Arsenal’s future: Ottewill, Hayden, Bellerin, Yennaris, Eisfeld, Zelalem, Akpom, Gnabry, Campbell, Sanogo, Lipman, etc?

Gedion Zelalem: Cesc potential?
Gedion Zelalem: Cesc potential?

To buy, or not to buy. That is the question?

The big questions over transfers are:

A; What position? i.e. to replace who? in the short/medium/long term, and with that comes B.

B; Do we really need somebody if we have someone in the academy ranks that could do that role in a year or two years time?

We, as intelligent supporters tend to stick with the A, often without the secondary thoughts of how well they might fit in with the team? And then, later to whom it might affect?

I will run through a few names from the academy, who in the near future could develop into our main squad/first 11:

GK – No real problems here, imo. Martinez is out on loan and will be an able deputy long term. Plus Iliev, and the new guy from Bristol, Macey who from reports is big and commanding despite his age, just 19. So unless we are replacing our current Number 1? I doubt we will be buying anyone?

CB – Only one name in the frame here. Isaac Hayden. He must be a very good listener as AW is clearly rating him highly, but not necessarily in this position? But he is versatile. That could leave an opening for Ignasi Miquel, currently out on loan. If that is successful, he could be a useful back up? While Boateng and Fagan’s turn is probably a little way off, should they be of such quality?

So I think new blood here is pretty certain.

LB – Again, one name that has blossomed recently, Brandon Ormonde Ottewill, aka BOO54.

Seriously good prospect in the period beyond Monreal’s tenure.

Position covered in the short and medium term. BOO54 could be such a talent to take us beyond that?

RB – No question, Bellerin is the one. …. (if he stays in this position? – personal note!). Recently injured in the Dortmund junior game, after playing well. He looks like overtaking Jenks especially when/if Jenks goes out on the loan which would give regular games to get more varied experience? That may be harsh on Jenkinson, but the alternative would likely mean a transfer in? We just need Sagna to sign up for another 3 years – I year playing at top level. I year as mentor/rotation. 1 year back up. Not to mention usefulness at CB throughout?

Essential note to management – Do it!

Midfield: sub division; Defensive; Isaac Hayden looks to be the one at the present time to take over or cover for Flamini? He needs to be guided, but as I said earlier, he must be a good student. He is also the marker for the younger ones hoping to make it one day. Not unlike many a young player, prone to try too hard to impress, but he has all the attributes to become a great DM.

Not forgetting Nico Yennaris. Alas his progress has been stalled by injuries at crucial times. If he can secure a decent loan deal where he can play week in week out, and stay out of the treatment room, then you could be looking at Arteta’s natural successor, although he can play RB too. Very few deserve it more, but sadly, it may not happen? Such is the pressure for the here and now? It is likely a new face will be brought in that will change the whole dynamic in this area. We shall see?

Other areas of midfield are so competitively covered it is hard to see who can break through, or where? However, such is the talent brewing, that current players, and those on the fringes may need to improve just to keep their places in a year or two?

The candidates are plentiful, but perhaps not all will make it at Arsenal?

Attacking/creative midfielders: Eisfeld looked nailed on to force his way into the first team squad, yet has hardly made the bench this season? Niggling injuries, some criticism of his ‘team play’, and others breaking through, all seem to have contributed to him slipping out of contention. He probably needs a loan spell to develop his undoubted talent further? His position, or where he performs best, is probably the one that Podolski plays most often: near the main striker, where he can ghost into the box and shoot with either foot. That is strength, and his weakness for a future here?

If ever we do sign a second striker, his potential is at most risk? In the deeper role, Ozil seems to have the only other option, and that position looks secure for some time to come?

Second striker?

Zelalem surprised many on tour pre-season, and showed he lost none of his flair in the recent Dortmund game. Again injury halted his progress so he missed the COC matches, but he looks destined to play, despite his young age, in that all round creative role that Ozil or Cazorla play? In the short term, he will find opportunities, longer term he could be the real reason why Cesc does not return …. as a player at least?

Position covered!

Jon Toral is another who made a comeback from injury in that Dortmund game. Made one goal, scored another, missed two easy chances. Rosicky mark 2 by any other name? I would go so far as to say, he is the only player at the club that is closest to the TR7 in style. When he breaks through into the squad, and with enough mentoring from the same TR7, he will be an absolute star. Not only that, he can play anywhere behind the strikers.

Positions covered – In spite of my tendency to covet another young player in the short term, it will have little effect on young Toral’s advancement into our list of great players.

