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The cool one

Hello there and hope to find you well on this Friday morning. Another slightly over 24 hours to another Arsenal match, albeit the youngsters XI and probably around the same time that the first team will be on their Emirates flight to Asia. Up until this point, there’s no list of names yet on who will be following the team to the Asia Tour, suggestion online says that Arsene Wenger will make his decision by today. We’ll just have to wait and see on that.

Whoever is on that list, it won’t be a name that is alien to us. As it stands, there might not be enough time to conclude a deal and get the new recruit to join the flight. Though if it happen, shelving out some money to change their name on the ticket, would not be Arsenal’s biggest worry.

There are a few more names being linked to/from Arsenal today. One of which is Ganso, of Santos in Brazil. An attacking midfielder/playmaker of some repute. £15m for someone is still only 22 years old does represent good value. Plus, there’s some disconnect between him and Santos over a new contract. However, I think this story is coming up purely because he’s in England for the Olympics and this is an easy story to write. I don’t think there’s much to look into this.

You want to know why I think it’s an easy story to write? Not just because where Ganso is right now but also because what the team needs. If you tell me that Arsenal needs a new creative midfielder, someone who could come in and springs the ball around while getting the occasional goals, you won’t find any arguments from me. I do believe it’s an area we are short in numbers. However, if it turns out that Arsenal are really moving in for Ganso, then I’d be delighted too. Has heard a lot of good things about him, though not viewed anything with my own eye yet (not a fan of youtube compilations).

Numbers that could be further decimated by the potential transfer out of one Andrey Arshavin. He’s getting some interest from the middle east now, on top of his former club Zenit St Petersburg hovering around. It’s strange that we’re talking so little of the Russian captain these days but I guess the writing was on the wall when we decided to let him leave on loan in the middle of last season. After a high-low European Championships, it is hard to see the appeal to have him back in our team.

That is purely because we are now a functional team more than one blessed with individual brilliance. We thrive on a certain work ethics within the team and that simply cannot work with Arshavin in the side. There’s no denying him ability going forward, to find the right pass and provided a moment of inspiration. However, we can no longer be carrying him on our coattails. Had Arshavin played in the Invincibles team, I’m sure he would have been feted as one of the best in the world, for that is a side that is capable to have 2 or 3 luxury players.

There is an on-going competition to be a citizen journalist for the upcoming Arsenal Asia Tour and it asked – “if you have a question for Mr Wenger, what would it be?”. Something which immediately comes to mind is this – “which is harder to mould into a winning side? A team blessed with fantastic individual talents or a team of above average players who works in a really efficient system, i.e formation and tactics?

I should think that we’re now more in the category of the latter. We don’t have individual stars that you would expect to be named in the best 20 list of world football today. If you have to ask, yes I’m excluding one particular player. What we have now is a fluid system where players are interchangeable in their role and positions. We can see the striker dropping off wide with one of the wide players moving in-field. Or a central defender marauding forward with the defensive midfielder dropping back to cover.

But it’s a system that also relies a lot on winning the ball back as quickly as possible. Turnover, if you’re looking for the American term. Last season during the patch of our best period in the season, we were pressuring and harrying the opposition and it starts with the efforts of the front three. Whoever we have in our ranks now must know this. There cannot be easing off. We all saw how easily we won back possession and dominate the match when we play that way.

On one hand, it is to win the ball back as quickly as possible so that we can launch our own attacks but on the other hand, it is also to relieve the pressure on our sometimes porous defence. The same fluidity that is evident when we have the ball, is also one of the downfalls when we do not have possession. I have great admiration in the way Spain played during the European Championship, especially. Lion share of possession because they know that their defence is their weak point. By having almost all of the ball, no one can see that.

Something that we can aspire to. Unless Steve Bould worked the boys to the ground and instantly made them better. Either way works for me.