Filling the blanks and shifting the Arsh somewhere else.

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Morning Grovers!

The topic of today is Andre Arshavin.

Since arriving on the scene he has entertained us with his dazzling skills and his endless quotable newspaper talk. Half comediene, half footballing genius… half misogynist… yes, I did the math and it all works out.

The tough question facing Arsene Wenger this summer is what to do with him. The Russian likes to play centrally, it’s where he plays the best and where he is used to playing. Being the centre of attention is how he likes it to be and he’s made that vocally clear. This isn’t a Hleb or Rosicky situation here, this is a truly world class performer requesting he is moved into the middle. So what does this mean for the team?

Well, the way I see it… it means that we are going to be seeing a lot more 4-5-1 next season. I know, I know… it pains us all. However, for me, I don’t see it as a bad thing. A 4-5-1 with the players we have going forward could be a fantastic set up… if we addressed defensive frailties this summer.

If you look at our squad, we seem to be top heavy with creative midfielders. We have Nasri, Vela, Wilshere, Rambo, Cesc, Arshavin, Rosicky, Walcott, Lansbury, Diaby… there is no way we can accommodate all of them unless we play with a 4-5-1… Arsene has been using it most of this season and watching Barca the other night made me think we could be operating in a similar fashion.We have lots of small technically gifted footballer who keep the ball really well… we’ve now added a goal threat into the mix and we have Rosicky coming back into the fold slowly but surely. We’ve lacked a striker with enough nous to play in that system, but I see no reason why Eduardo couldn’t play in the Eto’o role next season?

Robin Van Persie can play outwide or in the hole… Nik B can play in the tougher more physical games… and we have at least 3 other players who can move up top if they have to.

This is how I see us lining up regularly next year… obviously personnel can be interchanged…


Sagna Blank Gallas Clichy


Walcott   Cesc   Nasri



The only issue I see there is defence. There are two possible blanks in the first team next year.

Firstly, there is no question that we need a great centre back to partner Gallas. Kolo is a bit like that old family pet dog everyone loves… he’s stinking the place out… but we love him… so there is no chance we’re going to black-bag-river-thames him… but we’d be happy to keep him outside, letting him in occasionally to make a gust appearance.

The second more contentious issue is the holding role. I think the long term plan for Song is central defence. He’s done better in the second half of the season, but he’s not top class and he doesn’t really have the pace required to make that position his own… which leaves Denilson.

Denilson has great stats, the 16th best player in the league this year… the 5th best midfielder. If actim are to be believed, he must be doing something right… however, according to the same stats, Berbatov has performed better than Torres by 50 odd places… Ryan Shawcross is a more polished performer than Rio Ferdinand (Maybe he can take Kolo’s place?)… and Dirk Kuyt has done more for his team than Ronaldo. Basically, take the stats with a pinch of salt or a smattering of grey…

Denilson is compact, a good tackler, an ok reader of the game and he’s got a good work engine. Does he live to shield the defence? Probably not… Does he have the physical presence to deal with ‘in your face teams’… not at the moment. Could he become great in the next 3 months? The jury is out…

The fact is, Arsenal need a great centre mid to win the league. Someone who can dominate with technical ability and power. Someone who can compete in the air. Someone the opposition fear… someone on the verge of greatness NOW.

You see, great players don’t need statistics to prove their value. Their skills are there for all to see… if you rely on statistics to justify your existence, chances are you’re probably not that great. Can Denilson make the jump to superstar in 3 months? If not, can Wenger sign a defensive midfielder in the same quality bracket as Arshavin because the fact is, one of those two situations has to occur for us to stand a chance of doing any damage in the title race next year.

Wenger can’t afford to make mistakes this transfer window… players wont hang around forever, their careers are too short to constantly live for next year. Thierry winning the European Cup was probably a bad thing… it proved that their can be life after Arsenal and if we continue to play for plaudits instead of silverwarwe I fear we could see others head in that direction.

I had two e-mails and a few messages from people saying that RvP told numerous people at the end of season dinner he was going to wait until he saw Arsenal’s moves in the transfer window before signing up this year. No one is asking for £40mill signings… we’re just after signings that signal our intent… I’m sure Robin feels the same.

