Eight Further Player Boosts to Make Arsenal Title Contenders

After a very good September we are starting to believe in the team and manager again. I reckon the draw against the Chavs was a big result for the team. With a bit of luck we would even have won that game, and that would have been very nice, but above all the boys needed to be solid, regain confidence and show what it means to wear the shirt. And that is what they did. Many a team in the PL would have buckled under the pressure of the Champions after losing to Pool so painfully, but our boys stood tall.

A few good home wins later and we are joined fourth with the winds in our sails. We now need to push on and it is clear that we are not yet cruising with all the sails raised to the mast. This is of course good news as we need to improve further to get closer to the two teams that are leading the table. So were is the extra ‘wind-power’ to come from?

  1. The UEFA Cup/ League Cup team. Wenger has opted to play predominantly two different teams for the PL and the two current cup competitions. This way the whole squad is being used and young players are getting really good opportunities to shine and grow. Furthermore, the more experienced ‘fringe players’ are playing themselves fit and ready to join the PL team if required. This may turn out to make a massive difference this season;
  2. Mesut Ozil. I am not sure what is going on with Mesut: was he really injured or is Wenger giving him time to make up his mind once and for all re signing a new contract… or not. But I am sure that whatever his decision, and I reckon he WILL sign a new contract within a month, he will start to influence our games more and more from next weekend onwards. His ability to find quality assists, through-balls and key passes is still top of the league. We need him back.
  3. Jack Wilshere. It looks to me that Jack is gradually getting fitter and playing the cups is really helping him. What I would like to see is Mesut and Jack sharing some of the ninety minutes in PL games going forward. Jack coming on after 65 minutes or playing the first 65 minutes is a viable option now. Together they can add that much needed extra dimension to our attacking football and get the best out of Lacazette, Alexis, Giroud and Welbeck.
  4. IwobI. There is also a real chance that the most exciting talent at Arsenal currently, Alexi Iwobi, will move up another level this season. It is just a gut feeling, but I reckon he could be our joker this season.
  5. Lacazette-Giroud. We are effectively playing with two CFs upfront with the third attacker in our 3-4-3 being the creative player. And we need Mesut or Jack, or indeed Iwobi, to play in that role. I rate Alexis but he is just not a good team player in the two CFs upfront system. He never gelled with Giroud and I have not seen much that indicates that he can work really well with Lacazette. Ultimately, he is too selfish and that is only compensated by his goal scoring ability. If Wenger has the guts, he will start taking Alexis off after 65 minutes and combine Lacazette with Giroud more and more. He should also start them together now and again. They ARE both team players and could build up that title-winning CF partnership this season.
  6. The partnership between Xhaka and Rambo. IF they keep playing with tactical discipline, which means close together when defending and pressing opponents together to dominate the midfield, they will get better and better. It is still a work in progress but Wenger will get it right with them.
  7. Coquelin. We need that player on the bench who can come on and help us close out a game. Francis needs to return to fitness asap.
  8. Cazorla. The almost forgotten one. Just imagine getting three months out of him towards the end of the season, what a boost that would be!

By TotalArsenal.


50 thoughts on “Eight Further Player Boosts to Make Arsenal Title Contenders

  • Hi guys, ( Eris, 17, TA) before I read the new post I want to talk about your responses briefly. What I took away was the following:
    Eris, I had heard about those players at United on their last year, but they’re completely different circumstances… meaning none are the key (pogba, lukaku, rashford, martial, mkitaryan, bailly)players there, (where ours are our top 2 stars) and they are either waiting for Mourinho to decide if he wants them to stay around longer term or in some of the cases, may leave because of lack of playing time. Salary not an issue there. And they can afford to replace any of them.But that’s the important difference, i guess, a luxury we cant afford.
    You’re completely right about Sol Campbell, though a different era.

    The salary part i just mentioned reminds me of a great point 17 made, though i like to think of us as top tier big, we are honestly in that group just below.. 17, you called it perfectly” the next 3″.
    But to me that also means we need to be even more shrewd and mercenary in all financial, contractual dealings.
    So yes, we do still agree to disagree, but I always enjoy the conversation during the interlull.

