Correct positions, defensive nous, Chamakh and more

Good morning everyone. Full plate today as despite “nothing going on” ahead of the match against Manchester City there are plenty of stories about Arsenal to dive into.

First, we have Robin van Persie proving that great players don’t limit themselves to this notion that there are “positions that suit them.” (Red Level membership required to watch). This topic deserves better treatment than I’m going to give it today but basically Robin confirms Wenger’s approach to getting players to change positions and some of the trepidations that players have about switching positions. This is one of only a handful of interviews from players who played under Wenger and spoken openly about how he transformed them from one position to another¹ and as such hearing Robin talk about how he kept telling Arsene he didn’t think it would work and the boss just gently telling him to keep at it, that he was doing fine, and just enjoy his game is fascinating. Given all the debate about Arshavin’s “correct position” and Ramsey being “played wide” I’d love to devote some time to this topic. You can help by providing links to players who gave interviews that expressed either loved for the change or hated it.

Second, there was another great piece on Arsenal Player today, this time by Stuart Robson², on how both Arsenal and QPR got their defensive tactics wrong. Specifically, Stuart highlights Taarabt’s goal and how he felt the Arsenal defensive line could have gotten into a better position once they saw Vermaelen was going to try to win the ball. Robson rightly points out that once TV5 moves forward, the other two defenders (Gibbs and Koz) needed to actually drop back and cover in case he didn’t win the ball. Koz nearly got that right and almost got the block in that would have saved the goal but was a fraction late in sensing the danger.

Vermaelen has a tendency to try to jump the pass which is normally ok in defense as long as your teammates cover. This may be “basic” football but it takes time to develop the kind of understanding that saves that fraction of a second between Koz blocking the shot and just sliding in late.

Robson is right in pointing out and how on the other end QPR basically did the same thing which is how Arsenal scored their first goal. Here’s one thing about the defense that I have noticed of late: the number of offside traps that we have sprung. I wonder if there has been an uptick in offside traps at Arsenal and if we can show that numerically. I also wonder if the fact that I saw a metric assload of photos of Tony Adams at the training ground had anything to do with that? (Oops, I’m starting rumors again.)

Third, yes, I saw that Marouane Chamakh went for a smoke after the loss to QPR and I don’t care. I did get a chuckle out of him reportedly telling his agents to reject bids from other clubs. As if… Yeah, if PSG came along and offered twice the money Chamakh would reject the chance to go back to Paris because he is content sitting on the bench and smoking shisha on the weekends. My only question for you, the unwashed masses is whether or not you feel like Bendtner’s performances of late have merited a return to Arsenal over Chamakh? Unless you feel like he burned that bridge forever.

And finally, I am working on the web site and I have an artist lined up to do the work for the masthead. Not long now and I can start messing around with the format and whatnot. I promise you will love the new text, it’s going to be red background, white text, and 16 point Goudy Stout.

Ok so maybe not 16 point Goudy Stout. Maybe 14 point, but two new features that you will see are going to be a section of “deadline poems” on what’s happening in the League in the style of Calvin Trillin (though I’m not comparing myself at all) and a section for the 7amkickoff Flickr group.

For poems, I’m currently working on one called The Ballad of King Kenny and have ideas for works on Henry’s return and of course an epic poem on the Arsenal season 2011-2012. If you have ideas for pieces or parts of King Kenny’s return that you’d really like highlighted let me know below.

As for the Flickr group there’s still plenty of time to contribute your shots before publication on Thursday. Just please make sure that the photos are Arsenal related (they can be of games, the stadium, or the other supporters) and that they are original work.

Right, that’s it for today. See you tomorrow!


1. If you have links to other players and their thoughts on this, please include them in the comments.
2. Stuart Robson is infuriating as the color commentator on television but his analysis on Arsenal Player is very good. I just wish he didn’t step on his dick to show that despite his connection to the club he is “fair and balanced” in his on-air commentary. I mean, how many former Liverpool players are so overtly anti-Liverpool in their commentary?

41 thoughts on “Correct positions, defensive nous, Chamakh and more

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

    Tim, when you remove the voting system, you reduce the feedback available to your commentators.

    When you reduce the feedback available to your commentators, they become despondent.

    When they become despondent, they comment less.

    And when they comment less, the balls have been chopped off the bull.

    Don’t chop the balls off the bull, Tim.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +111cannons

    “I also wonder if the fact that I saw a metric assload of photos of Tony Adams at the training ground had anything to do with that? (Oops, I’m starting rumors again.)”

