Poles Apart & Chamakh Needs To Be A Bully

Ahead of Monday’s encounter with Chelsea, Arsene is apparently facing a goalkeeping dilemma. Lukasz Fabianski has recovered from his hip injury which leaves a straight bunfight for the Number 1 position between himself and Wojciech Szczesny.

To be honest, there may not be much thought given to the issue. Whilst the younger of the two Poles performed well at Old Trafford, Fabianski had done likewise before injury interrupted his run in the side. Having seen the marked improvement between this season and last from Fabianski, it is almost inconceivable that Wenger will not restore him to the starting line-up. Equally when Almunia returns to the first team squad, unless there is a necessity to replace Fabianski, Wenger should resist the temptation to make change to keep the Spaniard happy.

Christmas and New Year will not see the return of Gibbs, Vermaelen or Almunia, that will happen by the end of January. For the Belgian, it is a slow process and understandably, past incidents with longer term absentees is seeing a more cautious approach from the club in his rehabilitation. If a further breakdown occurs, Wenger has the opportunity to purchase another centre back and he will no doubt be receiving plenty of advice as to which improbable target that he needs to be buying.

One of the summer’s signings, Marouane Chamakh has been speaking of his adjustment to England and the bonds built with the squad. Having made a good start – 10 goals in 24 appearances, he believes that he can get to the top of the striking pile with hard work,

I know I have the ability and through hard work I can improve my game. I think I haven’t reached [Drogba & Rooney’s] level yet but I will get there one day. This will happen if I keep focused and if I carry on working hard.

I don’t feel inferior to them but they’ve worked really hard to get where they are.

Having settled into the team, Chamakh will continually improve. The reputations of others whilst built on scoring a hatful of goals against porous defences, is equally founded by scoring in the big matches. Chamakh almost broke his duck at Anfield on the opening day of the season, did so against Spurs but failed at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge. A goal or two in the return fixtures would enhance his reputation in English football as well as (hopefully) adding three points to the season’s total.

Chamakh has been too readily dismissed in some quarters as not being the ‘big name’ signing craved; that description means nothing and keeping up his scoring ratio over the course of the season is more important than anything else.

Key to this being able to bully defenders in the same manner that Drogba does physically whilst Rooney will drag them around the pitch if the United tactics allow. Chamakh cannot do that yet, he does not have the previous form to draw upon. If he is able to dictate play against the Chelsea defence this Monday, he will find his reputation suitably enhanced.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on December 23, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 69 Comments.

  1. COYG… give me a Merry Christmas!!!

  2. Szczesny Szczesny Szczesny.No contest he is the better keeper end of

  3. YW,

    I too hope the Chamahk has a blinder on Monday. It’s going to be difficult (given we’ll be playing with home disadvantage!) but indubitably do-able.

  4. Andy,

    Despite his inexperience and potential to drop a clanger, I tend to agree that Szczesny would be my starting keeping from here on out.

    The show of faith necessary by Arsene here would be major but, I’m certain, rewarded in the long run.

  5. I have to say, as much as Fabianski has been great so far this season, I would prefer Chezzer to stay at number 1. He has that extra something that a top goalie needs, maybe it’s the confidence, the intimidating frame, his decisiveness, not sure. But he’s got something that, to me, makes him stand out. It would be very harsh on Fabianski though to be dropped at this stage, and I can’t see Wenger doing it. Either way, I’m not worried at all. Good luck to them both.

    What I am worried about is TV5’s injury. It’s been a long time now, and every month it gets pushed back another month… I really hope there are no further niggles so that we can get our rock back. We may have to delve into the market to buy some back up if the signs of recovery are looking bleak come mid/end Jan. Not essential, but I’m sure Wenger will be thinking about it.

  6. Hi mate, nice blog…really! I’m the admin of Stadio Goal, a blog of soccer similar to yours….i would like to make a link exchange….do you? Let me know if you are interested in it…have a good day and happy christmas

  7. lol. Just as I posted that, I saw an article titled ‘Wenger wont buy Vermaelen cover’… We’d have to sell one of our 25 man squad to be able to buy someone else. Duh!

