Emirates Cup Round Up, Review & Player Overview

Evening All, and it’s been an interesting couple of days down at the Emirates. For those of you who attended or watched the Emirates Cup this weekend, you would have been subject to a feast of football and some very exciting play going on. We saw the return of Rosicky, we saw the mercurial talent that is Jack Wilshere as well as the Spanish prodigy, which is Fran Merida.

The players who played in the different positions over the weekend were:


Sagna – Gallas – Djourou – Traore
Eboue – Silvestre – Song – Clichy

Denilson – Ramsey
Merida – Song

Wilshere – Rosicky – Bendtner
Eboue – Cesc – Arshavin
Bendtner – Merida – Sanchez Watt

Van Persie

If indeed Vermaelen was fit, we’d have seen exactly two different teams play – in the above list, you’ll notice the 4-2-3-1 formation which was deployed throughout this tournament and through the some of the previous friendlies too. It’s a formation that I expect Arsene to field for the majority this season having ended up with more attacking midfielders than strikers and strikers like Vela, Eduardo and Walcott who are comfortable in this formation too. Arsene has attempted through out the tournament to play Niklas Bendtner there too and we all know Van Persie players the attacking right side for his country.

So, let’s look through the team and how they faired individually.

The young Italian keeper has seen some action pre-season and as he is our third choice, a tournament like this is definitely useful for him as he gets more “big match” experience. He looked decent in between the sticks even if he did have a shaky handling moment or two. I’m happy for him to be third choice this season.

The Spanaird showed why he is number one with a commanding performance against Rangers. He pulled off some decent saves and commanded his area well, playing the sweeper keeper role he learnt from the Jens Lehmann days. Nothing in pre-season has really worried me, and I’m happy to see him go into the season as first choice. Fabianski has pressure from Mannone and both players will keep Almunia on his toes.

Deputising for Clichy, Traore showed that he has improved defensively during his time away. Still got caught very high up field and still a little naive in defence, positionally, he is certainly a decent squad member. A few games at the top level can turn him into a very good player, a la Gibbs. Although I would probably prefer to see Gibbs as deputy to Clichy, if Traore doesn’t go on loan, you may see more of him in that position. He did look a little leggy and I expect him to fair better as he gains more match practice.

The regular left back made an appearance as a substitute in the first game and looked good. His lack of recent playing time showed as it seemed that he overthought the game too much, giving away posession and a little lack of awareness. If I’m right, he’s had a niggling injury with his back recently, so I’d expect him to improve in the next week or so. Nothing to be worried about.

The Swiss stopper will have a renewed chance again with the departure of Kolo Toure. He played the first game from start to finish and looked solid. He attacked the ball well and it was good experience for him to be up against Deigo Forlana and Kun Aguero. The only blemish was that he seemed to go asleep for the goal we conceded, but then again, so did the whole defence.

In all honesty, very weird to see Gallas get so much playing time considering he is one of our oldest members of the squad. If I did this in Pro Evo or Championship Manager, he’d be on 50% by day 2, half time – which in reality is when Arsene subbed him. I have to say I was impressed by the performance that Gallas put in overall. He did look reassured, perhaps the sale of Toure giving him a mental boost that he is first choice along side one of Vermaelen or Djourou.

The ex-United player did have some time at the back and he looked okay – I don’t think he’s done much after an initial impressive set of games last season. He is one of those players whose stats are awesome – 100% tackle rate last season, but just worries me when on the pitch. I think he looked confused a little this tournament, but I may be prejudice because he’s an ex-United player, not sure about Silvestre – but more sure if he’s our fourth choice.

Sagna looked very solid throughout the tournament – he didn’t give any of the Athletico team a look in and was also a very decent attacking threat. Definitely our number one right back, not much more needs to be said.

Eboue was seen up front, on the wings and at right back and whilst I don’t maintain that the Ivorian is a starter, he certainly does bring something to the team. An adequate back up for Sagna and also a great dribbler (maybe because of his pace) – he still showed that he has the occasion misplaced pass and a dive or two in him, but I’m glad that he’s still around and do see a good role for him this season.

