Midfield Headaches & International Tension

Arsenal go into the international break on a high – compared to the two previous ones this season – with the recent run of form giving a relatively feelgood factor. Well, compared to a month ago it is. The usual trepidation is surfacing; the players that are travelling left the club fit, will they return is as good condition?

One who is not going is Mikel Arteta. Arguably, he had his best game for the club on Saturday against West Brom, he and Aaron Ramsey have a partnership that is growing in understanding with each game. They had almost double the number of completed passes between them compared to the entire West Brom midfield. That emphasises the dominance the Arsenal pair held.

Arsène was effusive in his praise,

He is an important player for our team. He is really a player between Song and Ramsey or Rosicky and that gives us continuity. When we need to keep the ball he can achieve that – Jack [Wilshere] can do that as well. But with Jack missing he is a player who can keep the ball when it is needed.

He is adapting to our game. If you look at the stats in the Premier League, Arsenal are the team who play the least balls backwards.

That means when you have the ball it is not only a question of decision-making, it’s a question of opportunity. It’s about how many players you have in front of you – if you have players behind you have to play it backwards.

The midfield is as intriguing an area as the back four was with Vermaelen out. The question is who will make way for Jack Wilshere on his return to the side? That presupposes that the youngster is a first choice. It is hard to imagine a state of affairs where he would not be but nonetheless if Ramsey and Arteta are playing well, would Arsène be forced into a tactical change to accommodate his key players.

To revert to 4-4-2 would mean Wilshere in all likelihood being moved to the wider midfield position, which may not entirely suit the player’s abilities to open up space for his forward line. The reality is that Ramsey is likely to give way at the moment or at least rotate into the starting line-up with Arteta. But these are the headaches a manager likes to have and, provided Arsenal are still in cup competitions at that time, a heavy fixture list as Winter turns to Spring means that even the squad players will be busy.

Wilshere is not too far away from returning to full training and has apparently committed the remainder of his professional career to Arsenal. We’ll see. Not that I disbelieve that this is Jack’s intention, simply that one-club men such as David O’Leary or George Armstrong, where they rack up 700+ games, are just a throwback to the pre-Premier League era. Still, Sky would no doubt be loving it if he did, “Jack Wilshere becomes the first player to reach 500 games for one club since football began in 1992, conveniently forgetting all those previously eulogised.

Any sign of complacency over recent form has been slapped down by the manager,

I have always said ‘come back in December’ because, for us, the real test we knew was Chelsea. After winning a big game we had to see if we could repeat that performance and then get the consistency from now on. Of course we are not at the same level as were one month ago but we still have some work to do.

Quite right too. He has recovered from the shock of a negative goal difference but is still in a position where consecutive wins may keep the team outside of the top five as others are equally consistent. The key is to be able to take advantage of any slips that may arise such as the next round of matches that see Newcastle travel to Eastlands and Liverpool to Chelsea. Arsenal do not have any ‘big’ matches until the trip to Manchester City by which time a significant number of top five clashes will have taken place. Chelsea in particular, are vulnerable to being caught, meeting Manchester City and Newcastle in that time as well as the Liverpool clash.

It is a case of keeping your head, getting on with your job and seeing where you are once the FA Cup starts in January.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on November 7, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 199 Comments.

  1. It’s a tie BB.Now to read the post.

  2. With A fully fit Diaby due back (crosses fingers) Arsene wil have a few dilemmas over the next couple of months

  3. Yes YW, we need to keep our results going and see where we are come January. Keep humble and (hopefully) keep winning. Norwich in our next game won’t be easy, they’ve had some decent results of late and seem to be a team who don’t know when they’re beaten. Hopefully no-one will get injured on internationl duty and we’ll have a full and fresh squad to choose from.

  4. Morning YW.. What does it matter hose 1st.Good read YW. If I wanted to be 1st there’d be no look in for anybody..

  5. 23rd? Good win!

  6. If Arteta and Ramsey remain injury free, I can only see Diaby getting the odd game and some sub appearences. As much as I like him, I am begining to think that the window to be a 1st choice player may be starting to close for him.

  7. Very good Post.

    The Interlull is a pain in the derriere for most fans, and these friendlies do not interest anyone, but are intended to fill the FA coffers, so the bigwigs can ponce around in the style (a la Blatter) that they have become used to.

    Bollix! 😦

  8. Morning Yogi and thanks for the post.
    Jack coming back will doubtless be a massive boost for the team.But he’ll need time to regain match fitness and sharpness (two separate things).I see no problems at all with who gives way to whom.It’s going to be a busy season,there’ll be injuries and suspensions and as such there should be enough to keep everyone busy.
    On the other hand,I cant shake off the feeling that we now have the right mix of players at the club.Though I still think we need reinforcements in one or two areas.It’s funny,I was sorry to see Cesc leave,less sorry about Nasri.But with the benefit of hindsight (and yeah,I know it’s still early but…) the team appears to be a better unit for it.It justifies the old saying that no individual(s) is bigger than a team.

  9. To be honest, I don’t want to break the partnership and understanding between Song and Arteta at the moment. Is it possible for us to form another midfield Trio? Not only Jack, we will have Diaby soon. With an experience Yossi and Rosicky have, I still believe we afford to have another midfield team. Maybe we can try with Rosicky, Jack and Coquelin since Frimpong will be loan out? I still can’t believe we will face this problem this season. It’s really good to have so many choices in Midfield. Well, I believe Le boss has his future plan, till then, Up the Arsenal!

  10. I like your post, but can arsenal maintain this form till december ?.

  11. You make a good point in highlighting Arteta’s role and ability ar Arsenal.

    However, I know a couple of gooner pals who are decidedly unsure about him (if that is not an oxymoron).

    You see, they are under the misapprehension that he is a direct replacement for Fabregas. The truth is, Cesc was and is in a different league to 99% of the footballers in the Premier League and any direct comparison with Arteta is pointless.

    What Arteta is, of course, is a very experienced, and a very good team player with great skill, who will suit Arsenal’s style of play extremely well, after he is fully settled into his role, in what was, at the start of the season, a struggling team.

    There is more to come from him and that in turn will benefit all those playing around him.

  12. Red Arse – Good points. If anything he is an upgrade on Denilson. He certainly has been playing in the deeper role.

  13. Yes Gunman I’d concur with you that in that we need reinforcements in an area or two. I personally think in attack.Not quite sure what’s happening with Chamack? Park still to settle. I’d hate to see an injury to RVP.

    Call me mad, stupid,delirious,out of my head,whatever you like. I’d love to see Drogba at Arsenal…..Onwards Fowards

  14. i won’t be surprised if wenger decides to address the diaby situation by moving him up front as one of the wide players.he used to play there and scored some cracking goals too.

  15. It is understandable that we should look forward to the return of Jack, and Diaby, altho’ like GoonerAndy, I would not want to break up what has become a thriving partnership between Arteta and Song.

    The fact is tho’ that one of the key components of any football team is the ‘unforeseeable’ nature of events, with injuries, illness, loss of form, contract disputes and bad luck etc completely changing the picture, forcing the manager to react to these events, which usually come out of the blue.

    Let’s get Diaby, Jack, Sagna and Gibbs back first, and then we can luxuriate in choosing who should play and when and where. That would be lovely, wouldn’t it? 🙂

  16. When (if) we get everybody fit, there are going to be a number of very good players not even getting in the match day squad.

  17. If we can keep this run going until January and then bring in any new players from a position of strength then we will be all the better for it. Once we play City away on 18th December we will have played all the current top five away so we’ll have a good idea of where we stand after that.

  18. Ras,

    You are “mad, stupid,delirious,out of your head”, but I would not object to Drogba joining us either. But I cannot see the Chavs allowing it! 🙂

  19. To me i think jack and rambo should be rotated.remember last season we all cried that jack had played too many games and that could result in burn out which did. I think this also caused the rampant injury of cesc who played too many games at young age as jack. Come to think of it, we need arteta’s experience as his head never go down.

