Five Reasons for Keeping Bacary Sagna

Signing Sagna the Litmus test? Absolutely!

The ultimate warrior
The ultimate warrior

I don’t know the exact details with regards to the club’s attempts to signing up Sagna to a new contract. I also don’t know whether he is determined to leave or would love to stay if a good offer is made to him. All I know, is that we are a big club and Sagna is a super quality player who still has a lot to offer to Arsenal.


We are supposed to have moved into a new era now: one of financial security and strength and, as a result, more control over player movements. After letting our best bunch of players go in recent years, we finally had a year in which all our remaining talents were kept at the home of football; and a SQ player was even added. So the signs are good, but keeping hold of Sagna will be the first proper test of the BoD’s competence in keeping hold of our very best players in the new era.

Now is the time to realise that not being able to keep hold of Sagna will reinforce the perception that we remain inferior to the other top clubs; or in fact, it would underline that we are no longer a top, but sub-top club.

I am sure that some will adopt a pragmatist approach: if he goes, we will replace him and all will be well again. But for me this would be wrong in more than one way.

Five reasons for keeping Bacary Sagna:

  1. Mr Reliable personifies all that Arsenal should be about: he offers 100% passionate commitment to the cause and is the total professional. Bacary is one of my favourite Arsenal players ever. He brings so much more than being a reliable right back, with his drive up and down the flank, fighting spirit, winning mentality, leadership skills and love for the club. Letting him go would leave a very big gap in our team: what Sagna has to offer is impossible to replace, at least in the short term.
  2. It is now important to build a culture of loyalty at the club; and we all know that loyalty needs to work both ways. If we look after our players, our players are far more likely to look after the club. There will always be mercenaries; in fact, they can be very useful for the club, but we need to show to our up and coming talents that they can have a full career at the club and will be looked after till the end of their careers, if they give their all to us. Bacary is such a player and keeping him would give out a strong signal that Arsenal is a good club to remain loyal to.
  3. Our defence is becoming a strong unit and now is the time to keep it together for a few more seasons. Sagna and Mertesacker are a strong defensive duo on our right side, and the former compensates for one or two weaknesses the latter possesses. On top of that, Sagna can play as the BFG’s replacement as he possesses similar organisational skills as the German. Nobody else can do this and letting Bacary go will leave us with more than one hole in our already thinly covered back four.
  4. Strong signal to this summer’s transfer prospects. Quality players have a choice to go anywhere they like and, other than money, they will be looking at the strength of the current squad and the club’s ability and willingness to keep hold of their best players. Keeping hold of Sagna would send out a strong signal that we are serious about moving the club to the next level.
  5. Ludivine should never wear another club shirt than Arsenal’s. 😉


Written by: TotalArsenal.

Be Kind to Yourself. 😛

Arsenal-City Review: Is this the (latest) season changer?

The Flame
The Flame

First up, read nothing but this! Not only am I a great writer but all the others are misleading. This feeling of course is true of any match report and news. Read enough and you can find any interpretation you want. I read many, all of which said that in the first half City owned Arsenal. Oh, and we were lucky.

Second, for those who wondered, no, I never expected my 4-2-4-0, but a man can dream a little, no? 🙂

Hmm, so I got to watch on Arsenal TV, courtesy of Sky Sport who likely scheduled it to show a blood bath, mostly for those who also watch NASCAR for the crashes.

Half 1: I saw City get the one and it was deserved. Good break, good shot and good rebound finish. Equally, well defended over a turnover, forced the worst available shot, which was unfortunately excellent and off the post or Scz and the post. And once you’ve the rebound like that, well it’s anyone’s story.

Each side had moments forward and some pressure. City had more shots, but few of any threat or intent. Arsenal had less BUT they were probing a lot more. Just missing going forward in the last effort. Equally several opportunities to get something in the box. For motion with intent we had less ball but, really it was a game of midfield back and forth. City, more ball and shots, Arsenal more threat/probing.

The common factor, both sides defended really well as a team and both did so relatively deep. Key point CM noted. City and DeMechelis were slightly the better. Arsenal were also the less lucky, the rebound (admittedly after pressure) and a realistic contact and penalty not called early on.

Players of the half? OG was very good but a bit lonely. Team defense and Gibbs especially, also. Pod going forward, not so much going back (thank you Gibbs), and TR was always present, almost opposite of Yaya interestingly.

Who won the half? On points, clearly City, on pressure, perhaps Arsenal. How can I say that with less possession and less shots? Well 3 yellows to City to 1 to Arsenal, and invisible Yaya (Toure), and a large number of corners to Arsenal for a team with lesser possession, shows that we were winning, if only just a very very little, most places BUT the all important scoreboard. Still we were forward enough and with some threat just not quite coming off. As we now know the second half would bear a bit of all that out..

Half 2: I won’t reiterate in detail, really. Very much like the first half but we had more possession so the game ended almost equal. Again, with few exceptions Yaya was invisible. The one time,  early in the half at 50mins saw them with a great chance well covered by Scz whose luck turned on rebounds from the first half.

One minute later, it’s all open, and first TR and then Santi are at goal with venom. And then in this open phase, at 52:44, FLAMINIIIIIII!

All that probing that the pundits were calling useless or signs of failure .. Well, one probes not to always score, but to eventually score. The eventually came despite still very good team defending by City.

