Arsenal’s selection headaches for the West Brom game

Selection headaches for Le Prof! by Jules

Finally, after a turbulent season in which Arsenal have oscillated between extreme highs – such as the victory in Munich and the double digit goal thrillers against Reading and Newcastle – to the dire displays against the minnows at the Lane, the no show at Old Trafford and the indefensible defeats to Blackburn and Bradford, albeit the former being on penalty kicks – it is fair to say Arsenal at present are in rich vein of form (touch wood). Thus, it is with open arms all those associated with The Arsenal will welcome the latest selection headaches in a variety of positions on the field, most notably in attack.

Firstly however, I shall start from the back with the tug of war between Jenkinson and Sagna for the right back spot. I shall admit at my own accord I am Bakary Sagna’s biggest fan, however I will also concede that the Frenchman’s performances have been indifferent for the majority of the season and so Jenkinson has earned the right to start at right back at the Hawthornes. However, with that said it was very astute of Wenger to give him the full game against a urine poor Reading side, whose only hope was Akpan as Sagna had been out for a considerable amount of time and the Royals were unlikely to to trouble him too much on his return. The end result was that Sagna acquired some valuable match time which could prove immensely important should Jenkinson get an injury and we must call upon the service of our dread-locked warrior with short notice.

With the right back debate now out of the way we can now swiftly move on to the dilemma at left back. In my unbiased opinion, I judge Keiran Gibbs to be one of the best left backs in the premier league, comfortable in defence and always improving in attack, his masterful volley at the Liberty Stadium springs to mind. However, Wenger seems to have struck gold in signing Nacho Monreal as competition for the twenty-three year-old Gibbs. Not only is Monreal a steady defender who has adapted to the English game with consummate ease, he also alleviates some of the worries that were present in regards to who should cover Keiran Gibbs should he get injured, as he unfortunately does. Bearing in mind Nacho took a knock in the build up to Reading’s goal, for which he was partly culpable, though Wenger said it would keep him out for about two to three days I would still give him a break on our trip to West Brom’. Gibbs came on on Saturday and finished the game unscathed and he should be more than capable this coming weekend, after all he was terrific there in the last game of the season.

Apparently there is some perplexity over who should start at centre back. Notice, I use the term “apparently” as there is absolutely no reason why if both fit Mertesacker and Koscielny should not pair up on Saturday afternoon. Vermaelen’s only claim for a start, considering his abysmal form for the Gunners is that he is club captain, but Arteta has been far more proficient in that duty. Ceteris Paribus Koscielny and Mertesacker should continue their flourishing double act. The same logic should apply to the goalkeeping situation, at times Szczesny has been absolutely awful and Fabianski deserves his moment in the sun after such a long wait with injuries and other impediments. Be under no misapprehension, I am still of the opinion that Szczesny will be one of if not the best keeper in the world in years to come, his performances over the last two years provide testament to that notion and if not Wilshere it is most likely he whom will skipper Arsenal for the years to come but for now Fabianski should retain his place.

Two positions not up for any form of discussion are the two central midfield slots currently occupied the criminally uncapped Mikel Arteta and the former Welsh captain Aaron Ramsey, the irony renders me speechless. Arteta is the closest thing the Premier League has to Xavi and I would love to see what the deep-lying play-maker could accomplish next to a robust and tenacious defensive ball retriever that could emancipate him from defensive exposure, someone in the same class as Wanyama or Capoue (at least one of which we should try and purchase this summer) and perhaps maybe even Coquelin. Not to say Ramsey is not doing his part for Arsenal’s cause, as I have suggested his recent form warrants a start against West Bromwich Albion however there are many alternatives in the market and in an ideal world he would be a squad player at best but for now we can only work with what we have. The Welshman’s form has been improving with every game since that backs against the wall performance v Sunderland, one of the few games where all of the men in our beloved red and white earned their wages.

One of the most contentious decisions regarding selection must be made as to who plays in front of Ramsey and Arteta. Most Arsenal fans have been demanding that the man we affectionately refer to as ‘Mozart’ gets some starts under his belt. Le Prof answered his and the general fan base’s prayers in giving Rosicky his second league start of the season and for the most part Mozart did not let us down. However, as with every decision the opportunity cost must be assessed; is it worth ushering our best player Cazorla for the luxury of the skillful Czech captain? I for one would prefer to see Santi Cazorla orchestrate the game for the middle with the liberty to pop up any and everywhere he sees fit, Saturday was not the first time we have seen Cazorla put out wide but it was one of the few times it has paid dividends. One cannot neglect the fact that we were playing against the worst team in the Premier League and whilst it is undeniable that Cazorla is definitely stronger on the left than on the right, I for one would rather see him return to a more central role similar to the beginning of the season.

