A detailed look into Arsenal’s four biggest problems and how to solve them

I may be one of the staunchest pro-Wengerites on the face of the earth but even I can admit that Arsenal have problems at the moment.

However, instead of just yelling “Sack Wenger and buy some players!” I thought I’d have a go at solving those problems with the personnel we have at our disposal.

Problem: We can’t defend counter-attacks

Twice against Manchester United, once each against Chelsea and Everton (just to name four recent examples) we’ve conceded goals as a result of lightning-quick counter-attacks. They have caused defensive disorganisation that we haven’t been able to deal with and left under-fire goalkeeper Manuel Almunia unfairly exposed.

Solution: Get the defensive players doing their jobs again

By positional definition William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen are central defenders. Similarly Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy play as wing-backs or if you want to be consistent, left or right-sided defenders, while most football observers would label Alex Song as a defensive-midfielder.

All five players are tied together by the same positional root-word: defend. Yet all five players seemingly love to get forward. And while that fits in perfectly with Wenger’s total football philosophy it has seriously hurt us in recent weeks against the big sides.

Clichy has bombed forward haphazardly in the last two games, Vermaelen and Gallas’ forward forays cost us against United and Everton while Song got caught forward for Chelsea’s second and generally made Abou Diaby, one of our most effective attacking weapons, do far more defensive work. Pre-African Cup of Nations Song was a strict defense-first player but only Sagna really appears to know what his job is just at the minute.

The ironic thing is that, at their best, every one of our back five is a good defender. They can all tackle, they can all jockey and they all know a thing or two about defending. But at the moment they are not working as a unit, not doing their job properly and it is costing us games.

Our 4-3-3 formation flourished earlier in the season because it allowed our back five to sit deep and requested that our front three and the two attacking midfielder applied as much pressure as possible on the opposition players. That needs to return and the defensive players need to be asked to do what they are supposed to be doing: defending.

Problem: We can’t defend set-pieces

Not much to add here really. We’ve struggled all season defending set-pieces and in recent weeks have conceded against Everton, Stoke and Chelsea via the dead ball.

Solution: Work out a consistent system or change personnel

There’s no debate that our best back five is the one I’ve mentioned above. Adding Abou Diaby and Nicklas Bendtner to that line-up gives us sufficient height yet an inability to defend set-pieces has been a consistent problem throughout the season.

Given that there is no personnel changes necessary the best way that this could be solved is to work out a consistent system on set-pieces and give each player a defined role. I understand that there are players coming in and out each week but there needs to be a consistency to the way we defend.

That might be to have the same players on the post every time, certain players defending certain opponents or even a switch to a more zonal sort of marking that may just suit our players. At the moment players are not organising quickly enough and being moved around far too easily by the opposition attackers and it simply has to stop.

If players can’t do the jobs assigned to them then Wenger has to seriously consider changing the personnel. If Almunia can’t deal with the pressure around him then Lukasz Fabianski needs to come in. If Gael Clichy is aimlessly wandering from his station at the far post then Armand Traore needs to return. There are risks in both moves but at the end of the day we’re conceding goals from these situations and there’s no point making the same mistakes over and over.

Problem: We lack cutting edge up front

I am one of many that have been bemoaning a lack of physical striker since the injuries to Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner and the repeated absence of such a player has had a big impact on our performance. Despite much possession against Manchester United and Chelsea we had virtually no cutting edge up front and no player to challenge for the multitude of crosses and high-balls that came into the area. One goal from the last three games against the cream of the crop says it all.

Solution: Find the right balance between speed, strength, technique and unpredictability

With Bendtner available again we have the right players at our disposal to cause trouble for each and every team in the Premier League and Europe. The Dane has huge belief in his own ability – not misguided in my opinion – and is arguably the most important player in our bid to claw back the nine-point deficit and win the title.

His record of 15 goals from 27 starts last season suggests he has the ability to score goals and his added physical presence is most welcome. It’s clear that Wenger believes he can get the job done and that belief must have been a huge factor in the manager’s reluctance to dip into the transfer market and bring in someone else. We can only judge at the end of the season whether he was right.

Taking into account rotation and injuries I believe the best forward three combination is Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky. Arshavin is a class act while Rosicky’s recent performances have edged those of Samir Nasri. Both the Russian and the Czech have an end product to their game that the other attackers appear to be lacking and perhaps most importantly, both have the sufficient pace and self-belief to take defenders on and beat them.

Nasri is a tough one at the moment. His ball control is superb but his impact on the game appears minimal and that needs to change. His dilly-dallying over whether to shoot or pass against Chelsea was a reminder of just how infrequently he is getting into goalscoring positions although the presence of Bendtner will certainly help his cause.

Problem: Attacking set-pieces are virtually pointless

Since Robin van Persie’s injury deprived of us his superb dead-ball delivery my reaction to winning a corner or a free-kick in a wide area has become something resembling sarcasm over what we simply can’t achieve. When I see Fabregas or Arshavin or anybody else who bothers to take one knock it short, I generally bury my head in my hands or yell expletives at the television over how things will inevitably turn out. In other words, I’m not filled with optimism.

Solutions: Concentrate on the basics and scrap short corners

The way I see it there are essentially three factors that attacking sides have control of to determine how likely they are of scoring a goal off a set piece. The first is the delivery of the ball, the second is the size and aerial ability of the players receiving that ball and the third is the movement by that same group of players.

In general terms if the delivery is good, the players are tall and know how to head the ball and they make the right runs then you have a more decent chance of scoring than if the ball is poor, the players are short and poor in the air and the remain static. There will be exceptions to this rule but I don’t think there would be many people who disagree.

We certain have limits in this part of our game. We are struggling for accurate delivery and our team is not the tallest, yet I just can’t understand why our movement is so poor. Why aren’t our players charging in with authority, attacking the space and making the opposition defenders think about what to do as much as possible? Standing still gives opponents the simple task of attacking the balls near them and in most cases winning out because of their superior height and aerial ability.

It’s inexcusable but on the plus side is easily fixable. It doesn’t take hours and hours of training ground practice, something we know Wenger and his team aren’t going to do anyway, it takes a simple instruction from the manager to ensure our players charge into the area with pace in various directions to make the defenders do as much work as possible.

