A Few Thoughts From London

Not a very exciting title and certainly not one that is going to shoot the lights out of the hit stats but after questioning myself about it I thought why not, do I really want to attract people who’s blog name is “Wenger The Liar” and the like, not really was the answer. No, far happier am I to address the solid regulars of this fine site.

We have got off to a good preseason don’t you think? Two great goals from Gervinho who really does have that last piece to the attacking jigsaw about him. This man is going to allow Wenger to take no nonsense from Arshavin or Walcott, if either one of those is not performing then bang, off and on with Gerv. I say it this way around because I still think that Wenger will start with Arshavin, RvP and Walcott up front against Newcastle but I don’t anticipate that it will be too long before the goal scoring prowess of The Gerv finds it way into the first team on a regular basis.

If I had to guess as to the player who will ultimately lose out, then for me it will be Walcott. Those who read my comments know that I have a bee in my bonnet about Theo and in that same vein of bias I predict that this time next year he will be a Liverpool player.

Dalglish is on a one man mission to Britify that team in the belief that it is the El Dorado, the magic formula that manu have been using in recent past to win the league as many times as they have. Liverpool have paid some outrageous prices for average English players and I for one do not think that it will work for them. But the man who cannot be understood has too much credit in the red half of Liverpool to be kicked out too quickly and that is why I predict that after another shabby forth coming season the Scousers will make us an offer we cannot refuse – think Pennant.

I do have an alternate theory as to why Liverpool are in such a hurry to Britify that team and that is because Britain is the only football that Dalglish understands (He got lucky with Suarez). By contrast Wenger obviously knows the British players but has almost exclusive fishing rights in France and French speaking Africa. It’s like having our very own pool of talent to pick from, how brilliant is that and amazingly to me there are some who moan – oh no, please, anyone but another French speaking African. Just watch those two goals by Gervinho again and thank your lucky stars we did not buy Stewart Downing.

Walcott highlights the flaw in the youth policy that Wenger has clearly adopted, which is not to complain about its adoption. I am a firm believer that there are only three types of available player out there: the youth player, the twelve million pound player and the thirty five million pound player. Very few thirty five million pound players become available, I’m talking Aguero here, and when they do they inevitably draw the attention of Man City and once that has happened what is the point of trying to financially compete? Aguero is such a good example as it is plain to see that no one has even tried to involve themselves in the potential purchase of what is one of the best attackers in the world. No, at the present time players like that are not for us. The result being that we either have to fish in the twelve million pound pond and hope the likes of Gervinho turns into the next Drogba or try and develop the next Messi through our youth system.

This is all well and good but it is flawed, in order for the club to continue to attract the best youth players out there the fathers of super talented fifteen year olds must believe that if they succumb to Arsenal’s charms then their precious son will get the fairest crack of the whip possible and the flaw, I finally got there, is that players like Walcott are overplayed long before they are genuinely ready, the result is that we lose precious EPL points. I blame the loss of more than one league title on Wenger’s obsession with playing Walcott. Do you remember the crowd’s reaction when Walcott used to get off the bench to warm up: screams of Theo, Theo rang out throughout the ground; for goodness sake he is a puppy with a beach ball now he was even worse then.

Certain young players become too important not to play; their inclusion becomes more important than winning the league. Wilshere is another example of a player who has to be played, I complained last season that he was not strong enough to shield the defence on his own and offered next to no goal threat. My concern about him has been tempered by the realisation that the amount of games he played probably had as much to do with Diaby and Cesc’s injuries than Wenger’s impossible position of having to play him. Can you imagine him being on the bench for the first game of the season? No you can’t and yet if Cesc stays, a player who is light years more talented, then he really should be playing instead of Wilshere, well if we want to win the league he should be.

Which brings me to the title I really wanted to use Cesc, Stay, Please Stay, we are so close to having a team that just rips the EPL to pieces and with the arrival of Gervinho I think we have it. Did you see Nasri on the weekend, talented man but if there was a choice between keeping him and Cesc, hellooooooooo or should I say au revoir. We have one world class player, head and shoulders above all others and if we let him go we are back to hoping that Nasri can become the playmaker and that Wilshere will start scoring goals. They both will at one stage but I believe to win the league you have to have these two things up and running from the outset of the season. I am such a Fabregas fan I would sooner sell Wilshere to Barcelona.

Moving on or running away: cries of, if we don’t buy another defender we will continue to be vulnerable to an aerial threat from set pieces ring out from the blogshere, all I have to say to this is — tosh. Vermaelen wasn’t playing last season so it is reasonable to assume that his experience will galvanise that area of the team; Koscielny coped extremely well with his forced baptism of fire to the EPL brought on by the captain of Belgium’s injury, he played far more games than was originally anticipated and did a good job in my opinion, I expect him to be even better this season.

The idea of Gibbs as the new left back is starting to grow on me; so many teams come to the Emirates and park the bus that in the past we have struggled to break them down far more than we should for a team of our quality. How many times have we seen the ball played along a line of Arsenal players backwards and forwards before going out to Sagna or Clichy to send in a poor cross that nine times out of ten results in the loss of possession — too many is my answer. Gibbs can operate skilfully in the opposition’s eighteen yard box and as a result I expect him to start scoring some important goals.

I really do think we are ahead of the curve it terms of having a more settled side than the likes of United, City, Chelsea and Liverpool a side that is ready to storm the EPL but our side is only settled if Fabregas remains — Stay Cesc, Please Stay

London

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96 Responses to A Few Thoughts From London

  1. L agree with you we could be a force but only if cesc stays !!

  2. bops says:

    Scarily optimistic post there.. Though I am not sure about Gibbs against top quality opposition.. And we conceded 40+ goals when Vermaelen was playing in 2009/10.. Still a long way to go to address our defensive concerns..

  3. jess says:

    Your blog make sense.

