Welbeck is a Winger

….Well at least for a while to come.

Like many fellow Gooners, I was very excited when we signed Daniel Nii Tackie Mensah Welbeck back in September. We were desperate for new firepower up-front and Danny seemed the right man for us. He was further in his development than Sanogo and would be able to compete for the CF spot with Giroud, and there was also potential for both Giroud and Welbeck to start in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation.

Thanking The Guardian for picture.
Thanking The Guardian for picture.

Welbeck was pushed out at Manure as LvG was looking for more established firepower… Their current combined strike force share between them about an eye-watering million pounds in wages every week, but they have been very net-shy this season – and long may it continue. 😀

The 1.84m tall attacker was very keen to join us. He wanted to play football regularly, in the central role and with a lot of creative players around him, who are able to launch him into space. The arrival at the home of football gave him a spring in his step, resulting in fine and effective performances for England and Arsenal. He scored five goals in twelve PL and CL appearances for Arsenal and he produced two PL assists as well. However, it has been a while since he hit the net as it looks like he is struggling to get himself into scoring positions at the moment, as well as taking the few good chances that come his way.

This seems to coincide with Ozil’s injury, and it did not help either that Jack has been injured in the last few games. A player like Welbeck is highly dependent on creative midfielders who can anticipate and pick out his runs, and we have lacked that to a large extent. Only Alexis, as a fellow striker/winger, has been picking him out regularly and effectively during the last few games.

I watched Danny on a number of occasions and cannot help but feel that he is not ready to be our CF on a regular basis. In fact, I think he would be a lot more effective as a winger.

I am convinced that the injury to OG has cost us badly this season. Not just for his goal contributions, which, let’s face it, is not his strongest attribute, but especially for the shape his gives to the team and the link-play he provides for the rest of the team. For Wenger’s current preferred – but temporarily abandoned – system of 4-1-4-1, OG is very, very important.

I don’t think this role fits Welbeck, even though he is working very hard to be effective in it. Danny is best when we regain the ball in midfield or defence and spring a counter-attack: when there is space to run into and there are midfielders who can pick him out. Manure have always played this sort of football under RedNose and you can see Welbeck has been properly schooled in it.

Danny is a total athlete, and it is great to watch him run with or without the ball at defenders, when there is space and real momentum.

But we do not play that sort of football very often and we face a lot of park the buses teams. We need either another Giroud-type, OR a predator in the box, and, from what I saw of him against Burnley, he is neither, AS YET.

Of course, he will only become 24 this month and Wenger has had very little time to work with him. I am convinced he will be a success at Arsenal, but not so sure whether that will be as our big CF.

In a dream world, we will have all our attackers fully fit and really give opponent teams the creeps. For me, and I reckon Wenger, this means OG in the centre and Alexis and Theo on the wings, with both Ozil and Jack providing the through-balls and central box penetration. Welbeck could be our super-sup up-front, just as Calum Chambers will be at the back (once everybody is fit there, sigh, sigh!).

As you can tell, I am not so keen on Danny being our CF right now. He still has a lot to learn in terms of anticipating crosses and owning space around defenders in the box. Crossers of the ball don’t find him enough, and he does not anticipate their crosses enough either…. And a deadly CF demands the former and is brilliant at the latter. They also often are, instinctively, in the space were rebounds drop. And when he gets a chance he tends to lack the ‘cold-bloodedness’, often not keeping his shots low, thus giving the keeper a chance.

In my view, Danny is not doing well enough to warrant the CF role going forward at the moment.

But as a winger, with a licence to position himself centrally on a regular basis, I can see him do really well. He has the power, speed, hunger and physical strength and endurance for it, and I can see him give Theo a real run for his money. I can see him give Alexis and Theo a break now and again, or allow the Chilean to play more central, if required.

Of course, as long as Giroud is out it will be Welbeck up-front, but once the French Lighthouse is back, I would love to see Danny play on the wings for a while. I think then we will see the very best of him this season.

