If no one were injured: the Arsenal team

Just imagine – Arsenal without injuries.

It’s impossible I know because these days we live with injuries.  The news that Theo lasted 45 minutes in an under 21 match before being taken off will hardly come as a surprise.  He’ll probably have his name changed to Theo Out-Injured soon.

But still, with no football going on, it is fun to think.  If everyone were fit, just for one day, if no maniac international cretins were stealing our players and wrecking them day by day, what then.  What would the team be?

Goal: Almunia.  Who else?  Besides I don’t have any problems with him.

Back four: Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy.   Seems to pick itself at the moment.

Middle three: Song, just behind Cesc and Denilson.

I made Song my player for the new season, in August 2008, and that’s a rare one I got right.  He is magnifico.  And I spent all last season saying how brilliant Denilson was despite all the newspaper led reports that he was “lightweight”.

But do we need Song AND Denilson – probably not in every game.  But one thing is sure, having both of them there means that Cesc can go meandering where ever he wants.

Front three: Van Persie in the middle, Eduardo, Arshavin.

Not least because as Van Persie pulls back Eduardo moves into the middle, and Arshavin is magic from out wide moving in along the goal line with 0.0002mm of space to spare.

But play that team and oh no!!!  No Rosicky, and he’s being brilliant at the moment.  If asked, I would always say, “play Rosicky.”  Who do I drop?

And no Theo, although I suspect that even if everyone was fit and we had no injuries, Theo would have been doing a visit to a special needs centre, tripped over a chair and got injured the night before.

No Diaby either, although on his day he is staggering.  He was much more on his day against Blackburn, and I suspect that he will develop further if given time.  Sadly in my no injuries system he is not given time.  But happily for him the normal condition of Arsenal footballers returning from overseas appointments is with a plaster cast all over them.

Which reminds me, no Vela – and I love the style and panache of Carlos Vela.  (Incidentally the Vela saga shows us why internationals are arranged as they are – just to give most players enough time to recover from the injury they got last time around).  I really want to see Vela as a regular doing those chips like he did last season.  So, that means I drop… who???

Nic Bendtner suffers in this way too, and I tipped him as the first team player to make it to the top this season, in Highbury High this season.  I still think that is right (as long as he learns to drive properly), and that is the bonus side of injuries – it allows the rest to come through.

Nasri ought to be in there too.  But where?  One could drop Denilson or Song and so play with just one defensive midfielder, and then have Nasri, or Rosicky playing…  Trouble is I have now dropped one of them to make way for Nasri, Rosicky, Vela…

And that raises the real point.  That there is no perfect team, because it depends who we are playing against.  Different players for different occasions.

I also have to say Ramsey is looking very assured these days when he comes on for his Cesc replacement roles.  And I am assured that we won’t be stuck when Cesc is injured playing for Spain, as is inevitable.  For £5m Ramsey looks a remarkable bargain.

I’ve not found a place for the improved Eboue – largely because I see him as a superb full back, and I’ve given the nod to Sagna.  And we haven’t seen enough Jack to know if he is really ready or not.

So, fantasy land…

  • Almunia.
  • Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy.
  • Song, just behind Cesc and Denilson.
  • Van Persie in the middle, Eduardo, Arshavin

Quite tasty really.

Latest news elsewhere in my domain… “Making the Arsenal” will be published on October 30th, price £12.99 paperback.  It’s over 300 pages, and its the “trade paperback” size – the largest of the paperback formats.  Put another way it is about double the length of a regular novel.  Sorry about that – I got carried away.

Today on the Making the Arsenal web site is the curious tale of Arsenal using an injured goalkeeper from the start in a first division match, and what happened when they finally dropped him.  Grim tales from 100 years ago.  Quite a bizarre story, and worth a read if only to nod in bemused amazement (which is my normal condition in life).

(c) Tony Attwood

34 Replies to “If no one were injured: the Arsenal team”

  1. Swapped Song with Rosicky in first XI, injury free TR is as undroppable as Cesc is. Swapped TR with Denilson for team role.

    Like for like we got behind the top XI. Mix and match as needed.
    Cesc Ramsey
    TR Samir Nasri
    Den Song
    AA23/RvP/Eduardo Bendtner/TW14/Vela

    Diaby/Eboue = utility players.

