Tag Archives: Mathieu Debuchy

Arsenal’s underachievers to be reunited

September 2007, Arsenal had just completed their first season at the new ground. Thierry Henry had just left for Barcelona. Freddie Ljungberg to West Ham. A year earlier Dennis Bergkamp had retired, Robert Pires was released, Sol Campbell, Lauren and Ashley Cole sold. The invincible’s were no more.

Stan Kroenke was seizing full control, but Arsenal were struggling financially.

Alisher Usmanov had bought out David Dein a month earlier. He came with a promise of Roman Abramovich style spending.

With the transfer window slamming shut, with Arsenal having signed Lukas Fabianski, Eduardo, Bacary Sagna and Lassana Diarra, Arsene Wenger uttered the immortal words:

“We don’t sign superstars, we make them”.

That season, a team was being built around a 20-year-old Cesc Fabregas. Alongside him in midfield was 23 year-old-Frenchman Mathieu Flamini. The squad was filled with players under the age of 25.

Robin van Persie (24), Gael Clichy (22), Sagna (24), Emmanuel Adebayor (23), Nicklas Bendtner (19), Theo Walcott (18), Emmanuel Eboue (24), Alex Song (20), Denilson (19), Eduardo (24), Diarra (22), Philippe Senderos (22) & Abou Diaby (21) represented one of the best young squads in England.

They were supplemented with the experience of William Gallas, Kolo Toure, Gilberto Silva, Alex Hleb and Tomas Rosicky.

The plan was obvious.

Bringing through so many young players at the same time would bread success in the future. It might not be in the first year, but as time went on, they would progress and improve as a team until they became champions – a bit like Manchester United’s class of ’92.

With Henry gone, we saw the greater good of the collective as 16 different goal scorers and togetherness made Arsenal contenders.

A strong start to the season saw Arsenal top the league table by September. It was not until December did the team lose in the league for the first time, away at Middlesbrough.

It was at the turn of the year that things went down hill.

Thrashed by Spurs 5-1 in the League Cup semi-final in January and knocked out of the FA Cup in mid-February 4-0 clearly rattled the emotionally inexperienced side.

7 days after that defeat against Manchester United, Arsenal travelled to Birmingham. A trip that would begin our downfall.

A career-threatening injury to Eduardo against Birmingham City followed up by Birmingham equalising from the penalty spot in the 95th minute – which was never a penalty coincided with the team going on a run of four draws in the Premier League.

Club captain William Gallas sat sulking in the centre circle whilst the penalty was taken, a show of petulance from the senior professional that was supposed to guide his young team mates.

Just 1 win in the next 8 games saw Manchester United soon overtook them Arsenal. Defeat to Chelsea in March moved Arsenal down in third place, where they remained at the end of the season. The spell also saw Arsenal go out of the Champions League at the quarter final stage to Liverpool.

Arsenal finished just 4 points behind eventual winners Manchester United. It was probably the last time we truly challenged for the league title,

Despite the disappointment of finishing the season without a trophy, there was plenty of be excited.

Here was a team of young players challenging for the title before their time. The project was clear and obvious. If we could keep this talented group of youths together, it was only a matter of time before they became champions.

Sadly the 2007/08 season would be this squads high point and Arsenal would not finish the next 7 seasons above 3rd.

First Flamini then Hleb, followed by Adebayor and Toure to the nouveau riche Manchester City. They were followed by Senderos, Gallas and Eduardo.

The dagger was put through the heart of the talented squad in 2011 when Samir Nasri (who signed in 2008) & Clichy joined Manchester City. Cesc went to Barcelona and Eboue to Galatasaray. That season Arsenal would be defeated by Birmingham City in the League Cup.

The departure of Robin van Persie and Alex Song within 3 days during the summer of 2012 left just Tomas Rosicky from what should have been a golden generation of Arsenal players.

And it is the Czech Mozart that sees many of the squad reunited on the 9th June for his testimonial at Prague’s Letna Stadium.

