Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Arsenal's history of implosions and collapses rears its ugly head

By 1970's Gooner

Every team goes through a bad patch in a marathon season that is the PL. But Arsenal's bad patch may last a little longer or it might even result in another implosion. This is because the team has no history of success in the last 8 or so years. Rather it has a history of implosions and collapses.

And this preys on the players minds, especially when they have to play against the big teams. This explains their nervous starts (and negative results) against Man Utd, Manchester City and now Chelsea. It's obvious that they are lacking confidence in themselves. And that is why they were able to put in that remarkable run last season to finish in the top four after that confidence boosting away win at Bayern Munich.

If they can manage to shake off this negative thinking then we can see this Arsenal team6 challenge Man City for the title.

They can win the title if Wenger splashes out on another big money signing to add another viable attacking threat. Giroud showed in the last few games that he is not the same man as at the start of the season. The new signing will also have the same invigorating effect on the rest of the players that Ozil brought with him.

Ozil I fear is a one paced player. And by this I mean is that these languid even paced performances will not change by much. He is a "wysiwyg" "What you see is what you get". He is not the type of player who will get the game by the scruff of the neck and lead the team to the promised land. He is an assist master which means that the rest of the team have to play well for him to perform.

And like against Chelsea when Ramsey and Rosicky were not performing he couldn't lift the team.

Both Ramsey and Rosicky let the team down. Their passes were going astray, there was no combination play and no through balls to the forwards. Also Ramsey was playing too far up the field leaving poor Arteta to battle it out against Chelsea's three man midfield.

Wenger needs to pick the players up and pick the right team to beat West Ham. He should stick with Giroud but if he is not up to it then he shouldn't hesitate to sub him. Ramsey and Rosicky should be rested with Cazorla and Podolski given a start. Ozil needs a rest but it should be in a home game probably against Cardiff.

A win at West Ham could get the team confidence and spirit going again. All you need are a few wins and before you know it you are top of the League again!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A starting eleven to beat Chelsea

By 1970's Gooner

This encounter is massively important to Arsenal. Win it and we not only go back to the top of the League but we will be reinstating our title credentials. To everybody but more importantly to the players minds.

I would not play Sagna in central defence. At the moment he is slightly more effective at that position than Vermaelen but we will be losing much more in our right back defensive capability and more importantly from our forward penetration on the right wing.

Stats are showing that 46% of Arsenal's attacks come from the right side and this is no surprise as Sagna is usually the full back who ventures forward and Gibbs stays behind. And this statistic was with Walcott's absence.

Both Flamini and Arteta should start. This will add more protection for the defence, something that was so evidently lacking at Man City. And if we need to chase the game then one of them can be substituted by a more forward thinking player.

On the wings obviously Walcott is a no brainer and Ramsey should occupy the left side instead of Cazorla. He could interchange with Ozil by coming in to add numbers in midfield both for defensive and attacking purposes as the need may be.


Sagna  Mertesacker  Vermaelen Gibbs

            Arteta   Flamini

Walcott      Ozil       Ramsey


We can all choose a starting eleven to face Chelsea. And of course Arsene Wenger will. Whoever that eleven are they need to be hungrier than the Chelsea players. They need to want it more. Without this hunger no combination of eleven will win us the game.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Walcott's return boosts Arsenal's title bid

By 1970's Gooner

Theo showed us all last week what this Arsenal team have been missing.

The first is lightning fast running behind the opponents defence. This forces the full back marking Theo to drop back thus forcing the rest of the defenders to follow in tandem. It therefore opens the space allowable for the Arsenal midfielders and forward players to move further up the field and push on from there.

The second is that his positioning widens the pitch stretching the opponent's midfielders and defenders thus creating even more space for Arsenal's creative players to take over.

Thirdly it allows Wenger to select the right players to play in their natural positions. Squares will fit into squares and not into round holes as has been happening so far. Typical examples are Wilshere and Ramsey who were being asked to play out wide. This didn't show up as a major weakness until we came up against the bigger teams.

And lastly Theo scores goals. He was our top scorer last season! And he showed that quality last week with his two very well taken goals. Theo has got everything.

He has pace, crosses intelligently, defends well and scores the goals.

Expect another sparkling performance against Chelsea.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wenger`s decisions cost Arsenal

By 1970's Gooner

Arsene Wenger contributed a great deal towards this heavy defeat. Two choices he made, in the starting line up, weakened our midfield and the defence.

Firstly the decision not to start with both Flamini AND Arteta was very wrong. He should have known that City's midfield was very strong with Toure in its centre. Wenger also knew that the Arsenal players were exhausted.