    I wondered the very same thing myself on Saturday.
    [] Something about those arms going into the air in unison. I’m sure playing the same defensive unit for several games helps as well.

    RE: Robson. He just goes waaaaay too far, with his criticism of Wenger in particular, for me to accept that he’s just trying to overcompensate for perceived bias. I just wonder how the club allows someone to be so openly critical of the manager on broadcasts week in week out.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1craig

    Agree with JV about the +/- system. I miss it.

    As for Bendtner, I’d like Adebayor back just a little less than I’d like Bendtner back. He said he didn’t want to be here while he was still our guy. Repeatedly. Fok him.

    Chamakh I’ll always have a soft spot for because he played so damn hard. I realize he’s not very good now, although I don’t claim to know what happened to him because he used to be pretty effective, but I still appreciate how excited he was to be at Arsenal and how hard he worked to keep us afloat while Robin was out. That said, I think he needs to go, because he just isn’t delivering, and when you’re playing up front, you have to deliver goals and/or assists.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    I have no problem with Chamakh going out for a shisha. I mean it’s a hookah not heroine FFS. I doubt it would even be an issue if he was banging in the goals so it shouldn’t be when he is not.

    As of for Bendtner, I’ve washed my hands off him. We have seen a decent run of form from him before so it doesn’t change my mind about him. At this point, I would rather see a fresh face come in even it’s someone from the academy like Afobe or Aneke. Don’t we also have Campbell (and maybe Podolski) coming in next year? Damn we’ll be spoiled for strikers – just like the old days!

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

    The +/- comment system was abused and could still be abuse by Stoke fans. Anyone, for that matter, could just come along and “thumb bomb” the site like they did before and I had no control over that.

    But hey, if you want to have all your comments hidden by a bunch of cunts like the Stoke City fans who will pile on this site like a bunch of roaches in two weeks, that’s your choice, I guess

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

      @Tim, Granted, there are times it gets out of hand, but it works pretty well the other 340 days of the year. Overall, I thought it was a very nice feature. It allowed a sense of participation in the conversation that you don’t necessarily get just from the comments themselves, especially for those times when all I want to do is register my agreement/disagreement without having to repeat what’s already been said.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

      @Tim, Tim makes a valid point. No one among us wants to end up in a roadside ditch with a bunch of Stoke City supporters who’ll have grandsons’ with dog collars who will grow up reenacting scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen.

    3. Vote -1 Vote +1BCS

      @Tim, Tim you could take away the thumbs again when the Stoke game comes up. It looks as if someone has being playing silly buggers with the them already.

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1Skyranger

    Ive been looking at the photo at the top of the page and that leg surely dosent belong to Denilson does it?

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1Tino

    I really don’t understand the outrage at Chamakhs form. We play with one striker and if Van Persie is healthy, he will play. What kind of form can you expect from a guy who is thrown in at the 80th minute of game we are losing? That being said, I am sure he will want to leave. The boss doesn’t even play him when games are in the bag…

    Bendtner wants to play for a big team so I think his future lies with Barcelona or Real Madrid. Seriously though, I can only see him staying if Van Persie leaves.

    People also need to look at watch his performances as whole. Yes, he’s gotten some goals, but he had goals when he was here. The frustration was his terrible touch, has that gotten better? Can he hold the ball better and bring others into play?

    I’ve watched Afobe playing for Reading a couple of times on Fox Soccer Plus and the jury is still out. He’s still new at that club, so hopefully he’ll prove himself.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

      @Tino, Until that game against Man City, Bendtner hadn’t done squat. His touch has still not impproved in the Stadium of Light. They have to keep playing him because Campbell has been atrocious. Bent<Gyan<Bendtner<Campbell<Wickham.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tino

        @ctpa, I had completely forgotten about Conor Wickham. Quite a few gooners were clamoring for us to sign him. It’s great our manager looks at talent before nationality.

        Speaking of Englishmen, I feel like I am the only one not bothered by the Ox being on the bench quite often. He’s got potential and will get better, but I don’t feel he’s in synch with other players or what’s going on around him sometimes. There have been a few times where he has been come of the bench towards the end of a game we are winning and tries to complicate his play instead of keeping it simple and holding the ball. People will complain that Ramsey kept on drifting inside but the Ox isn’t any better. If he beats his man and there is someone with a better shot a goal, he’ll still try a spectacular effort. I am not complaining but I can see why he’s not an automatic starter for the boss.

