Tag Archives: nacho

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?

Who should be our Captain?

There has been plenty of talk surrounding our club of late – and for good reason.

The winds of change are sweeping around The Emirates, and Unai Emery’s appointment has sent the media into a froth over the inevitable variances that will occur after over two decades under one man’s stewardship.

One thing that hasn’t really come into focus is who will lead our men on the pitch.

The subject of our next skipper is an important one. The person who wears the armband next season will be the link between Emery in the dugout and the enacting of his demands.Not only this, but when it comes time to dig our heels in, the captain is the man who leads from the front.

Jack, Xhaka and Ramsey - who is our next captain?

Many think that Aaron Ramsey is the perfect candidate. The model professional who leads from the front, there is no denying he is the perfect example for our youth for triumph in the face of adversity, and never giving up.

Does the Welshman have the chops though? Many say that vocality is a dying trait when it comes to wearing the armband, and all that is needed is someone to lead from the front with their talents.

I would have to disagree. We have had those types of leaders before, back during the time when we dished out the armband as a lure to wantaway players – it didn’t work.

Captains need to have the ability to pick players up when they’re either having an abysmal game or if they’re making errors. They need to have that extra clout to be able to say what needs to be said, without recrimination. The players will listen because he is the leader, without fail.

If it isn’t Rambo though, who should it be? It isn’t as if we are stocked to the rafters with leaders – many people would say this is one of the many reasons we have struggled over previous seasons.

We have had a decent skipper recently though, but Mertesacker’s lack of minutes on the pitch undermined his strength. We need a player who will play the majority of our games.

Perhaps Granit Xhaka? Yes, his displays were erratic last campaign, but his will to win and his place in the team are strong. He seems to have the respect of his comrades and with a new man in charge, Xhaka could actually be played to his strengths rather than made to fit.

Other than these two players, we don’t have anyone who should shoulder this immense responsibility. Laurent Koscielny is a fantastic servant for the club, but leader he certainly isn’t. Plus, he is set to miss the first half of the season through injury. Nacho Monreal is the embodiment of consistency, but does he have what it takes to lead the team in difficult circumstances?

Then there is Jack Wilshere. His love for the club is undeniable, and we know he is certainly not lacking in making himself heard, but his future is uncertain – as well as his place in the team. If Jack stayed and picked up his game a little, then he would be a viable choice.

It would seem right now though, that it is a choice of two – and after last season and with a danger of Ramsey not signing a new deal, the Captains’ armband could well be the sweetener Rambo needs to commit his future.

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 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

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

Everton 2-5 Arsenal – the return of our style.

Arsenal finally found the swagger that has been missing, as they hammered 5 past Everton – and gained their first away Premier League win in the process.



An avalanche of shots on target points to a convincing victory, but a spirited Toffee’s side gave a good account of themselves – they just couldn’t find an answer to our attacking play.


Much of this was down to our preferred attacking three playing together for once. Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette linked up fluidly, and the ninety minutes was packed with flicks and touches that intuitively found each other. It was the basis on which we scored our goals, and also what bamboozled Everton.


The first ten minutes we bombarded Everton keeper Jordan Pickford and we should have taken the lead, so it was scripted that Everton would instead grab the first goal.


Granit Xhaka was slow in offloading the ball and was fouled by Idrissa Gueye. Referee Craig Pawson waved play on and the ball found Wayne Rooney whose shot from 25 yards hit the back of the net.


We had played so well only to succumb to a sucker punch, but for once, it didn’t affect us. We continued to press though and it was only Jordan Pickford and wasteful finishing that was stopping us rack up a cricket score, never mind equalise.


As such, it was a surprise that it took until the 40th minute for us to restore parity. A Xhaka shot was only parried by Pickford, and the loose ball was snaffled up by a marauding Nacho Monreal who hit it first time.


Everton had racked up a couple of yellow cards, and the second half saw one of their booked players swapped out during the break. Ashley Williams was cut and Tom Davies came on, Ronald Koeman opting to change shape to combat Arsenal’s rampaging trio up top.


It didn’t work.


Eight minutes after the second half began, we got what our play deserved. Alexis hung onto the ball wide on the left, and he waited for the perfect moment to cross the ball into the box. He had waited for the impeccably timed run of Mesut Ozil. The German flicked a header past Pickford expertly and we had the lead.


Our job was made infinitely easier after Idrissa Gueye was sent off for a second yellow. His lunge took the wind from Everton’s sails and for once – perhaps the most welcome sight of all – we took full advantage. No mercy was shown.


Alexandre Lacazette made it three, twenty minutes after Ozil’s goal. Alexis passed well to Ozil, who took it forward before finding Lacazette in the box. A first time finish gave him his first away goal and the breathing space we needed.


Jack Wilshere got some action, and he immediately made his presence felt. Finding Aaron Ramsey with a great pass, Rambo then took it well before finishing coolly.


