The Kids, The Tommy Gunner And A Defence Better Than United’s!

October 25, 2011 by   Filed under: Arsenal FC, Carling Cup

Greetings fellow Gooners!

It seems that the squad picked for the Carling Cup 4th round match against Bolton has even less experience than most assumed it would. After seeing a fairly balanced mix of youth and experience turn out for the 3rd round, I think that this change is indicative of the all round changes taking place at the club. A month ago Wenger may have been considering that winning the Carling Cup may have been fast becoming our best and maybe only chance of silverware whereas today sees us 6 wins out of 7 later in all competitions and a team that appears, finally, to be gelling. Maybe Wenger feels, like so many more of us, that we are yet to see the best of this team and, with Vermaelen finally looking to make a comeback, Sagna and Wilshere set to be ready for the New Year (where our seasons have tended to show that certain “collapse factor”) he may well be right.

Van Persie has, of course, earned himself a rest for this one but the list of players who would be currently considered 1st XI in the squad for tonight’s match is pretty slim indeed. Vermaelen and Arshavin will be the only real first-team players involved at all whilst Fabianksi, Squillaci, Frimpong, Benayoun, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Coquelin can all currently be considered “fringe” at best.

Aside from that there is a good chance we will get a look at Ryo, which I am personally very much looking forward to, Park, who has waited patiently since his last run-out against Shrewsbury in this same competition, Watt, armed with his new long-term contract and Ozyakup who, for my money, looks to be one of the classiest looking young midfielders I have seen since a little Spanish lad turned out alongside Patrick Vieira!

I also think it is telling that Chamakh has been left out altogether for this fixture. If we consider him to be anything like in the manager’s thoughts regarding any first team football this season, one assumes that a match like this would be a perfect chance for him to get another 90 minutes under his belt as well as play against what promises to be a second string Bolton team too. The fact that he is not in the squad lends a lot of weight to the feeling that he is likely to be on his way in January and I for one would not mind that one bit, even if it is to put him out of his misery and give him the chance of a fresh start elsewhere.

In terms of team selection, well, it’s anybody’s guess really! There seems to be a general level of uncertainty as to whether TV5 will actually start the match as well as how many of the midfield kids will be on the pitch from the kick-off. The only real “certainties” appear to be Fabianksi, Squillaci, Benayoun, Ox & Park. So, perm any six from 13 for the jackpot!

Bolton seem to be playing a similar strategy to us with as many as nine changes planned from the team that got a last-minute lesson in playing all of the 90 by Sunderland at the weekend. I have to say, there are a couple of the Bolton kids I am looking forward to seeing, namely Gael Kakuta the 20 year old French winger on loan from Chelsea and tipped for a very bright future and a certain Fabrice Muamba who, in my mind, is one of the few young players to have left Arsenal and actually played some consistently decent football elsewhere. Looking at the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozyakup, Frimpong and Coquelin, it is easy to understand why he and the club felt that his future lay elsewhere, but I am always glad to see him play and play well whenever I get the chance.

Scoreline prediction? Well, not having the faintest idea what the team will be that will start the game, that is difficult at best! If I have to take a flying leap of faith, based on the team I have roughly in the back of my mind, I would guess that a tough, high energy game is on the cards. Lots of attacking play is unlikely with a midfield likely to be very competitive and congested. Counter-attacks and set-pieces may provide the bulk of the goalscoring opportunities and, with the defence that is likely to line up for us, I expect a very close game!

So, 2-1 or even 1-0 get my vote, although if I am pushed hard enough I will go for the former and say 2-1 to the mighty Gunners!

Let’s hope that I am right as we need to keep this run of form going to keep the mood around the club positive and the players in the 1st XI very much on their toes. Incredibly, after losing such quality players in the summer, we appear to actually have some serious competition for places now, and that is no bad thing. For example, if Vermaelen plays from the start tonight, looks fit and hungry and plays anything like as well as we know he can, who does Wenger pick for the Chelsea game? On the evidence of the past couple of games Koscielny is finally finding some real form and has been Man of the Match or very close to it in each of the past three games. Mertesacker may be getting a general vote of no confidence from some sections of the fans, but I cannot help but wonder why that is when he is doing EXACTLY what it said on the tin! A big, quick-thinking , slow-footed Tony Adams type of player is what we cried out for and it is what we got. Why some people are complaining about his lack of pace is totally beyond me! What did we think we would get? We screamed from the rooftops for 3 seasons for a dirty great hulking centre back and now we have one, did we really think he would outpace somebody like Thierry Henry?!

