Five Reasons Why Arsenal Will Win The Title

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Dedicated to: Mr. and Mrs. Bond. Though I’ve never met James, I think of him as a friend. I think of all the regulars on this site as friends. Close friends even. Refreshing the Bergkampesque page is like walking into a room of close friends. Almost everyone knows each other, even beyond Arsenal. We all fight sometimes, but so do friends. And in the end we always make up. And most importantly, we all support each other.

JB has gone through an extremely tough time recently. And while I have never met him (though I hope to one day, along with all regulars on this site), I do feel a portion (albeit, probably a relatively small amount compared to JB) of his pain. I want to be here for him, along with everyone else. I can’t write a beautifully deep dedication such like many have done, especially 17HT. But I did want to take time to let JB (and everyone else know) how close I think of all of you are, and how truly important you are in my life. I will end with this as I have no words of my own:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm tender hand.” –Henri Nouwen. We all feel your pain JB.

January 19, 2014. That is the date at the time I am writing this. As of this moment, Arsenal have not made any signings in the January transfer window. This has many pundits and fans (of all teams, including Arsenal), saying that we can’t win the title. But worry not, Gooners, I am here to tell you that we can win the title! And this is why: 

1.    There are 12 days left in the transfer window.

Most signings during the transfer window take place during the last week. This is especially true for Arsenal. Wenger seems to like evaluating players in the last week of the window, based on their performances to date as well as injury, and deciding who should be sold and bought. For example, Nacho Monreal last season. Gibbs suffered a long term injury and Andre Santos’ performances to (that) date had been lacking (to put it nicely). Wenger decided to dip into the market and get a quality player who he could improve and could challenge Gibbs for that left back spot for years to come. So far, Nacho has been even better than expected, improving in leaps and bounds in our very solid squad and he looks like he will continue to improve and serve the club well for years to come.

So far this season, I can’t think of any players who have truly been underperforming. We did excellent in the summer to rid ourselves of our deadweight and the only player in the squad who is currently useless is Diaby. He is a good player on his day, but is really too injury prone for a club like Arsenal. We will likely sell him in the summer (assuming we can keep him fit until then). As for signings, we have a fairly deep squad (which will be discussed in a later ‘reason’). The only signings we really need would be cover for Giroud and maybe a young centre back to cover for us just in case a defender or two get hurt. We could also maybe use cover for Theo, but Gnabry has stepped up so hugely lately, that it really does seem unnecessary. So perhaps a striker could be a nice addition, but if Wenger can’t get one of his main targets, we can afford to wait until the summer because Nicky B is beginning to live up to the potential that many of us expected, and we do have young Yaya Sanogo back later this week if we really are out of options.

2.    We are in fantastic form.

We are just off a solid 2-0 win at home to Fulham. So let us take a look at Arsenal’s recent stats.

Our last 5 games:

Wins: 5

Goals Scored: 10

Goals Conceded: 2

AVG Goals For Per Game: 2.00

AVG Goals Against Per Game: 0.40

We are on a five game win streak and a six game unbeaten streak (these five games and the Chelsea draw). We are scoring plenty of goals and have the top defence in the league. This means we have most clean sheets and fewest goals conceded in the PL. Our next three league games are against Southampton (A), Crystal Palace (H), and Liverpool (A). Southampton and Liverpool could be tough games, but we have plenty of time to rest between all of these games. Also we beat both already this season and we are better away than we are at home. All of this together, means we should take maximum points from all of these games.

3.    Wenger knows how to do well during the run in.

The past two seasons Arsenal have been outside of the top four heading into the final stretch of the season. And the past two seasons, Arsenal have ended in the top four. Most notably, last season when we were unbeaten for majority of the end of the season, starting with a 2-0 away win at the eventual Champion’s League winners, Bayern Munich. Wenger has experience on his side, both at winning titles and motivating a team for the run in. Arsene just needs to combine these two and lead the team to as many points as possible from now until the end of the season. Last season Manchester United won the title with 89 points. We currently have 51. Based on that we could theoretically lose up to ten points and still get 89 points. However, this league is far more competitive than last season, and I firmly believe we could possibly need up to 95 points to win the title. That means no more than one loss from here on out. It will be difficult, but I firmly believe this team with this manager and this spirit can do it.

4.    We have a deep squad.

Most top teams have at least two players in every position they play on the field. I see a lot of people saying we lack squad depth. But let’s look at how deep our squad really is

First Line Up (Not necessarily a first choice line up):

ArsenalLineup1

Second Line Up (Not necessarily a second choice line up):

ArsenalLineup2 

The weakest spots here are right back/centre back and winger (only due to Walcott’s injury). This is not terrible and easily fixable with a purchase or two, which can definitely be put off until the summer. On top of these players we have Viviano, Ryo, Sanogo, and various youngsters. We also can’t forget we have players such as Joel Campbell and Akpom currently out on loan who will be back next season. To sum everything up, Arsenal really does have a strong side despite popular belief; and this window, as well as the summer window, could really complete our squad.

