Does Koscielny have any real competition for the Arsenal captaincy?

As Arsenal waved goodbye to Mikel Arteta at the end of the season, we were also waving goodbye to our captain. Arteta’s retirement now raises the question of which Arsenal star will wear the armband next season with the ambition to lead the team to success.

Arteta took over the captains armband from Thomas Vermaelen in 2014, when the Belgian left the Gunners for Barcelona. Arteta became the 4th Arsenal captain in as many years following on from the departures of Fabregas, Van Persie and Vermaelen and finally seemed to be a player with true leadership qualities and a wealth of experience on the pitch. It was always in the back of our minds however that Arteta would of course be likely to retire fairly soon after he took the captains armband, due to both injures and age. That time has now come and Arsene Wenger will be looking to appoint a new leader going into next season.

A few names have been thrown around and whilst Wilshere seems to be a popular name due to his passion and commitment to Arsenal football club, his reliance to be on the pitch lacks due to injury and so Wenger may not opt for the young Englishman in fear of a repeat of what happened to Arteta. Of course Arteta was injured for the majority of his captaincy at the club and then took up getting his coaching badges meaning he was missing as a captain on the pitch, for the large part of the past two seasons. As a result a number of different captains were named according to the match day squad, a popular candidate being The BFG, Per Mertesacker.

For Mertesacker to then be a favourite to be named as the permanent captain next season therefore would not be a surprise. He has leadership qualities and a commanding voice on the pitch, whilst his ability to read the game is supposedly second to none. However according to the Metro, Mertesacker is unlikely to be named as captain, with Frenchman Laurent Koscielny being the most likely choice for Wenger.

Koscielny joined the club in 2010 and although he seemed to be a rookie buy at first, the French international has developed into one of the best central defenders worldwide. He has a strong voice on the pitch and is sure to take command and control of the players around him, hopefully leading the Gunners to success come the end of the season.

I have always felt that a defender should be made captain in a football club due to their general rough and tough nature and strength in leadership and commanding those in front of them. Defenders, aside from goalkeepers, also arguably get the best view of the game going on in front of them and are therefore able to lead players knowing that they have a good idea of understanding the play occurring in front of them. Koscielny has plenty of years experience with the Gunners and has remained committed to Arsenal despite attracting offers from several top European clubs in his time. Therefore I think Koscielny would be a perfect fit for the next Arsenal man to lead the Gunners out.

Do you think Koscielny should lead the team out next season or is another player a firm favourite to take the armband?

Arsenal to seal surprise transfer of Varane from Real Madrid?

A year or so ago you would not have given Arsenal FC a snowball’s chance in hell of being able to sign the young centre back Rafael Varane from his current club, as the French international was a regular starter for Real and was drawing rave reviews for his performances in Spain and around Europe.

For some reason, though, Varane has dropped down the pecking order under first Rafa Benitez and now Zinedine Zidane, with Sergio Ramos and Pepe the preferred central defensive pairing and with Nacho starting to get more game time. At 22-years old and with his national team France about to host the Euro 2016 tournament this is hardly ideal for the talented young defender and there are growing reports that he could be moving on in the summer.

Varane himself has even hinted, as reported by The Mirror, that he is not really sure what his future holds and that makes me think that Arsenal should definitely be on the alert about the possible transfer of this player.

Varane said, “I would like to play every game. The coach knows what I want, but it’s up to him to make the decisions.

“I’ve spent five years playing with the best and I’ve never lost heart. without strength of character it’s impossible to stay at Real Madrid.

“It’s pointless making long-term plans in football. I’m happy in Madrid. I want to keep improving to go to the next level. We’ll see how my situation develops, but I’m not having any headaches over it anyway.”

So if Varane does decide he needs to move on, and with Madrid likely to spend big again they might well be willing to sell, Arsenal have reason to believe we could win the race to sign him. With Per Mertesacker’s place coming under pressure and with Varane’s international team mate Laurent Koscielny the first choice centre back, a move to Arsenal could be good for Varane and his international career.

How about it Wenger?

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Maybe the fact that the ringing endorsement of two Arsenal stars came from TV pundits that used to play for big Premier League rivals of ours should give them a lot more credence. To be honest, Arsenal fans are much more used to hearing some heavy criticism aimed at various Gunners in the press, so it was certainly a surprise.

Maybe Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand were caught up in the excitement of the former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, who was busy dancing around the BT sport studio as Wenger´s men pulled off an amazing Champions League result to seal out progress into the next round.

