Thoughts On The Cologne Game and JET

Once again Arsene put the same eleven players on the pitch. Well, almost. Gervinho did take the place of Young Miyaichi but the rest of the starting line-up was same as the bunch that impressed in the Asia tour.

Many of us were eager to see how Gervinho performs, and I for one wasn’t disappointed. Far from it, I was well and truly enthralled by the half an hour he got on the pitch. Arsene probably bought him for his intelligent movement, well-timed runs, and the general ability to get into good positions on the pitch. If he can sustain the composure and finishing we saw in this friendly, the Ivory Coast striker will better the goals scored by Nasri and Walcott last year as I feel he is more natural in that role that any of the wide players Arsenal had last year. Previously, I had expressed concerns about his finishing, which seemed completely unfounded on the basis of that performance, but I’ll reserve my judgment till the end of the season. I think he will score when the opposition allows him space to exploit behind the defence. The true test of his finishing will come against tighter defences and parked buses. Nonetheless, Gervinho made as good a start to his Arsenal career as possible and that’s all that matters for now.

Like the previous two friendlies, this game too had the clichéd ‘game of two halves’ feel to it. Arsenal dominated the first period with excellent work in midfield by Song and the irrepressible Jack Wilshere. That kid is only going to improve and will undoubtedly end up in the team of the year when the votes are cast. They were ably supported by the back four and the front three who did their bit of chasing back and pressing. The new man impressed with his willingness and ability to provide support to Gibbs.

In an otherwise well controlled first half, and despite the best efforts of all the players, Arsenal had a few iffy moments when it seemed the defensive weaknesses were peeping from behind a curtain of wonderful free-flowing football.

The own-goal conceded by the hapless Jenkinson was indeed a once in a lifetime fluke that he wouldn’t actually score if he tried a hundred times. As I have said before, Arsenal concede so many freak goals because the defence gets into a mess more often than the other top teams. It’s a simple matter of percentages and, while we might not see the same accident in competitive games, there is no doubt other flukes are going to hurt the Gunners at vital moments unless basic problems in defence are sorted.

On the positive side, apart from Gervinho, Gibbs looked like he is getting back to his old self, Walcott put in some good balls into the box, Wilshere showed he is ready to chip in – literally and otherwise – with more assists this year, Vermaelen and Koscielny were actively looking to spread the ball from the back, and the delivery on the set-pieces seemed more meaningful (maybe it’s just me on this one).

The second half team once again lacked cohesion. There were too many individual moments when players tried to run with the ball or create something. There wasn’t enough focus on retaining the ball or the shape of the team. This put the defence under pressure but some good work by Mannone, some last gasp blocks by defenders, and Cologne’s lack of quality in the final third meant the equalizer was never scored.

Rosicky played some passes that were pleasing to the eye. But his work rate just isn’t good enough for a deep lying midfield role. It’s surprising because he has the talent and the ability to play that role. He can tackle, hold his own in a one-v-one situation, bring the ball out from defence under pressure, and play the simple passes or the exceptional ones. This performance reminded me of his pre-season games and early League ones from last season where he looked sharp. It could be that he loses interest when he doesn’t get enough minutes. It’s a hard one for the manager to solve but he has to get more from Little Mozart and that has to start with a much higher work rate.

Arshavin looks like he has rediscovered his shooting boots. Last season the Russian hit too many shots into the top tier or near the corner flag. In this game he tested the goalkeeper twice and went close on one occasion. Again it’s something that has to last the whole season for it to be valued.

Based on the recent rumours, it seems likely that there will be some significant movement in the transfer market. Wenger has mentioned the need for signing one more defender and there might be others if some players are able to secure their moves away from the club. I don’t want to speculate on most stories but one that intrigued me was the possible departure of youngster Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.

Only last season Arsene had said that he was banging on the first team door with both hands. Now he seems surplus to requirements and good enough only to interest Championship sides? Even the newly promoted Premiership teams are not interested in taking him?

To be honest, I am not surprised by this because I have always been sceptical about his attitude. JET looked like a lad who could dominate the reserves level and create some moments of real magic even in Championship games but just didn’t have the mental discipline to stay focused and perform week in, week out.  In fact, I won’t be surprised if Aneke and Afobe go the same way, especially the former.

