Ahead of the Chelsea vs Arsenal game this Sunday a Stamford Bridge, Nick (an Arsenal fan from the Arsenal blog Bergkampesque.Com) approached me for a Q&A to be published on their Arsenal blog. That sounded like a good idea and had Nick answer some questions on Arsenal and the game this Sunday. Questions from me. Answers from Nick. Here we go!
1. Has Arsene given all that he could for Arsenal? Would like to get a new manager at Arsenal?
It’s hard to say to be honest. I love the man and he is our greatest manager of all time, but he can be quite stubborn. No one really knows what’s going on behind the scenes and he is loyal to a fault (although in the last transfer window he did say he could write a book about everything that happened). I would just like to see him mix up things a bit more tactics wise, and rotate the squad a bit more. We line up with the same formation every week and only try and play our game, in my opinion it’s a bit naive because some managers (especially Fergie) have figured it all out. Give him time I say.
2. Do you think the Arsenal board is really ambitious? Do they really want Arsenal to win trophies or just happy with the balance sheets?
I think over the next year we will get a better idea about this. We have new sponsorship deals coming in and loan repayments for the stadium have eased, therefore you’d hope the purse strings are loosened a bit. I think one big name signing to show some intent would please a lot of fans.
3. Between these two which one would you prefer – Kroenke going past 75% or Usmanov going over 25%?
In a perfect world neither but out of the two I’d choose Kroenke. Silent Stan is a bit of a mystery, I’m not sure what to think of him. Most think he is keeping down debt and is looking for the quick sell. Usmanov is a Man U fan so he can keep his grubby fingers away from Arsenal. He is making a lot of noise and trying to put the pressure on Kroenke.
4. Where do you think you need to strengthen the squad? Where do you think your squad is already strong?
I’d like to see another winger come in to the team. Podolski should be used as a striker because he is very clinical and it’s a waste of his ability running down flanks. Walcott wants to be a striker also so we really only have Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gnabry, and Ryo Miyachi to choose from (Cazorla can play out wide if needed). All three are young and raw so perhaps a cheeky bid for ben-arfa or someone of that nature. I’d like an experienced backup keeper (Friedel type) and an experienced winger.
In the middle of the pitch we are quite strong IF everyone is fit to play. Diaby is a force but we can’t keep him on the pitch, young Jack can blow apart the league I feel, Santi is a great little player and will benefit from a rest now that Jack is back. Arteta battles manfully. Rosicky needs to get on the field, and I feel Coquelin could be the answer to our defensive midfield woes. Most fans are crying out for a midfielder of the Essien mould but I think Coquelin is ready to step up. He may not be as strong but he has great stamina, is tenacious, and has a fair bit of skill.
5. Where do you think you’ll finish in the table this season? You think the unthinkable of finishing below Spurs could happen? Who are your top four?
Best we can hope for is 3rd position. I think it’ll be a fight to the end for third between Chelsea and us and the Manc finishing first and second. Haha the good thing about Tottenham is they like to make a lot of noise but most times they drop off significantly towards the end. Last season they were 10 points clear towards the end of the season, only to lose 5-2 and let us over take them. Let’s hope they nose dive again.
6. Do you think Walcott deserves the £100k per week that he’s reportedly offered? In this light, was Ashley Cole’s demand back then so unreasonable?
Time will tell. He’s made a lot of noise so now it’s time to put his head down and show us all what he can do on the field. I can handle the wage demand because in this age players are getting paid ridiculous money, but I don’t like his positional demands. Yes he’s quick but he can’t hold up the ball and run hard enough to give an option. I’d like to see him and Giroud build a solid partnership. Cole got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, did he flirt with the opposition…yes, was his agent a bottom feeder like most…yes but he no different to RVP, Nasri, or Hleb. I do think he is a shocking bloke though.
7. Who in the Arsenal team should Chelsea be more worried about? Who is the weakest link in the Arsenal team that Chelsea can exploit?
Definitely Wilshere at the moment. He is back to full fitness, moved to attacking midfield, and he’s ready to make up for lost time. His is a real leader on the pitch and really is the complete midfielder.
Weakest link has to be our CB pairing. Vermaelen struggled with confidence early on but is working back in to top form, Mertesacker has dropped off a bit, and Koscielny has struggled to find last year’s form also. Mertesacker is our most reliable defender using his experience and great positional defence to cover his lack of pace. However, in the last few games he has been left exposed for pace in certain stages of the match. If I was Chelsea I’d be looking to attack our right side of defence with pace because Sagna and Mertesacker are not playing their best at the moment.
8. Who from the Chelsea squad would you love to see as an Arsenal player (if money’s not a constraint)?
Without doubt Juan Mata. I was spewing last season when you rich buggers beat us to his signature. He was the exact type of player we needed to cover the loss of Fabregas and the injury to Wilshere. Other then that I wouldn’t mind taking Ivanovic or Torres. I think Torres needs a fresh start elsewhere, it’s clear the big price tag and the large expectation that comes with it has affected his game. I’ve always been a big fan of his and I hope for his sake he can turn it around. Ivanovic is tough as nails, brings an aerial threat, and is very versatile. His ability to play CB and RB very well would make any teams squad better equipped.
9. What’s that one quality that symbolises this Arsenal team and what’s that one quality that you wish this Arsenal team had?
Currently…probably inconsistency. At times we can play really well, other times we switch off, especially defensively. The team needs more leaders on the pitch (hopefully with Jack back and Vermaelen it’ll fix this problem) and a higher work ethic. I’m not sure if the pre-season Asian money grabbing trip helped us on the pitch, Arsene normally likes to train at higher altitude, creating a better fitness base for the season. This season we look flatter and seem to be out-worked by our opposition on a regular basis. Work harder, press more and the results will come.
10. What’s your prediction for the game on Sunday? Chelsea 5-3 Arsenal?
I’m going to go with a 1-2 victory to the good guys. Ba to score for your lot (spewing we didn’t buy him as a backup striker). I’d love it if it was as open as the 3-5 game, it’d make for good watching. I predict Terry will fall over again if he’s caught chasing Theo. I think without Mikel our midfield might control the game. Diaby is back, Jack is flying, and Coquelin has something to prove.
Should be an entertaining one, lets hope the officials can let it go and we all enjoy watching it unfold.
Thank you very much Nick! May the best team win and that could be a disappointment for you