Oh, and that singer I was talking about in my post the other day was Pixie Lott if you were interested!

So, tough decisions lie ahead for Wenger this summer… he’s going to have to kill someone’s career temporarily…  but if he makes the right choice, next season could be a very exciting!

Keep em’ crossed Grovers and make sure you e-mail in if you’re interested in season tickets!

653 Responses to “Filling the blanks and shifting the Arsh somewhere else.”

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  1. A

    If we do sign a DM then I expect Song to drop back to defence and be cover for kolo alongside the new defender, and he could end up pushing him hard for a first team place, though I guess that won’t help during the African Nations!

  2. indgunner

    Robin playin in the left wing??…no way..he ‘s a striker and is best suited to the position behind the 1st striker..We saw in the fa cup semis that him playing on the left wing is a disaster

  3. Steve

    Don’t be confused, it is fairly simple. You mentioned Arsenal players going to Barca and managed to forget Overmars and Petit who went for a combined 30m quid. Incosequential as it might be.

  4. irishgunner

    BBK – I’d be happy to keep him for one more year and then if he wanted to leave fine. The less disruption this summer the better imo

  5. KM frm WALES


    he’s around that age. he’l be like a Larsson type signing. not bad if its free 🙂

    Regarding the DM – we need an eastern european type who wouldnt look out as a mafia bodyguard

  6. A

    KM he wouldn’t be cheap, he’s still a regular for Lyon, so they wouldn’t let him go on the cheap. He’s still good, and if he was on a free he’d be a nice player to snap up for a season, but he isn’t and lyon wouldn’t let him go on a free

  7. LAzer

    Yeah I could see that happening bbk. Imo RVP is a terrific player who has been plagued with injury problems but is really coming on now. And I believe he has a fighting till the end mentality perhaps missing from some of the squad. I also this think his leadership skill have come on some this season and I for one hope he stays. But he also should not hold the club hostage for too long and might as well sign to very soon because he knows as well as everyone else regardless of whether he signs a contract or not he can leave next year regardless. Not like anyone holds players to fulfill there entire contracts if they want to leave.

  8. Pedro

    He takes a good freekick though!

    Remember when BBK said we should buy Giovanni to take our freekicks earlier in the year?

    That was funny.

  9. KM frm WALES


    ahhhhh right. sorry it didnt click. yes forgot those2.
    Arsenal need to reach that level and the only way we’r gonna do that is win trophies!!!


    i read that he’s been allowed out of his contract by the lyon president because he has been a loyal servant so he is now a free agent.

  10. Geoff

    Good post Pedro, but don’t get carried away, I am the postmeister!

    Seriously folks, and I was being serious, I read a lot of you think that we lost to ManU because our defence were missing, they were, but when Barca played the Mancs, half of Barca’s defence was missing.

    We lost to the Mancs because we played like shit, simple really.

    And we will continue to do that until we sign a centre back and a defensive midfielder that is world class.

    I would have Cana, I would also have Barry, that way we could have 4 Englishmen playing in the world cup, Barry, Gibbs, Theo and Jackie boy, at least we’d want someone other than Spain or the Ivory coast to win then, eh!

    We have to be honest and admit our trio of potentials, Song, Denilson and Diaby are just not good enough. Move on and buy a few.

  11. A

    Oh really KM, I didn’t know that? Why though? Surely if he’s been allowed out of his contract it’s because he’s asked to be allowed out of it, so it’s because he’s already got a club he wants to go to to end his career, maybe back in Brazil?

  12. KM frm WALES


    once again i agree with u. RVP this season has proved me wrong. he’s saved our skin so many times this season its unbelievable. he’s also a fighter which is what we need in this team. he’s now fulfilling his potential/hype so roll on nxt season.

    BUT what does that mean for Arshavin?

