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Let the football begin: Arsenal back in action on saturday

By Tony Attwood

It seems like forever since we had any real football, but there’s only five days to go before we start again – as usual at Barnet.

Last season the game was curious: we had two different teams out for the two halves (that’s fairly normal) but with some of them playing out of position.

For the first half we had

Almunia
Djourou – Gallas – Vermaelen – Silvestre

Wilshere – Randall – Frimpong –

Arshavin – Rosicky – Watt

In the second half it was

Mannone
Eastmond – Ayling – Vermaelen – Cruise

Barazite – Coquelin – Henderson

Simpson – Sunu – Emmanuel-Thomas

So what can we learn from that?  Four centre halves playing across the back line was curious in the first half – was it just to make the newly signed Vermaelen feel at home?   And Rosicky as centre forward…  Watching the game I remember wondering if it was all done just to wake the players up and not allow them to drift back into their normal roles?

Looking back I am not too sure what the team tells us – especially the second half team.  Eastmond’s star has risen dramatically but he’s off on a six month loan to Yeovil, while Ayling, who I thought was brilliant in the match a year ago is now permanently at Yeovil which shows what I know.  I think they have a thing about players called Luke.  Coquelin has gone on loan for a year.

What did strike me from the second half line up is that the match is used as much as anything as a show-piece for any managers of lower league clubs who might want someone on loan – we put out our potential loanees on display and say, come and take your pick.

In fact if we go through all the players from that match and see who we still have – and leaving aside the ones we know all about there’s…

  • Emmanuel Frimpong who was expected to break through last season but got injured a lot, and never seemed to get going.
  • Randall seems to have shot his bolt.  He played 16 times for MK Dons, but I personally can’t see him coming back.
  • Sanchez Watt who played for Derby and who looks set for a Carling Cup / reserves year
  • Tom Cruise got into the team against Olympiakos,
  • Barazite was left out of my list of up and coming yesterday, and was the player who got more mentions in correspondence than anyone else.
  • Henderson was injured for much of the season
  • Simpson went out on loan and didn’t seem to impress much,
  • Sunu was on loan at Leeds

So picking up from the list published yesterday of our non-world cup players who are all ready to go along with our up and coming we have…

Goal: Almunia, Fabianski, Mannone, Szczesny

Full backs: Gibbs, Traore, Hoyte the Younger, Cruise

Centre backs: Vermaelen, Djourou, Koscielny, Nordtveit

Midfield: Denilson,  Nasri, Wilshire, Lansbury, Rosicky, JET, Barazite

Forwards: Arshavin, Chamakh, Eduardo, Walcott,

Plus whoever needs exposure in the world of the up and coming or who is put on display ready for a loan deal.

I will of course be utterly wrong and something quite different will happen.

On the issue of selling players

I would not be surprised if our backup players are not sold and we have a bigger squad than last season.  After three years of wholesale injury, it surely makes sense to have a bigger squad, and if needs be play some of them in the Unnecessary Cup games.  If the onslaught of injury has been a statistical quirk over the last three years then we’ll end up with some fed-up players and the opportunity to do some rotating, but if the cause of the injuries is the speed of the game and the deliberate attempt by the media and clubs to raise “play dirty” to an art form, and to exonerate the likes of Shawcross, we will need a lot of players.

On the WC cup final

Speaking of which the papers I saw over the weekend were praising the Netherlands for learning how to “play dirty”, and it seems they got their wish.  I didn’t watch the match but I hear it was run as something of a tribute to Shawcross and Taylor and their English style of football.  I’m rather glad I was enjoying the open vistas of an almost utterly empty M6 instead.

Untold did reveal exactly how England could win the world cup during the past month or so – and it turns out it would take two very simple changes to the way the game is organised in England.  But perhaps I should save that for another time.  There’s been far too much of this world cup gibberish for one century.

POSTSCRIPT AND ADDENDUM

As several writers have pointed out in the correspondence I have screwed up the loan details, reversing a couple of clubs for loanees and mixing up who is at Yeovil (only players called Luke go to Yeovil).  Apologies all round.

I’m living in a foreign country but I’m bound to cross the line

Beauty walks a razor’s edge someday I’ll make it mine

If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born

“Come in” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

32 comments to Let the football begin: Arsenal back in action on saturday

  • dats

    I thought Luke Freeman Was off for a loan spell at Yeovil, not Craig Eastmond. Am I right or wrong?

