Welcome Alex And Pardon The Bewildered Fans + Quick Thoughts On Benfica

I was lost for feelings when Arsenal announced the signing of highly rated Southampton youngster, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. This transfer had been in the news for a long time but not many were expecting it to go through at this stage.

The youngster, Walcottesque in his style and a superb talent without doubt, will take time to settle into the first team squad, so this must be one for the future.  I am sure most fans will greet the signing with applause but there will be many among them who are at least a little perplexed. There is no denying the fact that the qualities of the player and his age/experience don’t match the current requirements of Arsenal FC.

I have a feeling AOC has been signed as a replacement for Nasri. That could mean Wenger is resigned to losing the Frenchman at the end of the season if not sooner. Of course, it is pure speculation but it’s hard to find any other explanation.

Replacing Nasri will not be easy. Even though inconsistent, the Frenchman is at a level that very few can reach. Given the present conditions in the market, those who can perform at the same level are valued at astronomical prices. Buying a talented youngster is the only reasonably fair value option and such a player would need time to develop.

This transfer does raise a big question – If Alex Chamberlain, then why not Juan Mata for a slightly higher price? I don’t know Wenger’s reasons but would dearly really love to know the answer to that poser. It’s hard to imagine both the players arriving at the club this summer but stranger things have happened.

There is always the possibility that Arsenal were not as interested in Mata as the media projected even though Wenger does like the player. Perhaps the experience with one Jose Antonio Reyes was a limiting factor. Personally speaking, I am not convinced too many Spanish players can succeed in the English league. That is not an indictment of Mata but just a general observation that might explain Wenger’s reticence in that particular deal.

Another interesting observation is the sudden increase in the number of quick and tricky players who can perform on either flank. With the acquisitions of Gervinho and Alex, along with the development of Miyaichi, Arsenal are on the way to having an exceptional array of lethal wingers. I say on the way because the two youngsters will need a year or two more before they can be considered first team regulars.

Does this signal another philosophical change as Wenger prepares for life without Cesc (and Nasri)? Over the next few years, one can visualize the likes of Wilshere, Song, and Ramsey dominating the midfield as two dynamic wingers tear the opposition defence apart. The freedom given to the attacking midfielder in the present system could be curtailed and the midfield would provide better support to the defence while controlling the tempo of the game from deeper positions.

It’s just a thought but it’s based on the need to change the style of play if Fabregas does go to Barcelona. The present role was created for Cesc and no one else can do justice to it. Anyway, all that is for the future and we will have plenty of time to discuss it in detail.

The Benfica game once again highlighted some of the concerns of the fans and there are more pressing matters for Wenger to deal with.

I thought the midfield was terrible in that game and was the source of most of the problems which worsened as other factors came into play. Ramsey has not impressed in any of the pre-season games and Rosicky just doesn’t offer enough these days. Song was able to keep the team ticking in the first half with exceptionally hard work but the players faltered when he was taken off in the second half.

In the first half, the Gunners struggled to bring the ball out from defence on a consistent basis. This led to precious few chances but at least the shape of the team was strong and they prevented Benfica from creating anything more than half-chances.

The goal was a work of art and many players were involved. It started with Vermaelen beating the man pressing him with a dummy. Then Rosicky came back to the halfway line to receive a pass. Little Mozart beat the man on him with a neat turn. By then Van Persie had dropped deep while Ramsey and Gervinho took up positions as central strikers. The Dutchman received the ball in space and was able to find Arshavin in the inside left channel just outside the opposition box.

Since Benfica were pressing higher up the pitch they had a shortage of players just in front of the defence. The central defenders were exposed and this gave the Russian some time on the ball. He waited for the run of Gibbs who was completely unmarked. The English youngster squared the ball back for Van Persie who had drifted to the edge of the six yard box, again completely unmarked.

In some ways this goal reflected some of the defensive problems that Arsenal face. Benfica’s pressing was good but not as well co-ordinated as it had been till that time. Once a couple of Gunners beat their man, it opened the hosts up and left the back four in an unenviable position.

After a number of changes Arsenal had similar problems in maintaining the right shape. A couple of players were pressing higher up the pitch. Then there was a hesitant line of three in the middle with acres of space behind them and in front of the defence. The ease with which Benfica were able to create wave after wave of attacks again exposed the systemic flaws.

When Arsenal did win the ball back, the players were rarely in the right shape to launch an attack. Possession was squandered without a threat and the opposition grew in confidence as the crowd made its presence felt. With a number of young players introduced over time, Arsenal were never going to come back in this one – which in itself is not a problem.

