Arsenal 2014-2015: Ugh. Your banter stinks.

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sachmoney

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[SIZE=10.5pt]Good article, but I'd also add that at the beginning of the season, it felt like there were still the 4 defenders, 5 creative midfielders, and 1 striker. I remember distinctly [/SIZE]a time (links self!) when Cazorla, Ozil, and Ramsey would come to receive the ball and no one was making runs into the box. It made me wonder whether they could co-exist in the lineup. As the season has gone on, the players have had their roles sort of naturally delegated. The two key developments in this regard, besides Coquelin's emergence, were Alexis' integration into the squad and Giroud's health. 
[SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]You think you can plug in great players together and they'll develop a rapport naturally and be good to go. That wasn't the case with Alexis. As I said in that post I linked above (and I'm repeating myself because I was spot on) is that Alexis needed support. Remember the Everton game where that penis Steven Naismith ran rampant on us? Well, Alexis was up chasing the Everton back four, while the rest of the team sat back. There was no cohesion. You watch the team now, and I think Giroud's return has helped this a lot, but when they've needed to, they've been able to press higher up the pitch. You see a lot more communication. Guys know where to be. Alexis isn't on an island anymore. His teammates trust him and he trusts them.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]A lot of credit should go to Cazorla and Ozil for this and to some extent, the fullbacks (particularly Monreal and Gibbs). There’s been a lot of uncertainty this year, and I think Cazorla has been one of those players that has imposed himself into the team. When Giroud, Ramsey, and Ozil were all out, it became Alexis and Cazorla’s team. In that period of uncertainty, Cazorla became the guy who could receive the ball to make the outlet to Alexis. He became the guy to receive the pass from Alexis so Alexis could make the run behind the defense. Cazorla was the guy who really started to show how to tap the potential of Alexis. As Cazorla has been asked to do more defensively, Ozil has really picked up that slack. Since returning, Ozil has been everywhere (Wenger has finally put him at the 10 role), but it seems like he’s always 10-15 yards from Sanchez whenever the Chilean has the ball. Sanchez can still take on guys, but it’s that much easier to do when there is the threat of playing a 1-2 with Ozil. Both Monreal and Gibbs have made some good overlapping runs with Sanchez too.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Giroud getting healthy was huge. Most of us, myself especially, are harsh on Giroud. This stems mainly from the fact that Arsenal can tend to get one dimensional (which again relates back to the article in terms of the team’s transformation). Giroud does what he does very well and he is by far the most developed central striker on the team. The team is clearly much better off when he is in the lineup. Part of the problem, though, with Giroud is the lack of multiplicity, at least prior to this year. He isn’t going to create a lot of goals by himself, but he is going to play very well within a team construct. His effectiveness becomes more limited when there are less players that can play with him. Arsenal struggled last year when Ramsey, the primary player that linked up with him, went down. With more guys looking to get involved, Giroud has been more productive.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Even with that, I feel like Giroud has come back stronger and more assertive. May be it’s a confidence thing and the whole team is overflowing with confidence right now, but there seems to be less doubt in his game. If he’s going to shoot, he’s going to shoot. If he’s going to make a run, he’s going to make it with purpose. If he’s going to pass, you better be there because that pass is going to be on a platter. There is less thought and hesitation and more almost impulsive urgency. I’ve been really impressed with his game and I think his teammates have been too. There’s more trust, not just in Giroud, but in the side as a whole. Giroud has provided a quality second option, meaning Arsenal hasn’t had to be overly reliant on one player (Alexis) for goals. We can talk about the 15 goal scorers, but these two have scored nearly half (28 of 62) League goals. When Giroud was out, it felt like there was an overreliance on Alexis to score goals. The pressure is off and the team is more multiple as a result. [/SIZE]
 
[SIZE=10.5pt]It’s been fun to watch.[/SIZE]
 
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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sachmoney said:
 
[SIZE=10.5pt]Good article, but I'd also add that at the beginning of the season, it felt like there were still the 4 defenders, 5 creative midfielders, and 1 striker. I remember distinctly [/SIZE]a time (links self!) when Cazorla, Ozil, and Ramsey would come to receive the ball and no one was making runs into the box. It made me wonder whether they could co-exist in the lineup. As the season has gone on, the players have had their roles sort of naturally delegated. The two key developments in this regard, besides Coquelin's emergence, were Alexis' integration into the squad and Giroud's health. 
 
[SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]You think you can plug in great players together and they'll develop a rapport naturally and be good to go. That wasn't the case with Alexis. As I said in that post I linked above (and I'm repeating myself because I was spot on) is that Alexis needed support. Remember the Everton game where that penis Steven Naismith ran rampant on us? Well, Alexis was up chasing the Everton back four, while the rest of the team sat back. There was no cohesion. You watch the team now, and I think Giroud's return has helped this a lot, but when they've needed to, they've been able to press higher up the pitch. You see a lot more communication. Guys know where to be. Alexis isn't on an island anymore. His teammates trust him and he trusts them.[/SIZE]
 
[SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]A lot of credit should go to Cazorla and Ozil for this and to some extent, the fullbacks (particularly Monreal and Gibbs). There’s been a lot of uncertainty this year, and I think Cazorla has been one of those players that has imposed himself into the team. When Giroud, Ramsey, and Ozil were all out, it became Alexis and Cazorla’s team. In that period of uncertainty, Cazorla became the guy who could receive the ball to make the outlet to Alexis. He became the guy to receive the pass from Alexis so Alexis could make the run behind the defense. Cazorla was the guy who really started to show how to tap the potential of Alexis. As Cazorla has been asked to do more defensively, Ozil has really picked up that slack. Since returning, Ozil has been everywhere (Wenger has finally put him at the 10 role), but it seems like he’s always 10-15 yards from Sanchez whenever the Chilean has the ball. Sanchez can still take on guys, but it’s that much easier to do when there is the threat of playing a 1-2 with Ozil. Both Monreal and Gibbs have made some good overlapping runs with Sanchez too.[/SIZE]
 
[SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Giroud getting healthy was huge. Most of us, myself especially, are harsh on Giroud. This stems mainly from the fact that Arsenal can tend to get one dimensional (which again relates back to the article in terms of the team’s transformation). Giroud does what he does very well and he is by far the most developed central striker on the team. The team is clearly much better off when he is in the lineup. Part of the problem, though, with Giroud is the lack of multiplicity, at least prior to this year. He isn’t going to create a lot of goals by himself, but he is going to play very well within a team construct. His effectiveness becomes more limited when there are less players that can play with him. Arsenal struggled last year when Ramsey, the primary player that linked up with him, went down. With more guys looking to get involved, Giroud has been more productive.[/SIZE]
 
[SIZE=10.5pt] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Even with that, I feel like Giroud has come back stronger and more assertive. May be it’s a confidence thing and the whole team is overflowing with confidence right now, but there seems to be less doubt in his game. If he’s going to shoot, he’s going to shoot. If he’s going to make a run, he’s going to make it with purpose. If he’s going to pass, you better be there because that pass is going to be on a platter. There is less thought and hesitation and more almost impulsive urgency. I’ve been really impressed with his game and I think his teammates have been too. There’s more trust, not just in Giroud, but in the side as a whole. Giroud has provided a quality second option, meaning Arsenal hasn’t had to be overly reliant on one player (Alexis) for goals. We can talk about the 15 goal scorers, but these two have scored nearly half (28 of 62) League goals. When Giroud was out, it felt like there was an overreliance on Alexis to score goals. The pressure is off and the team is more multiple as a result. [/SIZE]
 
[SIZE=10.5pt]It’s been fun to watch.[/SIZE]
 
 
 
Good post Sach.  I think the other factor in terms of moving away from playing a team full of creative midfielders is that we simply have real wingers this year to call upon - in fact, we have arguably the best set  of wide attacking options in the PL in Alexis, Ox, Theo, and Welbeck.  The squad last year was really unbalanced, especially after Theo went down and with Ox still recovering.  We started a lot of lineups with the likes of Santi, Rozza, and Wilshere as wide midfielders because we simply didn't have any other options.  This made us predictable in possession (tippy-tappy all the way) and toothless on the break, particularly given that an overworked and fairly slow Giroud was our striker.  The fact that we had to play Gnabry wide in some important games just to have somebody with pace and a little trickery outside says it all.
 

