Flamini Demands Focus – Arsenal Need To Do It All Themselves

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The day before the night before the day before kick-off arrives. Thank God, women were invented otherwise another word for Eve would have been needed. OK so that’s the creationist vs evolution argument started, the entrée to the theology debate. Or we could just do what the squad don’t and talk about titles. We know they don’t talk about it because Carl Jenkinson told us they don’t talk about the table. Which is tough on Per Mertesacker who has spent all that money in Ikea and has no-one to tell…

This coming fortnight ought to have a title, the number of matches coming up which ‘big’ preceding them. For once, the media are not overplaying the next fourteen days or so – before a ball has been kicked at least; hype and over-reaction will be comfortable bedfellows once the first ball in the next three games has been kicked in anger. Focus is the key message the players are putting across, ensuring everyone knows that Napoli are the first and only thoughts at the moment. Mathieu Flamini fired the first salvo,

It is going to be a busy period for us and we just have to focus. What would be good for us will be three victories, but we know it is not going to be easy because we will be playing three big teams with a lot of quality. This busy period is also going to be important for the players, that we can recover as soon as possible because we play already on Wednesday, but it will be interesting to see what happens after these three games.

These are all big games, the ones you want to play in, and everyone is excited to be playing in them. It will be an interesting period for everyone and hopefully a good one for us.

The midfielder might get his chance in the San Paulo. The combative style allied to Arteta’s more cerebral passing forced the Neapolitans onto the back foot in the match at The Emirates. It is too much to expect a repeat of that performance but anywhere approaching that level will be good enough to progress to the knockout phase. A point is enough to finish top and Arsenal do not want to put themselves into a position whereby they are relying on Marseilles for any help. As poor as Dortmund’s recent form has been, the French side have been even staggeringly worse in Europe. When the draw was made, nobody predicted the three-way battle at the top would result in the former European Champions failing to register a point.

Jenkinson added,

It is going to be a tough game — they are going to be battling because they want to qualify just as much as us. We will work hard and go out there with the confidence that we have from our recent results and, hopefully, come back with the result we want.

The visit of Everton on Sunday will have done the team the world of good. Recent matches had seemed too easy, the victories had been too straightforward which undermines how well Arsenal had played; it was that level of performance which made games seem routine. It is that level of performance which is hard to maintain and dips such as Sunday, when opponents are better in quality and more disciplined in their tactical approach, are welcome in the sense that it reminds the players how hard they have worked to put themselves at the top of the Premier League table. A gentle nudge every now and then does no harm. The tactical fouling will have served as useful preparation for tonight’s encounter, to drop in a casual stereotype about Italian football.

No doubt Arsène will rotate one or two tomorrow; Santi Cazorla, for instance, appears to be suffering with the volume of football and the mileage accumulated with the Spanish national team probably does not help. Fifa as with all their posturing, do nothing to cut the level of football being played with meaningless and spurious international tournaments puncturing summers when there should be complete rest. Clubs are no better; English football could well do without the League Cup for the top flight and relegate that to the status of The Football League Trophy. It is little better thought of. Equally, a Premier League with two less teams involved is preferable and more in line with the rest of Europe.

But that is some way from happening. For all of its global appeal, parochialism still rules the roost in football.

’til Tomorrow.

82 thoughts on “Flamini Demands Focus – Arsenal Need To Do It All Themselves

  1. Salud YW I see a draw demain and we will pick up 4 points out of the next 6 in the Prem. City will be a tough game. We get a draw there. We will beat Chelsea. Naples have not been that impressive in there last 2 home games.

  2. Giroud Sunday. On another day he’d have got as many as three assists. The Flamini and Ramsey chances were on a plate. When you have a striker who is this team-oriented he doesn’t need to be a killer in front of goal and score 30 a season to be absolutely vital to the team. Pity the fools who can’t see his importance.

  3. Nice one YW

    are we getting the match days confused

    ” The tactical fouling will have served as useful preparation for tonight’s encounter, to drop in a casual stereotype about Italian football.

    No doubt Arsène will rotate one or two tomorrow”

  4. Tough, tough game in Naples, which going by how we managed against a tough Toffees side, we are well capable of coming through with a result.

    Ozil is really finding his stride now. Flamini back to Italy should be a big spur for him, not that he needs it – expect a yellow card!!. A goal for Giroud would be most welcome, his efforts deserve it and he needs to get back on the goal trail for the upcoming fixtures.

