Transfer Window thoughts, Wilshere’s injury, Arsene banned for two games, Vermaelen to be sidelined for two months?

September 5, 2011

So, it’s been almost five days since the end of the transfer window and the excitement of the dead line day. My one week leave are also over with today being the first day back at work (heck! I could have used another week).

The last four days, I spent the time with family and friends away from football, the reason for no updates on the blog. And considering that the International break is underway, I don’t have missed much.

Today, it is going to be a bit of everything that has happened in the last few days.

First off, the final two days of the transfer window were the best that I remember in terms of signings for us in recent times. Five players having experience and quality were signed, a rare thing at Arsenal, which did somewhat make up for the summer of inactivity. The thrashing at United, however, still hurts and this does lead to the question why weren’t players signed earlier? Also one wonders had United not defeated us the way they did, would these signings be made then? I know these and many other questions have been discussed a lot already. However, one cannot help why were we led into such a situation by the board and management considering we had three months to sort out all our problems?

Anyways what’s done is done and cannot be reversed. Sanity was restored to the Arsenal board and management team after the humbling at old Trafford. I do wish now that this had happened earlier (on second thoughts, no I wish it had never happened, to painful and humiliating!)

The players that we have signed do bring something extra to the squad and certainly add enough quality and numbers to make us challenge for the top four. Benayoun and Arteta are both Premier League experienced and will greatly improve our midfield. Santos is also experienced and Mertesacker will add height and stability to our defense. Park, considering where he comes from will give nothing short of 100 percent. And all of these signings are winners having won trophies in different capacities (if I am not wrong!) All have a number of caps for their national teams and they certainly will bring stability to our team and the young player will learn a lot.

As for what can be achieved with the squad we have, we can challenge for the top four now and maybe end our trophy drought with the cups. If we can pull something extra, we might also be involved in the title race. However, for that, I feel, we will need to maintain a good run till January where we would at least need a couple of special signings. I am hearing that Hazard, Cahill and Yann M’Vila are still our priority. If we can manage that in January, I am certain we are in for an exciting finish to the season.

We, however, should not get ahead of ourselves.  A lot of work needs to be done still. We need to get back to winning ways and close the gap with the leaders. We certainly have made a start in the right direction with these signings and with time we can add more quality to bring the glory days back to Arsenal (we still need to replace Nasri and Fabregas by the way)

Moving on, I am glad we did get to sell or loan out the dead weights at the club. I still, though, hope we get Henri Lansbury back, because considering such loan moves, mostly the players don’t return. As for Bendtner, I am happy for him to have finally moved on, even on a loan. He was being wasted here by being used in the wrong position. What he said recently of not returning to Arsenal is justified in the sense that he wasn’t properly utilized. However, in terms of quality, we are better off without him. I feel he will be a success at Sunderland which will in return prove beneficial to both him and in return to us, as we can get a better value for him in time. If we could have only rid ourselves of Almunia, Squillaci, Diaby and to an extent Chamakh, this summer would have been close to perfect.

Life, however, isn’t that kind, always playing its joke when you least expect it. And in our case they are always the cruelest. After having a great first season, we are now going to miss our most talented player, Jack Wilshere for at least another two to three months due to injury. What started out as a rumor has been confirmed by Wilshere himself. Jack Wilshere tweeted this yesterday on twitter.

I can confirm I will be out for around 2-3 months! I am working hard in the gym to stay fit and I am gutted but I will be back stronger!

I don’t know whether to blame lady luck, the Manager or our medical staff. This is certainly the result of playing a player over his limits which is completely avoidable. And then we ask why it is that our best players suffer long term injuries? And this has happened so many times now I am starting to believe it is more than bad luck.

It was Vermaelen the season before last. Excellent first season, injury in the next, out for a year. I just hope Wilshere doesn’t suffer the same because voices raised now will surely have to be answered then.  

In other news, UEFA again showed that they are a bunch of oafs. They do this every now and then just to make sure people don’t forget. Anyways, Arsene Wenger’s appeal against the two match ban has been dismissed by UEFA. The two matches ban was given to Wenger for supposedly breaking a rule that every other manger has broken in the world of football. I guess, I don’t need to go over the rule and when it was broken. Wenger is now going to miss the Champions League group games against Borussia Dortmund, away, and Olympiacos at home. Our officials are also fined 10000 Euros for improper conduct. Below is the UEFA stamen that is available on Arsenal.com

“The UEFA Appeals Body has rejected the appeal lodged by Arsenal FC and Arsène Wenger against the two-match suspension handed to the manager in the wake of the English club’s UEFA Champions League play-off first leg against Udinese Calcio on 16 August.
 
