‘Keeping The Faith

Or Faith In The Keep, if you like

The defining moment in this season’s chase for the Champions League has been deferred a little longer, Chelsea claiming all three points at Old Trafford puts a different emphasis on their clash with Tottenham on Wednesday. Having moved three points clear of their upcoming opponents and with a superior goal difference, the match has shifted from must-win to must-not-lose for Chelsea. That underlines Tottenham’s dilemma; they have to win because of the paucity of their goalscoring record. Take out Gareth Bale’s twenty goals and they have scored a paltry forty-one goals in the Premier League this season. As Andre Villas-Boas points out, they are not a one-man team. No…

Beyond that match, it is hard to see any of the three teams dropping points. Next weekend’s fixtures see Chelsea visit Aston Villa and Tottenham travel to Stoke. Those two are not yet entirely safe, although it would take an incredible set of results in the next fortnight to see either relegated. Victory for Middle Earth’s favourite team at the Stadium of Light tonight would put a different complexion on their game at the weekend; Stoke have struggled this season against the top sides. Previously they have managed to beat one of them but so far, have not looked like doing so. There is little reason to believe that they will improve on their record of three draws in these fixtures.

Arsenal can only be concerned with their own performances. In fact, it isn’t even that, results are all that matter now. Becoming difficult to breach defensively has given the team a good platform upon which to build. Perversely, it has led to a neutering of the goalscoring instinct which hints that as much as ArsΓ¨ne is going to be busy in the transfer market this Summer, he has some issues to work out on the training ground.

Much of the defensive focus has been on the central pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, with the sub-plot of Thomas Vermaelen’s form providing the twisting backdrop. Undoubtedly, the former duo establishing a settled understanding and finding form at the right time, has been a huge factor. Previously, it was unthinkable that Wenger would drop his captain but the decision this season has proven to be courageous and in that sense, worked. Whatever the reasons for the Belgian’s continued downward spiral in the pecking order, he has the motivation to recover that form this Summer, knowing that another centre back arriving would add pressure to the battle for the starting places. I think that inevitable with Squillaci’s departure. Miquel has a good future at the club and whilst he will undoubtedly feature in the domestic Cups next season, it is debatable whether he is ready for anything more than a cameo in the senior competitions.

A harder choice comes next week, if ArsΓ¨ne’s last injury update was correct. The tussle for the goalkeeper’s jersey has been interesting in recent weeks. Lukasz Fabianski started in Munich and his performance far exceeded the low expectations of supporters. As the latter grew, so did his confidence culminating in an outstanding late block against Norwich with the game not yet won. Injury allowed Wojciech Szczesny to return and since then, his performances have improved. Like his compatriot, he produced a late, points-winning save, this time at QPR which gives the manager a tough choice to make for Wigan.

Thomas Vermaelen made a brief cameo against Norwich but Wenger’s ruthlessness saw Mertesacker restored for the visit of Everton. It is different this time, Szczesny has come into the side and only been beaten by His penalty last Sunday. Fabianski though, might rightly feel aggrieved if he is not restored to the side having done nothing wrong previously. Were he not to return, that would give the biggest sign of his intentions towards the older of the two Poles for next season. Fabianski’s contract is running down, ending in 2014. Based on previous transfer activity, the club will probably sell now and take a small fee rather than waiting for him to walk away.

You sense that his injury has the potential to be Almunia-esque. Seemingly out for a short while, the Spaniard quietly left the club. The timing of Fabianski’s blow to the ribs could not have been better. It sounded innocuous enough for him to return if Szczesny dropped a rickett in his absence, serious enough for complete rest if, as the manager expected, the younger Pole came back fully motivated and returning to form. That worked out for Wenger, Szczesny has returned motivated and seemingly in good form.

Confidence is fickle attribute in footballers, easily lost and hard to regain. The impact of being dropped again might be more damaging in the longer term for Szczesny as it looks more and more like the original rotation was designed to be a wake-up call rather than an actual reflection of his culpability in goals conceded. It would no surprise to see him continue in goal for the remainder of the season. If that is the case and Fabianski does move on in the Summer, at least he can do so with his head held high. A happier ending than it might otherwise have been.

’til Tomorrow.

83 thoughts on “‘Keeping The Faith

  1. I fear for this summer if I am honest. Chelsea seam unfazed by ffp, utd are already better than us and will spend. Plus Ciry can sell 7 players buy 4 and be stronger.

    So even if we spend I fear we will be as far behind as we already are.