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Be Kind to Yourself

 

The one player to buy so proper Wengerball can begin

Henry dog 008

The combination of keeping the squad together, adding steel with the re-signing of the Flame, and adding another footballing dimension with the arrival of the Ozicle, has led to vastly improved football, both in terms of gathering points and, at least occasionally, by playing some very easy on the eye stuff.

After two years of struggling to play anything like Wengerball, we appear to be getting back on the dance floor again. And Arsenal have been doing this with the fine dancers of Podolski, Cazorla, the Ox and Theo not even on the bench in recent weeks. With the imminent return to fitness of at least two of the above mentioned players, the entertainment level/ beauty of our football is likely to increase further. Happy Happy days for us Gooners.

The prospect of Ozil, Jack, Aaron, Santi and Theo playing together properly and fully fit, is simply fantastic. And the likes of Rosicky, Podolski, Ox and Gnabry etc will also add further rhythm and soul to the party.

If that was not enough, Arsene still has a bag of gold coins stuck under his desk, and with Arsenal now looking closer to winning silverware, and with the ‘attraction’ of Ozil in our team, we might well be able to spend it wisely once more during the next transfer window.

As suggested by some BK regulars, it would be interesting to discuss who we feel would both add real value to the team and help us to return to true Viennese  Wengerball.

With Ramsey currently shining in the box to box position, and more options available for this position, I don’t see how we can make a huge improvement there.

With Ozil playing in the hole and the likes of Rosicky and Jack able to play there as well, I don’t think we should buy another nr.10 right now. And with Giroud starting to show more and more mastery of the holding striker position, I personally would not want us to buy a replacement for him, although we do need good back up for him.

On the ‘wings’ we have a number of players who can play there effectively, especially in our current formation of 4-2-1-3 (and sometimes, 4-5-1). We have Podolski, Theo, Ox, Gnabry, Santi and one or two others who play there. But none of them bar Gnabry, and to some extent Theo, has all the required skills to play as a more traditional winger. And at times we appear to miss this added dimension to our football.

In my view, if we want to get even closer to proper Wengerball football we need to add a quality winger, so we at least have the option to operate one wing properly (if and when required).

It would be good to hear whether you believe a new, top quality, traditional winger is indeed what we need right now; and if so, who you would like to join us.

And if it is not a winger for you, then tell us which position you would want to strengthen and with whom.

As always, it is just a bit of fun to make us forget the dullness of the inter-lull! 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

What to do with Lukas Podolski?

The Pod 

Note for TA: this blog was written prior to yesterday’s game against Fulham.

How to get the best out of Podolski: Combine him with Gibbs and Ramsey!

Back in 2012 when Arsenal announced the signing of Lukas Podolski well before the opening of the transfer window, I was more than excited. The prospect of him playing alongside Theo and RVP convinced me that we were well on the way to concluding our trophy drought. However, the cruel nature of fate made sure that that summer window didn’t go as I hoped. I won’t go into details lest I awaken sleeping demons.

Anyway, my point is, even though we ended up losing RVP, in the back of my mind I knew that even though Poldi wasn’t as good, he could go a long way in replacing his goals. His first season was satisfactory at best. He started well but as the season wore on he seemed to lose his ability to influence the proceedings of a game. He was then dropped from the starting eleven and spent the rest of the season as a substitute. His goals didn’t dry up as his finishing ability is currently second to none in our team. Towards the end, injuries and suspensions to fellow attackers meant that he was our starting striker for the last three games; and to be honest he didn’t do badly.

The new season has begun and it is obvious that Wenger has picked up where he left off last season. Poldi has been involved in both games but only as a very late substitute. For a man who has over a century of international caps before the age of 30, and for one of the world’s best national sides, it is quite bizarre how his club career is panning out. In a time when Arsenal’s squad is thread bare owing to departures and injuries, Poldi’s omission is more than just a little baffling. But I do understand Wenger’s dilemma.

