Arsenal 2015-2016: The One That Got Away

blueguitar322

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The last time Arsene had to rush-buy backup for the DM position, he setup a loan for an injured Kim Kallstrom.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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A backup DM would improve the team but there's no way its as valuable as potentially bringing in a world class first XI attacking player like Benzema.
 
People really exaggerate the importance of the backup DM issue.  Its a spot we can and should improve but the idea that the entire team will instantly fall apart if we lose Coquelin for a few games is not realistic.
 

coremiller

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sachmoney said:
Obviously, adding a world class striker (should we just start saying Benzema now since he seems like the obvious target) would certainly improve Arsenal's chances of winning the league and make them a possible favorite. However, I think that we should not discount how much of a difference a healthy Theo or Ox or both would make. They're easily capable of contributing 15-20 goals and the team may score more resulting from how much their pace changes games. I am by no means claiming that Arsenal will win the title if this happens, but I do think that the odds are much more favorable than people may think.
 
Lol, wut?  Walcott, maybe (although he's already 26, plays a game heavily dependent on pace, is recovering from an ACL tear, and has scored more than 9 league goals in a season exactly once, when he got 14).  Oxlaide-Chamberlain has 6 goals in 78 career league appearances.  He started 17 games last year and scored one goal.  Yes, he's still young and developing and blah blah blah, but just because he scored a nice goal yesterday doesn't mean you can just write him in for what would be a top striker's return.  The odds are heavily against him turning into Eden Hazard.
 

sachmoney

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coremiller said:
 
Lol, wut?  Walcott, maybe (although he's already 26, plays a game heavily dependent on pace, is recovering from an ACL tear, and has scored more than 9 league goals in a season exactly once, when he got 14).  Oxlaide-Chamberlain has 6 goals in 78 career league appearances.  He started 17 games last year and scored one goal.  Yes, he's still young and developing and blah blah blah, but just because he scored a nice goal yesterday doesn't mean you can just write him in for what would be a top striker's return.  The odds are heavily against him turning into Eden Hazard.
Not each. Total.
 

teddykgb

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sachmoney said:
Not each. Total.
 
It was still an incredibly optimistic assessment.  Which is fine, this is the time of year to be overly bullish.  Surely you recognize that having those guys actually on the pitch contributing has been one of the major issues at Arsenal the last few years.  Counting on it at this point is kind of silly.
 

sachmoney

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teddykgb said:
 
It was still an incredibly optimistic assessment.  Which is fine, this is the time of year to be overly bullish.  Surely you recognize that having those guys actually on the pitch contributing has been one of the major issues at Arsenal the last few years.  Counting on it at this point is kind of silly.
Where did I say I was counting on it?
 

DLew On Roids

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sachmoney said:
However, I think that we should not discount how much of a difference a healthy Theo or Ox or both would make. They're easily capable of contributing 15-20 goals and the team may score more resulting from how much their pace changes games.
 
Yeah, I can't imagine why anyone would think you're suggesting that they'd be a good bet to score 15-20 goals.  
 
:fonz:
 
Most of your fellow English-speakers will look at that or and think you're splitting the two and saying each could score 15-20 goals if healthy.  But why go back and be thoughtful when you can dismiss teddy like he's being stupid?
 
sachmoney said:
What is wrong with you?
 
It's called rhetorical hyperbole. (Not to mention feeling betrayed by Wenger's DM blind spot more times than I care to remember.)
 
blueguitar322 said:
The last time Arsene had to rush-buy backup for the DM position, he setup a loan for an injured Kim Kallstrom.
 
And before that, his "panic buys" at the end of August 2011 included Arteta as well as Mertesacker, both of whom turned out pretty damn well. Swings and roundabouts.
 
Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
A backup DM would improve the team but there's no way its as valuable as potentially bringing in a world class first XI attacking player like Benzema.
 
People really exaggerate the importance of the backup DM issue.  Its a spot we can and should improve but the idea that the entire team will instantly fall apart if we lose Coquelin for a few games is not realistic.
 
