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October 2016
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Arsenal: Is this the squad of champions?



By Tim Charlesworth

As we head deep into the interlull with the transfer window closed, it finally feels like the football season is ready to start.  The first three games had a curious ‘pre-season’ feel to them, with summer weather, lots of teams missing players following the Euros and everyone looking a little ‘under-cooked’.  Unfortunately we will start the ‘real season’ five points behind our main rivals, but now at least the shape of our squad looks a little clearer, and this seems like the right point to review its strengths and weaknesses:

Goalkeeper: We can expect another season of Cech with Ospina as the rotation option, and possible competition.  Ospina will presumably play the cup matches, but it will be interesting to see whether this includes Champions League games.  This appeared to be the arrangement last season until Ospina made a horrible error in Champions League Game 2, dropping an Olympiacos corner over the line in a 3-2 home defeat.

Centre-Halves: Overall, the centre back department looks strong, certainly from the point of view of strength in depth, and possibly also in terms of quality.  My assumption is that Koscielny will play most games with either Gabriel or Mustafi.  Holding looks like a strong fourth choice and Mertesacker will return in the second half of the season at an unknown point in the pecking order.  

Koscielny looks world class and has done for a few seasons now.  He is about to turn 31, which is mature, but not too old for a centre half.  His output may start to decline in the coming few seasons, but barring injury, I still expect a lot from him this season.  Gabriel and Mustafi still have to prove their ability to turn in consistent performances.  There is a minor concern that, without the BFG, we lack aerial presence at centre back.  Koscielny, Mustafi, Gabriel and Holding are all 6’0 or 6’1.  They are all good headers of the ball, but not aerially dominant, and may find it hard against big centre backs at set-pieces, or powerful strikers like Carroll, Lukaku and Ibrahimovic.

Right Back: At right back, Bellerin has had an unconvincing start to the season, but there is every reason to expect another top quality season from this talented young player.  The backup and rotation options at right back are less clear.  Jenkinson and Debuchy remain at the club, but neither looked good last season – Jenkinson playing 20 league games for WHU before getting his injujry.  Holding and Mustafi can both play the position, but have never done so for Arsenal, so it will be interesting to see how Wenger plays this one.

Left back: Monreal had a summer off, but still managed to look underprepared for the new season.  He has done well for us without ever setting the world alight and will turn 31 this season.  Gibbs will provide the competition and I have a sneaky suspicion that he might win back the starting berth at some point this season.  Gibbs is a talented player who now brings more maturity to the table.  He has always been impressive going forward and now age and experience may bring him the defensive solidity that he still needs to prove.  There is a feeling that this is a make or break season for him.  If he fails to play regularly this season, I suspect that both parties will reluctantly part ways.

Central midfield: This is an intriguing area.  For the sake of this discussion, I will assume that two defensive midfielders are played.  There is some flexibility here, with sometimes a defensive midfielder paired with a box-to-box player, and sometimes more of a ‘double pivot’ with two midfielders alternating responsibility for protecting the back four.

 This is the area of the pitch that really let us down last season, and has seen significant reinforcement with the arrivals of Xhaka and Elneny.  After a good start to last year, Coquelin and Cazorla picked up injuries in November and neither recovered before the end of the season (Coquelin came back into the team, but didn’t look right physically).  We played the crucial part of the season with Flamini and Ramsey filling these roles, and paid the price.  

Overall, this appears to be an area of strength with Coquelin, Xhaka, Elneny and Cazorla providing the main options (Ramsey and The Ox are also possible).  Instinctively it feels like we haven’t enjoyed such riches in this area since the halcyon days of Vieira and Petit, followed by the invincible line-up of Vieira and Gilberto with Edu and Parlour in the wings.  Before we get too carried away however, I would sound a few notes of caution:  

  • None of these players has a proven ability to play a whole Premiership season in this position – Coquelin and Cazorla played the second half of 2014/15 here and then the first half of 15/16 before injury intervened for both.  Xhaka is obviously new to the league and Elneny did well in the second half of last season, but still needs to do more to fully convince me.  
  • Cazorla is aging (32 in December) and needs the right partner to cover for a lack of aerial ability.  
  • Coquelin still looks like he hasn’t 100% recovered from his knee injury last November.  
  • Above all, this area of the pitch is about partnerships and Cazorla-Coquelin is the only partnership with any track record; I am not convinced that the romantically attractive Cazorla-Xhaka has enough defensive grit; Elneny-Coquelin looked horrible together against Liverpool and lack creativity; Elneny-Xhaka is short on Premiership experience.  
  • My feeling is that Coquelin and Elneny have the greater defensive ability and Xhaka and Cazorla are more creative, but we are still getting to know Elneny and Xhaka in particular, so this view might change.