I don´t think so though. I just think that their comments reported by the adult dating 4 u were really what they believe. The former Liverpool captain is widely regarded as one of the best central midfielders ever to grace the Premier League so for him to say that Aaron Ramsey is the best of the current crop playing in England is some endorsement.

Gerrard said, “Mentally I don’t think he’ll be happy himself playing out wide.

“He hasn’t got the legs. His qualities are all in the middle.

“For me, when he’s in that form he’s the best attacking midfielder in the Premier League, so you’ve got to play your best players where they want to be, and I’m sure he’ll want to be in the middle.”

And the former Man United captain, who still holds the Premier League transfer fee record for a defender, was equally impressed with the qualities of our France international centre back Laurent Koscielny and he snubbed the current United and England defender Chris Smalling at the same time.

Ferdinand said, “Koscielny for me, when he’s on form I think he’s the best defender in the league.

“Kompany’s not fit enough consistently enough and he’s turned into a real top class defender.”

So what do you make of these claims about two of our Arsenal stars?

Arsenal team confirmed with Ramsey in middle and Walcott on bench

While the Arsenal squad has been wracked with injury problems, Arsene Wenger has at least had some good news with the England international striker Theo Walcott returning to the squad and Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny also coming back off the injury list.

Only one of those three returning Gunners is in the starting line up chosen by the bodss though, with the France international centre back completing the strongest possible Arsenal back four alongside Mertesacker, Bellerin and Monreal and with Flamini preferred to Chambers in the holding role in front of them.

Aaron Ramsey is the man Wenger thinks can replace the injured Santi Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain comes in for Alexis Sanchez, although we will have to wait and see which of the flanks he and Joel Campbell will be used on. This is a massive game for Olivier Giroud as well because he will be under pressure after a couple of poor games and with Walcott sitting on the bench ready to replace him.

Cech
Bellerin, Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny
Flamini, Ramsey
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Campbell
Giroud

Subs: Ospina, Debuchy, Gibbs, Gabriel, Walcott, Chambers, Iwobi.

Sunderland will surely set out to frustrate Arsenal so the first goal, as well as the timing of it, could be crucial. Let-s hope we score it and before too long as well.

Ridiculous Deja Vu gives Arsenal BIG headache

Last weekend was just about typical of the way that bad luck can work against Arsenal. Arsene Wenger spoke about the unlucky sequence of events away to West Brom that saw Francis Coquelin pick up a long term injury and his replacement Mikel Arteta have everything that could go wrong for him go wrong before he himself had to go off with an injury.

But at least that bad luck was out of the way and the Gunners could expect to not have it happen again right? Wrong because that first half against Norwich was almost a carbon copy of our last Premier League game. This time it was Laurent Koscielny that had to go off in the first 15 minutes.

Once again though Arsenal dominated the home team and opened the scoring while looking good to go on and get a good win. But once again we were pegged back out of the blue and it was the man who had come off the bench, Gabriel this time, that was at fault.

The only difference from last week is that we were not behind at the break although Norwich had a great chance in first half injury time but Hoolahan fired over. Surely now we can regroup and go and get the win our first half display deserved, or is there more bad luck around the corner?

Arsenal starting XI for EPL away day at West Brom

The pressure is on Arsenal to win this game and with the home side West Brom having struggled so far in the Premier League this season, you would expect the Gunners to come back to north London with all the points but with Manchester United having scored an early goal away to Watford, there is no room for error.

Arsene Wenger had hinted before the international break that he would be giving the Chile international forward Alexis Sanchez an enforced spell on the sidelines but after it was revealed this week that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would be slightly later to return than was first thought, the boss has little option but to start with Alexis.

The rest of the team just about picks itself as well, with Bellerin sure to come back into the right back role, Campbell and Giroud to complete the front three. The set midfield of Coquelin, Cazorla and Coquelin will continue and the only real decision for Wenger to make is to whether Laurent Koscielny is in the right frame of mind to play after the Paris terror attacks.

If not then we have a ready made replacement in the Brazilian defender Gabriel. This team should be enough to beat the Baggies and I hope it is because there will not be a lot of attacking options on the bench.

Arsenal XI for Watford clash- Alexis to start

The injury news was good for Arsenal this week, with Laurent Koscielny having passed his fitness test on Thursday and training with the squad again yesterday, so Arsene Wenger will be able to name his strongest back four in front of Petr Cech.

And despite Alexis Sanchez having only recently returned from his long haul trip to South America and two full 90 minute games for the Chile national team, I think that Wenger will start him away to Watford today, as the Premier League is a huge priority for the Gunners this season.

