Date: 8th September 2014 at 11:09pm
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International games only seem worth watching to me if there’s an Arsenal interest. The game against Switzerland seemed to tick that box with Arsenal Past, Present and Future elements in the form of Swiss centre back the recently, formally anyway, departed Johann Djourou representing the past, current Arsenal midfielder and pundits concern Jack Wilshere taking care of the present and Gazidis’ latest signing Danny Welbeck, yet to make an appearance for Arsenal and supposedly awaiting a mention from Wenger, very much one we’ve an eye on for the future.

I suppose my interest in Djourou wasn’t that great other than he apparently wasn’t good enough to retain as our seemingly desperately needed 4th choice centre back. Plus he always seemed to be a nice enough guy. He wouldn’t have got in ahead of Mertesacker, Koscielny or Chambers based on what we’d seen from him in an Arsenal shirt. Arguably he’d have struggled to get in ahead of Monreal based on our admittedly more limited experience of the Spanish full back in that role. Had we have kept him and fortune compelled him to turn out for us there’d be plenty of grumbles along the lines of ‘surely there’s a better 4th choice centre back than Djourou we can bring in’ along with the obligatory condemnation of Wenger’s competence in failing to sign one.

Jack Wilshere was of more interest, not only because he’s a current player, but more as in this game he was playing the pivot or anchor role at the base of a midfield diamond. Wenger came in for a bit of criticism pre-season when he hinted that Jack could play that position.

‘I believe a deep-lying midfielder or wide [is his best role]. Higher up, he’s less comfortable at the moment. He doesn’t like to have his back to goal. He likes to face the game. Jack has a burst to pass people with ball at his feet and from deep he does that very well.

‘He creates the openings from that little burst to run with the ball and he’s a physically strong boy, he has a good body, very strong. So he can win the challenge and make a difference, open the game up.’ Le Boss said back in July.

It isn’t a role Jack has been handed for the club in any committed sense but Hodgson seemed convinced enough to give it a try. Did it work? On the basis that England won without conceding it would be difficult to say it failed but I can see what Wenger thought he might be able to do from a deep lying position though in all probability Arsene wouldn’t have been focussed on defensive security as much as giving greater attacking options.

Wenger sees defensive midfield rather differently from conventional perceptions. Two years ago he suggested there were no true defensive midfielders. At least not in the Makelele sense.

‘There are no defensive midfield players at the moment,’ Wenger explained to the club website at the time.

‘We try to find the defensive balance collectively. We have fewer players who are purely defenders but some are physically strong in defending like Diaby, some are tactically strong like Arteta.

‘At the moment we have the balance because everybody participates, but we have fewer specialists, purely defenders. We are more versatile going forward because everyone has the potential to go forward.’

I’m not sure that Wenger will try Jack there any time soon but I reckon Roy Hodgson might give it another go.

The greatest interest was in the spirit of Arsenal future in the shape of our new striker Danny Welbeck who by popular opinion, depending partly on your allegiances, is a very good player but doesn’t score enough goals either because he isn’t played centrally often enough or he’s not a natural finisher. This appearance, with Sturridge in the treatment room, was supposedly going to give a pointer as to which of those views would be reflected in tomorrow’s headlines. His brace would have given encouragement to gooners anxious for another hero and may even draw a mention from Arsene eventually!

In looking at Welbeck’s scoring prowess, while his shot to goal rates are good what struck me most is that he seems to score confidently with either foot. One irritating aspect of Giroud’s play, but by no means unique to him, is his dependence on his strong foot. RvP became a much better striker having worked on his ‘chocolate’ leg and poses a greater goal scoring threat as a consequence. If Welbeck does possess that two footed ability and confidence he may well prove a very good acquisition. For now he’s looking the part and it was great to see him choose to celebrate his opening goal by running into the arms of his new club team-mates Calum Chambers and Oxlade-Chamberlain waiting on the touchline to celebrate with him. He will look all the better when he can do that in full Arsenal kit.



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