  4. Ken says:

    To suggest that Cesc is light years more talented than Wiltshire is utter nonsense. They are both extremely talented players, and at the moment Cesc is the better player because he is 24 and has played in the premiership for 5 years. When he was 19 he wasn’t as good as Jack is now.
    I’d like to think you were right about Gibbs, but from what we’ve seen so far, he’s an excellent player going forward, but is clueless when it comes to defending.
    Let’s have a front 3 of Theo, rvp and Gervino, with Jack, Song and Ramsey behind them.
    Buy a centre half and a left back and Lukaku and wave goodbye to cesc nasri and bendtner

  5. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Wow London,
    Superb post and it offers so much to discuss on a day when I have an unreasonable amount of work to do!
    Whilst on holiday, you may have noted that you and I selected the same personnel in a Theoless starting line up, so I think that covers that. I am also kinda with you on the defence. My real problem is that we have yet to address the fundamental weakness of the side and that is attitude. I will be horrified if we go into the new season with any player who really wants away and I am thinking of Nasri. Of course I have no idea what is going on with his thinking, but steely resolve and commitment is imperative when the shit hits the fan and we were found wanting in this area last time around. I am now typing blind,

  6. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Before I continue, anyone else having trouble in the “leave a reply” area?

  7. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I’m on a laptop not an i-anything.

  8. MickyDidIt89 says:

    bops,
    I firmly believe that defensive stability is largely built on an understanding between GK and the two CB’s. We have not had this with either our first choice CB (Verm) or our first choice GK. Give TV, Kos and Sz ten games together and I believe we may be ok.

  9. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Final thought for the moment regarding London’s valuation brackets. I cannot believe that even if we need to balance the net spend that we could not get what we need. I can think of two or three players we could offload and have sufficient funds to get a player like Vertonghen. Someone who could add steel to the spine. Tall, good footballer as well as in the tackle, and versatile. The man can comfortably play at DM or CB and e appears to have a winners mentality.
    Back later.

  10. critic says:

    playing players when they are ready??? rofl
    How come we know when players are ready without actually playing them?
    There’s nothing wrong with walcott and he will not be liverpool’s player next season if we finish in top 4 this term. Why would wenger sell some1, on whom he has spend so much time and energy, just when he is about to come good.
    Loads of rubbish and loads of it. But again, it’s ur article and ur entitled to have ur opinion.

  11. Vinay says:

    Good post specially the walcott part. I also have been saying this that he is over hyped and makes far to many mistakes. he can very well point out to the goals he scored and all that but the fact is i just dont feel he has it in him to succeed consistently. I disagree though about gibbs. He is poor as a left back. the basic requirement is a defensive left back and he comes across more as a left winger always going forward. Arsenal need to buy a left back and a holding mid fielder for i dont see song able to play in that role for his positional sense and general game awareness is quite poor.

  12. Pronen says:

    We have a good but its very important we bring one centre back defender ( GARY CAHIL or PER MERTASAKAR).SCCOT PARKER as a defensive midfielder and one more striker ( ROMELU LUKAKU) becourse Gervinho will be going for the nations cup.We have to keep Fabregas and Nasir in the team but if there are going then we must bring two good midfielders (JUAN MATA,SANTI CAZORLA, MIRALEM PJANIC or BASTIAN SHWASTERGAR)wenger has to be fast about this. ARSENAL 4 LIFE. ck defender ( GARY CAHIL or PER MERTASAKAR).SCCOT PARKER as a defensive midfielder and one more striker ( ROMELU LUKAKU) becourse Gervinho will be going for the nations cup.We have to keep Fabregas and Nasir in the team but if there are going then we must bring two good midfielders (JUAN MATA,SANTI CAZORLA, MIRALEM PJANIC or BASTIAN SHWASTERGAR)wenger has to be fast about this. ARSENAL 4 LIFE.

  13. Jamie says:

    Great, balanced article Rasp. We certainly don’t have endless funds and the policy Arsenal are adopting on the whole is the right one, I would agree with that.

    However no policy is perfect and on occasion when a ten to fifteen million player that we really need becomes available(I’m sure we can all think of a few names at centre half) we should get the deal done. 15m is not going to break Arsenal if you look at the books.

    I kind of accused Wenger or lying yesterday. I love the man. I really do but I just feel that sometimes Wenger and the board, especially the board mislead us over transfers. Each year promising changes and ‘super’ quality players and coming up with the goods. We have spent 3m net in six seasons.

    I have no problem with the policy, in fact it is testiment to Wenger genious that we have remained a big club. I would have iour policy any day over our rivals, just the PR. The club need a bit more honesty.

    I still stick with my source from a few weeks ago that said if Fab4 and Nas8 stay then it’s Cahill and Gervinho and a kid. If one goes then we will reinvest in a few more players.

    Very much Wenger loyal, just don’t think he is doing himself any favours with a tough month in prospect. Remember Manutd away New Utd away and Liverpool at home was worth only two point last season.

  14. Southerner says:

    the reason ‘not another African’ is not because of quality,
    just the opposite, we know they’ll be off to the African Nations for a couple of months.

  15. Rasp says:

    Hi Jamie,

    The article is all London’s work!

    I agree with a lot of what he has written but do not believe that Gibbs is ready for 1st choice LB and I also think we need more height and physical presence at the back

  16. Rasp says:

    But I do agree 100% on Walcott. Ryo has far more potential in my eyes. Theo’s had long enough and still doesn’t have the nouse totake on the fullback unless he’s running at full speed.

  17. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rasp,
    And God forbid there is a long grass to negotiate!
    Oooops. Coat.

  18. Jamie says:

    In which case well done London.

    Walcott is injured again!

    Flew back to London yesterday with a minor ankle injury. See you in December Theo ;)

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Great post London. Very positive, a joy to read.

