On Ruining Football, Rotation & Contract Talks

Friday is here, one day before the weekend and more importantly, the Arsenal are playing on Saturday. Be still my beating heart.

Which is something which needs to happen at UEFA House and FIFAStrasse. I don’t think any of us realise how tough it is at the top of the footballing tree. You do, after all, have to work jolly hard to come up with one idea a day which will complete discredit your organisation and ruin football if it’s implemented.

Gianni started the ball rolling with his 48-team World Cup finals tournament, with 16 teams pitching up in a country for a play-off match to decide if they go forward to the traditional group phase. On the plus side, it would cut short England’s agony, I suppose.

But he’s a past master at these things, presiding over UEFA for a number of years and gaining plenty of experience on how to come up with stupid ideas. His successor’s a fast learner as well. Apparently, they want to play the Champions League final outside of Europe now. Still, should be easier than getting out of Wembley after a 5pm kick-off on a Saturday night.

Arsène faces the press in about an hour or so – or earlier this morning if the usual slack-jawed posting schedule continues – with rotation likely to be the topic of the day. That’s after the obligatory questions about his contract with Diego Simeone apparently looking to move to England in time for the 2018/19 season: one-year extension for Monsieur Wenger? The odds are apparently shortening.

Wednesday night games have a drawback with one less day’s rest before the next match but when an almost completely changed XI will face Reading next week, is as much rotation needed?

I know some are keen for Lucas Perez to get more match time but after coming back from injury, it’s unlikely he will start on Saturday. Probably less for that reason but down to the fact that Alexis is in fine form at the moment. The problem with a team as defensively poor as Ludogrets is that it tends to raise your estimation of player’s performance levels.

In Alexis’s case, that’s not an issue. He’s been playing well and with the team more confident, is being given the service which allows him to thrive as a central striker. Previous seasons have seen his performances neutered by a lack of support; it’s not an issue now and we’re seeing how well he can play centrally.

Which eases the pressure on Olivier Giroud’s return with no need for Arsène to rush him back. Not that I think there is any intention to. Whilst the manager has been supportive of his compatriot, I do wonder if the barren run of 15 games last season was the straw which broke the camel’s back for Wenger. Even by Giroud’s standards, it was a long stretch without a goal and may be influencing Arsène’s view of how the team should play. He’s not a bad Plan B to have but will he return to being Plan A?

For Wenger, it’s a nice position to be in, an almost unusual one. Similar to the midfield. He’s got options with injuries not causing him issues as in previous years. In fact, returning to full fitness is the biggest headache he has and incorporating Aaron Ramsey into the formation.

The form of others dictates a lot of the decisions but having stood by the Welsh international down the years when he has been criticised by all and sundry over his form or performances when playing on the right, Arsène seems to be distancing himself from the view that Ramsey is an automatic starter.

With Xhaka and Elneny, Ramsey is looking at competing for one of the central roles with Coquelin and Cazorla. Wednesday’s brief scare over the latter may see him rested this weekend although the initial post-match interviews suggested it won’t be an issue. Which typically means it will be.

But it’s good that there are fewer certainties in the side irrespective of form. In years past, the paucity of choices meant that players could play themselves back into form; there was no particular depth to the squad and injuries gave longer stretches in the side that might be considered merited. At the moments, that’s not the case.

Özil, Sanchez, Koscielny and Bellerin are probably the only ones who won’t be dropped even with a loss of form. Walcott, Cazorla, Monreal, Cech and Mustafi may get longer than others but the left attack and defensive midfield role are up for grabs on a week-by-week basis. It’s up to the incumbents to prove their worth rather than relying on the poverty of options to keep them in the side.

A lot of that has come from not carrying perma-crocked players in the squad. The habitues of the treatment room are no longer the same faces week in, week out, year on year. The only one who might be considered in danger of heading that way is now playing every week in Bournemouth. It’s an interesting season for Jack getting his career back on track as much as the awkward questions which that will raise over Arsenal’s handling of the player.

