Archive for July, 2011

Defensive Frailties Continue – Will Jagielka Save Us?

Arsenal couldn’t even win the Emirates Cup. This year our opponents were much weaker, and they still failed to win it. Two utterly disappointing draws.

It’s true that there weren’t too many goals either. The same old story, Arsenal creates countless opportunities but convert only a few. However, once the season starts we know Arsenal will start to convert more. Nobody has ever been in doubt over our attacking threat. Yet, while the defense disappointed us last season, it’s started failing us again this pre-season.

If our defense looks weak against the likes of Boca Juniors, New York Red Bulls and Hangzhou Greentown, how do you expect to contest for titles? Arsenal’s priority this year in the transfer market was clearly to go out and reinforce our defense, yet there has just been one defender entering the team. While our first choice LB in Clichy left, Wenger announced that our second choice LB was up for the task. Those who saw the match against NYRB would agree that Kieran Gibbs had no impact on the game whatsoever.

A month left in the transfer market, and Wenger will definitely sign a defender. He doesn’t want to name names, but it’s evident he will. The most likely transfer targets so far have been Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Chris Samba. Will a Jagielka just come in and plug our leaking defense? I certainly hope so. I’m happy atleast Wenger is looking at center backs who are established in the Premier League rather than resorting to ones abroad.

If for some reason we don’t see a new defensive signing, or if it’s just a young defender like Carl Jenkinson, all hopes for the coming season are gone. Just a couple of injuries in the backline, and our season would be instantly over. The only thing we can hope for then is that we don’t turn into a Liverpool.

Follow me at @sharjilh

PS: Join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

Thoughts on the Mata Stories, Lucas Biglia and the Left Back Situation

Not much on the news today. Seems like the same old rehash of the last few days. Transfer-wise, nothing solid has emerged and it seems Arsene will wait till the last moment again. Some Xabi guy made some Cesc-like comments today but I was not bothered to read. Biology and DNA were never my strongest suits and should be left to professional footballers. The transfer window itself seems like a rehash of last season.

Another potential replacement for Cesc Fabregas seems to be out of our reach now as Santi Cazorla has signed for Malaga. I do not know if we were really after him but if we were, Malaga signing him really shows the power of money in the modern transfer market. A player is willing to give up an opportunity to join an elite club like Arsenal to join Malaga. Really says a lot, doesn’t it?

Speaking of Cesc replacements, the Mata situation has warmed up a bit now. When I first saw us being linked with Mata, I right away called bullshit. But the rumour has survived long enough to catch my attention. To be honest, the Mata situation has been bit like a roller coaster ride. At first Mata, himself went on to say that he was happy at Valencia, but never actually dismissed the possibility of a transfer. But in the past few days, Mata has been constantly linked with us which is leading me to believe that there may actually be a story in this. Maybe Valencia are intentionally playing ‘hard-to-get’ to get a better deal out of Arsenal? But, just has a heads-up, Mata used to play for Real Madrid as a youth, so maybe we should do a DNA test before seriously looking into this transfer. Eh?

The Metro links us to a new midfielder named Lucas Biglia. I have never heard much about this guy and after  searching through the web, apparently neither did the internet. He plays as a defensive midfielder and therefore is not a potential replacement for Cesc as many might have assumed. The Torres look-a-like is 25 and has only recently capped for Argentina. The few Youtube videos about him do not give away much either. I am in no position to make a final judgement here but I do not think he can add anything to our squad for the immediate season. In any case, Lucas has clearly stated that he is open to transfers and that, for some reason, it would be easier for him to play in other leagues than his current league. This is what he said:

“I think I have come to the end of my time at Anderlecht… The board know what I want. Playing for Argentina opens lots of doors for me.

“Sometimes I feel I have to work harder because I play in Belgium. It would be easier in a different league.”