    Happy bank holiday monday

  2. If Spurs beat Chelsea and both go on to win their remaning games,the gunners will be out of cl. Not likely?Probable if the gunners can’t beat Wigan.

  3. Good post as always Yogi.

    After a great 20 seconds I thought the team would rack up a cricket score but it was not to be.

    Arsenal are always going to get blown out of the water come the transfer window. Am looking forward to seeing which nuggets Arsene is able to find.

  4. Uncomfortable as it will be I have a feeling the final CL place will go down to the final minute of the final game, maybe even goals scored deciding the contest

    On paper all three of the contenders have games they should clear the points both home and away

    But when was anything decided on paper ?

  5. I’m holding you to that Mel!

    Good post Yogi. Like you, I think Schez will retain his place and that Fabianski will most likely depart in the Summer.

  6. Shame United were already on the beach yesterday. Very disinterested performance from a number of players including our favourite Dutchmen…but can you blame them their work has been done?

    This leaves us with a Tottenham win on Wednesday a potential disaster in the CL qualification race as it takes our fate out of our own hands but there you are. For me Chelsea have played the best football this season & it is hard to understand why they haven’t put up more of a challenge for the PL.

    Szczesny is the future for Arsenal. Yep he has had a roughish spell but he has the potential to be amongst the very best to have played for us. It will be a mistake to relegate him now or next season. We need someone to challenge him for his place certainly but who that is ???

  7. Great post yogi.

    Myself I can’t see spurs winning in midweek at Stamford bridge. I really think we will end up in 4th if we win the last 2 games. 2 more clean sheets please.

    I have never really understood why arsenal has been unable to defend well and maintain an attacking threat at the same time. Myself I think the problem is between the players and the managers ears. We have excused our chronic defensive issues over the years by rationalizing that poor defense is an inevitable consequence of our beautiful attacking football and its become part of our team culture to believe we can do either one or the other, attack or defend. If you accept the belief that we have had good players over all of these years then I can’t really think of another good reason for our inability to do well on both sides of the pitch simultaneously.

    Myself I want to believe that wojo is the short and long term answer to our GK questions. If funds were unlimited I would love to see us get another GK, but I think there are higher priorities this summer and we have to hope he has found the form we need for us to succeed and him to make the position his for the next 10 years.

  8. Good post as always Yogi.

    Sczny is the future and are the moment the fufure is now. I personally start keep both are the club because it seems when both are fit the competition between the brings you the best ofboth if them and thats NEVER a bad thing for Arsenal.

    I agree with Mel except i think the Chavs will give then a right thrashing.

  9. Both keepers have benefited from an improved team ethos in defending as a unit. You can see that the screen Arteta and Ramsey provide in front of the back four has been a huge contributing factor to the lack of goals conceded. I think Wojo is the way forward, he is young and will be prone to mistakes but pretty much all keepers are.

    I’m going in to Wednesday with the view that the Spuds are going to win. Funny, but every time I have thought that the Spuds could slip up they have stood up and been counted. The team is one dimensional, but Bale is one hell of a player minus all the diving crap etc he is or was want to do.

    Wigan and Newcastle are not going to easy, both scrapping for their EPL lives. It would be a foolish fan that assumes these are an easy or solid 6 points in the bank.

  10. As I said on Friday our biggest problem was that we didn’t replace Song. I think Wenger was gambling on Coquelin stepping up but it just didn’t materialize. Arteta and Ramsey have performed honorably under the circumstances but we’ll need a natural defensive midfielder next season. As for that fourth place I’ll see it as it goes. I couldn’t bring myself to supporting Manutd against Chelsea and I can’t see myself siding with Chelsea against the spuds. I’ll take the mathes as they come!

  11. So did Loic Remy show enough to be a possible target for Arsenal over the summer? For me I remain unconvinced, but his record of 5 goals in 11 games isn’t to shabby.

  12. @Bill

    Heres my thinking as to why it was a struggle.

    We didnt have players that complementd each other and were more individual(not knocking anybodys talent because i rate them all) thus not worked as well together. Verm and Kos are good but seem to lack something playing together whereas Kos and Mert are pretty much perfect for each other. Same goes for in midfield, Arteta and Ramsey work even Arteta and Jack but the key is Jack playing deeper and Artetas calm infront if Mert and Kos thus when have more defensive solidarity in the back thus allowing Theo, Santi, Mozart, Podolski to pressure all over up top.

