Mesut Ozil should learn from Dennis Bergkamp!


The same folk who advocate a large squad and squad rotation are telling me that certain players cannot be dropped. Well guys it is one or the other and you cannot have it both ways. If the large squad of top class players is what is needed to win honours then so be it and if a leading player is jaded or off form he can be taken out of the firing line.

Why is it that just because of his price tag so many fans seem set against the ideas of Ozil being left out for a few games? Why is it okay to leave Santi on the bench who despite not hitting the heights of his first campaign, has contributed so much more than the German to our cause?

It should not be about the price tag, it should not be about reputation and it should not be about a players sensibilities or otherwise.

It's not about the pricetag!
It’s not about the price tag!

It should be about attitude in training, a player’s form, the team chemistry and the team balance. Continue reading

We can and should play Wilshere, Ramsey and Ozil centrally and here’s how.

It is possible
It is possible

Barring the usual negativity about Wenger’s failings in the transfer market and the thinness of our squad at the back there is one major talking point among the Arsenal fan base at present.

Any of these comments would be common place:-

  • Ozil is wasted out wide and looks disinterested.
  • Why but the ‘World’s best No.10 and play him out wide?
  • There is no place for Ozil in Wenger’s new 4141!
  • You cannot play Ramsey and Wilshere together in central midfield as neither is a DM.
  • As soon as Arteta is fit one of Ozil or Wilshere must miss out.
  • If we play Ramsey and Wilshere our centre backs will be exposed horribly!
  • Wenger is messing with a tried and tested formation just to accommodate Jack.

I could go on but you will all be familiar with the above and most of you will agree with or have made similar statements.

On the face of it and looking at it based on the way Wenger has Arsenal playing in recent seasons I can agree with and understand all of the statements. Equally however and more and more find myself fundamentally disagreeing and looking at the dilemma, if it is one, from another angle. Continue reading

Chambers to target 32 games in 2014/15 – CC the new GG!


There has been much debate among Arsenal supporters about Calum Chambers since his arrival in July. It surprised many, so shortly after the signing of an experienced International right back. Living in Southampton, having spent a lot of time around the youth football scene in Hampshire, including the academies and knowing so many regular at St Mary’s I probably had more knowledge than some. For me and for many of the Southampton fans I know Chambers was always going to be a centre back and many around here though he should have got more game time there for Saints, particular has Clyne is such a proficient right back and Yoshida and accident waiting to happen. I would go as far as to stick my neck out and say he will play centrally for England regularly within 2 to 3 years. Interestingly though Wenger has also hinted that he sees him getting game time at the base of our midfield and with his pace and evident game reading this is an exciting prospect to me rather than a scary one. If the strong transfer rumours linking us with Greek International defender Manolas prove genuine that possibility is even more likely. Continue reading

“Arsene Wenger: 50 Defining Fixtures” – Advanced taster

My good friend Layth Yousif gave up the day job to chase his dream and become a full-time writer. He now regularly features in the Islington Gazette, the Standard. the Huffington Post and the Gooner  Fanzine, amongst others. Before the month is out however he will be a publishing his second book “Arsene Wenger: 50 Defining Fixtures” is out on the 28th of August and is available to pre-order here

Layth is having a book launch at Piebury Corner Saturday August 16 from midday. Follow him on twitter @laythy29

Arsenal v Aston Villa (H) 19th August 2006

A new dawn
A new dawn

The opening game of any season is significant but this match against Aston Villa whilst being important was also a hugely symbolic moment in the history of Arsene Wenger’s tenure – not to mention the annals of the long and illustrious history of the Arsenal Football Club. For the game marked the first competitive match at the newly built Emirates Stadium and the commencement of The Emirates era.

The club had decided at the end of the previous decade that evocative, atmospheric, homely Highbury with a capacity of 38,000 was too small to match the boards and Wenger’s ambitions to make Arsenal into a domestic, European and global powerhouse.  Arsenal and Wenger had to learn to balance budgets more than ever as funds were diverted to building the £390million project which took 123 weeks to build and finished on time and within budget. It was an incredibly bold step to take and one the visionaries within the club and Wenger himself should be lauded for.

On scedule and on budget
On scedule and on budget

As Wenger proudly said on the eve of this game: “The new stadium project provoked a lot of discussions and debate at board level. We spoke about how far we could go, how unpredictable it would be, how risky it was for the club. Can we put the club in danger for this? So when it finally happened, it was a bit of a dream turning into a reality. You couldn’t really believe it.”

“”I’m not a guy who looks back too much. You have to survive and deal with the challenge you have taken. You know that in the history of the club, that will be an important moment where the club moves forward. Some clubs that still have to do it will suffer later. For us it was vital. The landscape of English football has changed in the last 10 years. Today, we could not survive being at Highbury anymore.”

The stadium was to be initially labelled ‘Ashburton Grove’ before Emirates airline bought the naming rights for 15 years in a sponsorship deal which included an eight year shirt deal that was to be worth £100 million in total. The money was a godsend to the cash strapped Gunners at the time even if many hardcore fans still refuse to call the new ground anything other than ‘Ashburton Grove’, or more simply ‘The Grove’.

The stadium’s first game was actually on July 22nd 2006 when it played host to Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial match between Arsenal and Ajax Amsterdam. The match would see Arsenal triumph 2-1 with Ajax’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar credited with scoring the first ever goal in the Emirates Stadium. The first Arsenal goal netted at the Emirates was scored predictably enough by Thierry Henry. (Gunners fans still hold Giles Grimandi in eternal esteem for chopping down Edgar Davids as he shaped to score – thus forever denying an ex-Spurs man the chance of striking the first goal in the new ground.)

Nice one Gilles
Nice one Gilles

At a capacity of 60.355, the Emirates stands as the third biggest stadium in England, after Wembley and Old Trafford.

And every one of the crowd assembled on the day of the Villa game sang Arsene Wenger’s name in praise of the miracles he had worked for their beloved club – on and off the pitch.

Layth’s book “Arsene Wenger: 50 Defining Fixtures” will be published on August 28 and is available to pre-order here

Layth is having a book launch at Piebury Corner Saturday August 16 from midday. Follow him on twitter @laythy29

Congratulations Layth it promises to be a superb read! Dave.


Wenger settles on perfect system to play Ramsey and Wilshere

I'm with you skip!
I’m with you skip!

There are many questions being asked by Arsenal fans at present with two of the common themes surrounding the arrival or otherwise of a new DM and how that impacts our new captain and also Jack Wilshere. Now I cannot pretend that I did not want a new deep lying midfielder and regular readers will know that I have wanted Schneiderlin to be that addition for about 18 months but my guess is that addition may not now arrive.

My thinking on this is only guided by Wenger’s own comments and not by any particular knowledge other than a hunch. The hunch however has been steered by a few actual statements, recent events and decisions and of course by the naming of Mikel Arteta as the new Club Captain.

So let me list the factors and observations first and then I will explain a possible conclusion we night draw:

1)      The Community Shield selection and player positions, notably around Ramsey, Cazorla and Wilshere.

2)      The selection of Mikel Arteta as skipper.

3)      The initial position on the right of Alexis Sanchez.

4)      The position Ozil in the latter stages of the victorious World Cup campaign.

5)      Wenger’s statement on Jack – At the top-level you need to be consistent with your presence. You can play six, seven, eight games and rest one or two but you have to play six, seven on the trot. I think he will be capable of doing it. He prepares well. He has no ankle problem anymore. It could be his year.” Continue reading