What he should have done is to play a little bit more conservatively and hit them on the counter attack. But no he had to play all his creative midfielders bar Flamini in order to prove his words right, that our midfield was as good as theirs.

Secondly he started with Monreal. What a wrong decision. Monreal was not up to it. He was off the pace, mostly out of position. He was always being by passed by Nasri and Silva and that's where the most decisive goals came from (the 2 1 and 4 2).

What a sorry sight Nasri was. So desperately trying to score a goal against the club and manager that made him into a player of high standard. I bet he would have celebrated like the little boy he is!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The forward Wenger will sign

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsene Wenger will not want to sign a mega star forward for two reasons.

First he will demand to start every game. This will be difficult to put into practice as Giroud is now a pivotal player in Arsenal’s formation of 4 2 3 1 and also in his tactical importance of holding the ball, bringing the midfielders into play and scoring goals.

And changing Arsenal’s formation to accommodate the new striker in a 4 4 2 set up would be stupid to say the least and would be silly to put into jeopardy what has been achieved so far with Giroud’s contribution.
That’s why players like Benzema and even Suarez are now out of the question for Arsenal. Notwithstanding the fact that Liverpool will not sell the latter to a “rival”. And for the same reason players like Dzeko, Jotevic and Demba Ba will not come to the Emirates.

Secondly the transfer fee of a player like Benzema and the related wages would be enormous, in the Real galactico range, making such a transfer mostly uneconomic and nonsensical when your first choice to lead the line will, in any case, be Giroud.

Now, the forward that Arsenal will want to buy will have to be a player that a) is not a galactico and b) will be at that stage of his career where coming to Arsenal will be a step up. He will also have to, at the same time, fulfill his aspirations of appearing in the World Cup (if his country has qualified that is).

Another characteristic will have to be that he is not averse to sitting on the bench if need be and awaiting his chance to come through injury, loss of form, red cards or rotation.

Such players exist everywhere, in all the leagues of the world and Wenger knows where to find them.

BUT it is now the end of November and the January window will not allow Wenger to bed the player in as he could have done if it was the preseason.

That is why I think that the most logical transfer activity will be a Premier League player. That is if any transfer activity will take place at all!

The players that would add value to the squad will, in my opinion, be:

Shane Long (WBA)

He is very good at receiving the ball with his back to the defender, has lightning pace, can play in all forward positions and can score goals. Transfer fee minimal if he does not sign a contract soon. Otherwise will be in the 8 to 10 m.

Christian Benteke (Villa)

Very strong, can take defenders on, can play in all forward positions and can score goals.

Michu (Swansea)

Technically very good, can play in the number 10 position too and can score goals. Will fit into the Arsenal way of playing very nicely.

Peter Crouch (Stoke)

Tall enough and skillful enough to play that front man role. Can bring other players in the game and has the awareness to provide the assists and of course score the goals himself.

The other option, if Wenger does not fancy the PL market, is to avoid the January transfer window altogether and hope the Podolski will be a good enough cover for Giroud.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wenger's coat brings bad luck

By 1970's Gooner

I don't know what you think but every single time that Arsene Wenger wears that ugly, shapeless long coat we lose the game.

I get the jitters when he is pictured trying desperately to zip it up. His nervousness then shines through these manic attempts to get some cover and warmth. I then begin to lose any confidence I may have mastered before the game convincing myself that the three points are in the bag.

I am sure the same feelings are transmitted to the players and they get even more nervous amongst themselves resulting in just the outcome they are trying to prevent.

What I am saying here is not a joke. When I used to play (in my own level) we had a coach who was always nervous before an important game. This would osmosisize through to us and would inevitably result in a below par performance.

So advice to Mr Wenger:

1.Get a decent coat to wear on the dug out.
2. And learn how to zip it up BEFORE you go out on the pitch.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Revealed: The fee Arsenal have to pay to get Nigerian wonderkid

By 1970's Gooner

Kelechi Iheanach’s performance at the just concluded Fifa Under 17 World Cup, where he won the Golden Ball award, has not gone unnoticed by some of the elite clubs in Europe.

This includes Arsenal. Chief scout Steve Rowley has watched the youngster in action and has been impressed.

"I can confirm that Arsenal FC's Steve Rowley, acknowledged Kelechi Iheanacho's talents early in the World Cup and has said some very nice words about him," Henry Galeano the player's agent said.

Nigeria won the tournament and Iheanacho scored four goals in the final against Mexico.

Greek side PAOK has also entered the race for his signature but it is expected that should Wenger give the go ahead the young player will want to follow in the footsteps of Nigerian great Kanu to Arsenal.

