Posts Tagged ‘ Squillaci ’

Just get Scott Dann!

Arsenal has been looking for a solid defender ever since the start of the transfer market this season. Yes, we signed Carl Jenkinson but he’s just one for the future.

Firstly we were close to signing Phil Jones, but he just chose to join Manchester United instead. Considering Manchester United’s recent successes, no one can blame him.

The rumor of Gary Cahill has just been inconspicuous. First it seemed the rumor was pretty strong, and then the news just kept fading away. His transfer to Arsenal now seems highly unlikely

Then there was Christopher Samba, who was misquoted by The Sun that he expressed an interest to join Arsenal. He came back and quashed it furiously. He might as well be leaving Blackburn, but his price tag may just a bit too much for what he’s worth to Arsenal.

The first bid of 10m was turned down by Everton for Jagielka. He seems to be the most likely defender to join Arsenal as rumour has it that Wenger will re-bid for 15m. That would be an interesting dilemma for Moyes, and only patience will dictate this transfer.

What about Scott Dann? Arsenal has been linked with him for a while now. He was close to a switch to Stoke but it didn’t materialize in the last minute. From then on the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool have also joined the race. I know Birmingham was relegated last season, but they have always been a gritty defensive team. All the Premier League clubs last season found it hard to break the Birmigham defense, especially in St Andrews. The reason for that is both Roger Johnson and Scott Dann were rock solid in defense.

One thing is encouraging is that Wenger is only showing interest in Premier League defenders, those who have been performing consistently and are physically capable of handling the pressure week in and out. He’s not going to risk it with an overseas signing this time around.

If a 10m bid is enough to secure Scott Dann, then Wenger should put in some serious thought to getting the 24 year old centre-back to Arsenal. Let’s face it, time is running out and teams will be more and more hesitant to get rid of their first choice defenders as it’ll be even harder to replace them. Dann would be a strong back-up to both Vermaelen and Koscielny. He would also probably provide stiff competition to Squillaci for a run in the first team!

 

 

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Scouting Michael Ciani to Arsenal

With Arsene Wenger confirming he will sign a defender for cover to both Vermaelen and Squillaci, rumours of a new center back are more frequent. One of those defenders that have popped up in the media as being in the Arsenal radar is Michael Ciani

He is Chamakh’s former team mate at Bordeaux, and tall too! Standing at 6 ft 2 inches is not a joke. Arsenal are always linked with tall defenders (Gary Cahill for e.g.) but have not signed any in the recent past.

Ciani has been quite impressive for Bordeaux after joining the club in the summer of 2009. He was especially strong and composed for Bordeaux in their Champions League campaign last season and has continued his consistency so far this season as well. So Ciani is definitely not inexperienced in the Champions League side of football. Infact he has already got one international cap. After France’s dismal display at the 2010 World Cup, it looks like Ciani could be looked upon and called up more often to the national side.

Michael Ciani Michael Ciani of Bordeaux gestures during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Juventus FC and FC Girondins de Bordeaux at the Olympic Stadium on September 15, 2009 in Turin, Italy.

However, is he too expensive as cover for two frontline defenders? Probably. Michael Ciani would be atleast 10 mill and I’m not sure Wenger will gamble on a defender without Premier League experience to use as cover for January. Secondly, Ciani is also French. Arsenal have always been criticized for being the French team of England. It probably is true. Just imagine Clichy, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Nasri and Diaby in the same lineup. It’s all French. Fans are a bit wary of that and I think Wenger will be too to sign another French player for Ligue 1. It’s probably why we’re hearing more rumours of English defenders being linked with Arsenal, like Cahill, Upson and Woodgate. Not to even forget that Bordeaux will try a lot harder to keep one of their star defenders, after losing both Chamakh and Gourcuff last season.

I personally don’t see Squillaci as being our main central defender. He’s more like Mikael Silvestre of Arsenal type of player. Since Vermaelen’s injury just keeps getting worse and it seems like his role this season will be minimal, we definitely need to sign someone better than Squillaci. Ciani has all the qualities to be a formidable defender in the Premier League and possibly much better than Squillaci as well. So if the Arsenal backroom is as ambitious as they portray to the media, then Wenger should give some serious consideration in signing someone like Ciani. With just a few days left to the close of the transfer window, Wenger has to think quick!

New signing is imminent, only two centrebacks left

Arsenal have been going through a quick run of fixtures for the last couple of weeks. It’s been horrific to say the least. On the 27th of December, we had the win against Chelsea. Two days later we faced Wigan and drew. On the 29th, a couple of days later, we played Birmingham City. We got absolutely no rest as we faced Mancity three days later.