It also means scrapping short corners. Seriously, when is the last time one of them has worked?

The role we can play as fans

So in short my suggestions are to get the defence thinking about defending, back Bendtner to prove the goods up front and ensure our attacking players put in a focused effort on game day regarding both attacking and defensive set-pieces. It’s not rocket science yet I feel it would make a huge improvement.

I also think there is a significant role we can play as fans and that is simply to keep the faith and back the manager and his players until the end of the season.

As a blogger who keeps his eye on the media I have to say I find the questioning of Wenger’s long-term project and the venomous criticism of his decision not to sign a striker in the January transfer window to be quite perplexing. Indeed, when you look deeper into both of those reasons for criticism it’s hard not to side with the manager.

In terms of his long-term project of developing another team that can conquer England and hopefully Europe, things are going well. He has got a strong nucleus of players that are improving with each season and should peak within the next few years, perhaps even collecting a trophy or two before that peak comes. Look at Song and Diaby’s rise this season and project onto players like Bendtner, Nasri and Aaron Ramsey and the future is undeniable.

There is a fear that Fabregas might go but anybody who takes the word of the Catalan media, who are designed to provoke and report in a biased manner to get what they want, over that of our captain, who has repeatedly quashed such rumours and stated that he is happy at Arsenal, is quite simply a fool. It’s clear that Fabregas understands the potential in this side and the longer that they stick together the more and more chance there will be that trophies will come.

The manager’s reluctance to sign a striker in January is easily explainable and quite understandable. Before Villa, United and Chelsea we were getting by quite nicely and now they are over we have Bendtner, a player that is clearly highly-regarded by the management, ready to play. More depth would undeniably be good but with Marouane Chamakh appearing as almost a certain addition on a free in the summer you can understand the manager’s reluctance to spend several million pounds on the same player to patch up a problem that has only been apparent for three games.

As I said before the best thing we can do as fans is to get behind the team and the manager. It’s not a blind rally to support a manager or team that don’t deserve it, it is the realisation that this club is in a better position that most people suggested we would be in and that personnel-wise, nothing can actually change until the summer.

If Arsene Wenger and his team still hasn’t achieved any improvement by then by all means vent your frustrations. But until then let’s support our boys and focus on what we can do with the group at our disposal.

Thoughts?

Have your say on Arsene Wenger and the state of the current team by leaving a comment.

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61 Responses to “A detailed look into Arsenal’s four biggest problems and how to solve them”

  1. Michael
    February 9, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    “The manager’s reluctance to sign a striker in January is easily explainable and quite understandable.”

    No, not at all. I can follow your line of argument, but it still doesn’t hold up. Bendtner has been injured, yes, but he also only scored 3 goals this season. Hardly a figure to inspire great confidence in him.
    Chamakh MIGHT come in the summer, however then we’ll have gone through another pointless and disappointing season.

    The money was there, it should have been spent to improve the squad, Wenger decided not to and now he has to live with the criticism.

    Oh, and as far as the ‘promising future project’ is concerned, it’s not working. Imagine how frustrated Cesc must be. He’s such a good player but has no chance to win anything with his club.
    Banking on young players to come good is fair enough, but one can’t wait forever for them to start delivering.

    Football is about results and winning stuff, and Arsenal are don’t do very well on either count.

  2. Andrew Weber
    February 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    @ Michael – A fair point, for sure. And a welcome comments.

    To answer your points, yes, Bendtner has only scored three goals this season. But those goals came from the right side of the front three which is not the same as him playing up front. Last season he scored 15 from 27 starts and that is a more telling statistic. He might not succeed, that is certainly an option, but we cannot judge Wenger until he does.

    In terms of another striker, it’s undeniable that an appropriate addition would have helped, but who? It’s clear that Wenger wants Chamakh and generally when he wants a player he will put him in his long-term plans and get him. To splash 10 million on a player that can be got for free in six months time is understandable. The risk is that it might cost us a title, but there’s no guarantee that we would have won anyway, so all I’m saying is that I can understand why Wenger has held off. If I was in his position, I probably would have done the same.

    I also disagree that the project is working. It relies on keeping certain players but looking at the current squad I don’t see any Adebayors, Hlebs or Flaminis in the current setup, only players that are thankful for their opportunity and want to repay the manager. Likewise nothing that Fabregas has said suggests he wants to go to Barcelona and he is still only 22, captain of the club and grounded enough to see the potential in this team.

  3. Michael
    February 9, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    I have to say I’m not convinced by Chamakh at all, so to I’m not projecting any hopes in him. If indeed he does come, I hope he’s not that injury-prone.

    I also don’t know which striker should and could have come in. But, to repeat an Arseblog argument, with his knowledge and contacts I find it hard to believe that Wenger was unable to identify a possible target.

    Last week’s story of some unspecified nearly-signing was infuriating to say the least. We really could have done with at least one player, basically in every position bar central midfield.
    I understand your reasoning regarding Wenger not buying a striker, but how often have Arsenal fans discussed about him not buying the players we need? Too often in my opinion and at some point at least my understanding is beginning to decrease.

    I don’t doubt Cesc’s loyality at all, but how long will he tolerate those self-inflicted financial austerity measures at the club? He simply deserves a better squad.

  4. wandega joseph
    February 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    i greatly agree with u guys but dont u think the arsenal problem is lack of game plan and poor goal keeping. Alumnia is so pathetic to stand in the arsenal goal.Unless he pays wenger part of his salary to stay in goal there is no way any top 4 team would play in succession of a 8 goal drubbing out of just two games.He can never make any save to keep his team in the game.He has never been man of the match of course Lehman did that, I remember Manone being man of the match against Fulham.But where is Alumnia for heavens sake .The statistics show.Only a myiopic coach would retain him. We cant win anything with him in goal and we shall continue leaking our wounds while our superiors enjoy the trophies with their fans.

  5. Michael
    February 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Almunia is a clown, he shouldn’t be playing for us anymore. But our only alternative is Fabianski, and he’s not very good as well.
    All things considered our goalkeeping department isn’t top class and not good enough for a title challenge. Another area we need to improve in. But that involves spending money. If only the other Pole who’s on loan at Brentford was a bit older, he looks very promising indeed. But we shouldn’t wait for him to come good in 3-5 years, we need results and trophies asap.

