Pinch me.

Firstly, I’d like to say that this an overdue blog post (the last one was right after THAT statement), so and will contain my opinion on a lot of the recent Arsenal-related stuff. A friend of mine, Digant, has been helping me out with my recent blog posts, and I hope to update my blog a lot more often from now on.

Pinch me.
This has got to be a dream, a wild fantasy.

What a transfer window this has been for Arsenal fans, thus far. Towards the end of May, if someone had told me that we’d add Giroud and Cazorla to the superb signing of Podolski, I’d have asked them what they’d been smoking.

We now have the youngest European to gain 100 caps for their country, Ligue 1’s top scorer last season and La Liga’s best player outside the Barca and Madrid squads. How’s that for ambition, Robin?

It’s a very Arsene thing to do, isn’t it? We’ve just come out of one of our worst seasons defensively, conceding 49 goals in the league, and we go out and buy three attacking players! On a serious note, I really think that Arsene’s new number two, Steve Bould, will sort out our frailties at the back, although the lack of gametime together for our first choice back 5 is worrying. Szczesny has already spoken out about how Bouldie likes to bark out orders and doesn’t hesitate to stop a practice session/game to correct small mistakes about positioning, etc.

It must be added that most, almost all in fact, of the money we used for the three recruits, was from the money we earned from selling the sites on Queensland Road in London. That’s absolutely terrific. It shows that we’re a self-sustaining club, and we do not need a Sugar Daddy owner to splash out silly amounts of money to attract top talents. It also represents the first time any property sales have led directly to investment in the squad. So could it be that Arsene really didn’t have money to spend since the move to the Emirates and now that he’s been given some dough he’s made sure there’s none left for the board to put in their pockets. It’s encouraging and it remains to be seen if this was a one time change of strategy which Arsene thought necessary or a change in policy which will continue when we renew and strengthen our sponsorship deals.

Coming to the Robin van Persie situation. Lots of websites are saying that United are in “pole position” for his signature, but I really don’t think Arsene will deal with them, unless they offer about £25-30 mil. Him going to United would really twist the knife that he’s already stabbed in Arsenal’s back. If we don’t get a big enough offer, I think we should keep him for another season, even if means we lock him up in a glass cage with Frimpong and make him repeatedly read his statement out loud.

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On a different note, I’d like to address something I’ve been wanting to for a few weeks now. There has been a lot of criticism of several Arsenal players on twitter and facebook, and I want to talk about these players, in this piece, which I call “Our misunderstood men.”

1. Aaron Ramsey.
Rambo’s undoubtedly received the most amount of flak from the Arsenal faithful. He was a top prospect before that unforgettable night at The Britannia. Since he returned from that horrific injury, almost everything has gone against him, and he’s become something of a scapegoat amongst a section of the fans.

If you think about it, last season was Aaron’s first full season at the club and it obviously takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you’ve just recovered from a career-threatening lay-off. He had to restart at the bottom of the learning curve all over again and we should bear with him.

To make it worse, Gary Speed, who had mentored Aaron and made him Welsh captain, tragically passed away, it was out of the blue and one can only imagine how it affected the young lad.

Positionally, this season, Ramsey has been played out of position, especially during the second half of the season. Rosicky was brilliant all season in that CAM role and this forced the Welshman to play on the wing; a task he’s not suited for. Although he had a fantastic game against Everton where he drifted about to befuddle the Toffees to devastating effect. He could’ve scored a couple that day if he’d remained composed.

People also flash around the stats about his lack of successful passes, but when you play in an advanced midfield position, the amount will be a lot lower as you have to play riskier passes, which are often intercepted.

As a fan you never feel that Ramsey doesn’t put in less than 100% when he pulls on the red and white (and blue and black and purple for the coming season). When he was deployed as the most advanced of the midfield trio he would often pressurize the opposing goalkeepers and centre-backs ahead of RvP and was a crucial component of our pressing game.

Give him time. Look how Rosicky flourished with regular game time after such a long lay-off. I’m confident he can add a lot to our side this campaign.

