Fixture Advantages Are Fine In Theory But…

Ever seeking to claim an advantage, Arsene noted that the fixture list gives Arsenal a headstart of the rest of the title challengers by sending the squad to their rivals before Christmas. For this theory to work, Arsenal has to win their home games, something which has eluded them over the past two seasons. Indeed, the practicalities of such a theory will be severely tested over Christmas and January as Chelsea and Manchester City visit The Emirates shortly after the visit to Old Trafford.

It is the intervening time which is more crucial; titles are not won and lost in the isolation of top four clashes but these matches go a long way to securing points advantages or closing gaps. Winning fixtures against the teams which occupy seventh to bottom are equally important. This month, November, highlights that. It is not inconceivable that Arsenal will take fifteen out of the fifteen points available; the trip to Everton and Aston Villa are tricky whilst the derby against Tottenham is not a forgone conclusion although their failure to take any victory in their last sixty visits to the Champions League qualifiers is a considerable mental obstacle for them to overcome.

This season, more than ever, it seems that the home games are going to be key. Yet each of the sides in the top six is capable of winning at the grounds of their closest rivals. The home points simply cannot be taken for granted. Last season showed that the close proximity of big matches is not necessarily advantageous, three points from the home win over Liverpool the only return from three consecutive matches against ‘big four’ clubs.

The win over West Ham has emphasised some of Wenger’s optimism as well as providing grounds for that. Much talk of the collective stamina, the desire to win in such fixtures has been, not empty, but on dubious ground before now. It was a match which could quite easily have been drawn in the past – or dare one whisper it, lost – but concentration was kept, momentum built and the clearest chance in the latter stages buried.

Alex Song has travelled a long way in his Arsenal career, the unfair opprobrium heaped onto his shoulders following a dismal display at Craven Cottage seems so long ago. That night the team were abysmal and Song had flirted with the first team, expected to slot into a team which was makeshift, a team which played without soul, vibrancy or belief. He took the flak but to immense credit, has fought back, producing one of the best performances of the season – perhaps his career – at the weekend. It has been indicative of how he has played that he is now considered a key member of the starting XI, no longer subjected to the cries for a new defensive midfielder. Wenger puts it down to improved stamina, making him more mobile. In days gone by, the manager intimated that Song was not the best trainer. The player believes he is more mature; the two must be intertwined.

However, the midfielders he is playing alongside have played an equally important part in this new-found freedom. Wilshere has shown he is not afraid to put his foot in to win the ball which is something that has not necessarily been evident in the past from the creative members of the side. More than this though is that I believe the team is working harder to close the opposition down. Is this as a result of being more comfortable with the formation? More confident in the abilities of their colleagues? Or simply that they know hard work is required to win the title on a consistent basis; that they cannot simply turn up and take the points, the plaudits served on their platters are empty without medals.

Whatever the reason, consistency is the key. This month has been a traditional pothole to the season. With the upcoming fixtures, one every three days on average if you include internationals, fitness is going to be crucial. Robin van Persie is apparently eyeing a return against Tottenham which would leave only Thomas Vermaelen absent, provided everyone else remains fit. The competition for places will need everyone to be on top of their game. If that happens, then a good points return can be obtained. And that increases pressure on those around them, no bad thing indeed.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on November 1, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 81 Comments.

  1. A paradox that rotation could be our key to consistancy?

    :scratches chin:

  2. In attempting to work out what we should win and where we might drop points I am still haunted by the West Brom at home performance.We can reasonably be expected to drop points against top 4 teams and,say,in away games at places like Stoke,Sunderland etc but the West Brom result was a very very big kick in the teeth and I am still depressed about it .

  3. There is still a long way to go but this team seems to have a bit extra compared to the teams in the last couple of seasons. We still have to be more ruthless in dealing with so called lesser teams and have to improve against ManU and Chelsea but this is the best team since 2007/8. There seesm to be more cohension and belief in this group but they have to take the extra steps of beating the “bigger” teams and winning a trophy but they look more capable of this than in previous years.

  4. We really need to close down the has or keep as close as possible to Chelsea untill december. If we are able to do that, we’ll be in for a shout at the title.

