Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Bolton

Liverpool have hit some sort of form since Gerard has returned from injury. Chelsea stole a point late in the game at Swansea and are now six points ahead of Arsenal. This season has always been about a battle for fourth an it’s time for the Gunners to buckle up and pick up the points in games like the next one at the Reebok, many much tougher games will anyway see Arsenal dropping points in the coming weeks.

The idea is not to underestimate Bolton, who have had a mini-revival of their own, but for Arsene and his players to establish their superiority in a manner that reflects on the points table.

It won’t be easy, obviously. Owen Coyle has not won many games against Arsenal but his side’s do ask some serious questions when they get their act right. And if the Gunners aren’t at their best we can easily see the kind of loss Arsenal suffered last season.

Bolton are likely to play in a manner similar to Villa in the first half of the last game. They’ll press diligently in the middle of the park and will get tight on the Arsenal players getting into forward areas. In order to get past this, Arsenal need a faster tempo and sharp movement up front. The wide players will have to move around and not just stick to their respective touchlines waiting for the ball. The midfielders will have to turn their markers and occasionally drift into wide areas. This can expose the middle but it’s a level of risk the Gunners have to take and conquer.

This game will also be a tough physical battle as the hosts will go hard for all the 50-50 challenges. Arsenal’s midweek exertions could affect the players’ ability to win these on a consistent basis in a manner that helps them impose their passing style on the game.

Bolton have improved their attack in recent weeks, scoring 11 goals in January. This includes 2 away to Everton in a comeback win and 3 at home against Liverpool. Mark Davies has been influential in midfield while N’Gog has added some variety and competition up front. They will try to play on the counter in search of goals and set-pieces.

Their back four is fairly week by Premier League standards and Arsenal can benefit if they can isolate the wingers against their respective full-backs. Van Persie can trouble the centre-backs with his movement if he receives the right passes. Bolton haven’t kept a clean sheet in 11 games and have managed only 2 all season so there will be goals in this game for sure. But with Reo-Coker and Muamba likely to sit in front of the defence as a part of a five man midfield, I think Arsenal’s best chances are most likely to come from wide areas.

All-in-all there won’t be any surprises in this fixture. It’s again going to be a game where the opponents try to make it hard for Arsenal to play while relying on quick forward bursts and hopeful balls into the box. The Gunners will have to do much better at set-piece defending than the kind of chaos we saw against Villa.

Wenger has some players returning from injury but I am not sure how many of them can make a contribution in this fixture. Hopefully, Arteta will be able to return to his starting role as his injury wasn’t long term and has possibly done the job of a short holiday. He should take the place of Ramsey who has been giving a lot physically recently. Rosicky has been doing well and deserves continuity. Having said that, I half expect to see Ramsey in the starting line-up with Little Mozart on the bench.

At the back, I wasn’t convinced by the performance of Coquelin in the Cup tie but the other options have their own set of weaknesses. Picking one of Djourou, Coquelin, and Yennaris is a judgment call for Arsene. I think he will stick with the Frenchman who offers greater dynamism on the flank. Sagna looked rusty when he came, understandably so as he’d only had two training sessions before the game, and should not be rushed back.

I doubt Arsene will make any changes in the other positions but he will have to assess whether a youngster like Oxlade-Chamberlain can play twice in quick succession.

Preferred line-up,

Szczesny – Coquelin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen – Song, Rosicky, Arteta – Walcott, RvP, Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Wenger can probably rest a couple of players in the next game, which is at home against Blackburn.

I don’t expect this game to be as easy as the two home wins against the same opposition. Just like they did against Villa, the Gunners will have to fight till the end to secure the points.

Before ending I want to take the opportunity to comment on Arsenal’s late transfer activity. Miyaichi to Bolton is a very good move for the youngster. He really should be able to get in ahead of either Eagles or Petrov if he has to have realistic hopes of making it at Arsenal. It might not happen immediately but if he can be first choice before the season is over, we can expect a meaningful contribution from him next season in Red and White.

Wenger has also signed a youngster, Thomas Eisfeld, from Dortmund. These words sum up the transfer,

How much first-team football he has depends on him. Basically we planned to get him at the end of the season but we got him a bit earlier because he was at the end of his contract. We will use this period for adaptation.

Clearly, this wasn’t a priority signing for this window but an opportunistic one. I don’t know anything about him but will be surprised if he gets many games this season. If I am not mistaken, he hasn’t started any senior games at Dortmund, who couldn’t match the Gunners in the Champions League. It looks like a signing for the future or another low cost gamble on a young talent, which is something Arsenal have to do more often these days as fewer quality players are available, and virtually none at prices that don’t break the bank.

