Chelsea Preview, Diving & Jack’s Future: Here, There, Anywhere?

S o here we go. Yes, it’s a friendly and no doubt Wembley will be fuller than it was yesterday for Spurs match against Juventus. Whether that will create issues for the pitch for today’s match is the question. Down the years, Wembley’s turf has never been brilliant after frequent use; we’ll see if it’s a particular issue as today’s match drags on.

The traditional curtain-raiser isn’t a signpost of what is to come in the next nine months. Our performance today doesn’t tell us anything more than how we’ve played in the ninety minutes or whether we can take a penalty or two. It points to how Wenger sees his preferred XI lining up although injury concerns surely preclude Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey’s inclusion. Equally, while Alexis may demand to play, like Mustafi he’s been back in training for less than a week. Sorry, for me that quartet should even be on the bench, even if they declare themselves fit.

This is a friendly and whilst there is a nice drinks tray for the boardroom of the winners, the home game against Leicester City is far more important. The FA kindly declared it a non-competitive match, allowing Laurent Koscielny to get in some match fitness before he has a fortnight off. It means the back three is likely Rob Holding, Koscielny and Nacho Monreal.

Back To Reality

Speaking ahead of today’s match, Arsène re-iterated his view that the winners of the Europa League shouldn’t automatically qualify for the Champions League. But like me railing against the inclusion of teams which aren’t champions in that competition, it’s going nowhere.

He also offered his backing to the FA’s initiative to retrospectively punish diving. The recently-announced panel members include Lee Dixon and Wenger declared himself in favour of punishing cheats. Eduardo, Robert Pires; punishment was meted out more readily against Arsenal players than those at other clubs, it seemed. We’re not victimised but I wouldn’t argue that other players get more lattitude than ours were in the past.

Hopefully the process won’t be as forlornly implemented as the shirt-pulling which far from being eradicated from the game, is now far more blatant than before. An early penalty aside – was it Mike Dean who awarded it? – referees shied away from punishing transgressors all too quickly for any positive impact on the game. Indeed, penalties awarded for this sin are mired in controversy because, as usual, the rules are applied inconsistently. Not just between different referees but the same in official in different matches.

Dixon and fellow pundit Danny Murphy face a tough task when on television. Their pronoucements about a player’s innocence or guilt will be seized upon, irrespective of the outcome. The danger is that the FA panel becomes a Kangaroo Court, more concerned with the opinions of Match of the Day and ITV rather than making the correct decision.

Contentious cases will as ever, remain exactly that. No-one has yet explained how the panel will decide on anything other than a ‘not guilty’ verdict in those incidents. Unless you know the player’s mind, any tribunal must find in their favour. Doesn’t it…?

Wherever I Lay My Crutch That’s My Home

One man set to vex minds more than most is Jack Wilshere. Depised by many because he is a talented English midfielder and the punchbag for those who feel Aaron Ramsey is victimised. Last season, he was criticised for not running the Bournemouth show but I think that the spell achieved its’ primary objective of proving he can stay fit. Even considering his season ended following a fracture suffered at White Hart Lane.

Arsène hasn’t ruled out Jack staying at Arsenal,

It is not passed because he has the talent to be regular, but he has to come back to competition in a consistent way.

There are lessons for Arsenal to learn in that respect. Bournemouth managed to cajole Wilshere back to full fitness and maintain it which puts pressure on the club medic to replicate that process. Failure in that sense will be a damning indictment but even if they manage to do that, is there a place in the starting line-up for England international?
It’s something I touched on a while back and as much as I like him as a player, I struggle to see his place in the XI, even more so in a 3-4-3 than before. If he scored more then one of hte two overtly attacking roles would surely be his.

However, I’m still lean toward the exit door for him this summer; it’s as much in his best interests as the club’s. We could keep him and retain that strong ‘squad’ ethos or invest in a new generation / combination of talent.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

163 thoughts on “Chelsea Preview, Diving & Jack’s Future: Here, There, Anywhere?

  1. HenryB,

    You’d think they’d have too, or realistically you could just two footer everyone in the last 5minutes if losing and continue into season as normal….