    Napoli were held to 3-3 draw at home at the weekend so we should be capable of a goal or 2 and with our defense playing as they are, well its gonna be tough but do-able.

    I’d go with…
    Szcz
    Jenks BFG Kos Nacho
    Arteta Flamini
    Rosicky Ozil Santi
    Giroud

  5. I liked the Post YW thank you.

    I was puzzled by the accompanying picture of Spock having his nose measured or guillotined in front of his interested Captain. Something to do with the correlation of nose and penis sizes, or just a YW whimsy? 🙂

  6. I do hope we don’t look like rabbits caught in a trucks headlights or an England batsman facing the not even in the same league as Walsh n Ambrose Mitchell Johnson again v shitty. Our three toughest opponents this season, Chelsea,man u and Everton we did just that….not to mention the countless times we did it last year.

    But hay ho ho ho . That’s football isn’t it….can’t nae moan can we …top of the league and we can still vin ze league by being flat track bullies!

  7. Well done Yogi!

    I do agree that the Everton match might have been the kind of wake up call that was needed as we have seemed to be cruising along as though the moment we walk on the field we will win with ease. I do think that it will only strengthen our fight and resolve though especially for Arsene who seemed to really be up for this title push, I mean he made a triple sub to push and change the style we were playing.

    I do think that Flamini should get the nod tomorrow over Arteta not only for his combative style but also for the fact that he has played in San Paulo when he played for Milan and understands the nature of the fans and the atmosphere. His communication will be key tomorrow. I also think that Theo should start not only for his pace but also because we will be playing counter attacking futbol and there are very few players in the whole of Europe that excel on the counter and better suited for playing that style than Theo.

  8. Yogi;

    another great post thanks. Flamini has been a superb asset and an excellent pick up. Interesting how all the revisionists were downplaying his importance to that 07/08 team after he left. The idea that every player on our team needed to be technically excellent was certainly not very accurate.

  9. Birdkamp:

    I never said Giroud was not important to the way the team plays right now. The play of your lone striker is critical to any team, especially one that is competing for a league title. I certainly acknowledge his importance and applaud all the things he has brought to the table this season. Clearly he is far and away the best striker on our squad and basically undroppable. However, that does not mean the team could not get even better if we added someone who did score 30 goals. No?

    Regarding the poor fools who can’t see the truth. I was always thinking the same thing for all those years that so many people where downplaying the importance of team defense and saying that Arsenal would never play with a CB who didn’t have great pace and was not technically excellent with the ball at their feet. etc etc etc I just never said it. 😉

  10. Mertesacker’s one of the best defenders in the league with the ball at his feet, Bill. HIs pace would be a problem were it not for an almost once-in-a-generation positional sense. I’m delighted with him. But that archetypal beast of a defender was—and still is—not what we needed. Thankfully that’s not what Mertesacker is. He’s more elegant; more of a thinker than an unrestrained stopper. For instance he has a hell of a lot more in common with, say, Rio Ferdinand than he does Vidic.

  11. Good stuff YW. Just noticed the playlist as well (doh), great to see a tune by The Bats on there.

    Now, now Bill. When Flamini originally buggered off, some fans felt betrayed, so you take on the mantle of spurned lover…”Good riddance. they were crap in bed and I never loved them anyway. Bastard. Sob.”. That type of thing. S’only natural. It was an astute signing in retrospect. one which I recall wasn’t exactly greeted with loud hosannas by some, er, “revisionists”, as he wasn’t the 40-50 million Hollywood signing everyone was clamouring for at the time (that came later…). Let’s face it, as supporters we can all be a bit fickle at times and conveniently forgetful when it suits.

  12. Whilst I am not a fan of messing around with the back four, I do wonder if TV5 will get a game tomorrow. We need to try and keep him match fit, so tomorrow may be a chance for him to get 90mins under his belt. If so, I would pair him with Mertesacker and give Koscienly a rest. Mertesacker is the organiser and TV5 is a similar player to Koscienly so the balance between the CB’s would be similar.

  13. It is interesting to note that this season the strikers with the most goals in the EPL are doing so as a tandem not as a lone striker. Aguero, Suarez and Sturridge are all playing in two striker systems. The notion that the 4-4-2 system was a thing of the past seems to have instead been shuffled to accommodate new systems of interchange. It has been interesting to watch City at times this year, they have players both front and back post which has lead to important goal being scored.

