Arsene Has To Define “Defensive” In His Search For Fresh Faces

A quiet Arsenal morning, the excitement of Laurent Koscielny’s sudden transfer to the club has barely subsided before Arsène raised the anticipation levels further with a Dickensian plea for more money to spend. Medical assistance was no doubt administered to the Board on hearing that such frivolous spending is planned.

The target according to the manager is focussing on the defence:

We identified Koscielny as a very, very strong centre half. He can be an outstanding addition to our team. But it is not over, we are still open to buy. We are still on the market for another defensive player because we have the need for one more

How that calculation was arrived at is open to interpretation. The obvious suggestion is centre back but defensive player is a broad brush term and ranges anywhere from goalkeeper to midfield. The latter position has numbers and seems unlikely –  Juventus are determined to foist Melo upon us – as does the need for full backs. Even with Kerrea Gilbert leaving, there are options at right back with Eboue as cover and the left side is equally filled with Gibbs recovery from injury.

That leaves centre back and goalkeeper. Both have seen plenty of suggestions for potential targets although these seem to be dwindling with media favourites Kjaer and Eduardo both joining new clubs yesterday, Wolfsburg and Genoa respectively.

Sol Campbell has been working his way south from Glasgow, rumours of a medical at The Stadium Of Light seem premature. It is hard to find fault with Campbell taking his time in deciding his future, the picture at Arsenal is quite clear: best hope is fifth choice centre back with a one year deal or another club, higher up the pecking order and a contract which is twice as long. At least this time there is no charade about wanting to play abroad.

Current solutions for Wenger lack experience though with Koscielny and Djourou some way behind Vermaelen in this aspect. Promoting the youngster Nordtveidt and Bartley offers a partial solution in that the Carling Cup must surely be their target this season. However, as the last Premier League campaign proved, fifth and sixth choice central defenders may be required for a spell and putting in untried youngster is ‘sink or swim’.

The futures of Gallas and Campbell appear to be edging away from the club which is the problem facing Wenger. Of the two, Gallas would be nearer to be a first team regular. Indeed, were he to stay then Wenger could conceivably go into 2010/11 with the players he already has. Campbell remaining would mean that one of Koscielny or Djourou would probably be Vermaelen’s partner in the starting XI.

Last season may be clouding judgements. The injury levels were horrific and it is hard to decide whether it was a freak occurrence or there is something different with Arsenal players and their fitness. The numbers of players for the two central defensive positions ought to be sufficiently covered between four players; last season, there were times when it seemed that six was insufficient although that might partly be the fact that Mikael Silvestre was the sixth choice and did not inspire confidence.

The World Cup has enabled us to cast immediate judgements upon those whom the media foist upon us. None has covered themselves in glory and to some extent, appreciation of those already at the club is heightened. Problematically, injuries have cast aside memories of Djourou’s abilities with his stop-start progress being a barrier to forming a genuine assessment. Potentially, he could be a world-class centre back but that will take time, a precious commodity in an unforgiving league.

It might be that Wenger was referring to his goalkeepers. A new custodian would mean that there were five at the club who would have eyes on the prize, some harbouring more realistic ambitions than others. Almost certainly, any addition to the squad would signal the end of Almunia’s career at the club. It is unlikely that the Spaniard would stay for the obvious reason of wanting first team football but from Arsenal’s point of view, he would be a barrier to progression by younger team-mates.

The situation would appear to pave the way for Szczesny to go out on loan once more although that dubious honour might fall to Fabianski. That would be the best outcome, letting him regain confidence which will have been dented by the events of his recent first team games.

No doubt the outcome is clearer in Wenger’s mind than it is to supporters. The next week or so should provide the answers.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on July 9, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 135 Comments.

  1. First and TGIF everyone 🙂

  2. I would rather see Fabianski go out on loan this season and keep Szczesny at the club.

  3. Arsenalkabisa

    I have a sneaky feeling we may star the season with Almunia.

    The Mesut Ozil roumers are gaining weight. On twitter yesterday was talking about cash + Tomas Roscisky.

    Gone to the site but cant get anything from there…

  4. The new players brought in by Arsene have to make arsenal hard to beat and allow them to win ugly. Too often last year the team failed to compete against the more physical sides in the premiership and surrendered rather than fought hard. I would also like to see a defence that can sgut out didier drogba.

  5. Fair point on Fabianski, i think it’d be good for him to spend a season away, even if it is playing for someone like Watford.

    Woj i think has to go on loan again – maybe to a Championship club like Leeds where he will get a lot of games and get used to playing infront of big crowds & pressure.

    I doubt Almunia will be sold, mainly because no one will buy him. He’s a fine 2nd choice along with Mannone.

  6. I’m sick of all the speculation. I’ll just wait and see what Arsene does, after all he knows a lot more than any of us do.

  7. This has nothing to do with the topic, and I apologise for that, but this is the most hilarious/scariest YouTube clip I have seen in ages. A nutter on the “Satanic” sport of soccer.

    It is so barking mad, I’m tempted to believe it’s a spoof.

  8. Apparently, it is a spoof and the guy is a comedian.

  9. Trying to predict who Wenger will buy is an excercise in futility. Lots of great cameos by players at the world cup but one has to consider whether these players flater to decieve as anyone can produce great performances over 4 – 8 games, fifferent story over 40 plus games.So I will believe it when I see it. Eduardo was indeed solid and impressive . Casillas and Bafoon were surprisingly suspect. Overall I think Wenger is going to look closer to home and buy an English defender or midfielder. Thats my thought.