Wide midfielders/wingers: The main options here are:  Walcott, Ramsey, The Ox, Sanchez, Iwobi with possibly Perez and Reine-Adelaide.  Wenger often likes to play one player who is more of a ‘forward’ (Walcott, Sanchez etc.) and one who is more of a midfielder (Ramsey, The Ox etc.).  

There is a stunning array of talent here, but also a few players who need to prove that they can deliver on a regular basis.  It seems that Walcott will focus on this position this season, and Wenger may not give him another season if he doesn’t make a success of it.  The Ox is younger and may have more chances in the locker, but the failure of this sumptuously talented young man to deliver on a regular basis is a never ending frustration.  

Iwobi was fabulous last season and it might be unfair to expect more this season, but I hope he surprises us again.  Sanchez looked better last season on the right than the left.  I get the feeling that Wenger wants to give Walcott a chance on the right and this might have implications for Sanchez as discussed below.

Number 10: This position is a problem that every team in the world would like to have.  Ozil is a world class player who can literally take your breath away with his vision and imagination.  He is not replaceable, but we will play games without him due to injury and rotation.  

It’s not clear who will act as Ozil’s primary back-up.  In the first two games of the season, Ramsey and then Cazorla played at no 10.  Iwobi played no 10 a few times last season and impressed everybody, but against Liverpool he was on the left and then injured for the Leicester game.  

I still expect to see Iwobi play in this position, but Wenger obviously sees Ramsey as an option here too.  This makes sense, as Ramsey clearly demonstrated last season that he is too attack minded to play as one of the sitting midfielders.  My bet is that Ramsey will be mostly a no 10 or wide midfielder this year.  The Ox and Sanchez can also play 10.

Number 9: The striker position looks like our biggest weakness.  It is not clear whether Sanchez is temporary cover in this position or Wenger is making a serious attempt to establish him here.  It seems to me that Wenger could have selected Giroud to play against Watford, and it was significant that he didn’t do so.  Wenger has serious form in converting players to centre forward (Henry and RVP being the most notable examples).  It seems like he has conceded defeat with project-Walcott, is project-Sanchez next?  

Sanchez is the kind of ‘fighting centre forward’ that Wenger seems to admire.  The Sanchez-Ozil dynamic looked interesting against Watford and I think Wenger might like to see that again.  Sanchez is a bit small for a traditional 9, but this size can create problems for defenders.  Against Watford, Amrabat found Sanchez’s head inconveniently located near his arm as he ran back into the penalty area.  The result was that he caught Sanchez around the head with the crook of his arm, flattening him and conceding a penalty.  

Sanchez is 5”5”, light on his feet, quick, aggressive and unpredictable.  If you are a big centre half, this is a recipe for accident.  If you try to mark him tight, you are almost inevitably going to knock him over at some point in a dangerous position, and then you are in the hands of how the referee ‘sees it’.  If you don’t’ mark him tight, you give him the opportunity to receive the ball at his feet, and from there he can be devastating.  

In the first three games, Sanchez has, at times, looked a little bit like a ‘false 9’, dropping deep for the ball.  I don’t see this as a great problem for a team like Arsenal.  The false 9 line-up can be very difficult to defend when you have lots of players making late runs, and with Walcott, The Ox and Ramsey in the team, this is exactly what we are likely to produce.  It looks to me like Ozil is also making more effort to make runs into goalscoring positions this season.  The run and header to score the third goal against Watford looked particularly out of character.

Giroud is the other main option in this position.  I know opinions are divided, but I like Giroud.  He is hard working and contributes well to the team.  He is not a world beater, but I thought he had a good season last year. Unfortunately he lost form in the crucial early months of 2016, but I think this was mostly the result of being overplayed.  As Wenger lost faith in Walcott, Giroud played 15 consecutive games through December, January and February, averaging 4.9 days between games.  I expect Giroud to get more rest and better retain his form this year.

