Tag Archives: age

Defensive Replacements Needed – Apply Within?

Sir Alex Ferguson became one of the greatest ever managers for many reasons.

His slew of Premier League titles and his two European Cups are the first things that jump up from his glittering C.V, but the bucketload of trophies aren’t what defines his career.

What really made him one of the finest exponents of management was his ability to repackage his team every five or so years.

Players such as Kanchelskis, Ince, McClair, Bruce and Pallister started his reign of terror upon English football, then there was the golden generation of Beckham, Butt, Giggs, Scholes and the Neville brothers that brought about another era of success. Then came Jaap Stam, Van Nistelrooy, Cole, Yorke, Ronaldo et al.

His eye for finding the perfect player was one thing, but he could almost smell when a player needed to be replaced. Like whipping off the top of a milk carton, his nostrils were able to decipher if a player had given his all and was passed his best.

Wenger now has a self-made miasma on his hands, and we will find out if he can do the same.

This does a little bit of a disservice to our current manager. Wenger has proved countless times in the past that he knows exactly when is the best time to get rid of a player. Vieira, Pires, Overmars, Petit – they all never reached the heights they did when wearing our shirt. Wenger knew, but what faces him now is a far tougher challenge.

Our defence in its current state is nothing short of a shambles for a team supposedly setting out to fight for top honours. We’re conceding to all manner of teams – relegation candidates, top4 chasers, european minnows, Championship teams. No matter what level teams are playing at, they go into a match with us confident they can cause us problems.

This is far from good enough, but why?

Personnel isn’t the issue. Injury woes or not, Laurent Koscielny is still one of the best defenders in the league. Shkodran Mustafi may need to improve his decision making, but he has all the cornerstones you need from a top defender, and Nacho Monreal is nothing short of a footballing marvel and severely underappreciated by experts.

The problem we have is they are not future-proofed.

Laurent Koscielny is 32 and will be 33 this year. He has missed a fair amount of games this season as his troublesome tendonitis problem rears its ugly head a little more often than before. It requires kid gloves and more recuperation than ever before, and the problem will only worsen.

Then there is Nacho Monreal. At 32, the Spaniard is only on a downward curve physically. He’s proved he’s adept at centre-back as well as at full-back, but in terms of playing on? We could maybe get one more quality season out of him.

We have Calum Chambers and Rob Holding waiting in the wings, and if they’re going to make it at Arsenal, then next season will be their litmus test. they will have more games to hone their skills, but they can’t wait for a more experienced partner or blame inexperience. They need to show they’re ready now.

If we don’t persevere with these two English lads, then we need to buy. There are plenty of talented centre-backs out there that have shown they could fill the considerable void left by Monreal and Koscielny, but what will Wenger decide?

Wenger’s biggest problem is that he shows far too much faith to players. Our defenders in question deserve a little to be fair, but football is a ruthless game, and they shouldn’t be playing if they will present a weakness. Can we honestly say that Wenger will replace them?

Our defence has nearly run its course and we need to be looking to replace them. If we don’t then the gap we see between us and the top will only grow. This summer is the time to do it.

Ferguson never rested on his laurels, no matter how much a player had achieved. If they were past the crest, then he would dispense of their services. Wenger must do the same.

​The Unearthing of Rob Holding

Published on Arsenal Mania

That £5 note you find in your old jeans. Getting to work and remembering that tomorrow is the start of a Bank Holiday Weekend. After a long day at work and finding out you’ve got a roast dinner waiting for you.

Finding good stuff really puts a brightener on your day. It doesn’t happen often enough for the regularity to dull it, and when it does occur, your whole mood changes. Maybe for five minutes, maybe the whole complexion of your day is uplifted.

One of the few things that can match that high is a bargain. One of those buys that you’re sure the shop has placed the wrong price sticker on. It is so cheap you’re worried until you’ve left the store. It is such a steal you feel like a shoplifter.

So just imagine how Arsene Wenger felt when he first saw Rob Holding in action on the training field.

The £2m outlay we splashed on the 21yr old last summer didn’t initially raise any eyebrows. It seemed as if the purchase for this young defender was one for the future, one to keep our eyes on in the next few seasons to see if he would make the grade or if he – like so many others of his age – would fade into obscurity with a series of loans and an inevitable slide down the leagues.

18 appearances later, and we are singing his name in the stands.

The normal parameters have not applied to this starlet so far in what is his first taste of the top flight. Players usually require a long run in the side to guarantee rhythm and the honing of their talents so we can see the keenest edge of their play. Rob Holding – you know – has been in and out of the team and yet has been an immovable force in terms of stifling attacking opponents. He hasn’t needed the run of games, he has just given it everything he has got.

It is since we have switched to three central defenders though, that we have had to squint our eyes as the brightness has burned into our retina’s. Holding has taken to his task with gusto and taking every obstacle that he has faced this season into consideration – he hasn’t looked out of place alongside his more illustrious and experienced defensive partners.

This is his first season in the Premier League. Prior to this, he played 30 games for Bolton Wanderers in the Championship in a season which saw the Trotters relegated. His displays despite the poor results showed a boy who had the instincts and defensive nous which could be sculpted. He marshalled the Bolton backline in what was his first full season as a pro. That screams leadership. It bellows nerves of steel and an unwillingness to yield.

This season we are seeing what a player this young man could become. He will have his wobbles next season as the second season syndrome kicks in – all youngsters who blaze a trail in their first season will always find a sticky patch in their next campaign, much like Alex Iwobi – but we need to remember the player he can become.

Mistakes are what players need to learn. It means his howlers will take place on the biggest of stages, but he needs the scars to lure out the player that he can become. This is how these youngsters improve.

His first season shows he promises much. If he carries on his current trajectory, there is no telling what he can achieve. What a player we have found, and we have every right to be excited.

Who knows what levels he can reach. Cannavaro, watch out.

Goodbye – Not Sorry – Seems To Be The Hardest Word

An original Goonersphere article.

During the final match of this past season, it was easy to overlook the fact that three players who had spent a cumulative 22 years at our club, were there to bid farewell to Arsenal, and to Gooners everywhere.

Continue reading Goodbye – Not Sorry – Seems To Be The Hardest Word

The Bellerin Effect

Originally on Goonersphere

Parameters – or goalposts if we are looking to remain within the footballing theme – rarely move.

Tired cliches and age-old phrases that were written in sandstone tablets many moons ago by the first ever footballing critics and pundits, are still bandied around with abandon by yet more pundits who look to imprint their own prosaic opinions upon impressionable minds.

Well, some players aren’t happy with being bound by unoriginal ideas. Some men who ply their trade on the pitch look to move mountains rather than simply scale them.

Step forward, Hector Bellerin.

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Continue reading The Bellerin Effect