  13. Gooner_b11

    nishanth i get your point about v.persie, he should be player of the year on merit. But….arshavin gives you that buzz, the buzz we used to get 5years back with the invincibles. As opposed to 6months he adapted to the premiership in 3games due to fitness. in the business end of the season when the stakes are high top players put themselves forward and the best of the rest stop scoring goals….he scored 6 in his 1st 9games, how many assists has he got?…..i don’t even know….for me it’s arshavin

  14. A

    Seems he’ll be going to Sao Paolo or Vasco KM, back to Brazil.

    Incidentally, does anyone on here watch the American Office?? Isn’t juninho the spitting image of ryan….??

  15. insidealbania

    Pedro I think he retired from football now, I saw highlights of the last day of the French league and it looked like a farewell game for him

  16. KM frm WALES


    yep it seems like he’s gonna go back to brazil but there’s concrete on that yet. if only Wenger was a follower of this site – he’d get some interesting information from us 🙂

  17. KM frm WALES

    NXT season we should take a massive banner to all the matches which reads

    ‘MR WENGER PLZ READ LE-GROVE.CO.UK-the A-Z of Arsenal’

  18. KM frm WALES

    Juninhio has been a cracking player. he would have made it in the big leagues. has been v.consistent at Lyon.

  19. Pedro

    Geoff, I’ve done tomorrow’s post as well… and I’ll take Sundays!

    Call it a mini blog break.

  20. goonerwinsoon

    pedro-like your team sheet but i think if we were to go for that formation walcott should have no place in it-he should either be on the wing properly or up front as he prefers as he is a very different player to cesc or nasri. I also believe we have seen very little of eduardo to show he is capable of playing up front by himself-even with andrey supporting him.

    With the current witchhunt of ade and ur concentration on the fragile defence i can really see things going tits up in attack next year. Too much pressure is being put on eduardo, vela and nikki B having great seasons and yet there was little this year (for various reasons) that suggested they could bring silverware to the emirates

  21. Franchise

    Gooner_b11 u do make some good points. u know ur football. missing out on ribery in 2006 was unfortunate. marseille were willing to sell for 14million. he eventually went to bayern in 07 for 18 million which still looks like a bargain.

  22. irishgunner

    Anyone else read Adebayor’s interview in the latest Arsenal magazine – he really doesn’t like playing 4-5-1

  23. Franchise

    can arshavin be our supersstar player in the calibre of the likes of ronaldo, messi, robery, kaka etc

  24. KM frm WALES


    gr8 video mate.
    Adebayor was awesome last year.
    Can he regain that desire nxt season – only he knows.
    Will he stay/go?

    THEO’S run against l’pool was class 🙂

  25. KM frm WALES


    seriously though – would that be allowed? u get free advertising & maybe (1 in a million chance) wenger might become a regular here 🙂

  26. Gooner_b11

    Franchise we’ve really missed out on some over the years, i still don’t get wengers comment about, not getting him because he had to change his transfer strategy that year, due to henry’s request to leave? does that make sence to you?…..coz i’m still baffled lol

    that’s WHY when the arshavin deal went to the 13th hour i really thought i was gonna lose my life HAHAHA!!!! did we gooners do something in a previous life……were my thoughts lol

  27. irishgunner

    He points to Cesc been out and the 4-5-1 formation.

    He pretty much said the midfield aren’t any good without Cesc.

    “For sure, I have had to adapt my game this season, I’ve had to concentrate more and come more for the ball – normally my game is in behind the defenders, but is been quite difficult because for a large part of this season Cesc was injured. Our other central midfields are very good players and do a fine job but they are not necessarily players who try and put you in behind – they prefer to find you with balls to feet, and as soon as I can’t go behind that kills a bit of my game.”

    “I prefer having a partner, no doubt about that. If you’re playing on your own for one or two games then fine, but for four or five it becomes very difficult.”

  28. LAzer

    If we buy a quality DM and CB it quite possibly might be the first time ever where we have a complete squad with every position having a decent back up. So if that means RVP/Arshavin do not get to play in every game so be it.