I do prefer Song in the defensive midfield role to the central defender role, although my opinion does change on every game. He did play in both positions during the tournament and it was good to see him in both roles. I think he was pretty good against Athletico, good tackling and good passing. I’d like to see him play in midfield, but do see Arsene’s point that he is a back up defender too.

Not one of his best games / tournaments. He had very good work rate, and always has, but he gave the ball away too much – quite contrary to the stat that saw him one of the Premiership’s  best passers last season. Food for thought as it’s potentially the lack of experience talking. There certainly is more to come from Denilson, but let’s hope we see it sooner.

A delightful performance from the young Spanaird – he certainly didn’t look out of place. A decent work rate and very good passing vision, setting up Eduardo for  his goal with a pinpoint “eye of a needle” pass. Announcing himself as more than a youngster, I’m sure we’ll see more of him this year. If he has even half the impact Cesc did, then we’ve got another player in the midfield to utilise – another reason not to strengthen, but Merida does look comfortable anywhere across the midfield.

He put in a good performance, and looks much better than the player that joined us last season. He looked natural amongst the other players in the squad and a great peice of vision to set up Wilshere’s second goal on the Sunday. Of course, he would have grown in experience since last season, and we’ll see more of him this year without a doubt.

Looking sharp. Two words that sum up Cesc’s performance over the two days. Cesc looked like he has had a decent pre-season despite starting a little later than everyone. He is very influential and you can see that he’s maturing very nicely. I think the captain is ready for the next season.

Our best player in the first half of the first game – the Czech international looked very exciting, with a disallowed goal as well as some very good intricate play. Can’t wait to see more of him throughout the season.

Wow, there is nothing that will faze this youngster and nothing that stop him either. He is certainly beyond his years and if he doesn’t play at least 20 games this season in some capacity, I’ll eat my hat. He will be an Arsenal legend without doubt. It puzzles me a little to see so much talent in one player, so young. Jacktastic.

The Russian keeps getting better – he is a truly world class player. If the player doesn’t get injured then we stand a very good chance of all the silverware available. One of Arsene’s best buys and the player has only been with us for 6 months! His two goals on Saturday were two goals that were “that” good. Very good, impossible goals and he has that in his locker. Arshavin is a player that will strike fear into his opponents, remember how Thierry did that? Brilliant to have someone do this again! (PS, I think Rosicky also has the fear factor, especially when he belts it from 35 yards!)

After so long out, the fact that Eduardo is still so good, so clinical is a testimony to the player and what he’s all about. He scored a goal with a great finish and also threw in a few great touches, pass rounds and even a nutmeg or two. True class.

Disappointed this tournament and looked his usual clumsy self. I don’t know when he will turn into a great player but at the moment he does look like the most inexperienced player we’ve got up front, and needs some work. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not the worst player we’ve had (Adebayor has now left) but I hope to see Eduardo and Van Persie starting as the first two choice strikers with Bendtner playing a back up role.

Van Persie
Captain on the first day and Van Persie is another dangerous player. If he can stay fit, we all know he is a player that can change a game in a moment. His performance on day one looked good, he showed some good touches – surely due a free kick this season?

Sanchez Watt
Sanchez Watt is a player who had made a brilliant impression at youth level. He has the stature and movement that we’ve lost in Adebayor and I’m happy to have him in and around the first team. He was involved in Wilshere’s second goal and looked comfortable in the wide attacking role. Another player that may break through this season.

Along with our players, a few impressive performances from the opposition, with Sakho (linked with Arsenal) looking a good bet in central defence, as well as PSG’s central midfielder Stéphane Sessegnon. Both players catching the eye, but both ones for the future… we managed to keep Aguero quite, but I think the Argentinian striker will go on this season to show why he one of the best out there.

Okay, there’s my review. More tomorrow… til then…

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  • KFC

    Agree 100% with everything great article.!

  • Berth

    Good one Dev.

