Thursday, 13 October 2011

Seven key games for Arshavin, Walcott & Gervinho -Keeper to quit Gunners?

Morning Gooners.

Who would think international breaks could be so refreshing? A walk by the sea, a Thai experience and spending time with the family without the worry of which of our players would returning from playing for their countries to London Colney with injuries.

I haven't witnessed one football match since the north London derby and I think I'm better off for it.

So back in the real world, Arsenal are still here and we're now gearing up for this Sunday's game with Sunderland. You would hope that this period without any domestic games has given Arsene Wenger and his team time to reflect on what has gone on since the start of the season.

We've got seven big games until the next round of international football - the final one of this year - takes place and we're missing Bacary Sagna, Jack Wilshere for all of them and possibly Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby for a major chunk of those games.

Even with the buying the club did in the summer, the squad looks vulnerable. And the manager has identified who he wants to step up.

Speaking with the official Arsenal magazine, Wenger said:

"Sometimes we are reproached for not having enough captains in our squad — now we have plenty. Overall, we have more experience. 
"This could be important should we have interesting challenges in March or April. That could have a big part to play. 
"We were criticised a lot last season for not getting over the line. 
"But I believe that we were so close — so, so close. Now we have added more experience."
The signings of Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun, Ju Young Park and Andre Santos along with Gervinho does probably give us more overall experience, but we let a number of squad players leave (Bendtner, Vela, Denilson) who had Premier League experience. Which is better for the team? I would suggest that those players who are on loan would have benefitted from playing alongside the new signings to aid their development as Arsenal players.

It is obvious to me that we're now looking at these signing to perform now. There is no time for them to adapt to the league. They have to learn on the job and quickly. Arteta and Benayoun have the experience of playing for other Premier League teams, so they should be able to step up quicker than the rest. And Gervinho has had the chance to play with his team mates during the whole of pre-season. As for Mertesacker, Park and Santos, their learning will need to be done on the training pitches. Wenger has no time for them to spend six months learning about the league, he needs them to perform now.

Given their wealth of experience playing for their respective countries, these players will be able to adapt to the Arsenal way of playing quickly. Wenger needs them to. He has to get this team putting points on the board. I think we all realised it was perhaps a false dawn expecting this team to kick on from those three wins on the bounce and beat Spurs. But I don't believe we were that far away from taking something from that game. We have all the attributes of a good football team, we just need the manager to mould them together to ensure that we don't continue this stop/start form we've had since August.

We need our big players to step up and take the responsibility which they've not had before. We need more goals from midfield. We cannot rely on Robin van Persie to score week in - week out. I want more from Theo Walcott. He needs to up his game. On the way back from my jaunt I read an interview with him in The Times were he said his form for Arsenal would lead him to a place in Fabio Capello's squad for Euro 2012. We'll the time starts now. Walcott needs to start scoring on a regular basis and creating chances.

I want to see Gervinho become more consistent with his finishing. I still look back at his opportunity at WHL and have my head in my hands as to how he couldn't have placed that shot on target. We need him to be more clinical in front of goal to ensure he does not become Arsene Wenger's next Sylvain Wiltord.

And I want Andrey Arshavin to perform. He has admitted his Arsenal form has not been good enough. And whilst he's never been a prolific goal scorer for the club, one goal in 18 Gunners appearances is not good enough for a man of his ability and experience.

Speaking to Arsenal Player, the Russian said:
"They [the Arsenal fans] should expect more from me, of course.  
"They should expect some more tricks, goals and unbelievable passes.  
"To be honest, I am still expecting more from me as well." 
I think if we've to expect anything from this team, it is the forwards who are going to pull us out of the current situation we find ourselves in. Arshavin needs to up his game and I'm sure he'll want to be in good form ahead of Euro 2012, considering how disappointed he was not to have gone to South Africa.

Other news around today: Lukasz Fabianski says he'll consider leaving the club if he's not playing more games between now and January. You'd expect he'll play in some of the Champions League group games and the Carling Cup, but will that be enough?

Also Ivan Gazidis has a pop at the Spanish clubs who don't appear to fight for their right for an equal share of the TV money their league makes. Personally I believe the Premier League is the best and most competitive league in the world because the money is shared out equally. That is why I'm against Liverpool's proposal to try and change how the TV money is distributed.

That's it for today. The last of the players on international duty should return to check-in at London Colney today. Hopefully there aren't too many injuries, if any at all.

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