5 out, 3 in, 2 promoted from the ranks. The complete squad overhaul this summer.

By Waleed Ahmed

This article is not meant as an exercise in fantasy, but rather as a discussion of Arsenal’s strengths and weaknesses, and our approach next season, based on signings.

So starting from that point, this is what I would like to happen this summer.

  • Cesc, Nasri, and Clichy stay. Cesc does not have to sign a new contract but the other two do.
  • The players who have been pushed to the very fringe of the squad  – Almunia, Denilson, Vela, Bendtner, Squillaci – they can be moved on.
  • We sign Gervinho and Samba and Oxlade.
  • We promote Frimpong and JET to the senior squad.

To explain the above choices, let’s look first at crossing. Our crossing is criticized a lot, but I don’t think we are worse at it than anyone else in the league. It’s just that our bad crosses are emphasized because we don’t attempt as many as the usual Premiership team.

In fact, crossing is just not part of our plan A. For good reason too. Crossing is a tedious form of chance creation. It is also inefficient. Baines is a good crosser right? Well yes, he put in 100 accurate crosses last season according to one figure (out of who knows how many attempts). But he only had 11 assists, and probably not all came directly from crosses. So for Baines, that’s an 11% success rate, at best.

But it turns out it is very above average, because from what I read on the excellent Arsenal Column blog, only 1% of crosses last season resulted in goals. So it’s a good thing we don’t cross as much.

And if it were up to me I’d tell our players not to cross the ball at all. Not to ever play a pass longer than 20 feet. Our strength is in short passing and movement. All too often last season we abandoned that in favour of launching aimless balls into the box when faced with a parked bus.

The Spanish U-21 players taught us a great lesson in sticking to your passing game. They were 1-0 down for most of the game.  In the first half they attempted too many long passes, too many speculative shots – they were panicking a bit. In the second half though, after a word with their coach, they came out calmer, kept passing and passing and passing until the breakthrough came. We need to go back to that.

Our fullbacks need to advance to provide width, and allow our wingers to cut inside and become more of a goal threat. But they don’t need to cross the ball (cross to whom anyway?). As long as our fullbacks can play a simple passing game high up the pitch, and have enough stamina to run back and forth down the touchline, they are contributing perfectly to our attack.

Now let’s look at our weaker left flank. For most of the season, the right flank was patrolled by Nasri/Walcott, Song, and Sagna. Our left flank, however, had Arshavin and Wilshere ahead of Clichy. Perhaps teams don’t purposely target our left flank, perhaps it just happens because that’s where we allow the attacks to build up. I would say that if Wilshere improves defensively and a more defensively aware forward plays ahead of him, Clichy would fare much better. A possible solution for this would be for Wilshere and Song to switch sides in a match where we are letting too much develop down the left.

Our defense has taken most of the criticism this season, but we still have issues that need to be resolved in attack. One problem I noticed was our distinct lack of pace in the absence of Walcott. We need someone else with that speed. Nasri is quick, but not so quick that his pace becomes a strength all by itself. With Walcott it is.

Forget all the ironically brainless attacks on Walcott’s lack of brains. That is irrelevant. Walcott is a tactical player. A tactical player (a term I just invented) is a player who isn’t so important for the individual contribution he makes, but rather for what he does to allow the team to flourish as a whole. And what Walcott does is help is greatly in attack and defence, even if he has a crap game. Here’s why:

Just his mere presence scares the opposition. They drop back and defend deeper, which has the effect of not being able to press high up. It means we are better able to build from the back as our defenders have more time on the ball. If they do play a high line, they leave themselves vulnerable to his pace. If they press high up and still play a deep line, they leave too much space in the middle for us to exploit. Just by being on the pitch, even before kick off, Walcott has improved our attack.

Then there’s the defence. He contributes a lot to our stronger right flank. Again because defenders are scared of his pace, they tend to sit deep, not making as many runs forward. As I mentioned before, fullbacks in today’s game are required to make forward runs and stretch the defence. Without them the attack suffers. So by pinning the fullback back, Walcott shuts down that entire flank. And then there’s his work rate. He uses his pace well to track back and knick balls off midfielders. Or harry defenders and give them no time on the ball. If he can improve his stamina he can be a sort of a Dirk Kuyt for us, except one who scores goals.

So anyway, pace is important. And we need another Theo Walcott. Another forward who has frightening pace.

There was another weakness in our attack – too many ball players. It’s good to have so many players who are good on the ball and can pass it around, but the problem with ball players is that they always want the ball. They always move toward the ball. All too often last season, we played in front of the defence. Everyone coming to the ball, and not enough moving away from it. Again, we need another Walcott, someone who is comfortable focusing on making off the ball runs in behind the defence. Nasri did more of that and got more goals, but not enough at times. And we can use another player besides those two who can do that. Bendtner is one but he doesn’t have the pace to play like that effectively for us.

I also need to discuss our creative centre forward. The creative centre forward is the reason Bendtner never made it, why Eduardo was moved on, why Walcott will never play centrally, and possibly why Arshavin was dropped.

By creative I mean who creates chances for others. Watch Walcott’s goal against Blackburn. RvP drops deep, Walcott makes a diagonal run into the vacated space, RvP finds him with a pass, he scores with a precise finish. And we’ve seen the same thing repeat itself often, with RvP (along with Cesc) creating goals for players around them, especially the wingers.

So if you take our formation to be sort of a 4-3-3, the center of the front 3 does not play as an arrow head, but rather as a creator. The wide forwards are the ones burdened with the goal scoring.

The focus of Nasri and Walcott was not to stay back and play through balls, but rather to make direct runs behind the defence.

Chamakh was brought in as back up to RvP, and it’s no surprise that he is not a goal scoring center forward. Both strikers are not the fox in the box type, they do most of their work outside the box – holding up the ball, bringing others into the game, and creating chances. They don’t have to score goals, but RvP is so amazing that he manages to score every game.

Bendtner is more of a goal scoring forward, not a good enough link up player,  That is why Wenger shoved him out to the wing. Same with Walcott, who is also more of a finisher than a creator. Eduardo, in his last season, never worked in a central role. He played on the wing, and was then sold. Arshavin is more of a creator than a scorer, as is evident in his numbers, as well as if you compare his numbers with Nasri’s from the same position. Arshavin got 17 assists and Nasri only 1. Arshavin the creator was dropped from the left flank. And he was the preferred center forward in the 09-10 season when RvP was injured.

And that’s why, if we buy goal scorer, he will play on the wing. Which is not a bad thing, because our wingers will be scoring most of our goals in the coming seasons.

Now to our defence. It has to be mentioned that in the sub-category of goals allowed from open play, we did rather well. So there is quality in there, just one weakness. And that brings us to set-pieces. The figure quoted around of 53 or percent was misleading, because it included penalties as set-pieces.

And a high number of goals allowed from set-pieces could very well mean that we give away a lot of dangerous free kicks. A better indication would be to study how many we concede per free kick or corner. 7amkickoff did an analysis of this and found that we still do worse than other top teams. So there is certainly room for improvement in that regard.

One reason we are bad at set-piece defending is simply because we are a rather short team.  I do believe height, as well as aerial ability, is the main issue here, rather than lack of practice or organization.