 

In other news, Walcott and Henderson have joined Abou Diaby and Cesc Fabregas in the list of pre-season injured players, with Henderson being out for at least 6 months. So your squad doesn’t seem that big now, does it, Arsene?

Arshavin, who has been pretty lively in pre season has dismissed rumours about him leaving and has talked about his personal targets for next season. He aims to score exactly 15 goals for next season. If he cuts down on his laziness, that target should be achievable for a player of his caliber. I just hope he does not stop scoring after acheiving his target of exactly 15 goals! That would be plain stupid.

Lastly, I would like to talk about one position which no one seems to be concerned about- the left back position. I do not have any exact stats from previous seasons, but many of Arsenal’s conceded goals came from the left hand side. Clichy was very error-prone and opponents constantly took advantage of this through counter attacks. Furthermore, Arshavin who plays in the left of midfield is not one who tracks back very well. Even though Clichy has left Arsenal, both his replacements are very similar to him. I do not know about Traore, but Gibbs’ performances in pre-season weren’t very convincing. I still think Wenger should find a replacement for Clichy soon as we cannot afford to take any more risks for this season. If Jose Enrique’s recent rant on twitter is anything to go by, Arsenal should seize the opportunity and make a move for him. Plus, the Spaniard has only one year left on his contract- the optimum condition for Arsene Wenger.

Well, that’s all for today. Hoping for some positive news tomorrow. Till then, take care.

MATA UPDATE: Other than the news in the Spanish newspaper, the Daily Star goes as far as to claim that Mata will sign for Arsenal within the next 24 hours!

PS: Join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

Santi Cazorla – The Ideal Signing

I didn’t know much about Santi Cazorla before his name appearing on the Arsenal radar this week. He often comes off the bench for Spain, but we all know the supreme quality of even the Spanish reserves.

The reason his name is even appearing on the Arsenal rumor mill is clear – Wenger is preparing for Fabregas’s departure. As Mata and Hazard seem less to likely to come to Arsenal day by day, Wenger is looking for the other options.

Villareal’s Cazorla is strongly linked to a move to Malaga (the new Man City of the Spanish Primera), and his availability has sparked interest from elite clubs everywhere. However, is he worth his 20m valuation? Or more importantly, does he suit the Arsenal bill?

He looks to be the ultimate playmaker. Although a bit on the short side (height wise), he always creates his own space all over the field, and more importantly looking for the ball to come to him. Passing is exquisite, whether short or long balls. He does have the tendency to take some rash shots from distance, but his goal scoring record for Spain and at club level is decent. Take note that he’s quite fast too, so blending into the already fast-paced Arsenal side shouldn’t be a problem.

In the scenario that either Fabregas or Nasri leave, Cazorla could be the ideal signing for Wenger. Hopefully Malaga doesn’t snap him up quickly, and then Arsenal could race for his signature over the next couple of weeks.

PS: Join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

Why Wenger’s Latest Comments Do NOT Make Any Sense

“Certainly, we will have to find one more defender. I can promise we work very hard on it. In fairness, everybody looks for players.”

“I don’t want to comment individually because I do not want to destabilise clubs. I do not want to do to other clubs what Barcelona some clubs do to us so I wouldn’t like to comment individually on any player”

 “We still try to strengthen our side but I’m already very happy with what we show at the moment. If you look all around Europe at the different clubs there’s very little movement. I will all speed up in August I think.”

”We are traveling [toCologne] with 23 players and 3 goalkeepers. We have a big squad already”.

‘’Looking at [Abou] Diaby, [Cesc] Fabregas and [Emmanuel] Eboue, still behind plus [Nicklas] Bendtner still behind, that’s 27-28 players, we have a massive squad already, there’s very little movement at the moment.’’

These are the latest comments from our Boss, Arsene Wenger. Anyone else feel there’s something seriously faulty about those remarks?

First of all, was our squad good enough to win the league last season? I am talking about the whole squad, not just the first 11. The answer to that question is clearly a ‘NO’. So basically if we have players leaving that squad and they are not replaced, will that strengthen or weaken the squad? It will weaken it.