  • Minesy

    No Tony it was the usual, breath on a Spaniad and he will roll … and roll … and roll. The worst was De Yong’s on Alonso which should have been red, but Webb bottled it as usual. Puyol and Iniesta should have had two (at least) and three yellows respectively …. but what do you expect when you put Howard Webb in charge of a World Cup Final …

  • Mayur

    Hey, did you realize that none of the england based players had a good world cup… i thought heitenga was among the players who was having a better world cup until he was sent off…

  • kc

    I’m excited as hell for some real footy to watch again. I thought we’d have more new players by now tho. I was never expecting any big buys from Arsene, but this whole 3 out 2 in thing is tired. After last seasons injuries that really hurt us I assumed that we would learn from our mistakes and buy extra defenders. A new GK worth his salt should be added at least.

  • Dats – the simple rule is everyone called Luke is at Yeovil, and anything else I have said is wrong.

  • Vic

    How many of the listed young players will fit in d first squad cos almost all of them may go on loan again

  • EAC3

    I did watch the game on the Beeb and the Dutch spent most of the game trying to kick the shit out the Spanish players….but what really made me scream abuse at the TV screen was listening to Hansen/Shearer & Linneker criticising the Dutch tactics…with Hansen particularly mouthing off about the unacceptable face of football etc…etc. What I would like to see now is his and other pundits comments replayed alongside their comments when Arsenal were kicked off the park by Birmingham, Stoke and others. Whilst its OK to “get in their face” and show the winging Arsenal foreigners that its a mans game played the English way its not the same for the Dutch getting in the faces of the Spanish maestros.

  • Kevin

    To quote my mate Jason – I find it rather ironic that football pundits/ journalists throughout the whole of the country have united to condemn the Dutch for their appalling tactics last night and we all agree that the Spanish victory was a victory for football. Yet week in week out we get the same treatment and it’s all our fault for not having enough “physical presence”.

  • Brett

    Watt went to Leeds, Sunu went to Derby (noticed you switched them).

    Also since when was Eastmond going to Yeovil? It’s the first I heard about it and seems like an odd move (as Eastmond could cut it at Championship level most likely).

    I’m looking forward to the Barnet game. It’s always an interesting one as we rarely put on a great performance but you can see a few shine through.

  • Bart

    EAC3, couldn’t agree more. Annoying as it is though, no surprise really. Hansen most have something on the BBC bosses, otherwise he wouldn’t be in that job. I’ve stopped watching MOTD long time ago, it’s not worth the agro. Last night I muted the TV during the breaks.

  • Concerning new buys there are two things to remember – it is only 12 July – ie 12 days into the transfer market, and we have bought two. Few clubs do more than that.

    Second, the view that we need to buy seems to suggest that none of the up and coming kids are worthwhile – but I would say Eastmond certainly is.

    If we say that our centre backs are: Vermaelen, Djourou, Koscielny, Nordtveit and that Song and Eastmond can also play centre back, that is six we have. If you buy more players then some of them have to be the reserves to the main two – and you have to keep them happy. If you buy in big names for that how the hell do you keep them happy.

    In the end for stability all you can have is two big names as your two centre backs, two up and coming players, a player who can switch positions if need be, and then two youngsters below that. How can you possibly buy more and keep them happy?

  • Guneryng

    Wel, seem we may end up with
    Mannone
    Sagna,djourou,vermelen,clichy
    Song
    Nasri,fab
    Arshavn,persie
    Chamakh
    4 nxt seasn

    Watched z final ystrday, hat off to the holland coach.. It seems evrythng was plan to perfction bt Webb jst screwed it up.. A clear corner was not givn which resultd in a goal at the other end.. Similarly, puyol deserved a straight red card for what i call to be a profesionnal foul on Robben, bt Webb did what he does best, at least a yellow would have suffice bt… These referees are ruining the game. What a shame!

  • BOOZY

    correction- barazite is not a midfielder

  • walter

    can’t wait till saturday…Finaly some real football again. Football the way it is meant to be.

  • shotta-gunna

    Thanks Tony for bringing us back to the grunge world of professional football. Reading your blog and others, not surprisingly, too many are obsessed with fantasies of plonking giant wads of cash on brand new signings without regard to the uncut stones we are turning into jewels. Worse yet, 22-23 year-olds who are already 1st team regulars are already being shipped out before they have realized their full potential. Thanks for pointing out we have a squad that needs only one or two new signings to make us better. What is the point of a good first team but the large sections of the squad are unhappy knowing they will never have the chance to shine.

  • Boozy – I note you have said Barazite is not a midfielder, but according to http://www.arsenal.com/reserves-youth/players/nacer-barazite he is exactly that.