A good system covers up individual errors, positional or technical, some of which are bound to occur even with the best of players. But when the system fails these errors get magnified as each player, especially in defence, has to cover larger areas and perform more than his fair share of duties.

Vermaelen looked like a clown for the first goal, Squillaci for the second. As I have said on a number of occasions, anyone else in their position would inevitably meet the same fate.

I don’t want to be critical of a team that included Frimpong, Miyaichi, Lansbury and finally Miquel at the end. That’s not the point. But the broader problem exists and will continue to pester unless a coaching solution is found.

I will try to cover this in detail before the start of the season. For now at least, let’s welcome Alex to the club and focus on the possibility of other positive developments.

54 Responses to Welcome Alex And Pardon The Bewildered Fans + Quick Thoughts On Benfica

  1. Elvis says:

    Instead of wenger securing two commanding and strong defenders, here he goes again a 17 years old boy. If arsenal does not mount a strategy to defend goals and win macthes then it’s very simply he should resign.

    • santori says:

      You know we won’t be able to afford him down the line if we don’t get him now.

      And with the up coming home grown ruling, some clubs will be scrambling for all the local talent they can find at exorbitant prices.

      This fellow is the latest sensation (rumoured to be better than Walcott who incidentally out scored and out assited Bale this summer).

      On the flip side, should we also have said then “Don’t buy Fabregas? He’s just a kid?”

  2. The Real Gooner says:

    AW has lost it……my team, my beloved Arsenal has become the laboratory for his football experiment. No disrespect to AOC but we don’t need any more boys, we need some men, some experience, some proven quality…aaaaaarrrrrrgggghhhh!

    • santori says:

      The price of local players is going to shoot up because of Home grown ruling if not already. Lok at prices for Carroll, for that matter Baines, Jagielka and Cahill. Compare that to Gervinho.

      We are loading up for this very reason. There are a lot of clubs in the league less prepared than us who are able to (prepared to) spend more silly money than we have.

  3. weedonald says:

    What the fook do you know Alex…..resign yourself from the human race you wanker!

  4. Manama says:

    Spot on,alex is definitely 4 d future.agree wt ur predictn in event of fab’s exit.u r a an example for sports jornalism.anxious t read ur nxt writ up.kip it up desi.

  5. Manama says:

    I’m glad der r stil people lik desi who stil think wt clear heads inspite of hw anti-arsenal journalism has torn arsenal fans apart.som of u guys commemting here shd b commenting on le grove’s shameful write ups.again,kip it up desi.

  6. alphie says:

    keep them coming desi,excellent
    ryo n alex could give speed at end of games,i suppose they will be part of squad rotation!

    what has been bugging me for seasons past is injuries?

  7. 9jagunnerdoc says:

    Thanks DG, you always have been consistently reasonable in your blogs, much unlike what we read on others. These are hard times for all gooners no doubt, but people like you lift our morale……a little.

  8. Kola says:

    AOC is a very good signing, however what arsenal need now is a very strong center back and perhap a very strong and an experienced DM. If those areas could be sorted then premier league rivals are in trouble! Pls AW get rid of dead-woods and half-hearted players like nasri and fabricunt. My ARSENAL are bigger than them…

    • santori says:

      I hear you.

      If Nasri leaves, I think Fabregas will be ratained.

      Pesonally I would have prefered soeone more experience like Bastos out wide (who can cover LB)

      I would also prefer someone whocan combine more of a hybrid role between playmaking and DM in Montolivo to give us more balance.

      Perhaps someone will have a Wilshere season.

      My other concern is RB cover for Sgana. Jenkinson (no fault of his) has a steep learning curve ahead of him. He looks currently no nonsense but rather one dimensional. I am not sure if he is (at the moment)a step up fom the erratic Eboue.

      Fingers crossed.

  9. Philbet says:

    He signs players, he wrong,he waits to sign,hes wrong, he signs squad players, hes wrong, Some so called fans should start living in the real world and ditch the sweat shop mentality, its not ‘ I will have one of them and two of those Mr Shopkeeper please’,
    We are trying to spend hard cash on human beings.

  10. iceman786 says:

    boy do you lot love a moan eh??? we juts bought a quality player who was the best player on the pitch against utd last season !!

    why were purplenose et al trying to buy is player? after all they have plenty of wingers dont they???? its because he is REAL QUALITY !!

    wenger has said he will strenghthen the defence….. so just shut up, wait and in meantime support your fucking club !! even if we sign a defender i’m sure you will still moan about one thing or another !!