  10. I just hate the suspense. I want to have no idea a transfer is on its way until it happens, and then go demented like my mate’s border collie when you get out his squeaky ball.

  11. Don’t expect Ozil or Inler or any other quality player.

    We will probably buy Mark Swartzer and this Algierian cd and that will be all.

    We are a joke of a club at the moment and our main objective is to secure a CL place.

    Besides, Wenger has blind faith in his crap players( Almunia, Denilson, Diaby and many other), so don’t expect major signings.

    We will start the season with Clownunia or Mark in goal and with Vermy, Koscielny and Djourou as our cd”s.

    Sorry Arsene, not good enough.

    We need someone like Zapata, Inler, Frey, but we won’t have any of them.

  12. Gibbs is fit , No? wasnt he on the bench at the very end of the season?

  13. Maciek

    The only joke that is associated with Arsenal football club is the section of supporters who still believe in the Chamopionship Manager mentality.

    And YES, you are one of them. Grow up little boy.

  14. Again we’re leaving it to the last minute to sign new faces. Why do we ALWAYS do this ? Wenger must have a list of his targets, so WHEN is he going to spend ? What is he waiting for ? For the price to come down, of course. Too late by then.

    “In Arsene we rust”.

  15. I don’t see the logic in saying any keeper arrival necessarily mandates Almunia leaving, YW.

  16. Fungunner,

    Thanks for that. It’s made my day

  17. Wenger will spend big if they are worth it, I feel he may well have to do that with this defensive transfer he is looking for. The next one I feel will be a big one.

    I doubt he wants Ozil, Wenger never buys a player based on the World Cup… Arshavin was bought after months of scouting, and contract negotiations!

  18. I agree with Ole.

    We need ANOTHER quality keeper.

    Lets say we get a new number 1 and we let Almunia go, we will be in the same position if the guy gest injured.

    We need 2 decent keepers. Hopefully he will be a seriously world class mean machine Monk style goalkeeper! We need someone to come in and challenge Alumina, and not stick all our eggs in one basket.


    So who have you seen in the transfer market that is really going about their dealings in a smart and effective way…

    By this I mean exclude the billionair fantasy owner clubs who will run the clubs to debt and probably face footballing sanctions because they are spending more than their footballing income.

    I suppose this is all too much for you to consider before demanding transfers though ehh?

  20. Maciek; Stupid comments!! Go back to Le Shite where you belong as they are the only ones that promote the term “Clownunia “

  21. SPECTRUM, the season does not start for another month. Hardly the last minute is it.

    And fuck off Howard.

  22. Don’t feed the trolls folks.
    Fascinating stuff as ever Yogi. Am I alone in having no interest in transfer speculation but being quite happy to wait and see? Remember the year that, despite the clamour, we signed no one except a German goalie with a reputation for being bonkers? We went on to finish unbeaten.
    Chill everybody and trust the people who know better than us.

  23. wenger will never buy ozil, that’s a complete joke of a story.

    i wouldn’t want us to buy him anyway, he’s your textbook world cup showpony, he turns up and looks flash for a month every four years and then disappears into mediocrity for his club. the boy is silky but all hype. the next robinho. i don’t want him at arsenal.

  24. I agree that Fabianski looks like a good loan prospect. Physically, he’s impressive, but the pressure seems to get to him, so he needs plenty of game time to mature.
    YW, I think you’re over-thinking it. When he signs a centreback and says we need “another”, that’s precisely what he means. Goalkeeper is a whole other question.
    He obviously rates Koscielny highly to pay so much – it means any profit down the track when we come to sell him will be minimal. But he’s said defence cost us a chance at the title last year and he won’t rely on TV in only his second year in England, a young man coming back from a year-long injury and a guy who was in the French second league a little over a year ago. Another senior centreback to come, methinks.

    And Spectrum, Wenger’s just paid high for an up and coming centreback – hardly waiting for the price to come down! And anyway, most players haven’t been negotiating while the WC’s been on. Keep your hair on.

  25. would anyone mind terribly going into the season with almunia as no.1?

    i think he had a crap season last year but i think also he was going through some personal stuff at the beginning of the season that knocked him off kilter.

    in the absence of cheap quality available alternatives, i don’t think it would be a disaster to give him another year.

    the main thing is that we sort out the defence and the balance of the team. if we do that, the keeper will have 50% less work to do and it wont matter who we put in there really.

  26. Arsenalkabisa

    Intresting that Maciek means shit in my mother tounge.

    I wonder if there is any link to the above dudes name?? ^^^^

  27. ChrisGoona.

    I respect your opinion, but do you honestly belive, that we are going to win something with only 3 cd”s ( Koscielny, Vermy and Johan) and withAlmunia in goal as well as with only one proper cdm?

    Sometimes you must spend to win something, and to bring quality to the Club.

    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. Take care.

    P.S. And Almunia is really awful DFG.

  28. i think you need a certain kid of mentailty to be a quality no.2 keeper. i think fabianski is a no.1 who needs to be trusted and to play regularly. he doesn’t have the no.2 mentality. when he’s used as a no.2 he looks nervous and crap.

    almunia on the other hand is probably a better no.2 than no.1.

  29. I like the idea of Felipe Melo. After a disastrous year in Serie A and a lousy world cup his price must have come down. He is a good player who was let down by his coaches for both club and country. It’s no coincidence that both coaches got fired.