  8. The Fabianski/ Sczczeny conundrum is a rather good one for Wenger in some ways and a not so good one in others. Because Fabianski is older I think that he may well leave Arsenal than be a Number two to a younger fellow countryman and dropping him now will definitely not be great. On the other hand Fabianski must know that any clanger he drops right now will see him demoted. I think Wenger will go for Fabianski as No1 for the time being but what he does at the end of the season is going to depend on how we fair as a team… What is not in doubt, at least much doubt, is that Sczczeny looks the business and is destined to be the No1 for a long time if his rate of improvement and quality of performance continues to be as high as we’ve seen so far.

    To think that everyone was absolutely sure 3 months ago that Wenger had boobed spectacularly on the goalkeeping front by not signing Schwartzer… football eh?

  9. I think you’re right Joshua, I very much doubt Wenger would make the change in pecking order at this stage. I doubt he’d drop Fabster after one clanger at this point too, maybe if there were a few… Hopefully not!

    Personally though, I was totally against the whole Schwarzer thing. I never thought that signing him would be an improvement on Almunia or Fabianski, now the same rings true with Tech 9 imo…

    Anyway, another ‘nice’ dilemma for the boss.

  10. The problem is all Polish to me. I happen to like Poles, and their history says a lot too. They seem to have been producing civilised things like towns and decent libraries (and keepers) since 850 or so, a good record. We are in good hands either way you see, the two options are hardly poles apart.

  11. I’ll root for Fabianski, not because there’s a lot in between him and Tech9, I believe leaving him out of the team will damage his confidence. Moreover he hasn’t done much wrong lately.

    Tech9’s chance will definitely come…patience is a virtue

  12. True Zimpaul, true.

    Tateezee, I’m sure Wenger is looking at it in the same way.

  13. Transfer speculation really brings out the poor reporting doesn’t it? Just read an article about our goalkeeping ‘problems’, and it said that Fabianski has made ‘a string of high profile errors recently’……. I don’t remember that. If, by ‘recently’, they mean last season, then fair enough. But the Fabianski of this season really is poles apart from the error stricken goalie we saw last year.

  14. At the moment, I have to say Fabianski is much better choice. Some of his reflex saves in the the past few weeks have been simply world class (did I saay World Class??). On top of that his distribution has been excellent, an which Szchezny needs to work on.
    Chelski are gonna have to try really hard to win with Cesc & Van – the man starting together.

  15. Zimpaul,

    The Poles are also extremely hard-working.

  16. Forget destroying Fabianski’s confidence.We are a team going for the title and we should pick players on merit not huting someone’s feelings.Szczesny was thrown in for the biggest game of the season in front of 78,000 and didnt let us down.If he can perform at OT he can do the same v the Chavs

  17. ———Fabby——–
    Sagna—–Seb——JD/Kos—-Gael
    ——————Song——————–
    —-Theo/Diaby—–Cesc—-Samir—
    ———RVP————Chamakhattack

    Subs – AA, JW, Denni, Rosicky, Eboue,, Woocash

  18. “Forget destroying Fabianski’s confidence.”

    How compassionate of you Andy. Yeah, bollocks to him, he’s made several high profile errors recently hasn’t he? He’s done pretty much nothing wrong apart from getting injured.

    I do think Tech 9 has the ability to play now, but maintaining squad harmony and keeping confidence high is essential, any disruption at this stage of the season can have a huge effect – look at Chelsea. If anyone knows the best way to handle this dilemma it’s Wenger.

  19. Andy,

    I don’t see AW as a manager that is particularly disinterested in his players welfare. Yes, we are gunning for the title and we need to use our best resources, but like I said earlier, there’s not much between the two of them. Fabby will do the job well.

    If I were you, I will be more concerned with the rate with which we expose our goalkeepers. We do not defend well as a team and rarely keep concentration defensively for 90 mins.

    That wouldn’t be a problem though i we can outscore our opponents.