  20. ife Ade,

    the question is: can we maintain this form till may?

    red arse,

    i agree that arteta is playing a little within himself at the moment. he is capable of more. hopefully the goal will give him even more confidence. that said, people are being silly if they think he is supposed to replace fabregas. no one will replace fabregas directly, even if fabregas himself said ramsey and wilshere are his successors. everyone will just have to step up.

    i won’t be counting much on jack for this season. i just hope he will come back as soon as he can, but i won’t rush him. take all the time he needs to be fully recovered. i hope he will be fully ready (ie matchfit) come february/march. thatt’s when we need all the bodies we have.

  21. @goonerandy | November 7, 2011 at 10:34 am

    “When (if) we get everybody fit, there are going to be a number of very good players not even getting in the match day squad.”

    Very true, but then it becomes about the squad (and club) as a whole. As long as those players are willing to take their rest when the manager leaves them out without moaning it will produce a harmony which can help us along. Frankly, in these days of the top players playing so much football, players being rested and squad rotation I don’t see it as a problem. In fact if most of the squad don’t play more than five games in a row from now until the end of the season, due to the resources at our disposal and a good policy of resting at the appropriate times rather than injuries or suspensions, there should be plenty left in the tank at the end for a push for a high league position.

  22. Ife Ade @ 10:20 am

    Just check out who we play in comparison. Newcastle play $hiite-y, ManUre and Chelsea in their next three.

    We play Norwich, Fulham, Wigan and then Everton

    Nothing is a cert, but these may leave us above Newcastle in the league!

    The picture is even rosier than painted on the post. Liverpool are stuttering and the rest have big games and someone else has to drop points.

  23. Ras,

    Just to clarify ……………. I was being flippant quoting you! 🙂

    I saw Drogba playing against our reserves at Barnett a couple of seasons ago, and he looked rubbish. Not long afterwards he played for the Chelsea first team and buggered us up again! 😦

  24. Wenger deserves praise for blending the new players in with our style of play, and bringing a much needed toughness to go with the class.Since Nasri and Fabregas has gone,there seems to be a untiy and dediication in the side that has been missing for some time.Ilike what the players are saying now ,much more positive than in recent times.

  25. Agreed Andy – but perhaps Diaby has something to offer as tactical sub – he does add a rather ‘unpredictable’ dimension to our midfield. Plus, knowing his luck, he’ll probably be injured again before the season is out.

    I think I agree with those who posited the idea of Arteta being most likely to make way for Wilshere but, that said, it is easy to imagine Wenger rotating all three.

    I’d quite like to see a 442 with Wilshere playing in the hole behind RVP and Ramsey/Arteta & Song in behind. That’s a nucleus of 4 players who very rarely cede possession cheaply. Plus Wilshere being further advanced gives him license to shoot more and to terrorise the back line with his snappy, bitey tackles.

  26. Red Arse@ 10:34 am

    The Chavs have no choice, Drogba leaves on a free at the end of the season.

    He is wide open and it means we can offer him a ‘parachute’ salary. There is plenty left in Didier if he finds the right club. It is over for him and the Chavvys

  27. Jonny – Yeah (ref Diaby), that is probably what will happen. A real shame as he really could have been a top player for us I think.

  28. We play with one up front .That one is RVP no matter who we might bring in.I know that,you know that an everyone who might think about coming knows that.
    I think the two we have are top players ,they just don#t look so good standing next to the Prince

  29. Truth is Andy you may well be right that Diaby is at the stage where he fulfills his potential or shops out – it is very difficult to know quite what is left after so many years of disruption – as someone else said though he has a bit of the unpredictable about him

  30. If Diaby is fixed he starts,End of.
    So does Song.
    Then pick one from Jack,Arteta and Rambo.

  31. dats a gud i deal from mr wenger

  32. George – I used to think that, but I am not so sure anymore. I think Wilshere is ahead of him in the pecking order now. But more importantly I don’t have any faith that he will be able to play a run of 9 or 10 games. In which case it is hard for him to build any understanding with his midfield parnters. I think Arsene will always go with Song/Arteta and one other. All being fit I think that one other will be Wilshere.

  33. George – re Diaby being a first name on the team sheet (presumably straight after AA!), I rather imagine you’re in a minuscule minority there. I doubt you care but for this reason it is not ‘end of’ but rather more pointedly ‘start of’. As in start of tedious conversation as to why you are wrong!

    Andy the big shame is that fucking Sunderland no mark who ruined the early part of his career. I don’t know if all the various muscular problems since are attributable to that criminal recklessness but it’s quite probable we will never see the best of Diaby.

    If his rumoured pay package is true and we decide to keep him he should not be offered any kind of increase. TBH, like Bendtner, I can’t imagine many clubs would take him at that salary.

  34. Jonny – Yeah, agreed. It is a real dilema for the manager. Diaby offers the team something which none of our other players do. If he could stay fit I think he would become an important member of the team.

    But as you rightly pointed out; his (estiamnted) wage packet and continuous injuries are a major issue. Plus, the longer he is out, the more the players like Wilshere and Ramsey push him further down the pecking order. Shame, but that is the reality of it.

  35. I have always liked Diaby but i have finally given up on him ever being fit enough to contribute. That way if this operation has finally fixed him its a big bonus and if not i have already come to terms with a sad situation for the player. Poor chap.

  36. PG @10.55

    You’re if should surely be *IF*, it’s that dubious. And to be honest, he’s the least likely of the quintet in your comment to nail a starting place this side of Christmas. Personally, I’d say it will be Arteta, Song, Wilshere.


  37. Diaby will come and play up front and amaze us all. This I predict.

  38. GA@11.02 ‘I think Wilshere is ahead of him in the pecking order now.’

    He is ahead of him on the poster in the Emirates shop.

    It may just be a pretty boy, English advertising thing, but I think it shows the intention of the club to make Jack central to the team. Injury has been the only setback to this.

  39. Great win. TV5 is outstanding.

    See the chat is heading towards Diaby, so I will bid you all a good day!

  40. “If Diaby is fixed”
    I don’t know how much cleared I could have made it.
    I did not say “If Diaby is half fit and can string some games together” now did I?

    I know there is a big love in for Jack but he playe so much last year because Ramsey and Diaby could not.Yes he took his chance and scored “a” goal!!!!! But I don’t yet see him as better.
    Still ,I am sure you all know much more than me ,an I don’t want it to seem as if I don’t appreciate Jack .

  41. Midfield mix will depend how attacking a midfield we want (attacking, very attacking or ultra attacking). Song for me is first name on the team sheet. Arteta and Ramsey are looking good, but I think both Jack (also an automatic choice for me) and Diaby (based on dinstant memories) give more of a forward dynamic.

    There is still a noticable difference in the speed of attack when Jack is in the team. When he takes the ball his first instinct is to take two or three steps forward and then shift the ball – this immediately unsettles the opposition and allows runners into space for the subsequnet pass to find.

    Arteta and Ramsey tend to take the ball and look immediately for the next pass – which is still often close to sideways and can slow down the play and give the “bus” time to park. Funnily enough Song seems to run at the opposition more, but usually from a deeper position (and we do suffer when he gets caught upfield)

  42. For me Sceszney is the first name on the team sheet in every sense.

    Nice to hear he still harbours the belief we can claw the Prem title in this season. Cojones, moxie and an unwillingness to accept the impossible make him an Arsenal legend in the making – in spite of having a touch of ‘grobbelars’ a few times this season he is truly irreplaceable.

  43. Haha luke… i know what u mean, its a vicious cycle talking about Diaby. Arguably the most talented midfielder at the club, but one who’s career has been more stop start than my old XR3i !!

  44. Jack is a young player and unless he is absolutely unique after such a long lay off he will take a good few games until he has recaptured the momentum he had at the end of last season. Patience please – no doubt Jack will have enough meeja attention asthe Englishman destined to lead us to Euro glory 🙂

  45. Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Diaby, Wilshire…

    PICK ANY 3 and we should win. With Coquelin and Frimpong in reserve it ain’t a bad crop of central midfielders.

  46. Anicoll5 he seems to be the designated Arsenal player to lead us to glory as well.

  47. Chris ,don’t forget Bennythegoon,he can play a bit as well

  48. An injury free fit diaby can always play upfront as one of the widemen.he’d played there before and scored some cracking goals too.

  49. Great team performance on Saturday. If we keep shutting the opposition out young Sir Chesney is going to get rusty!

    I’m glad Arteta is not on International duty. He really could do with a break. So could Song, so I hope he doesn’t have much involvement with Cameroon. They don’t look to have a game this week at least so have a well deserved rest lads!