Fabregas and Kieran Gibbs, Flamini and Hleb, and Robin van Persie have already been named in a Czech Legends v Rest of the World match. Petr Cech is set to play for the Czech’s.

More players are still to be announced, and I imagine more will be from that underachieving squad that came together in 2008.

We were so close to create a team of stars. Up against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea who were buying stars. Rosicky never quite stayed fit enough to be a big enough influence within the squad.

Who knows what we would have achieved had he been able to stay fit?


TWO in the frame to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain at Arsenal

So rumours seem to be floating about that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on the verge of going to Chelsea for £35m, and the response from many seems to be mixed.

On one hand, he is an extremely talented player, homegrown, and has come into his own over the last few months playing at right wing back.

On the other side of the coin, he is in the last year of his contract, is very inconsistent, has never really fulfilled his potential, and seems to want to play central midfield. On top of this, he has struggled to maintain his fitness throughout his Arsenal career.

At £35m, I think Arsenal would be getting a good price for a player who’s own plans does not really fit into Arsenal’s plans. The big problem that Arsenal will face is replacing him.

We already have enough deadwood players to get rid of, and whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain has often flirted with being surplus in the past, he has recently become a player we need to keep.

Let me paint another picture to you. Oxlade-Chamberlain leaves, it means either Mathieu Debuchy or Carl Jenkinson is back up to Hector Bellerin. This is the thing of nightmares. That two players who really should have been shipped out 12 months ago, would now be back in the plans of Arsene Wenger.

But we could buy a replacement you are currently thinking.

But remember, this is Arsenal, this is Arsene Wenger.

We have already messed up getting Thomas Lemar over the line this summer. We look no closer to a central midfielder, and a centre back will not happen. Our transfer dealings are done. And it is not good enough.

If we sell Oxlade-Chamberlain, we will not buy a replacement. Wenger will not spend what is needed to bring in the quality. He will not want to kill Hector Bellerin.

That means Ox out, and either Jenkinson or Debuchy, or even both, stay.

And our summer transfer window gets progressively worse…


Arsenal set to SELL 4 this week

Arsene Wenger is doing the proverbial “get HR to sack an employee you don’t like whilst you are on holiday” as Arsenal are set to say goodbye to 4 players this week whilst the majority of the squad and management of the club are sunning themselves in China.

Wojciech Szczesny is set to finally complete his move to Juventus for £10m.

A lot of people recently have been defending the Big Pole and saying Arsenal should not sell him. They have also questioned how low his transfer fee is. Unfortunately, you can not force a player to stay if he does not want too.

Szczesny’s contract runs out in a year, after which he could leave on a free. No matter how often fans stick on Twitter or Facebook that Ospina is leaving and Cech getting old, we should keep Szczesny who can replace Cech, you can not do much when the player himself wants to leave.

This is also why the fee is so low. Juventus want him, he wants Juventus. With a year left on his contract, Arsenal did not have much power when it came to negotiations. Of course, some will say that he should never have been allowed to go down to his last year, but this is a man who has spent the last 2 seasons on loan. A new contract would not have been considered by either party.

Could Arsenal have sold him 2 years ago? Perhaps. But only loan deals came in for him at the time. Same as last year. And I guess the thinking was that there is still a chance after his loan deal that he might end up staying. He did not, and we are selling him to Juventus.

£10m is not that much in the current climate when Jordan Pickford is going for £30m.

Arsenal need to move on to get stronger, and unfortunately Szczesny is part of the Wilshere / Walcott group of players that were perhaps never quite good enough. Never had the right mental attributes to become truly world class.

I am disappointed in this one as having watched England at the recent U21 tournament, Chambers showed his quality. But then it has to be remembered that this is at a youth level.

The problem for Arsenal is that they have two very good, young centre backs in Chambers and Rob Holding. Both need development, and both need game time to develop. As Manchester United showed when they were trying to develop both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, this is not easy. And looking at both Jones and Smalling’s career, you have to wonder if they both hindered each others development.

You can often only give game time to one youngster, especially at centre back, so one had to go.