So how do you fix it? You bring in one or two tactical players. Players who maybe aren’t better than what you have, but offer you something different. We don’t need quick, ball playing defenders against Stoke and Bolton, do we? So why not play a huge, lumbering center back who can head balls away all day long?

Finally, Cesc hasn’t had a proper summer’s rest in 2007. Perhaps his injury problems and poor form are down to that, and not that his head is in Barcelona. He is still one of our best players and I think he can return to his best form next season. So if we can, we need to hold on to him.

So that explains why I want Cesc to stay.

Clichy the poor crosser should stay, too, because he does a lot of unrecognized good work defensively.

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Samba come in as tactical options. The former for the pace, the latter for his aerial ability.

Gervinho comes in as a pacey goal scorer. Someone who makes runs in behind defences and clings on to through balls from RvP and Arshavin.

Frimpong is promoted to the role of back up midfielder, behind Wilshere, Ramsey, Song, and Diaby.

JET replaces Bendtner, as a wide target man who can score goals.


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12 reasons why next season will be so good.

89 Replies to “5 out, 3 in, 2 promoted from the ranks. The complete squad overhaul this summer.”

  1. Cesc is going. Move on , cesc left mentally 12 months ago. What about Lansbury being promoted. He’s kicked on much more than jet !

  2. If we sell Bendtner, what a shame. So much efforts for nothing… That is the dilemma of Wenger: 5 years without any trophy, but effort to produce good players. If we sell Bentner, then it would have been a bad idea to rely so much on our dear Nicklas, who was so many times full member of the team (I admit he partly was member of the team because of too many injuries). Remember the game against Burnley 2 seasons ago: how can a player miss so many chances? If Wenger sell Bendtner, this is a new era: in someway this is admitting failure in past seasons.

  3. cesc should go ……
    sign- gervino , alverez , vertonghen , samba ,mata
    out- rosicky, almunia, denilson, bentner ,clichy ,squlacci ,cesc……

  4. I predict more signings & more departures. In for me would be .Gordon. Cahill, Parker. Enrique, mata, chamberlain. Nasri staying. Lansbury, jet promoted. Frimpong on loan. Out denilson, bendtner, chamach,diary,rosicky, clichy,squilachi,

  5. Walter, I will disagree with you on Bendtner’s link up play which is very very good. He is a very intelligent player and a very good passer , few crosses this season have been excellent and his assists have been very good too. Bendtner is not playing as a striker for only one reason that is RVP , RVP is just better at everything than Bendtner.
    RVP is the most special player we have , he can pick up passes almost as well as Cesc and has an instinct to be in box. Scores every match he can do everything in attack. Only if he starts 30 league games ….

  6. I know our names resemble a bit but this article is from Waleed and not from my hands.

  7. Having read Arsene’s interview on French radio I am more concerned than ever.

  8. Five out, three in and two promoted from the ranks was my prediction as was Fabregas`s return to Barcelona.
    When you have more money than you need you can afford emotions.
    Those who researched the Fabregas saga over looked this.

  9. Good well thought out article I would just prefer Lansbury over JET. In the longer term JeT should come good but big raw boned forwards, rarely do well as young players in the EPL they come into there own later when stronger and wiser, Players like Shearer,Drogba,Carew Duncan Fergusan all showed there best aged 25 and over.Phisically JET looks more this type of player.
    AS for GroovT post, Selling Bendtner is just realism he has looked just short of CL class and at that leval there is no hiding place and the margins are very fine,He is a decent player and has still got time to fullfil his potential as he also looks like he can progress and maybe playing at a slightly easier leval, will see him go on and improve, Unfortunatley he has been given his chance at Arsenal and for the time being failed to take it.

  10. I see our probs a little differently. At the back, we have to sort out our failings to deal with set pieces. while a couple of big newcomers will help, the main solution lies in coaching and pre-season training. Instilling bags on confidence is vital.
    On the attack side, last season we persisted in the “pass too many” and when our opponents sussed this out and massed their penalty area, we were lost. Arsenal’s game plan over the years has never seemed to include much profit from crosses. Time and time again no-one turns up in the area when a cross appears likely.

  11. My comment ended prematurely…
    As the main “crosser”, Walcott, IMO, is largely wasted on the wing. If defenders would only let him pass them, he would be absolute dynamite.
    Unfortunately, he has been sussed and is blocked out on many occasions. With his undoubted speed and great finisning, I hope next season will see him given a more central role in the attack.

  12. Has Cesc gone yet? I only ask as people seem to assume it’s a done deal but I think the reality is somewhat different. I also think they’ve got him confused with Jose Antonio Reyes, the homesick Spanish boy who longed to go home.
    I hope we let some dead wood go, I hope we promote more youths with the right attitude and sign at least one top player. The alternative is a bit depressing.

  13. to be honest JET just reminds me of another Greedaybayor – a mercenary who is too lazy to even get a chance in the first team

  14. I agree with Lee. Lansbury all the way.
    A very useful young player. Already looks more effective
    than Rosicky, Denilson and (on many occasions) Diaby.
    He cares about playing for Arsenal, played a huge part
    in Norwich being promoted to the Premiership after only
    just having been promoted to the Championship. I say give
    him his chance. Has something of a more technically gifted
    Parlour to me. Same work rate, which is something we miss.

  15. Papers doing the rrounds today Nasri is off to Manure again with a new £20mill bid and Clichy is off to City. siigggh. never ends does it? Dont think it ever wil till Cesc goes.

  16. I want Bendtner to go out on loan. I have for the last couple of seasons. I think it would have done him some good. He wouldn’t have become the poisoned chalice everyone thinks he is now.
    I can understand Wenger wants to teach some players to play out wide first because this, in some ways, forces them to be more inventive. But I don’t think Bendtner needs that. I think he just needs a full season somewhere else playing as a centre forward.
    I think there have been many calls to revert back to 4-4-2 when the 4-3-3 has been stifled and I could see him and RVP feeding off each other well, if he had this opportunity. He’s still relatively young, and something in me says if we let him go we might regret it. As poor and lazy as he can be, he has also shown flashes of what he can do when he applies himself.

  17. Nice article among the dreary gossip on all the news sites, although the main focus seems to be a justification of Walcott in the attack. Not that I have anything against Walcott or wish to discredit your plan of attack – it seems sensible and effective, except maybe against teams that park the bus and already hold a low defensive line.
    The problem with the defensive is not so much the (lack of) height, I think. It is more a problem of giving the attackers too much space to comfortably aim their header. If you have a small player just limiting the movement of the attacker, you are doing basically enough already most of the time.
    For the incoming players you mention, why do you prefer them over other players Arsenal are repeatedly linked with?

  18. Personally i don’t see the need for keeping any player that has expressed desire to leave thus; the sooner we ship off Fabregas the better, as for Nasri if we cant meet his conditions, then we should let him go. Finally i maintain that what we need is a strengthened back line, a STRIKER-(GOAL SCORER aka fox)who should partner RVP upfront, and most important a STRONG BENCH.
    In short we need about 5 new signings. 2 fowards, 1 mildfielder and 2 aerially strong defenders. So add Fbregas and Nasri to players out.

