Bergkampesque Live Blog, Liverpool-Arsenal. Emery Goes 4-2-3-1 with Two Changes; Pepe and Xhaka In

…Nelson and Lacazette out from the group that beat Burnley.

Record signing Nicolas Pepe joins youngsters Dani Ceballos, Joe Willock and Matteo Guendouzi in midfield with Captain Granit Xhaka tasked with organizing the lads against a far more experienced and very strong Liverpool group.

Here are the line-ups:

Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Papastathopoulos, Monreal, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock, Pepe, Aubameyang, Ceballos.

Subs: Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Torreira, Chambers, Nelson, Martinez, Kolasinac.

Liverpool: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Matip, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Subs: Milner, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Shaqiri, Origi, Kelleher

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

A final note: Mesut Ozil, training all week, doesn’t even make the bench.  Has Arsenal management found a way to off-load the mercurial midfielder–and his massive salary?

What do YOU think of the line-ups and Arsenal’s chances at Anfield?

To me, though this is our first real challenge, it is also a bit of a “can’t lose” proposition for Arsenal manager Unai Emery.  Those early results plus big spending in the transfer window–and attendant noise from a new generation of ownership–has brought a feeling of renewed hope in the Goonersphere.  (Is it enough to allow the dumping of a player like Ozil–alongside the likes of Skhodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny?)  We shall see.  As long as we improve on the result from last season’s fixture (a brutal 5-1 loss–after we got the opener) surely our “Summer of Love” ought to continue.  And then there’s the hope that we might even do a bit better than that…

I’ll be hitting the espresso machine one last time and then I’ll do my best to describe the action.  I can ALWAYS use help, however, even if today’s game–here in California–will be in 4K.  Everybody sees things differently and your view is no worse than mine.  (We’ll see how I feel about the commentary team: Arlo White always wants to stoke controversy, while Lee Dixon does his best to not be seen as favoring Arsenal.  Graeme Le Saux rounds out the group and generally seems fairly insightful–to me.  Often, I find I need to shut off the sound…)

So, who will join me?  What will the match bring?  Share it here (in the comments)…

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

Posted in Uncategorized | 118 Comments

Pepe, Auba, Laca (PALs) v Firmino, Mane, Salah: Fireworks at Anfield – Preview!


A lot of our Arsenal faithful are scared of this fixture, Liverpool at Anfield. Zero points there does not worry them. They are anxious of yet another pounding.

My best pal is a football guru. He knows the game of football so well. He happens to be a fanatical Liverpool supporter. He has thought over the call from several quarters that Emery should mirror the Liverpool team with these players that he has and he tells me that this fixture against Arsenal scares him to death. There you are, this world of opposites. I go for the bottom line: mutual respect.

Should Emery build his team in the image of Klopp’s Liverpool? Mane, Firmino, Salah: Auba, Laca, Chili Pepe. These front threes are of course the bases for these calls. Is it enough a base for such calls?

Salah and Pepe are so similar: direct, quick feet, strictly left footed, don’t need a back lift, wide right, love to cut inside. One though is 3 inches taller and better with his head.

Mane and Auba are no identical twins: Auba’s game is based on movement and positioning, a genius at getting at the end of things. If he is asked to expand his game by for example stationing him as a winger, he goes like a bee line. Mane, Auba’s supposed image is so difficult to define, but he is ubiquitous, troublesome and dangerous.

Firmino and Laca: they are both supposed to be the point men but both love playing deep. That’s maybe as far as they mirror themselves. Forget the name tag, Firmino is a midfielder. He loves joining in building up play. He is the overload that Klopp’s Liverpool use in dominating the central areas, but give him one tiny opening and he is in the box banging in the goal. Laca is more of a false 9 who has it all too but who when he gets the ball deep is consumed by the vision of the space between the woodwork. That makes him a lot more direct than Firmino.