A loan deal would have perhaps been preferable for Arsenal again, but this would possibly not have been the ideal deal for Calum Chambers.

Chambers does have an outside shot at making the plane for England in Russia 2018, but he will only get that shot if he plays week in week out in the Premier League. He will get that chance at someone like Crystal Palace. And playing underneath a ball playing centre back like Frank de Boer will be good for his career.

If you look at the situation coldly, Chambers is currently Arsenal’s 8th choice centre back, with Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal and new boy Sead Kolasinac ahead of him.

Before you point out that Monreal and Kolasinac are left backs. You are correct, but at 3 at the back, one will play on the left side of the back 3. And if that one is injured, the other will drop inside to replace them. The left footed-ness gives the defence essential balance.

An argument could be made against keeping Per Mertesacker and Gabriel ahead of Calum Chambers.

Mertesacker has a year left at Arsenal before moving into a coaching role. He was immense in the Cup Final, and his experience and leadership will be important. He will be a big part of Rob Holding’s development, and likely to play alongside him in the Europa League.

Personally I would have preferred to keep Chambers over Gabriel. But if one payer is knocking on your door asking to leave, and you have clubs interested in him, and the other player is content to stay as a squad player, and there is zero interest, it leaves you with little option.

I do worry about cover at right back. Chambers would have been Hector Bellerin’s cover in this position, and with him going, and 2 more right backs potentially set to leave, it results in Arsenal just having the Spanish as a natural right back.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can play at right wing back, if we go for a back 3, and Mustafi has played right back for Germany, so there is cover. I imagine Ainsley Naitland-Miles or Reiss Nelson will be given the chance in the Europa League and League Cup.

My only hope is that with Chambers, we have a buy back clause, as within 3 seasons, Mertesacker will be gone, and Koscielny on his last legs. If he does develop and fulfil his potential, a Calum chambers in 3 years time could be the ideal signing for Arsenal.

When we signed Chambers, he was a huge investment, a surprise. At least we are getting our money back and more.

Arsenal also look set to finally get Mathieu Debuchy off the wage bill. The Frenchman’s Arsenal career never really took off, for a multitude of reasons. He has had a lot of bad luck in his Arsenal career.

A lot of fans will label Debuchy’s 3 year career at Arsenal as a flop, after just 13 league games in 3 years. But this is a man who arrived as France’s first choice right back, had some horrendous injuries, and ended up giving way for Hector Bellerin. He was just unlucky in his situation.

At 31, a return to French football with Nice on a free transfer is good for all parties, as Arsenal slash £70,000 off their wage bill.

The last player set to say his goodbyes this week is Kieran Gibbs.

It is incredible to think that Gibbs made his Arsenal debut 10 years ago, yet some still talk about him having potential. He is 28 in September and his career has ground to a halt in recent years.

The talent with Gibbs has always been there, the fitness not so much. And that is what has let him down over the years.

Recent years, he has fallen behind Nacho Monreal in the pecking order. The signing of Sead Kolasinac – the who made the Bundesiliga team of the year last year – was the final nail in the coffin for Gibbs.

There seem to be plenty of suitors for the Englishman, and he will have his choice of whoever meets the £10m asking price.

Alongside the likes of Walcott, Szczesny & Wilshere, he is another one who has underachieved. Your mind go’s back 4 years to that picture of young, English players signing a new contract, and have to wonder what happened.

We might all have our opinion on why the careers of Szczesny, Chambers, Gibbs and Debuchy, and whether they should have been kept or sold earlier.

I look at it with an open mind. We are set to raise £40m and save £215,000 a week in wages by selling our 3rd choice keeper, 8th choice centre back, 3rd choice left back, and our 4th choice right back. As long as we spend what we bring in, that is a good deal.

By the time we sell on Carl Jenkinson, Jack Wilshere, Lucas Perez and Joel Campbell, that will be nearly £25,000,000 wiped off our wage bill in 8 players that started a combined total of 12 league games last year.

Hopefully the club is clearing out the surplus players and will redistribute the saved wages to those that deserve it (Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil) as well as get in a few more senior players.