Getting him early is good. If he shows he can play for the first team Arsene might not have to spend on a creative player in the summer and can focus on other areas, if he struggles Wenger will know what he has to do. Essentially, this move in January will help Wenger make better informed choices in the summer.

I think it’s best to let the lad settle in with the reserves and watch him on Arsenal Player’s highlights of those games before forming any strong opinions on the player or the transfer.

Overall, as expected, this was a quiet transfer window for the Gunners. Hardly any quality players were available and there is no point signing someone just for the sake of making transfers, especially when squad spaces are limited.

I think Wenger has known all along that it’s just about getting results with the resources available to him. The January market didn’t have any major deals that would have strengthened Arsenal. Starting with Bolton, we can only hope he succeeds more often than he fails.


55 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Bolton

  1. sam says:

    yes its a miracle we signed someone!
    mario gotze’s cousin that looks like jens lehmann.
    its also a miracle we didn’t sell anyone

    • santori says:

      Before we add anyone-else on our fire sale list, let’s just remember who we have to move :

      Almunia, Squillaci, Denilson, Vela, Bendtner,

      To add to this list possibly this summer : Chamakh, Arsharvin

      Maybe Park as a make weight if we do not use him (or at least on loan, poor fella)

      Any takers? None so far.

      It is as much an issue selling as it is for us to buy and that I feel may be what is truly holding us back at the moment in commiting to proper signing(s) this Jan.

      Wenger and co are rightfully cautious to ooverly frontload at this juncture when much has not been concluded in freeing up some space within our wage structure.

      OTOH< there may be cause for us to consider buying now for different reasons. See my post further down.

  2. sam says:

    we sent our 19 years old winger out on loan and we bought another one who never played a single first team game, genius!
    great piece of magic from le prof, ryo miyaichi will be better off training with kevin davies and david n’gog than with henry and van persie. how is he going to develop playing long ball ?
    so next summer we will have 18 players coming back from loan, they will be all like new signings and we will have the biggest squad ever.
    ps: wilshere is out for the whole season

    • Charlie. says:

      Ryo will be better off playing against Premiership defenders than against kids from Crystal Palace reserves is the point Sam, that’s one of the main reasons why so many gave you thumbs down. Training is nothing like a competitive match and it’s important for players to compete at their level of ability and not below their level if they want to improve. Training with top players obviously helps but there’s only so much wisdom that they can pass on. I’m sure he has learnt plenty from them already. Wilshere probably would’ve made it anyway but these players need to experience how tough and competitive the Premiership is compared to a training session or a reserve match. I get the impression that you’re ready to criticise any decision that the manager makes regardless of its’ merits.

    • Droid says:

      Ever heard of first team football??

      • santori says:

        Young Ryo will certainly benefit tremendously from the experience. If he can flourish at Bolton (who are principally OK), he will be all the better for it come the summer.

        Eisfeld. Bit of a risk considering his injury record. I have to ask the question, do we need yet another injury prone player? OTOH, sum involved was I believe comparatively little. Welcome Amaury Bischoff.

  3. sam says:

    ok mr thumbdown whoever you are, may be we should’ve given bolton a choice between miyaichi and arshavin and see who they will pick. wenger supporters are so brainwashed they can’t even tell a crap player when they see one.
    don’t even mention jack wilshere, he went there coz he couldn’t get in the team of cesc and nasri. but this one have arshavin and walcott who are not even wingers in the first place.
    more thumbs down please! help arsene destroy our club.

    • RedCore says:

      Ryo is probably sixth in the pecking order now after Theo, Gervinho, OX, AA, Benayoun in the fight for the two wide spots. He will only ‘warm the stands’ with us. In the bolton side he will be third choice, will play in actual premier league matches and get a chance to improve himself by making mistakes for some other team and return a better player. Which part of this do you think ‘destroys’ our club?

    • Dhruv says:

      ok mr thumbdown whoever you are
      =================
      There are so many thumbsdown(s) now….LoL. By all means criticize bad decisions and bad performances…but dont junk everything and everyone.

  4. VanTheManPersie says:

    Ok i’d rather talk about the game than the transfer business which i have no control over. Glad to see rosicky get a start atleast in your team even if ramsey might start as two games in quick succession might be a bit too much as he’s getting on. If fit enough definitely start him. Although ngog started the last game, you expect even owen coyle, who’s no sam alardyce btw, to throw in kevin davis against arsenal at some point. Hopefully mertesacker would be able to handle that as Davis would lack pace which will suit massacre. the other Davies has done quite well and so has muamba so this will be tough game like any other. Arsenal have not dominated possesion in away games this season even against lower ranked opponents and have given away goals after consistent pressure brought about by giving the ball away cheaply in midfield. If rosicky,arteta and song start, without ramsey, am hoping the ball retention is better put under pressure.
    A tough game considering the form. In 4-3-3 ur wingers have to score more goals even if u have someone like lampard at the tailv of the diamond, and our wingers have missed some glorious openings throughout the season. Its tough not to see arsenal conceding with first choice full backs missing. If RVP manges to squeeze one, who gets the second one? Here is when i’d love a vermaelen goal:) Here’s hoping for a 2-1 win for arsenal although i think its pretty tough..unless of course walciott manages to get someone from bolton sent off again.

