Cazorla/Le Coq better than FlamBo? Enter CoqRam as DM-pivot!

The combination of Flamini and Rambo – FlamBo –Ramini – FlamRam – has been criticised by more than just a few over the last few weeks. This has been accompanied by a somewhat romantic longing for the pairing of le Coq and Cazorla – the Wall of Coca. There is a view that we played better and more compact when CoCa was owning the midfield, with stronger defensive coverage of our Back-4, a better passing game in midfield and better linkage with our attack.

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Flam is regarded as not athletic and mobile enough and Rambo not disciplined enough to really make the double DM pivot work. I reckon there is scope for improvement for the FlamRam combo but in general they performed very well. We are lucky to have Flam as back up for Le Coq: he is experienced and passionate and can still be a pretty good DM on the day. However, he can no longer do this on a constant basis and we have asked too much of him recently. I am hoping that Elneny can also play as our DM and then we should have enough coverage for this pivotal role.

Rambo has been playing in the most difficult position in the team for the last few weeks. The B2B midfield position requires a great set of skills and athleticism as well as a gigantic football brain. I think we can all see the potential of Aaron in this role, and he is not far off from claiming it as his, but he is still performing under par at the moment. His runs into the box are great, his industry next to Flam and in front of the back four is exemplary, and his thrust forward is inspiring: he makes things happen. However, his decision making and passing are still a bit off and his eagerness to go forward is not always balanced by his anticipation of the apparent risks of doing so – leaving big gaps behind that got exploited on more than one occasion.

There is a consensus that Le Coq is the clear numero uno DM over Le Flam. So when the younger Frenchman is fit, he should play, and luckily he is back in training and getting close to a return in the first team.

But what if Santi and Rambo are both fully fit: who should play next to Le Monstre de Coq?

Santi is better at protecting and passing the ball and picking a pass from deep; Rambo is better defensively and can take the ball with him from defence into midfield and attack – he also can make those box to box runs a lot better. Both Santi and Rambo need a good left midfielder and left full back to play at their very best. It is fair to say that the Welshman had to play with a far less effective passing player in Theo, rather than Alexis, on the left in recent games. The return of sexy Alexis is good news for all, but especially for Rambo and Ozil, and I reckon we will see a big difference in the performances of both players from now on (compared to most recent games).

I am looking forward to Santi’s return, but, in the meantime, let’s see how the Coq-Ram combination works out once the Frenchman is ready to play. I have a feeling that we will see a step improvement in our midfield AND attacking play, especially now that Alexis is also back in the team.

It would look like this:

————————- Le Coq —– Rambo—————————-

Campbell———————-Mesut—————————-Alexis

——————————-Giroud/Theo——————————

And once Santi is fit, we can use him as a super-sub for a number of midfield positions, or put him in the B2B role and move Rambo into Campbell’s position. All would work for me and makes me feel confident that we can field a winning team in the remaining big matches in PL and CL this season.

On top of this, we can look forward to seeing Elneny in action and make some early judgments what his best position might be. The next FA cup game against Burnley comes at the right time in this respect and let’s hope we will see him and a few other fresh faces on the pitch.

By TotalArsenal.

After Sánchez and Debuchy, who next for Arsenal?

He got his man! Well done Arsene and team to get one of the very best in the world to the home of football and so early on as well!
He got his man! Well done Arsene and team to get one of the very best in the world to the home of football and so early on as well!

In recent days all we’ve read about is Alexis Sánchez’s and Mathieu Debuchy’s transfers. However, Arsenal still needs players in other positions in the squad, the main two being a beast of a defensive midfielder and a solid backup keeper. There are many targets that are both heavily and tentatively linked with the club, so let’s go over a few.

Welcome to the home of football!
Welcome to the home of football, Alexis!

In recent years Arsenal has often been criticized for lacking bite and presence in the midfield. Here are a few targets that would provide just that, in the order we should be going after them in my opinion.