The fee is expected to be 400.000 euros rising to 700.000 with appearances and other performance related bonuses.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Arsenal lacked composure, a tall centre back and width (Ratings)

By 1970’s Gooner

They also had several players vastly underperforming.
Remember the home game against Dortmund. The Arsenal players started very nervously. They couldn’t get their passing game going, their usual fluency was not apparent and they hardly created anything of substance until the last minute of the first half. In the second things got better.

Something similar happened against Man Utd but the difference was that United were not going to let their lead slip. They had to win the game to get back into the title race. They were very combative as they always are against Arsenal and it worked.

Secondly Arsenal missed their leader in defence. It’s difficult to say if he would have got to RVP’s header but his domineering presence and combativeness would have gone some way to reducing the nervousness in the rest of the team.
But the most striking aspect in Arsenal’s play was the lack of width and Ozil’s absence as an influence on the game.

Playing Ramsey on the wing was never going to work. Not only did he look tired he offered no penetration.
You can’t put square pegs in round holes.
Gnabry came on and he created so much down the right wing in the few minutes he was on than Arsenal created the whole game before! Thank God Walcott is coming back after the break because we can’t go on without pace and penetration on the wings.
Ozil was a nonentity. He has been so in the last few games but Wenger never rests him or substitutes him. He provided nothing, nothing. Cazorla the same.

In conclusion we got done because United wanted the game more than us, were more combative, we missed Mertesacker, key players did not perform and had no width.

But we will be back make no mistake about it.

Szczesny 7

Sagna 6

Vermaelen 5

Koscienly 6

Gibbs 5

Flamini 5 (Wilshere 6)

Arteta 5 (Bendtner 3)

Ramsey 4

Cazorla 4 (Gnabry 7)

Ozil 4

Giroud 5

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Arsenal are slipping under the radar

By 1970’s Gooner


I am finding myself giggling with satisfaction when I hear all these TV and Radio so called experts when they all, without fail, do not consider Arsenal as a genuine title contender. The latest example is the verdict of the two distinguished guests of MOTD, Murphy and Shearer.

You see these people are afraid to stick their necks out in case they are ridiculed. Arsenal after all have not won anything for a number of years now. Why would it change they think.

And long may it continue I say, because they are all doing us a favour, helping reduce the pressure on the players and also making them put that extra effort in every game to prove them wrong!

They do have a point of course. We seem to be light on the center forward and on the ‘Flamini’ position. But in response to this there are three arguments to be made.

Firstly our competitors have more or less their own dependency on a high class center forward.

Man City are not the same if Aguero is not playing.

Man Utd the same if RVP is out.

Chelsea don’t know who their best forward is. Is it Torres, Demba Ba or Eto? Are they good enough?

You might say that these teams do have an alternative if any of those players is out injured. Arsenal do have Podolski to come back but more importantly we can go out in the January window and buy a centre forward.

Secondly Flamini’s position was very adequately covered by Arteta in the Liverpool game. And of course we didn’t have Flamini last season but ended the last ten or so games of the campaign with a much much better record than the eventual champions! So even if we do not buy a defensive midfielder we can cover for that position well enough.

Thirdly and more importantly it is the overall performance of the team that wins games and not individual performances or weaknesses.

When the team is collectively working well, keeping the ball, dominating possession and defending throughout the pitch then, as happened against Liverpool, we have nothing to fear.

Imagine of course if we did go out and bought cover for these two positions.

Then we will no longer be under the radar!



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Arsenal’s squad is stronger than many people think

By 1970’s Gooner

Look at Chelsea’s injury list and compare it to Arsenal’s. You will see that Arsenal have seven players out whereas Chelsea have one! A certain M Van Ginkel.

Arsenal’s players out are strong candidates for a start in a PL match.

     S Gnabry, Ankle/Foot Injury, 2nd Nov 13  

    M Flamini, Groin/Pelvis Injury, 23rd Nov 13  

    T Walcott, Abdominal Strain, 10th Nov 13  

    Y Sanogo, Back Injury, 10th Nov 13  

    L Podolski, Hamstring Injury, 10th Nov 13  

    A Oxlade-Chamberlain Knee Injury, no return date  

So I get irate when the consensus on the game in The League Cup against Chelsea was that their reserves were better than Arsenal’s! They are not when everyone is fit. They were on Tuesday night of course.

One aspect that they would have been better on any night is their organization and discipline. I think that this is what Mourinho and his back room staff are probably better than Arsenal’s.

You saw that even if they were playing with a second eleven they had a professionalism about them and each player knew what they were supposed to do at any given situation. Even newly arrived Willian was chasing back to cover for his defence. I was impressed.

