Arsenal’s second string would qualify for Europe!

 Yes that is how strong this squad is shaping up to be. The strength in depth of both talent and experience truly is different this season. The coaching staff know it, the players sense it and the fans are staring to believe it.

Ultimate Wembley disappointment in 2011 was down to a thin squad

For many years Arsenal’s detractors and indeed our own fans have bemoaned the fact that Wenger won’t spend the money available to him. Another common gripe has been that our squad lacks depth in quality when compared to the other top clubs with whom we are competing. I have been known to moan myself, although not often. There is little doubt that our ill-luck with injuries in recent seasons has exposed the lack of strength in depth in the first team squad, but it seems, to this observer at least that the Arsenal of 2012/13 might be a different beast.

I have a question for you: What has 796 Premier league games, 85 Premier League goals, 348 full international caps and 59 international goals?

Answer – Arsenal’s 2nd team

Arsenal 2nd String EPL Appearances EPL Goals International Caps International goals
Mannone 11      
Sagna 153 3 32  
Santos 17 2 22  
Djourou 86 1 33 1
Koscielny 67 5 4  
Coquelin 12      
Wilshere 37 1 5  
Rosicky 118 13 87 20
Arshavin 100 24 75 17
Walcott 155 28 29 4
Chamakh 40 8 61 17


Now you could argue on a few of these. Certainly a fully fit Wilshere may well displace Diaby. Theo if he signs a contract might get the nod over Gervinho.  In a few weeks a fit again Bacary Sagna might slot in at right back but Jenkinson has been a revelation and Sagna’s outburst in the French media will not have been forgotten.  However what is abundantly clear is that is that these 11 and you could add Ramsey or Oxlade-Chamberlain for Arshavin and Rosicky, could easily be an Arsenal first team.

In fact I would argue that this 11 would be a match for virtually any team in the top division on their day. In fact 7 of them (highlighted) were in the team at the start of the 2010/11 season. A season let us not forgot which saw us still in all 4 competitions in February only to fail in all 4.  Ultimately it was the injuries to key players at crucial times, such as Fabregas and Walcott and Vermaelen all season which saw our multi-competition challenge falter. Why? Because at that time we did not have the squad depth that we have for 2012/13.

Last season a resurgent Rosicky lead by example, using all his experience and talent to drag us into 3rd place. We voted him our third best player. Not a bad stand in should Cazorla need a breather of heaven forbid get an injury. The ‘Little Mozart’ can cover all 5 midfield/wide berths. I would include the deep lying new Arteta role as there is liitle doubt that like Mikel, Tomas could easily sit deep and read the game. I think it was either Dortmund or Udinese away where he did so early last season.

Little Mozart can cover so many positions

The form of Per Mertesacker and the captaincy being given to Vermaelen leaves Koscielny as first change! Who would have envisaged that last season when he was easily our most consistent defensive performer? Not I, but a fabulous first change or to rotate with Per for matches against certain opposition.

Not first choice? – Unthinkable last season

Bacary Sagna has been voted the best right back in the EPL on 2 occasions by his fellow professionals and until his injury woes was, I imagine, the first name on the Arsenal and France team sheet. He will be fit and raring to go in a matter of weeks but will Wenger drop Carl Jenkinson? Cannot believe he has converted me so swiftly but this lad could be our right back for years and Sagna will be 30 in February.

The header v Spurs but will Bacary head straight into team?

Theo Walcott has been a fixture in our strongest 11 for years now and whilst he can frustrate it has been hard to argue with his regular inclusion. However his contract stalling and the form of Gervinho and arrival of Podolski have threatened his comfortable position, Indeed Oxlade-Chamberlain has been given the nod over Walcott not just by club but by country also.

Theo, Jack and Alex – Are any now starters? Some bench!!