  1. Sami Khedira

The big German is not only a quality DM, but also one of Özil’s best friends! Arsenal has supposedly submitted a bid of around £24 million for Khedira and he is apparently interested in reuniting with his friend Mesut. Khedira is a big lad standing at 6’2” and has a lot of strength in his locker. He is also experienced at age 27 with over 50 caps for Germany. He brings a lot of physicality and presence to the sides he represents on top of being a solid player on the ball. He is also capable of chipping in the odd goal. He is currently still in the World Cup with Germany which may slow down any move, but don’t be surprised to see rumors heat up after the World Cup ends as his contract expires in a year’s time.

  1. Fabian Schär

A player many people may not have heard of, Fabian is a fantastic 22 year old Swiss centre back currently playing for Basel. He is like the perfect mix of Vermaelen and Koscielny. He is defensively sound, with some pace and great ability on the ball. He is tall at 6’1.5” and is also a goal scorer with is heading ability and the fact that he is Basel’s main penalty taker. People who think Vermaelen should be converted to a CDM will definitely think that Schär should. Fabian was also in Switzerland’s World Cup squad this summer. Schär’s contract also expires in a year and he could likely be picked up for around £10-£15 million and would likely be a bargain for a young player who could easily cover both CB and DM and be an amazing prospect for the future. As many people will not have watched him as much as I did this past season, here is a video of some of his highlights:

  1. Lars Bender

Lars Bender is another German international on the list. He is relatively young at 25 and could learn a lot under Wenger. He could be considered like a younger Khedira, but not quite as slow or as talented in the air. However, he is still a talented DM who could learn a lot at our club and provide the big physical presence and cover for our back four that we need. He could likely be picked up for around £20-£25 million, despite his contract not expiring until 2019.

  1. Morgan Schneiderlin

Schneiderlin is the only BPL experienced player on this list. A great season for the Saints saw him receive a call up for the France World Cup squad this summer. At 24 years old the young Frenchman would probably love to work under Wenger and vice versa. His contract doesn’t expire until 2017, but given the exodus currently happening at Southampton don’t be surprised to see Schneiderlin leave. Likely for the bargain price of around £15-£20 million.

 

Another position Arsenal need cover in is the backup goalkeeper spot. Here are a few goalkeeping targets, also in the order we should be going after them in my opinion.

  1. Asmir Begović

Asmir is an extremely experienced goalkeeper in England who would provide amazing cover and competition for Szczesney. However, he isn’t likely to want to be a second choice goalkeeper. Maybe the prospect of Champions League would tempt him, but Stoke are unlikely to let him go for anything less than a major overspend. However, if available, he should be first choice on the list for his vast experience and skill.

  1. David Ospina

The Colombian keeper had a stunning World Cup and the interest in him is high. His contract with Nice has just expired and he is available on a free transfer. It would be amazing business to pick him up and he might be tempted by the prospect of working under Wenger. He has great reflexes and would be a great addition to the club. Also, at age 25 he could battle it out with Szczesney for years to come and learn more from our current goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches.

  1. Iker Casillas

Casillas had a shocking World Cup and he is a shadow of his former self, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a talented keeper. He is incredibly experienced and is a great leader. He is likely to leave Real Madrid in search of first team football and supposedly Wenger has already made personal phone calls to him to convince him to join. Fellow Spanish internationals Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla could also convince him to join the club. He would likely be available for a reasonable amount of money, but given his form and at age 33, he is a little further down the list.

  1. David Marshall

Marshall had an amazing season for Cardiff despite their relegation to the English Championship. At 29 he is experienced, but still with a few years ahead of him. Premier League and Champions League football is likely to tempt him and he is likely to be available for a cut price £5-£10 million given Cardiff’s relegation. He could teach the younger keepers at the club some valuable lessons and would provide sufficient cover when needed.

As usual, I will leave some questions to spur discussion:

  1. Who are your main targets for the defensive midfielder and goalkeepers positions?
  2. What other positions might we need players in?
  3. How much do you predict Wenger to spend this summer and on how many signings?

Thanks for reading! 😀

Written By: Dylan.

Unleash the Beast: Perfect DM is Already a Gunner!

