Category Archives: Wenger

Should Granit Xhaka leave Arsenal?

It all began on the 25th of May 2016 when a certain Switzerland international completed a stunning £35m move to the Emirates Stadium from Borussia Mönchengladbach despite interests from other interested suitors. He wasted no time before becoming a regular starter under Arsene Wenger despite massive competition for a place in the Frenchman’s team. Though sometimes makes some unexpected howlers, the 27-year-old is seen as an inspirational figure to his teammates on and off the field of play.

Controversial Moment

His importance to the team got to a whole new level when he was reportedly voted as the team captain by his teammate during Unai Emery’s time at the helm of affairs. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the beginning of his trying times as many fans weren’t impressed with the player’s decision to make him the captain.

Things got out of control between the Xhaka and the fans during a Premier League game against Crystal Palace last year. He was booed by his own fans and he furiously replied ‘fuck off’ while walking off the tunnel. He was immediately stripped of the captain armband and couldn’t make Emery’s team list in many subsequent matches as part of the club’s decision to punish him for his unruly action.

Should He Consider Moving Out Of The Emirates Stadium?

Though Xhaka is enjoying life under Mikel Arteta, he is far from becoming a fan favourite and it is not advisable to remain in a club where you struggle to gain supporters’ affection. It was revealed during January’s transaction period that Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin were strongly interested in his services but he turned down the chance to part ways with the Gunners.

Considering the unhealthy relationship between Xhaka and Arsenal fans, it might be good for the centre midfielder to search for a new team where his services will be appreciated. In addition, the 27-year-old midfielder might fail to command regular action next season if Arteta eventually signs top defensive midfielders, such as Ndidi or Thomas Partey, who are both linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium.

Our Final Verdict

Considering the quality of players who could join the team in the summer and his relationship with the fans, I believe putting an end to his four-year stay at the Emirates Stadium might be the best decision. Returning back to Germany will be a great idea as he won’t spend much time getting used to the ways things are done in the country’s top-flight league.

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Filed under Arsenal, Arteta, Ask the Revd., gooner news, Opinions, Transfer Bollocks, Wenger

Three reasons why Unai Emery failed at Arsenal

Unai Emery was hired by Arsenal board members as Arsene Wenger’s replacement after many reports linked top managers with the position.

Former Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri was first tipped to be the next Gunners boss, before highly-rated and experienced tactician José Mourinho was listed for the job.

Former Real Madrid Manager Rafael Benitez was equally linked with a switch to the Emirates Stadium, but it was the former Sevilla and Paris St-German boss who won the race.

Much was expected from the 48-year-old due to his successful Europa League campaigns with Sevilla where he won back-to-back trophies.

Emery showed great promises in his early days in the dugout as he recorded 11 straight wins and played 22 matches without defeat. That’s not all, he equally led his team to the Europa League final only to be thrashed 3-1 by Chelsea.

Unfortunately, his second season as the manager was a total contrast to what he did in the first term as he was far from convincing.

His team were obviously uncoordinated on the field of play and he lost too many matches, which eventually led to his dismissal.

Looking back to the manager’s short spell as the Gunners boss, we picked out three major reasons why the Spaniard failed to deliver.

1. Poor managerial skill at the top level

Being a manager is more than giving instructions to players or creating weekly team list, it has to do with the manner with which you relate with the players in the team.

It has a lot to do with the way you react to emerging issues in the team and in the media. It’s quite unfortunate Emery doesn’t realize how bad he was when it comes to managing the players at his disposal.

Firstly, creating an unhealthy and appalling relationship with Mesut Ozil — one of Arsenal’s best players — was his first error at the North London club.

Though the former German international wasn’t consistent in his performances, there’s a better way Emery could get him back to his best other than excluding him from team list.

Xhaka’s captaincy row and controversial moment with the fans was equally mishandled by the manager which further buttressed the fact that Emery needs to improve his managerial skill if he must succeed in future endeavors.

2. Lost the dressing room

Another reason why Emery didn’t stay long as Arsenal manager was his inability to control the dressing room. He totally lost control over his players and the solidarity wasn’t there at all.

He created a division in his team as some folks belonged to Ozil’s group while some are for Xhaka and Aubameyang respectively.

It is said that a family divided against itself cannot stand, and that was a clear picture of what happened to Unai Emery’s team.

3. Largely depleted or off-form squad

Emery inherited a squad of players who are low in confidence and are mentally unprepared for greater challenges. Unfortunately, the manager didn’t help matters as he was involved in many controversies with his players.

