Tag Archives: Jack Wilshere

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Welcome Debuchy but what about Jenkinson? And if Arsenal buy a Khedira what about Wilshere?

Not much special going on today so let’s talk a bit about transfers.

Debuchy’s signing was announced yesterday and this is fantastic news because that marks Arsenal down as having bought 2 of the 5 positions that they need filled this summer. The best part is that we have made two major signings and we haven’t yet played our first pre-season friendly.

There was some speculation earlier that perhaps Arsenal didn’t need to buy a right back after Sagna left and the Debuchy signing put that to rest. Debuchy is a 28 year old French International with 18 months of experience in the Premier League starting every weekend. I think it’s also symbolic that Wenger bought the French player who kept Sagna from starting during this World Cup. This may be unpopular because Sagna was a fan favorite but Debuchy is an upgrade on Sagna.

Debuchy is younger than Sagna and he’s a more balanced player. When I compared Debuchy to Sagna and Aurier, the difference is stark: Aurier played as an attacking wing back at Toulouse, Sagna kind of didn’t do either defense or offense and instead was more of a passing outlet, and Debuchy was smack in the middle of the two.

Particularly impressive were Debuchy’s defensive stats for Newcastle. Comparing him against his own team’s percentages he made 17% of Newcastle’s tackles, 12% of their interceptions and 10% of their fouls.

Sagna wasn’t horrible but rather Debuchy was just very active defensively. Debuchy also can fill in for Sagna in the aerial duels department: Sagna has long been an outlet for Szczesny and Debuchy will hopefully continue in that role, he did after all win 4/5.7 headers per game at Newcastle.

 

I know that many people thought (hoped?) Jenkinson would get the starting job and some people went so far to suggest that Jenkinson and Bellerin could do the job but I think this signing puts that idea to bed and tucks it under Jenkinson’s Arsenal bedsheets. Wenger left the door open to Jenkinson saying that he can compete for the spot and further that he hasn’t made his mind up about who will be starting but that said I see this as another transition year for Jenkinson.

The crucial pairing, and probably deciding factor, will be right back and right forward. Jenkinson and Walcott do not seem to get along well in that regard. My observations are that Jenkinson tends to park far too forward and expect Walcott to cover for him. Walcott, being a striker, naturally doesn’t like this. The two of them publicly fought on the field several times with Walcott telling Jenks to stay back and Jenkinson shining Walcott on.

That issue is only going to be exacerbated with the signing of Sanchez who is an outright striker and will not cotton to having to run all the way back to defend for Jenkinson. And I have no problem with this, we didn’t buy Sanchez for £30m to play right back, we bought Sanchez to do the minimum defense up front (pressing and harassing) and to win us games with goals.

Sanchez’ strengths at Barcelona were that he took almost all of his shots inside the opposition box, which is what led to his outstanding conversion rate. You want a striker with a 30% conversion rate? He needs to play deep in the opposition area. For Sanchez to be an efficient goal scorer we need him to have the freedom to get in the opposition 18 yard box and cause havoc. He can’t do that while defending in our final third so that the fullback can whip in crosses to no one.

One other oddity that Wenger mentioned in the interview about signing Sanchez is that Sanchez could play in any of the positions up top, including through the middle and “with Giroud in a 4-4-2″. Now, I don’t know if Wenger is messing us or not and I struggle to think who he might play on the wings (Ox, Podolski, Cazorla, Rosicky? Özil would be wasted out there) but there might be a clue in there as to why Wenger is looking at Khedira. During Wenger’s most successful era he played with two in base of the midfield: Parlor and Vieira, Petit and Vieira and it was Gilberto and Vieira. That’s why Khedira and Ramsey is a mouthwatering prospect in midfield but it leaves so many questions: where to put Özil, and probably most worryingly, where does Wilshere fit into all this?

Wilshere’s stock has fallen off a bit (and I am not at all talking about his smoking) with even some of the most famous Arsenal personalities starting to wonder about his development. At this point in his career I’m more of the mind that he suffered a bit from his injury and frankly he suffered in light of the hugely successful season Aaron Ramsey had.

But the fact remains that he can’t take Özil’s place as the creative midfielder, he doesn’t seem to have the engine to take Ramsey’s place in midfield, and he’s not a defensive midfielder (at least not that he has shown so far). He’s also not a wing player, a forward, or a defender. So, if Arsenal splash the big cash on a player like Khedira or Bender where does Wilshere fit?

With Jenkinson on the bench? And how long will he be happy doing that?

Qq

Öoops Özzy

Man at the Match, Chary: Jack gets the job done

A goal in each half, from a Jack Wilshere in smoking hot form, meant the Arsenal finished their work for the evening on top of their Champions League group although not quite guaranteed qualification into the next round.

Many of the Ashburton Grove faithful had barely settled into their seats (yours truly included) when the first home attack of the night caught the French team napping. I was seated in the lower tier behind the goal in the clock end and had a close up view of Jack opening his body and curling the quick fire first goal beyond the flailing keeper. Were Marseille Totn**b in disguise as they conceded so quick?