This ushered  in some Arsenal dominance and almost immediately Sagna offers an almost second goal cross. We were definitely on top in ways the pundits said City were in the first half. But, for real.

This ushers in my thoughts on pundits and The Jordan Effect. If Michael Jordan did something ridiculous, it was amazing and he got the foul! Anyone else was an idiot. Seems that way with Arsenal, so read nothing but your unbiased correspondent here! 🙂

Then the Pod almost got it for us… Then and then and … We were definitely playing with them.

The rest played out as we know. We won half two decisively but not dominantly, and they did get some opportunities as befits a top team in any game, and thus we were not dominant or lucky enough to pull it out. A “fair” draw in my final thoughts on it.

Overall: lots of good probing, lots of good team defense, and what looked like two top teams having an even or near even go at it. City don’t leave thinking we aren’t top tier and neither should we in my opinion despite our penchant for a wee touch of gloom.

Player of the game: Demichelis, his defense was the extra thing that kept it for City. My opinion but he was disruptive everywhere.

Luckiest keeper: Draw. Both were lucky once.

Impact player: Draw Flamini and Rosicky, with honorable mention to Sagna who very quietly had about 8m crosses in.

Invisible players: TV, Yaya, Nasri. Not bad but not there really. Not OG who was part of the goal with good hold up, but also somewhat lonelier as we sat back a touch. Something we must solve if we play more this way, although the injured would help there with more B2B types off field just now.

Now my thoughts on signs and portents: No, Prince, I am not a believer but for lightening pre-match it was fun. However, I will point out I got the deeper defense, lineup, and half the final score right. Don’t knock the burnt offerings! 🙂

So, will this be the end of season changer?

I have to believe that our confidence will be lifted. We played well and evenly for the most  part with what is likely the top team in the league. My thoughts:

A. Confidence should be high just when we need it to get through the injuries and the season well. We may not win the rest of our games but we could. The same for all our competitors so…

B. We can play well with a very depleted team, which again has to help going forward and next year.

C. Our need for steal down the middle is clear, though we did well today. TV to DM might be a better deal than trying to find the perfect beast DM for many £.

But, will it change the season?? Well, like the burnt offerings, it’s hard to tell. But, back to my portents.

I was at church with family having seen the scoreline. Sat there contemplating as one does and of course “football is life” when suddenly the ground is shaking. Yet another bloody earthquake here in Christchurch, though a mere 4.0 it was shallow and thus relatively intense in shaking.

So, I was contemplating life and Arsenal and many things. At church… and the earth moved !!

Read into it what you will!! 🙂

Cheers — jgc

Gnabry and Zelalem to start, Santi and Theo in middle? Match Preview.

Arsenal vs Spurs Preview: Road to the FA Cup Final



It has only been a few days since our breathtaking last minute surge against Cardiff. Now we face a big test: a North London Derby. In a cup no less! A loss here is far worse than any normal loss in a NLD, as it means elimination from a cup that we really have a shot to win this season. We need to win here. We just need to put up a strong fight and play without fear. We are the better side and deserve to win. This game is for bragging rights and progression in a cup that we want to win.

This fixture last time:

The last time this fixture occurred was earlier this season. It was a massive turn around after a terrible loss to Aston Villa. It was a simple 1-nil to the Arsenal. Giroud scored a cheeky outside of the foot, near post shot against Lloris. Walcott swung in a great cross for him and Giroud took his chance well, on the one touch finish. Sadly we are missing Giroud this time, but we do have Theo and a strong squad.

Here is my expected line up for tomorrow:

PredictedvsSpursFA cup

I think Gnabry and Zelalem will be making a huge start. Theo will fill in at striker, seeing as Podolski wasn’t great there against Cardiff. Podolski will then slide back on to the wing and Santi will take up his best position in the center. Monreal will fill in for the injured Gibbs at left back.

Key Battles:

Sagna vs Eriksen:

Eriksen is an incredibly creative player (a player I wish we’d bought), but due to Spurs new two- striker system, they don’t have room for a true CAM. Therefore Eriksen is being played in more of a Santi role, as a CAM playing LW. He could punish us, as he did Manchester United, if we’re not careful. However, I have faith Mr. Reliable will shut him down.

Podolski vs Walker:

Walker is a class right back who will do everything in his power to shut down our service from the wing. Podolski will have to be 100% and ready to run his socks off to beat Walker’s work rate. He will have to be prepared to dribble around Walker and swing in quick crosses to avoid being shut down. I think Podolski will struggle with this for a while, but if Santi begins to drift to the left more, he will have the support to break him down.

Zelalem vs Expectations:

I don’t know about everyone else, but I have huge hopes for Zelalem in the future. He just has to make sure that he doesn’t screw up and become a scapegoat on his debut. Debuting against Spurs could put him in the history books. If he just focuses on not losing the ball and taking the opportunity to try the occasional tricky ball, he might just get an assist and put his name in our history books.

Casualties of War:

WengerWincing (1)


Bendtner, Gibbs, Ramsey, Diaby, and Ox are all definitely out. Ozil and Giroud both face late fitness tests, and Wenger says it is likely both will be out. It’s unfortunate that we will be without our two out and out strikers, who are both in great goal scoring form, but we do have Theo, Poldi, and Gnabry who can all play striker. I’ve wanted to watch Gnabry play there, but it’s unlikely as Theo is in incredible goal scoring form. If Ozil was fit, I’d actually be tempted to try him there and see if he could really be like Bergkamp, but that’s unlikely.


