How many of Arsenal’s team would make it into Manchester United’s starting eleven?

As much as the end to the current season could be extremely exciting and successful for Arsenal, they are still not quite where they used to be as a club. There was a time, of course, when they were unbeatable. There was a time when it was only the Gunners and Manchester United fighting it out for the league title.

So, what has happened in the last few years which has prevented Arsenal being one of the ‘big two’? For eight seasons in a row, Arsenal finished no lower than second in the Premier League. This was until the last three when their final positions have been 4th, 4th and 3rd.

One way to see just how far away Arsenal are from being Manchester United’s main challengers again could be to see how the individual players compare. How does Arsenal’s full strength team match up to the best team the Champions can put out?

This is something I would like your opinion on, so without too much analysis, let’s take a look at my views:

Edwin Van der Sar v Manuel Almunia – Has to be Van der Sar unfortunately.

Gary Neville v Bakari Sagna – Personally, I’d rather have Sagna in my team.

Patrice Evra v Gael Clichy – For consistency purposes, it has to be Evra.

Rio Ferdinand v William Gallas – This is a close one, but I think the odds would be in favour of Ferdinand.

Nemanja Vidic v Kolo Toure – For similar reasons that Evra won, Vidic is the winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo v Theo Walcott – For what he has achieved in the last couple of years, it’s going to be Ronaldo.Ask me again this time next year though.

Ryan Giggs v Andrei Arshavin – Giggs is still a decent player, but for creativity and variation the Russian wins this one for me.

Michael Carrick v Cesc Fabregas – No competition, Fabregas all the way.

Paul Scholes v Denilson – A number of players could fill this position for Arsenal and all of them will be as good as/better than Scholes at some point, but for now, the former England man has to get the nod.

Wayne Rooney v Robin van Persie – For me, this is the closest one of the lot. In fact, I can’t choose between them. This one is a draw.

Dimitar Berbatov v Emmanuel Adebayor – Neither have been fantastic this season. However, the Manchester United man (and Carlos Tevez) has produced the goods more often.

The end result for this ‘experiment’ is Manchester United 7.5 v 3.5 Arsenal. Whether this means much, I’m not sure. However, it does suggest that Arsenal are just two or three established high quality players short of challenging for the Premier League again.

This could happen in the next couple of years when the likes of Walcott, Clichy and Denilson really kick on as players – you never know. It certainly makes a change from the days of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, or Tony Adams and Ian Wright and co when Arsenal would have been much closer to Manchester United in this type of analysis.

Something to think about isn’t it? Let me know your thoughts.

By Thomas Rooney

Stoke City 2 – 1 Arsenal highlights, Delap, defence and attack

I don’t want to be too negative but today Arsenal played pretty poorly. Two long throws from Rory Delap allowed Stoke two relatively easy goals(Fuller ’11, Olofinjana ’73). Those throws are not easy to defend against, especially if you are Arsenal, weak in defence and hate balls into the box.

When playing against a team who have scored over half their goals from Delap’s long throws you would think that Arsenal might have been more prepared than they seemed for these. Maybe they are undefendable?

Stoke worked incredibly hard all match to give us no space and we really had very limited chances, our goal came in extra time – Clichy’s shot took two deflections and went in, his first goal for Arsenal, it started a small revival, but the 93rd minute is way, way, way too late.

We couldn’t get anywhere, and the exclusion of Nasri, RVP and Walcott, in exchange for height and power with Diaby, Song and Bendtner didn’t really pay off.

The game was worsened by the sending off of Van Persie for barging Sorenson after he teased RVP with the ball, and injuries to Adebayor – who looked in a lot of pain, Walcott – who has probably dislocated his shoulder again, and Sagna.

This means we may be without our main strikers for the games aganst Fenerbahce and Man Utd at home.

Our title bid may be over, Wenger even seemed depressed, when asked if it was the end of our title bid after the game he said “lets win the next one, and see after..”

Arsenal 4 – 0 FC Porto: Highlights

Arsenal responded resoundingly to their critics tonight, outplaying Porto and winning 4 – 0 to put them top of Group G with 4 points.

To watch highlights of the whole game click here.