Terrific front 3 for both teams, but they are no spitting image of each other, neither are the other areas of the team. Liverpool have a very hardworking midfield but they don’t have an Ozil or a Ceballos. Their creative midfielder Keita is out of this fixture. However the creativity they lack in the midfield they more than compensate for in their full backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold (12 assists 18/19), Andrew Robertson (11 assists). When I think about Liverpool, I don’t think about the so called FAB 3, I think about these two British boys and a certain hulky Dutchman.

Talking about the defensive aspect of their back line, suffice it to say that they are mean at conceding goals except that for this fixture there would be a certain bloke by name Adrian who isn’t very good with the ball at his feet. Our boys would do well to be all over him the first 10 minutes to damage the confidence of the team playing out of the back.

My friend, the football guru, fears that Liverpool are playing with a phobia. Not the fear of Arsenal or United or Watford, but the fear of losing points. They might as well not be participating in the EPL. They are in a nightmarish two-horse race with a hydra-headed monster who sits the best players in Europe on the bench. This phobia my friend says is affecting their game. Am tended to agree with him and if we can simply play our game, the outcome would be anybody’s guess. It is important for us to stay aware that Josh has buried the £40m-inferiority-complex in a 6ft deep grave.

The way I see it, Emery is not going to ape something else. Arsenal is on its own journey.

I might have missed a trick or two so Emery, maybe should set up like Liverpool. What do you think? Give us your preferred line up.

By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Arsenal v Liverpool Preview: We Need the Spirit of Arshavin to Bin the Scousers

Arsenal v Liverpool August 24, 2019

 Liverpool FC’s origins lie with their neighbours Everton. Founded in 1878, Everton moved to Anfield in 1884, a facility owned by the club’s president, John Houlding, a former Lord Mayor of Liverpool. In 1892 a dispute arose between Houlding and the Everton board of directors, over the club’s tenancy of the ground. The annual rent had risen from £100 in 1884 to £250 in 1892; Houlding wanted to sell the ground to the club, which in turn wished to agree a long-term rental. Houlding would only agree to this on the basis of a rent at a level unacceptable to the club.

Negotiations having failed, the directors decided to leave Anfield and find another ground, leaving Houlding with an empty stadium. His response was to form a new football club to occupy the stadium. He attempted to retain the team name “Everton” by registering the name “Everton Football Club and Athletic Grounds Company, Limited” with Companies House, but the Football League decided that the name belonged to the departed Everton club, which acquired new premises at Goodison Park. Houlding therefore adopted the name “Liverpool Football Club” for his new venture.


Liverpool have an inspirational manager in Jurgen Klopp; he literally drives Liverpool, his passionate antics on the touchline display his love for the game and he urges his team forward. His players have responded to his management style with their performances, which resulted in them winning the 2018/19 Champions League (their 6th) and finishing 2nd in the Premier League after losing only one game and ending up only one point behind the Champions – Manchester City.

We have a miserable away record at Anfield where we win only one out of every four games, currently we are on a six game winless streak our last victory (0-2) was on September 2nd 2012. One winless but very memorable game took place on April 21st, 2009 when Andrey Arshavin scored all four of our goals in a 4-4 draw.

I fear that our porous defence will once again be our Achilles heel at Anfield: we have conceded 22 goals in our last six visits, 9 in our last two.

I wish I could write something more positive but the difference between the two teams is very evident and our past record at Anfield speaks for itself. Liverpool also have, in my opinion, the best set of supporters in the Premier League.

Arsenal v Liverpool All – Away Games
Division W D L GF GA
Div 2 0 0 2 0 5
Div 1 18 11 37 75 125
EPL 6 8 13 31 59
Total : 24 19 52 106 189

Here is our complete Premier League record.