  19. good analysis up there.. clinging on to cesc and nasri is a double edged sword though. when they are up and form they are good players all right but when there are not, and the team is built around them, there isnt really players in this world who can emulate quite what they do….

    personally I would very quickly sell them if arsenal would net some 60~ million £ from their sale.

  20. To be honst I am getting really pissed of at nasri – i mean what a greedy lill piece of *******. We offer him so much and yet he doesnt sign – It really is a slap in the face for wenger cos he kept fiath in them for so long and now they all want to jump ship. Good riddance I say.

  21. Wenger has a power base at AFC rivalled only by Fergie at Man U, afclondon. He has seen board members come and go, while being repeatedly told he doesn’t have to win anything. We all know what he once did for our club, afc, and no one expects him to “win a trophy each and every year”. But how about one trophy over the past six years? Is that too much to expect? Or how about actually competing each year, say over 38 PL games? Is that too much to ask? Ask yourself why there are so many so-called whingers here. We were once avid Wenger fans, once thought he walked on water. Now he’s floundering and apparently well out of his depth. Rest assured, afc, I don’t want Wenger to fail. He has ALREADY failed. The only people he hasn’t failed are those board members rubbing their hands together in the expectation of a massive pay day, and those run of the mill players he keeps on the payroll through some sense of misguided loyalty. The rest of us are right to be fed up with what’s going on at AFC – particularly when we see how seriously other teams take the pursuit of silverware. Villas-Boas said he’d expect the sack after a season if he didn’t win anything. What can Wenger expect? Six mil in the bank, a lukewarm “lap of appreciation” in front of a half-empty white elephant of a stadium and perhaps even a contract extension (if he wants one, of course). What a joke.

  22. I’m a little perturbed by the Nasri-hate. He’s one of the few players we have who tries to put in a shift every time he pulls on the shirt for club or country.
    If he wants parity with Cesc, fine, he’s one of the top five attacking midfielders in the world and he could earn a lot more money at Real or ManCity if he wanted to. If he wants to see useful additions to the squad this summer before he signs then he basically wants what every fan wants. Just because the papers are trying to turn the fans against him, like good old Cashley, does not mean anything. This talk of Nasri-to-ManUtd is utter bollocks, there would be an extra zero on his price tag for them compared to a Spanish/Italian club.

  23. Walter i liked your discussion but i don’t quite agree with your transfers. Chamberlain and JET are not good enough and would probably need to be loaned out. Mata may be forced to leave Valencia because of their money problems and he would be the best signing possible (apart from Hazard perhaps). I also don’t have the same confidence in Clichy as you have. I think he was at fault quite often last season defensively and didn’t offer much going forward. I would like to see Vermaelen moved to LB which would sure up our defense massively, particularly at set-pieces if Samba and/or Cahill are signed. Not sure whether any of the other players linked would add to the quality in the side, Alvarez for example looked good on YouTube but apparently wasn’t even a guaranteed starter for Velez last year. Some South American expert on Talk Sport was commenting on him saying that he started many games on the bench.

  24. No Alvarez in players comin in??

    Anyways, its very important to keep Cesc, Nasri and Clichy at the club. I dont think anyone can pass as brilliantly as Cesc, either can anyone dribble as well as Nasri….and dont think there are too many left backs as good as Clichy out there.

  25. @LEE
    cesc is staying, fcuk off. he will stay and will stay.

    A good article and some very good points. Not that it’s written first here but still a good article.

  26. I think untold arsenal should take the initiative to spread the rumor that cesc has signed a “player of arsenal till i retire” contract and thus to buy him, barc-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha(if u use this word plz mention “critic”) need give camp nou in exchange.

    It has become boring reading all the “cesc will go” , “already signed a deal” without any official confirmation.

    Verbal offer/agreement they say…hmmm.. let us take a real life scenario. U say to ur GF “fcuk u” in a heated exchange and she replies “fcuk u bastard, u just made me pregnant!!”. How does that sound? Is it that simple? People need to get a hold of themselves, and i am not talking about kids(under 10 year old; tony, bizarrely i was also thinking on similar lines) but fully grown readers and supporters.

  27. To those who want Cesc out, what the hell are you talking about? He’s our best player and has only said that he would, someday, like to play in Barca. He has said he his happy at Arsenal and doesn’t want to leave. What else can he do? STOP BELIEVING THE PRESS!!!

    Also, what has Nasri done wrong? One of our best players and he’s after a pay rise… that’s it!! I’m sure many of the people reading this blog want a pay rise, do you think you should be vilafied because of it or do you think you should get what you feel you deserve?

    @varun, you are really sounding silly now, Nasri signed for us in 2008, that’s 3 years ago. Not exactly brought up through the youth team was he so not exactly a huge investment of time. You may be getting pissed off at him for no reason other than you read gutter press and believe every word. Wake up eh?

  28. Stevie E,
    Amen! Totally with you’re posting. These attitudes show how much the media-swill undermines our own fans.

  29. Who the other day said we wont sign anyone till 1st of July due to the European transfer window opening Question Question Question

    Anyone see the photos of De Gea with Ferguson yesterday? what a load of old bolocks. I said we would sign a max of 2 players in May and i stick by it
    In Arsene we rust

  30. Most of the clubs will have most of their deals more or less sorted by now on the quiet. The signings and all that shit will be done after whatever date but the actual deals are long done.

    As for us? Fuck knows. How many times has Wenger come out with “we were close to signing so and so but…”

    What is the problem? Identify who you want and fucking sign them

  31. @ Courage. I have been defending Arsene to less patient friends for the past few years but it has slowly dawned on me that things are not going to change. Like you I think he probably has already failed. I would love to believe that he was going to change tack during this transfer window and at last buy the players we need but I am afraid that I do not believe he has it in him. It appears as though Cesc and possibly Nasri will leave. If this happens then Wenger will have over £100million to spend, assuming that the kitty was already quite healthy. Can any of us see him spending that money? I can’t. It is sad in a way but as I have said before, professional football is a hard cut-throat business and is nothing like the game that I grew up loving. I just think that it has all passed him by. If he starts the “financial doping” excuses and tries to grab a few 11th hour bargains I think the pressure he is inviting will be considerable. He has a point with his excuses but it’s a hard world and he has to deal with it. Personally, I am beginning to get fed up with the whole thing.

  32. If I were to say, here, this will make you happy, would you actually buy it? Take a step back. On the edge of the transfer window opening, the media massively play on our own life-worries and frustrations and turn us against our best world-class players to sell their rotten papers. They want us to all feel like varun puts it, smearing it all over one of our demonstrably 3 best players. Would you really buy a used car from a football pundit? How about taking a breath, the proverbial look in the mirror (not The Mirror) and see if you actually have an opinion that is not derived from those pundits and swill-merchants and then share your thoughts, if any are left over.

  33. @bob. I am certainly not baseing my opinions on what I read in the newspapers but on the evidence of my own eyes over the past several seasons. What the paper say is irrelevant to me.

  34. Nobody wants cesc to go stevie e. It’s blatantly obvious he wants to go. Open your eyes and move on. The disappointment will be if we lose nasri as well. We should pay him the money he deserves ,especially as cesc is going. He can fill his cesc roll in mid. As for critic. Two words for you bell & end . Put them together and this is you!