Poldi’s case is a strange one. On one hand, Podolski is one of the best finishers around. Even when he is having a poor game, for him it usually still is ‘one chance one goal’. He is also quite the crosser, especially from that left flank. On the other hand he has little to no influence on a game and therein lies his problem. Podolski’s movement is poor wherever he is played. He doesn’t know how to make runs, has no discernible dribbling ability and his pace is average at best. Podolski seems to spend 90% of his time on or around the halfway line, whether he is played on the left flank or as our target man. Every single time he is played up front the situation arises where a full back will make a run down the flank, but when he gets to the opposition box Podolski is nowhere to be seen and has no intention of getting into the box.

He has no grasp of how a striker should move whatsoever. This makes the team play around him. On the flank, Gibbs does a better job as a winger than the German. This, to me, is the reason why Poldi is second choice. It seems that his best position is as a second striker in a 4-4-2 formation, where he would play between the hole player and the main striker, because there his movement is limited but opportunities to shoot are plenty. Sadly, that is not how we play.

However, I have another suggestion. Wenger can start him on the left but he drifts inwards. Yesterday’s game against Fenerbahce showed that this can work so long as it is Gibbs who plays behind him. Gibbs was outstanding on that left flank, sending in crosses and even getting a goal. Ramsey was also outstanding, covering him perfectly when he went forward. This means that in this set up, Gibbs can do all the wing-work while Poldi drifts in, without having the pressure of being the main CF on him.

Whatever Wenger does about him, he should do it soon, because Podolski’s stature is such that he is not a bench warmer. If this continues, it is very conceivable that he will look for game time elsewhere.

Written by: Marcus.

Eight early-season Arsenal conclusions and line-up v Urawa Red Diamonds

Will we see more of Mr Reliable as one of our CBs on Friday?
Will we see more of Mr Reliable as one of our CBs on Friday?

Whilst the transfer shenanigans continue without any let-off, Arsenal’s current team has actually been playing some very watchable footie. It is fair to say that the opposition has not been much to write home about until now, but nevertheless our football has been good.

It is only early days and things could change a lot over the next four weeks, but based on the first three games of the campaign we can pull a few conclusions:

  1. Wall of RamTeta: it looks very much that Arsene will continue with Arteta and Ramsey in the double-DM pivot. Enough has been written about this in recent posts, so no more on this from me now.
  2. Our AM, whether it is Rosicky or Wilshere, have been very quick in turning the game from defence to attack. They very often opt for the ball over the top, or a diagonal ball to find one of the wingers with a precision pass. Our AMs have been very mobile and driven to move the game forward quickly, and long may it continue.
  3. The team has been pressing the opposition really well given the rustiness at this stage of the campaign and the humid weather in Asia. Ramsey has been leading by example with regards to this but the whole team has been chipping in, and collectively they have been very successful in winning back the ball regularly until now.
  4. Theo, but also Gnabry and to a lesser extent Ryo, are being ‘launched’ constantly from midfield. This is all part of our quick defence to attack turnaround approach, and for the first time in a long while Arsenal are now really utilising the speed of Theo and others. It has led to many very good chances for Theo and I expect to see more of it this season, with our Speedy Gonzales hopefully converting more of his opportunities. Theo has got the speed and the good first touch, and now he needs to improve his lethalness. He will improve further this season, I reckon.
  5. The full backs – one at a time – are once again key in setting up attacks from the wing. Unfortunately, Jenkinson and Gibbs have looked rusty until now, but they are both players who appear to need a number of games in a row before they start to shine.
  6. Giroud has looked very positive and focussed until now, and six goals in three games will help him to build further on this. He will, of course, face tougher opposition this season, but his sharpness up-front is a very welcome sight.
  7. Zelalem has been showing us lots of promise until now. He is very confident, calm and classy on the ball and can pick a through-ball with incredible ease. A great prospect.
  8. Ox and Jack have looked really up for it and, IF they can stay fit for long spells this season, they will be……dare I say it……like two new quality signings.

