If The Arsenal make it through the Champions League qualifying matches they are guaranteed to play 48 matches of competitive football this season. Reasonable form and a bit of luck with Cup draws would see that up to about 54 games. That’s a lot of football – and when every game matters and is keenly contested it puts a lot of pressure on the squad.
At times matches come thick and fast: August alone is pretty congested.
Charity Shield against City.
Crystal Palace (h).
Six games in three weeks, all of them important and one involving a trip overseas.
There will be time enough to analyse each of those games, but for now I think it’s fair to suggest it’s unlikely the same players will feature each time, as tactical requirements, injuries, possible suspensions and simple rotation will all play their part in selection, as indeed will be the current form of each player. Substitutions, both tactical and forced will also come into play, so as we are constantly reminded (when pundits want to put us down) squad depth is as important as the starting XI if realistic title challenges are to be considered. If you were setting the spread on the amount of players who’d kick a ball in anger in those August matches you’d probably set it 15 to 17 -and I think I’d be a buyer in that market.
Which is why all the talk about who’ll make the best XI, while a great topic over a couple of pints, ever so slightly misses the point.
There is more than a hint of hypocrisy in the air too, as many who spent last season saying that Arsenal had no chance of winning the title because of lack of depth and the unwillingness of the manager to rotate are now only too ready to consign Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla to the scrap heap.
Jack interests me because his situation can be used both ways by the Arsenal haters outside the club and the Arsene haters among the fan base. This is how it goes: “when we sign (let’s say Khedira for argument’s sake) Jack won’t make the team, and this proves he isn’t really top quality and this is because he was over-rated by AW, or not developed by AW, or AW has caused him to have so many injuries.” Or, alternatively, “when we sign Khedira Jack won’t make the team and this is a classic example of a foreign manager acting against the interests of the national side.” Either way, it is Arsenal and Arsene’s fault and the disappointing thing to me is that I don’t hear this comment: “When we sign Khedira, it will be excellent because at various times during the season (and perhaps even at various times during the same match) Khedira will play alongside Jack, and he will play alongside Ramsey, and this will take the pressure of all three of them and they will benefit and learn from each other. “ How many games is it realistic to hope a player starts in – 30, 35, 40? Not much more than that I think, and there will be plenty of opportunity for Jack and Aaron whoever else is signed.
The role of the substitute in the modern game is also interesting, and is worth a brief mention. I am guessing that statistics suggest that the optimum time for a tactical substitution is around 65 minutes on the basis that there is less time for injuries across the field to occur (at least one player needs to be kept for emergency) but enough time for the substitution to have an effect on the course of the game. If used efficiently it can either give a sense of the cavalry coming to relieve a beleaguered situation or of a coup de grace being delivered when the opposition has been softened up and just needs to be dispatched with a killer blow. Both of these scenarios were in evidence in the recent Cup Final, and it almost felt like bullying when Jack and Tomas injected match-winning pace in the closing stages.
I am not suggesting players be only used as substitutes because few would be happy with just that role, but do feel that any talk of squad composition should bear substitutions in mind. A clever manager will make his players very aware of why they are on the bench and will have rehearsed the various scenarios when they might be called upon to make a contribution. I like the thought of a fully fit Podolski coming on with 20 minutes to go, scoring a goal, starting the next match and then perhaps making way for Campbell after 65 minutes. It is never as simple as that of course but it illustrates a general point.
There was dismay among the Twitter ranks yesterday as various speculations became hard fact among the doubters.
First of all came the news that Thomas Eisfeld had left the club to join Fulham, and this was seen by many as an act of gross stupidity on behalf of the club. Despite not many having seen him play that much, he had become a something of a fan’s favourite, and he did have a magnificent match against Reading in the astonishing game two seasons ago. But he was older than many thought (21) and was increasingly unlikely to make a breakthrough into our first team. I suspect it will be a good move for him and for Fulham and I hope it works out.
Hot on the heels came an article by John Cross in which he speculated that both Wilshere and Diaby could play a holding role and that therefore the search for another midfielder was not absolutely essential. Of course any mention of Diaby is likely to get certain supporters incensed (I always see him as human litmus paper, there to reveal a fan’s true allegiance – the acid test, if you like), but I was a little disappointed to see so many come out so strongly against Jack, especially as some had been railing against the decision to transfer Eisfeld only hours earlier. And so mischievously I thought of the following scenario, which while unlikely has some logic behind it, and wondered what the reaction would be.
