Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

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.