English core’s AFC future in the balance?

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If we cast our minds back to 2012, the sight of five Britain’s finest young stars signing a new contract was very exciting for Arsenal fans. A few weeks later we saw Theo Walcott also put pen to paper. At the time many of us thought that this could be our very own class of 92 and become the longterm back bone of the side. So fast forward 4 years, which of these players has actually progressed and which of the players will be shipped out?

 

Carl Jenkinson:

There was a time three seasons ago where many believed he could be the long term Arsenal right back. He even got a cap for England cap, mainly to stop him playing for Finland. The loan move to West Ham initially worked out pretty well for Jenkinson, putting in many good performances under Big Sam’s stewardship. Last season was a right off for Jenkinson, back at loan to West Ham, he’s performances were not to the standard of the previous season and then a long term injury ruling him out of the last 5 months of the season. It seems injuries are a reoccurring theme in this article.

Future: He looks like he is a good premier league player, but not good enough for Arsenal. Bellerin, Debuchy and Chambers are both ahead of him, he will find it hard to get anywhere near the starting line up. Another loan move or a permanent move away seems likely, with Sunderland being mentioned.

 

Aaron Ramsay:

Another player who has not hit the heights of the previous few seasons. His performances have been good but not anywhere near what we know he can do. Again injuries seem to have played a part, with little injuries keeping Ramsay out every now and then. Out of all Arsenal’s British core he probably did the best.

Future: Ramsay will stay at Arsenal and we hope he stays injury free, so he can get back to what he does best and score goals from midfield.

 

Jack Wilshere:

I hate to say it but Jack Wilshere is very close to be labeled the new Abu Diaby. I really hope i’m wrong and he has an injury free Euro 2016 and next season. If fit he is a star for Arsenal and England. Making 6 appearances for club and country so far this season is pretty poor.

Future: The next two season are make or break for Jack Wilshere at Arsenal. If he stays relativly injury free the next two seasons he probably will go on to be an all time great for Arsenal. If he doesn’t stay injury free I fear for his place in the Arsenal squad, what a shame that would be.

 

Kieron Gibbs:

Back in 2012 Gibbs was the most injury prone of the lot, surprisingly he probably has been the fittest of all the British players at Arsenal last season. He has not been bad when called upon but needs to do a lot more to challenge Nacho Monreal who overtook him. Arsenal have been heavily linked with Swiss LB Rodriguiz, which suggests Gibbs days could be numbered.

Future: I would like Gibbs to stay and fight for his place in the side. He clearly is a good left back, but sometimes switches off. I think he may be inline for a loan move away. Liverpool have previously been linked.

 

Alex Oxlaide Chamberlain:

He is one of the most exciting English youngsters in the country, but for some reason seems to not have progressed over the last few seasons. I was one who really thought this would be his year to kick on. He faces a task to get back ahead of Iwobi in the pecking order.

Future: Many top premier league clubs have been linked with The Ox and it seems that if Arsenal get the right price they might consider his sale. I would like to see him given at least one more season and really would be disappointed if we were to sell him to any rival club.

 

Theo Walcott:

Theo started the season on fire, looking sharp. This all went to pot after January. His confidence was shot, not being able to control the ball or run with the ball. Im sure the fan pressure and re-introduction of Danny Welbeck in the side from injury probably didn’t help for game time. His injury in January did seem to take away his form.

Future: It seems that the majority of fans want Walcott out now, i’m not one of them. But I feel that he will be sold for good money. West Ham have been mentioned as well as Leicester which both would be good moves for Theo.

Other British Players In since 2012:

Danny Welbeck – Like many of the other British players at Arsenal injuries played a major part of his season. Back in Dec/Jan of next season.

Callum Chambers – Didn’t feature hardly, had a few good games in centre midfield but is still far away from claiming a regular spot in Arsenal’s starting XI.

Jaime Vardy – Lets not jump the gun yet. He may not sign just yet.

Arsenal’s summer activity

 

With Rosicky, Arteta and Flamini will be leaving this summer and many other linked to moves away the Arsenal squad could look very different next season. There’s doubts of the  future of Per Mertesacker, Debuchy, Ospina, Gibbs, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlen and Carl Jenkinson.