    I am well happy with this signing and know we’ve landed a star…..

  11. Paul says:

    Good site and write up DG. That’s a good signing and maybe this explains why wenger has pulled out his interest of samba http://www.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/104749.html?CMP=OTC-RSS

  12. Sleek says:

    Top post Desi! Keep ’em coming!

  13. SoCal_Gun says:

    the defense has looked VERY sketchy this pre-season, but it is only the pre-season and the entire team knows they’re playing inferior opponents in matches that don’t matter. BUT, the opponents’ goals all seem eerily similar to goals that were habitually let in last year

    If you believe the reports, then 3-4 players are coming in THIS WEEK…..which seems unbelievable, but so far it’s Monday, and we got 1. Everybody knows about the holes in the team, and 2-3 more players could make a huge difference


    “Does this signal another philosophical change as Wenger prepares for life without Cesc (and Nasri)? Over the next few years, one can visualize the likes of Wilshere, Song, and Ramsey dominating the midfield as two dynamic wingers tear the opposition defence apart. The freedom given to the attacking midfielder in the present system could be curtailed and the midfield would provide better support to the defence while controlling the tempo of the game from deeper positions.”

    …..I think that’s brilliant…..it’s why I keep reading you blog. Cesc and Nasri will be here 2-3 years MAX (if we win the League, win the FA Cup, make it to the CL final, etc.) and Wenger knows it. This is planning for the future in the best way possible. It’s setting the team up for success with out needing the $50million purchase. Hopefully Cesc and Nasri will realize that this is the team planning life after them, and it will cause them to step it up.

    • Gunner Nate says:

      So_Cal Gun – your post is bang on my friend. The signing of Alex is well thought out and to be fair I think is a very good bit of business. This guy has more potential than Walcott. Hence the reason why we have paid out more for him than we did for Theo. And not only that, but it looks to me that Arsene is trying to build a youthful British backbone, Bartley new contract, Ramsey back to fitness, Gibbs introduced to first 11, WIlshere excelling and becoming a key player and Walcott getting better by the year (even if he does seem to be injured a lot). To me Wenger is starting to realise, by having English players I’n the team, we have passion, and we have lacked that I’n 10 years or so. Back to the days when we had an all English back four. I know it may not be an immediate thing with the players we have, but if you ask me we are getting there. Yes we need experience, and yes we need quality but I think we will get that. Whether it’s this week or the last week of August, we will. However, whether it’s too late by then, who knows. But Wenger is the manager, and we have to stick with that. I think a lot of fans forget what he has done for this club, and your high expectation and pure ignorance towards him and the club that HE has created is disrespectful. Get behind the gooners and show some commitment, as if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be playing Champions League football now for god knows how many seasons running. Have faith as good things come to those who wait. We will be a force once again. Whether it’s this year or the next. Patience is a virtue. It WILL happen. I’n Arsene I TRUST!

    • santori says:

      Defense has been solid provided it is the first team (minus Nasri and Cesc of course)

  14. bc says:

    Cant agree with you. gervinho was the replacement for nasri and aoc is the replacement for emmanuel-thomas. traore was brought back to replace clichy and jenkinson was bought to replace the soon to depart eboue. mannone has already replaced almunia as 3rd keeper and jpel.campbell will replace bendtner. Frimpong has replaced denilson. i think the big decision is who replaces cesc? also he.must bring in at least one more centre back.

    • santori says:

      No Gervinho goes up top (but can be played on the wings) He is more a replacement for Bendtner if you like.

      Chamberlain will hedge against Nasri’s possible departure. don’t forget we are also loading up Miyaichi (pending permits)

      Fabregas will stay IF nasri leaves.

  15. Phil23 says:

    I don’t care what those Neanderthals think, I am ecstatic! For Arsene to spend the money he has spent on this boy says a lot about him. We don’t realise it now but this boy just may become one of the most brilliant English players in the history of the game. From what I’ve heard his potential is limitless! I have been calling for speed on the wings and Arsene has delivered more than I could have imagined in that area this window. This absolutely opens the door for a plan b. All we need is a player who can play both DM and CB (everyone knows my choice is Vertonghen for a lot of reasons) This way Wilshere is pushed forward and we have a deeper lying attacking midfielder who has great tenacity in defence! This would have been impossible to do without pace on the wings which we now have in abundance. With these signings we will be able to fully commit to the counter attack when playing vital games. Not to mention that our cover will be better on the wings because there is no better way to get back down field than with sheer pace. (Just watch Theo on defence, if his man beats him he simply runs back past him and has another go)
    Arsene STILL KNOWS!!! If Arsenal only make one more signing I will still have a grin from ear to ear. (Please Vertonghen, please Vertonghen)

    • Prabal Rakshit says:

      Phil! mamma mia!