    Sagna/Eboue Toure/JD Gallas/NEW Clichy/Gibbs
    Nasri/Walcott Cesc/Ramsey Song/Denil/NEW Rosicky/Vela


    Diaby and Silvestre
    Alm and Fab

  29. irishgunner

    GM – I just transcribed that bit from the magazine, dunno if its on the internet.

    He also said with Cesc you can be sure of getting a quality ball in over the top so he could make his runs behind defenders but with other midfield players he said 9 times out of 10 you make that run and no ball comes.

  30. Geoff

    Ok Pedro, sounds good to me!

    I was going to write about that strange cross eyed bird Susan Boyle, regardless of her voice, to be a real female singing star you need to look half decent, half of being a star is so that the opposite sex can fantasize. That’s life.

    I’m sorry but she is the double for Biffa Bacon’s mum’s out of Viz.

    Give me Katherine Jenkins any day!

  31. irishgunner

    KM – To be honest I have lost patience with Adebayor but I agree to a degree with what he is saying. He has his strengths and obviously he feels that the midfield couldn’t provide properly for him and until Cesc came back feeling fresher and we got Arshavin that is probably true.

  32. Gooner_b11

    did you see how much harder we used to work for each other last season….the loss of flamini is HUGE! it’s set us back 2years his ability to press for the ball was amazing, he’d win the ball back before it crossed the halfway line because of that strategicly fabregas played higher up the pitch and scored more goals, ade put in more work because he was playing to make a name for himself and the rest was a domino effect….that’s why trying to play fabregas in whole will never work, just get people who will press for the ball early in midfield and defend from the front and cesc will automatically play higher up with more options infront of him.

  33. incesc

    hleb, no thanks

    nasri arsh fabregas walcott rosicky


    thats good enough to win the league if they can really gel and stay injury free.

  34. goonerpress

    I think people should just stop including Walcott in our line-up for a long while. He still has a lot of learning to do. Apart from being fast and English, what else does he offer?

  35. gambon

    Rosicky is a top top quality player. When we signed him i thought he would be player of the year within a few seasons.

    Alas that ship has now sailed.

  36. irishgunner

    I miss Rosicky 🙁

    Remember that awesome goal he scored against Liverpool, hit it first time

  37. gambon

    I think considering the constant niggling injuries he did well.

    He started last season very well once he had adapted, i think he wouldve been as good as pires in terms of goals and assists.

    We will never know i suspect.

  38. irishgunner

    In what way Pedro?

    He wasn’t outstanding by any means but still a top player and one we miss imo

  39. incesc

    rosicky was never anywhere near being as good as pires individually. The midfield of fabregas, flamini, hleb, and rosicky was awesome tho, fuck knows how it went so spectacuarly wrong. Wenger has had a shitload of bad luck when you think about it

  40. Franchise

    Pedro last season was meant to be one of his best. we could have done with a player of his calibre against pool in the CL, chelsea and united in the league, birmingham, villa etc

  41. gambon


    I think its hard to judge him.

    Everyone has the first season to adapt.

    2nd season he scored 6 in 18, and played very well. He was on course for 12 PL goals in a full season, which equals our top scorer this season. He is also very good at pressing the opponents and keeps our game fluid and moving quickly.

  42. Pedro

    Fran, like Gambon pointed out… he was on target for a good year… I think his injury was the most important one of the season… I think he was on for 18 goals and 9 assists… that would have helped us.

    I just don’t feel he’s ever hit the heights.

  43. incesc

    rosicky is captain of czech repub aint he as well. Some much needed experience there we coulf have done with this season. Is AA captain of Russia?

    Bring in Barry and the experience level could be much higher next season.

    I really want Barry, over cana. He is a top premier league player and is desperate to prove himself at the top level. Just what we need. Like AA.

  44. Franchise

    its a shame that he is spending his peak years out injured. its almost 18 months now. it might mean his career is extended for a bit

  45. Pedro

    I think their most expensive season ticket is £400!

    Corporate fans subsidise the singing supporters… what a great idea.

  46. Faceman

    yup they bought gomez, who i rate.

    i would imagine they know they are going to get a big whack on ribery going to manure/chelski and are spending it before they get it.

    van gaal will have them firing in the champs league next season.