All in all, plenty of positives and let’s hope the team will continue to progress over the next few weeks.

Predicted Line-up against Urawa Red Diamonds:

Urawa Red Diamonds

I reckon Fab will start in goal, and Jenkinson and Gibbs will get another chance to become more effective both in defence (especially Jenkinson) and up-front. I expect Sagna and Mertesacker to start, although there is a chance that Sagna will play with Miquel. I am expecting Arteta and Ramsey to get a rest and for Arsene to try another double DM combination tomorrow. Ox needs a start and Aneke should get a proper test as well, so I am going for these two tomorrow.

I expect Jack to play in the hole from the start and Myachi and Theo (or Gnabry) on the wing, and Giroud will probably not start this time round, so I am going for the Pod as our striker. The latter needs a good game and I have a feeling Wenger will give him the striker position tomorrow.

Enjoy the game fellow Gooners!

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring on the Vietnamese! 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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

Bayern gave re-birth to classical wing-play: time to unleash Gnabry and Miyaichi?

gun__1310109858_miyaichi

My first live football experiences date back  to the mid to late seventies. My home team, Roda JC, was only a ten minutes cycle ride away and my dad would take me along to watch ‘De Koempels’. Dutch football was slowly on a decline after the incredible highs in the early seventies of Ajax and Feyenoord’s successes in Europe, and the national team almost winning the world cup with a new ‘brand’ of football: totaal voetbal (total football).

Roda JC, like their bigger ‘local’ competitor, PSV Eindhoven, did not play total football. My first live-footie experiences were all about fast and effective counter-football; the sort of football that was not appreciated anywhere near as much as what Ajax and the national team were capable of. But as a ten to twelve year old kid I did not understand the difference and I loved the way Roda played. Towards the end of the seventies Roda had two proper wingers: Adri Koster and Pierre Vermeulen: fast, good close ball control, and  they had more than a decent cross into the box; and a classic nr.9 in Dick Nanninga: tall, good jump, and therefore scoring a lot of goals with his head.

Some of you might remember the name Nanninga. He scored a late equaliser for Holland against Argentina in the 1978 WC final which meant extra-time had to be played. He also became the first substitute to be sent off in a world cup finals. Here is his goal against Argentina, a quintessential Nanninga header:

In recent years, we have seen the slow death of the classical wingers in the PL. More and more teams play midfielders on the wing who, together with their full backs, try to ‘make things happen’ from the wing, rather than time and again try to get behind defences and put the ball into the box, or get into the box themselves to score a goal.

Whilst watching Barcelona struggle to deal with some teams who opted to park the bus against them – Chelsea, and most recently, Milan at the San Siro, for example – I started to realise there is still a future for the classical winger. Trying to orchestrate every attack through the middle can literally be one-dimensional, as the inability to stretch the opposition’s defence and get behind them from the sides can render the best teams ineffective at times.

Bayern showed us all, and especially Barcelona, how incredibly valuable proper, classical wingers still can be. Robben and Ribery are among the very best wingers in Europe, and for quite a while now. Robben scored one goal every two games on average during his time at Bayern and Ribery one in every three games, and both produced an incredible number of assists as well.

At Arsenal, we have not seen proper wing-play for a while, other than from Theo and, to some extent, Gervinho. Theo prefers to play more centrally and the Gerv lacks consistency in his delivery as well as finishing off the chances he creates for himself. Arshavin has withered slowly away on the wing and Podolksi had a rather mixed season on the left wing as well. Cazorla and Ox also had stints on the wing, but neither have impressed in terms of classical wing play, although the Englishman has potential to become an effective winger if he wishes to be one.

At times Arsenal have looked flat and one-dimensional this season, simply unable to get behind defences from the wing – with the exception of Gervinho –  and therefore focussing far too much on somehow getting through opposition defences from the middle.