Alexis did come through the two matches unscathed and so the injury concern should not be a problem, only his energy levels and the fact that he starred and scored as Chile won both games against Brazil and Peru should have left him raring to go again for Arsenal.

I do not expect Wenger to change our winning formula so the Arsenal starting line up should look like this.

Cech
Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal
Coquelin, Cazorla
Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis
Walcott

Is this the right team to get our Premier League title challenge started back with a bang?

Wenger SLAMS Arsenal defending NOT Ospina!

The TV pundits were pulling no punches on the Arsenal and Colombia keeper David Ospina last night, with both Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher not only blaming him for the winning goal scored by Swansea but claiming it as proof that Ospina has not got what it takes to be the Arsenal number one.

Arsene Wenger, however, saw things differently and is clearly keen to stand up for his keeper, as his post match comments on the Arsenal website show. The Frenchman instead suggested that it was the Arsenal defenders who were at fault for failing to deal with a situation the boss called an easy one.

He said, “When you cannot win a game, don’t lose it. We knew exactly what could happen. It was not even a break. We were warned of the kind of goal they could score with Montero kicking the ball in the air and we were short in jumping for the ball.

“I don’t know [whether to blame Ospina] because I have to see it again. Did the defender not jump or was it that he could have come out? We knew that those kind of crosses are crosses that are easy to defend.”

Looking at the replays there were mistakes from Monreal in the initial build up and then from Bellerin, Koscielny and Monreal again so I do think it was a little harsh to criticise the Colombian keeper so much, especially when it is just about the first mistake he has made this season. Do you agree or do Arsenal need to make a new number one a transfer priority?

Arsenal´s new Warrior still in awe of his team mate!

It is a shame that it took an Arsenal injury crisis for the young French midfielder Francis Coquelin to get his big chance, with a decent run of games in the first team in his favourite position of deep lying midfielder. But without the Gunners losing the likes of Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey this season, Coquelin may have been moving on.

Arsene Wenger had given the academy graduate a few chances before, 43 of them to be exact, but it is fair to say that he had never impressed enough for the manager to stick with him on a regular basis. Thankfully that has now happened and everyone is feeling the benefits.

Coquelin is clearly delighted to have finally stamped his authority on the first team after so long and has quickly settled in and started dishing out the orders on the pitch, something that a player in his position has to do. But while he is quickly becoming a leader for Arsenal on the pitch, Coquelin has revealed in a Daily Star report that there is at least one Gunner that he is still in awe of.

The player is Santi Cazorla and is not the Spaniard´s size or stature that Coquelin is talking about, but his unbelievable technical ability with both feet.

Coquelin said, “At Arsenal, Cazorla. On a technical level, he is above and beyond.

“He has been here for 3 years, and I still don’t know if he is right-footed or left-footed.

“Laurent Koscielny is not as well-renowned in France as he should be.”

I wonder if Coquelin and Koscielny will soon be appearing in the France national team together. A win in Monaco tonight would certainly help to attract some attention.

Wenger slams referee and Arsenal defence after Southampton defeat

Arsenal had a very UNhappy New Years Day at Southampton yesterday, and Wojciech Szczesny must be wishing he had stayed in bed and called in a sickie after his farcical performance which allowed Southampton to score twice to take the points.

Arsene Wenger felt that the Gunners could easily have won the game if it hadn’t been for the Poles errors, and also because the referee should have sent off Florin Gardos when he stopped Alexis Sanchez getting his usual goal. Wenger said on SkySports: “We must give credit to their ‘keeper today, and as well to the referee that he didn’t give them a red card when Sanchez was clean through,”

“That’s beyond my understanding because I couldn’t see for what reason he didn’t do it. If one against one with the goalkeeper isn’t a goalscoring opportunity I don’t know when it would be one.”

Wenger seems to think that Arsenal were the better team on the day, although the stats show that the Saints had more shots on goal, Without naming names, Wenger was well aware that the two goals were purely down to defensive errors. “That made the difference today,” he said. “At our level, in our final third we didn’t defend well. We were quite in control of the game and we gave it away, it’s as simple as that.

“It’s disappointing because the team gave a lot, but you cannot afford these kind of mistakes at our level.

“It’s a shame because we were not under pressure, we were under control, but we go home with no points. Southampton defended well, the keeper defended well, but we can only look at our defensive performance. We had the chances, we couldn’t take them.

“We could have won this game today, and that makes it even worse for us.”

So Southampton pull four points clear of us again, and even worse Tottenham destroyed Chelsea to move above us in the table as well.

Definitely not a good start to 2015!