Finally!

Finally! It may have taken us until mid December this season, but we finally have a Premier League game in which we were dominant from start to finish, never really looked like we weren’t in control of the game and got the required number of goals that our performance warranted.

I thought we were brilliant yesterday. From the first minute until the last. We started off with an air of authority and control over a confident Newcastle team that looked like the Arsenal of last season. I feel like a wandering desert nomad who has finally been given a glass of ice cool fresh water. I have been waiting so long to drink from the cup of ‘comfortable Premier League victory’ that i’d almost forgotten the tast. I’ve become accustomed to have a hard afternoon. There was nothing hard about yesterday, unless of course you count trying to understand Lee Mason’s refereeing decisions. He was the only negative on a lovely early evenings football. To my mind, he missed a clear boot to the chest of Alexis by Tiote, a couple of penalty decisions, plus he decided to penalise Danny Welbeck for being too close to Janmaat when a gust of wind knocked him over in the box and Welbeck finished superbly to make it 2-0 within the first 15 minutes. Or at least it should have been. Like I said, that gust of wind was a real doozie and Welbeck’s goal was rubbed from the scoreboard.

It all seemed to work yesterday. From back to front we were on it. You only have to look at our first goal, in which the passage of play was started by Hector Bellerin biting in to a tackle and then giving the ball to Giroud. The Frenchman then fed Alexis and took his position in the middle of the box to head home an excellent cross. It was brilliant stuff and no more than we deserved. Before that even big Per was in on the action with a looping header that hit the bar.

We popped the ball around with purpose and poise and how the scoreline was still 1-0 at half time is anybodies guess. I can say it now, because we were comfortable all afternoon, but at half time you’ve always got that worry that we’ll conceded and then end up ‘backs to the wall’-ing it as the opposition fight to come away from The Emirates with a point. But the second half saw us up it another gear and Santi’s little dink over Alnwick to make it 2-0 had the hallmarks of a player in form. He could have even been given a penalty had he not scored, because Coloccini had almost taken him out inside the box. But the diminuitive little Spaniard did what every one wants to see; he stayed on his feet and got the goal that his performance warranted.

Four minutes later it was game over, as Giroud got his second of the night and what a second it was, with the outside of his boot and with the tightest of angles. He really can be quite some players on some games. It’s amazing how we seem to have a player that can blow so hot or cold during the course of a season. But I supposed he is an example of this Arsenal team. They can go from the sublime to the ridiculous in the space of a week.

We’ve now had two 4-1 victories and it’s looking like we’ve recovered a bit of that fragile thing called confidence. Which is just as well really, because next week we return to the location of our humbling last season and face a Liverpool team who will – regardless of what happens today – be massively up for this game and so we need all the help we can get through our levels of confidence and remembering performances like that.

Individually, it was good to see some systems worked. I thought the front three rotated well and were a handful all afternoon. Arsene said in his post match report that we looked dangerous every time we went forward and he’s right. I thought we could have scored every time we went forward and as I reflected afterwards, to friends and family members that would listen, the 4-1 scoreline flattered Newcastle in fairness. The fact that they even scored was a cause for irritation, because the defence probably deserved a clean sheet. Debuchy was good at centre half, although that might have been because he wasn’t troubled as much, but I thought he attacked balls lumped forward well, looked like he was confident, then positionally was assured enough too.

In midfield, The Ox gave a couple of balls away, but in the main he was good with the ball at his feet and he is an able deputy for that box-to-box roll role that Ramsey normally occupies. Santi Cazorla has found his ryhtm too, putting in another great display and getting himself in the goals too. I have seen some people (not Arsenal fans, obviously) who have said he was a little disrespectful with his little dink of a penalty. But if we score every time, we can be as disrespectful as we like as far as I’m concerned, because all I care about is Arsenal scoring goals and winning games. The rest of the football community can ‘do one’.

So that’s it for another weekend. A victory, three points, a good performance, some players looking like they’re hitting form, plus a week to rest and recuperate for when we play Liverpool on Sunday next week.

Come on you reds!

The Micro-blogs: What’s wrong with The Arsenal?

