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.

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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!!!!!!

A New Formation For Arsenal?

Currently most Premier League Clubs find it fashionable to play a 4-3-2-1 otherwise known as the old 4-3-3 formation. Arsenal were one of the last clubs to leave the traditional 4-4-2 formation after the retirement of Dennis Bergkamp.

It can be argued that we need to have three players in central midfield to counter other teams who have three in central midfield. This is a theory that the team needs a Guttuso as the out and out defensive midfielder, a Pirlo to link the defence and attack and an attack minded midfielder like Kaka. The variation on this is to play two strong defensive midfielders like Matic and Obi Mikel as that boring team often does.

The downside to this formation is that the team needs non traditional wingers who can score, assist and also track back from high up the pitch from attacking positions, as well as a more complete lone striker.

We have pacy wingers who all do to their credit create a lot of assists and do track back. Arsenal do lack goals from the wingers and often a lot of this burden is put onto Sanchez. Upfront we have two strikers who are both very good but both lack a clear attribute to be great as a lone striker.

Giroud has the hold up play, strength and a decent knack of scoring goals. He however lacks true pace to be a great lone striker. Walcott is the opposite, he lacks the hold up play and the killer eye for a goal when he is not on high confidence.

There are plenty of opportunities where Arsenal could take the game to opponents, possibly not in the big games but against sides like Newcastle, Aston Villa and West Brom we should be looking to attack.

I personally would try out the 4-4-2 formation that got Wenger so much success in his early days. This would be a midfield of Coquelen and Ramsay or Wilshere. Ozil and Sanchez on the wings with Theo and Giroud up front. Theo and Sanchez would be swapping positions.

Why is Wenger so rigid to his formations? It surely should be horses for courses? Let me know any of you agree that we should experiment a bit more with two up front.

Sterling or Walcott: Both Please

There is lots of talk at the moment of unrest with both Theo Walcott and Rahim Sterling at club level. So naturally many have put two and two together and come up with a swap deal. This could be a good deal for all but I personally would not like it.

I would love to see Sterling at Arsenal but not at the cost of losing Theo. In my eyes we need to see the real recovery period out with Walcott and then judge him. We owe him that much at least. He was very very influential prior to his injury. If you actually look at his goals/assists to games played he was up there with the best.

So the question is then, is there room foe Sterling, Walcott, Oxlade Chamberlen, Welbeck and Sachez? Well it is always good to have options on the bench and wingers need to be rotated. Alexis currently plays every game while, Welbeck, Walcott and The Ox all pick up lots of knocks.

The answer to get rid of Podolski. He unfortunately was not in favour with Wenger. I hope he finds a good club to move to, somewhere that he can play every game. A side like Valencia could do with his services.

The short answer is that there is room to get in Sterling and keep Theo. Do you agree? Let me know.

Five reasons for Arsenal to be positive

Its seems just a few weeks back that it seemed like doom and gloom for Arsenal this season. How quickly things can change. I still think there is a lot more to see from Wenger and the squad but overall its more positive than it was. Here are five reasons why every Arsenal fan should be positive at the moment:

1. Positive injury news + New Squad Players = Strong Squad

With Ozil, Koscielny, Giroud, Theo and Ramsay all back in recent weeks, our squad looks strong again. Now all we are missing is Wilshere, Arteta, Debuchy, Welbeck as well as the always injured Diaby. Add our two new defensive signings Bielik and Paulista to this and we are starting look at a balanced side. Lets not forget the recall of Coqulen who has been fantastic since his return.

2. We have our pace back

With Walcott back in the side we are getting ever so close to seeing the fastest attacking line in the history of football. Welbeck, Sanchez and Walcott. Supplemented by The Ox, Bellerin and Ozil all of whom are not slow. Counter attacks are back!

3. FA Cup could be on again

With Chelsea, Man City, Spurs and Southampton all going out in a crazy Saturday afternoon the path for FA Cup glory has opened up slightly. Man Utd, Liverpool, West Ham and the rugby team who call themselves Stoke are still left in. All good sides but none of them are in the Champions League like us. So in my eyes we should be favourites, but it all depends on the draw.

4. Players are stepping up now

We have seen different players stepping up. Be it Santi Cazorla and Coqulen vs Man City or Rosicky against Brighton, it is not all down to Alexis Sanchez every game. With Ozil, Walcott back now squad rotation should see all our attackers rested.

5. Champions League is back next month

Champions League knockout games are what club football is all about for me. I have grown up not knowing what it would be like to support a side that play in the Uefa Cup (Europa League now). Well all apart from that one blip seasons where we didn’t make it out the second group stage of the Champions League. Yeah you may recall we lost in the final of the Uefa Cup that season.

Night like these are what separates us from the likes of Tottenham or Liverpool. I look forward to the double header against Monaco. Be warned they have seen a marked improvement in form since the draw. We should be wary of them. I fell we still can win though.

Another striker out the door? Why?

It seems that in strengthening our defence we have decided to leave our selves short again up front. Podolski jetted out to Inter, Sanogo to Palace and now it seems that we are letting Campball go to Villarreal.

Campball and Sanogo were not my favourite strikers but atleast they provided competition to the likes of Giroud and Welbeck. I can understand the decision in the club letting all three of these strikers go but will we be left short again?

So now we have Giroud and Welbeck as our two out and out strikers. The former who has already suffered a long injury this season and the later who is currently injured. Welbeck had a fair few injuries in his time at Manchester United also. We then have Sanchez and Walcott who can play up front. I personally think both are more effective from a wider position.

I like Akpom a lot, but there was also talk of a potential loan move to MK Dons. Him being the replacement for the former Arsenal striker Afobe. He needs game time but we also need bench strength.

God forbid we have another injury crisis, this time up front we will be left wondering again why Podolski was frozen out. On a positive note it looks like we have spent good money on a decent centre back.