Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Arsenal need to improve in three areas to beat Newcastle

By 1970’s Gooner

As with many things in football, as in life, it’s what you can do rather than what the others do, that will go a long way in determining your fate.

And looking at Arsenal’s performances so far this season there are three areas that need to improve if all the points against Newcastle are secured.

Central defensive efficiency

Both Kolo and Gallas have not been playing at their best. Their marking and positioning has been below their usual standards culminating in that stupid goal conceded at Fulham from another set piece.

I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them is dropped and Song brought in to add that tenacity, close marking and very good distribution out of defence that he can bring to the team.

Whoever plays in the end this is a vital area that will need to tighten up.

Defensive midfielder needed

The return of the little magician has restored the creativity and penetrative passing that has been distinctly lacking in the two League games so far.

This means that Denilson will have to perform his midfield defensive duties in a Flamini like manner so as to provide the basis for Fabregas to be more creative and offensively minded.

If Denilson is chosen to play then his defensive performance will go a long way in determining Arsenal’s fate this afternoon.

Arsene Wenger has another interesting option in my opinion and that is to opt for Song who is after all a naturally defensive midfielder and a strong candidate to make that position his this season.

I would feel much more comfortable with Song in midfield but Wenger seems to have decided that he will be a central defender…

The Adebayor and Van Persie pairing: get your finger out

Both these players have been below par so far. Adebayor has looked dangly and uncertain rather than forceful and dangerous. Van Persie has looked anxious and lacking movement (is he unfit?).

They both have to get their finger out and start playing together as a unit, making those runs behind the defence and link the play with rest of the team.

The only players to have performed well so far have been the two full backs, Sagna and Clichy and the excellent Nasri who seems to have fitted into English football as well and as quickly as Sagna did last season.

When the rest of the team catch up with them and the injured players return then we will surprise a lot of people this season, again.

Lets start with Newcastle.


Line up

Sagna, Gallas, Song, Clichy
Walcott, Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri
Adebayor, Van Persie

Score: Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0

Denilson a creeping up on you……

Song’s Olympics could prove Wenger wrong

Why Wenger will buy no one else

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Arsenal are too dependent on Cesc Fabregas

By 1970’s Gooner

Midfield inspiration is what was clearly lacking against Fulham and midfield inspiration is what we got against Twente in the Champions League in the form of Cesc Fabregas.

The question is what will Arsenal do if and when Cesc is injured or unavailable in some other way. There is simply no one ready to replace his trickery, vision and creativity.

This is typical of Arsene Wenger’s teams that he builds. He creates a monster of a player who then goes on to dominate the way the team performs but becomes irreplaceable, at least in the short to medium term.

Prime examples of course are Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry when they were in their prime.

If Arsenal does not win anything this season will Cesc begin to question his future at Arsenal just like Vieira and Henry did before him?

And will someone have been developed by then to be ready to take up the mantle in time so that we do not have to wait a couple of seasons before he matures enough?

I doubt it.

In the meantime enjoy the goals we scored against a very weak Twente team.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wenger traveled to Geneva to watch Swiss midfielder from close up

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsene Wenger’s interest in signing another midfielder has been well documented and so has his desire to sign Turkish origin Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler.

His agent Dino Lambertini had already said only three weeks ago that he was travelling to London to begin talks with Arsene Wenger on Inler’s possible transfer to Arsenal.

"I’m due to go to London and take a look over everything, but no deal has been done yet with Arsenal.”

“It is difficult for us to take a decision, but Arsenal is certainly something that Gokhan needs to look at. Wenger is someone who helps young players go forward.”

With reports that Inter Milan and Everton were joining the race along with Newcastle to sign the £7m rated player Wenger had to move fast.

And this was before Arsenal’s woeful performance at Craven Cottage last Saturday. A performance that desperately cried out for midfield inspiration.

It seems that maybe the deal for Inler’s signature has already been done as we can reveal that Arsene Wenger was at the Stade de Geneva last Wednesday (20th July) to watch Inler from close up as he played for Switzerland in an international friendly against Cyprus.