2. Per Mertesacker.

The phrase “what he lacks in speed, he makes up for in positioning and experience” is often heard when people speak about Per, and I completely agree with it. Standing at 6’ 6”, he’s easily the least fastest player on our team, but remember that he has 81 German caps. He uses this top level experience to his advantage and is a superb reader of the game. In addition to his positional sense he is an excellent communicator and organiser, something we that we could sense Arsenal lacked following Gallas’ departure and when the rather timid Almunia stood between the posts. The effect of Per’s communication will be greater this season as he’s had time to work on his English and (more importantly?) French.

He joined us last year at the 11th hour and came from a different league, which is played a different pace. We can only hope his footwork has improved after doing all those Nigerian dance routines! I’m confident we’ll see the best of Merte this season.

3. Gervinho.

Our Ivorian with the gargantuan forehead got off to a decent start last year, he was bedded in better than the other signings (having been purchased during the preseason) and had good games at home to Stoke and at Stamford Bridge. His form dropped dramatically following the AFCON and found himself bellow Yossi and Oxlade-Chamberlain in the pecking order.

His main fault is his horrendous composure in front of goal. It’s no small fault but it’s a problem that can be sorted out on the training ground as he gets into good goal scoring positions. One only needs to look at the contrast between Koscielny’s first and second seasons to remain optimistic about Gervinho.
Gervinho possesses unbelievable acceleration off the mark and can skip gears dramatically whilst running with the ball and is good at taking on fullbacks. We saw glimpses of it last season and he’s used this ability to great effect in the preseason. We will see this become more effective this coming season as Arsene shifts the creative focus of the midfield back to the centre of the park (not you Ju Young) with the purchase of Cazorla. Last season we used Walcott and Gervinho to get the ball to van Persie so the wings were pressured quickly, affording Theo and Gervinho less space. This season defenses will be more preoccupied in the middle of the pitch so they may become compact as they were wont to do when we had Fabregas. This means more space for Gervinho to run rings around fullbacks.

Hopefully a Gervinho completely settled in London and in the squad gains some composure in front of goal. I feel that he (and any other signing made from a foreign league) should be given two years before a final verdict is passed on their success… And that brings me to

4. Laurent Koscielny

(disclaimer: I know he is now deservedly appreciated by Arsenal fans, so this is sort of for other fans)

Cast aside as a failure following his sending off on debut against Liverpool and then later against Newcastle at home, the Polish born defender began to win Gooner hearts with his performance at home against Barcelona (a special mention for Johan Djourou’s performance that night). No doubt his start was shaky but we all know what’s happened since.

The truth is that when he was signed Arsene didn’t plan to use him as much during the first season and would probably have handled him as he did Oxlade-Chamberlain last season. Squillaci was signed to replace Gallas and play alongside Vermaelen but injuries to Vermaelen and Djourou meant that Koscielny was thrust into the deep end and forced to play alongside Squillaci. It was a struggle for him to adapt as he’d been playing in Ligue 2 only 15 months before signing for Arsenal.

During his time at Lorient, Koscielny was used as the deeper centre-back, a sweeper of sorts to clean up after the more aggressive centre-back. The plan was to play Squillaci alongside Vermaelen in that position in the short term and to play Koscielny in that position in the long term. The aforementioned injury problems meant Koscielny had to play alongside Squillaci and take on the unfamiliar mantle of the aggressor. I noticed that Djourou and Squillaci seemed to have a better understanding that season as Djourou was trained as an aggressive centre-back and I feel it would be interesting if anyone were to dig up stats to compare Squillaci and Djourou vs Squillaci and Djourou.

Koscielny has since established himself as a bedrock and reminds us as fans to be less fickle with new signings, especially from foreign leagues.

To end this very random blog post, I hope you’ve seen this wonderful picture on Wenger’s thoughts during this RvP to United saga; pic.twitter.com/O00VtQeK

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Give us a follow on twitter. I’m @GodisDutch10 and Digant is @Digant13.

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