What Was Ramsey Doing | Who Should not Play Together | Where Should Ozil Play?


It’s a learning curve. The team learning Emery’s philosophy. Emery learning the team and learning the premier league. I hope, though, that they are all fast learners.

Playing City in our first match of the season was a blessing in disguise. It was throwing the Emery revolution into the deep end. All the fancy theorizing were blown off in 90 minutes of play and only hard facts remained. It has giving us clarity and brought us to the point.

The eight things we learnt from this match:

1). The corner stone of Emery’s possession philosophy is playing out from the back. He is left with a tough choice. Sacrifice that tactics or sacrifice Peter Cech. The two cannot mix. It is unfair to ask a 36 year old hero, in the last year of his contract, to start learning new tricks.

2). Our back line can hold their own. This became more apparent when Lichsteiner replaced Maitland-Nikes. He kept the team emotional strong. Bellerin was in for the fight. Mustafi was a stalwart and Sokratis who never smiles took an intelligent yellow for the team. Their playing out from the back however lacked creativity but the keeper’s handicap as the conductor might have been responsible.

3). Guendouzi embodies a lot of what Emery wants. Enthusiasm, energy, movement and directness. But the young lad is prone to getting his pocket picked in delicate areas. He would learn quickly, which is what I cannot say of Xhaka’s slowness in same delicate areas. It looks to me that the two should not be played together.

4). Torreira was the surprise name missing in the starting line up. I suppose Emery is giving him time to acclimatize some more. What I find most exciting about him is his disciplined management of space as well as his unfettered passing skills. He should be the man in front of our defense and his presence there would cover for Guendouzi/Xhaka’s weak point.

5). I just couldn’t understand what Ramsey was doing. Was he the striker? After tons of running around, he had only 19 touches of the ball (WhoScored) before he was yanked off in the 54th minute. By comparison Guendouzi had 72 touches in 90 minutes. Ramsey completely abandoned the role of helping to build play. This contributed in no small measure to our poor attacking display. Emery has created five captains by which he has bought space for himself for sitting any captain on the bench or taking any off during play.

6). Our dreaded forward line could not click. They were probably not well supported. We couldn’t bring the ball out of the back creatively. Our midfield lack enough bodies. Mkhitaryan was lightweight. Ozil was not in his groove and Aubamayang is a player who needs to be fed. Things however improved when Lacazette came in. Was it him? Was it the absence of Ramsey? Or was it that when he came in Ozil dropped deeper and started helping to build play? These are some of the things Emery would be pondering over. Big thanks to City.

7). Generally their was greater energy, desire and movement in the team. The players have understood what is wanted of them and they can only get better at it. In fact it is now more of Emery getting to know his men who are best revealed in the cauldron of battle the like of which only teams like City can provide. Our luck then that it came early.

8). The Arsenal fans where fantastic with their support and understanding but trust that Emery knows that not withstanding he has to work at a feverish pace. It’s back to the drawing board, this time with no frills, just hard plain facts.

We will get there and quickly too.

By PE.

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Disconnected, Nervous but Full of Fighting Spirit: Eight Observations

Not much time tonight, but here are my eight observations:

  1. The obvious one: the eleven players on the pitch were not a team. So many misplaced balls, unspotted runs, offsites, space left in and around the box etc, etc. I know it is the start of a new era etc, etc, but still it surprised me how disconnected we played.
  2. Guendouzi is a promising player and at times even brilliant…. but he still has a lot to learn tactically. He should not have started v MC in my opinion. You cannot allow a player to run across our box and then shoot, using our defenders as a shield to fool the keeper. Guendouzi may have drive and looks good on the ball but he also made a number of mistakes.  We have better and more experienced players, like Elneny and Torreira, who really should be ahead in the picking order. Let’s ease Guendouzi in.
  3. Xhaka and Rambo, our experienced midfielders, also had ineffective games. The three did not work together well and MC ruled the midfield as a result. Some say we played much better when Torreira came on but that’s when MC put the foot off the gas and the game was truly lost. Xhaka is being targeted at the moment, and yes he had a bad game but so did Rambo, who was all over the pitch and yet unable to give us time to reshape and get control in midfield when he had the ball.
  4. Mustafi and Sokratis worked well together. Definitely not faultless, but I liked the energy and focus by the pair and I can see them grow and grow together this season.
  5. Auba, Mkhi and Ozil worked hard enough but were poor in finding each other and did not work as a well oiled machine. We had chances in this game and could have scored one, two or even more goals, but all our attackers were poor with their finishing. Ozil was rusty but he at least was in the right place at the right time a lot.
  6. Cech had it tough with the MC pressing and with receiving back pass after back pass, but he made some good saves and had no chance with the two goals we conceded. It looks like Leno will be too tough a competition for him in the long run, but Petr’s fighting spirit is simply inspiring.
  7. Lichtsteiner replaced AMN successfully and he added quite a bit of bite to our defence. Laca and Torreira also had effective cameos, and all three are pushing for a start v the Chavs.
  8. The team and the manager never gave up but they did not get a lucky break which we needed desperately. The support was great in the first half but I felt we needed more from them in the second half. It will take time for Emery to build a solid, quality unit and we as fans have to be behind the team in each and every game.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Arsenal v Man City: Line-Up | Score Prediction | 3 Things to Look Fwd to

