Is the Arsenal/Madrid business far from over?

The International break churns on, leaving football fans up and down the country yearning for domestic football to return. In all fairness the importance of the final group games to confirm qualification for the World Cup in Brazil has at least sparked some interest. England’s quest for qualification kept me firmly lodged in my armchair on Friday evening and the all-important deal breaker of a game against Poland will surely have me glued to the box. I just wish there were more Arsenal players to cheer on for the Three Lions to make it all the more worthwhile. No worries, a victory tonight will ensure that the seats on the plane for Brazil are merely being kept warm for the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott et al.

Anyway, enough of the mean old international break to slow down the momentum of the high Gunners fans are still on after the signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Arsenal’s record transfer signing is still a topic of discussion amongst football’s elite a good six weeks after the German signed on the dotted line at the Emirates.

Sami Khedira was quoted in the papers as saying the Real Madrid team seems weaker for the loss of the talented playmaker. Some may say the two players are close and it is just a sign of affection shown to a friend. Well, if Khedira misses his German colleague there is plenty of space here in North London for him to link up with his buddy.

ozil bromance

Over the years the closer link to Arsenal has been from Real’s Catalan rivals Barcelona with the likes of Emmanuel Petit,  Marc Overmars, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and Thierry Henry to name a few who have hopped on an Easy Jet flight over to Spain for a new adventure.  The favour hasn’t been reciprocated quite so much.

Could the door that has been opened with the arrival of Ozil stay open in future? For much of the summer the pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain dominated the Arsenal transfer news. Real were prepared to let the Argentinian join the Gunners only for (depending on which rumour you believe) Arsene to pull out of a deal to focus on another target alleged to be Luis Suarez.

To be linked with Real Madrid players is a big thing for Arsenal; we are not talking about 18 year olds looking to gain experience but full international accomplished players. Higuain may not have been in his managers plans for the season but he was hardly an underperformer for the Spanish giants.

All those years back the signing of Davor Sukor was a big one for the Gunners, his lob over Peter Schmeichel at Euro ’96 was enough to place him into hero status. Although the move itself didn’t quite work out a great success it was one of the few times Arsenal were able to negotiate a deal with Madrid for a player and that cannot be understated. Especially when you look back to the years of Vieira speculation Arsenal fans had to endure summer upon summer it was quite an amazement that he never ended up at the Bernabéu after all that pursuit. Arsenal were always the team that had to fight to keep their better players if a team like Madrid came calling but the events of the summer gone have no doubt created a shift in the pulling power at the Emirates.

I mentioned Luis Suarez earlier and the Uruguayan could play a big part in potential future business between Arsenal and Madrid. It has been widely speculated that Suarez has been holding out for a move to Real Madrid. No such move materialized during the last transfer window but there are strong rumours that the move can become a reality in January. It could well draw the Madrid fans back to the Bernabéu in their droves not that the fans have been keeping away but the impact Suarez could bring could re-spark the underwhelming bang that Gareth Bale has produced so far.

benzema

Such a transfer could signal a move for Karim Benzema, the Frenchman seemed like he needed some convincing to join the Gunners when speculation arose in the summer. I am sure the impact that Mesut Ozil has had at the Emirates is likely to change the striker’s initial views.

Let’s see how this all plays out, a potential meeting between the Gunners and Madrid in the latter stages of the Champion’s League? A mouth-watering possibility that is sure to make tickets for the Bernabéu and the Emirates the most in demand on the market.

Enjoy your day people.

Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.

Follow Gambeanosnitch on Twitter

The wing it is for Theo next season.

With the football season done, as much as the fans despise international friendlies the game between England and Brazil was a welcome exception to the rule. The Arsenal interest much like the game against Republic of Ireland came in the form of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Given the mounting rumours of a done deal the Arsenal interest could be extended to that of Brazil number one Julio Cesar. Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the bench however the game was an opportunity for fans to see Theo Walcott in a more offensive potentially central attacking role for England against a top quality side. Roy Hodgson opted for a three up top formation meaning Theo played in a role he was familiar playing at Arsenal. Roy Hodgson did allow him freedom to drift inside to support Rooney and he also swapped flanks throughout the game with James Milner.