    Poor game plans is another issue I think Andy discusses from time to time.

  6. km1980
    February 9, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    Really good article Andrew, much better balanced than most pieces in the last week or so around the web.

    I see what you are saying about the striker situation, and the reasons you have provided are undoubtably those that Arsene weighed up before deciding not to buy. However, I still personally think he should have bought a striker.

    When every one is fit then an extra man provides a selection problem. But frankly, when do Arsenal ever have a fully fit squad? The signs were there for me before the big run of games we are currently in. I’m specifically thinking West Ham in the FA cup, Chelsea at home, Burnley away and a few other times inbetween.

    Most of our forwards are ‘converted’ strikers and are not necessarily natural finishers. With Eduardo off the boil and unfit we do not have a natural finsher, and i think thats what we could hve added in the window. Even if it is someone who sits on the bench a lot and comes on when needed.

    Look at the impact Kevin Phillips had for Birmingham this week. Now I’m not suggesting we sign a mid 30’s player who’s had better years, but you could see that when he came on he was hungry and has a natural instinct for goals. Surely somewhere in the world there is a player like that who we could have made an offer for – even a shot term or loan.

  7. will
    February 9, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    was there a comment from walter on here? i swear i remember reading something – anyway andy i think you shouldnt wase your time looking at the problems we have becoz the nutty prof will probaly think its all ok anyway & it was just a minor issue.

    anyway i cant wait when his contract will be up & he gets the f out of our club.

  8. iain
    February 9, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    Nope sorry Michael, too much fence sitting for me. I agree Wengers plans are not too far off track but off track they are and the stubborn refusal to challenge our weaknesses has and will continue to cost us dear.

    Firstly, not buying a strong prolific striker to cover RVPs injury is ridiculous. Yes Bendtner is coming back but will struggle for form as has been injured and isnt exactly Rooney when he is on form. Yes we have Eduardo, Vela and Walcott who can all claim to be strikers of sorts- but the reality is Vela is not ready yet, Eduardo has lost his goal scoring form and Walcott is only good at running fast- not scoring goals. Not replacing Adebayor was a risk.

    Secondly, how can we not have a world class backup fpr Gallas and Vermaelen- either get crocked and we have the pension team to step in- this is a risk

    Thirdly, Denilson is not good enough for Arsenal amd has consistently shown it so- where is the cover for Alex Song…oh, thats right, there is none- another risk

    Almunia- well what can you say. Has to go. Fabianski…not good enough. Mannone…not good enough, Wolceszy or whatever his name is – yes for the future. So yet another risk.

    It is unacceptable for a challenging club top have so many weak areas of risk and thats why we are struggling. I have heard the ‘dont kill the development of up and comers’ argument a lot but lets take a closer look at that.

    Will the signing of a highly prolific striker end the career of underperforming starlets up front- Yes it probably will. But with Vela not quite cutting it and Eduardo losing his eye for goal (something i think he will get back) then who cares. Arsenal is not in existence to help young players get better-its a top football club there to win honours.

    Will the signing of a top world class CB ruin the prospects of Djourou, Campbell and Silvestre- dont make me laugh

    Will getting a Vieira type hold back Alex Song- Nop, there are more than enough gamers to go round in 4 competitions and world class cover/role share is essential. When Essien gets injured Mikel is there. When Hargreaves got crocked, Fletcher is there etc.

    Goalies- our only goalie of worth is 17 so go get a seasoned pro for the next 5 years for gods sake.

    We are not far off greatness as the players we have are very talented – but some power and height down the backbone of the squad ie Chelsea and Manure is what we need to do. The stubborn refdusal to spend the 35-40 mill available when we need it will mean another season with f all.

  9. Reg Pubes
    February 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    I am an Arsenal supporter and I’m going to do what it says on the tin – support Arsenal. I dont know the reason why Wenger didnt strengthen in the transfer window, but I suspect he probably knows a bit more detail than I do. Rather than moan and criticize, I believe that the teams confidence is low after the last 2 games and the last thing in the World that is going to help is for the fans to start getting on the players backs the second anything goes wrong. What the team needs tomorrow night, more than anything, is for the fans to support them – so lets get behind them and make sure they know that we care.

  10. wandega joseph
    February 9, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    Ha! Walter i doubt whether we werev watching the same game with you. Chelsea had the most shots on goal and was indeed the better side in the best pitch departments.Their midfield was conc tight even without Essien.We played like a desperate drowning m,an trying to clutch at a serpent but even then the game was long gone. I just wonder why Micheal refers to Fabianski. He is so short which makes him prone to high set pieces ,he has poor decisions i have seen him the Fa!s and carling cups as drogba has punished him heavily. The only keeper i no of in Arsenal in Manone. He has a descent height, good game reading and quike reflex action. Just remember the Fulham game and u will tell me. True he conceded goals but they werent silly goals.They were either far post , close range or descently executed.Thats the keeper who we can trust with our goal.Unlike static keepers like Almnia. Look at Drogbas second goal.Lack of sixth sense and reflex showed his weakness.On a good day a determined keeper would have tapped that.

  11. Andrew
    February 9, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    I have always thought of wenger as a genius and still do.
    He is a very good buyer and seller of players and his style of play is unrivaled in England But
    We have a few problems that he either doesn’t see or ignores for some reason

    1. Almunia is not the right keeper for Arsenal we either have to buy a new one or give Fabianski a try. I think Fabianski has real potential and all he needs is a consistent run of games to show it.

    2. A tall and physical CB – Gallas is only 6’0 and Vermaelen is around 5’10-5’11 and none of them are physically tough enough to handle players like Drogba or Torres or Bent. We need a player like Sol Campbell back and a player like Servet Çetin will be a perfect fit in my opinion. A tall CB will also help out in set pieces. Vermaelen needs to be partnered with some like Cetin to make our defense look solid.