    Below is a clip for all rosiky fans like me…so many great balls…such poor finishes…even cesc for god’s sakes…he would be over arshavin atleast in the assists charts that wenger keeps talkign about if half od those went in:( Watching him run with teh ball in the middle of the park gives me the same joy that a messi run would…..so many times he makes the pass and the player is nto evn ready cause they cant match his speed of thought…he woudl ahve been deadly with the likes of viera,dennis,

    • VanTheManPersie says:

      reverse ball at 4:29 my fav

      • santori says:

        I was of the opinion that Rosicky should be let go at the end of this season in part due to age issue and wear and tear.

        However, I’ve since changed my mind somewhat.

        I think he is deserving of at least a year’s extension (if he so desires)

        We should have by this summer basically 8 players in competition for 3 slots in midfield.

        In the ‘DM’ role – Song, Le Coq and Dench
        In the linkman role – Arteta and Diaby (should at least have him on for another season provided he is truly ‘fit’)
        and in the advance role- Jack, Rambo and I believe it will be extremely useful to have Rosicky who can also play in the link man role if Diaby fails to materialise again.

        You can’t fault Rosicky for commitment. He has had an edge about him since returning from injury last season.

        It is as if he is out to prove that he isn’t quite as fragile as everyone thinks and I for one was of the opinion that whilst he may not have the size to cover as DM that he will be very useful in assisting in this area.

      • VanTheManPersie says:

        @santori…i think rozza tackles better than most players in our team…but defintely can never play the arteta role as he will get sucked out of position…he’s best suited to the lampard role rather than the cesc role but alas he’s lost his shooting boots in recent years:( arsenal need players to shoot from outside an score when teams are hard to break down. of course rozza’s not the answer any more….vermaelen might be the extra man needed in such cases….god i still remember the sol campbell strike at fratton park in that 1-0 win…of course verma is prolly the most gifted of our CBs under wenger’s reign

      • santori says:

        Yes, sad to say that Rosicky was once lethal from range. As was Arteta (and from set pieces)

        In fact we have lost that abiltiy somewhat albeit we see glimpses of it returning with Vermaelen and to some extent Ramsey 9which is what I like about him)

        Whilst we had multiple players who could hurt the opposition from set pieces, we are now more lmited to RVP and possibly Vermaelen from range.

        That RVP has to take corners from out right says it all (using our best attacking asset to put the ball in must surely not rank as one of the better options)

        The other issue with striking/shooting from distance (Bergkamp was excellent at this), is that it affords our opponents to safety in sitting deeper and compacting the area around the D.

        Where as if we rediscovered the ability to hurt them from outside the box, it will mean they have to move forward to close us down thereby opening gaps fro us to exploit when they do so.

      • jeff says:

        Tomas Rosicky played with heart and not just skills.. he deserves more credit for what he’s done so far.. i like his twist and turn,his tackling,his penetrating run,his unbelievable vision,touch,and passing..

    • Dhruv says:

      Good video, I hope Rosicky does do well today and then the rest of this season. I do have concerns about him but lets be positive and talk about good things right now.

  5. Shahr says:

    I am sure all fans are realsitic .If you watch how are other teams score from long range,why can’t the gunners do the same instead of passing in front of massed defenders infront of the Box>If other teams can score,why must Wenger make it so difficult for Arsenal?
    Btw wait or the end of the season. If Wenger fails to get the cl berth,no more time should be givn to him to drag the gunners out of their slump. He has failed and has shown no inclination of ditching his principles.

    • santori says:

      You are partially correct.

      Some of his tactics are a little too purist and may need minor adjustments.

      We do tend to over elaborate when not necessary.

      I don’t think Wenger is a mug at all tactically. He has gotten us after all back from 17th to where we are with ‘panic buys’.

      OTOH, I do think we have punched above our weight because he is so good in the market/assessing players and gotten away with some deficiencies tactically over the years because of that.

      But the market has changed and it is increasingly difficult for us to compete globally for signatures (let alone hold younger players)

      Therefore we have to be a lot more reliant on tactics and Wenger can (I have repeated this often over last seasons) use a reshuffle in his back room, perhaps new/differing tactical advise or merely more concentrated attention into some deep rooted problems we ahve continued to somewhow struggle with.

