Who should start in the FA Cup Final – Case for the goalkeeper

This week, in a series of blogs, we are going to look at who should make up the starting 11 for this Saturdays FA Cup final against Aston Villa. Starting from the back, today we make the case for the goalkeepers.

David Ospina

I have never been a fan of rotating goalkeepers for cup competitions. Fair enough ,the League Cup when you rotate the whole team, but the FA Cup is more prestigious. You should play your strongest side. And that means your strongest goal keeper. So based on that, David Ospina should really start, he is number one at the moment.

He has come in for some criticism recently. Clearly at fault for WBA’s consolation goal at the weekend, he also had to shoulder some blame for Swansea’s winner a few weeks previous. A shot he could have saved. And this is perhaps my issues with him. He rarely makes a save he has no right to make.

With a Premier League high save percentage of 80.7%, he is clearly a safe pair of hands. He will not lose you a game, but I also do not feel he will win you a game. He makes saves you should make, but rarely pulls off one which he has no right to make.

Wojciech Szczesny

When the 3rd round of the FA Cup kicked off. Szczesny was not in goal. He has only just had THAT game against Southampton, where he was in far from smoking hot form. Ospina played the 3rd round of the FA Cup, and has not looked back ,leaving Szczesny on the bench watching on.

I felt for Szczesny last season, performing well in the league, but watching on from the bench as compatriot and soon to leave Lukasz Fabianski was between the sticks against Hull City in the final. Whilst Szczesny got a winners medal, I am sure every time he looks at it he feels he did not really earn it.

Whilst I think you should play your best goalkeeper, after last season’s decision to start Fabianski, it would now be very, very harsh to drop Szczesny for the final, even if he has barely played for 5 months.

Szczesny is the polar opposite to Ospina. He makes errors. Let’s in shots that he really should save. But then pulls of World Class stops. He wins games. Keeps us in games. He saves shots that he really has no right to save

So who would start for you in the FA Cup Final?


Tomas Rosicky’s contract – Cazorla off, Cech in?

So this morning Arsenal have extended Tomas Rosicky’s contract by a further year, taking the 34 year old attacking midfielders Arsenal career into a 10th year. And I am sitting here wondering “What’s the point?” For me, there seems to be no logic to it.

An injury hit career at Arsenal, a wonderful talent who has just not been on the pitch enough to express himself. When signed in 2006, I was excited. The man to replace Robert Pires. He was, for me, one of the top attacking midfielders in the world. As good as Kaka, with the two of them shining at the 2006 World Cup. And then the injuries began, and never really ended.

Over the last few years, he has put in some good cameos. Strung a few performances together where he has reminded us of his talent, got his new contact, and then broken down again.

This season, he has been even more of a bit part players. He has played just 567 Premier League minutes. At £3,500,000 a year, that works out at £6,172 a minute. And with squad restrictions, in both the Premier League and Champions League, resigning Rosicky, even at a lower wage, is illogical. He takes up salary and a squad place that could go to someone else who would see more pitch time.

The only logical reason is that Rosicky signing ties in with two potential transfer moves this summer.

Santi Cazorla was heavily linked to a return to Spain last summer. Rumours of being home sick. And with Atletico having a bit of money to spend, having just won the league, it looked a good fit. He remained at Arsenal. The rumours could return this year, and it would not be surprising to see him leave, with him being used as a very small make weight in a deal for Antoine Griezmann. That would leave us 1 player short in central attacking midfield, and free up the space for Rosicky to play a bit more.

Could Rosicky signing his new deal mean Cazorla is off?

On the other hand, it could link in with a player coming in. Petr Cech.

Cech and Rosicky are close friends. They socialise together, they party together. A year between them, they grew up. Born just 56 miles apart, they grew up in the Czech youth teams together, and have been key players for their country over the year. They are captain and vice captain of their country.

Whilst Cech is still a world class goal keeper and one we are certainly interested in, Rosicky is certainly not a world class midfielder. But if keeping Rosicky means that Cech joins, it is a great deal. I am sure Cech was one of the first Rosicky would be phoning today letting him know he is staying…

“Hi Petr, its Tommy, got some great news, I am staying at Arsenal”

“That is great news Tommy, I am so happy for you”

“So you coming to join me then”

If keeping Tomas means that Petr signs, I am more than happy with that.


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Gareth Bale – Arsenal’s Number One Summer Target

Second in La Liga, out of the Champions League at the semi final stage. Whilst the majority of teams throughout Europe would see that as a successful season, that is not the case at Real Madrid, where anything less than winning trophies is seen as failure.