If you want my honest opinion, I think that there is every chance that, fit or not, brilliant tonight or not, Thomas may find that the bench is his starting place this weekend as Wenger has to seriously weigh up the wisdom of changing a back four that, whilst not perfect, is actually showing some real signs of improvement.

Anyway, over the past 7 games our back four has only let in 6 goals. To put that in perspective Citeh have let in 5 in the same period, the same as Chelsea and, I simply can’t help but throw this one in, United a whopping 11!

OK, with United losing 6-1 to the latest “buying all the toys” club, that statistic could be considered a touch misleading, but the reality is that even if they had only conceded 1 goal at the weekend, their tally over the past 7 games would be the same as ours.

And Sir Alex Ferguson said that a United side “would never let that happen”!

I have to tell you, 6-1 at home with your 1st XI on the pitch is certainly a lot worse than 8-2 big man!

And on that simply joyous note, I bid you farewell.

Come on you Soon To Be In The Carling Cup 5th Round Gooooonnnneeerrrrrssss!

Comments

5 Comments on "The Kids, The Tommy Gunner And A Defence Better Than United’s!"

  1. ziggy on Tue, 25th Oct 2011 5:59 pm 

    Sky sports stats yesterday actually confirmed your case for the defence. This is based on the top 7 in all home games this season and its goal scoring chances conceded not actually scored. Man u 5 games played, 76 chances conceded to the opposition; spuds 3,32;Chelski 5,26; Citeh 5,27; Liverpool 5,46; newcastle 5, 45; ARSENAL 5,34. With this evidence its strange we’re considered the weakest defence of the top clubs. Is it just a xenophobic media and pundits who want potential England players in top clubs and since Arsenal is a good breeding ground they just want to go on about it until we sign a Cahill who under scrutiny this season has been worse than what we have?

  2. Shaun O'Flaherty on Tue, 25th Oct 2011 6:13 pm 

    @ziggy:

    I didn’t actually catch that report, but will dig it out after the match to get the full information. Thanks for bringing that up.

    I have to say, it isn’t the greatest surprise. The media wants Arsenal to either fail dismally or win 4 trophies and go unbeaten for the rest oif the season in doing so. Anything in between simply doesn’t sell newspapers/advertising.

    As for the pundits, well, really, Paul Merson was a pundit rabbiting on all the time about how terrible things were at Arsenal. Now where is he?! Hoddle? Biased beyond belief. Hansen? Worse than Hoddle! In truth, the pundits spend a fair bit of time moonlighting for the newspapers too, especially the tabloids, so it makes sense for them to up the volume level regarding Arsenal as they get paid for thier incredibly “insightful” columns! If their columns happen to mirror almost exactly the views held by the permanent staff writers at said publication, by coincidence obviously, it does make it so much easier for the sports editor!

    Cahill? NEVER rated him and cannot say I am disappointed to be proven utterly correct. Better to find out that he was little more than a wave of media hype whilst at Bolton than find out that Wenger had spunked 8 figures on him first! He is not a bad defender by any means, but him succeeding at the highest level? I doubt it somehow. He reminds me a lot of Matthew Upson. Not bad, not brilliant, not quite good enough.

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  5. Wiidoo on Sun, 20th Dec 2015 1:53 am 

    Could not agree more. I think a perfect exmlpae to look at is City. They hadn’t won anything for a long time, won the FA cup and now look how well they are doing this season. Yes, agreed they have spent a lot, but it’s the spirit and moral that is boosted when any sort of silverware comes in.I think that although all the big teams are still in it, we still have a really good chance, as long as we play a mix of youth and experience, like he did in the past season in the Carling Cup, and not just youth like he did for a long time. However, although it’s 11 months gone, we still cannot get over the fact that we should have won that Carling Cup final. It was all in place for us, no big teams in the last 4 and a very very average team in the final.We need to hope that the likes of City and Man U get out early, because I think apart from them 2, we can beat anyone in the league 4/5, including Spurs, LIverpool and Chelsea, although it does not show in the table at the momentWe need a bit of luck, but we can do it!Max

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