  20. steve. says:

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT ALL THE FUSS IS ABOUT,IT’S OBVIOUS,
    FABREGAS AND NASRI DON’T WANT TO PLAY FOR ARSENAL ANYMORE SO,GET RID, IF WENGER CAN GET£60,OOO,OOO,
    FOR THE PAIR,THAT’S GOOD BUSINESS,FOR THAT KIND OF MONEY, WENGER COULD BUY THREE TOP CLASS PLAYERS,
    AND THAT’S ALL HE WANTS,THEN GET RID OF ALL THE RUBBISH THAT WENGER BROUGHT IN,THEN IT SHOULD BE PLAIN SAILING,ANY OTHER MANAGER WOULD HAVE HAD IT SORTED BY NOW.”PULL YOUR FINGER OUT ARSENE” AND
    START EARNING YOUR WAGES. “UP THE GUNNERS”.

  21. WiganGooner says:

    Great article London, certainly put the feline amongst a certain avian variety.

    I like Gibbs, I think he can settle in and do well, he has looked ok in pre-season and I’d like to see more of him, if it doesn’t work out we have til august 31st to buy Enrique :)

    We also have Traore, who did well at attacking left mid for Portsmouth and spent a season at left back at Juve to hone his defensive tactics, he might still be a decent option as cover.

    Far be it for me to suggest that we do it too often, but Walcott is an excellent example of square peg, round hole. Walcott is a striker. In the same way that RvP isn’t a Goalkeeper, Walcott isn’t a winger. Comparisons with Miyaichi do Walcott a disservice. Give him a shot up front on the shoulder of the last man and watch him run through onto balls over the top. He’s got pace and he can finish.

    What he can’t do, (yet at least) is trick his way past a defender, but then, for a player that has built his game around pace that’s not overly surprising, it is very difficult to start lollipopping at full pace.

    I like Walcott’s attitude and his loyalty, I do have questions about his mentality, but it’s a new season and players tend to mature a lot over the summer break and pre-season.

    WG

  22. Red Arse says:

    London,

    A very well reasoned and presented Post. :-)

    I agree with a great deal of what you say, in fact the majority of your points, but —- (there we go, the perrenial ‘but’) — in the spirit of debate there is one matter in particular with which I disagree with you.

    You have mentioned your lack of enthusiasm for Wilshere on previous occasions, and I have never quite understood your point.

    In the Post you say;
    “I (London) complained last season that he (Wilshere) was not strong enough to shield the defence on his own”, and then you go on later to say;
    “we are back to hoping that Nasri can become the playmaker and that Wilshere will start scoring goals”.
    If Wilshere was, as you seem to be implying, expected to be both a defensive midfielder, shielding the defence on his own (?), as well as being a goal scorer, then far from being inferior to Cesc, he would actually be worth £60m at today’s prices.

    But I think that contradictory summation is moot in any case.

    Wilshere’s role in the first team, in the frequent absences of Fabregas, has been to be the playmaker, which has always been his forte ever since I first saw him play so brilliantly in the youth teams.
    Defensive midfielder? Well he does defend with guts and passion, but that is not his natural role.
    Goal scorer? Hopefully he will score more frequently than he currently does, but that is not his role in the team.
    Play maker? Well look at his beautiful defence paralysing chip to put Gervinho thru for his 1st goal against Koln, as an example for the affirmative answer to that.
    Nasri for all his dribbling skills, has nearly always been deployed on the wings by Wenger, whether or not Cesc has played.

    Perhaps you have expressed your doubts about Wilshere in a way that has defeated my limited comprehension.
    In which case, perhaps, you could elucidate — Or not, as the case may be. :-)

  23. 26may1989 says:

    Nice one London, your posts often make me smile, even when we disagree (as we have done re Wilshere in the past).

    You’re right about the importance of Vermaelen – many seem to forget the fact he’s easily our most important defender but was missing for all of last season bar the last two games. Having him available will make a massive difference. But I still want to see Arsene follow through on what he predicted at the start of the summer, that transfers would be made to strengthen the defensive side of the squad.

    @Southerner 10:42am: In fact the African Cup of Nations lasts three weeks (21 Jan to 12 Feb), so even with two weeks of pre-tournament training, the maximum any player would be away for is five weeks, and that just for the two teams that get to the Final. Looking at our fixture list, that means our African players may not be available for Swansea away, Man U home, Bolton away, Blackburn home and Sunderland away, plus some FA and League Cup games. Not good obviously, especially the United game, but not a disaster either.

  24. Evonne says:

    London – great post, thank you.

    ‘Dalglish is on a one man mission to Britify that team in the belief that it is the El Dorado’ – classic :) :)

    I have loved Cesc from the very first time I saw him playing. I shouted as loud as I could ‘Fabregas….he’s only 17, he’s better than Roy Keanne’, I was upset every time he was injured, and when his grandfather died, laughed with him every time he scored, sent him a large box of Krispy Creams that he loves….years and years of joy. I will be devastated when he leaves, but will never hold it against him. I am 90% certain he is going this summer, with the remaining 10% filled only with hope and wishful thinking.

    Theo does not do it for me, I do apologise to those who might be offended, but I tend to agree with Alen Hansen that Theo has no footballing brain. I don’t think he will ever be a superstar :(

    I like Gibbs, but I still think we need defenders, that area still remains our weakest point.

    Having said all that I am confident the League is ours this season

  25. DM says:

    Interesting piece London. I read it last night at about 11pm when it was up for 3 mins or so but it was taken down before I had a chance to comment lol..

    Not sure why everyone’s hating on Theo. I know he’s spent a long time disappointing but I still think he offers us so much. Firstly, everyone seems to be forgetting that he was actually pretty good last season – until he got injured he was enjoying his best season by far, with 13 goals and 8 assists in 38 games.

