Posts Tagged ‘Laurent Koscielny’

Optimism: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. Now, please do not mistake this for ‘delusions of grandeur’, which, when ‘defined’ into Google, reads ‘Liverpool Football Club’.

Being an optimistic fan is often counter attacked by a sarcastic comment (or simply “#deluded”) and since the signings of Lukas Podolski, Olivier ‘everyone’s man-crush’ Giroud and Santi CaTHorla (I doubt Paul Merson will ever pronounce our diminutive playmaker’s name right), I, Daniel Tregoning Blazer have become something of an optimist.

It has been a while since I can honestly say I have been an optimistic Arsenal fan, rather than deluded, bordering on neurotic, one. Every fan has suffered from this grandeur and every season since Patrick Vieira smashed home that penalty against Manchester United to win the FA Cup in 2005 I have, without hesitation, stood by my opinion/delusion that this year will be Arsenal’s…so what’s changed?

Well, this isn’t ‘Arsenal’s year’. BUT next season IS.

Robin van Persie HAS been replaced (sorry to burst the Sun’s ‘Arsenal will cease to exist’ bubble). No, I know we haven’t signed Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente or Napoli’s Edinson Cavani or re-re-signed Jeremie Aliadiere (we haven’t have we?!) but Arsene has shared the workload. Lukas Podolski, Oliver Giroud and Theo Walcott are capable of 12-15 goals each; Santi Cazorla, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and the rest of the midfield will easily score 6-10 goals each; according to my Mathematics that makes…a hell of a lot more than 30. So front-line, goals- SORTED.

The midfield (with Nuri Sahin finally signing) is complete. Many sections of the Emirates would argue we need that Claude Makelele defensive midfielder and I definitely wouldn’t say no to a Yann M’Vila or Etienne Capoue signing but it is a luxury a self sustaining business model like AFC doesn’t need right now; I would even argue Mikel ‘future Brylcreem ambassador’ Arteta is our DM? The wealth of options in the midfield is something that even Manchester ‘lets buy every flavour of the month’ City don’t have.

Now, to two words that usually send shudders down even the most positive of Gunners, ‘Arsenal’s defence’. This is an area that definitely is a weakness but not in the proportions that pundits would care for you to believe.

Laurent Koscielny was the 2nd best Premier League defender last season (behind Vincent Kompany) although I’m still waiting for the upper echelons of the media to realise this?!

Now for my optimism to become reality in the Premier League season of 2013/14, Le Profeseur needs to shift Thomas Vermaelen out to left back (*goes into hibernation through fear of backlash at this suggestion*) and here is why; ignoring the fact that the newest resident of Cell Block H, Andre Santos can’t defend and Kieran Gibbs is probably overrated and from the same gene pool as Amaury Bischoff, TV5’s understanding of when to ‘stay’ and when to ‘go’ is, frankly, criminal; for every heroic winner against Newcastle United, there are three or four occasions when our new captain misjudges situations and gets caught out of position but Koscielny ‘mops up’.

So, with Verm out on the left and obviously Bacary Sagna at right back, who to partner Koscielny at the heart of the defence? Phillipe Mexes? Sakho? Why not Per Mertesacker? Okay, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks (or pace) but he is an option I love AFC being able to have. So for me, CB is an issue and the final piece of the jigsaw that will see us back in amongst the trophies.

Arsene Wenger nearly didn’t make it, had to drag several thousand of us ‘kicking and screaming’ to the new era of Arsenal Football Club and admittedly come the end of the current campaign it will have taken seven seasons to get ‘there’ but, boy will it be worth it. You can quote me on that!

Think I’m deluded? Or just want to tell me what your perfect Sunday would be? Then find me on Twitter @DanielTBlazer

Arsene Wenger reportedly failed in January with a bid for Blackburn Rovers’ centre back Christopher Samba, and that failure proved to be extremely costly with Arsenal’s defence being the main culprits in Arsenal’s demise after the Carling Cup final.

With the fans’ and board running out of patience with Le Prossfeur it’s expected that finally, he will abandon his usual transfer policy and spend big in the transfer market, and the media are expecting Wenger to go back in for Samba as he is what Arsenal need, and for once I actually agree with the Fleet Street bigwigs.

Laurent Koscielny’s indifferent season has proven how hard it is to adjust to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League but Samba has established himself as a strong and physical player at the heart of the Rovers defence, all attributes Arsenal have lacked this season. The Premier League is arguably the best in the world and over his four full seasons for Rover’s the Congo international has continually proven his ability to play consistently at the highest level.

Thomas Vermaelen is arguably Arsenal’s best defender but despite this, the Belgium defender lacks that physical presence that a centre half should have. Samba would give Arsenal that much needed bit of brute force in the middle, which in turn would enable them to compete with the most physical of sides such as Stoke City, where the Gunners have dropped ‘silly’ points of the season due to them being ‘bullied’ off the park.