sachmoney

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
 
Good post Sach.  I think the other factor in terms of moving away from playing a team full of creative midfielders is that we simply have real wingers this year to call upon - in fact, we have arguably the best set  of wide attacking options in the PL in Alexis, Ox, Theo, and Welbeck.  The squad last year was really unbalanced, especially after Theo went down and with Ox still recovering.  We started a lot of lineups with the likes of Santi, Rozza, and Wilshere as wide midfielders because we simply didn't have any other options.  This made us predictable in possession (tippy-tappy all the way) and toothless on the break, particularly given that an overworked and fairly slow Giroud was our striker.  The fact that we had to play Gnabry wide in some important games just to have somebody with pace and a little trickery outside says it all.
Definitely, it's hard to crack a defense when they can crowd the box and you can't spread them out with the options that you have. Another component of the multiplicity that Arsenal have developed this season.
 

blueguitar322

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Great post Sach.  It's still amazing to me how much of a home run Alexis has been.  He's technical enough to fit into the Barca-lite style of play (as he should be, since he came from Barca), but his speed on the break and willingness to take players on adds a dimension not seen for a while in that segment of North London.
 

sachmoney

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I'm more surprised by him being this effective this early. Like we knew he was a player that is physically strong with the ball, but the question was would the physicality of the English game would wear him down as it was a huge contrast from what he was facing in Spain. To me, I thought he was technically capable of a lot in the first year, but not nearly as much as he's shown. The comparison people made was with Agüero. There'll be some that'll protest the comparison, but that's the comparison that was being made at the time. They're both diminutive but physically up to the task. Agüero is more of a killer. Sanchez is everywhere and more involved in everything, but can from time to time be that killer. Agüero had 23 goals and 8 assists in his first League campaign. Alexis so far has 14 goals and 8 assists. That's incredibly impressive. I do believe Agüero's yield per game was a bit higher though. Really remarkable what he's done and hopefully, continues to do.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Aguero is the better player in a vacuum because his scoring ability is so rare. But Sanchez is the much easier player to fit into a team and build around. You don't hear the comparison a lot but I think he shares a lot with Ribery - hardnosed two way wingers that can take men on, create, and finish on offense while also capable of tracking back well and pressing aggressively without the ball. That's a cornerstone player that can thrive in any system and allows a manager a full range of tactical options.
 

blueguitar322

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Workman-like performance by Arsenal.  Never really in doubt, but Burnley are certainly admirable for their intensity and pressing and I hope they find a way to avoid relegation.  Arsenal did a good job holding Burnley to 2-3 good chances at goal during the game, but didn't create much themselves either.
 
On to the FA Cup semifinal.
 

PedroSpecialK

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Bellerin has looked superb and made a big impact today, any indication that Debuchy gets back into the side when he's at full fitness?
 

mikeford

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ConigliarosPotential said:
What result do we want tomorrow in the Manchester derby? A draw, to increase our lead on both clubs, or a result - probably a Man Utd win, given City's awful form - to increase our lead on 4th (the point being to avoid the Champions League qualifiers in August)?
A full scale riot causing both teams to forfeit the game and get deducted points due to their fans activities. 
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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ConigliarosPotential said:
What result do we want tomorrow in the Manchester derby? A draw, to increase our lead on both clubs, or a result - probably a Man Utd win, given City's awful form - to increase our lead on 4th (the point being to avoid the Champions League qualifiers in August)?
 
I'm rooting for a draw but a City win that cut United back down a bit would be perfectly fine too.  I'm already sick at the thought of rooting for United to win in two weeks when they play Chelsea.  There's no way I'm doing that to myself twice.
 

blueguitar322

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Tomorrow, I will be rooting for City.
 