For us Gooners the season starts tomorrow and WHAT a game we have on our hands. The reigning champions are visiting and Unai Emery is in charge of his very first PL game. This season Match Previews will be short and to the point. I will give you my predicted line-up and a score prediction, and then three things to look forward to.

Predicted Line-up

submit football lineup

I am going for Rambo being fit to start and him playing in the hole. If Rambo is not fit, I expect Mkhi to start instead of him. Torreira and Xhaka to keep it tight in midfield and yet being able to quickly move the ball forward when we win it from the champions. I expect Nacho and Bellerin to start on the wings but this could also be AMN and Lichtsteiner. Leno instead of Cech as to deal better with the MC press.

Predicted Score

3-1 to the mighty Red and White.

We are playing at home, MC are the favourites and being the underdog will suit us tomorrow. If we play with discipline and a high tempo, and take the game to them at times too (including high pressing), I reckon we can win this. Just have a good feeling about it.

Three Things to Look Fwd to

  1. Unai’s tactical approach: will he go all ‘Liverpool’ and press MC high and never let them settle; or will he have the team sit deep and play on the counter…. or? I cannot wait to find out;
  2. The battle in Midfield: can we deny MC’s midfield the space they love to have there? Can we escape their suffocating press?
  3. The noise and support of the home crowd: I am expecting the start of a new era and full-hearted support for Unai’s Arsenal.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 113 Comments

Arsenal to Finish in the Top-Four? Prediction Time.

Yesterday, Positive Kev wrote a fine comment about what our main competitors and Arsenal have been spending their money on:

arsene holding up cups

There’s been some amazing amounts spent in this window and in many cases by middling Premier League clubs, it’s eye watering.
The £171.3m spent by Liverpool was huge but whatever happened to FFP, especially when you consider the capacity of Anfield? They only brought £12.5m in with sales.
What are they smoking up there?
Chelsea blew £122m, basically on 2 players, with only £38.5m in sales, so despite the whispers of Abramovitch gradually pulling out of the U.K. he is still putting his money where his mouth is – not that he ever speaks anyway.
By comparison the £58m Everton spent seems small beer, with only £16.4m on sales.
Will Usmanov pile in to Goodison or will he invest his money away from the U.K. due to the political climate?
Man City seemed to spend this window balancing their books as only City can, they made £38.15m in sales and only (only!) splashed out £62.6m.
Man Utd despite Mourinho moaning and looking like the most miserable man in the world still managed to spend £64.2m although Jose would have you believe that they spent zilch.
Man U sold players to the value of £20.7m
Arsenal did their business early, just as many of us wanted the club to do in the past and laid out the tidy sum of £71.4m, bringing in only £7.6m in in sales. It was an unusually calm deadline day for us all despite the rumours.
Leicester earned a very useful £74.7m in sales, but didn’t leave it in the bank as a healthy bank balance never scored a goal, they went out and spent a club record £101.5m, more than most other Premier League clubs have ever done in a single window.
West Ham, thanks to having a low rent stadium and on the back of last seasons crowd unrest have gone for it in a big big way. Only £12m came in on sales so the Hammers didn’t have a Mahrez style windfall to spend, but they still spent an enormous £91.5m.
Lastly Fulham, owned by an Pakistani American who owns a Grid Iron football team as well as a Premier League team, much like Stan Kroenke. Fulham didn’t earn anything in sales but supported by their owner Fulham still spent £80.5m on new players.
Meanwhile Tottenham didn’t sign anyone, but they did make a profit of £2m in sales.
How does it go? ‘To Dare is To Do’.

