ARSENAL ROUND TABLE: WHERE ARSENAL COULD FINISH THIS SEASON?

For the first time in many seasons, there is real expectation that Arsenal could really challenge for the title and possibly win it. The enthusiasm is very high especially after back to back FA Cups and Community shields. We have also had a wonderful preseason, winning a rather infamous preseason treble.

However, realistically, do we stand a chance of actually winning the trophy. Chelsea and Manchester City have not really added to their squads and still have strong teams. Liverpool have started another transfer jamboree and Tottenham have decided to buy young players, maybe thinking this is the reserve league.

The big question is : realistically, can we expect to see Mertesacker and Arteta lifting the Premier League trophy come May 2016?

Toni Okike, writer of popular blog: goonerdaily.com

To be brutally honest with myself, I’d say second place.
The squad has shown some improvement since the season began but I feel that we may fall short if we don’t sign a very good center forward this summer.

JEORGE BIRD, writer for Arsenal youth blog

Hi, I would say 3rd at the moment but if we brought in a striker such as Benzema then we could seriously challenge for the title. 

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MY VIEW
Wenger has been dodging all bullets that are coming to him about the centre forward position. In his prematch press conference, he stated that he expected all players to share in the goals. Even giving Ozil and The OX personal goal targets of 10 goals or more, Giroud and Walcott, 20 goals or more. While this is realistic and would really push us up for the title, but a centre forward would still come handy. Benzema seems to be the person talked about but would Wenger go for him because everyone loves him?

I really don’t think so, Wenger has enough faith in Giroud, Welbeck and Walcott and I am sure that he would want to bring in a player that would start the process of integration into the team and learn the way of the club disrupting the cohesion of the team.

In my opinion, I think we can challenge for  the title with this squad and possibly even more. My only reservation is the lack of a credible deputy to Coquelin, Arteta is certainly not it, Wilshere could play there but he is injured, Isaac Hayden was used there during the Emirates Cup but he is has been sent on loan. That leaves just Krystain Beliek. I see us taking SECOND IN THE LEAGUE

MY THREE WISHES TO THE ARSENAL GENIE FOR THE SEASON

A very good morning to all my readers, the wait is almost over; months have turned to weeks, weeks to days and now days to hours. The English Premier League that we love so much is about to start.

While all journalist and pundits are drawing their list of how the table look like at the end of the season ( like they have ever been correct), I decided to do it my own way. I decided to compile my three wishes for the season and submit it to a Genie.

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It was kind of hard, streaming my wishes to just three but I was able to get them.

ST TOTTERINGHAM’S DAY WOULD COME BY DECEMBER

Of course, this has to be number one. ST Totteringham’ s day is a day when Arsenal  fans celebrate to mark the occasion when bitter rivals, Tottenham can no longer mathematically catch Arsenal. Last year, the day was on May 4, 2015 when Arsenal beat Hull City, 3-1.

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This season, I want to earlier, preferably before the Christmas celebrations. That would mean them losing over a dozen games, but hey, the Genie can grant any wish!

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The last time that Tottenham finished above Arsenal was in the 1994/1995 season when Arsenal finished 12th and they finished 7th. In the Wenger Era, they have never finished above Arsenal and Henry was said to have never lost to them.

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Since that time, their obsession with finishing above Arsenal is just insane. They need to be put in their place.

CHELSEA GETS RELEGATED!!!!
If you grant me this wish, it would be the greatest act you have ever done. The league would be more peaceful without the West Londoners in it.

No Mourinho, No Terry and less Chelsea fans on twitter would just be the new definition of football orgasm.

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But it might not be possible, realistically. However, a place outside the top 4 would do, so that he can taste the Europa League that he slammed Benitez for winning!

CECH GETS 33 CLEAN SHEETS!

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This wish would make a whole lot of sense. A 33 year old man, after 333 premier league games for his old club got the number 33 in his new club and kept 33 clean sheets in his debut season! That would make up for pleasant reading.
The record for clean sheets in heard by Edwin Van Der Sar  and Petr Cech himself with 25 clean sheets. So adding just 8 to that number would be nice.

No matter how Funny this wish might sound, a number of clean sheets in double figures, maybe close to 20, would win us the title.

Well, I have made my three wishes, but I had to drop some, like Rodgers and Van Gaal get sacked the same day, Walcott scores 24 goals this season, so as to get to the 100 goals mark for the club, lesser injuries, we make it a hattrick of FA Cups and that we win the league after more than  a decade wait.