  35. Adam,
    What convinces you that Wenger is actually the one who determines how much money he has to spend? That Gazidis told you he can spend? What if Gazidis speaks for those on the Board, etc., who decide on how much, in total, Wenger has to spend? You say it appears that Cesc and Nasri will leave. Yes, it appears because the media make it appear that way. Varun says it’s all been done, all of it, already, behind the scenes; where, of course, he has his special informant telling him what’s really going on. Any sourcing outside the media varun? Please tell us. I acknowledge that you or varun or anyone might be right. Varun can’t wait to gloat that he was right. Because that’s what really matters, being right. But fact: even a broken clock is right twice a day. Another fact: is that, right now, you and I and varun do not really know anything. Perhaps, only perhaps, we will know a bit, only a bit more about how it really works behind the scenes (where we’re not) once the transfer window actually opens. Let’s actually see – because we have no power to go along with our lack of knowledge – and then analyze, as best we can, what is the case. All this sound and fury, before the fact, (except, varun, that Lord Ferguson struts around triumphantly with his new boy toy and pushes your rage-button) in this moment in time, actually signifies nothing.

  36. p.s. Adam, two postings above, I was not addressing it directly at you. The second one was addressed to you because I do recognize you as an independent thinker.

  37. @bob – It signifies everything. The fact that Ferfuuson sees the a weakness in his team and goes on and buys a player – replacing like for like – something Wenger hasn’t done for how many years now? PV, TH, GS, DB10 the list is endless. Now I know you’re going to say about the stadium and bladibla but the real fact of the matter is the manager has lost the balls in the transfer market and thats the reason why so many of his so called protege want out now. Stop making excuses for this once a great manager – now feebly reduced to breaking plastic bottles on the sidelines.

  38. What in the world are the idiots on the board of Arsenal doing? Financial responsibility means not spending? By the time they decide to spend, they will probably only get Joey Barton.. Man U has signed three new players and they are the reigning champions!

    Wait for it – It gets worse:
    From Sky Sports and Denilsons agent.

    He told calciomercato.it: “I know nothing of AC Milan’s interest. I think at the moment these are only rumours.

    “The only certainty right now is that Denilson will be at training with Arsenal on July 7th.

    “Are Spanish and other Italian clubs chasing him? Currently there are no negotiations.

    “With Wenger we often talk about other issues, but we have never touched on the topic of a possible departure for Denilson.”

    Its looking more likely that this useless c**t will still be here next year!

    I said at the time its a contract negotiation bollocks statement from Denil-c**t.

    He will be at Arsenal next year on a new improved 5 year deal

    With the money Denilson, Rosicky, Almunia etc are on, they wont go elsewhere for a big drop in wages, so will sit out on there fat contracts, at our club.
    The only ones leaving are are best players. Says it all really.

    I can actually see a situation next season where our regular starting line up will be;

    Comedy Eboue

    You know, looking at that line up one word comes to mind; mediocre.

    I have not seen such a mediocre team since the days of Hillier, Selley, Jensen, McGoldrick etc

  39. if people cannot be worried about our upcoming transfer dealings based on what has happened in every other transfer window for almost half a decade then I don’t know what we can worry about.

    Do you honestly believe this one will be different to all the others? Honestly?

    I would say it is totally acceptable to be worried based on historical repetition.

  40. courage,
    Nope, I’m independent of using the bladiblah (stadium costs, etc.) as an excuse for our woes, principally the last month’s collapse. Also, I wanted Arsene/Arsenal to shore up the defense in January, and I’ve been on UA advocating that Arsene/Arsenal splash on a demonstrated clinical striker (next Eduardo, so to speak) as well as a defender capable of full-tilt pressing (a la Barca) (especially to close-down the left side channel). I also think we lack enough quality depth to compete on four fronts and endure the brutalities of the actual English game as it is currently allowed to be played. If one of the needed players is in the youth ranks, then much better than splashing – but, alas, I don’t see it, but I don’t see these young players up close any more than you or anyone else does. If they are not there, then I fervently hope that Arsene is actually granted splash money. And, all this said, I still affirm that you or I don’t really know what will happen in the forthcoming window, no matter how much gnashing of teeth you may or may not prefer. If nothing along these lines is done, or nothing convincing along other lines (my analysis of our needs is hardly gospel), then I will THEN have to take stock with the situation at that time – when I then know more than either of us know right now. I think the main difference between us is not that I’m a blind loyalist (I’m not), but that I’m willing to acknowledge that I don’t know anything right now, and you are willing to say that you absolutely know what will be based on your version of Arsenal’s disappointing past. Let’s agree (hopefully) to meet up again about this on UA, after the transfer follies are over and done with, and take stock.

  41. Fergusons’ squad has gone backwards since last season. Out Van de Saar, Giggs and Scholes. In Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea. He still hasn’t replaced Scholes, Ashley Young is no Ryan Giggs and with the other two he’s bought potential, just as Arsene gets ridiculed for by the Arsenal fans. Apart from that they were Premiership players but the real business starts tomorrow. The cynics ranting about how it’ll be the same story as before aren’t interesting.

  42. Your typical Arsenal defeat goes something like this:
    We dominate possession (only Barca are better at keeping the ball);
    The opposition defend deep;
    We pile too many men forwards to force a goal;
    We concede on the counter or give away free kicks in dangerous areas;
    We start chasing the game;
    We concede again.

    Why don’t Barca concede like we do?
    They dominate possession;
    They wait for a decent chance without trying to force a goal;
    If the opposition start a counter attack they concede free kicks in the opponents half not their own;
    They knacker the opposition by making them chase shadows for ninety minutes so that they can’t launch a fast counter attack.

    Simple solution to our defensive problems, stop giving away set pieces opportunities. Signing another potent attacker would go along way towards that, is Gervinho that attacker, who knows?

  43. @bob at 1.20 pm. I believe that Wenger decides who comes to the club because he always tells us that and because the board seem unwilling to contemplate life without him. To my mind this gives hin the power within the club. Whether Cesc or Nasri, or both go is not really my point. I believe we hve stood still over the past few years and have put our money into players who we don’t really need. Yes, Nasri had a great 3 months last year and Arshavin enjoyed a good spell just after he first came, but did we really need either of them? If we did, then why not play themi in their preferred and most effective positions? The problems with not having a decent goalkeeper at the club was just so stupid that, even now, I can barely believe that we were put in that position. Wenger told us that Almunia was the answer and I think that any sane person would agree that he was wrong about this. It is not Almunia’s fault. Same with the centre of defense. Wenger has made cock-up after cock-up here and with Vermaelen out he told us he would strengthen and he didn’t. This is not the fault of the board. Most people who have watched football for years could have told you that Denilson, Bendtner and Eboue are not good enough for Arsenal and should have been got rid of years ago. But no, they are still here, as is Diaby who has everything required to be a top player but is so injury prone it renders him useless to the team over a season. Why give Rosicky a new contract after a year out with an injury which had obviously left it’s mark? The list goes on nd on. Too many mistakes, not pro-active enough in the transfer market and now a lot of ground to make up. These are not board decisions and I cannot believe that Arsene has allowed them to dictate transfer policy.

