Tag Archives: Laurent Koscielny

Gardening, Gigs and Boxing

We go into this weekend without any football. There is also no mid-week football and no football next weekend.

It is 17 days until our next game – Newcastle at home on a Monday night. So there really will not be too much to talk about over the next 2 weeks. Therefore some of you might be delighted to know that I will take a short break from blogging.

I will only come out of hibernation if something worth writing about happens, but I have always thought there is no point blogging for the sake of it. These people that write about them opening a box with an Arsenal shirt in it. It is content for contents sake. Just after a few more pennies.

Firstly we have an FA Cup weekend and that is followed by an international break.

So what are my plans for the next three weekends?

Plenty of gardening.

My grass needs a cut (have not yet cut it this year), hanging baskets need creating, a fence needs repairing, a fox killing and the decking needs a hose down and sweep. Hopefully the weather brightens ups and over the next 2 weekends I can get the garden in order for the summer.

I am also off to the Copper Box to watch the Charlie Edwards fight and will see Gerry Cinnamon at the Forum in Kentish Town.

The break probably comes at a bit of a bad time for Arsenal.

Unbeaten in the last 5 league games – with 5 wins and a draw – Arsenal have turned a 10 point deficit against Tottenham into a 1 point deficit. It would have been a 2 point lead if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had not missed that last minute penalty. But let’s not dwell on the past.

It is not just Arsenal’s good form but also Tottenham’s poor form that makes this mid-season break frustrating.

Tottenham are now 4 games without a win – losing 3 and drawing 1. The wheels have well and truly come off.

For part of the break, Arsenal are off to Dubai for a bit of warm weather training.

We are due to play a friendly whilst we are out there. Some have claimed this is money grabbing, that we should not be playing a game. However with a 2 and a half week break we need to play a couple of games to stay sharp.

Whether these are full 90 minutes behind closed doors amongst the squad, or using local sides. We would have played a game out in Dubai regardless, we have just decided to monetise it instead of having it behind closed doors.

The advantage of a 3 week break is it allows the likes of Laurent Koscielny to rest his weary bones before the run in.

Koscielny has been immense recently. Putting his body on the line for the cause of the AFC. At the age of 33 he is clearly on his way out, so the break will give him the energy for the last push in the Europa League and Premier League.

A few wrote him off earlier in the season. I would keep the old dog about.

Next season I would not want him as first choice central defender. I want us to go into the market and buy a top class left sided centre back. I also want us to cash in on Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi.

That would leave Koscileny as 4th choice centre back behind Sokratis, a new signing and Rob Holding. There is life in Koscielny and next season it would be useful to have him in the League Cup team alongside Zech Medley or Dan Ballard.

Yesterday we had the Europa League draw. Arsenal face Napoli. Probably the worst away day we could have asked for bar Chelsea.

Enjoy the next couple of weeks.

Keenos

Gardening, Gigs and Boxing

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Calum Chambers – Should he stay or should he go?

Watching the Fulham v Tottenham game at the weekend, the stand out performer dominating the middle of the park was Calum Chambers.

The on loan Arsenal man was one of the few outstanding players in a very poor Fulham team. It had many calling for his return to the club in the summer.

Chambers turned 24 a couple of days ago and signed a new 4-year-deal back in July last year.

After a good start to his Arsenal career, he has struggled to nail down a place in the squad. Fulham is his second loan deal after a year spent in Middlesbrough during their 2016/17 relegation season.

What should Arsenal do with the not-so-young-central defender?

Keep, replace Laurent Koscielny

Club captain Laurent Koscielny rolled back the years against Chelsea, but team is clearly running out for the old dog.

Most Arsenal fans want a strong, first choice centre back to partner Sokratis in the long term. We can all agree that Calum Chambers is not that man. Neither is Shkodran Mustafi. Rob Holding has arguably moved ahead of Koscielny, Mustafi and Chambers.

In 2019/20 Koscielny will be, at best, 4th choice centre back being Sokratis, Mustafi/replacement and Rob Holding. Could Calum Chambers return and be 4th choice central defender? Certainly.

