England stopper tempts Arsenal? Gunners talent can replace Sagna, while partnership hitting high notes

Ramsey Jenkinson Norwich

So that’s that. The Premier League season is over, and we now have just an FA Cup final to attend before a summer of unbearable transfer speculation, moaning supporters and #ITKs. Following yesterday’s news regarding Diego Costa and Josip Drmic, it’s appears to have already started. Oh the joy.

We wrapped up the league campaign in decent fashion with a simple 2-0 win at Carrow Road. Aaron Ramsey smashed a hole in the back of the Norwich net with one of the goals of the season, before Carl Jenkinson achieved his (and my own!) dream of scoring for his boyhood club – cue him losing his shit. Throw the return of Abou Diaby in there and the avoidance of any injuries, and it was a nice way to bring an end to a Premier League campaign of mixed emotions.

It’s gone so fast, and that opening day defeat to Aston Villa seems an eternity ago. Either way, there’s nothing more we can do, and I think we can look back on the campaign as one that shows that we have it in us to challenge for the title once again next term if we make some slight alterations. Arsene Wenger will no doubt be making changes in the summer, contrary to what you WOBs want to believe.

Wembley is upon, and there is a ton of things to talk about on what is going to be a busy week on Gunners Town. So let’s get to it.

Gunners Town Top 5: Talking Points of the Week

Starsky & Hutch, Batman & Robin, Ramsey & Giroud

Ramsey Giroud

What is it about Ramsey and Olivier Giroud that just seems to work? The duo have combined in front of goal all season when both fit, and Sunday was no different. Giroud’s dinked cross to Rambo was exquisite, and bloody Nora did the Welshman finish it off in spectacular fashion.

All of a sudden, the Giroud haters, who were slating him for not having the attributes of a type of striker that he isn’t, seem to have disappeared. For now anyway.

Giroud has needed runners all year and if Ramsey (not to mention Theo Walcott) had not gone missing for four months with an injury, who knows how many goals and assists both men would have and where we’d be now.

They’ve linked up time and time again this term, especially away from home, and have produced the spark in front of goal that we were lacking in the early parts of 2014.

One more example of this stupendous partnership before the season is over please…

Much Abou about an Arsenal return

Abou Diaby 06

I wrote in length about this guy last week, but it was brilliant to see Abou Diaby back on the field for the Arsenal first team. He’s worked so hard to get back to this stage, after having nearly eight years of his dream career stolen from him by a thug. Heart breaking for Diaby.

So I, as I’m sure you were, was delighted to Diaby kitted out and ready to come on at Carrow Road on Sunday, and my goodness did he get a top class reception upon his return.

He showed some good touches and flicks on the ball, and managed to avoid any injury reoccurrences. With no World Cup (you’d hope), Diaby has a summer of preparation for the new campaign ahead of him, and you can’t quite put into words what a full pre-season with the rest of the squad will do for the good of the midfielder. He has one year remaining on his current contract, so he’ll be dying to impress and earn a new deal.

As I said last week which, again, some may scoff at, but Diaby can be Arsenal’s Yaya Toure. He has the pace, power, skill and elegance in possession, as well as the fridge-resembling frame that allows them to roar from box to box like a runaway train. He’s done it before and that’s what Arsenal have missed at times. Diaby has it in him to be an fantastic player if he gets a run of games, and can beef up an Arsenal side that is slightly on the small side. If he wasn’t good enough, then the coaches wouldn’t have faith in him, and he would have got rid of him a long time ago, and not offered him that new contract.

I always think back to that performance at Anfield a couple of seasons back when I analyse what Diaby has in his locker.

Should he stay fit through to Christmas and turn out some familiar displays, I know he can make an impact at the Emirates.

A Ruddy good signing

John Ruddy 01

If you watched the game on Sunday, you’ll know that we could have been 3-0 up at half time if it wasn’t for John Ruddy. The Norwich goalkeeper made a number of wonderful saves, twice preventing Giroud from opening the scoring, as well as thwarting Lukas Podolski.

Ruddy has been a very decent performer during Norwich’s time in the Premier League, which has seen him, albeit not this summer, earn international recognition from England as well as transfer interest from the likes of Chelsea.

With the Canaries now dropping into the Championship, you’d have thought that Ruddy would be an attractive option for a number of Premier League clubs looking to buy. Would he be a good buy for Arsenal? I personally think so. Of course he wouldn’t replace Wojciech Szczesny, but could mount a decent challenge.

