Friday, 1 February 2013

Out of Our Depth

More often than not we are left aghast at Arsene's comments during pre-match press conferences and before the Brighton game it was no different. Wenger said
"We have two players in every position. That should be enough, plus the young players in behind. But if we find the top-class players in any position, we never refuse to strengthen our squad."

Now factually that statement is correct as we do have two players for every position, whether they are good enough is another question. So on my journey home from Brighton @modgooner and @smoggygooner (both are great additions to any time line) decided that we'd put this to this theory to the test.

Goalkeeper - Szczesny, Mannone, Fabianski

It's never good when Wenger's theory is completely blown out of the water when we discuss the first position. Szczesny is by far and away our best goalkeeper and he's a youngster. Mannone and Fabianski will never threaten Wojciech for his starting position, despite his occasional blunder. A competitive back up is must and you just have to wonder why we didn't chase Butland, he wanted to the opportunity to be number one and that is a possibility at Arsenal.

Right Back - Sagna, Jenkinson

Sagna has suffered of late and it has led to question marks over his commitment. Sadly, he is that far ahead of Jenkinson that Carl has barely seen any playing time since Bacary returned. Jenkinson showed he can more than handle the right back position earlier in the season but he started to flag as Sagna returned to full fitness. Can Jenkinson handle 40-50 starts a season? The answer is probably not and he certainly didn't apply any pressure to Sagna's place last weekend.

Left Back - Monreal, Gibbs, Santos

I'm so glad this area has been strengthened because I do believe it was our weakest area on the field. Weak because Gibbs is about as durable as Abou Diaby. He suffered an injury purely born out of weakness on Wednesday and he's been ruled out for 4-6 weeks, which in Wenger time frames equates to the end of the season. Santos is an idiot to be quite frank, he showed no desire last weekend at Brighton and he showed a complacency that has seen us lose to the likes of Bradford this season. Allowing wingers time and space to whip in endless balls and attempting dribbles whilst on the edge of your box isn't going to help him win over fans any time soon. That by default leaves Monreal as our number one left back and to be honest I know nothing about him but 'they' say he's rated. When Gibbs returns this leaves Santos surplus to requirements and we may just have cover at left back.

Centre Half - Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny

All three have had their fair share of problems this season, if Vermaelen isn't taking air kicks then Mertesacker is getting skinned off Kone and if Kosicelny plays then he's getting sent off after ten minutes. We desperately need to find the winning formula at centre half and we need to do it fast. I was firmly of the belief that it was Mertesacker + 1 but of late he is proving to be a liability. We know his lack of pace exposes him but that doesn't excuse his lack of marking for Brighton's second or turning his back on a Suarez shot on Wednesday (See Carragher's block in the second half for how it should be done). Vermaelen is captain so by default he will start and he has to be joined by Koscielny, they have the ability to strike a good partnership and they need to hit the ground running should the opportunity come their way. Sadly the worst part of this positional assessment is you need four centre halves and we have three. The likes of Squillaci and Miquel are either not good enough or not ready to play first team football. Last season we could turn to Song in a needs much situation but this year we are truly shafted and with doubts over Vermaelen's fitness ahead of the game against Stoke we may have Squillaci on the bench. I think centre half is our weakest position in terms of depth (because their is none) and now that left back has been sorted that probably points to the reason why we concede so many unnecessary goals.

Defensive Midfield - Arteta, Coquelin, Ramsey.

I find this comical because we need a quality DM and we didn't get anyone. Arteta's game has suffered since dropping back as he can't influence the game as he could last season and his latest absence hasn't been felt anywhere near as much as it was last season. Bizarrely Wenger elected to start Coquelin away to Chelsea, so he's clearly the next in line to the throne. Aaron Ramsey started that game on the bench but then made an impact as Coquelin got injured. This led Wenger to praise Ramsey after the West Ham game and he said "He had a good performance in a position that I think is made for him." I've never heard so much nonsense. A position that he wasn't good enough to merit a start ahead of Coquelin four days earlier, really Arsene? I do agree that this role in midfield suits Aaron best but Wenger merely stumbled across this and he is happy to roll with it whilst it works. In terms of quality this is our weakest area and we will get found out in the bigger games when we don't have as much possession, but when we play lesser side (like West Ham) we can cope, just.