    What I think people also forget is that his pace offers more than just goals and assists. Even without the ball, opponents are very aware of his pace and so will often track him and may well commit 2 defenders to his run, meaning he can of course draw the defenders away and enable others to get through on goal. It is quite possible that he does not do this enough, but it is still an advantage that he offers us. (In fact, at the beginning of last season, that was the sort of thing that pundits were saying about Chamakh.)

    Anyway, I’d quite like to see him chop and change with Gervinho, both can play on the wing or up front. Would be interesting to see them try to wreak havoc on defences by changing positions and combining together. Might not work, but worth a try.

  26. 26may1989 says:

    “I am confident the League is ours this season”, excellent stuff Evonne!

    But I think Theo gets a rough ride, largely because the hype that’s always surrounded him has fed expectations that have turned to disappointment. But last season, in 28 appearances (9 as sub), he scored 9 PL goals and contributed 7 assists. Doesn’t look too bad to me, and that made him our third highest scorer and third highest provider of assists. In fact, with less time on the pitch, he did better than Nasri, who scored 10 but only had one PL assist all season.

    I know, I know, stats can be very misleading, but I do think Theo is too easily dismissed.

    As for Hansen and Waddle on that “no football brain” junk, don’t get me started!

    Hope the summer’s treating you well. :)

  27. goonermichael says:

    Great post London. I agree with a couple of points others have mentioned though. Jack is way ahead of where cesc was at his age. Our defence was rubbish when TV had a full season. Hoipefully TV and Kozzer will form a fanatstic partrnership we’ll have to wait and see.

  28. goonermichael says:

    Personally I can’t wait for Cesc to go. I’m starting to feel the same about Nasri too.

  29. 26may1989 says:

    Completely agree DM!

    The thought of the mobility we may have in our attack next season, with combinations of Walcott, Gervinho, van Persie and Chamakh (plus Ryo if he’s not loaned out again), being fed by Wilshere, Ramsey, Nasri, Arshavin and (who knows?!) Cesc is very exciting. Much as I am prone to defend Bendtner, his undeniable failing is his lack of mobility, and shipping him out will greatly assist. I’d love to see lumbering neanderthals like Paul Robinson try and cope with Gervinho and Walcott constantly swapping positions between attack and AM.

  30. WiganGooner says:

    To be clear on my perspective, I don’t want either Cesc or Nasri to go. I think they are wonderful footballer’s who have the ability to take Arsenal to the next level with the right personnel alongside.

    It will be a sad day when I see Cesc leave and I will be annoyed with the Arsenal fans that celebrate his transfer. Sick of the speculation we might be, but Cesc has carried himself with great principle and morality.

    Super Samir is someone I am markedly more frustrated with, it seems he intentionally misled the Arsenal management when stalling on the contract and it’s forcing our hand. I would like him to stay, but give him a deadline and if he doesn’t sign, sell.

    WG

  31. Red Arse says:

    26,

    I promised myself not to comment on Theo, as it seems each sees what he wants to see, not necessarily what is there to be seen.

    For some, like you and DM, both of you perfectly reasonable, knowledgeable and realistic Gooners, you see a Theo that many others simply never see.

    For others he seems incapable of using his amazing speed effectively.
    He is prone to run down blind alleys or, he runs at and then past defenders seeming to forget he has to take the ball with him. He clearly frustrates his team mates and fans by the poor quality of his crosses or by crossing without looking up to see who is available.

    So, is he a striker? Well he has shown, especially in his days at Southampton, that he can score important goals and has done so for Arsenal too. But he is just so inconsistent.
    Maybe the question to ask is “would any other top 6 club take him as either a winger or a CF, for say £15m — peanuts in today’s market?”
    It is, of course, a subjective question calling for a subjective answer, but my suspicion is that none would.

    My opening sentence above is explained by the absolute certainty that neither you, DM or any one else who thinks Theo is a good player, or has not yet been given a fair chance, will ever be persuaded to change your views on this matter.

    My own view tends to the latter case.
    This may have been a result of desperately wanting Theo to make it at Arsenal, having seen him play against our youth team, for Southampton, and tearing them apart. Alas, after so many false starts and injuries I just don’t see any development in his play, in fact, perhaps the reverse has been the case.

    I am open to being proved wrong and I hope that happens this season, but I remain unconvinced. Sorry.

  32. Interesting post London. Some good points about Verminator, and Theo. Although my stance was softening on Theo last season as I saw an improvement with play with the ball at his feet, more gambles to nick possession high up the pitch (chelsea home) would see him become very dangerous.

    As for Cesc, well i’m sticking to Twitter as my barometer of whether he is staying at the club:

    a) Jack referred to him as current captain in a competition (not great using “current” indicates could be “old” soon)…also Jack in conversation with Cesc called him an Arsenal legend (flattery will get him everywhere hopefully)

    b) Cesc himself tweeted a pic of himself and Sol at training (why is Sol training with us again?) Only Sol was in Arsenal training kit tho….but Cesc was looking happy

    and finally

    c) Henri Lansbury said “had fun training with @Cesc4official today”

    So he is at least training, not too billy big boots that he won’t train with the youngsters/reserves either.

    I’m beginning to think he is staying, and he is looking happy to do so….those straws from yesterday morning I’m still grabbing them :D

  33. Double98 says:

    I know it was a preseason game.
    I know its only 30 minutes.
    I know i am too long in the tooth for this. And i hate hailing the “new this” and the “new that”.

    BUT

    Did anyone else see more than a fair bit of Ian Wright in Gervinho?

    The way he ran onto the ball and struck early, authoritivley and clinically was one thing but then the second had “goal poacher” stamped all over it. He was instinctive, brave and fast over 3 yards all the things wrighty was, soemthing we have not seen in any of our strikers since Ian Wright left.

    And like wright he has an enormous head!

    His debut wasunbelievable for someone who may have missed a fair bit of training due to wenger counting out the coppers and only joined up a few days before with his new team mates.
    They were playing a decent side with good players who were a week ahead on preseason and he looked sharper than anyone.

