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On a Wing and a Player

When things aren`t going as well as we wish and the reasons aren`t too obvious there is a natural tendency to look into all sorts of corners for solutions and ways of getting back on track. While debate is at times focussed on intangibles and subjective factors such as leadership, mental attitude, fighting spirit or changes to the boardroom, managerial or coaching teams we can lose sight of the fact that ultimately the only changes that really matter are those on the pitch. We might regret being forced into changes but changes were needed anyway. We will now have no choice but to change our midfield format over the coming weeks.

Walcotts injury seems set to keep him out for at least three months, affecting a selection question complicated by injury to Sagna and the absence of Eboue. For the game against Man City this weekend we have the added consideration that Cesc will serve a one-match ban. This means that the whole right side triumvirate of full back, central midfielder and wide man will take on an unfamiliar look.

Walcott`s selection this season can already be seen as something of an enforced change as it can be assumed that we have been forced to use him to a greater extent this season than we may have done had Rosicky, as originally anticipated, been available in September. This latest bout of injuries will oblige us to use untried combinations and talented but inexperienced players. But maybe these enforced changes will enable us to find a much-needed workable balance than we might otherwise have uncovered. Song and Denilson might seem the relatively comfortable choice for a central midfield pairing in the absence of Cesc. Eboue if fit, or Toure if not, could occupy the right back spot but who would play on the right? The choice is probably between Diaby and Ramsey with Wilshere and maybe even Bischoff as outside bets for RM. The permutations open to us are more numerous when you factor in the possibility that Nasri can play on the right and Vela could play on the left or even vice versa. Take a look at van Persie playing in from the right for Holland and yet more possibilities emerge.

With poor results, 2 defeats and a draw, over the last 6 games it wouldn`t appear the ideal time to choose to experiment, yet changes can some times yield unforeseen results. Good as well as bad. We have tried odd combinations on the right this season. The first half against Everton had Song at RB paired with RM Eboue. Fortunately an injury to Toure forced Song to CB to put an end to that experiment. Yet Eboue at RB with Walcott brought on in RM in the 2nd half worked as well as any right side combination this season. As far as it is possible to judge on 45 minutes play that seemed a case of fate taking a hand to change for the better. That`s where finding the right balance is an elusive science. The chemistry between players is hard to predict. Eboue/Sagna worked well last season but Sagna hasn`t seemed quite the same player without that combination this season. Cesc seems to have been affected by the changes in midfield as much as any and spoke recently about the changes in play from the wide positions that he has had to adjust to.

The only way to find out what works seems to be to try it out yet what works on the training pitch doesn`t always work in the real thing. Many of our options are young players learning to play consistently at this level at the same time as forging an understanding with their teammates. Precocious talents though they are Ramsey and Wilshere might be a gamble on talent alone while Diaby is the only midfield option with any reasonable PL playing experience behind him but is hardly tried and tested in RM.

Our best run of consistent results comes from having a settled team but on occasions the make up of those settled teams are arrived at by accident. Flamini might not have had the opportunity to prove such a positive influence in midfield last season had Diaby, apparently first choice to play alongside Cesc, not been injured preseason. Few had foreseen it based on previous performances. Perhaps fate will dictate that we have similar fortune in finding a much needed, but elusive midfield balance over the coming weeks that we have in all honesty struggled to find consistently at times this season. Maybe it is in just such a situation where we are forced to take chances that we will find a balance that is a little less fragile than that we have experienced so far this season. The risks are clear but the talent is available and if we can get it right quickly it might well make the season.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday November 19 2008