It’s time to unleash the beast or will the ‘Captains Curse’ strike again?

Thomas beast

So Vermaelen is reportedly  off to Manchester United. Away he goes to join good mate Robin Van Judas. I say stuff that, he isn’t going anywhere! For too long our captains have left our club when we’ve needed them most.  Cesc left because it was in his DNA; a little boy told Van Judas; Gallas was a big-mouthed mercenary;  Henry wanted trophies, and Viera wanted trophies/money.

Thomas’ favoured position is at centre back; problem is, it’s occupied by Kozzer and the BIG fecking German. Both have formed a formidable duo boasting perhaps the best partnership in the league. Unfortunately for Vermaelen, both are extremely durable and don’t look like being overtaken any time soon. Mertesacker has the composure and experience needed to partner Kozzer; Kozzer the speed and agility to compliment Mertesacker. If Vermaelen is to stay with our prestigious club then he needs to reinvent himself. But most notably, he needs to want to change.

How much does he want to succeed at Arsenal? He’s our captain and is very passionate, so I’d hope his own desires coupled with his will to win means he would do everything required. I’m suggesting a positional change to defensive midfield. It could be a risk, but it could also be a master stoke, so why not give it a chance. He has one year left on his contract…a situation similar to Flamini’s situation in the 07/08 season. Put your hand up and show Arsene what you are capable of.

Why will it work? Here are my reasons:

  • He has the technical ability in his passing and shooting to handle the position. Normally the role doesn’t require such at trait but at Arsenal it does. Is he any different to Song or Flamini in that aspect? Even Arteta has toned down his creativity and range of passing to fit in.
  • Thomas is an excellent tackler. His highlight reel is bursting at the seams with goal saving sliding tackles. A desired trait to break up opposition attacks before they begin. He’s without doubt not one to shy from a big tackle. Beautiful…it would lift the spirits of those around him and get the supporters out of their seats.
  • Versatility. He can play as a centre back and a left back. Our style of play can leave us prone to counter attacking. If Gibbs or Jenks/new RB are caught up the pitch, who better to clean up the mess?! If a defender picks up a red card Vermaelen can slot in to their position without upsetting our style of play.
  • If Kozzer or the BFG go down injured, Vermaelen can slot in an fill the void without bringing on a cold defender that isn’t up to speed with the game.
  • Long range shooting!!! Sometimes we can be a touch too predictable in the final third. With Vermaelen pushing up he can give the opposition another thing to worry about. In his first two seasons at Arsenal he scored some absolute rippers from long range.
  • Unrivalled aerial ability. The last time he lost an aerial duel Terry had hair. Not only is this added value in the midfield but it brings added safety to opposition set pieces, and makes us dangerous during ours.
  • He is a leader of men and the captain of our team! What better position to organise the troops.
  • In his first season (09) he was selected in the PFA Premier League Team of the Season. So we know he is a world class player when injury free. A lack of game time and continual battles with injury has robbed him during his peak years. He can be a force again!
  • It won’t cost us a dime! He becomes our first choice defensive midfielder with Arteta and Flamini as backup. It saves us from spending a large sum of money for a position that tends to be overly inflated market wise. It’s a lot cheaper to bring in a quality centre back.
  • Welsh Jesus and Ozil. Both can focus more on what they do best, attacking. Thomas is a team player and knows his role in the team. If he’s told to hold the fort you better believe he’ll give everything he’s got to do so. The more we see of Ozil in the opposition half the better.

If Thomas works hard on improving his fitness base during the pre-season, has the desire to make this position his and improves his positional sense with the coaches, I see no real disadvantages.

cup (1)

Don’t agree with me?! Well let’s see what Arsenal legend and midfield destroyer Patrick Viera has to say in regards to being a midfield general:

  • Put the team first

“The first step to playing as a defensive midfielder is understanding your role and accepting it. You’re there to work hard and to help everyone else, before yourself. The role of the defensive midfielder has changed. In the past it was just about protecting the back four, but now you are asked to do everything: score goals, make assists and defend. Your team-mates need to be able to count on you. And when you’re having a bad game you need to know they’ve got your back. This kind of trust gives you confidence.”