Click Here For Our Recent Posts

Match Report

Arsenal started well, although there were a few close calls early on – a badly defended corner lead to Clichy clearing off the line, and a Porto shot skimmed the bar.

Van Persie looked so much sharper than on Saturday, and he got the first goal – a lovely move, leading to him sliding in Ade’s cross. Click to watch.

Ade got the second, heading down into the ground from a corner, the ball looped over Almu and in off the underside of the bar. Click to watch.

RVP scored again in the second half, this time taking it past the Porto defender and smashing it home with a left footed drive. Click to watch.

Ade finished the scoring from a penalty after Bendtner was brought down in the box. Click to watch.

Goals: Van Persie 31, Adebayor 40, Van Persie 48, Adebayor 71 pen.

Player Analysis

We could have scored more, Bendtner, Nasri, Eboue, Walcott all spurned chances. Walcott played well, as did Nasri – I thought he added an extra dimension to our play which was much needed. Clichy was also back to his best on the left!

Eboue, Bendtner and Vela came on, Eboue didn’t contribute greatly, except by making the crowd laugh at his imitation of Ronaldo step-overs – badly.. Bendtner, who I think is excellent, wasn’t sharp at all, but still looked ok. Meanwhile Vela performed fantastically and is definetly one to watch!

Overview

All in all a good, standard Arsenal performance, Porto weren’t great, but we kept possession well and closed them down, which made it hard for them. The goals were well taken and we could have had more. In the last 10 minutes we got a little complacent but we still won 4 – 0, a clean sheet is always welcome!

One point to make is that Porto never really got going, and we were lucky that Clichy cleared their best chance off the line. They like to play attacking and keep the ball on the ground, that is our game, and we can beat anyone at that on our day. The Fulhams and Hulls of the world are teams who you need to beat to win the Premier League.

4 points now in the CL – top of Group G, so lets take this result and push on against Sunderland on Saturday – another team who will be hard to beat.

Arsenal Transfer Rumour – Clichy wanted by Roma and Juve

Hello all you Gooners, anyone heard anything about this Clichy rumour? Roma and Juve are both interested, the papers claim.

The evidence lies in two quotes, neither of which really link them directly, all they say is that they think he is a good player, so don’t get too worried by this rumour!

Firstly, Roma manager Luciano Spalletti:

“Clichy is an excellent defender of international class. He is also still very young, so has plenty of football improvement left in him. Certainly it would please me a great deal to see Gael Clichy in a Roma shirt. We will have to wait and see what develops.”

Secondly, Claudio Ranieri (ex-Chelski) Juve manager:

“Having worked in England with Chelsea, I know the Premier League players very well and I have to admit that Gael Clichy is one of the most impressive players right now. He is an important player, above all, because of his versatility. I believe he can play anywhere down the left and across the defence too. He could come to Juventus.”

It strikes me that these quotes are both from interviews where journalists may have just asked ‘do you think Clichy is good?’ These sort of quotes just mean that they think Clichy is a good player, and who doesn’t after seeing his performances last season, of course he is in demand.

He is loyal, so I don’t see him going anywhere!

Wenger won’t sign defenders – What does this mean for Arsenal?

Wenger’s recent comments about not needing a defender suggest that he will stick with what we’ve got there. He was talking about Vincent Kompany, the Belgian centre back, he played down the speculation saying:

“I have decided that defenders are no longer necessarily needed for next season.”

So it seems very possible that there will be no signings to bolster our defence.

On the flanks we have the best in the Premiership, Sagna and Clichy, I love them both and they are both world class players who are young, no need to strengthen there.

The main weakness is cover rather than replacement. Senderos and Song were the players who started when Gallas and Toure weren’t availiable last season, and Eboue, Toure, Traore and Hoyte sometimes covered on the flanks. This didn’t work brilliantly last season, and was one of our main problems. I am a big fan of Senderos he can be error prone.

There have also been questions over whether Toure and Gallas are a strong enough partnership.

I think we should strengthen the defence, but Wenger seems to be trusting in what we’ve got. The fact that Song got a new deal, and started so many games at the end of last season, suggests to me that he has put himself above Senderos in the pecking order, and Wenger has hinted that he won’t play Song in midfield.

