What Per is missing + an Invincible Arsecast 327

What Per is missing + an Invincible Arsecast 327

Morning all, somewhat *boilked* this morning but that’s school night pints for you. Some of the people I was with were partaking of the brown wine so I’m delighted to have avoided that and will revel in their pain today.

Ahead of Sunderland tomorrow we await team news in the vain hope that our defensive issues might be somewhat relieved but I’m not expecting any good news regarding Laurent Koscielny – which means the manager has to make a decision about how to continue in his absence. Does he give Nacho Monreal more games there, hoping his experience will allow him to adapt to an unfamiliar position? Or does he take the plunge and go full youth (sonic or otherwise), playing Hector Bellerin at right back and moving Calum Chambers into the centre of the defence?

My preference would be for the latter option. If Chambers is our third-choice central defender, then he really should be playing there when Koscielny is out. That we have to look to an inexperienced option in the right back position is a different issue really. The injury to Mathieu Debuchy has brought that about, but the fact is Chambers is better in central defence than Monreal and given that it’s such a crucial position we should make ourselves as strong in there as possible until Koscielny returns.

It might also allow him to start forming some kind of partnership with Per Mertesacker who has been brutally honest about his form and that of the team. Speaking after the Anderlecht game, he said:

For me, it is difficult at the moment because that was really a long season last year and to come back from that World Cup and get the motivation back … I am nearly back but you can feel there is something missing.

I think the thing he’s missing is quite simple: Laurent Koscielny. When the pair of them have played this season, Koscielny hasn’t been anywhere near fully fit and that’s had an impact. There was a moment in the Man City game when play was stopped, Kos hunkered down to get some relief from his Achilles pain and the pair had a chat on the pitch and you could see that the Frenchman was having some real difficulty.

And what’s apparent is that we see the best of Mertesacker, and the best of Koscielny, when the two of them are together. Their partnership is such, and they complement each other so perfectly, that when one has to play without the other they suffer a little bit. So to me it makes sense that we try and establish other connections. We’re probably not going to be able to replicate it exactly, but it seems a better idea that a first and third choice duo should play games together and at least try and gain some understanding than hoping that an emergency centre-half option can suddenly discover how to play there.

Beyond his own form though, Per spoke about the team in general and the way we’ve played so far. Very few of the performances have been convincing but his solution is quite simple:

Our passing game is not as efficient as last year. We are not at our best. We have to admit that, be honest with ourselves and train harder.

And, interestingly, he points to the way the team is trying to attack down the middle, like the D of the opposition penalty area has somehow offended us and we must trample all over it rather than using the rest of the pitch:

We have to do better with our own possession to put more pressure on the opposition, not lose so many balls in the middle of the park and play more in the wide areas.

There are reports this morning that Theo Walcott could be back in the squad for the Sunderland game, and that should help with the width issue. I know he has a tendency to drift inside, but he is the most natural winger we’ve got in the squad. And having struggled against Anderlecht to trouble them down the middle, our first goal was an illustration of how using width can bring its rewards – Chambers from wide right, crossed to the back post where Gibbs arrived from wide left.

Not all our problems are going to be solved by stretching things, of course, but it might just be the thing that helps the team click from an attacking point of view. It’d allow more space in midfield for the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla etc, and with players attacking the ball in the middle we might just see things improve.

Anyway, all the team news, press conference info and more on Arseblog News throughout the day.

Now though, it’s time for this week’s Arsecast. On this bumper edition, I’m joined by @Goodplaya to talk about all the week’s football goings-on including the remarkable late win over Anderlecht. As well as that, Amy Lawrence is in the house to discuss her new book ‘Invincible’, about the 2003-4 season. You can purchase the book from Amazon here (Hardback- Kindle). And there’s all the usual waffle too.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly click here – 39mb MP3.

The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can now also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

Right, that’s your lot. More to come this afternoon from Tim Stillman and the Gent, a Sunderland preview from me tomorrow.

Until then.

Arsecast Extra Episode 38 – 20.10.2014

Arsecast Extra Episode 38 – 20.10.2014

Here’s this week’s Arsecast Extra with myself and James from @Gunnerblog.

