Tag Archives: monreal

Selling Bellerin to Solve Our Defensive Woes?

This season has been a calamitous one at best.

Our Premier League campaign is the worst we’ve had under Arsene Wenger, and we’re set for the lowest finishing position in his tenure.
It all points to a manager that has lost his grip on what it takes at the cutting edge of the game, and a squad that quite clearly needs a drastic overhaul.

But does it? Or is the fault mainly in our defence that is as porous as a sponge?
Well, our attack is as potent as Tottenham’s, United’s and Chelsea’s in terms of goals scored, and we have proven world class talent in the form of Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

Our defence however, is a different story.

We have conceded more goals than the rest of the teams in the top 7, this is the reason that as of 15/04/18, we had lost exactly one third of our total league games this season – and owned the worst away record of ANY team in the top 4 leagues in England.

Our best defenders are Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal. Both are the wrong side of thirty and Koscielny suffers from chronic tendonitis. There is only one way for them to go from here.

We do have an answer though.

Hector Bellerin to Barca?

Hector Bellerin is 23 and the Catalan-born defender is under contract until 2022. It is common knowledge that he isn’t short of admirers. His price tag would be a handsome one.

If we did dispense of his services, with whatever funds are currently at our disposal, we could add to it with a rather tidy sum and it could replenish our depleted numbers.

With the World Cup, most transfer fees will be grossly inflated, and we could really do with a few extra pennies to spend, as our backline isn’t merely on its last legs, it really needs a new foundation.

Rob Holding and Calum Chambers have shown enough to merit some faith in their future and with more games, they will improve. Shkodran Mustafi has been a failed purchase thus far, and Per Mertesacker is retiring. We need at least three new faces in defence, and they can’t be works in progress either – they will need to be established players who have top-flight experience.

Hector Bellerin has not exactly been fantastic this season. In attack he is a great outlet, but defensively, he hasn’t improved since his first full season. The Spaniard is still making mistakes with the timing of his forward runs and he is still beaten a little too easily when one on one.

Plus, we’ve now got a ready-made replacement in Stefan Lichtsteiner.

Should Barcelona come in with a £50m bid, would we be fools not to take it? Of course we wouldn’t. We’d be retaining a player with bags of talent that could vastly improve. If we sold him though, and we actually invested the money? It could be the reinvention our defence sorely needs.

Next season the competition will only get tougher, and with the gap between us and the top 6 stretching, it’s time to stop what we’re doing and change things up – what we’ve been doing isn’t working and at the root of this – Wenger aside – is our defence.

One player sold, and we could solve so many of our problems. Let’s face it, Hector will be going to Barca in 2-3 seasons maximum anyway.

Shouldn’t we cash in?

What would you do? Would you sell Bellerin?

Atletico Madrid Vs Arsenal Europa Lge Semi 2nd Leg

So, our season hinges on this match. Our 2nd leg of our Europa League Semi-Final versus Atletico Madrid is the biggest game of our season, and we’ve got an almighty task ahead of us.

Atletico Madrid Vs Arsenal in the 2nd leg of the Europa League Semi Final.

The Spanish side have settled into their new home – the Wanda Metropolitana – and their defensive record is up there with the best in the business. They have conceded only four goals at home all season in La Liga – a stat that has been bandied around by everyone attempting to paint a picture of how difficult it will be for us to progress to the final.

A first european final since 2006, and a much needed salve on a campaign that has barely even flattered to deceive. Our Premier League hopes were never really lifted, and with just three games left in the season, we face a fight with Burnley for the ignominy of 6th spot.

Hardly form to strike fear into Atletico and their firebrand manager Diego Simeone – but if it weren’t for a foolish mistake at the back, we would have won the first leg. We played with verve and on the front foot, and the fact we are all so disappointed with a 1-1 draw shows that we really turned up and perhaps deserved a little more.

Still, a defensive lapse has been a symptom of our team thus far, and those brain-farts really need to be reined in if we are to harbour any hopes of reaching the Europa League final in Lyon.

In terms of our team, yet again Arsene Wenger opted to rest his Europa League team for our Premier League efforts, well, the majority of them. The lineup that lost to Manchester United on Sunday will be vastly different to who lines up against Atleti tonight, so Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal will come into our defence, and Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck will most likely be included.