It is no surprise then that we are already having a few injuries.  Rotation or no rotation, when you are playing back to back games with only two days between then, there is no way you can avoid injuries. In fact, I am bit surprised that we have so few injuries so far. I was absolutely confident that the likes of Van Persie, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott would have gotten injured by now. Jokes aside, we do have one important injury update to give.

Wenger has just now informed that Seb Squillaci had picked up a hamstring injury in the match against Leeds United in the FA cup. With no positive signs coming from the Vermaelen injury, this new injury is a massive blow for Arsenal. We now have only two centrebacks available and the situation suddenly looks like an emergency.

This was Wenger’s update:

“If he [Squillaci] has a problem then we must quickly go for a player,”

“Squillaci came off with a little hamstring problem and if we only have two centre backs then that cannot work with the number of games we have.”

Hamstring injuries are one of the trickiest sort of injuries. It could take only a couple of days to recover from or it could mean a month on the sidelines. Just when you think the player has recovered and you play him, he aggravates the injury and is out for several months. In my opinion, there is no way we can cope with only two centrebacks, given the fixtures. If you look at the fixtures, we still have to continue back to back games for weeks to come.

15 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League A West Ham United
18/19 Add to Calendar The FA Cup A Leeds
22 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Wigan Athletic
25 Tue Add to Calendar Carling Cup H Ipswich Town
29/30 Add to Calendar The FA Cup H Huddersfield Town
(If Arsenal beat Leeds United in Round 3)
February
01 Tue Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Everton
05 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League A Newcastle United
12 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Wolverhampton W.
16 Wed Add to Calendar UEFA Champions League H FC Barcelona
19 Sat Add to Calendar The FA Cup N Fifth Round
22 Tue Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Stoke City
26 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League A Tottenham Hotspur
(This game will be moved if Arsenal reach the Carling Cup Final)
27 Sun Add to Calendar Carling Cup N Final

As you can see, until the end of the month we have to play consecutive  games. And the MAXIMUM number of days we have in between the matches is four(except for the match after Newcastle on the 5th)!!! Expect an extended number of injuries to be on their way. The only positive side is that  our Premier League fixtures are relatively kind. But that’s it, other than that we are screwed.

One player who we have been linked with this season is Werder Bremen centreback Per Mertesacker. Ever since the January transfer window has opened up, Mertesacker has been on the top of the ‘probable transfers’ list. The latest update comes from sport.co.uk.

The agent of Mertesacker gave Sport.co.uk an update this morning regarding any January move for his client:

“So far we have had no contact from Arsenal. We will wait and see but for the moment they have not contacted myself or the club.” Guido Nickolay told Sport.co.uk.

Arsenal manager Wenger has been perennially linked with the big German stopper, however the centre-half ruled out a move last summer pledging his short-term future to the German side.

Reports this morning also suggested that Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United could were also monitoring the player.

Sport.co.uk confirmed last month having spoken with a source close to the player that Mertesacker was ready to quit the Bundesliga for another top league, with the Gunners still interested in the giant defender’s services.

“I think he would like to move.” The source told Sport.co.uk.

“Or let me say it like this – he would be interested in seeing other countries.”

I, for one , would love to see Mertesacker play for us at the Emirates. The guy is a monster. He is 6ft 6 inch!! Plus he has all the necessary experience we need. He is a regular for the German national team and is of perfect age(26). Due to his height, he can not only defend well aerially but is a huge threat from set pieces, a quality clearly lacking in our current crop of players. Let’s just hope Wenger signs someone quick and that the player is someone like Per Mertesacker and pray that the Sol Campbell rumours are not true!!

Arsenal vs Wigan: Problems Persist

For Arsenal it was the same Achilles heel which has blighted us all season. Our soft defending has seen two points slip away at a crucial time of the season. The result isn’t a catastrophe but it is certainly a huge annoyance given Wigan had 10 men at the time and we had 3 points comfortably within our grasp.

After the game, a lot of people in the media and Arsenal fans alike blamed the draw on Wenger and the wholesale changes which he made. But in truth, the equalising goal we conceded was purely down to bad defending by Squillaci and Fabianski.  Squillaci did not follow the basics of defending and didn’t get anywhere near goal side of Caldwell. He then compounded it all by bundling it into the net. Fabianski lived up to his reputation of not commanding the box at set pieces and was in no man’s land when the ball was headed back across the face of the goal. Flappianski at his very best.

We will never win the title as long as Wenger refuses to buy a top class commanding centre back and a quality goal keeper. It is so glaringly obvious where the team needs to strengthen, and we always hear about how much money there is available. Manchester City have already shown by splashing out 30m on Dzeko that they mean business. Chelsea and Tottenham will also probably strengthen in January. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be left behind and persist with Squillaci until Vermaelen is fit again. Points will continue to be dropped.

