Tag Archives: bielik

Krystian Bielik – Giant Strides 

Krystian Bielik joined Arsenal in January 2015 from Legia Warsaw as a defensive midfielder, but it is his conversion to central defence that has seen him encroach upon first team territory.

Fans expected much from this Polish prodigy, reports of his fast track to the Legia first team, and his overall technique, saw him unfairly compared to Patrick Vieira, but Gooners would have to wait to see him take to the field in the first team.

His debut was made in the inauspicious – and quite frankly disastrous – 3-0 mauling at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup. He replaced the overwhelmed Glenn Kamara in defensive midfield, but his development in defence had already far before then.

It was only a few months into his Arsenal career that his talents were perceived to be a fine fit for the backline, and he started to make appearances for the Arsenal youth team in defence ( thank you to Jeorge Bird, who you can follow on Twitter at @jeorgebird if you want the heads up on all Arsenal youth ).

Bielik had made an astronomical rise at Legia Warsaw in his short time there. He was just 16 when he made his bow, and it seems that Bielik is more than familiar with defying odds. You need only look at his displays in this bout of pre-season friendlies to see that Bielik has again made huge strides in his progress.

Appearances in the 1-1 draw against RC Lens, and the victories over the MLS All-Star team and Chivas de Guadalajara, have underlined the potential that Bielik possesses. In particular, his half that he played against the creme of the MLS showed that Bielik may yet be an option for the near future.

Tasked with quelling the threat of David Villa and perennial Arsenal destroyer Didier Drogba, most would have fairly been of the opinion that the Pole would struggle. Throw in the fact that his partner at the back was new signing Rob Holding – and you had a recipe that potentially could have been another crushing blow to his hopes akin to the Sheffield Wednesday nightmare.

We needn’t have feared though. His performance was imperious. Rob Holding may have grabbed the headlines, but Bielik and his composure at the back was just as important. He also showed he was more than adept at playing the ball out from the back, being the catalyst for moves. His origins in midfield seemed to provide him with just another arrow to his quiver. His passing seemed slick, and his awareness was on point. 

Another plus point was his physical prowess. His aerial duels with Drogba were compelling viewing, and he more than held his own. The fact that Bielik is still in his teens and he is capable of this level should inspire much confidence. 

Could this mean that he can make the step up this season? Probably not. He has much competition for a role in the heart of the back, with Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Chambers and Holding ahead of him in the pecking order. Once again, the Capital One Cup represents his best option this coming season. His season for the youth team has done him no harm though, it appears, so another term for the reserves may just elevate him still.

If his appetite for football exceeds this level though, then a loan spell for a Championship side – or even a Premier League team – beckons. There would be no end of takers for such promise, and his development may just require a keener test than he faced last season.

Either way, Bielik is a testament to the good work the coaches are doing for our kids. His advancement is proof that what is taking place on the training fields is working, and Bielik is reaping the rewards. 

He may yet have to show patience, but his time may yet be coming. The answer to Arsenal’s defence in the next few years may comprise of three parts – with Chambers, Holding and Bielik all impressing when given the chance. 

Thank you to Stuart Macfarlane for the image.
It is good news for Bielik. His path may yet be long, but the distance he has to cover to reach his goal is far shorter than it was when he joined. 

Viking Stavanger 0-8 Arsenal – 5 Things We Learned

Our pre-season brought another tour, this time to the shores of Norway. Two matches will be played in this part of Scandinavia, and first up was Viking Stavanger.

The calibre of opponent matters to a degree in a friendly game, but more pertinent at this stage is each players level of fitness and match sharpness. Viking provided a decent test in the first half, but fell away like a chocolate fireguard in the second half in the face of soem impressive movement from the Gunners attack.

So what can we take away from this match? Here is five things that arose from our mauling of the Vikings….

Santi Cazorla isn’t fit, but we need him to be.

Some fans are of the opinion that our title challenge began to falter the moment our talented Spaniard was crocked midway through our season. They’d be right. Santi has been battling back to fitness ever since, and he managed ninety minutes for the first time this summer versus Viking. It was primarily down to Cazorla’s vision and impetus that Arsenal managed to ravage Stavanger, and the whole teams transition speed was so far removed from last seasons showings. We NEED Santi in our side, our style of play demands it.

Stavanger were NOT a test, but who cares.

The first half saw Viking provide an examination of sorts. Well, they made life difficult for our attack by stifling our forward line. Only one goal was plundered, and it was thanks to a great header from Mohamed Elneny met by an onrushing Joel Campbell who diverted it into the net. The second half though, was either a massive disparity between the class in sides – or just Stavanger committing footballing Hari-Kiri. Huge pockets of space opened up – manna from heaven for our side – and the Norwegians dropped ever deeper. We profited hugely from these niave tactics, but the value of victory was lessened somewhat. Consolation? It was massive fun to watch.