At the moment, the ‘good times’ are rolling. We’ll make the most of it – November is just around the corner…

’til Tomorrow.

41 thoughts on “On Ruining Football, Rotation & Contract Talks

  1. Dukey says:

    Wenger still is prone for bursts of ruthlessness, I think your right Yogi, that 15 game dry spell last season probably pissed him off as much as all us fans. It was such a terrible run even the divas were spitting their cheerios out in anger at him. For me I’m not bothered if we sold him now. He completely fucked it last year, with ooozil producing chance after chance.

    We have plenty of dynamic players who could play in the center i
    Of a fast front three. Are we bothered if his in growing toe nail got infected.

  2. Wavey says:

    Morning,

    It will be interesting to see what Wenger regards as a pecking order when all of the CF options are fit and available. It will give him the option to play a more structured front two and I think Giroud could work well in that set up. It means Ozil would likely move to the wing, but it allows us to adapt the attacking style depending on the opposition.

  3. HenryB says:

    Nice one, Yogi, and I agree with you on all points. 🙂

    It is a cause for reflection, that it seems that the president of Lyon made a guarded comment about rejecting a bid of c €30m for Lacazette last summer, but then going on to say they had later refused an offer of €50m for him, from an English club, with the implication being it was from Arsenal.

    That ship has now sailed, with the purchase of Perez, but it shows that possibly the more pacy, fluid attack we have currently, rather than the physical but more static one featuring Giro has been Arsene’s preference.

    It is all ‘ifs ands and buts’ but it has a certain sense to it, and ties in with the sharp counterattacks, high pressing and delightful football we have seen recently.

  4. C says:

    Top stuff Yogi!

    I’ll havw to find the quotes but several times in the 2nd half of last season, Arsene spoke about our finishing letting us down; there is no doubt in my mind that it plays apart but so has other comments about the style of striker: quick, instinctive,South American specifically, is the way forward. The difference now if we pkay against a structured defense is that, in Iwobi and Sanchez we have 2 players that love to run at players, plus with Xhaka and Santi it allows for Ozil to make a couple more runs. The other thing that doesn’t work in Giroud’s favor is that Sanchez, IMHO is actually better at the hold up play. Anyways, it will be interesting to see what happens because like Dukey, it wouldn’t bother me at all.

  5. C says:

    HenryB,

    I’d venture to say that this has been in the works as far back as the season Theo did his knee in. Arsene probably thought Theo would come back and continue the transition but it didn’t work out. Then remember when Sanchez first arrived we pkayed that 4141 with Sanchez at CF with Ozil, Santi, Jack and Ramsey playing behind him.

    I would imagine that this has been in the works but Arsene just failed in the application of it, i.e buying the right players, being too loyal and not the likes of Theo and Sanchez getting injured and going in and out of form.

  6. C says:

    Santi is questionable according to Arsene.

  7. alfred says:

    Nice work Yogi.I think it is not by chance that arsenal are playing with pace upfront . if you look at the strickers arsenal were linked with during the summer coupled with arsene talking about attacking with pace before defences set up during his punditry gigs with bein sports then you know something changed.

  8. C says:

    I would add Mustafi to that list of players who won’t be dropped due to form. Think he brings the ying to Kos or Gabriel’s yang

  9. jonnygunner says:

    Agree with C on Mustafi-100%

  10. C says:

    Arsene said:

    On Santi…
    “We’ll see how he is today,” the manager said at his prematch news conference, but added that the Gunners “have no big problems” after the Ludogorets game.

    On Ramsey and Giroud…….
    “They are progressing well,” he added. “Olivier Giroud could maybe be involved on Tuesday [against Reading in the EFL Cup], but Aaron certainly will need one more week sharpening up. He could be available [next weekend]. Fitness wise, he is 90 percent there.”

    On Welbeck……
    “He’s ahead of schedule and he’ll be back in January,” Wenger said in Friday’s press conference. “It will take two months competition for him to get back to his best.”

