Captain Fabregas and Wenger must lead Arsenal through troubled times

Captain Fabregas and Wenger must lead Arsenal through troubled times

Hello, hello. I hope you’re doing OK after what was a pretty catastrophic weekend.

I should warn you before I start it’s going to be a pretty long post today. I’ve got a lot of ground to cover what with the captaincy issue, another poor result and the fact that I’ve pretty much been sleep-walking through the entire last week. Headaches will do that to you.

Anyway, it would be great if you could read through the entire post before commenting and leave your opinions on what I have to say. Here goes nothing…

Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City was certainly one of the more cringeworthy games I’ve had the displeasure of witnessing in my eleven years as an Arsenal supporter. Mistakes in defence, toothless attacking and a severe lack of communication and teamwork were on display for all to see. The result and performance clearly showed that this Arsenal team are struggling to fulfill the potential their performances promised last season.

In the first half our players were swimming up-stream a little bit but I thought they were doing so admirably. We defended reasonably well and worked hard despite a distinct lack of skill and composure when in possession. I thought that if the boys could just get to half-time at 0-0 they would take heart from their efforts and go on to win the match.

Alas, is was not to be as Stephen Ireland capitalised on a mix-up between Gael Clichy and Mikael Silvestre to fire City to the half-time lead they deserved. From that point on our young side was never in it as City ruthlessly exploited our lack of leadership, depth and confidence; the three weaknesses that have hindered Arsenal’s progress in the first third of this season.

It is an understatement to say that it is imperative that the weaknesses in our side – a lack of leadership, depth and confidence – are addressed by the manager as soon as possible. The first by naming an appropriate new captain, the second by making a signing or two in January and the third by ensuring that a new captain and new players have a galvanising effect on the squad.

Although I have been strong defender of William Gallas over the past two seasons I want to make it clear that I absolutely agree with Arsene Wenger’s decision to strip the French defender of the captaincy and leave him out of the team against City. Gallas’ comments were unacceptable and he deserved to be punished the way he was. The big decision that the manager has to make now is to name an appropriate successor.

For me there are two possible choices and Wenger faces a tough decision to pick between them. The first is the man who captained the side against City, Manuel Almunia. The second is Cesc Fabregas. The older Spaniard is a decidedly easier option than the younger one, but my opinion is that if the manager wants to see an immediate change in his squad’s mentality and togetherness then he needs to bite the bullet, take a risk and give the armband to Fabregas.

He might only be 21 but the signs are there that Fabregas already looks more of a captain than Gallas or even Thierry Henry ever was. He is the squad’s best player, a fierce competitor and much closer in age to the majority of first-team players at the club. His appointment would have an immediate positive effect on the players Wenger is pinning his hopes for trophies on, players like Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri. Fabregas’ appointment would be a positive choice by Wenger and a clear admission that the manager is prepared to turn over a new leaf and contemplate his approach to his side.

Fabregas’ appointment will not solve the problem of the squad’s lack of depth, however. The only way that Wenger can rectify that problem is by bringing in new players when the transfer window re-opens in January. And while I’m sure there are some of you that would like to have five or six players shipped out and replaced with big-name signings I honestly feel the manager needs to bring in just one or two players to boost the quality of the squad sufficiently enough to challenge for the title.

Put simply, the manager needs to bring in an aggressive and defensive-minded central midfielder to play alongside Fabregas in the middle of the park as well as an experienced central-defender to replace Gallas if he leaves in January (or perhaps even if he doesn’t). Up front I think we’re fine, out wide I think we’re fine and although he cops a lot of criticism, I’m more than happy to keep Almunia in goals if he continues to play as consistently as he has over the past two seasons.

Defensively we’ve been a shambles this year. Wenger has played something like nine different centre-back pairings this season involving Gallas, Toure, Djourou, Silvestre, Senderos and Song, which is really quite ridiculous. My opinion is that the squad needs to have four quality centre-backs to function correctly and I believe we have that if Gallas can deal with his demotion appropriately and get back to what he does best, defending.

That may be easier said than done though and I wouldn’t be against the manager looking towards someone like Christoph Metzelder from Real Madrid or Naldo from Werder Bremen to provide quality, experienced cover for Toure, Silvestre and Djourou. Selection-wise I really feel that the manager needs to pursue with Djourou for the rest of the season. He’s been Arsenal’s most consistent centre-back in the early part of the campaign and deserves to become first-choice purely based on merit.

Although defence is a concern the purchase of a ready-to-go defensive midfielder needs to be the manager’s top priority come January. Denilson is not a defensive midfielder, Song is not really performing at the moment while the manager seems to be frustratingly allergic to playing Abou Diaby in a more defensive role. The lack of a reliable, hard-working and aggressive defensive-minded midfielder is hurting Cesc Fabregas and it needs to be rectified. A Claude Makelele-type player is not the answer, a Mathieu Flamini-type player is and if no-one fitting that description is bought during January then I honestly feel we’re going to have a hard job finishing fourth.

It has been argued that bringing in new players would hinder the progress of those already at the manager’s disposal and to a certain extent, I agree. But the problem comes when the players just aren’t performing. How long can Wenger wait for players like Denilson and Song to develop? Wouldn’t it be better for him to have a quiet word with them to let them know that their performances have not quite been good enough but make it clear that the door is open for them to be recalled when they improve? I think it would.

Until new players can be brought in there are a few changes that the manager could make to improve the results and performances of his side. The big one is handing Fabregas the captain’s armband while the others revolve around particular team selections.

I’ve mentioned previously that players should be picked on merit and as often is realistically possible, only in their best positions. At the very minute that means playing Djourou at the back, playing Song or Diaby ahead of Denilson in the middle and Vela ahead of Bendtner up front. In saying that I don’t think Denilson or Bendtner are bad players, just that there are better options available to the manager at the moment and they don’t really deserve to maintain their place in the side. It might be harsh, but it’s best for the team and the club.