  47. Clacko the gooner

    This may be a stupid question but are bayern in the champs league next year?? They didn’t win their league did they?? I don’t even know where they finished but i am pretty sure they didn’t win it.

    P.S afternoon all 😀

  48. leon

    i fo feel its abot of headace were play all these attacking players but its a good headace to have because these days its all about squads and if manu can handle having huge squad i dont why arsenal cant.
    i feel the likes of aa,nasri,risicky, are very versitlile i dont think it matters if they play wide or in the middle,vela and thoe are still learning and nothing needs be adressed there for its all central defence and midfield. in midfield the lack of phsycal presence,the thing about diaby,delinson and song all are under 22 very very very young and i think thats why wenger is willing to give diaby and delinson time.right now i see song as an extremly solid backup dm and cd and further ahead than dj in cd and without dought better option than silvestor,i am not saying he first choice though as first choice to partner gallas/toure. that is huge question mark will both toure/gallas stay i just dont know

  49. Clacko the gooner

    Great haha!!

    The pools are quite strong this time though aren’t they??

    I could be talking out of my arse here but thinking about which teams won their leagues their is the potential for some strong qualifying pools.

  50. incesc

    not sure if the italian and spanish leagues have finished yet.

    But we could get a lot easier team too, it depends on the draw

  51. Clacko the gooner

    You heard that Fiorentina are apparently going to try and buy Martins.

    don’t want Lyon or Athletico but i wouldn’t mind putting a tenner on that we do get one of them. Sods law and all that

  52. incesc

    Perry groves book is cool. I

    have you read tony adams book? i enjoyed that one as well. I have the professor book by myles palmer but i havent felt the need to read it yet.

  53. irishgunner

    Incesc – Xavier Rivoire book on Wenger is better, I’m only half way through but its pretty decent.

  54. Pat

    Just came across this classic quote!(About Henry)

    I’ve seen most things in this league in the last 25 years. I haven’t seen anything like him. I said at the beginning of the game that he was special, he’s more then that, he’s irreplaceable.
    * Andy Gray

  55. irishgunner

    Faceman – Have you read “Arsenal – The making of a modern day superclub”?

    I bought it ages ago and never got around to reading it, just wondering if its worth a read?

  56. Big Dave

    Season tickets galore
    Spoke to a mate who said a guy at wrk has not renewed 3 CL seats, I have been offered 2 season tickets allready, and rumours are that their are more on offer

  57. incesc

    It would be good if wenger wrote his own book when he finishes his career. Moaninghole has one out already. I cant stand these idiots who write books halfway though their careers, although i did read Vieiras, which was worth it for the Ruud stuff.

    Wayne roony has a deal for like 10 books or something despite the fact he cant even read

  58. Mayank

    the fact that myles has written a book on wenger and not vice versa just shows who we should believe..

  59. SharkeySure

    Faceman..yeah I did earlier this year. Its a decent read.
    Some real funny stories in there….

  60. Pat

    Sagna BLANK Gallas Clichy
    ________Adebayor(of old)/Eduardo

  61. Pedro

    Big Dave, I’ve got seats from Grovers available… are you talking about official tickets from the club, or loans?

  62. Clacko the gooner

    What the one by that xavier bloke about Wenger called?? I wouldn’t mind reading that!!

  63. irishgunner

    I don’t think Wenger is the guy that would do an expose to be honest.

    He has written a book in Japanese on training or tactics or something like that.

  64. incesc

    man im on the season ticket list but im way to broke this year to take it. I hope my number doesnt come up till next year. Anyone know how long the wait is??

  65. Rob Green

    How much are the season tickets? I know they vary? Also do you get any cup games etc or is it just league

  66. Big Dave

    Pedro. People who are ont renewing or looking to rent out their seat for this season, word on the street is that quite a few club level seats are not being renewed.

  67. Faceman

    the only book i have ever been gripped so much by that i read it cover to cover without a break is ronnie o sullivans autobiography.

    jesus, that guy is insane in the membrane

  68. Pedro

    Yeah, that’s true Dave… loads of ticket shares are happening as well.