  • Use your football brain

“As a defensive midfielder you must be tactically aware. You’re at the heart of the team so you have to hold everything together and allow other players to express themselves. To do this you need to talk a lot and use your brain, because quite often you have to be in the right place at the right time. You have to cover the gap between the midfield and the back four, cover the left and right full-backs when they go forward and the central defenders when they push further up the pitch.”

  • Impose yourself early

“Physicality was a very important part of my game. I knew that the first contact in the battle was going to be really important. This is the moment when you impose yourself and win games. Being strong in the first tackle says, ‘I’m here and I’m going to try and make it hard for you’. Intimidation is part of the game, but as a defensive midfielder you also have to be really good technically. You have to have the ability to collect the ball from the back four and pass it on to the front players.”

(source: http://performance.fourfourtwo.com/au/pro-tips/patrick-vieira-how-to-be-a-midfield-destroyer)

Personally I think Thomas covers all three areas easily. He will burn opposition midfielders like a f*cking supernova

So…Manchester United…piss off. Vermaelen…stay. Supporters…rally around him, it’s time to unleash the BEAST!

o-THOMAS-VERMAELEN-570

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvcl541r60U

Written by: OzGunner

Message from Bergkampesque

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Liverpool – Arsenal Afterthoughts: DM-pivot needs sorting out!

 

Arsene has got his work cut out to make the team bounce back once more.
Arsene has got his work cut out to make the team bounce back once more.

More than 24 hours after the debacle at Anfield, it is still not easy to come to terms with the devastating implosion of our team in just 1200 seconds.

Regular BKers know that I believe our first team players are not lazy and calculated but committed and passionate about our club. It is natural to want to point towards a lack of attitude by our players for this embarrassing performance, but I reckon this would be self-deceiving. Yesterday, technically and tactically we were not good enough and Arsene Wenger is the main culprit for this.

It would be a lot easier to blame a lack of passion and commitment as the main cause of our defeat, but on the day we were simply not good enough. It will now be key for Wenger and his players to show us this was just a bad day at the office.

In a nutshell, we lost the game through two horribly defended Pool set-pieces and a subsequent inability to turn the game round without leaving the door wide open for the Scousers’ deadly counter-attacks. And deadly they were.

As 17highburyterrace pointed out yesterday, nothing is more frustrating to watch than Mertesacker having to run back towards his own goal chasing the game. We lacked shape, organisation, composure, professionalism and, most of all, any dominance when it still mattered.

The set-pieces were defended badly by the whole of the team, as we looked all over the place (especially the second one), but our CBs should have taken better control of those situations.

It is also fair to say we were not able to match the energy of the Pool players at the start of the game. We knew we had it coming and we should have been prepared better for this.

As others have pointed out already this weekend, and as I have been saying since the start of the season, our weakest area is in the double-DM pivot. Without a fit Flamini we are a different team, especially against the top teams. And going forward we need to improve on Flamini as well if we really want to come close to beating the top teams on a regular basis (and win silverware).

We lost the battle in midfield as we were unable to match Pool’s energy and speed, and I am holding my breath for what is to come in the next few games, as we seem to have structural problems in this crucial area.

I like Arteta, but he is not the man to protect our back-four and lead our team in these kinds of matches. Keen observers will point out he was not fully fit and he did not get much support defensively from Jack (also not fully fit). I would agree with that, but even if Arteta had been fully fit he still would have struggled to protect and lead effectively on the day.

Arsene had a chance to properly strengthen the DM area during January but he chose not to. By all accounts, KK is another attack-minded midfielder rather than a defence-minded one. If this area turns out to be the area where we lose this season’s chances to win silverware, I will be very disappointed in Wenger. Let’s see what he will do next for the games against Manure, Liverpool and Munich.

But it was not just our DMs and CBs who were not good enough on the day; Cazorla, Ozil and Ox also had little or no impact on the game and Giroud was totally isolated. Our midfield only started to play as a bit of a unit in the second half, when it was far too late.

