Its “Only pre-season” they say, “Chelsea, Spurs, Man Utd, Liverpool and Man City have all lost they say”
Pre-season is usually a time to get to know new signings, get everyone back to match fitness, and see the potential youngsters that could step up next season, its a time for banter and while not the best indication of the coming season form its still an indication.
We have seen some great stuff this pre-season, we have witnessed the rise of several young players who will certainly make an impact next season, JET, Lansbury, Wilshere, Frimpong and Nordveit whilst we have seen some senior players make the step up, the shining light of a somewhat meteoric rise, is Nasri who has been simply and utterly World Class throughout each game he has played and has made it quite clear that he should be taking free kicks next season.
What we haven’t seen however, are the defensive issues addressed. By Wengers own admission we were defensively shambolic. Last season was arguably our worst defensive display in a number of years, we shipped over 40 goals, a figure that some mid-table teams can boast of, but we are not a mid table team…
Bar the Goalkeeper, which i will get onto, the physical personel in defence, are all very talented, in Clichy and Sagna, i believe we have two of the very best full backs in the World, both full internationals, both quite clearly love Arsenal, and both can’t cross, but i believe a full back should be first judged on his defence, then his attack, after all, they are defenders, and they are very good.
Next, Vermaelen, many a pessmist, including myself last season wern’t too happy when he signed, but he has proven without a shadow of doubt that he is a top defender, and fast approaching becoming one of the best in the World.
Lastly, Koscielny. I saw a fair bit of him last season from watching French footie and came to the conclusion that he is similar to Terry in his ability to read the game, although he has a bit more pace…And a lot less experience.
The Emirates Cup on day one, showed his ability, he narrowly missed out on the MOTM award to Chamakh who was very impressive, and yet on the 2nd day he was a bit calamitous, as he was against Legia Warsaw.
I don’t doubt his ability but i do doubt the reasoning behind his signing, as a team striving to clear up our defensive issues, signing a player with less top flight experience than some teenagers we have, both at club and International level, its taking a big, nay, massive risk.
You have to ask yourself, just how much more than the £8-£10m quoted for Koscielny, someone like Serdar Tasci would have cost? A proven, young International with a strong build?
By all reports, Tasci could have been had for under or around £10m.
A safer bet? Proven? Me thinks so, then again these are just names, we have no indication of what or who AW looks at, although its quite clear he looks for unknowns, then ends up paying the same amount of money for them that we could have gotten top International players for, the mind boggles…Even Vermaelen was an International and Club Captain.
Now we get onto who we have as backup, and who we have lost. We currently have Djourou as the seeming 3rd choice and while i always maintained he would be a top defender, he looks like Bambi on ice and he has had a poor pre-season, and now it turns out that he wishes to play in midfield? Jog on son, you ain’t got the legs for it.
We have lost Gallas, who i have no doubt was a negative influence on some players, but still the best defender we had, Henry was a negative influence on a lot of players the club…Never gets mentioned…
We have lost Senderos, full International and i believe would have been a much safer bet to replace Gallas, considered for the Arsenal Captaincy when he was 21…
Campbell, like a Big Black Phoenix rising from the ashes of Notts county, he was simply superb last season, and i thought he would be nailed on to stay for at least another year, turns out nothings changed and the lure of Newcastle was too much to resist…****.
Ah, now onto the Anti-Christ, old Grenade head Silvestre, i always thought he got a raw deal from Arsenal fans because he was an ex Manc, but i actually thought in general he was solid for us, and would have had him back as 4th/5th choice, i certainly think he is better than Djourou and he was a good influence on the young lads, never really good enough but good luck to him in the future.
So thats 4 out, 2 in, if you count Kollosus and Ledley King’s knee, leaving us with exactly 3 senior defenders, well two senior players and a senior citizen in Djourou for all his knee problems.
And yet no new defender on the horizon, who exactly does AW have in mind? Is he going to sign a 4th choice CB? Is he going to sign a young’ish CB to compete with Koscielny? We won’t know for a while but with Liverpool on the horizon it could be sooner than we think.
Tactically, we have been shocking for years and its been gradually getting worse and worse due the number of player changes in the centre of defence, Toure and Campbell, Toure and Gallas, Gallas and Vermaelen and now Vermaelen and ????????.
Gallas and Vermaelen really hit it off, so what do we do? Let Gallas go, logic 1o1 there.
By AW’s own admission we are defensively “lacking” but it seems to me that he is completely clueless about how to go about organising a team for when we don’t have the ball, we don’t press high up the pitch, our players don’t bust a nut collectively to win the ball back and the line is so high the players have been getting a serious case of the munchies.
It was different when AW took over because the defence and players we had knew what do, Adams, Keown and Dixon have always said that their job was made so much easier by the midfield breaking up play, and that they, as a defence, collectively knew what to do, this mentality was instilled into them by Graham, he gave them this mentality and it grew so it became second nature, it is quite clear that AW does NOT employ this in his philosophy.
He dismantled the team and the players he has brought through it seems only know two things, how to keep the ball and how to attack, the defence should start with the strikers, not when someone has gassed our line out and is bearing down on goal.
It would not take much to instill a good defensive setup, why is Adams managing some shit Arab club when he could be here telling our defence how its done? Why did AW let Keown go after we wen’t unbeaten in the CL? Our defence never looked so good, why hasn’t Bould become defensive coach too?
Lastly…the Goalkeeping situation, it has become quite apparent that Almunia and Fabianski are simply not good enough, they are terrible Keepers, the latter of which would do well to get into a Championship side, let alone a Premier League one.
So why does AW persist? Goalkeepers are born, not made, you can be taught enough moves to become a good shotstopper, which Almunia is, but the thing that seperates a great GK from a decent one is that raw ability to save the unsaveable, to command the respect of your back line and to instill confidence, if you have a confident GK, you have a confident defence and that ripples through the team, a midfield is far less likely to be nervous and lose the ball if they feel their defence can deal with it.
Forget Szczesney, he is not ready, he is far to rash and needs another loan move to a Championship/Lower level Prem team for the experience, Brentford were on their way down, they had nothing to lose, we do.
Mannone IMO IS ready, i have not seen a display like at Fulham from a GK since Lehmann was in the form of his life for us, he did everything right, and if you want statistics then statistically he was our best keeper last season.
However what i believe and what AW believes are Worlds apart, i believe AW will gently phase Mannone out of the team, he hasn’t been given a chance to shine in pre-season and AW just doesn’t seem to rate him, wouldn’t be the first time he has gotten rid of talented players to incorperate players who simply do not deserve to be there.
Ideally however, we should not be having to hope AW gives a chance to a youngster, he should be signing a top, proven International keeper.
So many Keepers are out there begging to be signed that would be a massive inprovement over what we have, its like Cameron Diaz standing naked in front of you with a tub of melted chocolate beckoning you to the bedroom and you saying “Nah, i think i’ll watch Hollyoaks”.
It simply defies belief that by all accounts he will not be signing a keeper, i believe a top Keeper would have saved given us an extra 10 points last season at least…
Anyway, i am rambling now but it doesn’t seem like our defence has gotten any better, in fact i think its gone backwards, and with Man City improving massively, Liverpool and Spurs certain to be up there along with the Chavs and Manure, this could be a very, very tough season for us, i just hope what the board said about not needing the CL money was true, unless AW signs at least a GK and a CB then we could very well find ourselves dumped out next season.
As written by GunnGunn of Goonersworld forum