His performance, which has been described by the Swiss newspaper “Le Matin” as “impressive", may have confirmed Wenger’s already held view of the player and this would probably have forced his hand in moving to close the deal.

The Swiss youngster looks like another Flamini type of player. He is a very good reader of the game, snuffs out danger, is positionally aware and tackles tenaciously rather than forcefully. So it is obvious that Wenger may be seriously interested.

Inler was substituted in the 64th minute so Arsene had a chance to also watch Cypriot wonder kid Demitri Christofi.

He is the 18 year old that has attracted Arsenal’s and Manchester United’s interest earlier this summer with one English newspaper predicting another tussle between Wenger and Ferguson similar to that which preceded Aaron Ramsey’s eventual transfer to Arsenal.

Christofi also put in a good performance setting up Cyprus’s only goal in a game that ended up with a 4-1 win by Switzerland.

So it seems that Wenger looks poised to make a move as the transfer window is coming to a close.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Arsenal contact IK Start for Anthony Annan “the new Essien” (plus video)

By 1970’s Gooner

Anthony Annan seems to possess all those characteristics that may make him a typical Arsene Wenger signing.

He is at the not so ripe age of 22, no one has really heard of him but he is already a Ghanian international playing along side Michael Essien in the centre of Ghana’s midfield and plays in that midfield position that Asrene has said he is looking to strengthen.

His low centre of gravity at 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in), big heart and all action box to box play that has earned him the nickname “the new Michael Essien”.

He is a defensive midfielder who as you will see from the video on the right hand side of this page is happy to tenaciously compete for the ball and lay it off to a team mate without much fuss.

Wenger’s interest has been confirmed by IK Start’s Director Svein Mathisen.

“We were informed about it through an agent.

We have not yet received any concrete bid, but consider it certain that he (Annan) will be sold before the transfer window closes on 31st August” he said to the Norwegian press.

IK Start have been relegated to the second division last season and are looking to make as many economies as possible.

“The financial situation indicates that we are not able to keep him in the club. He will go at the highest price we can get for Annan" Mathisen continued.

Annan joined IK Start in January 2007 , after a very promising career in Ghana with local club Accra Hearts of Oak the club that holds the registration of another player Wenger is interested in Tawrik Jebril.

He quickly established himself as a first team regular during I.K. Start's pre season games. Unfortunately he was plagued by injury and illness during the first part of the 2007 season, and did not participate in the final games of the relegation season.

After Start got relegated during the 2007 season, he joined Stabæk on loan until August 2008.

He has already had a week’s trial at Blackburn but if Arsenal comes calling he is unlikely to reject the lure of such a big club and the chance to be tutored by Arsene Wenger.

Annan himself does not lack confidence.

“I have experience in European football and have played in the tough and physical Norwegian League. I've played in Africa and in the World Cup qualifiers with Ghana. I'm mature and ready for the Premier League”.

Denilson a creeping up on you……

By 1970’s Gooner

During the summer of 2007 and looking ahead to the following season, Gilberto Silva was naturally expected to star in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield next to wonder boy Fabregas.

He had already assumed the captaincy while Gallas was injured during the previous season and had an inspiring campaign, providing the maturity and experience the young guns desperately needed after the high profile departures of Henry and Vieira before that.

But alas his country came calling and off he went to captain Brazil in the Copa America. This meant that he missed the first few games of the season and Arsene Wenger had to find a replacement from within the squad, as he normally does.

In stepped Flamini and the rest is history.

I can see very a very similar scenario building up this season with Denilson. Normally he would have been third choice behind Song and Diaby to partner Fabregas in midfield.

Wenger, at least for the short term, has to promote from within as the important Champions League qualifying game is upon us next week and the players are there to fill in that post.

But his options are now limited.

Diaby would have been the one to start against Twente next Wednesday.