The PL is the most interesting league to watch when it comes to predicting the winner and the rest of the top four. This season it looks like MC are the strong favourites but how often does a team win twice in a row these days? Pool have invested and look to push higher and respect for the Spuddies to keep their talents together (I hate to say).

Manchester U cannot be written off, same goes for the Chavs and Everton and the Foxes may also do well this time round. The Hammers have a great manager and invested ambitiously, so they could also do well.

And how does Emery’s Arsenal fit into all of this? Well, who knows?!

Rather than solely focusing on players bought and sold, I reckon this season will also be about systems of football, tactical ability and bringing young talent through at the right time and right positions.

Guardiola City has found a very strong balance between scoring tons of goals and letting very few in. This of course a guarantee for success, and all other teams will either try to copy this or find an alternative way to finish higher than the Northern Oilers. Spuds and MU try to do it by being hard to beat and efficient up-front. I don’t know what the Chavs will do, but I reckon Emery will look for a system that will also find the right balance between defence and attack. But initially he will be hoping for us to outscore the goals we concede rather than counting on being hard to beat at the back.

How he will achieve this only time will tell. My money is on a different approach in away games and against (the very attacking) top four competitors. Tweaks in midfield per each and every game may just do the trick. Xhaka and Rambo to play most of our games and Emery can add Torreira for defensive solidity or Guendouzi, Elneny or Iwobi for additional pressure in our attacking play. These six players excite me very, very much.

This season is about getting into the top four and nothing else. This would be massive progress, and although we can get into the CL through winning the UEFA League, it would be so much better if Emery could re-establish Arsenal in the top four at the end of the season. We have the players for this, even though our defence remains a work in progress. We are strong at home and just need to play much, much better away.

The competition is strong but I have a good feeling about this season and predict that we will finish third. Top four of MC, MU, Arsenal, Spuds. What do you predict?

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Why Bernd Leno Should be Our First Choice Goalie

Cech is an amazing shot stopper. He is looking as trim as ever. You can see in his gait that he is battle ready and he proved it in our pre-season match against Chelsea. But one thing happened in that encounter that demands an inquest. Sokratis with the ball was under pressure and Cech had positioned himself to receive a short back pass. Instead of the back pass, Sokratis decided to put the ball out of touch for a corner kick. The resultant corner kick came to naught but why did Sokratis choose that option? Was it out of anxiety that Cech might buckle under that close press?

Bernd Leno’s record last season as a shot stopper isn’t too exciting. Yet we paid in the region of £19m for him in spite of the fact that we had Cech and three other keepers with us. His purchase doesn’t seem to make much sense unless there is something different the management knew he can bring to the team. If so what can that be?

We know that Emery is hired to infuse new life into the team. Unfortunately he has to get on with this task while hostility which starts this weekend rages. That is always going to be tough. Luckily he has had a month of pre-season with most of the squad, enough time to get his message across which though in its infancy is gathering momentum.

The changes he is bringing to the team starts with an added commitment to play the ball out of the back irrespective of the pressure. That is an essential element if the team has to be the protagonist. In the last two friendlies it has been the one area of obvious contrast to our previous pattern of play.

The commitment to this pattern is so central to Emery’s philosophy that it has to be well structured in terms of its tactics and the personnel executing it. Important to its success is that the conductor of this phase of play has to be the keeper, being the spare man that guarantees a favorable overload each time. That means that the keeper must enjoys the confidence of the players around him when with the ball at his feet. He has to be a baller too. Such a keeper is as much an outfield player as a goaltender. Such has been the redefinition of goalkeepers.

Germany is very quick in responding to new concepts in football philosophies. There are already a host of young brilliant modern keepers in the German leagues and Bernd Leno is one of the most exciting of them. We held our breath as he masterfully conducted that phase of the game against Lazio on Saturday. For us fans, it takes some getting used to.

Yes Cech is battle ready for the season but Leno is a basic building block in Unai’s revolution. In the overall scheme of things, today is important but tomorrow is even more important and Leno is there to lead us into tomorrow.

On Sunday we clash with Pep who professes the philosophy that his team travel with the ball. I hope it’s understood what he means by that. Emery is planning to steal the ball for his own journey. Welcome Bernd Leno.

