A Brace in Basel for Welbeck is just perfect timing

A Danny Double in a hard-fought victory over the politest football nation in Europe. Nice. Very nice. This will do his confidence a world of good and is just what we needed before he joins his team mates at the home of football tomorrow. Talent and confidence are the two biggest commodities in football – or indeed in any sport – and DW23 will arive at the Grove with a smile from earlobe to earlobe.

I must admit I have been looking thoroughly at Welbeck for the first time ever today, and I did so with the main aim of judging how well he will fit into the OG role. His hold up play is good but could do with further improvement. His aerial dominance, especially from long balls from the back, is also not at Giroud’s level, but can undoubtedly be bettered.

But his movement was great and his energy levels are very impressive too. Did you see the interview with Shrek and Welbeck at the end of the game? Rooney had been substituted five minutes earlier but was still out of breath and looked shattered; Danny, on the other hand, was fresh as a daisy and radiated with confidence and happiness. What an athlete.

What was very clear tonight is how much DW works for the team; not just sitting back centrally for the ball, but being a nuisance all over the pitch when not in possession of the ball. And when the ball is regained by the team he makes smart and energetic runs into the available space. He is also good at carrying the ball forward, taking on a man, and attacking space with real intent.

Switzerland v England

Although he was a bit lucky with the contact on his shin for the first goal, I was very impressed with his run. He saw what his former team mate was going to do and chose instinctively to run towards the right side of the goal, whilst Sterling made a clever run towards the left side. Rooney did well moving with the ball forward and releasing it just in time for Sterling, who made a great run and put in a peach of a cross towards the fast running new Gunner. How often have we seen two or more players matching each others speed in the last year at Arsenal? With Sanchez, Theo and Welbeck (and Ox and Rambo and the ‘wingbacks’) we now should see a lot more of this. Especially during counter-attacks. Nice.

Welbeck’s second goal was even more enjoyable. Firstly, he was fit and able to make another clever and energetic run after being at it for 90 minutes already. Secondly, his first touch was good, he kept his balance and took time to make a decision; and his subsequent execution was perfect. Finished like a top striker.

So there is plenty of reason to be positive about our new signing and his performance tonight. His pace and ball control skills have been a joy to watch, and although there is plenty to learn for him he showed tonight that he can hit the ground running at Arsenal.

There will not always be so much space available for him to shine of course, and we will have to see how he does against the park the bus teams in the CF/Holding Striker position. But this game, with a brace in Basel, is just what the footie doctor ordered.

Cannot wait to see him at the Grove. Our army of midfielders will be licking their lips!

Written by: TotalArsenal.


Five Sporting Incentives for Rooney to Join Arsenal Now


Unlike the links with Jovetic, which seem to have disappeared completely now, we continue to be linked with Wayne Rooney. Apparently the club have made an offer for Rooney somewhere in the region of £20m, but I am not sure how much truth there is in this.

There are many Gooners who do not want us to sign Rooney: they say that he is ‘past it now’, does not fit with Arsenal’s values, or would simply cost too much / be on too high wages compared to the rest. When I spoke a Spud mate of mine about the desperate-for-hair Englishman possibly joining Arsenal this summer, he laughed and said ‘I really hope you get him, I really do’.

I have always been a reluctant admirer of Rooney-the-footballer. I like his drive, his physical strength, his technical skills, his football intelligence and, most of all, his winner’s mentality. His diving and occasional indiscipline, although the latter is less of an issue now, go against him, and he also seems to be mainly motivated by earning as much money as possible.

If the latter is really still the case, I don’t want him at Arsenal.

But if he is looking for a new opportunity to leave something behind once more, and become once again a pivotal player in a new team that is going places, Arsenal would be a great team for him right now.

What would be key for me is: he needs to have an intrinsic desire to come to Arsenal and win things with us. I have no doubt that Arsene would be the best judge of this, and if he was to go for Rooney, I am sure the Englishman would join us with the right motivation.

I cannot see it happen myself, as his wage demands are hard to meet; not necessarily financially, but more in terms of wage discrepancy between him and the rest of the squad, and the potential impact on team morale. I also much prefer Fabregas to return to us, or Jovetic to join us this summer.

But let’s say, for the sake of debate, that Arsenal will sort this out somehow; the question is then, what could be the sporting incentives for Rooney to join us?