I’m not going to shirk around the fact that this is not a fun time to be an Arsenal supporter. Nobody likes to watch their side lose or perform the way ours has at times this season, especially given the promise they showed as a unit last time around. But step back for a moment and realise that there are plenty of clubs’ supporters who feel this way the majority of the time and you can appreciate the privileged position we have been in for so long as Arsenal fans.

It might be worth me saying here that despite the difficult period the club is going through I remain optimistic and positive about the future of the club. Despite his flaws we have an experienced, intelligent and loyal manager at the helm who undoubtedly deserves the chance to sort out the problems that he currently faces. Furthermore we have a group of players that – with a change in leadership and one or two additions – have the quality to challenge for the Premiership and Champions League titles in the near future. Let’s hope they can sort out their issues and get the ball moving forward once again.

Just before I go I want to fire a quick reminder message to everyone who comments on this blog.

Let me make it clear that I’m extremely proud of community that has formed on the Arsenal FC Blog. The comments that are left are consistently well thought-out and the respect shown by all is to be admired. But as with most sports blogs, people have a tendency to act impulsively and forget their manners when things aren’t going particularly well for their side.

I know that everyone will have their opinion about what should or shouldn’t be done at Arsenal but I just want to encourage you all to treat each other with respect during this less-than-enjoyable time. After all, just because someone has a different view than you doesn’t mean you should criticise them for it.

Anyway, I’ve covered an awful lot of ground and said quite a bit in today’s post. Now it’s your turn. Fire away!

Have your say on Arsenal’s difficult situation by leaving a comment.

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72 Responses to “Captain Fabregas and Wenger must lead Arsenal through troubled times”

  1. Grant
    November 24, 2008 at 6:18 pm #

    Agreed Spanish. Agreed. I have been eagerly awaiting your level-headed round-up of the week’s events. Fabregas for captain – in my mind there is no other choice. One or two players added would be nice and those two I agree with – a centre back and a ready-to-go defensive midfielder. Possibly also a winger as Walcott is out for a while and Eboue still does not inspire confidence in me… Wenger has been playing two creative midfielders in Cesc and Denilson together and Song is not up to scratch in that position. Diaby may be ok there but I see him as more of an attacking mid as well. Gallas has to go – get out of the club I mean. We need a replacement in the form of a player who can attack balls in the box. We are fine for strikers though some may disagree because Bendtner is not yet up to scratch. I agree he has been awful lately, but with the correct selection ie. Vela, then we wouldn’t struggle so much. Please go back to a standard 4-4-2 please Wenger as no one is thriving in the hole in a 4-5-1 this season apart from one game; I think it was Fenerbache, where Diaby and Ade picked them apart.
    As for the team itself – I do still believe in them and I do not like seeing people come here saying “I told you so, Arsenal can’t/won’t win a trophy this season”. I’ve read a lot of that not directed specifically at me, but it’s simply not true. You don’t know we won’t win anything and if there is a perspective you should listen to it is one of optimism. Don’t write your own team off just yet Arsenal supporters. You are Arsenal supporters afterall…
    Feel free to come back at the end of the season and rant about how you told me so then…

  2. Gabby
    November 24, 2008 at 6:22 pm #

    I think u really cover much. Fabregas will be a good/great captain. Arsenal needs our support and prayer

  3. babs
    November 24, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    spoken it as it is in arsene i stil trust i tink we cud still get it right

  4. godfrey
    November 24, 2008 at 6:55 pm #

    Though down,i will leave a comment.First,i agree with u SF on Fabregas being the captain,ithink he is capable of handling the “challenging hot role”.Gallas has never clicked in my mind as a special player since his arrival and i support the decision taken by wenger.Finally,east or west,home is the best so i remain supporting Arsenal

  5. lawrence adeniken
    November 24, 2008 at 6:59 pm #

    I support your suggestions on way forward:-

    Fabregas should assume the captaincy arm band, whils fortifying the squad with a defender and a versatile defensive midfielder

  6. philip
    November 24, 2008 at 7:17 pm #

    Just a thought here, what about exchanging Gallas for Senderos. Bring Senderos back to the club and giving him an extended run alongside either Toure or Djourou?

  7. Spanish Fry
    November 24, 2008 at 7:18 pm #

    Thanks guys. It was an epic post and it took all weekend to nut out but I got there. Sorry about the lack of coverage last week – I was really unwell. But I’ll be here every day this week. Good to be back.

  8. Spanish Fry
    November 24, 2008 at 7:20 pm #

    @ philip – It’s not a bad idea, but my only concern is Senderos’ style of play. For me we need a nippy patch-up type of defender and a strong, rugged one. Toure and Gallas are the former while Djourou, Silvestre and Senderos would fit under the latter category. I’m not sure bringing Senderos back would be the answer – in many ways it would be a step backwards – but I understand where you’re coming from.

  9. philip
    November 24, 2008 at 7:27 pm #

    I feel that he was in and out of the team so much, that he has a confidence issue! just thinking back to that run in the champions league where he played regularly and was brilliant! the other option would be to go in for Upson as the press seem to suggest. I quite like the idea of an arsenal old boy coming back!

  10. SettaKeys
    November 24, 2008 at 7:38 pm #

    I agree with absolutely everything in that post. Song and Diaby need to come in, and although Denilson isn’t bad (though you wouldn’t know it from his last few performances) he’s just not right, its like George Bush turning up at a peace rally. Some new signings would be excellent, I wish Wenger chased Xabi Alonso – I think he would be an awesome pairing with Fabregas, Steven Appiah another decent replacement. I would cut off a a lower extremity to get Flamini back, but that’s definitely not going to happen. On the topic of new signings taking the players a step backwards, if they want to play at arsenal they can stick around for a couple of years. Or they can piss off like Lassana Diarra and they won’t be missed. My bigegst fear is that if things don’t change, Fabregas will take Hleb’s advice and join Barca. If I was fabregas and things didn’t change, as this team set up was making me look bad, it’d definitely have floated into my mind.