    George at 10:55, We’ve got some amazing options in midfield now, but I’ve always felt a fullt fit Diaby is an automatic starter, and in our current formation I think he could slot in alongside Song and Arteta. There’s a midfield who could boss any game.

  50. While it is true that Cesc is still and has been for us a special talent, this idea that he is so far above mere mortal footballers, like our current crew, is a lot of rubbish. In fact, at some point, we may well understand the supreme irony that Cesc’s departure has improved the conhesion of the team. Somebody else said it earlier: so who is to replace Cesc? Why the whole midfield of course. You see it in every game now. Ramsey’s chip to RvP (or 3Gs) the other day was not one iota short of Cescesque. Arteta’s goal on Saturday was the purest Cesc, purer than Cesc on many occasions, from positioning to finish. Even Song’s own distribution to the flanks drips of Cesc.

    Cesc may well become the complete article at Barcelona, sure looks that way, I always thought he was more the attacker than the pivot. But what Arsenal is playing now is not what Cesc brought to the table, but what the Wenger school of football taught.

    The way Arsenal dominated WBA, in mostly second gear, was classy. YW is right, it was Arteta’s best game so far, and he is still playing within himself. He is a very sturdy and consistent performer, never less than X, not usually more than Y. Sometimes I think it is exactly what this Arsenal actually needed.

  51. Interesting debate on Diaby, and a nice problem to have when all of our midfield are fit.

    For me, Jack would be a starter ahead of Diaby when fit, and Song – the toughest call would be between Rambo and Arteta.

  52. YW – usual good stuff today!

    Its refreshing to be discussing line up dilemma’s – as our current roster is filled with endless workable combinations.

    Agree with PG about Diaby. Our manager has his pecking order and Diaby is above Ramsey and Wilshere and just about everyone.

    For his entire career with the club, (up until this calendar year) RvP always had an (injury) asterisk after every comment …..and still a concern today. He seems to have turned the corner (knock on wood).

    A fit Diaby will add an attacking dimension that no one on the roster can provide (except that rare performance of an in form Arshavin.)

    So many positive things to point out with Arsenal.

  53. That’s cohesion of course. And while talking Cescesque, what of Nasri-esque? His generally negative “I am so much better than the players around me” ego and being able to play without that Mr. Mood is happy reward for Arsenal, we were let off the hook there, big time.

    Steww! What can one say? Yes, of course, that’s it. Diaby, up front.

    Having six skilled midfielders, whose skills overlap somewhat, is what Arsenal need. Of course selection headaches and all that, but it is precisely that depth that we need through a dank, cold and invariably hard winter. The most agreeable situation is that all six can play almost inter-changeably. You have squad depth – of around 18 – so you can use it to continuously replenish, not replace injured players.

  54. @Zim – as an interesting counterpoint to your last comment – this is the Guardian’s take this morning. For the record I prefer your take but I’m happy to see Ramsey’s recent march towards filling his potential and finding his form getting deserved recognition.

    Also unnecessary speculative idiocy to say the best of Arteta is behind him – with Wenger’s hand on the tiller we could be about to see what he is really capable of…

    Ramsey is playing Cesc-y football

    With the advent of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25th anniversary came the inevitable question of succession. Who will it be? José Mourinho? David Moyes? Martin O’Neill? Whoever it is, he faces an unenviable task. The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, faced a similar crisis this summer. With the departure of Cesc Fábregas and Jack Wilshere’s injury problems, who would take his place at the heart of the Gunners midfield? Who could provide that late surge into the box? Who could slice open the meanest of defences? Mikel Arteta was brought in on deadline day but at 29 and arguably a few seasons past his best, he is a short-term solution. The real heir is Aaron Ramsey.

    Ramsey is, understandably, keen to avoid comparisons with Fábregas. “Cesc is a different player. He was a great player for this club but hopefully I can bring my own style to this team and create opportunities to score goals and get on the scoresheet myself. That’s what I am aiming to do.” Of course, if Ramsey really wanted to stop these comparisons, he would not play like he did on Saturday against West Brom. As well as getting forward and trying to score, his passing was crisp, clean and precise – he had a whopping 93% completion rate and his defence-splitting pass to Theo Walcott effected his side’s first goal.

    It was a mature performance from a player who has not let the horrendous injury suffered against Stoke last year halt his impressive rise. Plaudits for the game will no doubt concentrate on the performance on Robin van Persie but, if Ramsey continues in this form, Arsenal will no longer be known as a one horse town. IMc

  55. I for one am happy that Jack will have to fight for his place. It just shows how far we have come compared to last season, where our midfield trio of Cesc, Song and Wilshere was virtually undroppable because everyone else who could’ve played there was either out of form or injured. Despite the loss of Cesc I feel that we are now on total stronger, especially in midfield, because we have a lot more choice.
    Last year any midfield without Cesc would seem weak, bereft of creativity and simply not good enough, while this year I see several possible partnerships that have all something to offer.

  56. On the whole, Wilshere will rotate the pivotal middle role with Arteta, and Diaby (and Wilshere again) will rotate a bit with Ramsey, and if Diaby stays fit Ramsey’s game time may diminish a little. Not many in the first choice team can do what Song does (combine his defensive work with midfield control and attack), except Diaby, and then not as well. I imagine Diaby will enjoy playing with Gervinho too.

  57. Ramsey’s right. He is different to Cesc. I find this season’s Arsenal a lot more direct and precise, and less figgidy-foggety than last.

  58. Diaby is the most unpredictable and potent box to box midfielder in the league. There – I said it.

    It’s no secret why Wenger is persevering with Diaby’s injury situation. He gives the team a dimension that no other player does. I think he will be introduced for the domestic cups (particularly the FA cup) and slowly eased into the back straight of the season.

    I think the midfield will be rotated depending on the opponent. Song, Li’l Jack and Diaby seems to be the perfect midfield for the teams that play rugby and need a brute force response that’s laced with finesse.

    But don’t count on Wenger giving up on Diaby soon. Imagine if he’d given up on Song or on Van Persie.

  59. Courtesy of Orbinho/North bank lower on twitter:

    Arsenal have the best passing accuracy in the opposition half of any team in the Premier League – 81%.

    That’s a nice stat to read.

  60. The key point now is strength in depth.

    We have 3 CB’s worthy of a starting berth in the biggest of occasions. Watch how much this natural competiton for places improves the players. Last year our first 11 was sublime, but so far apart from the rest of the squad.

    The same can be applied to the central midfield and wide forwards. Personally, Song, Wilshere, Ramsey will be our first choice midfield when all fit. With Arteta being the first change – he has the ability to play as a deep lying playmaker (Wilshere) or as the tip of our midfield three (Ramsey).

    I see Diaby turning into a utility player, I dont believe he will ever be an automatic starter as more specialist players are superior to him in the midfield. He does hold value in his flexibility however. Can play DM, CM or even as a wide forward.

    A useful tool to have when fit – we do have to consider whether he will ever return to the sport the same with constant minor muscle pulls frequently setting him back. It is omninious for a young man in peak physical condition to frequently suffer these minor, non impact injuries. Owen Hargreaves is probably the closest comparison, just a year or two ahead of Abou.

  61. “A useful tool to have when fit – we do have to consider whether he will ever return to the sport the same with constant minor muscle pulls frequently setting him back. It is omninious for a young man in peak physical condition to frequently suffer these minor, non impact injuries.”

    It really is funny that this sort of thing was being said about Van Persie not so long ago. Get rid of him – some even demanded and buy a 20 goal a season striker.

    With 60 plus games a season, we need all the players we have without exception. Not so long ago we literally had 6 defenders out and run out of bodies to get on the team sheet.

  62. @Darius “It’s no secret why Wenger is persevering with Diaby’s injury situation” whilst I get your point, and believe he is worthy of perseverance, it’s hardly as though Wenger has had a choice.

    It is not Diaby’s fault, but over 50K a week of wages for a playing time that is best measured in minutes is a poor return for financial outlay and no other club is interested in that salary/risk ratio.

    I hope it changes for the future and I feel awfully sorry for him but lets not dress this up as something it is not.