  1. Rooney would become the pivot of the team, and most likely positioned in the ‘hole-position’. Whether he would work with Giroud, Podolski or Higuain up-front there is little doubt in my mind our attack would become far deadlier. With Theo and Cazorla (or Pod) on the wings he would be able to add another attacking dimension to our play, as he can redistribute the ball and assist as well as he can convert chances himself. Very few other top teams would be able to offer him such a guaranteed, pivotal role.
  2. As per above, Rooney would really enjoy himself in this free role: he would be able to display his full range of skills and, once again, get the recognition he is craving for. If playing proper football in which he can express himself to the full is what he is really after, Arsenal are his best option right now.
  3. The five time PL, and one time CL, winner would be a great mentor to the rest of the team, and especially to our young, British core: Gibbs, Ox, Jack, Rambo, Jenkinson and Theo would all benefit from his experience and guidance on and off the pitch. If Rooney would crave for such a responsibility/role, Arsenal is his team.
  4. One of the additional benefits of the third point is Rooney will be able to be directly part of what is likely going to be the very core of the England national team going forward. In the next few big tournaments, England’s (attacking) core will likely be built around Jack, Ox, Theo and Rooney (with likely gradual bigger roles for Jenkinson and Gibbs as well). It would be of great benefit to Rooney if he can work and play with these players in the same team week in week out. If he really craves for international success with England then moving to Arsenal would be a shrewd thing to do.
  5. The captaincy role is up for grabs at Arsenal. TV5 is very likely not to continue as our captain, and it remains to be seen whether Arteta will remain as central to our team as he was during the last two seasons. If Arsene, and I realise this is a big IF, is convinced Rooney would come to Arsenal with the right mentality/motivation then Rooney would be a good choice for captaining the team.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain England

I have to say, a part of me still feels uncomfortable with the possibility of Rooney joining our beloved Arsenal, but if he would really want to come for the reasons mentioned above, and Arsene would sanction it, I could see it work out really well.

What do you say, fine fellow Gooners?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

How to get the best out of Wilshere in Arsenal’s 4-2-1-3 formation


Jack Wilshere’s performance against Brazil on Wednesday confirmed to the rest of the nation what many Gooners already knew: he is a special talent. Other than fantastic goals being scored, nothing is more exciting than seeing a footballer moving forward with the  ball; fully capable to hold on to it, to go past another player and move into space in front of him, and also able to find the killer pass at any second.

Against Brazil, Jack did this fantastically well. His close control was brilliant and when he moved forward the whole team oozed attacking intent: there was great running off the ball by England’s attackers and Jack found them on a regular basis. There was a wonderful energy about him as well: he radiated with enthusiasm and wore his shirt with pride: something that did not go unnoticed with the crowd.

England’s formation suited Jack very well last night. With the experienced Gerrard  and Rooney behind and in front of him respectively, and Cleverley next to him, he was given the perfect role against Brazil. With the hard working wingers of Walcott and Welbeck making runs all the time, and the clever link-up play by Shrek, Jack was given the perfect support to shine brightly. And boy did he shine on Wednesday. It was good for him to know the experienced Gerrard was right behind him, reading the game well and allowing Jack to express himself to the full. After an eternity trying to fit in Gerrard and Lampard into the national team, have England finally found their best midfield combination?

We have seen similar great performances by Jack for Arsenal this season. But Wednesday’s game also made me think again about his performance against Stoke City. I thought he played well as he made the best of the little space the Orcs allowed us on the day. But I felt, he was not playing close enough to Giroud, in order to give us more attacking options and to break up their walls behind and in front of the ‘D’.

I thought that both Arteta and Diaby stayed behind too much and should have played closer to Giroud by moving into the area in front of Stoke’s ‘D’.  I am not sure whether either DIaby/Arteta or Jack should have moved closer to Giroud on Saturday, but somebody should have.

This brings me to the key question: what is Jack’s best position in our current 4-2-1-3 formation?

For me, there are two sorts of opponents to consider in order to answer this question:  those who play a more open, attacking game against us and those who park the bus.

If a team plays a more open, ‘normal’ game against us, Jack is perfect in the sole, most advanced, attacking midfield position; especially if he gets good attacking support from the box-to-box fellow midfielder (Diaby ideally, but this could also be Arteta, Rosicky, or Ramsey). There is plenty of space for the attackers to run into, and with the wing-backs making constant runs as well, Jack has plenty of options in front of him to conduct/dictate the game. This he does better than anybody else in the team, although Rosicky and Cazorla are very decent alternatives.

However, against the bus-parkers – and the better Arsenal are going to play the more bus parking we will see during home games – we need the attacking midfielder to help out with being a direct attacking threat as much as possible. We need the numbers up-front to avoid our attackers to be isolated and out-numbered constantly; as was often the case against Stoke. We need the most advanced midfielder to be a decent passer of the ball, as well as a real goal scoring threat in those situations; and that Jack Wilshere is not (yet).

As soon as Cazorla came on and Jack moved back a bit against the Orcs, Arsenal looked a lot better and became a lot more dangerous. I reckon Jack best position against ‘park the bus’ teams is actually back into his previous box-to-box, lynchpin position. That’s where he, just like a conductor of an orchestra, will find the space and has the overview to dictate the game; and with Cazorla (or Diaby) in front of him, he has the ideal attacking midfielder to combine with and crack open the seemingly solid defensive lines in front of them (using the wings as much as possible as well, of course).

In fact, I feel strongly that against the bus-parkers we should  play more in a 4-1-2-3 formation, with Jack having the option to move back in order to find space and Cazorla or Diaby to move as close as possible to our central striker.

It will be exciting to see how Jack will develop further during the remainder of this season, and how Arsene will build his team around him going forward.

Arsene gave us Cesc, and now we got another midfield maestro in the making. He might not always get it right when buying and developing players, but when he does deliver to us another world class gem, we should bless our cotton socks he is still our manager.

Written by:  Total Arsenal.