Vertonghen, Paulinho, Kaboul, and Sigurdsson will all be out. Holtby, Defoe, and Townsend are all just returning from injury and are unlikely to play. Adebayor also faces a late test, but claims he is fit to face us. Let’s all secretly hope he’s not fit so he can’t score against us.


I predict a shock 3-0 to Arsenal. We will come out firing on all cylinders and Spurs will be cocky after their away victory over Manchester United. I think Walcott will score a great goal, as he has been in fine finishing form. This goal will likely be assisted from Lulu on the left. Next, I think Gnabry will score a simple tap in from a one on one, assisted by Zelalem. Finally, in the dying minutes Zelalem will score a self-assisted screamer, and put his name in the hearts and memories of Gooners everywhere.


1. What are your predictions for the game?

2. What is your preferred line up?

3. What do we do about our striker situation?

COYG! Let’s win another NLD!

Thanks for reading! 😀

Written by: Dylan.

Cardiff review: Arsene’s trust in Bendtner pays off

Arsenal 2 – Cardiff City nil — Never a Doubt… 😆


Having missed the request to write a match preview, I wrote the following hoping that our fearless leader (on holiday in Scotland) might be available for a late post. Alas, it didn’t happen. But still, some of the questions seemed prescient (if I say so myself, and I do… 😉 )

(Preview Title…) Are We Deep Enough to Cope with Injuries and Illness and Rotation as We Enter 2014?

Arsenal, the best team in England in calendar year 2013, begin the new year top of the table but with question marks. Cardiff City, in our home ground, with only a caretaker manager, and coming off a very disappointing late draw vs Sunderland, would seem an automatic three points, but, in the English Premier League, nothing can be guaranteed.

Our most productive midfielders, Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey, are missing, as is our workhorse up front, Olivier Giroud. Many have argued that the only reason we’re still top of the table has been the remarkable production of those three players. Can we cope without them and will our offense create the chances necessary to see off a team which might be compared to a wounded animal?

Late reports suggest Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will be taking the Cardiff job. Will the players selected today be auditioning in a merely technical fashion for the new manager or will they be showing that they’ve got the grit and drive to steal a result from a weakened Arsenal team? Finally, the weather to start the year in London appears on the heavy side. It might not be as bad as it was for the Chelsea match 9 days ago and the Cardiff defense is probably not as tight, but our offense has been known to stutter when conditions aren’t ideal. Can we still make chances and goals with our re-arranged attack or will this one be another close, low scoring affair?

Today’s line-up appears a strong one, given the injuries–plenty of attack with both Poldolski and Walcott (carrying a knock?) in there. The bench offers options as well with Bendtner and Gnabry as well as Rosicky and Ryo Miyachi available if we’re still chasing a result. Still, by opting for both Arteta and Flamini as cover ahead of the back four, it appears that Wenger is thinking “defense first.” Can this be achieved against a Cardiff team with “nothing to lose?” Can the offense click without its spearhead Giroud? And I don’t refer only to his hair…

Bergkampesque welcomes your comments on these questions as the match plays out as well as afterwards. Please join us… 😀

Well, that’s what I was hoping to post, plus the (confirmed) line-ups…Instead we had to continue with only Gerry’s match report from the 1 goal victory at Newcastle… So, what transpired? Did any of the questions (above) get answered?


I could do the minute by minute thing (to remind us of our frustrations) but instead I’ll talk about patterns and try to answer my own questions (comment writers please add yours!…)

The weather WAS heavy and comments on my television feed suggested that there was ample wind to go with the rain. And, similar to the Chelsea match, basic mistakes were on display. An early pattern was set with long (and misplaced) passes to Theo Walcott being the principal area of attack, mostly from deeper lying Santi Cazorla, ostensibly starting from a left wing position. Arsenal appeared happy to cede possession to Cardiff and there was very little pressing from the front, with both front man, Poldolski, and “hole” player, Wilshere, happy to follow Cardiff passes at a trot.

This strategy seemed almost uniquely ill-suited to match conditions but so too did the more intricate passing that seemed on tap as we tired of losing possession with the longer ones. Cardiff time wasting seemed more and more effective with each passing minute and served to subdue the home crowd. That Cardiff were able to draw the only save of the half, albeit a basic one at the near post from Szczesny, did not help to buoy our hopes. As the half drew to a close Poldolski dropped deeper, almost as a midfield outlet while frustrations in basic play from Walcott, Wilshere and Cazorla continued. The dual pivot of Flamini and Arteta were largely untroubled by the Cardiff attack (a single point clearly would have been seen as a huge victory) but we created not a single shot on target in the first period and only 2 corners from which we also didn’t threaten.

I guess I should mention the penalty shout where Wilshere kept his feet as Medel missed the ball and likely got Jack with not one but two swings. The fact that our man kept his feet for the first tackle probably undermined his claim as he fell on the second. I didn’t hear boos as the players left the pitch, but the home support was clearly underwhelmed; 63% possession was the only sign of any sort of dominance. We most certainly didn’t look like league leaders, to my eye at least…

The 2nd period began much as the first: bad weather, bad football from Arsenal. The pitch was taking pace off the ball but it was also lacking in our movement. With little speed (beyond Theo) or size, early calls for the likes of Rosicky and Bendtner seemed obvious.

