Let the season truly begin!!

Even though the season has begun long back and teams have played 3/4 matches each, the real season cannot begin till the transfer window closes and the shape of the teams becomes crystallized. This especially goes for the teams like Portsmouth who bought around 13 players in the window and sold around 11. So after major or minor overhauls in teams across the premier league and the transfer window finally shut on Tuesday we can now concentrate on football rather than the transfer gossip surrounding the game.

I will be commenting on the dealings in the transfer market of all the major teams and am beginning with the layout for Arsenal.

Arsenal sold its leading goal scorer for the last couple of years to Man City but did not go into the transfer market for any replacement. They also sold Kolo Toure and bought Thomas Vermaleen (who by the way is looking like a really good buy by Wenger) as his replacement.

Arsenal could definitely have done with some more good defensive cover both in the centre midfield and centre half positions and a better keeper should have been secured. I know finding good keepers is not that easy but that cant possibly be an excuse. But you know Wenger, and you should know that he will never agree that the existing squad is not good enough or big enough in spite of selling more players than that come in for the last few seasons at least.

I am not worried about the quality of the team we have. They are all good young players who have great futures ahead of them. What troubles me more is the fact that every year we have a few bad injuries to our players and that’s when we are faced with the apparent question of our squad not being big enough and lacking the depth to compete with our Premier league rivals. Why cant we factor in a few injuries and invest in the squad accordingly before hand?

I remember last season too, in January Fabregas was out and we really missed him bad and the team went on to draw a number of matches in a row  till Wenger eventually bought Arshavin on the last day of the transfer window and given some time he was settled he proved to be a very good signing for us. What I never understood then or even now is why Wenger has to wait till the last day of the transfer window to buy a player of Arshavin’s caliber? What is he waiting for? To get a cut price deal or what? I think that’s a big risk and should not be taken when dealing in the market for players of such high class. You never know when a rival might come in and scupper the deal for you.

Frankly speaking If Arshavin had come to Arsenal at the beginning of January, who knows how that bad run of draws might have turned out and we might even have had a chance at the title. Haggling over a million dollars cost Arsenal scores of points and in the broad scheme of things I really wonder if it was all worth it. I am glad that at least this year Wenger had his eyes on Vermaleen and closed the deal much earlier which gave the new joinee time to mingle with the team and helped his integration in the team to a great deal. The result of which is apparent in his performances from the first match itself.

I remember last summer we were trying to get Xabi Alonso from Liverpool who in turn were trying to buy Gareth Barry. Wenger went in with an offer on the last day of the transfer window which was around a million short of what Liverpool wanted. Around 12- 15 million pounds was the amount speculated then. For a player of Alonso’s class couldn’t we have bought him for what it took? For all you know it would have been us selling him to Madrid this year for more than twice the amount we bought him for. And Last season’s results could have been much different with the Spanish partnership of Alonso and Fabregas in the middle. Anyways, what’s happened has happened. We cannot change that but sometimes it pains me to see Wenger haggle over players of the class of Arshavin, Alonso or Nasri. He is too adamant and sometimes his haggling tactics backfire (like in the case of Xabi Alonso) and the negative impact of the same is very difficult to even calculate. Xabi Alonso was a smaller case to point out. Wenger’s policy has cost us many a good players in the past which includes the likes of Ronaldo (Fergie outbid Arsenal), Eto’o (Was offered by Barca in a swap deal for Henry), Wilson Palcacios who had a trial at Arsenal and we suggested him to Birmingham where he flourished and was snapped up by Wigan only to be sold a year later to spurs for a magnanimous profit.

So for all the shrewd deals Wenger has done over the years, he sure has missed quite a few too. Imagine Ronaldo having come to Arsenal instead of going to Manchester united. The last 3 years the title wouldn’t have been at old Trafford. Henry might not have left Arsenal for Barca and what not. But again we should let bygones be bygones and learn to move on.

One good piece of business Wenger has done in the past couple of years is snatching away Aaron Ramsey from under Fergie’s nose a couple of years ago. Ramsey shows so many glimpses of Fabregas when he was that age. I already think its Wenger’s plan to train young Rambo on the lines of Fabregas and groom him to take over the centre of Arsenal’s midfield before we sell Fabregas to one of the Spanish giants for a record breaking amount in a couple of years.

Arsenal teams looks to have good balance this time of the year especially with not many people out with long term injuries. We could have done with a better keeper I am sure, but Wenger decided to continue with his faith in Almunia. Almunia isn’t bad but he is prone to one off errors which can cost us some valuable points.

Defensively I think we are very well covered especially since Senderos could not be offloaded to any team. I still feel Arsenal should’ve stolen Everton’s deal for Johnny Heitinga and brought him to the Emirates and in the process offloaded Senderos to Everton (who were in dire needs of a defender to cover for Lescott’s departure to Manchester City). I rate Heitinga among the very best defenders available in the market today and he would have been a good backup for Gallas and Vermaleen. Anyways we still have Djourou, Silvestre and Senderos as backup for the centre half position. For Right back we have Eboue as a back up to Sagna and for Left back we have Armand Traore and Kieran Gibbs as backup to Gael Clichy. More than enough coverage I guess. Though the quality drop for the backup compared to the first team is immense at some places.