That means the impressive showings of Konstandinos Mavropanos and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will likely be on the bench, although if any of them are to be included, then AMN is the likelier of the two to get the nod. Granit Xhaka needs defensive cover and while Aaron Ramsey offers much, when it comes to offering a guardian behind Xhaka, that is not exactly his strong point.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is one who should make the cut after playing and scoring in the weekend, and the Armenian’s guile will be sorely needed to pierce a formidable Madrid defence.

Diego Godin is the lynchpin of Simeone’s side, but it won’t be the Uruguayan who poses the threat. Antione Griezmann has already showed his ability to score despite living off breadcrumbs for the majority of a game. Diego Costa is also fit and ready to go, and the double act will score goals if we switch off – which means that’s bad news for us.

Saul Niguez is another who can change the game, so we’ll have our hands full. We need to keep it tight at the back, and also score.

What is required is perhaps our best display in quite some years. Think our 5-1 at the San Siro. Our win at the Bernabeu. Our 2-1 win over Barca.

Trouble is, those results happened some time ago. It’s time to make some more memories.

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitraryan, Lacazette

Predicted Scoreline – 1-0 to The Arsenal

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.

Arsenal Vs AC Milan – Europa League 2nd Leg Preview

Our 2-0 win last week over AC Milan has given Arsenal a great chance of progressing to the Quarter-Finals of the Europa League, as we welcome the Italians to The Emirates for the return leg.

The two goal advantage may well put us firmly in the driving seat, but Gennaro Gattuso brings his side to London knowing they must score goals, and they have nothing to lose.

This makes this tie dangerous, as we must decide whether we go for the quick kill and score a goal that will leave Milan needing three goals to progress – or do we choose to soak up the pressure and use our intuitive players like Mkhitaryan and Ozil to spark counter-attacks on a Milan defence that will push up.

It’s a decision that will decide the outcome of this two-legged affair, and we will need every bit of what we showed in the first leg to make sure of our passage to the last8.

Milan will no doubt name Suso, Cutrone, Bonaventura and Calhanoglu in their forward line, and it was the Turkish forward who could have made this second leg a far tighter affair had he taken advantage of two gilt-edged chances. The first especially, which was a minute before Mkhitaryan gave us the lead, would have given his side the lead, but Ospina denied him, and came close to conceding a penalty in the process.

It is these minute details that games are decided, and we must be switched on to deny the away side any hope on Thursday evening.

That will require a steady backline, something of a rarity, aside from our last two games. Laurent Koscielny should be fit, and will partner a far steadier Shkodran Mustafi in defence. It is Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal that are the doubts, and Calum Chambers and Sead Kolasinac will be in the side should they fall short of fitness.

Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey look set to continue in central midfield. Ramsey was rested for the weekend win over Watford, but both were superb in controlling Milan’s midfield and roving forward. Mohamed Elneny was effective versus Watford and could be an option should we look to shore things up.

Our attack is limited, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup-tied and Alexandre Lacazette still injured, although the Frenchman should be fit after the international break that occurs after this game for two weeks. It means Danny Welbeck will lead the line again, and the striker was great in last week’s win. Eddie Nketiah will be the backup option from the bench.

We can go all out for this game, knowing there will be no crucial Premier League game this weekend. We will need the same outlook and positivity we employed in the first leg – if we can do that, then we should have our name in the hat for the next round.

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Wilshere, Welbeck

Predicted Scoreline – 1-1 #UTA

Arsenal Vs Watford PL Preview

Kickoff – 1330GMT

The first steps have been made in forgetting the awful form we’ve had recently, with our impressive 2-0 win against Milan in the San Siro, now we take on Watford in a bid to arrest our slide away from the top4.

This is looking to be an insurmountable task. Our neighbours sit in 4th spot, a massive 13 points better off than we are, with only 27 points left to play for. In realistic terms, we need to win our remaining games, and hope tottenham or Liverpool implode in order to sneak into the coveted Champions League spots.

Before we even begin to think about the implications of such an elaborate plan, we need to win a bloody game domestically first. That starts against the Hornets.

Watford have enjoyed a good recent run against us, beating us the last time we played at The Emirates. We also had the Troy Deeney episode, where the burly striker claimed it was our lack of – for want of a less savoury term – Jacobs, that meant we were easily steamrollered, rather than contentious decisions.