I don’t expect too much from Perez this season.  Strikers are rarely an instant hit in the Premiership, and he may play more as a wide player or bench option in the first half of the season.  In the second half of the season he may have to compete with a returning Welbeck.   I don’t foresee a lot of action for Akpom or Sanogo as striking options, but injuries could change this.


Overall, this looks like a good squad.  I thought we had plenty of depth last season, but I turned out to be wrong.  This squad has even more depth than last year’s, and doesn’t have any obvious ‘single points of failure’ like Coquelin in last year’s squad.  Of course, injuries and losses of form can quickly change the outlook, and we don’t know how these will affect us. After the interlull we will play 7 games in 22 days (averaging a game every 3.1 days) and this will be a good test of the whole squad.  My main concerns are:

  • Ozil – can he avoid injury and lead the team to glory?
  • Can we find a good, lasting partnership in central defence?
  • Will we be defensively strong enough in the air?
  • Can we find a good partnership in central midfield
  • Can our ‘jury out’ players (Walcott, The Ox, Gabriel, Coquelin, Ramsey) prove their worth?
  • Can we find enough quality at no 9?
  • We need our new signings to make a contribution.  How quickly can Mustafi and Xhaka adapt?  We should not expect too much from Perez

We look like we can cover injuries in most positions.  Bellerin may be the greatest risk here, but perhaps Holding and Mustafi are stronger than I think in the right back slot.  Ozil is a magician and totally irreplaceable, but this is the price you must pay for having one of the best players in the world.

I like the look of this squad more than any other in recent years.  If it can steer clear of too many injuries, I think it had a good chance.

If you liked this article, you might enjoy Tim’s book “It’s Happened Again”, which is now available on Amazon (print and Kindle versions).  Read a sample chapter at

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45 comments to Arsenal: Is this the squad of champions?

  • Nonny

    Have you forgotten we have a Debuchy in our team to cover for Bellarin. He may have lost his form after his injuries but he is still a good player and remains a good backup. How many other teams have a decent right back backup as good with the experience of Debuchy which you obviously refused to consider.

    All in all this article is all pessimistic even when you try to taint it a little. Why can’t we just be happy and optimistic with what we have and hope for the best.

  • nicky

    A very encouraging post, Tim, which should assist even the most fickle of supporters to some confidence this season.
    I would hope that Perez will have a better initial season than you expect, although with three or four new key players throughout the spine of the team it will take time for bonding.
    We supporters will need patience and the award of 100% backing to all who wear the shirt in the forthcoming months. Only in this way can we prosper as a Club. 😉

  • Nonny

    Just to add to what I said earlier, there is no team that is 100% without problems. One of ManU big signings is already out injured.

    Anyways, all I’m trying to say is have a positive attitude. Telling the team and drumming it in their ears that they have the quality to win the league will push them to put in more effort. It doesn’t matter if Giroud is injured and replaced by Akpom or Iwobi replaces Ozil, they just put in their own effort as part of the team.

    Let us fans sing it aloud and drum it in their ears that they can win the league just like Robert Pires is doing and not keep looking for the downside like Merson and sorry to say, Tim Charlesworth is doing.


  • Fishpie

    Very fair and well considered assessment of our 2016/17 squad Tim. A good read. Thank you.

  • John L

    Yes. There is always the risk that any player can lose form, make mistakes, or suffer an injury.
    Yes, it might also take time for new players to be assimilated into a new team and a new league.

    However, I also take the positive view that our squad as a whole is as good as any in the Premiership and is capable of a serious challenge for the title.

  • Leon

    It’s a good squad and stronger than the one we started last season with, and look how optimistic we were then.
    Another stuttering start, but plenty of time for recovery, so again I’m optimistic about our Premier League chances but It’s going to be more difficult this time due to squad improvements of our closest rivals.

  • Justin Chinedu

    Great. i love this, i love the squad and am very optimistic that the Ox’ will steal the show this season. Well, you’ve asked us not to expect much from Lucas Perez, but i expect some goals, hope 15 league goals are not much to ask for…..
    Greetings to the Untold crew, to all the fans….lets give the lads the best of our support.
    OP. That legends game was superb. love them all.

  • Jambug


    “I thought we had plenty of depth last season, but I turned out to be wrong.”