  30. Maciek, I don’t think he is awful, yes he has made some mistakes but which keeper hasn’t.
    By the way, nice to see you left out the LeShite terminology this time!

  31. It is amazing to me that we can complain about only competing for Champions League, which is a dream for Tottenham come true. Maybe you were not watching last season or the season before etc, but we have not been out of the Champions League. Whilst we have not won the league we have, contrary to many pundits, been competing for the title.
    Maybe these complainers listen to the press too much and believe also that England compete for the World Cup every time it comes around. Clearly they don’t, in order to do so, they would like Arsenal in the League, have to be regularly there or there abouts, which Arsenal always is and England never is.
    By the end of last season it was clear that we need, in order of priority: A tough dangerous skilful regular front man; a decent keeper; and some sanity in central defence. Since that time the Cesc issue has arisen, which could set us back a fair way, but we do not have to sell him, and we should generate enough money to get a replacement.
    Even though the WC has been on we have done something about 2 of those positions. Cesc we can not know about yet, but what we hear is action, therefore what is the problem?

  32. The Almunia bashing is pretty annoying now. The guy is a good keeper and has done well since taking over from Lehmann, he had 1 fantastic season, and his from seemed to drop last term, but not as much as people make it out to have.

    Cast your eye back to Barcelona at home, the first 45 mins could have been a complete embarassment if it wasn’t for him. Identifying 45mins shouldn’t be a basis to back the guy up though I admit, some fans need to get some perspective back and really compare him to what other keepers are out there.

  33. I never got the Melo thing last season and even less so now.

    He is everything that a typical Wenger player is not, a great big lump with the speed and turning circle that the Titanic would be proud of.

    Arsenal’s defensive qualities are to play high up the pitch and close down quickly from the front back, Melo just can’t do that, he loves a fowl and his card count is astroniomical, he will spend half the season being banned.

    Fungunner, loving the Collie/squeky toy analogy.

  34. Almunia simply isn’t good enough. Arsenal will win nothing with him as first choice.

    A reliable man between the sticks would have made a big difference last season

  35. We’ve jsut spent £7 – £10 million on a centre back and the manager has said that he wants more signings. But no that’s not good enough. Just who have the Spud’s, ManU, Liverpool or Chelsea signed so far? Man City are splashing the cash but seem to be repeating past mistakes. If players only come to you for hugely inflated wages you end up with mercenaries, like Adebayor or Robinho.

    I really wonder what some fans want sometimes.

  36. Obviously GunFlash missed out on the two title races which we narrowly lost out on.


    Putting all the blame on 1 player, that is a true coward of a supporter.

  37. kingsalami: song is a bit slow and languid himself, and that doesn’t stop him being awesome for us.

    the defensive central midfielder doesn’t need to be a supermobile speed merchant, he needs to be an anchor. strong, good at reading the game, at intercepting, at tackling, holding up attackers, and distributing the ball efficiently.

    i think melo would be awesome for us, but i also think that our interest in him is a false lead. wenger trusts song, denilson, diaby and eastmond to do the job between themselves. he doesn’t think we really need a new defensive midfielder. he’ll be looking to strengthen central defence or goal, that’s it.

  38. I have never been impressed with Melo, his attitude always seems to let him down.

    Wenger usually identifies players with a sensible and committed attitude, not someone who is ready to snap the opponents legs without thinking of the consequences attitude…

    Ability wise he has surely got talent, he plays for Brazil! I just don’t think he would be a valuable asset to our team. Our players get booked for practically nothing, imagine the shi* this guy would get in.

    Song is better for me. We don’t need a defensive mid with the likes of Ramsey, and Denilson in reserve.

  39. i can see melo going to barca though…seriously…they’ve just lost yaya youre and were looking at mascherano even when they had toure. all they have is busquets in there now. and they could probably get melo for cheap. he plays for brasil. yeah, makes sense.

  40. I have a lot of sympathy for Fabianski.

    He’s still a young guy and he’s made a few mistakes. Time is on his side and I think with a little bit of experience gained from going out on loan he could become a good ‘keeper if he get’s his confidence back.


    You’re right, Almunia is a good ‘keeper. Trouble is, he’ll never be one you’d rate in the same bracket as Seaman or Lehmann, We need someone better.

    A friend of mine said to me once “how many ‘keepers in the Premiership would you not take in place of Almunia?” I couldn’t only think of 2.

    A club the size of Arsenal need better.


    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  41. Wenger-speak is very interesting. It’s absolutely straight-forward, but also means something else.

    I translate it as “We have signed an excellent folks, and we are signing one more, but I haven’t decided which one yet, I am looking at 3 options, and when I decide, you’ll be the first to know. The thing is you see, transfers, if they are to be done properly, need great caution because I’m held accountable here and I can’t afford silly mistakes with silly money, like oh, let me see, Man City for example. This is Arsenal after all. It’s serious”.

  42. Gunner17.

    I know what you mean and yes you are correct, the DM’er, speed and agility are not the most required asset but, there are extremes to this and what I have seen of Melo, for me he is simply not mobile enough.

    I hope you are right about (yet another) false lead, but Arsene was prepared to blow all the budget on him last year, surely one season down the line and a much reduced transfer rate wouldn’t have mellowed (sorry, that’s poor) his interest in him.

  43. I don’t see Melo as a replacement for Song but rather as an addition to it. A big squad is a prequisite to mount a challenge for all four cups!