He already has a lot of first team experience as Wenger made sure of that last season and has been played in that midfield position in many of the pre season friendlies. But he is injured again (thigh).

The next best option would have been Song who had a tremendous close season last year.

If he was good enough to play against Manchester United at Old Trafford at centre back then surely he would now be good enough to play in his natural position in midfield.

But like Gilberto, Song is representing his country in the Olympics.

Guess who played in all of Arsenal’s “meaningful” pre season friendlies.

Guess who was man of the match against that wonderful away 3-1 win at Stuttgart.

Guess who run Adebayor very close in our poll as to who was man of the match against Real Madrid in the Emirates Tournament.

Out of 1220 votes cast Adebayor got 26% and Denilson 21% of the votes.

And although he had an average game last night against Ajax which was probably due to fatigue, guess who sprang into the opponents box after playing the one two with Adebayor before giving the perfect assist for the winning goal.

Denilson is a skillful midfielder who plays with his brain. He is seen as a similar player to Fabregas in the sense that he is a creative midfielder rather than a defensive, destructive type of player like Flamini was.

In this sense many do not think that he can flourish in that position but in my opinion if a player has brains then he can be flexible enough to adjust his game to become effective in various positions.

A typical example of the opposite is Eboue who has not been able to make the switch from defender to wide midfielder.

So Denilson is very likely to start against Twente and if he does well you never know do you?

No one expected Flamini to play any games in the first team last season or even to keep his place after Gilberto came back.

Maybe Denilson can do the same……

Why Wenger will buy no one else

Arsenal Vs Real Madrid: Player analysis and ratings

Monday, August 04, 2008

Eriksson rates Carlos Vela

By 1970’s Gooner

Carlos Vela’s fine performances for Arsenal in the pre season friendly games has not gone unnoticed by Sven Goran Eriksson, the new head coach of the Mexican national team.

His spies in Europe have been impressed with Vela’s prowess in front of goal especially that fine effort against Stuttgart when he rounded Lehmann before slotting the ball into the net off the bar.

“I have an assistant that informs me of the performance of those in Europe. For example, Carlos Vela is going very well" Eriksson said recently in Mexico City.

This was during the press conference where he announced the initial squad made up of home players for the moment until the Mexicans playing in Europe join up. This is ahead of a World Cup qualifying game against Wilson Palacio’s Honduras.

Carlos Vela was also highly rated by Mexico’s previous coach, Hugo Sanchez, who sited his absence from the team for the Bejing qualifying games as a major reason for failing to qualify (and getting him the sack).

Eriksson can count a lot on the experience of these mercenaries who can fill all positions in the team except that of goalkeeper, which is held by Oswaldo Sanchez.

The Mexicans have shown weakness in the attack in recent years and Erikkson is seeking to change that, especially with strikers who play in Europe.

These are Carlos Vela (Arsenal) Omar Bravo (Deportivo La Coruna), Giovanni Dos Santos (Tottenham), Nery Castillo ( Manchester City) and Antonio de Nigris (Ankaraspor).

"We have enough to form a strong team. The number one goal is to qualify for the World Cup," said the Swede.

The final call up inclusive of the Mexicans abroad is likely to be some days before the 20th of August which is when Mexico will face Honduras.

This means that Carlos Vela will probably be available for Arsenal’s Champions League second qualifying game against FC Twente but will miss the chance of being involved in the first two league games of the season against West Bromwich (home) and Fulham (away).

Lets hope he comes back unscathed.

Arsenal Vs Real Madrid: Player analysis and ratings

Carlos Vela’s absence blamed by Mexico’s ex manager for his sacking

Carlos Vela ready to replace Eduardo

Arsenal Vs Real Madrid: Player analysis and ratings

By 1970’s Gooner

It was important that Arsenal came out victorious against Real as another defeat would have dented the young players confidence.

The team is looking sharper and sharper the more games it plays and I think this will show in the Amsterdam tournament as Wenger is likely to play more first teamers.

I shudder to think what we could do by the time we get to Twente and West Brom.