Beyond the fact that I generally deplore everything about United, I would prefer the gap between the top three teams and the fourth place team to widen as much as possible, so that Arsenal are safe from the CL qualification games.  Strange as it may sound given City's recent form, I think United is the more likely team to lose points down the stretch (and thus widen the gap between Arsenal and 4th place):
  • City is on worse form and a point behind United at the moment, but if they can win tomorrow all that will be erased.  Not to mention they will have a far easier remaining schedule, having already played all four other top-5 teams and having 4 of 6 remaining games at the Etihad.  
  • If they lose tomorrow, United still have to play @Chelsea and home vs Arsenal; and in addition 3 of their 4 other games are on the road.  Their only remaining "gimme" game will be home vs West Brom.
It's not unreasonable to envision a scenario in which United lose tomorrow and then lose again at Chelsea on Saturday.  Losing these key games would kill United's momentum and might even give Liverpool a chance to knock United back to 5th. (Liverpool will play a bunch of road games, but their only truly difficult game is @Chelsea.) That would be awesome.
 

blueguitar322

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Coquelin's game yesterday:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pre7ajCc1yc
 
Had the interception that led to the goal.  Had 10 more on top of that.  The man has been on a crazy run, averaging 4.2 tackles (72% success rate) and 4.5 interceptions per 90.  (Compare with Matic at 3.6 tackles at 62% success rate and 2.1 interceptions per 90.) And the sample size is growing (17 appearances, 1271 minutes).  On this form, he's certainly in the discussion for best defensive midfielders in the Premier League and maybe the world.
 
It will be very interesting to watch what happens over the next 6-7 months.  He's signed a new deal and, barring Arsene spending some serious cash on a position where he almost never spends serious cash, next August will be the first time in his life that he will come into camp as a locked-in starter.  How will he respond?  Ramsey had three months last year where he was arguably the best box-to-box midfielder in the world, but his form prior and since hasn't come close to his peak.  Do you guys think Coquelin will be the same?  Should Wenger spend the money on a Schneiderlin/Kondogbia or maybe even try to blow Juventus out of the water with a strong offer for Pogba?
 
In fact this is maybe the first year in a long time where summer buy/sell decisions are more double-edged.  Up to this year, there was a clear lack of quality depth, if not quality starters, in Arsenal's roster.  But now the decision to buy a midfielder probably comes at Wilshere's expense; a winger at Chamberlain's expense; a DM at Coquelin's expense, etc.  Honestly the only truly weak spot I see remaining is Flamini.  Nice problem to have.
 

sachmoney

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blueguitar322 said:
It will be very interesting to watch what happens over the next 6-7 months.  He's signed a new deal and, barring Arsene spending some serious cash on a position where he almost never spends serious cash, next August will be the first time in his life that he will come into camp as a locked-in starter.  How will he respond?  Ramsey had three months last year where he was arguably the best box-to-box midfielder in the world, but his form prior and since hasn't come close to his peak.  Do you guys think Coquelin will be the same?  Should Wenger spend the money on a Schneiderlin/Kondogbia or maybe even try to blow Juventus out of the water with a strong offer for Pogba?
I mean, yes, they should try to do this but how in the heck do you think Arsenal will have the financial clout to get Pogba over any other big club in the world? Do you think Pogba would actually come? As much as I'd love to see him at Arsenal, I think we should let this possibility go.
 
I'm not rooting for anyone today. I do not like any of the EPL teams playing today and that includes QPR. I also don't think the results matter. Chelsea will win the league and Arsenal controls its own destiny for second. I am perfectly fine with the latter.
 

blueguitar322

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sachmoney said:
I mean, yes, they should try to do this but how in the heck do you think Arsenal will have the financial clout to get Pogba over any other big club in the world? Do you think Pogba would actually come? As much as I'd love to see him at Arsenal, I think we should let this possibility go.
If any of Real, Barca (if they didn't have a transfer ban), United and a few others want him, Arsenal won't get him. But I would have said the same thing about Ozil and Sanchez the last two summers. Helps that those two came from one of those clubs to begin with.

I certainly agree it's not likely though.
 

Zomp

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Ozil and Sanchez were to cast offs from Real and Barca (which is not to say they were wrong to let them go...though its hard to argue with the results).  Pogba is the Ronaldo, Bale, Neymar, etc... of the transfer window.  He'll go for more than 60 million euros and he'll go to either Real, Barca, City, PSG, or United with the likelihood in the order listed. 
 

sachmoney

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Ivan has spoken:
 
 
Asked to assess the season, Gazidis said: “We are not happy but we are going to keep pushing to the end and see how far we can go.”
 