I think saying "the entire team will instantly fall apart if we lose Coquelin for a few games" exaggerates the response to the importance of the backup DM issue. But what if Coquelin misses a few months and not just a few games? What if he's forced to play in virtually every match and is in the proverbial red zone by Christmas? Or what if his form is generally worse this year than it was last year, just like Ramsey's was after his incredible 13/14 season? The team only started to hum in the second half of last season after Coquelin moved into the middle of the park and stayed there. You take him out, and when Arsenal is playing a tough away fixture in the Premiership or the Champions League and needs a water carrier to do the dirty work, who is going to do that - Arteta? Flamini? Chambers or some other youth team project like Bielik? No, you're left with square pegs in round holes and a top-heavy shape which didn't work very well very often last year. I think the shiny glow of Arsenal's performance toward the end of the Premiership campaign has made some people forget just how bad Arsenal looked at times throughout the first half of the season.
 
Arsenal's squad is now deep enough to have quality layers of redundancy built in at every other position except DM. Even up front, Giroud, Welbeck and Walcott between them offer different looks against different opponents, and usually only one of them will be needed at a time anyway (unless Walcott is on the wing, of course); Benzema is effectively the shiny new toy everyone wants for Christmas, but at this point he's a luxury item, and figuring out how to properly incorporate him alongside the rest of the team  without completely freezing out Giroud and/or Welbeck will also take time. (I also happen to think that the stability of our current group of attackers will itself yield benefits that we might lose if Benzema arrives.) I'd love to have these problems to worry about, of course, but I'm still more worried at present about losing matches 3-2 than 1-0..
 
To be fair, I'm willing to believe that Cech's presence will help solidify the defense in front of him, and particularly with Gabriel more integrated into the CB rotation, that may in turn help solidify the midfield even if Coquelin is absent. And the early returns from our three prestige friendlies (Lyon, Wolfsburg and Chelsea) are very positive, not that I'd read too much into them just yet. So maybe all of this worrying and wittering is meaningless. But it's precisely because Arsenal seems so close to being a real title contender again, and possibly even a Champions League contender as well, that this one gap feels so important to me...and it feels like we're all being asked to trust the form and fitness of Francis Coquelin far more than we ought to.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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ConigliarosPotential said:
I think saying "the entire team will instantly fall apart if we lose Coquelin for a few games" exaggerates the response to the importance of the backup DM issue. But what if Coquelin misses a few months and not just a few games? What if he's forced to play in virtually every match and is in the proverbial red zone by Christmas? Or what if his form is generally worse this year than it was last year, just like Ramsey's was after his incredible 13/14 season? The team only started to hum in the second half of last season after Coquelin moved into the middle of the park and stayed there. You take him out, and when Arsenal is playing a tough away fixture in the Premiership or the Champions League and needs a water carrier to do the dirty work, who is going to do that - Arteta? Flamini? Chambers or some other youth team project like Bielik? No, you're left with square pegs in round holes and a top-heavy shape which didn't work very well very often last year. I think the shiny glow of Arsenal's performance toward the end of the Premiership campaign has made some people forget just how bad Arsenal looked at times throughout the first half of the season.
 
Arsenal's squad is now deep enough to have quality layers of redundancy built in at every other position except DM. Even up front, Giroud, Welbeck and Walcott between them offer different looks against different opponents, and usually only one of them will be needed at a time anyway (unless Walcott is on the wing, of course); Benzema is effectively the shiny new toy everyone wants for Christmas, but at this point he's a luxury item, and figuring out how to properly incorporate him alongside the rest of the team  without completely freezing out Giroud and/or Welbeck will also take time. (I also happen to think that the stability of our current group of attackers will itself yield benefits that we might lose if Benzema arrives.) I'd love to have these problems to worry about, of course, but I'm still more worried at present about losing matches 3-2 than 1-0..
 