  44. insert “defender” where it seems appropriate

  45. Put whatever spin on it you like Chrissy boy but we won nothing. A top class keeper could have made all the difference.

  46. A top class keeper made all the difference to Liverpool then?

  47. KG, we have to consider the new rules about squad size now don’t forget.

  48. Jay-Jay

    So you reckon you can only pick out 2 who you wouldn’t take:

    Van Der Sar
    + whoever the Wolves keeper is
    + whoever the Blackpool keeper is

    Go ahead…

  49. Melo’s temperament is dodgy to say the least so I wouldn’t go anywhere near him. A target of ours a couple of years ago was Gokhan Inler. Thought he looked useful during the WC

  50. With apologies to Steww and his wise advice, those of you who think buying a goalkeeper and a defender for Mighty Arsenal is like buying a cheesecake from the bakery, and the only thing, really, to decide is between the New York or ‘traditional’ variety are like the village idiots of Arsenal. Being a namer of names, you are respectively ‘shit’ in Arsenalkabisa’s mother tongue and Spectrum which is just a shit name.

    Um … that’s all.

  51. GunFlash

    No spin, its actual events which have happened. If you can’t back up your argument, keep it shhtuum mate. Your making yourself look like an idiot.

  52. Dupsffokcuf, Lol it’s just the coach and out field players Liverpool have to worry about

  53. Oh shit, I’m in moderation for using the word shit twice to describe two shits. But, but, but Mr. YW, it’s my job to insult the shits who wander here.

  54. Shitty shit .. is that allowed?

  55. Chris, stop spending so much time at your keyboard and get out more. That way you might be able to tolerate other peoples views and be less of a cyber bully.

    Do really think that AW would have bought Almunia other than the fact we were skint at the time?

    As for not being able to back it up. What have we won with Almunia?

    It’s my view that we have some exceptional players but we also have several others who are just not good. Hence we always 3rd or 4th

  56. I hope Almunia starts the season and plays every match. I am hoping against hope that this will cause the Arsenal ‘village idiot’ fans to implode, kaa-pow; lots of little implosions over mainly, I guess, North London and south coast of Spain. It’ll be fun and it’s a useful service to society.

  57. GunFlash

    Almunia is a good keeper no matter what you say, so too will be Fabianski. No amount of slagging off from fans like you will change that.

    Don’t you think you should be focussing your efforts into a more promising season with a changed defence, which will ultimately improve us at the back if Wenger gets it right? Instead you spend your time going round criticisng your team..

    I am sorry if it seems like I am bullying you, but in truth I feel extremely sorry for fans like you. I just wonder how you can enjoy watching Arsenal when having such ill things to say about your team.

    Your pathetic really. Every season fans like you seem to want to pick on a certain player or two… do you not justify that as bullying then?

    Exactly keep your mouth shut like I said and learn how to support.

  58. ZimPaul

    I am really looking forward to seeing our team already, just another defender and we are on our way. With Almunia as number 1 we will be up there once again challenging for the league. Some fans just live in a fantasy world. How they can seriously think changing the whole back line will do any good is beyond me, teams are not built over night.

  59. I am not basher of our own players but, in all honesty I would take any of the keepers on Chris’s list with the exception of Carlson over Almunia.

    Ability is one thing, he is not a bad keeper per se, his performance against Barca in the first leg was amazing but, I think he lacks the mental strength and fortitude to be a consistant number one, in a top, top club.

  60. I hope Wenger brings another keeper in as back up, and as a challenger for the number 1 spot. Hopefully somebody experienced. This will be our best bet.

    Schwarzer for 4m seems a no go for me.

  61. ZimPaul, there’s a good chance that Alumia will start the season and as soon as he walks out on to the pitch he’ll have my full support.

    He’ll have some very good games but he’ll also make mistakes that’ll cost us points. And while it’s not just down to him those mistakes could be the difference between being champions and also-rans

  62. Me too Chris. I think Wenger, who does not make flippant public announcements, has just said (again) his focus is defence. Whatever his faults, he is a thorough manager, and when he builds a midfield he builds it, ditto attacking options, ditto long-term youth policy, ditto new stadium etc ..

    It seems, although it is not apparent yet, he will almost over-compensate in defence options (within regs on player ceilings anyway), hence my belief that one or both Campbell and Gallas may yet stay the course, plus another signing.

  63. Gunflash: You can’t just say a top class keeper would have made the difference. There are 11 players on the field not 1. You might as well say if player X did not miss a goal scoring opportunity or if player Y had cleared the ball, and so on and so on, it is a never ending story. We are talking about team effort here and not an individual.

  64. Chris, Exactly how old are you? I’m betting mid-twenties at the most. This would explain your immaturity and myoptic options

    Hopefully one day you’ll realise that most football fans find it easy to suupport their team through thick and thin while maintaining a certain degree of objectivity.

    As soon as the game starts I’m behind the team. And I’ll defend the Arsenal against anyone who slags us off. But if you ask me if I think this squad is good enough to win the league then the answer has to be no.

  65. Um, well, I was joking but only a little about Almunia. He is actually a good keeper, not the best, not Seaman, not Lehmann, but good.

    We could possibly do better I suppose, but I’m not that impressed by what’s readily available out there. I fact, I like Fabianski, who will become an excellent # 1 in his career, but not this season.

    Wenger will spend big money of he finds what he is looking for, but he has to weigh this all up. The immediate concern is 4 fit and able CBs, plus two young guns to do a job. We have 3 confirmed.