So, here’s the thing. I try to brain dump my thoughts on to this here blog every day and sometimes it’s rambling and sometimes it’s not too shabby (if I do say so myself). But my views and opinions are often formed by Arsenal-supporting friends. I have a few Whatsapp groups, work, the pub, Twitter and a few other forums. Lots of people, lots of opinions on what on earth has happened at The Arsenal this season. So, in an effort to collate some of the thoughts and thinkings of mates I have had convos with, I thought I’d just do a bit of a brain dump on to this blog so you can see what I’m seeing. This came to me after having a couple of people chat to me (both on and offline) about how Monreal is getting a bit of a pasting. But if I’m honest, I haven’t really seen it. I started to think to myself “what is actually wrong at the moment?” and after pondering it, after writing a few generalist blogs, I thought “why don’t you just ask around?”. So here I find myself.

This is a collation of that thinking into a series of ‘micro blogs’. each micro-blogger has 50 words and is answering the simple question:

What’s wrong with The Arsenal?

Like I say, this isn’t about anything else other than to collate some general views, about what people think is wrong in an overarching sense. If you have a view on the question and want to share then I’m all ears. Keep it to 50 words though!

Over to other’s to give me their two penneth worth. Starting off with a poetical piece…

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Invinciblog

Spinning and spinning in downward spirals
The protégés cannot hear the Master;
Bodies fall apart; the defense cannot hold;
Mediocrity is loosed upon the world.
A Gooner meltdown ensues, and everywhere
The illusion of acceptance is drowned;
The AKBs lack all conviction, while the WOBs
Are swollen with poisonous intensity.

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Rob Woodfin

The balance of the team is the major issue. When we attack we are open to counters & look vulnerable defensively. When we sit back & keep it tight we look short of a creative spark.

The clear issue is simply a proper DM to allow our creators to create & to protect our back four. Subs, or lack of really, pisses me off. Arsène reacts rather than being pro-active.

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Harold (guy who works in my office on the front desk)

I liked your description yesterday. My take would be that any time I’m watching them in recent years, they remind me of Lotus in F1, the brand sounds great but it feels like Arsenal are only there to make up the numbers when it comes to the top four spots. The desire just isn’t there to kick us on to the next level through the right player buys. We are a brand. We are a business. Not a football club.

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RamblinGooner

Apart from the transfer failings it’s the style of play. We’re chasing goals even when leading but, also we’re defending too high up the pitch which leaves us open to the counter. It’s so apparent even smaller teams can work it out.

Time for pragmatism: Go back to basics.

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Ian Howe

Simple, and it pains me to say it, the Manager.  Once a pioneer, Wenger is stuck in his ways, and his stubbornness is a contributing factor in Arsenals failings.  He’s become tactically inept, and in my view, worst of all, he has lost the dressing room. Time’s up.

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Fonky Chris

Arsenal have been in transition for almost a decade, we know this. But now the shackles are off we appear to be making the same mistakes as previous years. I don’t see Arsene as the problem. I think he himself needs management, as David Dein did so well, during our dominant years.

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SheWore

What’s wrong with The Arsenal? How about we start with Kroenke caring only about the almighty dollar? Or perhaps we should look at a CEO who can’t sack his outdated manager? Or perhaps we should look at the supporters who let him get away with it?

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Gooner Oaf

Unfortunately, it might be quicker to answer what isn’t wrong! I love Wenger and what he has done for us, but this season he is accountable for a backwards step. Signings aren’t always the answer, but they might be in this case. January can’t come soon enough!

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Ryan (Burnley fan and mate from work)

Arsenal are victims of their own success. The invicibles of 2004 have set a precedent that subsequent squads have been unable to live up to. The increase in quality at both ends of the BPL table has left Arsenal in a chasm of its own just behind the elite, but way ahead of the rest.

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Hertbert Chapman’s Bust

I think it’s a combination of things. Our rolling injury list, lack of quality players in the market especially CB’s, the integration of five new players, too many players in poor form, Wenger trusting his players too much and not being proactive enough tactically throughout the 90 minutes. But at least we’re not as shit as Tottenham.

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The Daniel Cowan (The actual real-life one! I know!)

If I knew that I would be a rich man indeed. I think there are multiple issues running parallel and creating the situation we are in. The two that are affecting us most are injuries and obdurateness in buying less than “perfect” players for big money however even those issues are externally influenced.

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Kevin Green

Current team – great going forward but need to strengthen behind the front four. We need two warriors in the middle of our spine – defence and midfield. It’s not just about physicality, it’s about leadership, a never say lose mentality. We need players that role model this behaviour.

Maturity in game management is also needed. A lead 20 mins out should be defendable.

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I’ve got a few more people who I’ve asked to share their views tomorrow, so I’ll post them up then.

Cheers all.

C

NLD nerves, despite everyone tipping us to win

Good morning to you on a very important day in the football calendar indeed. Derby day. The North London One. At home. Three points is the target and up and down the land (and the globe actually) there are Gooners like you and I nervously counting down the time to kick off. And it is nervous, isn’t it? Because let’s face it, without wanting to trot out all of the old cliché’s, the great form that we’ve had at home since the dawn of the Premier League era mean the square root of naff all today.

We host a Tottenham team who have just come off the back of a disappointing home defeat to West Brom (you can’t really call the midweek games the last games that the teams will have played because the two North London sides are completely different to the ones that will be rocking up today) and who have struggled to find their rhythm since the start of the season. In fact, you’d go as far to say that Spurs’ form is pretty poor so far. Over the last few weeks the Spuds have lost twice at home to West Brom and Liverpool, whilst also being pegged back by Sunderland away. So it’s hardly a Tottenham team that will be kicking off at The Emirates full of swagger. That’s what we’ve had during the previous 5-2 victories a couple of seasons ago, so I don’t really know what to make of the Spuds going in to this game. I mean, we could just as easily have that lot giving the games of their lives against us that belies their recent form, as we could see a comfortable evening of goals for our lads.

What does worry me is the fact that everyone is pipping us for a comfortable afternoon. When you’ve got people like Paul Merson saying we’ll have an easy afternoon and a 3-0 victory, Mark Lawrenson saying it will be a comfortable 2-1 and even Jamie Redknapp telling us the Spuds are a ‘million miles’ away from us, it instills anything but confident in your humble narrator here. Only because we’re not Chelski or City. Our dollar hasn’t been tainted with oil and we haven’t also managed to buy a truck-load of luck, so usually when everything points in Arsenal’s favour, we get a bloodied nose. Next week we’ll be on the receiving end of the pundits telling us that we haven’t got a chance against Chelski and it’s almost certain that what they say will come to pass, but when we are the favourites, rarely do we have it easy. I’m praying not to have that today. I’m praying for a real comprehensive victory that sees us a few goals up by halftime and a nice 45 minutes of jovial frivolity for the second half.

As for the teams, I suspect we’ll see the same side that dispatched Villa last week, minus The Ox for Alexis. So I am hoping that Arsene decide’s that Mesut should sit behind Welbeck and see if they can combine well as both did at VIlla Park. Defensively we’ll need Chambers to be at his best against a Chadli who looks a little bit more impressive than the five-minute player that played last season up against Jenkinson. The Spuds will play with a 4-2-3-1 and have Chadli and Lamela either side of Adebayor with Erikson sitting as the playmaker. Arteta will be responsible for making sure that Erikson doesn’t find space in between our defence and the midfield, so my hope is that he performs better than in the Dortmund game, in which he continuously let players run in beyond him.

It’s why Ramsey’s role in the team will be so important. Ramsey is at his best – I think – when he is starting from deeper and pushing forward. With Ramsey’s starting position being further up the field, it doesn’t give him the licence to be as successful with his driving runs I don’t think, so I hope Arsene opts for the Welshman sitting a little deeper than when he started the season. That would support Arteta and help to stifle the Spuds attack.

Our attacking quartet will need to find a way past Kaboul, Verthongen and Capoue who, up until his injury in the NLD last season, I thought looked like a decent player. Both him and Dembele can travel with the ball and look decent with it at their feet, but if Mesut can find those pockets in between their back four and the two deeper lying midfielders, he could have a good afternoon. He missed last seasons game because he hadn’t been signed in time, so I’m hoping he can show the world of his quality and build on the great performance of last week.

As Arsene mentioned in his presser yesterday, Ozil and Welbeck’s partnership was good last week and it has to be good today. Unlike two weeks ago when Welbeck found his chances few and far between, one suspects that he’ll be given more opportunities to put one away against this Spuds team. They play very open and do not have the requisite quality that Moneychester City have, so if Welbeck is presented with a chance it’s important that he puts it away. He opened his account last week in great poachers fashion, but he needs to get a run of games in which he’s scoring to secure his place in the side for the long-term. Let’s not forget that it was an excellent and deft touch of Giroud’s that won us this game last season, so that is what Welbeck needs to replicate today. If he can do it a few times too that would be grand.

We’ve drawn too many games already this season, so ideally we need the win more than anything else. A draw won’t really feel like we’ve mastered the ‘big games’ just yet, so its imperative that we don’t let a psychological barrier begin to build like it has in previous seasons. Having said that, it’s what I believe will happen today, as I think we’ll not see a Tottenham side anything else other than wanting to make a statement. I think we’re in for a tough afternoon and given our propensity to ship goals from set pieces, it wouldn’t surprise me if we get sucker-punched with a Kaboul goal from a corner or something like that. Chasing a football match is nobodies idea of fun, but I have a nasty feeling that’s what we might see this afternoon. After all, we’ve got form in that regard if you think about the two 5-2 victories.

I hope my gut feeling is wrong, I hope we can give them a smashing, so let’s all do our part to help the team to shout ourselves hoarse come 7.20pm London time this evening.

Come. On. You. Reds.

existing players: does familiarity breed contempt?

Hello Friday, you sexy bitch, you. If only you could offer the promise of Premier League football this weekend it would make you even more lovely. But I understand, it’s not your fault, it’s forces that are a law unto themselves, those pesky individuals at FIFA who keep organising international breaks.

The Arsenal press team know this, which is why they’re releasing Danny Welbeck interviews in a piecemeal fashion. I suspect we might even see ‘Part 3: Danny Welbeck on eating fish and chips’ at some stage over the weekend. Ahh how that’ll be exciting to watch. I guess I should be grateful, because at least we are getting something from the club to sink our teeth in to. That’s much better than radio silence which, oddly, is what Arsene is on at the moment. I suppose he’s still out and about gallivanting around the world and making peace happen through football somewhere, but it is weird in today’s age of mobile phones, FaceTime and email that he hasn’t been able to pen some phrases to give to the official site. Maybe he’s a bit ‘meh’ about the signing? Maybe he’ll be asked at some stage over the weekend and will respond with “well, you all turned your noses up at Zigic, so I just told the lads back at the ranch to pick anybody up who they felt like”, after all Zigic himself confirmed that he was a target for Arsenal as a free transfer option so it must be true, right?

Which leads me to the last dregs of desperation of the hit-whoring football websites that are frantically searching for free transfers that can be linked with Arsenal now the window has closed, to which 38-year-old Mario Yepes from Colombia is the latest to be linked. Captain of his country, bringer of long-hairyness, he’d apparently offer that bit of experience in back up to Koscienly, Mertesacker and Chambers that we need. Which has led me to thinking, with help from the guys that run Arsecast Extra, about how good a player needs to be in order for us to think “hold on a second, aren’t we just better off giving youth a chance here?”. I mean, it’s all very well talking about experience, but if Yepes did sign and can’t keep pace with the frenetic energy of the Premier League, wouldn’t he be more of a hindrance than a help? Monreal may be option number four, or even Isaac Hayden, but at least both will be more au fait with the Premier League.

Given that there are plenty of us looking at the Welbeck signing and wondering if there is an element of ‘BUY ALL SHINY NEW PLAYERS AS THE ANSWER’ at Manchester United, which has allowed us to buy a player who could develop into a very good signing, potentially just because he’s taken for granted at United because he’s been there already. It’s the old adage I guess: familiarity breeds contempt. Is that the danger of what is happening if Arsenal, or particularly Arsenal fans, are looking at a signing like that and not asking the question to themselves: “Is he really better than the options that are there at the moment?”

Hey, I’m not expert, and I paid little attention to Yepes at the World Cup, so I’m hardly going to be able to give you a comprehensive answer. But much like Zigic, when you look at who he has played for last season – Atalanta – and he has been released, surely there is a question to ask as to why he was released in the first place, as well as why he is not good enough for Atlanta, but is good enough for Arsenal (although admittedly as a fourth choice centre half). If we are going to go down the route of looking at free transfers, why don’t we look at Abdoulaye Faye or Zat Knight?? Both of which you’d have to question whether they could actually be any real success at Arsenal.Nope, for me, if i’m honest, I’d rather see Monreal or Hayden given a chance.

Anyway, that’s probably about all I can muster for now, because there isn;t really owt else going on. So I’ll shall catch you on Saturday. Have a good one.

A deal done that’s decent, but is it enough?

So here we are then. The dust has finally settled following the cold sore on the face of football that is Transfer Deadline Day, with a fuller picture of who we’ll be sticking with this season, plus a new face to welcome to the club in the form of Manchester United born and bred Danny Welbeck.

It was classic Arsenal, if you think about the last few days of the last five or six deadline days that you and I have been put through as the club frantically searched for replacements, finding one as the transfer went right to the wire in the opening hours of the morning.

When I say it was ‘classic Arsenal’, I don’t just mean leaving it to the last minute, although that seems to be part of our process these days. What I actually mean, is the way in which we’ve filled a position in which we did in fairness need to sure up, but by no means was it the most pressing need. It happened in January when we all thought we needed a striker. So we bought in Kallstrom on loan. Or the summer when we all thought we’d get a striker, then up rocked Mesut ‘Frigging’ Özil. Or the January window before that, when the rumours were red hot about David Villa, before we went out and bought Monreal as a left back.

I guess what we’ve got to get used to with Arsène and Arsenal these days, is that they’ll almost never buy in the positions that you and I think we need to strengthen in. And hey, I’m no football expert, I’m just a fan and as a result perhaps I’m more blinkered to what is needed at the club to help us challenge for the title.

So as I hurtle my way towards London for another day as a desk jockey, I’m in a reflective mood on the squad as a whole and whether or not we can compete. What has the arrival of Danny Welbeck done for us? Well for one thing, it’s yet more pace to add to the team, which is essentially something that a lack of cost us a serious push towards the title. With both Sanchez and Welbeck we have two players who, had they been fit in February and March, would have stopped teams like Everton playing such a high line against us because they know we have men who can get in behind.

But I still have a nagging feeling that the squad is incomplete. I’m sure you do too. We needed another centre-half to take off the pressure from Chambers, should we lose one of the first choice two for any length of time, so to get to the final day of the deadline having not addressed that given Vermaelen’s departure a few weeks ago was poor.

Similarly, the reliance on Arteta and Flamini will now become all too evident and if Flamini has off days like he had at Leicester more often, we’ll find ourselves ruing the lack of options I fear. Thankfully Arteta is back after the international break and will no doubt reassume his position as the fulcrum of the midfield. It will be a welcome sight with Moneycheter City arriving in town.

Given the arrival of Welbeck, I’m also interested to see how the pecking order works at the club. One would assume that Lukas Podolski will be relegated further, most probably into the role of loveable mascot like Gunnersaurus, who we all love but will never actually see getting game time on the pitch. Not unless he’s waving at the fans or they bring back that massive cannon that fired t-shirts into the fans during the interval. It’s a shame really because we know he will score goals, but Arsène doesn’t rate him and I see a similar freezing out to the one we saw with Arshavin.

Or what about Joel Campbell? With Giroud injured his route to the first team was a little shorter with Arsène playing Sanchez up top, but the arrival of Welbeck will surely add in another hurdle for him to overcome, especially if he has aspirations of being a first team player. It’s an interesting conundrum that Arsène has to face, but it’s better to have too much than not enough, I guess.

So if I was to rate this summers dealings in the transfer market out of ten, what would I give us? Well, we’ve certainly replaced all of the departures with capable players, plus we’ve added the guile of Sanchez and replaced Giroud (through injury) with Welbeck. I don’t think we’re weaker than last season, but I do think we’re only just a little bit stronger. I hope I’m not right, but I think we’re going to end up ruing not signing a centre back at some stage in the season. We didn’t need it last season as Kos and Per stayed fit, but I have a feeling one of those guys is due a lengthy absence, so there’ll be much crossing of fingers between now and January. Hey, this is Arsenal we’re talking about, injuries are our ‘thing’.

Based on those thoughts, it’s hard to give this summer anything over and above a six out of ten really. We’ve done ok, we’re better offensively than last season, but for it to be ‘good’, we needed at least one more decent body defensively.

Still, with all of the slight frustration at not shoring up defensively, it could be worse. We could have been Man United and taken the Barcelona route of ignoring where the key deficiencies lie and signing as many offensive players as possible. If Van Gaal continues with 3-5-2 and has only Jones, Smalling and Blackert (is that how you say his name?) as his defensive set up, with the occasional game there for Blind, then he’ll have to be the luckiest man alive not to pick up injuries and have to start considering playing Rooney in front of the back four.

Anyway, that’s enough babbling from me, you have ‘at it’ for today and I’ll see thee in the morrow.

The striker issue isn’t black and white

Howdy there you, hope you’re doing hunky doory, if that’s even how you spell that??

Yesterday I had a bit of a ‘life is different to back then’ moment, so I thought I’d bring myself back in to the here and now and reflect on Arsene’s presser yesterday and the Champions League draw, which will once again see us pit our wits against Borussia Dortmund, whilst also taking on Galatasaray and Anderlecht. It’s no surprise that Chelski got a buy into the group stages, but in all fairness we can be pretty happy with our lot given that, the Germans aside, it’s a group that we should be looking to qualify from. It would be nice if we could go through as group winners for a change, so one would expect that the head-to-head against BVB will be a decider on who tops the group. The first game will be at Dortmund in a couple of weeks time, so it’s up to the team to try to replicate the 1-0 victory in Dortmund last season to get us off to a flying start.

In the meantime, there is a game this weekend against Leicester and then the small matter of a home game against the reigning champions, so there’s plenty of time for us to get into our rhythm before the Champions League starts. Not. It’s fair to say that we haven’t exactly hit the ground running as yet, but with the injuries having a part to play in the stuttering beginning to the season (unusual for us as we have tended to always start strongly and fade away towards the end of campaigns), we need to start clicking into gear and doing so quickly. That comes with matches, with new players being able to bed in and with established players finding their form, so this weekend’s game against newly promoted opposition represents a chance to lay down a marker. More on suspected team line ups tomorrow, but Arsene did confirm that both Arteta and Gibbs will continue to be missing until after the International break, which will mean Monreal and the Flamster continue to deputise.

We all know about Giroud and his long-term absence, so it was not really a surprise when Arsene was once again quizzed about finding a replacement up top. He, as would be expected, extolled the virtues of the talent he already has available in Sanchez, Walcott, Podolski, Campbell and Sanogo. Later on, I think in an interview which wasn’t part of the afternoon presser, he stated that there were too many strikers and he would only look to bring another one in if one went out. Whilst there will be those that will wonder whether that means a potential loan move for the raw Sanogo, or a permanent move for the clearly unflavoured Podolski, I suspect that the comment was designed to explain to the masses that Arsene really isn’t looking for another forward at all. Further evidence to this school of thinking can be found in the words of the BBC’s David Ornstein, who has always been seen as somewhat of an unofficial mouthpiece for the club, as he confirmed that Arsenal are after a centre-half or defensive midfielder.

Whilst my initial reaction to Arsene’s assertion that he has enough strikers and that only ‘top,top top quality’ would do (although I must question this definition given that Gervinho managed two seasons at the club) was to be slightly aggrieved, upon some reflection about the possible options out there, I could kind of understand where Arsene is coming from. Giroud’s injury is certainly a big blow and we will no doubt feel his absence, but his absence is something that we all feel needs to be replaced with somebody for the here and now, and therein lies our problem. There are plenty of names being kicked around amongst arsenal fans, but the reality is that any player coming from any league other than an English one, will need time to bed in, which is time we simply don’t have. Just look at Sanchez; he is still finding his feet, still needing to hone his radar so that he latches on to Ozil passes, etc. Any new player brought in from another league is going to go through the exact same process. So we are effectively back to square one because we don’t address the here and now in terms of finding a goalscorer instantly.

“But what about finding one from the Premier League?” I can almost hear you say, but again, I’m not sure what other options are out there that will be suitable for our style of play and the way Arsene is setting up his team. Remy and Bony are names that come to mind, but both are different to Giroud as strikers, so if at the moment we are looking at finding somebody to fit our existing style, then they won’t work. The truth of the matter is that there aren’t really many Giroud-style replacements out there – certainly not in the Premier League – that you and I would see as worthy upgrades. So it does leave the manager in a bit of a quandary as to what to do. Unless his plan is to change the attacking philosophy, to which I think Tim Stillman put the most eloquently in his blog on Thursday this week over at Arseblog Towers. If the plan to adapt the style is therefore needing to be accelerated, I would have to wonder if, actually, Arsene is right, and we do have enough players up top when Walcott arrives. The only caveat I’d place on this however, is that Walcott is an injury prone forward and if he breaks down again, we’re back to square one, with a lack of pace up top and a reliance on Sanchez to bed in a lot quicker in his debut season.

I don’t really ever pertain to have any answers, I’m just an observer, but what I do know is that we need to start hitting top form soon if we want to win that all-elusive Premier League trophy. I know that in some sense Arsene is right – it’s not always clear cut – not always black and white when it comes to football systems and finding players from other clubs that can fit neatly into the right gaps that Arsenal have in their team. There is a balance to be found and players to fit systems, but just because a player like Remy, for example, looks good in a Newcastle or QPR shirt, doesn’t always mean he’ll automatically fit in at Arsenal and bag 15 goals in the first half of the season.

That’s all from me on that today I’m afraid. Things to do and all of this pondering is giving me a headache. Cheerio folks. until tomorrow.

What’s wrong with English football? English players, mostly!

Hey party people oaf12 here and welcome to Suburban Gooners!

Its been a while since I last blogged (shock horror) and also a while since our last podcast. We decided to take a little pod break in the off season but the SG podcast will be back soon so don’t panic (not that anyone was, I’m sure).

Anyway, with emotional Chris (that’s what I like to call him, but don’t tell him – he’ll get emotional) sunning himself on holiday it has been left to myself and Ben to fill your need for football reading. Therefore, I apologise for the lack of the usual daily posts Chris ‘the blog machine’ usually provides you with.

A lot has happened since our last podcast, like an entire world cup, oh and we signed a certain Mr Sanchez – yeah baby! With more to follow, hopefully!

Now that the WC is over (big congrats to the German Gooners btw) I thought I’d take a look at all this complaining around how the EPL is ruining our national game – poppycock in my opinion! Lol is used the word poppycock :)

A lot of focus has been on introducing quotas around British or English players, I’m really not sure about this.

If these quotas were introduced around the number of players in your squad (such as the home-grown scenario) certain clubs *cough* citeh *cough* would just buy half decent English players, at a premium, to make up the numbers (Jack Rodwell), thus actually ruining said players development and further weakening the teams outside the top 4 – they’d be left with the bottom of the barrel like that hoofy centre back at Stoke.

You could then argue that there should be a quota on how many players are in the starting line-up….not for me I’m afraid sonny!

Imagine a scenario where you had to field 5 British players. So, for example, Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott, Ox, Gibbs – one would presume that most managers will fill the other six places with non-British players who may be better, but certainly wouldn’t cost as much. What happens when the next promising youngster looks like making it? One wouldn’t be crazy in thinking that the manager wouldn’t ‘risk’ them – keep that exciting prospect on standby just in case one of our quota gets injured. Not sure that would be great for them. Plus those idiots at Old Trafford would probably double Shreks wages again!

The other issue I can foresee would be the top teams pillaging the lesser teams youth system. This could cripple the smaller clubs in terms of sales and would lead to stockpiles of young British talent at the bigger clubs – farcical!

My main reasoning for not wanting a quota system is that, in my opinion, if you’re good enough – you will play! Regardless of nationality! I’m excited that the premier league has a plethora of talent on display and that it is multinational. Top players won’t want to come here if we make them out to be a problem. If anything they probably help – if you ask Carl Jenkinson if he’d rather have been learning from that French guys with the dreads that has joined the mercenaries at citeh or Justin Hoyte, I’m sure you could make an educated guess at the answer.

If England really want to make an impact they need to do a Germany and start again! However, they also need to get the obvious stuff right i.e. don’t build a team around a team that chocked under pressure, had a biter that carried them through the season and didn’t win anything – surely that’s obvious!

How Henderson played more World Cup games than Wilshere is beggar’s belief. I can understand the Gibbs injury prone worry but how many players were never getting a game anyway? Take a left back that plays champions league football!

The real reason we are scared to start again and field are youngsters must be that we don’t have enough talent, so we go halfway. Imagine an international team running at Shaw, Evans, Smalling, Jenkinson – scary thought!

In conclusion, I don’t think clubs should be forced into quotas. It’s Wenger’s job to make Arsenal better, not England.

That’s the job of the FA – get the coaching sorted, learn from others, observe best practice and invest in grass roots….in the meantime, if Gibbs, Wilshere, Ox and Walcott are fit, make sure they bloody well play!

Sorry for the rambling :)

Cheers all

oaf out!