  63. It’s not about trying to fill the Cesc role. I do wish the pundits would stop with that crap. We’ve adapted our play now so that the majority of our threats come from the wide forwards. And in Gervinho and Walcott we have good variety in the attack. Our midfielders are having to do more defensive work in order to give the wide players some freedom (less in Walcott’s case as we’ve had to protect the right more), and also protect our adventurous left-back. Ramsey is really the only midfielder with license to get forward whenever he wants and it’s because, as Wenger has stated, he finishes like a striker. Not because he is trying to fill the Cesc role.

  64. Did Defoe sign a new contract with Spuds?,
    If not I think we should go after him, I rate him highly he has one of the best shots in the Prem and would easily adapt to our way of playing.

  65. Darious, VP suffered long lay offs due to impact injuries sustained on international duty – which he recovered from perfectly, then continued unabted his outrageous form.

    Take these two impact hits out, and RVP’s injury record over the last 3 years is fine.

  66. So Jonny what is the reason for mentioning Diaby’s salary? The context seems to suggest that Arsenal should have discarded Abou many moons ago. He suffered a career threatening injury. He was the first of three Arsenal players who suffered such serious injuries. I think that Arsene and Arsenal are to be applauded for supporting him and trying as hard as they can to get his career (what’s left of it) back on track. If you are suggesting that he is pure value for money go join the Tories…….

  67. Sorry Jonny ‘poor’ value for money….go join the Conservatives…..and slash my pension…

  68. Luke – Diaby suffered an assault from a carpenter called Dan Smith that has directly led to the injury problems he has. Not withstanding the fact that the genesis of the problem isn’t the issue. Besides, in the last 3 years, I would suggest that Diaby has played more games than RVP (my take on actual number of games is from memory and not qualified).

    My point is that both players were out for whatever reason – muscular or impact.

  69. Spy I think Defoe’s best years are behind him, but if we’re indulging in a little fantasy football ahead of the January window and you’re determined to pay a premium for English players, then my shout is a cheeky bid for Agbonlahor as cover in the wide positions. He’s looked great playing there for Villa and had a smashing game at the weekend. But 3 years on his current contract and the premium rate for English players means it’s very unlikely. Unless Villa need the cash…

  70. Darren Bent upfront? I reckon he’d thrive on the the chances that Walcott and Gervinho are creating and would be a good target for Jenkinson’s crosses.

  71. It’s certainly close Darius –

    Last three full seasons (appearances)
    Diaby 90
    RVP 97

    I think Luke’s point is a valid one though.

    The genesis of Diaby’s injuries is a moot point what is clear is that he, whether directly or not, has become injury prone. Whether he will be in the future is anyone guess but it must be a concern.

    RVP never really has been.

  72. Georgaki – what are you talking about – go join the tories?? Bizarre.

    It’s fairly well accepted we have in the recent past overpaid some of your younger players – Diaby is good but no other team would have paid him that salary at his age. I’m glad we stuck by him – but again why do you think we had a choice – it’s a contract! All I am saying is that he should not be offered a payrise for his next contract – we stuck by him and he has been well paid throughout. If he has no loyalty in return he can do one – he won’t find many clubs paying that amount.

    Bendtner is perhaps the best example – we have overpaid for potential. I admire the ethos but we are now entering a period of re-evaluation as we attempt to balance the books, having to pay the market-stretched, obscene amounts to hold on to players such as RVP.

    If you think football isn’t a business then I envy your naivety but call me a Tory again and their will be trouble – mark my words! Yuck.


  73. I was interested to read this article in light of the conversations above:

    ‘Mikel Arteta playing a key role at the centre of Arsenal’s recent rejuvenation’ By Jonathan Liew in the Telegraph.

    He mentions the defence, he mentions the attack and then points to Arteta as being equally responsible for the recent damage inflicted.

    Despite the fact that we have Abou and Jack to return, the thing that struck me is that he does not mention the wings as having been contributory; Nasri is seemingly already forgotten and rightly so, we have not looked better their since…….Pires.

    With so many including Santos and Verm performing in dual roles that overlap into the centre it looks like the season is going to end with a great big central midfield love in.

    Back to the Barca 1,10 formation.

  74. Jonny

    So you really are suggesting that we should give up on Diaby. Nice…..

  75. Diaby is only 25. Plenty of games left in him.

  76. Georgaki??? I did not say that. By all means offer him a new contract, when it arises, but with no pay rise. What’s unreasonable about that?

    That said if he should continue to suffer further injuries which mean his future prognosis looks bleak as a player then no – don’t offer him a new contract.

    This is a football club not a charity.

  77. Jonny

    Players are insured. Jonathan Woodgate had to leave Spurs because his insurance premium was too high for them. Maybe that will determine Diaby’s future…….I’m hoping he gets back…..

  78. A couple of months ago we were being told by Jabba and his ilk(ilk! its a great word is it not?)that the majority of Fans wanted Arsene gone.
    Remember “17 points from 17 games”
    “Relegation form”
    “does not do defending”
    “no plan B”
    “lost our best two players”
    “panic buy’s ,not Arsenal standards”
    “mid table mediocrity at best”

    Well where are they now?

    I want them on here declaring” sorry ACLF’ers ,turns out I am a complete prick who knows fuck all about the game”
    And I want them here now(before anything goes wrong 🙂 )

  79. I remember many clubs were prepared to take a punt on Edu (Edu of the 2004 vintage).

    Can’t imagine Edu’s wages were much less then his peers, as in Europe’s top 50 best midfielders. Arsenal managed to catch him on that three to two year (relatively injury free for Edu) peak that moth footballers dream of acheiving. So I would state that those arguing upon such grounds for the discharge of Diaby are, um, not being ‘realistic’?

    Now if you were to ponder that Diaby would be better off in league played at a slightly less frantic pace, in order to get a season or more of games under his belt, then that’d make some kind of sense. I would counter that he has already had a few seasons where he’s played a lot in N.London. Be dumb to offload such a talent now, seeing as his career was nearly ended, again, last season. Not quite the same situation as Eduardo? Without chatting to the Arsenal physio team, it’s hard to say. If he’s still here, then he is definitely still worth the punt.

  80. moth to most

  81. George, it just confirms to me that most of those dudes were wind-up merchants. Probably fans of other teams. I mean what fan actually wants to talk more about their team doing badly? They were dedicated WUMs, but WUMs nonetheless.

  82. PG.

    With that request above some would worry that you are not being ‘realsitic’.

  83. Limestonegunner

    Markus, hilarious goof on the photo or someone’s perverse sense of humour!

    I think Ramsey will need to be rested some over the late November-January period where there is huge fixture pileup, with CC, FA and lots of PL matches. JW will probably be brought on very carefully and cautiously as will Diaby. During the ACN we will lose Gervinho, Chamakh and Song (I believe) so that means up front and in midfield there will be spots opened up for those like Ramsey, Diaby, Benayoun, Rosicky, and possibly JW who can play on the right/left in the front 3. No one replaces Song, but I wonder if we might see Arteta playing there on occasion against teams who aren’t so physical or capable of attacking threat, in addition to Frimp/Coquelin getting chances to establish themselves as a backup, when Song is out or at the ACN. Similarly, we haven’t really seen Arteta play as the forward creator that Ramsey has been playing. Rosicky can play there but we also don’t really know if Wilshere is ready for that position.

    So I think we could see a variety of combinations when playing lower table sides, in the FA cup through that period. But this is all a long way off–neither Diaby nor JW are back. For the moment Ramsey, Song, and Arteta will probably play lots of games with some games for Rosicky, Benayoun, and Frimps/Coquelin but not many for the latter three except as subs.

  84. LG Song is not going to ACN they did not qualify.

  85. Afternoon all, thanks Yogi.

    The whole team looked very sharp, bar maybe Arsh when he came on. Theo was ok, and Gervinho was looking better in the 2nd half before he got subbed. The defence looked great, Jenk really stepping up on the day. TV5 was awesome. Kos was awesome (poss my motm – if not for RvP, again…). Song was solid. Arteta was near on impeccable too. And Ramsey was passing with real class. All round, a great performance.

    The debates above all point to the fact that Arsene knew. He knew that this crop of players, once settled, would be able to rotate and become a very nicely flexible bunch. The wide forwards will be flexible too once Ryo and Ox and Park have had more time on the pitch. Again, Wenger’s plan seems to be to get them ready to come in at the tail end of the season where rotation will be essential. Even I was a little dubious at the start of the season, but now i am confident we will be in the top 4 come May. Confidence and time to settle makes such a huge difference, and we have really shown that this year.