      A revamp of the coaching set up ‘may’ help. Having said that, this is entirely on Wenger’s onus.

      If by end of season we do find ourselves in the unfortunate position of being outside top4, I think the situation with regards his tenure may sort itself out. Whether that may be for better or worse I cannot say as there is always an element of unknown involved. Just ask Chelsea and AVB.

      Be careful for what you wish for and weiigh up the good before you flog the bad so readily.;)

    • Droid says:

      Pray tell me what Wenger’s “principles” are… go ahead.. list them and back up your counter suggestions with statistically meaningful data as to how goals should be scored.. Please bear in mind that I’m not trying to accost you.. I’m just curious what you’re reforms would be and how it would fit within our framework i.e personnel etc.

      • santori says:

        1) 4-3-3. Whilst ‘most effective’ bearing in mind it afford our ‘creative’ players maximum opportunity to express themselves, it may not be entirely ideal in all situations. Here is where purist Wenger can get a bit in the way of himself.

        Bearing in mind that Arsharvin has visibly slowed due to age, he has struggled out wide since last season.

        We should at very least have in our pocket an ability to alter our formation to add more presence in and around the box particularly with teams who have ceded midfield control and parked the bus.

        Here’s where I feel Chamakh may not be played to his best ability (aerially) and where a combination of Chamakh and Arsharvin (centrally) may be benefitial to both players’ forms.

        2) Shooting. It’s been better but we have always been in danger of over-elaboration. The word over play comes to mind. Thankfully, we have reaped the benefit of RVP since his return but the ills to our approach are readily apparent in his absence.

        3) Defensively, (as Desi has repeatedly pointed out) we still suffer from some fundamental errors which should have been addressed by now. Perhaps we have lost our way somewhat with the fullback situation and our stand ins overstretched for pace but I do think we should have a better set up that can zero in on some of these perrenial issues a bit better.

        4) Substitutions. I’m not faulting the gaffer for the Ox/AA call. BUT Wenger is slow to enforce change when need be (particularly when you see Pepe, And Mourinho and how quickly they swicth things around in a game to good effect). Again I’m not saying Wenger is deficient far from it but he does tarry too long at times and these little details make a differance.

        Fundamentally, the game has gotten more complex and Wenger’s lot is not helped with the extra burden placed on him in the absence of Dein when facing an increasingly competitive market and one with more open knowledge then when he first took reign of the club .

        Therefore (and I am not suggesting this to be the only solution), I feel Wenger may benefit (if he finds the right person with the right chemistry) from better assistance and a better coaching set up.

        Essentially, I would like to see :

        1) a better assistant. I’m not saying Pat is a mug but he has been in his job too long and can no longer ‘call the emperor’snew clothes’ if you get what I mean.

        When we recall, Fergie and the appointment of Quieroz in revitalising him tactically, there should not be any reason to believe (in fact it will be conceited not to) that there may be someone out there who can assist in developing alternatives for Wenger to choose from with regards tactics.

        2) Even if he elects not to have a new assistant (and he has hinted several seasons ago at back room change but has not bothered to possibly last summer due to the mess we faced within the team itself),I would think it sensible to appoint to specialist sub coaches to help him catch/monitor common issue for both striking and defending.

        The modern game is terribly demanding and with the gaffer also in charge of transfer affairs, he could do with all the help he can get to fully zero in on the nitty grity.

        There is another side to this exercise in reforming the back staff. Wenger must think of his succession and being a man who plans ahead, I am confident he has given this some thought.

        The new coaching set up may be a good way to bring in a couple of old boys and develop a possible succession solution from within the ranks (leaving aside the possibility to also replace from outside the club eventually if none of the candidates make the grade)

        Principally, Wenger is sound in his approach to develpong the club but tactically,he may need better help.

        I believe someone once said, “it doesn’t matter what colour the cat is so long as it catches the mouse”

        Anyway hope this is food for thought. It certainly should be IMO for Wenger.

    • B.Robson says:

      Dont worry about that mate. Keep your eyes on The OX. He will be scoring many a ‘screamer’ in the coming seasons. Though i am upset that 95% of our players shoot like girls.

      Also a tip for you Arsene. An Obvious tactic that all great teams use CONSTANTLY apart from us.Tip tap football alone will win NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tip tap football is too predictable, too easy to defend because the play is in front of you. Its no coincidence that Arsenal have the majority of possession in most games and still dont win.
      You have to identify players in your team who will be the DRIVERS. These players are essential for a teams success. Drivers are players who are ideally fast or strong who charge straight into dangerous areas. Defenders HATE drivers because there is only two choices for a defender when he is approaching a driver. Tackle him conceding a free kick/penalty. Or let him go hoping he does not score. Every good team has one. I’ll give you examples. Bale-Spurs, Yaya-City, Messi-Barca, Dyer-Swansea, Ronaldo-Madrid. Even Wilshere was good at it. I can name players all day. Look at our game against Villa the other day. What was the cause of our 3 goals? Drivers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I wonder why Man City are struggling??
      Forget Modric take BALE out Spurs are nothing!!