Where the press is right however is that Arsenal are light in two very key positions lacking adequate back up players.
Giroud and Flamini of course have been crucial so far.
Flamini’s absence is very hurtful. We don’t have any other player that can play that selfless destructive role in front of the defence.
And he is out till the 23rd of November, during our most important period where we take on Liverpool, Man Utd and Dortmund among others.
Which means that in order to come out of this period relatively unscathed we will need to get the better of our opponents by outplaying them in a kind of “total football” where movement, flexibility, ball possession and speed of play force them into submission.

Just as we did against Napoli at the Emirates.
It will be an either all or nothing situation for Arsenal I am afraid. But if it is all rather than nothing then we will make a very strong statement that the title will be ours.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wenger to make changes for Palace

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsenal looked nervous almost throughout the game against Dortmund. It was obvious that the players felt that this was their first real test and that everyone’s eyes were on them. They did not play with the usual rhythm and flow and their passing was out of sorts in all areas of the field.

Granted Dortmund pressed well high up the field which forced our centre backs to try and distribute the ball forward which usually resulted in losing possession (Southampton employ this tactic in the Premier League with a lot of success).

But even on the occasions when we got clear of the opponents we still could not get our passing going. Sagna was particularly the culprit with all bar one of his crosses into the penalty area going astray.

The one he got right we scored.

Dortmund’s pressing of both our defence and the midfield high up the field called out for the high ball onto the space behind them for a fast running attacker (like Walcott for example)….

The best way to counteract a high pressing team is to bypass them widening the field with pacy wingers. Sadly this is missing from Arsenal at the moment and Wenger needs to correct this now and stop waiting for Walcott to return.

The other weakness that was obvious was the absence of Flamini.

In my previous post Flamini’s significance to the defensive side of Arsenal was highlighted by contrasting Arsenal’s play with and without him when he had to go out with concussion.

Many disagreed with me but I feel that it is now quite obvious that Flamini and Arteta have to start games for Arsenal.

It is also quite obvious that Wenger needs a Flamini back up because this kind of player is a must in the way that Wenger’s teams are so attackingly set up with even both full backs bombing forward.

We have a difficult schedule of games coming up in a short space of time (Palace, Chelsea, Liverpool, Dortmund, Man Utd). Wenger will need to rest players and introduce width into the team otherwise the momentum that has been built up is in danger of dissipating away.

From the defence Sagna needs to be rested for Saturday and Tuesday against Chelsea. He looked tired against Dortmund and there are important games to follow. Jenkinson should come in.

Gnarby should come in on the right wing to give much needed width.

Flamini obviously should start and get a yellow card so that he could rest against Chelsea. Frimpong could start against Chelsea. He could develop into a Flamini back up if given the chance (otherwise we could buy Song back at a lower price).

Ozil should also be rested with Rosicky taking his place behind Giroud.

Cazorla should start on the left side to get match fit.


Jenkinson  Mertesacker Koscienly Gibbs

           Flamini    Arteta

Gnarby  Rosicky  Cazorla


The bench would be full of quality: Wilshere, Sagna, Ramsey, Ozil, Vermaelen and Monreal to name but a few.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Flamini's concussion a controlled experiment

By 1970's Gooner

Every successful Arsene Wenger team had an unsung hero playing as a defensive midfielder. Vieira, Petit, Edu and Gilberto Silva to name but a few.

They provided the steel in the middle of the park, in front of the defence playing no nonsense football winning the ball and giving it to the creative players.

Every team needs these players in order to provide the right balance between creativeness and hard graft.

This Arsenal team has been lacking this type of player for a long time. Flamini came in this season out of the blue and started putting it about, winning tackles, being there when the opponents were counter attacking and dishing out orders left right and center.

"A controlled experiment is when  it isolates the effect of one variable on a system by holding constant all variables but the one under observation".

And we had exactly that when Flamini went off against Norwich with concussion (in the 37th minute). Ramsey came in and had a wonderful game but defensively we were not the same.

Suddenly there was no shield in front of the defence. Ramsey was stationed in a more advanced position and the opponents were able to gain more control in the midfield. As a result they had a period of ascendancy pressing us back and having dangerous shots on goal.

What stopped that was Ozil's second goal which in a way didn't come about out of dominance but from a counter attack.

Flamini is now the first name on the team sheet. His injury may keep him out of the Dortmund game and that will be a problem. Under such circumstances there are no other Arsenal players that can be so effective in the defensive duties. They are all ball players and creative individuals and asking them to curb their natural instincts restricts their game.

Under such circumstances the team has to totally dominate the play and the opposition to submission in order to win the game. Like Barcelona do.

This team is so exciting that with the addition of a viable and capable defensive midfielder as well as an understudy to Giroud will probably make them world beaters with the PL and CL titles within their grasp.