  13. @MA

    He seemed to be pressing like he was trying too hard to score like the match was a personal tryout infront if Wenger.

  14. MA

    To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of Remy. 5 in 11 isn’t bad at all, especially in a poor team but he isn’t to my mind, yet of the calibre we need to lead Arsenal’s line.

  15. @YW

    Yeah, I was watching him as much as I was able to during the game and didn’t see enough to honesty have an opinion. Podolski has had 3 opportunities to lead the line now since joining, which to be fair is not a large sample; but I have not been impressed and actually prefer Giroud. It isn’t a conclusion based on favoritism but rather the fact that Giroud’s work rate appears much higher than Podolski. I thought both Cazorla and Theo drifted inside far to much to keep a balance in the attacking third. For me, and I know some will disagree, but simply trying to have Rosicky and Cazorla in the side at the same time seems to limit us. Both players seem to gravitate to the same areas and Cazorla lack of pace of the left is problematic. Just my view of course.

    It is hard to see who is out there that is an honest to goodness target that will lead the line effectively. I like what I have seen for Bendeke but again haven’t seen enough as a whole body of work. Cavani is not a target due to the monies involved, and though I think Arsenal will have some interest in Real’s Higuain again I worry about the cost. Jovetic is be would be a great addition, but I like him as a wide more than a CF.

  16. Jovetic would be a great addition, but I like him as a wide more than a CF.

    sorry this multi-tasking thang trips me up all to often.

  17. Man U didn’t play worth a crap. They were going through the motions. Chelsea was listless tambem. Except for an own goal this sucker would have wound up nil-nil. We have to take care of our side of the street.That’s all we can do. Win- let the chips fall where they may. check out bobby gee word press and the gee man word press.

  18. @MA

    Part if Podolski’s lack if workrate is his ankle mate as both he and Wenger have admitted such. I also think that when are still playing as though Giroud is you CF and thats not Podolski’s strengths as he is suited to how when played earlier in the season and lat term. Podolski’s hold up and linkup play that actually been very good and his presing as well. I remember earlier in the season when ALL that a discussion about you playing style not being suited to Giroud and it seemed Wenger saw it as well and when changed some and now the same can be said about you long ball play MA times.

    I made an observation during the QPR match that it seems when were playing a 442 with Podolski And Theo running the inside channels as Ramsey often drifted wideright. In starting to think thatit was done on purpose even though Theo also played you wide as well.

  19. I heard many outraged ManU fans yesterday on the radio fuming at the Red Nose for playing a weakened side, not respecting the fans, letting down Chelsea’s rivals and thus questioning the integrity of the league.

    The Red Nose did his best to deliver a fight against Arsenal, but bottled it against Chelsea. Arsene’s plea to the ManU boss to fight as hard was not heard of course.

    The strange relationship (friendship?) between Arsene and Alex goes only one way it seems. Arsene sells Alex his best players, and Alex is not even bothered to look decent.

    I do not question Arsene’s intgerity. I do question his judgement. He became totally confused in this world of modern football about who is his friend, who is his rival and what is the best for the Arssenal FC. And I do not see any chances of Arsene sorting his confusion out.

  20. @C

    One facet of the game against QPR for me that I was very unimpressed with was the way we made Townsend look great. The fact is that the coverage in front of Sagna at times was simply not there. I may well be wrong but when the manager comes out and says that right now he see’s Theo more as a player on the wing then that is what position I would have expected. The problem is of course that Theo use’s the media to reiterate his want to play in the CF position for Arsenal and you see him drifting centrally during games. I don’t think Arsenal are playing a 4-4-2. I think Theo is trying to play as a CF and the cost is often the balance of the attack on the right side of the pitch. Now, I am no genius and it is natural to want to disagree but these are merely my observations. I don’t personally rate Valencia very highly anymore, he was once quite good, but he plays his natural wide role to the end of the pitch. Theo by contrast does not. In addition and to show that I am not picking on Theo, I think the wide left area is problematic for the lack of pace when we are asking Cazorla to assume that mantle. The little man is blessed with great feet and a quick mind, but not pace and his first thought is to again shift centrally. Monreal is a solid player and I think we have options at LB, but Gibbs gets forward more often and has more pace. We choke ourselves in games when rather than stretching the defense by attacking wide we are instead want to shift the ball centrally and look for a killer ball through traffic. It looks fantastic when it works, but more often than not the defense knows exactly what we are doing and squeezes the play to the point we have 10-20 around the 18 yard box before cheaply conceding possession.