Then of course we have Jack Wilshere fit, well and close to fitness. All last season we counted the days to each new return target date set, only to be disappointed. Last year we were crying out for his special blend of combativeness and vision. But last year many had written off Abou Diaby who has returned first. Ironic that Jack was thrown in at the start of 2010/11 only because the tall enigmatic Frenchman was again injured. Now it is Jack who will have to dislodge Diaby if he is to return to the midfield berth he filled with such distinction, alongside Song and behind Cesc 2 seasons back.

I could go on but I think the point is well made. Arsenal in 2012/13 is a very different to the wounded animal that threatened so much, but ultimately limped into only Champions League qualification With the exception of Mannone and Coquelin all the other stand ins are full internationals. There is sufficient experience now in the current first choices and on the bench week in week out for us to mount a serious challenge on all four fronts again. I am extremely hopeful that the depth and talent of this squad Wenger has quietly built combined with its abundant and obvious togetherness and spirit will deliver. Is is noticeable that all 3 of our new signings have comented on the camaraderie in the camp. This is what Lukas in partcular needs to excel and it was why he failed to deliver to his potential at Bayern. If Poldolski feels loved by team mates and fans he will deliver on a consistent basis and the sky is the limit. The only arguable weakness is Chamakh as a direct understudy for Giroud. However Wenger has played Lukas and Gervinho there and has this week hinted he will finally give Theo a go through the centre.

Enough ramblings for today.

2012/13 – It smells like Team Spirit!


Until next time thanks for reading.

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  1. I tweeted this premise two weeks ago.
    Its a fantastic squad the see AOC ,and England starter ,not in the second team.

    1. Thanks George. I did not name the 1st 11 but at present the feel the front 3 is OG, LP and Gerv. I only left Ox out of 2nd 11 as I wanted to show how experiened the 2nd string was.You well know from my blogs my love of Alex.

  2. Good article. It’s amazing how we’ve become a club that has quality in depth. It is so thanks to the ‘other’ players that are now coming of age (from being youngsters).

    Too bad most of us were too focused on a big name leaving us each summer and the trophy drought to see it coming.

    That said, can’t wait for such players as Gnabry (haven’t seen him play but he’s highly rated), Afobe and Eisfeld make the step up.


  3. good stuff and i completely agree…everyone says we’re lacking in depth, when in fact, we have probably our deepest team in years…with oodles of quality everywhere except maybe at backup goalkeeper

    1. Dont agree ,I think we have 3 very good keepers ,one of whom it exceptional.

  4. See personally i dont see how fabianski squillaci frimpong arshqvin or chamakh make the first 2 teams. nothing against them but the other 22 members of the first team squad are currently ahead of them. they obviously though do all make our third team which in itself is quite good.

    yennaris squillaci miquel henderson
    frimpong denilson
    gnabry arshavin ryo

    1. Atid no idea where you are coming from. I have only included Chammy and AA23 in our second string. Arshavin is currently on the bench and Chamakh is our closet replacement for Giroud. Seems you are missing the point of superb strength in depth

  5. We certainly do have much better strength in depth now. Our squad is stronger than it has been for years. We used to look at it & think who can we bring in. Now we can smile & say yessss. Thanks, Dave another great blog.

  6. We certainly do have much better strength in depth now. Our squad is stronger than it has been for years. We used to look at it & think who can we bring in. Now we can smile & say yessss. Thanks, Dave another great blog.

  7. Good one Dave and no doubt Jack, Sagna, Theo and TR7 will fight to be reckon with. Good for the team

  8. “Load up on guns, bring your friends ….. Hello Hello” – Smells like teen spirit indeed.
    I am cynical when ppl big up our youngsters, but this time I’m quietly confident that this bunch has got the stomach for the fight & all have something to prove and fight for. No more of the pampered dolls nonsense from AW and I love it. My only worry is the GK position, while Mannone’s done well, I’d be much more at ease with Szcz in goal, hope his injury is not the rolling 3 weeks kind. Also if & when le Coq is to step in for Arteta, he’ll need to get a lot of support from the other deeper midfielder, but all in all its looking good. And that Nirvana reference has sealed your Legend Status : )

  9. Great one Dave, and you are as always spot on! I love the way you leav out Sagna. Imo Jenkinson deserve the RB position. He has played so well this year and he is Arsenal!:) Don’t get me wrong, I still love Sagna and believe he will be first choice again this year, but you just gotta be impressed with Jenkinson.