I would like to see Johan Djourou given an extended run in the team. He played magnificently against Chelsea and controlled Drogba all game – the first time for a few years an Arsenal defender has managed to get the better of the Ivorian. In goal meanwhile, Szczesny is still young, but he is confident and commanding and also should get a run in the team now. He showed at Old Trafford he can handle the occasion and Fabianski simply isn’t good enough for Arsenal despite his decent form for a few weeks. When it really matters, he will still make bad mistakes and we will continue to concede from set pieces as he does not inspire any confidence in those in front of him.

Looking forward, we will need to be at our best against Birmingham on Saturday if we want to take full points from St Andrews. They have an excellent record there and have already held Manchester Utd, Spurs and beaten Chelsea there this season.  Cesc will be back from suspension which is a massive boost and the likes of Nasri and Song will be almost certainly be restored to the starting line up. It is games like these which are a test of our title credentials but I am confident that if we play to our best, we will beat Birmingham and cap off a pretty good Christmas period.  COYR.

Follow me on twitter: @AndyHa_

Manutd Strikers vs Arsenal Defenders

This fixture could not have come at a better time. Both Arsenal and Manchester United are in the form of their life. Arsenal have won four of their last four away games and Manutd have won four of their last four home games. From a neutral perspective, this match has got all it takes to be a season best. This match is the definition of goals.

But, the odds seem to be slightly tilted towards the home side. Manchester United have scored the most number of goals in the Premier League even though they have played fifteen, one less than Arsenal. On the other hand, Arsenal have kept only four clean sheets out of a possible sixteen. This indeed is worrying from an Arsenal perspective. Arsenal now have to score more than the highest scoring team in their own home ground whilst providing a top defensive display. Can Arsenal do it? Only time will tell.

I am fully confident that Arsenal can dominate midfield even in the absence of Cesc Fabregas. And both of our top two strikers have enough quality to deal with  the Manutd defense. But can I say with the same confidence that the Arsenal can dominate the Manutd strikers? Unfortunately the answer has to be no. The fu

llbacks can possibly handle themselves but I am really concerned with the heart of our defense. Let’s see what might happen when the defenders go head to head with the strikers:

Koscielny vs Berbatov: Having never played Manutd before, this match-up is hard to predict. Koscielny is alright with his aerial ability although I would have preferred Djourou against Berbatov. I don’t think Wenger will listen to me though. If Koscielny can keep up with Berbatov aerially, I believe Koscielny will be at an advantage. This is because Koscielny is best at anticipating and tackling. I also believe he can cope with Berbatov’s pace which is not very high. What Koscielny has to be aware of is Berba’s killer instinct near the goal. A lot of low crosses will be played from both sides with the help of Nani and Park(possibly) and Koscielny will need to man-mark the striker really well.

Squillaci vs Wayne Rooney: I am most worried about this match-up. Unless we are really lucky and/or Rooney is completely out of form, I cannot see Squillaci effectively defending against the Englishman. Squillaci is slow. His tackling is so-so and aerially he his horrifying. Moreover, his partnership with Koscielny has yet to take off. If Arsenal are to lose/draw against Manutd on Monday, Rooney might as well be the reason for it. To cope with him, Squillaci has to be at the top of his game and Wenger has to apply some major tactics. Squillaci will not get away with it if he repeats the same errors that he made against Fulham and Partizan. Their strikers were lethargic, Wayne is not. Rooney will punish Squillaci cruelly for every mistake he makes.

Clichy vs Nani: This one can go either way. It depends on which Clichy shows up on Monday. Will it be the Clichy with the awesome tackling ability or will it be the absent-minded, error prone Clichy we occasionally see? Clichy can match Nani with his speed but it will be his awareness and tackling precision that determines who wins the duel. I say tackling ‘precision’ because Nani will be up to his tricks and everytime Clichy makes a bad tackle he will give away a free kick. And, we do not want to concede free kicks to the likes of Berbatov, Rooney and Vidic, especially when Nani will be taking them. Let’s just hope the right Clichy shows up on match day.

Sagna vs Park: This is one duel I am fairly confident about. The only thing that Sagna needs to be wary of is Park’s movements off the ball. That Korean can make some deadly runs and Sagna has to make sure that the Park-Evra combination does not work. But, I think out of all the Arsenal defenders, Sagna is the most dependable and I expect him to do his job.

Manchester United will be up for the game but so will Arsenal. To hide some of our apparent frailties, we have to dominate the game well. We have to make sure the ball is on the right side of the field most of the time. Manchester is a counter attacking team and I hope our players are training accordingly. This is not a run of the mill fixture; we have to do much more than we did against the likes of Fulham and Partizan. Manchester United will be looking to take advantage of every mistake we make and we have to always be one step ahead of them to win.