  20. Andy @ 12;54

    I’m sure that the coachiong staff are well aware of what the team needs to achieve and the best possible personnel with which to achieve our goals… in any event I don’t see how destroying Fabianski’s confidence helps us… unless you can guarantee that Sczczeny is bullet proof and won’t get injured between now and season’s end I really don’t see how your “macho” approach helps us. A football manager manages human beings.. the players don’t have to be pandered or mollycoddled but you cannot pretend that psychology and other intangibles like confidence and self worth don’t matter to a player or team’s performance. At least I think that they do and i think that intelligent management has to consider such things. But that’s me.

  21. Joshua @ 1:08 pm

  22. Joshua @ 1:08 pm

    Well said

  23. Not many people about today… t’is the season to be jolly I suppose…

  24. My lineup for Chav$kis –

    Fab
    Sagna Kos Djourou Clichy
    Song Denilson
    Cesc
    Nasri RvP Arsh
    Chamakh

    Jack and Theo to come on later…

  25. Sorry, take Arsh out and put RvP wider – 12 players would be nice though..!

  26. Tribal gooners, has the weather improved enough for the game not to be called off? Saw CNN report where they had all praise for Gatwick and suggested that Heathrow is being run by the dogs!

  27. I use the term Tribal to refer to gooners who actually reside in London.

  28. Geo | December 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm |

    Sorry, take Arsh out and put RvP wider – 12 players would be nice though..!

    funny

  29. I’m in the southwest KG, but I’d be very surprised if they haven’t sorted out transport by then. Snow is thawing down this way anyway…

  30. ;-p tateezee

  31. I would drop Arshavin for this game and play Wilshere. Arshavin of late has been more than below par and coupling this with his defensive shortcomings we are going to have problems on the left flank. Arshavin can come on as an impact sub later in the game. But it’s all humbugs as he will definately start and I hope he has a stormer of a game!

  32. Wilshere on the laft Runebreaker? What about RvP and or Chamakh? Tricky decisions…

  33. I’ll love Arshavin too start, he has been below par for much of the season, but we cannot underestimate his talents. He due another great game like the Villa one. I like his direct style of football. Asides Nasri, he’s probably the most efficient offensively with the ball, even if he is absolutely frustrating.

  34. @ Geo.

    The Home crowd the 12 man?

    Can we wish?

  35. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bendtner come in to one of the wide positions with Arshavin dropping to the bench. He did quite well there at times last season and Chelsea are a big side so his height would help. I think if Van Persie starts it will be at centre forward for Chamakh. He hasn’t looked comfortable playing off the front in the couple of games he’s played there this season and now Fabregas is back that’s his position anyway.

  36. Lol TS, sounds good to me! Let’s hope for a firey atmosphere at the Emirates on monday…

  37. @Block4..

    Where will that Nasri?.. I prefer him on the right than on the left…but i support this kind of idea.. you know catching the opponent unawares. but too many changes could affect the flow

  38. KG,

    I expect Gatwick’s new Nigerian owner has more idea of the demands of managing a service in snowy conditions!:~)

    Makes you wonder

  39. My pick of the pops for the Chelski fixture:

    Szczesny
    Sagna, Djourou, Kos, Cliche (until Gibbs returns!)
    Song
    Cesc, Diaby
    Walcott, Chamahk, Nasri

    Depending on the situation:
    RvP, AA, Denilson and/or Rosicky on after 60 mins.

  40. I think with chamakh, RVP and Arshavin we will be more exposed defensively. The three in the team would also mean more defensive onus on Nasri (and I would much rather have Nasri playing with the freedom Arshavin seems to be enjoying) and Cesc. I think Wislhere/Denilson and Song should start supported by Nasri, Cesc and RVP off Chamakh. The back four picks itself.

  41. Runebreaker,

    I share much of your logic but think that Diaby (if fit and on his game) offers us greater speed and strength through the middle than we would have with Wilshere/Denilson: and speed and strength will be key features in deciding the outcome of Monday.