  • munaf

    Now the World Cup is over perhaps Wenger can drag himself away from French TV and start to do the job he is paid almost £5million for. His 2 pathetic transfer dealings which are totally inadequate leave the club in a perilous position. We have lost 4 central defenders and Wenger has replaced them with that household name Koscielny, a skinny underachiever from France, or Poland if they will recruit him (no one seems to want to). Another little lost Frenchman who’s first utterance was to state I’m too weak to play in the PL, I need building up. Fills you with confidence doesn’t it. And, who knows, later this week we might be signing Mark Schwarzer. Oh my God, I can hardly control my excitement at the prospect. And the apologists wonder why Fabregas wants to leave, I’m surprised he has stayed this long. Yes we are truly walking in a Wenger Fantasy Land. Wenger stated categorically on a number of occasions that he wanted all of his business done before the World Cup started. The apologists all nodded, now they are claiming he didn’t say that just like they are claiming that Fabregas didn’t say he wants to leave. The rest of the world knows different but the apologists just put their hands over their ears and start humming to themselves. If they block the real world out it might not happen. We have bought a freebie and a cheapo both from the French League, we have lost 4 central defenders and we still don’t have a decent keeper. We don’t know whether Wenger can blackmail Fabregas into staying one more season, what’s the point, he doesn’t want to play for an unsuccessful team anymore so he wont be putting any effort in. If he stays the captaincy must be taken away from him and given to someone else, but who? We don’t have any leaders. We haven’t been good enough since 2004, and for the 7th year running we will be weaker. Wenger has millions to spend but stubbornly his ego refuses to allow him to spend it. The BofD just shrug their shoulders and rub their hands. Diamond Danny doesn’t seem to care anymore and silent Stan wont invest anything in any area of the club other than increasing his shareholding. I’m dreading this season, and any future seasons where we might have Wenger at the helm. It’s going to be disastrous for the club if this egomaniac stays much longer. More cheap foreign players, home-grown players, ignored, loaned, or sold, long term problems left unattended no chance of success and a strong possibility that we will drop out of the top4. Yes we are definitely living in a Wenger fantasy land, walking along, singing a song wishing he’d just clear off.

  • Munaf – I can see you are really depressed. I mean really really depressed.

    If you would like to tell me where you live I can give you a list of some medical establishments that might be able to help you a little. Alternatively, would you like to go and visit the North Korean branch of the Arsenal blogworld (I won’t give you their address here, but you’ll know who I mean), as they have views just like yours.

  • simon bailey

    who is the ‘we’ munaf? your totally off topic comment is full of suppositions and not many facts. both of the new additions to the squad have been long term targets of arsene and now he has them. i seem to recall hm saying a week or so ago that he was still in the market for more.

    why would the directors be rubbing their hands at the prospect of arsene not spending money, its not as though anything he doesnt spend goes to them in bonuses or dividends.

    as for cesc, well only time will tell. i have no information on this subject, but NOR DO YOU. if by the time the season starts, he is with us then so be it, if he isnt, then so be it. all your posturing and shouting and stamping of feet (like my 3 year old) is truly pathetic and this blog would be a better place without it.

  • zicoinexile

    Munaf,

    you buffoon.

    Go back to your computer and Championship Manager. Alternatively, tell us how many League winning teams you have developed?

    Tony, I think you will find, “the drugs don’t work”.

  • munaf

    Hey Simon It may have escaped you in your fantasy world but Arsenal are, and have been a major club for decades. They have greater resources than just about any club in the country, they have a history greater than anyone’s. Why do you think that only spending pocket change in a corner shop is something to be proud of. Wenger has spent money, he has just spent it badly, buying garbage uncommitted players who simply weren’t interested and only came here for the big payday. He has overseen an acedemay and youth system that has not produced one first team regular in 13 years. You keep rambling on about how much other clubs have spent without achieving anything, well there are a number of clubs who have won more than Arsenal in the past 6 years. Why do you apologists continue to shut out reality, how much longer do you think we can stay above Man City, Spurs, Everton, and Villa. Only Citeh and Spurs out of those 4 have spent more then we have. You keep talking about how much Villa and Everton spend, they spend nowhere near what Wenger has and why do you always look at clubs currently (but not for long) below us, why don’t you ever look at Chelsea and Man Utd. You can’t can you. When ever top players are touted around we are never linked with anyone of note. Fabregas wants to leave, Arshavin is fed up with the lack of ambition and it’s only a matter of time before van Persie realises he is wasting his time. Answer me this, why do you so gladly embrace failure. We could compete financially but Wenger refuses to, the myth about no cash has been exposed time and time again as a Wenger smokescreen. He just has to go if the club is to progress.