Overall I believe the performance of Theo Walcott showcased the argument that he is not ready to take on a central striking role for Arsenal next season. Not meaning that he can never play there for Arsenal, he can be certainly terrorise certain teams with his pace and it will be a case of Arsene doing his homework on the choosing the right teams to utilise Theo’s pace against in a central role.

In yesterday’s game it is a fair conclusion to state that Walcott played well below his devastating best. With the game finely poised against top quality opposition with no need to commit men forward Theo was faced with receiving the ball with men behind the ball and he struggled to make use of the ball when he had it. It’s in games like this you need your forward to show strength and composure on the ball, be able to hold up the ball and bring others into play instead Theo’s play was hurried, his control was off and on too many occasions he ran into blind alleys. He did manage one clear chance which was superbly saved by the keeper; the angle was closed down and would have required good fortune for the ball to squirm its way in.

theo brazil

Nerves may have certainly played a big part in Theo’s game however it’s the big games you want your big players to step up to the mark, that’s what sets them apart from the rest. Theo has had a good season for Arsenal, the stats speak for themselves and this article is in no way an attack on the abilities of Theo Walcott. However it is a reflection on how Arsenal needs to do business this summer to bring in a specialist centre forward to share the load and create competition with Olivier Giroud next season.

Arsene wenger cannot go into the new season stating the squad has sufficient cover with players that can play in the central role such as Theo and Gervinho. The signs were there yesterday in the Brazil game of what is lacking in Theo Walcott’s game before he can make the full on transition to Thierry Henry mark II.

In my opinion the wing is still the best option, playing with talented playmakers’ that can pick him out when flying up the flanks. Until Walcott sharpens up the parts of his game that do not require pace he may have to wait a while before the fans and the manager take his claims for a central role more seriously.

Meanwhile Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a fantastic goal when he came on in the second half at a time when England were trailing and looking devoid of any spark to get back into the game. His brilliant snap-shot squeezed past the outstretched arm of Cesar and into the back of the net to take the game to 1-1. He clearly enjoyed his moment on the pitch and showcased his potential to score a goal out of nothing with his equalizer; an attribute that will be very welcome next season at the Emirates. He has signed off from his second season stutter with a screamer, the perfect tonic to take with him onto next season and hit the ground running.

Enjoy your day people.

Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.

Follow Gambeanosnitch on Twitter

Jenkinson Could Prove Answer to England’s RB Problem

Hello all, please enjoy the guest post. My views on England’s pursuit of Carl Jenkinson were addressed in an earlier post however I’m open-minded enough to see another persons take on the matter, enjoy.

Arsenal fans already aware of how far Carl Jenkinson has come on this past season will rightly agree that the young defender deserves a call-up to the England team. Although still 20-years-old, Jenkinson has excelled in the early stages of this season, filling in for first-choice Bacary Sagna at right-back.

Jenkinson has been one of Arsenal’s top performers and his nine appearances so far this season have coincided with the Gunners’ defensive tightening that has seen us concede just eight in 10. Wenger’s side once again look an attractive proposition with fans placing a bet on who wins Premier League. 

He is a different player to the one that started in Arsenal’s 8-2 drubbing of Man United just a year ago and he had Man City’s £6.2m man Scott Sinclair in his pocket last month.

So consistent has Jenkinson been that there were strong calls for him to be given an England call-up for last week’s international break but appearances for Finland at under-21 level means he cannot play for Roy Hodgson’s side unless the FA appeal for clearance to transfer nationalities.

There are strong hopes that the FA will get this matter sorted quickly, so that England can have a half-decent right-back in their defence for once. England managers have been somewhat restricted with the availability of international-class right-backs since Gary Neville showed clear signs of deterioration around Euro 2004.