  11. AK says:

    Just read the 2007 article “Le Thwack-French Head Butts” . I see Yogi’s position on UEFA and FIFA has not changed.

  12. Wailesy says:

    Spot on Yogi.

    Looking forward to getting Welbeck back. Thought he and Iwobe linked up beautifully at times last season.
    Ramsey may end up being the domestic cup General this season. Can’t see how Wenger could pick him above the other 4 CM’s we have.

  13. C says:

    Wailesy,

    That is an interesting prospect for Ramsey and even the thing with that is our young Adelaide is growing up and training regularly withthe first team so the competition is certainly there.

  14. C says:

    Those that follow the youth, Arsene recently said he wants to send Bielik out on loan in the winter.

  15. Wailesy says:

    Speaking of youth C, have you been following Nwakali? I think he went to the Dutch second division?
    I’m hoping we go a long way in the league cup (whatever it’s called) so Adelaide and Holding etc get plenty of game time as I can’t see Adelaide getting many minutes in the league.

  16. nicky says:

    @HenryB,
    Not bad. 5 batsmen gone and they haven’t reached our meagre total.

  17. C says:

    Wailesy,

    I actually haven’t been following him but I can do some digging around to see what I can find.

    I hope we do too because I think we have a strong enough squad and youth that will allow us to compete over 4 competitions. Allowing for the likes of not just Adelaide and Holding, but for Jenks to show whether or not he is Arsenal quality as well as seeing the likes of Maitland-NIles and Zelalem (both of who I think are in teh perfect situations, close to the first team but not quite there while still learning from the likes of Santi, Ozil and that lot). I mean, we could see a line-up for the CC (virtually all the way through) as well as the early rounds of the FA Cup:

    Ospina
    Jenks—-Holding—-Gabriel—–Gibbs
    ———–Le Coq——-Ramsey——-
    ——————Adelaide————–
    Ox———-Giroud———–Maitland-NIles or Perez

    That is a great blend of not just talented youngsters but experience players. You could also swap out Le Coq for say Elneny; or you could push Adelaide to the wing, Ramsey more advanced with Zelalem and Elneny or Le Coq sitting deeper. That doesn’t even account for Akpom who played well when given the chance on the flanks but is a natural poacher.

  18. philmar says:

    I can’t imagine us having a successful year without significant contribution from Giroud.
    Sanchez is NOT going to be able to play every game this year. Well if he does he won’t be as energetic and productive as he has been in the small portion we’ve played thus far.
    Both Chelsea, Basel and Ludogrets tried to play football with us and were beaten handily. Managers with half a brain will instead set up against us like Swansea and Burnley. We were quite fortunate to get all 3 points against these teams.
    The mobile front 3 work great when they have space but a properly organized parked bus still causes us frustration. We lack attacking height. Giroud’s height will be a much needed Plan B more often than we will like.

  19. AK says:

    I love the fact that C is never far from producing a line up. He has one for all scenarios.

  20. C says:

    philmar,

    I tend to disagree about Swansea, they tried to play futbol while defending but we imposed our will with the first goal and then it went from there. Burnley was different but I think that was the type of match you get from time to time in the PL, kind of a scruffy win.

    Don’t get me wrong, Giroud will be needed as we fight across 4 competitions, but I also don’t get this notion of teams that are well organized not being able to be broken down.

  21. C says:

    AK,

    Its just one of those things because people are always talking about rotation and how we can’t rotate and blah blah blah blah blah and all I try to do is show that rotation is good and doesn’t have to be this mass rotation for players to get rested but also because I am a huge supporter of youth and with the likes of Adelaide and Iwobi specifically, I think there is plenty of match time for both but even taking it a step further, using the earlier rounds of the FA Cup and the whole of the CC, to bed in youth while also playing players like Ox, Holding, Jenks, Giroud and Ramsey who need match time to stay sharp.