Everton took advantage of a lax touch from Cech to score a second, but we would get the last laugh. Alexis deserved a goal for his endeavours, and he exquisitely found the far corner.


The front three of Lacazette, Ozil and Alexis give us a reason to be cheerful. Even in the toughest of games, this trio will eke out chances. We have hope.




Of course there are still reasons for worry. Our central midfield is not clicking and our defence has a tendency to switch off, but for once, let us enjoy this handsome win.


It is the reason we are all supporters. For games when we play well, we win well and we score a bagful.

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. 

Arsenal and tottenham Combined XI

Published on Arsenal Mania

There is always a fair amount of hype in the build-up to a much-anticipated fixture. The majority of it is to ride the crest of the wave as fans look forward to the game, but some is simply filler designed only to ruffle feathers and guarantee a reaction.


The North London Derby is no different, but the parameters for this last bout have changed. For over twenty years, Arsenal have governed this constituency, but this game saw tottenham in the ascendency. They were favourites – and for good reason.


So much so, that a recent Combined XI from respective club legends Ledley King and Thierry Henry recently for Sky Sports, saw just one Arsenal player in this amalgamated team.

Just one.


Is this fair?


Here is a more balanced version of an eleven made up from spurs and Gunners players. What do you think?











Petr Cech or Hugo Lloris?

Verdict – Hugo Lloris

Petr Cech has been a bastion of excellence and reliability ever since he came to the Premier League, but this season has seen a slip below his usual standards. Facts are facts, and he has 14 clean sheets to Cech’s 9, and has conceded 13 goals less. Hugo Lloris has maintained his performances, and his athleticism racing from his line sees him take the gloves for this team.


Hector Bellerin or Kyle Walker?

Verdict – Hector Bellerin

Kyle Walker seems to have the England spot nailed down, and his rapier speed has long been his trademark. Walker’s control has been his weakness, but he has really shaped up this season. Does it see him rise above Bellerin? Walker has more assists this season, but Hector’s passing percentage is higher. It really is closer than it was a couple of seasons ago. Hector’s haircut seemed to coincide with a drop in form, but he is faster than Walker, and his control is good enough to see him make the Spain squad. Bellerin for the win.


Toby Alderweireld or Shkodran Mustafi?

Verdict – Toby Alderweireld

The Belgian defender is a threat in the air on set pieces, and has strength and positional awareness in stock. Mustafi had a great start to his Arsenal career, but a drop in confidence for the whole team saw the German start to make errors. In spite of this, this is closer than most would give Mustafi credit for. He has more goals than Alderweireld, and has more aerial success than the Belgian. It is defensive stats that Alderweireld edges the German though. More clearances, more blocks and he makes less fouls. It is close, but in short, Mustafi is often shrugged off the ball, but how often have you seen Alderweireld suffer the same fate? Toby grabs the shirt.


Laurent Koscielny or Jan Vertonghen?

Verdict – Koscielny

Koscielny is viewed as a mandatory name in the side, and in the last few seasons, he has elevated himself and his displays so much that it wouldn’t be unfair to class him amongst the best in his position in Europe. Vertonghen is consistent, he is tough and when he is not in the spurs side, they look a little lost. But who should play? Koscielny scores more goals, and is a big-game player. He has a superior tackling percentage, makes less fouls and has played more minutes. Vertonghen makes more clearances and blocks, but he is blocked out of this eleven.


Nacho or Danny Rose?

Verdict – Danny Rose

Once the figure of ridicule, Rose has really improved. Up and down the left flank tirelessly, Rose is perhaps the most improved player in the spurs team. Nacho has been recalled into the Spain squad, and his attacking prowess is a real asset for Arsenal. Despite this, Rose has more goals in the League, and more clearances and blocks, as well as a superior tackling percentage. Rose has more than double the amount of bookings, but this Rose is planted into the eleven.


Eric Dier or Granit Xhaka?

Verdict – Eric Dier

The Swiss star is still adapting to the League, and his tackling style is continuing to get him unwanted attention from match officials. Eric Dier is adaptable, playing all across the backline and in defensive midfield, and the England man is strong aerially too. He has the edge in the defensive side of the game, with more clearances, blocks and less fouls. In terms of passing though, Xhaka obliterates his rival. Long balls, crosses, key passes are all in favour of Arsenal’s man. So who takes the shirt? Seeing as it is a defensive role, Dier edges it.


Santi Cazorla or Moussa Dembele?

Verdict – Santi Cazorla

Of course, the Spaniard is injured and has missed half of the season, but we are comparing teams, and Santi is undeniably part of this Arsenal side. Cazorla has played far less than his counterpart, and yet still has more goals and assists, as well as key passes. Dembele takes the defensive side of the duel, but Santi isn’t far behind, despite giving away so much in terms of physicality. Santi would benefit any team, this is a no-brainer. If it wasn’t for injury, this wouldn’t be a contest.


