There is way too much news this morning to get into, so we might as well get stuck in.
First, the response from the readers to yesterday’s blog about who should start in the Arsenal midfield once Wilshere is back was fantastic and I have to admit that there were several opinions in the comments that I hadn’t thought about.
The one that struck a chord was the idea of the defensive balance between Arteta and Ramsey versus Arteta and Wilshere. It’s a bit early to tell (and way too little data to predict) but I have to agree with the gut feeling that Ramsey just provides the team with a true double pivot. Wilshere is more inclined to get forward and Ramsey, despite his 8 months of playing in the “Cesc role”, seems more tactically disciplined.
As one reader pointed out, this is borne out by the numbers somewhat with Ramsey claiming an amazing 94% tackle rate (according to Squawka.com) with 45/48 tackles. Meanwhile Wilshere is a mere 24/28 tackles. I say “mere” and I mean it, Wilshere is tackling at a decent rate (86%) but Wilshere has played more minutes than Aaron (1503 v. 1478) and when you look at the minutes per tackle, Jack is averaging a tackle every 63 minutes whereas Aaron is one every 32 minutes. Similarly going forward, Ramsey is only 27/57 dribbles whereas Wilshere is 52/91. Obviously, that’s not the be-all-end-all of the comparison but it indicates a difference in balance between the two.
And really that’s what a lot of people have been saying for a few months now. It’s not a knock (necessarily) on either player. It’s just what’s happening with those two at the moment: Jack is playing more forward and Aaron is playing deeper.
So, which of those two you pick is really up to how you see the team playing on any given day and… whether you think Rosicky needs a rest. That’s where I see Jack getting his chances the rest of this season. Rosicky and Jack have a very similar attitude: when they receive the ball, they both turn at the defense and attack. And handing the central role to either of them doesn’t seem to be hurting the play of Cazorla. Santi wasn’t the best against West Brom but when he started on the left against Reading he scored and assisted. In fact, Santi has started on the left 7 times this season (in League and CL play) and has 4 goals and 3 assists; compared to 29 times in the middle with 8 goals and 5 assists. So, on average, it’s not that bad for him to start on the left.
Obviously, Arsenal aren’t playing against “Average” for the rest of the season so it’ll have to be a game by game call as to who plays where and when. That’s why Arsene Wenger gets the big bucks.
In other news the Daily Mail is stating that Arsenal have tabled a bid for Stoke keeper Asmir Begovich. Now, I’m not sure how much I believe anything the Daily Mail publishes. Oh wait, that’s a lie, I am sure: it’s “not much”. But there have been signs that Wenger is unhappy with the keeper situation at Arsenal for a few years now and there have been signs that I have been unhappy with the keeper situation for a few years as well.
Arsene tried to buy Schwarzer and Reina, that is fact. You may think each was just a rumor but they were actual targets and Arsenal pursued both heavily. What stopped the deals were various and sundry details which we are not actually aware of (Mark Hughes played a major part in stopping the Schwarzer deal) but the fact remains that Wenger has, within his means, attempted to buy an experienced keeper in each of the last few years. So it wouldn’t be a total surprise if Arsene was asking early about a keeper like Begovich.
I’ve already received numerous requests for comments about whether I rate Begovich over Szczesny and I will only say this: I see them as equals and that’s not a bad thing. Begovich has an astounding high claim rate of 100%, but Szczesny is no slouch with 97%. Begovich, however, is forced into high claims a lot more than Szcz and despite the huge numbers of high claims, punches in only about 13% of his games compared to Szczesny who punches in 42% of his games. In that sense, Bego is much more reliable.
Szczesny is a better distributor, but then that would probably change once Begovich is no longer being asked to lump it out to Peter Crouch. They both have similar numbers of errors that lead to shots… I could go on and on but just know that for me the two compare very similarly except on the issue of high claims.
Where there is no comparison is Begovich to Fabianski. Fabianski claims a horrible 56% and punches 33%. Even Mannone had a better high claims rate than Fabianski, with just the two mental errors being among the main reasons why he didn’t take over when Wenger benched Szczesny.
So, in that case, buying a player like Begovich is actually a very sound idea. He will certainly challenge Szczesny for the starting spot and there is nothing wrong with that. Begovich is also very clearly better than any of the current backup solutions at Arsenal and again, there is nothing wrong with that. If Szczesny loses his starting spot to Begovich, then maybe he wasn’t good enough to be Arsenal’s long term keeper anyway?
And speaking of “not good enough” there are a spate of news report this morning that Arshavin is considering retirement (or not) at the end of this season. Funny, I thought he retired two years ago after his goal against Barcelona made him one of the greatest players on Earth!
Arseblog said almost everything I have to say about Arshavin: clearly a talented player but just as clearly a player who lacked that something, that extra application which divides the greats from the Arshavins. This is the point where some of you will have a go at the manager but I can say that every time I saw Arshavin try a little flick-on-back-heel-passallasso in Arsenal’s midfield I saw a player who was being lazy, relying on his talent alone and not both talent and hard work. I know that those passes are exciting in FIFA 13 and on YouTube but in a real football match they have no place. And that’s why Arshavin had no place.
I will try to do a By the Numbers post on Arshavin over at Arseblog News sometime in the next few days, there were certainly some strange numbers in his career at Arsenal. And perhaps Les can do a Rogues Gallery post on Arshavin? We’ll see!
PS: Gods damn it! I forgot to welcome our newest contributor, Cliffy. he is going to be adding a weekly cartoon, like the one below, which will be included in a post and on the sidebar of the main page. Please welcome him!