    Giroud has done very well and is one of our players in with a shout of our player of the season (Ramsey will win in a landslide). Therefore it is impossible to drop him under the current system. Were we in search of the 30+ a season man we know the system we play in is going to have to amended. Ramsey has more shots at goal than anyone in our team because of the system we play, Giroud is often the player providing the final pass. I’m not against getting a new man to compete with Giroud, but I’m also not against playing a striking tandem in some games either.

  14. Mert is not only one of the best defenders in the EPL but in all of Europe. Your talking about a CB who has been 1st choice for Germany for a good while, while also not being your typical CB. A giant blessed with as Big Al said, “an almost once-in-a-generation positional sense” while also being very technically gifted(watch even when he chests the ball or heads it to a teammate, its like a perfect pass almost everytime), while also being a brilliant communicator. Not to mention he rarely gets caught out against a speedster or out muscled by the big physical type. Plus above all he is extremely durable. Pair him with Kos and you have an almost perfect CB pairing but more importantly the perfect CB pairing for the style of play that Arsene wants to play and this current team wants to play.

  15. What does it mean to add someone who scores 30+ goals a season, Bill?

    A natural scorer, right, but what kind of compromises would we have to make in terms of the way we play? Say we put a classic goalscorer like Hernandez in—he’d score more goals than Giroud, but at what cost to the team? We’d have a prolific goalscorer but would be a worse team, because, quick and smart as he is, scoring goals is about all he can do.

    How about Agüero then. OK, we’d have an electric player in the middle—one of the best strikers in the world—but does he have the physical capacity to play in that lone position in the PL? Can he play with his back to goal when needed and bring our attacking midfield talent into play. Pellegrini doesn’t seem to think so; he’s paired him in a two-man attack, which isn’t AW’s style. Agüero runs the channels and Negredo or Dzeko is the target man.

    Clearly we’re getting something right at the moment, and our team play on the edge of the area makes us dangerous because the killer ball can be slipped into any of about four different players. We don’t want to lose that interplay; not halfway through the season. There’s a need to evolve and assess what can be improved, and then there’s the folly of tearing up a gameplan in January.

    And of course, as the video suggests, Giroud’s adept to win the ball high up the pitch and bring others into play. And win key defensive headers on set-pieces. And chase defenders down. And chip in with a few goals of his own—more than one-in-two for the season in the league.

    So that means you need a player with the physical stature of Giroud, as well as his unique eye for a pass and hold-up abilities. But also, I take it, with more pace and sang-froid in front of goal. So far so Lewandowski, but that’s not happening. Cavani maybe? This is the level of striker you need to be looking at to surpass what we’ve got.

    Suárez gives away a few inches, but is stocky enough to fare well with his back to goal. He is the only sensible option I can think of, and he’s not available until the summer at the earliest.

    So, merely stating a correlation between top-scorer and league position doesn’t do it for me. There are deeper questions relating to tactics and the makeup of the team to consider. We went for the blockbuster striker in the summer and it didn’t come off. And now, given how Giroud’s bedded into the side, has become a focal point of attacks and continues to improve he’s the only sensible option—internal or external— until the summer at least.

  16. Al – Pretty much my thoughts on the matter. Giroud is not the perfect striker, but he is the perfect striker for us at the moment. I can’t think of another player who offers what he does but with more goals and would not be massively expensive.

  17. Yeah, GA. Sorry to bang on about it. How many strikers in the world can match Giroud for physical presence and the eye for a pass that is so crucial to the way we play?

    Personally couldn’t get beyond Ibrahimovic and Lewandowski. There are a few around like Falcao and Cavani who are quicker and better goalscorers, but when it comes to that interplay Giroud is in a very small and select group of players.

  18. @MA

    To your point though, those systems also don’t have the abundance of midfielder geniuses that we have. Suarez and Sturridge have Countinho and sometime Gerrard; Aguero and Negredo have Silva and Yaya and occasionally Narsi; but we happen to have Ozil, Santi, Mozart, Ramsey and Jack so they are playing to their strengths but so are we. I think when Theo is back firing(hopefully he starts tomorrow) we will have to more than capable goal scorers but at the same time our midfield chips in with goals to where the other teams mentioned, theirs really don’t outside of Yaya’s goals from time to time.

  19. Al – And as I mentioned yesterday, the likes of Drogba who was the ultimate lone striker almost, didn’t score as regularly as people think. He only broke the 20 goal barrier twice in his time at Chelsea. So far Giroud is only slightly behind the other top strikers in the lge and is also getting assists. But the stats don’t highlight his overall performance and value to the team.