I wonder whether Wenger is planning to improve our wing-play next season by adding a couple of more traditional wingers to the team. With Gnabry and Miyaichi, Arsene can fill the gaps internally, or he could go out and buy a more established and experienced traditional winger.

Both Gnabry and Miyaichi have looked promising in recent seasons, but they are still young and unproven. I would love it if they get more chances next season, but with Arshavin gone now and rumours about Gervinho being sold continuing, I wonder whether Wenger is on the look-out for an experienced powerful winger who will give us thrust and variation to our attacking play (almost) straightaway.

What do you think fellow Gooners?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

It is time to show our Gervinho some love!

Gervinho+Arsenal+v+Boca+Juniors+Emirates+Cup+r4aa-YdCmy7l

Yes, Gervinho needs some love, hugs and songs from us the supporters and his fellow players.

I know there are as many Gooners out there who rate him as don’t rate him, but Gervinho is one of us, always works his socks off when he plays for us, and can add that extra dimension to our football that we often badly miss.

Our man from the Ivory Coast is not the most self-confident footballer, and as we all know, confidence is a vital part of being successful on the pitch. Our nr.27 (I guess he chose that number because he was born on the 27 of May) appears to be very introvert and lacking friendship with other players on the pitch.

It is about time us, the fans, and the players try harder to make him properly part of the Arsenal family.

Gervinho+ETcYqRQuCt7m

Born in Anyama, a Northern suburb of Abidjan, the capital of Cote d’Ivoire, it cannot have been easy to come here and settle in straightaway. He has been away from his home country for quite a while, with spells at Beveren, Le Mans and Lille; and he must have learned to adapt to different environments by now.

But London is a modern, world city, and it is not easy to settle there, especially without a good command of the language, which I am assuming he doesn’t possess. Many Englishmen and Europeans find it hard to feel at home and make a success in such a large city. So it should come as no surprise that Gervinho is having some difficulties in adapting to life in London, and playing for/ settling into Arsenal right now.

I was at the FA cup game, at home against Blackburn a couple of months ago, and Gervinho, who had only just returned from international duty, was struggling a bit with form. Many ‘supporters’ around me started to moan about Gervinho from the first moment he did something wrong. There was no leeway; no ‘let’s give him a chance to settle in’, but most of the fellow Gooners around me were simply eager to confirm to themselves what they had decided in their heads was a fact: Gervinho is rubbish.

It was the weekend after Valentines Day and I realized soon that many supporters were taken to the Home of Football by their partners as a surprise gift. These people wanted to be entertained and show their partners – in most cases women – how frustrated and embarrassed they were at the poor performance of the team; by shouting, swearing, yelling at our players from the word go.

We played rubbish and the team deserved the fans’ scorn to some extent, but as supporters we have a duty to support (the clue is in the word!); only if and when certain players do not work their socks off, and look like they do not want to be on the pitch, should they be showered with our anger and frustration.

And by supporting our players from the start, we will help them build their confidence; and the stronger the confidence – combined with a strong willingness to do well – the better they will perform.

Gervinho is a fully committed, hard-working player. He gives his all, always makes himself available and never gives up trying to create something for the team. Gervinho is an enigma: he can be equally totally frustrating as absolutely fabulous from one moment, or game, to the next. I reckon, Gervinho will always be prone to missing sitters, even if we were to embrace him fully and show him the love and respect he needs and deserves.

But I am sure, he would become more consistent and play with even more energy and desire to make things happen for us, and the number of goals and assists would also improve; if we were to become more supportive of Gervinho from now on.

There is no other player in our team, except Wilshere maybe, who is as good as our Ivorian in taking on players in front of him and move into space with the ball at his feet. He is one of the few who can receive the ball in a tight space and can keep hold of it, without needing to pass it to another player as soon as possible. Currently, he is also better than any other player in effective wing-play and ensuring that our team has enough width. 

There are very few players in our team who position themselves better in the box than Gervinho: how many times was he at the right place, at the right time against Reading on Saturday, for example? Gervinho almost always offers another dimension to our team and football, but a large number of  supporters just seem to focus on his glaring misses rather than his overall performance and contributions to the team.