5.    We are top of the table.

Simply put, we are already top of the table! We have no climb to make. Technically winning all of our games now, would ensure us the title! 😉 Another positive, we were top at the beginning of the new year. At the end of almost every season (at least in recent history) people look at the table of the end of the season and compare it to the table at the new year, and the champion is almost always top then. This is a huge deal and should not be taken lightly. There isn’t much to this reason. It’s very simple. We’re top of the league. Let’s keep it that way.

Thank for reading! 😀

Written By: Dylan.

Bergkampesque is an inclusive blog and we welcome constructive comments from Gooners and other supporters: the more the merrier. We always welcome new bloggers to comment and share in the debate as long as they stick to the blog guidelines (see at top of page). 

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TotalArsenal.

Why were so many off their normal game on Saturday?

Rotation v Fatigue

Giroud has often disappointed many Arsenal fans this season.
The hardest working Striker in the CL is seldom appreciated for the total impact on our game (comment TA).

Rotation? Do it to beat fatigue? Or don’t do it and ignore fatigue as long as possible?

Fatigue? Is it all in the mind? Or is it a genuine reason for under-performing?

I must admit I do find it strange that so many see fatigue, either as an irrelevance, or should not apply to professional footballers. So that is my starting point.

In almost any sport you care to mention, from Darts and Snooker through to Tennis and Track and Field events, those involved will, without exception, say that back to back performances get harder and harder. So why should footballers be any different?

Dart players need to concentrate to repeat actions over and over again. You may think that is simply a mechanical thing, so that if you practice a lot you don’t have to think about it. Well certainly practice helps. But in the pressure of performing in front of a live audience needs control of both emotions and their concentration level. Distractions can mean just the slight deviation in the flight of the throw that can mean victory or defeat? Repeated demands on the concentration levels always leaves its mark.

In snooker too: you are in a one on one situation, where you alternate between playing and not playing, but with a difference. You never know how long the sitting out periods may be. In darts, it is three arrows from your opponent and you are on. With snooker you can sit out a whole frame without getting your cue in action. You can play short round matches that may only last and hour. Or you can play the longer matches over two days, with several sessions a day. Worst still, you could be playing late into the night getting through one round, and then have to be ready to do the same again the following day. So even if the previous night was one of great satisfaction, and a great boost to the confidence level, if you have beaten a higher ranking opponent. But the records show that it is rarely repeated at that same level the next time. All snooker players can claim to have an advantage if they have just one day off between each match.

Moreover, with both these high intensity sports that lack the physical aspect, the victors at the end of a long tournament say they need a break. A physical break, before they can look forward to competing again.

But if you want to throw in the physical aspect on to an individual sport, then singles tennis events are probably the most demanding? The intensity of a partisan(?) crowd, the strength of your opponent, and often the climatic conditions are all their to test their mental strength. They too, see an advantage of having longer gaps between games than their opponents, irrespective of how they played previously. They too are drained at the end of a tournament where these demands are the most extreme.

With track athletes it is all about the physical performance. So they may have to stretch their stamina resources when they have two elimination rounds in one day. By the time the final rounds come along, it is usually the ones with the most ability that have been able to ease through the qualifying rounds, without extending themselves too much, that come out on top.

So when it comes to football, they not only have the physical effort to manage, but also the concentration levels too. Not for the two hours of a marathon runner, unless their is extra time, but way above the 10 seconds of the 100 metres sprint. Yes it is a team game, and the players are not involved all off the time, not to the physical extreme that is true. But the concentration level should always be on alert, because you can never be sure when you are going to have to make a tackle, or receive the ball. Fatigue in this area is what is so costly. An unexpected error will throw out what your fellow players were planning for, and that can be more draining on them?

So, just because professional footballers are well paid, have good facilities to train and recover from matches, does not mean that playing up to 95 minutes once a week does not leave them below their full level of all round fitness – mental and physical.

I have read that top football coaches think as much as 50% is lost by the following day. This is probably why if they do any training the next day, it is only light by nature? They then go on to say that by the second day, a player may recover 75% of what was lost in their last match. Which is still a significant drop, and will vary amongst the players. Another variable is just how demanding the previous game was? Another may be just how many demanding games have gone before the latest one? Travelling too, is not as relaxing after a bit of light training?

On top of all that you have the different demands that these factors are taking on the individual players. I said with the track athletes, if they are real top class performers they can breeze through their early rounds. However, the athletes that just scrape into the qualifiers are very unlikely to beat these same athletes in the final round because of the extra effort it took out of them? It is the same with teams of footballers. Some players will be stretching their ability in every game, while others are capable of making hard things look simple, because they can. So, a team of all round better players will be able to get through matches easier. That does not necessarily happen because of the ‘one off’ factor, when a lesser team has a game when it all comes together. But over the longer term, a full season, ‘the usual suspects’ are invariably somewhere near the top?

So, I ask again. Why is it so difficult to accept that football is a demanding game, and fatigue will play its part?

Take the run of games that Arsenal played:

Sunday match v Everton: Tough match, slightly added to (mentally) by not holding the late lead?

Tuesday fly out to Italy, probably still only 70% recovered?

Wednesday they played Napoli: tough game. Guess a %age below peak around 90%

Fly back early hours Thursday, now only 45% fit

Friday, just getting up to 65/70%?

Saturday, early kick off. What? 85% recovered, playing away from home against a very talented side.