  44. CHarlie: That is the most idiotic thing i have read in my life. UTD have pumped in exactly what was needed and that was an injection of youth – I agree that we will have to wait an see if it bears fruit but Ferguson is excellent tactical manager (something which our manager does not know about). They still have Giggs incase you didnt know. And soon they will have Nasri so just wake up ok

  45. My belief is that if you can see it, Arsene certainly can see what’s valid in what you describe, especially as it was manifest in the last month’s collapse. That last month took its visible toll on his health and bearing. The man is not the blind bat you caricature. That said, I can’t refute what you/we found in retrospect about some players. Nor do I have your years of evaluating the calibre of players on the pitch. I must bow to that. But I can also say that you are leaving out an entire dimension in analyzing our woes – especially here on UA. That is, the role played by the ref-shite documented in Walter’s end-of-season reports (which UA, in my view, should put in a special visible box for all to re-read and reference as we go forward). Any analysis that does not include an assessment of to what extent we are not playing on a level pitch is one-sided. To assess ourselves, we need honesty about both player quality/manager skills and ref-performance. If you say only your player analysis counts and dismiss the ref-analysis (I don’t know if you do) as making “excuses,” then you’ve stacked the deck and gone (willfully?) blind in your Arsene-free way forward. Pressuring for change, yes! But dumping Arsene will cost us mass defections and years of repair work. Are you honestly willing to incur that likelihood?

  46. Bob. I followed the great ref debate with great interest believe me and don’t think that we got a fair shake but I also believe that we are slightly over- egging this particular pudding. If the referees are actively working against us, as you obviously believe, then we have to ask ourselves why. Do you have an answer? The fact is that we must live with what is put in front of us. What is the alternative? I must also add, in fairness, that I saw a lot of bad decisions last year, in televised matches that cost teams very dearly and those teams were not called Arsenal. You say that if I can see it, then Arsene can and let us not forget that he is a world-class manager and I am a humble non-sports journalist who has not worked a half day in football. What do I know? I know that the players I mentioned have not, are not and never will be good enough for Arsenal. I know that we have needed a world-class goalkeeper since Lehman left. I have known for years that we have a weakness at Center half. I knew, at Christmas, that we were unlikely to see Vermaelen again last season in any meaningful way. I know we don’t have a proper winger at the club. If Arsene knows these things then why hasn’t he done anything about them? The alternative is that I am completely wrong about all this. If so then why have we not won anything for so long despite playing some very nice and entertaining football. A team like Arsenal needs several truly world-class players, not bloKes who have a couple of good games every now and again. For me it was epitomized in Barcelona with Bendtner, after claiming he was so good and on the way toward being the best in the world. A man earning 50 Odd grand a week was put through on goal. A world- class striker would have taken one touch and buried it and said thanks very much. Do I really need to go on? Yes, one could make excuse for him, but that’s where I came in.

  47. Clichy on twater saying thanks for the memories but i am leaving.

    Seems real as Jack is chatting to him asking how he has been.

    Will be leaving within 2 weeks.

    “I am leaving Arsenal within the next two weeks. Thank you for all your support and great memories. You all will always be in my heart.”

    “I will announce the club im joining once the deal is officially confirmed.I wouldn’t want to say anything now in order to avoid disruptions.”

  48. Adam,
    To be continued as I must do some life outside UA today! Let me just say that you have a strong argument, which is not enhanced by caricaturing what I actually said as well, what do you know, you’re a second-rate whatever. Nothing of the sort. I’m saying that I don’t think Arsene’s blind to the problems you cite. Why nothing seems to be done has to wait until the actual transfers or non-transfers. I’ll get back to you, but no need to caricature what I say to you in order to try and clinch your otherwise strong points, some of which I do agree with. But more later. Cheers.

  49. Bob. I never realised I was caricaturing and if you can show me where I describe myself as being second rate I would be grateful. I did say I was humble and I can’t see that as the same thing. All I am trying to do is to put over my point. It is something I have thought about extensively. Trying reconcile what I see with what I am told, that is all.

  50. Why did one or two call Waleed- Walter?

    A former Editor and owner of the Manchester Guardian when it had a real sports writer in Neville Cardus, said “Comments are free but facts are sacred”. Someone on this site ignors that sage advice!

    Waleed has overlooked (?) Mr Wenger’s thoughts on Theo ending up as a central attacker. So I took Waleed’s advice and looked at Arsenal Column. There is an article about Denilson in comparison to Song and Flamini in the previous season 2007/2008.

    Facts are sacred and ALL sites should ensure that FACTS are given preference to comments which are too often are puerile.

    As for our Anne, I would suggest she reads the Spanish press (Barça variety) more carefully as Cesc is on his way back to Catalunya, subject to transfer add-ons regarding the number of appearances he makes for his new team.

  51. Courage firstly do you realise that Ashley Young is 27 so how is that youth ? Secondly do you realise that injected youth is different to replacing your retiring keeper with a kid and thirdly do you really expect Ryan Giggs to play into his 40s because if you do you should wake up. United needed to spend money because their key players are retired or a year away from retiring (Rio included if he can’t stay fit). The transfer window for signings from abroad hasn’t opened and you’re ranting about how Wenger won’t sign anyone and anyone who thinks he will is an idiot. Go and support United if you love Ferguson so much and hate Wenger so much, probably the whole reason that you supported Arsenal at the beginning. I better be polite because you’re obviously a girl, a bloke wouldn’t make a big drama about a crisis that hasn’t happenned yet.

  52. As a general comment – the actual players I named are not important. I just want the attributes those players have to be brought in. So you could take your pick from any of the players we have been linked to.

    Notoverthehill, I know Wenger has said that Theo will end up centrally, but that was back when we were playing 4-4-2, and Walcott was much younger.
    I don’t think it will happen now as in our 4-5-1 we have no room for him to play up front.
    And as I said at least for now, Wenger wants the CF to link up play and bring other around him into the attack. In fact in a 4-5-1 that is key. Walcott isn’t capable of that.
    To me he is a perfect “inside forward,” starting wide but running towards goal to make space.

    Alex Ferguson said that in the modern game, wingers are becoming more and more of a goal threat. The CF starts in the middle, and has to move away from goal to find space. The movement of the wingers is inside, towards goal.

    Think of Walcott playing like Pedro does for Barcelona. Essentially a forward but with a wide starting position.

    Goal scoring wingers is where current tactics are moving, I believe. Most wingers aren’t deployed that way in the EPL but we have players that can play that role. I believe we need one more.

  53. Good article Waleed and I totally agree with your points about what Theo offers the team, even when he isn’t at his best.

    I also want Cesc, Clichy & Nasri to stay.

    I disagree with you about Alex OC, whilst I am happy for him to join the Gunners, he isn’t in my opinion good enought to walk into the 1st team yet.

    I also want Denilson to stay, but if the player wants out, then I think we have enough quality coming up through the ranks to fill in his spot.

    I actually wouldn’t be too bothered if Bendtner left, even though he is a good player and I prefer him to Vela. Again if Bendtner really want’s out, then he should be moved on this summer if possible. I know Vela has a lot of fans, but I can’t say he would at this point, ever make my starting eleven team or even subs bench. That said, Wenger see’s something in keeping him around so this season might be his breakthrough or last one.