Think what you like about Neville, he was a far better RB than his predecessor, Glen Johnson, was, and Kyle Walker is yet to make the position his own. Jenkinson has the potential to become a real leader for England and Arsenal, and hopefully he will be granted clearance to play for his country before the World Cup qualifiers are over

Still only 20, there is a lot for Jenkinson to learn but his performances this season for Arsenal suggest that he can go far for both club and country.

Article courtesy of Tom Brown

Santos to leave rumours, England continue Jenkinson pursuit – AFC

One round of internationals down one more to go, we are getting there. Less than a week left before we have premiership football back with our away game to Norwich. From Friday’s games the biggest talking point was the on-pitch assault of Theo Walcott against San Marino that has ruled the winger, striker forward out of England’s next game against Poland. We probably won’t see him in arsenal colours for at least a couple of weeks due to the injury, he has returned to arsenal for further treatment and so far no return date has been mentioned. Not ideal for the club though given our strength in numbers in midfield his absence won’t be felt as hard as in previous seasons.

Away from the England camp a few reports surfaced over the weekend that our very own Andre Santos could be in line for a return to Fernebahce. Understandably this season his opportunities have been limited due to the form of Kieran Gibbs in the left back spot. Santos also wasn’t helped by the recent court case and charges for speeding on the way to training. The negative impact from that incident surely would have influenced Arsene’s decision making when picking the starting XI’s this season.

Given the good start to the season winning teams don’t usually get shifted around for the sake of it, Santos just needs to bide his time and take his opportunities when they come. This logic doesn’t sit well with the gossip makers and the news of Fernabahce seemed an obvious assumption to make. Maybe there is a little truth in the rumour but our Brazilian no.11 took to twitter to express in his words the truth behind the talk.

In his tweets he disregarded the rumours of any deal in the making with the Turkish club. Just my luck that he decided to tweet all this in Turkish so I pretty much had to rely on Google translate to understand what exactly he tweeted. And in true Google translate fashion the words read back like something Borat would say. The main gist of the tweet is enough to make out that he denies the rumours. He did go on to state that if any move were to happen in future it will be made with consideration of what’s best for his family.

I think even Andre knows it would be silly to leave arsenal this season; there is no other competition for the left back spot beyond Gibbs. Knowing his injury record there will be plenty opportunities during a long season for the Brazilian to play.

England have not given up the pointless pursuit of Carl Jenkinson to represent England. Given the fact that England use our facilities at London Colney to train when they play home games Roy Hodgson took the opportunity to invite Carl to train with the senior England players before they fly off for their game with Poland. I noted in a previous post that I didn’t agree with this sudden pursuit of Jenkinson. The only motive I can see from the sudden interest is to ensure he represents England rather than Finland. The pursuit is not to have Carl in the team now, there is no shortage in the right back department for England and if Carl was to make the decision to play for England he will just end up on a long waiting list. Carl definitely deserves the plaudits for his performances this season but talk of England is very premature in my opinion. There is no way he would be selected ahead of what England has and there is no guarantee he will even be first choice right back for arsenal once Sagna is back to full fitness.

The experience of training with the England guys will do no harm in boosting his current sky high confidence so I have no problem with that. But please Roy don’t pick him for the next international friendly only for him to become a bit part squad player unless you honestly believe he can bring more to the current set up than Johnson, Walker, Richards et al.

Enjoy your day people.

Please feel free to like the Facebook page.

Carl Jenkinson: not ready for England

The international break is trudging along at a snail-like pace and boring the pants off premiership football fans across the land. I know there are those of you out there that actually have a concerted interest in their national team’s fortunes and follow their games at the same level as they would a club at domestic level. Don’t get me wrong I’m fully behind England and want them qualify for the world cup I just wish I had the equivalent of a Sky +/Tivo remote so that I could fast forward past all the advert like qualifiers and get straight to the good stuff: the finals.

Now with most of our squad away with their national teams the focus over the past few days has been focused on those players who have not been called up to their national squads; most notably Carl Jenkinson and Mikel Arteta. Our rejuvenated full back Jenkinson has been the subject of many pundits opinion on whether he should pledge his future to England before Finland snap him. As we all know he qualifies for Finland through his mother and has represented Finland for the majority of his youth up to U-21 level.