    And another thing, these are the times that the team has got the Tottenham confidence. This is the time that all the bandwagoners pis off and the true fans are left behind (and good riddance), and this is the time the boys need the support the most, so stop Bagging them out – The Arsenal Second and Third sides are probably better than half the premiership sides, just because we’ve lost a few games, it’s not a crisis. 12 points? What is that with 24 games left? Look at Tottenham – 4 weeks ago they didn’t even have 3 points. So any fool that wants Wenger out needs a turkey slap and a donkey punch. If he took Arsenal to the relegation zone I would still back him.

  11. GunnerCesc4
    November 24, 2008 at 7:43 pm #

    I agree with most of your points..
    What we need is simple ..
    1. A solid central defence partnership: like terry-carvalho / ferdinand-vidic.
    2. A quality CDM

    Once players return from injury -ade, eduardo ,walcott ,we should be good enough ……

  12. gunnersson
    November 24, 2008 at 7:47 pm #

    1. Gallas was certainly giving out negative energy to the team. that was an issue. so change is right and timely.

    2. CESC . I agree.

    3. I was bitter when Wenger didnt buy the guys I thought he should have bought. I reconciled comforting myself that Wenger will know what he is doing. The situation we have now points to a huge set of mistakes by wenger. I dont want to ask for his head. But he must set it right soon. Guys who gotta go are : Song, Denilson, RVP (sad but true!), Eboue.

  13. gunnersson
    November 24, 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    and Bendtner.

  14. SettaKeys
    November 24, 2008 at 7:59 pm #

    RVP and Bendtner are fine. Adebayor sucked when he was 21, now look at him. RVP needs a decent chance, and a decent supply, if cesc was freed up to support RVP more he’d be sweet. I agree with Gallas about the negative energy. I hope he does the professional thing and gets over it and plays like he did before, but judging by the way things are he’ll act like he’s wilshere’s age and have a cry. Eduardo’s return will be F***ing sweet.

  15. Ronaldo7
    November 24, 2008 at 8:15 pm #

    Firstly good post SF.
    From a outsiders point of view. Arsen should stay. Are you guys nuts. The man is a great manager. Yes he has made mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, its how he fixes these mistakes is how u judge him.
    Fergie made a massive mistake selling Stam…shit happens and good managers get past it.

    Arsenal definetly need a DMF. To be honest i dont know who they will sign in january. Its not easy getting top quality in january. Maybe a dmf from a mid table premiership side ?

    Also think Silvestre is average at centre back….What the hell is Toure doing on the bench…let the man play 2 to 3 games in a row and get back his form..His a brilliant player.

    I actually rate Eboue.
    Bendtner on the other hand is rubbish. Seriously he is so crap.

    This would be my arsenal side:

    Eboue Toure Djourou Silvestre

    Walcout Clichy Nasri
    Fabregas
    RVP
    Ade

    Clichy would be a awesome DMF.

    I honestly dont knwo who they can sign in january when u know that teams like City and Real have more money and will try and sign the stars and know one will let there good players leave…maybe a couple of loans is the way to go

    ps. Get rid of Bentner he is as bad as Reinhaldo lol

  16. bsw
    November 24, 2008 at 8:17 pm #

    I agree with the post. We need a solid defensive mid. Does anyone recall how many tackles Denilson or Song have put in this season? Watching SWP cut through our defence on Sat gave me the creeps. Up front, Bendtner looks lost more often than not, and I think its time to give Vela a full 90mins to see what he has got. Can’t wait for Jan for Arsene to hopefuly bring in some more established players to steady the squad

  17. Ronaldo7
    November 24, 2008 at 8:20 pm #

    you can have hargreves ….

    poor guy .. great player but his a sick note

  18. philip
    November 24, 2008 at 8:20 pm #

    or get eduardo back to replace bendtner. for all his confidence he still has a long long long way to go!

  19. jebo75
    November 24, 2008 at 8:22 pm #

    my man…..you covered all the solutions in my opinnion, but unfortunately we have a manager who depends on subjective theories and predictions than observations…thus i doubt he can take such big actions for solutions. the first time i endorsed fabrigas for capitancy was in 2006 when arsenal played eindhoven away, that day lauren and vera was sent off…. while vera got the red card there was no one to stand against the ref. except the fabulous….mean while he has got that hot blood in his body to energize the staff…thus i endorse him to be.as to the purchases..i think arsenal will lose the champions league spot unless they buy 1 or 2 players like u said specialy the defencive midfielder…..i agree body. that is why i opt your blog than the others….you tell the exact stuff…keep it up

  20. Mexican Gunner
    November 24, 2008 at 8:23 pm #

    Agree about Cesc´s capitancy BUT say that he looks more captain that Henry ever was is just CRAZY.

    Im very interested on your thoughts Spanish Fry about Bendtner now that is totally clear that he is not even a player for the danish league… (I remeber your big expectings on him to be a top striker)

  21. Spanish Fry
    November 24, 2008 at 9:02 pm #

    @ Mexican Gunner – I still think Bendtner will be a top striker. He’s struggled in the past few weeks but that doesn’t make him a bad player. The key with Bendtner is for him to have an appropriate partner – he generally does well with Vela and Adebayor and struggles with RVP. The reason being that both RVP and Bendtner don’t possess the movement of the other two.

    A lot of people have bagged out Bendtner but he does well for Denmark and he’ll do well for us given time. He’s only 20 after all. He hasn’t taken the chance he’s been given just now and Vela should replace him, but I wouldn’t write him off. Not by a long shot.

  22. i believe
    November 24, 2008 at 9:20 pm #

    The pieces are there. Fabregas, as short of form as he has been, will find his feet again. As Fabregas goes, so goes Arsenal. Robin van Persie, as selfish and arrogant a player as he is, is a goal and assist waiting to happen. He is the unpredictable breed of player that every title-winning team requires.