Real Madrid will view this as a horrendous season. Four points behind Barcelona, knocked out of the Champions League by their own youth product and knocked out of the Copa del Rey to Atletico Madrid – who also came out on top of the Supercopa de España (Spanish Community Shield). Heads will role.

One of those will be Gareth Bale.

The Welsh star’s performances at Madrid have been seen by many in Spain as less than satisfactory, having signed for over £75million 2 years ago.

The difference between Real Madrid and Barcelona this season has been how their ‘”Majestic 3” have combined. Lionel Messi, Neymar & Luis Suarez have blended together well, whilst Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale & James have simply not. Bale will be the one to take the blunt of the blame.

With Real Madrid’s habit of making a marquee signing every season, they will look at their Majestic 3 as the reason why they have failed to win La Liga or the Champions League this season. And the blame for the failure of the Majestic 3 will be laid at Gareth Bale’s feet.

The key issue is he is not Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo scores goals. He is the Real Madrid poster boy. Tanned, smiling, eloquent, back to back Ballon d’Or winner. Bale has struggled with Spanish and not connected with the fans. He is been labelled a failure.

The reality, however, is somewhat difference. Gareth Bale has not been a failure at Real Madrid. He has actually been very good.

This season he is Real Madrid’s 3rd highest goal scorer with 17 in all competitions. He was also 3rd last season. Both years behind Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. 39 goals in 90 games since moving to Spain. Not a bad return.

When you think that last year, Bale’s first season in Spain was labelled as average, whilst Angel di Maria was being talked about as one of the best players in the world – Bale scored twice as many goals as di Maria.

The problem is, up against Cristiano Ronaldo, he looks a failure. In the last 2 years, Ronaldo has scored 101 goals. An astonishing return. And that is the criticism. He was signed for a similar amount of money as Ronaldo, so Madridistas think he should have the same return as Ronaldo. In theory, it is correct, in reality, they are different players offering differing things.

Ronaldo is a massive part of the problem for Bale at Real Madrid. Alongside the comparison of the two’s statistics, they do not seem to get on with each other on the pitch.

Yesterday against Juventus is a perfect example. Ronaldo passed to Bale just once. Now in defence of Ronaldo, it would be interesting to see the stats of a left and right winger passing to each other in other games. I imagine Pires and Ljungberg rarely passed to each other. However, just 1 pass does scream out as two players not getting on.

The other issue is the players at Real Madrid. They look to Ronaldo first. He is always the first thought of passing to when team mates get the ball. A pass to Bale is secondary, by which point, Bale has made his run and is now offside, or has lost the yard of space he created for himself. Being the second thought puts him at the disadvantage. It has also been tough on him that he receives the ball less than at the club he was previously out, so their is more pressure on him to do something special everytime he gets the ball. This leads to taking more risks, playing less relaxed, and losing the ball more – he lost possession 11 times against Juventus.

This all results in a very unhappy Gareth Bale, a very unhappy Real Madrid, with the ultimate solution being the two parting way’s in the summer.

Arsenal need to ensure they make Gareth Bale their number one target.

The weakest part of our out field players this season has been right wing. With Theo Walcott’s demise over his last 2 years due to injury, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s lack of progress, and Serge Gnabry’s year long lay off, it has left us playing Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla right wing. Not ideal.

I have long been of the belief that it would be better to buy a right winger rather than a striker, for the pure fact that there are more options out wide throughout world football (Bale, Sterling, Griezmann, Reus) than strikers (struggling to name any).

All 4 of those I mentioned above would be brilliant signings, and Bale should be at the top of the list. He is the superior player, and has previously performed in the Premier League. You would know what you are getting by signing Bale. He would take no time to settle.

This makes me also think of another comparison.

Antoine Griezmann is having an excellent season. He has scored 25 goals in 51 games. Last year, when Bale flopped, he had 22 in 44. Meanwhile, Marco Reus’ best season, when some were claiming him as one of the best in the world, was 23 goals in 45 games.

It is just interesting to see how things are written. Bale is a flop, whilst others, Hazard, Griezmann, Reus, di Maria had excellent seasons.

An Arsenal side with Bale Ozil Sanchez in behind Giroud would be electrifying and dangerous. Goals from out wide, and magic in the middle.

Gareth Bale needs to be our number one target.

Sign him, we win the league.


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