    What’s deal with Ozil Ramsey and Sanchez….are they just rested as precaution or will they miss next week as well?

    How was El Neny? Missed large portion of game

    Where’s all the Arsenal fans that were slating Kol’s after Bayern match? When he was ill and still played due to lack of numbers….

  2. LSG,

    El Neney was excellent in my book. Industrious, intelligent use of the ball and terrific stamina.

    Did not know about fans slating Kolasinovac – I thought he was great in pre-season and again today. He is going to be a great player for us.

    Özil and Rambo were suffering from minor twinges – Sanchez not match fit – but Wenger rested Kozzer because of his red card and he will not play next Friday.

    That is what I think Wenger said – but I better check with my mate Wavey!! 😀

  3. HenryB,

    I agree about Elneny and its not just because I think he is more than a squad player. He matched Kante and I think his calm on the ball, ability to always be available and knowing where and how to pass it to before he receives the ball without needing a ton of touches to do so.

  4. C,

    Good afternoon All. Good afternoon C. I did not see the Match today so can’t comment. I see Sead did not start today.

    I seriously hope the midfield issue of a CDM player is going to be resolved. Failure to do so is negation of duty.

  5. shout-out to elneny who was very effective with xhaka… xhaka seems to be improving now and now resembling the midfielder wenger thought of… also kolasinac will be a fan stature.. very well built, rugged and at the same time quick…. Monreal is a VIP, the guy played at central defence comfortably pocketing Batshuayi and Morata… him and kolasinac will really be fun at the left handside……

  6. I know its just pre-season and most haven’t watched them prior to their arrival at Arsenal but Sead and Lacazette really are top signings and I tip my hat to Arsene and Arsenal. Sead is a rock defensively and is always willing to make a surging run into space and unlike most defenders, when he gets further forward, he makes good decisions but also busts a lung to get back to get into his defensive position. Add to that he isn’t a big unit that is stiff or lacks quickness and pace, actually he is quite the opposite.

    Lacazette, he shows you everything to be honest that you would get from a quality winger while also having the movement and finding that half yard of space in the box. He will score goals and I for one and REALLY excited to see he, Ozil and Sanchez together (possibly as early as Friday) because I think they will be a handful. I know some think that his size will hinder him but he might be on the short side but he is powerful with really quick feat so I’m not worried at all.

  7. lacasette is going to score lots of goals for arsenal, he doesn’t play shot for fun, his hits always seem precise, and he will enjoy more service when ozil and Sanchez returns…. it seems Sanchez will stay put, he pumped his chest and fist to the crowd when he came to the field to celebrate with the crowd….. with Monreal, kolasinac and oxlade v
    Chamberlain at the left hand side, what the hell is Gibbs still waiting for? Arsenal has already made him a multi millionaire for years without doing anything….. likewise debuchy and jekinson… even young Nelson is now ahead of the Duo… same with maitland Niles

  8. ras,

    He didn’t start and I didn’t understand why Ox started ahead of him, but when he came on, he was very noticeable both attacking, his goal and defensively when he was called upon.

    I do think that we might get a new CM, but Elneny was excellent. I know he isn’t most people’s cup of tea but I think he offers so much.

  9. Henry, England are definitely doing their best to keep South Africa in the game. 207 /7 a lead of only 343. Moheen Ali hit a six, to bring up his fifty, by sending the ball onto the players balcony where it was “caught” by Jonny Bairstow.

  10. Gabriel is wanted by Valencia their manager has confirmed and are hoping to get a deal done.

    The other strange thing is Chambers, I think he is set to be sold and I would venture with him not making the squad today that a deal will be done this week. A real shame especially since Kos is suspended and his back and Achilles aren’t getting any better, Mert is in his final season, Gabriel is injured right now and probably a month away.

  11. C,

    I am somewhat mystified as to why El N is slated to be transferred. To me he is way ahead of Le Coq, and Rambo.

    I had not heard about Gabriel also being put on the transfer roster – weird.

    As far as Chambers is concerned, I am also concerned that he is almost certainly going – as you say, with an ageing Kozzer, a soon to be retired Mert and Gabriel on the way out we are going to be very light at CB.

  12. HenryB,

    Rain stopped play, a lead of 360 with two days to go.

