Arsène And Planning Ahead


With the last shrill peep of the referee’s whistle on Sunday, the curtain came down on the Premier League campaign. Ordinarily a time for exhalation, releasing the previous nine months into the ether and consigning them to become ink on paper in a monolith of statistics.

And now we await the dénouement. Wembley beckons and decisions have to be made. Football is an industry – is anything professional just a sport nowadays? – which is notoriously short-term and Arsène has a short time to make them. Four days if you want to be precise.

Except that barring injuries, I think he’s already made the majority, if not all of them. I hope he has; the last few weeks have surely been building up to this moment. The Premier League encounters occupied his immediate thoughts, the questions over each player’s fitness needing an answer as he slowly and belatedly, shuffled the pack for Sunday’s encounter with West Brom and whilst he discarded the XI as a team “the team who [I thought] had a good chance to win“, it’s hard not to read something into his choices.

More questions arose from that final game than answers. From Wojciech Szczesny’s exclusion from the starting line-up to Theo Walcott’s inclusion. Talking after the match, Wenger enthused about Walcott’s hat-trick and how he performed as a central striker. Noticeably, Arsène used Theo as a replacement for Giroud against Swansea; it wasn’t an unmitigated success with the players not attuned to his arrival. Getting the team prepared for Wembley? The logic – Wenger’s previous big plays of loyalty to players who got him to the moment – points to Giroud starting but a hat-trick and the movement from Walcott suggests otherwise.

The same with Szczesny. It’s hard to see a logical reason why, if he is playing at Wembley, he didn’t start on Sunday. Wenger gave Fabianski ninety minutes at Carrow Road for match sharpness. Maybe Arsène doesn’t think Szczesny needs it but that’s a gamble, quite a big one given the edge to the Pole’s performance in the semi-final. A non-appearance would certainly set the tone for the summer.

And it’s going to be quite an important summer. Arsène’s already railed against the new season and the planning for it. Chief culprits were FIFA who sanctioned the Copa America and there is an element of that, especially as there is a centenary edition of the tournament next year; two in two years seems excessive but FIFA is an organisation which admires CONMEBOL’s excesses.

However, these tournaments have been scheduled for a number of years and Arsène knew about them when he signed Ospina and Sanchez. Indeed, the Copa America has always been held in ‘awkward’ summers for English clubs but it has never stopped them buying South American players. It’s a bit rich to complain when the conditions already existed at the time of purchase.

Could the FA and Premier League have restructured their fixture calendars to accommodate a later start? Probably but with Euro2016 starting on 10th June 2016 and the Champions League final on 28th May, their window of opportunities are sparse. I know, cutting the February international friendlies out of the calendar accomplished that but national associations need to grasp at some of the cash football generates. Well, they don’t need to but they are going to.

Ultimately, knowing in advance that he won’t be seeing either of his South American players until early August ought to have Wenger planning ahead now to ensure that the impact of their absences is minimised. Their preparation for the new season will be straight in at the deep end, returning to training just before the Premier League season begins but after the Community Shield if Arsenal participate. No luxurious trips to Singapore to have lumps kicked off them by Premier League rivals.

Arsenal ought to be able to cope without Alexis for a short while. It’s hardly any different than him being out through injury, after all. Ospina? A competent second choice goalkeeper will cover or if the Colombian drops down the pecking order, you need your third choice on the bench for a week or two which only becomes a hardship if you have to use him.

I know Wenger wants his best players available to him – we all do – but that’s the nature of modern football. As clubs look further afield to invest their moneys in players who can make a difference, it becomes more of an issue yet no as bad as the impact the African Cup of Nations had previously. It’s up to the manager to plan now to accommodate this interference in his preparations so that the quick start to the next Premier League campaign that he talks of needing, actually happens. If it doesn’t, excuses about Copa America interfering with preparations are going to seem a little thin.

Then again, this is all just practice. The big one comes in 2022 when three seasons of club football will be impacted by the Qatar World Cup. What the lasting impact of that on and off the pitch will be, remains to be seen.

’til Tomorrow.

133 thoughts on “Arsène And Planning Ahead

  1. C says:


    I think it is too early to judge that and he is highly rated both at Southampton and at Arsenal. I think we were just discussing more to the point of Southampton being a good seller club.

    Going forward, it will be interesting to see where Chambers ends up, I know Arsene has said recently that he will be a CB or potential DM. I would assume that this summer and pre-season will make things a bit more clear. Heading into next season, I wouldn’t be opposed to Chambers even potentially going on loan to get a full season as a CB so that come the following year when Mert and more than likely Kos(due to his continued injuries) will start to slowly get phased out, we can see the Chambers/Gabriel partnership taking over.

  2. C says:

    So Madrid reportedly have their man and his name is Rafa Benitez.

    I think we should go after Higuain.

  3. Bill says:

    Just out of interst. This season the number of league games started Terry 37 Cahill 33 Matic 34 hazard 37 fab 33 ivanovic 37.