    His passing was a little frustrating which kind of bears up some reports we’ve read about him but man, if we have a gun slinger to fire the bullets that our midfield provide – then i can see a trophy laden season with our with out cesc.

    Jack Wilshire also stood out in the game and looks to have added something to his game.

  34. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Flog him because I don’t like him, flog either him or him because we only need one of their type, and flog him as frankly he is a waste of space. Then buy Vertonghen.
    Hakuna Matata.

  35. DM says:

    Red Arse – I don’t like to think of myself as someone who’s opinion cannot be changed no matter what the facts may be. I do understand certain supporter’s frustration at Theo, and I have at times been frustrated too.

    What I’m saying is not that Theo is the best thing since before sliced bread (or before that, the bread slicer), but that what he offers us is very important. Now if he only ever offered and never delivered, I would totally agree with your point. But I saw a distinct improvement in his play last year (and even the year before that before he spent much of the season injured) which led him to the goals and assists tally I spoke of before.

    Inconsistent, you say? Well in my mind there are two ways of looking at this. There’s the ManU theory, and the Bendtner theory. The ManU theory is that looking at their performances last year, where they were far from playing their best football, but still managed to top the table and that’s all that matters.. well this would suggest that stats (or in united’s case, results, but you see where I’m going) never lie. Which would suggest that Theo has more than earned his place in the team with his contribution last year, even if all his performances were not up to scratch.

    Then there’s the Bendtner theory. I would suggest this is fairly obvious, but basically (and this is purely my own opinion) it’s that even though his stats are pretty good – 9 goals and 4 assists in 32 matches, the vast majority of which were as a sub – it doesn’t make up for the too-often negative impact of his overall play. Basically I just can’t wait to see the back of him (not that I doubt his potential, I reckon he’s got a bright future at a smaller club). So with Bendtner, in my view, the stats mean nothing, and this would support your view of Walcott.

    Where does Walcott fit in? I would say probably somewhere in the middle, but certainly nearer the ManU theory than that of Mr Nikky Bennage, the self-confessed best footballer on the planet.

    My point is, I think Theo’s done enough to show that he’s (at least started) delivering his potential. Let’s give him a few opportunities up front, switching around with Gervinho, and see what they can do.

  36. DM says:

    ..oh, and if I’m proven wrong this season, then so be it. I won’t keep telling everyone that he’s great if he’s complete pants. But tell me this, as of right now, how many other players can scare the defenders like Theo can with his pace. Even when he doesn’t deliver, the threat is there as long as he’s on the pitch.

  37. chas says:

    Nice post, London.

    I wish Cesc would say he’s f*cked off with Farcelona p*ssing about and that he’s decided he wants to stay at Arsenal.
    Unless he wants to stay 100%, I think it’s better if he goes.

  38. MickyDidIt89 says:

    DM,
    To sort of disagree, I simply don’t believe that Theo does scare many full backs. They can see his run coming a mile off so have a two yard head start and then know exactly what he is going to do. Ferrying him down the side is not difficult. The real threat he does pose is when left up top as we are defending a corner or set piece in backs-to-the-wall scenarios.
    I do not have Theo in the to be flogged camp but certainly welcome the competition from Gerv.

  39. Gooner In Exile says:

    DM – I take your point re scaring full backs….he should give them fear, if teams lined up against us as they do against the Spuds he would be as scary as Bale can be for them. Unfortunately due to a combination of deep defensive lines and our high attacking positions he rarely has the chance to exploit space with his pace.

    He needs to work on beating a player in close proximity and to run from somewhere else other than right wing (ie drifting inside and then moving back out).

    For Wengerball to work their needs to be mobility across the forward line..too often at the end of last season the players stuck too rigidly to their wide starting positions.

  40. London says:

    Just back from a mamoth bike ride and popped in to say say thank you for the kind comments.

    For me the most interesting theme running through the comments is the difference in view as to who is/was more talented between Cesc and Jack at the age of 19. To me it is Cesc by a million miles but fair enough, different people see different things.

    RA: I should have made clear that he is neither one nor the other.

    On a much happier note did anyone else get tingles when they read this by Double 98

    Did anyone else see more than a fair bit of Ian Wright in Gervinho?

  41. DM says:

    Micky, I gotta agree with some of what you say. The single most frustrating thing about Theo is that when he receives the ball on the wing (talking about regular passing play here, not a quick counter), he runs straight up, cuts inside very slightly, and then when he’s head on with a defender and it’s 50/50 whether he cuts inside to his left or outside further towards the goal-kick-line (is that a term?), what does he do? Do I even need to say it? He ALWAYS goes for the latter, so much so that I’m pretty sure every PL defender knows exactly where he’s going. That is my main criticism of the boy.

    However, this isn’t to say that a) it negates his threat-level and b) it isn’t effective. I think he certainly needs to address that aspect of his game so he’s more capable of chopping and changing up play – not least because the few times he does manage to cut inside he often delivers a solid low shot into the bottom left of the goal – but he is more than capable of doing that.

    The other part I 100% agree with is the threat he poses when left up front in a defensive situation. I rarely get angry at AW, but this is one of the things I really don’t understand. So many times last year when we were 1 goal up against a side desperately playing for a draw, he withdrew Walcott. Theo is probably the last player I would take off in a situation where a team is forced to push forward, leaving their defence exposed to the quick counter, long-ball, or any other counter-attack, all of which Theo is ideally suited to.

  42. DM says:

    GiE – agreed with that point. Just I would read from it that yes, he needs to improve, but is still important to the side, whereas you seem to read from it that it’s time to call it a day with him.

  43. chas says:

    Here’s my latest video effort using photos taken by my brother and me.
    Includes pics of Highbury and environs (especially on the last day versus Wigan), various away trips and finishing with shots of the Emirates.
    Boy, am I looking forward to going to the football again. :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4F1-J9OK4I

  44. RockyLives says:

    Cracking post London – so many points to debate.