With this season going the way it is, Deeney is looking like he could be right, but we have a chance to right a wrong here too.

Watford’s new boss Javi Gracia is still seeking to find his best layout for his team, especially defensively. They won their last game, 1-0 against bottom side West Brom, but they were far from convincing. Indeed, before Deeney struck the sole goal of the game, West Brom could easily have been ahead. It is evident that the Hornets are far stronger in attack than in being watertight at the back, and if that lends itself to an open game, it also increases our chances too.

We’ll have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back after being cup-tied for the Europa League, and with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil looking to have found some form in our win over Milan, we could stretch Watford thinly across The Emirates turf. Alex Iwobi could come back into the side to rest Jack Wilshere, as Arsene Wenger will be loath to upset a winning side for the return leg on Thursday.

Granit Xhaka has played a large amount of consecutive games, but Aaron Ramsey is just coming back from injury, so it is tough to call which player will be rested, with Mohamed Elneny most likely coming in to replace. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is an outside call for a midfield spot too.

Our Spaniards, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, both missed out the trip to Milan, and both are outside bets to make this game, with Bellerin a little more likely to return, given his less severe complaint. Laurent Koscielny could be rested too, but his performance against Milan’s attack spoke of a man returning to some form. Rob Holding stands by.

Watford boss Javi Gracia has an embarrassment of riches in attack. Troy Deeney will most likely lead the line, but Stefano Okaka and Andre Gray are both excellent options. Ricardo Peyreyra, Richarlison, Carillo and even Abdoulaye Doucoure are all threats from their respective positions too. If they want to funnel play wide and isolate our full-backs, they’ve got the personnel to do so. We’ve got to be switched on at the back.

This is something that’s been bereft in our play, minus our showing on Thursday. Jack Wilshere talked in the media about using the Milan performance as a barometer, that we must play like this every game. He’s spot on. We need that level, as we’ve shown that when we dip, we can’t skate by and pick up points.

So, let’s get another win and attempt to string together a run that we so badly need toward the end of the season. Redeem yourselves boys – oh yeah, and try and get Cech his 200th clean sheet? It’s been dragging on for far too long! #UTA

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Elneny, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal

AC Milan Vs Arsenal – Europa League Preview

A loss at home to Ostersunds.

Two consecutive losses to Manchester City, one in a cup final which underlined the disparity between our club and the current top group of Premier League teams.

Then a humbling loss to Brighton.

So a trip to the San Siro is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Our visit to AC Milan pretty much holds our season in its result. The Europa League, however small the chances are, is the only hope of glory in what has been a horrible campaign. The aim, with our confidence levels so low, has to be to gain any semblance of a result that we can pin hope to for the return leg.

An away goal would be handy, but Gennaro Gattuso has instilled a backbone in his side, and two consecutive 0-0 draws versus Lazio recently saw them through to the Coppa Italia final and underlined their defensive merits.

That will be down to the costly but necessary addition of Leonardo Bonucci, who was part of the granite-like triumvirate at Juventus that also had Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli. Bonucci is taking to Milan life quite well, and Milan, while not resurgent, are showing signs of life in Serie A.

We’ll most likely have to make do without the talents of Nacho Monreal, as the Spaniard is nursing a back complaint. He has a small chance of making the game, but Sead Kolasinac stands by. Hector Bellerin is missing out with a knee complaint too, so Calum Chambers will slot in.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied after appearing for BVB earlier in the season, and with Alexandre Lacazette injured and making his way back to fitness, that leaves Danny Welbeck. The striker is a great addition to the squad with his endless running, his teamplay and tracking back. His finishing though? Not exactly clinical. Let’s hope we create plenty of chances.

Eddie Nketiah could play a bigger part than normal, being the sole back-up, and the youngster would learn an awful lot with an appearance in such a grand arena as the San Siro.

In midfield, Granit Xhaka has played almost every minute of our dire run and has shown very little change. Aaron Ramsey missed the loss to Brighton and is expected to be involved in some capacity, but will he partner Mohamed Elneny, Jack Wilshere or Xhaka? Previous games say the Swiss midfielder will win this race.

AC Milan rested Fabio Borini during the Coppa Italia semi-final, and his extensive knowledge of the English game could be enough for him to gain a place in the starting lineup, although Suso and Crutone may have something to say about that.