Wenger, as any oddsmaker would have predicted, allowed the first group to persist until the 65th minute before those subs were made. The supporters, less patient by nature, twisted in the wind (and rain) and tried to create a sense of greater urgency. In the smallest of ways they were rewarded as more of the match was played closer to the Cardiff goal with shots and corners starting to come and fewer balls out of play. Our better play in this part of the match was down our left (Poldolski, Cazorla and Monreal working well together), but still we were constrained to high angled shots. Wilshere also did well from the same side during this period, forcing corners and having a shot hit the post. Still, Cardiff was able to run the clock down whenever they could.

Finally, keeper Marshall finally got a yellow card in the 60th minute for his time-wasting. A talking point was an uncalled handball by Monreal (in the 54th) very close if not in our own 18 yard box. Little Gary Medel, charged with marking the center of our attack got his yellow card in the 58th and was soon after withdrawn, which perhaps was a key. Wilshere certainly looked better immediately. One thing I will say is that the time wasting (very well executed by Cardiff) only served to antagonize the home support. Perhaps it’s a hardier bunch who brave the bad weather after the midnight merry-making (and against the lowly, and lower priced, C-ticket class opponent)?…

When the subs did come the urgency notched up just that little bit more and the increase in size up front and pace in MF made our attack more familiar looking. A clearance from Monreal which Bentdner got an awkward (Giroud-esque?) head to was well cheered as it kept our forward move alive. Frustration, however, continued, with not one but two Mertesacker headers put wide of the left post. Overall, however, there was extra bite in our counters and the threat from the 10 2nd half corners we earned was increasing. Merely having an extra big target (Bendtner in addition to Mertesacker) seemed to stress the Cardiff back line.

Nonetheless, we were still having trouble of our own and as the match moved past the 70th and then the 80th, it seemed we might leave frustrated. Mistakes in midfield didn’t help, even if Cardiff were not very potent when they did occur. Koscielny made a couple of key blocks after Arteta couldn’t get to a loose pass, though the 2nd one lead to a corner and a sequence where Arteta again mis-controlled. Luckily, Caulker’s shot was blasted well over.

The definitive spell of pressure began in the 83rd minute. A cross from Theo to Bendtner looked a sure goal but there was a hint he might have left it for a phantom teammate just behind him. Just before that, the big guy had delivered one himself to Sagna whose looping header was cleared off the line. Overall, Bendtner’s presence up front and solid ball work coming back was having a positive effect. Still, frustration seemed the order of the day as individual runs from Rosicky and Cazorla created danger but only lead to blocked efforts. When Theo blasted over from a difficult angle in the 86th some air went out of the crowd.

Fortunately, there was no giving up in the side and the knowledge that there had to be plenty of injury time wouldn’t have hurt. FINALLY, in the 88th the goal came. An intricate move featuring great control from Cazorla, a layoff from Walcott, a cross from Monreal to the head of Sagna (forcing a save) and a tightly angled first time smash from, of all people, Nicklas Bendtner, and the match was ours!

The irony is that it cost the man who used to wear his weekly salary upon his shirt. Replays showed the Marshall landed on Bendtner’s standing foot, causing what looks like ankle ligament damage. Finally Arsene’s huge gamble on the much maligned forward gave a bit of payback. Such a shame that he won’t get a warm welcome for the FA cup match against Spurs, on Saturday…

One-nil is nice, but two-nil is nicer. In injury time, a long ball from Szczesny (contested well again by Sagna) fell to Rosicky. A controlling pass and quick (and perfect) pass allowed Wilshere to flick onto Walcott, who chipped Marshall. The keeper got a finger to it but only caused the ball to hover for a moment before dropping into goal. A late save by our keeper, the only one seemingly aware that Cardiff were sending in a free kick, preserved the clean sheet. Relief AND reward for 95 minutes of hard work…

So, questions answered or do they remain?

Much depends on the injury situation. Poldolski, unfortunately doesn’t present the commanding (if somewhat technically lacking) figure that Giroud does. Wilshere and Cazorla though industrious seem to lack that little bit of acceleration and physicality which Ozil and Ramsey bring. With Bendtner supplying the winning goal, but then going down injured, our issues in attack remain in the spotlight. He likely benefited from coming on with Cardiff defenders already tired (much as Poldolski did at West Ham 6 days ago) but he may not be available even for late cameos. Clearly, we have nobody to offer us an hour or more as a lone striking option. I probably don’t need to point out that at least the timing is right given that the transfer window opened today. ..

Regardless, we’ll have one more: a cup match against the ancient enemy on Saturday. They will be lifted from their victory at Manchester United but perhaps also content and happy to drop out of the competition. Remember, they still have home and away games to play in the Europa league, as well as teams to catch if they hope to get back onto the bigger European stage. My thought is that Sherwood will have to rotate to see which (if any) of AVB’s purchases might come good. I wouldn’t expect as smooth or spirited a performance as they put on today at Old Trafford. Still, like Cardiff today they’ll come with nothing to lose. We’ll need even more spirit (if not bandages, duct tape and baling wire) to subdue them.

It should be noted however, that all 4 of our “questionable” players played today (3 of them for all 95 minutes). Perhaps the others nursing “injuries” might be a presence on the bench at least. After that one we have another 9 day mini-break for getting bodies healthy before matches that become increasingly more daunting as January passes into February.