    Other then a couple of games for Cahill the major players were not rotated when they could walk or were not suspended. Costa and aspilaqueta had injury issues or they probably would would not have been rotated either. Scherle and quadrado took a couple games from Willian and Ramires took some games from Oscar.

  4. Moe says:

    Liverpool FC have become a joke.

    I’m not even sure it’s all Brendan Rodgers fault.

    The decision making at that club is hilarious.

  5. Bill says:

    I think nearly all of Chelsea’s major players were at the World Cup and none of them was given an extended holiday at the beginning of the season. You could make a strong argument that the way Arsene manages his squad is less demanding then Mourinho and I suspect he asks no more of his players then other managers of big clubs.

  6. dukey says:

    What’s your point Bill, spit it out.

  7. Moe says:


    The way we train with our high intensity short games, coupled with the style football we play, is alot more physically demanding that alot of other teams including Chelsea.

    I’ve always said that our style of play contributes to fatigue because of the movement and high intensity pressure. Also we play such an attacking game that when we get caught on the break, we have players who have to sprint back.

    I think we need more rotation than those other teams considering our injury record and our style of football.

  8. Bill says:


    That is theoretical at best and seems like a rationalization and a bit of a stretch to me.



  9. Phil says:

    I am not pre judging how good Chambers will or might be. I hope he is great.
    But it isn’t an outrageous comment to suggest that £16m was a lot to pay for a bloke who had played as little first grade as he had.
    Pretty sure Southampton didn’t suffer from seller’s remorse.

  10. Bill says:


    The big point is that all of these things we complain about and 99% of the excuses and rationalizations we come up with for why we are so inconsistent don’t really stand up. The real problem is between the manager and the players ears. IMO.

  11. Moe says:


    Liverpool is like an alternate version of Arsenal if we didn’t make the right decisions.

    Arsene is alot of things but at least he kept us competitive whilst losing his best players. Liverpool lose just one striker and it literally destroys their club. It’s glorious to watch it all come apart! 😀

  12. desigooner says:

    The site Ticketbis is still showing up on my computer, top right as a sponsored link.

  13. consolsbob says:

    It’s down to your own preferences, Desi. Odd, I know as they are meant to be targeted, or at least I believe, on your own browsing history.

    I mean, I am a very happily married man and I get dating agencies!

  14. Yogi's Warrior says:


    Google Ads are targeted by the cookies which, if you’ve been searching out the miscreants, leaves a trail that Google interprets as you wanting to buy one. Which is right, you do; just not at their prices. To be honest, I had a quick look and can’t see which category they fall under unless it’s ‘Get Rich Quick’ so blocking them isn’t as black and white as it seems.

  15. Phil says:

    Oh so that explains it!
    I keep getting ads sprouting ” how to win with grace in 5 easy lessons”

  16. dukey says:

    So Desi has been searching for some blackmarket stuff online then?

  17. dukey says:

    I’m a married man aswell bob, but I have to say I don’t get any dating ads.

  18. Jonny says:

    My bad Phil – it read like you thought we had overpaid – I’m just saying that it’s too soon to judge.

    Soton did get a good price – no argument there – but, of the players that they sold, I’d say Chambers has the most potential.

  19. Phil says:

    No problem Jonny.
    £30m for Shaw seems extremely excessive. And yes to me £16m for Chambers is paying too much based on his performances prior to joining. However I hope he validates his price tag over time. I certainly have no agenda against him.

  20. spy says:

    Surely this must be the most one sided cup finals ever, and I mean it.

  21. spy says:

    That one of the worst sides in the Prem made it to the final tells you all you want to know about the kudos of winning it, fucking bah!

  22. consolsbob says:

    Can’t agree with that Spy.

    That’s the glamour of the Cup!

    Smaller teams have always reached cup finals. That’s why cups are so interesting. A series of one off matches. Catch a good side on a bad day and they are out. No coming back.

  23. C says:

    Tend to agree with Bob.

    Its what made Wigan knocking off Shitty so enjoyable and magical. Its what makes it all so enjoyable and still gives futbol that sense of magic, beauty and most importantly it make fans cheer their hearts out for their club as they watch men play a boys game and feel a sense a pride that their club has lifted the cup that so many others have tried and failed to win that season.

    For us to do it back to back, might even cause the most pessimistic of fans to say job well done.

  24. Damon says:


    That made me chuckle!!

    Although you have just admitted that you’ve been looking at that online

    On the upside, recognising your deficiencies is the first step to overcoming them 🙂

  25. dukey says:


    Probably as one sided as last years final.

  26. Brevity says:

    Finally! Some FIFA crooks getting arrested. They seem to have forgotten the arch fiend however.

  27. Phil says:

    Agree with Bob re the glamour / romance of the FA Cup. It’s always been so.
    Thanks Damon,
    I really owe it to Jonny and Bob for opening my eyes!

  28. Phil says:

    Big news at FIFA.
    Incredible, but clearly planned timing given the election.

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