One Of Us Speaks: This Time It’s For Real
It’s Friday and I’m taking on the full breathtaking incompetence of the education system in the UK. Big Al’s got it worse, he’s taking on cynicism. And winning.
Oh, so you thought that was the best we could do? Nah, we were just limbering up.
Now it all makes sense – no wonder you were making such a fuss about us. Don’t worry; we aren’t going to be like that every week. I mean, 8-2? Come on. We were just seeing how well we could do without most of our first team players. That’s why we left everything so late on the transfer front.
And that dust up on the first day? Song and Gervinho were just showing the rest of the team how not to respond to Smiths fans. Manchester two weeks ago? Lulling them into a false sense of security. We can’t believe everyone’s fallen for it really.
Seriously though, we’re about to get started, but for real this time. Let’s have a look at the squad we’re taking into this campaign:
Goalkeeper is perhaps our most settled position – Szczesny, Fabianski and Mannone is a hierarchy that doesn’t look like changing much at the moment.
Moving on, this was AW just a few weeks ago on the left-back position:
I rate Gael very highly but I rate highly as well Kieran Gibbs, and he is now at an age where he has to play. And that’s the main reason behind that; to give Gibbs a chance.
Another niggling injury later, and it looks like Gibbs’ big chance amounted to a few preseason matches and around 100 minutes of competitive football. It’s probably safe to assume that André Santos, a player with more than 20 caps for Brazil is going to be ahead of him. And about 30 yards in front of the rest of our defenders and midfielders.
Gibbs’ injury problems might have influenced the decision to sign Santos but the paucity of backup was also a factor. In hindsight it seems likely that we’d been giving Traoré a chance to prove himself on his return from Juventus. I think he came through quite well, don’t you?
There is still a place on the bench for Kieran, perhaps a little harsh following AW’s firm vote of confidence in July. Behind him in this role will be Vermaelen, and then Sagna. But don’t worry – we’ll never suffer enough injuries to force our first-choice right-back to change sides. OK, yeah, but it was just that one time.
On the other flank, there’s no such threat to Sagna’s first-team status; he’s one of our heroes, and vital for continuity in a backline that has once again undergone all kinds of changes. Carl Jenkinson will offer backup, but given our recent signing at centre-half, it might be possible that Laurent Koscielny will deputise on crunch matches when more players are fit…
Per Mertesacker brings unprecedented physicality, tons of experience and affords us a degree of flexibility in selection. If indeed he is more comfortable in a deeper backline then I like the idea of him as an away specialist, when we can’t afford to be as aggressive. At home when we squeeze teams, Koscielny and Vermaelen still appear to be the ideal partnership. After a decent season Djourou is back to square one, and will have to be absolutely focussed when his next chance comes should he want any extended game time this year.
In holding midfield Alex Song is practically undroppable, Frimpong is the understudy who could certainly learn a thing or two about positioning from his teammate. Diaby has been known to play in the deepest midfield position, while Coquelin could also be an option if he stays with the squad – the scoreline against ManU wasn’t a fair reflection of his performance. Cameroon’s failure to qualify for the ACN means January shouldn’t bite as hard as feared. If Frimpong plays for Ghana, he could return a more valuable player for our run-in.
Say we stick with the same formation as last season, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby and Frimpong – maybe in that order – should be our main candidates for box-to-box role, with the bulk of the recent changes happening further forward. At the apex of our midfield we’ll most likely see Arteta, with occasional games here for Wilshere and Rosicky. Benayoun would be happiest in this position, and on Monday night Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked very comfortable when he was shifted inside.
In truth, both players will get more minutes in wider areas, where they’ll compete with Walcott on the right and Arshavin on the left. Gervinho will probably make the most appearances of our wide forwards, and when he plays it looks like he’ll be popping up right across the frontline. Park Chu-Young may need time to adapt, but when ready will get game-time on the left and in the middle.
In the centre Robin van Persie is king. As captain there can be no pretenders to his throne, but Park, Afobe and Chamakh will have duties to fulfill down the line. The latter remains an interesting alternative, but surely needs to train his way back into Wenger’s plans.
Here’s a couple more thoughts I couldn’t cram in:
It’s great for us that Spain is the land of the attacking-midfielder right now. It means that one of our most important and potentially fragile players will get much-needed rests during international breaks throughout the season.
Meanwhile, Stuart Pearce is a prize twit – we know this. But he does tend to reserve the highest praise for players of real potential. It’s safe to say that Arsenal fans still don’t know too much about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but if England decide he’s too good for u21 level then he could become a regular for Arsenal much sooner than expected.
Posted on September 9, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 201 Comments.