    There’s not much interest from other clubs for Almunia so he will probably stay with us as 4th choice keeper. Vito Mannone is a better GK than him in my opinion.

    I would love to see any or all of the following breakthrough next year:-

    Miyaichi (if he gets his papers)

    The only player I would definately like us to sell is Traore. Like Randall, he should of been moved on last year.

  54. @AussieJack:

    “Five out, three in and two promoted from the ranks was my prediction as was Fabregas`s return to Barcelona.
    When you have more money than you need you can afford emotions.
    Those who researched the Fabregas saga over looked this.”

    What exactly are you saying that I overlooked when I researched the Fabregas saga? “When you have more money than you need you can afford emotions?” How exactly does this mean that Cesc will return to Barcelona?

  55. jtwoo,

    I have never heard of any player we have under the name Denishit.

    I know in the U12 department they love names like that but over here we have gone past this stadium in our live a bit

  56. Anne – I am glad it’s not just me that was confused by those comments.

    All of this transfer speculation is a bit annoying. I prefered it when agents of better quality players were using us as leverage to get their players better deals. I almost long for the days when we were linked to Subotic, Melo, Yaya, Boateng, Hazard and Mexes. Now the media has recently linked us to far too many lesser mortals like Cahill, Upson, Woodgate, Defoe, Samba, Parker and Barton. Not good.

    The transfer window would be much more interesting if we were linked to the likes of Emir Spahic, Per Mertesacker, Jan Vertonghen or Lucio. Okay Lucio is a long shot, but I a fan of his. I would be much more inclined to click through and read a made up story from a dubious source on the BBC or Sky if the rumoured player was of better quality. I just can’t get excited about the crappy suggestions being bounced around at present.

  57. @Everyone who believes Cesc wants to leave Arsenal for Barca:

    Since I can see that people are still banging on about Cesc wanting to leave, I’ll show you how the press has reported Cesc’s most recent alleged statement about wanting to return to Barca, and then show you what he actually said:

    Here’s how the media is reporting it (this particular example is from footylatest):

    “Even Fabregas is optimistic about Barcelona deal

    The Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas is looking more and more likely to realise his dream of moving back to Barcelona, as even Arsene Wenger seems to have accepted that his captain’s heart is no longer with Arsenal…

    Fabregas himself is calm about it all, but “optimistic” and he even hinted that if Arsenal are willing to sell him, then Arsene Wenger doesn’t want him at the Emirates any more!

    The Spaniard said when asked about the rumours yesterday: “There is nothing to talk about. I’m calm. If something has to happen it will. I am always optimistic.

    “If a player is on the market it’s because a club doesn’t want him. I have no problem.”

    Are there any Arsenal fans left that still thinks Fabregas will still be at the club next season?”

    Ok, on to what Cesc really said. Madrid-based tabloid AS actually provided their readers with an unedited video of Cesc’s comments (for once), so here is how it all went down:

    Video begins, Cesc is walking into building, reporters swarm in on him and impede his progress.

    Cesc: (as reporters close in) I’m very well, I’m very well, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine…(tries to keep walking but is blocked).

    Reporter: You can’t talk, can you?

    Cesc: No, no, no, no…

    Reporter: [couldn’t hear question]

    Cesc: Right now, there’s nothing to talk about or to say.

    Reporter: Something like “Are you well physically?” [couldn’t hear entire question]

    Cesc: Yes, I’m going to begin, for my part, working on my form, which is what I need to do now.

    Reporter: Is everything calm?

    Cesc: Yes, I’m very calm… Very, very calm. (note: Cesc actually looks far from calm at this point in the video. In fact, he appears to be fighting the temptation to rip out his own hair in frustration 🙂 ).

    Reporter: [couldn’t hear question]

    Cesc: About the market? What?

    Reporter: [couldn’t hear follow up]

    Cesc: No, no, no, no…Where it comes to the market, whatever happens, happens, and that’s the way it is. If a player is on the market, it’s always because his club wants to sell him, and because, because… that’s the way it was. And I, I don’t have a problem, I’m very calm.

    Reporter: Are you optimistic, Cesc? Are you optimistic?

    Cesc: (with a wry smile) I’m always optimistic about everything.

    Cesc then proceeds to shove reporters aside as he breaks through the crowd and leaves.

    So, it sounds to me like all Cesc did was refuse to make a statement. However, unlike the article above, I would personally read Cesc’s comment that “I don’t have a problem, I’m very calm,” to mean that, unlike those other players who are on the market because their clubs want to sell them, he personally doesn’t have any problems in that area.

    That’s just how I would read it, but I guess the rest of you are free to interpret it how you want. Oh, and just one other thing. As you can probably see, I had a little trouble translating this video because of the audio quality. If anyone else who speaks Spanish wants to double check me on this one, I’d be interested to hear what you have to say. Here’s the video:


  58. Alas, my ability to understand spoken Spanish is far worse than my ability to read it. Which in itself isn’t very great anyway.

  59. @Walter and jtwoo:

    Personally, I think that Denilson is a very good player. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any serious errors that he made while he was playing last season that cost Arsenal any matches. Am I wrong about that? Why is everybody so down on him?

    Oh, and to whoever it was above who said that Chamakh should be on the list of players that are sold this summer, I consider those to be fighting words! 🙂 As regular readers of this blog might already be aware, I have my own personal Maruane Chamakh fan club of one. 🙂 He’s one of my favorite players, and I personally think he might be the most underrated player on Arsenal’s roster.

    So, say what you will about other player transfers, but if you pick on Chamakh, I might have to wait for you on the playground and fight you after school. 🙂 Unless, of course, you’re advocating that he should be transferred to Barcelona. I wouldn’t have a problem with that 🙂

  60. @Anne

    What exactly is Cesc saying (in Spanish) when the reporters are closing in on him? You translate it as I’m very well..

  61. Wenger has already stated that Cesc & Nasri are staying and that’s good confirmation for me.

    He has’nt done that about Clichy though, so that is one situation to watch. With Gibbs challenging for the LB position and his inclusion on a lot of promotional stuff on Arsenal.com, it wouldn’t be too suprising or disasterous if Clichy was sold. The only concern I have is that Gibbs has been injured quite a bit, hampering his development. It would be good to have Clichy around for another season.

  62. @Gooner Gal

    When did Wenger confirm anything about Nasri? Have I missed something? As far as I know he said that a repeat of the Flamini situation will not be allowed to occur (ie he will be sold if he doesn’t sign a new contract) but that he will not be sold to ManU.

  63. @Waleed:

    Sorry to have gotten so far into my comments without addressing the main points of your article 🙂 Overall, I think your analysis is very good, and I largely agree with you.

    In relation to what I said in the above post, what would you think about moving Chamakh to the left flank and playing him in front of Wilshere? I know that your main concerns on the left were on defense, but in the vein of the best defense being a good offense, I think that Chamakh’s superior passing and control skills might help on that front.

    If he was able to link up well with Wilshere (as I think he would), it might strengthen Arsenal’s overall possession on that side of the pitch. Plus, I think that his skills as a playmaker and in the air would strengthen Arsenal’s attack.