Hey, just excited to finally get to watch some live league games and see how the intrigue and controversy unfolds. If my wishes were not yours, please drop your PERSONAL THREE WISHES IN THE COMMENT SECTION.

HAVE A GOONERIFIC MATCHDAY!!

WHY WENGER SHOULD TRY THE DIAMOND

When I was younger, I never really understand the principle of formations. In my view, I just thought that when it’s time for the game, just send the players out and everything would sort themselves out. I have known better!

Over the last few years, a lot of formations have come out from the box. The conventional 4-4-2 has been dumped with various coaches bringing their innovation. Pep Guordiola came up with the 4-3-3 with three forwards. Then later, brought a false nine formation that brought out the best Lionel Messi.

The Italians popularised the 3-5-2 formation and Antonio Conte used it to good effect with the Juventus side to win the Serie A for three consecutive seasons. Allegri came and changed it to a 4-3-1-2.

Last season, Rodgers brought the 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1, the formation became successful and even Nigel Pearson used it to escape relegation.

Ancelloti popularised the 4-4-2 diamond in the turn of the millennium and used it to great effect with that great AC Milan team. Rodgers again used it i the 2013-2014 season with Liverpool. Suarez and Sturridge were the two strikers with Sterling in the hole behind them. They were ruthless and blew teams away even before the 20th minute.

From the analysis of the team, it is clear that this Arsenal team would benefit from the switch to the diamond.

In our team, we have predominantly midfielders and even the wing players we use are actually midfielders. Oxlade-Chamberlain that seems to be the best winger we have is seen as a midfielder. Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott are actually strikers. Additionally, with Carzola, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky and co fighting for a place in the midfield and some of them shipped to the wings, the diamond would fully utilize everybody.

The diamond would look like this.

With  the defence looking settled, it is the midfield that would be interesting. Coquelin would be the holding midfielder while Ramsey and Carzola would flank him on the right and the left. While Carzola might be that mobile, Ramsey would be able to cover lots of ground. The three of them can be so fluid that Carzola can assume a Pirlo role while the hard working pair of Coquelin and Ramsey flank him on both sides.

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In attack, Ozil would of course the number 10 while Sanchez and Walcott/ Giroud would pair each other. Ozil can now assume creator-in-chief and would have two strikers ahead of him .

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Sanchez himself would be free to roam between flanks and not limited to the left, a role similar to that he plays for the Chilean Team.

Reasons to support the diamond
1. More opportunity for our fullbacks to Storm forward as there would always be an extra midfielder to protect them.

2. With more space for midfielders, the players that feel better suited for a central role would be appeased. Ramsey, Wilshere and The OX have said numerous that they are feel more comfortable playing centrally, with the 4-2-3-1, it would not be possible, but with the diamond, their dreams can come true.

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3. Ozil would remain in his preferred no 10 position. There would be no unnecessary shipping of the German to the wings. Instead, he would the main playmaker of the team.

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4. Getting the best from Sanchez . The enthusiastic Chilean is capable of so much more than he is playing now and the Diamond would fully bring out the beast in him.

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5. Satisfy Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck. With two strikers, the diamond would be good news for both of them as they have a more realistic chance of getting their striker role.

6. The diamond can also be changed to a chameleon formation. With the kind of players we have, we can easily change the formation with the wave of Wenger’s hand. Depending on the opposition, it can be changed to  a 4-3-3, a 4-4-2 wing formation, a 4-3-2-1 or a 4-2-3-1.

If you were not convinced before, I am sure they are now. It is a possibility and one that would help the whole team.

6 TRUTHS FROM THE COMMUNITY SHIELD

Arsenal started the season with a hard fought and morale boosting victory over Chelsea thanks to a brilliant goal from Oxlade Chamberlain. Gooner of Steel brings you 6 truths that emanated from the game.

TACTICAL MANOEUVRE
Most gooners predicted rightly the line up for the team. The eleven players were correctly guessed, but what we failed to do was to guess what role they would play.

While many of us assumed that Carzola and Coquelin would be in the centre and Ramsey on the right, it was the latter that occupied the centre with Carzola occupying the left while the OX stayed on the right.

Carzola did not maraud forward like Alexis Sanchez but was like a playmaker, finding the run of Ozil, Walcott and Ramsey on that flank. It was one of such combos with Ozil that made the goal of the game. He was also involved with a lot of defensive duties especially curbing the runs of Ivanovic.

The Boss surely got many of us unaware with his tactics…expect more surprises from him during the season. Thumbs up boss!!!

