Tag Archives: podolski

Is Julian Draxler the answer to our left-side “problem”?

27 Jan


Throughout Wenger’s reign as Arsenal manager we have always been used to an attacking-midfielder/inverted winger playing as our left-winger. The likes of Overmars, Pires, Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, have all filled in at this position, in order to help us keep the ball a lot better – overload in midfield and use our (usually very attacking) left-backs as wingers in attack.


However, these players also needed to be capable of scoring goals or being very creative and racking up the assists – a lot of responsibility is given to these players in Arsenal’s team. They must have the ability to produce moments of magic and literally be our attacking-midfielder and left-winger all-in-one.

More recently, we have had a mixture of Lukas Podolski, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla filling in the role on the left-hand side. At times Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere have also attempted to. This has confirmed to me that we do have a genuine need to get in a player that will command that berth.


Wenger doesn’t have the belief in Podolski to effectively play in this role for Arsenal as he is not in the traditional mould for an Arsenal “left-winger”. Being on the left-hand side, Podolski struggles to make the passes our type of play commands as he is such a left-sided player. Wilshere playing on the left brings the same issue, despite him being more of an attacking-midfielder, it is difficult for him to come inside and make the angled-passes that we need when dominating possession.



At times, Rosicky can play the role but won’t be going down the outside of the full-backs, holding the width and stretching the game as he is very right-sided. Rosicky is excellent coming inside and making different angles with his passes as he also is the expert in using the outside of his boot.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is a young and gifted football-player with such versatility in his game. He is a brilliant winger with trickery and speed. He also has lovely technical ability which is apparent in his crossing and even more so in his passing but for this reason Wenger sees him as a long-term central-midfielder. I like him as a winger, he is great in the one-on-one situation but I think he is a better right-winger more than a left-winger/attacking-midfielder. Gervinho was a great runner, had decent off-the-ball movement but wasn’t clinical technically which meant our overall game-play suffered.


Currently Arsenal’s resident “left-winger” is Santi Cazorla. The maestro that had a blinding first season at Arsenal scoring 12 League goals while playing in the attacking-midfield role, has had his position taken from him by Mesut Ozil and as a result of his flexibility and versatility he has been moved to play on the left. This season has been a stop-start season for Cazorla as he has had to adjust to a new role in the team and has scored only 3 League goals.



We all know Cazorla possesses outstanding quality but could we do better in this particular position? In my opinion, yes. Cazorla has physical limits in terms of being able to “do the full-back”. Cazorla is short, stocky and is not blessed with acceleration to beat full-backs. While he is majestic in his use of the ball he should be never be expected to “skin the full-back” or get to the byline ala Robert Pires despite possibly being the most two-footed player in the League. He is currently a great No.10 “doing a job” for the team and while it works because of our style of short-passing style of football, I am convinced we need a new player there that will be a hybrid winger/attacking-midfielder.


For Arsenal to pursue the signing of Julian Draxler would be ideal in terms of the physical and technical blend of the player. He has great dribbling ability and his close control is equally effective on both feet, making him capable of going down the outside of defenders, stretching the game and holding the width. Couple this with his speed and power while dribbling, makes him a tough player to second-guess in the one-on-one situation.



The player is also very creative, especially as a No.10 and to a degree, this is the bad news. The player has had an outburst as recent as last month, where he stated, “I have now resigned myself to the fact that I am not welcome in the number 10 position here at Schalke. I am still convinced to be as dangerous just outside the centre. Even though I perhaps am the only one who thinks this.”

This highlights Draxler’s desire to play as a No.10 but there is practically no room for Draxler to become our fixed No.10. At the age of 20 and with a reported release-clause of £35m, there is the possibility that Arsenal could splash the cash in order to capture one of the best, young players in world football, who would undoubtedly claim our “left-winger” slot as his own for at least the next 8 years.


The Return of #LeBoss

18 Apr


The ruthless streak has re-emerged. The man, who is often described as a father-figure type of manager, has “lost his rag”. The way Wenger has hit some of the mainstays in his team with a severe reality check is reminiscent of a Dad who has been punishing his disobedient children. And rightly so.

Wenger is a man, that should be judged by his actions. He has a reputation of standing right by his players and remaining loyal. You could say he adopts an unwritten code of  “all that happens at the Club, stays within the Club.”

Wenger’s inability to publicly criticise players has often been seen as a weakness by fans. Fans had grown tired of Wenger always trying to put a positive spin on poor player performances. It had begun to sound scripted to fans. It had begun to sound insulting at the worst of times. Has this great man lost sight of what it takes to win? Has this man started to see a different game to what we were watching? Players were slipping to shocking standards but were still guaranteed to start in the next fixture.