  5. Flint McCullough

    Good post, YW but I think WBA taught us that it is no good looking at any fixture as being easier than another.

    Each game has to be treated with the same importance. The fixture list is really more relevant to when, in the season , you play on the poorer pitches that can make it hard to play our style of game.

    You are so right about needing as many players as possible, particularly the key ones, fit for the heavy schedules coming up.

    Momentum will be the crux this season. For example we have kept 3 clean sheets, treat that as a reason to extend that on & on until no-one expects to score against you.

  6. Play the carling cup team on wed imo. The next 3 league games are far more important for me.

    CLICHY(or start Nordtveit at rb and eboue at lb)

    That team is good enough to win and save the 1st 11 for the 3 league games in 7 days.

  7. A game every three days Yogi is a daunting task even for a good, large, squad. Does this team have the steel? They certainly have the talent. There will be exhaustion and a host of niggles that will not have time to heal with such a tough schedule. Rotation will be key to solving this tough month of games.

  8. “More confident in the abilities of their colleagues?”

    I think this is actually a point that is not often enough discussed. The togetherness this squad has certainly helps. Can Fabregas trust Song with the ball? Does he know that he won’t give up possession? Of course he does, and the same goes for every one of the team. Of course, I use an example further up the pitch where losing possession of the ball probably isn’t quite as crucial as keeping possession at the back.

    We see trust in laying it off for the full backs to put a cross in, we see trust in knocking it back to Koscielny or whoever else is at the back. The team feels more confident going forward knowing that although it is also their duty to help defend, that they have got solid defenders behind them capable on the ball.

    This even extends to the goalkeepers. I always appreciate when Fabianski tries to roll the ball to a man in space, instead of hoofing it up the field and risking giving away possession.

    There is a belief in this squad, not just amongst us supporters, but between the squad members themselves. More so than in previous years. It’s an exciting time indeed.

  9. avaris15 | November 1, 2010 at 11:38 am |

    Agree 110%.. The trust between the players in evident..

  10. It could prove a telling factor avaris15 when it comes to a trophy count at the end of the season..

    Arsenal are no longer reliant on 1,2 or 3, big players. Already having lost Theo, Van Persie, Cesc, and Vermaelen for chunks of the season so far and we have barely noticed or whined about our key players being missing.

    Players like Rosicky, Denilson, Wilshire, Diaby, Song, Bendtner, Eboue, don’t just make up the numbers. They all add something to the team when they play, and each one of them has a case for a starting spot. The gap between our top players and our squad players is very small, and the quality of our squad throughout is very high.

  11. Off thread, but a great, hi-rez video:

    Arsenal’s midfield against West Ham:

    – Video by TacticalRenoog.
    (Music works OK on this one, but ‘Killerwhale’ by Midfield General, Skint Records, would have been the obvious choice for me!)

    Boring Boring Arsenal!

  12. > Whoops: That was meant to read ‘Go Off’ by Midfield General…

  13. “The gap between our top players and our squad players is very small, and the quality of our squad throughout is very high.”

    Chris that’s the difference these days… A much smaller gap.

    I agree 100% with avaris too. Both have a huge part to play.

  14. Gr8 video, Finsbury.. Song’s contribution on Saturday is even more evident when you watch that video..

  15. Like Brian the wba loss still haunts me. Brought me down to earth. Still a lot of hard work ahead. Rotation will the key to our success or failure. Wenger pointed out that Denilson was tired after the last two games. Indeed only Fabregas and Sagna had featured in both of those earlier matches and against Newcastle they’d both come on as subs. The best squad and not necessarily the best team will win the league.

  16. Song was everywhere, its definitely evident that his stamina is greatly improved. I use to always think he was a bit slow in his early Arsenal days as well, that I don’t really notice now. He looks to have gained a bit of pace IMO.

  17. Kenyan gunner

    Add to that.. luck with injuries.

    We have the best squad, that doesn’t entitle us to a Premiership title though. Already we have had more injuries than the other big teams. Would we be 1st right now had we had Van Persie, Vermaelen, Cesc, and Theo fit … ?? Many would argue yes.