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Another part to the Wenger play you out position is that he wants you (be it RVP, Diaby or Ramsey) on the pitch but you’re not ready to usurp the player (be it Henry, Fabregas or Song) in ‘your’ position.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1craig

      Hey, it may not be perfect, but I like it for when I’m lazy, in a hurry, or can’t say anything better than someone else already did. Thanks Tim.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1Sahil

    The thing about Bendtner is, having played a full season as first choice striker, would HE want to come back and play back-up to RvP? Assuming ofcourse RvP stays, which i hope he does.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

      @ctpa, Y’know… if they hadn’t of given up the penalties, they’d have gone through over Farca on away goals… idiots.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    Comments by Chamakh during an interview.

    “I left Bordeaux to improve as a player and I think I can continue for this club. My agents have been ordered to reject bids that come from other clubs because I want to prove I can be useful for the Gunners.”

    What he really means:
    “Why should I go anywhere else while I can enjoy the majestic sights and sounds of London, smoke my Shisha and earn a great salary while not having to risk injury. I’d be stupid to leave.”

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      @skyranger, This is a good idea.

      Also, Tim, I’m a little disappointed you’re not taking my Times New Roman on white background idea for your new-look site. It’d be ironic and everything! Sometimes you could write in red or blue font, too! Oh, think of the possibilities.

      I know I’ve been banging on about this for a while now, but I really think Times New Roman is the font of the future. That or Comic Sans MS. You choose.

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1Shrek

    I think in Thierry and RVP’s case , Arsene saw composure in them in their finishing plus intelligence around the penalty area. Also Arsene knew Henry from his Monaco days so I am sure he knew what Henry was all about.

  12. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Frode

    Hehe, the playing position thing is funny. I especially find this debate about Chmaberlain’s best position tiresome. There is no need for him to get a fixed position. He is that sort of player who could be effective everywhere in attack. His versatility is awesome because he is two-footed, has got great technique, pace, dribbling skills, footballing intelligence, low center of gravity and strength. I could see him playing in an almost Ronaldo like role to the left, as a Rooney-like number 10, as a Messi-like false nine, or a Bale-like traditional winger to the right. He could also be very effective in central midfield, but I think you would be wasting his talents if he played any deeper than as an offensive midfielder.

    Ramsey is very much a central player though. He is two-footed, but is otherwise ill-suited as an inverse winger (or wide midfielder). In order to play that position you need a minimum of pace and dribbling skills. Examples of players who could do it in Arsenal would be Rosicky, Benayoun, Chamberlain, Wilshere (right), Diaby and so on. The prototype example would be someone like Robert Pires. Iniesta is another midfielder player with the necessary skill set to do that particular job.

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Oh, the Daily Fail is good for comedy once in a while.

    So Arsenal are lining up £50m for Giroud? £50m. Fifty. Million.

    I mean, how hard is it to make something like this at least sound credible. It’s like they have absolutely no idea how Arsenal has been run for the last, oh, I don’t know, almost a decade now? It’s like…oh… I mean, “They have absolutely no idea, etc.”

    Proof you could hire monkeys to do what those journalists do.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1critic

      @Bunburyist, should have been “arsenal are lining up 50 mill Giroud for 5 millions”. It would sound more credible then. In fact that’s what arsenal being doing for past decade or so.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        You guys are both cute with your whole “for the last decade” thing: Arsenal have never been huge spenders.

  14. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

    Bendtner is not coming back, and I’m totally fine with that.

    He’d be better bet than Chamakh right now, for sure. But he’s not content to be a bit part player, and it’s hard to fault that attitude. He was never going to supplant RVP as the central striker in our system.

    And even if RVP leaves, Bendtner is just not the class of player we need to replace him. He has found his level at Sunderland I think; a decent striker for a low-to-mid-table team.

  15. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ace

    The law of averages works this way for bendtner:if bendtner plays in 10 consecutive matches where dozens of goal scoring opportunities are created for him,he is bound to score once.
    I’ve watched him several times this season.He hasn’t improved as a player.

  16. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    No on Bendtner. For me he blew it forever in the Barcelona game. If he had scored to put Barca out of the CL, I would even have forgiven his stupid comments and irresponsible behavior.
    Chamakh has way more class than Bendtner. I can’t think of a single occasion when he opened his mouth and put his foot in. Like “I’m the best striker in the world” or such crap

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