The deeper lying Kristoffer Olsson has also claims on the box to box role, but has several young players ahead of him already in the squad, and he too, may need to go out on loan to get game time. Then we might see how he fits in at a later stage? Quality player none the less, and should any of the senior player fall by the wayside he could be ready to take on that role seamlessly.

That is all the midfield positions covered. Re-read this list in two years time, and tell me I am wrong?

Striker/Front line? The most talked about roles in terms of transfer in news presently.

Mostly because it is thought the young players are not enough like Giroud to lead the line, or not experienced enough to either support him in the second striker role, if we should ever demand that starting position. Alas, all of this is true, with the exception of Gnabry, who is gaining experience, and adding width to our play. The others have yet to experience this.


I will put Gnabry in this category, because, although untried, he could be a contender for Giroud’s understudy? If anything, he has more claims than Walcott for example, given he can shoot with either foot, he can dribble, has pace, above all has the physical build to bully his way past defenders. But like all of these young players, close support around them in the early stages will be necessary, whilst they fully learn their skill to do it alone? None are at the stage that can take on the Giroud role in the way he does, but Gnabry is just one who could do a job there if called upon?

Akpom heads the queue of those outside of the current squad, and although is different in style to Giroud, I believe he is not far behind Gnabry in skills and build, to command a leading role? It is whether the team can adjust to his style of play? He is a ball player, rather than a hold up guy. You play the final pass to him in and around the box and he will work a shot away almost every time. Expecting him to hold off two or three defenders near the halfway line, take a ball down with a deft headed touch, and you will be disappointed. Play a ball to his feet and watch him twist away for a couple of one-two’s and he’s your man. He is your RVP replacement far more than Giro is, but he needs playing time to get to that level? In the meantime, he would be your Podolsksi deputy ..if only Podolski held a regular spot in the team? Or playing with Podolski would be equally interesting for him and Gnabry?

Sanogo has all the attributes to be a top class striker, except the physical body to match. I believe physically he is a late maturing type, and his injuries have held him back considerably. He is going to be a slow, long term project that I hope the club persevere with. If he follows the Gibbs line and develop his core strength through exercise, whilst gradually getting the confidence to withstand what is the norm in the EPL we could have a real star on our hands. Ignore stories of him going back to France, or out on loan. What he needs is right here, and Gibbs has shown it can pay off in a big way, that what you do off field will bring all you deserve it you want it badly enough. I hope he sticks with it and achieves his goal for himself and the club. It may take another year before he blossoms, so providing that space has not been filled by some big name transfer, we should see the benefits for years to come?

A similar type of player to the above is currently on loan, but may well return next season? He is the slightly in and out Joel Campbell? He would bring a Thierry Henry type flair to the team. Skills to burn without a doubt. Hopefully he is learning all the time how to put it all together. The big problem with these players is they need playing time. I think he might like the regular game at a lesser club rather than irregular games here? No disrespect to him, but for visa issues he has not been able to ‘associate’ himself with the club. That needs to change if we are going to profit from his undoubted talent?

He has got the Walcott position very much in his sights. A striker who can play out wide, and cut in and score goals from the most unlike of angles. Not bad at developing his assists to his repertoire either?

Should Walcott fancy a move to where he got married, then we need look no further than this lad to fill his shoes, as long as he continues on this upward curve?

Austin Lipman has been prolific in his scoring recently, and is the other name that has the potential to develop further, and could be considered down the line, but he has to displace a lot of others to get there?

Sadly, any signing will knock the prospects of all back a little, and in football, timing is everything. Most of these strikers are a year or so behind the club’s need, and need that time to break into the squad to develop? But if nothing happens in the forthcoming windows, next season could change our view of who we need?

I am caught in the middle of my own argument here, as, like many others, I see a young striker of huge potential and think, Yes, he’d be great in an Arsenal shirt … and then I look up this list and think, yes so would these in a year or two? I am hoping that Arsene Wenger will make the right decisions and we get to keep the best from those I have outlined above, and at the same time can secure players that will get over the line in the short term. But quality is essential.

I will not name players, but from the above I think we do need a DM for when the going gets tough, and our current small squad is stretched beyond its limits.

A CB, beyond what we have in the squad at the moment.

Sagna’s signature at RB, a priority.

The luxury of a Rosicky back up, as well as his signature on an extended contract, also a priority.

Main striker, who can also play alongside Giroud, and be a model for those I named above?