When asked if Arsenal can be a force again, Gazidis replied: “We are happy with the way the squad has developed and we are very focused how we can make a positive end to the season. After that it will be a question of how can we progress the team further so that we can have an even better season next year. We have a squad that’s clearly coming together. It’s a relatively young squad so it will continue to improve.
“We had a lot of new players this year who are beginning to gel together. We had a lot of injuries at the beginning of the season as well. Also coming off a World Cup year there are a lot of complex issues.
“I think the league is going to get more and more competitive. You are going to see more Southamptons, more challenger teams coming in because [television] revenue has gone up.”
I'm glad that he's not happy because the aim of the club should be to win silverware. The timing of making this statement is weird. The club is in its best form, not only this season, but in years. Arsenal is in second and looking to make its second consecutive FA Cup Final with a win on Saturday. I never saw these kind of statements when Arsenal was struggling to finish fourth. Is Ivan making this kind of statement a result of Arsenal now having more financial clout? Is the ambition actually higher now? Did winning the Cup last year instigate a thirst for silverware?
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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blueguitar322 said:
In fact this is maybe the first year in a long time where summer buy/sell decisions are more double-edged.  Up to this year, there was a clear lack of quality depth, if not quality starters, in Arsenal's roster.  But now the decision to buy a midfielder probably comes at Wilshere's expense; a winger at Chamberlain's expense; a DM at Coquelin's expense, etc.  Honestly the only truly weak spot I see remaining is Flamini.  Nice problem to have.
It is definitely a good problem to have. Ultimately, I think we need to act like a big club and buy the depth in quality, even if it comes at somebody's expense.  Wilshere, Ox, and Coquelin all can fight for their places in the team.  And I think there will still be plenty of minutes to go around.
 
If I were Wenger/Gazidis, I'd try to do three things this summer:
 
1) Sign a CM with strong passing skills who could play either DM or next to Coquelin in the Santi role.  Schneiderlin, Gundogan, Xhaka, and Illaramendi seem like good options.
2) Sell Walcott to City, who desperately need both wingers and homegrown players, and buy a younger attacker with high upside who can play CF (ideal would be one that could play wing as well).  Dybala, Lacazette, Vietto are options there.
3) Buy Cech.  I am 95% sure that Mourinho won't sell him to us but you have to try.
 
If we did all three of those things I'd feel very good about our chances of contending for the league and maybe even making a deeper UCL run next year.
 
 
Zomp said:
Ozil and Sanchez were to cast offs from Real and Barca (which is not to say they were wrong to let them go...though its hard to argue with the results).  Pogba is the Ronaldo, Bale, Neymar, etc... of the transfer window.  He'll go for more than 60 million euros and he'll go to either Real, Barca, City, PSG, or United with the likelihood in the order listed. 
 
Not Barca, but I agree with everything else.
 
Pogba also doesn't make a lot of sense for Arsenal.  Obviously whenever you can add a player that young and talented, you try to do so.  But I think it would be difficult to integrate him into our team without totally changing our setup, which seems unwise given that the squad has been clicking so well.  He's either a #10, where we already have Ozil, or he's a b-2-b CM that brings tons of energy and attacking threat but needs to be paired next to a DM that can really pass the ball and move it around (which definitely isn't Coquelin).
 
If Real wants him, I doubt he goes elsewhere.  But I think PSG makes a ton of sense, especially if they sell Cabaye as has been rumored. 
 

sachmoney

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I agree with you MMS, regarding the minutes to go around, it's important to build depth. Even if you have guys at positions, there will be injuries. There will be missed games. There will be a need to have a guy slot it. I said this during the Summer:
sachmoney said:
Just in the League:
Ozil missed 12 games
Ramsey missed 15 games
Wilshere missed 14 games
Walcott missed 24 games
Cazorla missed 7 games
 
The fans complain about depth and when a player of great quality might be signed, people ask why. People asked why we signed Ozil when we had Santi. It baffles me because you want to have a squad with the best players. You want to have a squad with depth. You want to have as many great players as possible. It baffles me when people question signing a great player.
This year has been a similar story in terms of injuries, but we've been able to cope because we've had more high end talent and a reasonable amount of depth. To take the next step, they'll need a bit more.
 
