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The Premier League swung back into full force yesterday with League leaders Arsenal hosting the surprise package of the season so far Southampton. It was important for Wenger’s men to get back to winning ways after the loss to title rivals Manchester United just before the International break.
The Gunners started brightly taking the incentive as the home side to press Southampton from kick off, Jack Wilshere who capitalised on some slack defending by Saints Centre back Fonte attempted an audacious chip over Artur Boruc who saw the ball cannon back to him gratefully off the upright. Aaron Ramsey saw his impudent back heel come back off the same post just a mere seven minutes later.
Enter the Polish calamity that is Artur Boruc, The Southampton keeper failed to clear a simple backpass trying several cruyff turns to try and lose the pressing Giroud who dispossessed the keeper and tapped into an unguarded net, Saints boss Pochettino looked furious as he had every right to be.
This seemed to wake Southampton who created a few good chances of their own from England new boys Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez who brought out some good saves from Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny who for most part was untroubled.
The second half was much of the same and quite even, it was not until the 86th Minute when Arsenal put the game out of Southampton’s reach, Fonte was adjudged to have pulled Per Mertesacker’s shirt and Arsenal were awarded a penalty, Which Giroud converted with aplomb.
This was not a vintage Arsenal display by any means but was a professional performance which appears to now be in their locker. These were the type of games a year ago that Arsenal would be dropping points in. Szczesny looked comfortable all game, the back four looked solid and are working as a unit, The Midfield has been the cornerstone of success for Arsenal so far this season and the main reason why they sit top after 12 league games. Giroud lead the line well again, his work rate is sensational he does not stop making runs for 90 minutes game in game out.
Arsenal will now look to Tuesday night and the visit of French side Marseille and could wrap up top spot in the “Group of death”. Marseille boss Elie baup is expected to rest players ahead of clash with his side sitting bottom and with zero chance of qualification from the group and have not taken a single point so far. An Arsenal win and a slip up from Napoli against Borussia Dortmund will see Arsenal clinch qualification.
Arsenal currently have no less than seven players on the treatment table (who you would consider as being part of the first team) probably the most important one is comeback kid Matthieu Flamini who has proved many wrong with his performances since returning to the Emirates, they say you should never go back, Flamini (out with a groin problem) has proved there is an exception to every rule, he along with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil have been the main protagonists in Arsenal good early form.
So where does this leave the shape of Arsenal’s midfield for the visit of title challengers Liverpool. With there being no recognisable Defensive Midfielder currently in the first team, is it time to try something a little different? maybe playing Mikel Arteta deep alongside Thomas Vermaelen, Arteta’s passing has never been in question you just have to look at his passing stats from the last two seasons to aid weight to that claim but defensively he has a lot to prove, he is not the strongest and playing him alone with another creative midfielder has often left Arsenal’s back four an easy target for visiting teams at the Emirates. Someone like Vermaelen could add that stability and allow Arteta to concentrate on what hes good at.
There are other possibilities he could go back to the good ol’ days of the much maligned 4-4-2, this would be an interesting one, but with the lack of wingers available it would call for playing creative players out of position, square pegs in round holes if you will.
A system that I recall Wenger using very infrequently but has used when down to 10 men strangely last season was the 3-5-2 (or 3-5-1 as it was) this is flexible and with Liverpool recently adopting a 4-4-2 system themselves to accommodate the return of the biter Luis Suarez this could be a valid option.
3 centre backs
This would consist of Vermaelen Left, Per Mertesacker central and Koscielny on the right.
In effect the side would operate with wing backs which would be ideal for Kieran Gibbs on the left and likewise Bacary Sagna on the right.
this would allow a little bit more freedom with the centre of midfield so you could get away with only playing one deep lying creative player in the place of an enforcer that is where Arteta would come in, ahead of him would be Ramsey and a pick of either Santi Cazorla or Jack Wilshere with Mesut Ozil in support of the main man Olivier Giroud.
Wenger seems scared to adapt from one game to the next and as every football fan knows that is a sign of a good tactician. Arsenal have the players to play various systems but Wenger just sees change as a sign of weakness, it is not it is a sign of a strong and talented squad. It will be interesting to see how both sides shape up in what is to be quite a cagey affair but also has the possibility of also being mouth watering.
Provisional Squad: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud, Fabianski, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Bendtner, Monreal, Jenkinson, Miyaichi.
Four of the last six league meetings in north London have ended in draws, with one win apiece. Arsenal scored twice inside three minutes through Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott to earn a draw from 2-0 down in the corresponding fixture last January.
Liverpool’s only win in their last 12 league games against Arsenal came at the Emirates Stadium in August 2011.
An Aaron Ramsey own goal and Luis Suarez strike gave Liverpool their only win at Arsenal in the last 13 years.
This is the 215th meeting between the clubs in all competitions. Liverpool lead by 82 wins to Arsenal’s 76.
The Gunners have earned 22 points out of the last available 24.
They are the only team to score in each of their Premier League matches this season.
Arsene Wenger’s side have taken the lead in eight of their nine league fixtures, the best record in the division.
November is Arsenal’s least productive month in Premier League history – they average only 1.55 points per game.
Aaron Ramsey has five goals and three assists in his last six league appearances.
Liverpool’s tally of 20 points after nine games represents their best Premier League start since 2008.
They have double the number of points they had at this stage last season.
The Reds have conceded in each of their last six league games, having started the season with three successive clean sheets.
They have hit the woodwork a league-high eight times this season.
Daniel Sturridge has scored 14 goals in his last 14 league appearances.
Luis Suarez has scored six goals in four league games since returning from suspension.
Simon Mignolet will make his 100th Premier League appearance. He has kept 33 clean sheets.
German International Striker Marco Reus is a very sought after hot property in World Football at the moment. Currently playing for his boyhood club Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. he has already been subject of a supposed bid of £20 million plus in the summer from Arsenal F.C and it is being reported that Wenger is ready to go again in January. It is no secret that there are very key areas that were not strengthened in the summer transfer window especially in attack. The squad is very thin when it comes to Strikers with only Olivier Giroud, Yaya Sanogo (when fit) and Nicklas Bendtner (not available until he shifts some “baggage”). Lukas Podolski would be another option but Wenger does not see him as a Centre Forward and sees him more playing from the left as he does for the German National team.
Marco Reus who can play just behind a target man or anywhere in a front three is likely to set Arsenal back around £30 million which would be very good business considering the market value for a player of that calibre. Reus has a very good goal scoring pedigree and has scored 7 goals in 17 appearances for the National side and also has bagged 16 goals in 37 games for his current side Dortmund.
It is also being reported that another German attacker is being watched very closely, Julian Draxler who was also subject of rumoured bid in the summer is doing the rounds once more. He currently plys his trade at Schalke and also recently signed a new deal at the club. He is said to have a fee release clause of £34 million which is a lot of money for a player that has only showed signs of potential thus far but he is only 20 years old and has a lot of time to prove his worth. Draxler who has only had 7 caps for the ever improving German national side scoring 1 goal and has also scored 13 goals in 80 games for Schalke. He has been described in some quarters as a younger Podolski. he is almost like an old fashioned winger which is something that Arsenal could do with to add variation to their play as sometimes the attacks are quite predictable.
The one worry many fans will have I am sure will be that there does not seem to be any hurry to invest in the defensive side of things, while both Reus and Draxler would bolster the squad and add real weight to Arsenal as an attacking force, the defence still has some real problems and not really any depth. Vermaelen is on his way back which is a boost and will alleviate some pressure on Koscielny and Mertesacker but the club are still short of one or two more Centre backs not to mention a holding midfielder. Mathieu Flamini has done a very good job since returning to the club on a free transfer from AC Milan but other than that there are not really any options after that. There is definitely a need to invest in other key areas.
What a difference a season makes it was this time last year that one Aaron Ramsey’s days seemed numbered at Arsenal. The fans were on his back with every single pass that went astray. It seemed that another young mercurial talent had been the victim of a callous tackle that would harm the progression of a promising playing career. This happened a few seasons before at Stoke back in February 2010.
It just goes to show what dedication and perseverance can help you achieve. Their was a lot of rehabilitation and thanks to the foresight of medical staff Ramsey went under the knife straight away. The Club obviously had previous experience with the tragic Eduardo injury just one year before (he has never fully recovered). There was a massive danger this could be just as disappointing.
This Summer many fans saw a dramatic change in Ramsey after having a very impressive pre-season where for me he was the most improved player at the club putting in some notable contributions concluding in an encouraging display beating Man City 3-1.
Aaron Ramsey has kicked on from that performance and could very well be the catalyst for a return to silverware for Arsenal that will be very eager to avoid another trophyless season.
Ramsey’s record speaks for itself contributing 6 goals in 7 appearances already in this campaign it is not just the goals he has brought to the team. His work rate has been phenomenal, covering every blade of grass and has also shown some very good organisational skills just in front of the back four. He has been the one player that has taken games by the scruff of the neck and made things happen, he makes Arsenal tick at the moment. The Ramsey / Wilshere debates seems to rumble on but with Ramsey’s recent performances their is only one winner on this form.
Many pundits predicted that with the arrival of Mesut Özil that this would hamper Ramsey’s
progress this has not been the case, he will surely only improve training with such a natural footballer.
Fans and Journalists alike were openly encouraging Arsene Wenger and the board to Invest heavily in the squad which to a certain extent they have with the capture of Mesut Özil on deadline day, However it would just be steeped in Irony if a major answer to the clubs problems was already on the payroll. Only time will tell if this will be the season that Arsenal end the drought but with the start they have made this season it is a good bet that this could be the season.
I will hold my hands up and admit that I was one of Aaron Ramsey’s biggest critics last season, his form wasn’t helped by the fact that Wenger played him out on the wing but I still got frustrated with watching him play last season and I honestly couldn’t see that he was going to improve but in true Ramsey style he is making me eat my words. I don’t know what happened to him in the summer but whatever he did it worked, to coin a Wenger phrase I normally hate but Ramsey “is just like a new signing”, the improvement from last year is immense and he is currently holding our team together and doing it really well.
Ramsey has scored 5 goals in 8 games currently making Van Persie look like Torres, his finish has improved greatly as has his linking play and ability to read the game and be more aware of where his teammates are around him on the pitch but the biggest improvement in Ramsey is his confidence-he has bundles of it at the moment and I think the team are feeding off this renewed energy and so they should. It’s good to see Ramsey shouting on a pitch and telling players where to go and what he is doing next, he rarely communicated leaving everyone guessing what he was going to do and as a result they are linking much better and creating better chances. Not only is he creating chances for the others but he is scoring goals and they have been decent goals-every single one of them. He used to fumble and flounder in front of a goal but now he approaches the box with confidence, just shoots and scores goals like he has been doing it the whole time.
I am so excited to see how Ramsey’s season pans out, I really think he could be one of our best players this year and with Özil, Flamini, Wilshere and Cazorla we could build a fierce midfield that our opposition will detest playing against. If he carries on this form he could also be a great potential future captain.
So once again I’m sorry because I was very wrong about Ramsey but I’ll make up for it by cheering him on all season singing “He scores when he wants, he scores when he wants, Aaron Ramsey he scores when he wants”
After the impressive debut of one Mesut Özil it is clear to see that as a club Arsenal have reached their maximum needed for creative Midfielders, Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla can all play in that role. There is undoubtedly still need to re-invest in the squad come January so we can mount a serious challenge on the top four and maybe beyond that.
1. Marco Reus
The exciting forward Marco Reus has been on Arsenal’s radar for a few seasons and would definitely fit the bill for Arsenal’s style of play. he can operate up front on either wing or as a typical No.10 he is quick, skillful and has a great eye for goal. he is also a Germany International and has an impressive strike rate of notching 7 goals in 17 Internationals. However it maybe difficult to prize him away from his current club Dortmund who are his boyhood club.
2. Steven Defour
Steven Defour would add a sense of solidity in front of the Back Four, he is a box to box midfielder but normally operates as a holding midfielder for Belgium and would be a very good acquisition. He currently plays for Porto and has been their since 2011. He has good experience Internationally (40 caps) and within the Champions League. He would give other midfielders like Ramsay, Özil and Wilshere the chance to go and create.
3. Ilkay Gundogan
Another Defensive Midfielder Arsenal should definitely have on their radar is Ilkay Gundogan, he is a very impressive Defensive Midfielder who currently plays for Dortmund, he screens the back four very well and gives other Midfielders the chance to cause the damage. he is quite similar to the aforementioned Defour and would be a very good acquisition. He has only had 8 caps for Germany but at the young age of 22 has the potential to be one of the best Defensive Midfielders in world football, he is already one of the best around.
4. Lars Bender
Another German International Lars Bender has impressed many in recent seasons in the Bundesliga with his current club Leverkusen. Arsenal already had a bid rejected earlier in the Summer and I would fully expect them to go back again with an improved bid in January. He is very versatile can play Defensive Midfield or anywhere in the Back Four. He is a good age at 24 years old. he has a great work rate and loves a challenge which is something that the Arsenal midfield really lacks.
5. Adil Rami
Rami who is an experienced France International would fit the bill as a good buy for the Back Four, this is a priority position for Arsenal in January as the club is very short of experienced Defenders and this is still a worrying position. Rami who is 27 and currently plays for Valencia and was on loan at Lille last season is unhappy at the Spanish club and was seeking a move this summer, However no bids were accepted and for a fee of around £7-10 Million should be enough for Arsenal to capture the Centre Half.
These are five players that I believe Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board should be looking at come Janaury they would no doubt increase the clubs chances of some very long awaitied Silverware.
The Premier league returns today after another disappointing break for the England team and provides a welcome distraction from the World Cup Qualifiers. There are expected to be late fitness tests for Wilshere and Ramsay who both came off early for England and Wales in Midweek. Ozil picked up an Illness bug while away with Germany but is expected to make his Arsenal debut at the Stadium of Light. Mertesacker also picked up an Illness bug but does not travel he joins absentees Rosicky and Sanogo who are International casualties they also join Longterm injuries Arteta, Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski.
09/02/2013 Sunderland 0-1 Arsenal
11/07/2012 Sunderland 1-2 Arsenal
18/09/2010 Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal
21/11/2009 Sunderland 1-0 Arsenal
04/08/2008 Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal
Szczesny: is expected to keep his place as No.1 although there is certain to be pressure from Loan Signing Emiliano Viviano in the coming weeks. he has looked more assured in recent games and appears to be a welcome return to form.
Sagna: Is expected to carry on at Right Back definitely his best position within the back four, He has had a very impressive start to the season and the hope is that he can now push on and have a very good season.
Koscielny: Seemingly improving every season, now by far the best defender at the club becoming more and more consistent he would be the first name on the team sheet for me.
Vermaelen: It is a welcome return for Tomas as the club is very thin on the ground in this department. He will certainly be hoping to regain his form from his first season at Arsenal where he was immense.
Gibbs: Kieran is being pushed all the time by Nacho Monreal which could explain the progress he has made in the last year and is starting to look very accomplished at left back.
Ramsey: has had an impressive start to this season playing just in front of the back four, he finally is being played in his strongest position, Aaron looks a completely different player to last season and more like the player he was before his leg break.
Wilshere: Has had an inconsistent start to this campaign but will hopefully now kick on and put some performances in. He got some pretty unfair criticism from England fans in the week and I am sure he will come back stronger and answer his critics.
Walcott: Yet to score in the premier league this season but offers a lot more than goals to this team, he always looks dangerous and has put in some very good performances of late he has linked up very well with Ramsay on numerous occasions.
Özil: Mesut is expected to start today and I for one cannot wait to see him In an Arsenal shirt, he can add so much more to this team, the Midfield will go up a few levels in creativity with Özil in the team. he has great movement, he is busy, great eye for a pass and a great left foot on him. Mourinho has referred to him as the best No.10 he has ever worked with and Ronadlo was angry when he was sold to make room for Gareth Bale those are two very impressive references indeed. He has also been likened to one Dennis Bergkamp, I expect him to pay back his £42.4 million in full.
Cazorla: Santi got the all important goal last time out at the Stadium of Light and expect him to be involved heavily again today. he spent a lot of last season looking out of his depth on the wing but has looked a lot better there this season, his link up play has been as good as ever looking forward to him linking up with Özil could be something very special.
Giroud: It is no surprise that Giroud starts as he is the only real recognisable Striker fit at the club, although I feel he has earned the faith shown in him. He has started this season as well as Daniel Sturridge (Player of the Month) and shows signs of only getting better. he has surely adhered himself to the fans even more with his well taken goal against Tottenham last time out. I fully expect him to cause Sunderland many problems today.
I foresee a cagey start to the game at The Stadium of light with both teams urgently needing all three points. When the game has settled down Arsenal should boss the Midfield through out. 3-1 to the Arsenal
Jack Wilshere received a lot of criticism today for his performance against Ukraine and I think some of it was unfair especially from Gooners. I’ll admit that Wilshere just isn’t up to scratch for club or country at the moment but he was no worse on Tuesday night than the rest of the team. What I think people neglect to remember is that Wilshere is still recovering from his ankle injury, it is clear that he hasn’t regained full strength yet as he is picking up niggles every now and then. With the signing of Ozil, Wilshere will get to rest and hopefully repair the damage fully and be back to his normal self. A lot of us wrote Ramsey off last season myself included but he has been our best player so far this season proving that in time you can return to full ability. Wilshere still gets on that pitch in any state and gives his all and you have to admire him for that and cut him some slack, it was just one game.
As always International duty has taken it’s toll on the team but this time it is ridiculous as our injury list has extended to 10 players. Walcott has an Achilles injury and will have a late fitness test as will Jack Wilshere who also took a hard knock in a challenge in Ukraine. Rosicky is out with a possible thigh strain and was taken off injured and Ramsey collided with an advertising board and injured his head. Yaya Sanogo has also picked up his second injury of his Gunners so far but at least Diaby gets some company now. I really think we are going to struggle without ten players, but maybe Zelalim, Gnabry and Akpom will get a chance to gain some experience in the first team.
New signing Mesut Özil scored for the German National team On Tuesday and looks set to make his debut this weekend with so many players crocked. He arrived at Arsenal today and his first picture at the London Colney is above.
That’s the latest Arsenal news from the GIA team
It is being reported that Arsene Wenger is to be offered a new contract that is estimated to be worth £15 Million. This is certain to frustrate a section of the Arsenal faithful as they are still restless with all things Wenger. With rumours also circulating that Gazidis’s future at the club is coming to an end. The conspiracy theorist within me would suggest that this is due to tension at board level that has existed for several season now. More than likely born out of Gazidis’s frustration with Wenger refusing to pay the big money to progress the club.
There will no doubt be some of the Arsenal faithful that think that Wenger has changed his focus now with the signing of Mesut Ozil for £42.4 million, there is no doubt that Wenger played an integral part in the capture of Ozil. Ozil is quoted as saying Wenger phoning him and even speaking to him in German was a major factor in his decision as he turned down a late PSG bid for him on deadline day. Although upon reflection I would have to go with the opinion that the deal had all the hallmarks of an Ivan Gazidis deal mirroring the deals that have gone before, Mertesacker, Arteta, Cazorla, Monreal all previous negotiated by Gazidis and also deals that have been integral in Arsenal’s Champions league qualification season after season.
The Clubs Future
The way the ozil deal was done was almost a throwback to the Dein days where Wenger identified a target and then the board took over negotiations and got it done. This surely shows that the club are in great need for a Director of Football even more so now. Wenger has said on many occasions when pushed on this possibility that he would not entertain such a change, but how can this even be his decision? this is a decision for a club Chief Executive to make. Arsenal as a club are at a crossroads, do they stick or twist? it is important to always keep moving as a club and being receptive to change.
I have for many years defended Wenger’s principals regarding targets and transfer policy especially his stance on youth development but it appears his vision has been clouded by his own legend and his blind perseverance regarding his own legacy. he himself has even said ” The transfer market is a problem for me” only days before the Transfer window came to a close. If Arsene is to get a contract extension this should be shrouded in ultimatum after ultimatum.
1, You are no longer in charge of Transfer policy at the club there is a Director in Football in place for this.
2, Your role will now consist of everything that falls within a team coach remit and nothing more.
3, You may identify targets for the club but the decision will be made between the Director of Football and the Club board how they go about this.
These are the three important ultimatums that must be adhered to then the ball is in his court. Wenger’s contract is ticking done and ends in the Summer of 2014. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as it would appear that the Emirates is not big enough for the both of them.
In Summary I would really like to see Wenger stay on in some capacity at the club for all his years of service that he has dedicated to Arsenal Football Club but not in his current role, his role needs to change or he needs to move on. I can see him as a good youth development coach that Is where his best attributes would be put to greater use. There are obviously many names that could take the Management helm which I am sure there will be an article in the near future to identify these but one things for sure change is just around the corner.