Could Vermaelen cover for Diaby? | Jack Wilshere passes first test | Arsenal over reliance on kids?

by & filed under News Review.

Welcome to another fine edition of the Tuesday Le Grove post.

Yesterday’s entry sparked quite a lot of debate. Some agreed, some disagreed, some just wrote some bad words and cast then off as opinion. Geoff really needs to tone it down in his e-mails.

I think I need to clarify one thing from yesterday’s post, I wasn’t insinuating Thomas Vermaelen is a bad player or a bad captain. My point was that he is inconsistent. Sure we all love his passion, but the simple fact is he isn’t always the safest man to have at the back. It’s also not clear cut who is the better of him and Koscielny. I would have opted for someone who was likely to always earn a starting position if fit. In the same way Wenger opted for Gallas over Kolo Toure a few years ago. It was no slight on Kolo, but Gallas was more likely to start.

I’m also not writing off the work Steve Bould has done with the back four. Silly errors will happen, you don’t go from 49 goals conceded to George Graham 89 in 3 months. These things take time. You have to iron out problems when they happen and you have to overcome obstacles. At least we have someone working on that. Our shape and full backs have benefited from that. We played badly against a good Chelsea side and limited them to two chances they scored by fluke. I know if my aunty had bollocks she’d be my uncle and slightly better at dealing with aerial balls when we play family 11 a-side.

We’re more of a unit this season, we’re not giving teams the freedom we were last year and we’re a work in progress all year as far as I’m concerned.

That shouldn’t stop us calling a spade a spade. That shouldn’t mean Arsenal fans tweet me conceding that Chelsea are the best side in the Premiership and are now one of Europe’s elite, just because their midfield dominated possession once we lost Diaby. This is a team that finished 6th in the league last year and fluked the Champions League final. They’re not that good. Over the course of a year, their depth and experience might mean they end up above us, but with a fit first team 11 we’re certainly more than a match for them.

Jenkinson certainly agrees with me… though his statement that we can win the Champions League might be off, but I like the back handed dig at Chelsea.

“If Chelsea can do it, then we can do it”

The big fat great news of yesterday centred around the return of Jack Wilshere to football. He played sixty odd minutes for the under 21s against WBA. They lost, but he came through ‘shattered’ but unscathed. Fantastic news. Another bit of good news on the squad front was a successful appearance from Frimpong. You know what though, these returns, though extremely exciting, do kind of sum up the desperation of our squad at times. Jack Wilshere is an exceptional player but to have such reliance on him returning to the squad really is frightening. The same goes for Frimpong. Sure I like it when he says the word Dench and tells a Frimmy facts, but when he arrives on the football pitch he’s quite a scary prospect. Far from the finished article. He hasn’t even completed a full loan season without breaking down… yet we’re all heralding his return. Two teenagers. Are there any other clubs with such reliance on kids?

I’m not screwing my nose up to the either of them, I just think putting that much weight players so young is risky.

We have Olympiacos at home tomorrow night. It’ll be a good chance to push the Chav game out of our system. It’ll also be a chance to work out what our midfield is going to look like for the next few weeks. I think Wenger will opt for Coquelin, Arteta and Cazorla. Those three really do lack height which is a bit of a problem, but thankfully we have a pretty easy run over the next few weeks. Norwich, West Ham and QPR should be there for the taking. They’ll try and bully us no doubt, but we have more than enough quality to take them a part. One of the Grovers put the suggestion to me of moving Vermaelen into midfield until Diaby comes back into contention. It’s a decent suggestion, I’m just not sure if we’re opening up ourselves to more issues by doing that. Firstly we won’t have a spare fresh centre back should the worst happen. Also, we’ve had great ideas like that before.

Eboue can attack —> We have the need for a right midfielder —> Eboue can be our right midfielder —> MASSIVE FAIL

Henri Lansbury could play in goal, you wouldn’t give him a contract there though. That said, Thomas would help with the aerial issue and he does have a huge abundance of pace and energy. Vermaelen, Arteta and Cazorla has a nice ring to it. Three internationally capped players for three weeks. It’s also worth noting that Barcelona seem quite keen on blurring the lines of accepted norms when it comes to positional standards. They bought Alex Song as a defensive midfielder and a centre back. I love the way people point to that as a genius move when Arsene Wenger has publicly stated for  years that he sees Song’s best position at centre back. Anyway, Barcelona are using Mascaharno and Song as centre backs at the moment. Not to great effect, but they see mobile players who can tackle  and break up play as fair game for centre back. If we’re trying to work to a similar flexible model, it does beg the question as to why not? Maybe it’s a stamina issue or maybe it’s a ‘he’s a good centre back, let’s leave it at that’.

There’s a comment going around from Almunia about having a ‘contract too good leave’. Shame on him. People criticised me for slamming him when he left. I feel vindicated. To be a footballer is a privilege. You’re rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams after one contract. To waste your chance of playing the game we all love for money is a disgusting act. I’m glad he’s slumming outside the top flight, he should have never been given a contract at Arsenal. One of the worst keepers I’ve ever seen. So average it made giving a contract to Henri Lansbury as a keeper seem like a good idea. It’s also worth noting how poor our contract decisions have been over the years. Giving out big wages to get around investing in the squad is still costing us now… though it looks as if we’re rectifying those wrongs moving forward.

Anyway, those be my thoughts for today. Enjoy, digest and maybe drop a delightful comment in the debate cave below.

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Have a great day!

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Thomas Vermaelen captaincy regret? | Wenger identifies a major problem after 6 years | Arsenal fans singing shame

by & filed under News Review.

Let’s hack straight into the big issues this morning.

Thomas Vermaelen and that captaincy. What a bother eh? I love the guy as a man and a player, however, as a defender, he’s been found wanting on numerous occasions over the past 2 seasons. The weekend didn’t see his finest performance, shipping two freekicks in dangerous positions that led to two very sloppy goals. Looking back though, you don’t have to go very far to pick out games where his bombing forward or poor positioning has cost us badly in important ties. Last season he was not our best defender. Simple as that. This season, had Koscielny not had a confidence capitulation, you wouldn’t get too many disagreeing that he’s our 3rd best defender. Giving the captaincy to a player who struggles with form is almost as disastrous as giving the captaincy to someone as a bribery to stay.

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Wenger gambles on logic and fails – Season gambled on Diaby also looks a fail

by & filed under Match report.

Facebook cover photo for everyone

Today saw two ideologies go up against each other. Logic versus form. Logic stated we needed to play two mobile defenders at the back who could deal with the speed of Chelsea’s passing and movement. Form stated Mertesacker has had a flying start to the year and that Giroud and Walcott may have deserved a game against a team that had yet to be tested in the Premiership. As it turned out Wenger opted for logic.

He opted for a front three of Podolski, Gervinho and Ramsey. I’m not really sure why he went for Ramsey. He seems to like to balance out the front three in high profile games with someone who can drop back and get stuck in countered by someone who can run at full backs. Ramsey appears to be this years Benayoun. Midfield started at its strongest with Cazorla, Diaby and Arteta.

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