Posted by: 11Gunz | September 7, 2010

Seven Players In Contention For The Arsenal L.A.N.S. Award

To the seasoned arsenal fan, the L.A.N.S. is all too familiar, to the lay Arsenal fan, the L.A.N.S. stands for “like a new signing”. Last season, Robin Van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner were the two major contenders for the yearly award. Keep in mind that to be considered a contender for this award, you must be injured at a time when you are hitting peak form and your contribution to the team is crucial. Secondly, the injury should keep you out for quite sometime, right when the fixtures come thick and fast. Lastly, your return from injury should come at a time when the team is pushing for major honors.

Last season, Robin Van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner were the two finalists for the yearly L.A.N.S. award. Both players were frequent visitors to Colin Lewin’s infirmary. The latter checked in with minor niggling injuries (groin and hamstring) while the former picked up an ankle injury that horse placenta couldn’t cure. It meant he was out for a majority of the season. His return coincided with a crucial period in our season as we mounted a challenge for the title, a challenge that eventually petered out.

This year, the shortlist consists of some familiar faces, Theo Walcott (injured against Switzerland), Van Persie (injured against Blackburn), and Nicklas Bendtner. Rounding the list are Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Frimpong, Denilson and Aaron Ramsey. Contenders for this award always seem to be hitting top form and this year is no different, Theo Walcott has 4 goals in 3 games so far and was looking likely to have a breakout year. Last year Van Persie started well, scoring 10 goals in 8 games before his terrible injury.

The absence of Nicklas Bendtner, Van Persie and Theo Walcott means our forward line has once again been decimated with important fixtures coming up. Marouane Chamakh is the only healthy centre forward available for selection at the moment. Should he go down, the diminutive Russian would once again be asked to lead the line, a tall order to fulfill.

Luckily, it appears that Robin and Nicklas won’t be out for too long and should both be back in about a month. To challenge United and Chelsea, we need a healthy squad and I would hope that a player with minimal impact on our season, emerges as the front-runner for the L.A.N.S. award. But judging from our past injury history, that’s hardly going to be the case. Either way, we should know more on Thursday when the official injury report is released. Let’s hope the rest of the squad returns in good shape ahead of the game against Bolton.

Posted by: 11Gunz | August 16, 2010

Is it time to bench Andrey Arshavin?

Arsenal escaped Anfield on Sunday with a point, after Pepe Reina did his best to audition for the Arsenal number 1. Only time will tell if it was a good point gained or two lost. Judging by Liverpool’s play and organization, I’d lean towards the former. It’s hard to judge the individual performances our players, considering some of them were coming off international friendlies. But there were some worrying signs, Andrei Arshavin looked very pedestrian to me, almost as if he was playing with cement boots on.

I know it’s the first game of the season and it’s hard to accurately judge some of the players, but i feel Arshavin has sometimes disappeared when we needed him the most. Yes he’s had the propensity to create something out of nothing, and it’s that propensity that saved him from being substituted on Sunday. The player himself has admitted that he’s not fit and is trying to regain his form. It was his lazy pass that led to Liverpool’s first goal, he also failed to track back allowing Dirk Kuyt and Johnson to constantly outnumber Gael Clichy.

Since the player has admitted to a loss of form, is it advisable to just bench him for now until he’s fully fit? The answer is a resounding yes. We have enough quality in our team to account for his absence. It’s time for Andrei to know that his position might be at risk. A lot of our youngsters are chomping at the bit for a chance. A little competition for Andrei might just be the tonic he needs.

If he’s lacking motivation, that’s an area the manager needs to address and soon in my opinion, because as “lazy” as Andrei appears, he can make something out of nothing when he’s up for it. The coaching staff need to get him in the right frame of mind because we are going to need his goals going forward.