    We had a lot of injuries and still finished above teams that where regarded as having very good squads, so how do you come to that conclusion?

  • Arseneguy

    This article is no way pessimistic. you must identify the problems if you want the solutions. BONNY has you rightly pointed out there is no team without problems. Right on point post from Tim.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Hi Jambug

    I am always looking for us to win the league. Last season was not a disaster, but we failed to win the league. The main failure of the squad last season was in midfield. The injuries to Cazorla and particularly Coquelin really hurt us. Coquelin’s intended backup was Arteta, but he had an awful season. As a result of all this we ended up playing Flamini and Ramsey in central midfield for a long part of the season. This was the period when results went west and we lost the chance to win the Premiership.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Hi Nonny

    Not sure I understand your comments. I feel optimistic about the season and I thought the article reflected that. Do you feel that it is pessimistic because I only think we “might” win the league? Or is it that I expect injuries to happen? Neither of these expectations seem unrealistic to me.

    I Take your point about Debuchy. I was surprised that he stayed. Does that mean that Wenger sees him as second choice at RB rather than Jenkinson, Holding or Mustafi? Maybe? Maybe no-one would take him on his high wages, ageing legs and poor attitude? He was frankly awful last season on the few occasions that he played, and his attitude stank. Maybe he will surprise me this season (I hope so), but sudden upturns in form are unusual in 31 year olds who are not playing regularly. If he is our second choice right back, I pray for Bellerin’s fitness and hope we don’t get the chance to find out whether Debuchy’s form will improve with a long run in the team.

  • topanlesmana

    Arsenal: Is this the squad of champions? I think it is. COYG

  • Tom

    Isn’t Arsene Wenger’s main objective each season to win the Premier League, CL, or the FA cup, and not necessarily “finish above teams regarded as having very good squads”?

    Who cares where other teams with very good squads finish if:
    1. They decide to fire their manager halfway through the season and announce a new one taking over beginning the next season(City).

    2.They continue to persist with a manager who had made a string of irrational decisions by playing 50% percent of his players out of position, while trying to find the right system for many underperforming and overpriced players he had brought in, while saying he might not be the manager he once was, while working under a suspicion another manager was taking over after the season’s end( Man U)

    3.They decide to go into the third season with a volatile manager who usually burns out his players by his on and off the field antics( Chelsea)

    What is the main objective for Arsenal in your mind?
    Finishing above Tottenham or any other specific club, or winning the league?

  • Nonny

    If I’m not mistaken, we were all upset when Sagna left for City, rejecting a new contract even at 32. Debuchy we knew is match rusty and was better than Sagna when he signed at least at the French team. Debuchy we all also knew wanted to be part of the Euros in his country and needed to play to regain his place so I understand his moans. Writing him off to the extent of hardly acknowledging him in you article show how much you belittle him.

    Overall, what I feel about the article is that you didn’t seem encouraged or encouraging. If I can point out a few of your own word to aid my views.

    CB – “We lack aerial presence at CB without BFG”. Now we all wanted someone younger, faster and better but blaming them for not been as tall as BFG is unbelievable.

    LB – it’s no secret that Monreal is the best LB in the league but this is what you have to say. “Monreal looks unprepared for the new season”.

    Just to add another comment just for the fun of it, you said about a player who was bought for just £5m and has won player of the month twice in his very short stint. “Elneny still needs to do more to convince me”.

    If i go through the article, I can pick out more but my point is if these are not been pessimistic, I wonder what is.

  • engram

    ‘I think it had a good chance’ is a strange way to conclude but as slippage goes such a line as become the folklore for the past decade or more. Hope your book was peoof read.

  • engram

    Used to be a peoof reader myself so much empathy Tim.

  • Goonereris

    Engram, start by “proof” reading your own posts then. Lol.

  • Goonereris

    I feel barring a string of Arsenal-esque injuries to key players, the squad stands a good chance as any club, to win the league, even if the pundits and media see it differently. We came 2nd last season, for Pete’s sake; we have improved in the areas we all felt we should, albeit, not at the levels of quality desired. Still, I am positive the players will deliver.
    I will like to see a bit more of Rob Holding and prefer Mustafi earns a place on the team rather than just walk into it. It is a new league for him and he should realize he would need a bedding in period. One bad game and the jury will be out on him, seeing as we paid so much for him. Perez has less pressure and is likely to hit the ground running once he gets the trust of his teammates. I worry for Giroud because the moment the side gets comfortable with the new system of keeping the ball on the ground more, his usefulness may be less so, unless in games where we would need aerial bombardment to get a result. It’s going to be an interesting season.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Tim, you’ve tried. Your assessment is good and in order. But Arsenal will need to unfailingly beat Southampton this Saturday afternoon to reset their PL loss ground back on course. And I hope Le Prof will give the no.10 shirt in the squad to Ozil who has requested for it according to media report.

