Time To Tame The Shrews

September 20, 2011 by   Filed under: Arsenal FC, Carling Cup

Greetings fellow Gooners!

Yes! Something to get excited about again! One of the few positives about this part of the season is that, given how badly things are going for us recently, the games are coming thick and fast we giving us the chance to turn things around a little. I know, it’s only the Carling Cup 3rd round and we are playing a Shrewsbury Town side that, whilst they will be buoyed by our recent dismal run of results and their own recent run of 6 wins in 7 matches in all competitions, we really, REALLY should be beating.

Another good thing about this period is we get a chance to see some of the next generation playing as well as some of those already staking a claim for a place in the first team and Arsene Wenger has confirmed this will still be the case, despite the quandary we find ourselves in:

“I will be faithful to our policy but I will try to find a good mixture between youth and experience.”

“I had my team in my head before the Blackburn game and it will remain exactly the same.”

“We will have Frimpong, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ryo, and maybe one or two more. There is an also opportunity to see Park for the first time.”

“Chamakh will also feature. You will also see Jenkinson start in his position. We will try to find a mixture between youth and experience.”

“You will see the likes of Ryo and Oxlade-Chamberlain. You should be excited about Oxlade-Chamberlain because he is a great talent. My target is to develop him so he confirms the expectation I have for him.”

I have to say that I AM excited to see the Ox get a run out but equally excited to see Ryo as, from the games I saw him play in Holland last year, he also looks a really special player. Wenger made some interesting remarks regarding the differences between Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott saying:

“Walcott is a bit more a striker and Oxlade-Chamberlain is more a midfielder. I believe that Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a central midfielder one day and Walcott a central striker one day. That shows the difference between the two players.”

Although it does beg the question as to why on earth we are still seeing the generally dismal Chamakh come on from the bench to play centre forward and NOT seeing Theo get a run in that position. Everybody and his mother seem to think that Walcott is wasted on the wing and would be better off getting a run of games up front and, at 22 years old and 5 years at the club, isn’t it about time he got that chance?

In terms of some of the other new signings, Arteta will more than likely be rested although I expect to see Santos get another game in a bid to improve his match fitness and Yossi Benayoun begin the match in a bid to add an old head to the midfield. Whilst Wenger confirmed that Park Ju Young will probably get a debut, I think that Chamakh will start the game with Wenger hoping that a decent game on the back of scoring against Blackburn may be just what he needs to get himself a bit of much needed confidence back.

The other “Pole between the Poles”, Fabianski, will probably also get a game. Let’s hope he plays a blinder, if needed, to keep Szczesny on his toes. A central defensive partnership of Ignasi Miquel and Johan Djourou would give the former some game time and the latter, hopefully, also some desperately needed confidence. Given that the only other choice is Squillaci

Don’t misunderstand me, I simply don’t believe that Djourou is the answer to our defensive problems any more, even coming from the bench and only when absolutely necessary, but it appears that he is the current third choice and, even when TV5 returns, he will still be our fourth choice. With our injury record I believe it is safe to say he will probably get some games this season. Completing the defence we can expect to see the right back slot filled by Carl Jenkinson, yet another player in need of a confidence boost given the game he had against Manchester United.

The midfield will probably include a central partnership of Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin, very much providing a screen for the defence, whilst creativity will probably be left to Benayoun, with Rosicky probably still out.

So, the line up should look something like this:

Predicted Formation For Carling Cup 3rd Round v Shrewsbury

There is the possibility that Gibbs may start in the left-back role depending on how much match fitness Santos is or is not still lacking and, considering that he would be playing alongside two centre backs who we probably won’t spend too much time with this season, the benefits of playing him if he isn’t lacking match fitness are not immediately obvious. Aside from that, I think that Arsene has given us enough information for there to be few surprises.

As for Shrewsbury, we certainly cannot afford to be complacent. Currently on a decent run in League 2, they have 5 wins 2 draws and 2 losses in their 9 games so far. One thing that could go in our favour is that they have only scored 13 goals thus far and so, with a little luck, if the central midfield partnership does its job properly, our defence shouldn’t be over-occupied, something which, on recent form, would be a huge relief to all concerned. The last thing the players or the fans need is another game of cat and mouse such as Saturday with two teams trading scoring blows as, should heads start to drop, the Shrewsbury players may well get the scent of a giant-killing and then anything could happen!