I have been very impressed with Carl Jenkinson this season along with everyone else who has watched him. I feel his performances have been deserving of the plaudits but I do feel the England calls have been very knee jerk which is a common fault with the English press/pundit system. We are quick to jump on the bandwagon of any players that emerge and tend to throw them to the top of the tree before they have had a chance to prove themselves. Maybe I’m old school but I feel some players are elevated to international football far too quickly; we end up with a high number of players on the scrap heap with a few international caps because they were thrown in the deep end and then the national exposure highlighted parts of their game that was not up to standard yet. There is no patience playing for England, its sink or swim and many a time players sink because it’s too much too soon. There’s nothing to say they will not be great players but my argument is that a good start to the season should not mean a starting spot for your national team. An apprenticeship should be followed; if a player is under 21 he should play for the under-21’s at some point then experience being called up to the full squad to train with the seniors but not play any games for a few call ups until they are deemed by the manager to be on same wavelength as the senior players.

Many players that are deemed true talent are fast tracked straight into the full squad, our own jack wilshere is one of those players who bypassed his apprenticeship but his quality was evident from the off and he definitely swam when thrown in. when you see a player like Raheem Sterling who in my opinion is going to be a massive player seeing him in England squads already is a bit of an insult.

We must also consider that the fast tracking and avoiding the apprenticeship can have a detrimental effect on the player’s psychology. When you give a young player too much too soon it can harm their career as they lose their humbleness and start believing they have made it, they are surrounded by people telling them how great they are, they are representing their country and everything seems easy before their career has even started. David Bentley could be an example of such a player, where is he now? Despite being a complete knob he did have talent but he believed he was the next David Beckham without putting in the work David Beckham did to become…David Beckham. Now he is trying to reinvent his career somewhere in Russia.

oh dear…

Now the example I used for Raheem Sterling is possibly one similar to Carl Jenkinson, the England hierarchy want to secure their services for England before they pledge to their other eligible countries (Jamaica and Finland). But I feel despite the possible chance of missing out on a player because they are offered international football a lot sooner; it says a lot more about the player’s character. If you have real plans to be a top player then im sorry Finland and Jamaica are just not going to put you there. If you as a player really want to reach the top and England is your option then you must be prepared to wait for when you are ready to represent England and not settle for the easy option elsewhere.

Its playing for England that will give you the opportunities to play in international tournament showpieces (how well they do when they get there is another story). But it is the utmost importance that when representing your country you have earned the right and have not got there by default. A player like Stephen Warnock at Aston Villa was part of the England squad during the world cup in 2010, today if you ask anyone their opinion of the player you will struggle to find anything positive said about him. Had he become a bad player overnight or was he never good enough to start with?

Now is Carl Jenkinson a player good enough to play for England? The answer is yes. Is he ready to be England’s first choice right back? I would say no. I have to take my arsenal tinted glasses off and admit there are English right backs well ahead of him at this time. Carl has had a great start to the season and what he needs to do is put the international talk aside and focus on building on his development this season. The only real test this season he should face is the competition when Bac Sagna returns to the first team squad. England selection is not a burden he needs right now, his fight is for the right back spot at arsenal is. If he can overcome that hurdle then he may be ready to move on to the next stage which is international football.

Sagna – soon to fight for his spot back

In fairness Jenkinson has played down the England talk and I hope he continues to do so. I do believe in him but I just don’t want him to be thrown in the deep end before his time. He has made a great start to the season but it is only 7 or so games this season I believe he needs to continue on this season as he’s going then maybe come end of the season the England people can really assess his capabilities. It was good he wasn’t included in latest squad, at the moment he is first choice at Arsenal by default but let’s see if by end of season he is first choice by merit.

NB: No disrespect is meant in this post to Finland or Jamaica. If a player feels strongly enough to represent their country of birth then fair play to them.

Enjoy your day people.

Please feel free to like the Facebook page.