    Ali 67 off 59 balls, tremendous scoring in a test match. That’s a Twenty 20 rate.

  13. I will have to forebear from discussing Elneny’s performance today until I get a chance to watch the match. But in general if you folks want him as first choice with Xhaka, you have a very big burden of proof in my book to establish that he is a starter for a contending Arsenal team. It isn’t enough to say he is a good player, does x, y, z well etc… All that qualifies him to be is a useful member of the squad. I don’t dispute that at all.

  14. Do you think two days is enough to get a result, then, OK? 😀

    I think this England team if the batsmen all fire at the same time could be very special indeed – provided they let Jennings have a break, (perhaps permanent).

  15. And I am not interested in arguing whether he is better than Rambo of pairs better with Xhaka than Rambo which is ultimately somewhat irrelevant until the window closes. If we want to challenge, we need a player who can challenge for a starting spot in our first 12 and represents a top quality upgrade on what we currently have. Midfield was a huge weakness last season.

  16. If we fail to reinforce and improve in midfield, then I’m happy to debate comparisons and pairings among our current players. But I will feel that at best we are looking for a top 4 finish.

  17. LSG,

    It’s a bit more that that about El Neney. But you are right – these things are all a matter of opinion – but comparing him to Rambo and Le Coq, he is a more complete team player. Are there better players out there? probably – will we get one? doubtful.

    Xhaka was made MoTM today ( not sure about that myself) but that probably indicates he and El N work well together – which does not always appear to be the case when Xhaka plays with either Le Cog or Rambo.

    I was not surprised but really annoyed that Walcott came on ahead of the youngsters omg the bench – he was his usual inconspicuous self, other than scuffing shots, falling over when tackled and just being his usual self after 11 years trying. He is never going to be what we were all hoping for when he was a kid — but he is OK, unlike Chambers, Gabriel etc, AW likes him, and will never get rid of him.

  18. Limestonegunner,

    Out of interest what positions do you think need improved in midfield?

    I can’t see us spending more money, Arsene seems happy with squad! IMO, we look good as usual, but 3/4 injuries away from disaster as usual.

  19. I was typing my response to what you appeared to be asking previously, LSG, when you were sending your comments and shutting down the conversation.

    I will learn not to bother.

  20. Personally, i think we’re in a stronger position than usual.

    My main worry is Sanchez and Ozil situation, long it drags on, no matter how many games we win, as soon as we lose, we’ll see headlines about how their packing their bags and preparing for departure etc. Longer that drags on, the more likely it becomes detrimental to other team members imo…and also means if we do find ourselves 2/3 games without a win, chances are they’ll start thinking “well, leaving next season anyway”

    Sead Kolasinac looks good, loads of energy, strong and a good passer! Hopefully flourish with Xhaka Ozil and Ramsey/Coq/El Neny in front of him! Good vision which is especially helpful when you have Sanchez, Lacezette, Walcott/Iwobi/Welbeck up top with pace and trickery!

    Don’t see why we’re be looking to sell Giroud, i still think he’s a good player and will score goals when needed, far more accurate than Welbeck

  21. MesutsLeftFoot,

    Why can’t you see us spending g more money? Do you disbelieve reports of bids up to 40-45m£ for Lemar made after purchase of Lacazette? I don’t. If we can find a good midfielder in that range, that would be affordable and in line with what we were planning on spending if Lemar deal had gone through? Coq is injured and a limited player; Santi injured and older. Rambo is usually out injured 20+ games a season. JW has constant injuries as well and was not so dominant with Bourmouth that he should be relied upon. whatever JW and Santi provide is a bonus. The only player who has fitness and some complementary skills to pair with Xhaka and Ramsey is Elneny. And he is fine and might do a job. For more ambitious a goal line targeting the PL, I think we need more quality. I would try to sell JW. But as the key attribute we are missing is a ball carrier, I suspect AW will gamble as he usually does on JW and Santi giving enough games. That’s a mistake, imo. So, I am advocating that the club reinforce in the main weakness of last season’s team.