  • kodjo

    good article and very sound analysis. a comment here on eboue he looked good as an attacking wing back and seems to have gotten his positional sense back in defence. he looks more potent than sagna going forward. i think in certain games this season he will get the nod ahead of sagna because his contribution attacking wise is better, wins free kicks, taunts opponents…

    i hope sanchez-watt gets a look in…he has made tremendous progress which has gone largely unoticed. he will take the premiership by storm when his chance comes, has good touch, brave, good link up play, strength etc

    i hope gallas learns to track back when the offside trap is sprung..time and time again i have seen gallas just stand and watch when things don’t go his way. all in all he is a good old head to have at the back.

    merida just needs to add some steel in his play…a little aggression that ramsey has will serve him well. his technique is sound needs that little steel edge to his game.

  • Fabrez

    Fabrez likes this.

  • Leeroy.N

    DEVDAY – Great analysis! I read through to see if I could find something I disagreed on, so I could start a mini argument, but it’s spot on as usual! HAHA!

    Gooner Til I Die!

  • jeffvip

    top job. Agreed that Bendtner still have not the ability to lead the front line like Adebayor does (eventhough Ade did not really done a good job). 1 more striker is required for us to keep the depth of our squad this season.

  • Leeroy.N

    JEFFVIP – Yea, I saw Bendtner and Adebayor more of Target men. When you watch them play, they are always shifitng wide right or left. Then they get stuck their when the ball gets brought or passed into the box. We need that striker, a Greedy, Selfish and Fearless Poacher!

  • Deejay

    fringe player for real madrid like van der vaart and higuain may be rapped up for a less price…….they are better signing for a mid n a striker

  • Deejay

    player like van der vaart and higuain maybe signed for a lesser price from real madrid. they are better mid and striker and may fit perfectly in the squad

  • Gooner Get Ya

    Spot on with your analysisDev.

    We are looking to bring in Soloman Kalou from Chelsea for 8M….any thoughts on this possible purchase.

  • http://Arsenaltobits Kuka

    …great analysis Dev.

    @Kodjo: I agree with you in as far as Eboue’s attacking abilities are concerned. On the other hand, I would still rank Sagna highly in his defensive solidness. I do think he is a “polished” crosser of the ball than Eboue who seems to either mis-time his crosses etc….

  • Berth

    Please no Kalou here.

  • Yemi

    Great article. spot on, Jack, arshavin, eduardo, rosisky and cesc were surely the men of the tournament. Watt, mannone, merida, djourou and ramsey also showed that they are ready. Song, gallas, silvstre,senderos, ebuoue were there usual selves, not bad but not spectacular. Traore showed that he has improved but i would consider him for an attacking option than a defensive cos is caught upfront too many times for comfort. Who else? all in all a good team but could be better with a DM and a poacher.
    What do you guys really think of kalou, gignac, and chamakh coming in ?

  • jeffvip

    Kalou or Chakmah will do for us because both of them is not starting 11 of Arsenal. They are just here to provide us the depth required. Chakmah have the advantage of height where kalou have the experience playing in EPL. Is ok for me… is only 7~8M though

  • parsi

    Victoria Concordia Crescit, which is Latin for “victory comes with harmony”, is the long standing motto that is embedded into the history of Arsenal. The motto goes hand-in-hand with the club’s current playing style, which was introduced by Arsene Wenger back in 1996. When he joined the club as a relatively unknown manager with two stints in Japan and France under his belt, I doubt many of us saw the prosperity he’d bring to Arsenal.

    Wenger turned things around at the club with a brand new training regime and a new style of play. His new style of play brought fluidity, movement and grace to each and every attack – something that Arsenal supporters hadn’t seen before. And although there were doubters and those who claimed that “passing the ball into the net” wasn’t efficient, most of us were happy with the more than occasional with the success it brought. It made “1-0 to the arsenal” an almost forgotten theme; with Wenger’s football 1-0 just wasn’t enough.

    The Frenchman made an array of signings early on in his career (such as Henry, Viera, Overmars, and Petit) which laid the foundation for his success. The smart signings continued and slowly so did the trophies, starting off with the double (Premiership and FA Cup) in 97/98 and another double back in the season of 01/02, made famous by Sylvain Wiltord’s winner at Old Trafford and Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg’s FA Cup belters against Chelsea.