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Filed under Arsenal, Arteta, Ask the Revd., General Musings, gooner news, Opinions, Wenger

Emmanuel Adebayor ranked amongst Arsenal’s best former players from Africa

The Gunners are known for the opportunity given to African players to feature in their team. African stars including Emmanuel Frimpong, Yaya Sanogo, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue, Nwankwo Kanu, Alex Iwobi, Gilles Sun, Jehad Muntasser, and Carlin Itonga have all featured for the North London club in the time past. Many of the listed players had a very successful spell with the team while others failed to live up to expectations before leaving the Emirates Stadium outfits.

However, we shall be unveiling the top five players who had a memorable experience at the Emirates Stadium. So, Who are the best players to have featured for the Gunners in history?

5. Emmanuel Adebayor

The Togolese striker is fifth on the list following his relative success during the three years he’s spent at the Emirates Stadium. The highly controversial star joined the Gunners in 2006 from Monaco and he went on to feature in 143 matches scoring 62 goals in all competitions.

The 2007-08 season was arguably his most productive campaign in the Gunners’ red and white jersey as he found the back of the net on 30 occasions from just 40 starts. Unfortunately, Adebayor didn’t win any trophy with the team before he was captured by Arsenal rival Manchester City in 2009.

4. Alex Song

The Cameroon legend rightly occupies the fourth position due to his breathtaking performances he put up throughout his days with Arsene Wenger’s men. Unlucky not to be part of the invisible Gunners, Song joined the team in 2005 from Bastia (first on loan before the deal was made permanent) and he stayed at North London for seven years. Though the defensive midfielder wasn’t consistent in his early days with the team, he can prevent best players from going past him whenever he’s in fine form.

He would be remembered for his wonderful display in his last few seasons with the club when he finally showcased his potentials and quality. Unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough to prevent the French manager from sanctioning his move to Barcelona in 2012. Did he won any trophy with the Gunners? Sadly No

3. Kolo Toure

The inspirational and sturdy Ivorian deserves the third spot, thanks to the defensive prowess he showcased throughout his days with the team. Despite coming from a lowly-rated Ivorian side ASEC academy in 2002, the former Liverpool man stood his ground against amidst intense competition for spots in starting lineup. He established a formidable partnership with Sol Campbell at the heart of the defence, and he played a massive role in the team’s record-breaking run to 2003-04 EPL title without a single defeat.

2. Lauren

This is another Cameroonian on the list and he justifiably stays in the second position. He was part of the ‘invincible’ squad having joined the Gunners in 2000 through to 2007 in which he played 241 games scoring nine goals in the process. He helped Arsene Wenger’s men to two EPL titles, and he did these same with his country as he led them to two back-to-back AFCON trophies.

1. Nwankwo Kanu

44 goals in 198 games, Nwankwo Kanu tops our list of best five African legends that have featured for the North London club. Despite spending just five seasons under Wenger, the versatile player won two EPL titles, two CAF player of the year awards and two BBC African player awards. It will interest you to know that he was part of the highly-rated invisible Gunners team.

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Filed under Arsenal, Emmanuel Adebayor, Fictional Bollocks, gooner news, News, Opinions, Premier League, Wenger

Arsenal v Swansea- The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

A typical Jekyll and Hyde performance for the Arsenal resulting in a 2-2 draw away to Swansea and the prospect of a replay at the Emirates. After falling behind we managed to get the lead heading into the final minutes of normal time before Swansea managed to level things up. Lets get into the game.

The Good

We looked very good going forward in the second half. The passing was quite crisp and the movement from the front 3 was good. Poldi scored a very well taken goal after he came on for Rambo.

A really good performance from Gibbo going forward which was rewarded with a cracking volley after a 1-2 with Giroud put him in. reminiscent of Poldi’s goal in the Champions League.

The effort of Jack Wilshere in the middle of the park was really good to see. The young lad really does get through an awful lot of work and seems to cover an unreal amount of distance. I’d love to see the stats in comparison to the other midfielders in the Premiership.

Szcz looked good in goal and dealt well with everything that was asked of him. Couldn’t fault him for either goal in my opinion.

The Bad

Sagna was poor for me today. He has looked slightly out of sorts in recent weeks and I wonder if Jenks would have played today had he been available for selection.

The entire first half was very uninspiring. The malaise that was present in the Southampton performance seemed to have carried over into todays game for the first 45 minutes.

Cazorla was MIA for much of the game. As against Southampton he didn’t seem to be featuring very much as an attacking creative force. Most of his play seemed to be in the middle of the park with Arteta. Hasn’t been at his best for the past month bar the Newcastle game.