Liverpool are in the process of building a new side, and under Brendan Rodgers are very much a work in progress. It is no doubt heresy to say this on an Arsenal blog, but I think he is a good manager and it amuses me that my local club, Reading FC, let him go because they simply didn’t understand what he was trying to do. Rodgers knows he will need to replace Gerrard soon (and England need to replace him immediately). Fuelled by paper talk and awareness of fan disaffection expressed through social media he senses that Wilshere would be willing to leave Arsenal and take over that holding role at Anfield. And if that were to happen, would the Arsenal fans still be saying that Wilshere couldn’t play anymore, or that he needed to do this or that if he were ever to play the deeper role, or would they realise that they had yet again contributed to a great player deciding to leave The Emirates behind ?
You see, Jack is good enough to play in a variety of midfield roles, just as all of our players are: of course he could be a DM, or a B2B, or an AM, or a WM, or a faux 9, because he regularly takes up all of those positions, and several more besides that as yet haven’t been given names, in most of the games he plays. It is The Arsenal way for players to switch positions, and that is one of the joys of following the team.
So with regard to transfers I think we are in the privileged position of not needing to sign anyone new (apart from a reserve GK), because with even average luck with injuries we have enough players to rotate successfully throughout the whole 54 game season. But we also have the money (quite a lot of money, actually) to be able to add to that highly-talented squad should the right top quality players become available. And if we do add a Pogba or a Cavani, then who knows we might just be looking at a 60 game season, which would see all of our very best players more than happily occupied, and perhaps even bring a smile to those fans who apparently have already forgotten we have signed Alexis Sanchez.
Today’s piece was by @foreverheady .Thanks Tim.
And I agree with you Hunter, as I do most of the time save for when you are not heckling others on P.A. *coughs*.
Which is why it was such a shame to see AFTV follow the unimaginative boring repetitive podcasters into, how can I put it, into giving that vile man’s inflated ego a nice massage (I haven’t listened to any of it), and ignoring the opportunity and the huge demand from all football fans out there for something of better quality and interest (not BT then!) where people actually talk about the football.
There’s a huge gap in the UK for someone to start up an interesting football broadcast/ show where people are not chatting shit (see Seedorf or Henry on the BBC at the World Cup) or simply appealing to the lowest common denominator (money and scandal), with no mention of the actual sport itself. It’s weird becasue Sky have people doing this in their coverage for cricket and other sports. Almost as if it’s important for them to dumb down their football coverage. Can’t imagine why!
@ hunter13 July 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Hunter, did you see the one where the lady was talking about the UN school getting hit? With the children still in it. I had to give up on CNN and BBC, they are not showing full coverage. Why do I have to watch Al Jazeera to see what’s going on. What’s up with that.
i dont heckle …. you misunderstand my style…..if i find something ridiculous i will say it and i dont care about “towing the party line” sort of speak or any pc b/s but welllll…..thats done now…
if someone says today that arteta is a level above mascherano…sorry dude but i will tell him/her that he/she is talking utter shit. and i dont feel i should be blamed for that or called anything or accused of sexism racism anti-arsenal whatever
Fuck, I can’t believe I missed the discussion yesterday. I just wanted to say that Holland started improving once De Jong was out of the squad. Had Van Gaal been a bit braver and played Wijnaldum instead of Sneijder in the semi-final, they could have probably done better against Argentina.
By the way, Khedira and Ramsey play a very similar role. The difference is that Ramsey is not oafish and scores fuck loads of goals.
Oh, and fuck the Mourinho apologist. My Cocker Spaniel could have won trophies with the team Claudio Ranieri left behind.
Sav from Australia
July 25, 2014 at 4:28 pm
from my mate john f pilger :
Today, says Tony Blair, British pilots “policing” the no-fly zones “perform vital humanitarian tasks”. Such a lie helps sustain, in its tenth year, the most ruthless economic embargo in modern history, of which bombing is an integral part, while the real motives are seldom examined. Most of Iraq’s oilfields, the second biggest on earth, lie within the no-fly zones. Whenever there is a bombing blitz, the price of oil goes up and last week reached $30 a barrel, the highest since before the Gulf war. The international oil market understands American motives: above all, the protection of Washington’s jewel, Saudi Arabia, which has more than a quarter of the world’s oil and whose political and economic stability is not as it used to be; and, in the longer term, the establishment of a vast new American oil colony stretching from the Gulf to the Caucasus. When Madeleine Albright was asked if the death of half a million Iraqi children was a price worth paying for sanctions, she replied: “We think the price is worth it.” She might have said the price of oil.