So far, to improve our squad we have bought Carl Jenkinson and Gervinho. If you think about it, the signing of Carl Jenkinson probably did improve our squad but it did not really correct anything that was wrong with it. Jenkinson is a rightback and as far as I know, our critical problems last season were NOT in that particular position. To be fairly honest, I have no problem with the Sagna/Eboue combo at right back. Point being, although I welcome the signing of this youngster, I feel that he did not really fix any of the problems with our squad. He is just a ‘good addition’.

Gervinho signing for us is different. From what I know, Gervinho is a winger and we did lack width last season. So if Gervinho is a proper winger (we will probably find out today vs FC Cologne), then he will improve and correct some of the problems in the squad. Apparently Gervinho can play as a striker too, so he can possibly fill the void if RVP and/or Chamakh are absent.

Now, IF everything remains the same and we do sign a new defender (as Wenger suggests above), then I would say we have a decent squad for next season. But it’s not all that simple is it?

The real complication arises when players have to leave the squad. So let’s see:

1)     Clichy and Denilson have already left for Mancity and Sao Paolo respectively

2)      Bendtner, Almunia and possibly Eboue to leave imminently

3)      Either Cesc or Nasri or both to leave soon

So basically, FIVE players are guaranteed to be out of our squad next season. And although Arsenal fans are tearing up their hair with anxiety and fear, Wenger is ‘already happy’ with the situation!

He mentions that we have a huge squad already. Ok, but isn’t this pretty much the same squad as last season? Using just logic, nay, common sense, even a retarded person can point out the flaw in Wenger’s comments.

Is he trying to say that the squad, which is the same as last season, has improved so much  that he does not need any new additions? Is that even possible? It’s been just around 3 months since the season ended. In just three months, how much could a player have possibly improved?!

Players like Diaby, Rosicky and RVP will probably be out for long periods during next season as it has been for last few seasons. There will surely be other unpredictable casualties like that of Vermaelen last season. If you deduct five players from that squad, then surely it is something to be alarmed about.

As a wise man once said ‘Always prepare for the worst’, we should too, especially after seven years of failure. But so far, all that I  see is faulty optimism. Wenger is gambling at a time when the stakes are higher than ever. All I can do is just close my eyes and hope it somehow pays off.

Bend it like Bendtner

Our super star striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic wannabe is finally heading to a graceful Arsenal exit.

I’ve been so surprised over the last one year of his continued insistence of trying to leave Arsenal. His main justification was that Wenger was sidelining him from the Arsenal first time when he feels he is ‘ready’. You’re ready Nicklas, nobody doubts that. That’s why you were Wenger’s first choice striker in the Champions League a couple of seasons back. When Van Persie had been sidelined through injury and Bendtner was available, he was playing. Sadly enough, Bendtner couldn’t live up to his own standards last season and Marouane Chamakh took his spot. Still he continuously got chances, and except for a few quality finishes, he continuously failed.

So I hope he doesn’t blame Wenger, because he did get plenty of opportunities. In fact, a lot more than even the fans wanted.

It’s his ego that is always questionable. On many instances he said that he has the potential to be the world’s greatest striker, and compared himself to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (who knows why Ibrahimovic is his benchmark in the first place?). It’s not joke to be of the class of Zlatan. No doubt there was a lot of hype around him. Steve Bruce picked up his potential pretty quickly in his loan spell to Birmingham City. Still, you can’t just go to the press and make over-confident statements like that. Prove your quality on the field first, and others will judge potential and ability. I’m sure he expected ‘top clubs’ all over the world to come knocking after finding out his transfer availability, but that didn’t happen. Hopefully that has brought him back to earth.

Either way I wish him the best of luck wherever he goes. He’s still young, so maybe he will be a top world-class striker one day. If only he was a bit more patient, he could have been an Arsenal favourite.