Tag Archives: Rob Holding

Arsene Recruiting Leaders

Arsene recruiting leaders

Apologies about the missed posts, been struggling with server reliability and compatibility issues.  The transfer madness is over and thank goodness real football news can take centre stage again.

Talking transfers Arsenal signed Granit, Robert, Lucas and Shkodran,  all very good signings if you ask me. While I haven’t been entirely happy in the manner in which the club has gone about acquiring some of its targets I am pleased with the business done.  Looking at the new recruits particularly Granit, Lucas and Shkodran, they have something that has been lacking in the team for a while now; leadership and character.
I have always said more than anything I was more concerned about the mentality of the players at Arsenal FC than the price tag of players being recruited by the club. The collapse at Southampton on boxing day last season, the last minute draw at Liverpool last season, losing to an under strength Manchester United team at Old Trafford last season and the second half collapse against Liverpool on opening day this season are indicative of the lack of leaders in the team particularly when the team encounters difficult spells in a game. The acquisition of Granit, Shkodran and Lucas addresses these shortcomings in the spine of the team; at the back in midfield and upfront. This video of Lucas playing against Barcelona I came across reading one of Arseblog’s post  brought a very wide smile to my face. The guy is not shy to have a go at team mates when they are slacking and believe me the likes of the Ox and Theo need it! Not completely Diego Costa but he has a bit of it in there and that’s not a bad thing,  Granit and Shkodran are captains of their previous teams too.

From what I have seen of the new recruits and in theory there is a balance to the Arsenal team and depth( Mr Injury please stay away!). I still stand by my predictions for the season regardless but I am more comfortable with this team than the one that started the campaign

Jack has pushed for a move to Bournemouth to get more playing time, I think it’s a good move where the he will have to deal with the pressure of being the go to guy, the guy to make things happen. This will not only benefit his football playing skills but his leadership qualities too. I do wish him the best in his bid to discover his fitness and confidence, definitely in my fantasy league team post “interlull” (another arseblog contribution).

Arsenal failing to plan and planning to fail?

Gabriel injured

Arsenal yesterday won their last preseason game against Pep’s Manchester City 3 2 but at some cost with the injury suffered by Gabriel late in the game. I actually suspected a leg break on watching the whole thing unfold and Gabriel’s immediate reaction but Arsene say’s it’s ligament damage, with a scan scheduled for later today we will find out the real extent of the damage done.

With this injury to Gabriel and Koscielny just back from his extended break the team has no experienced centre back going into the first few games of the season, a situation the team should not be in considering Mertesacker has been injured for a few weeks now and Arsene having admitted the team is short at the back has refused to do anything about it but talk. This situation is reminiscent of Chambers first season at Arsenal in the 2014/15 season when Koscielny resumed the season managing an achilles  problem. Arsene didn’t sign a centre back in the summer transfer window therefore forcing the young Chambers to play more games than he was supposed to at centre back as it had become a necessity when Koscielny’s achilles injury flared up again. Chambers featured regularly in the first half of the season and his effectiveness faded as the season wore on. I remember the torrid time he endured in the loss against stoke in the centre of defence where he was also sent off. As at December 2014 Chambers had played 24 matches for Arsenal in all competitions and for a 19 year old who hadn’t played at that level consistently that’s asking a lot. Wenger admitted overplaying him after Arsenal’s 2 2 draw away to Liverpool  in December 2014 electing to play  Debuchy at the centre of defence with Mertesacker instead of Chambers.
In January 2015 of the same season Arsene forked out for a central defender buying Gabriel Paulista from Villareal in the winter transfer window. What exactly was different from the summer transfer window that he didn’t make the transfer then? He gambled on Koscielny overcoming his achilles in time and Chambers being able to play at centre back for short stints. An extra body in the form of an experienced defender in the summer transfer window would have prevented Chambers being overplayed resulting in him being mismanaged. A similar scenario is being played out with Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Krystian Bielik the only fit central defenders for the first team after injuries to Gabriel and Per.

Central defence is very different from playing as a full back it controls and manages the entire defensive line in front of the keeper requiring for great mental fortitude and manoeuvring than just physical ability, the reason why it’s easier to get burned there than anywhere else in the backline. I remember a young Senderos giving a recently arrived Drogba in the premier league a good game in the centre of the Arsenal defence (believe me I am not making it up hahah), fast forward a few games the same Senderos had become Drogba’s donkey that he could ride at will.

Now Arsene and Ivan are in a position where whichever defender they were hoping to get on a bargain has just gone up a few million pounds with the selling party knowing there is a desperation for an experienced defender, a need that should have been addressed earlier. I am a big Arsene fan but in the past few weeks it’s coming across that the club have failed to effectively plan for the most competitive season in view. I hope I am wrong and they are privy to things that we all don’t know which will in the end manifest into a great season.