  22. HenryB,

    Made the mistake of being sucked into the opinions of the commentators as they kept on bleating on about it all through the game. It was first mentioned after the first yellow was shown as they kept saying that yellows wouldn’t be carried forward, but if there were a straight red it would be. Should know better than to ever listen to anything a commentator has to say, they never check their facts.

  23. Thanks for the post Yogi

    I did not get to watch the game. Not of whole lot of comments during the game so I assume most of it was uneventful. Nice to see that we only conceded 1 goal with a makeshift defense. We have won penalty shoot outs against 2 of the worlds biggest teams in the preseason so we must be pretty good at it. We could probably get more points every season if all the league games that ended in a draw had a shoot out.

  24. HenryB,

    ?? Shutting down? Framing the issues. Anyone can talk about what they are interested in. I’m just being direct about what I can engage as an argument at this point. If the window is shut, I would likewise suggest that discussing the need for a CM is moot until we see what we can do with what we have for 3 months before there is a chance to do something about it.

  25. Limestonegunner,

    I had a similar conversation with Bill recently when he said Ramsey was our best option for the box to box player. We may have to do that in the middle of a season, but we are in the middle of a transfer window and should buy another midfielder if we need an upgrade. Elneny is useful cover and Coquelin should be seeking a new home. I’m not sure what Ramsey is.

  26. HenryB,

    I understand the view that it is unlikely we will get another player. I always think it unlikely given past failures to reinforce in needed positions. It’s the fifth season since RvP departed and I’ve advocated the need for a better striker ever since. I’m not o redo ting what will happen but making my opinion on what we need clear.

    A squad far as Walcott, I would line to have seen us sell him too this summer if possible. But his wages might be preventing that. I think we could do better to replace him with a more skillful creative player who can score like Lemar.

  27. Sorry, typos! I meant to say, I am not predicting, rather advocating and making an argument for what I think is needed.

  28. Ok, off to DIY home supply store. No more procrastinating for me. Check in later to see what you all have to say!

  29. I agree with Limestone’s comments at 1:36 and 5:47 regarding our central midfield. We need to get another difference making player, IMO. I think we are overly harsh on Ramsey but he is a muscle injury waiting to happen and he certainly is not a great player even when healthy. Elneny is steady and a nice squad player and I understand the argument that he should be starting ahead of Ramsey but I don’t see us competing for a league title with Elneny/Xhaka as our regular central midfield pairing. Le Coq is a back end of the squad player at best. We certainly can not count on either Cazorla or Wilshere. We need to get another difference making central midfielder. IMO.

  30. Le Coq is another example of why of a player whose career is average at best and then has one really great run of form but never replicates that greatness. Le Coq was widely praised and called the best defensive midfielder in the league and the one who brought balance to the team after his breakout performance in 2015. Ramsey really was one of the best central midfielders in the world in 13/14. Those are just a couple of examples. Once there is a sufficient sample size, the whole career is a much better judge of a players ability

  31. HenryB,

    I have been scratching my head all summer as it seems Elneny has either been linked with a move away or in the case of Leciester, Arsenal actually accepting a fee but Elneny telling them he is going to stay and fight. I agree with you, I think he is ahead of Le Coq and Ramsey.

    I hadn’t heard about Gabriel until this morning when a mate of mine who follows La Liga sent me an article where the Valencia manager was talking about it as he managed him at Villarreal. I think selling him or Chambers would be irresponsible especially since we know our current CB situation.

  32. Bill,

    I think we played reasonably well, the only quibble being the lack of quality in the final third. Lacazette didn’t see much of the ball and the supply lines in to him weren’t good at all. The touches he had were good and his effort against the post was very unlucky. I’ve said before that he never smashes a shot, everything is placed. His placement was just off today, but it was a lovely effort. Given the opponents 1-1 was a bad result, especially following on from our pretty lousy performance against them in China.

  33. I think our best attacking team has Ox as RWB and Kolasinac as LWB. Ox has demonstrated that he can be the most dynamic player on the squad and someone who can change the game by himself when he is bombing down the right wing with the ball at his feet. I don’t buy the argument that using Ox as RWB instead of Bellerin really hurts our defense. Bellerin was miserable on both ends of the pitch in the second half of last season.