To be fair, I'm willing to believe that Cech's presence will help solidify the defense in front of him, and particularly with Gabriel more integrated into the CB rotation, that may in turn help solidify the midfield even if Coquelin is absent. And the early returns from our three prestige friendlies (Lyon, Wolfsburg and Chelsea) are very positive, not that I'd read too much into them just yet. So maybe all of this worrying and wittering is meaningless. But it's precisely because Arsenal seems so close to being a real title contender again, and possibly even a Champions League contender as well, that this one gap feels so important to me...and it feels like we're all being asked to trust the form and fitness of Francis Coquelin far more than we ought to.
I think we would ideally buy a backup DM as well, preferably a young athletic type that could offer a facsimile of what Coquelin brings to the table.  But having less than stellar backups at some positions is routine, even for top clubs.  City's backup DM is Fernando, who sucks.  Chelsea's backup DM is Mikel, who is pretty medicore, and they have absolutely nobody who can provide what Fabregas brings at the other CM spot if Cesc gets hurt.  United now went and bought a bunch of midfielders but they went through last year with Blind as backup DM, who also sucks.  Even Real Madrid played Sergio Ramos at DM when Modric went down last spring because Ancellotti had no faith in Illara.
 
I think buying a first XI star like Benzema, who is likely to play 3500-4000 minutes, is always going to improve the team more than buying a backup DM who is most likely to play 1000-2000 minutes depending on the health of others. 
 
Its all likely moot, however, as I doubt that we're buying Benzema and I have no clue about the DM.  I agree with you that it will be very frustrating if we buy nobody else as the team does seem capable of truly challenging this year.
 
That's an entirely fair response. I agree that "a young athletic type" - someone like Samper from Barcelona, maybe, if that rumor was believable - would be perfectly satisfactory; could Chambers possibly be that person? I'd heard last year that it might, and if he's being groomed to fill that role, then many of my objections would disappear, because it would at least confirm that Wenger does actually have a Plan B in mind should Coquelin go down. (It's the obvious lack of a Plan B - never mind the lack of a decent Plan A much of the time, insofar as Wenger doesn't always seem to feel a DM-type is necessary to balance the midfield - which has been so frustrating in recent years.)
 
Incidentally, I completely get why Wenger didn't want to spend £25 million on Schneiderlin. Being able to play Coquelin and someone like Schneiderlin together to really anchor the midfield in certain matches would be a nice tactical option to have - think Vieira and Petit from the good ol' days - but if you don't believe Schneiderlin is a significant improvement on Coquelin and most of the time you're not going to play two ball-winners in central midfield, you don't need to destabilize Coquelin by saying you don't trust him enough to play 75%+ of the time and want him to rotate with someone else. Still, the gap in quality from Coquelin to Flamini (who looks completely cooked) or Arteta (who isn't really a DM and seems to be getting older and less effective all the time as well) is so wide, it's hard to underestimate the potential significance of what we're talking about.
 

sachmoney

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DLew On Roids said:
Most of your fellow English-speakers will look at that or and think you're splitting the two and saying each could score 15-20 goals if healthy.  But why go back and be thoughtful when you can dismiss teddy like he's being stupid?
I should have specified that I meant in total, but both of them jumped the gun rather than asking for clarification.
 
I did not reply to teddy because I disagree with the premise of his response (insinuating that I am counting on them to stay healthy). I don't think that things are predetermined and there are many paths that this season can go on. Past history suggests that both of these players will not be able to stay healthy, but that's not a guarantee. We have some positives in that both players were able to do a full preseason without any problems, which Theo wasn't able to do last year. You also have the fact that Arsenal had a better injury last year and you've gotta feel better about the club's ability to keep guys healthy than say the 6-7 years previous, which were atrocious. I'd say there's more reason to believe that they can stay healthy than years past and that their possible contributions are being discounted. A scenario where Arsenal wins the title as constituted necessitates their health. 
 

blueguitar322

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In other news, Cech seems to be fitting in pretty well:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sen6uApJs_g
 

blueguitar322

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Shame for Wilshere. World class potential but hasn't been able to put everything together for any reasonable stretch of time, and perhaps mostly because he has spent the majority of the last four years recovering from injury. Hope it's closer to "weeks" than "months". 
 
In other news, Gnabry seems to be headed to West Brom via loan. He missed the last year and a half due to injury but is still only 20. Showed lots of promise in the first half of the 2013-4 season, so hopefully he'll impress at West Brom.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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https://twitter.com/mrjakehumphrey/status/629724235196448768
 
"A source who is rarely wrong told me that Arsenal are close to the signing that would make them genuine contenders. We shall see..."
 
