Cesc, Nasri, defending and Wenger: A look into the summer that has passed and what comes next!?

August 12, 2011

Here we are, almost three months after we ended the last season in dismal fashion, at the start of the next. A summer that was promised to be different has so far been the same.

Although a lot has happened since I last posted on the blog but considering what we needed and what was required to be done hasn’t been done yet.

Yes, we bought Gervinho, who looks impressive and give us a direct approach for a change, and we bought Oxlade Chamberlain, who will be a star in the next three years and Jerkinson, who also is one for the future. They all are welcome additions to our squad and in future they will turn out to be great players for us for sure. But in terms of preparing for the next season, we have  been where we ended last season. In fact, if you ask me, we are considerably weaker than before. And before everyone jumps at me, I am not being negative, it is the reality.

The Fabregas saga, the Nasri situation, the way our defense performed in the pre-season, these are proof enough that we have stood still in terms of improving as a team.  

I am not fussed about Fabregas or even Nasri leaving, heck I am because you seldom find a Fabregas. It is just that if they wanted to go, they should have been shown the door at the start of the window. Their replacements should have been bought to gel in with the team. We are less than 24 hours away from the start of our first game of the season and we still haven’t figured out what’s up with both of them. Even now is not too late, sell them and buy the replacements, that is, if we do want to replace them.

I am convinced for sure that we will lose both of them before the window closes, what I am dreading is that we don’t bring in the proper substitutes.

I know most will say that we have Wilshere and Ramsey and I don’t disagree. These two are going to be great players and one day they will be world class. Nonetheless, they still have a lot to prove and for this season they certainly are not the answer to the void that will be left by Fabregas’ departure.

Personally, I don’t blame Fabregas for leaving and don’t have anything against him. I would have liked him to stay. He has given us close to eight years of delightful football. His skill, vision and ability to change games won’t be forgotten and I will always remember him as one of our great players. And I believe we will never truly replace him with any kind of player.

I, however, don’t have many sympathies for Nasri. I know he is a good player and likely go on to be a big player. Still after having one good season where he was close to consistent doesn’t justify his attitude. If he were loyal to this club, he would have signed the contract back in May. He isn’t and he never will be. The best thing is to sell him and get done with it. He isn’t worth more time than what he has already wasted for us.

As far as defense is concerned, I was always on the edge of my seat whenever the opposition was attacking in the preseason games. No matter what people say, we just have forgotten how to defend or just don’t want to.  I know that when we want to defend, we can, the game against Barcelona last season is proof enough. Why don’t we do it consistently is a question only Wenger can answer.

Why haven’t we improved our defense or why haven’t we bought any defender is also beyond me. Squillaci clearly doesn’t know defending, Djourou and Koscielny are known to make the stupidest mistakes, Vermaelen is returning after a year and I hope he starts from where he ended, when he was injured. On the left, the situation is even worse. I know this has turned into a cliché but Gibbs is not ready. I have said before, he is not a defender at all. He can be a good winger and that is all. And his injury record is also not great. Traore is stable but he is not better than Clichy right now and we all know Clichy had his flaws. So why haven’t we got a replacement for Clichy yet? For me this is  relying too much on hope!

The irony is that, at the moment, I myself am desperately hoping for Vermaelen, Koscielny and Djourou to have a great season without injuries. I am also hoping for Traore and Gibbs to pull off performances worth player of the season awards. And, I know I am getting too far, but I am hoping Wenger will buy a defender and a left back.  

I am also off the opinion that the way we defend can only be improved if we change the way we practice. Right now, I am not convinced that what we are doing in training is helping. Is something wrong with our back room staff or is it just that we don’t give too much attention to it? Whatever it is, we need to solve the problem. And considering, we haven’t done it in the last two years, I know it will be much of the same this season, the pre-season showed that clearly. Still I am not giving up, there is always hope!

The thing that I am most pissed off on is that Wenger hasn’t kept true to his word. He said at the start of this summer that he will try to keep the best players and improve the team in places where it requires. He hasn’t done that yet. We have the same disastrous defense, we are about to lose Fabregas and Nasri, we have already lost Clichy. (I am grateful that we won’t be going to see Denilson this season though.)

Also If you remember, back in January Wenger said something about not buying a defender as we have too many of them already or something similar. Considering what we have bought this summer, doesn’t it seem ironic that he has brought in two wingers, when we already have a surplus amount of them but not a single defender which we need the most? And I am not complaining here. We do need them because we still don’t have enough depth in any position. We have many youngsters but they cannot be relied upon for the whole season. He also bought a right back but then went onto selling a left back and we are still stuck with Eboue.