On this week’s show we look back on the disappointing 2-2 draw with Hull, the paucity of the second half performance, more defensive worries and a goalkeeping issue ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Anderlecht. As well as that we answer listener questions about Arsene Wenger and the board, Per Mertesacker, the manager’s BBC interview with Jacqui Oatley and reveal which one of us has extraordinarily slender fingers.

Remember, you can send us questions via which we’ll try and get to each week. Send them to either @arseblog or @Gunnerblog (or both) using the hashtag #arsecastextra. Best to send them Monday morning so they get noticed more easily.

Arsecast Extra is brought to you by Audible.com – you can get a free audio book download and a 30 day free trial. Click the banner below to sign up or go to audibletrial.com/arsecast

You can subscribe to the Arsecast Extra on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast Extra directly – click here – 35mb MP3.

The Arsecast Extra is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android.

You can also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below. Remember, you can also leave comments on each episode on SoundCloud, and reviews/ratings on iTunes are much appreciated! Thanks.

This Arsecast Extra was recorded with ipDTL.

Arsecast Extra Episode 37 – 13.10.2014

Arsecast Extra Episode 37 – 13.10.2014

Here’s this week’s Arsecast Extra with myself and James from @Gunnerblog.

On this week’s show we look back on the last week of the Interlull in which Arsenal’s injury situation became even more ridiculous and in which we made a fairly high profile addition to the scouting staff. In part 2 we answer your questions about Mesut Ozil and how we might set up without him, what one moment of Arsenal history we might change, disagree on owls and cast a film version of a famous Arsenal tradition of days past.

Remember, you can send us questions via which we’ll try and get to each week. Send them to either @arseblog or @Gunnerblog (or both) using the hashtag #arsecastextra. Best to send them Monday morning so they get noticed more easily.

Arsecast Extra is brought to you by Audible.com – you can get a free audio book download and a 30 day free trial. Click the banner below to sign up or go to audibletrial.com/arsecast

You can subscribe to the Arsecast Extra on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast Extra directly – click here – 35mb MP3.

The Arsecast Extra is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android.

You can also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below. Remember, you can also leave comments on each episode on SoundCloud, and reviews/ratings on iTunes are much appreciated! Thanks.

This Arsecast Extra was recorded with ipDTL.

Arsecast Extra Episode 36 (live!) – 07.10.2014

Arsecast Extra Episode 36 (live!) – 07.10.2014

Here’s this week’s Arsecast Extra with myself and James from @Gunnerblog.

This week’s show is a very special edition, recorded live at Union Chapel on Upper Street last night (Oct 6th). James and I were joined by Amy Lawrence and Philippe Auclair to chat about the weekend’s game against Chelsea, the defeat, the ramifications of it, and our start to the season as a whole. After a short interval, we then did a Q&A with questions from audience members about all manner of things, but much of it revolved around Arsene Wenger.

It’s one and a half hours long, so this should get you through the commute home or a couple of decent dog walks. The sound is a bit up and down at times, but that’s the live experience for you (imagine it’s a bootleg tape).

Arsecast Extra is brought to you by Audible.com – you can get a free audio book download and a 30 day free trial. Click the banner below to sign up or go to audibletrial.com/arsecast

You can subscribe to the Arsecast Extra on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast Extra directly – click here – 61mb MP3.

The Arsecast Extra is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android.

You can also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below. Remember, you can also leave comments on each episode on SoundCloud, and reviews/ratings on iTunes are much appreciated! Thanks.

Welbeck, Podolski, flares + Arsecast 325

Welbeck, Podolski, flares + Arsecast 325

Morning all, and welcome to another Friday.

We’ve got to put the Champions League well and truly behind us now and concentrate on Sunday’s game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. We’re not going to go into the details of it just yet, we’ve got Saturday and Sunday to deal with a fixture that looms large on the horizon like a large loomy thing.