    I guess in a lot of ways this idea is just part of my ongoing attempt to think of SOME way that Arsenal could play Chamakh with RVP, but any thoughts?

  64. @anne – im starting to think you’re flogging a dead horse re the cesc stuff, no matter what you say or even what AW or the man himself says, people just seem to want to believe what the press print. Have barca signed anyone yet? I seem to think they’ve got €45m to spend and have already allocated €30 to a n other player. I don’t think even they would be cheeky enough to offer €15m for him 😉

  65. @Shard:

    What I heard was “molt ben (sp.?),” “molt content,” which would actually be Catalan for “very well, very content.” The way I translated it was how I think the same comments would read if he was speaking English.

    Cesc’s comments about the market were also at least partially in Catalan (I’m pretty sure.) Sometimes it’s hard to tell because Catalan is so similar to Spanish, but in those responses, I heard some Spanish words, but also words that I didn’t recognize but sounded like Catalan.

    For example, I didn’t actually understand the part where Cesc reportedly said “If a player is on the market, it’s because his club wants to sell him.” However, that particular comment has been so universally reported as a direct quote that I feel comfortable filling in the blanks with it, because the words that I could make out match up with it.

  66. @ Shard

    Wenger has said: “We will do everything to keep Nasri at the club. My wish is that he stays here”.

    Whilst that isn’t concrete, it is a clear statement that Arsenal are working hard to keep him. I reckon some agreement will be reached.

  67. @Anne

    No wonder I couldn’t make any sense of some of those things. I heard the ‘ben’ of the molt ben and figured it meant fine or well, but it didn’t sound like any Spanish I know. His comments about the market too just flew over my head. I’m a little relieved that it was Catalan because my already poor belief in my knowledge of Spanish took a huge hit there 🙂

    @Gooner Gal
    I admire your optimism. I agree that the club would be working hard to keep him, but I’m not so sure that means he’s staying. If he leaves I will be very very disappointed and angry with Nasri. However, I am still hopeful he’ll stay.

  68. @Stevie E:

    I’ve thought for a long time that I was probably flogging a dead horse on the Cesc issue 🙂 However, if the people making the comments about Cesc wanting to leave are people that I don’t remember seeing on a comments thread before, I try to go ahead and say something.

    I’m not trying to be obnoxious about it. It’s just that Cesc is Arsenal’s captain, and I hate to see Arsenal fans treating him as if he’s disloyal or some sort of traitor, when I really don’t think he deserves the label. It’s not fair to him, and I also think it’s damaging to Arsenal’s relationship with their fans. Considering that I have access to information that would prove otherwise, but that most Arenal fans don’t have access to, I guess I feel like it’s my moral duty to ensure that others also have access to that same information.

    But if Walter or Tony ever tells me to just shut up already, I will most certainly do so 🙂

  69. @Goonergal:

    What you’ve heard on Nasri is consistent with what I’ve heard. Arsene can’t come out and say conclusively that he’s staying (as he can with Cesc) because Nasri’s contract is up in a year and he hasn’t signed a new one.

    However, I think that Arsenal will certainly do everything they can to make him stay, and I don’t think that the fact that he hasn’t renewed a year ahead of time is reason to start panicking just yet. H***, look at what Pep Guardiola is doing at Barcelona. 🙂 He’s forcing them into negotiations for a new one-year contract every season…the jerk 🙂

  70. @ Shard

    I would be very very suprised if Nasri went this summer. I am a massive fan of Nasri so I would really upset, but it would’nt be the end of Arsenal.

    I think we have already established that I am a ‘glass is half full rather than empty kind of person’.

  71. @anne – I don’t think you’re being obnoxious at all, I love reading untold daily and a big reason for that is the quality of the comments, however im starting to read aaa comments far more frequently so feel our sanctuary is being invaded. Maybe im just hoping that if they’re ignored they’ll just go away… Your articles gave a fantastic insight into the way the press act, unfortunately the aaa don’t seem to want to read positive things, they just seem to like pissing and moaning.

  72. @ Anne

    Exactly, to me its a signal that Arsenal are trying hard to work with Nasri’s demands. I am not going to start worrying yet.

  73. @Stevie E:

    Sorry, I overlooked the second half of you post 🙂 I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure that the transfer window in Spain doesn’t open until tomorrow. So, Barcelona hasn’t signed any transfers yet. However, they did make one important signing already, which actually relates to the Cesc issue as well. Here’s a link to what the Club’s official statements on the subject, along with some excerpts below:

    “FC Barcelona’s official website has just announced that the club has reached an agreement with midfielder Thiago Alcantara, to renew his contract with the blaugrana for two more seasons, until the 30th of June 2015. The buyout clause of the new contract will be 90 million Euros.

    The signing of the contract took place today, Wednesday, at 17:00. Attending the signing were president Sandro Rosell, director of sports Andoni Zubizarreta, director of football Raül Sanllehí, along with Thiago himself, accompanied by his father, Mazinho, and his representatives.”

    So, this doesn’t seem to be something that Barca is viewing as just the routine re-signing of a youth player. They’re really rolling out the red carpet… And there’s more:

    “To celebrate Thiago’s renewal, Barça has provided a summary of Thiago’s career with the club so far:

    ‘Every day he carries more weight in the first team

    Thiago’s first team debut was in 2007…But it wasn’t until this season that Thiago became a regular at first team training sessions and participated in twelve league games, in which he scored two goals…

    The Ciutat Esportiva, the Miniestadi, and the Camp Nou have been able to enjoy Thiago’s magic. His football is very attractive (it’s common to see him play the ball with the outside of his foot or pass without looking). He’s accustomed to playing in the double pivot role and with the ball at his feet he’s elegant, accurate, and breaks down defences. Thanks to his great vision and daring attitude, he has made some incredible assists. He can also get into the area, shoot, and score goals.'”


    To me, this appears to be Barca confirming what I’ve already said, which is that Thiago is the player that they’re planning to bring up behind Xavi, not Cesc. I guess we’ll just to see how it plays out.

    But you know, even though I’m pretty confident in my conclusions about all this, part of me is actually still terrified that Cesc WILL end up signing for Barcelona. 🙂 Not because I expect it to happen, but because I can’t help thinking about what an idiot it will make me look like if he does 🙂

  74. @Stevie E:

    I guess I view the AAA people coming on here in a different way. I see it as an opportunity to make them rethink their conclusions. Sure, it might not make a difference to most of them, but if I can change the mind of even one person, that’s enough to make the time and effort worthwhile for me.

  75. Something to do:
    Just in case anyone feels it’s a slow news period until an actual transfer occurs, well it might be time to seriously consider and launch an online petition for video replay. Why now? Well, thanks to Shard’s antennae, we do have this stunning link to an article (essentially a press release) whereby BOTH Platini and Bladder AGREE that there shall NOT be video technology. Shard provided the link above and I’m more than glad to echo its major importance: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/931381/uefa-president-michel-platini-says-technology-no-longer-needed?cc=4716

    “In my opinion, technology isn’t good for football,” Platini said in an interview with Marca. “Nobody [at UEFA] wants to bring it into our sport – and nor does Blatter.” “The two additional referees in each area are a great help. They would have seen Maradona’s hand.