Arsene Wenger – I thought the selection of the team to begin with was poor. I have time for Aaron Ramsey and thought he played quite decent today but he is never going to be a left winger. Surely we could have shifted Santi out with and played Rosicky from the start. We didn’t see the Ox at any time today and the first substitution didn’t happen until the 71st minute despite being the goal down.

The Ugly

Our defending is an insult to the most basic of Sunday league teams at times. Merte was too easily beaten by Michu(who else!!) for the first and Kozza was too far out of position to cover for him. The second came about from a set piece of course and our failure to clear the ball let Danny Graham finish at the back post.

The two goals apart, Swansea created numerous chances and just seemed to have far too  much time on the ball. Surely the pressing game we saw deployed so effectively at times last season should be used against the Swans, it always seems to work for other teams against us.

The draw for the fourth round was made after the game and we have been drawn away to Brighton should we get through. Much like our Bradford quarter this a game we should win on paper. Lets manage to get past the Welsh club and have a real go at the FA Cup this season.

Come On You Gunners!!!

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Filed under gooner news, Match Day Postmortem, Mertesacker, Wenger

Sailing in uncharted waters with a man overboard

West Brom arrive at the Grove tomorrow for a game that we would normally be eyeing up with eager anticipation. But these are not normal circumstances. Poor performances, daft mistakes and a worrying lack of goals have left the manager looking a little flummoxed in post-match interviews recently and he’s had to adopt a pretty defiant stance in front of the media. Senior players talk about the need to fight together, work together, and get the fans back on their side. Although Arsene tells us the club is in good shape – and in many respects he is absolutely correct, there’s no escaping the fact that this has been the worst opening sequence to any season during his tenure.

There came a point last season when Gooners and pundits everywhere looked at each other and made the solemn pronouncement that the manager was facing the greatest test of his reign at the club. After the debacle at OT a chap at work even offered me €20 that Arsene would be gone by the end of the season (I took the bet, but not his money).

Now, however, the challenge seems even greater. The mighty dreadnought that was our team of the early noughties has gradually been transformed into a creaking, leaky gunboat with a dodgy rudder. Last season the gunboat hit a couple of mines and survived some aerial attacks, but running repairs were effected and a spirited fight back began with a key battle against the Old Enemy. This season, however, we have run aground since blowing the Spuds out of the water. Not only that, but it looks somtimes as though we’ve lost our way – no charts, a dodgy compass, whilst struggling with a damaged mizzen and three feet in the well, not to mention one of the manager’s favourite able seaman on the sick list (I could go on and on….). There can be no doubt that Arsene is well and truly up against it. But although he acknowledges there are issues, he’s confident that they can be resolved. Is he right?

The statistics for our recent poor run of form make for depressing reading: one win in the last five league games (and averaging only 1.4 points per game over the season so far), and no wins and only two goals in the last four games in all competitions. The midfield has ceased to function effectively and lacks confidence, the defence remains prone to calamitous error and we don’t have enough firepower to make the most of the chances we manage to create. A lot of this is down to the opposition. The likes of Norwich, Shalke, Swansea etc. etc. have played a pressing game and marked our key players closely. Everton managed to prevent us from playing the game as we wanted despite running out of energy after 60 minutes and reverting to a long ball game. The problem is – and you hardly need me to spell it out – that we don’t seem to find a way to cope with the defensive strategy employed by the opposition, and then when the opposition attack we get caught ball-watching and are carved up like the proverbial festive season poultry dish.

I don’t think these problems are purely down to the players on the one hand or coaching staff on the other. It seems more likely each group is failing the other. The gameplan doesn’t work at the moment; consequently the results are not forthcoming, and the players’ morale suffers. But they are sent into the next encounter with the same plan, and it becomes even harder to execute because confidence is lacking and players are scared of making mistakes.

Arsene made these observations on the club website three days ago (at a presser, in fact, but you know what I mean):

“I believe what is important is to play our football, improve the way we play and keep faith in our players. At the moment, that is very important to me. If you look at people’s reaction, everything is dramatic. What is important is to be capable to play football.”

Of course it is very easy in this era of social media for everyone to chuck their opinion around (hence this blog, obviously), and it is even easier to allow one’s texting/typing fingers to rule one’s brain and hurl expletive-ridden knee-jerk reactions around after every poor performance. That doesn’t mean that everyone’s doing it, however. Several well-established pundits, journalists and bloggers have questioned tactics and team selection while maintaining a considered perspective. Everything has not been dramatic.

It’s more likely his comment was aimed at the tabloid hacks in the media and the more extreme end of the club’s supporters. But even the dissent of the angry brigade would be rather less virulent if there were not such a yawning gulf between the capabilities of players and their actual output. Trying to play our particular brand of football doesn’t appear to be working. It seems to me that this is largely because we have become so predictable in our tactical methods that we make it easier for other sides to defend against us. This is compounded by problems with the squad which lacks sufficient depth and balance to provide options when things aren’t working and when key players are tired and injured. There’s no point in keeping faith with your first team players when they are fatigued or carrying a knock. Furthermore, it’s blindingly obvious that Arsene himself is keeping faith with only certain players, having decided with some justification that others (Chamakh and Arshavin – this means you) are not worth considering, except for early-round League Cup purposes. So, while I understand why Arsene is being publicly defiant and resolute, he must surely be aware that our problems need a more thorough fix than “improving and keeping faith”.

There needs to be a tactical rethink, and a change in the structure of the team, by which I mean both in personnel and organisation on the field. Both of these issues are fundamentally interlinked. Not only has the squad has failed to develop in the way the manger had hoped and anticipated, but key personnel have left. The new players that have been brought in our obviously talented, but they still haven’t provided the wider range of options that we need. Our midfield is in particular need of attention – this is not a criticism of our existing trio, but I can’t help feeling (as I’ve said before) that there is need for someone with greater physicality and presence in the mix.

Yesterday’s Tactics Column at Arseblog highlighted Arteta’s role change compared to last season. When he played with Song one of them could join an attack knowing the other would remain deep to protect the defence. When Arteta was injured our results suffered because Song lacked the discipline to stay back with no-one there to cover his forward runs. Now Arteta remains much deeper and leaves Wilshere and Cazorla to do the attacking. Unfortunately this makes it much easier for the opposition to mark him, and likewise Wilshere and Cazorla. All three of them find themselves isolated, and the man on the ball has no option but to put his foot on the ball, turn and play it back the BFG. Perhaps having Wilshere and Arteta alternate roles during games would introduce an element of unpredictability? Jack has played the deeper role before, after all, and this would bring him closer to Arteta as the Tactics Column suggests. This would change the formation somewhat, but that’s surely no bad thing at this stage. Whether or not Arsene is contemplating a mid-season tactical rethink is another matter. It would be unprecedented as far as I am aware, but it seems a necessity.

It seems to me the key element missing from Arsene’s plans for this season has been Diaby. I have remarked on this blog before (and others have made the same observation elsewhere) how  Arsene took a massive gamble in not looking for an alternative to the Frenchman in the transfer market. Perhaps he did look but didn’t much fancy what he found.  If he could stay healthy Diaby would provide a far better balance to our midfield, but hoping/assuming he would remain fit was a leap of faith. I have a very strong feeling that Diaby will not make any meaningful contribution for the rest of the season… or perhaps even any other season. I hope that I’m wrong, but I would be very surprised if he regained sufficient fitness to make a significant number of appearances, let alone starts.

The logical thing to do, therefore, would be to find a replacement for him. Unsentimental, perhaps – but keeping faith with a player who may never be physically robust enough to withstand the demands of the Premiership seems like a luxury we can no longer afford. A lot of Gooners are looking at next months transfer window and wondering who Arsene’s two possible purchases might be. I must confess I haven’t a clue. The media through several names around but it appears as though a lot of these – e.g. M’Vila, Gotze, Llorente – are mentioned simply because they’ve already featured in media speculation over the past 12 or so months, and it’s far easier to regurgitate and rehash old reports than do some genuine research. I’d rather not buy two players though – how about a midfielder, another striker and a left back for a start? A centre half might not be a bad idea, but it’s highly unlikely Arsene sees the need.

Rosicky’s return should be a matter for general rejoicing as he seems one of the few players we have with the determination to keep the ball moving quickly and with purpose. He played a key role in our resurgence last season, and it would be an opportune moment for him to exert a similar influence now. Walcott and Podolski aren’t fit for tomorrow, which in the former’s case may be just as well for his own sake. The manager has expressed his frustration at the stagnation of Theo’s contract negotiations, and another performance like his last would have brought a lot of negative attention from the faithful at the Grove. At this stage, Theo should own up and stop treating us like idiots.

On a final note, Liam Ridgewell will be turning out for the Baggies tomorrow. He’s a player I developed a thorough dislike for when he was at St. Andrews, and this week he confirmed what an odious, classless moron he is by appearing in The Sun, sitting on a toilet with wads of cash littering the floor at his feet, while wiping his arse with a £20 note. I am fully confident that all right-minded Gooners at the game tomorrow will be eager to show him the warm welcome he deserves.

Up the Arse. And here’s hoping for a win…

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Filed under Arteta, Cazorla, Diaby, Friday Night Preview, General Musings, gooner news, Mertesacker, Podolski, Tactical Bollocks, Wenger, Wilshere

Arsenal 3 – Villa 0: our winning form continues…

Arsenal secured a seventh consecutive victory yesterday with a 3-0 result against Aston Villa, and by doing so gained a three point cushion over fourth place Sp**s who were unable to score against the nouveau riche Chavs at the Bridge. It was a scoreline predicted by Nigel Winterburn on Arsenal Player just before kick off, and it turned out that his optimism was fully justified. Koscielny was unable to start having woken up on Saturday morning with a knee problem and he was replaced by Johan Djourou, who found himself at the receiving end of a non-malicious elbow from Emile Heskey moments after the game kicked off.

Thereafter Arsenal started to apply the pressure, and the first half was characterised by the sort of focus and urgency displayed by the team in the first twenty minutes against Everton in mid-week. Gervinho started in place of Ramsey and put in a very good performance, supporting Kieran Gibbs and tracking back to defend effectively whenever the left back made forward runs. It was such forward movement from Gibbs that brought him his first Premier League goal, as he surged between statuesque Villa defenders and fired off a shot from close range. It was an effort that Given should probably have stopped, but Gibbs couldn’t have cared less.

Arsenal’s second was tucked away expertly by Walcott, who showed superb control after Alex Song’s magnificent lofted pass picked him out behind the Villa defence. A powerful effort by Arteta from twenty yards might have put us up by three, and RVP was unlucky to have a close range chance denied by an excellent instinctive goalline header by Warnock.

Villa offered very little in reply; Albrighton looked to counter attack on a couple of occasions but was unable to keep a cool head when it mattered. Emile Heskey confined himself to giving Djourou a hard time, harassing him at every opportunity, which proved ultimately fruitless.

The second half saw us apply some of Arsene’s infamous handbrake. Concentration levels dropped and possession was conceded by a few soft passes and an annoying tendency to over-elaborate. Such were Villa’s limitations, however, that they failed to punish us. Heskey was replaced by Weimann, and the energetic young Austrian proved tricky in and around our penalty area. When Villa did work the ball into dangerous positions, however, no-one was able to get into position to make the seize the opportunity and in the main we defended with focus and efficiency.

The Ox came on for Walcott on the right hand side and demonstrated his searing pace by absolutely skinning the opposition defence with a couple of runs. Ramsey replaced Gervinho and got into shooting positions around the edge of their area, and Andre Santos returned to first team action, only to give the ball away with his first touch – if Villa had been clinical in attack they would have punished us immediately.

Stephen Ireland should have counted himself very lucky to have remained on the pitch – a two footed lunge at Song should have resulted in a straight red, and if referee Dowd had seen it from a different angle he may have acted appropriately. Only a few minutes later, Ireland tripped Rosicky (if I remember correctly) outside the Villa box, and if Dowd had already cautioned him, it would have earned him a yellow. But he’s an odd performer, Ireland, capable of rank stupidity and at other times great skill, and he then went on to make a superb tackle on the Ox in his own penalty area which drew loud appeals for a penalty, which Phil Dowd wisely ignored.

The final significant act of the game came in injury time, following a foul on Song about 25 yards out. Arteta lined up the free kick, and just to confound the expectations of all those Twittering Gooners who were bemoaning his previous effort, he smashed a perfect strike past Given into the corner of the net. It was a superb strike, but it almost seemed too good for the match situation, two goals to the good in injury time against limited opponents; it would have been sweeter if it had been a match winner against Stoke or City, but I’m being churlish. Arteta certainly deserved the goal, and the scoreline was a fair reflection of the game.

We’re off to Loftus Road next weekend, while Sp**s face Swansea at the Lane.  On their current form, Twitcher’s side might find that fixture a real struggle. We should be looking at another three points against Rangers, but as they showed against Liverpool the other night, we cannot afford to take anything for granted. We were greatly superior to Villa yesterday, but a more dangerous opponent might have taken advantage of our lack of focus and intensity in the second half.

In the meantime, however, I’m off to enjoy that free kick again…enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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Filed under Djourou, Gibbs, Match Day Postmortem, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Rosicky, Song, Van Persie, Walcott, Wenger