Ultimately, Gervinho will be judged on his return in assists and goals for the team, and I agree with many critics that he needs to improve further regarding these. It could well turn out that he is not capable of making the grade at Arsenal.

But I believe there is more to come from Gervinho and that we, the supporters, and the players have an important role to fulfil here: the more the Ivorian gets supported and forgiven for occasionally producing a bad miss, the more he will keep going for us and his confidence will grow; and the more assists and goals he will produce. But the opposite is equally true: love and trust is likely to lead to a successfully performing Gerv, but hate and rejection will most probably lead to a failing one.

Let’s love and embrace him, and shower him with songs of praise when he does well. The Gerv, I am pretty sure, will pay us back handsomely.

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Can the real Gervinho please stand up?

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Gervinho is one player who can inspire and exasperate in equal measure, especially when in the red and white of Arsenal. Signed for 10 Million pounds from Lille, Gervinho arrived on the back of a fairly impressive campaign, scoring 18 goals in all competitions in France: a statistic that beat the then ‘Ligue 1 player of the year’ (and team mate), Eden hazard.

He then moved to arsenal and on his debut scored a wonderful brace. His first a well lobbed ball above the Koln keeper; a goal that turned back the clock to the days Pires would thrill Highbury in similar fashion.

He began last season on the same stride, his electric pace and dazzling dribbling sending the Emirates faithful into animated frenzies. He bagged four goals and four assists before he departed for the Africa Cup of Nations in January. There he continued his red hot form, even scoring a goal – against Mali in the semi-final – which Messi would have been proud of. He picked the ball on the halfway line, nut-megged a Mali player and dribbled all the way to the goal, and scored (watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UPGTA0rJ6M). Fantastic stuff.

In the final he continued his form, being a constant thorn in the side of the Zambian national team with his pace and trickery. Unfortunately for him, the game went on to a penalty shoot-out where he missed a crucial spot kick, handing Zambia the crown. This was the turning point because the Gervinho that left for the AFCON wasn’t the one that returned to London. He would misplace passes, lose possession, waste clear cut chances, dribble his way into trouble, and generally frustrate the Arsenal faithful.

Luckily for him, Arsenal were in inspired form at that point, with the mercurial Dutchman at the helm of the team’s success. He never regained the form that had endeared him to the fans, and by the end of season they were calling for his head.

Fast forward to the beginning of this season, and the Gervinho of old seemed to have returned. He finished the pre-season as the top scorer, putting in inspiring performances that turned out to be one of the few positives in a time when our talisman left us for one of our fiercest rivals.

The domestic league began and his fantastic performances, coupled with the poor ones of new signing Olivier Giroud, earned him a starting place up front; ahead of Theo and Poldi. He scored 5 goals, epitomized by a brace against premier league newcomers Southampton in a game that saw Arsenal put 6 past them.

However, his wasteful side reared its ugly head again. He missed a sitter against Man City after being put clear by Ramsey: a miss that ultimately cost arsenal 2 points. His form quickly died out and (again) he was wasting chance after chance, and his departure to this year’s AFCON came as a breath of fresh air to most Gooners. Some are even hoping that Ivory Coast will get to the final, so as to keep him out of the side for as long as possible.

What really puzzles me about him is that when he dons the Ivory Coast jersey, he turns into this breath taking winger whose dribbles are purposeful and amazing, scoring goals for fun. Believe it or not, lately Gervinho has become more prolific for them than (dare I say it) Didier Drogba. Case in point, so far he has scored twice for them (one in a warm up match and one in their opening game against Togo). The one against Togo was a terrific finish the Arsenal contingent dream of seeing (watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8vHtuiu0hA).

However when he plays for Arsenal he is the ultimate embodiment of inconsistency, a trait which has seen most fans turn against him. Some say that he just isn’t good enough; others believe that the pressures of playing in the world’s toughest league eventually got to him.

