership mentality, which feeds into our team spirit. Granit strikes me as someone who possesses the key ingredient of a leadership mentality: a great focus and seriousness of effort he puts into each and every moment he is on that green turf. This also refers to Wilshere’s reflections that this was a weak point in the team, which needs improving: see his latest Arsenal.com interview of 1 min 30 secs in: http://player.arsenal.com/interviews/video/8099/-we-can-t-wait-for-the-new-season).

I think it’s not too far a leap to ascribe this weakness as part of a cultural disease: the ‘sign him up culture’ that football, and English football in particular, is corrupted by and that breeds a self-entitled, ‘I want it now’ culture among the fans. Signings are great, but as Arsene knows it is not always the answer. The self-entitled man who finds a solution with money and not through hard work and dedication.. in the players’ case playing great footy; and in the fans case, believing in and supporting the team.

I have just watched the pre-match press conference with Arsene, and am sorry to say I feel pretty disillusioned with the media and the culture of brainwashed consumer fans it has surely emboldened, if not produced. In what should have been an opportunity to explore Arsene’s thoughts on the actual football taking place over the weekend and beyond, about 90% of the questions fielded were about transfers and contracts.. Of course the media effectively are the mouthpiece of agents and some very rich men.. How much did Mr Raiola make from the Pogba transfer for example?

In the interview, Wenger said that football is about performance, not finances at the end of the day.

Of course finances have an impact on the performances but it is not the sole factor or deserving of 90% of the questions coming from the journalists today. I can see Xhaka (and other leadership initiatives/coaching) helping us overcome the mentality and leadership issues. But will it be enough come Sunday?

I trust they are doing their best and that they will knuckle down to some serious footy from the off this time. If we also do our best by believing in the team and supporting them all the way, then I think we will be in with a real chance.


By FMJ14

36 thoughts on “Wenger and Wilshere are Right, and Xhaka Will Make the Difference

  • Well written FMJ you certainly have a flowing style. Apologies if I missed it somewhere, but who does captain the side on Sunday. Too early for Xhaka? Not an obvious choice to me. Cech maybe?

  • Cheers FMJ 🙂

    You are bang on the money. Rather than focusing desperately on who we need to add (and yes we need one or two), it is far more important that we have the mentality right from the start. We have many top quality players in our team, many of whom played in the semi-final of the Euros. Key is to focus on each and every game and get the quality in the players out into the football we play on the pitch. And then when the going gets tough, we need to stand up and be counted. Xhaka will help with this and so will Elneny and Le Coq; if these three can drive on the team, supported by the likes of Koz and Cech at the back and Ozil, Giroud and Alexis up-front, to name but a few, we should be a lot stronger this season. I also reckon that a fit Jack Wilshere and Rambo can lead our team to the title: they are now getting into the sort of age when they can make a real difference.

  • Thanks retsub! Yeh interesting one on the captaincy. I’d give it to Cech and let Granit settle in initially.

  • 🙂 Great looks like you recovered your comment TA? 🙂 your comment highlights the leaders we have in our team, perhaps it needs Granit to tie it all together, leadership and performance wise.

  • I would give Monreal the armband as our key CB on Sunday.

    I reckon Granit is a natural leader but he will have to establish himself in the team first. It really is time for Rambo to show his maturity and leadership capability, and of course Jack and Santi can also really lead the team forward….

  • Really good post FMJ ..
    The media are a bunch of hounds in general. No real knowledge or ethics.
    And back to the last post.. i think TA had it right at the back with bells, chambers, nacho,gibbs
    But i think very different up front. I do agree rambo advanced mf , alexis in normal left, with theo up front. I think he will try again with ox on the right, but maybe joel if he’s feeling more conservative.

  • Yeh I would go with TAs defence. Forward line up: RF Joel, CF Alexis, LF Iwobi. With second half RF Ox CF Theo LF Alexis/Iwobi. 🙂

  • Top post FMJ 14 – I read it before it got promoted, so even with the extra time, I still think you are spot with how we should proceed amid the distraction.

    Cazorla is Captain, btw, so presumably he plays? …. and hopefully not injured.

    The CB line up many are calling for is not my bag at all. It is this square in a round hole thing.
    The Under 23’s (the new league thing) got beaten for exactly that reason last night, and should be a lesson learned, imo.
    They had an excuse, they only had one CB, who at best is described as ‘dodgy’. Ben Sheaf took on the job of partnering him … and did well. But they lost, 2-0.

    I am firmly of the belief if you have players who play in their position, then they are the ones that should play there. Holding is a CB. In my book that means he plays. He has partnered Chambers at Under 21 level. Chambers has been employed as CB throughout the pre-season, apart from a sideways move to accommodate Bielik earlly on. Now he may not be at top level yet, but he has, again imo, improved his game as those games were played. He has all the natural assests to play CB, but it won’t be easy if the crowd take a united deep breath every time he has to challenge for the ball. If you cannot give him time and space to develop, what chance have Akpom, Bielik, Gnabry, or even Iwobi, who is getting pushed around the field like a robotic wheel chair, got??????
    The only thing Nacho has in his favour is experience. Which is great when it comes to positioning, but not much help without the physical attributes to back it up? That alone puts Bielik ahead of him in every other department.