    It is a very long winded way to say we are lacking width as a team right now with the preferred choice of players on the pitch.

    I like Podolski, and would probably conceded he or Theo are the most accurate finishers in the team. That said, our lack of pace in the wide areas are making both CF’s look less than they are.

  21. C.

    Perhaps you are right. The issue is probably multi factorial And not really simple to define or fix. Hopefully we can get the balance right at some point.

  22. MA, right now WS really shouldn’t be talking. He needs to concentrate on hanging onto his first team position. My own view is that while a striker and physical midfielder are bigger priorities this summer, that a veteran keeper (at least a fairly inexpensive but experienced older keeper) is a high priority and it was one of the positions I was eager to see us fill last summer. I’ve been saying that for over a year, so it isn’t a simple reaction to the latest set of performances. And this doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith in WS as our long term starter. But to keep him honest and developing, we need another keeper with experience and credibility from whom WS might learn professionalism in all respects. I like his defiant attitude, but really talk is not what we need from our players right now. A lot of our young players in the past several years seemed to think that their talent and youth was enough to claim quality and status as players for Arsenal. I’d dislike WS to go down this path, so I hope he doesn’t believe the hype and instead is determined to put in the effort and learn his trade. He’s got the talent but that isn’t a guarantee of any kind of success.

  23. @MA

    Many good points made there and I completely agree about Santi. The Theo winger/striker thing will always be debated, there were many times against QPR where he did play outwide and naturally i think he is a winger but does as well like to run the channels and gets into great positions running those channels(as well have seen with his goals the past 2 matches) and the flanks. I think with also him learning when to play wide and when to run the channels. I dont think with as much media as with Arsene himself saying Theo centrally before and reitterating during cintract time and then now saying i love you as a winger. Valencua is a different kind if player, not a goal threat but use to be a good player and crosser, a classic winger minus the scoring touch whereas Theo is a modern winger who can for both and is still learning when and how to for both and still be the class player he is becoming. Again Theo is more Pedro/Jesus Navas than Valencia(who that seemed to lose all his good qualities in 1 season starting last summer).

  24. MA, interesting remarks on our attack and balance up front. It does seem that we are lacking width and I was thinking about Monreal as well, wondering if Gibbs could offer more in attack. We seemed to have hardly any good, penetrating play coming down that side; it was all crosses from Sagna and his crosses haven’t been so effective. He doesn’t get to the byline but always crosses early, and I think part of it is that he doesn’t risk going too far forward since Theo might not be covering behind him.

    Anyway, I think Podolski still needs to start but perhaps he and Gervinho can swap up front and wide left or the Ox can play there and a decision about Santi vs. Rosicky has to be made in the CAM spot. We’ll see what the Boss decides, but these are interesting issues. It’s vital that we win v. Wigan at home and then see what we should do away at Newcastle.

  25. Miami

    You make interesting points about our wide player and the lack of width. I agree that theo leaving the flank exposed by drifting inside buts that’s more of an issue for the defensive side of our game. TBH, without the goals from Theo and cazorla this season we would have been hosed. I don’t buy the theory that their drifting inside has somehow blunted the scoring threat from whomever played CF and we would score more if they had stayed wide. Other then cazorla we don’t have any goal real threats from midfield so if the wide players don’t score we are in trouble. No?

    Valencia was always so effective despite his lack of goal threat because he was great at counter attacking down the right flank and putting the ball into dangerous areas and united had players like Rooney and Hernandez who were great at finding ways to Turn those balls into goals. We have been a team that has emphasized attacking with the ball on the ground mostly through the middle for 16 years under arsene. I wouldn’t expect us to be able to suddenly shift gears.

  26. I agree about WS. Just keep a lid on it and concentrate on your own performance. Wise head keeps a still tongue as they say. I hope someone has a quiet word in his shell like.

    Nice post btw Yogi.

  27. @Lime

    I know exactly what you mean. I hope Wojo continues to learn and develop, he’ll make mistakes but I hope he learns from it all. An experienced stopper behind or in front of Wojo would be great added depth and competition, but with so many needs in the team it is not a top priority in my mind.

    I see 3-4 additions, striking, midfield and to a lesser extent defense. I am personally quite concerned about our width, so some flexibility in additions playing in more advanced roles would be very advantageous to my mind. I wouldn’t mind a Cavani, but we won’t pay 50 million for him so we have to think about real options and not wishes. I wouldn’t mind the option of Podolski, Theo, Giroud and Higuain (the latter expected to be shifted by Real). I would like to see Jovetic as cover up top but always used in the advanced wide role.