Theo Walcott or Heung-Min Son?

Verdict – Son

This is a toughie. The South Korean has more goals and assists than Walcott, but Theo better dribbling percentages, is dispossessed less, and has a higher match rating. Son is super-efficient in terms of chances though, and Son just gets the nod.


Christian Eriksen or Mesut Ozil?

Verdict – Eriksen

This is an oft-debated issue. Mesut Ozil has a fine pedigree, and his reputation precedes him. Eriksen’s star is still rising, and although last season he was eclipsed by Ozil, this season is a different story. The all-important assist totals is a one-sided battle, with Eriksen registering 12 to Ozil’s 6. Ozil has a better passing percentage, but Eriksen has more goals. The Dane has played six more games than the German, but this season has seen him become more dangerous, where Ozil has had to change his role with Cazorla missing. In terms of talent, Ozil bests Eriksen, but this season, Eriksen is in the eleven.


Dele Alli or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

Verdict – Alli

This is a toughie. Arsenal’s left side is often changed, with no one really holding down the spot.
So, we go with the player who has played most from all the candidates, and that is The Ox. Here is a surprising stat; The Ox has the same amount of assists as Alli, even though he has made far less appearances. He also has a better passing percentage too. He has improved so much this season, but Alli has been talismanic. For such a young player, his threat in front of goal is huge. Alli must go into the team, but The Ox has pushed him hard.


Harry Kane or Alexis?

Verdict – Alexis

Both players are their teams leading goal-getters, and Kane is top of the charts when it comes to goals. In terms of assists though, Alexis leads the way with 9 so far. The Chilean also has better passing, key passes and shots per game. Although Kane has more goals, Alexis offers more than just goals. How can you leave out Alexis?

So, to surmise, here is the current combined XI –

Lloris

Bellerin

Alderweireld

Koscielny

Rose

Dier

Santi

Son

Eriksen

Alli

Alexis


This is viewed by some as the tipping point for North London. This season has finally seen tottenham emerge from Arsenal’s shadow. This is their best ever Premier League season, and they fully deserve to be where they are. Will this mean that from here, tottenham are the bigger team?

No. They may kick off a few seasons of superiority or they may not. Much depends on transfer activity and how spurs play at Wembley. For them to usurp Arsenal’s dominance in North London though they must first win the title, then win it at The Emirates twice, win more FA Cups and continue to be a presence in the Champions League.

Enjoy this season spurs, but this is not over. 

Welcome to Arsenal – Sead Kolasinac

Arsenal officially announced the arrival of Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac yesterday. It is the welcome early start to transfer business that Gooners have been yearning for, and it is quite excellent business by our club.

The Bosnian defender comes highly rated from Bundesliga experts, and one of them in particular – Raphael Honigstein – had this to say to the Guardian’s Football Weekly Podcast about our new signing;

He is one of the better left-backs in the Bundesliga. He is very strong, very physical and very good in the air. He is one of those left-backs that can play as a centre-half.”

Heavy praise indeed when you consider the welath of talent that German football has in its ranks. Not only that, but with our propensity for injuries to blight our season, Kolasinac’s versatility could well come in handy.

So, what do we know of our new guy? Well, he will turn 24 years old this month, and he worked his way up through Schalke’s youth team before making his first team debut in 2012. He did not start at Schalke though. Kolasinac actually put down roots for his hometown club Karlsruhe FC, before going to TSG Hoffenheim and Stuttgart for short spells. He finally found his way in Gelsenkirchen, and his youth team displays soon saw him on the radar.

From there, he quickly settled into the team and 89 appearances later, we have a new left-back. Kolasinac rapidly earned international status too, but it was initially with the German youth team that he played. He decided to play for the nation of his parents – Bosnia Herzogovina – and he now has 18 appearances. 

Kolasinac is known for his physicality, and he won’t be one for shirking tackles. He is more than just a rugged defender though. His touch is impressive, and he has been often seen outwitting markers with his first touch. For a felow with a large frame, he has deceptive speed too, and his five assists were a Bundesliga best for a defender last season.

So, quite the handful. 

What is most impressive is that we have picked this player up for absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. If that isn’t good business, I don’t know what is. After grabbing the starlet Rob Holding for a meagre £2m, critics may pick up on a theme of costcutting, but why spend millions when you can grab quality for nothing?

Kolasinac’s attributes point to a player that will require very little transitional time. He will be more than primed for the rigorous physical examination, and his attacking instincts will be matched for our team’s tactics. Once he builds the necessary rapport with his new teammates, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

Kolasinac looks to be the replacement for 32yr old Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard has been an excellent servant for our club, but perhaps his age may prove to be an obstacle when considering another 60plus games for next season. With interest from Bilbao in recent years, Nacho will not be short of offers.

So, we have our first signing of the summer, and Kolasinac is exactly the standard required to improve what we have. 

Excellent first step Arsenal, long may it continue. 

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.