Tag Archives: Wilfried Zaha

Wenger admits Arsenal are in for 2i players but not Zaha and unlikely Diame

Arsene Wenger confirmed in Tuesday’s press conference that Arsenal are interested in bringing in quality players this January stating specifically that the number of players was unimportant. Then later, when asked by a journalist if Arsenal were interested in bringing in two players, Arsene said specifically, yes, two.

This idea that Arsene might be both “after two players” and might be “after a non-specific number of quality players” has caused some consternation among the Arsenal faithful. This is especially the case when Arsene also admitted weakness in the defensive midfield position and follows that revelation up with an admission that the Frenchman is a fan of West Ham’s Momo Diame. However, contrary to reports in the Daily Mail it should not be taken as written in stone that Arsenal will sign two players, nor that Arsenal are interested in a holding midfielder, and certainly not that Arsenal have bid or will bid for Momo Diame — regardless of how sparkling his performance is against the Arsenal today.

Arsene Wenger is well known for his impenetrable press conferences. They are often riddles wrapped in an enigma which may contain many potent quotables but little in the way of actual substance. He rarely names names and often jests with the press, and always does so in a way that generates good copy for their headline writers, especially in the January transfer window.

So, when this presser started Wenger was at his level best, refusing to be drawn on which or how many players that the club are interested in. Instead specifying “It is not the number that counts but the quality.”

Then, literally minutes later, he seems to change his mind and admits that Arsenal are after two players. The exchange goes like this:

journalist: “I know you don’t want to talk about specific players but you said earlier that you are after two targets, is that still the case?”
Wenger: “Yes.” (scratches a spot on his neck)
journalist: “Are you any closer to identifying those two?”
Wenger: “We work very hard on it.”

Rather than a flat out admission that Arsenal will sign two players in the next 8 days, this is the admission of a man who seems to be looking for two players. I don’t think of this as a “real” number, more an imaginary number, 2 players if you will.

No mention of specific names, and no mention of specific positions, more like an admission that “if I can get them, I have two players in mind” or more likely “I have two positions that I think Arsenal need strengthening, but it can be difficult to find the quality we would like.” The reason I like the latter interpretation (that it’s positions and not players) is because it jibes with his earlier statement about looking for quality over quantity.

This interpretation of Wenger’s statements does not preclude Arsenal from buying nor guarantee a purchase, it is simply stating that I believe him when he says he is looking for someone and specifically for two positions.

The “two players” quote, however, is preceded by what seems to be an explosive admission that Arsenal are “short” in the defensive midfield position and followed by what could be interpreted as interest in Momo Diame.

But this shortness in the DM position is in the context of admitting that first choice Arteta is out, that backup Diaby is short of match fitness, and that third choice Coquelin picked up a hamstring injury. Perhaps Arsene Wenger is considering a fresh player there, lord knows many would welcome such an addition, but it seems unlikely. Arsenal are basically in the same position with regards to defensive midfielder as they were when they sold Song. And the only mitigating factor would be if Arteta’s injury is worse than thought, then we might see an addition.

And then when asked about Diame he smiles a bit and says that “[Diame] has a great presence in a game, I’ve seen him in games where he’s had a big impact” and “he can drive the midfield.” Precisely the kind of quote he loves to give (right after saying that he doesn’t talk about specific players) and precisely the type of quote the press love, because it generates such great copy on what would probably otherwise be a slow news day.

Maybe Arsenal are in for Diame. But isn’t it just as likely that the two players are a forward to take over from Theo Walcott on the right and an experienced keeper who doesn’t mind helping young Szczesny out?

Debate will rage, doubtless, but one thing you can count on is that no answers will be forthcoming from Wenger on who the targets are/were until after February 1.



It’s fargin war: Capoue set to sign for Everton, M’Vila for QPR

At this point, I’m just going to go ahead and tell you that if you’re at all a rational person, if you look at the world and are able to make sense of reality, and if you like making sense of things, it’s probably in your best interest to stop reading news about Arsenal now because if you don’t… you… may start throwing things. In fact, just stop reading this post right now.

Seriously. Stop. Go outside, walk the dog.

You’re not stopping? Ok…

Two days ago Arsene Wenger made the proclamation that despite the loss of Arsenal’s most important midfielder (Mikel Arteta) to his now annual January three-week injury layoff Arsenal were not really in the market for a midfielder because “If you think there are any players of Arteta’s calibre available now in January,” he said, “I wish you good luck.”