  42. Nice post Yogi:

    Fabianski has been excellent to this point and there is no reason to drop him. Tech 9 has great potential and will probably be #1 in the not too distant future but for now Fab offers more experience and excellent form. Hard to imagine saying that after some of the stuff we saw last year but all credit to Fab for exorcising the demons. Wenger hit a home run with this one. I was a big fan of the Schwarzer move, big rotten egg on my face for that one.

    Hopefully the rest of the team can be as good at exorcising the demons and the fear that has plagued them in the past in games like this. Fabianski has given them an excellent model. A win against the Chavs and a run of good form until the end of the season will see all the negativity go away. Hope we strengthen the our left side and give Clichy some help. Seems like lots of the goals we concede come down our left. Move Nasri to the left or put TR7 on the left nnow that CF4 is back in the lineup. Theo as impact sub if needed.

    Lets make this the start of a long run of good form. Come on guys.

  43. Thawing in Exeter Geo?

    Bloody soft there all the time if you ask me. Still no thaw here. No retreat.

  44. Dgob- Diaby if fit- he has been out a long time- no way does he have match sharpness and throwing him in the dip end v Chelsea is not the way to find out! A fit Diabby gives a fantastic option and is in many ways an ideal partner to Cesc and Song in midfield- but I feel this game is too early for him. He needs a few outings in situations where we are in control to ease into the team and find his rythm.

  45. haha consols, yarp, a big old bunch o softies here..!

    It’s very very slowly thawing, still pretty darn treacherous though…

  46. Runebreaker,

    You couold be right and it might be too early. However, Arsene made note of the benefit of the unexpected additional week’s preparation that they’ve been afforded and I’m sure he’ll decide wisely here. If Diaby cannot make it then I’d agree and adjust my selection for Wilshere or Denilson in his stead.

    Either way, I’m unsurprisingly optimistic about the outcome with us having had actual time to train between the last and next fixture.

    COYG

  47. @Tateezee,

    Bendtner would be a straight swap for Arshavin, the three up top being Bendtner, Chamakh/VanPersie and Nasri. Midfield of Song, Fabregas and Wilshere/Denilson/Diaby.

    People are saying we need our best players on the field and I agree, Fabregas, Van Persie and Nasri are definitely in that bracket and should be playing the majority of league games (fitness permitting) from here on in. Vermaelen will be in as well once he’s fit, I’d play him alongside Koscielny who has impressed me more than Squillaci thus far as a pure defender and Squllaci being older is more likely to be feeling the pace in his first season in English football. I think the only reason Squllaci has played as much so far is that Wenger is reluctant to pair the youger guys (Djourou and Koscielny) together, Squillaci is the leader of the defence at the moment.

    We could easily end up with a bench consisting of seven of Sczeszny, Eboue, Djourou, Rosicky, Denilson, Diaby, Walcott, Chamakh, Vela. That’s a lot of talent to call on.

  48. Block as many here have been saying for quite some time we have the best squad all round- and there is no doubt the heavy schedule in december/jan will take a lot toll on many teams. AW using the carling cup to bring in younger players is now paying off. With long term injuries clearing up I am confident we will be coming out as genuine contenders come end of Jan. What this team needs is to cross that psychological bridge, that fine line that defines “a winning mentality”, that self belief that you are better and can show you are better (some may call it arrogance). You can see it in Nasri- and the team needs to move in this direction. The talent is there, the squad depth is there, the world class manager is there, world class facilities are in place- the only thing holding us back is the self belief when this team overcomes the hodoo hanging over them and beat Chelsea/Man U convincingly I reckon they will go on to create history. With the 25 man rule it will be more difficult for teams to buy the title by throwing money around in Jan!

  49. Merry Christmas, ACLF! And a cool yule to all who sail in her…
    Here’s to a very Arsenal New Year…

  50. Who the f*ck are UMG?! Bastard Scrooging bastards….

  51. I dont understand why people want to replace a goalkeeper that has played very well this year(played very good this year) and replace him with a youngster that has had one good match. We all know Chesney will be great in the coming years but its no point rushing it. He will become the best of the best, and he will be come our no1. but atm Fabianski has done a very good job. I doubt we would have won more matches this year if we had Cech, Hart or Given instead of Fabianski. But yeh he will eventually be replaced but for the moment he plays very very well.