    Capoue, Gonalon or Kondogbia as midfield options.

  28. While i for rate Gibbs i think the thing is that Nacho and Santi have a telepathic undrstanding. I thik part if the reason Nacho does get to the byline is because he does understand Santi isnt covering so he choses to good just far enough forward whereas my 1 knock in Gibbs is that when he does go all you attack he leaves is exposed and doesnt always get back as fast as he gets into attack.

  29. @Bill

    I don’t mind that you don’t buy in to the theory, because it is merely that a theory. I watch the games like you and I am very concerned by the lack of natural width we now demonstrate in games. I definitely am not happy to see Arsenal shifting the ball inside on almost every single attack and then watch it break down time and time again. I know I am not the only fan left wondering what we are thinking more often than not because we repeat the same thing time and time again and somehow think that this time the result is going to be different.

  30. @C

    “I think part if the reason Nacho does not get to the byline is because he understands Santi isn’t covering, so he choses to good just far enough”

    This is part of the balance issue I’m talking about mate. It is like saying we know Arsenal are going to shift the ball down the left until the final third then they’ll shift the point of attack inside. It creates a true lack of width.

  31. Miami.

    All that is true. We have certainly become one dimensional in attack. Our width has usually come from the fullbacks in the past. However we have never been a team that scored by crosses from the fullbacks. Usually fullbacks could get into space and get the other team out of position and opening up space in the middle. However, our fullbacks concentrating on getting forward so much was part of what hurt our defensive shape. IMO. Quite clearly maintaining our defense is the only reasonable option in these last 2 games but its a conundrum about getting the balance right for next season.

  32. @MA

    I disagree some because while well for lack balance Nacho does get his fare share if crosses and balls into the about into dangerous areas, the point i was making though is since well are playing with Santi well must understand that he isnt bombing forward but with also natural as Nacho seems to atill be learning the league but he was known for his lung busting runs but and down the flanks for Malaga.

  33. Bill

    The dearth of quality in crosses and set pieces is pretty alarming but I understand what you are saying. My point about width wasn’t actually intended as a radical rethink on what we do out there it was actually to highlight why we are just not stretching the opposition defenses. If Theo or Gibbs, or whomever is wide is dragging one or two players with him then natural we are creating a hole somewhere else. The fact that we have lost our natural width combined with the fact only Ox shows a desire to run at the defense with the ball at his feet centrally creates an issue. Arsenal try and score the perfect goal, ball to feet via 2 to 3 players. But, whereas in the past we had players able to dribble and exploit a whole, our players now are always looking to off load. Santi is not afraid to shoot, been over this before πŸ™‚ but our offensive passing is almost exclusively laterally with few true incisive movements. I assume that the intent is that if we pass it around the 18 yard box enough then someone will eventually be open. My view is, if we are not dragging players with us then we and the opposition are always static reducing the chances for through balls to available players.

  34. @C

    My observations are not intended to be critical of any player. In fact though we are not winning with style, we are indeed winning which at the end of the day is the most important thing.

    It is my critique on the tactics we are employing, with the personal we have out there in the positions they are being asked to play. Monreal is a fine player and I think our depth at LB now is probably the envy of the league. But, with both Theo and Cazorla roaming centrally they are exposing our full backs which may will contribute to the lack of width. I think Ramsey has done a brilliant job trying to plug holes with the angles he runs, it is why I have been so high on his efforts along with Arteta.

  35. On a side note, does anyone think there is anything to these Cesc back to Arsenal stories? If so, I would be curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    I actually can’t help but think of how great a combination of Cesc, Wilshere, and Arteta would be… with Santi wide left, Theo wide right and Giroud/any other striker we pick up central…

    or…Arteta, Cesc, Santi

    Anyway, it is at leasat somethingfun to think about this summer.

  36. So after some consideration I think I finally have my summer wish list πŸ™‚

    Higuain (good striker, 25 million)
    Gonalons (10 million)
    Jovetic (capable of striking and playing wide 16 million)
    Isco (20 million, I’d be so lucky)

  37. @Vice

    I cannot see it, though I concede I would take him back no questions asked. I think the rumors have been in part due to his poor over all form this season, but Barca also don’t look as good with Pep now gone. The air of fear a team would have had has been shattered, Bayern carved them up and their displays were at best listless. I cannot see Cesc in an Arsenal shirt next year, but another poor season and I can see something being done. Lets not forget that whilst the player himself created the move back to Barca, he has never waived in his love and appreciation of Arsenal.