    The injuries have cleared up now though (TOUCH WOOD), and we are still to really see the best of Cesc, Theo, and Bendtner, as well as Vermaelen, RvP, and Ramsey yet to come….

    So with 6 quality players yet to make their mark, we are doing pretty well having beaten Blackburn and Citeh away.. and sitting 5 points off Chelsea who were given a fairly easy start to the season. Many say they were very lucky at Blackburn as well. Considering we were very unlucky to drop 2 points at Sunderland in the last minute, we could be even closer to them.

    Long way to go, but I am very confident. Expect some rotation for Wednesday’s game, with the likes of Theo, Rosicky, Bendtner, Whilshire, Djourou,Vela getting a run out.

  18. Finsbury,

    A great video. I am still coming down from the buzz of the result we eeked out on the weekend. I agree with Arsene that there is ground and potential for improvement but I am very optimistic and hopeful that such improvement will come.

    Fingers crossed

  19. Last season – 2 home draws (everton & man city), 2 home defeats (chelsea & man utd). 4 away draws (villa, brum, burnley & WHU) bar the villa game, Arsenal were leading then late goals costed vital points. Also 7 away defeats (Blackburn, Chelsea, Man City & Utd, Spurs, Sunderland, Wigan) was just shocking.

    In recent weeks the reaction to those 2 defeats to WBA & Chelsea has been great to see. There are always going to be games like the West Ham game on Saturday where the Goalkeeper is keeping the other team in the game and they drop deeper towards their own goal with 10 men behind the ball, but the belief never wained and the team pushed forward and created chances even with Cesc out of form. This weekend sumed up the vital important of late goals, pushing forward to pull out the result & never giving up till the final whistle.

    Looking at the fixture list for this season, the pivotal point could be when Arsenal next face the Hammers & Wigan in January & the possible cups ties before the end of that month. The league position will be important running into the final (baker’s) dosen with Everton, Liverpool, Man Utd & Villa coming to the Emirates and of course the return derby match @ WHL & other tricky away games at Newcastle, Bolton, Stoke & Fulham (on last day).

    So every match is just as important as any other & 90 points guarantees the league I think so the focus must be given to every match in every competition with the squad looking strong in quality & depth.

  20. Amazingly, From what I’ve gathered so far it would seem Song’s attacking forays this season was not actually Wenger’s plan? If so, that is a bit worrying. However it has paid off big time so far, so kudos to Song.

  21. The difference between last season and this season, apart from the three wonderful signings and the emergence of Jack, is that they have well adapted to the new system. If you recall many goals we conceaded was when everyone went bombing forward and nobody covered the space left by the player charging forward.

    I think that now they have realised that with this formation is really important to cover for each other and to defend from upfront which Chamack does really well and Nasri, Rosicky and Walcott are all happy to do their defensive duties which helps a lot. Arshavin seems to defend a bit more (still not enough in my opinion which leaves Clichy a bit too exposed).

    Eventhough I despise them, Barca, especially when Eto’o was still their spearhead, is the perfect example of the benefit of the attacking players defending. It seems that this year the whole team has realised that and are all willing to help defensively which means that our defence has less pressure and our attack starts much higher on the pitch. The only downside is that this defensive effort and the covering has to be maintain the whole time if the team don’t want to leave a huge hole at the back.

  22. I feel confident regarding our next games. Someone here mentioned how our new centre backs have instilled confidence in the squad and I couldn’t agree more. Just look at Fabianski. Have you noticed how many headers Clichy won on Saturday? Amazing.
    Love Squillaci’s calmness but how good is Koscielny? Defending looks so easy and elegant whenever he’s on the ball intercepting and passing to another player.
    The art of attacking + the art of defending = football nirvana.

  23. Kozza vs Toons

  24. Limestone:

    Bumgarner was great last night. Hard to believe my team has been shut out twice in 4 games. The Rangers played so loose and confident vs. the Yankees, then they lost the label as underdogs and everything changed. I have still have not lost all hope but looks very bleak. If Cliff Lee comes back to baseline tonight and we break out of our hitting slump there is still a chance, albiet very slim. Hope springs eternal.