  22. Highbury says:

    True, Sanchez won’t play every game. However, to suggest that were fortunate to get three points against Swansea is completely wrong. By any objective measure of performance, we were by far and wide the better team. They profited from two defensive errors, but at no point did they threaten to beat us.

    That said, I take your point that there are going to be times when we have to vary our play. That may not necessarily be in terms of personnel but tactics.

  23. Highbury says:

    My 3:08 post was in response to philmar.

  24. Bill says:

    Thanks for the post yogi

    We are all excited about the way the team is playing right now. I am especially excited about the fact that our ball possession and passes completed per game are down. For now, the endless pinging the ball around midfield and our dependence on breaking down a parked bus with slick passing moves and the inch perfect killer pass has been replaced by a team that attacks at pace. Alexis and Theo have responded positively and our finishing has really improved. Couple that with improved defense and you get a run of great form. The concern is that we have been here and done this at some point in every season of the Emirates era irregardless of which players are in the first 11. A rising tide raises all ships and right now we are in the best form since Jan -March 2015. Can we finally break our recurring good 1/2 season/bad 1/2 season pattern of the last 10 years? I am cautiously optimistic but only time will tell.

  25. AK says:

    C,

    I am also a supporter of the youth. In the League Cup i see AW starting Emiliano in goal ahead of Ospina. I believe he is a decent stopper and has even played in the CL.

  26. C says:

    AK,

    I think Emiliano could be but as the tournament goes on, I would imagine we see more of Ospina as our “cup GK”.

  27. C says:

    I will be watching to see how Jack does against Spuds tomorrow morning.

  28. Bill says:

    We are all supporters of the youth but the cup games should be used for the first team players who need minutes. IMO. Perez, Giroud, Ox, Ramsey, Elneny, Xhaka, Jenks/Debuchy, Gabriel, Holding/Mert, Gibbs, Ospina. All of those players could potentially be important if/when we have injuries to the first 11 and they all need as many minutes as they can get to stay sharp and in match condition.

  29. C says:

    Bill,

    So then how are we suppose to find out if the youth are capable of playing in the ARSENAL first team? While I do get that sending them on loan is your answer, it doesn’t always work like that because just 2 seasons ago Bellerin was on loan and it didn’t work out and we all know how that has worked out. Jenks was crap his 2nd loan deal with West Ham before he got injured to the point that he was benched for a CB. Debuchy shouldn’t even be in the conversation for match time. So should we have sold Jenks and Bellerin? Xhaka will play and more than likely be first choice.

    Here’s the thing and I know we are NEVER going to agree on this but mixing youth and senior players is how you determine if the youth will make it while also using the CC and early rounds of the FA Cup, hell even the late rounds depending on the opposition to see if they can make it.

    Ospina
    Jenks—Holding—-Gabriel—-Gibbs
    ———-Le Coq——Ramsey——–
    ——————Adelaide————-
    Ox———–Perez———–Akpom

    Strong line-up of senior players and youth. The strange thing is, Ramsey is one of the players that is injured so his focus should be on getting fit, Giroud the same.

    I know I shouldn’t have but to say support the youth and then say don’t use them in the cups because we have first team players that need those mins hinting that the youth shouldn’t get a chance doesn’t make sense to me.

  30. Bill says:

    C

    We have been using the cup games to blood youth for 11 – 12 years and its never given us an accurate idea of whether the players are capable of being first team contributors.

    The goal for this year should be to win the league and that trumps any other consideration, IMO. Unless there is a major injury crisis, neither Jeff or Akpom is going to be a significant part of us winning the league this year. However, Elneny or Giroud might become critical players if we do have injuries and they both need to be getting as many minutes as possible so they have the best chance to be ready in case we need them. I agree with your line up with the exception of Giroud instead of Akpom and Elneny instead of Jeff.

  31. C says:

    Bill,

    Theres a massive difference from what I’m talking about and what has happened in thr past. Previously Arsenr has played 5-6 youth that are a year or 2 away, Adelaide could make an impact this season to be completely honest but certainly next season.