    My biggest conern is that if he were injured we have no real alternatives and would have to alter our game plan, which may, or may not, be as effective.

  20. As for the match tomorrow, Napoli will be without Hamsik but I do feel like we could very well pick them apart. Our quick counter attacking will be perfect for tomorrow because they will really have to go for it and without Maggio and Hamsik in midfield they have looked really average but do have some threats in the striking department with Callejon, Higuin and Pandev.

  21. GA, it’s the big drawback of having one central striker—if he’s good enough he becomes almost too important to the team. Say we lose him then I think Podolski would be preferable out of all the other options. But depending on the opposition Bendtner’s going to have to be considered.

    As suggested above, I guess we could go to a two-man attack, but do we have the kind of wide-players to shine in that system? Are our central midfielders athletic enough to dominate a central midfield as a pair? The best two I can think of for 4-4-2 are Flamini and Ramsey, but I don’t know if it would suit any of the others.

  22. I would like to see:

    Szchezny

    Jenkinson
    Mertesacker
    TV5
    Monreal

    Flamini
    Wilshere

    Rosicky
    Bendtner (can’t believe I have typed that)
    Walcott

  23. Al – True. With Theo in the side, he almost plays as a second striker anyway when we have the ball. I also think we have plenty of players who could play centrally in a two though. But most teams use three so we would always be outnumber. The way around that of course is to go back-to-front very quickly in order to get the best out of the two strikers, but we don’t really do that.

    I agree on Podolski being the best option after Giroud as well. He holds the ball up well enough and is an intelligent player. Who knows is Sonogo is suited to that role as well? Not sure how many would put in tyhe same work rate as Giroud though.

  24. GW are you a trekkie? If you like star trek see my friends movie Robert Burnett’s Free Enterprise- William Shatner has a huge role in it. Look we have two really big matches coming up. Starting tomorrow with Napoli. Then Saturday at City’s house. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Our first step is Napoli. we have to get at least a tie. A win would be great.

  25. @Big Al & GA

    I think that if we were to play with both Podolski and Theo that we could have them play and run the channels so they are essentially playing as wide strikers with a 4 player midfield made up of some combination of Jack, Ramsey, Flamini, Ozil, Santi, Arteta, and Mozart.

  26. Al:

    I seriously doubt that we will be looking for another high priced striker in January. I don’t even know for sure who that striker might be since I don’t really follow European football outside of England that closely. That does not mean we can’t wish for it and and talk about it and obviously this is all just my opinion.

    I agree that Giroud has been very good this season and has improved a lot since last year. I also think he has been very valuable to the team up to now and I admit that complaining seems a bit churlish given our table position. However, I am going to do it anyway.

    The thing that is concerning is that despite all the technical brilliance and great interplay around the area and Aaron Ramsey on fire we are currently tied for 3/4 in the table in goals scored. I am a huge fan of team defense and ours has carried us to the top of the table and top of the group of death in the CL. However, if we were scoring more we would be even better. In the 7 most difficult games we have played this season we have scored 6 total goals. Even with great defense, we need to do better then that. In those 7 games Giroud has 2 goals. He did not score once in that tough run of 4 games against Chelsea Liverpool Dortmund and ManU. I don’t think he scored in any of the 12 games against the top 6 teams in the table last season. Those are the sort of games you really need your striker to step up and score. There are exceptions to every generalization but looking at history of the PL and European football in this century its difficult to really be a top team over the course of a long season without top class scoring from someone in the squad and that is usually the main striker. (Unless you have C. Ronaldo in your squad) Without more firepower from our striker, if Aaron Ramsey slows down or gets knackered or hurt or if someone else does not step up and start scoring regularly we could be in trouble as the going gets tougher. Theo was our leading scorer last season and hopefully he can find form and pick up the slack but may be he won’t. More scoring from our CF is probably the one thing that this team needs to really take it to the next level. IMO. All that said Giroud might score a brace in each of the next 3 games. Lets hope he does.

  27. C, in that system I’d go with a MF of Cazorla, Flamini, Ramsey and Özil behind Walcott and Podolski. Still, for a 4-4-2 that would lack a bit of pace, which I tend to think is really important in that system.

