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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chamakh needs a massive boost of confidence only a big-match goal can bring

Arsenal will go into tonight's Champions League qualifier against Udinese with Marouane Chamakh up-front. He showed at Bordeaux that he is a striker with fearlessness and goal-scoring prowess. He then began his Arsenal career with good promise as his name regularly featured in the goal-scorer's column.

So what has happened to him in the first eight months of this year?

Chamakh's body-language on the field currently appears devoid of aggression and goal-scoring will. When I watched him on the field in pre-season he looked to me like a man with terribly low self-confidence. He seemed lost on the pitch and his touch appeared to have deserted him.

Chamakh has scored only one goal for Arsenal in the calendar month of 2011: an FA Cup replay goal against Leyton Orient back in early March. Perhaps it is the lack of goals which is having a destructive effect on his performance? Whatever the cause, it appears painfully apparent that the Chamakh footballing game is being adversely affected in a significant way.

With Chamakh in his current state I am concerned that too heavy a burden will be placed on Van Persie to score the goals needed to challenge in competitions.  This is the main reason why a resurgent, goal-scoring, full-of-confidence Chamakh would be a tremendous asset for Arsenal to have this season.

I hope tonight will see the return of the Chamakh who excelled at Bordeaux and promised much in the first few months of his Arsenal career. For me,  a big-match goal from Chamakh would be a fantastic sight to watch because it could herald the re-birth of his confidence, power and direction on the pitch.

Good luck Chamakh and come on AFC!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thank you Cesc - Wilshere and Ramsey development will make up for his loss

Cesc Fabregas will sign for Barcelona today after completing a medical at the Nou Camp. The composed tone-setter of Arsenal since debuting as a sixteen year old will be missed. He brought a lot of class and decency to the football field in the Premier League and I wish him continued progression at his home club.

Thank you and best wishes Cesc!

With Cesc gone the onus on Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey to lead the Arsenal midfield has heightened. And I am extremely confident in their ability and mentality to take on this excellent responsibility.

Wilshere and Ramsey are the two most exciting midfield talents that Britain had produced in the last decade. Wilshere held his own against the magnificent Barcelona midfield of Xavi and Iniesta to underline his innate superb ability and tenacity. Meanwhile, Ramsey has shown enough on the pitch before and after his horrendous leg break to demonstrate that he is a box-to-box midfield talent reminiscent of Liverpool's Steven Gerrard.

20 year old Ramsey is already the captain of Wales while Wilshere has shown the relish, drive and maturity on the pitch to be a future Arsenal and England captain. Both have the temperaments to ensure they can achieve great success.

Arsene Wenger has the managerial excellence to ensure that both these players fully develop their potential and I have no doubt that the future at Arsenal will be very strong with these two tremendous young talents in the centre of pitch. In my opinion they certainly have more than enough in their games to cover the departure of Cesc from AFC.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Squillaci - Silvestre - Cygan: the weakest Arsenal link

It's been a messy year for Arsenal. A couple of days after Christmas last year, Arsenal took apart Chelsea at home with a full-on performance which promised an exciting 2011 for the Gunners.

Unfortunately the atmosphere of that night has long-since dissipated and in its place has materialised a fog of unease and uncertainty that is threatening to engulf the Arsenal.

The first seven months of 2011 has seen Arsenal buffeted and wobble. The experienced steward, Arsene Wenger, looks like an increasingly beleagured captain who is seriously struggling to control his fine ship.

These are extremely rocky waters that Wenger has encountered, and with an imminent storm of fixtures to be navigated it is unclear in what condition Arsenal will look come the end of the month.

If I could make one immediate suggestion in this testing period to the great Wenger it would be to stop playing Sebastien Squillaci. It appears that when he is on the pitch we are at our weakest defensively with dire consequence. For me he follows the line of Mikel Silverstre and Pascal Cygan in being Arsenal first-team centre-backs who look a couple of quality levels below their teammates when on the pitch.

Scott Booth, the co-commentator on ESPN last night as Arsenal played Benfica, neatly highlighted the ease with which the scorer of Benfica's second goal turned past Squillaci on the edge of the box before driving a fine shot past Fabianski. Squillaci was indeed turned too easily: in my opinion it was characteristically sub-par defending in the Arsenal shirt for the French defender.

It probably did not help the mentality of Squillaci that just four minutes after coming on the pitch Benfica had equalised after a first half which Arsenal controlled and led. A goal four minutes after coming on the pitch must have raised feelings for him of that awful day at St James Park in February when four goals were conceded by the Arsenal shortly after he came on a sub for the injured Djourou.

To me Squillaci looks like a defender low on confidence; a defender who fundamentally lacks belief in his defending ability.

This is a period when Arsenal need to dig deep. There are tests to overcome this month which will define the subsequent 12 months. To come through them we need to be at our strongest all over the pitch. And, for me, this means avoiding playing Squillaci, who unfortunately is proving himself unsuitable for the Arsenal defensive cause.

By consequence, the incentive to immediately buy a new centre-back must surely now be overwhelming for Wenger??


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