Without a good functioning DM-pivot the defence will not get the right protection and our attack will be left isolated. I cannot stress enough how vital the deeper laying midfield duo is to the overall effectiveness of the team. They are the brakes and gear box of the team.

I am confident that Mertesacker and Koscielny will sort out the defence again, but I have doubts about our ability to protect them and to dominate midfield play during the next few crucial games again. Wenger and Bould have their work cut out here, and let’s hope they will get it right.

TotalArsenal.

Gibbs, Nacho, Sagna, Vermaelen: who could be our ‘New DM’?

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Do Arsenal already have a new ‘Beast of a DM’ in their midst, and will he break up the wall of RamTeta?

With Coquelin on loan, Frimpong disappeared in to the background, and no news of a new signing, we are looking rather thin in the double DM-pivot at the moment. Wenger said this week there was a lot of competition for the midfield positions, but I cannot agree with him from a skill-set point of view; how many of our midfielders can actually defend?

The wall of RamTeta is likely to form the core of our midfield once again next season. Many are not entirely happy with this, and want a typical beast of a DM to boss the midfield whilst the rest join our attack as much as possible. Although I would really like to see how Ramsey and Arteta will fare next season, I also want us to get a proper, yet capable of football, DM this summer.

We have discussed the external options in previous posts and we might well still get a DM: your guess is better than mine.

But as others have mentioned on BK in previous comments, there are one or two, or even three or four potential internal options for this crucial position. I am looking for a player who can defend first and for all: strong on the ground and in the air; he also has a fine engine with tons of stamina; has Presence!; reads the game, and positions himself, well; is a decent to good passer of the ball; and ideally has a fantastic long distance shot too.

My four internal candidates are:

  • Gibbs
  • Nacho
  • Sagna
  • Vermaelen

Gibbs

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Our young English LB is a versatile player with plenty of scope for growth. Both Gibbs and Nacho are too good in my opinion to be back-up for each other, and I would not be surprised if we see them play together regularly in the future. I can see Gibbs do the DM position, although I reckon he might miss presence and be too injury prone for such a ‘body on the line’ position. But he could be further developed into a DM by Arsene…

Nacho

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Our one and only January signing has really impressed me, even though he is not the fastest of LB’s I have seen. I love his toughness, defending skills, ability to read the game, and general attitude. Monreal would have the Presence! to put fear into the opposition and he is a tough tackler and battler in the air; he is also a good passer of the ball and very organised/disciplined. It remains to be seen, though, whether he can read the game, and position himself effectively, in midfield.

Sagna

Will we see more of Mr Reliable as one of our CBs on Friday?

Our French monsieur Reliable is a tough defender who reads the game well. He has plenty of Presence! and stamina and, as he has shown in recently friendly games, is a good communicator. Bacary is also a decent passer of the ball and offers forward thrust if needed. Is it time to move him into a more central position i.e. CB or DM?

Vermaelen

Thomas+Vermaelen+8N_ZJzLQjSOm

Many on BK have suggested to make TV our DM. Apparently, Wenger has said that TV will remain our captain, and as a captain needs to play, and Koz and BFG seem to be our first choice CB-pairing, it makes you think whether the Belgian could be turned into a DM…. Tommy has everything for it, it seems: great defender and tons of Presence!; reads the game well and is a good passer of the ball; he also has plenty of thrust and a great long distance shot. A captain needs to play and we need a beast of a DM; is TV the answer?

And there is one more question: if Arsene were to turn one of these four players into a DM, should they take the first team place of Arteta or Ramsey this season?

Plenty of food for thought, I hope! 

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Mikel and Aaron could be in trouble

Mikel+Arteta+Fulham+v+Arsenal+Premier+League+GVXBof5m1Ugl

Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey were two of our best players in that unbeaten run at the end of last season. Arsene devised a double pivot system that saw them sit in front of the back four, leading to one of the best defensive records we have had in years. Arteta was the last line of defence in front of the back four, and Ramsey played a box to box role but mostly spent his time alongside Arteta, shielding our defence from attacks.

