There is quite a bit in the newspapers this morning.
The Daily Express report that per Mertesacker is set to be offered a new four year deal. Good if it’s true, good! Now what we need is a similar deal to be offered to Bacary Sagna.
The Daily Mirror suggest that Arsenal are stepping up the chase for Karim Benzema. The players valuation is suggested to be £27 million! The same paper suggests we are keeping a close eye on Marco Reus situation at Dortmund as it’s now been confirmed that he has a ‘get out clause’ in his contract. £30 million is that clause according to reports.
One thing for sure is that we need to strengthen up front as Giroud is tiring, even Laurent Koscielny worries about his fellow Frenchman:
It’s true that he’s not scoring but he is setting them up, like he did against Dortmund.
But he’s also playing game after game and hasn’t had a rest, so maybe he’s feeling a bit of fatigue.
He can’t go it alone, that’s clear, no player could and bringing in Yaya Sanogo has backfired for this season as he on the injured list, just like he so often was before we signed him. Hopefully the situation will change in January but as much as Karim Benzema’s name is printed in the newspapers, I really can’t see Arsene Wenger signing him.
Onto the main post:
As a ‘stats’ man I would have taken a point away at United even with our form going into Sunday’s game against our old ‘adversaries’ with or without Old ‘Fergie’. This is because under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal do not often score more than one goal away at Old Trafford. One of the few times was on 28th August 2011 and we all know what happened then.
With van Persie and Rooney both fit to start there was no way we were going to keep both players quite even if we had managed to keep the likes of Suarez, Sturridge, Lewandowski, Reus, and Blaszczykowski quiet in the last 7 days prior to this match.
This frightening dose of history or ‘stats’ however we are comfortable calling it, is worrying to say the least considering Arsene has had some superb goal poachers under his tutelage. This clearly shows that Arsene is the common denominator when it comes to our performances and gaining results at Old Trafford.
Does Arsene suffer from stage fright when he walks into the so called ‘Theatre of Dreams’?
Fans and pundits may argue that the team Arsene inherited or had during the invinsible years, would not have capitulated in such a fashion. Even if we were to assume the hypothesis that this Arsenal team has declined in quality over the last 8 or 9 years, results such as mentioned below are a serious concern in my opinion.
1997/98:Overmars 1-0 Win
1998/99: Anelka 1-1 Draw
1999/00: Ljungberg 1-1 Draw
2000/01: Henry 6-1 Loss
2001/02: Wiltord 1-0 Win
2006/07: Adebayor 1-0 Win
2007/08: Adebayor 2-1 Loss
2009/10: Arshavin 2-1 Loss
Most fans thought before the game that our team would have no better opportunity to beat the Mancs now that Moyes is in charge but as it has been over the last few years, there have always been injuries or suspensions to key players leading up to facing United which has left us coming away from Old Trafford saying to ourselves ‘if only’.
This weekend it was a mysterious ‘bug’ that deprived us from the services of two of our prominent and senior players in the squad in the form of Mertesacker and Rosicky who I strongly believe would have made a huge difference to our all round performance(s).
This comment is taking nothing away from Vermaelen’s performance at all. In fact I thought for his first start since April in the EPL he truly showed he had it in him to be a starter (if needed) as I believe like most fans and pundits, Mertesacker and Koscielny remain the best pairing we have at the club.
When it comes to the Thomas and Laurent partnership, on paper it should be as effective as Baresi and Costacurta partnership of the great Milan team of the early 1990’s in my view but for a strange reason it has not worked out. It is no wonder that pairing have not kept a clean sheet in 10 outings but is it all down to Thomas lack of defensive nous?
My own view is that even for a right footed centre back such as Koscielny, he is not as effective when he plays next to Sagna as compared to his performances when he starts on the left hand side of central defence.
I would say that just maybe leading up to the goal, the corner we conceded may not have happened, had we had Per playing on the right hand side of the Central-Defensive pairing instead of Laurent Koscielny.
When it comes to the attacking side of our game the team set-up makes me wonder if Arsene experiences a mental block when he faces United away from home. The team was set-up the way it should have been set-up 3 or 4 years ago when United had Scholes and a younger Giggs instead of a midfield deprived of any form of creativity. Arsene being a ‘stats’ man did not help the cause by playing Ramsey on the inside right role trying to keep Kagawa quiet.
The last time Arsenal only had 2 shots on target during a game was possibly Norwich last season when we lost 1-0…..
In my view, the biggest worry Arsene Wenger will have is that Ramsey has carried this team too many times when it required scoring the crucial goals this season.
So is it as simple as Giroud not having enough quality?
I don’t think that is the case, especially when you consider the set up of Mourinhos’s team in 2004 and the success they had. That year Drogba scored only 12 goals in the league with 2 of his other goals coming in the FA cup and Champions league.
The difference in that season to me was that the likes of Joe Cole, Kezman, Lampard and Robben chipped in with crucial goals when it was needed. The same can be said of Reyes, Pires, Ljunberg and Wiltord chipping in with their share of goals when needed during the good old days under wenger.
So maybe it is about time our other midfielders started to contribute when needed in the big games as the midfielders in the top teams have done all across Europe.
All is not lost by the way as this two weeks break will allow the likes of Theo and Poldolski to be nursed back to fitness in time to take us into the dark and business part of the season.
It is crucial that players such as Ramsey and Mertersacker come back from the international break injury free as we face a very competent and tactically astute team in Southampton at home immediately after the break. Then we face Marseille in the Champions league a few days later.
Written by TSGH
P.s – If anyone is interested in writing a post for HH, please email me.. International breaks are so so boring!