Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Which team, apart from Arsenal, would you prefer to win the Premier League title?

By Aries

It’s a hard choice really having to pick either Chelsea or Manchester United.

Normally I would prefer the team that played the best football to win the title and Arsenal have done that in my opinion. There’s not much to choose between Manchester United and Chelsea in terms of football played. Both have had good and bad games.

But there is a big difference between the two in their financial standing.

Chelsea have bought the titles they won and by extension they will have bought this one if they do go on and win it. Their financial strength is derived from big handouts from their owner and benefactor and not from what they earn through the normal sources of revenue open to football clubs, such as TV money, gate receipts, shirt sales and other marketable products.

Manchester United on the other hand have tended to rely precisely on these incomes which themselves are not inconsiderable but nevertheless football related.

However much it hurts me to choose a team to win the title other than Arsenal then I will vote for Manchester United.

Maybe Arsenal will win it! We still have an outside chance you know…

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wenger needs to get his and Hillwood’s cheque book out

By 1970’s Gooner

It is true that any team in the world will miss seven fist teamers like Arsenal have missed at various times this season. Robin van Persie, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Arshavin, and Fabregas.

But if their replacements were good enough then their absence would not have been felt so much. And Arsenal have suffered.

When the first teamers were out Wenger had to rely on aged players like Silvestre and Campbell or on young kids like Denilson, Eastmond and Bendtner.

The depth of the squad is simply not good enough and it is indeed a miracle that we have consistently been in the top four in the last five seasons.

I feel however that no major surgery is required in the squad but the major deficiencies have to be seriously addressed in time for next season.

And if Wenger finally gets his and Hilwood's cheque book out we may well be celebrating the title this time next year.

First and foremost Almunia and Fabiansky have to go. They have let us down on many an occasion this season and in important games too. No title winning team can rely on these two inadequate clowns.

And to think that we passed over Van de Sar when he was available as well as Shay Given last season! Wenger should buy a top class goalkeeper there’s no two ways about it.

Next shambles this season was our defensive cover. It was well known in advance that Djourou will not be able to offer cover to the two first choice defenders, Gallas and Vermaelen yet what does Wenger do?

He lets Senderos go out on loan, brings in Campbell and keeps Silvestre. Campbell has been brilliant but could not be used too often due to age and Silvestre …well, as I wrote too often in the past, he is a disaster waiting to happen.

Djourou’s long term fitness should be assessed and if he is ok then we need to bring in another quality central defender.

A central defensive midfielder is also needed because we cannot really expect Denilson to play that role every time Song is out injured, on Africa Nations Cup duty or banned.

And finally if Chamach is indeed coming this summer then we will not need more reinforcements in the forward positions.

All I can say is that Chamakh should have been at the Emirates in January. We may have been closer in the title race than what you may think.

Still, better late than never.

And if Wenger buys the right players this summer then all these barren years would have been well worth enduring.

For they will be seen as the necessary investment in the time needed to bring on the talented youngsters, like Fabregas, Clichy, Song, Diaby, Nasri, Walcott and van Persie to Premier and Champions League domination.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It’s tactics, not who starts, that will prove important in Barcelona

By 1970’s Gooner

Yes there are a lot of injured and absent players form Arsenal’s potentially most important game of the season.

There is Gallas missing from defence. Campbell is feared to be suffering from a hamstring strain and/or fatigue, Song and Fabregas are missing from central midfield and Arshavin from the offensive players. Van Persie is a long term absentee of course.

As a result most of the debate among Arsenal fans centres on the possible line up in the key positions where players are or could be missing.

Will Campbell play now that Song is out or will Wenger throw Silvestre in? Will Walcott start or will he be used as an impact substitute?

To my mind it’s what formation and tactics Arsene employs not who starts that will prove important in Barcelona.

Barcelona dominated possession for three quarters of the game at the Emirates and if we are to emerge victorious in Barcelona we simply have to stop them playing by denying them possession.

This is the single most important aim that has to be achieved if Arsenal are to have a chance.

And for this to be achieved in an Arsenal way (i.e not kicking the opponents to death as some other premier League opponents do against us) Wenger has to employ tactics that will thwart the opponent’s midfield and deny them the freedom to pass the ball around.

This can be achieved by adopting a more conservative approach especially in the first half because if Barcelona score first then it’s most probably game over.

