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Welcome to the New Arsenal

The season is over. Arsene Wenger is gone. When the 2018/19 season begins, it will be a new era. A new era that we must embrace with positivity.

In recent years, Arsenal has been a cauldron of negativity. In the ground, in the pubs, on social media. A lot of fans glass is half full. They have become negative nancies.

With the new seasons brings freshness. It is important that we as a fan base embrace the freshness, embrace everything new that comes with the new era. Back in 1998 we had New Labour. 2018 brings New Arsenal.

New Manager

The new era begins with a new manager. Whoever it is needs to be backed 100% by the fans. The infighting that surrounded Wenger needs to stop with the new man.

If he starts off successful, do not sit moaning that we should have changed manager earlier. Likewise, if he starts poorly, don’t get on his back by saying we should never have got rid of Wenger.

Stop the petty arguments surrounding who is in charge. Back him.

His first game, let’s sing about his Red and White Army.

Arsenal’s problems will not be fixed overnight. Give the new man your time and backing.

New Board

Arsenal have already begun making changes in the boardroom.

Josh Kroenke has already begun taking more of an interest in Arsenal – moving Arsene Wenger aside was heavily influenced by him. Your major owner (or son of) taking more of an interest in the club at board level can only be a positive.

Raul Sanllehi has come in as new Head of Football Relations. There is also talk that 2 of Sir Chips Keswick, Ken Friar and Lord Harris of Peckham are likely to step down.

Hopefully the board room revolution continues and whoever potentially leaves is replaced by people who actually have an interest in driving the club forward, rather than just use being a director of Arsenal as a status symbol.

It is also interesting to see what is happening in the directors box. David O’Leary seems to be back in favour with the club whom he is record appearance holder for.

After a decade in the wilderness (caused by a fall out after post-game celebrations in a defeat against Leeds) he has been a constant at almost every Arsenal game, home and away, this season. Could a board position beckon for a man who is Arsenal through and through? A man who’s Arsenal career spanned 3 decades?

Even if he does not join the board, just being in the directors box will be a positive influence on those around him.

New Captain

We have all seen the tweets of how few games Arsenal’s “official” captain has played in recent years.

Whilst I am sure that the likes of Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta were brilliant on the training ground and in the dressing, we need a captain who is a leader on and off the pitch.

Since Patrick Vieira left in 2004/05, we have not had a proper captain.

Thierry Henry was given it to protect his ego, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie to encourage them to say. The less said about William Gallas’ stint the better.

Thomas Vermaelen would have actually been a decent captain, if he was not so injury prone.

We need to learn the mistake of the past.

Do not give the captain to an injury prone senior player (Laurent Koscielny) or to someone in the hope they will commit their future other club (Aaron Ramsey).

The captaincy needs to go to a natural leader, on and off the pitch, who is committed to the Arsenal cause. The obvious choice is Aaron Ramsey, but only if he signs a new deal. Beyond him, pickings are slim.

Beyond Granit Xhaka, there is not really another first team player who has leadership qualities. Should we maybe go down the youth option and, if the new manager is planning to start one of them, pass the arm band to Claum Chambers or Rob Holding?

New Philosophy

The era of us being Arsene Wenger’s experiment is over. Whether it was Project Youth, Project British, Project Wenger Ball. The philosophy of the club will change under new leadership.

Arsenal now needs to be built in the vision of Raul Sanllehi and Ivan Gazidis.

Sanllehi was key in turning Barcelona into what they are now, He needs to be given free reign on building the football side of the club. The manager / coach is just that, someone to manage the side, coach the players, sort out the tactics.

It should now be up to the Head of Football Relations (can he be promoted to Director of Football now) to manage the scouting network, produce and implement short, mid and long term plans for the club, to drive us forward. It should no longer be the philosophy of the club that the manager has fall control.

New Tactics

Where the manager will have fall control is the tactics on the pitch.

One of the most frustrating aspects of Arsene Wenger is his inability to refresh the side. Sir Alex Ferguson was brilliant at changing things from season to season.

Arsene started with 442, moved to 433 (when Mourinho started to play it), then 4231 (when Barcelona were successful with it), then 352 (after Conte and others) before reverting to whatever the hell we play now (I am really not sure).

He always seemed to be a follower rather than a trailblazer.

A new manager will implement his style of play, his tactics. Whether that Leonardo Jardim’s counter attacking football, Max Allegri’s defensive control, or Luis Enrique’s possession based game. Whoever comes in will have us playing a new way. A fresh way.

Gone are the predictable tactics against bigger sides (that fail). Gone are the predictable substitutions on the predictable minutes.

It will be fresh.

New Backroom Staff

Whenever a new manager comes in, they like to bring their own staff.

Back in 1996, when Arsene Wenger took over, he bought into a lot of the current Arsenal set up. The likes of Pat Rice and Bob Wilson were key to his integration. But he also bought in Boro Primorac a few months after taking the helm.

There have already been a few changes in the backroom staff in the last 12 months.

In has come Darren Burgess as Director of High performance and Jens Lehmann as first team coach. Per Mertesacker is also set to move into an academy role.

It is the futures of the likes of Steve Bould, Neil Banfield, Boro Primorac and Gerry Peyton that will be most interesting.