This system worked wonders defensively, but I must admit our offensive quality suffered. 

Thing is, though, Arteta ideally is not a DM despite the fantastic work he’s done there for us. Arteta, at Everton, played as the ‘hole’ player for the better part of a decade and was their star man. His passing, vision and goals made Everton tick. Again, while overall he has performed admirably there, at times he suffered, especially the recently concluded season. This is the main reason Wenger introduced Ramsey alongside him: to give him some much needed support.

As it turned out, this was a match made in heaven, because Arteta’s strong point is reading the game and Rambo’s is tackling, so they seem to compliment each other perfectly.

This is all well and good, but you have to remember one thing, Wilshere was injured. You can play around with the tactics and formations all you want, but the fact remains that a fully fit Jack Wilshere is one of the first names on the team sheet. Not only that, considering what Santi achieved last season, he has made the hole position his. Add that to the fact that Arsene Wenger came out and admitted that our midfield needs a physical DM and has made it a transfer priority this summer, you realize that these two players are in danger of losing out.

Like I said earlier, Santi and Jack are not about to lose their positions in the team or be moved around to accommodate anyone, simply because they are our two best players. What stacks the odds against Arteta and Ramsey even more is the fact that Santi and Jack showed that they can work together to devastating effect. You do not need to look past our 5-1 hiding of West Ham to see what I mean. Considering that Jack is fully fit and so is Santi, we are looking at a situation where Arteta and Ramsey would be fighting for one spot, DM.

Let’s face it; neither is good enough to make the DM position their own. Not if we indeed are building a team to challenge for trophies.

Last season Mikel showed that he can not shoulder the defensive burden alone. Ramsey, on the other hand, does not have the defensive talent to do it alone (despite his energy and his eagerness to tackle; 80% of his tackles ended in him conceding fouls). Neither has the physicality or defensive acumen to dominate the defensive half of our midfield like Vieira did for us, Wanyama did for Celtic, Essien did for Chelsea, Sven does for BVB and so on and so forth.

Wenger has realized this and that is why he’s chasing the likes of Fellaini; and with the bounty we have right now, you wouldn’t bet against us. If reports are to be believed, we triggered Fellaini’s release clause of 23 million pounds and had a 19 million pound bid rejected for Lars Bender. Even if it’s not them we end up signing, we have seen the amount we are willing to shell out for a DM. Do you really think Arsene Wenger is going to spend 20 million on a player who will come and sit on the bench? I don’t think so, and that is why following all logic, it seems that Arteta and Ramsey’s time in the starting 11 is soon coming to an end.

On the bright side, though, they’ve shown what they can do for us and therefore will provide solid cover AND competition for whatever combination is preferred.

Written by: Marcus.

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Two Quality Players Away From Winning Trophies? Yes and No.

Image

Ooh dear, ooh dear, there were a lot of unhappy Gooners out there, fuming at Arsene, Kroenke and Gazidis for not buying anymore players in the last week of the transfer window. We had no strength in depth and are only a few injuries away from disaster, according to those doomers. Arsene had lost the plot and was, just like Kroenke, only in it for the profit.

The other one regularly heard was/is: ‘we are fine in defence and midfield, but we don’t have enough strikers and that will bite us in the arse sooner or later’.

Well let’s have a look at the squad then, shall we? Over the last 24 months our squad has made a total change over. We bought new players and/or developed young players into PL-ready professionals for every single position.

Of all the players we have lost over the last few years, we only felt considerable pain from the loss of Fabregas, and this was probably mainly to do with the fact that both JW and Abou Diaby remained injured throughout last season.

It is still too early to say whether we are feeling the loss of Song and/or brave sir robin (bsr from now on), but the initial signs are that we miss Song more than bsr.

I had hoped for a bruiser of a traditional DM to join the club this summer, but Wenger clearly chose not to recruit one. The reason for this might well lay in the fact that he is now playing with a more compact midfield – 4-3-3 often compacting into 4-5-1 – and a more risk-averse and disciplined defence.