      Hold your bubbly yet :-))

      ‘We don’t realise it now but this boy just may become one of the most brilliant English players in the history of the game. From what I’ve heard his potential is limitless! I’

      I think it is way too early for you to make such expectations of AOC. We have not seen him play yet.

      But in your defence he is said to be equally adept on both feet and most importantly supposed to be good defensively, a very very rare trait amongst our wingers.

      • Phil23 says:

        I agree I may have exaggerated his potential a bit but to be honest I was just trying to make up for some of the pathetic pessimism that many Arsenal fans have reacted to this news with. How must the poor kid feel?

    • santori says:

      There’s something-else, whilst most fans seem lost in panic over the thought that for some reason this would conclude our summer transfers (ignoring the fact that we have some ways yet before close), and that we won’t get a Cback, nnobody seems to have made anything about the fact that there is a sort of quiet British Revolution going on at AFC currently.

      We have 6 British players with Chamberlain signed (Walcott, Ramsey, Jack, Jenkinson, Gibbs). 7 if you consider Frimpong too.

      And if we do land a British Cback, that would make it 8.

      Conversely the number of Frenchmen is far diminishing (If nasri leaves 5, 4 if Squilalci gets the boot which he should)

      Who would have thought the future of England would be at Arsenal?

      and what would that future mean? This is a more technical crop of youngsters coming up and they are about to be further schooled in the Arsenal way (hopefully they take the good bits)

      Intersting times at Arsenal me thinks.

    • santori says:

      @Phil…who would have thought you were that easy to please.

      A mere 12m (ahem + add ons) for a youth player. Well if that’s all it took…;)

      • Phil23 says:

        I am happy because at the start of the window Chamberlain was one of the players I was hoping for. If we were to add Vertonghen I would be completely and utterly happy with our defence and defensive midfield areas of the pitch. At this point I would be ecstatic with Vertonghen for Fabregas as I believe it would provide the balance our team needs with Jack moving forward a bit to play Cm in front of Vertonghen and Song. I would also take a straight Nasri for Hazard swap as I could not see Lille rejecting 25m pounds yet I could see the daft City paying 25m pounds for Nasri with a year left on his contract. I have been crossing my fingers all window and will keep doing so until the last day of the window that we get these two players. I know we have talked about these plenty and you would prefer Montelivo but if you start watching Vertonghen play (especially when he plays defensive midfielder) you will see why he is the perfect player for Arsenal.

  16. Prabal Rakshit says:

    In ages gone by (:-)) you had written an informative post mentioning the importance of getting an external pair of eyes to look at the Arsenal coaching structure etc. Pretty much the same way as a lot of corporates hire consultants like McKinsey/Deloitte/Accenture etc, to get an outsider’s view of the problems faced by a company, the problems that an insider might never realise since s/he is part of the system.
    You did suggest the name of Roy Hodgson from (Fulham at that time) as someone who Arsene could talk to, since Roy did manage to create problems for the Arsenal defence whenever Arsenal visited Craven Cottege.
    On a similar note, I am just wondering if Carlo Ancelotti could be someone who can offer a distinctly different perspective to Arsene on how to organize the defence and ensure a better transition from defence to attach and vice versa. Carlo’s AC Milan and Chelsea sides were way different from the way Arsenal operates, but maybe he might offer advice from another end of the spectrum (is it a surprise that Chelsea and Man City – both managed by Italians had two of the stingiest defences of last season). Although Carlo likes a defensive formation, it was very clear that his Chelsea (in the first season at least) was a vastly different and more attack minded team than Mourinho’s Chelsea (100+ goals scored in that season).
    It could be just a figment of imagination, but the unceremoniously sacked Carlo could just be eased into a defensive consultant role in Arsenal, albeit on a temporary basis.
    To the main theme of your post, AOC does look to be an intersting proposition for the future. It is not a bad buy (apart of the english pprice :-)) since we do not have a proper replacement for Theo. Gervinho is someone who can play the role, but it would be a little too much to expect him to play on the laft almost regularly and then again fill in to the right. After ANC this year it might take Gervinho a while to get back to full stride, and as we saw last year Bendtner and Rosickydo not exactly bring the same skill sets to the table..