  66. DFG, No of course it’s not that simple. The point I’m trying to make is that the squad needs to be improved in certain areas if we are to successfully challange for silverware. Goal keeping is one of thsoe areas.

  67. indiangooner

    I rarely comment on this blog but do read all the comments. I do like the debates that goes on here but when some one slags off our players, it p*sses me off big time. I agree Almunia may not be a world class keeper, but he still is a very good keeper with only few keepers ahead of him..

    He had a poor last season but the bad news at the start of the season led to a bad start and the fact that the 2nd GK is very young(for a GK) and inexperienced didnt help either. So I feel an experienced GK coming in this summer NOT to replace Almunia but to give support/competition to him as ChrisGoona and Zimpaul suggests.

    I also feel that 2 of Fabianski/Mannone/Szczesny will go out on loan with the third one playing Carling/FA cup. They need game time and confidence which they can only achieve if they go on loan.

  68. Gunflash, Of course the squad needs to be improved and I think that is what Wenger is doing. All I am saying is it is unfair to simply point the finger at one player.

  69. My hunch is that Wenger and the goalkeeping coaches know that technically Almunia is gifted, but he may have issues in terms of confidence. Were that the case, it would be like Wenger to rather to seek to ‘unlock’ the key to Almunia’s confidence than go out and buy. Every time you buy, you are buying another set of problems, not quick-fix solutions. I think this was the reasoning behind Almunia’s occasional captaincy.

    Could we win the EPL with Almunia? Yes, of course, but only if we reduce the number of EPL goals conceded next season by around 8+. Not all are goalkeepers faults, some are, and some are not. Most, perhaps 60%, are team faults, and positioning errors, solved in strengthening defensive work, and bringing in technically gifted defenders. A confident keeper and confident backline are not mutually exclusive. Just buying a keeper will not solve a problem.

  70. DFG, Lol Super we are in agreement then!

  71. Kingsalami

    If you think…


    …are all better than Almunia then you really are one who seriously is deluded by believing ‘the grass is greener on the other side’.

    Is this an Arsenal blog?

  72. indiangooner

    Its mainly the weak supporters that come out crying and pointing fingers. I agree there is only a few in the league who are better than him.

    Agree with ZimPaul too.

    We saw what happened to Cech when he lost his confidence. A confident Almunia is possibly the best in the league. We saw that the season before last, we were raving about him then. Some supporters have a short memory.

  73. Chris, with the exception of Carlson I do.

    It does not make me any less an Arsenal supporter beacause I don’t think he has the mental strength to recover from his own mistakes.

    Do you think he is the best keeper in your list?

    If you don’t, does that make you a doom and gloom and if you do, well I can only admire your blind optomisim

  74. My reckoning is that we need atleast one more defender. If he is someone who can deputise at CM as well then great, but Djourou could do that too. Not too sure though if I have seen JD play there for Arsenal. On Kos, if Wenger has payed 10 Mil for him then it does look like he will partner TV5 next season.

  75. Chris, I am against the continued bashing of Almunia as he alone is not responsible for not winning silverware. However, with that said, I think that the following are in fact better keepers.

  76. ZimPaul 12.43 :

    I hope Almunia starts the season and plays every match. I am hoping against hope that this will cause the Arsenal ‘village idiot’ fans to implode, kaa-pow; lots of little implosions over mainly, I guess, North London and south coast of Spain. It’ll be fun and it’s a useful service to society.


    Village idiot fans on the south coast of Spain.

    Would you kindly elaborate ?

    If that was directed at me, it was a poor shot, I may not have the intelligence of some on here, but an idiot certainly not.

  77. kelsey,

    Idiocy, is in the eye of the beholder.

    I just pee’d my pants.

  78. DFG I respect the names you put there, but it is also blind optimism to think they would do better playing at a bigger club like Arsenal.

    Those slagging off Almunia, instead preferring others who play in front of smaller crowds, have less pressure, and the clubs and their fans have less expectations. It is sad to see in all honesty.

    Almunia will prove many wrong next season if given the chance, and with an improved defence.

  79. What became of the rumour that Schwarzer is coming in as a keeper and, longer term, a trainer. Or was YW joking? Or was I dreaming?

    The thing is, if true, it could be a brilliant move. What we need is a very good keeper for 2 years to allow the young talent to make the grade. One method is a confident Almunia, with a first class back-up Plan B. Solutions to both puzzles might just be provided by the Schwarzer option, who, should he arrive, might not be regarded as automatic first choice keeper, but mentor.

    Or is this too far-fatched?

  80. Kelsey! I had no idea you lived in the south coast of Spain. Well, I did actually after an interesting exchange with Frank, but no, I was not taking a pot shot at you. As far as village idiots go, you are not one.

  81. Fair enough, ZimPaul.

    I read the blog every day and it just caught my eye.

  82. Chris. I respect your point. However, Howard was at Man U and Hart is at Man City, while Friedal was at Everton an Villa. I think they are pretty big clubs. Also in fairness, keepers at the so called lesser clubs actually have to work harder as they have weaker defenses in front of them as compared to the bigger clubs. All opinionated of course but I am sure you get my drift.

  83. Howard Webb will referee in the final. Glory Days 🙂

  84. “We are still on the market for another defensive player because we have the need for one more”

    I have a small glimmer of hope that this is very obtuse reference to Joe Hart.