    3. A DM – I know Song is doing a very good job but if he gets injured then we need to have a replacement making Denilson and Diaby do his job doesn’t work. On this point I think Wenger might have an option next summer in Norvedit. Eastmond should also be send out on loan to a championship side or premiere league side to get some experience.

    4. We need a RW – Walcott hasn’t come off age till now and we either play rosicky or nasri up their and both of them are midfielders. And Bendtner up their is also pretty useless option

    And since we are going to sign Chamak our striker problem is over so no point in worrying about that

    Here’s what our first 11 should look like next season

    Van Persie Chamak Arshavin

    Rosicky/Diaby Fabregas
    Song

    Clichy Vermalen Cetin Sagna

    Fabianski/Loris

    Only signing needed is of Chamak

    P.S for people who think Fabregas is going to leave us this season they are not thinking straight.
    Barca already two world class midfielders in Xavi and Iniesta and unless one of them gets injured Fabregas will sit on the bench because they need a holding midfielder.
    He’s young he will go back in a few years but not now
    The difference between arsenal and barcelona is that
    he’s needed at arsenal and he’s wanted at Barca

  12. Samjack
    February 9, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    For people who think we are out of the league have a look at our fixtures.
    The only ones that we might have a problem with is Pool next game (I still think we can win it), Spurs and City that’s it other than that if we lose a game then I will be pretty surprised.

    Give us two months we will either on the top or 1-2 points behind Chelsea or United

    Liverpool – W
    Sunderland – W
    Stoke – W
    Bunley – W
    Hull – W
    West Ham – W
    Birmingham – w
    Wolves – W
    Tottenham – W
    Wigan – W
    City – L
    Blackburn – W
    Fullham – W

  13. Johnno
    February 9, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Andrew,

    If you believe that we will get Chamaka for free in the summer then Australia needs renaming as cloud cuckoo-Land.

    Whilst the player will be out of contract and no transfer fee will be paid, Chamaka will demand a high signing on fee which will, no doubt, be paid offshore to avoid tax liabilities. Also, with the introduction of a 50% tax rate for higher earners his wage demands will be much higher or will have to be included in the signing on fee.

    An old saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”.

  14. brian
    February 9, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    where are walter’s comments?

  15. wandega joseph
    February 9, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    For our defesive problems wenger has Jorou to look at as a longer term replacemnet for gallas and he has the height.He is a shrewed businessman who is not going to buy even next season.Once Chamack comes in free,almost all departments wil be covered with quality and the only signing i can see him signing at a cost is may be a cover up for Song.But there is no way he is going to spend money buying players again as he has more than enough.Am seeing him buy a keeper but i dont know which one.I have a sleem hope that next season is ours for the taking and i pray we dont go through these stupid champions league qualifiers at the expense of Liverpool.It will be an improvement for us from last season.

  16. Andrew Weber
    February 9, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    @ Johnno – I of course know that Chamakh’s situation will incur a fee. But relative to the fee that would’ve been paid while he was under contract, it will be peanuts.

  17. Andrew Weber
    February 9, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    Regarding Walter’s comments, I removed them because they’re not unique to this blog but taken from his post on Untold Arsenal. Quite happy for people to read them on here but it’s not really fair to be using AFCB as a tool for posting their blogs.

    Hope people can understand 🙂

  18. Mark
    February 9, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    Andrew, Very succinctly put, you’ve obviously put some time and thought into this, and it’s clear you are an Arsenal SUPPORTER through and through, as are we all. Thank you. You’re probably waiting for the ‘but’, and although it’s difficult to disagree with what you’ve written, I do have a couple of comments/criticisms – not of you, but Wenger. Like you, I’m a huge fan. We wouldn’t be where we are today were it not for him. I don’t need to list the attributes. I agree that our back 5 are individually very competent on their day, and that some rotation for the Liverpool game may be good, vis a vis Clichy. I think he’s a super player, just returned from injury, but he needs direction, he’s a young guy and was individually at fault for some recent goals. Wenger is not the man to give that direction. Let’s get a defensive coach in, Keown or similar again. Another blind spot is GK. It’s been a problem for a while and still needs to be addressed, both first and second choice. Striker – I like Bendtner a lot, but he’s a season or two away from what we need right now. We should have ID’d a loan deal weeks ago, a few were mentioned in the press, I’m sure there were others (I think I’m the only supporter who’d welcome Kevin Davis – not on loan). We didn’t need a Pele, just a target man who could hold and lay-off.
    It was doable, but wasn’t addressed.
    We’re close to being a wonderful side for want of a slight change in direction and a couple of thoughtful additions.
    I agree, let’s give him the summer.

  19. will
    February 9, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    So fellow Gooners, it’s been a tough week for all Arsenal fans and everything and everyone connected to the club. Our loss to Stoke in the FA cup was the first of three losses in four games, that now sees us 9 points behind the leaders Chelsea with a mountain to climb to gain some ground back on the top two. But in reality, our title challenge starts here.

    Having played the two teams above us twice this season, no game that we will play this season will be that hard. Yes, Chelsea have been better than us in the two occasions that we’ve played them, but not by incredible margins. Our lack of strikers has been somewhat a feature this season in the big games, and defining – we all know what a fit Robin Van Persie can do for us – last season’s 2-1 win over Chelsea is testimony to that. But we’ve got to where we’ve got to and it’s time to give our title challenge one last push.

    The difference in 9 points is 3 wins, and with the different runs in presenting the top teams, when you look at who’s got to play who, suddenly, you can see that glimmer of hope that means that we’re not out of the league title just yet.