    Again, the motd team decided not to bother analysing our match on Saturday, even though it was a fine example of team play, all over the pitch. As much as i dislike most of the pundits, they have the technology to show us the things we may have missed during the game, and it’s a real shame they didn’t provide that this weekend. They really are sour bastards aren’t they?! They are sickened by the fact that we aren’t in crisis and that their predictions were way off the mark. But the lack of coverage still really gets to me.

  86. Limestonegunner

    I also think that Chamakh needs to get some games and come on as a sub to give RvP a rest and to demonstrate whether he can play effectively for us as he did at the start of last season, but part of the problem is that he will be gone for the ACN and that will leave us with only Park in the position for a substantial part of the remainder of this season. If you play Theo up front for RvP you have both sides of the front 3 gone with Gervinho away. I think getting another good striker would be prudent in January depending on what we see from Park and Chamakh between now and the beginning of January. Then it would be up to Chamakh and Park to fight for the 3rd spot for next year or, God forbid, back up the new striker if RvP were to leave.
    Basically, one of the principles involved here is have your replacement already in case you sell or lose a player–so one of the things to learn in the coming weeks is whether Chamakh and Park can spell RvP when needed. The other thing we might learn is whether the rest of the front three and midfield attackers can produce the goals needed. Then the club can decide how best to use January to keep us contending and moving forward.

  87. Limestonegunner

    PG, thanks! I was too lazy to look that up, but that is great news. Now let’s sign him up on a long term extension! He is vital to our team.

  88. If this summer has shown us anything it is that the only person vital to this team is one Arsene Wenger

  89. Tottenham Hotspur ready to swoop for long-term Arsenal target

    Its Hazard btw.
    Really ? honestly?
    What a load a bollocks

  90. Everyone’s buying Hazard this year… Is there enough of him to go round?

  91. One key issue (for me) over the past few seasons……our roster has been too weighted with youth – under 24.
    (line ups composed of three or four, 19 & 20 year olds) Szez, Gibbs, Wilshere, Ramsey and then throw in Theo.

    Our current roster reflects more options with experience: the 25 – 31 year olds bracket.

    Santos, Sagna, Vermealen, Mertesacker, Koz, Squillaci (Dj is 24)
    Arteta, Rosicky, Diaby (Song is 24)
    Arshavin, RvP, Chamakh, Park (Gervinho is 24)

    Arteta is a starter (along with Song) because of his EXPERIENCE/MATURITY, and the other open midfield position will be the manager’s choice, from among Rosicky, Diaby, Ramsey, and Wilshere.

  92. Limestonegunner

    No, George, it shows us that AW is a fantastic manager but it would exaggerate matters to say he is the only person vital to this team. RvP is vital, Song is vital, a strong CB pairing is vital, as is a solid GK. Look what we did in the league without Song in our 2nd, 3rd and 4th games! You could say AW is the MOST vital person and who could argue with that! What is great now is that we have quite a strong squad, good team spirit, a determined mentality, and improved understanding among the players. However, Song is a pretty important player whose role is not well replaced by anyone. I’d suggest Arteta has shown a defensive strength that might allow him to play there with someone like Wilshere against teams who don’t offer too much attacking quality or physicality. Otherwise, I think Song is one of our most crucial players.

  93. We should out in a £10 mill bid for Torres in January

  94. LG .In that Cesc was the most vital and we have adjusted.My premise is that Arsene could/would replace any player.We can not replace him.
    So with all due respect I submit that “If this summer has shown us anything it is that the only person vital to this team is one Arsene Wenger” is indeed a correct assessment of the situation

  95. £10m for torres? You must be crazy, we can get another Gervinhio for that. Even the great Eduardo cost us less. What a waste of talent that was, got his career ruined by a prick. We might have won something by now, had he continued as he was before he got injured. One of the best finishers I had ever seen. Pure class.

    Great posts Yogi and Zimpaul!

  96. Geo@3.46 – If its Mickey Hazard, yep, rather rotund these days.

  97. One player I would like to see emerge from within our ranks is one Francis ‘Le Coq’ Coquelin. When and if Alex Song needs a rest Le Coq can do the job. For me, he’s one of the most exciting youth prospects in European football.

  98. ‘scuse me George. *berbaSLOTH*

  99. Bill he is a very good player and would be just what we need as RVP’s understudy.And cheap and he is used to being on the bench.

  100. Now that i ponder the subject a little more, Dimitar could play a vital role for us. Play him against Blackburn and write the words AON on his jersey. Blackburn defense turns to a sieve and he slots home 5. 😉

  101. Nice post yogi:

    Last few league games have been brilliant on both sides of the pitch. I didn’t expect the form we showed early in the season to continue, but I must admit I didn’t expect us to destroy Chelsea at the bridge, nor the total domination we saw on Saturday. The next several games are a great chance to rack up some points. Over the long term the key will be consistency. We had a run of form like this last year in jan/feb.. Hopefully this season will be different and we will be able to maintain a high level of performances over the long haul.

  102. Just having a look at the current crop of U18’s

    This is the team that played our last game against Norwich, a 3-2 loss which also included Toral’s first goal for the club.

    The thing is I used to know almost all of the names in the U18 line-up, does anyone know any of these other than Toral?!

    subs: Huddart, Bihmoutine, Hayden, Bunjaku, Rees.

    In other news Bartley played 90mins for Rangers at the weekend – had a good game too from what I hear.

  103. Limestonegunner

    George, I guess it depends on your understanding of being “vital” to the side is. If you mean AW is indispensable you’ll get no argument from me. My point about Song is just that central midfield is at the heart of our spine and no one brings the defensive quality Song does anchoring it. We are weaker when he is out. As Gains points out, Coquelin is a talent and I hope he’ll get a few games and develop because it would help to have effective backup for Song.

  104. Does the media’s raging boner for Hazard have anything do do with their love of pun-filled headlines I wonder?

  105. Verging on sacrilege I know Limestone but given the lack of a back up for Song is there a case for leaving him out from time to time – against weaker opponents – and actually playing without a ” defensive” midfield player ? Against let’s say Wigan are we really worried that Arteta and Ramsay and maybe Rosicky would be over run by the opposition ?
    Seems to me if you are a good midfield player you should run, tackle, pass etc box to box

  106. Limestonegunner

    Markus, you might have put your finger on part of the explanation!

  107. From: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2011/nov/07/premier-league-chalkboard-analysis

    Thomas Vermaelen’s return from injury after two and a half months without a Premier League start was a welcome boost for Arsenal in the 3-0 win over West Brom. In addition to grabbing the second goal that effectively ended the game as a contest, he also helped his side to a clean sheet. He and Laurent Koscielny are yet to concede a goal in the 205 Premier League minutes they have played together this season, and while Arsène Wenger brought in Per Mertesacker this summer, Vermaelen and Koscielny appears to be his first-choice combination at the back.

    Despite having completed only three games together since Koscielny joined the club, they seem to be a good partnership. Vermaelen constantly wants to move towards the play and sneak ahead of opposition strikers to win the ball, while Koscielny is much more reserved and tends to naturally cover for his partner. Indeed, with Vermaelen often caught high up the pitch, and Arsenal’s two full-backs, Carl Jenkinson and André Santos, still positionally uncertain, Koscielny’s discipline and calmness at the back is vital for Arsenal.

    That Kolsieny is one intelligent player. When playing with Mert, he knows to attack the ball early, but is also flexible enough to act the sweeping role when paired with TV.

    Something I also found of interest could be found further down the chalkboard article on the link I just posted. Apparently Manure only made five ground tackles in the entire game against Sunderland, compared to 17 interceptions. Even more interesting is the fact that it’s not the first time they’ve shown such bias towards interceptions. One of the grauniard’s commenters reckoned they were practising non-contact football for Barca. Me thinks it might have something to do with their lack of a proper DM and/or the sheer number of attempts on goal that they allow. If the low tackles/interception ratio is indeed a tactic from Fergie, then the man may truly be loosing it.