Time: 11:01PM

Your Comments

I know we don't want to rush Wilshere, but really we have no other option here I think. Vela went to the Americas today so he will not be used Saturday.
A very intelligent article Amos which I quite agree with. I've seen it many times over the years where we have stumbled into a good side by being forced to blood new players in different positions.
Bergkamp was a Myth
I've always thought of denilson as more of Cesc's back up than a holding mid, so I would be excited to see him play in that role against City. Additionally, like I said before, I just don't think Walcott has the short passing skills required to play in our midfield, so I think giving Ramsey or Wilshere a run out there could yield positive results. Other options include Simpson, who apparently played on the wing when he was on loan, and Merida (but he seems well behind Jack and Aaron in Wenger's eyes. But I would bet that we see Nasri on the right and Diaby on the left (where he has played a few games for us).
There are many examples of luck throwing a decent player/ combination your way. Would Ashley Cole have been plunged into action soe arly had Silvinho's passport not been called into question? We had a similar conuncdrum on our right side a few years back, Wenger took a gamble and put Wiltord there, where he was infinitely more effective than he ever was as a striker. The more obvious one would be Flamini moving out to left back at the end of the 05-06 season, because we had to work that much harder to protect him, we became a defensively more cohesive unit. Were it not for Vieira's injury at Euro 2004, Cesc would likely have waited longer for his chance. Maybe something fortuitous could happen. But then again, isn't this another example of, as I put it the other week, Arsenal slamming both feet on the accelerator closing their eyes and hoping for the best? A decent sized squad would negate the need for us to blindly hope that perhaps we can play someone out of position and pray it turns out to be alright.
Little Dutch
The days of grizzled veterans willing to see their careers out in the anonymity of the reserves as cover in case of injuries have long gone. They'd sooner play in Italy or the US hence the only back up are the kids. It is some small vindication of Wengers policy of not completely locking players into the concept of a single position. Other than goal keeper that is. So that we have centre backs who can play full back. Defenders who can play midfield, midfielders who can play defense et c. When fully fit our squad size is pretty standard for the PL (though Wenger himself admits we are short in midfield), so much so that 2 are out on loan. But it's luck with injuries, not just the number but those key players that every squad has, that ultimately determines whether it is big enough or not.
I perfectly accept that point, but with regards to the right side on Saturday, can Wenger honestly say he knows exactly how to solve that problem? Or will it just be a shot in the dark? Not having a seasoned veteran is, on this occasion, perhaps understandable (though I think competition for places is a massive component we miss), but on this occasion we're not really decimated. We are missing two right wingers, neither of which are really right wingers at all. This is also something raised back in the summer to do with versatility (I believe it was an article with the title of 'How many positions can Eboue play?') which made that same reasonable point. But like I said at the time, when you over rely on players playing foreign positions and being adaptable, when someone like Eboue gets injured, you really lose two or three players in one go. As for Rosicky, again I'll repeat a point I made in the summer, anyone who relies on the fitness of Rosicky really is a fool. I had a twenty quid bet with a mate back in August that he'd never play for us again, I've already started planning on how to spend it.
Little Dutch
LD I hope your wrong about Rosicky, but I think you maybe right.
Bischoff could he provide cover??
Decimated? Probably not, but we nontheless have Vela, Eboue, Adebayor, Walcott, Rosicky, Eduardo unavailable and the equivolents missing from Man Utd and Chelski would affect them, albeit not as much as us, but then we don't spend 30 million for someone to sit on the bench and I would seriously doubt if we could add anymore to our squad without having to get rid of others due their playing time being diminshed. Finding the balance between enough and too much is so damn difficult, spose thats why Wenger gets paid as much as he does!!
There is no doubt that Wenger took a gamble in the summer. If the medical reports were assuring him that Rosicky would be fit and raring to go by September that looks less of a gamble at the time than it does now and more of a reason to be angry with the mediacl team. On the other hand if Rosicky had been fit as expected and we had bought another player just in case we could have had a Diarra situation over again. Is a better to plug the gaps in the squad with a couple of seasoned veterans (if you can find them) playing back up or promising youngsters hungry for a chance to prove themselves? Neither answer is without its problems. It makes for interesting decisions for the weekend though.