Arsenal v Liverpool EPL – Away Games
Date W D L GF GA
23-Aug-92 1     2 0
02-Oct-93   1   0 0
28-Aug-94     1 0 3
23-Dec-95     1 1 3
19-Aug-96     1 0 2
06-May-98     1 0 4
22-Aug-98   1   0 0
28-Aug-99     1 0 2
23-Dec-00     1 0 4
23-Dec-01 1     2 1
29-Jan-03   1   2 2
04-Oct-03 1     2 1
28-Nov-04     1 1 2
14-Feb-06     1 0 1
31-Mar-07     1 1 4
28-Oct-07   1   1 1
21-Apr-09   1   4 4
13-Dec-09 1     2 1
15-Aug-10   1   1 1
03-Mar-12 1     2 1
02-Sep-12 1     2 0
08-Feb-14     1 1 5
21-Dec-14   1   2 2
13-Jan-16   1   3 3
04-Mar-17     1 1 3
27-Aug-17     1 0 4
29-Dec-18     1 1 5
Total : 6 8 13 31 59

Regardless of the facts I still hope we see an entertaining game and that Arsenal finds a way to turn the record book upside down.


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The Kroenkes Are Not Joshing with the Club And That’s All We Could Ask For


With hundreds of millions in turnover every year, Arsenal football club needs responsible leadership and a value-based custodian. In an ideal world the club is owned by the supporters and the leadership – selected by the supporters – acts on the supporters’ needs and aspirations, both short term and long term. This model is near impossible at Arsenal now and the next good thing is a majority shareholder who is in it for the long term, respects the club’s history and values and have high ambitions for silverware.

Bergkampesque is an independent blog and is not financed by anybody or advertising. It is focused on the beauty of the Arsenal game and not afraid to give our version of the truth. 🙂 I have always said that I liked the way the club is managed and had nothing to complain about. We have a financial self-sustaining model and are developing exciting youth players, buy one or two top quality players every season (recently more) and don’t sell our best players anymore unless it makes sense.

To further support this view, I (TotalArsenal) am putting up a link up of a BBC interview with Josh Kroenke and the rest of the post is a comment made by GoonerEris re the custodianship of the club:

Goonereris’ recent comment:

The criticism of Kroenke for a “lack of investment” or “paying himself huge dividends” have been so misplaced, and I don’t say that in the euphoria of this window but just on the facts.

Since buying up a 62.9% stake in the club in mid-2011 (up from 29.99% he had acquired since 2008), the club started a gradual re-build and investment in people and technology like it had never done. By the close of the summer (transfer window) of 2013/14 season, Arsenal had spent more on players than it did in the last 10 years before his acquisition of a clear majority stake. That means within 3 years of his taking control, we spent more on players than we did for a decade.
The argument may be made that the period coincided with the rising player fees and that Arsenal were restricted in spending because of the stadium project, but the facts are the facts. Plus, we had the restrictions placed by repaying loans from the stadium project up until 2016, and still haven’t completed repayment of the loan, anyway.

As for the accusation of dividend payments, that was a farce as it turned out. The club has held onto a policy of no dividend taking, up until the man got full control (now, we can’t know and shouldn’t care since he owns the club, entirely, in effect). At the start of 2014 year, a £3m payment to one of his companies for Advisory/Consultancy services was seen by the AST as him taking out money and though the club defended it as a mere token considering the extent of beneficial consultancy services (re-jig of our commercial play, expansion of sources of revenues, Data analytics, new fan base build-up, etc.) received from the company, the payment was stopped.

Fact is Stan Kroenke has defied the naysayers and stayed the course, respecting the club’s philosophies and values, in the face of growing pressure to become a sugar daddy owner. I have always felt, if and when the times call for it, he is unlikely to hold back personal funds to support the club. The fans need to give him a chance. Sorry, that was a bit long but I have had to make this case to someone years back and assured him we will have successes under this owner, if we stay patient.