He said that he will only buy players who will improve the team. As we don’t see any defender right now, does that mean there are no defenders out there that are better than what we have? Also except Gervinho, we can’t even be sure that chamberlain and Jerkinson will make it to the next level. I hope they will, but what is the guarantee that they will stay with us then. Nasri hasn’t committed yet after it took three years to develop him. Seriously! Sometimes I get really frustrated the way Wenger gives his justifications for not buying

Why the rant? Because I have to get these thoughts out of my mind. I know all is not bad. I don’t like the way we have dealt with the Fabregas and Nasri situation. I don’t like that we haven’t bought a defender and Left back. I don’t like that we are still stuck with Eboue (or not! a move to Galatasaray is on the cards)  and to some extent Diaby. I am willing to give Chamakh a chance. If I had my way, I would have sold him and played Bendtner in the middle, as there have been no buyers for him.

Despite all this, there are some great things to look forward to. I am delighted by Gervinho’s addition. He is the most direct player that we have bought in recent years after Arshavin. I just hope that he stays that way. He is quick on his feet, he can dribble and he has an eye for goal. He has adjusted nicely into the team and his partnership with Van Persie will be something to look forward to. Ryo Miyaichi has shown that he can play and he certainly has pace. He also got the work permit which is one of better news this summer. Frimpong is another one who impressed during pre-season. He certainly is going to be a great asset in the future. Jerkinson was also impressive and one day can be a replacement for Sagna. The partnership of Wilshere and Ramsey is what really excited me. Wilshere is certainly developing fast and his vision is improving. Ramsey too is doing great but he needs to take more responsibility. Both of them still need time though and they will get it this season. Van Persie is still on his goal spree and hopefully he will remain injury free. Szczesny is doing well in goal and no doubt he is going to get better. We have Fabianski and Mannone after him which leaves our goal keeping in good hands.

There are many other positives from the pre-season. However, for us to challenge for the top, we still are short on players in a couple of positions and if Fabregas and Nasri leave, we will need to add more. I just wish that before the window closes we will get the players we require and hopefully go on to have a great season and come out on top.

This season, the start for us is going to be what sets the tone to our season. With Newcastle, Manchester United, Liverpool and Champions league qualifiers in the next 15 days, we won’t have time to take a breather. We have to start on top from the first game and maintain that throughout the season. If we can get through these games with our heads held up high, than I will be convinced that we are there to challenge for the title. If we don’t, then I don’t even want to speculate on what will happen. Hopefully we will have a great season (I know there are too many hopes in this post but this is the only thing that will see us through the season, if things remain the way they are!)

Before I conclude, it was on this day last year that I published my first post. It has been one whole year for me since then and it has been a great experience. Going through all the games was fun, the wins and the loss, the delight and anger, the ups and downs, the happiness and frustration, it was just amazing. A big thanks to all who have visited this blog and still do and have been a part of it.

I have been busy for the last three, four months due to lots of reasons. However, I will try my best to posting regularly.  I love Arsenal and will continue writing about it. Thank you all once again! I have my fingers crossed for another great season, hopefully….

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Arsene Wenger on Djourou and Szczesny’s start against Liverpool and Vermaelen’s return

April 15, 2011

Arsenal will face Liverpool on Sunday, where a win will take them to within four points of Manchester United. Arsene Wenger on Thursday gave the latest injury news ahead of the match.

While speaking to Arsenal TV Online, Arsene Wenger informed that there are no new injuries but there is a doubt on Sagna’s availability, who hasn’t yet recovered from his injury.

Meanwhile Djourou, Szczesny, Denilson and Song all have a chance to be available on Sunday. Wenger added that Djourou and Szczesny’s inclusion will be decided after how they perform in the training session because they have question marks on their fitness. 

The manager also gave good news on Vermaelen’s return as he confirmed that he has joined training. He added that we will need to show patience with Vermaelen as he has just joined the team and isn’t match fit yet.

On Thursday, Arsene Wenger said:

“We have no [new injuries] but we have a big doubt on Sagna. Djourou and Wojciech are question marks. Will they be fit? That all has still to be decided. We have two more days to find out. It could be a possibility that they could be available.