    “Football was managed by just one man for 100 years and it was impossible to appreciate everything that happened on the pitch, so sometimes he would make decisions without having seen what went on. Now, if a referee doesn’t see something, it’s because he’s not very good.”

    Please read the article and then ask if you agree. And ask if you’d consider signing a league-wide (not Arsenal-only) petition on behalf of video-replay technology at a minimum; and perhaps additional knock-on reforms of this sort (e.g. mic on the ref, a post-match ref interview, publishing of PGMOL post-match ref reports, etc.). These football deities have closed ranks and opined from on high to pre-empt such thoughts. Perhaps their pronouncement will spark a groundswell among some UA visitors for starters, and among fair-play minded fans throughout football. Any thoughts?

  76. I think letting Bendtner go would be a big mistake. He shows intelligence off the ball, and has built up a good assist tally too. IMO he should be put in centrally against teams where we can switch Walcott wide left and RvP wide right and let them swap flanks at will. This gives us Walcotts pace and RvP out wide always commits two or three defenders too.

  77. In response to the fear of Denilson staying (don’t remember who said that), don’t you realise that the media is reporting exactly the opposite of what the fans want (or the media think they want)? Most fans want Cesc and Nasri to stay, while Clichy also has a large group of followers, and for those players a “new” story pops up every day about the inevitability of their departure. On the other hand, many fans would actually like to see Denilson go and, quelle surprise, we get stories that he is not going anywhere. More doom and gloom for Arsenal. Have the media actually reported any positive news in relation to Arsenal?
    For the record, I expect both Cesc and Nasri to stay. Clichy might be more difficult, but I really hope he does stay. For Denilson I don’t mind either way; I think he is a good backup, but I think someone from the youth programme will be able to take over his place.

    Speaking of youth, someone (again, I don’t remember who) commented on the tactical genius of Ferguson for bringing in youth – although Young sounds young but isn’t – while Wenger gets vilified for bringing in young players into the first team. Is this because we developed those young players ourselves instead of spending 15-20 million (per player) on largely unproven youngsters?

    Finally, there was a comment that Arsene is failing because he didn’t sign anyone yet. But are you aware that both Chelsea and ManCity have not signed any new players either. In fact, I only recall ManU and Liverpool having made a number of signings. Does this mean that every other club is beginning next season with the same 25 players? Will they all be doomed to fail in 2011-12?
    You know, I actually looked up the signings of all the Premier League teams so far. So courtesy of http://soccernet.espn.go.com/transfers/transfer/_/leagueId/23/year/2011/month/6/barclays-premier-league?cc=5739 we have the following signings so far:
    – Sunderland: 6 (2 free)
    – ManU: 3
    – Newcastle: 2 (1 free)
    – Wolves: 2 (1 free)
    – Arsenal: 1
    – Liverpool: 1
    – Norwich: 1
    – Swansea: 1
    – Tottenham: 1 (free)
    – West Brom: 1
    Ten clubs have made signings so far, Sunderland by far the most. Ergo, half the EPL clubs have made no signings so far, including Chelsea and ManCity. Do you think they will stand idle until competion kicks off? I don’t think so and neither do I think Arsene will. There are still two months until the transfer window closes and six weeks until the competition starts. Still plenty of time to get players in and if within the next two, three weeks also plenty of time for the new players to adapt to life at Arsenal. Saying this, I do dread two more months of Cesc to Barca rumours though.

  78. @Anne
    I was actually going to use Barcelona as an example of how their center forward, Messi, tends to play deeper than their “wings”, Pedro and Villa, who are more or less forwards, not midfielders. That is I think the direction football tactics are moving in – goalscorers who start wide and come inside. Real Mad too have Ronaldo who scores many off the wing.

    You said a good point, but I think defensively part of the problem is that our flanks cut inside, and make forward runs into the box to try to score.
    That means our wingers are often too central and too far forward to be able to track the opposing fullback and help out effectively on the flank.
    It is especially visible on the left flank where Nasri, Arshavin, or Bendtner tend to come inside more onto their strong foot, while on the right they tend to stay wider on their natural foot.
    This was a huge problem in the 09-10 season and it was no coincidence that our fullbacks did not have very good seasons.
    That year we only played with one holding player – Song – behind two advanced midfielders. So either the flanks were left exposed or the middle was left exposed as Song tried to help out the fullbacks.
    Wenger attempted to fix that problem (among others) by playing two midfielders in a double pivot. So Wilshere Guards the left side and Song guards the right.
    There is a problem with that too – Wilshere isn’t the best at defending.
    It is a small problem though, because we are pretty good at defending against attacks on the floor. So this really is me making a hill out of a mole, but anyway.

    Playing Chamakh there would be interesting, but I don’t think Nasri or Arshavin who usually play in that position are bad passers themselves. And they are very much capable of keeping the ball. And Chamakh would still end up moving to the center.

    However, Chamakh has extremely good work rate, and he is strong, which could be useful as he shuttles up and down the flank. But do we really want him to turn into another Dirk Kuyt?

  79. @Waleed:

    I guess what it comes down to is that Arsene has the opportunity to try all these various formations in practice, which we don’t have the opportunity to see. If Chamakh was able to play on the left side better than Arshavin, for example (or even in midfield, which has been one of my more ambitious ideas for Chamakh 🙂 ), we probably would have seen it already…

    Overall, I think that your analysis is very good, and you present problems that don’t have any easy solutions. But I guess I still think that Arsenal does pretty well, all things considered. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next season to address the very real weaknesses that you’ve identified.

  80. I wonder how everyone will react comes end of the window and Samir and Nasri are still with us.The media campain this summer has been so agressive and that nobody will ever belive any football journos again if those to are not sold.

    Even the neutrals will say ” how come they still there?everybody said they were gonna be sold”.
    the credibility of the british press just goes down.
    Also the publicity around Samir and cesc this summer, well comes autumn and they still here they will be the biggest stars of the PL. Noone has ever gotten so much publicity as those two. Its even more about ARsenal and those two now than it ever was around circus Ronaldo. If they stay they gonna sell a hell of a lot of shirts next year.

  81. Hmmmmmm. Clichy and Nasri to City. I feel Gibbs is good enough to step up and become our 1st choice LB, but if Cesc is off to Bacra I’m not too pleased with our attack. I’ve said before I’d prefer RvP play attacking mid behind a main striker but; 1. he gets injured too often 2. we have no free scoring striker. Wilshere can play in the Fabregas role but that means we need to find a midfielder to play next to Song (Ramsey, Barton, Parker?). There are many thing people want fixing at Arsenal, but before the season starts all I want to see is an exodus of all players who want to play elsewhere and players coming in to replace those players and fill in the cracks that were showing last year (depth in defence, a tough midfield ball winner and an out and out striker).

  82. Does anyone consider the possibility that the media hate actually relates to something else entirely, such as a superinjunction or a legal case being kept quiet that hasn’t gone to court yet? Or is it some master plan of carefully orchestrated ‘leaks’ to put Arsenal in the spotlight and then trash the press, deliciously complicit in their own demise?

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