The one signing I will name, Dennis Bergkamp as coach to these fine prospects would be the icing on the cake?

 Written by: Gerry

Time for Ryo, Eisfeld, Hayden and Olsson to shine: WBA preview

We discussed the options for tomorrow’s line up more than enough in yesterday’s post, and to be frank, I have not got much of a clue who Arsene will play against WBA. Arsene is Arsene and he will do what he thinks is right. I have a horrible feeling he’ll play a lot of regulars and it might backfire on us; the nightmare of Bradford still lingers on in my mind.

I don’t care much whether we go through or not, but I just want us to play good football and give some youngsters a proper chance to shine.

Some interesting points came out of yesterday’s post responses:

  1. Quite a few fellow bloggers don’t believe that Koz and Vermaelen should play together; that either should be combined with Mertesacker, or even Sagna, rather than play as our duo CB’s. Although, I agree that Mertesacker is our first choice CB – a point I have been making for the best part of two years – I still believe that Koz and Vermaelen can play really well together, and I feel strongly that they should start in tomorrow game against WBA;
  2. The cyber-room was also split about who should ideally play as our double-DM pivot, and I agree with the observation by some fellow bloggers that it’s wonderful to have options for these crucial positions now. I, for one, would love to see Arteta and Flamini start a few games together, especially in away games or games against fellow top-teams. This is not to say that I do not rate Ramsey: the absolute opposite is true. Ramsey is doing great and adds a dimension nobody else is capable of offering at the moment. Against WBA I am hoping wise-head Arteta will start with a youngster next to him – either Hayden or Olsson should get a chance as a starter tomorrow;
  3. The other points of discussion were about who should play up front – Akpom or Bendtner – who should play in the hole – Eisfeld, Arteta- and who should play on the wing. The latter seems to become our problem-area this season, with Cazorla, Podolski, Ox, and now also Theo, out injured for significant periods already. We will now need Gnabry to stay fit when we play Swansea and Napoli, and I would not be surprised if he will not be risked tomorrow. This should mean that Ryo will get a start and I hope he will do well. I am also hoping to see Eisfeld, in the hole or on the wing.

Other than seeing us play some good football with passion and focus, and a few youngsters doing well, I am keen to see whether our ‘second string’ – if indeed Wenger gives most of our first team players a rest, which is definitely not a given – can play in the same shape and style as we are now getting used to with the current ‘first teamers’.

I am particularly interested in whether Akpom or Bendtner can play the ‘Giroud-Holding-Striker’ role effectively, and whether Eisfeld will be able to shine in the hole, if indeed he gets a chance there tomorrow.

Hoped for, but not predicted, line-up:

WBA team

All in all, plenty to look forward to. 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Match review: Theo, OG and Pod look sharp, Full Backs rusty, Eisfeld and Akpom impress

Picture from
Picture from

Quick thoughts on a game that was easy on the eye, against a weak but hard working opponent.

Today, Arsenal played a lot better than expected, given the heat and it being the first game of the season. A lot of youngsters were given a chance in this game, although Arsene opted for a solid defence with only Miquel, and Jenkinson to some extent, as non-regulars. He also started with the so familiar double-DM pairing of Ramsey and Arteta which gave the team structure and balance from the start. Fabianski was preferred to Szczesny, but I don’t think we can read much into this (yet). Up-front, Ox played in the hole, with Gnabry and Theo on the wings; and the biggest surprise of the day, Akpom held the line.

Arsenal played with a relatively high tempo from the start and passed the ball round well. As a team, they looked a bit rusty at times, as a number of combinations of passes were not completed and did not lead to a chance in the first half.

It was good to see us using the wings well, and especially Walcott looked sharp. Gnabry looked lively, and reminds me a lot of Ox, but especially in the first half he lacked a bit of  patience and composure at times. In the second half he improved, and the assist for  the second goal showed what he is capable of when he opts to go to the by-line and produce a fine assist for another attacker, rather than go inside and try to score a wonder goal.

Ox played quite well in midfield, and his interception in our own half and subsequent run with the ball led to the only goal in the first half. Ox  remained calm and pulled back the ball to Theo, who took his chance really well from the edge of the box.

Arteta was solid and demanding, and Ramsey was very active and driven and one of the best players of the half. Really nice to see him up for this game and trying to make things happen.

Gibbs and Jenkinson did have little to do as defenders but their forward play was below par in the first half. A number of crosses were inaccurate or weak, and they looked rusty in general, although they did worked hard to support our attackers.