    Hart playing for Arsenal will be good for Arsenal and the English national team.

  85. on the melo debate, how he’s not mobile, i agree. Also song to some extent is also not the most mobile but is strong an a great tackler. if we were to sign another dm it should one who will run around the pitch fast, great stamina, and good reaer of the game. sort of like flamini, though that won’t happen i’m think maybe matuidi?

  86. DFG

    I understand your point of view, my view is a busy keeper is less likely to get caught out.

    I still feel putting them keepers a step up into the top 4 of the Premiership, putting them into Champions League, you cannot guarantee they will look as good as some think.

  87. I’d love to see Hart playing for the Arsenal.

    Today we’ve also been linked to Handanovic the Slovenian keeper who impressed during the WC. We could certainly do a lot worse

  88. I understand your point of view, my view is a busy keeper is less likely to get caught out.

    What I mean is at the lower clubs they have more shots and pressure on their goal. They are sort of expecting and use to that pressure. At a big club like ours every save is crucial, every leap from a cross, and every dart out of the box.

    You don’t have the luxury to make one mistake, and a mistake made by a keeper at the smaller clubs are forgotten by the next weekend when he has to make 5 saves.

    Its all about the defence for Arsenal, 1 more player. Almunia wasn’t a problem the season before, so I don’t really see him as a major problem.

  89. Its hard to believe we will start the season with Almunia in goal. I realize he had some off the field issues last year but the boss clearly does not have confidence in him. 2 mystery injuries in the same season and losing your place as #1 during the title run in and during the time where we came close to losing 3rd place speak louder then anything we can say. Clearly the boss has looked for a replacement which also says a lot.

    I am less enthusiastic then before the WC but I have felt since last April that Schwarzer will be our GK next year. I don’t is Almunia is a bad keeper, but given what has happened, I think it would be a huge mistake to start the season with a major GK controversy. Almunia will get blamed for everything even if unfairly and AFC can not afford that type of situation when we are fighting for a championship. Every team will be targeting our GK just like they did Fabianski and mistakes tend to become a self fullfilling prophecy.

  90. We do need to make changes, our final position last term indicates that. At the end of the day the manager will pick the team and we watch and hope, can always support another team i suppose if thats what people want but why is being an Arsenal fan such a competition, i know im not the biggest fan, i have far more important things in my life than Arsenal but thats ok, thats normal. I used to read another blog which just made me angry, show some rednwhite love guys.
    James, i understand your a s…. fan, but you make me laugh

  91. Sorensen’s as better than Almunia too. What happened to that little rumour? Weren’t we linked with him back in the January window?

    He would do a nice job, solid dependable ‘keeper, if not spectacular. Stoke have Begovic as back up so wouldn’t be too reluctant to sell.

  92. Agree with you Bill, have to think of the team not the individual, and i think your speculation might just well come true

  93. Bloody hell.

    So, Joe Hart can play one season for Satan FC and be ready for AFC.

    But, JD?

    Oh no!

    He has played on loan for the Devourer of Souls.
    As the D**M of of Brum no less, not just a CB.

    So, if JD is a 3rd/4th CB, he can also be automatic cover for Song (As he was meant to be last season?). And this also gives him a window in which to get his strength/fitness/mojo back up to the required levels. (Not sure how he did as a D**Mer, Zama, but Lord Beelzebub himself had swarms of praise for JD.

    If he’s a starter…?
    He will be, at times, during the season, that much is obvious.

  94. ChrisGoona, spot on about the pressures facing keepers at the top clubs. At this level it is much more mental than anything else. You see this in all sport. Regardless of what some people say Almunia would not be first choice keeper for The Arsenal if he were not technically gifted above and beyond most keepers. The next step required is mental, the attitude that nothing will go in this goal unless I am dead and buried on the pitch, that I will take your head off if you try and jump in my box or take me on. Lehmann had that attitude but about 98% of the keepers in the PL don’t. Van der Saar? Nope. Cech? Not since his injury. Gomes? Nope. Friedel? Possibly. Reina? Nope. Then you go elsewhere… Casillas? Nope. Buffon? Nope. Julio Ceasar? Maybe. When no one has it the only differentiator is either minute differences in technical ability or the defense in front of you. As we saw last season with the number of goals let in that was a problem for us. Wenger has recognized this, stated how he will try and fix it, and has moved in that direction. I don’t know what more people could ask for.

  95. JD as a back up DM might be a great idea. I hope we play Song and Denilson as a double back 2 midfield in some games next year and we will need a 3rd to rotate with them. I would love to see us pick up someone like Inler to be that 3rd DM but that is probably not realistic. JD would make a good option. Hope JD can stay fit.

  96. I would say that the following are probably better than Almunia in goal:

    and maybe Jaaskaleinen

    5th or 6th is pretty decent actually. On the other hand, I think most fans feel that if we want to challenge for the title, we need to have one of the best 3 keepers.

    This might be a little out there, but a keeper I’d consider signing is Ali Al-Habsi, Bolton’s second choice. Extremely underrated, and he’s good at making the occasional save, which is a lot harder than being under seige.

  97. Almunia has the talent to be a good GK but he certainly is not a world class talent who just had a bad year. He is at best an average or possibly slight above average GK who performed below average last year. Clearly he has some issues with his confidence and the lacks the confidence of the boss. He might surprise and have a good season, however given the pressure and scrutiny he would be under I think a further back slide would be the more likely outcome. We can not afford any back slide and the risk/reward ratio for him is clearly heavily weighted toward the risk side.

