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

Arsenal salvage a draw with Dynamo Kiev – Watch the highlights here!

Arsenal were lucky to come away with a point tonight after a 1-1 draw with Dynamo Kiev in front of 20 000 in the Ukraine. Dynamo went ahead after a penalty was harshly awarded against Bacary Sagna, and they defended hard afterwards.

Arsenal left it late to equalise, with a low Walcott cross bouncing its way to Gallas at the far post who bundled it home.

Click on the links below to watch the goals.

Dynamo Kiev 1 – Bangoura 64′ (pen)

Arsenal 1 – Gallas 88′

We looked good early on, and there were great chances for Adebayor and Fabregas. But after half time Dynamo seemed to improve. They piled on the pressure, and eventually the penalty was conceded.

Walcott impressed yet again tonight, his confidence seems sky high at the moment, and he is fulfilling his potential right now.

Interestingly Sagna came off for Eboue in the second half, suggesting he may have picked up a slight knock.

I think we were lucky to salvage the point, but I’ll take it.

The stats tell the tale – a game where Dynamo defended and tackled well, although Arsenal had the most attacking pressure, and eventually managed to break down the Ukrainians.

Dinamo Kiev Team Statistics Arsenal
1 Goals 1
0 1st Half Goals 0
2 Shots on Target 5
8 Shots off Target 4
7 Blocked Shots 3
3 Corners 8
17 Fouls 14
2 Offsides 4
4 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
84.9 Passing Success 86.1
14 Tackles 21
85.7 Tackles Success 66.7
46.6 Possession 53.4
44.3 Territorial Advantage 55.7


Dynamo Kiev: Bogush, Betao, Diakhate, Mykhalyk, Nesmachniy, Vukojevic, Yussuf (Asatiani 90), Yeremenko, Aliev, Ninkovic, Bangoura (Kravets 90).
Subs Not Used: Shovkovskiy, Ghioane, Morozyuk, Shatskikh, Olexander Romanchuk.

Booked: Nesmachniy, Bangoura, Vukojevic, Diakhate.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna (Eboue 78), Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Song Billong (Bendtner 70), Denilson, Van Persie (Vela 83), Adebayor.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Ramsey, Wilshere, Djourou.

Booked: Sagna.

Ref: Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain).

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?

Hill-Wood slams greed while Sagna signs on like a good boy

Arsenal have rewarded Bacary Sagna with a new contract until 2014. The news came out a few days ago but we now know the length of the deal.

“I love Arsenal, they are a great club. The manager is also very good and next season we will be fighting for all the trophies.”

Sagna is definitely the best right-back in the Premiership and was our top signing last summer. In typical Wenger style, he arrived with little furore and proceeded to play amzingly all season.

The fact that we have renewed his contract after just one season at the club is good, it means we can hold onto a top player, but it also reveals the state of the transfer system at the moment.

With players like Hleb being linked away from the club with this Webster Clause and others like Flamini leaving, it seems that we are putting in a concerted effort to keep the team together and happy in their contracts. I have no problem with this, but it does show that the club is a bit more wary of loyalty issues now.

Peter Hill-Wood made comments about the same issue, speaking harshly about the lack of loyalty which is present in football these days:

“Nowadays, a lot of people sign four-year contracts and you heave a sigh of relief. Six months later they come marching in saying they want double the wages.
“The only answer is to tell them they are on that contract and that’s it. Unless you do that, the game will become chaotic and descend into anarchy.

“I think there are very few people who have really got the tradition of the club at heart. You can name them on one hand. Actually I can’t name them on one hand and that’s a great pity.”

“In the old days money was not the big driving force. Nobody was greedy. People didn’t come marching in for pay rises, be they executives, senior managers, players, whatever. People weren’t motivated by the money. They liked the job, they liked the club and they wanted to go to work in the morning. Everyone has become much more materialistic.

“I think that is one of the reasons why Arsene [Wenger] signs younger players. OK, they will probably walk out in five years but at least he has the opportunity to mould them. But some of the so-called stars have got their own ideas about what should happen and don’t always agree with what we think.”

“We are going to go on this way. We are not going to be diverted. We are not going to spend £100 million,”

This is apparent in players like Flamini and possibly Hleb. I am all for sticking to our guns and doing things the way we have been doing them. Arsenal as a club know that we are not like the Chelseas of this world and we don’t have to spend oceans of money to be the best in the league.

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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!

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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!

Hleb’s Future In Doubt, Calderon Mumurs About Fabregas

The Times thinks that Hleb is on his way out of the club. They claim that his ‘representatives’ have agreed a four-year deal with Inter, and that he has told team mates that he will join Inter.

Again this seems speculative, with no quotes and nothing official, but it may happen. Hleb could leave, and we would be in a bit of transfer trouble were this to happen. Wenger would have a bit of a midfield crisis. I’m waiting to hear more on this one.

A player who is linked with a transfer is Fabregas, and this is one I’m sure won’t happen (bar something totally crazy occuring in the next few months).

Ramon Calderon, the Real president has Fabregas as one of his main transfer targets, and said:

“Something nice about Cesc is that he is Spanish and this is one of my objectives – to make Real Madrid more Spanish.”

Only two weeks ago Fabregas said that he was totally comitted to Arsenal though:

“My future belongs to Arsenal, and it is the truth.”

“I have always said I want to play for Arsenal, it is the best team I can be at, the best club for me.”

So I doubt Calderon’s wishes will come true at this point!

Meanwhile, Sagna is set to sign a new contract after only a season at the club, maybe Wenger is getting wary after the situations with Flamini and Hleb.

Wenger also said that Adebayor needs to keep improving:

“I believe if Ade keeps his work ethic, there is still 20% more to come from him. Does he want it enough – to get this extra 20% out?

“Well that is where his future lies. If you lose that desire, you quickly become a nobody.”

Adebayor should be able to keep up his form next season, I don’t see any reason why not, Wenger just wants to stop him getting too comfortable!

I hope we can hold onto Hleb at least, because otherwise we will start the transfer season weakened, rather than ready to strengthen the squad. I think it is more likely he will stay than Flamini, but if he does leave we might have a confidence problem on our hands.

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.

Hleb and Flamini, Latest News

Wenger has made an improved offer to Flamini to try and get him to stay. Read here. It’s reportedly £55 000 a week. He said this here:

“I believe he wants to stay and we want him to stay. We have made him an offer, if it’s not good enough we will know soon.”I respect our wages structure. We have made an offer. We think it is decent and that is it.”

I am quietly confident that he will sign for us, the deadline is the end of April, so we will know in the next week whether he stays or goes.

Another player linked out, Hleb: and Wenger’s really angry about the way Inter have shown their interest.

“Statements from inside the club saying they are interested in our players, without calling us that is not acceptable. You would never hear me saying that. If I am interested in a player I go to the chairman.

“The newspapers may have the speculation but for a club to come out with a statement like that and not even call… I think it is disrespectful. It is illegal.”

Stupid Inter.. I guess Hleb will stay, why would he want to leave??

Henry. Never say never.

Fabianski to start on Monday and the Boss may not even sign another ‘keeper if Jens leaves.

Sagna out for rest of season, not so suprised about this.

Modric signs for Spurs.

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