By TA / Goonereris

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

David Luiz and Rob Holding: Emery’s Ideal Cure for Arsenal’s Aviophobia


images (1)

There are a lot of Arsenal fans who have gone as far as demanding that Emery should abandon the tactics of playing out from the back. They want goal kicks lumped forward. I sympathies but such fans are only over responding to their fears of the moment, seeing only the moment instead of the larger picture. If the tactical and statistical advantages of playing out of the back are better understood, the fears of the moment becomes easier to manage.

Study has shown that about 70% of plane passengers fear to fly, but are able to manage their fear because they know that the odds are very much in their favour. For example according to the US Census Data one’s chances of dying in a plane crash is 1:205,552. Note that the chances of dying in a car accident is 1:102. Yet we feel so cosy inside cars, so cosy lumping the ball forward.

In statistics, models are built on large samples. For example in the two matches played so far this season we have taking 21 goal kicks (terrible compared to City’s 8). At that rate (I believe it will come down) we would have taken 399 goal kicks in the PL by the end of the season. That’s potentially 399 playing out of the back. Brace up for it, there’s likely going to be two or three crashes but the benefits from playing out of the back would overwhelmingly outweigh the cost. Already this season Adrian and Ndidi of Liverpool and Leicester respectively have blundered but Klopp and Brendan Rogers are never going to begin to lump the ball forward. In modern football, lumping it forward as the go to is nothing short of a car crash.

To understand the science behind playing out of the back you have to look at the whole field. We have a goal kick. Auba and Laca, ever drifting into spaces, stay on the shoulders of the opposition back line. Even though we normally play out of the back, the opposition knows that any moment Leno or Luiz or some one else could go long. Therefore they put at least 3 men on Laca and Auba knowing that 2 on 2 is bad defending.

In our box area the opposition would have 3 players (usually) pressing our 2 central defenders and a central midfielder, but we have a 4th man who is not an outfield player, Leno. That means we always have a free man to pass to. If one of them decides to press Leno, then one of our 3 outfielders engaged in playing out of the back is free. We now have 3 of their outfielders against 2 of ours around our box.

Sum the numbers at their defensive line and at our box area and we have 6 of theirs engaging 4 of ours. Automatically in the middle patch of the field we have 6 players against their 4. That is a whopping 50% overload and that is the name of the whole game: overload in the middle, easier transition.

50% overload at the middle patch of the field for 399 times in a season from goal kicks would fetch many goals. So it’s easy to discount the 2 or 3 that it would cost us and to discount the nerves. Nobody knows the flight that would crash not even Pep the Master, but what the master knows so well is how sweet the odds are.

No doubt one of the big reasons Luiz was acquired is to bring the calmness and the confidence that are essential to that process to the team. These days defenders must be good with the ball at their feet, calm and assured in their passing of the ball. That is exactly why Holding is being missed, not because of his tackling numbers or his pace. The lack of it is also why the guy with the our best defensive numbers is out in the cold. People wonder about Mavro. He is fantastic defensively but they say he is nervous with his passing. The coaches are working hard on him.

By road or by air? Get me a flight ticket please.

By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 43 Comments

How Arsenal Can Beat Liverpool: Auba-Pepe Attack, Ceballos AND Mesut, Mustafi RB

This is a quick and dirty post to discuss how we can beat Pool in Saturday. I like to get your tactical views and ideal formations: the more the better!

I watched the Pool v Chavs game last Wednesday and saw the West-Londoners making it really hard for the Champions League winners. How did they do it? By placing a solid wall of three ALLROUND midfielders in front of the defence and keeping the side-doors – especially the one on their left – firmly shut.

If we want to have a chance on Saturday Arsenal will need to do  the same. Klopp’s Liverpool (but also his predecessor’s) love nothing more than combining through the middle and open up opponents for fun. If that is not so easy they will happily go the flanks, and especially their right flank, where an Egyptian football pharaoh rules the land, is the go-to-area. The difference between us and the Chavs is we have some awesome firepower to cause the Pool defence some real worries, and so, if we play it well, have a real chance to get something from this game.