    • santori says:

      Ancelotti and Wenger would be asking for an ego clash. Besides the Italian is far more cautious where as Wenger is more laissez faire.

      I would think the better prescription would be to usher in a couple of specialist coaches for attack and defense without upsetting the current asst manager (who may leave next summer anyway)

      these coaches should be junior and work on specifics FOR Wenger but they should also be able to offer Wenger an laternate view(s) for his final decision.

      There is another thing with regards one of these junior managers graduating to assistant when Pat leaves in that Wenger can also adopt a long term view and use it to groom a possible candidate for his own eventual succession.

      Off the back of my mind, I prefer ex-players with a good head on their shoulder so the current crop will also benefit from their inspiration.

      Bergkamo is studying for his license is a good option for attack. Dixon or Bould may be useful for defense (or indeed Keown but I think he should have a special place as monsieur Wenger’s personal hairdryer)

  17. iceman786 says:

    is it a bird?……. is it a plane?…… no its Alex Chamberlain !!!!


    • santori says:

      Copyright? 😀

      Thank goodness he is going with just Chamberlain on the shirt and not the double barrel one. Must have taken advise from our other Alex. Bilong does not belong (copyright) 🙂

  18. Will the imminent departure of Cesc, prompt a change in formation? Wenger built the team around Cesc with him as the fulcrum in the 4-5-1 midfield. Wenger maybe tempted to play Ramsey in that role but pre-season has shown us his decision making and passing is still not consistent.

    With Wenger keen to hold onto Nasri, the AOC transfer, Wenger hoping that Miyaichi gets his work permit Arshavin,Walcott,Gervinho, the increase in the number of wide players could suggest that Wenger wants to field a more counter attacking 4-2-2-2 formation this season with Wilshere/Song/Ramsey/Frimpong/Diaby competing for the 2 centre midfield positions.

    What really worries me is that Chamakh has looked out of sorts as the lone forward in almost all of the pre-season games. He clearly needs someone to play off him, gather his knockdowns etc. (Gourcuff played was adept at this when the two were at Bordeaux).

    If Chamakh has to play when RVP is injured and be effective, then I’d like to see this line-up


    • el bizarron says:

      I agree that a change in attacking formation will be needed when Fab leaves. He’s a one of a kind player whose role on the team will be extremely difficult to replace. Who else can do what he does?

      I think Desi might be on to something with the attack coming more through the wings, and the midfield giving more support to the defence. But with all the youngsters involved, I don’t know if this will be fully realized this season or maybe even next.

  19. mr.mosh of uganda says:

    Last season’s best Arsenal player was the youngest (J W) in the same manner the worst 2 were the oldest (M.A & S.S), it beats my understanding to see self proclaimed gooners crying ”we don’t want more kids” U are supporting the wrong team. as for me, am happy that we finally landed another hot shot, not a 30 year old excuse of a defender if u know what i mean. Gunner for life!!!!

    • santori says:

      You have a point.

      OTOH, I think we need to strike a balance.

      What young players give us in hunger and fresh legs must be weighed against the experience older heads bring.

      We have RVP in attack. Midfield, I would prefer another senior operator (26-29) and , definately at the back as CBack. A senior player with quality is what we need not mediocre ones like Silvestre and Squillaci. They are useless band aids IMO.

  20. GunnaFiya says:

    OMG…we have just signed a soon to be 18 yr old kid for over 10 mil and people seem to think that is a good investment so close to the start of the season. We have too many other problems and unsettling circumstances surrounding our club to accept such an undeniable lack of priority. Where has the logical thought processes in people’s brains gone to?

    I can fully understand the shift in the future core make up of the team to English but come on! – It should be a natural process! Wenger has forcibly put kids into the Arsenal first team where they do not have to work hard nor do they go through the “fight for/earn your position” development process. It is really astonishing that people are so blind to the fact that absolutely any “big club” can focus on “youth development” or a “self-sustainable model” and shopping in the lower English divisions for supposedly “super quality” is no real method for success…

    As the league has now become even more competitive than last year, where we ended forth(not so close as Wenger keeps saying), the investment in the team should have been completed by now. This is further compounded by the fact the defense is very fragile, personnel wise, and is not helped by our inconceivable lack of any defensive plan. Seriously, how can there be no quality defensive coaching with tangible results at a club like Arsenal? If you have any form of an internal growth policy, such as our youth and sustainability project, surely, the idea is to gradually improve the quality of your training methods in tandem with the (hopeful)upward development curve of your players or already have a solid coaching system in place – remember, we have been developing for 5-6 years!