A more conservative approach implies changing the formation from a 4 3 3 we have come to enjoy in the Premier League to a 4 5 1.

4 5 1 as played by the Arsenal will and should not be a defensive formation where players just stay behind the ball and defend.

4 5 1 will make life very difficult for Xavi to weave his magic and also deny space to their full backs when they try to roam forward as they did at the Emirates.

Two more things also have to happen.

Nasri who will be deployed centrally should not play as far forward as Fabregas did in the first leg. He should instead, when Arsenal are without the ball, drop back into the middle and mark Xavi denying him the space.

Bendtner should also not forget his defensive duties form the front. Indeed Arsenal should mark Barcelona’s defenders tightly when they have the ball and force them to distribute long rather than short (to Xavi for example). Arsenal will then have a much better chance to win the ball back.

Once all these are achieved then Wenger will begin to think about match winning substitutions. It is important not to play all your hands right from the beginning because if something goes wrong then there will not be a lot of room for maneuver left.

Walcott should therefore stay on the bench.


Sagna Campbell Vermaelen Clichy

Eboue Nasri Diaby Denilson Rosicky


Subs: Fabianski, Traore, Silvestre, Merida, Eastmond, Eduardo, Walcott (to come on for Sagna, Eboue goes to right back)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The game at Barcelona is far from a foregone conclusion

By 1970’s Gooner

Yes they outplayed us. In the same manner Arsenal outplay other average Premier League sides. They had a multiple of about 3 in terms of shots at goal, passes completed and very real chances. They could have put this tie to bed from the first leg.

Yet we are still in it having come back from the dead, as it were, which goes a long way in explaining the fighting spirit and never ending tenacity that these players possess.

Don’t believe the press when they say we have no chance. They have failed to see that this Arsenal team were severely handicapped throughout the game. And these handicaps are not likely to be there for the return leg.

Consider the following:

1. Gallas was injured and should not have started

Arsene Wenger should not have started with Gallas. He only trained for three days prior to the game after being out for a month. This is not enough to judge someone’s fitness especially for such an important game.

Not only was Gallas handicapped during the game but his necessary substitution deprived Arsene of making a more tactical (free) change. It also meant that Song came back in defence, a move he was not ready nor trained for.

The end result was that Imbrahimovic was allowed the room to waltz into the area and score. Twice

2. Fabregas was injured and should not have started

What we all feared happened. Fabregas was allowed to start when it was obvious that the risk of him breaking down was high. He was also not his usual self, chasing shadows for most of the game unable to dictate play as he has been accustomed.

There was another problem created by his ineffectiveness. His position on the pitch, playing further up behind Bendtner, meant that he was the one that should have been dropping back, harassing Xabi and making life difficult for him.

Alas he was unable to do that and Xabi was free to weave his magic.

While Song was in midfield he also was not able to put up mach of a resistance against Xabi as he was positioned too far back in front of the defence to crowd Messi out.

This left huge gaps for Xabi to pick passes in the unguarded areas between Fabregas and Song. And from there Arsenal’s problems began.

3. Arshavin was injured

Andrey had to come off around the 20 minute mark depriving Wenger of another tactical substitution. He was also pretty ineffective during that early period when Barcelona were allowed to run riot.

So I ask you: Can you name a team carrying so many passengers that would have lived with this excellent Barcelona?

Yet we scrapped a 2-2 draw coming back from 2-0 down…. Pretty heroic I would say.

When we play the return leg none of the above handicaps will be there. Yes these players are of high quality but they are no good to us if they can’t produce that quality on the pitch.

We will be playing 11 fit men and will be employing the appropriate tactics to take advantage of the weaknesses that Wenger so expertly exploited by the only free substitution that he was allowed to make.

Eboue’s and Walcott’s pace but also their ability to dribble past opponents were used to terrifying effect against Barcelona’s weakest link which was their left back. Maxwell was excellent coming forward but defensively he had no answer to pace.

And Walcott and Eboue run riot there.

High balls into their area also troubled them especially with Bendtner’s height posing a threat. We didn’t put too many balls in there but when we did we reaped the dividends.

And our midfield, especially Diaby, will not sit back and admire their passing game I am sure.

And Barcelona will be minus their central defensive pairing.

So don’t despair there’s still life in this team yet….