  • Yeah, I’m not quite figuring out the system quite yet… Soon, however… 🙂

    Nice post TA… And I basically agree with all of it. There are some good players being integrated into the squad. That said, it’s a tighter (smaller) group (esp. after the Ox’s departure) so we need to hope that no big injuries happen. We also need to hope that we can stick together even if the ball doesn’t always bounce our way (i.e., we have less than perfect results). Everybody says that we’ve got all these easy games, but we’ve certainly had our struggles with Watford and Everton over the years, both of which will be played on their pitches, with a trip to Serbia stuck in between! Are Gooners really taking the 9 points for granted? If they are… Well, the less said (by me) the better…

    The post focuses on our players from MF forward…which is probably most important for winning games. Not losing them is important too so I’d also point towards the nicely emerging group at the back. Mustafi, Kos, Nacho, Holding and the BFG give us a solid group to man the back 3 positions. The wingbacks might be our best position (Kolasinac and Bellerin) but also the most vulnerable to injuries given that it’s been all youth (Maitland-Niles and Nelson) in the midweek games. Being able to switch to four at the back can help there, however.

    Overall, I’m liking things but–like people are despairing about Keown’s Ozil comments–I’m ready for the sky to start falling if–Dennis forbid–we drop ANY points (AT ALL). The sky stays aloft–but just barely–if we win but not by enough goals or if somebody is seen shaking their head or down on their haunches or laughing at the wrong time, etc., etc., etc…

    Oh to be a Gooner…

    Or something…

  • Thanks Seventeenho for bothering. It is quiet and understandably so. It is going well with Arsenal and then there is less to talk about. You are doing well to point us to the potential trouble laying ahead. I have no doubt that Watford and Everton away are hard games and I don’t expect us to win both. Hope yes but expect…..no. OGAAT it is of course.

  • Re the full backs, I guess Nacho is cover for Kola with then Per slotting in as one of the CBs (orHolding). Replacement for Bellerin is harder…. the obvious one is Debuchy but he is chained to a pole in Arsene’s dungeon. Chambers or Holding? Or a winter purchase?

  • TA, …. perfect post for the inter lull. A good overview.

    Ozil remains an important player to us. His languid style is never ever going to get more languid whatever the situation so am not of the party that believes that Ozil is gone. Psychologist would tell us that in that his languidness lies his intelligence. Little wonder his creativity on the field has diminished since all the pressure on him to be more explosive. It would be best if he can be accepted for what he is and for Wenger to use him accordingly for the benefit of the team. And that seems to be happening already. It looks like tactics now determines the starters. Ozil and Sanchers seem not to be must starters anymore even though they remain important players to us.

  • It’s like Ozil’s eyes plead … ” Accept me for what I am. And what I am has a special role in the team. Don’t drive me away please”. I, for one, am solidly by his side.

  • Iwobi is like the synonym of in-between-the-lines. With the ball at his feet, with his passes he knows how to glide through the lines. It is left to Wenger to know how to articulate the different gifts of there players into a potent whole.

  • Giroud is a denizen of the box. Any need talking about his areal prowess? Nope. Instead we talk about his knock downs, his flicks, his one touch lay offs, his 6yd box positionings. And to be paired with Lacza. That’s stuff made of dreams. If am Wenger I’d build or invent a system with those two at the top!!

  • With Xhaka and Rambo now shadowed by the fast improving Eln, come-back-Jack and Santi-in-the-gym we can sleep easy.

  • Le Coq. In terms of tackles and interceptions sits apart in the team with Kosh. He has a great leap for. aerial battles. Ain’t these qualities what the doctor ordered for CD. No doubt in my mind that he would perform well there. The era of the Makalele DM (destroyer) seems to be over with the advent of the quick passing (tiki-taka) and high pressing. Am also convinced LeCoq can make a viable cover for Bel.. LeCoq apart from his defensive qualities is quite good at running with the ball.