Thats my opinion also Amos, damned if you do, damned if you don't. But the needs of the club and it to be successful come first and if that means having a few disgruntled players kicking their heels on the bench or reserves then tough luck, we need to be thinking of th eclub not the players who may or may not be missing playing time!
and if a player llike Diarra starts haviung a scream up, he needs to be slapped down immeadiatly and firmly! Could you ever imagine Capello or similar style managers putting up with a whinging little s**t like that midget Diarra?
Vital Man City Info: Vital Arsenal Pre Match Fan's Interview is @
Johnny Baguette
It's not really the age of the replacements I'm getting at, I just have this really quite crazy, whacky even, idea that perhaps we could have somebody in the squad capable of playing right midfield. If we could somehow get some hybrid of Eboue and Walcott we might have the answer, as it stands we have a centre forward on the right wing who doesn't know how/ rarely tries to defend. We also have a defender who is solid at protecting his full back, but has little or no idea how to create/ score a goal himself. Now both are injured, our back up is, errr, well, let's just throw someone out there and hope they can do it.
Little Dutch
Spot on LD. The fact is that both first choices, for the reasons you give, don't quite cut it. Maybe this is the chance to find someone who we may not yet be entirely confident with who can. I'd go for something a little bizarre like a 5 man midfield with Diaby playing centrally in a slightly advanced role as needed and RvP coming in off the right. No one knows how to solve the problem otherwise presumably it would have been done by now. As you say it's time for a shot in the dark. Who knows what we might turn up?
Amos.,17033,8652_4524918,00.html Prepare for the ***** storm. If he has said this (bear in mind this was given to a French medium) then it is a poor reflection on our team and poor form for the captain to reveal it in this way.
Little Dutch
I know... The guy is only telling the truth but come on Gallas. Don't hand the stick to the idiots!
Gallas is merely confirming what we all suspected from what we saw, that there is something wrong with this squad. Talent-wise, there is nothing wrong with the teams that Wenger put out against Stoke, Hull etc. So there always had to be another reason, and this is it. Its a terrible week, we just have to strap on our belts, brace for the worst and hope that it passes quickly. Out of curiosity, who was Gallas referring to ? Adebayor is 25 years old, isnt he ?
How wonderful of Gallas to hand the media more material for the media to use against us. I've often defended this guy but this latest bit of stupidity is inexcusable.
I think he's referring to Adebayor as per the Ade- Bendtner spat at WHL, which Gallas stepped into. We all know what he's saying is true, but I agree with jaelle here, there really is no need to spout this to the media. He should have broad enough shoulders to shrug off the criticism around his captaincy, that's what a captain does. This puts a seal on a bad week and it's avaoidable. The only thing I will say is that remember that this interview is translated and the media have created mischief with Gallas interviews before.
Little Dutch
It seems Gallas was partially at least talking about conflicts between young and senior players in the french team. He pointed to a fall out between Benzema and Thuram and said he too was involved with a dispute with a young player in the french team which has now been settled. It would be wise to see the full text before placing too much weight on selected quotes. The general thrust was that 'these conflicts exist in all the clubs'
Thanks for the explanation, Amos, much appreciated. It's true that the UK media has twisted Gallas' French interviews before.
A similar twist to what they've put on Gallas interviews before. Like the tragic damning indictment of Walcott, Or his left foot anyway. Or when he said he has no friends at Arsenal. Well, not English ones anyway. A certain Arsenal blogger will pay no attention to the context tomorrow I'd wager. His opinion usually blindly turns into everyone elses opinion so Gallas will still get stick. He should probably have worked out by now just to not talk to the media.
Little Dutch
I generally like arseblogger but his views on Gallas have become ridiculous. It's a total case of one-eyed scapegoating, selective vision, blaming all our woes on Gallas alone. He completely ignores Gallas' good performances. So of course Gallas goes and opens his mouth and tomorrow's arseblogger column will be yet another screed.
6 years younger. Adebayor is 24. Van Persie, Eboue & Eduardo 25. I would say between Adebayor & Van Persie. Both are quite opinionated.