      An easy tactic that many teams use that works very well.
      Make Oxlaide Chamberlain our driver. Theo does not do it enough.
      Implement it Arsene, NOW!!!!!!!!

  6. Droid says:

    Oxo or Arshavin? That’s the biggest question wrt to the game tomorrow. Personally, I’d have the hungry greenhorn in place of the genius who is short on confidence (Frankly, I think that Arshavin has resigned himself to the bench thanks to the boo boys). But that said, I think Benayoun playing wide this game wouldn’t be a bad idea. he is no Nasri, but the man has an amazing workrate (Like our Mozart) and good technique to back it up with. He’ll be like Ramsey on the flanks. He could be vital to harrying the opponents to win back possession and create the odd opening. Ideally, against a weak defence like that of Bolton (That too sans Gary “the world’s best defender” Cahill) we’d like someone out wide who can hug the touchline, but for me Oxo gives away possession far too much because of inexperience. Benny in and Oxo should get a breather considering our next game is on Saturday. Oh and Btw, Vermaelen in LB position is a massive asset, I’m inclined to play him at LB even with Gibbs coming back. 3-0 to the Arsenal!!

    • santori says:

      You are correct.

      I don’t think our recent treatment of Arsharvin (and I understand that it was as much if not more aimed at Arsene’s decision mainly) has done him no favours in the confidence or motivation department.

      Ox has continued to sparkle going forward. Like Ramsey, Walcott, he has still some ways to learn the defensive side of his game.

      I can’t see why we should not oblige his good effort.

      OTOH, Arsharvin whilst not at his best, is a wily fellow and has a bit more craft about him that may assist us in unlocking a tightly set defense if need be.

      I don’t see any reason why both won’t play. I suppose if Wenger starts Arsharvin first and subs him with Ox (if the Russian continues to flatter to decieve), at very least, the gaffer should get a good round of applause. It won’t be as popular the other way round.:D

      • Droid says:

        Responding to your post above:
        1) Arsenal play neither 4-3-3 nor 4-4-2 nor X-Y-Z (insert digits). The initial team sheet is no indication of how we play. From what I Observe we have an extremely dynamic system with all the outfield players having a good chance of being all over the pitch. Our wide players constantly go central and midifelders do go wide. Whilst I agree that Arshavin in particular has gone central on numerous occasions this season. The point is not about players position but their impact in general on the pitch. Wenger can add players to the squad to account for injuries and international call-ups but no manager on the planet can account for loss of form/ confidence. Trust me if Wenger saw an opportunity to replace his underperforming players he would have. But when there is no value in the market (particularly in the winter) the risks are humungous.

        2) Shooting: Oppositions approach Arsenal differently. They want to cut out our intricate passing and hence are constantly on our toes. When you don’t have the space to pass, how can can you shoot? Arsenal play pretty football but they aren’t dumb enough to squander chances by “over elaborating”. They are grown men fighting for trophies. They do it because statistically it’s highly likely for US (note the emphasis on US) to score from passes rather than rockets because of the way we’re marked. Just do a quick review on the long ranges scored this season. Most successful attempts belong to teams that play long ball. Why? Because the men up field are marked tightly leaving room for the midfielder or heck even the fullback to let one rip from distance. It’s not the same approach teams take against us.

      • Droid says:

        3) Defensively, our Achilles heel is the counter attack and our quickest CB is now our LB who has taken a fair share of attacking responsibilities. I think when we had a good old fashion back four we were a lot more secure at the back. Defending from set pieces, yes that I’d have to give it to you Wenger does need to bring in a good defensive coaching staff to the team. But with what he has got now he’s done his best to address the defensive issues.

        4) I do observe that his substitutions are rather delayed. But isn’t it a question of momentum considering how we play? He tends to bring in players when there is a drop in our
        performance either physically or mentally. As long as he sees that we’ve the momentum rather than the imminent tangible result he tends to wait. When the momentum drops then he sends in a player to buil it from the scratch. That way the balance isn’t perturbed significantly. Tactically, he works with what he has. Again, I assure you that Arsenal don’t over elaborate for pomp. The “Principles” that have come under question do have solid basis of their existence. I’m no Wenger sycophant but I believe that he’s not ignorant.