This Last16 tie is an opportunity to gain a little bit of confidence and also to dispel the talk of Arsenal being incapable of going past this stage. Our consecutive losses at this stage in the Champions League have put doubt to our European credentials, and it’s quite simply ludicrous.

Milan could well extend the run though. They have the squad and the atmosphere at the San Siro will be white hot. Can we actually play like the team we’re meant to be, instead of strangers on the pitch? The last month says no.

We need to bounce back now, and if we don’t we could find ourselves in that tired scenario where we have nothing to play for in the second leg.

Game over man, game over.

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Welbeck

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to Milan I fear, but that would be enough to give us a fighting chance back at The Emirates.

Brighton Vs Arsenal Premier League Match Preview

After the debacle at home versus Ostersunds, the Carabao Cup catastrophe and our home smashing against City, we now travel outside the M25 to take on Chris Hughton’s Brighton and Hove Albion.

Arsenal have had a horror show recently, and so optimism is thin on the ground right now. The prospect of an away trip, with our quite atrocious record on our travels, and a tie against AC Milan just days away, isn’t exactly filling us with good thoughts.

Arsene Wenger seems to have run out of ideas, but if he did fall on his sword, he has the opportunity to do so by winning Arsenal’s first European trophy since 1994. Before that though, he has to get his team winning again.

The above may be wishful thinking, but being a supporter means holding out for hope, and while we’re still in the hunt, we’ve got a chance. We’ve done our best to extinguish any opportunities that have come our way, but the first step is always the hardest – and that is our trip to the Amex.

The Gulls have only lost at home three times this season, and the winners were the likes of Chelsea, City and Liverpool. for us to become the fourth would require a complete u-turn of recent displays.

We can start in our defence. City ran our men ragged at the back. Bellerin couldn’t cope with Sane, Koscielny got nowhere near Aguero and Mustafi looks a shadow of the man who cost £35m. Koscielny could be rested for Thursday, with Chambers or Holding coming in. Nacho Monreal too, could be rested. They’ll have to cope with a different threat in the form of Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray.

Gross is creative as well as a threat in the box, and isn’t far away from the best playmakers in the league with his number of chances created. Glenn Murray already has ten goals this season, and the two seem the perfect blend. Throw into the mix Jose Izquierdo and Brighton have enough about them to get the points they need to pull away from the relegation trapdoor.

Our midfield could lend a hand, but Granit Xhaka is far from a conventional DM, and thus, is leaving gaping holes in the centre of the park for opponents to exploit – which they are. With the attack-minded Aaron Ramsey as his partner, it means our engine room is non-existent. Our boys at the back could really do with a hand, so using Mohamed Elneny as an extra pair of hands could do the trick.

Our attack will most likely be unchanged, save for Danny Welbeck being rested for Milan. That would mean Alex Iwobi coming in for the England man. Jack Wilshere is back training and fully fit, so could either earn an instant recall for this game, or be saved for the AC Milan test.

Could the game versus Milan mean more changes? This is where it gets even more tricky. Do we rest top players so they’re fit and firing for the Europa League – our last hope of salvaging a god-awful season?

That is what Wenger is paid for – to make those decisions. There will be repercussions regardless of what decision he makes – rest players and our Premier League woes are exacerbated – but play them and our European and last trophy hope teeters even more than it is right now.

Brighton will be a toughie, and with their Premier League stay for next season far from booked, they will be fighting for every ball. We need to fight harder, that’s the only way we’ll restore confidence.

Damn, we miss Santi.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Kolasinac, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal.

Arsenal Vs Manchester City – PL Match Preview

With the Carabao Cup final humbling still fresh in the memory, the perfect fixture to erase those nightmarish visions is……Manchester City.

The display that our team put in as we were taken apart by Pep Guardiola’s men seems to have resonated more than most defeats – and we’ve had a fair few this season.

Seven to be exact. This year.

Gary Neville’s comments especially, during and after the match, have struck a chord as they were what most were thinking. Why did our players show such an insipid level of effort? Why were none busting a gut? Did none of them recognise this was a cup final?

So, today’s game at The Emirates is far from what we needed. What we need is a win. Then another, And then another. The chances of us winning against City are low, and with us being ten points of spurs who are in 4th spot, two defeats at the hands of the blue half of Manchester could sound the death knell of any prospective success, and condemn us to our worst ever season under Wenger.