Back to now though, and Danny Welbeck has been talking about his goalscoring form since joining the club. The hat-trick on Wednesday might be played down by some who will want to see if he can do it in the big games, but I’m very much of the opinion that those goals were the spark his Arsenal career needed. The longer any striker goes without a convincing performance, the more people question him, but for his confidence and the confidence in him the Galatasaray goal glut was just lovely.

And he puts it down to being played in his favourite position and not shunted out wide as he had been at Manchester United:

Nobody can really criticise my finishing because they don’t really see me playing in a forward position too often. But now I am getting into these positions I want to be sticking the ball in the back of the net. I’m sure it’s the same with every other striker.

Obviously people can say I’ve not scored enough goals, but you stick the best strikers on the wing in a four-man midfield and see if they score goals.

I like his attitude, I have to say. There’s a genuine confidence and belief in his own ability and at 23 he’s at exactly the right age to make a big step forward in his career. With the players we have around him up front he’s going to get chances, and although he had a couple of games where his finishing was a bit off, he looks to have found his range now.

Kieran Gibbs has bigged him up also, talking about his work-rate, but also his character, saying:

He knows pretty much half the squad and he’s a great guy so it’s a lot easier when you’re likeable like that.

I like that he seems a really nice guy, unlike other forwards at the club he came from, for example, but also that the niceness extends only to his teammates and not the opposition. He was involved in a little set-to with Vincent Kompany during the Man City game, and he’s prepared to use his size and strength. All in all he looks a more prescient signing by the day – just try and imagine this Arsenal team without him right now, it’s not a pleasant thought.

Another forward isn’t having quite as much though, and Lukas Podolski says he might have to leave if he doesn’t get more minutes. He told RTL television:

I am a full-blooded player, a street player and I love competition. If I don’t have this competition every weekend then a change must occur. We will have to see. But it is certainly something one has to think about.

It’s a difficult situation in that he knew Arsene Wenger was ready to let him go this summer, then the injury to Giroud occurred and he was required to stay in the short-term. Right at the end of the window we signed Welbeck, so he’s now in the same position he was in when Giroud was fit: at best a substitute option for a place on the left hand side because the manager just doesn’t believe he’s a centre-forward.

If there was criticism of his performance against Southampton, it should also be taken into account that was his first start of the season and one game isn’t enough to judge his application or motivation, even if he could have worked harder. Football is funny though, he’s very much on the fringes now, but you just never know when a player might be needed, and for his flaws he’s got end product when given the opportunity. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a January move somewhere, but then who knows what might have happened between now and then.

Elsewhere, Arsenal have been charged by UEFA for ‘insufficient organisation’ because Galatasaray fans brought flares and smoke bombs into the ground on Wednesday night. When we posted the story there were lots of eye-witness accounts from folk on Twitter of how the travelling fans were well, and obviously, searched going into the ground, so it seems odd to me that the club itself should be punished when their fans smuggle in stuff in Papillon style chargers and then try to set our pitch on fire.

They have also been charged with ‘crowd disturbances, and setting-off and throwing of fireworks’ – which seems fair, but realistically, if Arsenal’s organisation was sufficient for every other Champions League game at the Emirates, why should we take any of the blame for the way the Galatasaray fans acted? Either there’s a fundamental issue with the way we search or deal with away fans, or the issue is that this particular set of fans were much more badly behaved than all the others.

Perhaps it was because of the reaction to the flares going off. In the end the Galatasaray keeper and Wesley Sneijder were the ones who kicked them off the pitch, but you could see by the way they were gesturing to the fans that they knew it was their behaviour that was an issue and could result in disciplinary charges against the club. Ah well, UEFA eh?

Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast where I’m joined by Tim Stillman an  Tayo Popoola (You might know him from such podcasts as The Tuesday Club) to look back on Galatasaray, forward to Chelsea and a reunion with Cesc Fabregas. As well as that we get some searing insight to football’s greatest moments from Tony Gale, along with all the usual waffle.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly click here – 35mb MP3.

The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can now also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

We’ll have news throughout the day, and from the press conference, over on Arseblog News. The Gent will be here later, more from me tomorrow. Until then have a good one.