Are you Totn**mb in disguise?

“Are you Totn**mb in disguise?”

Any hopes of an upset in the away end seemed to die right there and while they carried on singing pretty much the whole way through, apparently aided by one Joseph Anthony Barton who was in their ranks, there was little sustained interest in how the game was going from the travelling support.

That said it appeared to me that Marseille were very much snapping into tackles, their midfielders seeming to have an elastic/bouncy running and tackling style, and harrying Arsenal in possession with the good guys fighting back to gain possession energetically.

While there was not much of note from the Marseille fans, an ill-advised decision to wear what looked like a team onesie from the Marseille coach caused me much mirth.

Team Onesie

Team Onesie

There was also much laughing at the referee’s wardrobe malfunction accompanied by wolf whistles when he his shirt was being seen to.

Selection wise Monreal for Gibbs while Arteta and Cazorla benched were the only changes with Jack and Flamini replacing them.

The presence of Flamini was the main reason that, in contrast to seasons gone by, a one goal lead was seen as very slender and we would concede a goal to a counter attack. I noticed that straight after an attack had failed or finished our returning ex-Marseille man would wave his arms to his team mates and shout for them to get back to their positions and not dwell on the missed chance.

THAT is the sort of protection he has been giving the back four; think how many times in the past after shot was saved by the opposition the goalie would bowl out the ball and the opposition forwards would run through the middle of the pitch unhindered. Not so much now thanks to Flamini and a more responsible defensive attitude from all midfielders.

This, to my eyes, accounts for the more relaxed attitude of the home crowd with just a goal lead to defend and hence the atmosphere being less fractious than in the past.

So when Özzy had his penalty saved, note not “missed his penalty”, their groans were minimal.

Öoops Özzy

Öoops Özzy

In fact, as the penalty incident was just in front of the block I was in, most of the crowd thought it was outside the area and we had the rare feeling of getting a penalty when none was deserved rather than the familiar rage when we are usually denied stonewall penalties.

Giroud had various chances to double the lead in the first half but the ball didn’t quite sit up for him yet the crowd would still sing his song after a failed shot. His tireless work in the offensive and defensive parts of the field accounts is probably why any of his fluffed shots aren’t followed by groans.

Half time arrived and the crowd happy although wistfully wishing perhaps a few more goals for the good guys would have been nice.

You don't get these at Shite Hart Lane

Half time

With their onesie clad managers words no doubt ringing in their ears the Marseille players seemed to play with more urgency straight after the restart however Arsenal’s slightly more combative tackling approach, I don’t recall ever seeing quite so many sliding tackles from us, gradually eroding away the Olympique de Marseille’s bright start to the second half.

I recall one instance where Tomáš Rosický sprinted across the pitch to dispossess a Marseille midfielder and it was just as well he got the ball as it could have been taken for a lunge otherwise.

With arsenal attacking the end far away from me there was not much action at the Clock end in the second half, except for a few smart saves from Chesney, who seems to be having consistently better games this season.

Another player who had a good game was Nacho man Monreal.

He can defend half the pitch in his own

Lone Nachoman

It’s easy pick out how well he provides width on our left flank for attacks but his goal line clearance to keep a clean sheet, after Chesney’s partial block from a Gignac shot spun up and over the Pole towards the goal, was excellent defensive work.

I could see his eyes follow the arc of the ball, rather like a cricketer in the outfield waiting to catch a lofted shot, as it fell towards the goal so he could volley it clear. All defensive units like a clean sheet and thanks he got from the BFG and Chesney was proof of that.

Özzy seemed to put aside his penalty mishap and pull the strings more in midfield leading to his part in Jack’s second goal. Yes, he is having a little dip in form but still his importance the team cannot be underestimated, every team shudders a but when they see him prowling the midfield, and opposition supporters fear him.

In my previous game, the Capitol One Cup game versus Chelsea, the obnoxious Chelsea fans stopped their vile chanting when Özzy came on as a sub and seemed to be caught by surprise.

Arsenal bringing on a superstar? No, they can’t do that. (That game may have been lost but the Chelsea crowd reaction was something I’d not seen before and worth pointing out).

As the game wound down Theo and Santi came on for Jack and Rosický while after Marseille had already brought on Valbuena and Thauvin.

The new defensive responsibility was further exemplified by Santi tussling to get the ball off Valbuena; the sight of those two sprinting for the loose ball looked like Sports day at Oompah Loompah school.

The game petered out and the crowd were happy at full time with the result with confusion over whether the Dortmund- Napoli result, when it was read out, was good or bad news.

However all agreed Mourinho’s Chavs defeat at the hands of Basel was hilarious.

Onwards and upwards, UTA !

By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)

Wilshere

Wilshere smokes one to send Arsenal back to the top

In the end, only one thing matters; Arsenal are back on top of the Premier League and Jack Wilshere scored the tying goal after spending the entire match being kicked around by the West Brom midfield. Ok, that’s two things. Those two things, plus the fact that Arsenal showed great spirit to fight back for the first time this season and get a goal on a stalwart opponent who were aided by a crazy referee. Those four things are all that matter.