    Wenger lifted the FA Cup again in 02/03 before delivering, in my opinion, what deserves to be viewed as the pinnacle in English football; a 38-game unbeaten season with ‘The Invincibles’. Only one other team (Preston North End, way back in 1883) had accomplished the feat but in completely different times in a completely different type of competition.

    Maybe it was Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s injury time missed penalty, or beating Chelsea twice, or thumping Liverpool 4-2, or Arsenal clinching the title at Spurs, but the magic that still shrouds that unforgettable season will never be forgotten. “In Arsene we trust” and at that point – more than ever before – we all did.

    Since then however, things have slowly gone slowly downhill. Arsenal had reached the top and had to come down to earth at some point. The unbeaten streak came to a halt at 49 games against Manchester United and defeat was a bitter taste that rudely greeted us all. All was not lost though as Arsenal once again lifted the FA Cup in 2005 – but with Vieira’s match- winning penalty came the end of an era.

    During the following off-season we saw the departure of Vieira to Juventus for a fraction of what he was actually worth. Henry followed in 2007 and with those two losses went the leadership quality that Arsenal so desperately need. Since then there has been the silverware drought with Arsenal coming agonizingly close on a number of occasions, but never quite close enough. Increasing numbers of fans have turned against the club and become tired with one transition season after another. And some have begun to trust Arsene less than ever before.

    But there is light at the end of the tunnel and we must realize that it is unfair to heap the blame on one man’s shoulders. When clubs come calling with more money than us the departure of top players is inevitable. Hleb, Flamini, Adebayor – just to name a few – left for the sort of money that our club just cannot give.

    However, as with every year since Wenger took over there comes a crop of promising new youngsters and this season is no different. I strongly believe that this year could be the year and it’s time to repay Arsene for all he’s done in the past by putting our trust in him again

  • http://Arsenaltobits Kuka

    ….I would go for Kalou because he is got a strong right foot. We do need that among our strikers. In terms of aerial advantage, we can always look to Bendtner when he comes off the bench…(just in case Wenger does not few him as part of his first 11)

    ….am getting concerned about Chakmah’s statements in the media about his former club. I know that is something Wenger would be concerned about. Even if its true, that his club is frustrating him, he needs to be careful what he tells the media. Who said, he will not do that to us the moment he thinks its time to move on too…..I know Wenger is big on “character”

  • http://Arsenaltobits Kuka

    *few *view (see above)

  • TheSKAGooner

    @ parsi –

    It’s not nice to poach an entire article from another blog and re-post somewhere else without providing proper attribution. You owe an apology to AFC blog and to the guest writer of todays blog on that site.

  • http://Arsenaltobits Kuka

    Thanks for highlighting that. Its vital that we properly reference our sources, especially when we have lifted chunks of articles from other sites or blogs……Being original can be a challenge, but we can always try..

  • Debs

    Senderos is at the members day training session at the Emirates!

  • TheSKAGooner

    @ kuka –

    No worries, mate. :) I’d do the same if I saw a whole reproduction of a WOA article on another site in the same fashion. I support the efforts of all the blogs and bloggers.

  • http://Arsenaltobits Kuka

    ..good to see Senderos. I wonder how it works with the rumors.

  • Debs

    Everton’ve confirmed they are in talks with us over Senderos’ transfer…

  • zohaib

    That was a good read ! Keep up the good work Dev, cheers.

  • bayo

    arsene terminates intrest in chamack and arsenal are closing in on salomon kalou that sounds so true.he is 6FT 1.arsene also confirmed that arsenal would be playing 433 formation this season i hope we get a dm to allow this players attack.PLs any news on matuidi

  • Gooner Get Ya

    AW will not improve on the 6m offer on Chamak and Gignac has said he is staying with Toulouse. So it is sounding more and more like the Kalou offer is leading the pack.

  • bayo

    are we not going to buy a defensive midfielder arsene pls pls

  • Francis

    i wonder what personnel wenger is going to employ in this 4-3-3 formation when we meet the likes of bolton, blackburn, stoke. these clubs will definitely bomb us with long balls. i saw an article which states that arsenal has an average heigth of 5-9″ which happens to be the lowest among the big 4.

    what do you think guys?