The line-up I would pick is:

Ceballos-Xhaka-Torreira protect the defence when Pool pushes us back into our own half. As soon as we got the ball we have the midfielders to pass our way out of the press OR put one quickly over the top to the hungry horses of Auba and Pepe (or Laca – whoever is the fittest on the day). Key is also to play Ozil in the hole who can hold up the ball for our midfielders and attackers to move forward and find that killer pass easiest of all. If Ozil is not available, Ceballos can pay in the hole and Willock can partner Xhaka and Torreira in midfield.

The full backs have to play at the highest level and I would  go for Mustafi for this one. As a full back I reckon his occasional mistake will harm us less, but in terms of energy and experience he is just ahead of Ainsley for this cracker of a game.

Over to you!

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 46 Comments

Arsenal v Burnley Player Ratings: Two BK MoTM Awards

Another hard fought win against a team that is likely to end in the bottom six by the end of the season. There were plenty of individual positives to take from this game and the biggest one is of course the three points, but it had me also quite worried, especially with big games v top-six contenders coming up.

Zeldzaam goede seizoenstart voor Arsenal in wederopbouw

We struggled playing out from the back all game long and this was mainly to do with the lack of cohesion in midfield. Nobody of Guendouzi, Willock and Ceballos was playing the Xhaka role and it showed. The Clarets had 18! shots – two more than Arsenal – in an away game of which five were on target (Arsenal had nine shots on target though).

Emery also saw a need to improve things (as per his post match interview with the BBC): “We didn’t control the game as much as we wanted. We need to improve. Each match is giving us a lot of information. I think we can do better. We lost some easy balls at times, but in general we can be proud of our first match here“.

Luckily, Emery instructed our players to push up and keep Burnley as much as possible in their own half during the break; so our second half, as so often with our new manager, was much better. This meant we had to play significantly less build-up footie from the back and that suited us, given the absence of both Xhaka and Mesut.

For the usual observations I have not got too much to add to the ones of last week – and in the below player ratings you will still read a few – but one thing is clear IF we play like we did v NU and Burnley we will get punished mercilessly in the two upcoming games.

Leno: 7 – less calm than usual but with the aerial threat of the Clarets and a new CB in front of him this was to be expected.

Nacho: 7 – captain today and a decent defensive performance. Worked hard to be involved in all areas.

Luiz: 8 – Man of the Match (together with Ceballos). Good positioning and calm but extravert leadership of the defence. Must have been quite shocked with our lack of dominance and limited passing ability in our own half. But his experience and positivity made a difference and for me he was our best player on the pitch.

Sok: 7 – Had to work hard especially v aerial menace Barnes. I expected more joined leadership with Luiz from him but Big Sok put in a performance and helped us in keeping the damage to the one goal.

Ainsley: 7 – similar to Nacho’s performance.

Willock and Guendouzi: 6.5 and that is me taking into account their age. They tried hard and both had good moments but failed to dominate the midfield and allow us to pass out the ball from the back in a controlled way. This is of course a new partnership and it will take time to flourish, but today it was below par and the main reason we struggled against Burnley.

Ceballos: 8 – Man of the Match (together with Luiz): worked hard to connect midfield with attack and help out in deeper midfield. He clearly enjoyed himself with some fine Santi-esque twists and turns and wonderful ball control. He also had two assists which will do him really good.

Nelson: 6.5 – very unlucky not to score (assister Nacho ruled offsite). Clearly a work in progress and we need more penetration from him but I liked his work rate. Missed Iwobi today.

Laca: 7.5 – scored a superb, individual goal and worked hard.

Auba: 7.5 – same as Laca.


Pepe: 7 – keen to get involved and some fine ball control and passes to his fellow attackers. Needs to start a game soon.

Kola & Torreira – 6. Didn’t see enough of them to comment.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 61 Comments