With Lukasz Fabianski heading out the door this summer, and Emiliano Viviano certain to head back to Italy, Wenger needs to cast his eye to the goalkeeping section of the summer transfer shop.

I can’t see Wenger bringing in two goalkeepers this summer, and I expect one of Matt Macey, Deyan Iliev or Josh Vickers to be promoted to the role of third-choice stopper. Therefore, we’ll surely go after a more senior keeper to back-up Szczesny. For me, Ruddy ticks all the boxes.

–         He’s a decent goalkeeper

–         He has, albeit minor, international experience

–         He has ample Premier League experience

–         At 27, he still has many years left ahead of him

–         He’ll be looking to stay in the top flight

–         He’ll be available for a low cost, leaving us with more money to spend elsewhere

I can understand if other want a better goalkeeper to REALLY push Szczesny, but I don’t think Wenger will want to be switching around his man between the sticks every few weeks. None of the other ‘big clubs’ do it. Joe Hart and David de Gea had short spells on the bench, but they were never going to be constantly kept there.

Ruddy would jump at being back in the Premier League and having a chance to put Champions League football on his CV. Mind you, he turned down Chelsea previously as he wanted regular football, but the fact that Norwich have been relegated could change his mind.

What do you think? For me, he ticks all the boxes of a back-up stopper, and leaves us with lots of money to use elsewhere.

A Case for Carl

Norwich City v Arsenal - Premier League

What a day it was for Carl Jenkinson. I think we all cheered that little bit louder knowing that it was a Gooner who put the game to bed at Norwich. And didn’t he enjoy himself.

While some may question the guy’s ability, there is simply no doubting that his heart is in the right place. The modern fan loves to see passion, determination and commitment from players, and Jenkinson has all three in bucket loads. How many other players would have gone as mental as he did after scoring in a dead rubber fixture with less than 30 minutes to go on the final day of the Premier League season, in which everything had already been decided for Arsenal? I struggle to think of many, and he certainly didn’t seem to care that none of his team-mates joined his post-goal party.

With Bacary Sagna almost certain to be on his way out, he could be saying “lucky you” to Carl, as he takes on the reins of the right-back berth. See what I did there? If you did, then lucky you. Okay, I’ll stop. We don’t want a massive Twitter overreaction now. Or do we? We are Arsenal fans after all…

Anyway, the popular notion seems to be that mentally, Jenkinson is the man we want, but physically he is not up to scratch. I disagree, but see the logic.

I think that, given a run of games, Jenkinson can settle into a first-team role and be a solid performer for Arsenal next season. He had a run of games at the start of the previous campaign when Sagna was injured, and put in a number of top displays, including a wonderful outing at Manchester City. Give him another chance to prove his worth, and who’s to say that he won’t replicate that promising form? Nobody wanted Aaron Ramsey to have a consistent run in the starting XI little over a year ago, and look at him now.

With Sagna leaving, it’s necessary that he needs a replacement because Jenkinson is not up to it, but I do believe that we need the numbers. A new left-back wasn’t bought when Ashley Cole left, and then Gael Clichy emerged. Likewise, when Clichy left, Wenger allowed Kieran Gibbs to become the first-choice on the left side of defence, and this year, he has been one of our star men.

Jenkinson is still short in experience, and is prone to the odd mistake, but that’s all part of the learning process. Gibbs screwed up against Manchester United in the Champions League all those years ago, and now he is stronger for it. It’s how he responds that will make him, and you get the picture that it is a confidence game with Jenkinson. However, that’s where his love for the club and desire to make us proud will carry him through tougher times.

Carl Jenkinson 04

He definitely has his qualities, and has improved tenfold since making THAT appearance at Old Trafford a few years ago. For one, he is up there with the best crossers at the club, and can add a new dimension to our attack. One of the attributes that Sagna seems to have lost a bit over the past few years is his attacking contribution, with delivery after delivery failing to beat the first man at the near post. When Jenkinson, who is quicker than Bac, has the chance to whip the ball in, you’d fancy him to find the man in the middle, and could really help bring out the best of Giroud by playing to his strengths. He’s fairly tall as well, and has been touted as a potential centre-back for the future, although I wouldn’t feel too confident placing him there just yet in the same fashion that Sagna has filled in at times.

Everyone connected to the club, including legendary former defenders, seem to be full of praise for Jenkinson so, given the chance, I think he could prove to be a hit at Arsenal.

I can’t see Wenger completely destroying Jenkinson’s chances by signing an established right-back. What I can envisage is him brining in someone in the style of Serge Aurier, who he will compete against for the foreseeable future.