All told, while today’s match (and other recent ones…) may not have been easy on the eyes, we got the result without a few of the players who carried us through the early season. The bodies may be weary but the spirit was (and IS) not lacking. If that’s our low-mark, 2014 offers a measure of promise…

Written by: 17highburyterrace

Do Arsenal have any DMs left: The Options. Chelsea – Man City: best result?


With Flamini probably out for a few weeks and Arteta at least suspended for one game, the question we are all asking is: who should we play in our double-DM pivot against the Chavs?

Although the League Cup does not really matter too much, I still would like us to put out a team with the full intention of winning it. We don’t know whether Maureen will take this game serious – as in fielding his strongest team – but we can be assured he does not want to be beaten by us either; and with a strong squad he should not find it too difficult to field a team that has a good chance of doing so.

Wenger will want to rest a few players, though, and I expect the likes of Mertesacker, Sagna, Gibbs, Ramsey, Ozil and Giroud to get a well-earned rest on Tuesday.

The starting eleven for the encounter with the Chavs is likely to be: Fabianski, Jenkinson, TV, Kozzer, Nacho, Rosicky, Gnabry, Cazorla and Bendtner – as all these players really need a(nother) game; but what is not so clear, is who is going to play in the double-DM pivot come Tuesday.

I have a feeling Jack will start in this game, and he might even play in the deepest of the two DM-pivot roles: the Flamini or Arteta position, if you want. Jack can actually defend very well and his positioning and anticipation skills are good too (especially, if taking into account his young age). But he is still a bit frail and will need to put his body on the line if we are to beat the Chavs, and it remains to be seen if he can do that for 90 minutes.

So, it would be good to add some proper steel next to Jack in the DM-pivot and the question is who that should be. I would say, Frimpong is a strong option, but then I don’t know how fit he his and whether Wenger still has plans for him. It looks like he is not going to make it at Arsenal, but I could be wrong. Frimmers would definitely add steel but the combination of a lack of games and proneness to get himself booked is not great right now.

Then there is the very promising, Chelmsford born, Isaac Hayden. I have not seen enough of him to decide whether he would make a good DM partner for Jack on Tuesday, but I welcome your views.

We also have the Leytonstone born, multi-skilled, Nico Yennaris, who really could do with a game and who really impressed me during a Norwich-Arsenal Reserves games I watched a year ago.

We could also chose for more experience in the middle and put Ramsey or Rosicky next to Jack, and if Jack is not fit enough to start, I would also not be surprised if Ramsey and Rosicky will start both in the DM-pivot against the Chavs. But Ramsey could do with a break and Rosicky is needed in the hole…. Not easy at all.

Finally, Arsene could do something left-field and put Nacho, Sagna or TV in midfield for this one….. Nacho would mean Gibbs needs to play another game, but that should be fine as he missed out on playing in the England games. TV would mean playing BFG as a CB, which is not ideal as he did play in Germany’s International games…. And Sagna could do with a break for the same reasons….

Really hard to say what Wenger will go for but still good to see we still have a few options for the DM-pivot on Tuesday.

Southern Oilers v Northern Oilers: ideal result?

Today’s game between the Oil-drugged clubs should be watched by Gooners with interest. Whoever wins this one will come out of it with a strong belief they are the bee’s knees this season, and whoever loses will suffer a setback. A draw would not be too bad for either and would probably help us in terms of having a mini-gap with both teams before we go into a couple of more challenging games.

In one way,  I want a draw but I would love to see the Chavs properly beaten today. I still feel they are our main competitors for the title this season, and we could really do with a morale deflating result today. Citeh are likely to continue dropping ‘easy’ points in away game this season, and I feel we have a good chance of beaten them in our direct encounters with them.

But what do you think: who should play in the double DM-pivot and what is the best outcome in today’s battle of the Oilers?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

What to do with Jenkinson and Sagna?

Sign him up Arsene! :)
Sign him up Arsene! 🙂

Our Right Back (RB) position is covered by two players: Sagna and Jenkinson, and young Hector Bellerin and Nico Yennaris are being prepared to play there as well at some point in their careers.

I rate Sagna really highly for his defensive ability, his drive and attitude, and his desire to support our attack continuously. However, I find him pretty ineffective once he has reaches the defensive line of the opposition. He tends to cut inside and hold on to the ball so he can give it to one of our midfield players; by doing so, he often takes the speed out of our attack as well as reducing our width.


Jenkinson is a work a progress and one of those players who gets better the more games he plays. He properly impressed me for the first time when we played Bayern away last season (just like Gibbs did in the same game): there is a good RB in Jenkinson but he still has a lot to learn. When he plays next to Mertesacker he usually is significantly better defensively. The BFG is a great mentor for him and the German’s organisational skills are just what Jenkinson needs at this stage of his career.


I find the Finglishman better going forward than Sagna. He is more inclined to make it to the by-line and put in a cross or cut a ball back to somebody positioned just outside or inside the opposition’s box. This way we keep our width as well as our momentum going. It is fair to say, Jenkinson still needs to improve the quality of his final ball, and that will come with time.

However, defensively Sagna truly is our Mr Reliable, and both his experience and incredible passion for the club, go a long way right now. I hope we will sign him up properly and show him the respect he deserves, especially now he has shown to be a pretty brilliant fall back options for Mertesacker as well.