    We have a massive game against Liverpool tomorrow and a win would put a decent amount of distance from Liverpool onwards and the top three. But apart from tomorrow’s game, we have only Man City and Sp*rs to play who could be tricky – then it’s plain sailing all the way to the end of the season. Looking at the fixtures we have, they are all very much winnable…

    Let’s take a look:

    Liverpool (Home)
    Sunderland (Home)
    Stoke City (Away)
    Burnley (Home)
    Hull City (Away)
    West Ham United (Home)
    Birmingham (Away)
    Wolverhampton (Home)
    Tottenham Hotspur (Away)
    Wigan Athletic (Away)
    Manchester City (Home)
    Blackburn Rovers (Away)
    Fulham (Home)
    We’ve done it before, under Arsene Wenger, when no-one expected us too and put together 11 wins in a row and taken the title. For the two hard games in the list above, Sp*rs away and Citeh at home, we may even have Robin Van Persie back in the team…

    Whilst we’ve got this run in, let’s check out Chelsea’s – they have Everton (away), Man City (home), Man United (away), Liverpool (away), Sp*rs (away) and Villa (home)… games in which they could all drop points, easily – Man United similarly have arguably a harder run in with Villa (away) this weekend, and then Everton (away), Liverpool (home), Chelsea (home), Man City (away) and Sp*rs at home…. so suddenly there is a glimmer of hope that we can get our players back – well, they are nearly back and gaining match practice – and push on.

  20. Ibrahaz
    February 9, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    Hi Andy I like the article, it has a lot of positivity and this is what we need right now. Negativity will not take us anywhere. I have just picked up something from the arsenal website, apparently B52 is not fully fit yet, in Arsene’s word “He is not completely fit at the moment…He still plays a little bit handicapped, you can see he does not run free and he is not completely fit yet.” We therefore are yet to see a fully fit B52

  21. Womble
    February 9, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

    You sure are one very deluded Wengerphile.

  22. Andrew Weber
    February 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    @ Womble – Care to explain rather than just slandering without an argument?

  23. amar
    February 9, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    Remember,United beat only one of the top 4 on route to the title last season, and we weren’t one of them. Last year we couldn’t beat the dross, this year we struggle against the big boys. Wednesday sees our last involvement with the big 4. We must beat Liverpool or they’ll only be 2 points behind us given a win!! After that, City at home and Spuds away are our only top 7 games. We have a lot to play for. Let’s hope for some luck with injuries and go for it. We’re a good side. Let’s get the defending sorted and start banging in the goals again. Up the Arsenal.

  24. Johana Kambo Gathongo
    February 9, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    We need a stricker, truth be told.
    Each player should know his responsibility in the team, this is absolutely crucial!!!!

    with regards to counter attacks, I have never seen in my entire football career a player instead of attacking the opponent player running towards your goal, you escort that player towards your own goal, this absolutely irresponsible!! always attack your opponent before getting into your own 18 yard area. Thanks

  25. schoolboy
    February 9, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    wow..great analysis. I’ll vote you as AW successor.. :D. On my point of view, we lack confidence on shooting, especially outside the box. Why we always seems to bring the ball into the box rather than shooting if the player have space to shoot. Evidence has shown that our player is able to shoot from long range (fab, denilson, diaby has proven that before)

  26. Dominic
    February 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    You forgot to mention one other problem, we no longer seem to attack with pace. It used to be that when Seaman or Lehman had the ball the opposition would panic that we were in with a scoring chance. Now it seems that our whole defence is under orders to let the opposition get back into position before we leisurely mive the ball forward.
    This lack of pace is one of the reasons why Arshavin isn’t making the impact he did last year. Remember his 4th against Liverpool?

  27. wandega joseph
    February 9, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Thats relatively a hopeful comment will. infact it has given me some hope.I will though feel the hope when we begin by a resounding victory on Pool and confirm our position and belief of betting a top 4 side home and away this season. I even see a possibility of Pool completing a double on either of the top sides.

  28. Johnno
    February 9, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    Andrew,

    How much Chamaka demands will certainly not be peanuts even in comparison to the transfer fees reportedly demanded by his club.

    I’m worried by this assumption that Chamaka is the answer to all our ills. Very few strikers, or in deed any players, make an immediate impact in The Premiership. What does he bring that is different?, how will he provide a different option to plan A?, is there a plan B?

  29. NewGooner
    February 9, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    Sorry Andrew, I cannot agree with you on ‘understanding’ why we never bought a striker. Strikers win games, and we all knew Bendtner may have a recurrence of his injury, that Eduardo may never be the real Eduardo again, that Vela is too lightweight. We needed a striker, and knowing what happened when we played Chelsea, Wenger should have bought or at the least, played Bendtner.

    As for what we can improve on, well my personal gripe is why do we buy playmakers, and them ask them to be wingers/strikers? I’m talking about Nasri-Rosicky. These two are not quick enough out wide, and love directing traffic,not finishing moves. We should build our team around them, and get players to move around, seeing as Fabregas loves darting into the box these days, he’d be decent with balls fed to him. Play with 2 strikers, and one of Rosicky/Nasri/Arshavin behind them. No more putting midfielders as wide attackers, it is not working, play them where they made a name for themselves.

  30. Samjack
    February 9, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    “will ”
    you’re absolutely right
    We have lost to City, United (twice), Chelsea (twice) and Sunderland
    WE have won most of our other games comfortably without having a decent striker

    now look at our coming fixtures none of them are “hard” they are all very winnable with our current squad, yes we will drop points but United and Chelsea will lose more and this 9 point will grow smaller in the coming months.

    what we need to do is get our grove back and this title is ours for the taking really

  31. wandega joseph
    February 9, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    Dominic we cant have pace a keeper of Almunias quality.He will just throw the ball to the opponents and the next thing will be the ball in our own net.Its time to change a keeper in the last remaining big game if our fortunes are to be revived tomorrow. Otherwise we may loose or even end up drawing in that game.

  32. Samjack
    February 9, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    Johnno
    Wenger will never pay more than what a player is worth so Chamaks high signing fee demand will not be meet by wenger that’s for sure and he wants to come to Arsenal so we have leverage over him.
    He will not be paid too much money, he will be paid what he’s worth and if he doesn’t come then we have a lot of other options Lacina Traore, Dzeko, Villa to name a few.

  33. Samjack
    February 9, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    if theirs one french player that I want to see then that Gorcuff.
    there’s no better midfielder than him in France

  34. ADEYEMI RALPH
    February 9, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    Thanks you Will for giving us more courage towards the remaining of this season. But to me, Wenger should resign if he can not continues his good jobs. Why given us problems due to his stingy acts of not buying players. He should come to Africa to buy players that are ready to play and work for arsenal. Up GUNNERS.

