Arsene.... Probably struggiling to see a debated penalty or red card? (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Here are the answers to the questions that we sent over to The Short Fuse. Sorry it is a tad late. Match Preview will be up by tonight too.
It looks like your young left back will be playing again. Are you worried considering the considerable run of form Valencia is in? He ran rings round Rickets on Saturday.
I'm worried mainly because Ignasi Miquel's natural position is center half, and he's not the quickest player we have in the backline, nor is his positional sense fully developed yet. Valencia could indeed give him some trouble. If Miquel can get forward, though, he has shown the ability to put in a pretty good cross now and again.
Nope! Hard to imagine a better year for a striker to have in England than he has.
Walcott has indeed been inconsistent this season. When he's playing well, it shows, as he's able to make runs at defenders, behind defenders, and supply van Persie even if his own finishing is a bit lacking sometimes. I think not having Bacary Sagna supporting him has hurt his game, and he might be more effective as a sub in that case.
As for Arshavin, he's older now, and he seems to have lost his burst of pace, which was what allowed him to get into dangerous positions regularly two years ago (if you watch the goal he scored at Old Trafford two years ago, or his four goals against Liverpool in 2009--he was very nimble for the former, and outran Walcott in some instances in the latter). I don't fault his effort, but he has lost a bit of what made him good on the wing. I still think he could be effective in the middle, if Wenger would ever try him there.
I think he will be, yes. I simply cannot see Wenger letting him go without any kind of reasonable replacement, which neither Marouane Chamakh or the theoretical Park Chu Young are.
I think the first choice XI for Arsenal can hang with anyone on earth still, as evidenced by the 7-0-1 run you cite, as well as the way they qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds. Arsenal, though, have had 30 different players start for them this year; Thomas Vermaelen and anyone resembling a full back have been out for most of the recent bad period, and players are out of position. They also seem to lack confidence, although this is hard to judge just by watching them on TV, of course.
I am confident that Arsenal will get into Europe. The way things stand right now, though, the Champions League is a tricky one. If Chelsea have a blip and Arsenal can gain ground, they can make it, but every time one of the clubs above the Gunners drop points lately, they don't seem to be able to take advantage.
With the talent the club has, I think fifth place is underperforming, yes, but most of the underperforming has been done without fullbacks (who are integral to Arsenal's system) or a really good advanced playmaker. Aaron Ramsey is many things that are great, but his passing isn't tremendous. Yet.
I think Wenger should be allowed to manage as long as he wants. He built two great, great English teams, but his third was always going to be the most difficult. He had to build a team while also constructing a 500 million pound stadium during a housing bubble burst. It was always going to take a lot of luck to make it really work well, and then we had three players with horrific leg breaks, etc. A misstep here or there was harder to cover up, personnel-wise, and thus it's been a rough patch. Still, if reaching one Champions League final, a semifinal, and a couple of quarterfinals, all while routinely finishing in the top four in the deepest league on earth is a rough patch, well...
I'm not trying to write an apologia for Wenger, really. It's just the way I see it.
It's hard to say. I think they need to keep making the kind of signings they have always made and hope more of them pan out well. One step that would probably be good is to adjust the club's wage structure, so players who are legitimate, proven stars--who've earned it--make better wages and are more likely to stay, while younger players who haven't earned it yet aren't given the kind of wages they are now in the HOPES that they'll stay (and pan out). That's probably the biggest single policy change that could help.
I am quite excited. Sadly, he's got a knock at the moment, but if all he did was score that goal against Leeds in the FA Cup, that would be enough. That was like a children's story. It was amazing. Anything he can do on the left while Gervinho is gone, any key passes he can make, anything he can teach the younger players like Ryo and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: that can only be good.
I personally like him as a squad player. We know what he can do, having done it for South Korea and for Arsenal (his goal against Bolton in the Carling Cup was very good). However, at this point, he's like a manticore. He's cryptozoology. You'd think he'd have made an appearance somewhere, sometime, ahead of Chamakh, but nobody's seen him. I doubt his actual existence in this dimension at this point.
It's going to be interesting. Ignasi Miquel will have his hands full with Valencia, but Johan Djourou should, in theory, handle Nani better. In all honesty, though, your wingers would give anyone fits. I really do wish it was Sagna and Santos, though.
I think he is--he's been there the longest of anyone, and he gives everything every match. I wouldn't mind if Thomas Vermaelen (vice-captain) was chosen, though, either. I'm not sure it matters too much, though, in the end.
Arsenal have been tough at the Emirates, but they are depleted right now. However, United are as well. I think it'll be 1-1, but I wouldn't be surprised if it got out of hand.