Part of the reason why I want Cazorla off the left is so that Podolski can return to the left hand side of our offense. On his day he can compete with the very best wingers in European club football, his reputation speaks for itself amassing over a century of caps before turning twenty-eight for what is one of the elite teams of international football. I simply cannot fathom how we can afford not to have a player of such a high calibre on the pitch and talk of him leaving us makes me very uneasy. Throughout the duration of the season there has been talk of him playing down the middle in place of Giroud, but rest assured ‘Poldi’ is not Van Persie: left footed, yes, a clinical finisher, yes but an out and out centre fotward, no. Even when playing for Germany he is most dangerous when playing on the left, his delivery is precise and he contributes on the scoreboard too and that is what we need.

With the the left hand side of the attack addressed and unless Giroud somehow get injured in training or by the many Arsenal fans who simply do not see what he brings to the team (I’m not saying he is world class or anything of the sort) that only leaves only the right hand side of Arsenal’s attack in the ever present four-three-three formation. This position in the team is in many ways, due to many factors the most competitive with Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho all pressing for a start. To start with Walcott, back from injury according to the Arsene Wenger in time to face Baggies, is probably the worst option, believe it or not below Gervinho. If as some people have suggested Gervinho’s goal and brace of assists are a flattering representation of his ability then I would love to hear their thoughts on the man who has scored eighteen goals and has another fifteen assists on top of that. In recent appearances Theo Walcott has been nothing short of useless, in all honestly conning The Club into raising his wages and then repaying us with a goal drought. If Gervinho is frustrating then what about Walcott, a player still young with evident potential who appears to have just stopped trying. Furthermore, his selfish play since crowning himself a striker, a crown which he unceremoniously abdicated in the first leg against Bayern in which he couldn’t hold up a candle let alone the ball, seems to have hindered all the other forward play and also played a part in Giroud’s dip in form.

Of the remaining to candidates, ‘Ox’ and ‘Fourhead’, either one is a viable option. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, though having some dire displays this season is still one of the brightest talents in the Premier League with unlimited potential. Able to play a variety of positions, favouring the second striker role but ending up on the wings for the sake of the team, there are few players as direct as he is. His cameo against Reading proved fruitful with a late penalty assassinating any attempts of a Reading comeback along with his appearance against Swansea in which he was unlucky not to add to his surprisingly low goal tally. Another aspect of ‘The Ox’s’ game that is missing for the Arsenal team’s repertoire particularly when he is not included and Cazorla is out wide is striking at goal from distance. Chamberlain worried Vorm in the game against Swansea with his long distance shots and his strike against Newcastle in the seven-five roller coaster victory is evidence of this capability. For a team with players that possess such a great long range shot (the likes of Arteta, Podolski, Wilshere crop up alongside Cazorla and AOC while Giroud and Ramsey seem to over do it on occasion) we really shoud test keepers from range more, the likes of Walcott, Gervinho, Giroud and Podolski are sure to benefit from the rebound opportunities every once in a while.

And last but not least, Gervinho. What better way to round up an article than to discuss the most enigmatic ‘talent’ to ever sport our colours, a man whose ability to turn nothing into something is exceeded only by his capability to turn something into absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, for all my condescending jibes the man is delivering at present, coming on against Bayern and almost keeping us in the Champions League, a goal against Swansea and a sterling show against Reading, if it weren’t for his last touch he would be in the running for the Ballon D’or. In all seriousness though, his form tends to come in little bursts and the confidence of a run of games can do him no harm and thus he would probably get my vote to start ahead of Chamberlain.

Though I am a frequenct user of the adage ‘In Arsene We Trust’, I would offer a word of advice to the great man – learn to take key players off when we are cruising, especially Cazorla. I would like to see possibly Arshavin or Gnabry get a game at this stage of the season after following Arsenal’s NextGen campaign and seeing him feature for the senior team previously. Other members of the U19 cohort will be ready for their introduction next season, make sure to keep an eye out for Bellerin, Jenkinson’s long term competition and may surpass him outright, Hayden, Akpom and Olsson.

Jules

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24 thoughts on “Arsenal’s selection headaches for the West Brom game

  1. LP

    The best article I have seen on this site……your views completely mirror mine!Especially about walcott…..he to me is not trying at all and a good long spell on the bench will do him good and then if he shows his usual attitude dump him in the summer and promote gnabry,someone who actually cares for the team.

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  2. Shah95

    I’d rather have a selection headache than a shortage of players

    Top Gooner!. Agree or not?: Thumb up 59 Thumb down 0

  3. AFCEdwards

    Almost entirely correct in my view. The one issue is you suggest Wanyama or Capoue, Wanyama is being judged on a couple of games against Barca where the whole team played well spherical could be good but is nowhere near proven. From watching Capoue, however, I can say that he’s proven to be absolutely awful. He would be a terrible acquisition and I really hope we don’t get him (provided we get someone else)

    Opinions divided. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  4. green gunner

    Good article. It’s all about form for these last few games. Players pick themselves.