Keep, replace Mohamed Elneny

At Fulham, Calum Chambers joined as a centre back but was soon moved to central midfield. It was in the middle of the park he ran the game for Fulham against Tottenham.

He was composed on the ball, short and long passing, as well as stopping Tottenham attacks at will. He was Man of the Match.

Arsenal’s current midfield options are Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Could Calum Chamber take Elneny’s place in the squad? Certainly.

Cover Hector Bellerin

Roll back to 2014 when Arsenal signed Chambers for £16million, he was a right back – having made 22 Premier League appearances for Southampton in 2013/14.

With Stephan Lichsteiner set to leave in the summer, and Hector Bellerin’s injury, we clearly need to address the right back situation next season.

Maitland-Niles is an option at right back, and will surely get his chance in the coming weeks and months. Could Calum Chambers provide cover to Hector Bellerin? Certainly.

All of the above

So he could be 4th choice centre back, 4th choice central midfielder and 2/3rd choice right back. Is this a role that he could play in one go, covering depending who is injured? Certainly.

Sell

The final option is sell.

After his string of performances, Arsenal could easily get £20million or more for a home grown, 24-year-old player.

At Premier League level who would be a regular starter for a mid-to-lower league team, or a newly promoted one.

You could see him fitting in at Derby County. He was heavily linked with a £16million move to Crystal Palace last season.

The likes of Bournemouth have spent big in January for players who are inferior to Chambers (£19milion for Dominic Solanke!). He would certainly get into their team, as well as Brighton and West Ham.

If we sold him, there would be no shortage of takers.

Arsenal have been awful at selling players in recent years. We have let over £200m worth of talent exit, getting little in return.

Imagine the scenario. We get £20million for Chambers; we also sell Mustafi. We could get in the region of £35million for a Premier League, international proven central defender. That is £55million bought in selling a central defender not currently in the squad, and one more that we can improve on.

That total could then go towards a new defender.

For £55million+ we could get a quality central defender. There are not too many defenders in the world that would be out of our reach.

You then have the new central defender, Sokratis, Holding, Koscielny and Mavropanos as the options.

Should we learn our lesson with Chambers. Cash in on a player who will never quite be good enough, and reinvest that elsewhere on someone that improves our first team without weakening the squad? Certainly.

I would keep all options on the table.

Keenos

How will Unai Emery solve Arsenal defensive puzzle?

Unai Emery is facing a defensive puzzle.

With Rob Holding out for the season, yellow cards to both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi against Huddersfield means both are suspended for the game at Southampton on Sunday.

Not only does this give the Spaniard a headache for the Premier League match, but also disrupts his planning for the visit of Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday.

Thursday’s game would have been used to give Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal a run out. Get 90 minutes of senior football under their belts after long lay offs.

Koscielny would have most certainly started at centre back, with Monreal at left back. The problem now for Arsenal is that with Sokratis and Mustafi now out, the pair are now likely to be our central defensive partnership against Southampton.

So what does this mean for Thursday?

Does Emery continue with the rehabilitation of Monreal and Koscielny by giving them 90 minutes against Qarabagm hope they both get through and hope recover quickly enough for Southampton at Sunday lunch time?

Or does he play Sokratis and Mustafi (injury permitting) against Qarabag, keeping Koscielny and Monreal out of danger for Sunday.

The fear will be against Qarabag, the one of either Koscielny or Monreal picks up a little niggle ruling them out of Sunday. This is highly likely. Small injuries often occur after a long lay off. And even if they do both get through unscathed, are either yet fully fit enough to play 90 minutes twice in less than 3 days?

Arsenal were already without first choice U23 pairing Daniel Ballard and Julio Pleguezuelo, as well as Kostadinos Mavropanos. This would mean that if either Koscielny or Monreal were to not fit for Sunday, either 18-year-old Zech Medly would start, or Arsenal would have to move either Stephan Lichtsteiner or Granit Xhaka into the back four.

Logic dictates that you do not involved Koscielny or Monreal against Qarabag. It would also make sense to not play Sokratis if Mustafi’s hamstring injury is to rule him out of further games.

So Medley and Big Carl Jenkinson it is then/

Keenos