Midfield - Wilshere, Diaby, Ramsey

Whilst Jack is fit, he starts, it's as simple as that. Diaby remains unreliable both on and off the field. He is good for rotation but when your manager states your body isn't up to the rigours of Premier League football it really is a lost cause. The advanced midfield roll doesn't suit Ramsey as much at present, as it comes with greater attacking responsibility and his confidence just isn't up to that at present.

Attacking Midfield - Cazorla, Rosicky.

As long as Santi isn't getting stuck on the wing then this position is his all day long. He scores, he creates and he links well with Jack. Rosicky, well you just have to look at the last five letters of his name to know we are just wasting a healthy salary on Abou #2. Tomas can up our tempo and he is comfortable in possession but for someone who is attacking he doesn't score or create enough. Maybe Ox can get used to natural position sooner rather than later.

Left Wing - Podolski, Gervinho, Cazorla, Arshavin

Look at that, four players fighting for a starting berth but it's Podolski's all day long. Our front three are really starting to click and when we unlease Lukas within the width of the box he really is a joy to watch. He does need to up his game away from home but at present he and Oliver have a great understanding. Should he get injured then we have issues because Gervinho is useless, Cazorla is wasted on the wing and Arshavin isn't flavour of the month. Arshavin should be ahead of Gervinho in the pecking order but it's a lost cause. Another left winger is a must.

Striker - Giroud, Walcott, Podolski, Gervinho

That's right, if all of our players our fit then our best XI contains our top three strikers. Giroud is an excellent asset to our side and without going into too much detail about him (due to an upcoming blog) just look at the Liverpool game. He was left isolated for large parts of the first half and the second we get him involved good things happen - a goal and an assist. Yes, he went on the miss a chance but contrary to popular belief minimal deflections in the box make a big difference to strikers. Of course all of our previous strikers never missed any chances. Walcott got a run at centre forward when Giroud was absent due to injury, then illness and then because of Walcott's good form. Walcott isn't the finished article and his best position is still the right hand side. Podolski has had about ninety minutes as a striker in the league and to be honest I don't like him with his back to goal. I prefer him fronting up defenders and driving into the box. His equaliser against West Ham came from him backing up play and I don't want him to lose the opportunity to shoot. Gervinho can play striker if we are playing a team that is completely inept - that's it.

Right Wing - Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain

Walcott is having his best season at the club and whilst he has scored some goals as a striker he is very much at his best on the right. The team has learnt how to utilise him and teams are forced to adjust, like liverpool did in midweek by playing two left backs once he started to run riot. Ox on the other hand isn't a winger and it needs to stop now. I thought last weekend he'd have a great chance to stake a claim against Wayne Bridge but all it did was show that Bridge may have some life left in him as Ox was non-existent. That would leave us with only one winger, so a right winger would be nice too.

So there you have it, the assessment of a conversation during a 680 mile round trip to the south coast. Our squad doesn't have two quality players for each position, in fact of the ten positions discussed only one position is covered and that's on the basis that this Monreal is as good as people say he is. We all know that if we get our starting eleven on the field we can be a match for anyone but once injuries occur then our level of performance can dip, significantly. Wenger does have money and he reckons if top, top player become available then that will improve the squad, sadly in most positions it only takes slightly above average players to help improve our squads quality. Let me know what you think.


  1. Great post very much agree with you. Defensive midfield, defence (rb/cb) & up front we are lacking the required personnel.

    Etienne Capoue would of fitted right it, giving us what Petit & Gilberto did anchoring the midfield & Yanga-Mbiwa would of had us covered at the back very utile - can't believe we let him go to Newcastle. Now the up top the only true Centre-Forward is Giroud, what if he gets injured we're in trouble. Walcott nor Podolski can play with their back to goal. If those 3 can stay fit we'd get away with it. Wenger could have even moved for Odemwingie to bting us cover, but I'd really like to see Michu come in this summer. Add Michu, Capoue, maybe Sorensen & a defender into the mix& we've got a serious serious team

    1. First of all, thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Seems like the move for Capoue is still on so hoepfully we can get him in during the summer. Totally agree on Yanga-Mbiwa too, with Koscielny and Vermaelen doubtful for Saturday we are faced with the prospect of Squillaci and that frightens me.