    That my friend, IMHO, is Arsenal injury free first XI.

    Big Al is a problem.. if his performance so far this season is to be judge.. he dont deserve the nod, yet the 2 behind him not ready and theres also the problem with the GK availability on the market that can really be consider worthy enough to warrant a buy.

  2. Very juicy indeed!! But hope to see Mannone more often. (different team for different cup?)

  3. a thoughtful insight into the machinations of the team selection process.

    a phrase i picked up ‘rather be looking at them than looking for them’ springs to mind.

    its great that we have cover for most positions, especially if that cover is rosicky, eboue, bendtner, theo, mannone and vela.

    i notice that transfer talk has reared its ugly head in the news and on blogosphere. no proper football to talk about (internationals dont count). as usual we are linked in both directions with stories surfacing again about cesc, eboue and rosicky.

    the rosicky story worries me the most, i would hate to see him leave at the end of the season on a free.

    the cesc stories are plain hogwash as usual and the eboue story has come right out of left-field.

    we are still linked with matuidi and chamakh, which is interesting because i thought arsene had closed the door to chamakh.

    anyway, roll on next week, and a match against the black country leg breakers, where we can put that terrible night behind us.

  4. Tony, I bet trying to decide the players (when fit) to pick would give anyone a headache. Arsene must have to keep a supply of Hedex in his pocket.

    Will your book be available online?

  5. Yesterday I again watched our last two matches on Arsenal TV. I prefer that to recording the live matches as I find the Arsenal-centric commentary to my taste. However, these were done by Nigel Winterburn and I have a serious preference for Stuart Robson.

    I have read many times how well Cesc has played in these two matches. Well, that has been understated. He was awesome. If he stays fit and reproduces this kind of form, we are a shoo in for the EPL.

    Tony, as for your dream team, I think that any team that can leave Rosicky and Nasri on the bench must be a very strong team indeed.

    Cesc, in addition to being a wonderful creative player, also has a huge engine. This means that we can, assuming no injuries, replace our full front three in the second half. With Rosicky, Nasri, Walcott, Bendtner and Vela available we are spoilt for choice. I am afraid that Watt and Wilshere will have to be content with the CC.

  6. Almunia
    Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy

    Song Denilson


    Walcott Van Persie Arshavin

    Subs: Mannone, Rosicky, Nasri, Diaby, Djourou, Vela (EVERYBODY FIT)

  7. Things are rosy at the moment. If all our players are fully fit, then we will be spoilt for choice indeed. However, ‘fully fit’ is a concept that is fast becoming alien to our club. Not anyone’s fault; just the way things are.

  8. Sorry to go off topic, but just to clarify, I was the orginator of yesterday’s post in the discussion on a Super League, which appears rather strangely to have been copied by Gooner1 and reposted on the Untold site. Cannot imagine how this happened.

    On topic, I think the message of loyalty from WonderCesc during the Blackburn game was very clear. Stu

  9. Picking up on a couple of comments (when I should be working, rather than playing with the site),

    MAKING THE ARSENAL won’t be available online to read – although one or two extracts are appearing on http://www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk – the novel is around 160,000 words long, so it is far to long to print out on line. But the book will be available to purchase on line via our on line shop, and it will be possible to buy by fax and by post with a cheque. Next week we’ll be opening discussions with the Arsenal shops, Amazon and Play.com to see if they are interested – although I suspect they might not want the book until next year – for the 100 years anniversary of the events in the book.

    Re the copying of articles from one site to another – there are sadly a load of nutters out there who do this. We’ve managed to reduce the problem quite considerably (I don’t want to say how as that will give these people a clue) but we can’t cut it out totally. Stuart London if you can tell me which post of yours has appeared on this site under someone else’s name I will remove it. This been done before – you may have seen my OOOOOOOOOps comment on such commentaries.


  10. Tony. It is my only post on yesterday’s discussion of a breakaway league. I didn’t want it thought that I was the one plagiarising someone else’s contribution to another site. Stu

  11. i do not know if some nerd has done the statistic, but i i am sure that if you identified the “spinal” 5 or 6 players of each club, you would find that Arsenal has the highest percentage of games played with at least one of the 5 or 6 missing due to injury.