    We already know there is a need for signings in various departments and of the “quality” sort but what gets me the most is our inflexible tactical approach to every game. We seem incapable of playing any other formation nor is there the fluent interchange of positions in our 4-?-? that could topple the best of the bunch domestically or in Europe. Gervinho has added another dimension to our attack but is that really enough?? One player? But i guess we are ready to try our luck with maiyachi and AOC now huh? I really fear for our team because it is plain to see is that Wenger struggles to find the balance to make us into an efficient team that is consistent. If he can’t do this after 5/6 years of hands-on development then what hope for him is there really?
    In addition to this, our formation has killed a lot of potential in our team almost yearly and, in effect, has been counterproductive to our development process as a whole. Players like Bendtner, Vela, Theo Walcott, Eduardo(why he left), Eboue, Arshavin etc have all been forever played out of position on a regular basis and it is no wonder to me that they all have had stunted periods of progression in their Arsenal careers. I will even go as far to say Jack will not be the player he could be and nasri is not the player he should be. Jack simply is not a defensive midfielder and his attacking fine tuning is suffering(goals and assists) which WAS obviously his natural forte. Nasri on the other hand has lost his creative spark from the middle that drew comparisons to the great Zidane because he is always forced to play wide. He has learned to be a wide man with an attacking midfielders instinct but has lost that scope of vision having been consistently played on the flanks for so long.

    All i am essentially saying here is our policy never progresses the way we do things. If Cesc leaves along with Nasri, NB52, eboue etc while we bring in Gervinho, Jenkinson and AOC then we are still at square one and given the fact JET has gone and other youngsters like Lansbury will struggle for a place – How successful has this whole development cycle been? I’m tired of saying this/next year? Aren’t you?…

    *feels lighter in the chest*

    • santori says:

      Getting it off the chest is a good thing.

      1) I don’t think we will see both Fab and Nasri leave. Chamberlain may mean Nasri is the more likely at the moment, affording Gervinho a role up top as an alternate to the inured RVP and the out of form Chamakh.

      2)YOu are correct about tactics. This is the most frustrating part. We do need better tactical options but I haven’t seen any progress in this dept thus far. Albeit Wenger is loading up faster players as Desi has mentioned to make our turnovers/counters more efficient and direct.

      3) Youth development. Here’s the thing, I believe we can all agree that it is a good thing to have such a decent academy such as ours.

      It gives us the option to either bring in from market or bring up from Academy.

      The key is to get the right mix.

      If we remember that Wenger was winning a couple of doubles and a full season unbeaten thrown in when the clubs income barely matched a pre-Abramovich Chelsea, we have come a long way.

      Wenger was correct in assessing the emergence of the money pit clubs and that we would have difficulties keeping up without otherwise resorting to debt cycles or beholden to sugar daddies.

      He opted for the harder ruote establishing the academy.

      You only have to look at how Liverpool have had to spend on over the top prices to reconstruct to note how their Academy has gone to neglect. Ditto City’s fine academy which I forsee may also go south on current club policy.

      Therefore is it a recipe for success, maybe maybe not but we don’t have much of an alternative if we are to adhere to the self sustaining model.

      OTOH do remember that we have plenty of experience as is in the squad. A list of older players would included, RVP,Arsharvin, Rosicky, Squillaci, Eboue, Sagna, Fabregas (since he has played top tier since 16), some of which have failed us most when we needed them.

      Therefore I would not necessarily say that having youth is a big problem.

      the key to it is balance.

      Personally, I feel we should bring in 1-2 more experience players myself. I like MOntolivo (26), Alex (29), Bastos (28).

      Chamberlain comes with good credentials and looks more robust than Walcott.

      There is definately a wisp of a gamble with Gibbs/Traore @LB, Jenkinson @RB not to mention Miyaichi, Frimpong and now Chamberlain (who I expect will be fast tracked to first team…just look at what we paid for him)

      Hopefully, we get an experience operator at the back. I don’t think we have the elasticity for too much more risk like you mentioned.

  21. Aussie Jack says:

    I take your point on signing Spanish players. Latin blood is very emotional and doesn`t blend in so well with anglo-saxon humour.
    There is no doubt they play very attractive football but they do `cry` a little and are excellent actors. Stick with the old bulldog where possible.

    • santori says:

      Thus far (apart from Arteta and Enrique) they seem a bunch of nancys always pining for home and mother.

      Besides, I’m really not sure we actually made any bids at all for Mata.