    So I wouldn’t be too comfortable with it. I’d compromise by going with a 3-5-2 like Juventus, only with an AM and pivot instead of Pirlo. Gibbs and Sagna out wide. Vermaelen joins the back line. Giroud and Walcott attacking, and an ideal midfield of Arteta and Ramsey behind Özil.

    I’ve wanted it to happen, but it’s really unlikely.

    It’s interesting to see Man City go with a 4-4-2 and still build from the back, but they do have the advantage of Fernandinho and Touré, which has got to be one of the best midfield pairs in the world. We have players as good as them, but who are more comfortable in a three.

  28. Bill – I understand exactly what you are saying and normally I would agree. But at the moment I really think that we are have hit the balance just right. Sure, if there is somebody out there who could perform the same job as Giroud and contribute more goals, we should definately get him. By the same token, if there is somebody out there who can improve on any position in the side we should strive to improve.

    But we have to be realistic. Given we only play one striker, who comes in? I am not saying we should not consider it, but it could really upset the applecart at the moment. I could see us getting somebody to deputise for Giroud, but I highly doubt we could get somebody in to replace him in the starting 11. Especially given his all round contribution.

  29. @Big AL

    I actually think that a midfield 4 of Santi, Ozil, Ramsey and Flamini behind Podolski and Theo would be absolutely deadly not only on the counter but would be able to boss a match because we overrun most midfields now with 3 but with 4 we would become almost unplayable but I am and have always been a 433 person so I also caution because the players that we have are so accustomed to always playing with 3 in midfield with the flexibility to interchange as they deem necessary.

    Manshitty because of Fernandinho and Yaya are the exception to the rule similar to Bayern with Schweinsteiger and Martinez last year.

  30. Al – Also, I would not want to see Ozil in a midfield 4. He just is not good enough when we are not in position. If we were to play 442, he would have to play just off the striker.

    In theory a 352 would suit us, but we would have to drop a futher midfielder. Currently we employ 5, but in a 352 would only be able to use 3. Theo/Podolski could play up top with Giroud, but You could only fit one of Cazorla or Ozil into the side. Also, the likes of Wilshere and Rosicky would not get a look in.

  31. The problem with focussing on the total goal tally, Bill, is that it can be a bit misleading. Man City and Liverpool have scored more goals only because they’ve caned a few crap sides.

    I’d say that nearly all of our wins this season have been very comfortable, apart from Dortmund and Sunderland away. In the end it didn’t matter that we scored two against Hull when it might have been six or seven. We’ve won more matches so we’re top. In this sense goals are secondary and can only become a concern in the event that the margin between goal differences remains the same and is a deciding factor at the end of the season. It’s something to think about, but can’t be a primary concern ahead of simply winning the match and playing convincingly, which i think we’ve done all season.

    If we aren’t scoring enough goals in the big games I’d point to the team’s performance. Last season we also got a lot of goals out of Podolski and Cazorla combined. This season they’ll make a contribution, but until now Ramsey, Özil and Wilshere have made contributions at different times. We have lots of players who can score goals.

    I don’t know which seven big games you chose, but I’m convinced ManU was an anomaly (I dearly hope we don’t end up regretting that result, because they are a bit pants this season). You might have picked the Chelsea League Cup match, but we had a weird XI out that night. Dortmund we were evenly matched and scored as many as them over the two games.

    I keep thinking back to Mandzukic. Nobody can deny that Bayern were hands down the best team in Europe last season. They had a central striker in a front three who scored a grand total of 14 league goals, just above one in two, not too different from what Giroud’s achieving right now. Like them, when we play well the goals can come from almost anywhere.

    But despite not being crazily prolific nobody would doubt his worth to the team, and similar to Giroud it’s got a lot to do with his work ethic, team understanding and aerial ability.

  32. Actually it’s precisely because we’re all a bit too obsessed with goals that Ribery won’t win the Ballon d’Or, when he really deserves it ahead of Messi and Cronaldo. He was the attacking heartbeat of the best team in Europe. He didn’t carry the team in terms of bald numbers (apart from dribbles, key passes etc), but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful without him.

  33. Im with Bill,, you want your front man to be your top scorer. It just sucks that some people cant understand that there are others out there with different opinions to theirs and have to result to having snide digs at those who don’t agree.
    Who would be a perfect fit upfront for us and the way we play,, why RVP of course.

  34. Al – I can’t see how he deserves it above Messi. The guy is just unbelievable. It must grate Ronaldo so much that in any other period he would have been considered the best in the world without hesitation. Something that I have no doubt his huge ego needs desperately. I don’t think I have ever seejn as agood a footballer as Messi. Even Maradona didn’t affect matches to the degreee that Messi does.