  • “…combine Lacazette with Giroud more and more.”
    If the results can be anywhere near to the combo of Griezmann and Giroud?
    We’d be so much closer to being top-flight in attack.

    Now. Where I have also expressed my view of Alexis as ‘selfish’?
    It’s hard to fault him. One is the by-product of their environs.
    Sanchez was asked/required to try to win games by-his-lonesome for a couple of seasons now.
    To readjust to another quality attacker will require a period to do so.

    Though? IMHO it’s up to Alexis to recognize that there is another goalscorer on the pitch.
    It’ll be wonderfully– or painfully– obvious as to his outlook in the coming 2 months.


  • JW, cheers. Alexis always had Giroud to work with, but they never gelled. I think this was due to Alexis not wanting to play with him and/or him being too focussed on the personal goal stats. Now with Lacazette on board we have become less dependent on him and I am pretty sure Alexis will no longer be a Gunner after this season.. but first we need to get back into top four and he still has a role to play in this.

  • So many good points in the post and comments that I don’t know where to start. Agree with almost all… my favorite being # 3 about Wishere…….
    T, I’ve been thinking the same way in the past week about getting Jack some time in league games, actually, I would add that I was considering maybe we should let Ramsey rest a bit in the Watford game, because he, of all our internationals (along with Alexis) is leaned on too much by their national team, they overwork in these weeks. Pressured physically, and never get subbed.

    I was thinking Jack could play in place of Ramsey since he has had this week off, but the only problem is that he’s definitely not ready for 90. How would you work him in? I know he’d be happy with game time, and no doubt Rambo could use the rest.

  • TA, agreed on all points.

    Most commented on Jack, so i will leave it. The point i want to say is the lack of players to cover for all positions. If one gets injured we will be on red alert.

    If Matt does not get his future sorted out, we will not be able to get a good cover for Bells. Reiss Nelson is good, but he needs time to gel with the first team against good opponents. So, we needed a more experienced right back.

    For Santi we need him back quickly to get the still raw midfield pairing sorted out. It is not something difficult or out of the world, it is just the positioning that Rambo is not used to (sitting back a little) that makes it vulnerable.


  • njk …. there is little doubt that the RWB (Bellerin’s) is the most worrisome as far as cover is concerned. But even there, I believe that Chambers or LeCoq would perform respectably. Obviously Debuchy is no longer in Wenger’s calculations. If there is the desire to improve Nelson’s defensive game, he should be used at the RWB with the juniors not with the senior team. He needs one or two more years to beef up sufficiently.

  • PE, you are absolutely right that he should play as RWB in the u23 team too. However, the u23 team needs his attacking capabilities, thats why he was fielded further upfield.

    Although it is not very good for him to learn 2 positions in one season, the club has no choice but to do that for the sake of both the u23 and the first team.

    Give him 2 years and he should be used to both positions.

  • One of the knocks against Wenger is that he plays people out of their natural positions… we’ve all seen him do it. I think sometimes there is a benefit to the players, but long term it’s not best. In the case of Nelson, it can still benefit him, to get him minutes with the big boys in secondary competitions, because with Hector not having much backup, he’ll be needed. Otherwise, he would get almost no minutes. But in the youth team, we want him to sharpen himself for his future as an attacking player. Hopefully the back and forth doesn’t harm his development. I don’t think it should.

    Either way though, it would not be wrong to have him work on the defensive side of his game. I suggested it a while back for the other competitions, partly because I just want to see him play more. A very exciting player.

  • Looks like Shkodran Mustafi has copped a hamstring injury while on International duty tonight. He pulled up while in a race for the ball; the opposing player went on, unimpeded, to score the equalizer for Azerbaijan. That’s definitely not good news for our aspirations.

    Let’s hope we don’t have any other injury as the qualifiers come and go.

  • Mustafi is definitely out. And whether it is just a muscle strain or tear (they are fearing the worst), it remains to be seen.