It’s a real shame because technically and physically JET had a lot to offer. I don’t know if this mental weakness is an individual issue or one that is somehow linked to the training given to these youngsters. I don’t know the details so don’t really want to judge but it is possible that focus on technical development alone (while ignoring the results aspect of the games being played) could have had an impact on the players’ mentality. It’s a difficult balance to achieve. At a young age one would not want to force the kids to play for results. That would just produce hoof merchants. But an unwavering emphasis on technical skills could just as easily create footballers who can dazzle occasionally but can’t dig in deep when required. A top player needs the right combination of technical, physical and mental abilities. If any one is missing it can finish a career before it begins.

I am sure Wenger and coaches will be as disappointed as the fans if not more. They would not want to invest years of work into some kids only to sell them to some Championship clubs. They’ll have to look at the way the academy works and identify the problems. Only that can lead to a solution and better results with future prospects.

I do hope the transfer document, if and when it is signed, will include a buy-back clause alongside a good sell-on fee. You never know, a couple of years fighting for his place could just be what JET needs for he seems to have everything else.


21 Responses to Thoughts On The Cologne Game and JET

  1. Pronen says:

    Szczesay sagna cahil koscielny vermaelen shwastergar fabregas mata gervinho van persie lukaku Arsenal first team standby: viviano(GK)song,gibbs,djourou,nasri,wilshere,walcott,chamakh,rosicky,squillaci,carl,asharvin,vela.fabiansky,vito. We can then say we have a wining team,if we can have this.

  2. G4L says:

    Forget JET get this kid now!

    Wonder if Arsenal scouts are watching him or will he be the first internet based signing?

  3. dave highbury says:

    Still not convinced JET will leave. If it IS attitude, that can definitely change as you grow (a fact based on personal experience!)

  4. Boop says:

    In reference to JET, it is interesting to see Anthony Stokes recently playing a competitive match for Celtic (and against another gunner youth in gk Graham Stack). Some of our youth players will do a job with second-tier champion’s league clubs. Doesn’t mean they can do it at the next level up, the one we aspire to as the 7th richest club in the world. JET’s hardly better than what we (or our rivals) have out wide now – Gervinho, Arshavin, Walcott, Nasri.

    A 50% sell-on clause and an open door to return and I am ok with JET leaving. He can’t hang about at his age. The 25-man squad means he and other once awesome prospects will be moved on (at all top clubs). If they develop further then English football benefits and the 25-man rule is working from that perspective, and we may get a bit more parity in this league. I trust Arsene to get it right more often than not, and, with a bit of luck, more often than other managers (like Dalglish, for instance, who has this problem a bit more seriously than Wenger at the moment – is Jonjoy Shelvey a better prospect than JET, who is a year younger?). Look at Rodwell – is he (hypothetically) a serious champion’s league presence yet? It takes a long time for most of even the best prospects to be able to do the job at the top, top level. Walcott is taking his sweet time, and the jury is still out on Ashley Young ffs, although he’s nearly there.

    • santori says:

      There are at present 3 strikers : RVP, Gervinho, Chamakh (4 if you count the wild card Vela)

      I find it hard to see how JET will break into the team.

      Particularlyas there is also pressure from the Academy, Afobe for starters.

  5. critic says:

    what bollocks!! you are criticizing whole academy for attitude of 1 or 2 players. Summer has gotten to ur head.

  6. Rejoice says:

    Desi, yours is the best of all the arsenal blogs. The offensive and disrespectful things one reads from most other Arsenal blogs makes me wonder whether those are Arsenal fans or people bent on destroying the club. These bloggers need to write what is reasonable, fair, truthful, objective and balanced.

    I like the way you handle issues, how you analyzed each player on the Cologne match. Other blogs were too negative about these players . I agree with your submissions and that’s why each time I want a fair analysis of our great club, I look for you, but sadly, you are not always there for me. But it is better to delay the write-ups and do it well than to rush it with half-truths as is common place with most Arsenal blogs.

    Does our manager really read what you guys write? I hope he does. What is obvious is that we need to improve our defense. Cahil, Samba or Jagielka would probably do, but if they appear too expensive in the better thinking of Wenger, why not look at either Vertoghen or Mertasacker. get one of Cahil, Samba or Jagielka and Vertoghen or Mertasacker.