Manuel Almunia

He didn’t have a lot to do as Arsenal dominated play and restricted Real’s creativity to a large extend. He dealt with what Real threatened quite well. This was a few shots from distance which is his strong point anyway. 7

Gael Clichy

He was full of running again going forward and providing an incisive thrust on the left wing. He also combined well with new boy Nasri, a partnership that looks likely to develop in similar lines as the Cole/Pires and Clichy/Pires partnerships of the past.

He did however misplace his crosses and was out of position in his defensive duties a few times, something that will need to be corrected as he gets more match fit. 7

Bacary Sagna

Strong, purposeful, attacking and tenacious. The perfect right back for any team. I wonder what his value in the market place is now; around 20m? 8

William Gallas

I agree that he should continue as the captain in order to maintain continuity and to avoid placing an unnecessary burden on young Fabregas’s shoulders as he is the leading candidate to assume the role eventually.

Gallas was his better self, playing efficiently and distributing accurately. A big season is expected of him this year and I think he will deliver. 7.5

Philippe Senderos

Philippe had to deal with a lot of short balls on the ground as Real is a passing team and this he did quite well.

He did however have one miscued clearance as he is known to do now and again and also he was slow coming out of defence on one occasion thus playing the opponents on side.

The attack from the left fortunately did not amount to anything but nevertheless in a proper game these are the mistakes that usually lead to goals.

He needs to concentrate more as this, along with his “relative” lack of pace, will have to improve if he is to establish himself in the team. It will be a big year for him this season and I hope he rises to the task if he is called upon. 6.5

Abou Diaby

He was a mixture of good and not so good. He sometimes bossed the midfield by winning tenaciously the tackles and swinging Vieira like from the bunch of players trying to dispossess him.

He did however misplace a fair percentage of his passes and they were of the short distance where you would expect no mistakes.

He didn’t impress much and this may have had something to do with the Schneider incident but also I think with the fact that his role in the midfield was neither defensive nor attacking. It was a bit of both and this he had difficulty adjusting to. 6.5


Denilson didn’t have any difficulty playing a mixture of defensive and attacking midfield play.

He impressed again today with his Flamini like box to box display positioning himself to receive the ball out of defence and laying it off accurately to a forward player.

He nearly scored after a sumptuous move which started from the right and after a series of one touch passes received a lay off by Adebayor only for Heinze to throw his body at the shot preventing a sure goal. 8.5

Theo Walcott

He is looking increasingly sharp and frighteningly fast. He also looks more mature in his play knowing how and when to shield the ball before passing to a team mate rather than haring down the wing. He looks hungry to establish himself in the team this year and that is what we need: hungry players. 8

Samir Nasri

He had a very good game showing why Wenger went out and bought him. He was dangerous on the left wing where he started the game using his very good ball control skills and technique to take defenders on.

He also ventured infield to help out with the midfield duties. He looked stronger than his frame suggested (like Jack Wilshere) and played with his brain.

He assumed a similar role to Hleb but he is not for dwelling on the ball too long as Hleb used to do nor is he averse to shooting. If he can add goals to his game then he could prove to be a far more effective player than Hleb in the end. 7.5

Robin Van Persie

He is coming up to his best with his close control and penetrative passes already beginning to show through. It was his attempt to receive the ball on his chest in the six yard box that led to the penalty. If he hadn’t been fouled he would have scored spectacularly.

I really think that he has the nous and ability to play this Bergkamp role amazingly well. If he can keep fit then we will not worry too much about scoring even more goals this season. 8

Emmanuel Adebayor

He was out to prove a point and boy he did. What an awesome display by a hungry player trying to show the faithful that Arsenal is in his heart. Is it?

Real’s defenders couldn’t cope with him. He was able to receive the long high balls, control, withstand the defender’s pressure behind him and either run at him or lay it off to a team mate. And the guy is only half way in his pre season!