In my opinion all these players will not be allowed to leave and only if we get replacements. Even without the players leaving we need better quality squad players. So what do we need:

Goalkeeper: I do not begrudge Ospina if he wanted to leave the club if he wants to go pursue first team football. I think he is likely to leave this summer, so we would need a new backup keeper.

Suggested payer: Simone Scuffet
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The 19 year old Italian goalkeeper has already had big money moves to Athletico Madrid, Juventus and Roma turned down, as well as there being a slight link to Arsenal.

Definitely a player to watch out for the future, missing out on him now could result in paying over £25 /£30mil in the near future.

Defence: With Mertesacker and Gabriel constantly being found out, and Koscielny having injury problems a top CB could be needed. If Gibbs were to leave in order to get first team action then another LB will be needed to challenge Monreal.

Suggested Players: John Stones, Benedikt Howedes Benjamin Mendy

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I would try to sign all three of these players in the summer. Howdes can cover both CB and LB positions if needed. He would be the perfect foil for Koscielny and at 28 years of age he has bags of experience.

John Stones is a player that we could build our defence around for the future, potentially a great partnership with Callum Chambers.

Mendy if you haven’t heard of him is Bellerin but at Left Back. He has played for France at all levels up until U21 and has been tipped to become something a lot bigger. We have been linked to the player in the past, so it wouldn’t surprise me if we went back in for him.

Midfield: With lots of change here it seems that we probably are going for a few names. Currently it seems likely that we will be going in for Xhaka, which would be a good signing.

Suggested players: James McCarthy, Clement Grenier, N’Golo Kante, Gabriel Jesus

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We all know about Kante and being honest he is pretty much the perfect box to box midfielder. I think it would be highly likely another premier league side can prize him away for less than £30mil. I simply would love him at Arsenal.

James McCarthy is a leader and a pretty good guy to have in the squad. He would be a massive improvement on Flamini and be a good replacement to come into the side when we need to rest others. At 25 years and bundles of energy he is exactly the player we need around a bunch of creative players. Could we raid Everton twice?

Clement Grenier may not have had the best of seasons last year but is still a very good attacking midfielder. Admittedly he is an alternative option to the better players such as Griezman (who we have no chance of signing) but would be the perfect rest player for Ozil and Sanchez if needed.

Brazilian Gabriel Jesus is a wildcard, as with most young players from his country. The ability to play on either wing or up front he has drawn many comparisons to Neymar. If we are to take this gamble we would need to act quickly as it seems Manchester United are very keen on his signature.

Strikers: With Theo looking like he will be leaving, Welbeck out till January and Giroud having an off period it seems there needs to be two or more strikers needed. I would go for a clinical striker to come in with Giroud used more as an impact player. Cuba Akpom should be given a chance to fill Welbeck’s boots and Joel Campball should be used more.

Suggested players: Javier Hernandez, Gonzalo Higuin, Alvaro Moratta, Callum Wilson

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All three players listed are big enough names to appease Arsenal fans who want to see a world class striker to take us to the next level. Higuin will not be purchased as it would represent an embarrassing financial loss for Wenger who could have bought him for £20mil three seasons ago. He would now be worth in the region of £60mil.

My personal choice of striker would be Hernandez as he has premier league experience as is more clinical than Moratta. He would be a player that is attainable for Arsenal.

Moratta is an upgrade on Giroud, but is he really worth the reported £45mil? I personally would get him in as the main choice up front with Giroud pushing him hard.

Callum Wilson should be purchased with one of the above strikers. He would be a replacement for Theo Walcott and Welbeck, competing with Akpom to play.

Let me know your thoughts on Arsenal’s summer plans in the comments section. 

The Chuba Akpom Debate

What must it feel to have come through the Arsenal academy from a young age and actually don the shirt?  At Arsenal we have had plenty of great players through the history of the club, as well as plenty of hyped up players not to make it. Jack Wilshere and Alex Iwobi being the latest to be a success. Another of these young men hoping to make his name in the red and white kit is Chuba Akpom, but does he really have a future at the club?