Sagna should become gradually a squad player rather than automatic first choice for each and every game. He could start a certain number of games during next season and beyond, and function as a reliable back up for a number of defensive positions. The question is whether Jenkinson can start pushing Sagna gradually out of the RB position during this season.

I don’t have a definitive answer to this one. As stated above, I believe that our Gunner and Gooner does get gradually better and better the longer he plays. During his first game(s) after a period on the sidelines he can look rusty and unfocussed. As with most young players, he is quite injury prone which does not help him in his quest for claiming the RB position, and it is also not good for the team, as we need as much consistency as possible in our defensive line-up.

With the club appearing to dither over signing Sagna up for years to come, and Jenkinson not ready to fill the RB post as a regular first starter – and possibly not making the grade, as the jury remains out – the question is what to do next in terms of making the team stronger.

I would love us to sign up Sagna for another three years. He deserves it and it would send out a sign to other players that you can complete your football career at Arsenal: loyalty works both ways after all.

I would like us to keep developing Jenkinson further and see whether he can make it. If by the end of the season Sagna has not been signed up and/or Corporal Jenks has not made significant progress, we should expect Arsene to purchase a new, established RB for the 2014-2015 season.

My money is on the latter to happen, but what do you think Fine Fellow Gooners? 😛

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Six Arsenal-transforming changes: Gibbs, Sagna, Rambo, Giroud, Ozil, Flamini

Mesut Ozil

There is a lot of talk about what Ozil means for this team, and some pundits are starting to pinpoint all our early success to the arrival of our new-Bergkamp. Ozil is a great player and the arrival of him was first of all a statement of intent to the fans, the players and the outside world. MO11 fits in very well and is indeed making a great difference right now. And the psychological impact of his arrival is almost equally as big.

But it would be a mistake to just focus on Ozil for the team’s apparent transformation. There is a tendency in people, especially lazy journalists, to simplify things. Ozil was the big buy and is producing most of the assists, so it’s all down to him….

I reckon there is more to this Arsenal squad that has turned us into a far better team. We have spoken at length about the difference Flamini is making in terms of defending in midfield, and how his extrovert personality adds so much good-old-fashioned leadership to the team. We have eulogised about the fantastic form both Giroud and Ramsey are in and how they have compensated so well for both Cazorla’s and Theo absence/lack of form until now.

But there is also Sagna’s transformation into a more than decent replacement for our big fecking German. Knowing that we have a good alternative for our real leader on the pitch is so important for the balance of the team. For years we have struggled to have two sets of decent CBs who compliment each other and who will last for a whole season. Koz and Vermaelen are very similar in style and type: the Keowns of this Arsenal if you want; whereas, BFG and now Sagna are more like our Adamses of this era. Moving Sagna into the CB spot, if and when required, was a mini-masterstroke by Bould & Wenger.

The other important improvement is the coming of age of the fantastic Kieran Gibbs. I saw the first glimpse of this when we played Bayern away last year. There was something in his performance that made me think this boy is about to announce himself at the top stage of football. Of course, it is still early and we should not get carried away, but Gibbs is quickly growing into an important player for this new Arsenal team. His improving defensive discipline combined with his wing-play and ability to defend very effectively against counter-attacks – from when we have taken a corner or a free kick in the other half – are all vital to the success of this team. He is also looking more solid and stable and far less likely to get injured now.

All other players have stepped up and add tons of value to this team, but I reckon that the above mentioned six players’ improvements/additions to the team are making the real difference right now. And long may it continue. 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Ramsey in the hole, FlamTeta double DM, Sagna for BFG? Pre-match report

I don’t know about you but I like Swansea. They are easy on the eye, love to play smooth passing football, and as a club, they are run with a good vision and effective succession planning. I thought they would suffer after losing Rodgers to Pool, but targeting and successfully recruiting Laudrup was a mini-master-stroke by the club’s board, and you can bet on it that Laudrup’s eventual replacement will be another excellent manager. Getting this right is probably the most important aspect of club management, and you only have to look at the likes of QPR, Sunderland and Aston Villa to know what I mean.

Today’s game is another fine challenge for the boys. We played the Jacks eight times in the PL and it never ended in a draw, so it probably will do this time hahaha 🙂

Swansea's Liberty Stadium
Swansea’s Liberty Stadium

Swansea are likely to miss their captain, and Arsenal summer pursuit, Ashley Williams and the excellent Hernandez is also out, but as they also rested many first teamers in Birmingham – where as holders they went out of the league cup without much fight (1-3) – the Jacks will relish Arsenal coming to town.

Arsenal will have to give their all, remain defensively solid, which means winning the battle in midfield and play very disciplined in front of the defence, and as always, take our chances when they arrive. We did this better than our opponents in recent games and that’s why we won time and again.

Arsenal have quickly become an efficient team: even when not playing our so acquainted fluid football, we still manage to win games by remaining relatively solid defensively – although one clean sheet in the PL indicates need for further improvements at the back – and deadly upfront, with both Giroud and Ramsey in the early-season PL top-scorers list:


Every season we seem to have an area where for a long period of time we have multiple injuries: centre backs, full backs; and this season it looks like our mid-wing positions are suffering with injury after injury. We will miss Theo’s speed and thrust: he offers an extra dimension which makes it harder to defend against us with total control. Both Ryo and Gnabry had long games and look not yet ready to perform on the big stage from the start. I expect them to be on the bench though, and at least one of them will come on as a sub.