    On Fabregas and Nasri, I don not consider them as our players anymore. But what we must guard against is a situation where Fabregas goes to his Barca and we have no time to get a replacement. If he has to go, we must have the time to find replacement or he goes no where. If it is true that Wenger asked for Alcantara as part of the deal, I think it is good business.

    For Nasri, I feel for Wenger that he brings in unknown players to the club and as soon as they shine for one season, they want to disrespectfully leave. Sell Nasri now, esp.to a club outside epl. Arsenal can move on with or without them. They are not indispensable. I feel that these want away players should be ashamed that they played for Arsenal and yet they could not win a trophy for the club, instead, they want to blame it someone. Let me stop here.

    • santori says:

      Don’t let your passion get in the way.

      Yes ideally we should be able to chop and change sell disaffected players but :

      1) We start the season running with the CL qualifier and several big away games. We need as settled a squad as poss. With several players coming in, it is imperative that we should keep at least one of Nasri or fab.

      2) It will be extremely bad for morale if Nasri was let go not to mention may have had a knock on effect for Fab.

      As is, I believe we have a 60% chance of keeping Fabregas. wenger will not get in his way but Barca have to meet minimum requirement(40m quid). I believe this is a silent understanding between the two men. Had we let Nasri leave (considering the mood in the camp after Clichy’s departure), cesc may have forced through a transfer.

      3) Selling Nasri (to the highest bidder) in City would have meant us strengthening one of our peer rivals next season. Rather see him leave offshore personally.

      Therefore bearing these in mind, it is an acceptable gamble to ‘lose’ 12m (minus depreciation) and keep Nasri. He may after all yet sign an extension.

      I do believe that if Fab leaves, then Wenger may give Nasri enough leeway to leave.

  7. Mr K says:

    Desigunner – I’m deeply disappointed. I started to read your blog towards the end of last season and actually bookmarked you as a favourite because my thoughts seemed to mirror your own.

    However, your comments on Benik Afobe and Chuks Aneke have really disturbed me. I am from East London and as a Congolese man, my family know of Benik Afobe’s family very well. Although I cannot say that I know him very well, it’s enough for me to say hello to him and for me to to have attended a couple of Youth Cup games 2 years ago. He is one of the most grounded players I know and I know quite a few having been a keen footballer in my early teen years. I just don’t understand where you got it from, I really don’t?!

    I can’t speak for Chuks Aneke but I met him through a couple of mates at a Drake concert last year and he seemed a polite enough person. Of course, 5 minutes isn’t enough to judge somebody on though!

    Please explain what made you type this. I sincerely hope it’s not just a stereotype that brought you to this conclusion. Not pointing the finger, no chip on my shoulder, just hoping…….

  8. WC says:

    Jenkinson’s own goal was a fluke to the extent that he didn’t mean to score it. However it wasn’t a fluke to the extent that Arsene continues to play a high defensive line. Pushing the backline so far up the pitch will constitute in a foot race with the opposition for long balls. If you have to race to the ball, you can panic and will increase the chance of errors.

    Arsenal’s “freak goals” aren’t flukes, they’re design flaws that can be fixed but won’t be because Arsene simply doesn’t look like he cares as much about defense. If he really was so considerate of defense, he’d have signed a proper defender already but 6 years on and we haven’t been able to replace tony Adam, Keown, Sol or Toure adequately.

    Instead we get Cygans, Silvestres and Squilaccis.

    • santori says:

      Besides, we’re not Arsenal if we’re not generous at the back these days. Have to give the host Koln some respect no?:D

  9. santori says:

    Gervinho has an excellent touch (and control).

    It is precisely against teams sitting deep that we need someone such as him on the counter.

    We need to transition far quicker from defense to attack. Precisely why Gervinho up top and able to beat the last (2) men for pace will afford us a different weapon (Not to mention we now have the option of both Miyaichi and Walcott so we can really load up on speed)

  10. santori says:

    With regards the midfield, I think it’s partially the way we play. The current 4-3-3 system with the midfield trio rotating going forward needs understanding between all 3 players to work effectively (particularly with the sharing of defensive responsibility and the closing down of space)

    We see it in jack and Song and to a certain extent Ramsey (albeit he is still careless at times)

    When we put in the other mids, it becomes less effective.