I'm not a huge fan of selling Walcott domestically unless we get a very handsome return on him. You lay out the reasoning for why City would want him, but why help City address a weakness unless they're offering vault of cash for him? I don't think there is much of a market abroad for him though. I'm just not a fan of selling to a competitor.
 

mgoblue2

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Would you guys be willing to put Wilshere in that role next to Coquelin, or is that a lost cause at this point?
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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mgoblue2 said:
Would you guys be willing to put Wilshere in that role next to Coquelin, or is that a lost cause at this point?
 
I'm hoping he will be groomed for that role, if he ever can stay healthy and get a run of games.  Big if.
 
With a very defensive and high-energy DM like Coquelin who is not a great passer, I think Wilshere has the skill set to be a better partner than Ramsey, who makes more sense when partnered with an Arteta type.  I think it is no surprise that Wenger has generally avoided playing Ramsey and Coquelin together as a two man central midfield - he only did this in the West Ham game from what I recall.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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sachmoney said:
I'm not a huge fan of selling Walcott domestically unless we get a very handsome return on him. You lay out the reasoning for why City would want him, but why help City address a weakness unless they're offering vault of cash for him? I don't think there is much of a market abroad for him though. I'm just not a fan of selling to a competitor.
I agree with you on generally avoiding selling to competitors but I think there are a couple extenuating circumstances here.  First, like you said there may not be much of a market for Theo abroad, and what market does exist may be very limited by his wages.  Italy might make the most sense but Walcott on his current wages would one of, if not the, highest paid players at almost every Italian club.  Are they really going to give us a good fee to pay a player like him at the top of their wage structure?  Similar things could be said of German or Spanish clubs.  He's not going to Barca, Real, or Bayern and would anybody else pay much for him?  I have no idea if City is even interested but if we could get $20-25M from them versus $10M elsewhere, I think it makes sense to take the money.  The other factor is that, ultimately, City is going to spend as much money as FFP will let them.  Walcott would strengthen them but if they don't buy Walcott, they'll buy somebody else with that money, and maybe somebody better.  It would pain me to see Theo in a City shirt but I don't know if its going to really hurt us much in the end.
 

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I'd be really surprised if City were all that interested in Walcott at any price you'd find acceptable.  We already have Walcott, his name is Jesus Navas, and it's not working out so well.  HG would I guess have City interested, but there will be other avenues to solve that without overpaying for Walcott.
 
Walcott will probably always be worth more to an English team but a lot will depend on how much time he expects to play, I don't see him as a regular starter at any of the top 4 sides at this point.
 

blueguitar322

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mgoblue2 said:
Would you guys be willing to put Wilshere in that role next to Coquelin, or is that a lost cause at this point?
 
Here's the issue with Wilshere from my perspective. Wilshere's natural position is central midfield next to someone willing to maintain positional solidity.  Ramsey doesn't do that, Cazorla does but it limits his effectiveness going forward, Ozil would be a misfit playing without the freedom to roam.  Thus it only makes sense to pair Wilshere with someone more defensive-minded - like Coquelin, as you suggest.
 
The problem is that leaves a bunch of players with similar skill sets - similar in this case defined as strong going forward, poor-ish defensively, partially wasted on the wing - competing for two positions.  In 2013-4, Wilshere was fourth on the depth chart behind Ozil, Ramsey, and Cazorla, and when he played, he was moved around frequently (8 games as a winger, 11 as CM) .  Thus at the beginning of the year, Wenger spent the first chunk of games working on a 4-1-4-1 formation that would - in theory - allow for Wilshere to break into the lineup at the expense of pushing a central midfielder (mostly Ozil, sometimes Cazorla) wide to accommodate him.
 
Of the first 14 games before Wilshere hurt his knee in training, WIlshere started 11 with two substitutions and all but one was the 4-1-4-1 setup.  When he played, it was always as part of a central midfield pair positioned ahead of one of Arteta/Flamini and next to one of Ramsey/Cazorla*.  Ozil, if he played, was shoved wide, just as Wilshere had been the previous year.  The very moment that Wilshere got hurt, Wenger immediately reverted to the 4-2-3-1.  
 