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  5. SD

    Mostly good article. Calling Gibbs the best LB in the league is way off in my opinion though. He has the talent, but he’s got a loooong way to go to be in that conversation, especially defensively.

    Also I prefer Ox over Gervinho. The team needs more pace on the field, and Ox needs experience. In the form he is in now, I would try to get him as many minutes as possible.

    I would also start Rosicky over Ramsey as I think Rosicky is just as good on defense and a huge upgrade going forward. He also reads the game much better than Ramsey and probably anyone else in the midfield other than Arteta. They are very different players though, and Ramsey has been at least acceptable lately, so I wont complain too much either way (but obviously it’s Arsene’s decision, so Ramsey will get the nod).

    Opinions divided. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 8

  6. Galen

    Wenger is very right when he says we have a good squad. Our problem has been more about tactics and poor switch off in defence by individual players. We don’t need to spend 200 million as some idiots are saying. some people in the media just enjoy bashing arsenal. We don’t need to bye about 7 players too. What we need is absolute top quality of about 3 to 4 players. We have many good players in the squad but we need the world class player that gives u and edge in big games.If we get a good DM to replace song and Diaby, A world class striker and a goal keeper am happy with that. people want isco and mario Goatze??? really, we have Wilshire Carzola and Rosisky at first team we have Esfield, Conor Henderson and Jon toral at the academy, the last position we need is an attcking midfielder. JOvetic or david villa for strikers , Julio cesar for keeper and Joel Matip or Wanyama for dm’s who can cover CB will be great additions. vaminator scesney and sagna should not be sold. All players must fight for a place. we see cesc and song on the bench for barca, rooney , nani and chicarito for United, Terry, marin ramirez at chelsea, Uncountable at man city all on the bench. Top competition among the squad is what we need. This is just my humble opinion , that said all the best to our beloved team. Special mention to Rafa for bringing the Chavs down .

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  7. PAN

    I totally agree with every thing you have said in this article 3 more top players in the team will keep every player on their toes the more competition the better they will play i have always said walcott is just a speed merchant we are more balanced with out him in the team

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. Sam c

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Out of tune?. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 19

  9. Zanix

    We have all seen that the french league is not the prmier league. the premier league has imroved alot from the henry and Anelka days. Those calling Capoue to come have u watch him play?? Matudi, cabaye, Diaby and Pogba are all ahead of him in france pecking order. If your yann villa was that good why did he end up In Russia. Wanyama is good and wont mind if we buy him but playing in scotland which is thesame as the championship or league 1 may it a big Risk.

    Joel Matip of Schakle is benching Alex song and Mbia in the cameroon team becuase he is very decipline and technical. he covers both DM and CB. He was very good when we played them. OR we gould get Lars bender for DM he is prove at top level. If we get Jovetic or david Villa that will be great too.As we need a Striker who can take things in his hand in a big game and no disrespect to Giroud and theo but they are not that striker for us.They are good angainst small teams but not the big teams. We all saw theo vs bayern as our striker. Theo, at best he is a right winger and if he doesn’t wanna play there bench him. A world class goal keeper who can teach sceney a thing or two will be great. if QPR get relagated julio cesar will be good for us as we can use him for 2 years while scesney developes. Cesar will also want to be on form for Brasil. Jovetic or Villa, Joel matip or Bender and Julio cesar will be three fantastic signings. then lets not sell any star players. let go of all the players we dont need, Denilson arshavin squilachi chamark,bentner, Park, Santos and manone.The wage bill will reduce masively and we could even decide to increase the wages of carzola and wilshire for example.

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  10. Abmalcom

    I would have said “spot on” but for your inclusion of Podolski. I would start Gervinho on the left to accomodate AOC on the right while Podolski could come on at the latter stage of the game

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  11. ROB

    when you write an article you are supposed to speak to your audience in their own language…the above is tring too hard imo…

    my team vs reading
    FLAPPY HANDSKI
    JENKO MERT KOS GIBBS
    ARTETA RAMSEY
    OXLAIDE CAZORLA PODOLSKI
    GIROUD

    I really like rosicky just think the above gives us better balance for this away game. If theo is fit i would play him too

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  12. akie

    we need a midfielder that can dictate a game because WBA have one in yacob hes a quality player, also lukaku is on form this season, which is a bit worrying for ba and torres. so keeping tabs on him during the game is also a must. starting oxlade would be a good thing to do against WBA.

    fabianski
    jenk mert kos monreal
    arteta ramsey
    oxlade cazorla podolski
    giroud

    bench:
    szcznsey
    sagna
    verm
    coqulain
    rosicky
    walcott
    gervinho

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  13. Matty

    Walcott has the ability, he could be great but it seems he only tried for a salary of 100k a week, he’s got bags of pace but I rarely see him use it since he signed his contract. Chamberlain runs at them, uses flair and skill whereas I haven’t seen that From Theo lately.