He is very important to Arsenal as he allows the team to vary its play by being able to play the long ball to him and also put the crosses in the box. This is far preferable than passing the ball to death around the box as we have been doing before Afdebayor burst on the scene. 8.5

Various substitutes

Nicklas Bendtner

He is not Adebayor yet but he has the potential to be. He has to improve his ball control and his pace if he is to that. 6.5

Carlos Vela

He is a typical Arsenal player. Skillful with close control and full of trickery which he showed during the 24 minutes he came on for. 6.5

Jack Wilshere

What a find. He is another Fabregas in the sense that he can play against men and not only survive but impose himself on the game.

Just as Fabregas used to do when he was his age. Do you remember Fabregas’s display against Manchester United in a Charity Shield game when he was only 17 or so?

Wilshere has a low centre of gravity which, along with his skill and ball control, uses quite well to trick his way past players. He will be really big for Arsenal and for England in the not too distant future. 8

Aaron Ramsey

He also was not bothered by the status of his opponents. He played the central midfield role quite well for the 15 minutes he was on. His passing and positioning are those of a mature player. 7

Emmanuel Eboue

More of the same I am afraid. Provides thrust, cuts in well but his passing and decision making leave a lot to be desired. I don’t think he will improve on these aspects. He is better being another choice as right back. 5.5

Man Of the Match: The two best players were Adebayor and Denilson. But Adebayor stood out.

Why Wenger will buy no one else

Song’s Olympics could prove Wenger wrong

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Why Wenger will buy no one else

By 1970’s Gooner

We hear the same thing every year. Arsene Wenger promises to buy two may be three players and he insists that the money is there for him if he wants it.

Then his attention is diverted in trying to keep the young stars he created from departing to what they think are pastures new.

After that he signs a couple of under 20s from either the reserves or from a second division team and finally he comes up with a big, for Arsene Wenger standards, signing in the region of about £10m.

That’s just about it and I would not expect anything different this year.

There is method in his madness of course and if you subscribe to the Wenger model of developing a football club, as I do, then you should not crumble or complain. For if the boss decides to keep to his existing squad then there is a valid reason for it.

And the reason is that he feels that there are enough good players around to fill in the areas that the team needs strengthening in.

You must realise that the Wenger model relies on sourcing highly skilled and technically enhanced talent from all over the world (inclusive of England).

The beauty of it is that due to its impressionable age it is then easily tutored, instructed and moulded to develop its latent talent into an exciting football player and star.

That is the reason of course, as the jigsaw puzzle that Wenger tries to construct takes time to fall in place, some of the more advanced stars in the conveyor belt begin to worry about their trophy less future (or so they think).

Examples are plenty full with Henry and Vieira a few years ago and Hleb, Flamini and Adebayor recently. In the same vein if Arsenal is trophy less this season you might get Van Persie, Fabregas and Clichy showing similar signs of discontent.

The fact is that because there are so many talented players in the squad Wenger has always the option of switching players in different positions until he finds their rightful place in the team.

He may for example convert a full back into a midfielder or vice versa, like he did with Lauren a few years ago.

A winger into an out and out central striker like he did with Henry and as he may eventually do with Walcott and Vela.

There is another reason why, in the Wenger model, when there is a vacancy in the team or when a weakness is highlighted, new buys are not the first option.

And that is the high speed at which the talented young players will be learning their trade. They nearly won the premier league title last season!

So Wenger will be loath to curtail their rate of growth by buying in a more mature replacement and will want to give them every chance to reach their potential.

This is sometimes done at the detriment of the rest of the team and inevitably in loosing points. As for example in the case of Senderos and Eboue with whom he is persisting again this year. Who knows he may be proved right again.

So that is why I don’t see Wenger spending significant cash in buying in mature expensive players that will walk into the first team right away.

Take every position on the field and you will see what I mean.


Do you really think that he will buy another more experienced goalie? If he wanted to Brad Friedle at £3m would have been ideal for Arsenal, but no, he wants to give Almunia, Fabiansky and Mannone every chance to show what they can do.