    Seventy-five percent of the defence is there, all that is needed is to find the correct long-term partner for Djourou, the heir-apparent to Sol Campbell’s as-yet unreplaced role. In Adebayor, you have a world-class target man who opens up space for players like Nasri, Ramsey, Denilson, Walcott, and soon, Wilshere, to exploit. Throw in the promise of Vela, Gibbs, Randall, Simpson, Bendtner, and the numerous other young prospects, and a vast majority of a high-octane, up-tempo passing team is there. All that Arsenal lack is an adequate defensive midfielder to truly free Cesc and let him find his form, and the right leader for this team.

    Wenger’s next title-winning team will be born out of the ashes of the current calamity. He will find his true leaders and add or drop whenever he seems fit. After taking the big decision to drop Gallas, he will now have the bit between his teeth to re-hash a splintered squad. And when this current period of apparent crisis is over, however long it may be, there will be a new Arsenal team. For Wenger, the time to make the drastic decisions has become now, and he knows that.

    Whenever Wenger sorts out his house, then a new team will be born……Maybe next season then.

  23. Anonymous
    November 24, 2008 at 9:22 pm #

    I agree with a great deal of what you have said Spanish. I feel the Gallas issue will help us long term as he is far too much of a disruption and clearly doesn’t have the backing of the rest of the players. Rumours abound that Gallas will be in the squad for the game against Kiev.

  24. Spanish Fry
    November 24, 2008 at 9:24 pm #

    @ i believe – I agree with you 100%. Great commments – particularly the ones about RVP and Djourou. Loved it.

  25. TDP
    November 24, 2008 at 9:34 pm #

    Ooops. Wrong button. Allow me to continue. If Gallas is in the squad I would see this as a mistake. Gallas lacks the professionalism, humility and has too much of an ego to play under someone else. I think the rest of the plaers would be more comfortable with him gone. He was never the right man for the job; he thinks Chelsea are a bigger club and quite simply his heart is not with Arsenal football club.

    I too would go for Cesc as captain. It is a bit soon for him but would feel like a fresh era, which is exactly what we need. He certainly has the right ingredients. No doubt Arsene will throw a major curveball and appoint Silvestre now!

    Arsene should have signed Woodgate last January for 7m. He won’t get a better deal than that now for an aerially dominant, tough tackling ‘no1’ centre half, rather than the ‘mop it up’ centrebacks that we seem to have stockpiled. He had CL experience, PL experience, was 27 so with plenty of time left, and whose playing style is probably what we need in central defence right now. Henry said he was the toughest defender he ever played against in the prem. That ship has sailed now however and Arsene must look elsewhere.

    I actually feel it isn’t just experience we lack, it is variety. Denilson is similar to Cesc. Gallas is similar to Silvestre. I agree that a Flamini-type player would be ideal, but if that can’t happen then a beast in midfield would not be too bad an addition. Someone who is actually a DM (unlike Diaby or Denilson) and someone intimidating like Vieira used to be. What we can all agree on surely, is that this time, promotion cannot come from within.

  26. OzGoonerGuy
    November 24, 2008 at 9:42 pm #

    I just don’t know what to think at the moment. There are so many problems. But we definitely need experience in the midfield and balance.

    We’ve got over a dozen guys 21 or less trying to push through, probably 10 of them would go in Fabregas position. And who do they have to learn from? Where are the experienced internationals, world class players for these kids to learn from?

    In the past, there’s been Bergy, Vieira, Henry, Sol….now there’s no-one left. Wenger has let them all go undervaluing the experience and leadership, over-expecting from the raw youth. This is the situation of his own creation and I don’t know how he’ll fix it. You can see the spirit in some of these kids starting to break.

  27. Gibbs
    November 24, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

    @ SF, welcome back mate. Great post again, there’s really nothing more to add, im with you 100%.

    @ i believe, that was spot on mate. I couldnt have said it better myself.

  28. India-Gunner
    November 24, 2008 at 10:46 pm #

    Total agree with SF. To bounce back, the only choice is Fab4. Hand the arm band to Almunia will not change anything. Almunia isn’t a leader. Don’t forget he just a second choice goalkeeper 2 seasons ago. But knowing how stubborn AW could be. I would bet he will handover the arm band to Mikael Silvestre! Another reject from ManUSA and let us miss out the CL spot. I really hope this won’t happen. AW F*CKING handover the arm band to Fab4!!!!! The only respected player in the squad.

    Since WHU is going to bankrupt soon, I don’t mind to take advantage of this to buy back Upson and Scott Parker. Upson is pretty good in the air. Parker’s work rate is very impress even though he is lack of technical ability. But he covered a lot in every matches. I believe these 2 players are a quick fix to our problems. Another center back to be considered is Christopher Samba from Blackburn. Ideally Veloso/Alonso is the best to partner Fab4 in the middle. But they won’t come cheap.

    Bendtner should be replaced by Vela or even Simpson if physical present is required. Bendtner needs a rest. He need good partner to play 4-4-2. He isn’t experience enough to play 4-5-1. If he is to partner Vela that’s fine but not RvP. Bendtner another year or 2 to step up. Same apply to Denilson. He isn’t ready yet. Let him compete with Ramsey, Wilshere, Merida etc. Those lose out have to leave.

    One player won’t mind to see his back is Diaby. He likes to dribble and poses great technical skill but he has no vision and very inconsistent. You don’t know what will you get when he is playing. He could do well in Italy.

  29. Jay
    November 24, 2008 at 11:29 pm #

    Fabregas is our new captain – See this link!

    http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11095_4543058,00.html

  30. MoMONEY
    November 24, 2008 at 11:38 pm #

    Patrick Viera is rumored to want back into the premiership in January… There is our answer at DMF… At the very least he can close out the rest of this season for us…

  31. Gibbs
    November 24, 2008 at 11:52 pm #

    So, its official! Cesc is the captain, im happy. I hope this is the begining of a great era.