Any chance of Song coming back? He will be ideal.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Koscienly added to injury list but important player returns right after the break

By 1970’s Gooner

Unfortunately Koscienly has a calf problem which he picked up in training with France last Tuesday and will probably miss the team’s forthcoming fixtures against Australia on Friday and Finland on Tuesday.
The short term seriousness of the injury has led to the last minute call up of 18 year old Zouma who may well be the subject of a transfer bid from Arsenal, Man Utd and Man City in the next transfer window.

It is now touch and go if Koscienly will make it for Arsenal’s next game against Norwich on the 19th of this month. The natural replacement will be Vermaelen who is of course away on international duty with Belgium.

Let’s hope he comes through those games unscathed. If he doesn’t not even Sagna can deputise as he is out injured with a hamstring until the 26th.
The problem is that Vermaelen has not had a full PL competitive game yet and this may jeopardise his match fitness. But at least the games for Belgium will go a long way for mitigating this.

He will have to of course play alongside Mertesacker and hopefully he will strike a good understanding with the big German (unlike last season when the distances between them were far too long).

But there are good news on the injury front. Cazorla is likely to return and available for selection for the game against Norwich (Sanogo too).
Rosicky’s return is not sure yet as he has withdrawn from international duty with the Czech squad. It is likely that he also may be available for this game.

Cazorla’s and possibly Rosicky’s return will give Wenger some relief and more options. Let’s hope that on this occasion he adds some width to the team that was so clearly lacking against WBA.
Let’s also hope that no more Arsenal players get knocks during the international break.

Here is Arsenal’s current injury list:

Rosicky Calf/Shin Injury (no return date)
Sagna Hamstring Injury (26th Oct 13)
Walcott Abdominal Strain (26th Oct 13)
Cazorla Ankle/Foot Injury (19th Oct 13)
Sanogo Back Injury (19th Oct 13)
Podolski Hamstring Injury (26th Oct 13)
Oxlade-Chamberlain Knee Injury (10th Nov 13)
Diaby ACL Knee Injury (no return date)

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Lack of width and Clarke's tactics stifle Arsenal

By 1970's Gooner

Arsenal played without a recognised winger against Napoli and played them off the park. But that was then. Ozil had a blinder but was not able to repeat it against WBA. Ramsey had a blinder but not against WBA. And the big difference was that Rosicky started against the Italians.

Rosicky is able to change the speed of the game with his forward runs and incisive passes.

He did so when he came on at the Hawthorns. Wilshere who is very uncomfortable playing on the wing came inside more and as a result got the goal and set Giroud up beautifully for a chance to win the game.

As a result of Arsenal's lack of width their play was mainly directed through the middle.

One would have thought that the full backs would have bombed forward as they usually do for Arsene Wenger's teams. But neither Jenkinson nor Gibbs showed up at the other end often enough.

Jenkinson had a very average game and so did Gibbs. Just about everybody had an average game bar Szczesny.

So, added to the off day had by all in the Arsenal team, came Clarke's tactics which were concentrated on blocking Arsenal's thrusts through the centre of the park by crowding that area realising that the threat from the wings was weak.

They worked hard and deserved their point which could have been three if old boy Anelka had taken one of three very good chances that came his way.

Arsenal will be firing again after the international break when Cazorla, Walcott and Sagna come back.

A point away today will prove to be a point gained come the end of the season.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wenger’s change of tactics this season is working wonders

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsene Wenger seems to have hit upon a set of simple tactics that are working wonders.
Arsenal used to press teams high up the pitch playing a high line and forcing the opponents to cede possession in the dangerous areas.

Once the ball was under control then possession football would come into play squeezing the opponent in their half.

We used to end up being champions in the possession stats but runners up in the winning stakes.
This season the tactic seems to be to allow the opposition the ball, retreat into two banks of four and suck the other team in. Once the ball is won back the midfield and wing players spring into action utilising their speed, mainly of Walcott’s.

It reminds me of the championship winning sides which included the likes of Overmars, Bergkamp, Anelka, Pires and Henry.

The tactic has been employed especially when we have gone one nil up. Remember the Fulham, Sunderland and Spurs games in particular.

That's why the possession figures so far this season have been low by Arsenal's
standards. Look at the stats below:

Villa 58%
Fulham 54%
Spurs 43%
Sunderland 68%
Stoke 50%
Swansey 41%

But it is working!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Which of the youngsters impressed and who can replace Walcott on Saturday?

By 1970's Gooner

I saw the whole match last night and was very impressed with the overall performance of the youngsters.

Wenger seems to have learned his lesson from past years when he would start with 8 or 9 youngsters thus losing cohesiveness and experience. The whole of our defence were all seasoned players who were able to provide a solid basis for the youngsters to perform.