    Dave, you know what I felt this summer about this team and i’ts chanses this season. Way to early to judge, but as you yourself writes so well here, it does look good!:-)

  10. A great blog & very true, just hope Luck is on our side especially with injuries. If most of our players can stay fit Ï think the sky is the limit for this team

  11. You must be used to me having a go. Not at you, because you, once again have written an interesting, well researched article. My ‘bitch’ is with the team as a whole. Each of the players you have mentioned and those yet to step up, are individually very good and as you say, on paper we could easily field 2 teams and they both would do extremely well in the PL. However, my concern is not the quality of the players, it’s the way we play.

    Arsenal have become too predictable and any really well drilled team can contain us. Those we beat are either ‘going for the win’ or careless.

    When I say predictable, have you ever seen Arsenal:

    1 get the ball on, or just in front of the half way line and pass it back and forth, back and forth and then, yes, pass it back to the goalkeeper? I know we are waiting for gaps to appear but where is the speed of attack? Unfortunately we do this even when there are gaps and spaces in front. Building up slowly only gives the opposition time to regain their positions and get back into defence. (Where are Pires, Bergkamp and Henry when you need them?).

    2 form an arc of players around the opponents area and pass from left to right and then back again? Other teams (don’t want to mention their names (spit)) get players to run through the defence and then come back out. They have plenty of movement, we can be very static at times.

    3 cross the ball into the area and there’s only one attacker there? The others are in their ‘arc’ waiting to pass it about a bit more!

    4 cross the ball ‘over’ the attack and out for a throw in on the other side of the pitch? For God sake, place someone at the back of the area on the other wing ready to run in onto the ‘over hit’ ball. I have studied this for many years and it’s only Real Madrid, Barcelona and for a brief period in the ’80s Liverpool who do it!!! It works, watch Sundays El Classico.

    5 have 4 or 5 players all within 10 yards of each other? Spread out. The more distance each pass travels makes the opposition have to make greater adjustments to their defensive formation.

    My comments are on a different subject I know but I feel that it’s not necessarily the players that are holding us back now, it’s not even the back up players, yes we have them now. It’s our system of play. 11 brilliant players don’t win games, the players playing well together and with a good system and understanding, do win games.

    1. Pat I share some of your frustrations most particularly the lack of players getting in the box when we are wide but this is improving – Note both golas v Montpelier.

      I think the passing sideways waiting for gaps will improve as it is not just the one man, RVP we are trying to find.

      I think at least know we hopefully will give PG a run we can look for the higher cross as well as the lower one with pace or the cut back. At least we can vary with hi prowess in the air.

      It will improve with Santi over time as well. We have missed Cesc’s vision. Ramsey certainly has not got it and TR7 superb but more of a give and go. I am convinced that we now have a player capable of unlocking the ebst defences with a telling pass. Of course having JW10 returninmg will support that.


  12. very true,and as i think yourself pointed out before,that the year or 2 leading up to the invincibles people didn’t notice the squad being built in the background.there were no big big signings,think maybe gilberto and jens, but the likes of kolo and co. all of a sudden had a few years experience and were ready to step up,then with those 1 or 2 additions too, almost out of the blue,and everyone was fit and boom the squad was assebled under the radar

  13. Agree although I don’t think either Gervinho or Ox come close to Theo on the right wing. Sooner we dirt out the contract, the better out team will be

  14. Really pleased to read a well analysed article. I do believe we are much more stronger than previous seasons, if not individually then collective as a squad. Lets not target too high to be disappointed at the end of the season but double or local trebel wont do any harm for the team’s confidence.
    Cheers Dave!

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