Handle Djourou With Care

First of all, the recent Arsenal injury news has been driving me nuts. At the end of November, Eboue’s injury looked serious and we were told that he would out for 4-5 weeks. He then returned just a game later. Koscielny’s injury scare was even worse, as it was thought he would be out until the New Year. Now he seems to be fit to face Partizan tonight. It’s great that our players are recovering so remarkably fast! However, do think of us fans when you tell us that a player is out for so long, it just increases our tensions!

Djourou is also apparently taking no part in tonight’s game against Partizan because of a thigh problem. Although Wenger did tell us that they’re being ‘cautious’ more than anything else. It just also shows how important Djourou has suddenly become for our campaign this season.

When Djourou was sent out on loan to Birmingham in 2007, I didn’t think he’d have a chance to break through into the Arsenal first team. He did play relatively well though, and then came back. His horrific knee injury then set him back again, adding doubts to his future at Arsenal last season.

His transformation and rehabilitation after injury has really been superb. I don’t know to whose credit his revival should go to, but nonetheless, Djourou has been like a new signing to Arsenal this season.

In all his appearances so far at Arsenal, he hasn’t done too much wrong. His performance against Fulham really did showcase his defensive capabilities, especially in the air. Arsene Wenger used the word ‘dominant’ to describe his game against Fulham last weekend. That really is the perfect word. Dominance is something we haven’t seen recently in the Arsenal defense, especially since Vermaelen’s absence from the first team.

He’d probably still not make the first team on a regular basis after Vermaelen is back. Either Squillaci or Koscielny will partner Vermaelen at the heart of defence then. Atleast now we have a strong defensive cover that is dependable even on difficult matches.

Djourou (if injury free!) should still get match time in the remaining Carling Cup games and also possibly be a regular starter for the F.A. Cup campaign next season. He really should use these games to build more confidence and put together a string of consistent performances under his belt.

Arsene Wenger has seemed to put one of those stickers on him labelled ‘Fragile – Handle With Care’. He probably should be, but not to a large extent. If Djourou is to build into the quality world-class defender that we need him to be, then Wenger really shouldn’t hesitate or think twice before playing him. It’s time to put his injuries behind and treat him like a totally different player in the Arsenal ranks.

One thing I am happy that Wenger hasn’t done with him is turn him into a DM, which Djourou himself had proposed to be a couple of years back after the departure of Flamini. That would’ve been disastrous as he really does look like a natural CB and I can’t see him playing anywhere else now.

Finally, credit to Djourou for not turning into his erratic Swiss counterpart Philippe Senderos. Two thumbs up for Johan! The future for Arsenal just keeps looking bright.

No Magic Against Partizan

I know we shouldn’t be panicking for our match on Wednesday. It should be a straight forward game at the Emirates against a Partizan side that has lost all their Group Stage games so far. The pressure is still on!

We should expect a win. We should also expect Arsenal to come 2nd in the Group. This may seem horrible in every context of progressing further in the competition. It opens up the possibility of facing a team like Barcelona or Real Madrid, Manchester United or Chelsea, Inter or Bayern Munich right in the first knockout round. Most people would blow out Arsenal’s chances against these heavy weights straight away, but history suggests otherwise.

UCL Season Group Position Knocked out
06/07 1st Round of 16 (vs PSV Eindhoven)
07/08 2nd Quarter Final (vs Liverpool)
08/09 2nd Semi Final (vs Manchester United)

Although coming 1st in the Group Stages in the 06/07 season, Arsenal were knocked out to a much inferior opponent straight after in the Round of 16. On the contrary, when Arsenal finished 2nd in Group stages in the following 2 seasons, they progressed much further in the tournament and were knocked out by tougher oppositions.

In my opinion, it actually doesn’t matter where you finish in the Group Stages, as long as you qualify for the Knockout phase. After that, you have to consider all the teams as equally strong. The Champions League isn’t just one of the best competitions in the world without a reason. Teams who win make things happen and perform to their level best to tilt the result towards their favour, rather than waiting for the opponent to make a mistake.

What can we expect from Partizan tomorrow? Not too much. Since they don’t even have a chance for third spot, Partizan really have no pressure on them.  They do have a talented forward in Cleo, but I’m sure he won’t be too much of a handful for our defense.

I’m not expecting any magic from Arsenal this time around. All I expect is some great possession football and the conversion of most of the chances we create. We need to take matters in our own hands and win in a decisive manner, rather than depending on the Shakhtar vs Braga game.

The morale in the Arsenal camp is high. It is also with us fans. We’ve finally established ourselves as serious title contenders by sitting at pole position in the Premier League almost half way through the season. Our Carling Cup team has shown fantastic composure and consistency to reach the semi finals. It’s about time we can think of putting all those trophy-less seasons behind and win some silverware.

However, the Champions League isn’t silverware. It’s gold. So let’s put this game behind us quickly, and join the gold rush ASAP!