Good afternoon fellow gooners, hope you are all enjoying your first slate of premier league games. Judging by Blackpool’s pasting of Wigan, we are in for an exciting ride this season. The daily mail is reporting that, Arsenal target Mark Schwarzer, has handed in a transfer request. It seems he is desperate to join us, whether or not Mark Hughes agrees to let him go is another matter. I’m sure you all remember the sideline handbags between Hughes and Wenger the last time Hughes was manager of Manchester City.  So it begs the question, is Mark Schwarzer better than our current group of goalkeepers or does the paucity of options make him the most viable candidate?

Below is a head-to-head of Schwarzer’s performances against our goalkeepers over the course of last season. It is important to note that Almunia played 34 total games and amassed a total of 85 saves (68 premier league, 17 champions league). Fabianksi appeared 11 times last season producing 39 total saves (32 league, carling cup & FA cup, 7 champions league). Compare that with Schwarzer’s 37 appearances and 130 saves, all in the premier league.

Manuel Almunia Mark Schwarzer
Goals Conceded/Game 0.98 Goals Conceded/Game 1.33
Shots on Target/Goals Conceded 4.36 Shots on Target/Goals Conceded 3.8
Clean Sheets/Game 0.16 Clean Sheets/Game 0.33
Lukasz Fabianski Mark Schwarzer
Goals Conceded/Game 1 Goals Conceded/Game 1.33
Shots on Target/Goals Conceded 4.71 Shots on Target/Goals Conceded 3.8
Clean Sheets/Game 0.16 Clean Sheets/Game 0.33

Overall the stats don’t say much about the abilities of both goalkeepers, in fact you could argue that Almunia is a slightly better player than Mark, or better yet they are both average goalkeepers. But the stats don’t tell the whole story since Almunia was more prone to mental lapses than Schwarzer was last season.

And you don’t see the likes of Blackburn sending defenders to crowd out Schwarzer, like they do to Fabianski because Mark doesn’t have the reputation of cowering when defenders surround him. He doesn’t drop routine corner kicks on players heads, he doesn’t pick up back passes, nor does he stumble and allow a tame shot to trickle in over his head. I am sure by now you get the point, it’s all about reputation and if that’s what it takes to stop neanderthal managers like Allardyce and Pulis sending thugs to harass our goalkeepers then by all means get him signed already.

Goals Conceded/Game 0.98
Shots on Target/Goals Conceded 4.36
Clean Sheets/Game 0.16
Posted by: 11Gunz | August 13, 2010

Arsenal Season Preview 2010/2011

Good afternoon my fellow Gooners, the start of the season is finally upon us and I must admit I am feeling giddy, I don’t know about you. This is shaping up to be one of the most open races we are going to have for quite a while, if you think last year was a roller coaster, this year could be stomach wrenching. Of course this bodes well for the neutral, but for supporters it’s no fun when your  team loses to the likes of Blackpool. Alright then let’s get to the business of examining the season ahead for Arsenal.

Last year we fell short of our target, I wonder if Chamakh had been bought in January, would that have made a difference. It’s hard to know if it would have or not, but at least we would not be wanting for depth. Either way that didn’t happen and we now have to look forward to this season and hope he does well.

There are more questions surrounding the team ahead of our trip to Anfield, specifically about the goalkeeper and centreback situations. Questions that have to be answered, how fast will we start this year?, will we succumb to injuries again? will November/December be our undoing again? how well will our youngsters perform under pressure when called upon? These are questions I am sure the manager is well aware of and is working to address.  Perusing over the squad lists of our rivals, it’s easy to see they also have questions that need answering. City has spent £83m(expected to rise after Balotelli and Milner sign) so far assembling a team that many expect to contest for the title, but the question remains how fast they gel together. Chelsea have shed some dead weight and so far spent only £5m on Benayoun, although I expect that figure to rise after Ramires signs. United have spent £23.7, Liverpool £8.2, Spurs £6m. It’s evident that the likes of United, Chelsea and Liverpool are all looking for value for their money and spending sensibly.  I do share concerns of fellow gunners but with the transfer window still open, I would hold off passing judgment till the window shuts.  I think it’s common knowledge now that we are a bit light at the back and currently have 2 healthy centrebacks to choose from for the game on Sunday.