Saddam’s threat is not his so-called weapons of mass destruction. This, says Scott Ritter, a former chief UN arms inspector, is “zero”. His real threat is that he still enjoys considerable support in the Arab world, where he is seen as a symbol of resistance to the west’s historical project of subjugating and humiliating the Arabs while relieving them of their natural wealth. This is not to say the Americans wish to overthrow their demon in Baghdad. They would simply prefer that he did as he was told, as in the old days when they and their allies supplied him with everything he wanted, including seed stock for biological weapons of mass destruction.
No Hunter. It is heckling. We came here to get away from that crap.
When every single female member of the PA family asks you to not do something, you should consider what they are saying. And not make the same error again.
that evil putin huh……. and those brave israelis defending themselves
makes sense to put all our eggs in wenger’s arsenal …
J Pilger got pissed off when the BBC censored his reports of atrocities from SE Asia in the 60s.The BBC censored coverage of a march of between 50,000 to 100,000 people in C.London on Saturday.
Different day. Same old shit.
Thank god for the football
lol fins…… i dont heckle anyoneand besides im not the one throwing random insults belittling others people knowledge on football but i will defend/argue the logic of my statements and points against anyone.
Have a sniff of this:
What a bunch of idiots.
Who is on the cabaret bill tonight George – have you been trawling Groaner cyberspace for new talent ?
oh i just read the other part where you talk about the females…me calling you a girl was blown out of proportion if you want my opinion …. lets not go back there ffs…
July 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm
(Sigh…if only Gary Medel was 6ft 2in)
Great post FH.
With the Jones/Smalling trade rumour & the 3 WC Germans out to start the season, its clear (to me) that AW clearly doesn’t want to lose the Verminator and is pointing out immediately that there will be more than enough games to go around this season.
Couple that with his comment on the pre-season schedule and one hopes the message rings home between the ears of both TV and his 15-20%er.
Taking only Akpom means Afobe’s time is over…no?
Where has our Arsenal gone?
Arsenal challenged for the title in 11-12 I think up until about March. Before then this poster went up and helped to turn the Home atmosphere sour, which impacted upon the squads momentum a little (it is undeniable).
Last season in spite of the groaning Groaners the Ozil signing simply blew away a lot of their stupid propaganda and that is why the Home support were much happier. People were having fun at the football! Which was nice to see. The silent majority finally found their voices! And it was not to groan, but to sing.
Therefore I predict that in spite of the constant groaning from the PR experts, whose past declarations are now looking like seriously bad PR, thet they will be ignored by most Arsenal football fans who are looking forward to watching Sanchez link up with his teammates and play for the Arsenal. I expect the atmosphere in N5 to be even better this year.
hey aman i dont understand why tv5 would want to leave and beopen/vague about staying or not….does he believe in our cause or not ? its not about him playing its about the team winning and doing well. this is where he shows his appreciation for wenger giving him a contract while he was injured…..
July 25, 2014 at 4:58 pm
fins they were always the minority…and always will be.
Most fans would support a check on the owner, someone to scream for cheaper tickets etc. that kind of thing.
But these genius’ decided that they were experts on and off the pitch. Tragic.
Yeah its oil and innocents isn’t it. And Putin is the bad guy. Really…
Thank goodness for the football, as others have said.
Of far greater interest is the prospect of Miquel and Hayden playing opposite Henry tomorrow! What an occasion. I hope they can get some sleep and can do themselves justice tomorrow.
Thanks to AorB for bring Hayden to our attention. I thought he did ok in midfield against Chelsea. Hey, there’s your Destroyer. He was lucky to stay on the pitch that day, hehe! A destroyer who quotes Thiago Silva and not Luiz (hilarious joke!)as his role model.