Given Arsenal’s new 4-3-3 formation. I’d prefer Alexandre Song over Denilson as Defensive midfielder simply because Denilson gives away the ball too easily at times. And I continue to say that Song is fast emerging into a great Defensive midfielder for Arsenal. Arsenal recently tied Bendtnar and Denilson to long term contracts and I hear one with revised terms is on the cards for Song too. Denilson can play in this position as a backup in case Song gets injured etc.

In front of Song I would like Fabregas and Nasri to play. Once Nasri is back from injury I would like to see him flourish playing his favored central midfielder role alongside Captain fabulous. Diaby, Denilson, Ramsey and Merida can play as back up for these positions in the absence of Nasri or Fabregas. Merida looked good when he came on as a substitute in one of the matches and he too recently signed a long term contract with Arsenal. Merida sure has potential and just needs to keep working hard in training to impress the manager for more minutes this season.

For the three forwards I would like Van Persie to play through the centre for the sheer reason of his height. Eduardo/Arshavin can play down the left and Arshavin/Walcott can play down the right. Obviously the front 3 formation is very fluid and they will all keep changing positions so as to make runs into the penalty box. As back up to the wide men we have Rosicky returning from injury, Walcott returning from injury soon, young Jack Wilshere with that sensational left foot of his, Carlos Vela, Fran Merida, Diaby, and Armand Traore etc. As a back up at the centre we have Nikolas Bendtnar who scored some crucial goals for the team last season. Then there are Vela and Eduardo who are natural strikers.

I think the squad has a good depth to it when you isolate each position individually. The problems for Arsenal have been when a couple of players face long lay-offs due to injury and there is not enough quality to fill the gaps.

In spite of all that I still think if Arsenals first team players can remain fit for most of the season and especially the crunch matches then we will have a really good season ahead of us and who knows a much awaited trophy might come our way.

Preferred line up: –

 

                                                        Almunia

 

Sagna                        Gallas                        Vermaleen                  Clichy

 

                                                  Alexandre Song

 

                                     Fabregas                         Nasri

 

 Arshavin/Walcott                                                        Eduardo/Arshavin

                                          Robin Van Persie / Bendtnar

 Subs: – Fabianski, Eboue, Djourou, Kieran Gibbs, Walcott/Eduardo, Bendtnar/RVP, Diaby/Denilson/Vela/Rosicky/Wilshere/Ramsey

All in all I can’t say we need to replace some one in the first team (except the goalie) unless it’s with an established world class player. But the bench sure could have been strengthened to a great extent. But still if this Arsenal team cannot put up a good fight for the title as well in the FA cup and Champions league I am sure to be surprised.

 Go gunners go!!!

Marouane Fellaini: proving to be one hell of a good signing for Everton

More has been written about his poor disciplinary record and his weird hair-do’s.

Amazing Afro

Amazing Afro

Weird Hair-do's of Fellaini
Weird Hair-do’s of Fellaini
Trimmed and groomed

Trimmed and groomed

But people seem to forget the immediate impact the youngster has made on Everton and the premiership in general.

I was wondering what to write about when it struck me that more bad has been written about this poor lad who has just recently turned 21. Yes thats right, he is just 21, and yet he has broken the Belgian transfer record and he has broken Everton FC tranfer fee record when they signed him on the last day of the summer transfer window for around 12+ million pounds from Belgian side Standard Liege. So i thought i might as well shed some light on the good work the kid is doing at Everton.

He is a distinctive box to box type mid-fielder. He is great defensively as well as has a very good knack of scoring goals. His finishing at times replicates that of a accomplished striker. He has already scored 6 goals for Everton in just over 4 times as many games. 1 goal every 4 matches for a Box to Box midfielder sure seems like a very good return.

He has scored some really crucial goals for the team and had a big hand to play in all the 4 goals scored at the weekend against Wigan.

I would have to agree with critics of his poor disciplinary record. But cut the guy some slack, he is just 21. He is still learning the game and will surely get only better with time.

I really feel David Moyes has pulled a summer transfer scoop in signing Marouane Fellaini.

I think Arsenal would have been helped a great way if they had signed him and his physical prescense in the weak looking Arsenal midfield could have been the difference in where we are sitting now (4th) vis-avis where we could have been competing for the title. And more so the signing fits into Arsenal’s scheme of things buy young et al. Though Wenger wouldnt have paid 12 mil for him.

I dont want to take credit from Denilson/Song/Diaby, who have all been turning in some decent performances off late. But at the start of the season they were all just not ready to be put straight in to fill Flamini’s shoes who had done a great job last season.

All the same i look forward to the Champions league matches tonight…
My predictions: –

Villarreal vs Arsenal – Arsenal to nip Villareal by sneaking a lone goal: 0-1.

Man Utd vs FC Porto – Man U 2 win comfortably but Porto to score too 3-1.