We’ve enjoyed recent success over Liverpool, doing the double over them last season. But I do expect them to be very different under Hodgson, whose teams are very disciplined and hard to beat. Expect the top teams to drop points at Anfield this year, it’s a bit of a blessing going there this early. Bendtner (groin), Djourou (hamstring), Ramsey (broken leg) are all sidelined, but Denilson and Diaby face late fitness tests. Cesc and Van Persie are to be assessed before the game. I could do with Van Persie sitting this one out but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fabregas play some sort of role on Sunday. Expected lineup (4-2-3-1) Almunia, Sagna, Clichy, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Eboue, Nasri, Diaby, Arshavin, Chamakh, Walcott.

I am not one to make predictions, I tried it last year and Ryan Shawcross had a laugh at me, but hey I can always dream right.

1. ARSENAL
2. MANCHESTER UNITED
3. CHELSEA
4. MANCHESTER CITY
5. LIVERPOOL
6. SPURS

Relegation – BLACKPOOL, WOLVES, WIGAN

Champions league – BAYERN MUNICH
Europa League – ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG
Golden Boot – FERNANDO TORRES
POY – CESC FABREGAS
Young POY – JACK RODWELL

So there you have it my predictions for the season, remember I told you I was feeling giddy, it is Friday the 13th after all.

COYG!

Posted by: 11Gunz | May 23, 2010

The Arrival of Chamakh Gives Arsenal Options

The worst kept secret in football came to a head on Friday as Arsenal finalized the transfer of striker Maroune Chamakh, on a bosman from Bordeaux. Although not as prolific as some arsenal fans would like, he still has a decent return, 79 goals in a total of 293 appearances over the course of his eight year career in Ligue 1.

He reminds me of a certain Arsenal striker who shall not be named, except he is not as lazy as this said player and definitely doesn’t stray offside every chance he gets. The player who shall not be named had similar stats coming out of the french league – 18 goals in 79 total appearances with Monaco, and 15 goals in 44 appearances with Metz. I expect Chamakh’s goal tally to increase just like the player who shall not be named. He will get more chances to score once he gets used to Arsenal’s style of play.

The introduction of the 4-3-3 means going forward our attack has some bite, but has come up short in big games against the better teams. We didn’t have a true second system to fall back on against quality opponents last season, and this is exactly what Chamakh gives Arsene Wenger – Options!

I suspect that next season, you will see Arsenal switch to the 4-4-2 against the likes of Chelsea, Money City/Mansour City, United and Sp*rs. The 4-3-3 left our fullbacks exposed against these quality sides, however a 4-4-2 not only protects them, it also provides the likes of Eduardo and Carlos Vela the freedom to operate behind the central striker. They are more effective playing in that hole behind the striker than leading the line. Against the “lesser” teams we will switch back to the normal 4-3-3 formation with Chamakh most likely out on the wing. I watched quite a bit of Bordeaux games this season and he is adept at playing out wide occasionally interchanging with the central striker or target man.

His arrival also means our forwards can now be rotated regularly, to afford some of our injury prone strikers much-needed rest. The quality of Arsenal means we are usually involved in cup competitions late into the season, that means more games for the players. Bendtner played 31 games last season, Vela had 20 appearances, Eduardo – 32 total appearances, Van Persie – 20 total appearances and finally Theo Walcott – 30 total appearances. These starts pale in comparison to Vermalen’s 45 total starts this past season. So depth in that department is much welcomed, hopefully he stays fit throughout the season. He does seem to be a very durable striker, I can’t recall him having any serious injuries over the course of his career.

‘Til Tomorrow.