      And he is too short. No thanks. We’ve already got one.


    • santori says:

      Heed Dein’s wise words.

      You take Wenger out right now and we will be even further behind with another 1-2 seasons transition and no guarantee of success either.

      There is a system in place which needs some important tweaks.

      The best bet would be to keep pushing Wenger to make the tweaks.

      On evidence, he is making some of them but we have soe ways yet.

  23. ashish says:

    AW has cash in his pocket, I am not sure what is the position with Cesc and Nasri and we can very well see both of them staying until atleast end of this season, If this happens then this can be a great signing for next year.

    Desi I always agree that Arsenal’s Problem comes when the opponent teams try to press us back in our own halfs, our midfield is not able to cope with this as our wide players donot give much cover to our full backs, this always leads us into Problems , We need a backup for Song for Sure, who can play as a holding midfielder. Wenger is trying Ramsey or Fripong in this role, but it is not working. Lets hope for the best in transfer window and the start of the season

    • santori says:

      The problem with our second half is we took off 3 pieces of the jigsaw and had immediate effect on our attacking threat (not to mention defensive cohesion)

      This has been a theme through pre-season. In a sense you could say that Wenger was playing his stronger side first half and stress testing the reserve candidates in the second.

      If we remember the RedBulls game, he took RVP, Gervinho and Koscielny off and immediately we came under pressure at the back.

      The attacking threat up top was negated with the inclusion of the out of form Chamakh and the ineffectual Vela. Add a Squillaci to the equation at the back and we were in trouble.

      Similarly against Benfica, he took RVP, Song and Sagna off and again, it relieved pressure off of the opponents.

      I thought we did well first half despite a tentative start due to slick surface. We pressed them efficiently when we lost the ball with our strikers and midfield. Song covered well.

      Come second half, Benfica also made a switch overloading the middle 4 across behind their main striker (adding the excellent Witsel and Aimar)

      We were slow changing our midfield (a criticism I have had of Wenger) and Frimpong was subsequently overwhelmed.

      It did not help of course that Jenkinson and Squillaci were on.

      Whilst it should be noted that we were playing largely reserve/squad players some of whom (lansbury) were out of depth, others out of form (Chamakh), we did not seem to have a contingency to switch our midfield and make ourselves more compact as a response.

      We did not offer any threat up front either. Gervinho was lost and Chamakh may as well have been having a mud bath.

      That translated to more pressure on our back line than necessary.

      I think the central lesson that we can take home (if we don’t know it already) is that whilst our first team is competitive and particularly efficient) with the 4-3-3, that if we lose significant numbers, our squad players are less effective enforcing the open 4-3-3 system. There is a limit to our elasticity depth wise.

      Of course we were also missing several key players in Walcott, Koscielny, Diaby, NAsri and Fabregas (to add to Sagna, RVP, Song taken out)

      I do agree to some extent that we may need some sort of cover for Song (and for that matter Frimpong) because of ACN commitment and our general dependacy on Song (Frimpong looks strong but can be expected to still face somewhat of a learning curve)

      I would prefer to see a “Super Quality” sigining in Montolivo personally, someone who can cover for Fab as playmaker or play DM and afford us the option of a 4-4-1-1.

      Seems to me that Wenger is looking at Jagielka precisely because he can also cover in as DM. Otherwise the other option may be to role Koscielny as a make shift when need be with his speed and reading.

  24. santori says:


    I think you are correct with regards possible Nasri movement and Chamberlain.

    Conversely though, that may also mean we are digging our heels in (rightly) with Fabregas and he will be kept.

    Also worth noting RVP is out with a knock and although this deal and a requirement for striker cover may be purely coincidental, I would think it will help somewhat in giving us option out wide particularly if Gervinho is used as a quick striker.

    Finally I don’t think Chamberlain is one for the future. Considering what we’ve paid (bear in mind Jenkinson), he will be fast tracked to first team.

    You are absolutely spot on with regards Wenger loading up with pace and a possible change of formation.

    I believe Wenger is trying to address an attacking ill of ours. We tend to over complicate things and transition from defense to attack too slowly.

    Hence the current crop of fast pacy players in Gervinho, Chamberlain, Miyaichi (not to mention Walcott and Gibbs)

    It also affords us plenty of width and we saw the fruits of it somewhat with the goal against Benfica where the ball was passed wide before funneling back in from wing.