  32. hartwick89
    November 25, 2008 at 12:16 am #

    SF,
    My apologies…Very frustrated at the moment and really believe bloggers intentions. But, it seems it always comes back to the gaffer. The enormity of his moves and maybe lack there of is bothersome. The point is supporters need to do the what if syndrome; What if Arsenal finish at 10th position; What if AW brings in no-one in January; What if we are eliminated in the next round of CL? If your answer is remove the gaffer it’s not balanced. To speak of this manager not being in touch with football is a laugh. He created the current ideaology of seeking great unkowns…And, now footbal is following his lead and trumping him because of great financial muscle. The struggle with this club is it has great financial restraint and responsibity. Something MU, Chelsea, Real no nothing about. When supporters say Wenger go get him or buy this player or think this way it totally deletes this managers abilities. At the end of the day it might be AW is assuming too much responsibilities or burdens. What may be in order is a shake up within administration so Wenger can get back to football. Supporters need to understand that this club also has long term goals not just short term. Be patient because my belief is it’s going to get far worse than better and it’s mostly due to market forces.

  33. Gibbs
    November 25, 2008 at 12:16 am #

    Bad news: Nasri and Diaby are injured, so we have 8 players on the injury list. This sucks!

  34. jay-jay
    November 25, 2008 at 12:23 am #

    FABREGAS is the new skipper, im so happy, been waiting for this for a while now :D:D:D I still dont see a reason not to sign Appiah, he is used to playing with and attacking player and in a big club which is why I think he hasnt been signed yet. I feel a GK, A winger, A Dm and a CB are needed in Jan, then we will have good squad depth and competition for places. Jaaskelainen or Given would be good signingsm also Martin Petrov, Mathieu Flamini and Chivu would be good aswell.

  35. i believe
    November 25, 2008 at 12:24 am #

    CESC IS THA NEW CAPTAIN –

  36. NIGEP
    November 25, 2008 at 12:27 am #

    You know the one thing that stands out is our forwards to me – the defence has always been shakey – but our forward line has declined massively. We had maybe five chances against United and we took two. Against Fernebache we took more than half. Against Villa we had maybe 4/5 chances again, and failed to convert all of them – same at City. Van Persie has not looked the same this season as before his injury. Hopefully some confidence and a better strike partner would complete his game. Bendtner has turned in some shocking matches and as I said before – that champs league defeat to Liverpool when he blocked our potential winner on the line is looking to be the rule rather than the exception.

    Ade has been a bag of bollocks – I wasn’t a fan last year, and this year he’s slipped markedly. He’s a great player, but he’s frightfully inconsistant. He’s like a taller more talented Robbie Keane.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is – the game on Saturday was anybodies game until they scored the first goal. We watched the extended highlights on Sky, but it was also picked up on MOTD. Both sides were shit, but both sides had chances – if we had Robinhio we would have won. Simple.

    He was the difference pretty much. Obviously after the goal they grew massively in confidence and went on to dominate the game – but it could have so easily been us condemming Mark Hughes to the sack if we had someone capable up front of turning the game on its head.

    Say what you will about Gallas but at times early on in the season he saved us – away in Russia for example – and so far has been the only player to grab the games we’re slipping in by the neck.

    This is where we are missing Henry. He used to do the same – for all the sulking and posturing, he’d win a game single handedly 9/10 with that moment of brilliance. Do any of our current forwards inspire that feeling at the moment?

    Vela is a cracking looking player – but he often drops far too deep for me. He should be on the shoulder of the last defender all game for me – he has the pace and Fabregas/RVP have the vision to deliver that ball.

    Edaurdo can’t come back soon enough for me – lets hope he has the hunger and desire to make a blistering restart.

    Putting Gallas aside (he’s off isn’t he clearly – he’s opened his gob, just like at Chelsea which means he want’s away), and the issue of the captaincy (I think I vote Fabregas – I hope it gives him that desire and belief back that he’s been lacking so far this season)
    Arsenal need to look forwards in more way than one. When you’re scoring, you’re believing – if we had a Henry or we’d scored 10 in our last three, a Man City goal would have made a challenge. As it stands, it just crushed us.

  37. Grant
    November 25, 2008 at 1:05 am #

    Cesc4 🙂

  38. Jay
    November 25, 2008 at 1:07 am #

    Anyone who is going tomorrow night, gonna be booing Gallas if he makes an appearance?

    It wouldnt help the side, but as paying supporter we have right to show how we feel.

  39. Raul
    November 25, 2008 at 1:29 am #

    It is amazing how massively we underperformed on saturday. When Flamini left, I was hopeful that Diaby would prove more than an adequate replacement. And yet, here we are. On paper it would seem that we are ok squad wise. But the truth is that if you look at any of the other top 4 teams, you notice that they are also having massive injury issues, and still have the depth to do well in most competitions they are in. Not to compare us with the other teams, but the lack of depth is becoming ever so apparent (and I think this also ties into the leadership factor). What we should look for in the transfer market is technical quality and leadership, also I think we need experience and cool heads to come in and teach a certain level of maturity to some of our young gunners. I know this is anethema to AW and to many of us Gunners, but I think we need some older players to come in for 2-3 years. Mainly to act as a buffer for the youngsters developmental stage and cover during injuries. In a perfect world, these are the signings I would like to see:

    Richard Dunne – Man City
    Genaro Gattuso – AC Milan
    Jesus Navas – Sevilla FC
    Roque Santa Cruz – Blackburn

    I know that none of these would happen, but I think that they would go a long way towards improving our squad. But then again what do I know.

  40. realist
    November 25, 2008 at 1:33 am #

    Reading alot of these blogs it seems that most people think that arsene will buy in the tranfer window, i have to say that as for myself judging by what he has done so far i am not inspired with confidence of that happening especially after coming out earlier in the season and saying that this current squad was better than his invincibles which in my mind was a massive over statement. For him to now go and buy in the tranfer window would be like admitting that he was wrong,and i have to say that i have already seen an arrogance that suggests that he is not about to do that. I think that what is more likely is that he would muddle through until the end of the season and hope that they are at least good enough to quality for the champions league

  41. India-Gunner
    November 25, 2008 at 2:36 am #

    Hopefully Fab4 will bring us the light at the end of tunnel!