  25. November is usually injury time for us.Would it be different this year as we’ve suffered so many injuries early on in the season??The journey is yet long but there are many reasons for hope.
    Just a few random thoughts: 1.Chamakh for all is great play does not have a ‘direct’ style of play.As things look at the moment,Bendtner is our only ‘out and out’ striker. 2.Watching the Newcastle game again,would Theo be more suited for a central striking role? My mouth waters at the thought of that.
    3.Laurent Kos is such a skillful player of the ball for a defender.Awesome!!

  26. Relieved with the CC draw, Wigan at the grove should be fairly easy. With Manure heading to West Ham, we are the favourites now!

  27. I have been impressed from day 1 with Koscielny’s on-the-ball ability. Tackling wise he is fierce, sharp, and very aggressive. A bit of a Vermaelen style defender, where he can header as well.

    I like all 4 CB’s, and I am generally very confident with out teams ability to shut out teams when any play, not like last season. Last season we relied on the Gallas-Vermaelen partnership, and that didn’t stop us leaking goals in the 4-3-3 formation which initially caused us problems positionally in midfield, and at the back. Now all our players look confident in their positions, and we are pressuring from the front. Something we stopped doing after we leaked goals early last season.

    Lets hope we keep the performances up, and continue on our fine defensive displays. The 3 goals we conceded at home to West Brom should prove to be a freak game. The West Ham game was of a similar scenario, we just need to make sure we are focussed througout these games, even when we fail to score the 1st goal early on.

    Against Chelsea and the big teams its a case of luck and putting away your chances. We had the chances to cause an upset at the Bridge, we just didn’t convert. Conceding 2 goals was a bit harsh, 1 being a quality freekick. But we was suspect on the break having gone 1 goal down. We need to remain patient in them situations. Even if we played the ball around for another 15-20 mins, and only managed nicking a draw, its better than letting them take all the points. It’s all about remaing calm, and showing maturity when things ain’t going to plan. If we stick to our game plan we will come out on top more often than not. Chucking everyone forward was just playing into their hands.

  28. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the team when RVP comes back – he loves the Arsenal but I’m not so sure he ‘fits’ any more. Maybe if we keep him for special occasions then (a) he won’t get injured so often and (b) the team can continue the maturing/building they’ve been doing without him.

  29. mj_gunner

    Home or away.. I wouldn’t have minded any team in the draw, even United. Our second strong and squad players are very strong.

  30. Reznuk.. Van Persie is everything Arsenal fans would dream of in a striker.

    Technically brilliant, great finishing ability, aggressive, can play football, and gives 100% every game. As good as Chamakh has been in his absence, there is always a space in the 1st 11 for Van Persie. His gorgeous through ball for Theo away at Blackburn could only be performed by a handful of players in the game.

    My worry is that both can’t really play in the same team in a 4-3-3. I don’t like Van Persie playing wide, and I don’t think Chamakh is best suited out wide compared to a Theo, Nasri, or Arshavin.

  31. The Kos-master is good all-round defender whose game reading ability is second to one. The way he positions himself and the way he anticipates the attacker’s moves is wonderful. I love it when he gets his foot just ahead of the attacker at the last second to intercept the ball and mostly he gets the ball to one of our players. Its simple technique but difficult to perform. Also, he is deceptively fast. I knew he was fast when he outran Torres in the pool game, But on saturday, he made a Vermaelen-esque run into the other half in the 84th(or 85th) minute. I couldn’t believe the pace at which he made the run.. Brilliant.

  32. CG,

    Great news regarding Jack.. Now to get Chesney to sign his..

  33. @ChrisGoona I wasn’t actually criticising Van Persie. But I will disagree with you about him being everything Arsenal fans want in a striker – amazing player, yes absolutely, but far too fragile. He’s never scored more than 11 league goals in a season for us – because he’s never gone a whole season without at least one major injury. I’m not saying we /should/ get rid of him, but maybe playing him less often when he is fit could be a way of keeping him fit? Just a thought.

  34. Sebastian Squillaci has to be one of the quietest signings of all time.

    He has seamlessly, almost invisibly, slotted into the starting XI of one of the finest sides in Europe.

  35. I don’t think that van Persie is injury prone. Not in the conventional niggly sense.

    He has just been amazingly unlucky 5 times. With serious injuries, by bad tackles.