Well, you know what happened. Does it make a bit more sense why so many were way off their normal game?

I hope so. Because this is why rotation is not just an option. Playing every 3 days will mean if we played the same 11 players for all these matches, there are some that will not make it past the third game, given they will not have recovered fully by the time the next game comes along, which compounds the drop in their ability to deliver once more.

The pros and cons of our run over this periods are: We have 3 good days to recover from the Chelsea game; Away match against West Ham, no real travelling; Unlike 2 good days, but match messed up by travel to Newcastle – the tricky tie I identified earlier.: We then have two good days, before we play Cardiff at home. The previous three results will help, but we are going to be down on our levels. Be warned, Cardiff will be fighting for their survival!: Next, FA Cup v Spurs will be just the tonic, even the most knackered will find something deep down for this one, albeit with only 2 good recovery days on top of all the rest. But then we get a 9 day break before our repeat fixture with the Villa.

A bad result against West Ham could mean one set of 11 players will be running on empty by the time the Cup match comes around.

So, all agreed? Rotation Rotation Rotation.

Done sensibly of course?

Written by: Gerry

Who to replace Giroud? Clues: He is 18, born in Stuttgart, cost £100k

Is the squad too thin

or

Is it really that hard to rotate sensibly?

Picture from Arsenal.com.
Picture from Arsenal.com.

I know I bang on about using the kids more often, but quite frankly, I think that time has past. We have a core of players that are going to have to carry us until January at least. And even with any signings, most will get their introductions in the first couple of rounds of the FA Cup. Even the best players are going to need an adjustment period. So, for at least two months we are likely to be using a pick from 15 or 16 players. That is providing those who do come back from injury don’t suffer any relapses?

The key period is this coming month, while there are still mid-week games to be played. So here is a player-by-player guide of how to navigate our way through this difficult fixture list.

Goalkeeper – Szczesny. No need to rotate except in the Cup matches, or for injury.

CB – Mertersacker. Again, a seasoned professional who will happily keep going through all the serious stuff, barring injury.

CB – Koscielny. Solid player, but if fatigue is creeping in, he needs a break. The next two games could be ideal for such a break?

CB – Vermaelen. Needs playing time, alongside Mertersacker preferably. Play him the next two games and he will be nice and sharp for the four games that follow, in case of injury or suspension.

LB – Gibbs. Just had a bout of ‘flu, no need to rush him back. Let him sit out the next game, and do a half game the next one. Then play according to who lines up ahead on the left – see earlier comments.

LB – Monreal. Excellent game last time. Keep him in to prove he can do it against a side that provides a sterner test, which I am sure he will. I would also be tempted to play him in the away leg at Napoli, keeping Gibbs fresh for the league games that follow.

RB – Sagna. Difficult one. Needs to play unless he has a fitness issue. Perhaps taking an early breather in games we have under control?

RB – Jenkinson. Just at the moment he is a bit of a gamble to play from the start, as he has a tendency to get forwards, and get caught out, partly because opposition in the league have realised he is easy to gang up on and get a turnover. Self perpetuating, not playing, not getting into games in good form. Needs a solid back up ahead of him in any game he starts, but maybe use him ahead of Sagna for the last 25 minutes?

MF – Arteta. No problem. Can play when needed.

MF – Flamini. No problem if he keeps out of the card game?

MF – Ramsey. Should need a break, but physically shows no sign of slowing down … until he gets a thigh or groin problem. Best solution is to do some first hour, last 20 minutes, rotation. The next six games look too important to miss out unless he has a physical problem. However, the odd game, perhaps against Hull, could refresh him against mental fatigue?

MF – Wilshere. Looked in the last game to have relaxed a little, and let his talent do the talking. Ideal timing to come into form before these crucial matches. Also, ideal player to alternate with the above for mini breaks of not playing the full 90 minutes every time? Not forgetting the ankle tapping that will go on, without, it seems, much support from referees?

That is the defensive side stretched to the limit, but with luck they may just see it through?

Bench support could come from Yennaris and Hayden, but neither are getting any first team game time. One or the other should be on the bench, just in case?

MF – Rosicky. Needs to pick his games where he is absolutely needed, or to be the ‘go to’ sub in every game when tired legs and minds are flagging?

MF – Cazorla. Could play most games, but I would prefer he sits some out to be the Ozil back up, and not start when the above does, unless there is an injury crisis.

MF – Walcott. Could be about to be the most important player in this whole midfield set up … if he stays fit. Certainly start him against Cardiff, possibly bench against Hull as they are likely to be a PTB side that will not give him space to work in until late on? Therefore keep for the big league games, and bench at Napoli. They need the win, so space in the second half could open up nicely for him?

MF – Podolski. Will be useful if he is ready before the New Year.

ST/MF – Gnabry. I think we have seen enough of him to know he will be a player in this period. Much will depend on how the midfield is shaping up. He will not play at the same time as Walcott, unless he does have to step up for Giroud. Personally, I do not see that as a major problem, and can easily be tried out at the back end of the next two games if we have the scores under our control. However, he will more likely alternate with Walcott, unless we have the double pivot running, and the AMF’s are playing wide. He does need some playing time, so from the bench with this next match against Cardiff, and the full hour or so against Hull. Then take it from there, as required, but play him regularly.