  38. Well, if he does seem to be shown the door this summer I am hoping we do what we can to get him back. I think the sense of unfinished business for Cesc could drive him and the Arsenal on to finally win some silverware.

    I know it is a bit of a romantic scenario where he sees the errors in his ways and comes back to redeem himself, but I suppose stranger things have happened.

  39. Miami.

    My own belief is that we often over think stuff like this. I think the big part of the issue is mental as i described in an earlier post. The other issue is that we really dont have the game changing player like Cesc or RVP now who can make a play that can break down a packed defense. Our attacking MO has always been one dimensional and even with those ” world class” players when plan A is not effective we have never really been flexible. Other then that run of games in Dec and Jan when we had all those high scoring games, plan A really has not been that effective this season. Fortunately the defense has really stepped up.

  40. @MA

    Understood but i think are attack is just like you defending/attacking is a work in progress and will be more defined come next term.

    I dont care how well winger who scores it how it from where as long as Arsenal winger.

  41. @Bill

    “Fortunately the defense has really stepped up.” Would it be fair to say, “fortunately the team has stepped up defensively”? πŸ™‚ I mean, how many times have we seen a CF head the ball away from danger at set pieces πŸ™‚

  42. @C

    Your sentences are getting as hard to read as mine πŸ™‚


    It is a romantic notion, I one I would enjoy seeing come to pass. I just don’t think it’ll be next season, more likely the one after if at all.

  43. @Bill

    Good, so you do concede it is the team getting praised for the teams improved defense? I like it when we can agree.

  44. Miami.

    Mata has been better the hazard.

    I have been praising the teams defense for much of this season. They played very well at the start and then fell back into old habits but have really been superb since the spurs game and the first leg at home against Bayern. We have hardly conceded a goal from open play in the last 10 games. Great stuff at a critical time. It’s a real cause for optimism about next season.

  45. Agree re the width comments, less of an issue with giroud who acts as a pivot to pinball off back to goal.

    Podolski’s style needs more space so having the wide players run beyond and drag defenders away is critical. As someone noted, the balance of the team has not adapted to having poldi up top. I’d even try Gibbs in front of nacho while poldi is up front

  46. I mean Gibbs in the advanced left position obviously, keeps the defensive strength but just might stretch play, it’s that or gerv left for me but no one knows what he’s gonna do

  47. Miami.

    I am teasing about Giroud. I really think he brings a lot to the table and is clearly the best striker we have on the team right now. He has had a decent first season although his finishing has left something to be desired. I also think that he is a great option to have on the team. I am just not convinced he has the attributes we need for the main striker who in theory should be our leading goal scorer and lead the line that will take us to the top of the table. Time will tell

  48. @Bill

    On Mata you and I can agree, the lad is talented and a sad miss for Arsenal. On Hazard, he statistically is right there with both Cazorla and Theo this season (actually a little behind both if you look at all stats but close enough).

    I and Bird agreed a while back that this side will be better for the experiences this season. Three players were brought in that have actually had a decent impact, none have necessary shone amazingly brightly (perhaps with the exception Cazorla, I think he should be pissed about missing out on the league XI). This summer to these names we’ll add some new and I have no doubt they’ll make the team better again.

    I do agree that mental issues beset this side, but then I would have said the same with sides featuring both RvP and Cesc. It is more a fragile confidence that Arsenal demonstrate, if or when they break through this self imposed state; they’ll be much better.

    Btw, we still lack width πŸ™‚

  49. @Bill

    I know you are mate, I’m always up for debate. I think all three have had good/decent seasons, all be capable of building on what they have done to date πŸ™‚ You also know I am not against another striking option or even two πŸ™‚

    I set out my wish list earlier, those four would be a significant squad upgrade πŸ™‚

  50. @Waz

    I think both Podolski and Giroud would benefit from having a striking partner. For instance, Giroud attacking the lofted ball over the top creates the knock down to which Theo runs on to….GOAL!!!! Similarly Podolski would benefit from Theo’s drag backs or Giroud’s heading ability.

  51. I’m definitely not in the camp that subscribes to playing both Rosicky and Cazorla. I would have Cazorla as the AMC and have Rosicky as a super sub πŸ™‚ I would rather have crazy legs wide left than Cazorla, just like I want Theo wide right and not Ramsey.