    The Under 23’s lost largely from not taking chances at the other end. It could be the same case with the seniors if they don’t relieve the pressure by doing their bit ….
    Which comes back to the contents of this post. Teamwork. Hardwork Focus.
    Concentrate on that, not on the individuals that will give their best, and we could be in the top half of the table tonight …

  • Hey thanks Gerry 🙂 .. my original comment on the team line up at the end of the last post roots for Holding and Chambers. Really well articulated points about their partnership and the need to support it when it counts. That’s why I would try my best to put them together in the team. The only thing that leads me to put Monreal in for Holding is the experience he has, which can’t be compared to the u-23 level. Love that you finish with the most important factor – that teamwork, hard work and focus. It is this that will help us defend well as a team and give us the foundations upon which we can get a result.

    ps. remember our game is tomorrow, we’ll probably be languishing in mid table tonight! .. hope the media don’t have a go at Arsene for that.. haha

  • On the captaincy. Cazorla – I don’t see official confirmation of this and I think it was first reported in the Daily Star so I will wait and see…

    If Cazorla is captain will it be him and Xhaka in midfield tomorrow? That could work very well with Ramsey taking over from Santi later in the game.

    Going forwards, and as Ozil slowly returns, the Xhaka-Ramsey partnership will be fantastic. There are many comibinations in the centre so if the boss prefers a midfielder for the captaincy, as he did Arteta, then it could be rotating a bit. I would prefer it goes to someone who is more or less a permanent fixture in the team like Cech or Koscielny but either way I guess one of them will be the vice captain in Cazorla’s absence.

  • Morning guys 😀

    I have been day dreaming of a 4-6-0 formation to hem in the Dippers in their own half and play them of the pitch with our army of quality midfielders.. 😀⚽️

  • Against Pool, experience and calm is everything, and Monreal is a defender who has played centrally before. Playing Holding is a big risk and not fair on the lad either, especially given the general dissatisfaction re lack of transfers.. Nacho is the man.

  • Each to his own preference I guess?

    I’ve seen predictions that Firmini is their CF. But if Klopp wants to attack our apparent weakness, then no surprise if Origi starts as well?

    We may need to out-score them, so I hope we have our shooting boots on. Playing 6 in midfield might be a tiki taka nightmare with no end result … but if AW insists on putting his ‘best’ players on, rather the ‘best in their position’ it could happen?

    I think Santi could be a good choice as captain, given players might get carded for the slightest bit of dissent. He at least keeps smiling … most of the time? Alexis and Coquelin are two who both like to throw their arms around when decisions go against them? I guess we will have to see how the refs enforce the new rule changes, but one thing is for sure, there are one or two who will jump at a chance at getting a card out, even if it only Giroud looking skywards?
    Be warned!

    Cheers and enjoy,

  • Nice job FMJ…and good of you, TA, to elevate it to a post of its own…

    Of course I agree about the problems with the culture surrounding the football…To me, it’s always seemed that fans want to have the trophies won before a ball is kicked. Watching the football before the result is in just seems like it’s too much…

    Is it due to the fantasy league element? (I signed up Gerry, but so far, not so good…) Or is it the predictability of PlayStation or is it just that the game itself is very, very hard?… I’m not sure, but, like with the press conference, talking about the game at hand–and the players actually at you disposal–doesn’t seem to give folks the same thrill…

    In fact, why shouldn’t guys who were identified as strong players as small children–the academy prospects–be just as likely to come through as players who are older and excelling in different (lesser) leagues? Experience is important, professionalism (the ability to stay in the moment and keep working through mistakes AND moments of brilliance) is probably even more critical. Which players have the quality to blend into the team and make a positive contribution? Who knows? Probably not the average punter who hasn’t watched much actual football being played by the characters in question.

    Indeed, in the end it comes down to actually watching the football which I’m not sure too many supporters actually enjoy. (And, funny enough, I’m typing and not really watching Everton-Spuds as the first half winds down…) It all might be a bit too nerve wracking and a whole lot less fun than just saying “buy, buy, buy” and then heaping criticism (and occasional praise) after seeing a highlight reel from the matches. Mostly we’re tied into the results and the emotions they bring, I fear, and yet we pretend we can “manage” our team as well as Wenger…


  • As for the game tomorrow and the line-up…Wenger did talk about Rob Holding so I think Gerry will get his wish and the two young CBs (our 3rd and 4th choices) probably go in the center. I’m alright with that as Holding, I think, has a bit more recovery pace than Nacho, which might be key with quick guys like Firmino and/or Sturridge and Origi playing up front for Pool. Chambers seems a whipping boy for a lot of supporters but I think he’s got a lot of potential. Following the theme of the post, it would be good if he could make some early plays and appear a vocal presence (a real leader back there)… As much as we like Nacho’s experience factor, his time as a CB wasn’t a total success; I also think many of us are looking for ways to get Gibbs into the line-up too. Any which way AW lines them up, I’m planning to try and stay positive…