    This Arsenal’s summer reinforced 1st team squad is looking very strong to mount a serious challenge for the PL this season than the previous 5 seasons as there are many good cover for every position in the 1st team squad save the LB which has only 1 cover. However, I hope Le Prof has a Gunner in mind who he can either convert on temporary basis to a LB from the other positions in the squad or drag one from our U21 should the need for that comes up. Anyway, that’s not a concern issue now.

    Finally, I expect the Manchester derby to end in a goalless draw as Man City will pack the bus because they’ll not have Aguero to cause Man U any havoc. Therefore, Arsenal MUST capitalize to take the advantage to close the gap on their 3 main title contenders who could all drop points this weekend.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Hi Nonny

    Sorry if you feel these comments are pessimistic. I am trying to give a realistic assessment of our strengths and weaknesses. All footballers (and indeed other people too) have strengths and weaknesses. One of the strengths that BFG brings to our team is aerial dominance at the back (he also brings a weakness at turning speed). Without him we are less solid in the air at the back. The away game at West Ham was a good example of this last season when Gabriel and Koscielny struggled with a rampant Carroll. Aerial dominance is not all about height: Sol Campbell (6’2) was as strong in the air as any I have seen, as is (or was) John Terry (6’1). Height does help, as does strength and leap, I am certainly not ‘blaming’ anyone for not being tall! I think our centre back line up is a good one, but it does have a potential weakness in the air.

  • Gooner S


    I’m sure Giroud will be our #9 with Perez potentially playing in the Cups up front.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Hi Engram

    Thanks for the spot, obviously ‘had’ should read ‘has’. This was a genuine typo and not a Freudian slip (I hope). I did indeed have a proofreader for the book, but it is 410 pages and there will inevitably be typos in it.

    As a proofreader yourself, I’m sure you are aware that all first editions contain errors. I am aware of two errors in the book which will be corrected in the second edition, and I suspect that there are more. I will be very impressed if you (or anyone else) can point them out to me.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Hi Gooner S. You may well be right. I think this is one of the most interesting questions about our squad. I appreciate that my view on Alexis is a minority one and most commentators agree with you. I think the next few weeks will reveal how Wenger sees this one. I am interested also to see if Perez gets games out wide as well as being a back up for #9.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Hi Nonny

    I’m glad you have a higher opinion than I do of Monreal. I like him, but would not agree that he is the best LB in the league. However, I’m sure you will not disagree that his start to the season has been disappointing and this is what I meant when I described him as looking ‘unprepared’. I thought his performance against Liverpool was particularly poor, and would be surprised if you saw it differently? I think my view is actually an optimistic one. The pessimistic view would be that Monreal will not improve this season from his early season form (in which case I think he will lose his place in the team).

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Hi Nonny

    I have also been impressed by Elneny, and like you, I think he looks like a very good purchase. I am very optimistic about our central midfield, but in the name of balance, I am trying to point out their potential weaknesses. Elneny has certainly not proved that he can consistently deliver to the standard required of a championship winning team. There are signs that he may be able to do so, but certainly not proof. I was incredibly disappointed with his performance against Liverpool. Given that Wenger substituted him during the match and hasn’t started him since, I think he had a similar view.

  • Jambug



  • Tom

    You know what’s pathetic?
    It’s people like you altering their views to suit their argument without ever admitting that they have changed their views.

    One of last season’s little debates on here was a notion put forth that Arsenal’s relative inaction in the Summer transfer market would lead to Arsenal coming up short in the league.
    People who shared this view argued that next season( this season) , Guardiola , Mourinho, and Conte would spend huge amounts of money at thier new clubs , thus making it more difficult for Arsenal to win this year.
    Saying basically that last year was a blown opportunity.