  12. If everybode fit, I would not want to be in AW shoes. So many excellent players to dissapoint. I would be to soft for that. 😉

  13. that team is stupid! this would be the starting 11:
    sagna gallas vermaelen clichy
    fabregas nasri
    walcott/rosicky arshavin van persie

  14. The trouble is Douche, just saying “that team is stupid” doesn’t really contribute too much to the debate. It is fine – indeed it is good – to have contrary proposals. But it would be nice to know why.

    You see I would argue that Eduardo is an amazing poacher, who when playing on the wing, drifts in as VP drifts back, and this causes huge confusion in defences. OK you don’t want him, but a little explanation would be good.

  15. Almunia.
    Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy.
    Song, just behind Cesc and Denilson.
    Van Persie in the middle, Eduardo, Arshavin
    sagna gallas vermaelen clichy
    fabregas nasri
    walcott/rosicky arshavin van persie

    I don’t think one of those teams is “stupid”.
    In fact if I’m not mistaken the first team was on the field after 90 minutes at Everton.

    I would be satisfied when Arsenal start with one of those teams.

  16. I know the official line of this site is that international matches are an irrelevant evil that steals our best players, but I have a rare saturday night on my own (I am supposedly writing the follow up to Making the Arsenal, currently called “The Girl Who Ate Football”) but I stopped, made myself a curry, and snaked a look at the football results.

    I was of course trying to find the page with the score for my local club Corby Town, playing in the conference north, but my hand slipped and I found that, oh what a shame, Engerland lost.

    But more to the point Switzerland won – and more to the point than that, Senderos scored two.


    Quick, change the team, find a way to include Philipe Senderos now!!!

    Cesc scored in Armagnac and no one has told me yet that Arshavin is injured. Actually a gushing piece about Cesc on the Guardian website today, worth a read. Ramsey played for the Welsh first team – hopefully he’s ok too.

    France currently drawing zero zero with the Falkland Islands. No, hang on that can’t be right. The Aaland islands? Tasmania?

    But of course the world won’t know because the world’s eyes are on Liechtenstein playing Azerbaijan. Count Otto von Otto of the Bank of Liechtenstein (which is the name of their Parliament) is there. Plus his dog.

  17. Tony, I’m also watching some games (in fact switching channels all evening and picking up peaces of different games).
    Rosicky playing for Czech republic: what a great player he is. He played superbly. After switching after some 70 minutes he was off the field. Hope just tactical change.
    Saw Arshavin play 90 minutes and he looked fit to me at the end. (big releave)
    France is 3-0 up and …Gallas scored one.
    Our defenders seem to score in every game.
    And even Belgium seems to be winning 2-0 but Vermaelen, clever boy he is, only scores for Arsenal. 😉

  18. I hear Cole did well in the England game. And Togo were beaten by Cameroon, with A******* taken off in the second half. There is a God after all. Sorry, that’s a little ungracious, I know. Stu

  19. Almunia/Mannone/Fabianski/ShareSheersknee

    Sagna/Eboue Gallas/Senderos Vermaelen/Silvestre Clichy/Gibbs/Traore


    Cesc/Rosicky/Ramsey/Wilshere/Diaby Nasri, Diaby, Denilson, Ramsey

    Walcott/Bendtner/Arshavin/Rosicky/Eboue/Wilshere RVP/Eduardo/Bendtner Eduardo/Nasri/Arshavin/Traore



  21. I like your team Tony. QAZI BURHAN puts Rosicky in instead of Denilson, representing a more attacking approach. You say that the personnel can be changed as the tactics change, and the obvious place is DM, whether to play zero, one or two.

    However, other questions come to mind. Do we have too many players? Cesc, Diaby, Rosicky, Nasri, Ramsey, RvP, AA, Eduardo, Theo, Bendtner, Vela gives us 11 attack minded players for 4, 5 or when the chips are down, 6 positions. Then we have Wilshere and Merida. How can Randall, Barazite and Lansbury hope to break through?