    • Dhruv says:

      Not ideal to start AOC again, he needs some rest. He probably can come in substitute later in the game. AA or Yossi is interesting question, Yossi can retain the ball but I would rather start with AA. Right now AA can’t play at home because he has lost the trust of fans and the booing will get to him eventually (if it has not already). If AA does perform well in this match, then probably fans will allow him to play in peace the next home match.

      Wenger actually has to have some plan really, he cannot just keep players on bench, especially Arshavin who is one of the highest paid player in the team. He definitely has to play Arshavin one way or the other. Otherwise, should have tried to sell Arshavin in the window.

  7. siva says:

    Ryo needs games and he is in bolton, he has trained enough in emirates. doesnt mean the new signing is his replacement. get your facts right. i recall what everyone wrote about AOC when he was signed … and shamefully the same ones booed the mgr when he was taken off. AW sent Frimpong on loan and retained Coq as cover for Song and the back four. makes sense doesnt it, based on their performances. We all love the club and some of you hate the manager, so end up criticising AW for everything good and bad. Did you know Kosser when he arrived? if AOC is in the team and RYo is not, you know exactly where they stand in terms of first team readiness. more thumbs down please.

  8. santori says:

    Just want to pick up on the thread regarding our transfer business in January.

    Whilst I fully understand Wenger’s trepidation regarding available LBs for loan (considering the imminent return of our fullbacks), I differ in my opinion in that I believe we should conclude at least one deal now before the summer because we may find oursleves outside the top 4 then and it will be more difficult to sign quality players on.

    In particuar, I am thinking primarily with regards the striker position.

    With RVP’s contract talks looming this summer, we can ill afford to go into another round of having to replace our main asset (Robin) and reinforce the striker position with an extra asset (assuming Chamakh continues not to replicate his good form which he staretd for us after his return from Africa)

    There are players, good players (hard working ones) available in this window and ones who may move for reasons other than those listed by Wenger in January.

    Podolski is one but Leandro Damiao is another whom I think may fit us well with a good combination of strength (in the air), speed, technicality and hard work (he has been conosistent in Brasil)

    @22, he also brdiges the gap between the older striker(s), RVP etc and the younger generation in Campbell (down the line Bunjaku)

    Spurs are rumoured to be pursuing him (they have some sort of deal with INternacional) but hopefully, they will be sidetracked with nailing Adebayor down (poor bastards)

    I think it wise for us to consider a purchase for a striker now bearing in mind that we may be in a position of disadvantage in the summer if we fail to qualify.

    There is still goodwill toward us now in the market and we are still seen as ‘competitive’.

    Bearing in mind that we may have to let go of the ineffectual Chamakh and may lose RVP, (not to mention Henry’s loan expires in 2 weeks time)< we could do with tying this one up early (thereby front loading somewhat)

    The other thing is come summer (regardless of whether we qualify) we will have to be in the market for one more top quality wide man. I think Arsharvin's time is now limited with us.

    The Russian has been in a bit of a funk but has (to be fair to him) been trying his hear out. All goodwill to that end was lost when he was recieved with the reception offered to him following the Ox substitution.

    What we need to add to the direct pace of Gervinho, Walcott, Ox and Ryo is a bit of guile and technique (Which we lsot with Nasri)

    Hopefully we qualify top 4. Because we should be all competitive for the likes of HAzard come the summer.

    Aside from convincing the likes of RVP that we are serious, he adds that ability to hold the ball that we are somewhat missing at the moment out wide.

    In this respect, both GAzidis and Wenger must realise that the market has changed and that we can also no longer simply hold firm to our minimum threshold (say15m quid) when bidding for players with the likes of PSG and Anzhi to add to the ranks of rich money clubs, City, Chelsea.

    With our squad basically reformed thanks to some expedient and frankly very useful 'panic by=uys' this summer, I would think that we should reserve our powder precisely for the battle this summer to sign that one quality player where we may necessarily have to go slightly above our usual comfort level (say20-25m with Park thrown in, didn't Lille want him?).

    All the more to conclude the striker this window to afford us the maximum ability to compete for the one important signature that will continue to convince some of our better senior players (The Dutchman in particular and the Belgian) that we are still relevant beyond the summer and in a position to compete.

  9. arv says:

    Great Wilshere out for the season.

  10. Dhruv says:

    A very important game against Bolton today. Arsenal has already slipped to 6th after Liverpool win but we can get 5th back with a win. Losing is not an option.

    The problem with playing with a lot of inexperienced players (AOC, Coq, Chesney) is that the pressure to perform (and win) would be immense. Could they survive? Bolton would not be easy to roll over as they are fighting for survival. Then there is fatigue with essentially the first XI playing the FA cup tie on Sunday. This looks a tough, tough match. Kos is a very good defender but we invariably do concede in every match. Hopefully, we will see Henry at some stage to get us the 2-1 win.

