Wilshere: No.19 – The new Arsenal or more transition??

Yesterday, Jack Wilshere became the new Arsenal no.19. He is only 16 years old, but an amazing young talent, he played twice in the Emirates Cup and shone there and with 7 substitutes in the Premiership this season he may well get his chance to play for the first team.

Wilshere has played for Arsenal since the age of 9. Last year he was used in the Under-16s, but then became a top player for the Under-18s. He has impressed in pre-season and now forms part of a new influx of youngsters into the squad, Vela, Nasri, Ramsey, Mannone and Bischoff.

Reserve Team manager Neil Banfield on Wilshere:

“If the young players work hard at their game, listen to the advice of the coaching staff, they realise they will have every opportunity here,”

“Jack was given the opportunity by the manager to go on the Austrian Training Camp, along with five others who have all done really well. Jack has taken his chance, and he is one of quite a few we have here that we have high hopes for.

“You have to adapt to the physical aspects of the game, and I think Jack is strong enough. It is about how you physically develop and I think with Jack, even at 16, it doesn’t mean he won’t be as physically strong as someone at 18 or even someone at 20.

“That has been the benefit of our Reserve team. The experienced players that our lads are up against means they learn on the pitch. The senior players then show them what to do while the game is going on. That is carried on for the young lads who learned so much in Austria.”

This is very promising news. It is exciting to have so many young prospects in the team.

One problem is that last year our squad looked lightweight and inexperienced, and we haven’t brought in any very experienced players, only replaced them with young ones.

I don’t doubt our ability – last year we played fantastically and were unlucky to come away with nothing but does this bode well for our chances of silverware?

Wenger has his critics and they will be salivating at the thought of bringing these new young talents down to the ground very hard.

I am excited for the new season, but I really really really don’t want to turn it into another ‘transition year’.

Click here to see our current squad.

Who will partner Fabregas next season – Gilberto, Diaby, Ramsey?

The departure of Flamini to AC Milan eariler this summer was undoubtedly a blow for Arsenal FC. Last season he went from being a squad player, to one of the most influential figures in midfield and forged an excellent partnership with Fabregas.

Now he has left the void has to be filled. Gooners were probably hoping Arsenal would sign a new defensive midfielder to partner Cesc, but that’s not likely now, Wenger seems to be focusing more on the wings, which were a problem area for us last season.

In the centre of we have the option of Gilberto or Diaby, and also Song, Denilson or even Ramsey. The best defensive candidates are Gilberto and Diaby.

Gilberto – already having played the role for a few years prior to Flamini’s emergence has the experience and quality. The problem is he looked poor last season when he did get a few chances to impress, and his passing is always up to scratch. He plays a diffferent game to that of Flamini, tending to hold back, whereas Flamini is always in the oppositions faces.

Gilberto would be a sensible choice to start with as a defensive midfielder, but I don’t think he is good enough anymore to warrant a staring place.

Abou Diaby is my choice. He is a strong and fast player, with a lot of height. We used him on the wing last season, and he got a few goals. The main problem with him is that he is inconsistent – and can be lazy.

Diaby has great qualities for the role though, he is defensive, but very good going forward – his pace, passing and ball control mean that he would be a great partner for Cesc, and he is a long term option.

If he can up his work rate and consistency then he could have a chance, I would love to see Wenger try him out next season.

There are other contenders – Denilson, I think isn’t ready for that sort of role. Ramsey – more suited to the wings, and Song – Wenger thinks that he will better used in defence.

So we start the season with a first team spot up for grabs, we just need to see who takes it.

What do you think – is there anyone I’ve missed – or do you think we should be signing a new central midfielder?

UPDATE 11 JULY 2008: Is Gilberto going? Rumours are he is going to Panathaniakos…

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?

Song, A fantastic CB for next season?

Will Alex Song be a regular next season?

That is a question on many fans lips as Wenger praised the player. The amount of bad press this guy got when he joined was incredible.

Wenger said:

“I believe he is a remarkable player and I was one of the very, very few who believed in Alexandre Song,”

“I can show you articles in newspapers which said that [he] was the worst buy I have made but you will see in one or two years that he will be a great player for Arsenal.”

All this season and last, a fat bald guy in the row in front of me has slagged this guy off at every opportunity (along with half the team). I can’t see why though. He played very well in the run he got at the end of the season, and was impressive at the ANC. Wenger followed on:

“When I put a player somewhere, I know why I do. If I play Song at centre back it is because I believe he will be a great centre back for Arsenal Football Club.

“In Song’s case, he can play in central midfield. But can he play 60 games there? I am not convinced.”

So basically Le Boss is suggesting that Song can’t hack the intensity of midfield, which is true, he is good going forward, but he looks a little sluggish, more suited to a role in central defence. He won’t be replacing Flamini.

Wenger will keep him at centre back next season, and personally I am a big fan of the guy. Maybe just because he gets so much stick, but you have to admit he has talent. He won’t be first choice, but excellent back-up.

Forget Dunne, all we want is Song!

Who Will Be Captain?

Morning All,

It seems Fabianski will get his chance in the next few games, with Lehmann almost definetly leaving this summer.

There’s a report here that Flamini will stay, but until we hear anything official it can’t be a done deal.

There is also some debate over the captaincy see here. Wenger:

“I want to analyse the season after it has finished. At the moment he will be my captain until the end of the season.

“I believe he has learned a lot this year and I can only say that his commitment and desire to do well was exceptional. For the rest, I wouldn’t like to go into any individual assessment at the moment.

If Gallas isn’t captain next season I can’t see him staying. I don’t know who it would go to really, maybe we need to bring in someone who can really lead the team. Love him or hate him, Gallas was good in the first half of the season, but the Birmingham game really sums up what happened to our season and his actions there were not those of a leader.

Who else do we have who can captian a side?

We need some reinforcements, Nick Townsend talks here.

Wenger says he’s targeting to quality players, that might be all we need I think, a winger and a defender, maybe a striker too?

What positions do you think we need to reinforce??