Is this Bench the Best in the Premier League? Arsenal’s Dizzying Squad Possibilities!

It is all about backbone, leadership and squad depth…. and plenty of pairs of these of course! ūüôā

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Like many, I don’t like international breaks but the good thing is it gives Arsene and the team an opportunity¬†to work towards a deadline and then take stock. In the last few weeks post the¬†September interlull, Arsenal have been solid and moved up¬† the table considerably. There are still¬†important games to come: Basel at home and Burnley away. And after a very encouraging, successful game against the Chavs, we now have to be careful not to underestimate our opponents and work really hard to get vital wins before the next break.

Whether we will depends on the maturity and ability to focus by the players as much as anything else.

The team to beat is, of course, Pep City.¬†Some believe he¬†is only as good as the players he had at his disposal, which of course have been the pick of the world or there about ever since he started to coach, but I am a firm believer that the¬†vision to develop a system/style of football and then be able to get the players to execute it, is what really makes a great manager. In the short term, a manager can take over a great team and have success on the¬†basis of what was established by their predecessor, but in the mid to long term it is the manager’s ability to implement a competitive¬†system of football and gather the required players to execute it which will make the difference. And Guardiola is already having an added¬†positive impact on what is mostly Pellegrini’s squad.

Of course it is early days and MC have not had a hard start to the season in terms of the teams they have faced, other than MU away of course. We will have to see how they will fare against Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester and if they can win all those games than they are further then us right now.

We are five points behind and that really is a few too many to feel comfortable at this stage. We need them to drop points and let’s see whether¬†it will happen against our North London rivals this weekend. I am not underestimating the Spuds this time round, even though they are very capable of farcically imploding towards the last six weeks of the season once again. So I am not wanting a Spuds win against the Northern¬† Oilers: a draw would be just fine.

But as always, we need to focus on our game and try to get as many wins as possible by the OGAAT principle: one game at a time. To achieve this we need a strong backbone and leadership in the team, and we also need squad depth. 

The question is whether Arsenal have this now. The best way to establish this is to see how we will deal with adversity, but other than the first game of the season against Pool we did not really have to deal with much of it. Although it is fair to say we did well when Arsenal went behind against PSG and somehow managed to get back in the game in the second half, helped by Lady Luck it has to be said.

What really encouraged me was the way that Koz and Mustafi, supported behind them by the cool and experienced Cech and in front of them by the beastly Coq, controlled the game, both technically AND psychologically. And when le Coq went off injured, Xhaka did very well in replacing him both technically and in terms of presence on the pitch. And the latter is as important as anything.

Mesut Ozil

On top of this, we had Ozil and Alexis leading the attack with both intelligence and a guttural hunger. And our wing-backs, Nacho and Bellerin, were also dominating proceedings with their feet and their personas. To complete it all, Santi, Theo and Iwobi had strong presence and hunger without ever looking to hide behind their team mates. That is what I loved more than anything else about our team on Saturday.

Our first team against Chelsea:

submit football lineup

These players now more or less are our first team players, and after the Chelsea demolition there is good reason to believe we have the backbone and leadership to go all the way this season in the PL, and maybe even in the CL. However, we all know that fatigue, injuries and possibly suspensions will affect our team.

Just as well then that Wenger did not sell anybody whilst still adding to the squad, which will allow him to rotate and also deal with unexpected setbacks, like this Saturday when Coquelin had to come off. This is just as important as having a strong core of leaders and winners in the team.

Yesterday we had Gibbs, Perez, Giroud, Ospina, Ox, Holding and Xhaka on the bench: seven players who all deserve to be there if not a place in the starting eleven.

Ramsey, Gabriel, BFG, Elneny, Debuchy¬†and Welbeck were not on the bench, and they are¬†all fighters for the cause with¬†leadership qualities. Once they are fit, our options for the bench are mouth watering; and can you imagine what availability of all would mean for Wenger’s possible strongest first eleven team?

Our bench could be, when all are fit: Perez, Giroud, Welbeck, Ramsey/Xhaka, Gibbs, BFG/Gabriel and Ospina!! Would this not be the best bench in the premier league?!

So there you are, we have a¬†strong core with backbone and leadership skills and a squad depth that makes you dizzy with first team selection possibilities. As dizzy as looking at the ceiling of the wonderful Sagrada Familia…

Bring on our next opponent is all that’s left to say!