The breaking point came at White Hart Lane; a game Arsenal lost without being outperformed in the slightest and the leaving us 7-poits adrift of Spurs. It was easy for Tottenham to win the North London derby against a shaky defence who certainly looked like they were not executing any training ground drills with some shocking defending.

Arsenal Training Session


Wenger had clearly become annoyed by his defence. “What happened today, we have seen many times this season repeated in the big games…We played offside in a position where we shouldn’t have played offside.” These were Wenger’s post-match comments after the game against Tottenham and he didn’t pull no punches. He made it apparent he was happy with the “energy levels of the team” and the team performance but felt the defence had let them down at decisive moments in the game.

Players such as our Captain – Thomas Vermaelen and Woijech Szszesny – our No.1 goalkeeper, had the media making embarrassing suggestions that our manager doesn’t allow us to train on defending. When you actually think about that suggestion, it is totally ludicrous and borderline disrespectful to suggest that one of the World’s finest football managers doesn’t use any form of defensive/tactical coaching in any of his sessions. This was a huge blow to the ego of a manager who had only suffered his 5th North London derby defeat in the Premier League after 34 games.

Not good signs for the Arsenal heading into a second-leg clash against the newly-crowned Champions of Germany, Bayern Munich. Losing 2-0 on aggregate and heading to the home of the leading German team in bad form, we were being tipped for a thrashing.


This is when the manager snapped and made some drastic changes. He dropped our captain Vermaelen, who is the worst captain I have seen at Arsenal in 20 years. Wenger was clearly unimpressed by his leadership and organisation of our defence and thought Laurent Koscielny, who had been chomping at the bit, was due an opportunity.

This was a huge surprise but an even bigger surprise came in the managers decision to totally drop Woijech Szczesny from the squad. Our No.1 goalkeeper had been dropped and replaced by Lukasz Fabianski, a goalkeeper previously known as “Flappyhandski” and had been out for 13-months prior to a game we were expected to get hammered. Not to mention, our boy-wonder, Jack Wilshere as well as Lukas Podolski had also been diagnosed with ankle injuries and Bacary Sagna was still not back from injury.

Now, a lot of Arsenal fans were happy to settle for a defeat as long as we showed an enormous pride, as we know this result could potentially give us a jump-start in our pursuit of Champions League football. Along with our injuries this team selection from Wenger was seen as big gamble and could backfire , leave us with a thrashing which would send us into freefall. However, as we all know, the managers decisions have been well and truly vindicated after we beat Bayern Munich 2-0 at The Allianz Arena. Since then we have won 4 out of 5 league games and have managed to look a lot more assured in our game; scoring 11 goals and conceding a meagre 3.

Vermaelen had returned to the team against Norwich but was promptly dropped as soon as Per Mertesacker became available again. The manager said, “as a captain and a leader that shouldn’t guarantee you a place in any game. For purely sporting reasons, or tactical reasons in the game, when you don’t think it is the right selection, do you put the player in just because he is captain?’ If you know Wenger, he always has a captain who is core to the team. This only spells trouble for Vermaelen and after his shocking performance as captain this season, Wenger will listen to offers for him in the Summer.



The managers’ recently employed, heavy-handed style seems to have ruffled a few feathers recently and Wenger has even gone as far as saying, “What will decide our attitude, my attitude (in the transfer market), is how we do now until the end of the season.” Clearly this is a big suggestion to players that they must step up their game or be shipped out once the transfer window opens.

What Wenger said about Szszesny , who lets not forget has only just turned 23-years-old today, would of been classed as a lack of public support for the player. As had been earlier mentioned, Wenger will always cover up poor player performances but he took a total change in direction and publicly questioned Szszesny’s mental strength and said, “recently, he had one or two games where he was performing less.” This was designed to nullify Szszesny’s level of complacency and was an unusual step for our manager but I can only assume Wenger , who is an advocate of humility, wanted to bring Szszesny down a peg or two and force him to work harder on his game. This was followed promptly in the form of criticism of Wenger from Szszesny Snr, that Szszesny Jnr apologised for in a written statement, that then saw Szszesny playing for the Arsenal u-21’s against Liverpool (surely further punishment from Wenger).



There is also the recently reported issue surrounding Podolski’s career at Arsenal who has also been frozen out of the team recently but that should be left for another post.

Add these instances of ruthlessness to the belief from David Dein that, his close friend, Arsene Wenger will splash the cash in the Summer, “The fact is he has to strengthen the team and I know he will do that.”

Arsene Wenger has been frank in his interviews lately, has dropped players who he doesn’t see as performing and is apparently lining up big transfer targets for this Summer; I think its fair to say there will be plenty movement in the Summer and Wenger won’t hold any prisoners.