    Fab4 the captain.

  42. TayGoon
    November 25, 2008 at 3:59 am #

    I am happy that Cesc is the Captain. Now all those whose hearts were brocken by Flamini will get to see that Cesc didn’t need Flamini or anyone for that matter. One of the things to note about Gallas captaincy was that he reffered to players on TV as “My Players” and “My Team” and probably irked the heck out of Cesc & Co. I know Hleb did not like it. The new Captain has reffered to players as “my team-mates” now that the guy you would be willing to break your leg for.

    As I have maintained for a long time on this blog, We blew the Championship and were likely to lose every time Gallas screwed up, ie Man U, and Chelsea last season. I believe players were hoping to get a new captain this season and when they didn’t they sunk to a new low.

    It has taken longer than I would have liked, but the problems we have are almost dealt with. Denilson is not the problem at Arsenal. The first time I commented on this blog was in Defense of Eduardo las season when everyone was saying he was not good enough for arsenal, then before Djourou got back from his loan, I had to do a lot of defending him, Same as Diaby and Denilson, and Theo when everybody was saying he had re-gressed. The point I am trying to make here is we need to get out of our players backs to let them play with freedom and enjoy their games. That is the only way they can fulfill their potentials. We know what they can do and have done so why discourage them unneccesarily?

  43. TayGoon
    November 25, 2008 at 4:13 am #

    @SF Glad to have you back among the Walking-and-not-feeling-so-bad club.

  44. OzGoonerGuy
    November 25, 2008 at 5:48 am #

    Does anyone know if Gallas even apologised now he is in the squad for Kiev? If not, that is a massive sign of weakness from Wenger.

    I hope Fab4 puts his foot down with Wenger as well and insists on the right partner. Wenger MUST buy a DM in Jan. Most of the young guns are the type to play in Cesc’s role. And even if you wanted to share the load between say Ramsey and Coquelin, they are too young. You are talking about a role that requires physical presence and stamina.

    I’m not sure we’ll find a CB in Jan. It would be ideal if we could, but I’d be happy to see Toure and Djourou backed up by Silvestre and Nordtveit. But it looks like Gallas will stay. That’s a big mistake. I’m predicting more problems on the pitch and in the dressing room. He will not be able to handle taking orders from 21-yr old.

  45. Anonymous
    November 25, 2008 at 6:19 am #

    I can’t wait for the return of Eduardo. He’ll liven things up no end and give the fans a huge boost.

  46. Ice Baba
    November 25, 2008 at 6:23 am #

    SF. ur blog rules, whenever u re on the keyboard reachout to pple,u re always wonderful with ur indept analysis & football concepts.
    I must say that I was never a fan of Gallas,but I must say that from my own view, the way and manner he was demoted was really unfair. A.W would have managed him till Jan. where he would have been hinted gradually about the regime change,I must say that no matter what pple complain about Gallas the guy gives his best week-in-week-out, we should not forget that the man is older than JT,RF,and loads of defenders in the EPL.
    Haven said that I want to join those of u out there that re crying for Jan. inclusion of 2 established players. I tell u what, I will suggest 3 world class players to join the team in Jan,that is the one and only solution to our HOME & AWAY command of the game. Cos to others, we re TOOTHLESS DOG or better put (GUNS WITHOUT BULLETS)
    We pray and hope AW will listen to our cry and spend this Jan.

  47. butterfingers
    November 25, 2008 at 6:53 am #

    Still it wouldn’t be to much to ask arsne to re-sign flamster as he’s not happy being left on the bench 50% of his time at milan and they can make 5-10 mill for a free player in 6 months and there is no one around the 10 mill mark that would walk into the squad and have such a great impact other than alonso but he will be worth more than 10 mill and he’s cl tied.
    Still would love to see adams or berkamp brought in as arsnes no.2 and to eveuntally take over as adams would sort the defense and berkamp would breathe an air of fresh air into our strikers but I know none of these things are going to happen but it’s nice to day dream and at the mo it’s better than reality. I’m still think we can do well in the cl if we can get our sick list sorted and I’ve got every faith in the young guns going all the way in the cc with the added bonus of seeing edu back up front with vela, wow that pairing takes my breath away as arsne won’t rush him into the 1st team as I don’t think a striker is going to make much of a difference at the mo either. Looking foreward and then upwards after the kiev game as I haven’t felt like we will smash anybody in a while but this is the game to do it and at what a time with cesc at the helm of this great young arsenal squad. Bad news is denilson will proberly play but ramsey was the only real spark for us in the man shitty game so the boy deserves a chance and on what a stage to get it.

  48. Gibbs
    November 25, 2008 at 7:00 am #

    So tomorow we’re playing against Kyiv, and with 8 regular players on the injury list, coming up with a decent starting line up is going to be tough for Wenger.
    I think this combination just might do the trick:

    Almunia

    Djourou, Gallas, Silvestre, Clichy

    Ramsey, Cesc, Wilshere, Vela

    Simpson, v.Persie

    What do you guys think?

  49. C-Bass
    November 25, 2008 at 7:04 am #

    Cesc really was the safest pick for Wenger. It was obvious. I hope it it helps but I’m not sure slapping the armband on a experienced young midfielder who is in poor form is going to improve things. Hopefully it will inspire him and he will mentally feel the need to live up the role.

    I still like Gallas and halfway hope he sticks around just to give us experience. He wasn’t the best captain but he is an emotional player. I don’t think anyone could criticize him of not caring about Arsenal. He’s just lost a bit of pace the last few years I think and he was never spectacular in the air. He was a guy who worked his socks off in every game and really came through in the clutch the last few years for us.

    As for the team, I do have one more comment. It’s not feasible right now with our current injury situation but I would still like to see Eboue in the holding midfielder slot again. He’s got pace, stamina and he will stick his boot in when Denni won’t. Sure he’s temperamental but that’s why we have a new captain to partner him and keep him in line. I just thought I’d give him a shout since all the talk is about Denni, Diaby and Song.