Some people may think the debate starts and ends with his poor goal scoring record at senior level. This being 7 goals in 66 appearances, meaning he currently is a one goal in 9 goal striker. Break this down further and it shows that all 7 goals have come this season for Hull City on loan. So if you read his stats for this season he is now a 1 goal in 5 games striker. Looking at his game time it seems that he was not starting the majority of games for Hull but coming on quite often, this again should be noted.

Minutes on the pitch is definitely an argument to say that stats do not always reflect the truth. There should be a note next to these stats that shows his actual minutes on the pitch. His game time for Arsenal has been very limited, he was at the club in a period where Yaya Sanogo was constantly playing and constantly failing. It has to be asked why was Akpom not afforded the same opportunity?

Our rivals Manchester City and Man Utd have both been forced put faith in their young strikers this season (Rashford and Inhanacho) with great success, showing that no matter of your age and experience a goal scorer can cope at the top level. Akom’s record through the younger age groups of English football show he is a natural in front of goal. The saying is that a goal scorer knows where the net is at any level.

Wenger forgot that Akpom could have been an option in February when Theo was slowly going off form, Giroud was playing every game, getting battered on his own and Welbeck was still injured. With creative players like Ozil and Sanchez behind him I could have seen Akpom chipping in with a few important moments coming off the bench in games such as Norwich away or West Brom where we had lost.

I am not suggesting for one second that he will be the next superstar in world football but think the talents there from a player who has been at the club since the age of 6 should be given a bit of time. It wasn’t long ago that Wenger called him the next big striker for Arsenal. With Welbeck now injured this is an opportunity that Wenger must give and Akpom must take. We will surely be in for that big name striker in the summer and that should not change irrelevant of Chuba Akpom.

I feel that he could be a good 3rd strike option behind the new striker and Giroud. If he doesn’t cut it by January next season (When Welbeck should be back) then we always have the option then to cut lose. On another note we probably will be getting rid of a few home grown players in the Summer, with Walcott, The Ox, Gibbs and Jenkinson all linked to moves away (So much for that English Core). Having another Englishman who’s Arsenal through and through can only help the cause.

So come on Wenger, GET THAT CHEQUE BOOK OUT, and also show faith in Akpom!!!!!!

First Stan, then Gazidas & then Wenger

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We play Norwich later this afternoon and it seems that all fans have all reached boiling point. This is the culmination of 12 years of promises, lies and on field disappointment. Fingers are being pointed to all parties involved, including Arsene Wenger blaming fans for making the atmosphere for his players.

The fundamental questions need to be asked by those of any power at Arsenal. The key question is in regards to what the fans want? It seems that Silent Stan cares only for the profitability of the club. Ivan Gazidas is his yes man, while Arsene Wenger is blinded by all business targets.

What these three people do not understand is that, by winning more trophies and having better players will in turn increase Arsenal’s profitability. It will also increase the mood of the fans and encourage fans to keep coming and spending money with the club they love.

The reported £8million that Wenger gets a season does matter to us, especially after we have seen managers with a lot less reputation/salaries outperform Mr Wenger. What hurts more is that a side like Leicester or our rivals Tottenham can take advantage of all other teams falling but we can’t. The players we do have are adequate, they are better than most sides in the league (probably only 2nd to Man City), the fault lies with Wenger. Not adding the extra 2 players season in season out to change a top four side into champions is just stupid.

All money talk aside I think we have reached the point where it is evident that Wenger and Kronke will not change, while Gazidas is happy to go along with any decision by his two masters to have any courage to say anything contrary. All three need to go now, we all know nothing will change for next season. At most what will change will be Wenger goes and his replacement is appointed by Kronke and Gazidas (two men who nothing about football). If this does happen we still need to continue the protests until the other two muppets have gone. Stan Kronke should have a conversation with his friend Randy Learner about football. It took Learner a relegation out of the league and a severe loss of money to realise what he has done.

What the club really does need is for Silent Stan to go first, selling to Usmanov, Gazidas goes with him being replaced by David Dein and then Wenger goes. I do live in a dream world sometimes, none of this will happen, but as an Arsenal fan we could only dream about this.

5 Things Arsenal can do to improve

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Defeat today against Man Utd seems to be another bad day at the office for Wenger and his boys. We have seems to have said that far too many times over the last 10 seasons. With teams coming from nowhere to perform better than Arsenal it seems that we finally have hit breaking point with most Arsenal fans.