Arsenal have been great this year at getting off to a fast start and then absorbing pressure. So, naturally, my fear before the game was that Arsenal would get off to sluggish start, have West Brom score first, and have to play catch up. Which is exactly what happened.

West Brom were organized but didn’t have to really even hold on much in the first half as Arsenal took a lazy approach to the match. Arsenal only forced West Brom into 6 clearances in the first half, compared to 17 in the second half. Moreover, the Gunners’ bread and butter this season has been to shoot from inside the box but in that first half five of their six shots were from distance. Albion kept Arsenal at bay.

But Arsenal have played against teams who deploy this tactic so many times that I’ve lost count. And we all know what Arsenal need in games like that, someone with close control who can dribble and cause panic in the defensive lines. With Cazorla out, that person is usually Jack Wilshere but last night he was hampered by a referee who allowed perfidious Albion to kick Jack off the pitch without calling a foul.

I know it is fashionable to have a go at Wilshere for his performance, at least it was on twitter yesterday, but it’s impossible to play when the opposition is allowed to kick you time and again. Lee Mason only called one foul on Albion against Wilshere. That was early in the match as well. After that foul West Brom were allowed to hip check, obstruct, push him down from behind, nearly break his eye socket, tackle his ankle, and tackle him from behind with no calls.

Yes, Wilshere made a few bad passes (especially the ones in dangerous areas), he also went 0/3 in tackles, and was blown up for three fouls. But I have to think that people’s opinion of Jack’s performance would have been slightly better had he been awarded the two stonewall penalties he deserved.

For the first, Wilshere is played in by Giroud, pushes the ball around Billy Jones and is deep in the box when Jones makes a lunging late tackle on his ankle (4:15). In seeing that tackle again, in slow motion, Jack’s ankle folded over and I thought for sure it was his ankle done. But clearly Wilshere’s ankles are nigh invulnerable.

For the second, though, I think that maybe I’m unclear about the rules of football. Let’s have a second of clarification. If Jack Wilshere goes through Cladio Yacob and wins the ball with a tackle from behind, it’s a yellow card. Right? Because the tackle from behind is dangerous and whether you win the ball or not is irrelevant. Which is what Lee Mason called. Mason gave Wilshere a yellow card because in order to win the ball he had to go through Yacob’s legs. But then the same rule should apply to when Mulumbu makes a flying tackle from behind and takes out Jack’s standing leg, right? That’s not what Mason called.

So, while I agree that Wilshere wasn’t on his best form at all times yesterday, he was certainly the most threatening player, he got into two great scoring positions and was denied scoring opportunities because an Albion player fouled him and referee Lee Mason refused to make the correct call.

And the best part is that despite all those poor calls, and the constant fouling, Wilshere still scored the tying goal. His technique perfect on the volley that saved Arsenal blushes.

We had to know that Arsenal wouldn’t go the whole season scoring the first goal and getting goals in the first half of games. So, the question then, would be how Arsenal would cope with the pressure of being behind. The answer isn’t definitive yet.

Arsenal didn’t seem to cope well with that pressure at first. The start of the second half was just as gutless for Arsenal as the start of the first. Pushing far too high up the pitch, Arsenal were caught with their pants down as Anelka sprinted into the acres of space left by Jenkinson. If Anelka were a 1/10th the player he used to be he probably would have curled home his shot but as it was it went just wide.

Giroud also had a clear cut chance go begging. Wilshere played an amazing long pass to him, and the big Frenchman cut across goal and tried to get an angle on the keeper but Myhill kept his head and got the save.

In fact, both keepers did well yesterday. Szczesny had an amazing save early in the match off a deflected shot and collected most crosses well, despite being fouled in the air on more than one occasion.

In the end, though, Arsenal did well to overcome a stalwart opposition and get a point out of a game in which it really looked like Arsenal were going to get Jack Squat. They had to dig deep and they did. Especially Jack.

Questions:

Why did Bendtner come on? I seriously don’t understand that substitution. Rosicky for Ramsey made sense, Rosicky not only set up the goal, it was his throbbing play in Albion’s box that nearly got Arsenal the whole load of points. But Bendtner? He lost two headers and made two passes. Uhh.. ok. And Giroud sprinted off the pitch, he wasn’t injured or tired. Just a curious substitution.

Also, why can’t someone have a word with Arteta and tell him it’s his job to protect the creative players? Flamini picked up a yellow in the 22nd minute and I have to think that part of the reason Albion got away with so much on Wilshere was because Flamini couldn’t kick back. This will happen again, Arteta needs to step up and put in some crunching tackles on Mulumbu, Yacob, and that guy Billy next time.

What position was Jenkinson actually playing? I ask because I only ever saw him running into the center back spot or dicking around in the Albion box. There was a moment when Koscielny was playing right back because Jenkinson was all over the shop. Terrible game from him, hopefully they do some drills during international break, like tie him to the corner flag or something.

Qq