  35. Samjack
    February 9, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    ADEYEMI RALPH
    Wenger has taken on a project he can see that after building the new stadium the club doesn’t have money to fund his signings so he bought young and had to sell to maintain a profit and not create more debt
    Now we have have sold most of our houses on the Highbury square and are in a sound financial positons and have money to buy now so he will but only if he finds the right player.

    There’s no point in buying a player if you dont think he can help you and who was he suppose to buy Chamak and Villa respective had ruled out their sales, Dzeko was being valued at 35 million (he not even worth half that), Gignac was being valued more than 20 million, Lacina wasnt’t going to be a given a work permit and Remy was injured so not many options don’t you think

  36. francowadz
    February 9, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Lets get the counter attacking football of Pirez, Reyes, Henry and Lugnberg back, quick passing and accurate ones that splits differences
    We can play it by Song, Diaby releasing the ball faster, Rosisky and Ashavin plus Csec are masters of this. This kind of game will make us win all the 13 matches unless we don’t have luck. I still believe by March Manu will be 1 point above us while Chelsea will be 3 points above us

  37. Andrew Weber
    February 9, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    @ Johnno – I don’t think he’ll solve all our problems and I don’t think he would have solved our problems in January. You’re right, players don’t tend to come in and just fit straight away, that was probably another reason behind Wenger’s reluctance to sign somebody in the short-term.

  38. Cesc4life
    February 9, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    Brilliant Analysis again Andrew…and yes,these frailties need to be addressed ASAP if we were to challenge for this season’s title…here is my take on the current predicament…

    1.We used to be feared for our counter-attacking prowess and now we are getting a taste of our own medicine due to lack of defensive cohesion in our ranks. Almunia needs to be replaced if what the media reports say about him and Gallas not looking eye-to-eye are true. Fabainski ain’t the best but at least give him a run in the team?!Look how well Mannone did at the beginning of the season.I’m still giving Clichy more games to show what he can do because Traore cannot compare with him in terms of experience. Many Arsenal blogs are critical of him but he is our only experienced left back in the squad…bar Silvestre…any takers on him having a run in the side?? Don’t think so =)

    2. Bendtner needs to start against Liverpool…I switched off at half-time against Chelsea but watched the replay..he made a huge difference in terms of bringing back Arshavin into his favourite role supporting the striker and at least..we have someone jumping for headers when Sagna or Clichy crosses instead of always seeing Arshavin jumping for thin air…and the familiar sight of him shaking his head is getting all too frequent…The imminent (hopefully) arrival of Chamakh cannot come too soon…

    3.Support for Captain Cesc…Diaby and Song are probably our unsung heroes this season but needs to be consistent and not always get injured (Diaby especially)…a trend seems to occur in games…if Arsenal don’t click…Fabregas underperforms although he shows some bits of brilliance (e.g his ball to Arshavin which Cech saved and his free kick both against Chelsea).

    4.This is for the summer.We need new signings and not a major overhaul that everyone seems to think.Signing A)A Goalkeeper B)2 Defenders C)A Striker….C would likely be Chamakh so A and B are two priorities that Wenger should look at firstly. The DM position has been ably filled by Song and if he is injured,either Denilson or Diaby can fill in so I am not so worried about that. Signing a Goalie and a few defenders plus Chamakh..letting them adapt into our team and hoping that neither of our players leave..bar Silvest and Campbell..I can see our team putting up a fight at least and not conceding 10 goals against Chelsea and Man Utd..

    Meantime..let’s shut Liverpool out and hope Wenger,Fabregas and Co finally brings us 3 much needed points…seems like a long time since we have seen Arsenal victorious..Keep the Faith!

  39. Samjack
    February 9, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

    Cesc4life
    Agree on almost everything you said
    we need to Fabianski a chance he has been fighting for the first team place for a long time now and if he thinks he’s ready then lets make him prove that on the pitch.
    IF not then Wenger should sign a new goalkeeper but I think he will pull through he has all the right attributes good height, excellent shot stopping ability and packs a good punch
    Bendtner is still not fully fit so lets see if Wenger plays him in Liverpool game as for Defender I think Gallas is a good CB but we need a more powerful CB now (Djoruru) is not experienced we need someone very strong, very tall and experinced there are a few in the PL but if I had my choice I would go for Servet Cetin.
    He make great tackles and there’s virtually no way past him and he wants to play even if he’s injured.
    In Euro 2008 he stopped Ronaldo in his tracks and with his strength and height and Vermaelen speed and intelligence I think our defense will be one of the best in PL.
    I think Clichy is a brilliant LB and these below par performances are probably because he was injured for 3 months and need some time to get his game back but he’s getting there and should be back to his best in no time.

  40. abdi
    February 9, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

    Dear,arsene wenger,pls!pls!pls! why don,t you replace goal keeper aluminia with the good talented fabianski or mannoie if you real want to keep with the title race.In my opinion when we see the record of aluminia goal keeping it was a disaster in the season.

  41. gunna4life
    February 9, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    One point….one point only….regarding defense…..and counterattacking.

    This will make us more one dimensional, but it makes no sense for Clichy or Sagna to race forward and make crosses.

    1. it leaves us exposed.
    2. they’re both shit at crossing the ball
    3. we don’t have the players to head the ball in.

    There’s no point of it.

    Until we get the quality of a Cashley Cole back or Evra, we’re useless in that aspect.

    OK, one last comment. I agree….we lack the cutting edge in the final third. Get rid of Nasri or Rosicky. They’re both similar players. We don’t need more of the same. The success of the Invincibles was a mix of strength, guile, attacking, defending, etc. We’re too one dimensional now and too predictable. Ballack was totally correct with his comments.

  42. Samjack
    February 9, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    gunna4life
    I think their both good Full backs not the best but pretty darn good.
    The crosses were working when we had Van Persie and Adebayor upfront and they will work again so I dont worry about that but what need to work on is being organised and the best team to look at is Birmingham.
    They have awful players but they are really well organised and that’s why they are still in the top 10.
    We have great players but poor organisational skills and that’s why we lack goals.
    I think Nasri, Ramsey and Fabregas are all same type players. great skills and passing ability but are too lightweight. (CM)
    Diaby is different he’s tall, strong and plays more direct. (CM or an AM)
    Rosicky and Arshavin are both Magician (wingers or an AM)

  43. Ngarama
    February 9, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    Even Gerrard knows how to punish us tomorrow, I truly hope we never get caught in the counter ever again.
    we just need to change our keeper, game plan(inc tryin to walk with the ball to the net like we were tryin to do at Stamford), then we’ll be at Chelskis noses by end of March.