    Kolasinac looks like he can defend and bring something to squad when he gets forward on the left flank and he won’t be able to get forward nearly as much if he is one of the back 3.

  34. Looks like the Women’s Euros Final was a humdinger. Ended up 4-2 to the host nation (2-2 at half time). By all accounts it was a great advert for football. Well done to the Netherlands!

  35. Wavey,

    Yup, really good game. Congratulations in particular to Vivianne Miedema, Danielle van de Donk, Sari van Veenendaal, and Dominique Janssen all of Arsenal ladies (Vivianne Miedema and Jodie Taylor finish as top scorers with 5 and 6 goals respectively).

    Looking forward to them putting the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and City in their place in the WSL.

  36. Limestone

    Lemar is a winger? IF we did buy him, i think OX would be shifted to central midfield.

    I think we’re perhaps being overly critical of Ramsey, when fit he’s a very good players, FA cup final showed what he can do with a run of fitness. But i agree, but with Naymar transfer, teams will now start charging even more for average players, so it’s going to be difficult for any teams….Spurs, Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool struggled to strengthen this summer, i mean, Morata, a benchwarmer at Real, £58million??? Least Lacezette had 30+ goals to his name for our bid. If i could, i’d take a chance on Seri from Nice but he’s in demand now

    I wouldn’t be shocked if we bought someone, just not a big transfer. We will lose players before we buy anyone, that’s for sure. Lemar would be a good signing, but we’d need 50+ million to get him, and i don’t think we’ve ever spent over £100million in a summer so i don’t see it happening.

    This is Ox’s big season, make or break imo….Been here a long time with minimal impact, this is where he needs to make his mark.

  37. I think Xhaka will be an important player this season. I love what he brings to the team, aggression and passion and that left foot is a wand. I think between he and Kolasinac we will have what we’ve missed a lot which is aggression and strength going forward, realistically with Ozil, Sanchez, Lacezette, Ox, Iwobi all there to exploit space

  38. Wavey

    It should be a minimum requirement that commentators should check their facts before sounding off to watching fans — but they are hopelessly unprofessional

    The reason I recalled the changed ‘card’ rules was because I was outraged, at the time, when Scholes and Rooney were sent off in a pre-season game, and Sir Fungus made a real stink about it — and I thought they would get off.

    In the end they changed the rules but it did not apply to those two as their mischief happened before Sir Fungus complained, of course.

    If it had been any other club who complained the changes would not have happened. The power of Manure is mighty indeed. 🙁

  39. A bit of a confidence-builder before the real stuff begins next Friday night (for us).
    Another piece of silver to grace the cabinets at the Ems. It all counts.
    I was impressed with our penalty-takers. Nothing tentative about them!
    Hissing Sid Kolastinac was a veritable “animal” or a “tractor” as two members of our team described him. Arsene Wenger might well search for other “free” signings.
    Withdrawal symptoms over the absence of the EPL slowly fading.

  40. C,

    Did you notice that Gabriel walked up the stadium stairs with the rest of the squad? he looked OK – if a bit skinny.

    Wenger this weekend said that he had a long-term injury problem but that he had returned to light running. If I understood that correctly I cannot see him being transferred this summer. Any buying club would be taking a big chance if they made a bid.

    Guess we will see.

  41. nicky,

    Thanx for clearing that up, I’m sure his brother sead kolasinac will be pleased to know he’s not half reptilian. 😉

  42. Evening,

    Just been watching the game ((thanks Viaplay for being viaplay). We looked fairly comfortable, almost at ease.

    I don’t think I’ve seen us handling high “gegen pressung” last season with that ease. Speaks volumes for central midfield with Xhaka and Elneny as they are outlet/partners in crime for the back three.

    Am I alone in thinking that if Giroud reach a 100 goals it’s a milestone and after that you’re more incline to leave?

  43. Moene Ali has become a top performer. 11 consecutive 50’s in Test Innings. The best ever done is twelve. Three Teats against Windies to come, who would bet against him breaking that record?

  44. HenryB,

    If I’m not mistaken he supposed to be back no later than the start of September. The other thing is that we all know that Arsene and Arsenal aren’t the best at both predicting when players will be fit but stating such. The other thing is that players seem to get better quicker when they are not at Arsenal so we will see.