Wenger opted for three at the back in the Cup Final,which was suggested by many before the game. We also had Wilshere and Ramsey in the same team for the first time in quite some time.

Surely he has to change the approach? But does that mean the players in the eleven?

Anyone who watched the travesty on Sunday can concur that it wasn’t the choice of personnel that was the problem. It was our strongest side and should be enough of a match to give us a shout.

The problem was the application of any form of tactic. We lost possession frequently, we didn’t pressure their possession strongly enough, and we looked absolutely clueless when we did have the ball.

The first thing we need to do is actually put in a modicum of effort instead of hoping our play will suffice. Without effort, the result is what we saw at Wembley.

There will be changes in the side, although they will be enforced. Nacho Monreal looks to be ruled out for this game and the trip to the Amex Stadium, possibly longer. That means if we stay with three at the back, we’ve got less central defensive options, but Sead Kolasinac is primed for the left-back spot.

What about central midfield though? Granit Xhaka is a cultured midfielder, but he is no DM. He seems unable to track any runners, but if he starts, then he really must learn. Alternatively, we have Mohamed Elneny to fill in.

Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are both fit, but fitting them both into the team may require one of them to play in the attacking three behind Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck are viable options to play, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back in the team after being cup-tied on Sunday.

Pep has to deal with Fernandinho being unavailable, so Ilkay Gundogan will have a new partner in midfield. this could play into our hands if our engine room kicks into life. City may have Raheem Sterling back after being ruled out on Sunday, and Gabriel Jesus is back from a knee injury.

If we are to avoid catastrophe this season, we need to go on a run, and there’s no better time to start than now. We know we’re capable, it’d just be good to see us show it for once. We have a great record at The Emirates, let’s keep it going. #UTA

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – Let’s do this, 2-1 to The Arsenal

Crystal Palace Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Firstly, I hope you all had a great Christmas. Secondly, this game has a fair amount of reasons why it will be a severe test for our side as we look to return to winning ways and keep up with the teams above us.

Selhurst Park brings with it a terrible nightmare from last season, when we turned in one of the worst performances in recent memory in losing 3-0. The home of the Eagles is perhaps one of the most vocal of home supports, and the atmosphere will be absolutely electric.


Roy Hodgson has his team on an impressive run. No losses in the last eight games is no small feat, especially when you consider he took over Crystal Palace with the side having lost seven from seven and failing to score in any of them.


The Eagles are flying right now. They tore apart Leicester City recently, and the form of Wilfried Zaha is crucial to the team playing effectively. It leaves players like Andros Townsend and Yohann Cabaye with less pressure to deliver, and Christian Benteke is beginning to hit some semblance of form.


Bottom line, we keep Zaha quiet, we clip the wings of the Eagles.


In terms of our team, Nacho Monreal limped off in our draw with Liverpool, and luckily for us, Shkodran Mustafi has just returned from injury, so we have a replacement to partner Laurent Koscielny. Olivier Giroud’s hamstring will keep him out until at least late January, so the reliance on Alexandre Lacazette will be a big one for goals.


Aaron Ramsey is still out, but the form of Jack Wilshere shows the Englishman has taken his chance with both hands. Jack has been excellent since slotting in after Ramsey’s injury, and when Rambo does return, he may find an instant return to the side a little harder than first imagined.


Goals don’t seem to be an issue, and we’ve gone on a run in previous games when our defence has been watertight. What is an immediate issue is our tempo. In some games we are devoid of it, and yet it is our greatest weapon. When we play with pace we ally it with our close control and intricate passing and it can be unstoppable. The trouble is, we rarely go through the gears for longer than five minutes.


This will have to change to silence the Palace crowd, who can really give the home players a boost. They will be aware of our atrocious away record – two away wins this Premier League season – and they will make life extremely difficult for our players.


This game needs to be the renaissance of our away performances. It needs to herald the turnaround if we are to catch Liverpool, tottenham and Chelsea. These teams all won on Boxing Day and the pressure is on us to grab the points.


We have another away game against West Brom this weekend, the games are coming thick and fast. The tests will continue, and we really need maximum points from both. If we fail to do this, then the gap will grow and we can foresee another season of missed targets.


Predicted lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis, Lacazette.


Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal.

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.