  108. @Markus 5.25

    Ha! In part maybe, though really it’s the usual ‘virtuous circle’ – the more you’re mentioned as TBNT the more you get mentioned and so it goes.

    Sadly I am pretty certain we won’t see him at Arsenal – one of the ‘bottomless pocket’ teams is very likely to offer him a mind-boggling salary.

    Is he worth the £35-40M price tag? From what I have seen, I’d say hell yes – he’ll be worth a LOT more in a few years time. He’s still only 20, was Ligue 1 player of the year last season, and has a bewildering array of tricks, explosive speed and that incredible sense of ‘balance’ that all the very best players have.

    Even in the company of Goetze and Neymar, for me he looks the brightest of the world’s best U21’s.

    Whoever lands him will get some quick-footed entertainment that’s for sure –

  109. Our players must be rotated even RVP and Song. The only player that will not need a rest in the PL atleast is Szczesny.

    If we don’t rotate effectivley, we will will most probably suffer at the end of the season.

    I trust Wenger now trust’s these players, it didn’t seem like he did last season.

  110. Hazard has said he likes Arsenal so you never know.

  111. Limestonegunner

    Anicoll, that is exactly what I was hypothesizing might happen against teams like Wigan–Arteta with Ramsey and Rosicky. Either that or giving Coquelin/Frimp a chance. Sacrilege? Well, we are heretics together, then!

  112. Whoa Jonny, Never bothered with all the hype around Hazard, but watching that clip you posted gave me goose pimples. Some mad skillz from that boy, and his got the stats to go with it, so he’s not just some show pony.

  113. Limestonegunner

    I agree Paul-N. It creates an imbalance when we get 5 fixtures in two weeks around Christmas and have to field two separate (and unequal!) teams. This happened last year and we can avoid this by giving Arshavin, Rosicky, Coquelin, Benayoun, Djourou, Chamakh, and Park occasional games in the league a couple at a time against appropriate opposition from a tactical perspective. This way we will be fresh in the second half for a big push, plus we get Wilshere and Sagna back and perhaps some reinforcements in January.

  114. Paul N – I’m of the nature to steel for disappointment rather than expect good news – I do retain a small hope that Hazard will come to us but given that – there are at least 8 clubs that can outbid us in terms of salary and transfer fee, that Lille’s president despises us and that Hazard has now trumpeted his availability to the footballing world at large, that we would have to see a club-record signing and most-likely an overhaul of our wage structure – even the most optimistic Gooner would have to suspect this is very unlikely!

    I would be cheering from the rafters if it happened, whilst wondering were he would play – that said he plays regularly on either wing, often switching during a game (he’s naturally two footed) and has occasionally been used in the middle for good measure.

  115. It is so obvious what will happen with the Hazard transfer.

    We will bid £16.5M for him which will be rejecteded. We will then up our bid to £17.25M and some training bibs. Meanwhile someone like Madrid will come in and bid £32M for him and that will be that. 😉

    Unfortunately for us, I think it was the last transfer window or not at all for us in this case.

  116. Henristic – I know me too! Sometimes the hype is justified – plenty of people refer to him as ‘little Messi’ in France. It would be nice to introduce him to our Little Mozart – see if they can’t make some sweet, sweet music together – so to speak. On the football pitch. You know what I mean.

  117. Goonerandy – I have it on fairly good authority that we had a bid of about £30 million kicked out of bed in the summer.

    Please God, just don’t let him go to Man Utd.

  118. PG @ 3:10 pm

    I remember reading that email.

    Just checked Le Unconvincibles and amazingly they are referring to AW as ‘the boss’ today. LOL remember Le moan on tour!

    So exposed are they as spineless know nothing gold diggers I don’t think they know what bottom to crawl up.

  119. Jonny – Yeah I heard similar. Thought it was for Goatze though?

  120. We dont need Hazard at that kind of money.
    Not that I would say no,mind.
    That Goetze kid seems be be more what is required.But I asked the other day.Is he better than Jack?

  121. Hazard for definite – I think their president even mentioned something around the time.

    That’s not to say we didn’t explore the Goetze avenue also mind – it truly were a summer of madness.

  122. ga

    I heard it was 40mil for Goetze.

    Which rather poo pooed the doomer’s claim that we did not spend.

  123. look at these two headlines and spot the difference

    “Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has declared that his side will not be making any signings in the January transfer window.”

    and low and behold

    ” Real Madrid are readying a £25.8 million bid for Robin van Persie, according to reports, as the striker continues to stall on contract talks”

    It beggars belief.

  124. I guess It could come down to who he wants to play for Jonny. If he wants to come to Arsenal and we want him, it will happen.

    As far as Lille, Park made a choice, to blame that on Arsenal is quite silly.

  125. George I agree we have a wealth of skill on the flanks – Gerv, Walcott and Oxo & Ryo to come but we should always be interested in extra-special talent – most of football’s cognoscenti seem to agree he is exactly that.

    Plus if Wenger really did bid £30M he must think he’s a bit special too.

  126. Limestonegunner

    PG, I agree, Hazard isn’t the one for us with Ryo and the Ox behind Gervinho and Walcott long term. They might not be better than Jack but we haven’t seen Jack playing in a forward position in the PL and both he and Ramsey can play deeper quite effectively. He scored one goal and had a couple of assists, I think. So where JW plays and whether he brings the needed attacking creativity has yet to be established.

  127. I remember something at the time, but thought it was so outrageous that I did not give it a thought.

    Then last month a Werder Bremen fan told me that they had turned down that bid for Goetze (although it might be Euros). It only made sense after the Brasil coach gave him such a glowing report.

  128. Paul N – agreed but he is French – they have a duty to be contrary whenever possible.

    Hopefully we have been quietly seducing Monsieur Hazard since the end of summer and I am wrong – I certainly won’t complain if it is so.

  129. ha!

    I would love to see him at the club too Jonny. The only other person I have heard Wenger talk about like Hazard was Arshavin.

  130. Limestonegunner

    Hazard may be a special talent, of course. But it is a question of fit. I don’t see him playing that way in the PL. The flicks and tricks. Arshavin used to play with lots of flair and remarked that the effort he has made has been to play more efficiently. The Boss emphasizes that. So that video doesn’t help make the case for Hazard as far as Arsenal is concerned. What would be persuasive is if he sets up others well, can use his pace to make dangerous passes or create space for good shots from around the penalty box and so on. Gervinho is the one who had more end product than Hazard for Lille.

  131. Limestone – “PG, I agree, Hazard isn’t the one for us with Ryo and the Ox behind Gervinho and Walcott long term”

    That is not really an ambitious strategy though is it? If we could afford Hazard, then we should get him. To not do it as it may harm the chances of one of our reserves breaking through is madness. We are not a creche.

    If he would improve our side (he would) and we could get him we should. As long as it is within our financial means, which I am assuming it is or we would have not bid for him in the first place.

  132. Limestonegunner

    GA, it is if you would rather go for a clinical striker from Lille like Musa Sow, a creative attacking midfielder like Goetze/Martin/Gourcuff, and/or a midfield player like M’Vila who adds to our defensive strength like Song does while still having some skills going forward. Right now we have lot of experienced players as well as young talented players where Hazard plays. If AW is really convinced he is the missing piece of dazzle we should have, I would be thrilled that such a talent is on the way. But on my wish list I’d like to see other sorts of players bolstering us.

  133. Limestone – I agree with you there. We have other priorites when it comes to new signings. I supose I mean that if a chance comes along to sign a player of his ilk, we should not pass it up. If that means the end of the road for somebody like Ryo, that unfortunately that is the way things must be. That said, if we signed Hazard I could see Arsene letting AA go.

  134. Limestone – if Wenger feels he was worth £30M + at the end of the summer he obviously does not agree. Hazard is only 20 and displaying the kind of skills that set true talent apart. It’s surely a little too restrictive to compare with Gervinho?

    Given that it was he who won the mantle of best player in the league not Gerv, is valued at twice as much, and has been lauded as capable of playing just about anywhere in the attacking third – it’d be a bit churlish for us to be worried about ‘fit’. Where does he fit? Just about anywhere! :0)

    I do agree his end product needs work but, did I mention? He’s only bloody 20! 😀

    I’d be willing to bet this boy will be worth £50M+ by the time he gets to the age Gerv is now.