  50. butterfingers
    November 25, 2008 at 7:44 am #

    Also just read that podolski is leaving in the summer and totts and man shitty are going for a bidding war maybe mad jens can put in a good word for us and we can nab him and get rid of ade and loan bendtner out again.

  51. Luder
    November 25, 2008 at 7:47 am #

    Why not look at Kirkland?
    I’m sure he d be interested….
    we need 2 Centre backs..not 1. Kolo can play with Cesc in the middle.

    Fabianski, Denilson, Song, Djourou, Eboue, Bentner etc, etc…. they can fill the bench!

  52. Spanish Fry
    November 25, 2008 at 7:56 am #

    @ butterfingers – I still can’t understand why people want to get rid of Ade. He is our most important striker. Has anyone noticed that without him we’ve been exceptionally poor in front of goals? United game aside we’ve struggled against Stoke (I know he played most of the game, but he was not fit), Villa and City.

    Defenders consistently say he is a very difficult opponent yet our fans don’t seem to see it. His movement and tireless workrate are vital to guys like Bendtner, RVP and Eduardo having the space to score.

  53. MoMONEY
    November 25, 2008 at 8:15 am #

    Ive said before I can live with Adebayor but being tall and hard working is not enough to be a great striker IMO… I like what he has done and he is vital to the team as it stands but I feel like he could be replaced.

    I like the Eboue at DMF idea… Better then any of our other options I think… Podolski is a great player but idn if he is the type we need right now… And plus he wants to start and thats not guarenteed here… Im seeing lots of rumors of Viera wanting out of Inter and EPL teams interested… If this is the case he needs to be back at Arsenal for a year or two where he can teach these kids what a Champion is and play at DMF until a replacement is found… That is the ideal signing for me. He will bring leadership and organization alongside Cesc and could really change the dynamic of the squad…

  54. jay-jay
    November 25, 2008 at 8:35 am #

    Ade leaving would not bother me aslong as AW signed another striker (like Podolski). Vieira joining us would be bad I think as he has lost pace and strength. He is getting hold and isnt able to play the DM well anymore, I think Inter want rid of Vieira aswell.

    My XI for Kyiv:
    Almunia
    Gallas-Djourou-Silvestre-Clichy
    Wilshere-Fabregas-Ramsey-Van Persie
    Vela-Bendtner

    Bendtner plays well when paired with Vela and Van Persie played LW at Feyernoord. Maybe a 4-3-3 could be played with RvP joining Niklas and Carlos upfront.

  55. butterfingers
    November 25, 2008 at 8:49 am #

    Ade has had 1 good season and don’t forget rvp and edu were injured and vela was in spain and then he wanted henrys pay packet and so forth so he is hardly in it for the love of the game. We don’t need a holding striker like heskey and such as we don’t play that kind of game where we hoof the ball up field and the big man up front waits for the calvery to arrive, we need another henry and that’s why theo got the no.14 shirt as he can take the ball half of the pitch with 2-3 defenders with him and then pass the ball to nasri, rosicky, rvp or such to stick in the back of the net and his goal assist against milan and luckypool last cl was a prime example of how we play beutifull football.
    That’s why pires and freddie always got on the scoresheet and that’s what we are missing plus he needs 5 shots for a goal and in a cl final he won’t get those type of chances

  56. Demetrio
    November 25, 2008 at 9:11 am #

    I agree with jay-jay. I think Vieira would be another bad signing. Another example of Arsenal taking players not good enough for one of the best teams in the world. Vieira doesn’t play much for Inter for a reason, and it because he isn’t good enough. If we want to be considered one of the best teams in the world we cannot sign players like Silvestre, Gallas or even Vieira whom are not the same players as they were. Wenger let Vieira go at a good time, he never replaced him which wasn’t a good thing, but i think he knew Vieira wasn’t the same player and he has shown that with his performances with Inter. I wouldn’t mind him being back at the club, for as MoMoney said to teach the kids how to be a winner, but i wouldn’t want him playing, or even being paid much money, i just think its a waste.

    I don’t think Bendnter plays well period unless its in the Carling Cup against lower league team. He is the worst player on the team. A one footed Ade is better then Bendtner, the only thing i would change jay-jay about your lineup is I’d take Bendtner out and put Song in the midfield behind Cesc, Ramsey and Wilshere. Pair up RVP and Vela up front. I think for some reason Bendtner plays better coming off the bench anyways when he’s needed.

    The only problem for me is i still don’t see where the goals will come from. RVP is rubbish, i know a lot of you love RVP but he is rubbish. He has his moments of brilliance, but he’s not at all consistent enough as you need to be at this level. We have no reliable goal scorers at the club until Eduardo comes back, whom is supposed to play in the reserves game Dec 16.

  57. OzGoonerGuy
    November 25, 2008 at 9:14 am #

    Regarding our forwards, I don’t think there’s any doubt about the quality of the players. What is lacking is game planning and tacitcal nouse.

    The whole EPL knows it can at least get a point against Arsenal by playing 5 in midfield and camping 10 men in the box while we pass it round.

    The man who has caused most problems for the defences is Adebayor with his movement, height, workrate. Without him, we have 70% possession and no goals. AW needs to impart on the players some sort of strategic plan to break down these defences. Just passing the ball around doesn’t work.

  58. MoMONEY
    November 25, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    I didnt think Viera wasnt performing well but if he isnt playing well then I agree with you guys… I thought he was just falling out of favor with Muntari there but was still capable but I dont watch much of Inter tbh…

  59. MoMONEY
    November 25, 2008 at 10:04 am #

    Another name I wanna mention though i dont know how realistic it is: Hamit Altintop… He can play anywhere in midfield and was probably Turkey’s best player over the summer…

  60. Spanish Fry
    November 25, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    Adebayor is underrated and under valued. That’s all I will say.