Whatever the case, Gervinho has managed to step on the nerves of many with his inconsistent and unpredictable performances. He has claimed that he wants to be Arsenal’s new Robert Pires, and maybe putting that kind of pressure on himself wasn’t the best idea.

One thing is for sure, though, he better step up his game if he hopes to be playing for Arsenal for the foreseeable future. He has already lost his place to Poldi, Chamberlain, Theo and Giroud who lately are becoming more and more formidable. With the imminent acquisition of a new player, he could fall even further down the pecking order.

It is a shame because Gervinho has the potential to be the player fans envisioned him to be when they gave him a Brazilian nickname. We could continue to speculate about what is the true cause of his failings but that would be a waste of time, because ultimately only he can decide what he wants his career trajectory to be.

Most fans have written him off as an awful purchase, and soon the incredible patience Wenger is known to have WILL run out. He is 25 years old, so time is quickly running out for him to make his mark at the top level.

My advice: Wenger saw something special in him when he signed him from Lille and gave him a chance in the world’s number one league. Gervinho: TAKE IT!

Written by: Marcus – a Kenya based Gooner.

 

Five positive developments for Wenger to turn things round

Whether we like it or not, we are going through another transitional period. Supporters have every right to be disappointed in the club for being once more in this position.

However, we are where we are, and there are some developments within the team and on the field which could play a major part in turning the season round for us anytime soon.

Arsene Wenger has been here more than once before in his career, and he has always managed to turn back to winning ways eventually – albeit without turning this into silverware at the end of the season for quite a while.

The season is still long, and although it looks like Arsene just cannot make this team gel and play in a cohesive and effective way, things could fall into place again in the foreseeable future.

Five developments that could turn things round for Arsenal:

  1. There has been an even spread of goals between our Arsenal strikers this season, and we are more than matching the strike-force of the Mancs at the moment. Theo scored 8, OG 6, Gervinho 5, and Podolski scored 5 too = a total of 24 goals in all competitions. The Mancs: van Judas scored 11, Hernandez 8, Rooney 3, Wellbeck 1 = a total of 23. It is now really important to start scoring more in the games that matter; especially in the Premier League. Giroud has started to do that, and with Theo back in the starting-11 and the Pod hopefully finding his form again, Arsenal should be able to increase the goal per game ratio in the PL significantly.
  2. The imminent return of Gibbs and Szczesny to our ‘five in defence’ should help us considerably in going back to the tight defence Arsenal had at the start of the season. Mannone did relatively well, but the return of the more experienced and demanding Pole will mean a step improvement for us; and the same goes for Gibbs who has been missed tremendously over the last few weeks. Arsenal still have statistically one of the tightest defences and there is every reason to believe we can get back to a period of solid defensive performances.
  3. The return of Jack Wilshere has made a big improvement to the team. In our 4-3-3 system, he plays in such an important position and he has all the skills to link our play together; to both support Arteta and Cazorla in their respective duties of protecting the defence and making things happen in attack. He is getting fitter by the game, and we simply are dependent on him in terms of keeping a good shape to our team and starting to play the way Wenger wants us to. Hopefully Rosicky will be fit soon too, so Jack and Santi can get a break now and again.
  4. Our wings will soon be in full flow again. 4-3-3 only makes sense when a team possesses aggressive wing-play. Last season we had Theo and Sagna forming a formidable partnership; and at the start of this season, we saw the development of fluent wing-play on the left between Gibbs and Pod. Just imagine both wings starting to operate at their full potential again: it would make a huge difference to our team
  5. Last but not least, we should hope for the possibility of us going on a winning run again. A good win against the Spuds could rekindle our season and lead to a run of good results. Our players could start clicking together all of a sudden, and there are no more inter-lulls to break up our momentum again.

Admittedly, I am trying to convince myself that all is not lost and Arsenal will turn this season round, but reading the above again, I can see how things could still fall back into place for us.

Total Arsenal.