  98. Hart I believe is a good keeper, but I am not convinced by him, simply because its one thing playing behind a well set defence and also a back 4 who really dont play for the offside and a team like ours who at times don’t seem to have a clue about defending. I think Schwarzer(sp.) if he comes to Arsenal will get a bit of a culture shock playing behind our defence, what with our high line and attack minded defenders. 😀

  99. This is what I want.
    Vermaelen/Gallas (the latter playing 30 matches)
    Djourou/Kosielny (15-20-ish matches)
    Campbell/Song (the former playing 7-10 matches and stirring up in the dressing room)
    Nordveidt and is it Bartley (the lesser-ware)

    Almunia/Schwarzer (I haven’t got a clue, whoever looks the business takes the # 1)
    Fabianski/Unprounceable SchSzczesny – 3 and 4
    Mannone – on loan

    Do I ever get what I want?

    Nope. Boo hoo.

    Whatever, we will win the premier league, of this I have no doubt what-so-ever. We will make the last 4 of the CL. We might win the FA Cup.

  100. Jens used to deal with the stress by pushing over and kicking hapless opponents.

    To be fair, they all seemed too scared to react, yet he never broke anyones leg. It’s Ker-Razy Jens! How did manage to just kick someone with spite, and not break their leg?
    How does he do that?

    Dave Seaman?
    He wasn’t into rave, but I once heard him confess to chilling out, when stressed, to the dulcet tones of Def Leopard (Def Leopard!).
    He wasn’t one for hysterics.

  101. Def Leopard/Def Leppard…

  102. If all else fails, I volunteer to go in defence. I might look like a youngish 52 year old. I might even be 52 years old. I might run like a 42 year old. But nothing on 2 legs will get passed me, especially if I’m allowed my cricket bat. I could disguise it as a medical aid of some sort. Even Howard Webb wouldn’t tell the difference.

  103. Why don’t we play 2 keepers (one of which can use his hands, and the other must be 7 foot tall and 2 foot wide) and 9 outfielders? It’s so simple.

    I’m only trying to helpful. Thinking outside the box. Coming up with useful and innovative ideas.

    This is problem the fans must solve. We can’t leave it all to Wenger. He’s got enough on his plate what with being a commentator now.

  104. ChrisGoona – proper fan, well done mate.

  105. Almunia must discover the original colour of his hair. This is so clearly an identity crisis issue, even an amateur psychologist like me could work that out. Come on Wenger! Wake up, man.

  106. Joe Hart would make a good goat keeper.

  107. Finsbury:


    Isn’t hysteria what makes blogging fun. How boring if we didn’t have passion and different opinions. I will have to dig out my old Def Leppard CD’s and load them into my phone. Hysteria and Photograph will be going round and round in my brain for the rest of the day.

  108. 3-3-2-2 with david james in or bust.

  109. *

  110. When we talk about experience for Cbacks, are we talking about PL experience or experience in general? Because for me, Vermaelen didn’t need any time to ease himself in and I think it’s due to the fact he already had experience playing enough football at Ajax.

    Experience is not also related to age, look at Fabregas, he started early, he has tons of experience now. Maybe not in life, but surely in football.

    For me, the most important thing is the chemistry, trust, and understanding between the two regular Cbacks. Kolo & Sol had it. Maybe Gallas and TV had it, If Kos & TV can have that, it will be great.

    I agree though that we still need another Cback, another 24-26 years old.

  111. Chris Goona
    Very good point about Almunia or big club goalkeepers.

  112. So if Bolton’s Cahill is linked with us, why in the world is he worth more than Vermaelen?

    If they really want their young players learn how to play football, why not let him go for a fair or his real not “English” value?

  113. Why is the grass always greener elsewhere. Why!

  114. G4E

    Generally speaking native players are more expensive than their foreign counterparts wherever you go in the world. It is particularly true when the big clubs get involved. Also, with the paucity of good English players, anyone who is considered half decent finds an extra 0 at the end of their true value.


  115. Bill & Zimpaul

    I only meant to refer to the physical stress of being an AFC ‘keeper!

    (Am thinking of Fabianski’s treatment from the referee at Blackburn: I think that confused ref had got his hot pots confused, and thought that he was practising ‘line outs’ at some amateur Lancastrian Rugby club. Except, Fabianski isn’t a fly-half or whatever, he’s a goalkeeper. Anyway…)

    I like different opinions. I once imagined that Def Leppard produced some of the worst music in the world, ever. But after hearing Dave’s praise in an interview a long time ago, I had to reflect, and ask myself: ‘Can they be that bad…’

  116. the goalkeeping situation is a particularly irritating one. I, for one, am not even close to convinced that schwarzer is a better keeper than almunia. especially in the areas that almunia is suspect.

    I, in a fantasy world, would like to see Tim Howard as our keeper for next year. Not only is he American, USA! USA! USA!, which means he can clearly perform against the English, ayooooo!, but from what I can tell, the dude knows how to organize a back four. Something I feel Almunia is just the tiniest bit inept at, especially in the I’m coming for it/You clear it dept. Which is why crosses created such havoc…

    but I doubt it will happen..

  117. oh and ZimPaul — you have me cracking up over here

  118. Whoops.

    It says here:

    “Players must not interfere with the opposition during the line-out. In particular, they must not interfere with or tackle a jumper while his feet are off the ground, or interfere with players supporting him; such actions are deemed to be dangerous play”

    So, you can get more protection in a game of Rugby, as opposed to being an AFC’s ‘keeper, playing in some games in th PL?

