Tag Archives: substitute

Gilles Grimandi – The Lifeguard

Squad depth has not just been an issue for clubs in the last decade, although there is much more need for it now thanks to some crazy scheduling. The Premier League era has placed demands on teams with European competition and domestic cups meaning that managers have a heavier reliance on those who would primarily be warming the bench.

It is these players that seasons hinge on. They are the last-gasp rolls of the dice that Gaffers are forced to do when backed into a corner. Sometimes it is a late substitution to soak up pressure and defend a precious narrow lead. Other occasions mean a start in a big game, replacing a stalwart in the side and hoping the proverbial bandage holds up.

In the briliant 1997/98 season, the influx of French players had started to meld perfectly with the English core, and the Double was achieved. The names of Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Bergkamp, Adams, Dixon and Seaman were among the brightest lights, but the name of curly-haired Gaul Gilles Grimandi is not one of the first that comes to the forefront of memory.

Primarily a defender, but used in midfield and full-back, Grimandi made 33 appearances in League and Cup, Filling in whenever plays succumbed to injury or – in the case of our more hotheaded players – more often suspension, Grimandi was an oft-utilised asset. 

On first appearance, Gilles was a limited player who struggled to keep up with the pace of the Premiership. That would be fair to a degree, as speed was never one of the Frenchman’s chief attributes. What he lacked in rapidity however, he more than made up in elbow grease and aggression. Sometimes, the lid to his temper would not be screwed down tightly enough – Diego Simeone’s face can attest to this – but there was never a moment on the pitch when Grimandi did not stretch every sinew, give every inch of effort he had.

Us fans love a player who gives his all. You may be in the shade of some of your more illustrious and gifted teammates, but if you show us how much you want to win, we will invariably back you. It helps he also got sent off against our neighbours too….

In his time at Arsenal, he won two Double’s. He may never have held down a regular spot, and he only scored a meagre amount of goals, but without the sweat and thunder that Grimandi brought to the table, two of our most glittering of campaign’s could have been far different.

The player known for his curly locks was a good egg off the field – in direct contrast to his angry persona in an Arsenal shirt – and he helped new signings acclimatise themselves to London and the club. Now a scout with the club, Gilles can look back on his Arsenal career with pride. 

Gilles got us out of some perilous situations. He rescued us on more than one occasion – scoring the winner in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace springs to mind – but it was more his tackling and will to win that made him the lifeguard of our squad. 

He was a player who fully optimised his talents. He was a player who did that and gave unwavering service to our club. For that, he deserves the utmost respect.

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. 

Elneny – Basel Not Faulty?

An original Goonersphere blog

Mohamed Elneny joined in the midst of last season, with a distinct lack of fanfare.

Fast forward to the end of the season, and he had converted the doubts about his ability with some assured displays and can take pride for his firm hand on the tiller during a rather shaky period for the team.

Yet he now faces an uncertain future, thanks to the glitzy purchase of midfield dynamo Granit Xhaka.

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Continue reading Elneny – Basel Not Faulty?

Martin Keown and the Invincible Medal

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

Martin Keown is one of the finest defenders to grace the Premier League. Nicknamed ‘ The Rash ‘, due to his proficiency in man-marking, his two spells for The Arsenal amassed over 400 appearances. Beloved by fans for not only the accolades he earned, but the fiery embers of passion which were the fuel for his displays on the pitch, Keown is among the leading lights when it comes to Gunners players.