Tuesday, 15 November 2011

My England Squad: Part 1

As we are just closing on one of the much dreaded and despised international periods I am in the mood to convey my opnions on what the England squad should be at Euro 2012.

Firstly, in goal. Joe Hart is a given. What the issue here is the back- up keepers and when you look at the options you realise how limited England are in this department. Foster, Carson and Stockdale are all options. Paul Robinson would be my second choice but he rules himself out so I'd probably go with Stockdale and Foster as I've liked what little I've seen of Stockdale. He's also young so a potential long- term option. Going to the Euro's could be a big learning curve for him too.

In defence it is a more complex issue. At right back I'd have Kyle Walker. My left backs would be Leighton Baines and Kieran Gibbs (if fit) as Ashley Cole's 30/31 now and you can see he's declining, it's time to move forward and look to the future, especially with a World Cup in two years. In the centre back positions I'd have Terry, Cahill, Jagielka and Lescott. There is experience, strength and long- term options in those players and none of them are liabilities or injury prone. Don't get me started on Smalling as a centre back option, he wouldn't be anywhere near Capello's plans if he still played for Fulham rather than Man Utd. He's not good enough yet.  My additional defender would be Phil Jones as I think he's a good player and he's versatile; he can play centre back, right back and centre midfield. He could also be a good player to bring on to protect a lead if he can prove his ability to play the defensive midfield role effectively.

I haven't included Rio Ferdinand there because he's passed it, has lost one of his main attributes (pace), and is injury- prone. Plus, I'm not even sure he's first choice at Man Utd anymore. Even Jonny Evans gets in ahead of him. Say no more. I haven't included Ledley King because he's injury- prone and I haven't included Michael Dawson because he's not as good as Jagileka and Lescott in my opinion.

Part 2 of this article will be on my midfield choices. See ya.

Monday, 14 November 2011

How do the present Arsenal team compare to last season's team?

I've been watching some of last season's DVD review and it's refreshed my memory about what we were like last season compared to what the much- changed Arsenal team are like now. So I've had the idea of comparing the two teams, as you may have already guessed.

The big difference is that last season we had Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy and this season we have brought in the likes of Gervinho, Arteta and Mertesacker. Firstly, in defence I believe we are better. For one, we have Vermaelen back fit who is our best centre back and our most leader- like. He is not only our best, but one of the best in the world in my opinion. Secondly, we have brought in Mertesacker who has added more of a physical presence to our backline and is a better defender than Squillaci and Djourou, who both played a lot last season and shouldn't this season. The negative is that we've lost Clichy and brought in Santos who isn't really good enough for a top four team so our left back position has weakened. Kieran Gibbs is our first choice left back I think but he's injured a lot but if he can keep himself fit and in form, Clichy's departure won't be a big deal at all.

In midfield, we have probably declined. We have lost the creativity of Fabregas and Nasri. On the other hand, we have brought in creative players like Arteta, Benayoun and Gervinho and the likes of Ramsey and Rosicky have really stepped up and are playing really well. So I think in time we won't suffer from that much, particularly when Wilshere gets back. Long term, him and Ramsey will be at least as good as Fabregas and Nasri were at creating and scoring goals. I'm not just talking 'long term' as in 5- 10 years, I'm also talking about in 6 months to a year's time. They are both quality and are only going to get better. But for now, we are weaker there. However, that is totally understandable and this season is probably a 're- building' season anyway, especially in centre midfield as we cope with the loss of Fabregas.

Up- front, we have our star man still in Van Persie who makes some of Europe's best strikers look like Emile Heskey at the moment. I referred to him in my midfield section but I think Gervinho is midfield/ forward as he is a mix between the two, creating and scoring. He looks better than Nasri to me. He is more suited to the Premier League with his strength, power, directness and pace and while perhaps not as creative in a pass and move way, he will create plenty as a driving, pacey, tricky winger as he is already proving. The only issue there is do we have enough creativity and authority in our midfield 3 to get the ball to him in dangerous positions on a regular basis, same with Walcott on the right. Gervinho is the signing I am most impressed with so far. He would have blossomed even more if Fabregas was still at the club but he still will with the likes of Ramsey and Wilshere feeding him, maybe even more so in the long term as Rambo and Jacky boy get better (maybe even better than Fabregas). In terms of 'outs' up- front we have lost Bendtner and Vela (if you even count him) and brought in Gervinho as a wide man and Park as a forward so I think we've probably improved here.

So overall I would sum us up as more solid and experienced than we were last season but maybe less feared by other teams and less creative. But my early impression is that we are at around the same level but may be too reliant on Van Persie and too reliant on Ramsey to create for the front 3 at the moment with Wilshere out still. But I think once Arteta has settled in more and Walcott gets into form more we will get better and Gervinho will get better and better as he gets used to the league so I think we're still a good team. Maybe better than Chelsea but I honestly don't know how to order Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool in terms of who's the best and worst out of the 4. Only time will tell, I think we'll know more around Christmas/ New Year but the four teams are so close and we could finish anywhere from 3rd to 6th this season I think.

Now, I like the Arsenal team from last season, and I like the Arsenal team from this season. But, which is better? There's only one way to find out... FIGHT!!!!