  • Manaf

    OK, I know I will regret this, but please explain how you know that

    Arshavin is fed up with the lack of ambition

    I mean, I read his blog, and nothing like that comes across there. I know that within weeks of him arriving the press said he was going because of

    a) the rain
    b) the tax
    c) the manager
    d) driving on the wrong side of the road

    But given that those stories were endlessly recycled, and always denied by Arshavin, I am not sure they are a very good source.

    I just pick this as one example – there are more, but this will do.

  • On a happier note, Arsenal.com have just announced that the Barnet match is going to be on Arsenal TV, along with two other pre-seasons. Price is £3

  • Robbie

    I believe Arsenal needs to win something soon. It seems ambition is measured in trophies by most players and fans. Our last 5 seaons has been very similar to each other. Fans that doens’t have good insight will think the club isn’t progressing. I looks like the finacial fairplay rules and the Glazer’s great work at Man IOU could help us win that title. The next EPL title will be the start of an Arsenal era. I hope Wenger stays long enough to harvest the fruit. The next Arsenal manager will have the best job in the world.

  • Myers

    @ Manuf
    Transfers cannot be done b4 the world cup has started because the transfer window does not open until July 1st. Cole is from the academy and he played less than 13yrs ago. Arsenal had no prob scoring goals only conceding so bring in 1 striker is good business, on the defence Djourou didnt play so he is a plus and we bought 1 and looking at a goal keeper which was out biggest problem…so to me the side is alot better

  • munaf

    Tony You can’t be serious? OK, I will educate you, it really is hard. Ummmm, OK, could it be his constant complaints about Arsenal not competing for the best players. Could it be his criticism of Arsenal’s performances last season stating they simply weren’t good enough. Could it be his saying he wished he played for Barcelona every 5 minutes, could it be his saying Arsenal are merely a stepping stone for him to move to a bigger club. Could it be his complaining about being played out of position, or being played when injured something that wouldn’t happen at Barca. Could it be his saying that the medical treatment at Arsenal was not up to the standards at Zenit. Could it be his stating that Arsenal were to ineffective to compete with Chelsea and Man Utd. Shall I go on

  • va cong

    munaf why are you supporting arsenal? go chelsea or man united why moan when you love what they do?

  • va cong

    its your moaning opinion with no facts; and you love of tabloid papers has certainly warped your fragile little mind!

  • FEDDA

    munaf. or mr.copy/paste. Here is a a post from 4.47pm from Teamtalk yoursay arsenal page.

    theusualsuspect (Arsenal): You can’t be serious? OK, I will educate you, it really is hard. Ummmm, OK, could it be his constant complaints about Arsenal not competing for the best players. Could it be his criticism of Arsenal’s performances last season stating they simply weren’t good enough. Could it be his saying he wished he played for Barcelona every 5 minutes, could it be his saying Arsenal are merely a stepping stone for him to move to a bigger club. Could it be his complaining about being played out of position, or being played when injured something that wouldn’t happen at Barca. Could it be his saying that the medical treatment at Arsenal was not up to the standards at Zenit. Could it be his stating that Arsenal were to ineffective to compete with Chelsea and Man Utd. Shall I go on or has it registered yet.

  • FEDDA

    Walter. Do you post on teamtalk. Because that post was a reply to:

    walterbroeckx (Arsenal): USUALSUSPECT: OK, I know I will regret this, but please explain how you know that Arshavin is fed up with the lack of ambition I mean, I read his blog, and nothing like that comes across there. I know that within weeks of him arriving the press said he was going because of a) the rain b) the tax c) the manager d) driving on the wrong side of the road But given that those stories were endlessly recycled, and always denied by Arshavin, I am not sure they are a very good source. I just pick this as one example  there are more, but this will do.

    At 2.50pm. 20 mins after Tony posted that same comment here. Lot of comments on that sight popping up just after they are written here

  • All that was missing from arsenal last year was a defensive quality, Arsene has bought one defender and one has returned. All is missing his another defensive midfielder. SO that Arsene can thinker with his formation for specific opponents. If every thing goes to plan we will be winning trophies this year. If Fab goes i think Nasri would be the perfect fit in that position. With our new forward i think it has given us more options in attack and the long season. The GK issue needs to be resolve has early has possible

  • Munaf u are not an arsenal supporter, so please go and support your own team, cause it is obvious that u are not a fan of wenger