Luckily, there is good noise coming from Arsenal regarding Podolski, Santi and Rosicky returning in the next few weeks, and let’s hope Theo comes back within a month as well. As a result of our lack of ‘wingers’, I reckon Arsene will play all his established midfielders from the start today. It makes us nicely compact and effectively allows us to play 4-5-1, one of my favourite line-ups for Arsenal. We will need to be compact in midfield because that is Swansea’s strongest area: control the midfield and we’ll control the game.

I have no doubt the Swans will approach this game as a ‘let’s go out there and enjoy ourselves’ one, and we need to be focussed from the start. This is the sort of game in which we need to set the tone from the start and be on top of them for large parts of the game. Many of our first teamers had a well-deserved rest and so we should be able to win this game, but only with hard work and focus will we do so. Luckily we have Flamini and Arteta to make sure we’ll do just that.

Predicted Line-Up:

Arsenal v Swansea 13

I am expecting Arsene to give the BFG a rest, after playing so heroically against West Brom for us. It looks like our French maestro is not so keen anymore on the Koz – TV partnership, although it is still early days. Therefore, I am going for Sagna replacing the German in this one. I admit, it is a bit of a gamble but it looks to me Arsene believes Sagna is better than Vermaelen and Koz at replacing the BFG’s ability to organise our defence.

In midfield I expect a lot of rotation during the match, but I reckon we’ll see Arteta and Flamini playing in the double DM positions. In the ‘3’ in front of the DMs, I am expecting Jack, Ramsey and Ozil to start: all can play in the hole and on the ‘wing’ in our formation, but I reckon Ramsey will get a chance in the hole today – just a gut-feeling though.

I don’t like doing predictions, as I am a bit superstitious about jinxing it that way, but please feel free to give us yours, as well as what you believe the starting line-up will be. I am asking for the boys to give their all and then somehow our quality should make the difference.

OGAAT fellow Gooners: one game at a time! Focus, hunger and decisiveness at the crucial moments: Bring on the Jacks!




Written by: TotalArsenal.

Report & Ratings: Orcs slain, Rambo does it again, Özil is unbelievable

StartingvsOrcs (1)

After a tough midweek away fixture in France, Arsenal faced a visit from Stoke this weekend. Today was set to be Özil’s home debut and the fans would not be disappointed by what he had in store.

The game today saw Arsenal start out strong but become tired in the second half and start to drag a little, before some late substitutions brought some life back into the game.

One interesting note about our starting line-up today: Theo Walcott was set to start the game on the right wing, before a change was made about 10 minutes before kick off and 18 year old Serge Gnabry made his first Premier League start for Arsenal. From what Wenger said, Theo had an abdominal problem and should be fine.

All three assists today came from our record signing, Mesut Ozil. And surprisingly, we put three goals past Stoke through set pieces! This truly shows how good Özil’s delivery is.

Özil showed off his excellent delivery for the first time today after just five minutes. The German had a wonderful shot from a free kick just outside the box. Begović dove and managed to palm it away, only for the man of the moment, Aaron Ramsey, to fire the rebound coolly into the net.


Then in the 26th minute the Orcs would get lucky. A decent ball was hoofed in the box by Orc #1. Per was unable to keep up with Orc #2 and Orc #2 fired a shot against the post. Had it been on target, Szczesny likely would’ve gotten to it, but it cannoned of the post back to Orc #3, who put it in the net. Not much can be blamed other than Per’s lack of pace. Maybe someone should’ve been tracking Orc #3, but I’ll put this goal down to luck because the ball could just have easily hit the post and gone out, or bounced to Szczesny or anywhere but back to a Stoke player.

Özil would then show his class again, delivering a corner in to Per who flashed it across goal with his head, only for it to be cleared of the line. However, Özil and Per would repeat this in the 36th minute and this time Mertesacker’s looping header would find its way just inside the far post. It was an excellently placed header for the second time that game from our BFG. He looked thrilled to score for the Arsenal again, and it’s always great to see the goals coming from all over the team.

After half time the team seemed to tire. Playing three fixtures in a week really seemed to take its toll, especially on Jack and Aaron. I would’ve liked to see Ryo come on for Jack around the 60th minute to keep the team fresh and to protect Jack from the vicious Stoke players, but the subs would come eventually.

Özil would deliver his final assist in the 72nd minute, again off a set piece. He curled in a cross from the left side if the field and this time it would be Sagna to put a looping header over Begović. As far as I know, this was Sagna’s first goal since he played his part in the first 5-2 against Tottenham. We really need to get that lad signed up on a contract extension, even if he has to make the move to centre back permanently as he ages and his mobility leaves him. He knows the Arsenal style of play and has experience and talent; we really do need to keep him.

The game, once again ended 3-1 to the mighty Arsenal. The only real complaint being that we didn’t keep a clean sheet. However, we are once again top of the league and this time we will stay there.

Player Ratings:

Szczesny: 7/10; Had a rather average performance. Wasn’t at fault for the goal and did well smothering a low cross late on.

Sagna: 7.5/10; Also had a rather average performance, but did well to score the goal. Still looking solid in old age and needs to be resigned.

Mertesacker: 8/10; Was an animal at the heart of our defense today. Jumped on Jones’ bad touch when he was nearly through on our goal and scored an excellent header to put us ahead.