  11. John says:

    Nice preview. I’d like to see more protection given to the fullbacks against Bolton by way of starting the first half in a 4-4-1-1. This formation (let alone my preferred personnel) are clearly not in the cards, but I think it would make us more solid and offer a good base from which to attack.

    Moreover, I’d like to see Park get a run out with RvP roaming free. At some point Park should be given a real chance before he’s entirely written off and becomes a another drain on wage bill.

    Park/RvPBenayoun, Arteta, Song, Walcott / Vermaelen, Merte, Kos, Coquelin / Szczerr

    If this doesn’t work then there’s the Ox, Rozza, Rambo and Henry on the bench.

  12. Steve says:

    I for one cannot wait till Gervinho gets back so we can play him and the Ox on the wings. I know Wilshire is injured but we should give the following a try when everyone is fit:

    Chesney

    Sagna Verm Kos Santos

    Wilshire Song

    Ox RvP Gervinho

    Walcott

    Try it out and if theo can’t finish then drop him and put rvp back upfront. Theo is clearly not a winger so its a waste playing him there (its like playing with 10 1/2 men).

    • Patlow71 says:

      Totally agree about Theo not being a winger, he is going backwards as a player out wide in my opinion, and too be honest one good game every five is just not good enough.

      I would like to see this formation given a go and as you say if Theo can’t cut it centrally let him go and bring in a proven goal scorer.

      When all are fit the only changes I would make to your line up is Arteta for Song, both Jack and Arteta can play the holding role, but in my opinion have better creative flair and passing ability than Song. In the meantime, why not try this formation with Song and Arteta? (when Gervinho returns), or try playing Benyoun there until Gervinho returns.

  13. Shahr says:

    Is the german buy going to play tonite? I doubt it since he hasn’t even played in the senior team. he will be wc intwo years time .And in two tears’ time the gunners could be in the cl wilderness.
    Wenger’s style reminds me of an ancient Chinese emperor.He asked his eunuchs and advisors the situation at the front.They said evrything was under control. In those days ancient China was plagued by incessant attacks by barbarian hordes. Hence the great wall.The attack was not fatal .
    However the subordinates neglected to tell the emperorl the truth.The barbarians were in fact better at warfare than expected.
    The old emperor found out too late and had to flee with his life .
    I hope this holds a lesson for Wenger surrounded all the yes men.

  14. bob says:

    Desi,
    What do you think about a creative midfielder now that Jack Wilshere is down for the year, if not beyond ( – in Arsene’s pre-transfer window words, “gutted”)? Would you consider that the Els purchase is as cynical as it is opportunistic, given that someone surely knew [strongly suspected?] that Jack Wilshere was so badly injured (and at the very time Arsene used the pre-transfer window words, “gutted”). And, on another plane, would you go as far (as I would) to say that that this transfer window made the need for a quality backup for RvP imperative? That is, as insurance against injury? Is the gamble on RvP’s health on the advice of the same crew that couldn’t manage Jack Wilshere’s injury? This “quiet” x-fer window will have very loud ramifications for the summer; and if non-action leads to a finish outside the top 4, I suspect RvP (and his – and Cesc’s — agent) will be out the door; and if this occurs, this “quiet” x-fer window will have unleashed deafening soundwaves. Would you think so?

  15. bob says:

    Shahr,
    Well done, indeed. Alas, what you’ve posted is all too true to be good. Alas.

  16. kondi says:

    I like the line up but i dont think ramsy wil be on the bench. He is wengers boy.he’s been performing very bad in the last games but he still makes it in wengers first eleven selection. for example, the game against aston villa, rosicky played very well, but wenger managed to pull him out and let the useless ramsy play. may the good lord help wenger to play rosicky in tonights game, amen.

  17. jeff says:

    Let the trio be SONG-ARTETA-ROSICKY. there’s no question that Rosicky deserves a start.. but usually Wenger won’t play Tomas twice a week..

  18. Judith Le'Strange says:

    First of all I would like to know what was the reason behind signing Henry on a two month deal when he’s only played one cup game, yes I know he’s supposed to be “injured” or is that just white wash! I would like to see him start against Bolton alongside RvP, but knowing Wenger we’ll get the usual Walcott who only scores one in every 100 chances, that’s if he’s lucky.

  19. Gerry Lennon says:

    I, like the majority, would have liked to have seen one addition in this window, but if they were not available, so be it. I am just pleased my options have not gone anywhere else either! It is a bit quick to write off Eisfeld ‘given his injuries’ … From what I’ve read, he had a bad cruciate injury a while ago, got himself fit, scored 6 goal from 12 apps in their reserves, and a junior International to boot?