Bielik is growing in stature

The young Pole is a midfield convert, but his imperious displays in the centre of defence – even with Gabriel alongside him – are beginning to gain attention from Gooners. He has covered himself in glory in all of his friendly appearances thus far, and his calmness belies his teenage years. That is the scary thing though – he is still 18. If he continues along this projected improvement, then he may just make the jump to the first team. If he plays versus Manchester City on Sunday, it may just be a signal that Bielik can look forward to a Premier League debut this season.

Alex Iwobi is here to stay

The young Nigerian only appeared for the second half, but his impact was immediate. Yes, Stavanger invited pressure onto themselves, but despite their tactics, their are certain aspects of play that can be looked into. Iwobi’s touch was flawless, his decison making was also brilliant. It is this latter variable that usually improves with age, but Iwobi seems to have this down rather well. With each transfer that prospectively comes through the door, the chance for a player such as Iwobi to make a breakthrough becomes ever smaller. This is by no measure a defence of the nadir of our signing aspirations, just a healthy dose of realism. Iwobi beat the odds, and he is here to stay.

Joel Campbell is vital

Last season during our annual injury crisis, all hands were on the pump. One of them was Joel Campbell, and with every match, he showed how good he truly is. Exemplary vision, great stamina and a good touch, the Costa Rican was at it again against Viking. He scored two and was a constant menace. What a player we have to fall back on. In fact, at this current time, only Aaron Ramsey stands ahead of him in the current pecking order for the right hand side. We would be mad to oust Campbell, but if he isn’t playing, he will have many a suitor that would jump at the chance to give him the stage he deserves. 
There were many other candidates that impressed. Mathieu Debuchy seems fully intent on impressing a potential new club, Gibbs looked good in the first half before being replaced, and Ospina did himself no harm. 

Theo though, still has a massive amount of critics, and after the last couple of years, he cannot be surprised by the vitriol. He again had moments where he fumbled possession, but he also made intelligent runs and never hid from the ball. His goal showed great control, but it will hardly convert the doubters. A full season, without injury, and I remain confident that he can prove his worth. Cue the fury….

Two goals for Joel Campbell, two for Iwobi, with Cazorla, Akpom, Walcott and an own goal were the beneficiaries of the Norwegian team’s generosity, and the diluted obstacle that was Stavanger may attract detractors. 

This match was not the sternest of tests, but our players touch, awareness and fitness are ever closer to the levels required for Premier League combat. So by that regard, this match was a big success. 

Next up, we have Manchester City on Sunday the 7th, to conclude our tour in Norway.  That will be the litmus test for our side, with our domestic opener against Liverpool seven days later. 

So far, so good though. Thank you Viking Stavanger for giving us a game, and some extra confidence. 

MLS All-Stars 1-2 Arsenal – 5 Things We Learned

Upon first inspection, Arsenal’s friendly versus the creme of the top flight in the USA on Friday morning (or Thursday night, dependent on location), could be overlooked as a money-spinning exercise, or as an elaborate parade to garner more fans across the globe. 

At the very least, it was a vital warm-up for our players as they slowly ascend the gears and shake off summer excesses, in a bid to fine tune their bodies for another slog of a season. For the competition this coming campaign will be fiercer than ever, so every measure must be taken to ensure optimisation of every asset.

This match represented a notch up from the previous friendly game – the 1-1 draw versus RC Lens last week – so our squad, or at least the men selected to travel across the pond, could see where they needed to work a little harder before ceremonies begin on the 14th August against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

It may be quite difficult to take anything of note from the game, other than our players are being put through their paces – but with a keen eye, there is plenty for us Gooners to suckle upon until we again take to the pitch on Monday the 1st August versus Chivas de Guadalajara. 

So, here at The Hot Stepanovs, we thought we would provide you with a bite-size, handy article which points out what will give Arsene Wenger food for thought, and what us fans can use to soothe us during the traumatic transfer window….

Theo still has low confidence – but there are signs of life.

Theo once again was given the benefit of the doubt –  that heaving, dark doubt that shrouds the majority of fans thinking – and given the sole striker slot. He had three opportunities, and two were off target, with the other drawing a smart save from All-Stars keeper Andre Blake. 

Theo may have failed to register a goal, but he was in the right place to take the chance. His positioning is improving. His runs are being found – and all this without the King of Assists in the team. This isn’t a declaration that Walcott must start, or that he is the striker we need – far from it. 

Just that he shouldn’t be written off. Not at full fitness, in a team that was far removed from what we will field for our season opener, this display was a subtle signal that he has something to offer.

Don’t get carried away with Rob Holding

The boy only completed his move last week, and before he knows what is happening, he is jetted away to San Jose, California, to play the best that Major League Soccer has to offer. 