  36. Good news on Wilshere. I may be Kenyan but believe that any great team needs a home grown backbone, even Arsenal. Wilshere along with Walcott and Gibbs are hopefully the first of many!

  37. Reznuk, I think CG was responding to the fact that you said RVP “doesnt fit” anymore.

    Thats simply not true but yes he has had issues injury wise.

    I have always claimed that an injury free RVP would rival any of the best players in the world, Messi included.

  38. great news about Wilshere!

  39. Chris, the fact the Manure were continuously being handed home draws against lesser sides was making me sick, relieved in that sense. Plus the rest we’d be able to give players like Theo, Cesc, Kos, Squill/Kos, is priceless as they would be required more often for the League/CL fixtures.

    Absoultuely agree with you gunnerluc, with the eye catching performances from Kos, people seem to have overlooked the contribution from Toto. Great signing!

    Delighted with Wilshere deal.

  40. gunnerluc = deano

  41. I think that regarding RVP, the signing of Chamakh and the growing maturity of Bendtner will ease the pressure on Robin. Wenger will not feel that he has to play him everytime and maybe it will help him getting less injured. Last year before his big injury he had played almost every minute of every match! Now we will have a rotation between the three, and probably field him in games that suit him best and avoid sending him against the neanderthal of the game!

    Regarding Squillaci, I agree with you Deano he has come into the side quietly but he has given the side much needed calmness as for Koscielny he look as if he was made to play Wengerball! His touch, vision, interception and speed make him perfectly suited for our style of play!

    It will be hard to pick the signing of the season as all of them have brought something unique and that we were lacking, stroke of pure genius by Wenger there! And from the whole league they can easely be the top 3 signing of the EPL.

  42. mj, although I agree most of the time with what deano says we are 2 different person!

  43. Randall had his collarbone broken in his first loan match in league 2. Now that’s what I call utter shit. Wish him a quick recovery.

  44. On the topic of Koscielny I am still not sure if all the humble pie has been eaten that had to be reserved when the signing was announced. So many people doubted Wenger, coming with the usual excuses. Too young, no real experience in a top-side, yatta yatta yatta. Despite being proven wrong last season by the Vermaelen signing they still continued, finding a new angle: that Koscielny had no experience in the national team. But in the end all their blabbering proved to be hollow as Koscielny came in and made it evident to everyone that he is probably one of the best defenders in the Prem. He settled in at an amazing speed and despite having made a mistake in his first game, I can not remember when I saw him lose a tackle for the last time. Coupled with his excellent heading ability and the way he reads the game to intercept dangerous passes left and right, his speed and stamina, he is everything you would wish for in a defender. I can not possibly see any defender who would have been a better fit for our side — at any price.

  45. And before anybody gets stupid ideas. Koscielny is better than Gallas or Toure. That is a fact.

  46. pardon me, friend..

  47. How do we fit Denilson, Wilshere, Diaby and Ramsey into the midfield when Alex Song and Cesc are guaranteed starters? What a dilemma, no?

  48. I think it’s clear that Arsenal MUST close down like Barcelona (or Real Madrid under Mourinho) if they are to have any chance of winning major silverwear (EPL and CL). To that end, I think Abou Diaby’s days are truly numbered. I base this on the improvement in Denilson as a DMF, the ability of Wilshere to play such a role, Song (of course) and the return of Aaron Ramsey. Diaby is such a disappointment; he is, it has to be said, lazy. He won’t track back when it matters. There is no place for such a player at the Emirates, whatever his other talents. Two other squad players should take note in this regard: Arshavin and Vela. It’s such a shame about Vela; I’m sure he is a better technical played than Manure’s Hernandez, but does he have the heart . . .

  49. Evil, Koscielny is playing so well because he is living the dream. He was a fellow in the French ligue 2 not too long ago and is now at one of the top teams in the world and is about to get called to the national team. In some ways it’s stranger than fiction.

  50. GB69,
    this is the reason we can afford to & will compete in all competitions, & I have a feeling we are going to win at least one of the 3 cup competitions..