The youngster who didn't impress was Gnabry!

He kept giving the ball away and looked selfish in taking shots rather than playing a simple pass to a team mate as he correctly did for his debut against Stoke. I feared he would miss the penalty for to take a successful penalty you need humility an attribute he lacked last night.

On the other hand Ryo was much more effective and mature in his play and if there was a straight choice between them to start on Saturday then he would get the nod.

Hayden has the built and technical ability and he looked a good prospect. He needs games of course but he did well in the middle of the park.

I expected more from Eisfeld as his performances last season in the same competition impressed me. Last night he did not shine and had a lot of misplaced passes. He did however get into the correct position for the goal which he took clinically.

The youngster that really impressed however was the substitute Bellerin. He came on in the 95th minute for Arteta and for the remaining 25 minutes he run Arsenal's midfield! What a game he had. He was able to receive the ball, turn and pass further up the field rather than sideways.

He was the main reason that Arsenal was just as threatening as the opponents during this important period of extra time. He also had two shots one of which the keeper had to scramble to save to his right.

Just like Fabregas he is a Barcelona academy kid....

Now who will start against Swansey?

Neither of Gnabry or Ryo and not only because they will be exhausted from last night!

Ozil, Giroud and Wilshere will be the front three.

The midfield will be Arteta, Flamini and Ramsey the Rambo.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Three Options for Replacing Walcott

By 1970’s Gooner
When things were beginning to look up on the field and we started getting some players back from injury Walcott’s abdominals give in. This comes at a time when the other close alternative, The Ox, is also on the treatment table needing another 5 to 6 weeks before he comes back.

So ignoring the League Cup encounter with West Brom what alternatives has Wenger got?

In my opinion there are three.

He had a decent game against Stoke. He looked assured for his age and relative inexperience and impressed me more with his tracking back and defensive capabilities rather than his forward runs. I think he will improve the more games he plays. But should Wenger risk playing him in very important games against Swansea, Napoli and West Brom?

Ryo Miyaichi
I watched him play enough times when he was on loan to Bolton and he impressed me enough. He was good at going forward with pace but he was mature and experienced enough to track back and defend. Above all he was able to keep the ball and bring other players in the game.

But I also watched him during Arsenal’s pre season games this summer and he didn’t play so well. Again he needs games but I am not sure he will get them. He is a more hardened and experienced player than Gnabry however.

Wenger seems to have preferred Gnabry to start against Stoke so if it was a straight choice then we more or less know the outcome.

But there is a third way.

Yes why not play Wilshere on the left wing and Ozil on the other (or vice versa if you like). Arteta would come into midfield alongside Flamini with Ramsey the Rambo completing the trio. Ramsey could play a little further up behind Giroud.

This arrangement has its weakness that you will have a left footed player playing on the right wing and also you will miss the pace that a genuine winger would provide for the team.
On the other hand Gnabry’s (or Miyaichy’s) pace cannot really be compared to Walcott’s can it?

You will also need to keep at least one wide player wide so as to stretch the opponents and open the pitch up.

But what you really gain is more experience and nous which will come from fielding two players who are not rookies.

I would go for the Wilshere option.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Latest injury news with returning players. Squad close to matching rivals

By 1970’s Gooner       

Arsene Wenger’s transfer activity added two players who have improved the quality of the team no end. Ozil’s performance at Sunderland told everything and Flamini’s comeback came at a time when Arsenal needed someone to cover for Arteta’a absence in that vital position of defensive midfield.

Not bad business really.

But when you look at the latest injury news you will realise that Arsenal’s squad will soon be full of high quality players at every position bar one.

Mertesacker is only a few days away from his return. He may even make the CL game at Marseille with Sagna returning to right back.

Sanogo is only a week away which means he may be available as early as for the home game against Stoke.

Furthermore in about 2 to 3 weeks but most probably after the international break which is 4 weeks away the squad will be bolstered by the return of Arteta, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Cazorla and most probably Rosicky.

No official news on Rosicky have come out but at worst he will only be away for 2 to 3 weeks for a thigh injury.

Note: Podolski is out till late November and Diaby early next year.

So Arsenal need to negotiate the intervening games successfully and then the bench could include high quality players like Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky, the Ox, Jenkinson, Monreal and Vermaelen.

The first 11 may look like this:


Sagna Mertesacker Koscienly Gibbs

       Ramsey Wilshere


Walcott Giroud Cazorla

What is distinctly lacking however is the absence of a high quality centre forward who could challenge or cover for possible injuries to Giroud. If this was in place then Arsenal will be favourites to land the title.

It may be corrected of course in January and then the sky is the limit in my opinion.