This the most legit link yet IMO.  This guy is the presenter for BT sports football coverage and not somebody who normally traffics in transfer gossip.
 
I don't know what to believe but I want to believe.
 

soxfan121

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
https://twitter.com/mrjakehumphrey/status/629724235196448768
 
"A source who is rarely wrong told me that Arsenal are close to the signing that would make them genuine contenders. We shall see..."
 
This the most legit link yet IMO.  This guy is the presenter for BT sports football coverage and not somebody who normally traffics in transfer gossip.
 
I don't know what to believe but I want to believe.
 
I'm confused. I've read this thread and y'all seem to think they are "genuine contenders" as-is...correct?
 

Luis Taint

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If Benzema comes in, does that mean shipping out Welbeck or Giroud? Because I actually like both those players.
 

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I could see Welbeck going because he doesn't really have a spot, but no way Giroud goes. He instantly becomes the best #2 striker in the league.

It might not be Benzema though. Marco Reus has been linked, and would certainly qualify as a game changing signing, and there was a whisper today about Götze leaving Bayern.
 

blueguitar322

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Team for West Ham: Giroud, Ox, Ozil, Ramsey, Cazorla, Coq, Monreal, Kos, Mertesacker, Debuchy, Cech
 
Ospina, Gibbs, Gabriel, Arteta, Walcott, and Chambers on the bench but also joined by Alexis who Wenger says is not match-fit but could play 20min or so.
 
Wenger says Bellerin out "for a couple days" with a slight muscular injury. 
 

blueguitar322

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Welp. Hard to find any positives in that game. Any momentum from an amazing pre-season is gone. Any emotional high based on having a reliable GK is gone. Some of the same old weaknesses from last year are definitely still there. 
 
That said, one game does not a season make. Judging any of the Arsenal players based on this game - and let's be clear, they were all pretty terrible - would be a bit short-sighted. Wenger teams are prone to these types of games, but usually respond well in the following weeks.
 

sachmoney

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Thought West Ham looked great today. Arsenal really weren't pressed in preseason and they played like it today. West Ham was constantly on their heels. They were constantly forcing Arsenal to make decisions quicker than it seemed they were ready to. Lots of unforced errors and cheap concessions of possession. I know that Cech was getting slated for that second goal, but the defending on it was Sunday league. I think that he might have been screened on it, otherwise the step to the left is certainly a fair criticism. West Ham deserved the 3 points.
 
We'll see what comes of this.
 

Lukiewerle

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sachmoney said:
This is from Arsenal's Communications Director:
https://twitter.com/MarkG_Arsenal/status/630440766448488448
 
This seems like Arsenal covering for incredibly allowing him back on the pitch.  He looked the very definition of unconscious when he was rolled into the recovery position.  
 

sachmoney

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Didn't mention this before, but bringing in Alexis in that situation reeked of desperation and shortsightedness. This is Arsenal's most important player, who Arsene himself said was 10 days away. It was rather impetuous. There are 37 games left in the premiership and the various cups to play, and you're bringing in a guy who may be short too soon in the first game? I think Wenger may have felt his hand was forced, but I did not agree with that decision no matter the score line. I was surprised to see him even on the bench.
 
Regardless, the blame remains with the players. There was a sheer lack of focus, intensity, urgency. Again, West Ham took the game to Arsenal and took full advantage of Arsenal's mental short comings. However, the players have no excuses. There were so many passes to nobody. There were opportunities to shoot that weren't taken. There really aren't any positives from that game.
 