  52. @MA

    Agree, are you suggesting more a 442 or a front striking 3 more like the chavs a few years back? The right is less of a concern for me it’s the dry up of width and service from the left.

  53. @Waz

    Many would argue that the 4-42 is a thing of the past, I’m not so sure. That is not to say I advocate the change to a 4-4-2 but I think we are often caught in a 4-5-1 rather than the intended 4-3-3. The isolation of the hold up man has been problematic this season, at least in my mind. Arsenal were a side that would attack the flanks are pour forward, now we seem to lump it to Giroud and hope he can hold off two players whilst support gets to him. I’m all good with a 4-3-3 if we retain the width, but we simply haven’t been.

    I won’t lie, there is a part of me that wants to play with a 5-3-2. I think we have the full backs to exploit this formation, but that is just me πŸ™‚

  54. @Vice

    On futbolong terms, I would gladly take Cesc back because of what he can offer to Arsenal the club that I love. It would take some time to mend the way he left and how it all played out but time heels some wounds. Cesc and Santi would be a true joy to watch if it happened and I think it would help Theo and Podolski the most which I’m ALL for. But he would definetly have some apologizing to do no doubt.

  55. Its crazy. all other clubs stars. Like Bale and Suarez want to stick with their clubs because they like their clubs. Regardless of trophies. If the summer plays out like that…

    Its only we that have those crazy mecenaries… Shows that stars dont care about trophies aslong as they are in a club they like and that pays decent. Except merceiaries ofc.

    I mean why els would Bale stay at tottenham next season and Suarez stay with Liverpool. Its not like those two clubs will winn anything in the nearest future… Liverpool dont even play Europe.

  56. @Bill i so hope you are right regarding Spurs and Chelsea. That would be so so so lovely πŸ™‚

  57. Yogi

    On the topic of Verm and Miquel.

    I must say the more I watch of Miquel the more and more I get excited because not only for his defensive work but also for his calm in the ball and his ability to play both CB andLB. I was watching one of his fan)hes with a mate of mine(hes a Barca fanbwho found a stream and we both came away thinking that he has the chance to be special. I remember he put in some solid to good performances last term when we needed him and he showed a calm confidence that was mature for his years. I do think that next term we will see him continue to grow in FA Cups and CC and possibly in a PL run-in.

    Verm is in a tricky situation, clearly this year he wasn’t even close to the Verm of even last term and seems completely shot like he lost all his confidence and skill over night. I don’t see him leaving but I also am not sure if it wouldn’t be beat because how does onereturn after basically going from Captain at a CL club to being a tome wasting sub at best?

  58. @Poodle

    That’s a very good point mate and maybe the likes of Theo, Jack, Gibbs and Ramsey are changing that culture at Arsenal.

  59. @Poodle

    Bale won’t stay at Totters, we’ll leave the question is when. The rumors are already out there about next year if Totters don’t make the CL.

  60. Miami.

    Agree with everything you say at 6:11 and 6:13.

    I know we need more width but IMO it would be a big mistake to go back to the mentality of sending the fullbacks bombing forward at every chance if that is going to send us back down the road of compromising our defense and falling back into the attack at all costs mentality. Unfortunately how else do we get width without the fullbacks running towards the touch line?

    If the wide attacking players stay wide then the CF is isolated and is the only person in the penalty area which is not ideal. I have never been a huge fan of the 433 the way we play it. When we had Cesc, RVP Nasri and that group we were able to put together some incredible attacking football but our defense was not good enough. With the current group of players other then a few games in mid season we have had hardly any of the scintillating attacking play many people loved so much. . We just don’t have the players to make the system run properly now IMO.

  61. A lot of good teams such as Bayern now play a 4231.

    2 DM. width comes from wide forward players and occasionally the fullbacks. When the full backs go forward one of the 2 DM can cover. I have not watched Bayern a lot but I know that Robben and Ribary both cut in a lot. I have never seen Robben send in a cross from the wing and Ribary is right footed which is not ideal for fizzing in crosses from the wing. Yet they have more headed goals then any team in the world (i think). How do they do it?

    I honestly believe that if your attacking players are good enough and adaptable enough they will do well in almost any system. Obviously that’s a generalization that does not always hold true but I think its an accurate statement most of the time. 2010 Chelsea team had no real mid field maestro and no one on that team was a real creative type but they scored the most goals of any english team since 1961. United has not had a creative midfielder for years yet they have always been able to score lots of goals. We need to move from the dream of replicating Barcelona in London with the possession oriented football that depends on dominant midfielders. . IMO.