“Wenger will now be suspended from carrying out his duties at Arsenal’s next two UEFA competition matches – the UEFA Champions League group stage games against Borussia Dortmund and Olympiacos FC on 13 and 28 September – in accordance with the decision taken by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body on 22 August.

“The manager was awarded this suspension for not abiding by an earlier decision of the Control and Disciplinary Body during the Udinese home game – in which Wenger was serving a one-match ban imposed following Arsenal’s final UEFA Champions League game of last season.
 
“The Control and Disciplinary Body also fined Arsenal €10,000 for improper conduct by their officials during the match against the Italian team in north London.”

As for the International break, it continues in all its boredom. There have, however, been plenty of goals for our players. Van Persie bagged four, Park has had a hat-trick, Ramsey and Lansbury also ended up with goals. Chamberlain also impressed greatly. Possibly a sign of good things to come!

That is all for now. Swansea game is not far now and it will great to see how we line up against them. Good times ahead for sure!

p.s. While writing this, news about Vermaelen’s ankle surgery are circulating that can rule him out for possibly two months. It is not yet officially confirmed but twitter is abuzz at the moment with this news. More on this to follow!

 


Defender Linked!: Will it solve our problems?

November 29, 2010

The last few matches have revealed that we are still very much prone to conceding goals at the back. After getting three clean sheets in four matches not too long ago, we have again gone to our knack of conceding goals, mostly due to defensive errors. The situation has led to many defenders getting linked with us to solve the problem. Bolton’s Gary Cahill is the foremost of the players linked to us with reports suggesting Wenger will move in for the defender in the January transfer window with a 10 million bid. With Bolton’s debt rising, they will be tempted with the bid but it will require more than this to part ways with Cahill.

I am in for the notion that we need a new defender come January if we are to have a chance to challenge for the trophies. The question is will it solve our problems? The thing that I have noticed is that most of the problems that we have are not due to the ability of the defenders but due to some basic mistakes that we are not avoiding. Even a top class defender will be made to look normal with the type of mistakes we make. The problem is further escalated due to the fact we are weak in defending as a team. We fail to keep our organization whenever we are under attack. I don’t know why it is but it is visible. Most of the times we are caught ball watching or out of position, we are weak in the air, not attacking the second balls, the midfield is not supporting the defence most of the times, our clearances are weak and we are not confident in defending the set pieces. Even if we are doing it, we are not consistent.

This problem is serious because at the moment even with a two or three goal margin a win is not ensured for us. Although this is also due to some other factors but the problem of bad defensive organization is one of the foremost.

Someone once mentioned it to me that the reason might lie in the way we practice. It’s like we usually play the beautiful game of passing the ball and looking for killer balls to open up defenses. So in practice sessions we will be doing the same thing. Our forwards and midfielders would keep the ball down and move forward, not relying much on the aerial route or set pieces. Therefore the defenders will also adjust and practice for this type of play and not the long ball game. That’s why you will see that we are good in the one-on-ones’ and in tackling but weak in the air.

Also in our style of play most of our team is involved when we attack leaving plenty of space behind. As a result a slight mistake can lead to many open spaces which the opponent can exploit and we have suffered due to it a lot.

Now I feel these problems cannot be solved wholly by buying a world class defender, although it will greatly reduce the burden and may bring some organization at the back. To counter all these problems we need to change the way we practice. We need to work out a way to defend set pieces, corners, crossess and long balls. We need to learn to defend as a team. We need to be more effective in our pressing. We need our players to stay close to the defenders when we are under attack. And for all this we need to keep our focus.

Also our keeper needs to communicate with the defenders more. The keeper is the one who has to take charge of his area and organize our defensive shape. Although Fabianski is doing great but he needs to learn to command his area and only then we can avoid conceding avoidable goals.

I am not saying that we will not be doing somthing about these problems but we need to change something somewhere. It cannot be done overnight for sure but it is high time that we dealt with them. The season is entering one of the important phases and results here will be crucial. Let’s hope we do find the solutions to our defensive frailties.