  44. Michael
    February 9, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    I think we should give Fabianski a run in the team NOW, see if he can deliver and if he can’t got out and BUY a new quality keeper in the summer.
    We’ve seen enough tinkering with the squad, we don’t need any more little experiments and might-come-goods, we need players who can help us from their first day at Arsenal.

    I also agree with some posters that we need to have better game plans and not allow the opposition to run from their box unchallenged to our one and tap it in with no resistance at all.

  45. shambogunner
    February 9, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    ‘our inability to defend counter attacks hav left almunia unfairly exposed’……wot a croc.the guy is rated bottom three for shots to saves ratio,wot does that tell you?????he waved goodbye to drogs freekick with his gob wide open and the second goal?pathetic hav you ever heard goalkeepers been credited with makin themselves big and making instinctive or reaction saves??he didnt even spread his arms it lookedlike he thought about putting his hands up to protect his face…..and thats our num 1…hes the best iv ever seen for conceding two goals for every 3 shots taken
    i had to laugh when i seen you dress up nics goal tally last year aswel,15 goals from 27 starts,even tho he came on and scored in alot of those and actually played quite a bit….are you trying to sell nic to us or convince yourself andy becos,even tho i like him myself,hes not a goalscorer and is forced wide away from goal all to easy.not our answer
    cant even begin to tell you how wrong you are when you said we wer gettin by quite nicely without a recognised goalscorer,as iv always said you cant expect our little midfielders and little beast verm to continue in the great vain thev shown this season,big teams will negate them,you need another outlet,an ian wright or defoe that goes in behind and turns a back 4,its painfully obvious and riles me when fellow fans ignore or dismiss it and tell me to keep the faith with players who hav had so much time to show their capabilities and not delivered,so how their now gonna excel just becos thev been absent a while is beyond me but that old proverb must be true…..’absense makes the heart grow fonder’…….’and turns average players into 25goals a season players’.
    there are 2 types of fans in this world,
    the realists who look at things as they are,in results terms and in terms of how a player or players hav performed in games,this is all we can do we dont see them on the training pitch,they hav to be judged on their contribution in games……nasri,almunia,denilson,walcott….thats the start of a long list of our players who wudnt get into the chelsea or utd squad and who,largely becos of the ‘blind faith’ fan,are regulars in our first team and actually get defended….you dont hav to hav played to see how windy and spineless these guys are….contact sport????not for them it isnt
    the other fan is the one who prays almunia will save 5 shots over two games,that nasri will skillfully accelerate by two defenders like the average nani did two weeks ago,that denilson will sprint back like vieira/keane and slide tackle the ball away from rooney or torres,that wenger is correct or vindicated in everything he does or has ‘a plan for the future’ that will outsmart our debt ridden rivals….iv got news for you.clubs like utd,pool and chels will never go away because of their legacy and wot they hav won,even if they go another 700M into debt they will still be around so in 5 years time they ‘could’ realistically be millions in debt and still lookin down at us from the top of the table,but they wont be in debt much longer than that if they keep winning trophies and the money that comes with that….so the ‘wer rich’ gloating gunner fans will then hav search desperately for something to be better than them at….because it hasnt been the football for a long time
    if we lose against liverpool we are only 2 point ahead of them and theyv had a shockin season.city win their games in hand and their 2 pts behind us with spuds and villa giving chase.we hav to go to white hart lane aswel so in fairness lads its about time we all got real id say,that way you wont be embarrased or dissapointed and top 4 will actually be something to celebrate

  46. SOBIN THE GOONER
    February 9, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    Good vision Andrew .I think if we brought Chamakh it will give us depth in the front.But if we sign him in january it will be a huge boost for us.Since wenger not sign him in january,we have to keep faith in our own players .We have to defend well to win the games.Like andrew said defenders job is to defend not attack.Defenders should be attack during set pieces.If we play a big team we have to change the formation to 4-4-2 or 4-5-1,it will be good since we lack physical strength .When smaller team arrives we have to play 4-3-3.
    IAM STILL HAVE THE FAITH IN ARSENE AND OUR PLAYERS .
    WE HAVE TO GET BEHIND THE TEAM.
    COME ON GUNNERS.
    IN ARSENE WE TRUST

  47. finegunner
    February 10, 2010 at 12:35 am #

    we need to support our team..because we cannot turn them down now..gunners till death

  48. Francis
    February 10, 2010 at 1:21 am #

    If everyone can see the weakness in our team more so our main rivals, and wenger goes ahead to defend the team then he is not the right manager we need more so going trophless for 4 seasons.

  49. gunnerkyv
    February 10, 2010 at 2:04 am #

    When you see cech making all the big saves to deny arsenal the come back, sometimes you wonder what wenger sees in alumnia. It is goalkeepers that makes big saves that should be playing at a big club like arsenal. We need a goalkeeper who can win us the game singlehandedly. So many of the lower clubs have better keeper than arsenal, jaaskelinen, sorenson, robert green, just to name a few. almunia is juz too far off the mark for a top club keeper. not good enough.

  50. ALgunner
    February 10, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    I think that buying some player will not improve our chances to win. As @AW suggested we should resolve our problem internally. Every one now knows don’t allow arsenal space and hit them at counter attack. Even GRAND-PA team like Chelsea are Counter Attacking us. It is just as shame. Arsenal where know for speed and intensity and good defending. Which is all lacking. I still believe it is you’re defense which will most of the time gives you the chance to win matches. Arsenal defense is just not good at all. I want someone who can just give an smack on his face and make an sliding tackle (Both Within in the Law) on the Opposition Winger or the ST. Just to inform them that “Boss you Will have tough time against ME” Just an intimidating factor. Which is missing. Enough of this young team rubbish. We need to off load some player there is no competition in the team at all. Every player know in arsenal that if they play well or not they will be there next week. So just buying one player will not solve the problem. There are multiple interrelated problem in Arsenal FC. Please Please Please buy one decent CDM. Song needs competition like every body.