  52. Poodle,

    I wouldn’t argue with you, EXCEPT that I feel that Chelski will pose an aerial threat (particularly from set pieces) and I think the youngster is better equipped in that department. His other advantage is the fact that he shouts and organises his defence in a way that Fab has still not done. Watch the set pieces against ManUre and you’ll see what I mean.

    Nevertheless, I do feel loyalty to Fab and can live with a joint no1 until such time as one of them makes the spot his sole possession. Here I’m just looking at the short term.

  53. LA,

    Your taste in music seems as impeccable as your taste in football.

    Cheers and a grooving yuletide one and all (well most)

  54. Dgob at 2:55 maybe the Nigerians brought in their experience of clearing the snow off the streets of Abuja :-)!

  55. Tha red card Essien didn’t get against the Spuds is going to play a factor in this game. The dirty bastard.

  56. To all my fellow Gunners who celebrate, I wish you & your family a very Merry Christmas.

  57. I think this Chelsea game is quite crucial not just for the 3 points and the win against a direct rival and all the other obvious stuff that we all know about but because for me this team needs a really big gritty win to get them to truly believe. It is as if there’s just that tiny bit missing… just a little something. I honestly thought after the United penalty miss at OT that we’d see the team come out of its shell and have a real go but it just didn’t happen. why it didn’t happen I’d never really know… but that it didn’t happen was really disappointing.

    I’m hoping that a fit Van Persie, a fit Fabregas, a fit Nasri and an interested Arshavin is what we see against Chelsea. add to that a committed and disciplned Alex Song and Chamakh adding his work rate and ability to hold the ball up… If we get these guys playing as we know they can I absolutely believe that we ought to win and win handsomely. Some might think me crazy but I think that we’re a better team than Chelsea, we clearly have a better squad but I honestly think that our first 11 shade theirs too. They have some big names, that much is true but those names aren’t quite as good as they were… Anelka and Terry for example don’t look as intimidating as their reputations suggest. Mikkel can be error prone and even Ashley Cole has looked vulnerable lately. Don’t get me wrong they are still a formidable outfit but we have the weapons to really hurt them. If we go in front against them it will be quite interesting to see what Ancelotti does…

    We, the fans, and the team may not quite believe it but we are a very, very good side with some truly gob smacking quality… we just need to put it all together against one of the top sides. It would be wonderful to do it against Chelsea.

    On the other hand I might just be a deluded Gooner 🙂

  58. And a merry Christmas to one and all!

  59. Nigerians own Heathrow! Who freaking knew? Jeeez I don’t wanna offend anyone but Lagos Airport is Craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy! And they don’t get snow over there… Wow! Nigerians own Heathrow…

  60. Gatwick joshua, and may I say a very good post at 10:14.

    A merry Christmas to all Gooners. Oh f*ck it, a merry Christmas to everyone (even James), but a bad Boxing (St Stephens) day to them.

  61. @ dupsffokcuff

    You mean the Nigerians own the airport that is well run!! Now that is a double wow… Before anyone gets the wrong idea I have some Nigerian connections in my family and I know the country fairly well. Believe me, even the most up tight Nigerian would have a good giggle at this story.

    And a very merry Christmas to you too dupsffokcuf

  62. Joshua,

    No. A wealthy Nigerian owns Gatwick airport, which managed to remain open when Heathrow closed due to snow!

    You’ve just got to laugh

  63. dupsffokcuf and Joshua,

    Sorry for repeating what you’ve already clarified. Acting in haste…

  64. No Joshua you are not dalooded, you are real.
    Well, a couple of great sports to look forward to, wake up to Melbourne and then Durban on Sunday and the mighty Arsenal taking on oh-so-miserable chelsea on Monday. Have a nice time, I will.

  65. KG,

    Yes, that kind of common-place experience must have come in handy;~)

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