Koscielny: 7/10; A quiet performance, but sometimes that’s what you want from defenders. Just went about his business, did well to distract Begović on Per’s goal and it’s good to see him being less rash and not giving away penalties.

Gibbs: 6.5/10; Also quiet, but seemed quite tired. Didn’t do much going forward and Flamini seemed to be covering at the LB spot a lot, implying that Gibbs was out of position a bit too often. He did have his moments though.

Ramsey: 7/10; Was in great position to score the rebound off the first free kick, but tired quickly after so many games in such a short time.

Flamini: 7.5/10; Had fantastic distribution and did well covering for the tired Gibbs when he was caught out of position. He continued to show his value to the team and his signing looks to be a stroke of genius.

Özil: 9/10; Had fantastic delivery from set pieces. Four especially notable ones, including the three goals and Per’s first header.

Gnabry: 7/10; Had some good moves down the field. Could’ve been through on one occasion, had Huth not leveled him. Also looked strong defensively. Looked great for an 18 year old and hopefully he gets more chances soon.

Giroud: 7/10; Had a rather average game. Tried an acrobatic effort late on, but really didn’t do much creating chances for others or himself. However, was helpful defensively and won more than a few free kicks.

Wilshere: 6.5/10; Was clearly targeted by Stoke. Had his moments in the first half, but tired quickly and should’ve been taken off sooner.


Ryo: 6.5/10; Came on late for Gnabry. Didn’t do much, but added some pace to the team towards the end and did well to keep the ball in once down the right wing, but had a terrible cross. Overall, needs more time. I expect him to play midweek.

Monreal: 7/10; Shored up our defense at the end. Subbed on late for Wilshere.

Arteta: 7/10; Made his return from injury. Subbed on late for Özil in his more natural attacking midfield position. Will likely play midweek for fitness.

Note: This is my first time doing player ratings, at the request of JB. Please tell me what you think and if you would like me to continue doing this.

For now I’ll leave you with some questions:

  1. What did you think of the team’s performance today?
  2. How important is it for Arsenal to sign Sagna to a new deal?
  3. Do you think Wenger is responsible for the team’s good form and togetherness?

Thanks for reading. 😀

Written by: Dylan.

Arsenal – Fenerbahce: Frimpong’s big chance, Rosicky in the hole, Full-Backs fully back?

Fenerbahce's Sukru Saracoglu Stadium
Fenerbahce’s Sukru Saracoglu Stadium

Let’s park the bigger discussion about the club’s continuous failure in the TW, and focus for now purely on the CL qualifier against feisty Fenerbahce tomorrow. Nothing is better after a disappointing defeat than to get a chance to make up for it a few days later, and the Fenerbahce game gives the boys a fine opportunity to bounce back.

Would it not be nice to see a repeat today of the score line almost five years ago, when we beat Fenerbahce 2-5 in Istanbul. This was the team that played for us back then: Almunia, Eboue, Song, Silvestre, Clichy, Walcott (Djourou 84), Fabregas, Diaby (Ramsey 73), Denilson, Nasri, Adebayor (Vela 86).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Van Persie, Bendtner, Gibbs.

Only Ramsey, Walcott, Gibbs, Fabianski and Diaby are left from that squad, and especially Ramsey (late substitute), Diaby (played 70+ minutes) and Walcott (was unstoppable on the night) will have good memories from that game with all scoring a goal (Song and Adebayor were the other scorers).

Fenerbahce were recently banned from playing European football for match fixing, but as they appealed the decision they are still allowed to play pending the outcome of the hearing, which will take place a day after the return fixture. But of course, we cannot take much notice of this and just have to focus on beating the Turks over the two legs fair and square.

I am not too worried about tomorrow’s game, as I expect Arsene to use his European experience to get the best out of the team and a positive result to take back home. However, Fenerbahce should not be underestimated as a hostile atmosphere combined with an early Turkish goal could lead to considerable trouble, if we do not keep our cool.

Therefore, Wenger will have to select his best and most experienced team for this encounter, and he will have to get his players to totally focus on tomorrow’s game and nothing else. We need a calm and well organised defence/GK, we need a well organised, solid and multi-disciplined midfield, and an energetic, continuously pressing, and lethal attack tomorrow. So, that means a step improvement of all three lines from Saturday’s under-par performances against the shitty Villains.

I reckon Arsene will have to make one big change and that is in midfield. The Rambo-Wilshere combo did not work as we were left far too exposed in the centre of midfield throughout most of the game. I am a huge fan of Wilshere but I reckon he will start on the bench tomorrow, and Frimpong will replace him. He is our best defensive midfielder at the moment – which says a hell of a lot – and I reckon he will play in front of our defence and shield it with his life. I expect Ramsey to play in the more box-to-box like position and Rosicky, because of his experience and his truly fantastic performance on Saturday, will be back in the hole again.

Up-front it is likely to be Cazorla, Giroud and Theo, with a second half cameo by Podolski.

At the back, we have had some fantastic news that Sagna somehow has got over his horrific fall on his neck and that Gibbs can play too, so they are likely to play; although both Jenkinson and Monreal (appears to have recovered from his pre-season injury) are also available tomorrow.

My predicted line-up looks like this:


Enjoy the game fellow Gooners and let’s get behind the boys with all that we have tomorrow night.


Written by: TotalArsenal.