  35. Pistol – Where are the sly digs mate, I have (genuinelly) missed them. You are right, there is nothing wrong with disagreeing.

  36. One thing I said was that I “pity the fools”, GA, but I expected people to know it’s from the A-team. Maybe the reference was too high brow.

  37. Haha, perfect timing. I’m shocked Pistolfish, you’re normally so resilient when people challenge your opinion. Anyway, I apologise on behalf of the whole crew; Face, Murdock, Hannibal.

    Btw if you still have a problem, if no one can help, and if you can find them…

  38. @BIg Al

    I agree with you about Ribery but at the sametime I think world futbol is different and the goal obsession will win “The Other” Ronaldo the Ballon d’Or.

  39. Al:

    All of that is true and its just depends on how you look at it.

    The total goal tally can be misleading. We have been very comfortable in most games but only because the defense has been so good. With our scoring rate so far we really have needed that.

    Mandzukic did not become Bayern’s regular striker until later in the season. Counting Gomez they got more then their share of goals from their striker position last season.

    We have seen that the problem with big games is that the teams performance is not as crisp because both teams are fully switched on and play tougher defense against us like the Everton game or the ManU game. Our midfield has tends to be less dynamic and less effective in those sort of games. When the team is struggling with fluency and struggling to score, the player who in theory should have the best chance to score is your striker. The numbers would argue that at least so far in his Arsenal career, OG has struggled more then the rest of the team to score against tougher opponents and his hold up play, aerial strength and work rate have not really made us an effective attacking team in those games. No?

    Anyway like most of our debates there is no way to prove or disprove our competing theories so I think its run its course.

  40. Ah, zero need to apologise, PF; it’s just internet silliness. I hope nobody takes any football talk too seriously, but it’s a possibility I should bear in mind more often.

  41. I agree with Pistol Fish. He made several good points in a post yesterday.

    Andy: Disagreeing is a big part of the fun of blogging. No?

    If I remember correctly, when we were whining and complaining about Arsene selling RVP to ManU one of the things that was noted was that even with his injuries he had the most assists of any player in the PL over the 3 year period before he left. Team play and top notch scoring from a striker are not mutually exclusive.

  42. So I wonder how big of a miss Vertonghen will be for Spuds as he is due to miss the next 4 weeks. He is far and away their best defender and cleans up a lot of messes. I think this could be massive as they were already a shit back 4 and now their best defender goes down. Could be troubling times ahead for Spuds.

  43. Bill – Indeed it is. Especially so, now that we can have decent debates without it decending into a slanging match as it often use to with people hurling personal insults at other posters.

    I also agree with your point about RvP. But there are not many out there of that ilk. And those that tick that box are not availabe or would see us break our transfer record again. That is why i can’t see it. All of that said, none of this will be lost on AW. He must see that we are short in that position……in fact, we know he see’s this as he tried to bring in two strikers of high quality in the summer.

  44. Harry.

    I missed your post earlier. Supporters do have selective memory. Both of us included. 😉

    Andy.

    I think for the most part a striker who has the skill, coolness under pressure and vision to be a top quality goal scorer can also be good at spotting an open player and providing an assist. RVP and TH 14 come to mind in our recent past. That is the sort of player we need to really take us to another level. I recognize that we would have to probably break our transfer record next summer to get such a player but what good is having money if you don’t use. Why be satisfied with what you have when you can get even better? We don’t really have much else that we need to spend the money on. I would like a tall athletic midfielder but that’s a much smaller issue now that we have Flamini.

  45. Bill – You are right in that we should always look to improve. Always and in every position. We should alwys strive to be better.

    I suppose my point is that I don’t think it is a requirement to have a better striker to win the lge. If we keep functioing as we are, there is no reason why can’t win the lge. The team is more important than the individual. If we bought a better striker who scored more, but it was at the detriment of goals coming from midfield, we may not be better off.

    Gaahh, who knows eh?. What I do know is that it would be nice to have a better option than Bendtner sat on the bench, there is no doubt about that.

    Anyway, off home.

    Laters 🙂

  46. Excellent stuff. I’d like to see Bendy start tomorrow and give Giroud some recovery time. trouble is, OG really helps the defense, and Bendy – I don’t know how much he’s changed, but he won’t get a better shop window.

