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Kolasinac Deserves the Spotlight

Unai Emery has brought with him many changes since he was drafted in to herald in the post- Wenger era.

 

Many of them were not his choice. Backroom staff such as Raul Sanllehi were brought in slightly beforehand but are very much part of the new dynasty that Emery is meant to hone into success.

 

Others are very much stamped with the Spaniard’s touch. Matteo Guendouzi is part of the new breed for Arsenal, but some of the existing players have transitioned to the new methods far better than others too.

 

One of those is Sead Kolasinac.

 

The burly Bosnian has been the stampeding horse on our left hand side, so often providing the outlet our play needs when we are stemmed in the final third. Kolasinac has also been perfectly placed for Emery’s experiments with the wing-back system – five technically at the back, with the left and right backs flying forward to also provide the width sorely needed by our team.

 

It requires excellent stamina and the decision making that allows the player to gauge when to fly forward and when to sit back.

 

The stamina has never been in question, but the ability to judge when to assist his attacking brethren is sometimes lacking.

 

On more than one occasion we have seen a gaping maw on our left hand side that has been vacated by yet another Kolasinac rampage. The truth is though, that unless we have a full-back that is of the ilk of Bixente Lizarazu, Maldini and our legends of Dixon and Winterburn, we will never truly eradicate ourselves of that occasional weakness on the flank.

 

Mistakes will be made, no player is infallible. Kolasinac though, has at the very least, truly optimised his exertions in the final third.

 

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His unstoppable runs to the byline have seen him create more chances this season than any other Arsenal player. That is quite some feat with the creative talents on show at the club. The next best player in terms of opportunities made?

 

Another vilified player in Alex Iwobi.

 

Both have combined well and offered something different. True, both have their failings, but they are at least justifying their spots in the side.Iwobi is enjoying his best ever season in terms of return – at the time of writing he has four goals and six assists – yet both do not enjoy the favouritism that some players enjoy. The adulation never quite reaches them, but take them away and what do we have?

 

A team completely devoid of thrust, instead choosing to pass sideways. Like it or not, our left side has been predominant in terms of where our goals come from.

 

Kolasinac especially, has done himself proud whenever he has donned the shirt this season. Compare this to last season when he was very much a fringe player, lurking in the shadows created by the reliable Nacho Monreal.

 

This campaign has seen the player that terrorised the Bundesliga come to roost at the Premiership, and we are benefitting from it. The Bosnian is one of our dangermen – and we should recognise how good he has been, rather than choose to focus on the one mistake he makes every two or three games – which is far fewer than most.

 

Kolasinac has been fantastic, and long may it continue.

 

Kenny Sansom – A Great Gunner

Mention the name Kenny Sansom to most modern day fans, and the former Gunner’s recent battle with alcohol addiction will be what is conjured up in their minds. 

This is a great disservice to a player who served our club with such distinction, so this article is here to set the record straight.

Kenny joined the club in 1980, after blazing a trail with a highly impressive Crystal Palace team which tore up the Third and Second Divisions. His acquisition should have told Gooners what to expect, as Arsenal gave the Eagles Clive Allen in a swap deal with cash involved. Allen was also highly rated and had been bought just weeks earlier and had yet to play a game in anger in a Gunners shirt.

So it is fair to say there was a fair amount of pressure on Sansom’s robust shoulders from the moment he signed. 

Sansom never missed a game in his debut season and the next season saw him win the club’s Player of the Year gong. His style of play was a projection of where the game was going; more focus on attack from the full-backs, with pace and strength in equal measure. The hirsute defender was as adept at holding the famed George Graham backline as he was adding another asset to the attack. Sansom was the perfect player for George Graham, but the majority of his career was not spent under the tutelage of the Scotsman. 

The left-back was signed by Terry Neill, and spent three years under him, Don Howe, and less than two months under Steve Burtenshaw, until Graham arrived in 1986. George should have loved Sansom and what he offered to the team, but the relationship between the two is what caused Sansom to first lose the Captaincy to a green Tony Adams, before leaving the club in 1988.

In eight years at Arsenal, Sansom may not have been snowed under with accolades, but he raised the bar in terms of consistent excellence. Just one League Cup in 1987 was the sole piece of silverware for Sansom, but what he lacked in baubles, he more than made up in other ways.

For example, Sansom earned 86 caps for England, and this was a record for an Arsenal player until Patrick Vieira broke it twenty years later. Sansom was pretty much unrivalled in terms of delivery of the ball from out wide, and could put the ball on a sixpence whilst on the move too. Whether it be for his country or in an Arsenal jersey, Sansom almost always made a difference. Kenny was part of a pretty fantastic group of England players who were amongst the elite of the game and had real shouts for tournament glory. Sansom would have fitted into any setup around Europe on a tactical basis. He had every tool a coach could wish  for, and he held the respect of his teammates. 