Akpom struggled to assert himself on the game in the first half: he did not make himself available and was not anticipating the game / be at the right place at the right time enough. However, just like Gnabry, he improved significantly in the second half, and he did everything right for the second goal. He is still very young, but is showing real promise.

Arteta, Mertesacker, Fabianski , Koz and Sagna did not have to do much defensively, so I cannot pass much judgement on their performances today.  Sagna was very effective going forward, though, and he produced a couple of assists in quick succession.

I was  a bit disappointed in our young, Spanish CB today. Miquel made some fine interceptions and produced a very nice long ball, but he was at fault in defence a few times and this could have led to a goal – stronger opposition would have pounced on his mistakes today.

Once the second goal went in, and with Arsenal bringing on Giroud, Podolski, Rosicky and Sagna it became a really easy game for us. Good chances were created and our players took them well. Zelalem and Olsson made good first impressions, and the latter converted Rosicky’s superb cross into the box really well.

It was great to see Giroud sharp from the moment he came onto the pitch; especially his second goal was a fine finish. The same goes for Podolski who took his chance well.

However, the goal of the match for me belongs to Eisfeld, who impressed me once again very much with his composure, reading of the game and effectiveness/directness. He was given great service by Giroud for his goal, but he still had a lot to do. He finished in a ‘Neymar-esque’ style, with a vicious and well-placed shot that left the half-decent Indonesian goalie with no chance whatsoever!

We cannot take much from this game, as our opponents were too weak to give us a proper game, but I liked our energy and appetite, the tempo with which we played and the many chances we created AND converted.

It was also  great to see so many fellow Gooners supporting our team many thousands of miles away: they did our club proud! And luckily none of our players got injured.

Bring on the Vietnamese! 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Indonesia Dream Team v Arsenal pre-view: Miquel, Ryo, Gnabry, Eisfeld to shine?

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s friendly against ‘Indonesia Dream Team’: nothing is a better antidote against the poisonous Torture Window shenanigans than watching a game of football involving our boys. It will only be temporary relief, and as per the nature of early season friendlies, it probably won’t be much of a game to watch, but at least the ball will be rolling again and we can watch eleven Arsenal shirts in action for the first time in two month.

This is the 24-man squad for the Asia Tour (thanks JM for providing the data):
GK: Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny, Damian Martinez

DF: Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Ignasi Miquel, Bacary Sagna

MF: Mikel Arteta, Ryo, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Serge Gnabry, Kris Olsson, Thomas Eisfeld, Chuks Aneke, Gedion Zelalem

FW: Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Chuba Akpom

The following players did not travel to Indonesia:

i) Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal (extended rest due to their involvement in the Confederations Cup)
ii) Yaya Sanago (still with France at the Under-20 World Cup)
iii) Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Frimpong (injured/recovering)
iv) Gervinho (announced as “sickness” … or something more ?…. Linked with Marseille, Roma)
v) Joel Campbell, Wellington Silva (no work permit to play for Arsenal yet?)
vi) Chamakh, Bendtner, Santos, CY Park (on sales)

I have not got a clue which team Arsene will select for tomorrow’s friendly, which will be shown by ESPN at Sunday 2.45 p.m. If I had my way, I would start with a strong team, but give at least some of the youngsters a chance to show us how much further they have developed last season. I would love to see more of Gnabry, Miquel, Eisfeld, Olsson, Aneke, Zelalem and Akpom during this tour.

I don’t think Arsene will add more than two or three top players to the team this summer, and with a number of players who were regarded as surplus to requirement now departed – with more to follow – there is a good opportunity for some of the above mentioned youngsters to play themself into the squad for next season.

Your guess is as good as mine as in who is going to start in tomorrow’s team. This is a time for experimenting and it will be interesting to see how we line up, in terms of formation, and who will start/ play where. No doubt, Arsene will make many substitutions and it will be hard to pull any big conclusions from Sunday’s encounter.

I expect us to be in with the familiar 4-2-1-3 (4-2-3-1) formation and would like Arsene to start with the following players:

Let's attack with speed and invention with proper wingers, Wilshere and Eisfeld mastering midfield, and Giroud playing the holding striker role.
Let’s attack with speed and invention: with proper wingers, Wilshere and Eisfeld mastering midfield, and Giroud playing the ‘holding striker’ role, whilst benefiting himself from proper wing-service.

How would like Arsenal to line-up for tomorrow’s friendly?

Enjoy the game fine fellow Gooners! 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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