  61. Mexican Gunner
    November 25, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    Totally agree, we cant have only flashy strikers like Van Persie, we need someone like Adebayor to score many goals… for me they´re the perfect couple.

    and for defensive midfielder what about Tiago?? I remember that he was very good with Lyon a couple season ago and play very well with Portugal and now he is not playing with Juve for the good form of Sissoko (another good dm). He could be our answer.

  62. Spanish Fry
    November 25, 2008 at 11:05 am #

    @ MoMONEY – Altintop’s an interesting suggestion but I’d expect he’s earning big money at Bayern. Not sure he’d want to drop his wages to play for us when he’s in a winning team that are paying him more.

  63. jay-jay
    November 25, 2008 at 11:19 am #

    @ Mexican Gunner – Adebayor had a lot of hype over him and what has he done? A hat-trick v Blackburn in the EPL! I will say he has performed really well in the CL though!

    @ Demetrio – Had not even thought of Song, I was thinking of a player to take Bendtner out of the team but couldn’t. So this is mine (and Demetrios) Starting XI v Kyiv:
    4-1-3-2
    Almunia
    Gallas-Djourou-Silvestre-Clichy
    Song
    Wilshere-Fabregas(CAPTAIN:D)-Ramsey
    Van Persie-Vela

    However I just get the feeling AW will go with Bendtner and Denilson like normal!

  64. RBP-The Next RVP
    November 25, 2008 at 2:37 pm #

    this captaincy is either a boom or bust, either he’ll be great, and get better from finally having the title that he’s had for so long, or either his form will suffer b/c he’s under stress from the press, hopefully itll be the former.

  65. Ronaldo7
    November 25, 2008 at 3:27 pm #

    I think Cesc will step up.

    His a champion player guys. His made for this. His a really special talent. His only 20. Wait till his peaking at 25. WOW.

    Ade is vital for arsenal. Look at the guy. His tall, lanky, fast, works hard. Hed be hell to mark.
    YES he misses alot of chances but honestly who doesnt ? (Anelka, Rooney, Tevez, are all strikers that miss alot of chances.) Its the fact he gets chances is what you have to look at !

    Bendtner should be seeing nothing but the bench…hed be ok to bring on in the final 10 minutes of a game.

    You build winning teams from the back. You have a solid defence and the rest works itself out. The other players are given the freedom to express themselves. Get a CB and DMF and arsenal will be back to there best.

    Maybe i should manage arsenal? what u think spanish ?

  66. MoMONEY
    November 25, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    Actually now that I think about it Bendtner may be a good example of why Ade is so important… he is tall, good with his head, and works hard but is absolutely useless out there… Either way I have always said I am fine with keeping Adebayor…

    Vela absolutely needs to start in place of Bendtner these next few games… Im honestly glad Gallas is still gonna be playing. 2 january signings are all we need- a CB and a DMF (more importantly. I think a Keeper for the future is also required but it can probably wait until the summer unless someone good becomes available right away…

  67. ramugunner
    November 25, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    Nice to see SF back writing wonderful post. While I disagree with some of your ideas still most of them are thoughtful.

    1. Happy for Cesc as our new captain and best wishes for him. He is a bit young and now he has to lead worst Arsenal team of last 20 years. Wenger must buy at least two players in Janaury who can improve this team quickly. A CDM and a CB/Keeper will bring a vast change in this team.

    2. I don’t know how you came up with the idea that Almunia has done good for last two years. Top keepers gain points for the team but we have lost a lot under Almunia. Also believing him as the first-choice contender for captain is really mis-leading. A championship level keeper who cannot lead his 6 yard box can never lead Arsenal.

    3. Song and Diaby are the worst players in Arsenal squad. I cannot believe some people still rate him including Spanishfry but the fact is they cannot walk into even Everton/Fulham first team.

    4. I rate Bentdner but also accept he has been abysmal playing for Arsenal. Everytime he plays for Denmark he does really good and he is still 20, no reason to write him off. Also he cannot play as a lone striker.

    5. I really hate Adebayor for many reasons both footballing and character-wise. Still I believe he is important for this team, only this season. I would like him to be sold come summer and bring a real striker like Villa.

    Good luck Cesc and Arsenal for Todays’s match. We are in a need of a desperate win. We also want to start Cesc Era with a win. New club captain and a CL win will provide a huge boost ahead of Chelski-Moscow.

    Come on Arenal!!!!!!!!!

  68. at glance
    November 25, 2008 at 6:13 pm #

    I even haven’t read so much of the above. Truth hurts but let it be told. It isnt just Gallas,if its Gallas,then its Wenger,its almost all the team for reasons you all know.
    Somehow,someone has had to pay the price and bear more responsibility–i “understand” . Any change is good enough especially in situations like Arsenal is in.Alot more has to change,has to be done than just this Gallas thing. In good or bad–i remain Arsenal but i nolonger wear my Arsenal jerseys,shout arsenal with the arrogance i used to. Am feeling it!

  69. Daniel
    November 25, 2008 at 6:22 pm #

    Fabregas is the prefect choise and it will help the club to be on its orignal form.many loose to Arsenal it wil hurt the club for next season’s champion league.

  70. AP
    November 25, 2008 at 9:45 pm #

    Hey Guys

    I am lucky enough to be going to the game today and I will be booing as hard as i can if gallas makes an appearance. I have never liked him from the start and I hope we get rid of him soon.

  71. Bugs Bunny
    November 26, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    I’ve been tied up with travel (Albaquerky underground etc) lately and haven’t seen too many games lives and in full. But it’s easy to see we are on a bit of a struggle. Wth so many experienced players out, it really did look like a young side just on the verge or doing something great, but not getting it all right. I imagine most commentators won’t be too heavy handed with their accolades! … But they held their concentration, with Cec providing good,solid leadership throughout the game and fantastic concentration for the brilliant assist. Patience, fellow fans…we’ll be OK.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dog Days « the chronic-what?-cles of buffoonery - June 27, 2009

    […] in the defense. They really missed Flamini hounding at the ball and Gilberto’s steadiness. Then the implosion of Captain Gallas. I get where he was coming from but I still expected something more from a leader. Fabregas goes […]

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