    I think the one thing is, the Valencia manager not only managed Gabriel at Villarreal but knows that Gabriel knows the league which means there wouldn’t be an adaptation period. While there is a risk, I think there is also something about a manager knowing and comfortable with a player.

    Plus, we all know that for Arsene its either 1-2 weeks and everything else is considered long term 😉

  45. consolsbob,

    11 consecutive fifties in test innings? Are you sure?

    Including today’s game at Old Trafford he has made eleven fifties in sixty eight innings, but not consecutively.

    Apart from today his only other fifty in the current series was the first innings at Lords when he score eighty-seven.

  46. As someone who is unequivocal about winning anything and everything I was pleased as hell yesterday. Furthermore, with the unique (big stage Friday night) intro to our season opener, I really hope we can carry the momentum forward and tuck that result away.

    That said, there were some oddities yesterday.

    Conte was open about wanting to win whilst Wenger was affecting indifference to a degree. And so he did what he does.Throw in a few trapdoors for excuses/failure. Mertesaker, Oxlade Chamberlain at left back? Not even worth a comment.

    The overall the energy was good from the off with the midfield looking to create and the attack looking lively. Elneny and Xhaka very positive, Welbeck bursting with energy (very fit) linking with Lacazette. (I am a little concerned Sanchez will deliberately put Lacazette in his shadow…)

    However….who hit Holding with the Coquelin stick? Before he threw in a string of sloppy overly ambitious passes, I noticed our defense getting out of shape within minutes. Holding was joining in attacks with Mertesaker hovering up by the half way line. Holding, 20 minutes in, deep in their half then played an errant pass which was intercepted. But for Chelsea fluffing the counter we would have been skinned. I’ve joked about Arsenal PTSD but I was back in a dark place. Someone needs to sit Holding down .

    But, topping all I was thrilled for Kolasinac.

    I’ve been nervous of over-selling him since his first appearance on the Asian tour but at this point I can’t see how he is not going to be anything but a significant player. He’s big, athletic and deceptively quick but it’s his focus which impresses the most. The idea he started on the bench was ridiculous.

    Kolasinac is constantly keyed to the moment. He casually makes interceptions because his positioning and awareness is so good. He then often strips balls with ease because he closes on players way faster than they can think. Instantly he switches to being on the front foot, looking for who is open and ahead. Even down in Australia he seemed determined to make something happen.

    And that summed up the goal. The game ebbing away there should have been other candidates ahead of him to get on that cross- he just wanted it more.

    Additionally he seems very popular with his team mates and close with Xhaka . Obviously they have similar backgrounds but it hadn’t occured to me before they could be a perfect fit to boost and support each other on and off the field. Debut goal with a Cup win on the big stage – great for him.

    The Telegraph has already said he could become a cult figure at Arsenal, I agree.

  47. Kolasinac should be playing on the wing in rugby. I can just imagine him steam-rolling someone and diving over in the corner.

  48. I feel el neny wil b much better ds term. He’s bin lookin focused.Sims he’s more in tunee wt d team now so coming into his own.there fositive to take be it friendly or not.if arsenal had lost it would have bin gloom. Its a big encoragemnt as d boss said

  49. C,

    Elneny showed today that he can basically play (and press) like Coquelin, but with much better distribution. What an engine.
    Oh, and an excellent red card. Pedro had absolutely no right to tackle from that angle and got what he deserved.

  50. Morning all…..I’ve just read every comment from yesterday’s post…..sitting on the loo……think I’ll have the ‘toilet seat mark’ well etched to my legs and posterior 😂😂

  51. Orson Kaert:
    consolsbob,

    11 consecutive fifties in test innings?Are you sure?

    Including today’s game at Old Trafford he has made eleven fifties in sixty eight innings, but not consecutively.

    Apart from today his only other fifty in the current series was the first innings at Lords when he score eighty-seven.

    What was meant was that Root would have completed 10 consecutive 50s in his appearances at Old Trafford.

    His 52 in the first innings was his ninth 50 in consecutive innings at Old Trafford, and his 49 yesterday meant that record 10th has gone.

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