    If Jack and Rambo or Xhaka are fit and available for the few months while Mustafi is out, we can put Elneny on the right of the back 3, until Chambers is fully fit. I do not want to risk putting Chambers in the firing line and pulling up again due to his injury issues.

  • njk … to me there isn’t that much difference between a midfield destroyer and a CDer. Particularly a CDer in a 3 man defence where they have a bit more latitude to venture one at a time into midfield roles. LeCoq is the classical destroyer and I feel he would fit much better as a CD than Elneny. A CD must be a tackler for last ditch tackles. LeCoq is one, Eln is not. LeCoq is much better at interceptions and has a much better leap for headers. Elneny is better at closing down and at pass and move which are skills more suited for CM.

  • Pony, I agree that I prefer Le Coquelin as a last ditch cb, but njk may be suggesting El Neny because Coquelins out still. I haven’t heard lately when he’s expected back. I also still don’t know what’s been going on with Chambers. I guess there is always the option of a traditional back four if we really to do that.

    I wouldn’t use El Neny in defense because we are short in midfield still, and it’s really important that we don’t overwork Ramsey or Jack, we could end up in a seriously bad situation. Also I’d much prefer using Mertesacker anyway, rather than experiment with either midfielder in defense.

  • PE and Jnyc, if you consider that BFG is not gonna play 2 games in a week, it is only just that we have other options.

    That is my measured call for Elneny to stand in whenever possible.

  • BFG can’t do more than game a week, if we want to keep him functioning.

    Kozzer could be out for a couple more weeks with his inflamed tendon.

    Chambers? Who knows, but PhysioRoom reckon both Laurent & Calum are back on the 14th, so fingers crossed…

    How is Wenger going to rotate in both the UEFA Cup and League Cup?
    Elneny played in the back three in pre-season as did AMN with mixed results, could be risky.

  • Maybe Ben Sheaf or DaSilva, Kev.
    But I will not put my money in Debuchy ever fielded for the first team again, unless he takes his place in the U23 strongly and make some fantastic performances.

  • Debuchy keeps coming and out of injury lay-offs, otherwise he would be playing in some of the games. He did score for the U-23s in one game, didn’t he. It is a fitness problem (other than his obvious discontent with his status at the club) for him.

    Gutted for Ramsey (Bale and Chris Coleman too) as Wales won’t be going to the World Cup, in spite of looking really promising. Hope it doesn’t affect his form for the club, going forward.

  • 84, then that mate, is a complete waste of money, he’s still being paid so why the heck isn’t he being used, say in the League Cup?

    I forgot, Pleguezuelo, and there’s Bielik but he’s injured.

  • A-Kev lives!!! Very nice to have you around…and not just because you probably know more about the reserve team as anybody out there… Where’ve you been?…

    I’m extremely out of the loop these past few days but hope to catch up if and when I can get settled and figure out what’s what.

    I don’t quite think it’s time to panic though I think Mustafi was improving in his middle-middle role with every match. The BFG can do a job there, and, I think, he can probably do it a couple of times a week. It’s not the most physically demanding position, IMO, and his organizational (and talking/yelling) skills should see him through. We should also note that we’re doing well enough in our Europa League group that it wouldn’t be a tragedy (except for Gooners who demand 3 pts for EACH and EVERY match…) if we didn’t whoop ’em in Serbia. Those Belgrade teams can get up for a match (Red Star and Partizan is one of the world’s great derbies… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKcPmkZGYwg …) so, if our opponents really want it, we could be in trouble if we prioritize (as we should) the two tricky away fixtures either side of it…

    More from me, maybe, later in the week…

  • Nice to see Kev. On the defenders, I would prioritize Mertesacker and use him for the league matches with (hopefully) Koscielny . All the other youngsters being mentioned, I would use in secondary competitions and rest those 2.

    El Neny I would not use because we need him to take burden of minutes off Ramsey and Wilshere. Without Santi or Coquelin, we are too short in experienced midfielders.