In the meantime until the international break comes we have to keep ourselves in the running both in the League and the CL.

Up to that point the upcoming games are: Marseille away, Stoke home, Swansea away, Napoli home and WBA away.

Very manageable in my view.

But keep hoping for no more injuries especially to Giroud….

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Arsenal’s squad is thin and unbalanced

By 1970’s Gooner

The most important characteristics to look for when assessing a squad is the following:

- the quality of the players
- the cover in each position
- the age structure in order to ensure that there is a number of younger and promising players who could eventually make it into the first team.

Have a look at the first team players on Arsenal’s books. The squad looks thin and unbalanced.

What is easily realisable is that there is a plethora of good quality midfielders but not enough strikers or defenders.

Let’s look at the squad:


Enough numbers (2) but they are both relatively young and inexperienced. They are promising however so they need to be complimented by an experienced goalkeeper who will either start games or provide competition for places.

Recommendation – Buy experienced goalkeeper

Right backs

There are two and they compliment each other well. Sagna is an experienced defender who is covered by Jenkinson who is an up and coming young right back of good quality.

Recommendation: No need to buy

Left backs

The same as for the right backs can be said for this position. There are two very good defenders. Nancho Monreal is the more experienced one and Gibbs is developing into an exciting left back with attacking capabilities.

Recommendation: No need to buy unless Monreal’s back injury is more long term (like Vermaelen’s)

Centre backs

The quality of the available centre backs has proved to be very good as the results of the last 10 games show (second best defence and the best away defence of the League).

However there are two major problems with these positions. 

The first is that there are only three experienced centre backs for the two available positions (Koscienly, Mertesacker and Vermaelen). So there is a need to add another and also of course there is Vermaelen’s long term injury (out for 3 months which makes the available centre backs as only two).

Yes I agree that Sagna will be a revelation at centre back if called upon (he has the heading ability and the defensive nous) but there is still the problem that we will only have 3 centre backs to cover for 2 positions. It will also leave the right back position with only one player available.

It is therefore vital to increase the available centre backs to four and to cover for possible injuries in this significant position.

Recommendation: Buy another centre back irrespective of Sagna’s availability and recall the decision to send Coquelin on loan to Freiburg so that he could cover at right back if need be (he proved very capable last season and I would trust him in this position).


A large number with good quality are available in these positions. Central midfielders of the likes of Arteta, Ramsey (I think he will be irreplaceable this season), Wilshere, Rosicky and if need be Cazorla and the Ox means that the midfield will be Arsenal’s high powered engine room for the coming season.

On the wings there is Walcott, Podolski, Cazorla and The Ox. No need to add there although you could say that a left sided out and out winger could balance the team much more.

Recommendation: On balance no need to add


Which strikers? There is only one as far as I am concerned and that is Oliver Giroud. He will improve no end this his second season. But you can’t rely on only one out and out striker.

Sanogo is young and unproven. Gervinho, Chamack and Park are on their way out and would not have featured anyway.

Podolski and Walcott filled in last season but in my opinion they are either not ready or up to it to play in that position with the effectiveness required.

Recommendation: BUY BUY BUY

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wenger raises expectations for a star signing

 By 1970' s Gooner

It used to be that Arsenal did not buy the stars but made them. Do you remember? Arsene Wenger used to brag about it. But only a few days ago he made an exremely surprising statement. He said that we are now in position to buy the stars!

Not only has he changed his strategy he has raised expectations by making bids for 25m (Higuain) and 35 m (Suarez) for two players that are cosidered as stars! And as if this was not enough he announced that Arsenal want to buy Rooney and can afford his wages!

Forgetting the Rooney bid as a tactical non starter (he made it to make a point to prospective incoming players that Arsenal are in the market for the big boys) he is now running the danger that he may end up with nothing.

Real have agreed terms to sell Higuain to Napoli for 37m and then they may probably use the money to buy Suarez from Liverpool!

Arsenal and Arsene will be left with mud on their face.

And we will be sweating our squeaky bums for another tight finish for 4th spot again.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Higuain and the fixture list means Arsenal are gunning for the title

By 1970’s Gooner

Higuain’s transfer to Arsenal marks a definite statement of intent. At the reported 25m this is a deal that signifies Arsene’s will to go for the title in possibly his last season at the club. Just like Alec Ferguson went out and bought a 29 year old RVP to make sure he retired with a big bang.

Higuain is a typical Wenger buy bar one item on his check list.

He is 25 so he has a resale value.
He is a goal scorer with a goal to game ratio closing on 0.57 (good goal scorers are usually at 0.5).
He is fast and versatile, able to play in various forward positions.

The only thing that is not typical of a Wenger buy is the transfer fee and his salary both which will break Arsenal’s previous ceilings.