    Santi wearing the arm-band works for me, but my guess is that it will be Cech tomorrow…

    Here’s the deal… These August matches are a drag and it’s worse that we have a tough game at home followed by the defending champs in their first match at their stadium (and, after a loss today, they’ll be even hungrier). Watford away looms very large but maybe we’ll know more about signings by then or have Kos/Ozil/Ollie back in the line-up and can take full points as we did last season. Originally, I was hoping for 7 out of 9 points (our total from last season in the same three fixtures…) but now I’d probably take 5…

  • I don’t think Holding is ready for the PL. it takes a lot more then height and speed and I would fear the worst if we play him at this stage.

  • Well, judging from AW’s comments, you may have to fear the worst… (Of course, Wenger lies, so maybe another plan is in order…)

    Truth be told, if I were Klopp, I’d be very tempted to test whomever we play at CB with Benteke up front…knock downs and runs into the boxes would seem tougher to follow if they’re preoccupied with the bigger player…

    In the 3 o’clocks nobody could score more than a single goal but only two clean sheets from two traveling teams (Swansea at Burnley and WBA at CP)…

  • Thanks HT and yes TA is very kind to have put it up as a post and making a few areas more readable to hehe! I like that he did it because it’s a message that needs to sink in with many of the fans if we are to have a chance of winning big things this season. Wengers comments do heavily support Holding and that he would play a role. The role of playing in the first team tomorrow may have been a creative leap by readers and/or journos so I am not sure he will or won’t play..

  • Serge Gnabry has now scored 6 goals for Germany at the Olympics as the Jerries reach the semi-finals.

    Shard I just read a piece by Amy Lawrence, on Arsenal, and in it she mentioned that Asano hasn’t got a work permit and will probably go out on loan…
    I guess we’ll find out soon enough…

  • FMJ14, The easy way to keep the fans happy will be with some success and a lot of effort?

    I think the media feed on stories on splits amongst fans, not helped when ‘the fans’ are simply divided into two camps, us and them, Trump style? In truth, the vast majority of fans will support the team without ever falling into the ‘Them’ camp, who only want to buy titles and trophies, or the ‘Us’ camp who should not spend money on new players, but should just rely on developing players from within.

    Too much talk that gives publicity to the minority simply perpetuates it. It is repetitious and boring. Don’t fall for the tag lines on blogs that regularly play to a gullible audience.
    Don’t get me wrong, there is a gullible audience out there. The ones that get swayed by every dooming headline. Trump is proof of that. But us in the real world should not grant any oxygen by feeding them stories of unrest and disharmony.

    Not easy in the football goldfish bowl, where every decision is analysed, mostly in a futile way, because it changes nothing. I think it was Klopp who said during his presser, that there are 5 or 6 big spending clubs, but there is only one ‘League Title’. So there is one winner, and the rest lose …. But then comes the dissection as to why, and less on how well teams played. Which is fine, as long as it is not destructive criticism.

    We, the supporters who know what sport is about. It is not just about the Mo Farah’s and Usain Bolt’s. It is about those who have put in the hours of dedication to their training and fitness, and finish 8th in a career best time. If we, the readers and writers on this blog, can start this season off by accepting first, that we may not win the league, that we may not win the FA Cup, or any other ‘trophy’, but we will see the team try to do their best, individually and collectively, then the reward will be so much sweeter?

    We can criticise from our limited viewpoint, aspects of a game, or players involvement. But don’t let the passion destroy what is good. Blame is simply suggesting that the action was done deliberately to bring about what ensued. Keep that thought at the front of your mind when mistakes are made, and we at least will have a healthier Blog site.

    Our season starts today. As it stands now, a 2-nil win will put us at the top of the table?

    Support the players, whoever they may be, and make it an enjoyable experience.

  • Who are you preaching to, Gerry? FMJ and/or the rest of the BKers?

    Kev, Gnabry has looked very sharp and hungry from what I have seen, possibly putting more Mahrez-doubt in Wenger’s head?

  • Preaching T A? More pleading … to anyone who errs from the thought that players and managers do not make mistakes deliberately. They are just human, faults and all.

    Gnabry’s return makes little difference to any prospective Mahrez deal, imo. The Lacazette one, most definitely! The Germans are playing him on the left, but I think he would be very effective alongside Giroud or Akpom?


  • You make a good point Total, re: Gnabry, although I suspect that Mahrez would come straight into the starting XI and I’m not so sure Serge is gonna be doing that any time soon or at least in the short term… 😉

    But he’s been doing really well and I like him…

    Nketiah has started the season with two goals, that kid definately has something about him…

  • That is Wenger’s dilemma, isn’t it Kev, buy ready made (but could flop too, Di Maria comes to mind) or play either Campbell, Iwobi, Ox or Gnabry on the wing. You know what us romantics would do! 😀

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