    As for tonight, I am a big fan of Yennaris, So my picks are:
    SZCZ
    NICO, MERT, KOS(Will he ever get a rest?), TV
    SONG, COQ
    ARTETA
    ROSICKY, AOC
    RVP
    Subs: Fab, Djourou, Sagna(for last 30mis), Ramsey, Benayoun, Walcott(for AOC on the hour, or vice versa), Park.

    Nico is quick, so while Bacs eases his into first choice, it makes sense?
    Le Coq can take two quick games, and provide bit of extra cover for TV?
    Ramsey had one of his better games of late, partic in the second half, but surely is one needs to sit this one out?
    Arteta looked good getting forward, so let him start there. If Alex is getting overrun then switch Le Coq forward?
    Rosicky, certainly over other choices, even if only for an hour? Hostile crowd has done it for AA – Well done chaps, I suppose you think you may get the AW the same way? – Hey, if you want a top 4 club to support, go to Spurs, don’t waste your time bringing Arsenal down to Blackburn’s level ! (Just my opinion folks)
    AOC, tricky one, but like Le Coq, he is young enough to recover quickly, as long as he is not asked to do it too many times?
    THEO, I prefer him to come on when his pace can be put to good use, but if he starts, and the team move the ball quickly, he should do okay?
    RVP … who else?? … Sorry, Park late on perhaps, barring injury?

  20. siva says:

    with us playing blackburn at emirates, while Spurs, Pool, Chelsea and united playing each other at the weekend, a win today and on saturday will ease us back into the top four. with the kind of gap between us and spurs now, it is going to be very difficult come next few months.

  21. Ade David says:

    It could have been a surprise if Le Prof had signed a world class player in Jan window. Who is Thomas Eisfeld? Lets wait and see whether he will be a good buy afterall Fabregas was not in Baca first team when wenger brought him. I agreed with Desi, lets give the guy a chance nd see how is going 2 perform in our reserves. Today’s match againt Bolton will be crucial. It will be dangerous 4 us to drop points now considering d facts that our rivals gained points yesterday. I agreed again with Desi, it will be physical with their long ball to our box but their system is not strange to our boys. They will be able a cope. We need to take our chances. I agreed with d line up except Ramsey on d bench. He should start and R7 to be on d bench bcos he is less physical than Ramsey. My prediction? Arsenal 2 Bolton 1 by d Grace of God.. Arsenal even after death

    • jeff says:

      I don’t know in what way is Tomas Rosicky less physical than ramsey..? Tomas has better tackling,quicker pace and acceleration,even at the age of 31.. Ramsey looks hard-working,going everywhere but he rarely wins the ball.. he’s very slow to be honest.. he’s also not as strong as he looks like.. i can’t forget he’s beaten very easily by 38 year old ryan giggs recently.. well..,i always try not to be too harsh on ramsey.. but in my opinion,Ramsey is not better than Denilson..

      • RedCore says:

        Ramsey is one of the resons why our 3 man midfield holds its own against teams like Bolton who put 5 in midfield against us. A technically capable midfielder who can run 10+ km every match, hassle and harry and also create chances occasionally.. Rosicky/Giggs definitely have a better short burst of pace to get away from players but their aging legs cant provide the workrate needed in a 3 man mid. Ramseys creative game will improve I think when the fullbacks return and the wingers get into more central positions. Dont write Rambo off yet..

      • VanTheManPersie says:

        in terms of pace,acceleration and physicality yes he’s pretty close to denilson. But then so are people like scholes and lampard….he needs to improve on his passing success rate and chances conversion…pace and acceleration are natural attributes that cant be changed but u can work on other aspects of your game..the overall understandign in intelligence. Ihave noticed his shooting was better before the injury…i was watchig some of his youth vidoes and he scored with his left often with great technique and power…he will never be a cesc or sociky…he can just be the best ramsey but he’s short there too i agree

      • jeff says:

        Ramsey has the highest distance travelled or whatever you call that.. but that’s not the main thing in football.. you can run 10+ km,but to perform well is what it is about.. in Ramsey case,he never puts a strong enough performance this season.. honestly speaking,he’s been very-very poor.. And in my opinion, Wenger has failed to realized that he’s not a playmaker..

  22. VanTheManPersie says:

    Disappointed by the result …where do we go from here 0-0:(:(

    • Dhruv says:

      Is Wenger going to play Oxo-RVP-Walcott on Feb-4 again. Yossi can be brought for any one, but if Arshavin starts, he might want to cotton his ears.

      Btw, appalled by the result, is this going to end like last season?

  23. jeff says:

    yes.. a very disappointing result.. btw,about Rambo,he simply lacks creativity & sharpness in his passing.. he’d not be our starting AMC… i’m sorry but he’s not good enough to be a playmaker..

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