Posted by: 11Gunz | May 19, 2010

IN ARSENE WE TRUST: HAVE FAITH ARSENAL FAN

It’s been two days since Cesc Fabregas allegedly asked for a return to his boyhood club. In the days following that supposed meeting, we’ve been inundated with constant stories of Cesc to Barca stories driven by a tabloid press with only one thing to gain, hits and more hits. The most telling fact in all of this, is Arsenal’s refusal to comment on the matter. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know that Cesc is going nowhere, I don’t know what else would. A few months back, Arsene was asked at a press conference what he thought about the prospect of Fabregas returning to Barcelona this summer, to which he replied “Do you think we invest all this time in these players to sell them?”

This whole scenario came about when Cesc was asked by a journalist in spain that should he ever leave Arsenal would he like to play for Barcelona? He replied in the affirmative but added, “I am happy at Arsenal, and in no hurry to leave.” Of course to Laporta and his evil servant Txiki, they’ve interpreted it as the player wanting to leave and return home. After all Cesc is their own, a La Masia product who has the barca DNA, who trained beside the likes of Messi and Pique. All nonsense of course because what these two are not telling you, is there is an election going on this year for the clubs presidency and Laporta cannot run again. Rather than see his rival Rosell get the plaudits for signing Fabregas, he would like to deliver the player before he leaves office.

That is easier said than done of course, knowing that Fabregas is contracted to Arsenal until the 2014 season and Arsene Wenger won’t let him leave without making Barcelona pay through the nose for his team captain and face of the club. So rather than be accused of tapping up the player, they employ newspapers and folks like Guillem Balague to perpetrate silly rumors with the hope of destabilizing the player, and getting the fans to push the player out. The damage would of course be done by the time an offer comes in and Arsenal would have no choice but to sell. That is the hope of course, as far it being reality, you can forget about Fabregas moving to Barcelona this year or the next, not at 24 years old and certainly not at 25 years old either. More like when he turns 28 and that is another four years away.

For once we are in the driver’s seat here, we don’t have to sell and are financially sound so money won’t be an issue. Wenger won’t risk losing the fans by letting his prized asset leave for peanuts and judging by his transfer dealings, if and if only the player has categorically stated he no longer wants to play for the Arsenal, I expect Barcelona to pay over the odds for him. Football has changed a lot and player contracts are no longer what they once used to be, but Fabregas willingly signed till 2014, he wasn’t forced to and by saying he wants to leave will only put him in a position he doesn’t want to be in.  He won’t want to be seen as turning his back on the club and forcing his way out, that’s why it’s intriguing to me that the papers keep reporting of a secret meeting. You see, Joseba Diaz is no longer his agent, from my understanding he is represented by someone who resides in england so there is no truth is the story of his agent flying in to hold talks with Arsene.

I have utter faith in Wenger and I trust he will do the right thing by the club, so far the club has refused to comment and this isn’t unusual. That is the right thing to do anyway, why lend credence to rumors when they aren’t true to begin with. Don’t believe anything you read until you see it up on the official arsenal website, I know in the past they have usually published a direct quote from fabregas immediately after a rumor stating his desire to remain at the club.

Reports from spain suggest that Barcelona are prepared to offer yaya toure plus 30m for Cesc because they see him as a product of their academy. The truth is this, irregardless of whether Cesc played in their youth system or not he is now contracted to Arsenal football club. It’s in their interest to force a deal as soon as possible but it doesn’t mean arsenal have to kowtow to their demands and the longer this goes on the more tenuous their position becomes. That’s why their sporting director is quoted in the press today saying “they would respect the wishes of Arsenal.” I don’t believe we are even interested in Yaya Toure, as a trialist he didn’t seem to tickle Wenger’s fancy so why would that change now. Felipe Melo is the midfielder we are after not Toure.