The positives of last season’s performance to take forward are:

The squad now has good depth in quality with more additions to come.
The three additions of last season, Cazorla, Giroud and Monreal have had a very good year and will be far more effective this.
Wilshere will, hopefully, have a full season ahead of him.
Arsenal had the second best defence in the League (and the best away defence)!

And then there is the fixture list.

When I looked at it I was overwhelmed with a feeling of optimism and confidence. This is because nearly all the fixtures looked realistically winnable to my eyes! If we can beat Spurs at home in the third game then we are on the way.

We will probably be top of the League or very near it by Christmas! Mark my words we are gunning for the title!

Aug 17: Aston Villa (h)

Aug 24: Fulham (a)

Aug 31: Tottenham Hotspur (h)


Sep 14: Sunderland (a)

Sep 21: Stoke City (h)

Sep 28: Swansea City (a)


Oct 5: West Bromwich Albion (a)

Oct 19: Norwich City (h)

Oct 26: Crystal Palace (a)


Nov 2: Liverpool (h)

Nov 9: Manchester United (a)

Nov 23: Southampton (h)

Nov 30: Cardiff City (a)


Dec 3: Hull City (h)

Dec 7: Everton (h)

Dec 14: Manchester City (a)

Dec 21: Chelsea (h)

Dec 26: West Ham United (a)

Dec 28: Newcastle United (a)


Jan 1: Cardiff City (h)

Jan 11: Aston Villa (a)

Jan 18: Fulham (h)

Jan 28: Southampton (a)

Odds for the title: 11/1

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Arsenal are now favourites to land Jovetic. Fiorentina’s owner decides against Juventus

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsene Wenger did hint that he will be proactive in the transfer market and it seems that he has been doing his homework.

Arsenal have tabled a bid of €28million, 1 million below the asking price by Fiorentina’s owner Diego Della Valle. Wenger who has long been an admirer of the Montenegro striker looks like he will get his man as Fiorentina have decided that no way will they sell their hottest property to a main rival in Italy.

Fiorentina have only days ago been piped to the Champions League qualifying spot by Milan and now have to sell Jovetic who wants to move to a team playing in the CL. Although Juventus are ready to splash the cash to bolster their front line Arsenal are now considered favourites.

Reports in Italy suggest that owner Diego Della Valle would be willing to accept a slightly lower fee (around €29million) for his star man if he were to move abroad and Jovetic himself has described the Premier League as the strongest League in the world.

Part 1 of the four part tranfer plan now looks set to be completed. Arsenal will have two main strikers in Giroud and Jotevic (who can play on the wing too).

Part 2 is to get a defensive midfielder in and Part 3 will be to bolster the central defensive options.

Part 4 is considered to be a new experienced goalkeeper. I personally do not think that Wenger will go for this as he is set to allow one more year to both the Polish goalkeepers to blossom. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Are the Gods favouring Arsenal?

By 1970’s Gooner

The result that would have suited Arsenal most in the Chelsea Vs Spurs game was a Chelsea victory. This would have almost killed Spurs off and handed Arsenal fourth spot needing only to qualify for the CL group stages by winning in the qualifying round.

The draw however means that all three teams are in the running for the last two CL places albeit with Chelsea and Arsenal only needing to win both their remaining games. It’s out of Spurs’ hands now.

The positive is that there are only a few points separating these three sides which means that Arsenal can potentially finish third, if Chelsea slip up. This would mean that Arsenal will qualify straight to the group stages of the CL.

However looking at the form of the three sides the omens are not that good for Arsenal I have to say. 

Ever since Giroud has been out of the team the performances have not been good. 

 His absence has unbalanced the team with Podolski unable to hold the ball up or bring players into the game. He also does not provide a presence or goal threat as Giroud does. Its just as well that Walcott has found his goal scoring touch otherwise things would have been desperate.

Yet it seems the gods are working in our favour.

Man Utd under normal circumstances and if the League title was at stake would have picked us off at the Emirates. They nearly did, missing a few chances at the end.

Then came the QPR game. A game where QPR were already relegated and down and out. Yet we managed to put in a poor performance winning by a goal scored by the only player in form, Theo Walcott and needing a wonder save form the keeper to keep us in the game.

The Wigan game is potentially a difficult one but Wigan are ravaged by injuries and have to play in the Cup Final three days before they visit the Emirates. In addition the Arsenal players will have a 10 day rest before they play on Tuesday.

And for the final game of the season we have Newcastle away. A potential banana skin. Yet their game before they play us is against indifferent QPR. Let’s hope that Newcastle win that game otherwise we will need to recover our top form to get the three points.

At least Giroud will be back then.