    People like you ( and a few others)argued that Arsenal had a long view of their transfers and just getting Cech was perfectly in line with that plan, and with some new acquisitions this Summer , Arsenal would be in as strong ,or even stronger position to win the title than City , United or Chelsea.

    Imagine my surprise( not really) to read you say this a bunch of threads ago:
    “Although closer, our net spend is still half that Od City and Utd, so why under any circumstances should we finish above either of those?”

    Those circumstances you ask about might be that both City, and Utd have new managers and it should, according to your logic from last season, take them some time to implement new systems, bed new players in. And Arsenal , thanks to their continuity with Wenger , should still have some advantage in the title race.

    You basically did a 180 in a span of six months without even blinking.
    That my friend is what some might call pathetic.

  • Tom

    Good article.
    This probably could’ve been the line up of champions last season, but this season it won’t be enough.

  • OlegYch

    I think we’ll see quite a bit of Perez this season, especially after international breaks
    i don’t think Alexis will be playing in the center at all, he will be on the left with ox and iwobi as backups

  • OlegYch

    on the right flank will probably see Theo more than anyone else, with Ramsey Ox and Iwobi as backups
    at the center we’ll probably see a lot of rotation, with Xhaka Coquelin and Ozil being the most regular starters

  • Polo

    Arsenal wanted to sign Perez in January 2016 but couldn’t due to FIFA regulations. I wonder if this and the early substitute against Chelsea derailed Giroud mentally and led to his goalless run.

    Perez said this: “The Arsenal offer came just days before the end of the transfer window. But I knew about the interest of Arsenal for a long time. They showed interest in me during the January transfer window but then I couldn’t leave,” Perez said. “They also showed interest in me after the end of La Liga (earlier this summer). But then, they have their way of working and the offer came only days before the end of the market.”

    ‘IBTimes UK can confirm that Arsenal approached the striker in January after he had a flying start to the season at Deportivo, scoring 12 goals in the first 16 games of La Liga. However, the versatile forward “couldn’t leave” Deportivo because Fifa regulations on status and transfer states that players can only feature for two clubs during a season.’

  • Polo

    Good article Tim, thank you.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Hi Tom
    I think many of us fear that last season was a great opportunity missed. However, I am not convinced by the big spenders and I think their perfect starts to the season may be flattering them. Man U look to me like a team with lots of weaknesses. Pogba will help, as will Mourinho (not convinced by Zlatan’ ability to thrive in an English winter), but they were very poor last season and need to come a long way if they are to challenge. I am not overly worried by Chelsea who also had lots of problems last season, although a return to form for Hazard will go a long way. Man City look like the main danger to me. I like the look of them going forward, I think they may retain defensive weaknesses though.

  • Tom

    Man U, City and Chelsea will all drop points, no doubt.
    What makes a huge difference for me from the last season to this one is the fact Chelsea have no European football( remember how Liverpool were going three seasons ago without it until the Gerard slip).

    Man U will probably play their reserves in Europe, concentrating main recourses on the league., plus Mourinho first season effect.

    City can’t be underastimated with the no nonsense Guardiola in charge.

    But the biggest factor for me personally is that Arsenal never do well after heavy involvement of their players in major tournaments.
    Ramsey being just one example thus far of the stop-start season more Arsnal players might be having.

  • Leon

    I think Coquelin (who seems to be well over regarded on this blog) should be better suited as a squad player rather than an automatic starter. He picks up yellow cards so early in matches that he’s a liability for as long as he remains on the pitch. Better to bring him on later in a game when his impact will be much more positive but for a more limited period.

  • Unfortunately the answer is no, weVe already lost ground due to poor preparation, not blaming anyone ;)….and although we have some excellent players I fear we’ll fall short once again. But no doubt this will be spun to a positive… some.

  • Florian

    I find this article a fair assessment, and from my point of view it’s better to under promise and over deliver.

