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Arsenal’s big choice for the coming season. Who’s left on the left in attack?

By Walter Broeckx

This is part of a continuing series of articles on Arsenal in the new season: position by position.  Today, we move to the left hand side of the attack.

Last season the player that played most of the games on that position was our then new signing Gervinho. Joining us after winning the double in France he came at 24 years old.

Gervinho had 19 starts in his first season and he scored 4 goals. And if you look at some missed chances this should have been more. That is something he has to improve on. He gave 6 assists in the PL from which other team mates could score. I also would urge him to raise that number this season.

As it was his first season we can forgive him a few things. Well I can. I thought he started all right in the first games. He made a few great runs but the end product was not always there. That was a bit disappointing. Sometimes it looked as if his team mates didn’t know what they could expect. I hope they work on that a bit. I think the longer the season went on the better he became. And when he left for the ANC he looked good.

But back came another Gervinho. After missing the ultimate penalty kick for his country his confidence was broken. And it took him very long to recover from that.

Another player that was involved at the left side of attack was Andrey Arshavin. He mostly sat on the bench at the start of the season. When he came on it didn’t work for him. When he started it also didn’t work for him. Only 1 goal but also only 8 starts.

The lowest point came when some part of the fans started booing when he came on against Manchester United. I think that signalled the end of Arshavin. I do think that he as a Russian didn’t accepted to be treated like that. At whom it was aimed the booing I mean, doesn’t matter. I had the impression he felt it was aimed at him and that was very unfair for any Arsenal player to come on to the field and have to start with hear some fans booing. He then was loaned to his former club and won the league with them.

Another player starting on the left flank on occasion was Oxlade-Chamberlain. “What £15M for a kid?” was shouted by those who know better. Halfway the season they booed when the manager felt he had to be replaced to save his legs and his future. 6 starts for Oxlade-Chamberlain and 2 goals for him in the league.

So in total those 3 players had 34 starts and only 7 goals. In total this is not enough I feel for the left side of attack. So this has to improve. I’m sure that if Oxlade-Chamberlain gets ,ore starts he will score a lot of goals in the future and most of all will give a lot of assists also. He is still very young and when growing up he will become an even better version of Theo Walcott. Not the same speed maybe but much better skills. So sit back and enjoy watching him grow. I will anyway.

But it might be that Oxlade-Chamberlain will not play on the wing anymore. And I think Gervinho will have a lot of trouble to keep his place over there. Because watch out for Prinz Poldi aka Lukasz Podolski.

The youngest ever European football player to reach 100 caps for his country and not for some obscure country like Letland but for Germany, one of the top teams in Europe and the world in the past decade. He can play a few positions but he mainly plays or as the deepest striker or for Germany on the left hand side.

Some supporters are already out with their knifes ready to stick in his back at the first occasion. Some seem a bit too eager to point at the fact that the “failed” at Bayern Munich. I think if that is a fear he has chosen the right manager and the right club to put that straight. Henry was a big failure at Juventus, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp were even bigger failures at Inter.

So I’m not that bothered that he “failed” at Bayern Munich. Maybe the system didn’t suit him, maybe he had a problem with the manager or with a team mate. All the more because he kept on producing for the German national team, even while being a “failure”.

So if Wenger wants to play him on the left hand side he will do his job. He will score and most of all: he is one of the best defending attackers you can get. A big (German) engine that keeps on running. He is not the one to let a team mate do the job on his own and I have seen him come back to help the defence on many occasions. So maybe he will not just bring something to the attack but also bring something to the balance in the team. The balance between attacking and defending.

I think a possible battle for the left hand side in attack between Gervinho and Podolski will bring the best from both of them. They will know that they will have to produce. Gervinho with his dazzling runs or Podolski with the German efficiency. Two different types of players but I’m glad they are wearing the Arsenal shirt.

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If you think you know your Arsenal, think again.  Never before has one football book overturned so many myths and revealed so many forgotten and ignored truths.  Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed history.

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20 comments to Arsenal’s big choice for the coming season. Who’s left on the left in attack?

  • Byron

    I see huge things coming for Gervinho! He has such great ability-the type of abilities that can’t be coached. He runs into space, he passes into space and he often beats his man! He lack the ability to finish though but that I feel can be improved by coaching. I wouldn’t expect Van Persie esq volleysa but the amount of tap in he misses can be eradicated

  • ama

    Rvp is a great player but i can’t see he will stay at arsenal. I hope that Arsene will brings more stars to arsenal camp that will influence rvp to stay.

  • tom

    I think you mean Vieira was a failure at AC Milan, who we signed him from. He did quite well at Inter, after he left.

  • Abel

    Good work,

  • Kiri

    Don’t forget the Japanese kid. He is amazing.

  • Gerry Lennon

    Good stuff, as usual. I think a lot will depend on who is in the middle?
    Could it be we may start with a ‘Plan B’ occasionally? That is 4-4-2, with ‘mystery X’ as centre, and Gerv on his left? That would leave Prinz P, Song, Arteta, ‘mystery X2’ on the right, Back four the usual suspects, until Sagna is back, X3 as right back.
    Plan A is a little more difficult, PP up front(Gerv loses out) but you gain a midfield spot for AOC or X3, so it would be a front 3 of/between PP- X – X2/Gerv
    Still looks good, but better when we know who X’s 1-3 will be.