All 4 were bought in by Arsene Wenger, and have been with him for 15-20 years. All 4 signed a new contract alongside Arsene Wenger at the back end of last season. Apparently only one has been offered a deal taking him beyond next season.

This blog was written before what happened on Friday, and it seems the rumours are true as Steve Bould was the only senior member of staff who survived the firings.

Additional recruits away from the training ground include the likes of Sven Mislintat (Head of Recruitment) and Huss Fahmy (Contracts, Legal & Commercial Expert).

Out with the old, in with the new

New Players

And to round it all off, we conclude with new players.

Due to being cup tied, injured and rested, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil have barely played together since joining the club. The January signings will feel like new players after the pre-season as neither are going to the World Cup. Combined with Ozil, it makes an exciting trio.

But then we have real signing. We need a new goal keeper, centre back, central midfielder and wide attacker.

With Sanllehi, Mislintat and a new manager who does not dither, driving the transfers, we should be able to recruit the quality required.

We do have to be realistic. We are not going to do a Manchester City and spend half a billion quid. We simply do not have that money. But through smart scouting and recruitment, all 4 key positions should be filled by 31st August.

New Arsenal

So there we have it, the new era, the new Arsenal.

Hopefully we have an new attitude from fans, the stadium starts to rock again, and new positivity drives the club forward once more.

Keenos

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How is Theo Walcott not in the England squad?

England play tonight and I for one am baffled as to why Theo Walcott does not get into the squad.

Now before you all jump on the comments and say “he is sh*t”, put your dummy back in and be sensible.

Yes, he might not be everyone’s cup of tea, he might not be the most naturally gifted when it comes to dribbling or vision, but he gets goals and assists, something which a lot of the current squad struggle with.

Look at stats from last season:

It baffles me that England think they are so good that they have left at home a player who outscored all but 2 of the current squad last season, with the second best games to goals ratio.

Keenos

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Arsenal’s win over Reading

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The Good

Our 12th game unbeaten saw us into the quarter final of the League Cup (Or whatever the competition is now called). With either Man City or Man U, and West Ham or Chelsea set to exit the competition tonight, a cheeky trip to Wembley on 26 February 2017 could be on the cards.

Emiliano Martinez put in a solid performance in goal. I saw him play a few years back in the 7-5 defeat of Reading in the same competition, and he was all over the place. Now 24, he looks to be developing into a decent 2nd string goal keeper. Add in that he is home grown, he has certainly put his name in the hat to deputise for Petr Cech next season if David Ospina leaves the club.

It was good for Carl Jenkinson to get 90 minutes under his belt having been out for 9 months with injury. He clearly loves the club, and is a popular lad. It will be good for him to now quick on and put Hector Bellerin under a bit of pressure for the right back spot.

“Unfortunately no one speaks about the performance of Rob Holding. You should be happy, he is English and 20 years old. I am sorry he didn’t cost £55 million, so he can’t be good.” That was Arsene Wenger back in August. 2 months on and most will agree we have a player on our hands. You have to be careful not to overhype, like what happened with Calum Chambers, but as the minute, at £2million, Holding is looking like a steal.

A few more youngsters also put in bright performances. Ainsley Maitland-Harriott was quietly effective in the middle of the park. A good defensive midfielder is one is rarely seen. Who gets on with his work efficiently. And Niles certainly did that. This boy is talented. He has the stature and passing ability to become a top central midfielder. He just needs to ignore his mum.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide also looked silky. He was sometimes guilty of holding on to the ball too long, but he was continually on the front foot.

Finally Alex Oxlade-Chamberlainwas the two goal hero, and put in a performance in the League Cup you would expect him too. Surrounded by youngsters, playing against weakened opposition, he stood up to be counted for. He was the stand out player on the pitch and has certainly given Arsene Wenger something to think about for this weekend.

The Bad

I hate people who go out of their way to find something to moan about in a victory. We won 2-0 and are through to the next round of the cup, blooding some youths along the way. Those that sit there and moan clearly have an agenda and an inability to enjoy a win.

But there is space for constructive criticism. And today that is aimed at Lucas Perez.

It was an odd performance by the Spaniard. He looked off the pace, not match sharp, but that is exactly where he is in his Arsenal career. Someone who is not yet ready. This was just his 2nd start for Arsenal, alongside a handful of minutes coming off the bench.

His link up play was poor, the play often broke down when it got to him. A few times, when presented with the opportunity to put a team mate in, he played a poor pass and the move broke down. Compare this to Olivier Giroud who, when he came on, slotted straight back in bringing others into play.

Perez looked better in the 2nd half, a mazy run led to a chance. But he is so one footed as a player, this will make him predictable in the Premier League.

Another to have a poor game was Mohamed Elneny. He struggled with simple passes, and after a poor performance against Boro at the weekend, and with Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka ahead of him, Aaron Ramsey returning, he might struggle for game time in the coming weeks.

The Ugly

Reading put in some robust challenges. One of which ended Lucas Perez’s game. The moan is the change of rules.

After Grant Xhaka was sent off against Swansea, everyone found some new rule that was introduced this summer about it being a red card when a player makes no attempt to win the ball. Well, Reading did that on numerous occasions last night and came away from the game with just 2 bookings.

All we ask for as fans is consistency. And we do not seem to be getting that.

 

Onto Sunderland away. A long old trip up north.

Keenos