ST – Giroud. Big problem if he gets a long term injury. He seems to be able to take the physical game okay, but there were signs of mental fatigue during the last intensive spell? We have a few players who could step in, but all have a ‘but’ about their suitability. So he plays until he drops. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that?

The alternatives are:

Bendtner – the most ‘like for like’ player but unlikely to get a good fan reaction.

Akpom – Inexperienced, but has been in good form at the lower level.

Sanogo – Struggling physically at the moment, but has the potential to be good next season.

That leaves: Walcott, Podolski, and Gnabry. The latter gets my vote, preferably with the other two in the line up.

Does that analysis worry you more?

Have your say on other possibilities…

 

Written by: Gerry

Giroud injured – Who to play: Pod, Bendtner, Sanogo, Akpom or Theo?

Giroud, Giroud, Giroud is on fire: but what are we going to do if he gets injured?
Giroud, Giroud, Giroud is on fire: but what are we going to do if he gets injured?

Among fellow Gooners, the overriding feeling with regards to our current team is that Arsenal are now very strong in midfield, good to very strong at the back, but a bit light in attack.

The big question we are all asking ourselves is what we are going to do if Giroud (knock on your mini-hampton Glic) gets injured.

There will be a new post later this evening, but for the sake of a bit discussion, I would like to ask BK readers to tell us who we should play instead of Giroud and why.

Before you do so, however, I would like to point out that Giroud’s role/contributions in our current team/line up/system of football are as follows:

  1. Giroud’s main role is to be the central attacking hub up-front: he is the pivot to many of our attacking moves and provides his fellow strikers and midfielders with a ‘base’ up-front. For that he needs to be good at playing with his back towards the opposition’s goal, not get outmuscled easily, be able to shield the ball well, have a good first touch and pass the ball accurately. It is fair to say that OG is not the finished article in these areas, but he is constantly making progress;
  2. Although OG will always be judged on his goals, in our current system we should also judge him on his assists, as well as his ability to make space for others and allow them to join our attack. The latter is a lot harder to measure, but is nevertheless key to this role in our current formation/system of football;
  3. As a result, we should look to replace an injured Giroud with a player who can do the same, and not focus entirely on the ability to score goals or produce assists;
  4. Giroud puts himself about across the pitch, is a force in defending set-pieces for us and continuously works hard to put pressure on the opposition defenders and midfielders.

You might believe there are more attributes/aspects Giroud adds to our team, and if so, please share them with us.

But, taking the above into account, and assuming that Arsene will want to continue with our current 4-2-1-3 system as much as possible, who should replace Giroud in case of injury, and why: Akpom, Bendtner, Pod, Sanogo or Theo, or….?

Also, if you would like to make your predictions for the coming season, please go to:

https://bergkampesque.com/2013/09/07/arsenal-to-win-the-treble-manchester-united-to-finish-fifth-benteke-season-top-scorer-southampton-to-win-fa-cup-make-your-predictions-here/

Finally, to support a locally based new band, have a look at this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i0736Nm5og

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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With the possible arrivals of Higuain and Fellaini, Gervinho should be kept at Arsenal.

Gervinho+QK2e23IAMChm

Gervinho is a player who always gives his all. He is also a safe pair of hands when it comes to holding on to the ball and breaking through a defensive line from the wing, in order to make it to the by-line. He possesses skills that nobody else, except maybe The Ox, can offer to our team. He makes clever runs into the box, with or without the ball, as he reads the game better than most of us give him credit for.

This season, he played just 18 PL games for us in which he scored five goals and produced three assists: not great, but not a bad return either. He also played in six CL games, in which he scored two and also had two assists: a record he can be satisfied with.

Gervinho offers a good alternative to the likes of Podolski and Cazorla on the left wing, and he can also play on the right wing. He clearly needed time to settle in, and playing in two successive ACN tournaments since joining us from Lille, has not helped him much in doing so.

However, there is every reason to believe he will improve further next season.

It is fair to say, a number of bad, painful misses, against the likes of Bradford (away) and Blackburn (at home) for the cups, have done a lot of damage to both his image – and, subsequently, the support levels by the fans – and his confidence. Some fans are always looking to vent their frustration with anything Arsenal, and just like bullies do, they focus on the (perceived) weakest member of the squad. The season before last it was Rambo, and last season it was the Gerv. If there is anything I loathe about fellow supporters, it’s this.

His decision making and finishing are not always at the required level, and in general, he finds it difficult to gel with his team mates, and vice versa. With regards to the latter, it cannot have been easy for him last season, with new arrivals Podolski (German), Giroud (French), and Nacho and Cazorla (Spanish) all needing to settle into the team, as well as the PL in general. The Ivorian ball wizard appears to be an introvert person anyway, and he probably has limited command of English, let alone German or Spanish.

Gervinho+Swansea+City+v+Arsenal+Premier+League+nqrbX2KNAbUx

But once again, after a transitional season, there is reason now to believe that the (telepathic) relationships between all these players will improve significantly next season. The Gerv should benefit from this tremendously.