Also with Toure now ruled out of the man city game, what do you lot anticipate as the first 11 for saturday. Especially the right side. I will go with Almunia, Clichy, Silvestre, Gallas, Djourou in defense. Nasri, Denilson, Song, Diaby in midfield. RVP & Ade up front. Perhaps Song at RB and Ramsey in the middle.
Neither Adebayor nor van Persie are in the France squad Paul, so it wouldn't be either of them. The only possible Arsenal player it could be would be Sagna, but I would chance it's a player from another club.
Little Dutch
It seems that Gallas' was talking about young players in general including problems in both the French and Arsenal squads. He apparently did refer to a problem supposedly in an Arsenal game this season when a player insulted other players when confronted. Hardly seems a unique event to me but depends on the context I guess.
Sorry, Toure's out tomorrow? Hopefully he's doing a few lengths up and down the terraces. We may as well have no right side, just concentrate wholly on the left, really load it up down there!
From what I've seen of Song at RB we should probably put Gallas in at RB and play Song at CB. The side is going to have an unfamiliar look to it for sure.
He is talking about the Arsenal team though LD or am i missing something. The France international is disappointed he has been made a scapegoat and has now explained of unrest in the Emirates Stadium camp, and in turn demanded his team-mates discover their fighting spirit. Insults "When, as captain, some players come up to you and talk to you about a player...complaining about him... and then during the match you speak to this player and the player in question insults us," Gallas told AP. "There comes a time where we can no longer comprehend how this can happen. "I am trying to defend myself a bit without giving names. Otherwise I'm taking it all (the blame). It's very frustrating," he said. "I'm 31, the player is six years younger than me."
The story seems to have been culled from another interview given in France prior to the international friendly. In it he apparently talks about conflicts between young and old players and uses examples from both the international and club sides under a general theme that 'conflicts occur in all sides'. It is interesting to see that the AP newsfeed was originally picked up by CNN under the report that 'Gallas urges youngsters to be stringer' which the british press have translated into 'an astonishing attack' or 'dressing room splits' which Gallas' appeared to be saying was par for the course.
'stringer' = 'stronger'
Here's a better article with extended Gallas quotes:
the british press intentionally misinterpreted something, say it ain't so
Have you guys seen this?
Gallas is the worst captain since Jamie Redknapp
guys do any of yu have a link to the boot incident between Fergie & Beckham in which Becks told Fergie that Wenger made yu look like a ***** out there or something like that. if yu find it, then please post it here. my manc friend is refusing to believe that Beckham said something like that to Fergie so just to prove it to him & win some money, i need the link..
This is just f**cking typical!
Paul mate, i love yu, muahh..
lol i like how u said fortunatly toure got injured so song got moved to CB
I want half of your winnings though
According to this, there's been more fall-out about Gallas, this time involving Le Boss' intervention:
why would gallas go to the press with such statements???? true or not some stuff is kept inhouse. but it explains a few things
that just shows gallas lacks the media handling skills as a captain, i just read in soccernet apparently someone who is 6 years younger than gallas has created quite an uncomfortable situation in the dressing room, im betting my moolah on RvP
The fact is, maligned or not. Gallas is not a popular captain, Gallas is not a good captain, Gallas has played poorly generally since we have had him as a player. The whole thing hasn't worked. It hasn't failed miserably but if it isn't a success, then it may aswell be a failure (if that makes sense) He should be stripped of the captaincy. Tony Adams was rarely misquoted; previous Arsenal captains were rarely misquoted. Even if i6t is down to the media, I don't want our club ripped from pillar to post by all and sundry because some one can't keep his mouth shut and his opinions to himself. Every f***ing day one or more of our idiotic players (Ade, RVP, Cesc, Gallas, Toure) has to blabber to the press about something or other. Why the **ck can't they keep their mouths shut and just concentrate on trying to play football, as they have miserably failed to do so this season! I am sick fed up of seeing these c***s in the newspaper every day with their lips flapping on about something or other! STFU perlease! (rant over!)
10/10 there LG, And how was it misinterpreted? He went straight to the Associated Press, did he not?
Well said. What happened to players leaving the talking for on the pitch?
lolz sure paul, i'm gonna spend it all on alcohol though, you're welcome & alcohol is pretty cheap in bombay here..
GAEL CLICHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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