In my opinion the following 5 things need to change before we will ever by strong enough to compete again at the very top level:

  • Wenger to vacate the managers role and move into the board

Arsene Wenger has been a great servant to Arsenal and has possibly carried us out of crisis point when building the new stadium. We are no longer in financial trouble, but he seems to have forgotten the art of buying the right player at the right time. I still trust Wenger enough to know what makes a good manager to have a say in appointing his replacement. I personally would try and tempt either Frank DeBoer or Joachim Low to the role.

  • Dead wood needs to be cleared from the squad

In the past we have carried many players but I feel its time to get rid of those players who are in our squad but never play due to old age or injury. I really Thomas Rosicky but feel the decision to give him a new contract last summer was wrong. Arteta and Flamini have been a good buy for us, but we should be looking to move these two out or into coaching roles. While I’m on it, Per Mertesacker is not old or injury prone, he’s just not good enough any more. We should cash in while he has any value left.

  • Training pitches and training methods need to be assessed as well as the medical practices

I always wonder why certain managers get more injured players than others. Before LVG came to Man Utd they generally had a good fitness record as soon as he implemented his training they fell like flies. Slavonia Bilic moved West Ham’s training ground early as he felt the pitches were causing injuries. Wenger has changed the medical team but has he ever questioned his own training methods or got an investigation done on the training pitches? A new manager could see players like Jack Wilshere stay fit for longer.

  • Quality signings needs to be made to improve moral

It seems that Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United will all revamp their squads this summer. We also need to invest in a clinical striker and dominant centre back to support Sanchez and Ozil. I would personally love to see us aggressively target Paul Pogba this summer. Id be willing to spend over £70mil on him. More realistic signings would include Hummels, Ibrahimovic and Rues. Leaders need to be brought into the side, which we clearly do not have.

  • Invest in the youth

As a by product of investing all the money in the new stadium we may have missed out in signing those top youth stars. We need to restart paying top dollar for those players with great potential again. In this regards we have to start competing with the top European clubs by spending more on the youth side. We are still an attractive proposition for a player in the mould of a young Fabregas.

Title challenge hanging by a thread!

 

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Todays 3-2 defeat really hurts, almost as badly as the 8-2 scrolling a few years back. If you recall back to that time we had a number of key injuries and an altogether weak side. Today when the tables were turned we still could not take advantage.

The result leaves us a massive 5 points behind the league leaders Leicester and a further 3 points behind the spuds. If today was a massive game, the next two will decide if we are still in with an outside chance of winning the league or if we will have a battle on our hands for fourth place.

Everyone keeps telling us that this was our best chance of winning the league back. This statement is very true, if we are to win the league next season we will have an even bigger battle on our hands. Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd will all improve with their new managers (Including Klopp’s first full season) while Spurs should also improve and who knows what will happen to the Leicester story?

Our next game is midweek against Swansea, a side we have struggled to beat in the past, and then to Tottenham who will be licking their lips about the prospects of us ending their title charge.

2016 The Year Of The Ox?

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The Ox (Alex Oxlade Chamberlain) is now 22 years of age. In my opinion that is no longer an age where we can say he is a kid. Up to now we have seen a few little injuries halt his career just at times when he is kicking on. One such example was when he was set to play a leading part in the 2014 world cup, but had to miss the tournament.

We have played him on the right, left and occasionally through the middle. What is his best position? His pace lends himself to a counter attacking side, which makes him handy in big games. I personally would love to see him given a chance playing behind Theo Walcott in a number 10 role against Bayern Munich. This is game I feel we can experiment as no one expects Arsenal to get anything here.

Technically he is up there with the likes of Sterling and Barkley, but the less he starts for Arsenal will hurt his chances of starting for England. This could be one of his most important seasons, with hard work he could achieve it all this season. Who knows if he can force himself into the Arsenal and England side there is great opportunities out there this season for both to make history.

One of the few times we have played him in that position was against AC Milan a few seasons back were he ran the show. For the time being for The Ox its about being a squad player, but with a few good performances he could be an absolute superstar. I foresee that 2016 will be the year that Alex Oxlade Chamberlain kicks on from being a talented youngster to a world superstar.