MENTALLY STRONG GOONERS
Gone are the days when Arsene Wenger’s team had the labels of being mentally weak and not been able to hold unto a lead. Yesterday showed the direction that Wenger is going, a a system that combines flair with strong defensive approach.

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Everybody was ready to defend for one another and make tackles where necessary. The solidarity within the group is very strong and after a similar performance away at Manchester City, the confidence in facing big teams is surely there.

WALCOTT HAS A LOT TO LEARN
Walcott has just signed a new contract and while he is happy that he has an improved wage to come along, he must realise that he is far from the finished article.

After Wenger gave him the starting striker role against Chelsea. He was non existent apart from a few touches. In fact he made just 10 touches in the first half. John Terry and Cahill easily dealt with all balls coming to him as he won just one aerial battle.

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If he is to be a great centre forward, he must improve aerially and not bullied by rugby- looking defenders. Against teams like Chelsea that have big strong defenders that don’t keep a  high line, I suggest playing Giroud while Walcott can come on against teams with high defensive line that he can exploit; because Walcott is not all that bad, the way he dropped back to collect the ball and give it to the Ox for the goal was impressive.

DEFENSIVE STRENGTHS
Yesterday was one of the most well worked defensive displays that I have seen. Koscielny was awesome, making a 21 clearances, 2 tackles, 1 interception and won 4 aerial battles. While Mertesacker was the calming influence in the game and his ability to read the game made up for any deficiency he has with his pace.

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One area that really made me surprised ws the high line in defence that we kept especially in the first half. Loic Remy was offside thrice alone in the first half and Chelsea had a total of 6 overall.  Always had the fear that either if Falcao or Remy might take advantage at one time or the other. Happy I was proved wrong. Could this be the way Wenger wants his defence to line up or has Mertesacker discovered some miraculous recovery pace?

WENGER AND MOURINHO FEUD IS NOT ENDING SOON.
After the Community Shield victory, we have come to the conclusion that Wenger and Mourinho are not going to be friends anytime soon. Their refusal to shake their hands shows that Wenger especially is still upset for all the rubbish that has been said and who wouldn’t be?
Well as far as the excitement keeps on increasing, I have no qualms with some sense of Rivalry.

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WE ARE ARSENAL, WE LOVE SELFIES.
Sometimes, some players feel so bored that they get a microphone and start saying rubbish so as not to  lose relevance within the football world. Roy Keane might have opened his mouth to say nonsense, we have one answer for him:

WE ARE ARSENAL, WE LOVE TROPHIES, WE LOVE SELFIES AND WE LOVE SIX PACKS.

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ARSENAL WINS COMMUNITY SHIELD…..

Arsene broke one of football’s longest voodoo records when for the 14th time of asking, he finally defeated Mourinho. However, it was the performance if grit and commitment from Arsenal.

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The game started with high intensity from Arsenal but it was not until the 23rd minute that Walcott’s header went straight to Courtois. That was a sign of things to come as a minute later, a well worked ball from the left found Ox-lade Chamberlain on the right, who made sure of the goal with a nice cut in and a nice shot. 1-0.

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Chelsea responded with Ramires coming close on two occasion. Ramsey went close on 42 mins but the first half was all about the great Chamberlain goal.

The second half was basically all Chelsea but a great defensive display by Arsenal made sure that the Shield stayed  at North London.

Carzola and Gibbs went close towards the end but Chelsea despite all their puff and puff only had an Oscar’s free kick comfortably saved by Cech to show for.

TALKING POINT: a great preseason, capped of with a win at Wembly has all the indicators pointing to a successful season. Can Arsenal finally win the league after 12 years?

MAN OF THE MATCH: the OX scored a great goal, Coquelin was awesome, but it was the performance of Koscielny that was eye catching. He marshalled the defence comfortably.

WALCOTT AND CARZOLA SIGN NEW DEALS

Theo Walcott and Santi Carzola have both signed new deals ahead of the new season.

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Santi Carzola had a year on his contract remaining and was rumoured to be attracting interest from Athletico Madrid. The little Spanaird has been  a great player for Arsenal and won the player of the season in his first season. This season however, he would take up a deep-lying playmaker role alongside Coquelin. While details of his deal have not been made public, it is said to be a 3 year deal. The deal makes sense and keeps a player that still has a lot to offer.

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Theo’s contract however seems to have divided the Arsenal faithful. It is said this new 4 year deal also comes with an increase from £100,000 per week to £140,000 per week. For a player that is not sure of a staring 11, that seems high. However, as Arsene pointed out a while ago, Walcott is entering into the period in his career where he is at his peak and the club have decided to give him this bumper deal to that effect.

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Walcott has come out on Twitter to thank the club and his management team: Key Sports Management and sure seems happy to remain at the club hr has made over 300 appearances for.

Wenger has also come out to express his joy about both deals:

” we are delighted to have extended the contracts of Santi and Theo. They are highly important and influential to our squad”.

Criticize it or love it, both deals are just awesome. It is important that we enter into the season with a happy squad and with good news around the club. With deals for Bellerin, Coquelin and Jenkinson; the fact that Diaby has found a club and now these, the atmosphere around the club is just sweet unlike some red dressed clubs in Manchester that have become springboards for players to get better deals in their clubs.

Have a great weekend gooners!!!

4 BIG TACTICAL QUESTIONS WENGER MUST ANSWER

The season is at hand. The very interesting jingles on TV have started again. Those jingles that send shivers down your spine. I just love them. It is at the point of the season that the new kit of various clubs become more cherished fashion items than the works of renowned designers. It’s the frenzy created for the beginning of the football season after the long and boring break.

As Arsene fine tuned  his squad for the new season, he would have some big questions to answer. Here are the big four puzzles that he would have to solve ahead of the new season.

BATTLE OF THE FULL-BACK
Many of us have thought in our hearts that Monreal and Bellerin are sure bets to start as first choice fullbacks for the upcoming season. There is every probability that would be the case.

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However, with the showing of the contenders in the Emirates Cup, don’t be shocked if Wenger changes his mind.
Debuchy had a very decent game against Lyon and matched Lacazette and N’jie stride for stride. Gibbs was also very impressive against Lyon too while Bellerin struggled against Kevin De Bruyne.

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It is just preseason, but the French and English fullbacks have surely given Wenger something to think about and the two Spanish fullbacks wont have a stroll in the park…

THE MIDFIELD DILEMMA
When you get 44 points from 54 in the second half of the season with a midfield of Coquelin- Carzola -Ozil; there is no way you would change it. That would be the big problem. Where does Ramsey fit in, or Wilshere or Rosicky or Arteta.

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Particularly Ramsey, playing him out on the wings is like playing Ljunberg as a fullback. He would do his best but he would be underutilized.
Ramsey had his best season for the gooners  when he played central midfield and his box to box role key to the number of goals he scored. Playing him on the wings would deny him of that box to box trait. The Welshman has stated that he wants to play centrally; but how would Wenger do it. Would he distrupt Carzola-Coquelin partnership or move Ozil to the wings to accomodate Ramsey bearing in mind that Ozil on the Wings is style that has never worked. Or does he leave Ramsey on the flanks and deny the resurgent Oxlade-Chamberlain a place in the team. What of Wilshere, should he cave to Pressure and play Wilshere as a holding midfielder? So many questions, few answers. At the point, I dont envy Wenger, I think I prefer solving these problems with my Football Manager Computer game  ..

WHO TO LEAD THE ATTACK
Some weeks back, the Arsenal Roundtable debated who would lead the attack. It was a straight fight between Walcott and Giroud ( check out the debate here). Towards the end of last season, Giroud should win the battle easily, but Walcott came back with a super West Brom Hatrick and a wonderful goal in the Cup final. That has thrown the battle wide open. Both strikers add something different  While Giroud is a typical targetman, Walcott is more of a Sturridge kind of striker that works between the lines. Wenger might most likely use them depending on the opposition. Then there is Danny Welbeck that is more loved not for his goals but for his workrate, strange complement for a striker. We are clamouring for a new striker, but then what would happen to the ones we have? Giroud just signed a nee deal, Welbeck came in last season and Walcott is about to get his new deal too. The maze seems not to have any way out in sight. GOODLUCK WENGER WITH THESE DECISIONS!

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KEEPING THE BENCH HAPPY
Last season, Wenger showed us that if a particular lineup is working well, why change it? Why rotate? The boss used thr same lineup for five straight games . So take for example that the lineup of Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Carzola, Ozil; Sanchez, Ramsey and Giroud is used repeatedly, we would have players like Ospina, Gibbs, Debuchy, Arteta, Flamini, Rosicky, Oxlade Chamberlain, Welbeck, Walcott, Chambers and Gabriel always on the bench. In a season where there is the European Championship, players would not want to sit on the bench and miss out on the trip to France 2016.
Take for example, Gibbs, who has to fight with Baines, Shaw, Betrand and Rose for just two Left Back spots for the Euros. He would be very unhappy if he cant break into the Arsenal team and get more game time and that could destroy chances .

Thank you for reading, please share and comment. Thank you.