Gooners lets get your take on this.


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Kola Out, Nacho Not Ready: Who to Play at LB? Time for The Skodran!

With Kolasinac out for a few months and Nacho apparently not fit/ready to start against Man City, who can Unai pick from to play at LB?

Let’s have a heated debate! 🙂

Will it be Ainsley Maitland-Niles? Young, very talented and powerful but also lacking a bit of focus at times, Ainsley looks to be our first option right now. I like him a lot and am sure he can do a more than decent job v City – he is that talented. But can he keep his focus for ninety minutes against the rampant Champions?


We could see Holding playing at left back. Not his ideal position but he is a bit more mature (and older) than AMN and able to focus for 90 minutes. Not my first choice as Rob is more of a CB than a FB but I could live with it.

A more natural option could be Mustafi – with Holding and Sokratis as our CB-pair. I would prefer this to the above options. Mustafi has the energy, aggression and running ability to make the LB position a success v MC.

Final options are Mavropanos, the right backs – Lichtsteiner or Bellerin – or even Elneny or Torreira?

So I am not worried re cover at LB at all, and my man for the job is the German who was left out v Lazio. A man who will show everyone what a great defender and Gunner he is: The Skodran!

But who would you like to stand in for Kola/Nacho at LB?

By TotalArsenal 


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Guendouzi and Mkhi Impress, Defence Work in Progress, Iwobi more Direct: 8 Observations

Tonight Arsenal played their last official friendly and here are my eight observations and points for discussion:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (centre) celebrates scoring for Arsenal

  1. Leno looked dynamic and was very confident with his feet throughout the game. It was the first time I saw him in action for Arsenal and he impressed throughout the game. He did not have to make too many stops as Lazio were wasteful with their changes, as they seldom hit the target from promising positions. Therefore, it is hard to compare him to Petr, who I hear had an excellent game against Chelsea earlier this week. It will be interesting to see what Unai will do re his nr.1 GK…
  2. Iwobi had a strong first half and seems to be buoyed by the signing of a new contract. He worked well with his partner on the left flank, AMN, and together they produced some good chances. A bit unlucky not to score himself but at least his effort came off the post and into the path of the equally impressive Nelson who just could not miss from there. Loved that Alex had some good running with the ball and being very direct at times.
  3. The CB pairing of Holding and Chambers did not impress. They were too often exposed in the air and did not organise the team well with regards to set-pieces. They also were too often out of position and struggled to read the game when Lazio attacked on the ground.
  4. Lichtsteiner, Torreira and Xhaka all started (the first two had their first game for Arsenal) but they all looked rusty and struggled to make an impact on the game. Xhaka and Torreira in the centre of defence is a work in progress, especially in Unai’s experimental 4-4-2 set up: who of the two should sit deepest and who should do the B2B stuff? Lichtsteiner produced a few nice balls over the top and into the box.
  5. Why did Mustafi not play at all (good question GoonerEris)? Unai decided not to play his strongest team together and maybe this was done with the aim to keep Guardiola guessing…? I expect Mustafi to start (with Sokratis) next week Sunday.
  6. What to do with Lacazette? The man gives his all but his link up play outside the box was hasty and imprecise. I love the partnership with Auba, but only with the Frenchman as our CF operating in and around the box rather than filling the void between midfield and attack (as is often typical of a 4-4-2 system).
  7. Guendouzi impressed. Except for a few overeager runs with the ball which led to him being disposed and leaving the team exposed, he had a good game. Guendouzi offered good link up play between defence and attack and added energy all over the pitch. He also kept his head up and produced some fine passes.
  8. Mkhi had a strong thirty minutes or so. Just like Guendouzi, he added energy and forward movement with the ball at his feet in the second half. Auba scored a good, calm goal and Ozil had a few nice touches in and around the box.

All in all it was a good 2-0 win even though the score flattered us due to a lack of clinical finishing by the Italians. It is hard to pull any big conclusions from the game as there were too many substitutions and the Italians weren’t as bothered about the game as our boys. But defensively alarm bells are ringing and Unai has his work cut out to get the defence to work as a well-drilled unit. The good news is that we keep scoring in every game and that we are pressing teams a lot more than we used to do.

The real test will follow in due course…. eight days to go…

By TotalArsenal.


Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments