Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The 'Internal Solution'

Another game, another goalless performance at home – it’s starting to be a concern; the easy solution would be to buy a striker (as everyone keeps telling me) or another solution would be to tell the strikers / offensive players we do have to actually score a goal or two OR ANOTHER solution could be to change things round a little and as Arsene Wenger says, find an ‘internal solution’.  

Most shots but joint least number of goals isn’t a record we want to keep but as everyone always says, it’s reassuring we are creating chances – however, I would argue we are creating less then we normally do but I think that will come. Thankfully we have a world class goal keeper who showed just how good he is in Petr Cech. 

The buying a striker solution or telling the existing ones to score does not need much in-depth thinking (If a top striker suddenly becomes available, I think Arsenal will ponce) but the famous internal solution is the one that many have been discussing on radio phones ins and off course on social media. 
I’ve been a bit slow on this one and many have been whispering it for a while and perhaps it took me to get absolutely soaked (by the way, if you ever give your season ticket to someone near you so they can bring someone and get a ticket elsewhere, CHECK WHERE THAT TICKET IS – IF IT’S ROW 1-5 DO NOT TAKE IT!! YOU GET WET! VERY WET!....EVEN IN AUGUST!) to see that Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey are struggling to fit into the same team at the moment. I think I was perhaps a bit na├»ve by thinking ‘if it worked at the end of last season, it will surely work again’. 

Santi played out wide at home against West ham with Ramsey central but went back to the shape of last season at Palace – it seemed to work at times but perhaps was not as convincing as say it was away to Hull last season. Arsene Wenger has a real decision to make here as to what he does because both want to play in the middle and our two Subs yesterday, Theo Walcott (who incidentally has actually scored at home in the last 6 games in the league) and Oxlade Chamberlain wanting to play on the right -  yes yes, I know Theo has said he wants to play up top but what he actually said, was that ‘in some games, he may be suited to the right and in others suited to play up top’ – at the moment, I would say he just wants to play!  

Having some natural width could be an internal solution on the right as we all know Alexis is best cutting in and coming inside from the left rather than playing as a ‘winger’. Arsene talked about how wide players need to work hard to protect their full back a few years ago and perhaps that is one of the big reasons why he is reluctant to play Walcott or the Ox in front of Hector Bellerin. It seems like the preference would be to play Hector and Ramsey or Debuchy and one of the two – similar on the left where Monreal has cemented his place but I wonder what would happen if the more offensive Gibbs came in for a run in the team. The opening game against West Ham did not cause this dilemma as Hector missed out with a knock so the OX could play in front of Dubuchy.  

In truth, I could be talking totally out of my backside and I’m not sure what the thinking is but sitting there last night in the rain showed me that something is not right and the balance is not right – I honestly believe we have the players (I wouldn’t say no to one or two world class players coming in, who would?) but we perhaps just have not set up correctly to get the best out of them.  

A must win on Saturday may just be followed by an international break of thought with a few tactical conversations occurring between the manager and the coaching teams – along with new player to fit into the side; time will tell. 

Up The Arsenal.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Will The Real Francis Coquelin Please Stand Up

The saviour, the policeman, the enforcer, exactly what we needed – just a FEW of the phases used to describe Francis Coquelin last season.  

Francis Coquelin quickly established himself to be a key member of our first team, let along squad and forced the club to change their thinking with regards to the transfer strategy this summer. 

Arsene Wenger has always been loyal to his players and if he thinks someone has done well to get a place in his team, more often than not, he will give them a real and genuine chance to cement their place.

It was quite a story too – he was recalled on loan and suddenly appeared to be coming on against Newcastle at home in December; many supporters didn’t even know he had been recalled and were asking who this was that was about to enter the field. Then he got a few minutes at Anfield and on boxing day at home against QPR and we thought he was purely there as some additional cover and will be back on loan again.

He then started a few days later at West Ham which the majority of the away end may have thought was a bit of a risk. As the game went on, he got stuck in, Arsenal were leading and we all thought ‘hang on, what’s going on here’. He then started on New Year’s day (less said about that result the better I think) and played a vital role right till the end of the season.

Some would say he was largely responsible for Arsenal finishing the season so strongly – he was hugely influential in the away win at Man City alongside Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey in the centre of midfield. Suddenly, ‘it was like a new signing’.
Fast forward to this season and after the West Ham cock up, suddenly Francis Coquelin no good and not good enough to win the league.

Over-reaction? Maybe, but to be fair, the Francis Coquelin of last season wasn’t keen to ping the ball around like he was Pirlo and instead, just gave the ball to the technical players whenever he won it; more Gilberto then Pirlo was the order of last season and you would hope would be the order of this season too.

I personally was extremely impressed with Francis Coquelin last season and am glad he has got a chance to cement his place in this team – I think buying a £25m DM would have perhaps brought some unrest to the squad and I can see why the manager decided against it. You could argue some backup is needed as many believe Arteta may be losing his legs and not be in a position to fill in long term if Coquelin got injured and that is another debate all together. For what it’s worth, we probably do need some cover but rather then to take over from Coquelin, more to support him, play for him and cover for him.

Francis Coquelin hasn’t changed in 8 weeks however, he needs his manager, coaches and fellow players to keep him grounded – to remind him he is not Zinedine Zidane but more our Gilberto Silva and not to follow the ‘Alex Song’ way of life by forgetting what his role in the side is.

 If Francis Coquelin remains Francis Coquelin or our Gilberto Silva and not Pirlo or Zidane, then Arsenal have a real player in there – he can tackle, he can read the game, he can cover a lot of ground and can defend. He perhaps does need to retain some self-control or as someone in the away end at Palace put it ‘Chill out when he is on a yellow card’ but my opinion hasn’t changed on him – he can be massive this season but must remained focus and let the others play and concentrate on the dirty role which is essential to a title challenge.

Up The Arsenal.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Another Day, Another Trophy - Now For The Big One

I keep reading it was/is a friendly or a glamorous friendly at best – I think there are 18 other teams in the league that would have LOVED to play the community shield; why? Because that means they either won the FA Cup or were champions of England.

It gave Arsenal the opportunity to go into the game at the bridge on September 19th with a win already under our belt’s against Jose’s Chelsea. It gives Arsenal a feel good factor, it gives Arsenal the confidence to know they can compete and beat the big sides and best of all, it makes the squad photo look better!

I couldn’t help but look at our squad and think ‘wow’. The strength in depth in MOST positions is unreal.

We have two right backs and you would be happy with either playing in Bellerin and Dubuchy and again with Monreal and Gibbs at left back. Gabrial and Chambers are good cover for our two centre backs. We have plenty of midfielders, perhaps lacking quality cover in the holding role but aside from that, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Rosicky, Ozil along with Arteta and Flamini give us many options. Out wide we have Alexis, the Ox, Theo, Gnabry, Welbeck who can play there and up front, Giroud and Walcott will battle it out to be number one with Welbeck perhaps supporting.

You would think Cech, Koscielny and Coquelin will always start when fit purely because the competition in their position is slightly less and you would add Alexis to the list, not because of a lack of competition but because of his class and also his willingness to always want to play (He only returned to training today yet wants to play on Saturday and has been training in his own time in his holidays!). Aside from them four, you can really rotate the others to keep them fresh and with four competitions, that will be key.

I really believe Mesut Ozil is going to have a stormer this season and I must admit, I really enjoy watching him play. He has so much elegance and when on the ball, you feel something is going to happen. Arsene Wenger has challenged him to get more goals and I think he has taken up that challenge already in pre-season and beyond.

Bring on West ham on Saturday (predicting a bit of a rout, perhaps three or four goals and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ozil is on the scoresheet – In fact, my next stop is to the bookies to put some money on it).

Let’s hope we have a long and successful season – Up the Arsenal! 
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