Make no mistake losing Fabregas would be a blow not only to the club, but to what Arsene Wenger has striven to achieve since the move to the Emirates. It would undermine all the good work he has done keeping the club solvent while at the same time keeping us competitive. It would also send the wrong message to other young players that their futures at the club might not be bright after all. If he does indeed leave, it will be because he wants to not because Arsenal want him gone. The articles are going to come thick and fast, the telegraph just recycled an old story about Peter Hill Woods comments he made about Fabregas two months ago. Another paper claims the club and the player have agreed to terms and he will be signed before the weekend.

The only person capable of ending this furore is the player himself, he could just state that he is interested in staying at Arsenal. But alas football players are like divas, they all want to be wanted, they want to feel important so let Cesc have his day in the sun, come august I expect to see him in the arsenal red and white. I could also have egg on my face should he leave in which case I would wish him the best and hopes he is successful.

‘Til Tomorrow.

Lat Sunday’s over a reserve Fulham side, brought a close to the regular season and secured third place for Arsenal. It means we will enjoy champions league football for the thirteenth year running, an amazing feat in itself. It also means we will bypass the qualification process and head straight into the group stages. We will leave that to the likes of Tottenham to see what it actually feels like, to juggle European football and premier league fixtures. The season has been full of ups and downs, a once promising campaign turned to a disappointing one, injuries once again having the final say and ensuring that our quest for silverware would have to wait till next season.

THE GOOD
It’s perhaps hard to stomach not winning any silverware this year and finishing 11 points behind Chelsea, but there have been a lot of positives to take away from this campaign. We showed a lot of fight this season, the team simply refused to give up time and time again keeping hope alive by scoring some very late important goals. Who can forget the comeback away at Standard Liege, the late goal away at Fulham, at home to Everton, away at Hull City, and the transformation at Stoke.

Another reckless challenge and a broken leg later, you would have forgiven the lads if they had just settled for a 1-1 tie, but the lessons at Birmingham 2 years ago meant that the collapse was avoided. We showed great character and team spirit to win that game 3-1.

Song, Bendtner, Fabregas and Van Persie have continued their steady progress becoming important members of the team this year. Fabregas has morphed into a goal scoring midfielder, Van Persie before his injury looked destined for a record breaking year, and Bendtner also chipped in with important goals this season. Alex Song felt the wrath of Arsenal fans two years ago when they wanted him gone. Fast forward to this season and Arsenal fans were pondering how the team would cope without the Cameroonian whilst away on African nations duty.

Ivan Gazidis met with members of the arsenal supporters trust yesterday, where he revealed that we no longer have any property debts. Henceforth, any sales from the Highbury Square development would be funneled back into the squad for redevelopment. How much that amount would be, no-one knows exactly. The Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) estimates that we have about £35m to spend on player transfers and wages. Worth a look if you have time.

The signings of Thomas Vermaelen and Sol Campbell might finally convince the manager we need to shore up on defence.

THE BAD
If one is to praise our mental toughness and knack for late goals, then it is worth mentioning our failure to hold onto leads this season, which has led to some epic collapses this year. The own goal by Abou Diaby at Old Trafford, the debacle at Porto, conceding 2 late goals against West Ham, the collapse at Wigan, Blackburn and Birmingham and our lack of effort against United and Chelsea. The propensity of our goalkeepers to lose concentration and not be able to deal with set pieces was unbearable to watch.  A manager who possesses the technical nous like Arsene does, surely knows we can’t afford to go into next season without strengthening those positions. We shipped in more goals this season than i can remember, not a trait of a championship winning side. Chelsea scored 103 goals and conceded just 32 compared to our 41 goals conceded.

Season

2006-2007 season

2007-2008 season

2008-2009 season

2009-2010 season

Points

68 points 83 points 72 points 75 points

Goals Scored

63 goals

74 goals 68 goals 83 goals

Goals Against

35 against 31 against 37 against 41 against

Goal Difference

+28 +43 +31 +42

League Position

4th 3rd 4th 3rd

We need to shore up our defence if we are to win the league next year.

