Q&A with "The Short Fuse" - Answers to TBB's questions

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.

Do you have any idea why Van Persie was left off the 40 man shortlist for the Ballon D'or?

Nope! Hard to imagine a better year for a striker to have in England than he has.

Thoughts on your wingers? Walcott scored on Sunday but are you happy with him this season? I would much prefer him to come off the bench regularly so his pace can terrify the defense like he did against Barca a couple of seasons ago. And I am shocked AA is still at the club. He has been terrible for the last year or so.

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.


Although Robin van Persie has said he is committed to Arsenal, there have been talks about him leaving Arsenal for the entire season, basically for the same reasons Cesc Fabregas left the club: to win titles. Do you believe van Persie will be a gunner come start of next season?

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.

Arsenal have had a lot of ups and downs in the 2011/12 campaign, the team started in disastrous fashion going 2-4-1 in their first seven matches (including an 8-2 blowout at Old Trafford againist Manchester United), then going 7-0-1 in their next eight then going 2-3-1 in their next six and this includes losing in stoppage time to Fulham and more recently losing to Swansea in disastrous fashion (giving up the Danny Graham game winning goal literally right after tying the game). What are your thoughts for the rest of the season? Are you confident this team can finish in a place where they can atleast qualify for the Europa League or do you think the quest for European football is a lost cause. Not to mention is the team with the talent they have are underpreforming or are playing up to your expectations.


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.

What are your thought on “The Professor” Arsene Wenger. I know there are a lot of Arsenal faithful that have that “In Arsene we Trust” mentality, but after not winning silverware since the 04-05 season, and with the ups and downs the team have been going through, do you believe that it’s time for Wenger to leave or do you believe that Arsene Wenger can lead the team back to the promised land like he did oh so many years ago?

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.

Premier League wise, Arsenal is basically eliminated from winning the title, but what moves do you think the Gunners need to make to secure that they will be in title contention in the future?

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.

How excited are you that Thierry Henry is back with the club on loan and what are your expectations of him being back with the club?

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.

What is your opinion of Park Chu-Young? When will he start playing games again? Do you think that with van Persie, Henry and Chamakh above him in the pecking order, the Korean striker should be loaned out either temporarily or for the rest of the reason?

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.

How do you think Arsenal’s fullbacks will cope with United’s wingers? Who are your choices for fullbacks for this upcoming match?

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.


Is van Persie the right candidate for captain, or do you think there’s another player who deserves to wear the armband?


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.

What do you predict the final score to be this weekend?

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.
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