    The other thing I’d say about our 4-3-3 (and I’m not knocking it because it’s designed for our surfeit of creative talent in midfield), is that it does not suit Chamakh.

    I don’t think we are getting the best ounce out of the Moroccan and I don’t think it’s entirely his fault as we are not playing to his strength.

    IMO, Chamakh is best used when he can stay around the box and cause mayhem with his physicality and importantly his aerial threat.

    But 4-3-3 often means Chamakh coming out to collect the ball. He is a little more ponderous than either RVP of Gervinho and it then deprives us of that presence we need in and around the box.

    I was quite happy to see the strength of Frimpong in the second half and his decision making was reasonably good. However I would think if we did lose Fab that a MOntolivo who can sit deep and defend as well as playmake may be a useful alternative to sit alongside Song.

    It will afford us the option of going 4-4-1-1 and thereby in essence allow us to overload up top with Chamakh and either of RVP or gervinho if need be, particularly against the teams that like to defend in depth

    • Phil23 says:

      You mean the same Chamakh who played in the exact same formation and thrived at Bordeaux? Or the same Chamakh who thrived in a 4 2 3 1 at Arsenal for the first 6 months of last season?

      • santori says:

        Hi Phil,

        I don’t believe the set up at Bordeaux is an indication of how best to maximise Chamakh’s strength. He never really was too prolific and the game in France is much more open.

        + where Bordeaux did better than arsenal is realising Chmakh’s obvious strength in the box and putting good crosses in to his head, something that we were beginning to come to grips with in January before Chamakh was ‘replaced’.

        Secondly, yes, Chamakh also lost form which he had in the first half of the season but I also feel that the compact defenses we came up against to ward tail end of season (March onwards) were more telling on us as where we were more full of energy in the first half of the season, the fixture congestion began to take a toll on us, particularly off ball movement.

        Consequently it was crucial IMO to have the extra body in and around the box .As such, I believe a 4-4-1-1 would have worked better to provide us a finishing edge 9and allow RVP to drift where he is most effective)

  11. santori says:

    BTW, just caught the highlights for the Uruguay-Paraguya Copa America finals.

    Some excellent talent for uruguay.

    I’ve always thought Lugano is an interesting option for us as a senior man to replace Squillaci. he is most certainly an organiser and seems strong in the air.

    But they have several other interesting options to offer at the back too.

    Coates (6’6) is another who @18 mightgive us options for the future (with Bartley and Miguel)

    Martin Caceres @24 may not be the best option (particularly as we then have a surfiet of players in that age group) but he does offer an interesting service in being able to cover @LB as well.

    I won’t advocate a new keeper but Muslera has had an outstanding Copa (as has Justo Vilar his opposite number for Paraguay)

    Food for thought.

  12. el bizarron says:

    JET seemed to have so much potential, but I guess he won’t fulfill it here. I hope Lansbury doesn’t leave just yet, if only to see him do that ridiculous dougie dance in an Arsenal shirt 😛

  13. Phil23 says:

    I’m sad to see Jet leave although I believe he has pushed to leave as he is obviously sick of waiting around for a chance and Imo Arsene has chosen Vela over him as the last striker. I’m a bit surprised your talking about Jet leaving when it is just as certain that Eboue is also leaving to Galatasary. I called for him to leave as I don’t believe having two right backs the same age (28) is good for competition. Jenkinson is a great buy and I will be excited to see him. Its sad to see Eboue go as he was a good person but we cannot keep someone just because of their personality. The squad is starting to look very good and I fully expect team morale to sky rocket when Arsene brings in a couple more.
    On another note i’ve heard Denilson has copped even more abuse since leaving. Some Arsenal fans are truly embarrassing. At least he didn’t hold back, telling them “Fvck you too!”

  14. JP says:

    Clichy, Eboue, Almunia, Bendtner, Denilson are all leaving. Jenkinson and Gervinho are the only two players in……who else are we bringing in???? Promotion from within???? How can we say we are stronger than last year???

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