    Would also play Santi (into form) and leave Mesut out for the same reason. AW – no ‘red zones’ please!

  47. Andy.

    Certainly we can win the league without any single player on the team challenging for the golden boot, it’s just a lot tougher and based on PL history this century it does not happen very often. Mourinho’s Chelsea teams that conceded about 15 goals per season are the only real exception. Our defense needs to continue to lead the table in goals conceded.

  48. Heh, missed GA’s comment. Gentlemen, we have a few disagreements on ACLF again and it’s good to see them, tiny though they are.

  49. I`d just like to pick up on Yogi`s interesting fact (@1.16) about the amount of times Efe Sodje has been sent off in his career.

    I wonder how many of those have been as a result of being asked his name by the referee ?

  50. @Big Al

    I’m with you mate, the over all contribution brought to the table by Giroud is probably irreplaceable. I also get the call for a more prolific striker. However, the fact remains the striker we have is instrumental to our current play style and we will/would have to change it to accommodate almost anyone else. Giroud shoots an average of 3.4 attempts a game whereas Suarez is 6.2 attempts per game.

  51. @MA

    I don’t think we can compare Giroud’s stats to Suarez’s stats because of their style of play, the team’s style of play and the overall need of the team. If Suarez doesn’t shoot, score and shoot some more then Liverpool doesn’t score more than likely even with Sturridge but if Giroud doesn’t shoot or score we still have the likes of Ramsey, Ozil, Theo(now that he is back fit), Podolski(once he returns fit, shame he didn’t make the trip to Naples but figure he will be in the squad on the weekend) along with Santi and Jack that can not only shoot on target but score goals.

  52. Miami

    Suarez conversion ratio is 23% Sturridges is 22% Aguero 19.5% Rooney 19%. Giroud’s is only scoring on 13% of his shot attempts. Which of those players has the best technical team and the best midfield giving him service? Theoretically if Giroud is passing up shots in order to pass feed our midfielders and only taking on shots that he feels he has a good chance to finish then he should theoretically have the best finishing percentage. No? The same thing was true last season.

    OG is a good at what he does well and we have adapted our system to his strengths because he is our only option and the striker is so critical to any teams attack just because of the position he plays. However, the numbers would argue that we could be scoring more goals if we had a better finisher.

  53. Shakhtar are fantastic. They lose their best players every season, but have a bunch more coming up behind them. Should be 2 up.

  54. @Big Al

    They should be if not for the wrong people shooting. The chance that Fred had who is their deepest midfielder should have been put in if not for the fact that he only uses his right leg to stand on. They still have massive amounts of talent on the bench, most notably Bernard whose pace has been devastating at times for club and country both not to mention Eduardo who can come in and get a goal.

    If Shakhtar win, they will top the group. Imagine Manure having to face one of PSG, Bayern, Barca, either Madrid.

  55. Yeah, no chance C. Same goes for City. I’m just going by Shakhtar’s build up play, but yeah they’ve been pretty wayward in front of goal. Some bad luck too—the deflection off Ferdinand’s heel could have gone anywhere. Luiz Adriano’s never looked the best finisher to me.

    I remember Bernard from the summer. Seemed like a decent idea, but I can see why we might have waited around for someone with more of a track record.

  56. @Bill

    You have been complaining since RvP left that we don’t have a striker. We now have one playing well but rather than be happy with that you are complaining he doesn’t score enough for your liking. You absolutely fail to mention in your stat line that Giroud has also created goals, whatsmore could have had 3 more assists this weekend except for relatively poor finishing. He struck the post and worked the keeper, where the latter made a great save coming out and making himself big. He defends set pieces and I can think of 3 instances in the past two games where his was the final head clearing the ball from danger. I think Al summed it up perfectly before, but I understand that him failing to meet your expectations makes him a poorer relative than all the illustrious names you seem to want to trot out. So here is a stat line, 9 goals in 19 games and 6 assists. 7 in 14 in the EPL, which when extrapolated is on course for 19 in 38 (yeah, a goal every two games… remember that is what you were asking for previously). The assists on in line with 11 in the EPL. Damn, truly 2nd rate player indeed. By the way, how is your Benteke doing? Oh, wait that is right 4 goals in 13 appearances in the EPL with no assists. Still, he is all that… you told us all so.

  57. Mandzukic has scored 9 goals is 15 league games this season. His conversion ratio is 29%. I have not watched Bayern play this season but he has only taken 31 shots in 15 games. He obviously plays second fiddle to the other star players on his squad but he must be remarkably effective at what he does and he certainly takes his chances when he gets them.