  • Leeroy.N

    FRANCIS – That is one of our weaknesses. Defending from height, big tall strong players can sometimes have their way with us in defence and from set pieces. This young Serb Neven Subotić is lookin a decent prospect at 6’4 and Hangeland at 6’5 would be even better! If we could manage to grab them both with the loss of Toure and the pendning departure of Senderous that would be amazing and I would be Fully confident heading into this season. But reality states it will be one or none by the looks of things, we do’t always get what we want (unless you are Real Madrid or Man Citeh HAHA!). But my concerns do lay on that back line and that holding role in the mid.

    Going forward I dont have any real doubts. Only maybe due to injuries, but I feel that we will get lots of help now from the Midfield. Arshavin, Rosicky, Fabregas, Nasri (when fit), and to a lesser extent Walcott(even though I think he’s got a strikers role this season), Denilson, Diaby, Ramsey and the superstar Wilshere. It’s a big ask, but we all know they are capable of grabbing a handful of goals each throughout the season, some of them will be very important too.

    Chamakh deal looks dead on it’s feet so reports say and I doubt very much will be fighting too hard for his signiture. I understand why we would get him in, but I also understand why it isn’t integral.

    Kalou. I persoanlly think he could be good for us. He is a decent player. Played with world class, not shy on the ball, good shot, holds the ball up really well for his size, hungry to score always, never seen him doubt his own ability, links up brilliantly between midfield and a striker, also can play wide or upfront and can be a massive impact straight off the bench, as seen MANY times for chelsea. I have no reservations of bringing him in if we chose that route. I would welcome him in, in our colours. He’s got my vote!

    Gooner Til I Die!

  • http://Arsenaltobits Kuka

    @ Francis:

    Height is vital and I think it counts when it comes to set-pieces etc. I am however consoled when I look at other top teams for example Barca…who other than Toure, do not have a towering figure. For me, I do think all you need is players who can anticipate the ball well, put in timely tackles and have proper “leaps”. Canavaro and Puyol are the tallest, but they seem to get the job done

  • Francis

    Good observation from Kuka and Leeroy: i have thought about how barca have managed to survive all this while with their vertically challenged squad. The answer lies among the following; anticipation of the flight of the ball, ball possession (does anyone have the stats for the free kicks and corners conceeded?) being brave and not conceeding unnecessary free kicks and corner kicks which is in part due to pressure from the fullbacks and midfielders. just check out the intensity of pressure that xavi, iniesta or busquets when called upon exert on opponents.

    with what i have seen so far, it appears as though we have a big weakness in and around the near post when it comes to corner kicks. for free kicks we almost lose out on the second ball partly because the centre backs do not attack the ball quite well and the covering midfielders are positionally inept.

    i remember tony adams would tell winterburn or dixon to just make it difficult for the attacking player to get a clean header so that he’d sweep up the any loose balls…apart from sagna i do not really see any of our defenders really trying hard to put opponents off…

  • Pissed Off

    Patiently waiting!!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    AC Milan are apparently going to offer us 30m for Cesc

  • Leeroy.N

    GOONER GET YA – Are they paying the other half in installments?? HAHA! Could and/or would anybody really try to put a price tag on Fabregas.. good luck trying!

    Gooner Til I Die!!

  • Fabrez

    Milan would need to offer £60m in today’s market for a 22 year old genius…and personally, I still wouldn’t sell him. They can sod off, quite frankly!

  • Debs

    If it was Barca offering us £60m, Fabregas might be tempted to leave. And frankly, AC Milan without kaka, and even Ancelotti, isn’t really that enticing for anyone, or at least that’s what I think. Too many oldies left in the team.

  • Leeroy.N

    I doubt it’s true anyway, such talent would be wasted in the Italian league. Milan have nothing to offer anyone now. Maybe the faith that they will get into Europe some way or form. I’m glad we still have Fabregas on our side and he can see what Wenger wants to do with the team and where the team is capable of going. I vote for RVP for Vice-Captain this season. I was thinking about Clichy, but I think RVP needs it. He will have a lot on his shoulders leading us from the front, he will thrive from it though. I have total faith in what he brings to the team. I think it would be a good shout.

    Gooner Til I Die!!