Arsenal 1 – 1 Everton Player Ratings by KJ
Looking back over the past two months or so Arsenal endured their tough tests of the season and came away in flying colours despite falling at the hands of our opposition three times. Chelsea, Dortmund and United beat us during a very tough period, however in November something that has been largely overlooked by the media is the fact that Arsenal only conceded one goal.
The one goal conceded came in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, scored by none other than Robin Van Persie. However that aside, Arsenal managed to keep clean sheets throughout the rest of the month and although there was an international break half way through, the run of clean sheets is a highly motivating factor for the Gunners.
With Arsenal operating with a much smaller squad than our main rivals like Chelsea and the Manchester clubs City and United, you would think that there would be little chance of first team players wanting to leave the club because of a lack of playing opportunities.
This should be especially true of top quality players like Thomas Vermaelen and even more so when the club has no other players in reserve for his position. But the Belgian has been forced to twiddle his thumbs on the Arsenal bench for most of the season so far, although he was injured at the start of it with a back problem.
Cardiff City 0 – 3 Arsenal, Player ratings by KJ
Following multiple reports from the English media in regards to Arsenal offering a new deal to the influential centre-half Per Mertesacker, the big German has himself revealed that that contract talks are underway and going well. The 27-year-old has maintained that he is very happy in North London and that an extension is likely to be signed soon.
After having a rather shaky start to his Arsenal career, the German international has since established himself as an integral part of the club’s starting eleven and has become something of a cult hero at the Emirates, and the lanky defender believes a new contract will be a reward for his remarkable progress since joining from Werder Bremen in 2011.
Another clean sheet obtained! by Ash
After last nights win against Marseille, Arsenal could celebrate being that step closer to qualification, with only a drastic loss in Naples being the reason for not being part of another consecutive season in the knockout stage of the Champions League competition.
But that aside and without jinxing anything, I don’t know if I was more impressed with Arsenal’s playing style or the fact that we managed to grab another successive clean sheet, with Wojciech Szczseny between the sticks.
Arsenal vs. Southampton Player Ratings by AT
It is probably not exactly news to the Arsenal captain, but hearing his national manager Marc Wilmots state plainly that not playing regularly for your club will put your place at the World Cup in jeopardy may just have highlighted the problems facing Thomas Vermaelen.
The central defender did play in the last two friendlies for Belgium, but he will know that Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen are likely to be playing week in, week out for Man City and Tottenham respectively. And from the Sky Sports report of what the Belgium manager said, that would mean they are in front of Vermaelen, unless he can force his way into the Gunners first team on a more regular basis.
It was not very long ago at all that Arsenal were regularly being criticised for their defensive frailties, but it seems like ages ago because they have really got it together. Unfortunately for the club captain Thomas Vermaelen, that has meant that he has largely lost his place in the starting XI.
The Belgian has showed a great attitude, though, and has played well when given a chance and with the January transfer window and then the World cup coming up, it might be a good time to start giving the central defender some more regular game time. Obviously we don’t want to weaken the team or take risks, but Vermaelen is a quality player.
There are a number of Arsenal players involved in the current round of international friendlies, although because there is no real pressure on the game and because managers are experimenting, we can be reasonably hopeful that nobody will be overplayed or pick up an injury that will affect the Gunners and their hunt for a trophy.
However, Arsenal have three first team players in the France national set-up, and Les Blues are involved in a hugely important two legged play-off, with the prize on offer a place in the Brazil World Cup next summer. They made a terrible start, going down 2-0 away to Ukraine and this could be bad news for Arsenal.
Arsenal’s international round up by KJ
An international break seems to come up as often as a Champions league game at the moment and there’s been a lot going on where Arsenal are concerned.
England 0 – 2 Chile
Players involved: Jack Wilshere (played 71 minutes)
It was generally a poor game from Jack. He gave away the ball far too often and didn’t really dictate the play. This was mainly because of how well Chile defended but the likes of Lampard and Milner are so void of technical ability and creativity, Wilshere tries to do it all on his own. Did create a lovely chance that allowed Rooney to put Lallana one on one with the keeper essentially and he scuffed it.
It is being reported today that Arsenal have been given the green light to sign long-term transfer target Cheikhou Kouyate by Anderlecht. Despite having the third best defensive record in the Premier League, it seems as though Arsene Wenger has acknowledged the need for a fourth central defender and could make his move in January.
Since moving to Anderlecht in 2008, the Senegalese defender has made quite a name for himself in Belgian football, making a breakthrough in his career during a loan spell at FC Kortrijk and then continuing his impressive form on returning to his parent club. Kouyate has stepped up his game even further this season and according to The Metro, has attracted the attention of the Arsenal boss who is keen to add defensive depth to the squad.