  58. Man City beating Bayern, what happened to them? Man City is awesome but Bayern i thought was on another level.

  59. Aguero and Kompany have not played and Negredo started on the bench. Probably did not think they had a real chance playing in Munich and holding them back for the game this weekend.

  60. Miami.

    Benteke has not played as well this season and certainly would not be seeing a whole lot of playing time on his current form. Perhaps he will regain his touch or he will be a one season wonder, who knows. I would still much rather have him for a back up right now instead of Nik B, wouldn’t you?

  61. well City are flying high, thats for sure. Amazing what money can buy. Its like being the worlds fattest man, splashing 1 bn pounds and suddenly become David Beckham…. Everything can be fixed along as you got the money..

    Has to be said though, the plastic surgeons working on City did a good job… Who cares if its plastic along as its the best.

  62. @Bill

    There is no question that Arsenal need a back up forward if we want a Giroud type player in reserve. I’m all for another striker, however I just don’t see a like for like example of Giroud. If that is the case and one is not available we have to revisit the way we play the game as a team and the tactics therein used. I still see Arsenal capable of employing 2 strikers, but the manager clearly does not. I would love a Suarez type just minus all the bullshit that comes with him. He is a great player as is Aguero, would defo have the latter still have issues with the former. No, I wouldn’t take Benteke even over Nik B as it stands right now. That is not a nod to the latter, but a wish for a purchase in January that is better than both.

  63. It’ll be interesting to see whether City bring over confidence in to the game this weekend, fair play to them for beating Bayern and lesson for the latter again not to take things for granted. Now, they’ll be a bastard tie for some group winner, maybe even us now. I still think City are vulnerable at the back and gripe for the picking, but Arsenal have to apply themselves for the entire tie.

  64. Miami @ 10:12.

    All very reasonable. I think that we would be resting Giroud more often with benteke as a back up and perhaps he would be playing more like he did last season with a better team behind him.

    I would love to see us play with a 2 striker set up. Liverpool and city this season and ManU last season proved it can be a very effective attacking set up with the right players. Perhaps that was the bosses idea when he went after Suarez and checked on Rooney, but I doubt it. He seems committed to using as many midfielders as possible.

    We don’t really have much else that we need so hopefully we will go after a top class goal scorer next summer and spend what it takes. The success with Ozil will hopefully encourage more big money swoops.

  65. interesting debate

    my take is wenger does like to play with 2 strikers…
    sometimes three..

    our system is really a 433 its just been a 451 for so long because theo and podolski have been crocked so weve played extra midfielders..

    singing another striker doesnt mean the end of giroud he would still spearhead the attack, signing another striker would just mean we dont have to play 5 man midfield as soon as we get 2 injuries like we have had to do since the season began..

    no to benteke. and no to anyone whos coming to sit on the bench….weve got three stikers already who play down the middle 4 if you class podolski if anything we need to offoad one of them and if a players just coming to be backup then fuck that theres no point signing him becuase he wont challenge for first team and enable competition and rotation which has worked well in midfield and at fullback and seen us flourish for once..signing backups leads to deadwood i thought we’d learned this lesson..

    the striker department is unbalanced…weve got about a million players who can play down the middle when we only need one and weve got two who can play wider when we need four..3 at least…

    weve got away with it until now becuase we have a world class midfield that can fill the gaps when asked but theres no denying we need at least one more tricky pacy hitman who can play wide as well, doesnt give a fuck about tippy tap and assists becuase good defences can contain that style and run at defenders and score shitloads..

    he plays for liverpool..

  66. Just watched Birdcamps video post of Giroud. Does anyone else agree that Howard should have been called for two penalties? He dived in feet first twice and each time took out Arsenal players. Yes, his arm/hand saved the shot from going in but that is more to do with where the respective player hit the ball than anything else. Surely diving in blind like that is a foul? Especially the Giroud chance. I mean he completely upended the guy and nothing? Forward momentum is one thing but I think that is going too far TBH.

  67. my team for napoli would be…sczezny,,janks,,BfG,,kosc,,monreal,,flamini,,wilshere,,,theo,,carzola,,rosicky,,giroud ..keep ozil,arteta and ramsey and gibbs out,a big fight is coming this weekend,i might even be tempted to start with bendtner,that team i put up should surely get a draw or win,if not then we must sell them all!

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