Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Ox sets targets -Wenger to use £50m war chest on Goetze?

Morning Gooners.

There appears to be a genuine air of positivity around the club despite going out of the Carling Cup. Let's be honest, it was never the trophy we'd have picked over any other to win at the start of the season and although it may have been our best chance of silverware this season, at least we were knocked out by a team who play in the same division to us.

It appears the players aren't too down heartened by the defeat and nor should they be. We gave a good account of ourselves, yet where it really mattered in the opposition penalty area we were lacking. I think this year more than any other we can take heart in the development of our younger players. We've seen the emergence of Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin into the team and into matches which mean something but also allow them to continue their development.

Ignasi Miquel has also continued his education with three games under his belt. And then there has been Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, who has used this competition to show what he's all about to Arsenal fans. He's yet to make a Premier League appearance since his debut against Manchester United back in August. So the league cup is where he's been getting his footballing education.

And so far I have to say I've liked what I've seen. Of course he's not the finished article yet. But I think in the three games we've seen him play you can notice the improvement he's made in each one of them. Against Shrewsbury he bust on to the scene with a goal on his debut in the competition for us. A month later against Bolton was a more tricky affair and showed Alex that more work was needed on the training pitch in a game he didn't shine in.

But against Manchester City he was far our biggest threat and the player the opposition feared the most. I think given the chance, Roberto Mancini's team would have rather any other player on the pitch had the ball apart from The Ox. He scared the life out of them with his directness and because he's so unpredictable in his play.

And post match he told reporters he would stick by his choice of moving to the red half of north London rather than any other club in the world.

He said:
"Is it best for me to be here? I think so. Since I've been here, the young boys get a lot of chances in the cups and it is a great place to be. You are always learning.  
"When I came here, I didn't think I was going to jump into the squad straight away. Coming from Southampton, I played week in, week out.  
"Signing here, I knew I wasn't going to be involved as much and I'd have been naive to think I would. But just being able to train with these players every day, listening to the manager and just being around Arsenal, I have learned so much. 
"I wouldn't have changed anything for the world. The next step is to push on into the squad. At the same time, though, there is no rush. I trust the boss to progress me in the best way, he is a top man, very intelligent."
The one thing I'm most impressed about is the 18-year-old's temperament. He wants to impress obviously and to break into the first team, but he knows he will have to fight for his place. He's got good people around him, his family are very supportive and he's got the right attitude. And time is on his side.

The work he has been doing in the gym and at the training ground will improve him as a player. And I'm glad he's not getting carried away with all this talk that Fabio Capello is looking at including him in the squad for Euro 2012 next summer. Rightly his priority is Arsenal. If he's playing well for us then there could be a chance the national team manager selects him. It's not as his predecessor didn't pick an uncapped 16-year-old to take to the World Cup.

I think the time we'll really want to see the fruits of The Ox's development is in the busy Christmas period and in January when Gervinho leaves for the African Cup of Nations. This is when he should really be pressing for a place in the squad. He may well be called into action before then if we have an injury crisis, but January is when he should be knocking on the manager's door for more games, if he's progressing as well as he has been.

Our latest Inside The Formation post was published last night. Joss Bennett looks at Oxlade-Chamberlain's performance against Manchester City. Whilst I may have been getting ahead of  myself with the headline, I do believe the 18-year-old has the right characteristics to become a great player for club and country.

And whilst we're on the subject of getting away of one's self, former Arsenal great Kolo Toure has suggested that he and his Manchester City team mates could go the rest of the season unbeaten, emulating the achievement of the Arsenal Invincibles of which he was part of.

Elsewhere this morning there is talk of us spending £30m to sign Borussia Dortmund's Mario Goetze. The Daily Mirror are going big on this one.

Now I know what you're all thinking. Arsene Wenger has yet to spend more than £20m on a single player so he's hardly going to spend twice what he paid for Andrey Arshavin for a 19-year-old German international.

But I'm hearing that there are moves to make some deals happen in the summer, prior to the European championships because we all know what happens when a player has six good games for their country in a summer tournament - their price rockets.

Goetze has been on our radar for some time. The meetings between the two club's executives have gone well and although the German club aren't keen to sell him mid season, there is certainly a possibility an agreement can be met.

Arsene Wenger has got to be seriously looking at replacements for Tomas Rosicky and Yossi Benayoun, both of whom might not be around next season depending on whether the club decides to renew their contracts. With Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott also out of contract in 18 months time, there is room in the squad for wide players.

So Goetze is a goer for me. If the two clubs can reach an agreement of course. And let's not forget that the manager still has roughly a £50m war chest. I hope they know where the key is though!

There is talk of more restlessness in the goalkeeping department, this time from 18-year-old Argentinian Damian Martinez who wants to go out on loan according to the Daily Mirror. The teenager is highly regarded, even if his choice of a fast food diet is not. But we can all indulge ourselves at weekends!

Personally I think it's a bit premature for him to want a loan move. He's only played four times for the reserves this season. Get some more games for Neil Banfield's side under your belt and perhaps the club might consider something for next season, is my view.

The manager's press conference ahead of the trip to Wigan was scheduled to take place today but has been put back 24 hours and will now happen at 9am tomorrow. I'm not sure why there has been the rearrangement. Perhaps there has been a massive order of Bench t-shirts and the manager has been called in to give a hand at Emmanuel Frimpong's warehouse.

And I can't leave without passing comment on our friends down the road. The red half of north London turned out with 46,359 fans for Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup compared with 26,229 for PAOK Salonika in Europe's second tier competition at the lane. And they want to build a new stadium...

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