There are quite a few fellow Gooners who would instantly swap him for Nani of Manure. Nani, who played this season just 10 PL games, managed to score only two goals, and he scored none in four CL games. Nani scored a meagre 51 goals in 288 appearances, compared to 75 in 284 by Gervinho – that is about 50% more. They are of the same age, but if I had to put my money on who will make more progress in the PL next season and beyond, it would go to the Gerv.

Do I believe he is the best LW around? No. Could we improve on him? Yes. Do I believe Nani is the player to do? I doubt it very much!

It would be a big gamble by Arsene, and sticking with Gervinho for another season might be the far better gamble. I would like him to stay another season, in which he hopefully improves significantly.

With the now highly likely arrival of Higuain, and possibly another central midfielder/nr.10 – Fellaini, Jovetic, or Rooney (?) etc – we will see the likes of Cazorla, Theo, Ox and Podolski, or even Gibbs, playing a lot on the left or right wing. There will be no space in the squad for a top level classical (left) winger – which Nani clearly isn’t anyway – even if we were to sell Gervinho (a point which was made very well by fellow blogger AFC only a few days ago).

But when we play the ‘park the bus teams’ and we are just not getting through, there are very few players who accept sitting on the bench a lot during a season, and yet can come on and make a difference – a plan-B if you want – by breaking through the lines and feed the likes of Higuain, Giroud, Pod, Theo and Cazorla, etc.

To have such a player – at least on the bench – is a necessity for a silverware-winning squad. That player is Gervinho and for me he deserves at least one more season at the home of football.

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Henry the Gooner 016

Squad rotation has many benefits and Arsene should do it more

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This is a season that has had its ups and downs but currently it seems we are slowly turning a corner. Ultimately this is a season every gooner would like to forget, given the heartache and disappointment we’ve been through; however, it is not without its silver linings. This though, is a story for another day. I would like to focus on the current squad we have and its usage throughout the season, bringing out an issue that I believe has been bringing us down: squad rotation.

At the beginning of the season, we saw our talisman depart for pastures new, and this was met swiftly with the acquisition of Olivier Giroud on top of Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski. This was then offset by the departure of Alex Song. In the end, Song’s departure wasn’t as much of a setback as RVP’s was, because Cazorla has proved that he is a far better player than Song ever will be. Anyway my point here is this, while quality-wise we lost a vital cog in our team in RVP, numbers-wise we began the season much better off than we did last season. Please note that in this article, I will completely ignore the dead weight (Arshavin, Djourou, Squillaci and company).

That said, I will proceed to do an audit of the team. GKS: Szczesny, Mannone, Fabianski –Defenders: Sagna, TV5, Per, Kos, Gibbs, Nacho, Jenko – Central Mids: Arteta, Rosicky, Wilshere, Santi, Ramsey, Diaby, Coquelin – Wingers: Gervinho, Ox – Strikers: Poldi, Giroud and Theo.

If you look at this team, you find that, quality taken into account, this is the biggest squad we have had in a while. The versatility of some players makes this team even bigger yet I do not believe that every resource we have has been properly utilized. Like any other team we have had some of our important players battle with injury, mainly Jack, Sagna, Rosicky, Gibbs and Diaby. This however does not explain why there are some players who have been sentenced to the bench for lengthy spells, when they could have done a job for us.

These players are Koscielny, Coquelin, Rosicky, Ox, Jenko and Poldi.

For some of them Wenger has offered explanations, while others; your guess would be as good as mine as to why they were left out. Koscielny ended the previous campaign as our best defender by miles. This term has surprisingly seen him restricted to the bench. I understand that his situation is a bit complex, being that Per brings a balance and height that makes him a mainstay of the side; and TV5 is the skipper. I will still go on to condemn his exclusion mainly because TV5 has suffered a drastic loss of form, that saw him make errors that lost us games, and yet Wenger stuck with him. The fact that since he was dropped, we have kept 2 clean sheets and concede 1 goal in 3 games, and Koscielny’s performances especially away to Bayern, proves my point even further.

Then there’s Rosicky. This is a player who last season produced performances that saw us finish 3rd during that incredible resurgence. He suffered an injury during his international duties but even after recovery, he was left on the bench. This is another baffling exclusion because his technical and creative prowess is at par with Jack and Santi. On top of that, when Jack recovered from his injury, Wenger promised to use him sparingly to avoid a recurrence, yet he was played almost 20 games on the trot before his first real rest. All this while, Rosicky was on the bench waiting. This particular exclusion stings me the most, because Rosicky is one of our best and most experienced players.

There were games where our midfield was lacking seriously, yet Ramsey was picked ahead of him. The worst part of it was the midfield was guilty of lacking composure, giving away possession too easily, misplacing passes and lacking that extra creative drive that would make the team tick and combine better, exactly what Rosicky brings to the team. Anyway, let’s move on.

Then comes Poldi. He is arguably our best finisher. If you look at his goals to minutes ratio, he is one of the most lethal finishers in the league. Yet, either he was played on the left or he wasn’t played at all. He was played once as our main striker and was anonymous, but if we judged a player by one game, then the likes of Thierry and Pires would have been offloaded before the end of their first seasons with AFC. In fact, with Poldi, I think he has been treated rather unfairly. Theo and Giroud have been given their chances up front but not him. Also, he has been benched without any explanation (to us fans) from the boss. Even when Giroud has been inconsistent, Poldi has been overlooked.