Arsenal now plays with two deeper laying midfielders with all-round midfield qualities. We have plenty of footballers who can play in that sort of deeper laying central midfield role. Arteta, Diaby, JW, Ramsey, Coquelin, Rosicky can all play there, so we have plenty of cover. Furtermore, there are also some youngsters who are knocking on the door strongly for these positions at the moment: Frimpong, Yenaris and Aneke.

The key thing is that these roles are played with discipline and get proper back-up from our defence and more attack-minded players. I reckon Bould and Wenger have been working on this in the last five months, but I still have some concerns with regards to not having available a DM heavyweight who can help us to regain control in certain games. For example, we needed one in the second half against Montpellier, against Chelsea at home, and also against West Ham on Saturday. At times, we are not able to dominate our midfield enough and protect adequately our defence.

My money is still on Arsene buying a beast of a traditional, experienced DM in the next transfer window in order to make us more robust in certain games.

With regards to our attacking midfielder position we have now plenty of cover as well. The wonderful Cazorla is clearly nr 1 at the moment, but his position can be covered by JW, Rosicky or even Diaby, Arshavin and Arteta.

Looking at defence, I have no concerns whatsoever. We have got two good LB’s and two good RB’s, and five decent to very good CB’s. The only remaining doubt is in Santos as adequate-to-good cover for Gibbs, but I can live with that risk, at least for now.

The goal keeper position, however, is a more fragile area. Mannone is getting a proper chance at the moment and he is, RELATIVELY, doing well: relatively, as in taking into account his age and lack of experience. But we already have a young goal keeper in Szczesny who is also not the finished article yet, although significantly ahead of Mannone.

I reckon, Arsene needs to be ruthless here and bring in an experienced mid-thirties back-up goal keeper in January, who can push Szczesny all the way and be a good stand-in in case of injury, a period of lack of confidence, or suspension by the Pole in goal. Failing to do so could well be a very costly mistake this season.

Up-front, we are doing well enough at the moment, and there is every reason to believe we will further improve as the season goes on.

Clearly, the departure of bsr, the traitor, has left Arsenal with a period of necessary adjustment, in terms of scoring enough goals again. But Gervinho has been in fine goal scoring form and has already scored more goals in the last seven games (all competitions) than in all of his 37 games last season (all competitions). Gervinho and Podolski have scored as many PL goals as bsr has for the Mancs until now, and there are strong signs that Giroud will find the net more regularly from now on as well.

In all competitions, Gervinho scored 5 (1 assist), Giroud scored 2 (4 assists), Theo scored 4 (1 assist) and the Pod scored 4 (2 assists). On top of that Cazorla scored 2 and had three assists, and although Arsenal needs to improve further in the goal scoring department, there is every reason to be confident that we will do well again in this area. I really like the fact that our goals and assists are more evenly shared between the attacking players in our team compared to last season, and with these players gelling better and better over the next few months, there is every reason to believe we will be fine and possibly score more goals this season than we did in 2011-2012.

For me there is absolutely no need to buy an additional, top quality striker at the moment, but if we manage to lay-off the now obviously out of favour Chamakh, then I would hope we could bring in a promising early-twenties striker who can grow into a top striker and push the likes of Giroud and Podolski for first team action. Of course, we have Campbell still to come and play for Arsenal at some point in the (hopefully near) future.

I cannot see Arsenal selling Chamakh any time soon though, but also feel we have enough cover in attack (and also believe that too many decent-to-good strikers in one team can work contra-productive: see Citeh for example).

So, are we two quality players away from wining trophies? I reckon an experienced, classical defensive midfielder and an experienced mid-thirties goal keeper will get us very far this season. But we also need to keep Theo or replace him adequately if we cannot entice him to a new contract. My two proposed acquisitions are not too difficult to find and are very likely to be affordable to Arsenal as well.

If these signings are regarded as so called ‘quality acquisitions’ than the answer to my post’s question is ‘yes’. But I reckon that a considerable number of fellow Gooners have different views on what constitutes ‘quality’.

However, I believe we are very close to having the complete squad, and there is every reason to be upbeat about this season’s chances for silverware.

Total Arsenal.