Central defenders

Wenger pointed out last season that we lack the ability to defend the direct high ball into the middle of the defence.

He won’t buy another central defender mark my words.

What he will do is put emphasis in training for Gallas and Toure to be able to cope with it and at the same time expect that Senderos, Djourou and Song will have improved even further in their education as central defenders.

Full backs

You don’t really expect Wenger to buy anybody to understudy Sagna and Clichy do you? He has Traore coming through on the left and for right back may persist with Hoyte or divert a central defender there, like Toure or Gallas or even bring Eboue back.

Central midfielders

This is where a vacancy is wide open with Flamini’s and Gilberto’s exit.

But if you follow the Wenger model then surely Diaby will be the obvious candidate to fill in.

He bought him for this purpose, it is the player’s position after all and the young man has had a lot of first team experience last season.

This was at a different position but that is Wenger’s way to get a player first team experience and at the same time give him a taste of other positions on the field.

Then there is Song who is more than ready to play first team football.

If Wenger trusted him to play in that very crucial position of central defence (at Old Trafford of all places) then surely he is good enough to be trusted in the centre of midfield.

I for one have been singing his praises for a long time now and I don’t believe Wenger when he says that Song, although admitting that he is a very good player, cannot play 60 games a season as a central midfielder!

I don’t think Gareth Barry can do that either!

If you are interested, have a look at a previous article of mine on this very subject “Song’s Olympics could prove Wenger wrong”

And then there is the ever improving Denilson and Eboue who I thought did quite well in that position against Stuttgart.

You would not expect Wenger to scupper all these players’ chances to make it at the top would you?

Forwards and wide midfielders

Again there are plenty of choices open for Wenger in these positions as he can switch wingers to central positions and vice versa. Such is the versatility of the players he tends to bring into the club.

Van Persie can play as a central striker, behind the forward (in the Bergkamp role where I think he will excel) or on the left wing.

Nasri can play on the wing or behind the forward.

So can Walcott, Eduardo, Rosicky etc etc

With Adebayor staying and with Eduardo and Rosicky due to make it back in action in October (they will start proper training in September) you would not expect Wenger to go into the transfer market would you?

And he won’t. Not for more forwards or midfielders or defenders! That’s your lot.

“Song’s Olympics could prove Wenger wrong”

Is it all Wenger’s fault this transfer activity?

Arsene’s revised transfer plans?

The woman behind Nasri!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Primorac speaks on the Arsenal youngsters and sets a time frame for Eduardo’s return

By 1970’s Gooner

Boro Primorac is considered to be Arsene’s “real” right hand man as far as strategy and tactics are concerned.

Wenger did after all take him to Japan as his second in command when he managed Grampus Eight there.

He usually sits behind Wenger looking serious and quiet and he does not usually speak much.

Certainly not to the Press in England. But when he is on “home” soil he does tend to say a few things.

And he was open with his views to some Croatia fans that made the trip to watch Arsenal’s game against a Bungerland 11 in Hungary. These were reported in the Croatian press.

When asked about the Arsenal youngsters he was very excited and optimistic that a lot of them can make it into the first team. He was particularly pleased with Ramsey and new signing Nasri.

“They are young and talented players. We hope that they will be quickly incorporated in the team and we believe they are ready to fight for a first team place” he said.

He was also optimistic about Eduardo’s return revealing that he will return to training in September and possibly in action in October.

“As far as Eduardo is concerned, we expect that in September he will be involved in full training.

"But we can not say with certainty when he will play in games because sometimes you need two and sometimes five weeks to come back to form after such a long absence".

This means that if all goes well Eduardo could play his first game against Sunderland away on the 4th October or even face Everton at the Emirates on the 18th.

Everton remember were the team that he scored those two wonderful goals against helping Arsenal to that emphatic 4-1 away win.

Eduardo will certainly miss the first two meetings of the Croatian national team which are against Kazakhstan and England in September.

Lucky England….