  135. PG @ 6:44 pm

    How about £258 million, I think that is a fair price don’t you?

    Silly times silly money.

    Would AW really say. Yeah sure the last year and a half of his contract is worth that to us.

    Just to have him play one more season after this you would pay 25.8.

    I’d take the 258 though.

  136. Chortle, Andy you’ll have George starting up an ‘anti-Hazard petition’ with words like that.

  137. ‘Jonny, Andy and Luke’,

    No not a sixties band more of a ‘bunch’. Your views on Diaby are in keeping with some of the most noisy and irksome commentators of recent times: IMO.

    As others have tried to point out, you seem to have learned little from recent events or the pragmatism of Arsene’s thinking. And as far as support, loyalty or strength of personality are concerned, I wont even start to comment!

    The question with people like you seems to be: who, from among our own ranks, will you need to single out or criticise next?


  138. Ha, I know. It just seems that Arsene does not really trust him to start games now. He has fallen down the pecking order and at his stage in his career he needs to be playing. I can see him leaving in the summer.

  139. Dgob – I would suggest you put on some reading glasses and scan the Diaby posts again. I don’t recall anybody criticizing him. Saying that his chance of cementing a place in the first team may have passed him by, given his injuries and the emergence of Ramsey and Wilshere is hardly taking him to task is it?

  140. Dgob – I’m so sorry, I hadn’t realised this blog belongs to you and opinions that are contrary to your line of thinking are sacrilege. Please show me to the nearest punishment cell where I can be reprogrammed to be an unthinking, unopinionated citizen of the burning truth.

    Got any Soma?

  141. Dgob – sorry forgot to answer the question… err ‘you’?

    Seriously though I think you should be the one trying the Soma – no real criticism of Diaby today. Surprised you have gotten so worked up but I guess we are an irksome bunch. ;-D

  142. Zing indeed.

  143. Seems City now want Christian Eriksen,Where will all this end?

  144. Jonny,you are a feisty minx of late

  145. George, coming from a man who just growled at his computer, I’ll take that as a compliment. 😀

  146. @ YW
    I was quite struck by AW’s words about Arteta – the description of him as between rosicky/ramsey and Song reminded me of his description of Denilson as between Gilberto and Rosicky. Very similar players, very similar roles. Arteta is better, because of course he is older, more experienced etc.

    Quite right, Red Arse, he is not meant to be a direct replacement for the Spanish bloke.

    @ pedantic george
    I agree, Diaby might be the midfield’s RvP. has the look of a potentially very special player. I think AW rates him highly, as in the past, he has always come straight into the side when fit. He can play any of the three roles as well. In that infamous Newcastle match, he was playing the “Song” role, and doing it brilliantly. And of course he has height and vision.

    @ Evil | November 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    @ markus
    Agree as well – we’re set up differently now. But newspapers, like footie fans, can take a long time to catch up to changes.

    @ Geo | November 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm
    Great post
    I was the most relaxed I’ve been for God knows how long, watching that WBA match. We were full of confidence, we looked flowing and dangerous going forward and solid when defending. The understanding was finally there – ironically this was proved when the substitutions were made and there were a few mixups involving the less-used players. With the run we have going up to Christmas, we can start integrating players like Park, Chamakh, the Jewish Iniesta and of course AOC and Ryo. It really might all work out the way it’s meant to this season.

    @ Arsesession | November 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm
    “One key issue (for me) over the past few seasons……our roster has been too weighted with youth – under 24.”

    Although, interestingly, our average age has come down – because of bringing in players like Ryo and The Ox.

    @ Gainsbourg69 | November 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm
    “One player I would like to see emerge from within our ranks is one Francis ‘Le Coq’ Coquelin.”

    Me, too! And he’s another gooner, as well. fantastic attitude and like CJ, is absolutely in dreamland because he is playing for Arsenal.

  147. Jonny,you know perfectly well I was growling at Andy.
    And if he tries to sell Andrei again I will be at his ankles.

  148. Yes PG – but in my imagination you also growled at loud at the computer screen as you typed it.

  149. Depending on the injury situation in january, as someone mentioned earlier, Frimpong could be loaned to another PL side a la jack and bolton, i think it will really aid his development as a footballer..just look at what first team football has done for Coquelin..

  150. Sell Andrei????? thats almost as ridiculous as signing joey barton or 35 mill for caroll..

  151. GA wash your mouth with soap..or is it fingers cos it was typed??

  152. Limestonegunner

    Jonny, All we know is that several big offers were turned away for several players that seem to have included Gotze, Hazard, Martin, and M’Vila and perhaps others. We don’t know the order or priority in AW’s mind, we don’t know what his thinking on each was. I certainly wasn’t saying Hazard wasn’t a major talent. If AW gets him I’d be thrilled. Only that with the team we have now that I see other priorities that might inform our goals in the January market. So I’d be more thrilled with some of the other players we were linked with or other types of positions.

  153. Limestonegunner

    AA was signed mid-season, so I wonder how much time he will have left on his contract by the end of January? 2 years or 1? He came in 2009–might be only one year. However we haven’t heard anything about contract negotiations or anything regarding AA. I hope it is still 2 years as we could still use him this year and next.

  154. JackWilshere Jack Wilshere
    by wleaf80
    Good news with my x-ray update you all later

    yipee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that was for all you Jack fanboys 🙂

  155. Agreed Limestone – I just think he looks an extremely rare talent.

    Another goal scorer should be top of the priority list.

    The Drogba suggestion was an intriguing one – though I guess unlikely. It would be good to get a proven scorer – I feel we have good young talent for ‘tomorrow’ in Campbell & Afobe. An experienced head would be great.

  156. good topic today
    for me its definately arteta song and jack..

  157. Limestonegunner

    JJ, Ramsey has been playing very well the last three weeks. Why would he sit for you? Why Arteta and JW both ahead of him?

  158. LG its his opinion,he think Jack is better .Simples.
    Here is my 3
    Diaby,TR7 and ………………………….wait for it……………………………Andrei Arshavin…………………………tah rah 🙂

  159. i reckon weve got an embarrasment of riches in the cm department..especially in regards to the technical side..
    maybe another solid man like mvilla to backup song but the battle between frimpong and le coq looks interesting so maybe we should hang fire, especially if hes going to cost 20mil plus..

    priorites for me are a cf, a wf and a cb..
    if we can grab cahill and drogba on the cheap it frees up cash to get hazard..potentially..

  160. I’m glad you don’t pick the team George. I think I’ll go with Song, Wilshere and Ramsey as my first team treeo . We really do have options now don’t we, apart from Song I don’t think any one is a def starter every game .

  161. i think rambos a quality player, limestone

    but although rambos shown good form for the past three weeks, artetas been a class act for the past 7 years and jack did enough last year to suggest hes a better player currently than rambo..

    rambos next in line though..its a good choice to have..choices we didnt have last year and i also like rosickys form this year..best hes played in a while in his ‘new role’..like the czech scott parker..

    sorry george but diaby doesnt get anywhere near the first team.. 😦 i dont think hes done enough to prove he can even stay fit never mind command a first team spot..too unreliable

  162. I’m glad you don’t pick the team George

    So am I .But how creative would those 3 be?

  163. I remain POSITIVE!

  164. id like to start with jack song and rambo but i feel its too inexperienced.
    arteta brings balance..

  165. JJ have you read my posts?
    but in case you missed it

    pedantic george | November 7, 2011 at 11:29 am
    “If Diaby is fixed”
    I don’t know how much cleared I could have made it.
    I did not say “If Diaby is half fit and can string some games together” now did I?

    I know there is a big love in for Jack but he playe so much last year because Ramsey and Diaby could not.Yes he took his chance and scored “a” goal!!!!! But I don’t yet see him as better.
    Still ,I am sure you all know much more than me ,an I don’t want it to seem as if I don’t appreciate Jack .”

  166. Our midfield options


    Wide players


    Some overlap of course but all in all not bad eh 😀

  167. JackWilshere Jack Wilshere
    As I said had 6 week X-ray earlier and all going well. I can start to work a bit harder now.

  168. I must admit George I’d like to see Arsh given a run in the creative midfield role, but it’s a good thing I don’t pick the team too.