    How many are you looking for?

  69. Big Dave

    I’m not looking to buy any, was just bringing up the subject stating that alot of tickets are out their to either rent or not being renewed, and will this affect the club at present, they say 1000 members are on CL waiting list but how many want to take up the option of spending £2500 to see denilson/ diaby. and birmingham put 10 behind the ball

  70. sarge

    THOUSANDS of despondent Manchester United supporters returned to the Home Counties last night after the club’s Champions league final defeat in Rome.

    Carrying nothing more than some truffle oil, a tin of Calabrian tuna and a bottle of really lovely Tuscan red, the United fans said if it wasn’t for the glorious detail in the Trevi Fountain the whole trip would have been a total disaster.

    Godalming based-supporter Julian Cook said: “I’ve been a die-hard fan since they started winning things, so I was terribly miffed at the end.

    “But then we came across this gorgeous little trattoria just off the Via Della Vicenza that did the most exquisite Asparago di Veneto. I felt like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.”

    But Martin Bishop, from Dorking, accused the victorious Barcelona players of cheating. “They kept hanging on to the ball and wouldn’t give it back. It was just so blatant.”

    He added: “I was really very angry at the time, but then I thought of all that wonderful Catalan architecture and found it within myself to forgive them.”

    Uefa president Michel Platini hailed the game as, ‘a triumph for the sponsors, hospitality suites, television residual broadcast revenue and, to some extent, Barcelona’.

    Meanwhile Catalan club made history by fielding the first Champion’s League winner grown from a petri dish.

    Barca coach Ian Guardiola, said: “When he came to us as boy, Messi was no bigger than my thumb. But bathing him daily in monkey brain growth serum grew him into the unstoppable dwarf he is today.”

  71. Pedro

    Faceman, how many of those 40,000 could stump up the cash is the question?

    Times are tough for most…

  72. irishgunner

    I was reading through the forum and someone on there reckoned that if you were offered a season ticket and didn’t take up the offer you’d lose your status whether that is back of the pile or off the list altogether I don’t know

  73. Frank

    I disagree wiv the post innit. I fink Arshavin is Russian brovs so my finkin is that co-incedently jaundice has discoluoration of the eyes and failing liver. Basically cunilingus has been removed from the dictionary and Ray Foley is a legend provided he stays clear of jaundice

  74. sarge

    Pedro make you right. I think next season will be a rude awakening for the club in terms of renewals and actual attendances. There were empty seats galore this season and not all of it to do with the football. Cash is scarce. Even the father-in-law is umming and ah-ring and he’s been going since the 50’s

  75. goonermichael

    My son’s on the waiting list. He’s stil at school and has a saturday job. They asked him if he wanted to go on the CL waiting list and practically guaranteed him a ticket.

  76. Rob Green

    I feel sorry for the season tickets holders who have a couple of kids as they probably end up paying a few thousand a year. Not forgetting travel costs, food and drink on top

  77. Pedro

    Faceman, I’m not so sure…

    Sarge, people who don’t have tickets (I really don’t mean that to sound patronising) don’t understand is the expense that surrounds the ticket, travel, food, beer… time!

    If people are skint, they wont want to give up their ticket… and if that means they can’t go to every game, so be it…

    That’s where Le Exchange comes in!

  78. Rob Green

    I’m a red member but I really want silver. A bloke at work wanted a year off and was selling two season tickets for 2400 I would have loved to have bought them bit I just cant afford it at the moment!!

  79. sarge

    Pedro, totally agree with the additional cost bit but it’s also coughing up the GBP 1100 plus in advance that’s a problem this year and most haven’t got that sort of cash hanging around at the moment. A lot of my mates have gone for ticket share or farming it out to the more fortunate until they can afford to come back.

    You may remember some seasons ago the club operated a direct debit scheme with the cost spread over 10 months. Why not something like that again.

    Instead the money grabbing bastards offer a payment deferral until Feb 2010 if you sign up for an Arsenal credit card. What wonderful human beings run this club! Who said this club isn’t financially shrewd