Then finally we have the Ox, Coquelin and Jenko. These three, I understand to a degree, given that they’re in their formative years. They have been victims of Jack’s misfortunes and I understand the boss wanting to protect them. I think he has gone overboard, though. Sagna, Arteta and Theo have been overplayed to the point of loss of form (for Theo & Arteta) and Injury (for Sagna). Coquelin is currently the only true DM we have, a position known to be our Achilles heal, yet he is the least played of the bunch. Like I said, I support Wenger in wanting to protect them but they could do with a little more game time. If not for their development then to share some of the workload their more experienced counterparts have.

In conclusion, I feel that proper rotation serves several purposes. It keeps players fit and fresh(er) over the course of the whole season, given the sharing of the burden of games, and it reduces injuries.

It also gives everyone a taste of the action, making them even hungrier and more determined to do their best to win their positions.

Rotation also ensures that first teamers do not slack off, because they know that any dip in form will see them swiftly replaced.

Rotation allows the boss to play around with formations, combinations and strategies depending on our opponents as every player brings something unique to the side. This keeps us very unpredictable and makes us a harder side to compete with.

So this is an aspect that the gaffer should improve on, so as to makes us better in every way.

What are your toughts fellow Gooners?

Written by: Marcus

Will and should Rosicky be at Arsenal next season?

Little Mozart needs an orchestra and a podium to perform on more regularly then currently is the case!
Little Mozart needs an orchestra and a podium to perform on more regularly than currently is the case!

Rosicky has been at Arsenal since 2006, and is liked by Arsenal fans for his ability to lead a midfield through his vision and dribbling skills, good ball control, quick one-touch football with clever movement, and always having a trick up his sleeve to beat defenders. These qualities allow Rosicky to orchestrate a midfield, which led to him acquiring the nickname ‘The Little Mozart’, during his time in Germany playing for Borussia Dortmund.

It could be argued that the rejuvenated Rosicky, of the late part of the second halve of last season, led Arsenal to securing 3rd place in the Premier League, and more importantly, qualifying for the Champions League once again. This resulted in Rosicky being offered a new contract, which he later signed.

Despite signing a new contract at the end of last season, Rosicky has not played as much as he would have expected to, as a result of Wenger opting to play other midfielders instead of him.

At the moment, Rosicky’s experience and quality is not being utilised in the best possible way by Wenger, in order to get the best out of our current squad of players.

At the age of 32 years old, Rosicky is not getting any younger and many fans are wondering how much longer Rosicky will stay at Arsenal, and whether Rosicky will leave Arsenal soon, or whether Rosicky will stay at Arsenal; eventually going on to retire at Arsenal. The latter is now looking less likely, with Rosicky getting limited game time and being resorted to making cameo appearances.

People may point out that Rosicky has started a number of games lately, starting with the second leg of our Champion’s League tie with Bayern Munich and Premier League fixtures after that match, but in my opinion Rosicky has only started those matches because of injuries to other players in the squad i.e. Diaby, Podolski, Wilshere and Walcott, who are still unavailable; and most recently, possibly players being left out because of transfer speculation i.e. Podolski (and also Vermaelen, although this has no bearing on whether Rosicky starts matches).

And if Wenger had none of these problems to take into consideration when picking his teams, and had a full squad to choose from, Rosicky would not make the first eleven on a regular basis. This was seen much earlier on in the season with Rosicky hardly starting any matches.

Numerous clubs have shown interest in Rosicky and it was rumoured that in January, Everton made an enquiry regarding the sale of the Czech, but Wenger told Everton that he was not for sale. Rosicky’s former club Borussia Dortmund have also shown interest in Rosicky; wanting to bring him back to Germany.

Rosicky is clearly a wanted man!

For Wenger to tell Everton that Rosicky is not for sale could mean one of three things:

1) Rosicky must still be in Wenger’s future plans. Wenger could see Rosicky as part of the group of experienced players which Wenger needs to accumulate before the start of next season, to add the much needed experience which this current Arsenal team needs in order to succeed and win trophies.

2) Wenger does want to sell Rosicky but just did not want to sell him in January, as he would not have been able to replace him in January. It could be a possibility that the player(s) Wenger wanted to replace Rosicky with in the summer, was/were not available in January.

3) Wenger has already agreed a fee with another club for the sale of Rosicky in the summer, with the Czech and the other club already agreeing on personal terms ahead of his move.

Wenger needs to solve this situation regarding Rosicky by next season. If Wenger does not see him in his future plans, the Frenchman must sell him for the good of Arsenal and little Mozart himself.

There is no point in keeping Rosicky and paying his weekly wage if you are not going to play him (something that has been happening too much with other players at Arsenal in recent years). Rosicky’s wages could be used to pay the wages of a younger attacking midfielder, whom Wenger would play weekly; for example Isco.

Arshavin is a perfect example of a quality, experienced player whose career has been ruined at Arsenal, and his reputation tainted in world football, because he did not leave Arsenal when he should have; and as a result, spent a number of seasons sitting on the bench, losing all of his confidence, and is now generally hated by a lot of Arsenal fans.

The last thing Arsenal fans want to see is Rosicky’s career as a footballer ruined (just like Arshavin’s and Chamakh’s); where we are paying/trying to pay, other clubs to take him on loan, or wasting valuable club money paying his wages to sit on the bench and make the odd random appearance, and with Rosicky coming on the pitch dragging his feet, looking like he is being forced to play against his will and cannot wait to leave Arsenal.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Written by: AFC.

Arsene finally changed tactics against Brighton: but will he do it again?

Arsenal+manager+Arsene+Wenger

To play or not to play: a closer look at Arsenal’s rotation policy.

Let me begin by saying that this article will not bring to light any groundbreaking information regarding Arsenal’s current rotation policy, but simply aims to provide the basis for further discussion today.

Aside from Arsene’s constant touchline zipper dilemmas, there has been much debate about a larger predicament on hand at Arsenal; Arsene’s rotation policy or lack there of.

Is it a matter of Arsene not having faith in his substitutes? Is Arsene secretly aware of the lack of depth in our squad? Or is it a concern that his substitutes are not in form and need a run of games in order to produce? Is he worried that the team will lose momentum and chemistry if the starting line-up is altered?

org for TG post

Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear: Arsenal’s starters are bearing the full brunt of Arsene’s decision to not rotate players often enough, and this is leaving our squad with countless injuries. This article will examine the mentality and considerations which Arsene may be using in regards to his rotation policy.

At first glance of Arsenal’s full squad, there is a great degree of concern over our lack of depth. There is a capable contingent of starters that fans are comfortable with, but the ever-present fear of injuries plagues the brittle confidence they have in some of Arsenal’s injury-prone players. Players like Diaby, Gibbs and Arteta are fantastic for Arsenal when healthy, but it seems that every year they fall victim to recurring injuries that cut their seasons short.

Despite that, I can see why Arsene believes there is depth at almost every position (aside from LB). After his most recent comments on squad depth, he believes in having two players for every position in the line-up. In goal and on defense, Mannone, Koscielny and Jenkinson have all proved that they can provide adequate cover if called upon. Mannone is not the ideal back-up keeper, but was good enough to help Arsenal secure victories earlier in the year.

The midfield is the position with the greatest depth and yet the greatest concern. The long and distinguished injury histories of Diaby and Rosicky have been well documented, while Ramsey and Frimpong have dealt with serious blows early on in their careers; failing to find the same form they had pre-injury. Coquelin is still inconsistent and finding it difficult to discover good form, likely due to a lack of playing time.

Arsene has seemingly lost all faith in Arshavin and has opted to just run out the remainder of his contract. Even when given playing time, Arshavin is often played out of position on the LW where his lack of pace and work rate are exposed. The wing is the only position that sees regular rotation, as Gervinho and Chamberlain are often rotated with Podolski and Theo (occasionally with Giroud rotating out and Gervinho or Podolski playing up top; but it will likely be Theo rotating with him, from now on).

So then, with all the aforementioned substitute players, why do they rarely get a start in the first team?

Why not play Rosicky when our offense is finding it difficult to break down the opposition’s defense? Why not play Coquelin in games that Arteta has clearly come out sluggish and is looking tired, after starting numerous games in a row?

Unfortunately, this is a question that I cannot answer without being in the Arsenal coaching staff. There could be personal disagreements between the player and the coaching staff, Arsene may have lost faith in their abilities (includes not believing in their current form) or maybe Arsene wants his starters to maintain their form and fears a loss of momentum if he changes the line-up too often.

If the latter two reasons are to blame for Arsene’s lack of rotation, then there are a few simple solutions. In respect to lost faith in his substitute player’s abilities, he simply has to lose any emotional attachment he may have with them and replace them with more capable players. It’s unacceptable for a top club to be carrying dead weight on its roster and to not sell a player who never plays because the bid did not meet Arsene’s valuation of the player.

However, it’s a different matter altogether if the player refuses to leave or no clubs have inquired about them. The allure of potential resonates in Arsene’s evaluation of his players, but some of these players would be better off on loan; gaining the necessary starting minutes for their development. Their growth will only go so far if they are only exposed to training sessions, spot starts and substitute appearances. In addition, it’s very difficult for a substitute to play one game every three weeks since they are lacking game experience/form, confidence that there is room to make mistakes, and the mental concentration needed to see through an entire match.

Clearly, the lack of a current rotation policy has not helped us find consistency from game to game and has only resulted in fatigue and injuries. This begs the question of whether Arsene’s belief that our starters need more playing time to gel as a unit, and gain familiarity with one another, is accurate.

Every time he incorrectly chooses to start a substitute, the decision is scrutinized and fans blame his tactics. However, when he elects to stick with the same starters in several consecutive games, fans call for him to rotate players more often.

Understandably, fans’ patience with Arsene’s decisions has grown thin after 8 years without silverware. Arsene is a professional who has stated on numerous occasions that he is not bothered by what the media and fans think about the choices he makes, and no coach would ever allow the masses to dictate their decisions.

With that said, I would like the rotation decision to lie somewhere between the two extremes and for Arsene to find the right balance between his starters and substitutes. The ideal starting line-up should always play against the top clubs and in important cup matches, while more squad players should start against mid to lower table teams. If Arsenal has a run of tough fixtures, Arsene would do well to start a few of his squad players, in addition to the current group of favoured starters. Such a simple rotation philosophy would help ease the burden on the starting group and keep them fresh, along with possibly taking preventative measures on injuries due to being overplayed. Non-starters cannot play confidently when they are in constant fear of losing their place in the next match.

We’ve already seen at first hand what a lack of first-team opportunities can have on players such as Giroud, Coquelin, Koscielny, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho. If they were given a decent run of games, each one could perform consistently well. However, they generally have all failed to contribute adequately when only given a start every 5 or 6 matches.

Fast forward to our last match in the FA Cup vs. Brighton, and we saw Arsene fielding plenty of his non-starting squad players.

It was certainly a significant change in tactics from the majority of the season, and it was an encouraging sign that perhaps injuries played a factor in the lack of rotation all along. In addition, Arsene may have fielded his starters so often because he knew we needed to catch up with the competition, after an accumulation of poor performances earlier in the season.

Transitioning new players into a squad is never a simple task, and Arsene has done a commendable job of rotating the CBs and CFs/Wings. The area that needs greater focus for rotation going forward is the midfield. Now that the team is more established and that players are returning to full health from injuries, I am confident that we will continue to see good rotation from Arsene.

To conclude, if Arsene is truly cognizant of the lack of squad depth, but is simply refusing to admit it and electing to play his starters into the ground to compensate, then there’s a bigger issue at hand.

Firstly, he is jeopardizing the long-term careers of his starters by making them more susceptible to injury.

Secondly, he’s prioritizing his own ego above the greater good of the team instead of admitting he has made mistakes in his purchases during the transfer windows.

However, I truly believe that everything Arsene does for Arsenal is in the best interests of the club, and am just hoping for more frequent rotation to give our squad players a fair opportunity to prove their worth and to avoid an accumulation of injuries.

What do you Gooners think about Arsene’s rotation policy? What do you think is the cause of the lack of rotation, and what should be done to resolve this issue?

Written By: The Gooner

Arsenal have a great squad: but is Arsene any good at rotation?

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In an ideal world, we would not have two, very promising, young goalkeepers, but at least one experienced stopper; and we would also have a beast of an experienced, classical DM in our squad. But other than that, Arsenal have great strength in depth throughout the team.

Last night, I was having a good look at our squad and gave some thoughts to what would happen once, if ever, the entire squad is fully fit and ready to play. I divided the squad into: ‘most likely first team starters’ and ‘second string team’, and when finished I wondered whether I would put my house on the first team easily beating the second string team, assuming they are all fully fit and motivated.

First Team:                 Second Team:

Szczesny                      Mannone

Sagna                           Jenkinson

Mertesacker              Djourou

Vermaelen                 Koscielny

Gibbs                            Santos

Arteta                          Coquelin

Diaby                            Ramsey

Santi                              Jack

Podolski                       Rosicky

Gervinho                     Arshavin

Giroud                          Theo

I based the first team on a mixture of recent selection choices for key games and quality of the player (experience, recent successful performances, etc). A fully fit Jack might be first choice instead of a fully fit Diaby, but I reckon it is very close at the moment.

Would you put your house on the above mentioned first team beating the second team, say four times out of five? I would not.

I reckon Arteta is a lot stronger than Coquelin, as the former lacks the enormous experience of the Spaniard, and a fully fit Diaby is ahead of Ramsey, no doubt. Mertesacker is a better CB than JD and Podolski a better goal scorer than Rosicky, but a team is more than the sum of its parts, and if both teams would be given one month to train together and than play five games against each other over the space of two weeks; would the first team outperform the second team with ease every time? I think not.

Or let me put it differently, if we would take the second team to Norwich on Saturday, would you really be worried we would not be able to win the game?

There is great strength of depth in our team, which is just fantastic for us. The key thing is, though, to use it properly. Rotation of players is a real art. We all know the saying: ‘don’t change a winning team’ and managers are often reluctant to rotate players, even when the risk of fatigue and subsequent injury is looming dangerously.

I reckon we played Mertesacker in too many games before he got injured. His body and mind were used to a long winter-break in December and January, but Arsenal kept playing him and it is quite well possible that this led to him damaging his ligaments in early February. Arteta and Van Persie are other examples of not being rotated enough. Miraculously, we got away with not resting the traitorous Dutchman, but we were not so lucky with our anchor in midfield, which could have cost us dearly. There are more examples of players being played in too many games in succession, and the only way to avoid the strong possibility of long term injuries to key players is by rotating our squad wisely.

I am a huge fan of Arsene, but I believe he is not very good at rotation. I don’t think he does it enough, and we often seem to suffer disproportionately if and when Arsene is forced, or even chooses, to rotate. Yet, I feel strongly he needs to rotate more this season: not four, five players at a time, but one or two at every game: subtle, well-prepared for changes, designed to keep players out of the ‘red zone’.

If we don’t do it, there is a strong possibility we will get into the final period of the season – the one in which silverware is being won or lost – with either too many fatigued, or long-term injured players. By using the width of our squad appropriately we can keep the entire squad as fit as possible, leaving us with options throughout the season and a better possibility to bring home silverware in May.

Total Arsenal.