    Giroud isn’t fit so why rush him back? I was just saying Le Coq it could be Elneny in that position as well. We have also seen plenty of experienced players fall on their face, see 15 match goal-less streak. Plus Giroud wouldn’t honestly still get the nod, I would go Perez/Ox/Akpom.

    Just think, if we took that approach we wouldn’t have Iwobi or Bellerin. Also, what has Ox or Ramsey done that makes them so important that they can’t be overtaken in the pecking order?

  32. Bill says:

    No has ever suggested selling either iwobe or Bellerin so we would like still have both of them. Iwobe probably would not be playing as many minutes right now but Perez or Ox would be getting those minutes and joel Campbell and/or Toral would still be on the squad.

    I know you are not a fan of Giroud, Ox or Ramsey but they are all part of the first team. Same with Elneny. Those guys need as many minutes as they can get because each one is potentially a single injury away from being an important regular first team player.

    Jeff is only 17 or 18 years old and we have plenty of creative midfielders in front of him so it’s going to be a few years before he has the potential to be a regular contributor. Why rush him? He is not going anywhere. Akpom is not ready. He should be in loan so he can be playing regularly somewhere. I know a lot of people are excited about jeff and some are still hopeful for Akpom but the number of players we have been excited about in the last 10 years has probably gone past triple digits

  33. Bill says:

    Iwobe has done some nice things wide left and putting him there works when we have Alexis and Theo scoring all of these goals. However his longterm upside as a forward is limited because he does not score and that will become an issue if either Theo or Alexis lose form or get injured. Long term iwobes future is is attacking midfielder. IMO.

    Ox has played well so far this year and I think we should give Ox or Perez a run at the left wing. It may change in the future but I think iwobe should be ahead of Jeff in the pecking order right now and I think we should use the cup games to give iwobe minutes in the ozil position

  34. OluwaBayode Jegede says:

    hiya YW..

    Great post as usual..

    Interesting to see we finally got real squad depth after some ‘life-threatening’ season gone past..

    Wenger bought well in the summer, albeit staggeredly. All that matters is a good buy though.

    Truly interesting to see #JackWilshere in AFCB colors to get the minutes and his career back on track.

    Hope he gets that ‘lively spark’ we all crave for him!

    Cheers all…

  35. OluwaBayode Jegede says:

    hiya YW..

    Great post as usual..

    Interesting to see we finally got real squad depth after some ‘life-threatening’ seasons gone past..

    Wenger bought well in the summer, albeit staggeredly. All that matters is a good buy though.

    Truly interesting to see #JackWilshere in AFCB colors to get the minutes and his career back on track.

    Hope he gets that ‘lively spark’ we all crave for him!

    Cheers all…

  36. OluwaBayode Jegede says:

    hiya YW..

    Great post as usual..

    Interesting to see we finally got real squad depth after some ‘life-threatening’ seasons gone past..

    Wenger bought well in the summer, albeit staggeredly. All that matters is a good buy though.

    Truly interesting to see #JackWilshere in AFCB colors to get the minutes and his career back on track.

    Hope he gets that ‘lively spark’ we all crave for him!

    Cheers all…

  37. YW says:

    Too much vino. Seeing three of every comment or just the last one.

  38. Arsetralian says:

    Good post YW

    I really think Ramsey did a decent job playing wide right for us as he does threaten to score and can cover back well. However ‘threaten’ to score is probably what he did most – not sure he actually scored many.

    He was phenomenal for Wales centrally with freedom which leads me to think he is our best replacement for Ozil who will need a rest or gets injured which I truly hope never happens.

    Which comes back to your post where we genuinely have a strong squad. Who else could call on a player as good as Ramsey instead of Ozil.

    That is comforting and I think where he needs to play rather than back 2 midfield options

    Jack may be Santi’s replacement if he can progress on loan and actually stay fit

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