Having already beaten Derby County, currently 4th placed in the Championship, 3-2 away in the first round and Swansea 3-1 at home in the second round. Admittedly they played a Swansea side that only featured 3 of the 11 involved against us in our recent Premier League fixture, I don’t think that will make the slightest difference to the Shrews and we underestimate them and, possibly more importantly, overestimate ourselves at our peril.

In terms of a prediction, well, there are trainee minesweepers with safer tasks right now, but I am going to go all out and look forward to a slightly nervy to begin but turning out fine in the end 3-0.

Giving Them The Treatment

There may be a little light appearing at the end of the tunnel regarding the current injury list. Whilst Jack still has 4 weeks left before the protective boot can be removed and a proper test of that ankle can give us some real idea of how he is progressing, it seems that Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby should be fit to return after the international break, putting them in line for selection for the home game against Sunderland on the 16th October. It is a shame that TV5 will probably miss the away game against the Spuds, but I quite like the idea of him being fresh for the return of Bendtner! Tomas Rosicky will face a late fitness test on his knee and I couldn’t care less whether Squillaci never plays for us again so I won’t even bother discussing his “return”!

On The Defensive

Wenger also called for a little more patience regarding the new look defence saying:

“I believe there is a little question of time and timing.”

“Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker are new, but they were not especially guilty on the goals. But maybe as a unit we need more time to work.”

“A lack of concentration, a lack of communication, a lack of coordination and individual urgency [is behind the goals we have conceded]”

“I believe as well when you score an own goal, you have to look at yourself. It’s never, never, never, never, never completely out of reach, or very rarely. Out of 100 own goals there are maybe 5 or 6 where you have no chance at all, all the rest you have to look at yourself.”

Whilst I can only agree wholeheartedly with all of that, there are still questions surrounding the decision to leave the new signings until the last minute thus leaving us in the bind of bedding players in during the season and not beforehand. I understand that the guarantee of Champions League football had to have helped with the Santos signing, the fact that neither Mertesacker nor Arteta were playing for clubs in the Champions League anyway and Benayoun did not look like playing at all at Chelsea, it cannot be used as a be all and end all excuse for the obvious failings in our summer transfer dealings.

All Over The Park

Arsene had some interesting words regarding Park Ju Young’s role for the team:

“Park is good in every area. He is good in the air, good technically, he is mobile and that’s why he is an adaptable striker who can play up front behind the striker. That’s why we went for him. What I like with him is that he is very mobile and that’s the basis of our game.”

This may well confirm my theory that he was signed for a floating role in the style of God. This of course would lead to a reversion to the 4-4-2 which I, along with many others, am desperate to see.

That’s The Spirit

Arsene also commented on the travelling support although I cannot help but suspect that there is also “hint of hinting” in the direction of the boo-boys at The Grove:

“Again on Saturday in Blackburn there were thousands of Arsenal fans and they were fantastic.”

“We need to be united and I am very grateful for their attitude on Saturday. They were absolutely fantastic.”

“The team has a good spirit, a good mentality, a good attitude and that will come out longer term. We have had a bad start but I believe we can bounce back and be very strong this season.”

Whilst I agree with the sentiment and further agree that they are the current benchmark to try and emulate, I am not totally sure that we should actually be United!

And on that far too silly note, I bid you farewell my suffering friends!

Until after the game…

Come on you Shrew-Taming Goooonnnneeerrrrssss!

Comments

One Comment on "Time To Tame The Shrews"

  1. ArthurTheGooner on Tue, 20th Sep 2011 2:47 pm 

    Good down to earth article Shaun, no room for complacency any more. Fact is this is yet another trophy we could have grabbed last season. Shrews will give a good go and they will try and upset us whatever way they possibly can, they know we are hurting in the league and I hope we will step up to the task.

    Looks like Santos will not feature in this one full squad from pravda.com:

    Arsenal squad (in alphabetical order):
    Chuks Aneke
    Yossi Benayoun
    Daniel Boateng
    Marouane Chamakh
    Francis Coquelin
    Johan Djourou
    Lukasz Fabianski
    Emmanuel Frimpong
    Kieran Gibbs
    Carl Jenkinson
    Damian Martinez
    Ignasi Miquel
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
    Oguzhan Ozyakup
    Ju Young Park
    Ryo
    Sanchez Watt
    Nico Yennaris

    Enough experience in this squad I believe on top of some young fresh blood, I’m really eager to see Park and Ryo!

    Up the Arse!

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