  51. Koscielny, for me, has been the signing of the season, followed closely by that incredible piece of transfer business which brought us Toto at the eleventh hour.

  52. I think Koscielny is very lucky. Unlike Walcott, Wilshere, Denilson, Diaby and Fabregas. They came as young players expected to turn into legends. The pressure must be terrible, especially on Theo and Jack.

  53. The whole squad, including Diaby, is needed for this campaign in several fronts. It’s crazy to consign anyone from this painstakingly developed team to the rubbish heap just because we are now euphoric over the 1st 11.

  54. Sligunner, do fuck off.

  55. Gainsbourg69 at 4:49 pm,


  56. Whats going on with the Polish kid? Surley he cant expect to be no1 in a huge club like Arsenal at age 19? Surley he cannot expect any other club of Arsenals size with arselals ambitions to put a 19 year old kid as their no1? Surley he has to realize that if he goes from Arsenal to say City or Liverpool or even a spanish club in CL they will have other keepers that are better that he has to compete with. Right?

    I mean you got to go somwhere like Bolton or Everton to maybe have a chance to get to play 1st team footy at age 19, but why would you go down two steps if you can stay at Arsenal and play 1st team footy in 2 years or so?

  57. Not sure why the Diaby hate… he hasn’t played since Birmingham, has he? I guess in the absence of a ready scapegoat for our poor performances recently (!?!?!?), “fans” like Sligunner have to find someone who hasn’t been playing to spew their vitriol over.

    I’m having trouble deciding how to vote on the Goal of the Month for October ( I forgot how many amazing goals we had this month. Leaning towards Song’s from Saturday simply because of how important it was, but there are so many beautiful goals to choose from :(.

  58. Diaby seems to frustrate some people for the very same reason he impresses others.

    Against Birmingham he was fantastically direct, making confident, powerfull runs into the oppositions box causing havok. Where he was lacking was the final ball. He tried to pass when he should have shot and vice versa.

    Any rational person will surely see that he has the hard part down. The other factors are a matter of fitness and confidence. He offers us so much when he is on his game, he is only 24 years old, is a great finisher, offers a potent ariel threat and as previously mentioned is a very direct player.

    I think there is a lot more to come from him.

  59. It usually works the other way around, Taeryn. Injured players are exalted at the expense of those who are playing. Nothing has increased Ramsey’s reputation as much as his broken leg. Djourou’s injuries also led to him being proclaimed in some quarters as the one guaranteed starter in our central defence.

    Which players are considered guaranteed starters can change very quickly. Fabregas’s role as captain makes his position more guaranteed than anyone else’s, but even that could change. Look at Alex Song. He certainly wasn’t considered a guaranteed starter after the match on Saturday, as Wenger said explicitly that Wilshere could play alongside either Denilson or Song, and implicitly that various other combinations are possible. Today, however, Gainsbourg69 has revealed that Song is now a guaranteed starter. Do you see how the situation can change almost overnight?

  60. It’s just so annoying how these people always have a flavor-of-the-month hate target… If it’s not Fabianski, Denilson, Eboue, Clichy… it’s Arshavin or Diaby or Walcott, etc.

  61. To be fair, Ramsey was looking fantastic up until that GBH assault by Not-That-Kind-Of-Player. I remember his two goals against Portsmouth pretty vividly. Even before the injury most fans were saying he was giving Cesc some real competition for the playmaker role. I really hope he makes a full recovery and can play at that level again.

    I don’t read Le Grove or blogs like that where the pass-time seems to be verbally abusing the players and manager, but seeing the occasional commenter on here or elsewhere who’s chosen to venture out of their little hatenest and slate our players on more positive-minded blogs gives me a pretty good idea of who the current hate targets are for these “fans”. And it’s funny how it’s gone all quiet on the Denilson front (who I remember being hounded infamously last season), as well as all the other players who were recent objects of abhorrence and despair for the AAA. It seems Diaby-hate is back in style – maybe they’ve learned to abuse injured players now so they don’t get egg on their face quite as fast when the maligned player proves them all wrong with his performances.