That formation change jump-started the team and they've since gone 25-6 with two draws compared to 5-3 with six draws.**  Circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that (1) Arsenal as a team play better as a 4-2-3-1*** with two natural wingers; (2) Arsenal have enough depth that missing Wilshere to injury doesn't hurt them, assuming their other central midfield options are healthy.  This creates a problem for Wilshere in that when the team is clicking - as it is right now - he needs to wait for injuries/loss of form/rotation in order to break into the starting lineup.  This problem will be exacerbated if Arsenal decide to bring in another midfielder to play next to, but not in place of, Coquelin.  Honestly, the best option for Wilshere would be to improve his defensive/positioning game to the point that he can replace Coquelin.  In that scenario, Wenger would be able to trade offense for defense much easier than he can now.  If not - and I have my doubts - Wilshere might have to wait until Cazorla leaves to see any consistent playing time, as Ozil and Ramsey aren't going anywhere and have developed significantly beyond Wilshere for the time being. 
 
* The only exception was the Capital One Cup game, where Coquelin and Rosicky started
** The formation change is of course only one of many factors, along with the return of Ozil and Giroud, the emergence of Coquelin, etc.  And yes, they did use the 4-1-4-1 in a few games, e.g. @Liverpool and @City.
*** One exception might be in away games against big clubs - e.g. Liverpool and City as in the note above
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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teddykgb said:
I'd be really surprised if City were all that interested in Walcott at any price you'd find acceptable.  We already have Walcott, his name is Jesus Navas, and it's not working out so well.  HG would I guess have City interested, but there will be other avenues to solve that without overpaying for Walcott.
 
Walcott will probably always be worth more to an English team but a lot will depend on how much time he expects to play, I don't see him as a regular starter at any of the top 4 sides at this point.
 
That very well could be, although I do think Walcott is a much better player than Navas.  They're both very fast and not particularly creative/technical but while Navas contributes very little in terms of goals and assists, Theo has a lot of end product in him.  From 12-13 to his aborted 13-14, Theo had 36 goals+assists in 45 Premier League matches.  Through his two years at City, Navas has only 4 goals and 14 assists in 60 matches.  I don't know that he'd be a starter for you but I think he'd improve your wide options.  If Nasri and Navas are good enough to play for City, then certainly Walcott is as well.  You probably can find an even better player somewhere else, but you'll need to add home-grown players somewhere so he might make sense.
 

blueguitar322

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teddykgb said:
I'd be really surprised if City were all that interested in Walcott at any price you'd find acceptable.  We already have Walcott, his name is Jesus Navas, and it's not working out so well.  
 
I'm not sure if Walcott is the best fit for City either, but comparing him to Navas is a disservice to Walcott.  Sure they both have speed, but there's a clear difference in scoring pedigree. Navas has scored 19 goals total in league/CL since 2009; Walcott has scored 47 despite only playing 63% as many minutes.  And he's three years younger.
 
Edit: I see MMS made a similar point just before I did.
 

teddykgb

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blueguitar322 said:
 
I'm not sure if Walcott is the best fit for City either, but comparing him to Navas is a disservice to Walcott.  Sure they both have speed, but there's a clear difference in scoring pedigree. Navas has scored 19 goals total in league/CL since 2009; Walcott has scored 47 despite only playing 63% as many minutes.  And he's three years younger.
 
Edit: I see MMS made a similar point just before I did.
 
Raw data isn't the best because of Walcott's injuries, but you guys are pointing to one particular outcome as opposed to overall performance.  Pulled this from bluemoon but I've seen this in a graphic as well.  Overall, while Navas definitely scores less, the stats love him for chances created.  I'm not sure I buy it -- i think he creates a ton of half chances at best, but I think they're similar enough players that I can't see City investing in Walcott simply because he's just as pacy but more direct.
 