Set pieces should bring anticipation or reassurances depending on whether your team is attacking or defending one. This season the Gunners’ faithful have rarely got excited at a set piece because they know that their side lack the hunger or aerial prowess to win the ball, something which Samba has in abundance with the majority of his Blackburn goals’ coming via set pieces. When it comes to defending a set piece the Arsenal fans’ are a bag of nerves not knowing if their keeper will flap at the ball or Johan Djourou will take it upon himself to score for the opposing team. Samba has shown his composure when under pressure while playing for Blackburn and will give Arsenal the attribute they have lacked for so long, the ability to clear the ball quickly and cleanly or even just a good ol’ fashioned ‘hoof’ up field.

Recent big money transfer involving Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones have proven how costly buying Premier League experience is, and Samba has plenty. The real bonus in signing the former Hertha Berlin player is he shouldn’t cost more than £10 million, an absolute steal when you see the money being touted for another Arsenal target Gary Cahill.

Samba is a must for Wenger this summer as he begins his seventh attempt at ending Arsenal’s barren spell, which may well be his last chance.

I know you all laughed when you saw the title of my article; if I’m honest, so did I, but despite Arsenal yet again showing that they choke when the pressure intensifies and that defensive fragilities are very much not a thing of the past, has the season been a total washout for Arsene Wenger’s Red and White Army?

I mean, until recently, they were the only club challenging on four fronts and, even though they imploded dramatically, surely being there or thereabouts in four competitions by February is a feat in its own right?

All is not lost for the North London outfit despite increasing frustrations both in the boardroom and amongst the fans.

Pat Rice is an Arsenal legend, as a player and as Arsene Wenger’s assistant manager. It is widely reported that the Irishman will be retiring at the end of this season and even though this will a major loss for the whole club, at least us fans don’t have to see Rice’s rather effeminate sitting position that does no favours for a club supposedly lacking in leaders and ‘real men’.

Nicklas Bendtner is said to be looking for a way out this summer; this is the man who told the world his sob story of having to give up things such as skiing in order to play football, which is why he apparently justifies his enormous salary. Throw that in with the missed opportunity against Barcelona in the second leg, as well as the pink boots episode, and it figures that most Arsenal fans will be glad to see the back of the big Dane.

Theo Walcott has come a long way this season in justifying the reported £10 million paid for him at the age of just 17 and his surprising and controversial inclusion in England’s 2006 World Cup squad. Walcott has been dogged with injuries and inconsistent performances throughout his Arsenal career, but this season has seen the Englishman combine blistering pace with an all round game that has seen him notch 11 goals and 10 assists in all competitions. It has taken a while, but Arsenal fans are beginning to see the Theo Walcott that was promised to them just a few years back.

Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski, apart from being the hardest names to spell in the Premier League, have begun to ease Arsenal fans’ frustrations at Wenger’s decision not to sign a world class keeper in the summer. Fabianski dislodged Almunia from the number one spot and, despite a performance against Newcastle that the fans had come accustomed to, the young Pole has saved them vital points against Wolves, Blackburn and Everton. During the season Fabianski unfortunately suffered through injury, leaving Arsenal only one fit keeper, the 20 year old and fellow Pole Szczesny, whose performances have had the media wondering whether Arsene Wenger has finally solved his long-term goalkeeping crisis. Arsenal fans, for the first time in a while, don’t have too many concerns about the man between the sticks.

Arsenal have always received plaudits for their youth set up and the players it produces, and it is no different this season. Henri Lansbury is currently out on loan with Norwich City, Kyle Bartley is with Rangers establishing himself as a no nonsense defender and Ryo Miyaichi has impressed a great deal on loan at Feyenoord. No doubt all the returning players will looking to break into the first team next season.

Laurent Koscielny was doing a very good job at hindering Arsene Wenger’s record at unearthing unknown talent, after some poor displays at the beginning of the season. What a difference a game makes though, and after an impressive performance against Chelsea, the Frenchman has never looked back (the Carling Cup final aside) and has become a more assured defender, no longer giving Arsenal fans as many jitters when he is on the ball.

Away form is something the Arsenals of recent years knew nothing about, yet this year has seen them become a force on the road, collecting 29 points, the most in the league and 6 ahead of Chelsea and Manchester United. If only they could combine decent home and away form in the same season, they may find themselves going the distance and expanding the trophy cabinet.

Winning the Premier League still isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds; stranger things have happened. Arsenal still have to play Manchester United at home, and who knows? Arsenal fans could be celebrating their 11th league title come May.

A creative midfielder who scores goals, is a joy to watch and is linked with Barcelona; no, I’m not talking about Cesc Fabregas. I’m actually talking about PFA Footballer of the Year runner up, Samir Nasri, who has had a fantastic season for the Gunners, especially early season, with his sublime trickery and eye for goal being a real asset to Arsenal this season. Further to this, Nasri has shown he is more than capable of filling in for Fabregas in the middle of the park should the Spaniard leave, which, as it happens, is probably where some of his best performances have come.

Jack Wilshere, what a season he has had. PFA Young player of the year, full England international and fantastic performances, including against the elite Barcelona team, not bad for a 19 year old. The Englishman has epitomised consistency this season and displayed the mental strength to become a legend of the beautiful game.