THE NOT SO PRETTY
The number of injuries we’ve suffered this year and particularly the number of impact injuries seems to have risen. Key players have spent a lot of time on the sidelines nursing injuries. Van Persie (ankle), Aaron Ramsey (fibula), Djourou (knee), Fabregas (fibula), Nasri (ankle), Kieran Gibbs (metatarsal), Gallas (calf), Vermaelen (calf), Clichy (back), Denilson (back), Bendtner (groin), Arshavin (calf), Eduardo (broken toe), Walcott (knee). Name a club that can lose key players for the amount of time we lost them and still finish 3rd.

It seems Ivan Gazidis is going to look into why we’ve had so many injuries, rumors are that a new medical team is being put together, hopefully they can put an end to this nightmare.

The season is over, and we now have the world cup to look forward to, I suppose many gooners will put aside club allegiances in support of their various national teams. Enjoy the World Cup and see you for preseason when Arsenal welcome Celtic, AC Milan and Lyon for the emirates cup in august. I will throughout this summer be updating you on transfer rumors and how the arsenal players fare at the World Cup.

At the start of this footballing season, Arsene Wenger decided to switch from the normal 4-4-2 used in previous seasons to a more dynamic 4-3-3 system. The switch to a 4-3-3 was to utilize the amount of gifted midfielders at Arsenal, and not an attempt to play like Barcelona. During preseason, Arsenal fans witnessed the effectiveness of the system as the squad posted high scoring games against Rangers, SC Columbia and Szombathelyi.

The start of the season produced more of the same with an emphatic 6-1 away win at Everton. The early season results has sadly not been replicated for the entire campaign and sides we should be winning comfortably against have either beaten us or drawn against us. We have definitely gone off the boil too, scoring just 6 goals in our last 6 games and conceding 11. Contrast this to our first 6 games where we scored 18 goals and conceded 9.

Basis of the formation:
The base 4-3-3 formation consists of four defenders, three midfielders and three attacking forwards. The midfield can be arranged in two different triangular variations – offensive or defensive in character. Arsenal use an offensive variation with Alexandre Song as the base of the midfield trio acting as the defensive midfielder (DM) or ball-winner. The other two central midfielders then flank the defensive midfielder, either Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby or Cesc Fabregas and Denilson. Three attacking forwards consisting of a striker/target man and two wingers complete the formation.

Defence:
Essentially like any normal back four with two centre-backs flanked by two full-backs. Full-backs must have good tackling abilities and must be quick on the ground to be able to move up and down the flanks in support of the attack or to defend. The centre-backs must be good in the air to deal with crosses, and set pieces. They must also read the game very well and should be able to link up play with the defensive midfielder. One key characteristic of the centre-halves, is that they must possess good passing ability.

Midfield:
Arsenal set up their 4-3-3 in a triangular shape with Song as a DM flanked by two attacking players usually Cesc and Diaby. The anchorman in midfield allows the two attacking midfielders to be able to have free license to roam and link up with the three attacking forwards.

Attack:
Made up of two wingers and one striker/target man. The purpose of the target man is to link up with the midfield and bring others into the play. He occupies defenders and that frees up the wingers to able to move down the flanks making the pitch wider and getting defenders out of position.

How our current group of players fit the system:
I believe our defenders Gallas, Vermaelen, Sagna and Clichy are quite comfortable with this system because it allows our full-backs to join the attack.

Our midfield is our strongest unit in this system, allowing Fabregas the license to roam from box to box. The midfielder has responded with an impressive return of 19 goals in all competitions this year, his highest total since scoring 13 goals in the 2007/2008 season.

In games against sides with dominant mid-fields, the formation has been tweaked to a 4-2-3-1 adding another anchorman to help Alexandre Song and the defence. The only problem with that formation is that we lose another attacking midfielder who is to be replaced by a defensive midfielder, but Denilson and Diaby don’t fancy themselves as defensive midfielders. We have struggled against the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea because the extra midfielder tasked with defensive duties is always out of position.