So we will probably see the same defence lining up in the current season, but expect to see more of Song, and maybe players like Norveidt gettign a few games this season.

I hope that Gallas proves himself as an Arsenal player and captain this season, and that Toure gets his form back. If that happens then Wenger will be proved right, and we will have a top quality back four, with decent coverage.

So in the end I think Wenger’s decision may pay off, but it is a gamble, ideally we need a quality centre back to challenge for a place, many would argue that neither Song or Senderos are good enough.

What do you think?

Fabregas’ new contract – The result of Flamini’s move?

Fabregas is likely to sign a new contract at Arsenal after the problems we’ve had this year with Flamini and Hleb.

Cesc already earns about £60 000 a week, but to keep him at the club it looks like Wenger will have to be a bit more competitive and may offer up to £100 000 a week.

Sagna has been offered a new contract, and Clichy just signed a two year extension, he had this to say:

“We’re at the end of our discussions. Everything’s going well because my intention is clear: I want to stay at Arsenal.

“I would love to have a career here like Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry, to stay many years at Arsenal and leave my mark on the club.

It seems that Wenger has realised that to keep the best players at the club we need to have them on contracts which rival other big clubs, but we don’t necessarily have to blow our wage structure in doing so.

We have great players, who on the most part realise that what we have at Arsenal is quite special, and that Wenger can bring the best out of a squad, but when big offers come, such as Milan’s for Flamini, they may be tempted.

I would say though that the Flamini situation was exceptional, in that he was a fringe player for 3 years, and was going to leave in the summer.

That was why his contract was not renewed, and then when he played so well this season Milan were able to pull him away with a hefty wage packet, and a chance he couldn’t have dreamed of last summer, when it looked like he was joining Birmingham!

Read the latest posts here, or subscribe to our feed!

Wenger’s key issues this summer. Transfer targets

Arsene Wenger has some key issues this summer, which need to be fixed before we can be successful. These are a few I came up with, add more in the comments if you know more things which need doing!

1. Holding on to our current players.

A key issue, we need to make sure the squad is happy and settled before the new season starts. Flamini’s depature has caused some concern, so we need to get everyone together and a have a common deisre and vision. If Hleb wants to go, then let him. Just make sure we replace and don’t lose more important players.

2. Replacing

This has come up as an issue after we have seen Flamini leave, and now Hleb under intense speculation.

We need to replace Flamini, of course Gilberto can fill that role, as he does wnant to stay on at Arsenal, but he is not a long term option. What do you think?

3. Finding in a winger who can score goals.

At the moment we have Rosicky, Van Persie, Eduardo, Walcott, Eboue and Hleb (he’s off) who play reasonably reguarly on the wings. Three are strikers; RVP, Eduardo and Walcott. One is most definitely a defensive player; Eboue, and two are midfielders. This means that we have very few players who can specialise in playing on the wings, as we used to with Ljungberg and Pires.

The stikers can score a lot of goals, but we need players who can come in and score from midfield. Rosicky is regularly injured, and hasn’t been a prolific goal scorer. Hleb is off to Milan, because he wants somewhere more peaceful than London, and he doesn’t score anyway!

When we have won titles in the past we have depended on goals from midfield to support the stikers. An extreme example is C.Ronaldo , who has basically pulled Man Utd to the title with his goals, as their strikers haven’t scored any.

We may not need to buy anyone for this, players like C.Vela may be pointed to but I think a signing may be preferable for Wenger.

Any suggestions?

4. Reconstructing the defence.

This is a sticky issue. We have seen a catalogue of weak defensive errors this season, which let us down, especially in long ball situations. Gallas and Toure have looked awkward playing together this season, neither really attacks the ball, and this has been a problem.

On the flanks we have Sagna and Clichy who are the best in the division and cover. What we need is for Wenger to have a think about how to restructure our defence into a good unit.

We have a great defence when going forward. When actually defending they do struggle in the centre especially. Wenger says he wants to buy a defensive player so we may see some changes.

If Wenger can do these things we will definitely be a stronger side next season.

Five Of The Best 2007/2008

Five of our best players this season. Love them or hate them I think most people would agree!

1. Fabregas

The centre of our team, we rely on his creativity and passing, he is arguably our biggest player.

