It was a long drive home on Wednesday morning, with plenty of time in the car despite a sore head to think on the debacle of the night before. I did not want to get too involved in the twitter melee, but whilst normally restrained and known for positivity, Tuesday‘s cup exit has driven me to the brink. The gutless, passionless performance by and Arsenal side was up there with the worst I have seen from my team and Wenger’s interview which I had not seen but heard about defies belief.
However as is my want I will leave the post mortems to others, some of whom seem to actually enjoy seeing Wenger on his knees and endeavour to look ahead. Not to the end of the season, not to the transfer window but to next Monday. The Reading fixture thankfully is on the Monday, giving Wenger and Bould time to work with their beleaguered squad. Yes despite the vitriolic envious bile that Steward Robson spouts they do still speak and they will be on the training pitch side by side. The question is have they learned anything from the team’s weak and bewildering display against Bradford? I hope so, I truly do.
So here’s what I have concluded and you will be surprised to hear it is not that tactically we should change to 442 or 441. Although it would not be a blog of mine if I didn’t fit it in somewhere! No my suggestions for Monday are more around passion and who deserves to pull on the shirt against Reading and please let it be Red and White or yellow as I never wish to see the Purple strip again. So it is not a long piece but it is one that will pull no punches. Team selection and formation therefore basically will be decided by who deserves to play and who quite frankly until they prove otherwise should be dropped, rested or sold.
Starting on with Tuesday’s disgraceful team performance there are certain players who should be dropped without any thought at all. These incidentally are all players I have defended and indeed on occasions championed, but now is no time for sentimentality. This is not only based on Tuesday of course but a cold night in Yorkshire froze out the last of my compassion. Podolski, Gervinho, Sagna and Ramsey should be nowhere near the team on Monday. I am sure I don’t need to explain myself but Gervinho and Ramsey are simply not good enough at present, and the position Aaron has been asked to play is nothing to do with this. Podolski was anonymous and I am being kind. He may deserve a run through the middle but he needs to earn that right by coming off the bench and performing as we know he is able to. He is a world class player on his day but so far we have seen on only 2 occasions since August. Bacary Sagna has been the best right back in the EPL on and off but his work rate on Tuesday evening was deplorable. He barely tried to overlap Ramsey when playing against a league 2 left back and his occasional cross hit the first man. Sorry Bac but show you want to play for this team or take a hike. Chamakh I have defended you but no more…..
Enough negativity for a few moments and let’s dwell on the positives from Bradford and astonishingly there were a few. Well 3 to be honest, namely Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the maestro Tomas Rosicky. Most of the media and social media comment has been about Jack and to a degree I would endorse this but Mozart did more in 50 minutes than even Jack. TR7 was a pocket dynamo of action, enthusiasm, energy and enthusiasm and quite simply he MUST start the next game and I would go as far as to say in Cazorla’s position. (One note as @modgooner pointed out Rosicky should have been nailed on for a penalty.) The Ox too showed the passion and drive so obviously lacking in his older colleagues.
What about those on the brink of my wrath? Well with those who were neither very good nor appallingly bad I am looking for the Arsenal DNA factor. There are players who I feel love the club and want to play for the shirt. These guys will be hurting and desperate to get back on the pitch and make amends. In this bracket I place our skipper Vermaelen. He may not be captain material ultimately but he loves our club. He signed a contract willingly and has committed his future long term without excessive fuss or demands. Players like this we need. Per Mertesacker we hear wore and Arsenal shirt as a boy and had always wanted to play for us. More Gooner DNA we need at this difficult time. Szczeney grew up in Poland a Gunner. He may not have top class ability, but his confidence and desire to succeed at Arsenal match Wilshere’s. Lastly Kieran Gibbs, who we inherited when the Don’s shipped out of London 8 years ago. He has been here since he was 15 I belie he will be at the heart of this team for years to come.
By my reckoning with those who played for the badge on Tuesday, combined with those who I believe have and will, we have 7 of my starting eleven for the next match against Reading. My final four are Mikel Arteta, Olivier Giroud, Carl Jenkinson and Santi Cazorla.
I have not mentioned Coquelin who did little wrong but not much too well either on Tuesday but Arteta must come back in. It must have killed our proud Spaniard being sat on the bench watching his team mates flounder against inferior opposition and felt like a knife turning as others missed spot kicks only days after he had confidently converted 2. Arteta has not been at his own highest standards of late but he was back at it versus West Brom and we all know our record without him. Well all of us apart from our manager it would seem.
Our new French musketeer Giroud is a shoe in. Bergkamp or Henry he may not be and of course never will be, but I sense and read quotes that illustrate he has already taken us and the club to his heart. Even when playing below par he chases lost causes and battles for each 50/50 and that is what we need right now
“You have to keep confident. The atmosphere around you and the support of fans, it makes me feel better and better. I feel very emotive and proud to play for Arsenal. When I heard the fans’ song [for me]… when I came here for the first time, I heard this song and it made me want to die on the pitch for the fans.”
You’ll do for me Ollie!
Jenko is a ‘Gooner’ like Jack, pure and simple. He watched his heroes from the stands as did his father before him. For me he is an Essex Gooner born of an Essex Gooner and the last combination like that had the surname Groves. Carl you can be our new Perry Groves. You have the same passion and the same desire to succeed in N5, your spiritual home, and if we are being honest bags more talent than our Perrance. However lest we forget our ‘Tin Tin’ Groves does have 2 league titles to his name. Somehow I feel Carl’s bedroom means more to him that RVP’s…..
Last a by no means least I hope Santi does play but not where he has been starting. The adulation from the fans is admirable but this week was unwarranted. A world class midfielder on form, alongside Jack Wilshere should have had the freedom of Valley Parade. I found myself frustrated at the continual chanting of ‘Santi Cazorla’ when it was Jack and TR7 who deserved the praise. Santi is being found out at present and needs a breather from having to conduct the orchestra. We should leave that honour to the old composer himself ‘Little Mozart.’ I have been waiting ages for Tomas to return and to use this wonderful image courtesy of @tine_rosickyfan:
You’ve probably worked it out but just to illustrate how it will look:
I see the three behind Giroud as very flexible and would like to see Ox and Santi continually switching flanks, and if Mozart moves out either can drop into the CAM role. The beauty of this team, aside from it leave s out all the under performers, is that it had all five of our most effective play makers in the team together. Jack and Mikel can create from deep but have the necessary discipline and steel to play holder and pivot whilst in front of them are 3 players all equally comfortable in any of the three positions. Add to that the fact that the advanced 3 behind the striker can all play CAM or wide so should invite greater movement and fluidity.
That’s enough for today. I have tried to draw something positive from my worst night as a fan at a match in over 20 years and this team just could be it. A team full of youth and experience, grit and flair, discipline and flexibility, and packed full of players who either have Gooner DNA or damn close to it. I commend this starting eleven to the house……. Every one say AYE and I will leave you with the image Wilshere DNA
Until next time thanks for reading.
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