    Another problem comes where very good players who are a little older do not get enough game time. Could that happen to Theo? The Lord Wenger seems to like to include a tall player (Diaby or Bendtner) when possible. This helps in defending set pieces. Bendtners inclusion puts pressure on Theo’s place, while playing Diaby will mean that sometimes Rosicky or Nasri will play instead of Theo. Not enough game time equals no world cup!

    What about Eboue? He will not be content with the role that the young Gibbs is playing.

    It is good that we play twice a week, and we know that we will have injuries and suspensions. Tony, I suggest that if no one were injured, it might create more problems than it would solve.

  22. qazi, don’t shout dude.

    i had the misfortune to watch the england match last night. cashley did us proud by giving the ball to their attack and nodding it in on a one – two for an own goal. this is after rio instigated the sending off of the english goalkeeper. capello then compounded this mistake by taking lennon off for david james when he should have taken heskey off.

    all the commentators could say was that capello was lucky to get this chance to see his team play with 10 men for almost a whole game.

    all the while i was hoping to see some nice flowing arsenal type football. not a chance.

    the best match i saw was the 2-2 ireland italy match. at least there were some goals. and at least the irish commentators realised when one of the irish squad had made a mistake and mentioned it.

  23. lolz… the one that tony put up is more of a balanced side… and the one that includes rosicky is more attacking minded… the prob with the balanced one is that we lack a bit of experience in the pitch… rosicky for impact sub? he has done this for a few times this season.. and the match against blackburn, rosicky played really well, starting… so there you have it.. my opinion… but when denilson plays… we seem to concede fewer goals… oh well.. all down to le boss to decide and we to ponder…

  24. This might be a bit controversial but i think that Manone is a better keeper than Almunia and that as an attacking right sided full back i’d rather have Eboue than Sangna who offers nothing going foreward and is rather slow to get back one a move breaks down.
    As has been said before we have a fabulous amount of attacking talent but this needs to be a balanced team so i have gone for the following lineup.

    ——– Manone ——-
    Eboue Gallas Vermalen Clichy

    ——— Song ——-
    Fabregas Nasri

    — RVP — Bendtner — AA

    Subs from: Almunia, Sagner, Senderos, Gibbs, Rosicky, Eduardo, TW14, Vella, Djrouou, Denilson, Ramsey, Wilshire, Merida

    Van Persi gets the right side because i think this is his most effective postion cutting in from the right onto his left foot, Nicky B gets the middle as he is a good target man as well as being a good non stop whole harted player with a very good amount of skill, AA he can play anywhere he likes from the left hand side he drifts in field and pulls defenders all over the place leaving space for Nasri or Cesc to come into and with the players on the bench we can do serious damage to any team.

  25. I have to agree with Jazbo that Manone is better and that he seems to inspire confidence.Bendtner is a better player this year with his hard running – he reminds me of Flamini when coming from deep.Rosicky is in superb form- he should take more long range shots which was his speciality.

    Sagna Gallas Vermalen Clichy
    Fabregas Rosicky
    Bendtner RVP Arshavin

  26. I think the distance shooting from Rosicky will come back. I think it’s just a case of confidence and that will come with more games he plays.
    He really could put a nice long distance shot in at times.

  27. well, thats a good things for arsene wenger of cause. the last 4 years is the bad 1 for him. so the god time is just around the connor for him i guess.. but in my opinion, arsenal do need another striker, a defensive middleman and a defender. after that, i beleive, they can simply beat the likes barca, madrid and man u

  28. The problem is, AW ight end up a victim of his own success.

    Now in midfield we have

    Fabregas Ramsey Diaby Denilson Song Rosicky Nasri all
    competing for 3 places.

    Add in that AW may buy another defensive midfielder……..

    So, Fran Merida is coming through, who looks like another immaculate
    Wenger incubation project, (in fact he may be as good as Fab), and the young man is understandably hesitant to sign a 5 year contract with us.

  29. We cannot afford to loose a player of Merida’s talent, give him first team run out every other week and he’ll stay

  30. You are all too defensive minded, with the attacking players we have we should just outscore any opposition regardless of who they are.
    My Team:
    Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy

    Nasri Fabregas Rosicky

    Walcott Van Persie Arshavin

    Almunia just gets the nod ahead of Mannone because of experience.

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