In attack we started off well but petered out when injuries started to affect our front-line putting enormous pressure on our midfield to keep the run going. Injuries meant we were forced to watch the diminutive russian try to masquerade as a striker with very poor results.

Benefits of the formation:
The 4-3-3 formation is useful for a team like arsenal that likes to counterattack, turning defence into attack in an instant with devastating efficiency. In an ideal world the outside midfielders/wingers can also track back into midfield to change the formation to a 4-5-1. The wide strikers/wingers also help keep the opposing full-backs occupied thus nullifying the counter attack from the opposition.

So Why Have The Mixed Results?
I believe the reason for the mixed results is due to a couple of factors with our squad and also the lack of a second system. We usually play a 4-3-3 but occasionally switch to a 4-2-3-1 when we come up against highly creative mid-fielders. We have also used the 4-1-4-1 at some point this season, Hull game is an example.

1. We lack another defensive midfielder/ball winner in our current squad. Besides Alex Song, we don’t have a proper defensive midfielder, Denilson and Abou Diaby are more attack minded and love to get forward at every opportunity. Denilson lacks the size tenacity at this moment to be a defensive midfielder. He is more suited to being an attacking midfielder. Any time we play a 4-2-3-1, Abou and Denilson struggle to assert themselves as part of our midfield trio.

2. We are not defending from the top down. What i mean by that is for the 4-3-3 formation to be very effective, we need to defend from the striker down to the goalkeeper. We did this during the 6-1 mauling of Everton and haven’t that again during the season. Some of it, is players coming in and out of the squad during to injury, but we just seem to have lost interest in doing that anymore. When you go back and watch that game you will see what i mean, when our players lost the ball, Van Persie, Bendtner and Arshavin would press the ball to allow our overlapping full-backs to get back in defence. We seem to have lost this basic art of defending from the top down over the course of the league season and it’s something the manager must address.

3. We are not playing a high defensive line anymore. Earlier during the season, we played a high defensive line so anytime our midfield lost the ball our defenders didn’t have far to go to reclaim the ball. With injuries to our midfield however, we have been forced to play a deeper line as we are defending more often than attacking because our midfield is getting overpowered. Another DM should address this.

4. We lack true wingers. Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri, Carlos Vela and Tomas Rosicky are not true wingers but hybrid players. Walcott fancies himself a striker, even Wenger has said his eventual position would be as a striker. He lacks a true wingers mentality as with the likes of Nasri, Vela and Rosicky. The only way to mask this defect is to make sure we fight to get the ball back every-time we lose it.

5. We lack a true second formation. Every-time we have found the opposition tough to break down, Arsene Wenger has failed to alter the formation. As i said before the 4-2-3-1 doesn’t suit as because we don’t have another true defensive midfielder. The only solution is to switch back to a 4-4-2 and lose one attacking forward. The Arsenal vs. Stoke City game is a classic example of the manager reverting to a second true formation, the 4-4-2. When Eduardo was introduced we switched to four midfielders and two strikers and it immediately began to pay dividends, Eduardo broke through the defence but failed to connect properly. We eventually won that game 3-1.

In conclusion, the new system is perfect for our team and with the reserves and Under 18s being schooled in the nuances of the system only bodes well for the club moving forward. I believe the problems would be fixed in the summer, another pure defensive midfielder would solve a lot of our problems anytime we play a 4-2-3-1. Lastly the likes of Walcott, Arshavin and Nasri must learn to press the ball from start to finish and for all 38 games.

Enjoy the game tomorrow.

COYG.

With the free transfer of Marouane Chamakh all but confirmed by Arsene Wenger, here are a few things you need to know about the french born Moroccan striker.