For such a whirlwind week, Holding did well – and that is the problem. He will either be the next Martin Keown, or consigned to the scrapheap as soon as the smallest mistake rears its ugly head. It is never grey, only black or white.

Holding played well, but it is far too early to gauge where he stands in regard to being able to fill in where necessary in the heart of our defence. Holding must be treated like a goldfish you have just won from the fair – keep it in the bag as you gradually intorduce him to the new water in the shiny tank you’ve bought him. Patience is key, but he did his no prospects no harm.

Holding surprised most of us with his display, especially as he was tasked with some contrasting styles to combat. The guile of David Villa, the trickery of Sebastian Giovinco, and……

Didier Drogba continues to haunt our consciousness

The Ivorian ruined our defence repeatedly whilst plying his trade for Chelsea. He even ruined a few careers too (we remember a Philippe Senderos before Drogba was unleashed upon him). 

The facts spell it out quite clearly. Prior to kickoff in this game, Drogba had plundered fifteen goals in fifteen games against us.

Provided a chance thanks to Sacha Kljestan of NY Red Bulls, he took a few attempts to put it past Petr Cech and Holding, but he did just that. 

That makes it 16 in 16. If Didier Drogba runs a business into his fifties, there can be no guarantee that they will be the ruination of our football club. Everyone needs a nemesis, and Drogba’s campaign to elect himself ours is quite frightening.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is hungry

Against Lens last week, and during the seventy minutes he played in this game, The Ox and his direct manner stood out against the large sedate sections of the game. He took people on, as is his wont, but his end product and composure looked a little more fine tuned. 

Whether it is practice drills, just a flash in the pan, or a little experience seeping through? Who knows. When in full flow though, The Ox provides entertainment. Just enjoy it while it lasts.

Krystian Bielik has been schooled well, it seems.

Much like Dr Dre accuses us of, we forgot about him. Not the good Doctor, no, but Bielik. His time for the reserves has sauteed his talents though, added the spices and taste that he needed. He was alongside Rob Holding at the start of the game, and Bielik looked like he had been playing for many a year. 

Will he even gain a place on the bench? Surely a loan beckons for this young man though, as it is now time where the only thing that can aid his career further is gametime. One thing is for sure, it looks like whatever club is the recipient, they stand to receive a very promising player. 

There were many more pointers that warrant mentioning. The MLS talent pool is quite clearly burgeoning, and the healthy flow of cash can only help attract more to the league. It was a very competitive fixture, and thanks to a few MLS defenders and Francis Coquelin, it meant that the winning mentality was on show from both sides. 

This MLS All-Star team played tottenham this time last year – and won 2-1. Our victory can be written off, but seeing our backup players given a chance to shine – which they duly accepted – and a confidence boosting win in the bag, can only be taken as a positive. 

Joel was again impressive. Akpom scored the winner and Jack managed forty five minutes. All plusses. 

A big thank you to Jeanne. You kept me in the loop until I could get home and glean as much as I could. I doff my cap to you madam!

Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Arsenal – Capital One Cupset

This tie was meant to be an audition of sorts for Arsenal’s future. It was meant to represent a chance for Gooners to see the supposed depth that their team possessed. It was a stepping stone for the more frustrated players of our squad to showcase their abilities and reassure Arsene Wenger that they are more than ready if called upon to slot back in to the first team.

A combination of Sheffield Wednesday, a disturbing lack of a competitive edge and defensive naivete put paid to any hopes of an exhibition for Gooners to enjoy. Instead, they made the long trip back to London all the more torturous.

Continue reading Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Arsenal – Capital One Cupset

Krystian Bielik – Polish Prodigy or The New New Bischoff?

Originally posted on www.Goonersphere.com

Now that the infernal hullabaloo over the transfer window has ended and Jim White’s Ketamine stash has been emptied for another 6 months, we can take a look at our additions.

With all the frothing surrounding Gabriel & his move to shore up our backline, you could be forgiven for forgetting about Kristian Bielik; our new midfield starlet.
The footballing cosmos is littered with false dawns. For every legitimate ‘ New Maradona’, there are thousands of  ‘New Zidane’ and ‘New Bjorn Tore Kvarme’s’ who eventually – after being blinded by the dazzling media attention and left to stumble down their respective countries League pyramid – find themselves at Dumbarton as part-time striker, full-time groundsman/Kitman/Barkeep. When the lights stop dazzling, it’s easy to get dizzy and take a wrong turn.

Taken a wrong turn....
Taken a wrong turn….

It isn’t a pitfall that is exclusive to trigger-happy managers or cash-flagrant clubs. Every club, never mind the League nor the Gaffer at the helm, has found that not everything that glitters is gold – and that an agents promise that his client is truly the incarnate of Puskas’ talent – is often just the same phooey that is bandied around at every contract meeting but with extra glitter.
Continue reading Krystian Bielik – Polish Prodigy or The New New Bischoff?