  51. Cherian
    February 10, 2010 at 3:34 am #

    I think you guys missed out something. We also need a little bit of luck to compete for the all the hard work we put in. I thought we fought hard against Chelsea.A little bit of luck would have done us a world of good. We did not deserve to loose the match.
    It was a match were we worked our socks but they got the victory.
    Tactics play a big role and Wenger needs to learn a thing or two from other managers.
    I just hope they do not disappoint from here on.
    Come on Arsenal

  52. sa gunnar
    February 10, 2010 at 4:11 am #

    Andrew weber, I understand what you are saying, but the manager does not send the right message to the fans, he makes us more furious as he seems blinded to what we find as faults.

    You saw arsenal been one dimensional against the last two oppenents, and the team paid the price

    ballack made the comment that arsenal is been playing one dimension football
    wenger said he does not know what’s ballack is talking about!

    evra made the comment that it was like grown men playing against boys
    that’s is true

    do really believe when clubs with better contracts come calling for diaby, song , and walcott that they would still play on 4 arsenal?
    after they leave that will mean we wasted our time developing them as they propose for that new team, as we would lose out.

  53. kr8ve
    February 10, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    Its all about $$$$$$$$

    What everyone seems to be missing is that Arsenal is first and foremost a “Business Venture”, so they are here to make money and lots of it. THis is why they are not spending a lot to buy great strikers and instead are training young players and selling them and making money. How long they can keep this going? I am not sure..perhaps until they start seeing lower ticket and box ticket sales hurting their revenue stream ! I believe , the “winning attitude” starts with trhe Owners of the team and how badly they want it. Obviously, the have charged Wenger with keeping the team as part of the top four and take his chances with winning the title or not, but keep them in the top 4 with the leaset amount of money spent. So far, this objective has been achieved very well. The only thing is, how long can this go on ! maybe for ever. In fact , there are teams that are always at mid table like Everton, Fulham, Tottenham, Aston Villa and they are fairly happy to be there and make money and if one of the top 4 slips, they will just move in but if not, they are just happy to be there running their business. Guys , dont be naieve, its all about money $$$$$$$$$$$$$

  54. kr8ve
    February 10, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    By Paul Madden
    Feb 9, 2010 10:51:00 PM

    Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has reached a verbal agreement with Barcelona to return to Catalunya during the summer, according to Spanish publication Sport.

    Fabregas has been the subject of ceaseless speculation regarding a return to the club he left as a 16-year-old and is now understood to have taken the first steps to completing a move.

    Two factors are understood to be central to Fabregas’ motivation to leave the Gunners. Firstly, a lack of silverware at the Emirates is said to be a concern for the 22-year-old having only won an FA Cup and FA Community Shield with Arsenal. Since that cup success in 2005 there has been no further trophies and the promise of medals appears far stronger with the all-conquering Blaugrana.

    The departure of the likes of Mathieu Flamini, Aliaksandr Hleb and Thierry Henry in recent seasons is also thought to have influenced Fabregas’ decision.

    As yet Barcelona have not confirmed or denied suggestions of a verbal pact but have admitted that Fabregas is a player admired at Camp Nou.

  55. Andrew Weber
    February 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    @ kr8ve – It’s not possible that this has happened. Don’t believe the garbage. It’s illegal and it hasn’t happened.

  56. Kr8ve
    February 10, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    AW
    Believe me, I want to believe you ans I will for now !

  57. RGJ
    February 10, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    While i think we are probably out of the running, I agree that our run in is easier than the two teams above us. The Liverpool game is critical. We must win that. Wenger has to play Bendtner unless he’s injured. I admit I called for Walcott to play against Chelsea as his pace might unsettle Cole but Theo just looks out of his depth. Rosicky or Narri alongside the Dane and Arshavin. We have proven that we can beat all the other teams in the league except for the Russian oligarch’s london plaything and the Mancs. I think we just need to get back to putting some unflashy games together focusing on getting the points and let’s see if the top two can drop some points to keep us in there with a chance. We did it back in November after the Sunderland/Chelsea/Man City knock backs and we have to do the same now after the Stoke/man U/Chelsea defeats. Longer term i would be looking to ship out the under performers – Almunia, Fabianski, Clichy, Silvestre, Eduardo, Vela and Walcott. Bring in one keeper (Joe Hart would be my pick), a central defender, a midfielder and a striker. The bulk of the squad is great and with some better luck with injuries next season has to get better! Might have said that last year but.

  58. DJ RC
    February 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    Ya Bendtner and Rozza has to start……..we cannot go 2 goals down and then play passing football……..it will of no effect………..we have to put LIV under pressure!!

  59. K G
    February 10, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    I wonder how much defensive work we do in training. It appears we need a defensive coach like Keown, Dixon. In the George Graham days we did endless defensive drills. Dixon said that when Arsene came in he saw how good the defence was in training and games and just left them to get on with it. We need a defensive coach.

    Just think next season we could easily have a line up of Bendtner, Chamkh,and Van Persie in our front line added to Song, Diaby, Gallas and Vermaelen for both defending and attacking set pieces.

  60. F-man
    February 11, 2010 at 1:22 am #

    Great post.
    A thought occurred to me during the Chelsea game and as weird as it may sound it’s about Eboue. Did you guys see him run with the ball during the game and how he surprise and caused problem to the weary defenders? Wenger should try him out in the deep right and use him like how ManUre use Nani. Given a chance, i would much prefer him over the fall guy (and unfit) Theo or Mr dribbling in circle, Nasri. We need someone stupid and excited enough to run forward will the ball after the 11th pass et al…

  61. kisekka
    February 17, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    As i said at the beging of the season, that, arsenal is not ready to take any cup this season.

    And, wenger is not serously challanging for the trophy, Thats, why he decided to bring the likes of sol.

    But, in the acual sense we needed some signings, if we wanted fight for horners.

    But, i like what, wenger is doing and am in full support of him.
    But, we need another defander to replace Gallas in thge near future.

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