 

Rob Holding

Rob Holding signs for Arsenal. Credit Arsenal.com
Rob Holding signs for Arsenal. Credit Arsenal.com

It’s way past my bedtime because I stayed up to watch the Arsenal pre-season friendly against the MLS all stars which ended in a 2 1 Arsenal victory. Joel Campbell with a goal from the penalty spot and Chuba Akpom with a tap in from a Monreal assist the winner with just 4 minutes to go.

It was an opportunity to check out the new boy Holding and I will say I was very pleased. I had a good feeling about his signing and he didn’t disappoint in  this friendly, he almost scored a header which would have been the icing on the cake of a very accomplished debut.  He played the whole 90 minutes where he was strong on the ball, composed in possession, a good reading of the game, a good header and showed good  ball playing skills with how he went about his business.  There is just something about him that fills me with confidence even though I know it was just a preseason friendly, but all I can say is the omens are good for this lad. At just 20 and straight from Bolton after his debut season there is perception that he is raw and might find this level a bit too much, but as long as he is not over played like Arsene did with Chambers in his first season I am a believer that Rob Holding will blossom into a very good central defender. If you are good enough you are old enough they say and I think Holding will fall into that category, I can feel myself getting too excited I should calm down.. I blame all the chocolate and sprite I had an hour ago.  I look forward to seeing more of him as the season progresses, In my mind I have this idea that Arsene is hoping that someday in the not too distant future Chambers and Holding will the first choice centre backs at Arsenal, time will tell.

Before I go to bed I will also mention Walcott’s uninspiring showing. I am not a Walcott basher and I know it’s only preseason but he needs to get the finger out and start engaging his football brain. His passing and decision making were all over the place and  I sense he knows within himself that he is on borrowed time and very replaceable. A section of Arsenal fans also seem to be fed up with him judging by the amount of interaction my post about Walcott during the game got on the Arsenal facebook page. For his sake and the club I really do hope things pick up for him, because a consistent and firing Walcott makes us more difficult to play against.

Granit Xhaka when he came on showed his good passing range with accuracy and let’s not forget that mean left foot, I hope his superpower of taking shots outside the penalty box is not curbed by playing for Arsenal.

It’s bedtime now, need to get some snooze before I am woken by the kids…

 

Arsenal title chances

Arsenal Squad

Going into last season I was confident Arsenal would win the title, I know I am a glutton for punishment for harboring such optimism with Arsenal at the centre and they definitely didn’t disappoint in the manner the punishment was meted out to fans like myself . I don’t even know what to make of Arsenal’s top 4 prospects this season considering how the other clubs are strengthening left, right, centre and upfront.

Regarding transfers, Granit Xhaka is an encouraging buy and brings the necessary aggression needed in the team with great passing abilities to add to his defensive qualities in the middle of the park. The Japanese striker is one for the future, probably would be loaned out and Rob Holding in my opinion will pleasantly surprise people, I like the buy.  Arsene though is yet to address the reason why Arsenal finished second to Leicester last season, the lack of a finisher upfront. I am not a Giroud Basher as the media and fans try to make him into what he is not. I could add all the exhaust pipes  and alloy wheels to a Peugeot I still couldn’t call it a Ferrari right… Giroud does alright for the class of striker that he is but needs help or a serious upgrade and I wouldn’t call Alvaro Morata an upgrade, he has scored less than Giroud in the Italian League in the last 2 seasons combined and Higuain is not worth that crazy release clause at 29, I also remember him missing clutch chances for Argentina at the world cup final in 2014 and the Copa America final in 2016, he wouldn’t be my go to guy for that price. There are not many available “world class ” strikers in the market but with the cash reserves Arsenal have they should for once go crazy and bid to buy players like Aubameyang or Greizman, if I was consulted they would be my targets.

If Arsene didn’t buy another midfielder I wouldn’t be too worried, but a player like Mahrez or Reus with goals in them and proper wide play will definitely improve the midfield in addition to creating more selection headaches for the manager.

The defence is sorted to a degree but I worry in the event that Bellerin is injured and Debuchy rumored to be heading out of the club who replaces Bellerin? Chambers and Holding  can play in that position but are primarily central defenders who are very different to Bellerin. Gabriel hasn’t filled me with confidence and with Per Mertesacker also rumoured to be out for 5 months after injuring his knee against Lens, Koscielny not back in the team till later in the season because of the Euro exertions  could cause problems in the opening weeks of the season.

The goalkeeping position happens to be most secure, a weird thing to say when Arsenal is concerned, Cech and Ospina are very capable hands.

Verdict

With this present squad and no further additions, the best predictable outcome is 5th but if Arsene went into the market and  bought a good striker to assist Giroud, a wide playing forward/midfielder in the Reus, Mahrez mould and a proper no-nonsense defender, Arsenal could actually go on and win the title. There I go again, I can’t seem to help myself it seems!!!