1. Born 10 January 1984 in Tonneins, France to Moroccan parents and has declared internationally for Morocco. Wears number 29 for his club Bordeaux and the number 17 for Morocco.

2. Has scored 10 league goals so far this season, compared to 13 in 2008/2009 and a measly 4 in 2007/2008

3. Has been with Bordeaux since 2002, joined the academy when he was 16 years old.

4. Has an impressive goal tally for Morocco scoring 27 times in 53 appearances

5. Adept with both feet, comfortable on the ball and equally good in the air.

6. Should have more chances to better his goal ratio with the service he is likely to receive at Arsenal. Currently averaging a goal every 4 games.

7. Has scored more league goals this season than Eduardo and Carlos Vela combined.

8. The Girondins website lists him at 70kg (154lbs) and at a height of 1.85m (6’1″)

9. Plays as a striker but can play on either wings, likes to cut inside and play one-twos.

10. Very durable but I am sure somehow that would change once the Arsenal medical team gets their hands on him :)

It is no secret that Arsenal need to strengthen going into next season, if they are to mount a serious challenge for the premier league title. Early rumors circulating this week had Buffon and Melo coming to Arsenal with Van Persie going the other way. We have also been linked with Joe Hart of City because of our need to find an experienced goalkeeper, but the manager has been quick to dispel the rumors, calling them “all wrong”.

What is known by most arsenal fans, is that we are definitely going to buy new players this summer, but let’s not forget the new premier league rule for home-grown players comes into effect for the 2010/2011 season, so how would this rule affect how Arsene Wenger moves in the transfer market? From next season, clubs must include eight home-grown players out of a squad of 25.‬‪

“A home-grown player will be defined as one who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the Season during which he turns 21).‬‪

Clubs will be able to supplement their squads with unlimited additional players under the age of 21 on 1st January in the year in which the season commences.Changes to the squad list of 25 may be made during the period of a transfer window.‬‪”

There has been a lot of interpretation of this rule, but as i understand it the player must have been registered with Arsenal Football Club and trained with the club for 3 years prior to their 21st birthday. This means players like Cesc Fabregas, Johan Djourou, Denilson, Carlos Vela, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Song, Fran Merida, Gael Clichy, Nicklas Bendtner, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Craig Eastmond all count as “home-grown”. That is 13 players who count towards the rule leaving us 12 to make the squad of 25. Note that this rule is different from the Uefa 6+5 which has been deemed illegal by the European Union because it restricts movement of labor.

I have no problem with this new homegrown quota being implemented by FA boss Richard Scudamore, my only sticking point is the squad size of only 25 players, which leaves little room to maneuver, especially for a side like Arsenal’s, that has it’s fair share of injuries. The manager agrees that the rule of a 25 man squad is too restrictive. He says on the arsenal website;

“The 25-man limit is too strict – especially for teams who suffer more than their fair share of injuries.
There is no room to move.
Is 25 enough given the injuries? It is an artificial rule that I don’t like.
I am quite surprised the players union accepted this rule as it could put many players out of a job. They want to fight against unemployment but they stop us employing footballers.”

Either way, all 20 teams have voted for the rule and that should create an interesting dynamic on how teams will be structured going into next season. It’s not yet known what role this rule will play when the transfer market opens this summer, but i am sure the manager would certainly be keeping that in mind. It appears the deal for Chamakh is already done, with both parties waiting for the end of the campaign before making any announcements. We could yet see a youth movement in the premier league next season.

I wonder if teams who have no academies are going to approach us for some of our academy players who might be on the fringes of getting into the first team. If that is the case, we could turn a nice profit selling some of our youngsters to other teams who need to meet the “home-grown” quota for next season.

Finally, our 3rd place spot seems all but secure now, a win against Blackburn should guarantee us automatic qualification into the Champions League group stages. A point wouldn’t be bad at all, just means we have to win against Fulham on the final day or at least get a point to see us solidify our position.

‘Til Tomorrow.

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