In total, Sansom played 314 games for us, and made the First Division Team of the Year every season from 1979 through till 1987. His fantastic hair, his moustache were just as much his trademark in the end as his rapier runs forward and his hustling of opposition wingers. 

What really is a testament to what he gave us though, is that Sansom adorns the outside walls of our Emirates stadium, as part of the 32 legends that are part of the external circumference of the ground. Arsenal recognise his worth, and we all should too. 

Kieran Gibbs – Unfair to Judge?

Originally posted on Goonersphere

Certain players are judged a little more than others. This comes as a result of a heavier expectation, which in turn is created by the pedigree of the player and more often than not, a hefty pricetag.

The parameters with which these stars are gauged differ though. With strikers, the inevitable number we all look at is goals. 


Assists and shot efficiency are all valuable to us, but it is the frequency they hit the onion bag that is at the crux of things. 


Midfielders have perhaps the toughest of requirements to make the grade. Passing, tackling, successful take-ons, passing percentage. Pretty much all facets of the game we scrutinise each day are categories a midfielder is expected to shine in.


What does happen though, regardless of the player and the position, is that some of these men who wear the shirt are given certain allowances. There are players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Elneny, on occasion Aaron Ramsey, that receive less lambasting as they rarely enjoy long runs in the team. A player who is not allowed the staple of accruing some rhythm and sharpness should warrant a less invasive lens hovered over their every move.


Then, there are players like Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs. Both players have not really enjoyed a long stint in the team for a while. Whether this be through injury or poor form is not the point. What really should be looked at is why they are both unfairly judged even though they have both suffered the same fate as The Ox, Elneny and others. The majority of fans, if asked, would say – Gibbs especially – that they have not been good enough.


Theo has stepped up to the plate this season, and his goal rate in terms of minutes speaks for itself. Never the most productive over ninety minutes, the England attacker does pop up with goals even if he has not had the best of times during the game. What of Gibbs though?














The constant presence of Nacho Monreal has stunted Gibbs’ Arsenal career. The first season the Spaniard arrived, Gibbs held his place as Nacho acclimatised, but since then, Monreal has well and truly won the battle between the two left footed defenders. It has meant that Gibbs has needed to improve, to show his worth.


The last two seasons for Gibbs has been sporadic at best. Drafted in and used as a remedy for ills on the pitch, he has not been granted the chance to gain rhythm. Instead, he has been put into the side here and there, feeding from titbits.


Gibbs has shown incredible levels of patience as the understudy to Nacho. The last two campaigns has seen him grow as a player, perhaps learning the finer nuances of his role from the player who has kept him out of the side. Is he first team material though?


Bearing in mind the above paragraphs, Gibbs has been pretty reliable in his rare outings. Solid in attack and keeping it simple in defence, the former England man has done all this without the sharpness afforded to others. This leaves a dilemma of sorts.


Nacho Monreal looks ever likely to leave the club, with Athletic Bilbao sniffing around in pursuit. Does Arsenal stay with Gibbs and perhaps elevate Cohen Bramall into the backup position? Or does new boy Sead Kolasinac instantly take the shirt? 


If we continually replace then the youth at the club will never flourish. More importantly, the players who do trust in the values of patience will think that particular trait is foolish. We need to reward those who have stuck with us and reward those who have improved when necessary.


Gibbs is one of these players. The last time he was a guaranteed start, Gibbs just failed to make the grade. Now, he is at the level where he can produce the level needed even without a run in the side.


A lot will hinge on pre-season and if he can continue to maintain fitness. If he does, then the number 3 shirt should be open for a battle between Gibbs and Kolasinac. 

Sead Kolasinac – Arsenal’s New Defender?

Originally published on Goonersphere. ​

The general rule of thumb when it comes to transfer rumours is, you should never listen to transfer rumours.

This easy, Fight Club-esque list of regulations should be quite simple to grasp, but the majority of us occasionally have our heads turned when we read or hear a juicy titbit regarding a player ‘apparently’ being linked to our club.

When it comes to rumours in football, they are used as a tool. Either a newspaper or website is angling for a larger audience so they drop tantalising bait into the waters, or it is an agent who is manoeuvring his client so he can get a fatter contract. 

Either way, what we are left with is a steaming pile of oxen-excretion. 

Sometimes, well, occasionally, the steam that is rising from this fresh load of defecate is not actually steam at all. It is smoke.

And where there is smoke, there is fire.

This could well be the case with the latest gossip doing the rounds around the footballing equivalent of the watercooler. The story of Schalke 04 left-back Sead Kolasinac signing a pre-contract agreement with Arsenal has been published not just by one newspaper, but by all the rags and all the sites. It has been jumped on and Arsenal have been loath to deny or confirm. 

So, there may actually be substance to this one for once. 

The more we dig up on Kolasinac, the more this move makes sense too.

First and foremost, he is a free agent come June. This has meant that Kolasinac has been able to hawk himself around to interested parties since January. One of those that was sniffing around the Bosnian has reportedly been Chelsea. If it is true that he has turned down the Blues for us, then he is more than welcome to join us!