    To me the slow start of players like Kos, Ozil and, particularly, Giroud is clearly caused by the Euros and the short pre-season recovery. I don’t think we need to read too much in Giroud’s benching, other than he is short of match fitness and he will be back in the starting line-up either after the international break, or shortly thereafter. Also, I would like to believe that Wenger learned a lesson from last season, when Giroud got overplayed and lost form, so this season he will do a better job at managing the center forward position – and the signs are there, what with all these combinations being played early on, plus the arrival of Lucas Perez, who will surely want to play as early as possible, so I wouldn’t rule out appearances in the first half of the season – but then again, this is just speculation, and Tony will ask me for facts, of which I don’t have any;)

    What I would really like to see is a list of possible positions each player in our squad can potentially occupy, and from then on make judgments about the possible line-ups and approaches for each match. It is a foreseeably long article, but imho worth the effort. Maybe another series would do. It would also be interesting to dissect the approaches from the past few matches, from a strategical and tactical perspective, which would add another dimension to this already sumptuously featured blog. I know this is only a proposition, but one is allowed to dream. Cheers!

  • Menace

    I really don’t know what all the fuss is about. This season is going to be Easy or as the yanks say EZ.

    SanchEZ & PerEZ.

  • Menace

    Last season, Arsenal won the league but had points stolen by whistle blowers. I back Arsenal to win every season. I also back Arsenal to finish top 2 & top 3. I have not been disappointed, though theft by corruption does leave a bad taste in the mouth with a light feeling in the wallet.

    This season, I have backed Arsenal to win, be in top2 & top3. I am a lot more optimistic particularly with the odds dropping following the oily victories. Despite the foul wind blown through the whistles, Arsenal will prevail. If you cannot afford to lose don’t bet. The loss only occurs if Arsenal are robbed (highly likely under current biased media coverage & continued PGMO blindness).

    One thing I can guarantee is that Arsenal will play beautiful passing football. It is what Wenger delivers annually.

    What is the measurement of success? St Totteringham’s day before the end of March, Wengers first league cup, the FA cup, the Premier League & finally the Champions League. Ignoring the spuds, any two of the four trophies would be good but three will be success. All four will be deserved.

    Enjoy the ride & we can celebrate at the end of the season.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Leon, you make an interesting point about Coquelin. The clumsiness that leads to the cards was always his problem. When he returned to the team in early 2015 this failing seemed to have been eradicated from his game. The improvement seemed to be a result of a physical improvement that allowed him to get his leg in just before the ball departed instead of just after. He maintained this form until he picked up a knee injury in November 2015. After he returned from that injury he seemed to have lost that split second of pace again and started picking up the yellow cards again. The worst example was his dismissal at WHL, but there have been many others. I hope he can get that split second back because he was wonderful in 2015, but I agree that he doesn’t look like a starter on current form.

  • DCGun

    Holding is qt keqst 6’2. Perhaps taller. Just saying…

  • para

    Le Coq – mentioned above – needs to be more carefull in tackles.

    Alexis – needs to stop holding the ball that second too long – usually loses it and causes opposition attacks.

    Theo – shows promising signs of being more a team player now – works hard, needs to keep it up.

    Cech – worried about him – do not know why, but i am.

    The little slips of concentration of the team during a game, usually near the end especially when we go into “defend” mode – the team puts itself under pressure too much and invariably makes these mistakes.

    Check this: The players who come on to defend a lead near the end of a game are usually the “2nd” string players. Can you see the logic here? I can’t.

    Anyway, i think we will win PL this season. (CL don’t look too bad either, come on, this is Arsenal and we can do it if things fall into place properly).

    After all, even some of our enemies are surely secretly wishing that Arsenal finally wins (both or at least one) again. 🙂

    (The only time when the rest of UK is somewhat behind Arsenal is when we are one of last UK teams still in CL).

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I do feel confident and positive that we will do well this season because –
    – we have bought well and wisely and almost every key position is filled .
    – We have replaced all the positions made vacant by the departing players.
    – Said incoming players seem to be an upgrade on those who left.

    What we now need is a few lucky breaks from injuries and the PIGMOB ( to see or not to see certain ‘incidents ‘!) , and we should have a great tilt at the title and also in the other cups.

    Up the Gunners !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    VALUE –
    Lot of people don’t know the value of their wives , ….
    until a judge decides the alimony amount !

  • chibyke

    Nice article Tom. There are 2 perspectives to our poor start to the season. One, Liverpool &Leicester are top teams themselves and wont be a ride-over for anybody. However these are the games we need to win(or at least draw) if we are to become champions. By game 19, we can take stock and know where we stand. Arsene has strengthened the weak spots in the team. He has done his part. It’s now the turn of supporters to do theirs as football and footballers need support and confidence more than is thought.

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