  62. All,

    A great time and blog. I wholly agree about Kos. I now see how he went through an entire season in France without losing a challenge. He has existed before in my imagination and now to have him in our side is just too good for me to put into words. I feel he was man of the match against Newcastle and cannot wait to see how he and the Verminator develop in the months and (hopefully) years ahead. With Djourou and Squillaci to cover any injuries or tiredness, I think we should all allow a minute to wallow in our riches and reflect on the criticism our manager has taken over not buying “NAMED/FAMOUS” centre backs!!!

    Roll on Wednesday and Jack’s return.

  63. I actually agree that Diaby is going to be the odd man out. There’s a difference between rating someone highly (I do) and thinking that he fits into the Arsenal system (I don’t). He is just not built mentally for the quick pass-and-move, and the very thing he’s best at — the strength and skill for individual possession keeping — is not valued by the system because it only slows the development of our attack.

    The only reason I don’t want to sell him and use the cash is that I never want him to play against us. In the system of a Chelsea, Man City, or Inter he would be a monster.

  64. He has existed before in my imagination and now to have him in our side is just too good for me to put into words.

    ha ha ha, Dgob
    @ Boyd
    I understand the distinction you are making but I disagree. (There’s nothing wrong, per se, with being able to retain the ball, surely?) Diaby is ideal for us because he combines passing vision, ball retention, the ability to work in tight spaces, fantastic feet, an eye for goal, speed with and without the ball, tackling and a penchant for marauding runs – a taller version of Samir or Aaron, basically. Diaby is instinctive, he only slows up play when he is indecisive or low on confidence. He takes a while to get into his stride (over a season, I mean) and he is vulnerable to loss of confidence and concentration, but I think his technical qualities are exactly suited to Wengerball – any shortcomings he has are mental. I know some people think he doesn’t have a proper position in a 4-3-3 but AW sees him as any one of the three midfielders and he had storming form in that position in the middle of last season after he put together a run of games.
    What do you reckon? Convinced?

  65. @ Boyd

    I should have said, “exactly suited to our version of 4-3-3”

  66. @ Boyd

    What I’m trying to say is that Diaby is the offensive/defensive versatile midfielder that Wenger wants for maximum flexibility. I know you appreciate Abou’s good qualities, I was trying to demonstrate that they are what make him so well suited.

  67. I must be pissed or something.

  68. Stay with it FunGunner.

  69. Little Jack.

    “”At this point in my career, when I’m only 18 years old and still learning so much about the game and myself, this is the perfect club, the perfect team-mates, the perfect fans, the perfect backroom staff and most importantly, the perfect manager to help continue that.”

    Great stuff

  70. I think Diaby is a lot like Eboue. They have as much skill as anyone in the team in some respects, but on occasions they produce performances that are almost beyond belief.

    Mental shortcomings are the worst kind. Insofar as skills can be isolated from other mental attributes (for surely they are not physical, although indeed they could not manifest themselves without a physical body under the appropriate control of a mind), one at least knows that in principle they can be developed by practice, instruction, and so on, even if in reality few sports persons add much to their skills once they have reached maturity. With mental attributes other than skills, however, the road to improvement is less clear. One can turn to a sports psychologist, but everyone knows they are just quacks. Otherwise, one can hope one’s mental limitations correct themselves. This might well happen with younger players. Nervousness during important matches, for example, can be expected to diminish with experience, although this doesn’t always happen. Eboue is 27, and I think he will always be as he is now. Diaby is 24, and perhaps still young enough to change.

  71. Why is it when a player is injured we all of a sudden dont need them anymore?


    Diaby is a beast!

  72. For Arsenal to win the league they need to keep up the tempo throughout the whole season! In recent years Arsenal have faded towards the end of the season! On their day Arsenal are a match for anyone but consistency is crucial for success… on the Diaby debate… I think he is an excellent player but he is probably second choice to a few of the others right now, however with the squad susceptible to injuries he adds brilliant strength in depth.

  73. Your point? Even Denilon is on 50k

  74. Rafa Benitez:
    “With £10m net spending per month for 6 years, I left that squad with £300m value, 13 ex-internationals.”

  75. Found this on Cesc’s twitter and enjoyed it.

  76. How shit are Inter??

  77. Imagin if we met Tottenham in the first CL playoff and lost!!! That would be horrid!

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