  • Pad Gooner

    I agree with Byron as well Kiri. I believe we are going to see more of Gervinho contributing with end products this season. Gervinho’s pace as well as his strength to hold on to opponents are just awesome. I think he could become the next big star of Arsenal attack.

    IMO, Ryo should be given the “Chamberlain” role this season to gel into our arsenal setup with occasional starts and frequent subs.

  • boomergooner1727

    gervinho can only get better. not much else to say about the natural ability and a year of premier league play under his belt will make a big difference in my opinion. i like that he can operate on both sides of the attack. it gives us 4 solid options for wide men (not even including miyachi, who could also make an impact), which will be nice since theo still has that nagging hamstring issue. hoping everyone can stay fit for healthy competition and rotation but it looks like we’re finally starting to have the sort of attacking depth that will prevent the usual goal slump at the end of the season.

  • zdzis

    @ama: ? This article doesn’t even mention RVP! You sure you can read?

  • dan

    Was signed by Arsenal for £6 million. Initially, his form was indifferent, and some people criticised him after his comments that the English game was too physical. However, he slowly began to regain the form he had shown at Metz, scoring a superb solo goal against Lazio in the Champions League,[5] and the winner against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-finals.

    He fully got to grips with the English game and had one of his best seasons. Scored superb goals against Middlesbrough and Aston Villa. Against Aston Villa, he chased after a long ball, and lobbed the ball over the pursuing defender, and finished off the move with a delightful chip over Peter Schmeichel.

    Robert Pires

  • Jacobite Gunner

    Gervinho to start on left with OX/Miyachai/Arshavin(if he doesn’t leave as cover.

    With the impeding transfer of RVP (better be no less than 25 mill and if it is Man City I would like us to get john Guidetti as well in exchange-is an outstanding young striker and banged them in from allover the place for Feyenood last season on loan)
    Podolski will be a fantastic replacement as CF as he is at the right age, technical qualities, experience and leadership to excell at arsenal with Giroud and whomever else as his back up.

  • nicolas

    I like our first 11, but at the moment I admit that we look a bit thin. We have few very good players, but a couple of more wouldn’t hurt. I’m waiting that the club will complete the possible signings away (like Chamakh, Bendtner, Arshavin, Park, Vela, RvP) and then I’m eagerly waiting who will come in! Mouthwatering and exciting!

  • bjtgooner

    The important thing here is that we have good options to play in the left attacking position with Gervinho, Podolski, the OX and Ryo. I supect they will all get game time and it will be fascinating to see how the squad settles down – Podolski may additionally play as a striker and the OX may at times play in midfield. At present I am optimistic about the coming season!

  • dempapa

    i got afeeling ars wil win title next season

  • iniez

    I think gervinho will show his worth, he was a little jittery last season but the welcome joey barton gave him surely didn’t help. Hopefully enough time has passed for him to feel more comfortable in the league and we can watch him play uninhibited. I think we’ll see a different gervinho next season, one that will cause all sorts of trouble for the opposition, he just needs to find his feet in a new (and rather demanding) league

    To go off topic a bit, anyone notice how robin is linked with some 5 clubs but all I keep reading about is his link to united? They aren’t any further than anyone but the media focus seems to be on them tryingnto sign him. Not sure what it could mean but it sticks out like an elephant in a haystack

  • Ong Bing

    Too much on the left, only Yheo on the right.

    Maybe sometimes on of them play on the right. And I think Poldi will be 1st choice on the left.

  • Ong Bing

    Opps, I mean only Theo on the right. Oiks.

  • Mark Ibrahim

    Hmmm… As with every position, it all depends on how the team will be set-up. If we go with a traditional 4-3-3 or (my preferred) 4-2-3-1 then I would say that Poldi is a lock as 1st choice LW. The cool thing about him though is that he can just slot into the CF position if Giroud needs to come off.
    The RW, is even more of a question b/c Theo would be 1st choice but that’s assuming he stays. Otherwise we have the Ox, Gervinho (can play on R as well), and Miyaichi (assuming he doesn’t go back on loan). I didn’t include AA b/c I believe he will leave as neither the club nor player seems keen on his staying. In any case, we have quality & depth on our wide positions. Now if we could only secure a playmaking AMF…

  • goonergerry

    When you play in front of a guy like Santos at LB- an ability for a winger to tackle back and defend is equally as important as scoring goals and making assists. Especially as the team conceded 49 goals last season-many down to exploitation of the gap behind the left back. Don’t think you can underestimate the need for our wingers to be fully fit-so I see a fair bit of interchanging next year.
    Think Podolski will play right across the front line-may even see him on the right, cutting inside defenders and shooting.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Walter….you are right on about Podolski. I watched him in Germany and one thing he excelled at was sweeping in front of the opponent’s back four just behind the main striker(s) and shooting from left or right (he is capable of both from 20-30 metres out. He loved to roam across the front three or four and rarely stuck to the left…preferring to sweep up balls carelessly cleared by the opposition and often driving them back at goal. He played in a very poor team (Koln) last season but was one of the star forwards in the Bundesliga. He is a real leader, in the style of Vermaelen and won’t allow his teammates heads to drop if he can help it.
    He also defended very strongly and tracked back far more often than Walcott or Gervinho ever did. I remember one game against Stuttgart where he played box-to-box, despite being a winger.
    He is very strong in the tackle and can pop-up in the box like a fox, scoring like he did in the Euros. He is disciplined and has great pace, perseverance and fitness so we can expect him to add a great deal to the link play between the midfield and the strikers.