By TotalArsenal

 

 

Holding Surprises, Sanchez the Team Player, Wingers on Fire: 5 Positives

Arsenal 3 -4  Liverpool

A bonker’s game with a bitter aftertaste, but the positives are¬†sweeter than our senses allow us to register.¬†

Well that was some game of football and what a shame we did not at least take a point from it. First half was Arsenal’s and the key thing to take is that we dominated Pool for 46 minutes, and mostly in their own half. With a sumptuous free-kick Pool managed to equalise before half time and that made all the difference. At half time, the Arsenal players will have felt very badly done to: how could they be level after such a strong showing? The focus will have been on regaining a lead as soon as possible and for that all players have to push up… and for this we paid… ūüė¶

On the other hand, the Pool players will have been feeling very high on getting away with¬†a bad performance and the joy of such a fine free-kick going in at an away ground. Klopp then said to his attackers that they have to force themselves closer to Arsenal’s ‘D area’ and get in¬† between the CBs and the wall of CoqElneny. He also will have told them to target Arsenal’s left flank as much as possible…. and as we know, it worked a treat for them. Bang Bang BANG, three goals in quick succession and we all felt sucker punched¬†in our reproductive area.¬†Everything that could go right for¬†Pool went right¬†and sometimes this happens in football (we had it against MU at home last season).

It was a clever tactical adjustment by Klopp and he deserves credit for it. It also exposed a weakness we were aware of: a young CB pairing of Holding and Chambers would not have the experience to deal well with the initial blow, something that would not have happened with Koz and/or the BFG in defence.

However, credit to the team for fighting hard and getting two goals back, and with a bit more luck we¬†would have gotten what we deserved.. a draw. At the start of the season¬†it is quite normal that a game goes out of control, especially with a makeshift central defence. Of course it is very attractive to come up with all sorts of ‚ÄėI told you so‚Äôs‚Äô and ‚Äėwe should have done this or that‚Äô but it is just the opening game of the PL for us and things went off the scale after the break. I have seen enough – especially based on our firs half –¬†to believe we will have a very good chance to win the league this year. I predict two clean sheets in our two coming games in August, and plenty of goals.

Five Positives from the game:

  1. Holding and Bellerin held their side of defence really well and had a good connection. I don’t believe our loss was all down to Chambers and Monreal failing the left side of defence, as all defenders have a duty to defend our¬† box when the ball gets played in, but it was quite obvious that we were¬†porous from the left, and the Pool attackers, just like the MC attackers did last week, penetrated us there time and again. This needs immediate attention. But Holding was calm and classy throughout the game and as it stands it looks like Chambers is the one who will lose out when Koz returns.
  2. We scored three times, and could have had more. I am pleased to see our goals being scored by different players and that we did not just feed the ball to Sanchez time and again to produce them for us. Alexis worked hard and created space for us, just like Ollie so often does, and we found the net through Theo, Ox and Chambers. Many will miss the importance of Alexis’ selfless team play yesterday, but Wenger won’t.
  3. We are getting goals and assists from our ‘mid-wingers’. This is the one position where¬†I felt we needed to improve the squad, but with goals from Theo and Ox from the wing and a peach of an assist by Iwobi, we had a very nice return for those positions.
  4. The wall of Elneny and Coquelin did very well, especially in the first half- my favourite match reviewer on the ‘ArsenalArsenal’ blog called them ‘the dogs of war’ which is exactly what they were. I feel that they¬†were also at fault for Pool breaching our defence so devastatingly in the second half, so a bit more work needs to be done. But I loved the way they bossed the midfield in the first half and supported the attack in putting pressure on Pool’s defence. Le Coq’s tackle that led to the first goal was a pure delight.
  5. We had a good bench, especially in midfield, and bringing on Santi and Ox made an immediate difference. With Mesut, Ollie and Koz joining the first team soon, we will be very strong in almost all areas… except the obvious one ūüėČ

Not the start we wanted, but still some good positives to take from the game. Let’s hope we will get a good CB to strengthen our defence¬†and/or that Wenger and Bould find a way to steady the ship this week.

All to play for.

By TotalArsenal.

 

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:

‚ÄúWhen 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.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄďHenri 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‚Äôt 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 ‚Äėreason‚Äô). 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‚Äôt 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! ūüėČ 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‚Äôt much to this reason. It‚Äôs very simple. We‚Äôre top of the league. Let‚Äôs keep it that way.

Thank for reading! ūüėÄ

Written By: Dylan.

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