I hope he makes it at Arsenal (Aneke off to a good start in Belgium)
hey sav or maybe thats where they want to direct us……… stop thinking stop doubting stop resisting ..take football, take movies, take cara and clooney and bradd and angelina take tablets ipods facebook etc etc etc prophetic movie : idiocracy
July 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm
ha! you think they oppose kroenke etc just to get cheaper tickets? their motive is different……they want the club to be run by an oil tycoon and act like the rest of em….
plus fins this all stems from uzmanov people taking advantage of the working mans feeling whose favourite kill-time joy has been priced away from him….
have talked with plenty arsenal fans in the area who when discussing wenger, stadium players tactics it all boils down to ONE THING..the fact they cant afford to go….thats all.
they are pissed off because the game of football has changed and become a vip thing almost…they just dont knwo where to channel it so they fire at the first they see…wenger, arsenal the players etc..
if they wore trousers they would march outside f.a and burn it to the ground till the f.a and government committ to kicking out ( of football at least) dodgy billionaires who come to launder their money from russia s. arabia surpise surprise………
It is a mind-blasting concept.
But if we consider that the propaganda behind these kind of structures has saturated the UK at every level in recent times (don’t get me started on the PFI contract programme aka legalised Extortion or Grand Theft Larceny for the rest of us) then it is hardly surprising. Don’t get me started. Various comic characters by Harry Enfield say it better then I ever could. Loadsamoney!
Thank god for the Arsenal!
its a bit of a ” if you cant beat them join em ” arguement for them.
uefa / fifa will never implement ffp
rich men will always own football clubs to push on other agendas
the best will play for those who pay the most
why go with self sustainable model?
why build and wait and sacrifice?
why get taunted by rival fans on monday mornings?
mugs with no backbone and strength of mind
if football were world politics ..they would have done a kennedy on wenger …100%……..
they did it the other way though….
whats that ? you going for the title? with eboue and diabby and eduardo? heheh …take that….and that…and that…happy now?
> to want your football club, registered under traditional law as some kind of chairty for the local community to be taken over by a vulture capitalist/oligarch asset stripping gangster from Outer Turkmenistalinestan (lots of Gas!) is a mind blasting concept.
Wal-Mart aren’t exactly great, but compared with the alternatives…?
Why the disrespect towards Fizman’s choice? That’s what I could never understand, and it is something the cheif Groaner neve mention. I’m no fan of blood diamonds but I respect what Fizman did for the Arsenal.
because fizman told dein to EFF OFF..and dein was the one they saw as “their guy”..the one who understood them the one who shared their “ambitions” …
hahaaaaa… 75 million..ambition that
Howdy PA folk! Just dropping in to say I saw Aaron last night! And Jack, Gibbo, Jenko, Rosicky and Zelalem. And Thierry Henry! In case you hadn’t heard. (banned smiley) Off to Grand Central for the Puma event now. See you!
Have fun Alabama,
I’ve been lucky enough to see Henry twice since he left Arsenal. A few minutes for Barcelona which inspired Walcott to hit some previously unseen turbo gear. And then there was the return against Leeds. Wow.
The emotion in tomorrow’s game is going to be special, not forgetting the distances some fans have travelled to be there. If Henry plays for both teams…
I shall just tip my hat to the Arsenal fans who have made it to the NY game
In some instances thousands of miles covered
I hope we might get a PL game on their in the near future
Seems we have signed another RB in Callum Chambers from Southampton. Must be up to our necks in RBs now.
“Well glaze my nipples and call me Rita” !
I have just secured a Community Shield Ticket”
Lucky you! I’m missing that and the first 2 home games of the season thanks to holiday plans. But I’m definitely hoping for better than last season when the only home game I missed was the Villa debacle!
“Seems we have signed another RB in Callum Chambers from Southampton. Must be up to our necks in RBs now.”
Surely there must be plans for at least one of those RB’s to be converted to CB? I really hope there is not a plan to sell Carl Jenkinson as the boy has promise and would run through walls for The Arsenal! As much as he has had the odd mistake, he has also performed well once he has had a run in the team.
Must be awful being a Saints fan at the moment. I wonder how many players they will have left by Sep 1st
CC is able to play RB-CB-LB so will be a good addition
Arsene loves a versatile player Dups!
Everyone knows it’s not Arsene choosing these players. He’s gallivanting around New York having a good time. Just like when we signed Sanchez (he was beach combing in Braaasil). [banned thingy]
You’re right Dups, he must be having palpitations at having these players forced on him, when he would much rather bank the money than spend it on improving the squad!
Anybody who thinks one side of the Gaza conflict is in the right, is wrong.
Morning everyone. New post is up. Be kind in the comments.