The left-back is 23 and has played for his country 17 times already. In 31 games this season, he has registered 7 assists. Not a bad ratio for a defender. He has a great delivery into the box and is constantly on the overlap, so he would fit right in with us. Kolasinac is quite a hefty build too, so the rigours of the Premiership will not be such a shock. 

This move is a good fit for us, and with our current left-back seemingly losing his ability for consistency, then Kolasinac would be a great move. Nacho Monreal s again being courted by Athletic Bilbao, so Nacho going back home for a more sedate last few years is in everyone’s interests.

Kieran Gibbs may well have his nose put out of joint, but hopefully this will be a reminder that he has to shape up or ship out. The England defender is capable of so much more, so a rival for his spot can only push him on to better things.

Kolasinac may or may not have signed a pre-contract with us, but his pedigree is more than good enough to cause a little excitement with the potential news. 

Cohen Bramall Signs for Arsenal and Lives the Dream

The transfer window has opened and Arsenal have acted early and signed a player! Will wonders never cease?

Before you start frothing and frantically searching for this hotshot who will revitalise our season, the new recruit is not exactly bound to make strides in the first team – at least not yet.

The new signing is aimed at strengthening a position that may be under scrutiny in a couple of years, but this left-back has much to prove before we see him rampage down the flank.

Cohen Bramall was announced officially by Arsenal and the peculiar amount of fanfare for this kid from non-league Hednesford Town was strange to say the least.

Starved as we are as Gooners of transfer activity, the club must have thought the photoshoot and interview of Bramall would fill the gap and sate the hunger for any news on the signings – or even contract extension – front. 

Also, with the reach that the club has and how every piece of news, important or not, is quickly digested by millions, the club cannot be wholly blamed for using this underwhelming signing as a means to show that Arsenal are active and preparing for the future. Or at least showing fans that we have eyes on talent everywhere.

Regardless of what the club thought when parading Bramall, the bottom line for every new signing is whether they are actually any good? Can they benefit the side now or in the near future?

Young Cohen isn’t going to blaze a scorching trail across our immediate fixtures, nor will he make any impact on the first team this season – injuries permitting. Bramall is set firmly in the future category. Any player that isn’t ready yet always carries a risk when purchased, as thir skillset isn’t honed nor are unfisnished articles capable of offering a guarantee to what they will be able to give when they do come out of the figurative oven. Potential is a beautiful, yet dangerous trait. Potential does not win you matches.

We do know that Arsene Wenger values pace above many assets. In this regard, it is quite clear why Bramall is now resplendent in Arsenal colours. According to his former coach at Hednesford Town in an interview with the Birmingham Mail, it is claimed he can run the 100m in 10 seconds. The national qualifiying standard for 100m is 10.18seconds. There are other reports that claim different times over the same distance, but what the universal theme is on Cohen Bramall is that he is fast. Lightning fast.

If speed was the only skill we required, then Usain Bolt would be our Number9. We also need many other things to have a decent prospect on our hands. With our extensive coaching system at London Colney, if Bramall has the basic building blocks, then we can be confident that the club will coax out a decent player in Bramall.

Let us all take a minute to bask in what is a sepia-toned Disney family movie moment though. Separate yourself from gritty reality just for a moment and remember the hazy dreams you used to have as a kid. Bramall lived his.

Sacked from an industrial type job, he then gets snapped up by a huge football club to live his fantasy. It truly is movie-script worthy. Can’t we all get on board with this rose-tinted transfer and keep a close eye on this kid who above all odds, might just make it? Do we have to bemoan this £40k transfer simply because we want that superstar instead?

This transfer is at the heart of football. That money will boost a non-league team. The kid represents the dreams of many. He also could go on and aid our team at the highest level. We just don’t know at this point in time.

I’m just happy to see how happy Bramall is, and trying to envision how he felt the first time he walked into training. Talk about an eye opener when he sees Alexis Sanchez lacing up his boots for a kickabout with him.

Good luck Cohen. Welcome to the Gunners and keep that dream alive. Not only for you but for every kid who loves football. 

Keiran Gibbs – Pastures New or Part of Arsenal Future?

Posted on Goonersphere.

Holding the 2014 F.A Cup aloft and looking down at the huge crowd of adoring Gooners, Kieran Gibbs could view his season and his future with a sense of optimism.

Fighting off competition from a Spanish international, finally achieving some form of long term fitness and on the England front, Gibbs was courting a consistent squad call-up. Things were rosy and his summer holiday that year would have been worry free.

Fast forward exactly one year. The same setting – Wembley. The same situation – winning the F.A Cup. Only this time, roles have been reversed for English left-back. Spending the majority of the season on the bench and firmly in the shadow of a fabulously consistent Nacho Monreal – Kieran Gibbs had let his position slip.

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