Past 2 Seasons

Goals:
Walcott 6, Navas 4

Assists:
Walcott 4, Navas 14

Key Passes:
Walcott 20, Navas 98

Chances Created:
Walcott 24, Navas 112

Successful take-ons:
Walcott 11, Navas 51

Pass Completion:
Walcot 81%, Navas 85%
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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teddykgb said:
 
Raw data isn't the best because of Walcott's injuries, but you guys are pointing to one particular outcome as opposed to overall performance.  Pulled this from bluemoon but I've seen this in a graphic as well.  Overall, while Navas definitely scores less, the stats love him for chances created.  I'm not sure I buy it -- i think he creates a ton of half chances at best, but I think they're similar enough players that I can't see City investing in Walcott simply because he's just as pacy but more direct.
 
Past 2 Seasons

Goals:
Walcott 6, Navas 4

Assists:
Walcott 4, Navas 14

Key Passes:
Walcott 20, Navas 98

Chances Created:
Walcott 24, Navas 112

Successful take-ons:
Walcott 11, Navas 51

Pass Completion:
Walcot 81%, Navas 85%
 
Walcott has played around 1800 minutes of football in that time period, part of it rehabbing from an ACL, whereas Navas has played like 5800, so its not exactly a fair comparison.  And stats like chances created and key passes are also heavily dependent on team context (ie, how many chances and goals is your team scoring overall).
 
I don't know if Theo will regain his previous form but the Walcott of 12-14 offered qualities that Navas simply does not have.  He was not just provider of width and pace but a big-time threat in the final third.  Again, I have no idea if City would be interested and I do think there are probably better and more exciting players that City can, should, and will be signing.  But if they're going to bring in a whole bunch of new players, which seems possible, then having one of them be Walcott as a squad addition and a better, younger, homegrown replacement for Navas doesn't seem crazy to me.
 

blueguitar322

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Interview with Mesut Ozil
 
In 2015, team player Özil has regularly run more than any of his teammates. He topped Arsenal’s distance-covered table in the wins against Aston Villa, Everton and Leicester City, as well as in the Champions League loss to Monaco. So why does he face accusations of being lazy?
 
His languid running style is part of it, but the illusion is more to do with how and where Özil makes his runs. A player who hares around after the ball will always catch the eye. But Özil isn’t running after the ball, he’s chasing space. His heat maps show a player who pops up across all areas of the pitch, making him harder for opponents to pin down. In other words, Mesut Özil isn’t chasing the ball – he’s chasing where the ball will be.
Even so, he admits that he was far from his best for Arsenal as 2014/15 began. “I was exhausted at the start of the season,” he confesses. “I started playing professional football at the age of 16 and had never really suffered many serious injuries. I guess 10 years of consistently playing football took its toll. I was also struggling with the physicality of this league.”
 
“The main difference is that in Spain and Germany, if you go 2-0 or 3-0 up, teams tend to give up and it becomes easier to keep hold of the lead,” says Özil on the differences between Europe’s three biggest leagues. “In England, you can be 4-0 up and they will still fight until the final whistle. They also play at a faster tempo and, as a player, you also have to get used to not having a winter break. But that is what makes it so great; I love playing matches. I prefer playing matches to training. If I had to pick one, I would definitely say that the Premier League is the strongest out of the three.”
 
“Arsenal have always had a distinct way of playing,” he says of his current club. “We play a passing style that could be described as being similar to Barcelona: we aim to dominate possession of the ball. In Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, we have three types of attackers who all offer something different. Having three strikers so distinct from each other makes it harder for our opponents to defend against.”
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Chesny, Debuchy, Gibbs, and Welbz all starting. Wilshere on the bench.

It's great to see Debuchy and Jack back but I'm not loving the decision to rotate. We're only playing once a week so fatigue shouldn't be a big factor. I hope we don't underestimate them. Anything can happen in the cup, as we almost saw with Wigan last year.
 

blueguitar322

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Ramsey is coming inside so frequently from his RM position that it's almost like he's playing as a false-9...and Welbeck is playing like a winger to compensate.
 

SoxFanInCali

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California. Duh.
Well, Arsenal have gotten the call twice when a Reading player looked onside and would have been through on goal, so Reading deserve a bit of a break.
 

blueguitar322

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Reading's keeper has had two great saves off corner kick headers.
 
SFIC, Reading probably deserve to be level based on play - it's not like Arsenal have been consistently dangerous or dominant at any point.  I thought one of those offside calls was fine, but the other was clearly wrong and in Arsenal's favor.
 
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