I’m split on the cries to send him out on loan. On one hand, I feel that he will be better off learning with us and getting a run in the team. But on the other hand, it worked when we sent Gibbs out on loan to Norwich. However, I don’t think we have the cover to ship out Jenkinson for work experience at the moment, and with Hector Bellerin turning out for Watford earlier this season, I predict it would be him to head out of the Emirates on loan if we’re going to allow a right-back to go.

Should he get a run, Jenkinson also has a great chance of finally getting a consistent look in for England. Roy Hodgson doesn’t exactly have a vast array of talented right-backs to choose, unlike the other full-back position. So if Carl could make the most of a presented chance, he could become a big player for both club and country; the dream of childhood football nut, which he most definitely is.

Whatever happens, I’m delighted for him, and he knows that he’s living the dream of millions of other Gooners across the planet.

“Since I was a kid I’ve been an Arsenal fan, I’ve scored that goal 100 times in my back garden and celebrated like I’m celebrating in front of the fans. I’ve done it for real today and it was the best feeling in the world.”

If anyone is going to get it their all in becoming the best damn player he can be for the club he adores, it’s Carl Jenkinson. Good luck to him.

The Momentum Train makes its final stop

Ramsey Giroud Jenkinson Norwich

So the Premier League season is done. We’ve once again finished fourth, having been top of the table for the majority of the season, but have no doubt improved on last season.

We finished six points better off than last season, and reduced the deficit to the champions from 16 points to just seven. Yes people may say that it was an opportunity missed considering the nature of the league this year but, given that we’ve been crippled by injuries, should we keep the vast majority of our squad and add a couple of class players to it then I’m certain we’ll mount an even stronger challenge next year.

Anyway, the Premier League is over, and the FA Cup final is just FOUR days away. Seeing as that I couldn’t get a ticket to Wembley, I’ll be watching at the Emirates, but will be feeling more confident knowing that Arsenal go into the clash in decent form.

Since the nail-biting penalty shootout triumph over Wigan, Arsenal seemed to have turned the corner. The return of Ramsey and Mesut Ozil among others has helped, but the semi-final victory seemed to inject a fresh boost of confidence, which is what we desperately missed.

Since that win, our record is this:

Played: 5 Won: 5 Lost: 0 Scored: 12 Conceded: 1

We haven’t faced any amazing teams, but you can only beat what’s in front of you, and it’s given us some great momentum as we look to end nine years of ‘pain and misery’. Football only began in 2006 after all…

Giroud Podolski Ramsey Hull

On the contrary, Hull haven’t been enjoying life as much, and appear to have just thrown their Premier League concentration out of the window since knowing they’d be in Europe next term and in a major cup final.

Played: 5 Won: 0 Drawn: 1 Lost: 5 Scored: 4 Conceded: 13

However, form goes out the window on the day of a cup final, but the winning mentality and feel-good factor can only help us on the evening.

Despite the fact that we beat Hull with relative ease at the KC Stadium last month, it will not be an easy fixture, and Hull have enjoyed some big scalps this season.

My feelings are all over the place. I’m confident because of our form and players, I’m nervous because it’s a huge occasion, and I’m anxious because we’ve been here before and blown it.

It would be the perfect way to end a season that has no doubt seen improvement, and lifting the FA Cup would give us a huge wave of momentum heading into the transfer window, the World Cup and the general summer ahead. Getting that trophy monkey off our back would be HUGE!

Good luck to all those who are heading to Wembley, and every other Arsenal fan for that matter. I’m hoping it will be a comfortable stress-free victory. I’m expecting it to be an occasion that sheds years from my life expectancy.

Get your yellow ribbons ready.

That’s all from me this week, please get in touch over Twitter and let me know your views on the above matters.

Never forget you’re a Gooner.

Matt Cotton

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One Response to England stopper tempts Arsenal? Gunners talent can replace Sagna, while partnership hitting high notes

  1. bc May 14, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    I actually think that wenger should be focusing more on replacing sagna as a 4th centre back rather than a right back as in Hector bellerin and jenkinson we have 2 really good options at right back. Whereas at Cb we have our starting pair, but then our next 7 back up players are considering their futures or are on their way – vermaelen, sagna, djourou, miquel, boateng, fagan, siemann. It may be that bellerin like ormonde-ottewill on the left needs more time, but I fear that signing a player in the age bracket of aurier, Coleman, etc will spell the end for jenkinson or bellerin

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