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  14. mystic

    I was dismayed by your consideration of including Gervihno, but for that to have spread to some comments here suggests either there are quite a few people abiding April Fools Day, or there have been some serious drinking sessions going on and the indulgent s have not yet sobered up.

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  15. Uche Edochie

    I dont understand this article. If it aint broke, dont fix it. Have you ever heard that saying before? We played our best game of the season against reading and createa a million chances. Why would you want to change that at this crucial part of the season? I love podolski but we need rosicky more than we need podolski. Rosicky is the last of the true attacking gunners left of the old crew now that fabregas, van persie and song are gone. Rosicky is the reason we attacked as well as we did this weekend. Having him and carzola on the same pitch is the closest thing to xavi and iniesta. This brings me to the carzola issue. Carzola on the left is far more mobile and influential than podolski. Podolski is slow and fades in games. If anything, we should be switching between giroud and podolski in the forward position, seeing that giroud has been just okay but not spectacular.

    Secondly, people seem to judge sagna harshly because he had two or three poor performances and he has refused the terms offered in his new conteact but over the years, he has been our most consistent player, back when we had nasri, van persie and fabregas. Ever heard of the term gratitude? Sagna did not put a wrong foot in that reading game. Thanks to him, we saw a lot of attacking play and crosses from the right wing. When sagna plays, we attack more and we are less nervous because he is solid. Jenkinson is okay and will become an arsenal legend someday. But he is young and has time on his side. There is absolutely no reason for jenkinson to bench sagna. We need the experienced and calm heads of of our older players now more than ever beore. That is why older players like arteta, sagna, carzola, metsesecker, rosikcy and koscielny are so crucial for our champions league qualification.

    Finally, there is gervinho. Gervinho is a very very good player. He played with hazard at lille and hazard will tell you that he rates gerv very highly. His problem has been confidence. In his first league game in the premier league, he got sent off and joey the thug barton was the engineer of that debacle. This affected gervinho a lot. Remember that he is an african man in a ew country where he knows no one. He does not speak english and is still tryng to setttle. Podolski had mets to enable him settle down. Carzola had arteta and nachio had carzola. Giroud had koscielny. Gervinho has nobody. Eboue is ivorian but he is gone now.

    So cut gervinho some slack. His confidence and form is just picking and he linked up so well with everybody in the last game. Gervinho popped up everywhere, scored a goal and created two more. If wenger could stand by ramsey for long periods when he was absolute rubbish, gervinho deserves his chance and no he should not be sold.

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  16. Jase

    Brilliant! This may actually be the best article I’ve seen on this website. You’ve presented a rather impartial judgement of our players which I am sad to say does not often happen with Arsenal fans nowadays. Well done

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  17. Vlad

    I had a bit of a laugh about Gibbs being the best LB in the league (I take it it’s April’s 1st joke), but mostly good and well thought article. Personally, I’d take Ox over Gervinho any day. As well as Rosicky over Ramsey. I agree with you about Poldi though – as much as I wanted at times see him play as a center forward, he was pretty much non-existent when he replaced Giroud in the game against Reading. His pace, and his crosses make him one of the best wingers in the world, and the ability to score goals, provide assists, and defend well are just an added bonus. I hope his lack of playing time is just a precaution, and he stays healthy and plays for us for many years to come.

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  18. shahtsuki

    __________________Fabiaski_________________
    Sagna______Hummel_____Koscielny_______Gibbs
    ___________Capoue________Strootman_________
    Reus_____S.Cazorla____Wilshere_____Gervinho
    _________________Jovetic________________

    or

    ________________Begovic________________
    Jenkinson____Hummel___Vermaelen___Gibbs
    _______________Capoue__________________
    Reus_______S.Cazorla______Isco_______Ox
    ___________Jovetic___Podolski__________

    Subs: Cezsny, Coquelin, Walcot, Giroud, Gotze,
    Rosicky, Diaby, Mertesacker, Monreal

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  19. allwel

    Nice comments come to town today. stand by our team in the days of trouble.gunners for live

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  20. Henry

    szczesny
    sagna – merte – verm – monreal

    arteta – wilshere

    theo – santi – podolski

    jovetic

    subs:
    gibbs, giroud, ox, gerv, capoue, kos, isco

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  21. David

    Fabianski

    Jenko. Mertsker. Koclny. Gibbs

    Arteta

    Rambo. Cazorla.

    OxChambo. Poldi
    Girou12

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

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