    As you say, we all see different things, but to me Wilshere is shaping up to be the best English player for a generation and I believe his talent will prove to be on a level with Cesc’s. However, I do agree that if Cesc stays it’s a little awkward accommodating both of them in the ideal starting line-up. If Cesc goes, he is our new Cesc (certainly he’s much better than Nasri).

    I also see more good in Theo than many other posters here. His stats last season were significantly better than Gareth Bale’s. As DM pointed out he is regularly double-teamed by oppo defences and Guardiola made no secret of how relieved he was that Theo was not available for the second leg of our tie with Barca last year.
    I agree he may be even better through the middle, but his pace and finishing make him a threat to anyone.
    Redders asked whether we would get 15m for him if we were to put him on the market now. I believe we would get 25m from Chelsea, Citeh, ManUre or Liverpool. He’s a first choice player for England, he has a very good scoring and assist record and he’s young.

    My final bone of contention is Gibbs. Like Rasp, I have serious reservations about his readiness to be our first choice LB. I will also be amazed if he gets through the first four games without another injury.

  45. Red Arse says:

    DM,

    I did not mean to imply any inflexibility of thought on your part, or that of 26, (tho’ he is a lawyer). But it is human nature for all of us to have preconceptions of people and events and see things as we believe they should be.

    For example you said, above, in part, that the value of Theo is his speed which frightens the opposition. That is what you believe and it is how you see it. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. You could be right.

    However, others, while acknowledging that he has the speed don’t agree that he frightens the oppo players.
    Again, there is nothing wrong with holding that opinion, that might even be right too.

    In theory, the only one who can influence any of us, given our differing view of his contribution to the team, is Theo himself and his performances.

    And therein lies the rub, though he has impressed you enough for you to feel positive about his contribution, over the last few years, others, like me, having viewed the same games feel he hasn’t cut the mustard. So our views have diversified.

    It is not a matter of right or wrong, and I am sure all of us would rather that he puts all doubts to bed by having a wonderful season.

    [I still remain doubtful tho'! :-) ]

  46. RockyLives says:

    Redders
    “(tho’ he is a lawyer)” :)

  47. DM says:

    Red Arse,

    Agreed pretty much. Only thing I’d reiterate is what Rocky mentioned above that Guardiola revealed how relieved he was that Theo couldn’t make the 2nd leg of the Barca tie, so maybe that shows that teams are more scared than people think. To reinforce that point, I also remember reading (or maybe watching, I can’t remember) an interview with a Barcelona player when Theo was left out of the World Cup squad, saying how crazy he thought that decision was and how he was a major threat when he played Barca back in 09/10 season.

    At the end of the day, I don’t really care if he scares the opponents or not, as long as he gets results. But yeh, I agree that it’s pretty much just different ways of seeing things. So let’s hope he does prove his doubters wrong (and me right) next season. A front line of RvP, Gervinho and Theo (plus any possible additional signing and hopefully a back-to-best Chamakh) does excite me.

  48. Like that vid Chas, i have goosebumps now! Come on the new season!

  49. Red Arse says:

    DM,

    I entirely agree with you when you say it is frustrating that Theo is often hauled off when we are defending a 1 goal lead, late in the game.

    Now that is the time he could prove his worth, to all, by simply being up field for an outball when the oppo defence is stretched.

    I confess to being pretty pee’d off when the bloody subs board has gone up with his number on in those circumstances. I usually rationalise it by thinking he is injured, but not really believing that for a second. Is that traitorous? :-)

    I don’t want to see Theo get the boot by the way. It is a question of degree. I always thought he would reach the sky with his talent, and that is still possible, but at the moment I think he will have a good but unspectacular career, as things stand.

    Hi Rocky, :-)

    Fair enough, I was not surprised by your belief in Theo, and why not? But £25m? I must admit I would take that (if I was zee boss).
    Given Downing went for £20m (?) perhaps I was short changing Theo or Arsenal! :-)

  50. DM, im in the wait and see camp, thought he was great at times last season.

    As for Cesc vs Wilshere, well i’d prefer them to be alongside each other and not have to worry about one filling the others boots.

  51. London says:

    I would write more about Wilshere but it is virtually impossible to get people to talk about his role now, all that happens is that people glaze over and start dreamily talking about what a great talent he will be in the future.

    For heavens sake I know he is a great talent, is anyone capable of discussing the pros and cons he brings to the team now.

  52. Red Arse says:

    Having discussed Theo, whom I first saw play for Southampton against us some years back (which I usually throw into the mix every couple of days :-) ) , I am really sad and disappointed that Arsenal have just announced the transfer of JET to Ipswich.

    Again, I first watched him play as a 14 year old for the youth team. He was tall even then and had great skill for a big guy. I really thought, like I did about Theo, that he could, one day, become one hell of a star player.

    What happened? :-(

  53. Red Arse says:

    London,

    Re your 4:30, I thought that was the core of my earlier discussions with you about Wilshere.
    Apparently you do not agree, so I must fall into the ‘incapable of discussing pros and cons’ group. Que? :-)

  54. RockyLives says:

    OK London

    Pros Wilshere brings to the team now: vision, passing range (long, short and medium), ability to play defence-splitting through balls and find the runs of attackers, commitment, tenacity, tackling, leadership.

    Cons: Not yet scoring goals (same problem Cesc had up until two seasons ago). Compatability question when played in same team as Cesc.

    All I’ll say to the compatability question is:
    Arsenal 3 Chelsea1; Arsenal 2 Barca 1; Everton 1, Arsenal 2; Arsenal 3 West Ham 1. All games where Jack and Cesc played together to good effect.

  55. WiganGooner says:

    RA

    I suppose JET’s departure is down to a mixture of several reasons. 1) From his Cardiff loan last season there were questions about his professionalism and mentality.
    2) Where would he play for us? His path is well and truly blocked to the first-team at the moment. Even as an impact player I think we already have plenty of options for the bench.
    3) He felt that he needed to be playing first-team football to progress (and I agree wholeheartedly).