    Whilst Chamberlain looks a useful addition and comes with some reputation I just wonder though if we were better off with someone a little more experience (eg Bastos who could cover LB as well)

    Certainly if we were to explore a change in playing tactic because of a Nasri or Cesc departure (I certainly haven’t seen evidence of this pre-season), we will still need the right personnel in the middle.

    I don’t think we will see a shift in tactical formation this season. I think Fab is likely to stay and we are likely to accomodate him.

  25. Yang says:

    Pretty sure this lad is not a “Super Signing” then why not delay announcement for few days later after securing more important signing.

    • santori says:

      what and continue with more doom mongering? Either way, if they’re going to moan, they’re going to moan.

      BTW, I don’t know if the journalist realis that we have bought 3 players as of date (Chamberlain, Gervinho, Jenkinson) but we have also brought in 2 from Academy (Frimpong and Miyaichi)

      These are important additions.

      • Yang says:

        I don’t think 17yr old wide player is considered as star signing. It is very clear that Arsenal lack of solid defender and goalie.
        Arsenal concede more goal when team concede smallest number of shot on goal which mean either goalie is not good enough or defenders couldn’t prevent accurate shot imo.
        Manchester Utd and Man-city are concede more shots than Arsenal but they concede less goal. I am pretty sure Hart and VDS is main reason of this.

        I think AW know this so he will recruit at least one new defender so why not delay announcement of new young prospect for couple of days to avoid unnecessary confusion among fan.

      • Phil23 says:

        No Yang, it is not clear at all. In fact Szczesny is already one of the top keepers in the Epl. Manchester would prefer him over De Gea and they just blew 20m on him. Not only that but we have two Epl level back ups pushing Szczesny all the way. We are in fact the most well endowed club in the world when it comes to keepers. Show me a team with 3 better keepers if You want to prove me wrong. Secondly, until the final 6 weeks of the season we had one of the best CB pairings in the Prem. The funny part is that this was our 2nd and 3rd choice players and our 4th choice was terrible (as most clubs 4th choice is) This season we have a world class defender returning from injury. Therefore we have no worries EXCEPT for our 4th (how many times did we play our 4th choice (who would be 5th now that Vermaelen is back) last year? You buy into public opinion because you are a sheep. Baaaaaaa

      • Phil23 says:

        Also the reason we concede more from less shots is simple if you know anything about Arsenal. When teams get shots against us it is normally from a counter attack meaning they have a clear cut opportunity to score. Man United and Chelsea are based on defense and therefore they have more men behind the ball forcing the opposition to take pot shots which are easily savable or have little chance of going in. If you haven’t gathered that from countless Desi articles maybe you should just stop bothering?

      • Yang says:

        I don’t think Arsenal keeper is any good when we compare him with Hart, Reina and Chelsea one. There is really no need to compare backup keeper.

        The number of counter attack goals is very small so it is really not explain very well that Arsenal concede so many. It seems like you think Arsenal defense is fine.

        What I mean is that Arsenal defense is poor than other title contenders and it is because goalie and defenders are slightly poor than other top teams.

        check this blog. you can see Arsenal defense actually very good but somehow Arsenal concede more goal than title contenders which is big mystery. In my opinion, this fact is show that Arsenal goalie and defenders could do better when Arsenal under attack.


        It is just my conjecture but I think that I am not an only one think in this way.

      • Yang says:

        Delsi always talk about changing defense system which is very reasonable argument. I am not sure how it is materialized though because Arsenal is pretty much play with same the principle which is attacking and good possession football.

        You can improve team with better player too so why not buy the better players? It is not like Arsenal have no fund at all.

  26. Toye says:

    Chamberlain will be okay if his decision making is better than Walcott’s.As per Ramsey becoming a major part of our midfield, that will depend on if he stops trying to take all the glory.From what I have seen,nine out of ten times he will rather play the ball wide and take position to score than play you through on goal.Please watch that aspect of his previous games before you start condemning the observation.

  27. claverc says:


    If there is another credit crunch and bonds go belly-up, Arsenal will surely be much better off than the ever debt-ful likes of Man Utd.

    In the absence of such catastrophe, it would be wise for Wenger to do ‘one for the fans’. Sign a couple of defenders and keep Nasri and Cesc.

    The fans pay money, by investing it is highly likely Arsenal will reap rich reward from the fans. Even if we don’t win a trophy with new signings.

    Arsene seems to be taking things too seriously, he seems to have gone completely the other end and forgotten that ultimately buying players is also a form of entertainment to keep the fans coming and players motivated.

    If Arsene buys now, he can easily go another 3yrs without buying experienced players. He must learn to pick his battles more effectively, I think.

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