    Do we know who of the youth team would step in for central midfield if we have any more coverage issues?

  • Jnyc, if it becomes absolutely necessary, then think Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Nelson and Bielik, when he is fit. Hopefully, we don’t have a need to look that far down; Coquelin is already back training from what I have read, along with Ozil and Welbeck. I have concerns with Ramsey’s state of mind though, after losing out on Russia 2018.

  • Thanks for the update Eris. That’s all good news. Reinforcements of returning senior starters are the best kind.

  • Hiya 17tino, how’s things Stateside?
    I see on the news that there’s some serious fires on the West Coast, Napa Valley, the wine region.
    I hope that you’re safe amigo.

    In a word mate – work. Not that I’m complaining, busy is good.

    Jeorge Bird has some info on his site about young defenders, I’ll put a link up.

    Hi Jonny, hope you are well, agree re: BFG.
    In fact we need to nurse both him and Koscielny, just as well Chambers wasn’t sold last summer.

  • I did hear that Willock has signed a contract and that McGuane is close to agreeing a deal.

  • Hi all..
    Hi TA.. No Holland in WC 2018.. what a pity..
    No WC for Ramsey, Sanchez, and Kolasinac too.. Hope it will mean a blessing in disguise for us to concentrate in the league..

    And how come Islandia.. with only 335k people nation.. can through WC..
    That’s what I love much about football.. hehehehe..

  • HeheheHenry, the problem is that there are no good managers left anymore/ or those that are good are not prepared to become the national manager. It sucks. We need to get a good manager from abroad. Ranieri would be good, I reckon.

  • Sanchez will have a well needed rest next year but he will not be happy about it.

    Better focus on the league guys. Against Watford at the weekend.

  • Hey JK… Always the taskmaster… 😀

    I’m very busy with personal stuff (lots of driving involved) so it’s tough at the moment… That said, I should be settled on Saturday for the match and able to do the live-blog thing. Perhaps tomorrow (in my morning…) I can write up a quick preview as well…

    A-kev… Glad to hear it’s just work… Is Uber actually stopped or is that still pending? Hopefully you’ve at least been following the matches… IMO, Arsenal were doing pretty well before the break and are reasonably well poised to keep it going…

    Indeed, big fires and continuing fire weather (off and on) is affecting much of Northern California. Fortunately, none of my people have been directly impacted and the smoke in the mountains hasn’t been terrible. Tomorrow we drive back down into the thicker stuff…

  • 17ht, thank god you are safe. The media reported substantial damage.
    The weather should be starting to turn cold, but dry weather and fire in this period of time makes one wonder if the weather is turning heywire.

    We should have everyone back for the upcoming game, and to Wenger, the only thing that can make Alexis happy is to start him against Watford. If he unleashes the trapped frustration of not featuring in the World Cup, it can do wonders for us.

  • With Sanchez due back today, at best he should be on the bench. I like the fact that we have become more of a team not too reliant on any one person. More so in the attacking areas where we have enough options. Ozil, Sanchez, Welbz, Iwobi, Jack, Theo, Nelson and even Rambo all battling for 2 spots.

  • Things are conspiring to give me very little time this morning… So, sorry, no new post from me… Where’s TA? Maybe he’s got a moment to write something… My hope is to be settled for the match tomorrow and able to do at least a bit of a live-blog thing…

  • Look forward to your Live blog show, 17. It isn’t going to be an easy game, to my mind, having seen how motivated Watford seem to be these days. That 0-6 loss to City was an anomaly that didn’t reflect the flow of the game.

    Off topic. Noticed Debuchy is back in training with the team. Saw him in the pictures on the site. Hopefully, he doesn’t suffer any recurrence and stays fit to give Bellerin some real competition.

  • Eris, a Debuchy appearance? It would be cool to see him play again. His luck has been horrible since he arrived at Arsenal.. Reading the fitness reports, I’d go with 2 cb’s, 2 fb’s for the moment, just until we get a little more depth at cb. That is, if we do have any of the injured midfielders actually ready to return.

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