This was a bold statement from the Arsenal man, especially considering that he had just selected Abou Diaby to play in Arteta’s place in a crucial match against Manchester City. Abou Diaby, who has started a grand total of 24 Arsenal matches in the last 30 months, struggled mightily against the reigning League champs and looked so far removed from “Arteta’s calibre” that the only praise Arsene Wenger could muster for the man after the game was that he played 60 minutes without picking up an injury and that he will “get stronger.”

Meanwhile, reports surfaced this morning that Arsenal look set to lose out on four long-rumored transfer targets as Everton are on the verge of signing Toulouse midfielder Ettiene Capoue, Queen’s Park Rangers look set to swoop for Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila and Marseilles forward Loic Remy, and English forward Wilfried Zaha looks set to sign for Manchester United. Yes, I know, by mentioning Arteta and Diaby and then Remy and Zaha I’m mixing midfielders and forwards. I’m doing that only because there are a lot of folks who believe that Arsenal also need a striker now that star center forward Gervinho has gone off to the Africa Nations of Cups.

And if you’ve ever wondered why there is a divide among Arsenal supporters, or if you’ve ever wanted to catalog what that divide looks like, what arguments each makes, you need look no further than the comments that this article will receive below. Because what this all really comes down to is an argument over what each person believes is “a quality player.”

Some people will argue that Diaby is “Arteta calibre” and they will point to that one game that he had back in 2009 where he really just looked a world beater. The other person will state, plainly, that he may be the Lionel Messi of midfielders but he’s started less than one game a month for the last two and a half years.

Some folks will say “well who the hell are YOU to say which players are quality? You sound like that bitter fan questioning Harry Redknapp over why he picked Frank Lampard over Scott Canham. Redknapp was right, Lampard was miles better than Canham.” And their opposites will reply with a catalog of examples of players that Arsene didn’t rate who turned out to be fantastic.

On it will rage, Arsenal fans will now begin to throw things against walls, probably their own feces, as they go ape-shit over this latest news.

How do I personally feel?

I think Moyes is the most astute manager in the Premier League in terms of getting value out of the transfer market. He doesn’t get the big payouts that Wenger does but then he doesn’t bet as much as Wenger does either because Everton don’t have the same deep pockets that Arsenal have. I have been a fan of Capoue since I was convinced to give him a chance by Tim from Arse2Mouse and I would love to see Capoue in an Arsenal shirt.

Based on his stats and on watching him play football, I believe that Capoue would provide the steel that Arsenal need in midfield, protecting Jack from “wheelchair” tackles. I believe Capoue is a fantastic deep-lying playmaker as well and would offer some great service from distance for either Theo to run under or for Giroud to win. Capoue is also able to play center back and he is one of the best in France in terms of winning aerial duels, I believe that those are two places where he could help Arsenal.

But most importantly, Moyes is reportedly bringing Capoue in because Chelsea are going to sign Marouane Fellaini. And if that’s true, then, it means that Everton are losing a star player to a big-spending team (which many agree is inevitable) and are looking to replace like quality for like quality in the transfer market. And that’s something that many Arsenal fans feel like Arsenal have not really done lately.




Lopez, Zaha, Goetze and more, which wide man should Arsenal target?

Quick post, mostly to spark discussion rather than for me to give you an answer. Everyone seems assured that their solution to Arsenal’s problem is the right one, and I agree with them all. Could Arsenal buy another starting forward like Cavani and relegate Giroud to the bench or play him as part of a 4-4-2? Sure. That might work wonders. Could Arsenal buy a decent backup to Giroud, Llorente let’s say, and have him come off the bench or play when Arsenal need to give the Frenchman a rest? I can see an argument for that. Could Arsenal take a player like Cazorla and move him to the wings, thus allowing the team to play two forwards instead of three? Or let Rosicky take Cazorla’s place and Cazorla be the wing player that we all know that Arsenal need? Yep and yep.

All good suggestions, all doable with key purchases, and all may or may not help the club win something this season. Let’s take the example du jour, Demba Ba. I’ve seen it written that if Arsenal don’t try to buy Ba it would be the equivalent of malfeasance on the part of the Arsenal board. That’s how much of a no-brainer purchase Demba Ba is for £7m plus salary demands. What I’ve seen from Ba so far in his career is a player who plays hot for six months, then takes six months off. He did it last year before Cisse arrived, scoring 15 goals before the ACN and just 1 goal after. It’s not a case that he didn’t get shots, he had 49 shots and just one goal, including games where he had 8 shots and 6 shots without a goal. He also managed to go that entire time with just one assist. He did something similar the season before with Hoffenheim, this time it was over a contract dispute.