  62. I’m certain that what we’re seeing now isn’t deliberate cautiousness; it’s nerves, pure and simple. Midfielders are scared to lose possession with high-risk passes, and attackers are too inhibited in their movement, or just drifting into cluttered space, like Walcott. When these self-imposed shackles are off we play very stylish football, as witnessed at recently enough against West Brom, early against Manure and late against Norwich.

    In the Fulham game we started out playing expansive football, but seemed uncertain once they went down to 10. Against Manure we scored early, which, as against QPR, quickly made us think about protecting what we had – not under instruction, but because we’re shit scared of slipping up at the moment.

    Our system has barely changed over the last four years. We’ve always had the double-pivot, ever since we switched to 4-3-3, or 4-2-3-1, or whatever you want to call it.

    And I don’t think we’ve never tried to ape Barcelona’s game. AW’s preached this way of playing throughout his entire career, but he does also move with the times and recognised the benefit of a third central midfielder. We will never set out to be defensive team under AW. Thank god.

  63. Birdkamp.

    Rationalize however you like about self imposed shackles and all that but the stylish expansive football has certainly not been the dominant theme this season and the good defense has. Hard to escape the correlation without some rather creative mental gymnastics. Like you I don’t think arsene has sent them out telling them to play defensive football but having a frequent attacks of the hand breakosis has certainly been the most effective tactic we have used this season. No?

  64. On the contrary, we found consistency the moment we rediscovered flair and coherent attacking play back in December.

  65. The results seem to be going against us at the minute, we need a change in fortunes come Wednesday evening.

  66. As for our recent signings, all 4 have done well to varying degrees – I see Giroud having a good amount of room for improvement, if he can turn more of his nearly moments into goals and assists he’ll be very useful. Cazorla has had a very solid first season and looking at how much Mata has gone on to improve this year I’ve got high hopes for him next year, especially if we add a top striker for him to link with. Podolski is probably the player I see with the least amount of room for growth – I like him, his record is good and considering he’s played most of the season with an iffy ankle I can’t complain, but as a player it looks like he’s hit his ceiling – but if that means over 10 goals and over 10 assists each season then he’s a worthwhile member of the squad – he seems to be having a positive effect on the spirit amongst the players too, something that can’t be ignored.

  67. Forgot Nacho – solid set of boots that can rotate seamlessly with Gibbs, so nice to feel secure about our left back position – I’d love to feel that way about each spot on the pitch.

  68. well well draw between stoke and sunderland? both have to win their game with Spurs to secure spot and stay up.
    Not to bad though a sunderland win would have put more preassure on Stoke ofc.

    Mind you Wigan will be well up for it against us. they like us HAVE to win.

  69. Birdkamp:

    “On the contrary, we found consistency the moment we rediscovered flair and coherent attacking play back in December.”

    OK, whatever you say, I guess we are watching different games. We have scored 19 goals in the last 12 games. Take that over the course of an entire season and that is less then 60 total goals which not exactly the sort of output you get with flair and coherent attacking play. Looks even worse since we scored 7 of those goals in 2 games so in the other 10 games we have scored 12 total goals. Ouch.

    Despite this feeble attack we have probably had the best run of results for 12 games since the first part of the 07/08 season and we have played the best defense since the our run to the CL final in 06.

    Pretty hard to avoid the correlation. No?

  70. God, Bill! Please, I beg you, don’t end posts with “no?”

    My narrative for the season:

    August – October: Cautiousness due to unfamiliarity, increasing confidence until…
    October – December: Chaos and dysfunction due to unfamiliarity
    December – March: Return of attacking combinations, lack of balance to due unfamiliarity
    March – April: A glimpse of our us at our best. Expressive attacking play, with new defensive resilience
    April – May: Same as March and April, but inhibited under pressure, due to, you guessed it, lingering unfamiliarity

  71. To extrapolate goal tallies etc from is to ignore the unique pressure of this run-in, as well as the story of each match – red cards for us and the opposition, Everton going absolute hell for leather in their last bid for the CL, and, as I’ve said, early goals. Early goals make us stop playing, because of the unprecedented stress that the team is under.

  72. Big Al,
    Bill’s point still stands without the extrapolation. In the last 10 or so games, we’ve not been attacking with flair, not in any meaningful or effective way. But we’ve been defending well, as we should.

    I agree our lack of attacking bite isn’t deliberate, but surely you’re not arguing we have better defensive stats (ie goals conceded) because of nerves?

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