    I’m always sad to see potential go, but in this case I feel it is better for all parties. Especially as rumour has it that we have a rather meaty sell on clause in the transfer.

    WG

  56. oz gunner says:

    @ London, i think RVP should be considered world class along with cesc.

    As for wilshere, the biggest similarity i see between the two (when both at 19) is whatever the occassion they front up. It could be a world cup final and the situation won’t leave them nervous or hiding under the covers. Wilshere amazed me last season, even against barca on the world stage he just went about his business and got on with his game. He gets critised about his lack of goals, but lets not forget fabregas used to aswel (he openly admitted that it was one area in his game that was lacking), then the next season he was banging them in for fun. I’m sure wilshere will be the same.

    Theo is an interesting case, just like gibbs he seems to always be injured thus never letting him reach full potential. At the start of last season he was on fire, but then the ankle injury struck and it took a while to get going again. He is limited with what he does on the wings because its not natural to him, therefore i’d be trying him down the middle in cup matches to see how he goes. He is a weapon when fully fit, selling him would be a big mistake (wegner never would, walcott will be one of his greatest accomplishments).

    Gibbs isn’t ready, yeah he is better in attack than clichy was but thats not what we need. Sagna is average in attack but he is solid as a rock when it comes to defending, we have enough attacking players. His injury record is alarming aswel. I haven’t seen traore in a while so im reserved about him but personally i’d take a baines (or more realistically enrique) and day.

  57. oz gunner says:

    @ RA:

    downings transfer was ridiculous. Unfortunently if theo went the price would be compared to what young went for (everyone compares them on the field so the money would be too). We need newcastles negitiating team becuase anyone who can get 35 million for that thug carrol is amazing. If we had them cesc would fly out for 60, bendtner for 25, and eboue for 12!

  58. oz gunner says:

    The defensive issue is simple,harness the defensive pressure we applied to chelsea every game and it will be solved. Barca don’t have the best defence going around but everyone chips in. Then again our defensive set up for corners and free kicks is shambolic, until that gets sorted we will continue to leak goals fr

  59. RockyLives says:

    oz
    Agree about the defence.
    A lot of people seem to think the return of Verm will solve everything, but when he was fully fit the previous season we still had a terrible record at set pieces.
    Verm is an outstanding player and character, but there are also some deficiencies in his game (notably getting caught upfield too often).

  60. oz gunner says:

    @ RockyLives:

    Too many people are painting him as a messiah. Yes vermaelen is a great player, but as you stated he will not sort out all of our defensive problems. Most teams against us (especially the lower teams) adopt the lob and hope approach because of our high line. So what do we do?do we get a lug of a defender (samba) who helps with our defensive set pieces, yet is a liability in open play due to a lack of speed?! Oh how i wish wegner brought in Kompany while he had the chance!

  61. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Is anyone talking at cross tortoises here regarding the Cesc/JW thing.
    Are we talking about for example:
    ….Song
    .Cesc JW
    or:
    ..Song JW
    …..Cesc
    because for me the the latter works best, however the former would be ideal where Song to replaced by a world class player, rather than a just good DM for set-up B.
    I am so pissed off with this reply box issue

  62. Red Arse says:

    Hi Oz, :-)

    Excellent stuff. Agree about Theo, the wing is really a no-no, but playing slightly withdrawn in the centre behind a tall CF might just be the ticket for him.

    Not sure AW will agree tho’. I think Arshavin should play more centrally, because he is lost out on the wing.

    This makes me think we have loads of central players and no wingers to speak of. Is that Gerv’s position?

    Traore played part of the 1st pre-season game and I was pretty impressed with him, but then I wasn’t really a fan of his before that, and had no problem with him going out on loan for the last couple of years and no club wanted to buy him. He is tall tho’ at 6′ or 6’1″.

    Hi WG, :-)

    You are probably right about JET, he may have just fallen into a problematic era as we have so many skillful midfielders.

    But he is unlike any of our other midfielders as he is 6’4″ and has a robust build as well as being so skillful. What do I know? Don’t all shout at once!! :-)

  63. oz gunner says:

    @ Micky,

    I agree the latter works best as it gives Cesc free reign to work his magic without worrying so much on defending. Song just needs to know his role in the team, yes he scored some vital goals last season but he can’t venture forward leaving cesc or jack to defend. Its like saying RVP can you defend while kozzer plays up front for a bit.

    I blame flamini, he was the perfect partner for cesc, run all day, throw his body in for crosses. Everyone says kakas career has gone downhill because of injuries, but i think its because hes still trapped in flaminis back pocket when we played AC Milan at there ground a few seasons back.

  64. Red Arse says:

    Good thinking Micky, the latter for me too.

    I find that Word Press for AA is really slow to ‘refresh’ and my responses often sit in the reply box without clearing, and has done for quite some time.

    Other blog sites I visit with Chas :-) don’t seem to have the problem.

  65. oz gunner says:

    @ RA,

    Its a shame about JET and i fear wellington will follow suit. Physically there nearly ready to take on the world. Mentally they lack drive and think its going to fall onto there lap for them. Such promise and talent wasted!

    Arshavin definently more centrally, and your right about crowding of similar players. Walcott would be better as a striker, but personally i think Arshavin playing off of RVP is the better, only bettered by RVP playing off Chamma

    Sorry about the flooding of posts guys, don’t get on here much, and not much else to do at 1252 on a wed morning

  66. RockyLives says:

    How did you get on with your blog jousting elsewhere yesterday Redders?

    Did you convert some people to the righteous path?