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BBC says Jack Wilshere will be back in 2 weeks
 
 
Seems uh... awfully fast considering he fractured his ankle and also he CONSTANTLY gets hurt. 
 

lars10

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Is it just me or does Ox seem really lax and kind of lazy on his own 18 and tracking back. Last week he didn't close at all on a goal scorer and today he let a ball go by that could have been very dangerous. He is really good going forward but he has seemed to have taken a step back defensively to my eye which is maybe why he didn't start today?
 

blueguitar322

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Didn't see the game live but was able to watch it late last night. A few thoughts:
  • Ozil indeed played well, as the stats later showed
  • The team as a whole were very strong in the tackle, with Coquelin (6/6), Arteta (4/4), Ramsey (4/5) and Bellerin (5/6) all superb. Arteta looked much better than I expected him to look, with all four of his tackles coming in only ~20min of play
  • Wenger intentionally skewed play towards the left side of the pitch as he instructed Ramsey to come centrally and play between Palace's lines. This worked really well for the first 20-25 minutes, but then Palace shifted their shape slightly, dropping Cabaye a bit further back, which blunted some of Arsenal's play. After Palace solidified those adjustments at half, it was a much more even game.
  • I thought Coquelin played pretty well until he was taken off. I can understand the argument for a second yellow right before halftime, but it would have been very harsh
  • Bellerin was left completely alone for large parts of the game due to Ramsey's central movement, and for the most part acquitted himself well.
In general, I felt like the true DNA of the team showed through. When pressure mounts - both from the loss last week and Palace's tying goal - Arsenal's tendency is to push forward and be aggressive. Despite significant improvements in defensive mentality and shape over the past 9-10 months, some of the same issues (set pieces, transition play) cropped up again. This isn't to say that Arsenal were not much better than Palace overall - they were - but Palace's goal and several of their best chances were basic, fundamental defensive breakdowns. I don't mean to pick on Alexis as he is still catching up to full fitness, but it was he who let Ward - his mark - sneak up all the way to the edge of the penalty box for the goal. (Rightfully) criticizing Koscielny for turning his back on the shot somewhat misses the point. Several times the midfield was cheating forward without the ball, expecting Coq/Kos/Mert to win the ball and transition into attack. Lars10 referenced this with Ox and I've noticed the same thing. Overall I think this type of approach costs far more goals than it creates.
 
On the bright side, it's always incredibly fun to watch Arsenal play with speed and movement when they have the ball. They really should have scored more than once in the first 20 minutes and put the game out of reach.
 

Luis Taint

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The Telegraph just posted a story that said we signed Benzema for 48 mil, take that how you want.
 

sachmoney

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Luis Taint said:
The Telegraph just posted a story that said we signed Benzema for 48 mil, take that how you want.
High on the "take that how you want" because if you actually read the article:
That's according to former player Rodney Marsh, who told talkSPORT that a contact of his, who he claims has never been wrong on such matters, confirmed that Arsenal have made an official approach.

Marsh said: “I had a phone call from a mate of mine, and he’s been right on many things, and he said that he believes Real Madrid have accepted a bid somewhere in the region of £48million for Benzema from Arsenal.


“In the past this guy has always been right, he’s never been wrong yet, so we’ll have to wait and see.”
"My mate told me that it's done and he's never been wrong."
 
Still nothing more than speculation or rumor at this point.
 

mikeford

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Arsene with another "no one good is available" at the presser.

Guess all the guys who already moved this summer must suck. Right on.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Wenger's comments suggest to me that the Benzema move is dead.  He basically just said that if a club doesn't need your money and doesn't want to sell, you can't make them sell.
 
I'll be interested to see what Plan B looks like at this point.  If Benzema is not moving, there really are no strikers available that are better than Giroud.  So I see three options: Do nothing, buy a backup DM like Krychowiak and take our chances with the attack we have, or take a good chunk of the Benzema money and try to make a Godfather offer for a young attacker that wasn't otherwise moving this window like Fekir, Martial, or Icardi.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The Benzema bubble has burst, Cavani seems just as unlikely, and Krychowiak just confirmed today that he is staying with Sevilla.
 
So....we sign nobody then?
 
On the one hand, I think Wenger has a real predicament in that the squad is strong enough that its not so easy to improve the first XI, particularly at striker given the weakness of the available pool, and many players will not want to sign with us just to be a squad player.  On the other hand, we have money to burn and signing no field players at all the summer before a season in which we were supposed to kick on and challenge for the league is going to be massively controversial and get the Wenger Out! brigade back in full force.
 
There is still a week left.  I guess we'll see if Wenger can pull a rabbit - or some lesser animal - out of his hat.