But maybe I’m wrong, maybe he was being played out of position last year, maybe he was right to agitate for a move to West Ham, and maybe he should get the starting nod over Giroud. I’m ok with those arguments. But are you ok with the counter argument that paying £7m for a 27 year old, who cannot pass a physical, who has a history of coasting through seasons, who has agitated twice for bigger paydays, and who wants a five year deal worth £80k a week might be the exact kind of contract stupidity that people bemoan when it comes to players like Diaby? It’s a big gamble, a £28m gamble using the numbers above.

Personally, I don’t think Arsenal need a forward. I think the club has three forwards and besides which everyone wants to play centrally anyway. Need a pacy player who can come off the bench and go at tired opposition or can be the small in a big-small partnership? Walcott has 9 goals and 6 assists in Premier League and Champions League play. Need a handful up front to win aerials and give options on crosses? Olivier Giroud has 7 goals and 5 assists in the two leagues. Need a backup forward who can play wide, can play alone up front and whose hallmark is efficiency? Podolski has 9 goals and 7 assists for Arsenal.

Between those three players, Arsenal should have the forward position covered, but only if Arsenal buy a player who can play wide because right now those three all start and Podolski and Walcott are Arsenal’s nominal wide men, wide men who coincidentally all like to occupy the same place on the pitch, the penalty spot.

There’s no doubting that Arsenal lack width and a player with pace and trickery to get past the opposition down the wings. Especially one who then doesn’t mind staying wide and playing in a cross. Ox is our only player who actually likes playing out wide and he’s good at dribbling but still not great at crossing, Arshavin doesn’t seem to like playing at all, and Theo only plays wide because the boss tells him to. Walcott’s not great at dribbling but but he’s actually good at crossing as shown by the assist for Giroud’s header against Newcastle.

Meanwhile, Gervinho can dribble but he can’t cross and that leaves it up to the fullbacks (Sagna and Gibbs) to provide the crosses. Gibbs has been playing well the last few games and that uptick in form has him up to 11 successful crosses in the League this year, less than one a game.

Before I’m accused of wanting to turn the team into Liverpool, I need to say that I’m not obsessed with crosses. They are not the be-all-end-all of football, that’s the through ball (only half joking). But the problem with Arsenal’s “wing” players is that they tend to dribble inside too much and leave the crossing up to the fullbacks, this is part of what makes Arsenal’s game predictable.

Arsenal have a player who can dribble and cross, his name is Cazorla. And now that I’ve said that we must do the mental calculus of deciding whether moving him from the hole to the wing is the best thing for the team and something that the player wouldn’t think of as a demotion. Moreover what formation do you use? A 4-4-2? Sure! Who’s the ball winning center mid? Ettiene Capoue! I can accept all these arguments and yet none of them at the same time.

As you can see, any change is sort of like Dr. Tyrell explaining to Roy Batty why he can’t just mutate his DNA and give him more life.

What if you move Cazorla to the wing?
Yes, and then play Rosicky in the hole. But why demote Cazorla when he’s playing so well there, why not buy a real wide player and let Cazorla be the creative force in the middle and use Rosicky as his legitimate backup, that would be less disruptive to the system.
What if we buy Cavani and use Giroud as a backup?
It’s a good plan for the point in the 4-3-3 but doesn’t address the problem that Arsenal are playing with three center forwards and no real wide players thus necessitating the fullbacks to play as wingers and forcing Arsenal to play high up the pitch at all times… but this, all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.


My position is simple, let’s get in a wide player this January. Someone who can dribble and cross. Someone who has the touch to not turn the ball over a lot and who has the vision to play through balls. He should also be able to pass well overall not demand a lot of shots (because there are none left!) and if he’s going to cost us a golden calf, better be young enough to be worth it.

You can pick anyone you want, except Adrian Lopez. My pick would be Goetze but I’m guessing that Arsenal are going to take Zaha instead and like everything else, I can see an argument for him. 20 years old, 5 goals, 3 assists, English. Yep, Zaha,

Oh, and let’s get Theo Walcott signed up.