2. Flamini

He has left Arsenal for a fat contract at the San Siro. He was most improved player in the squad.

He is like a crazy dog who doesnt stop running! He covers a huge amount of ground every match. Constantly winning the ball for us in midfield and redistributing. He is also an excellent passer of the ball, although his technical abilities are overshadowed by Cesc.

At the beginning of the season was a squad player, he became an integral part of the squad. We will have to replace him now!

3. Clichy

Amazing in defence and attack. His runs and crosses provide a huge source of attacking creativity. Tireless, pacy and always back to cover the defence.

4. Sagna

Our other full back, newly signed this season, fitted in seamlessly and made right-back his own.

He adds attacking pace down the right, and can cross well. He is like Clicky in that he is very good defensively, but fast and attack-minded.

5. Adebayor

A striker who sometimes comes under criticism. He is our top goalscorer, leads the line, holds the ball and can head the ball or shoot, he has allowed us to diversify our game and has flourished since Henry left. You can argue with a 30 goal season!

I could mention almost any of our players, with a few exceptions, but these are the pick of the bunch for me!

Clichy Talks And Where Is Flamini?

Morning,

I have to ask the question, where is Flamini?? I don’t think he has signed a new deal if we haven’t heard from him today, but thats the thing, we haven’t heard anything from him! So we shall have to wait and see, I only hope we won’t miss him too much if he has gone.

Clichy talks about the transfer rumours saying:

“It’s up to everyone to think what they want to do.

“But we’ve got so many examples of players who leave to win the Champions League and titles, and that didn’t prove them right.

So true Clich, how many times have we seen ex-Arsenal players falter elsewhere. He went on to praise the squad, and their belief:

“I think that we have to believe in the quality we have in the team at the moment.“I believe in it, most players believe in it and I’m sure we can do it.

“So we just have to stick together and work hard because with the team we have, we’re so young, the future is in front of us and we’re going to do something great that’s for sure.”

Thats the sort of thing we want to hear, inspiring stuff, and it’s all true!

There’s a good season review here, which points out the fact that we played very well for most of the season and should be positive about next season.

We’ve taken Ergotelis’ 16-year-old striker Nikos Karelis on trial according to Setanta. At the weekend he became the youngest player ever to play in a Greek Super League game. One for the future if we do take him on.

Eboue wants to keep his spot on the wing, after a lot of critcism this year.

“I have worked very hard to change my game to be able to play in midfield. Now, I want to keep playing there and keep improving to become a better right midfielder.

“I need to do better and be more effective next season. I want to show the coach that he got it right by asking me to play there. I want to pay him back.”

I think he is a decent defender, but he hasn’t impressed me at all on the wing. His passing and shooting are not up to scratch, many times he has found himself in front of goal, only to fluff the shot. He also dives a bit.

I don’t hate him, just don’t think he should play on the wing. You can’t say he hasn’t tried.

Cesc, Clichy, Sagna And Ade Do Well At PFA. Derby Preview

Well done to Cesc Fabregas, who last night won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award. He had this to say:

“To win a personal award reflects the season we have had as a team,” he said. “Everyone said that it is disappointing not to win anything but we have made a big step forward in experience, physically and mentally. One of us deserved to win something because we played some very good football.

“What matters at the end of the day is a trophy. We didn’t win one this season but we will be up for it next season. I think we will win something, of course.”

 That’s what we want to hear Cesc! He also gave his support to Gallas:

“You have to respect William for what he has done in football and what he is doing now, for me he is doing a good job. For me, the most important thing is giving everything on the pitch”

I think that is a fair statement, Gallas has done a good job on the pitch apart from a few slip ups, although I’m not sure he’ll be captain next year.

Cesc Fabregas, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy & Emmanuel Adebayor were also named in the Premier League Team of the Year, the most from any team. Wenger reacted to the praise here saying:

“If you ask any Arsenal fan what they think of Clichy and Sagna I think you will have unanimous praise.”

Derby preview here. Fabianski will start and we may see some other younger faces, Bendtner might start, and Walcott will too I guess. Eboue has said he wants to repay Wenger’s faith in him, maybe we will see him tonight too.