It’s difficult to say [what their chances are]. We have a test today [Thursday], we have a big test to see how they survive the training session. That will be very important. Denilson and Song have a chance to be available as well.

I am not reluctant [to use Vermaelen] but he is not match fit yet. He just joined the team this week so we have to be a bit patient with him.”


Johan Djourou is out as Arsene Wenger confirms rotation against Leyton Orient

February 17, 2011

With the job half done at the Emirates last night, it’s time now to move onto the domestic challenges. Arsenal is to face Leyton Orient in the FA Cup 5th round on Sunday as Arsene Wenger gave the latest update on the squad today.

The Manager, while speaking to Arsenal TV online, revealed that Johan Djourou injured his back in the match against Barcelona and confirmed his exclusion from the game on Sunday. Wenger also informed about Walcott’s hamstring concern but added that he is expected to recover from it.

While Marouane Chamakh and Sagna, who returns after his suspension, are back in the squad, Diaby is going to miss the game through suspension as Wenger further added that the rest of the squad will be assessed slowly.

With three games in nine days to come, Wenger also confirmed that there will be rotation on Sunday.

Wenger, ahead of the FA Cup match, said:

“Djourou has a back problem. He is the one who certainly will not play on Sunday. We have a little concern about Walcott’s hamstring but it should be alright.

All the others are smaller things I will assess slowly. Sagna is back from suspension but Abou Diaby is still suspended. Marouane Chamakh will be back in the group.

There will be some rotation. We will see what I do. We play Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday again.  But I have shown in many competitions that I have the same belief in every player.”


Ipswich Town vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

January 11, 2011

After barely surviving in the FA Cup on Saturday, we are up against Ipswich Town in the Carling Cup semifinal tomorrow.

I don’t know much about Ipswich’s team. Only that their dismal performance in the Championship has led to the sacking of their coach Roy Keane and since then they have been thrashed by Chelsea in the FA Cup. But as this is the semifinal of the Carling Cup, they will be a changed team and this can be tricky match. They will no doubt fancy their chances over two legs and try and get something from their home game.

Still, as always, I expect us to win this without much fuss, provided we don’t play like we did against Leeds.

The starting eleven for tomorrow is again going to be a hard decision for Wenger. With three games in seven days coming up, rotation will be a key part of it. And as the semifinal is spread over two legs, I believe a team similar to what we saw against Leeds will be put out.

With Squillaci joining the injured players and Vermaelen yet to return, the choice for centre backs is very limited. Koscielny for me is a sure starter. Djouroru I feel won’t be risked as there is a League match at the weekend. However, we can play Song back there and also give Ignasi Miquel a chance. I will prefer Song. On the flanks Eboue and Gibbs are going to start as Sagna is still suspended and Gibbs needs a run of games.

Szczesny is a sure starter with Wenger already confirming it.

In middle I will go with Denilson and hopefully he will keep it simple and not disappoint. Rosicky should start again and Wilshere to partner him.

Up front it’s time that Wenger picks either Chamakh or Bendtner to start because both of them starting together haven’t helped us or either of them. For tomorrow, I will go with Chamakh. Arshavin hasn’t been performing well and has been highly criticized for his past few performances. Still, I would start with him so that he can get his confidence back. On the right I will start with Walcott or if he is rested then Vela will be the next best option.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Eboue, Koscielny, Song, Gibbs, Denilson, Rosicky, Wilshere, Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin

Hopefully we will not have many problems tomorrow and maybe give Ramsey some playing time as he also needs to up his match fitness.

As far as the result is concerned, a win will be ideal. However, a draw or a draw plus away goal(s) won’t be bad.

Hopefully it won’t come to away goals and we will win both the fixtures and eventually the Carling Cup. Keep your fingers crossed!!


Report and a Quick Analysis: Partizan Belgrade 1 – 3 Arsenal

September 29, 2010

Partizan: 1 Celo 33 p

Arsenal: 3 Arshavin 15, Chamakh 71, Squillaci 82

A job well done by Arsenal as they came up on top today with a fine win over Partizan Belgrade.

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Arsenal vs West Brom: Embarrassed or Not, Keep Your heads Up and Move On

September 26, 2010

Where to start on this one; from the draw against Sunderland or the massive win against the spurs in midweek, from the record profits that we have made or come straight to the embarrassing defeat against the baggies at home. We were sure to get the three points yesterday, we were this much sure that the whole team thought that the goals will be given to us gift wrapped by Albion themselves and we just have to show up and have a walk in the park.

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