  67. MickyDidIt89 says:

    RA,
    I hear you with regard to the wide boys. I have never thought we have the ideal players for either system (433 or 442) however they are certainly more suited and booted for the 3 up front.
    My strating line up has been updated to:
    …….Vertonghen
    …Cesc Jack
    Gerv Robin Nasri
    .
    although I have a nasty feeling I had to flog someone to get Vertonghen on board!

  68. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sorry,
    Hi RA, Rocky and Oz

  69. RockyLives says:

    I see Mark Lawrenson has been saying that he expects Liverpool to get the fourth CL spot next season.

    He is so pro-’Pool that it’s almost sweet.

    I generally check out “Lawro’s Predictions” on the BBC football website every week and it’s comical the way he ALWAYS puts Liverpool down for a win, except when they’re away at ManUre, when he marks them down for a draw.

    Fortunately his predictions generally are crap.

    And in any case, why do we care who comes fourth? We’ll be celebrating our title win! :)

  70. Red Arse says:

    Oz,

    At the similar time over here in the UK I am always well tucked up in bed, so kudos to you for your staying power.

    When I have been in Oz Land the only thing that bugs me is that all the buggers over here have gone to bed when I am up and bright as an Upandbright thing! Same for you I suspect! :-)

    Don’t worry about the number of comments, you have got a long way to go before you rival me. I often have very good conversations with myself when all the others tune me out! :-)

  71. MickyDidIt89 says:

    How the hell do I get rid of the boxes below the reply area. The Guest, Volkswagon, Titter and Faceoff things keep budging up. Grrrr

  72. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rocky,
    The man wears matching shirt and tie and has a centre parting!! Come on, cut the man some slack.

  73. RockyLives says:

    Hello Micky :)

  74. Red Arse says:

    Rocky,

    No way.

    I flit from site to site like a fiesty, furry bumble bee and usually antagonise the resident bullyboy. (they all seem to have them). Mayhem often ensues before peace breaks out. Good fun! :-)

  75. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oz and RA,
    We’re all agreed then. From now on its 4-1-1-1-1-1-1

  76. RockyLives says:

    Redders
    You’re so naughty :D

  77. Red Arse says:

    Micky, you are getting close, but I think 4 Goalies is a bit much.
    If you stand on your head that would be closer! :-)

  78. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rocky,
    He does “naughty” in a professional capacity. The “sums” stuff is a rather unsavoury hobby.

  79. MickyDidIt89 says:

    RA,
    Picky :-)

  80. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Off for a while.

  81. Red Arse says:

    Rocky,

    What TV shows do you produce?
    Have you got a part for an eccentric blogger? :-)

  82. oz gunner says:

    @Micky: haha theres a fair formation, forget the width just go straight down the line.Vertonghen would be a very handy pickup. Arsene is always commenting on versatility, so why not pick him up as a DM/CB. Unfortunently any move we make for him would only trigger his agent to get man city involved then we are priced out.

    @ RA: not big on the sleep thing, only do it out of need not for the enjoyment. I agree with the conversation part, as you can’t get a decent football conversation down here (only bandwagon manure fans, and suprisingly a fair amount of everton fans). So besides the blogs the mrs cops it the most haha.

  83. London says:

    OZ

    I am a huge RvP fan but the reason I do not regard him as world class is becasue he is not an out and out number 9 and he is not a proven number 10.

  84. Red Arse says:

    Oz,

    We have one or two famous late night lads on here. Gooner in Exile and Total Arsenal are often up until the small hours (UK time) you never know you could meet in the middle one day! :-)

    Rocky, got to go. I will wait with bated breath until tomorrow to hear what amazing starring role you have got for me in your show. remember, I am great as a fiery, farty, bumble bee thingy! :-)
    You know it makes sense!!

    See you guys.

  85. oz gunner says:

    @ London:

    that is true, but surely his ability to adapt to what arsenal needs from him (a mix of both positions, coupled with his goal scoring run) makes him a worthy candidate. In saying that he may need a longer run without injuries to be truly classed as world class. That and the return of his free-kick boots

  86. oz gunner says:

    Im off too, cheers for the yarn, pleasure as always

  87. Jamie says:

    Help Needed,

    As you are aware, i am writing a book about modern football.

    I need a little help, I know that this is bit of a long shot but i trust the kind nature of the board not to laugh me out of town.

    Does anyone on the message board know any fans of Ajax, Barcelona, Dortmund, any Belgium club, PSG or If you do know any fans of a foreign team who i might be able to tag on to for a game, can you let me know?

    It is really important for research and i’m getting a bit desperate.

  88. London says:

    Oz

    I just think that Cesc is a better player for his position than RVP. But they are number one and two favourite players of mine.

  89. streetboy177 says:

    Love your blog! READ IT EVERY DAY!
    I agree on many of the points you raised in your blog, but not about Walcott. I would like to see Wenger go back to using the Carling cup as a way to blood young talent into the first/second team and watch them progress into the final, like he did in 2007. i thinK its essential we Keep Cesc, get rid of under performers at every level of our club and buy a few establish talent players. Wenger isnt far away from dominating the league with his brand of football along with his integration deveolpment of young hungry talent.

  90. London says:

    Hi Streetboy

    I should make clear that I would love to end up with egg on my face over Walcott but I don’t think I will anyway back to you, how do you differ in your views on Theo?

  91. gunnern5 says:

    jamie;

    I know a few Spurs fans – and they are foreign to me?

    Would that help?

    Hmmm, I guess not……………………….

  92. RockyLives says:

    Gn5 :)

  93. Evonne says:

    David Cameron is a star!! All is forgiven

    “After the leaders discussed tourism, Cameron said: ‘We’re now going to see Cesc Fabregas – one Spanish tourist who I hope isn’t returning to Spain.”

  94. WiganGooner says:

    Morning All,

    Evonne, I’M not fond of DC, but he’s gone up a bit in my estimation for that quote :)

    WG

  95. Evonne says:

    WG – same here :)

  96. Rasp says:

    Morning,

    New post …….

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