  169. i get ya george i hear ya..

    i dont think diaby brings more to the team than either rambo or jack..
    they are both better players in my mind..more all round

  170. Been away..missed u ACLFers…
    Team’s looking really steady

    …for me I’ve been digging Rosicky…wish he was like 24.

    If all our CMs are fully fit, i’d gladly go with:

    …..etc…etc…….whatever combo AW decides on depending on our opponents

    AW knows.

    just dropped by to say hello.
    Should be back more constantly soon
    Ciao RASERS!

  171. I don’t think people should expect much in the January transfer window. Any decent international player will not want to up sticks mid-season and risk a loss of form as he tries to adjust to a new team and/or league when there is an international tournament in the summer. I suspect that may have affected some of our purchases last summer especially where players are not already established in their national team.

  172. Borges Spinelli

    Hi, Limestonegunner,

    Arshavin’s contract expiration date, is as fascinating a subject, as it is a contentious one. Depending on which such source one reads, he is contracted to Arsenal until the end of this season’s campaign – while others point to June 2013.

  173. It’s an astute good point about internationals being cautious about a move before the tournament but it only affects the players in Euro 2012 who are concerned about their place. It certainly might have affected M’Vila and Martin this summer though when qualification was a genuine issue. Hazard isn’t in Euro 2012, for example. For players like M’Vila and Martin, now, a move to Arsenal might enhance their position, because it means Arsene Wenger thinks they are good enough for him, but the safer course is to wait until next summer. It might be a consideration for Gotze who is just breaking into Germany. It certainly isn’t a consideration at all for the best African, Asian, and Latin American players–it is an ideal time to move. There are a great number of quality players not involved in Euro 2012. Consider the sides in the playoffs: Turkey, Portugal, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Croatia… some of them will go out and there are some terrific young players among these national teams and in those that failed to qualify already like Serbia and so on. And players who are established internationals might not worry so much especially if it means they will get to play for a club that is more compatible to their style and qualities.

    So it is a consideration but by no means eliminates the possibility for quality acquisitions in January.

  174. Interesting, Borges. I thought it would end in January but there is no reason it can’t be through to the end of a season, which would make more sense actually. If it is just to the end of this season, why didn’t we hear about negotiations this last summer or the idea that we might need to sell him back to Zenit or Anzhi or something? Odd that there hasn’t been any news about it, really.

  175. George, I was just interested in JJ’s reasons. Obviously he thinks JW and Arteta are better–but why, how? As the slogan for a North American tabloid went: Enquiring minds want to know!

  176. What do we favour for a possible Frimpong loan, Swansea or Norwich? I say Swansea since they play possession football and he would work a great deal on refining his passing and possession play, which would be a big asset for his return to Arsenal. But Norwich isn’t bad at all. Wigan would be ok or Blackburn or Bolton. To be honest there are far fewer long ball lumping or bruiser teams in the PL these days. Birmingham went down and Blackburn and Bolton are both trying to play a bit. Just Wolves, Stoke, maybe Sunderland (Cattermole), and Aston Villa (McLeish), Newcastle? (but maybe not under Pardew) Just a few years ago and the whole bottom half of the table seemed to play a very agricultural game.

  177. i think AA did a renewal of his contract at some point so i suspect 2013 is more likely

  178. Andrei has never extended or renewed.

  179. George knows best.

  180. Bradys right foot

    There is no doubt that Hazard is a tremendous talent, as Jonny has already said his skill set suggests a player of rare ability. Hazard Goetze and M’villa are all young players that have been linked with us however I’m actually not interested in their ability, I’m only intertested in how effective they can be for us and what they can bring to the club not just in terms of ability but just as importantly in terms of personality.

    If recent history has taught us anything it is that technically elite players such as Nasri can flatter to deceive. I have no doubt that Gervinhos contribution to Arsenal will quickly dwarf that of Nasri’s. I concede we are comparing different type of players. Nasri technically is on a different level to Gervinho but the Ivorians talents make him an assist machine and he is exactly what we need, for me he’s a much more effective player than Nasri while not necessarily as technically gifted.

    Despite the horrific start we’ve had this Arsenal team is the most balanced and hungry I’ve seen in years. Our much maligned transfer dealings has brought us by all accounts exemplory professionals in Benayoun, Mertesacker, Arteta, Park and Jenkinson and seen the departures of others. I’ll resist the temptation to say that this is the “happiest” dressing room we’ve had in a long time but were building a proper team ethic one with much less ego than previous iterations.

  181. BRF,
    I agree .
    I think for the first time we might be a team that can be more than the sum of the parts.
    Benayoun, Mertesacker, Arteta and Park will all be desperate to succeed on a bigger stage.And I believe that they all will.
    I love this team.

  182. @ Bradys right foot | November 7, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Top post.

  183. Don’t find Nasri more talented than Gervinhio. If anything the so called ‘Nasri’s 6 month golden period’, was related to him playing more directly which resulted in the goals and the assists. Frankly, as far as being direct is concerned, Gervinhio can do that better than him. I think Gervinhio seems less talented because he’s not as stylish as Nasri was for us. But then again, his style didn’t yield much in the end for most of the time. Given how little Gervs has played for us, and given his contributions, to me at least he seems like as you said more effective player. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets the most assists this season.

  184. On that matter David Silva is actually a gifted footballer. A much better player than Nasri. Hence the bench role.

  185. Agreed Ateeb, Nasri has yet to prove himself as anything much other than a decent footballer – there are signs of great skill but I’ve never looked at him and thought he is on another plane. Gervinho looks just as tricky, only in a slightly different way.

    With Hazard he is frequently & repeatedly mentioned in the same breath as both Messi & Ronaldo. Of course that’s not to say he’ll fulfil this promise but the fact that he is likely to cost well over £30million (and that even Wenger accepts this valuation) at the age of 20, gives us as many clues as we need.

  186. Da Silva is the early frontrunner for EPL player of the season – he’d grace any team that’s for sure.

    Still think if RVP stays fit he’ll steal it though and in even better news, I’ll win a sackful of notes if RVP is top scorer.

  187. From today’s Winners & Losers

    Loser – Samir Nasri
    Another sign of the times: had he stayed at Arsenal this season then Nasri would have been their pivot. Instead, lured north for more silverware and more likely silverware, he has joined City to be just another spare part.

    In total, the Frenchman has spent 150 more minutes on City’s bench watching Premier League football than he has actually played since his deadline-day transfer, perhaps making him the most dispensable £24m signing in football’s inflating history.

  188. £30 million on one player? I doubt Arsene would do that. He can probably compile a whole new team with that amount of money.

    And well, I don’t know much about Hazard. But what I do know is we’ve already bought one of the best youngsters in the world, in Alex Chamberlain, who could actually prove to be a better player than Hazard. Perhaps one of the best players to grace the EPL. I’m willing to bet on it. Any takers?

  189. What drove my comments and constituted a ‘bunch of…’ ?


    ” I can only see Diaby getting the odd game and some sub appearences. As much as I like him, I am begining to think that the window to be a 1st choice player may be starting to close for him.”

    “Jonny – Yeah (ref Diaby), that is probably what will happen. A real shame as he really could have been a top player for us I think.”.


    “Diaby has something to offer as tactical sub – he does add a rather ‘unpredictable’ dimension to our midfield. Plus, knowing his luck, he’ll probably be injured again before the season is out.”

    “George – re Diaby being a first name on the team sheet (presumably straight after AA!), I rather imagine you’re in a minuscule minority there. I doubt you care but for this reason it is not ‘end of’ but rather more pointedly ‘start of’. As in start of tedious conversation as to why you are wrong!”

    “If his rumoured pay package is true and we decide to keep him he should not be offered any kind of increase. TBH, like Bendtner, I can’t imagine many clubs would take him at that salary.”

    “It is not Diaby’s fault, but over 50K a week of wages for a playing time that is best measured in minutes is a poor return for financial outlay and no other club is interested in that salary/risk ratio.”

    “The genesis of Diaby’s injuries is a moot point what is clear is that he, whether directly or not, has become injury prone. Whether he will be in the future is anyone guess but it must be a concern.”


    “I see Diaby turning into a utility player, I dont believe he will ever be an automatic starter as more specialist players are superior to him in the midfield. He does hold value in his flexibility however. Can play DM, CM or even as a wide forward.”

    Did I miss something?


%d bloggers like this: