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Arsenal vs Swansea: Pre-View, Press Conference, Table Predictor, Fans Support

In Arsenal, Premier League 2011/12, Wenger on September 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Pre-Season Is Over:

 

As I have been discussing in recent posts the facts tell the truth and Arsenal currently have only 1 point out of a possible 9 due to the slow movement within the transfer market over the summer.  Yes, we’ve seen recent activity and vital strengthening in the final 48 hours of the transfer window but was this at the expense of not getting at least a win against a somewhat inept Newcastle team.  Conceivably, there could have been a chance to have pushed for a point or 3 against Liverpool who really overcome an embattled Arsenal defence who had been reduced to 10 men and lacked the experience and resilience to close out the match to the 90th minute.

So we have to deal with the situation as it stand and whilst we turn our noses up at the old clichés churned out by member of the club taking each game as it come and the next game is the most important one there is certainly a sense that the situation Arsenal find themselves in is somewhat self-manifested.

What impact doe this potentially have on the final league standing come May?  Who knows but looking at the Castrol Premier League Predictor tool, based upon home and away scoring coefficients (hmmm nearly got a bit too technical there), the best we could expect in 3rd.  Better than some pundits would anticipate Arsenal on achieving and it would certainly be an improvement upon last year but we’re too early into the season to be grateful for 3rd in the final league standing and we’ll continue to review this prediction through the season.

As nice as this looks it would be really nice if the folk at Castrol could crunch a few more numbers to calculate when we can celebrate St. Totteringhams day!

Press Conference

 

Arsene’s first main press conference since the transfer deadline passed took place earlier today and included a mixed smattering of questions on missed transfer targets, squad updates for tomorrows game as well as how well equipped Arsene feels the squad is to compete in all four competitions on offer this season.

With regards to injuries, both Thomas’s (Vermaelen and Rosicky) have been added to the injury list sponsored by Diabyshere as well as Ryo (and he hasn’t played yet!).  Vermaelen is expected to be out for 2 months following his “secret” operation and Thomas Rosicky is recovering from a knock whilst on international duty and is expected to returned for the first Champions League fixture away against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.  Something tells me he might try to ensure he’s fit for that game……

The team is still also impacted by suspensions with three players out following recent red cards activities.  Gervinmho, Alex Song and Carl Jenkinson will all be suspended for tomorrows game but Frimpong will return to Premier League action.  Whether this will be in the starting line-up we’re yet to see.  Other potential absentees could include both Park and Santos who are both in the squad but face minor challenges to make it onto the pitch.  Park is currently stuck is Paris with visa issues to get into the UK whilst Santos is said to be a little short of match fitness.

This makes predicting a starting IX somewhat difficult but I would expect something along the lines of the following:

Szczesny

Sagna  –  Koscielny  –  Mertesacker  –  Gibbs

Benayoun  –  Frimpong  –  Arteta – Ramsey

Walcott  –  RvP

There is certainly a lot of anticipation as to how much of an impact both Benayoun and Arteta will make on their starts.  Arsene was open in that he recognises both players can complement that style that Arsenal likes to play

“I expect him (Arteta) to make an immediate impact  and even as well, Benayoun as they are technically tidy”

The question was asked of Arsene as to whether the unusually flurry of last minute signings was as a consequence of the game at Old Trafford.  To which his response was:

“Not really and some of the transfers were linked to players going out. Like Santos and Park because I knew Bendtner would go out and Traore would go out.”

He also went to add:

“The squad is stronger if you look at the squad we have now and you imagine a midfield with Wilshere and Diaby coming back plus the players like Vermaelen will come back soon I think we have a more mature squad and that is as well important as we will have players with of experience and a good attitude.” 

In this response he did not really recognise the void that Nasri and Fabregas left following their departures as this was still an area that was recognised as a need for strengthening whilst they were still present so the two new midfielders will offer something different but whether this is still progression in that department is still yet to be seen.

The addition of Mertesacker in the short term only covers over the cracks in Vermaelen’s tendons but they will hopefully develop a formidable partnership when playing together.  Santos is certainly an improvement over Traore and will leapfrog Gibbs and if Park can control a first time ball then he has an advantage of Bendtner already.  So I have to agree with Wenger slightly when he says the squad has become more mature and experienced following recent acquisitions but there is still depth that needs to be added to ensure that this squad has the durability to last the whole season.

This was also something picked by John Cross in the Mirror when trying to validate the so-called Arsenal Injury Jinx.  The fact is that other teams have consistently had enough depth in the squad to carry injurys to the first XI.  What was interesting today was Arsene’s comments about Jack Wilshere injury.  The aforementioned article looks to allay concerns that players are being over-trained and over-played (the so called ProZone Red Area) but whilst Jack’s ankle injury was put down to bad luck he did seem to suggest that he had overused Jack towards the end of the season.  So Arsene is still yet to address this lack of squad depth and we’re still in a scenario where we’re fielding players in the very infancy of the first team careers – we can only hope that this will change furthermore in January.

Expectations from Swansea

 

In yesterday’s post I raised the point that it is usually for a home game against a newly promoted team of Swansea calibre to generate such pre-match interest and this is predominately due to off pitch activities around Arsenal.  However, Swansea have earnt the right to be in the premier League and Arsene is certainly treating them with respect in terms of how he will approach the game.  They’ve not had a bad start to their season considering their aspirations and after the 4-0 defeat on the opening day they’ve started out early in becoming misers for conceding goals with two 0-0 draws in their last games. 

“What they have achieved is absolutely magic, at this moment last season, no-one would have given them a chance, so what they have done is absolutely fantastic.
 


“Swansea are a team who look at the numbers who are one of the four or five best teams in terms of passing ability.”

We will see whether or not Swansea suffer from stage fright and they were certainly very active during the recent transfer window and we shall also get to see if their team will gel quickly. 

However, it’s odds on that Arsenal will win tomorrows game with a greatest likelihood of a 2-0 home win.

  

Fan’s Support

 

Earlier this week there was talk on unrest and splits within the fanbase and protest were being planned against the board outside the ground.  These have been subsequently cancelled now (but I think the billboard poster will still be there) as there has been a realisation over recent days that everyone needs to get behind the team and especially the new additions to the squad.  Football is a results based industry and yes, there have been frustrations that the team have been under-equipped for the task in hand but the only real role that the fans can play at the Emirates tomorrow is to make the atmosphere as raucous as they can and help unnerve the Swansea players so that Arsenal gets the result that it needs.

Bring on Saturday and another afternoon at the Emirates – I can’t think of anywhere else I’d want to be and am looking forward to toasting a victory during post-match drinks.

Come on you gunners!!!

GG

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Arsenal vs Swansea: It’s back and it’s going to be spicy!

In Arsenal, Premier League 2011/12 on September 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Thank god that’s over – another round of international games have passed and we can move onto the more important aspect of the Premier League matches this weekend.

Swansea Prelude

This weekend is once again an important one in the recent history of Arsenal FC and will likely shape the rest of the season for the current squad, manager and their relationship with the fans.  Normally, you would relish the opportunity to welcome a newly promoted team who are still looking to establish themselves against top level clubs.  You only have to look back to last August when Blackpool came to the Emirates having just thumped Wigan 4-0 to get a pasting themselves and return home on the wrong end of a 6-0 drubbing.

Yet Swansea offers a different prospect and this isn’t down to the visiting team themselves even though the facts state that they are higher than us in the league and have not conceded in their last two outings (even though this was only against Wigan and Sunderland!).

No, the point here is how the boys in red and white react in light of recent headline grabbing activities that spices things up for Saturdays match:

1. Summer of transfer inactivity vs. late night deadline rollercoaster

There was much frustration over the lack of new players coming in over the summer period and for those signings that did take place the concern was that these were not sufficient to replace potential losses that were anticipated.  In fact, this concern was realised very early into the new season with the losses of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.  This was then coupled by Arsene Wenger playing a Champions League style Red or Black game with qualification against Udinese.  If we hadn’t witnessed that £25 million save by Szczesny then would we have been able to have  been so active towards the end of the transfer window?  Yes, Arsene may have made enquiries of Arteta earlier in the window but would he have been able to convince him to move from Everton with a paycut and Europa League football?  It was a risk and there was a certain element of luck involved too.

2.  Extended Pre-season

As alluded to above, the approach to the start of this season has not exactly been stuff of potential champions.  At this time Arsenal stand just above the dropzone (surprised Sky Sports haven’t picked up on this) with just 1 point out of 9.  Now that Champions League qualification has been confirmed we’ve seen investment in the squad but will we rue dropping 8 points so early in the season.  In fact, if you look at Arsenal’s performance in the league since March the record is very concerning:

DDDWDDLWLLDDLL which equals 13 points out of 42

At this time there can be no excuses, the season starts for real now and unless there is a significant purchase in the January transfer window who can make an immediate impact on the first team then the current crop of players needs to see us through to next May.

3.  Fans Reaction

After the dismal performance at Old Trafford you could sense that there was blood in the air amongst the fan base.  Something needed to change and change quick.  People were looking for scapegoats regarding the lack of investment in the first team, the asset stripping of out best players.  Protests were being arranged for Saturday’s game and the signing of established and experienced international players in Park Chu-Young (26), Per Mertesacker (26), Yossi Benayoun (31), Andre Santos (28), Mikel Arteta (29) may have allayed these slightly.  However, if this going to be sufficiently for all, unlikely and whilst there will still be some disquiet in some corners it will be interesting to see how vocal this will be.

Throwing all of this into the mix and there is certainly a feeling that you can define your own destiny when managing a football club and this is achieved by make sound investments at the right time to strengthen certain squad in inadequacies.  This has been a constant complaint over the past few seasons and there is certainly more visible after recent events but with new additions and the desire to succeed there should be a spicy atmosphere at the Emirates on Saturday even though it’s not Swansea that people will be going to see.  The vast majority of fans will be there to get behind the team and this is all the team need and should expect from those entering through the turnstiles.

There’s not be much else in the news today as everyone is returning from their international duty and tomorrow’s pre-match press conference will give us a greater sense of who received bumps and knock that may impact their ability to play at the weekend.  We’ll also take a close look at the potential new starting line-up and some of the key player profiles as well as looking at some predictions as to where Arsenal could end up in the Premier League table come May next year.

If you want to stay informed of all the latest posts from GloryGunner then you can either sign-up at the bottom of this screen to receive a healthy dose of Arse news directly via email or you can follow my latest comments on Twitter by following @Glory_Gunner.

If you wish you share your thoughts and comments on the current situation then feel free to use the comments sections below.

Speak soon Arsenal chums!

GG

Arsenal: Deadline Day Roller Coaster!! How Did It Feel?!

In Transfers, Wenger on September 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Do you remember the day’s when you were young when your parents tell you that you’re being taken to your first theme park where they have proper rollercoasters.  Not your poxy little ones at Southend Pier that just go round in a circle and dip up and little and bounce down a bit. 

Oh no, the one’s where if you try eating an ice cream whilst on the ride you just end up wearing most of it all over your face and the odd one will going flying into the passenger behind.

And just when you think that it’s all over, you do the whole thing again but backwards leaving you in a complete mess and the end, stomach turned upside and with jelly legs.

That’s how I feel after last night’s transfer deadline orgy via our friends Sky Sports News last night. 

After the rumours from Tuesday about the shoring up of defence with a 6’6” German and a Brazilian left back with wizards feet Wednesday was being embraced with great anticipation. 

Yet things started slowly and it wasn’t until late afternoon that we started to hear that we were in for two midfielders – Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta.  Great, we all thought.  Arsene’s listened to the pleas of the masses and he’s trying to fill the void left by the absences of Nasri and Fabregas.  Two players of Premiership experiences and both creative in their style of play.

That was until midway through the evening we heard that the Arteta move was off.  Mixed reports as to whether or not the clubs couldn’t agree a fee or whether it was in fact personal terms that had led to a breakdown in negotiations.  Therefore, the conclusion was the Arsenal were playing with their usual pokerface and withdrew from negotiations.

There was discontent across the Arsenal twitter world.  Suddenly Benayoun wasn’t enough and certainly not just on a 1 year loan deal.  There was contempt in the air and the summer transfer window was nearly confined to the world of “could have beens” and the usual anti-climax of signing yet another out of favour Chelsea playing prior to the deadline (re. Diarra and Gallas).

But like the momentary eye in the rollercoaster storm, we’d only reached the end of the first leg and with an hour left in the window the train starting rolling backwards again and the Arteta move was back on!  Hoorah, we all cried!  Come on Arsene, sort if out before the Premier League fax machine runs out of paper, we can save our season if we can just get this one player from Everton who had had mixed fortunes recently on the injury front.

And so Big Ben chimed, Jim White’s excitement reached explosive proportions and…….and…..did it go through?……..it did?………yes!  Everything is alright in the world, forget the 8-2 drubbing at the weekend, forget that we are 8 points behind the leaders with only 3 games played already.  We have some players and they’re not still studying their A-levels.

To be true though, the shopping list requirements have been clear for the past 2 years – 1 goalkeeper, 2 centre backs, 2 midfielders and another striker with at least 20 goals in his bag.

Szczesny can fill the GK role if he can add maturity to his already maturing years. 

We could potentially have a 1st choice back four of Santos – Mertesacker – Vermaelan – Sagna.  These line-up can stand up on it own to some of the best. 

If we needed 2 midfielders before the summer then we needed another 4 prior the season start.  However, with the emergence of Frimpong, less petulance from Song and Gervinho, Wilshere remaining fit and Diaby and Arshavin potentially finding fitness and from the addition of Arteta and Benayoun are good solid additions.

Up front, Young is untested really.  He’s led the line at Monaco in the past season but they were recently relegated.  He’s the captain of his national squad but how competitive that team really is would need to be questioned.

So what does this crop of players provide the current squad.?

They certainly bring experience and maturity with the ages covering  the range of 26 – 29 years old.  Mertesacker is a great signing in terms of his international experience (75 caps for Germany at the tender age of 26 – eat that Gary Cahill).

Apparently we now have an inventor and genius in Yossi Benayoun whose other talents involve the creative design for the Israeli Coca Cola bottle.  Well, that was what Wikipedia was stating last night but funny that id doesn’t anymore.

And Mikel Arteta?  He grew up in the Barcelona youth academy before plying his trade elsewhere?  Was his signing truly the lure of Champions League football or could it be that he wants to be next summers perennial Catalan target?  Oh, the cynicism!

We now enter the mundane period of International football and to hope and pray that all the players return fit and well.  Some come down from last nights excitement and with a balance still of £50M+, roll on the january transfer window.  See Arsene, you can have a bit of excitement in your life!  There are reasons to be confident again but maybe not too optimistic. 

GG

Arsenal: The Transfer Saga Continues

In Arsenal, Transfers on August 30, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Pre-amble:

For the past two seasons there has been one consistent topic of discussion in the footballing fraternity:

“What is Arsene Wenger thinking?”

“Why doesn’t he recognise that he needs a goalkeeper, centre back, additional creative midfield outlets, and a striking foil for RvP?”

It was plain and obvious for many outsiders to see and painful for each Arsenal fan to ensure as Arsenal XI’s continued to fail when needed to push on and win some silverware.

And the most recent response? During the summer we have seen Arsene ship out Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue, Jay Emmanuel Thomas and long-term loan deals for Denilson and Carlos Vela.

The replacements? Gervinho, Carl Jenkinson, Joel Campbell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all of whom bought the number of Premiership games experience……0 (zero).

Sunday:

Arsenal were given a few home truths regarding the strength and depth of the squad and endure a humiliating defeat at Old Trafford.

Monday:

The morning after the night before. All that could be heard was what changes need to happen and will they happen and if they do, is there enough time.

Monday evening/Tuesday:

It all kicks off and that £100M kitty started to burn a hole in Arsene’s pocket:

Chu Young Park – Monaco striker and South Korean captain was halfway through a medical process at Lille when all of a sudden it was rumoured to be travelling to London to finalise a deal to Arsenal. What this will do for any hope of a future deal with Lille for Eden Hazard is yet to be seen but Park is now an Arsenal player. Chu is 26 years old and has won 53 caps for the South Korean national side (17 goals).

Andre Santos – up to a week ago the Brazilian left back was looking forward to a season of Champions League football until Fenerbache were turfed out of the Champions League for match fixing and now facing potential self-relegation. Arsene has jumped on this opportunity to sure up the left side of his defence having cut loose the eternally under-performing Armand Traore. Santos is 28 and has won 22 caps for the Brazilian national side.

Per Mertesacker – Mertesacker had been linked with Arsenal previously in the summary and it had looked like that was another opportunity lost. That was until Joachim Low confirmed that Per had departed the Germany squad preparation to fly to London to tie up a transfer to the city. Personal terms are said to have been agreed as well as having passed a medical so all that is left is confirmation of a £10M move from Werder Bremen. That and the chance to get away from having to pick up the slack from Mikael Silvestre

If there was one signing that was needed this summer it was a new centre back to compliment Thomas Vermaelen and after all the talk of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka this signing is a real coup given the price, players age and national and international experience. Per is 26 and has won 75 (that’s seventy-five) caps for the German national side.

And who else?

It’s difficult to speculate 24 hours before a transfer window closes because there is going to be so much guff flying about that will never happen.

Will we make another supposed bid to Rennes for Yann M’Vila? Have Bolton now burnt their bridges over the Cahill transfer?

Will Yossi Benayoun or Mario Gotze (don’t google it!) being wearing red and white this season? If not, we’ll certainly get a first-hand look of the latter during the Champions League games against B. Dortmund.

There’s also the potential for a few more exits. The futures of Nicklas Bendtner and Manuel Almunia were supposed to be resolved this summer. There’s been more talk recently regarding Bendtners departure but very little for Alumnia. It will be interesting in a curious way to see what happens but if Bendtner does stay he could still have a role to play this season.

Also of late, if rumours can be beleived,u there has been some interest from Europe with Chamakh going to PSG on loan and Johan Djourou to Lazio. I’m not convinced that we can actually lose Djourou given the track record of injuries to Arsenal centre backs but a loan move for Chamakh could be a no-brainer. He’s not performing at the moment and if he can develop a bit more somewhere else then great. If not, going on loan puts him in the shop window for a potential transfer in the future.

Wednesday?

This is all very promising and there is still another 24 hours for Arsene to continue his spending frenzy before the window shuts. There’s still some work to be done as the weekend result clearly demonstrated that the current squad was severely lacking but there is now hope that there will be some more surprises to come. You can only hope that the relative lull in rumours in the past few hours is down to the Arsenal negotiation team are getting an early night tonight before a big day tomorrow. Let’s hope they’ve got plenty batteries in the phone, paper for the fax machine, ink in the pens to complete all the registration form and the premier league office on speed dial for final minute registrations.

Roll on transfer day, it’s nice when you’re involved but if it turns out to be any anti-climax there’s always other channels.