  119. That still won’t help English Football YW, especially with a manager like Wenger who doesn’t like to pay over the odds regardless of nationalities.

    If Cahill is a good English prospect and only Arsenal is interested in him as a big club, but they’re put off because of his inflated price, he will never get to play CL football where he can gain the experience of playing at least semi-internationally or learns to deal with the pressure at the highest level?

    It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

  120. Finsbury:

    The ref at the Blackburn game was a wonker. Fabianski clearly was fouled. Unfortunately, the perception of him around the league is that he makes mistakes so the refs do not give him the same treatment that Cech or EVDS. In the end it does not matter to our table position that Fabianski was not really at fault for the goal. Unfair but human nature I guess. At least thats my theory.

    Joe Elliot had one a the best “rock and roll” voices of our era. Great band from the true golden age of popular music.

    NJGooner: Tim Howard would be great.

  121. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    NJGunner is never one to hide his bias. I like it. But when it comes to Tim Howard, he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory this World Cup. You can’t get beat near post like he did by Kevin Prince Boateng. It just goes to show practically every GK makes mistakes. Personally, I think Almunia is more than adequate and I think he’s going to have a great year for us. I could see Wenger locking up another defender if the price and quality is right. But the Kos getting the famed number 6 shirt is hard to ignore and makes me think otherwise. Thank goodness we have the best manager in football to get it sorted. I’ll trust Le Professor’s judgement until the end.

  122. Am not very happy about the new reserve league fixtures being played at London Colney. Fans are not allowed in so matches (apart from a few at Barnet) will be behind closed doors.

    It’s not good enough I say.

  123. The Cahill thing reminds me of the Curtis Davis thing of a few years past. Wenger wanted Davis and offered West Brom (I think) a fair return on their initial investment of £1.5 million. But his Englishness meant that West Brom saw him as being much more valuable and sold him to Villa for a ridiculously inflated price before he had done anything in the game. Now, very few players improve under O’Neill. Most become one-trick ponies due to the incessant uni-dimensional long ball game he plays. Defenders especially just learn to hoof the ball upfield for a big lump (Heskey/Carew) to head on to a smaller, nippier player. File Davis under the where-are-they-now category. My point being that it’s critical for Cahill to go to the right club if he wants to improve his football and that may not be the one that is prepared to pay the most in transfer fee and wages.

  124. Dups

    It is better than the initial reports a few weeks back which said the club, along with others, would not be participating. Apparently there has been a large number of complaints which contributed to the change of decision.


  125. That’s what I’m trying to say Adam, the media and pundits blame Wenger for not playing English players, then when – if it’s true – he’s interested in one, they inflate his price. What good is this for the player or English football?

    The idea is to pay a fair price for the player, so the selling – most likely a smaller – club can buy some more young talent and so on.

  126. I don’t actually follow our reserves, apart from their CC adventures. 😀 Can anyone tell me how this seasons format / fixtures / groups are different from usual.

  127. dupsffokcuf, it’s because the pitch at Barnet and some of the other lower league grounds are so poor that games are often called off due to bad weather. This way, there will be more regular games. I do think it’s a shame, but maybe the club will be minded to start showing the games or at least extended highlights on ATVO to make up for it?

  128. Tony Pulis said today that he has several irons in the fire with regard to transfers in an attempt to keep his team of thugs in the Premier League. This evening Pulis was saddened to learn that Raoul Moat his number one target to play next to Ryan Shawcross was cornered by Police in North East England.

  129. Excellent stuff Adam.

  130. MD Gunner, the press can write all kinds of xenophobic articles such as those. Now that the premier league is one of the most watched leagues in the world there is no way in hell that they’re going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Foreign players, love them or hate them, make the EPL what it is. If they were to stop bringing them over all the viewership would shift to Spain or Italy. Do you really think that the Television executives who rake in the cash are going to allow their source of income to collapse just like that?

    The problem with English football is not foreigners. If that was the case then Holland and Spain wouldn’t be playing the finals, since their leagues are chock full of foreigners. The problem with English football is that the world of football is moving in one direction and they’re moving the other way. There’s just no excuse for a country the size of England not to produce twenty three quality footballers. That article is just full of excuses. Excuses and exceptionalism are what countries like England and America seem to be dealing in nowadays. Since countries like these are full of reactionaries who can’t admit to being wrong, expect to see the same failed ideas over and over again. If England wants an all English league then they need to start working towards producing good players. Until then exotic names on jerseys will be around for a long, long while.

  131. And of course, one of my Arsenal team-mates, Robin van Persie, is in their team.

    I have been texting him and we realised the only way we could face each other here was in the World Cup final. We joked about it after the early games and it is fantastic that it has now actually happened.

    It is great for us and it is great for Arsenal to have two players at the World Cup final.

    It is a little strange too… Arsenal are back in training getting ready for the new season and we are out here still finishing the last season.

    I know where I prefer to be and I’m sure that goes for Robin, too. He’s a great player and very dangerous.

    Read more:

  132. I’d much rather we bought hazard than ozil.cheaper and wow,what a player.wenger could make that boy something really special.fingers crossed!!!!!!!

  133. In fact,if we were gonna buy a german player I’d say podolski.he has everything,vision,goals,hard worker and not in his prime yet.

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