Time for a Break



Bergkampesque is having a break.

After six and a half years of blogging, it is time for a break. A blog takes a lot of time and effort and there are a few other things I need to focus on.

Thank you all for commenting and writing blogs on Bergkampesque over the years – it’s been a pleasure. 

I will decide over the coming months whether to restart the blog again, but for now it is au revoir, tot ziens and goodbye.


Best wishes and COYRRGs!


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How Franz Ferdinand Can Inspire Arsenal in 2019 |Line-Up v Fulham

Happy New Year fellow BKers!

See the source image

See the source image

I was ‘at the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve street party’, so they told us, at the foot of the wonderful Edinburgh Castle – one of the world’s most beautiful city-settings, I am sure you’ll agree. Tickets at £75 a head, taxis double the price, buses triple the price and two cans of beer, a red wine and bottle of water an eye-watering £22… but it was totally worth it.

The Hogmanay party had two highlights: the fireworks which were simply godly and Franz Ferdinand’s 1.5 hour fabulous performance on stage. I didn’t expect too much from FF, but boy did they give a show on the night: true entertainers who live for the music, and, all together, performed ‘in the moment’! Going since 2002, so 16 years and counting, and they still love to be on stage; and that happiness gave us all a buzz on the night. Alex Kapranos, Lead Singer, kept asking us ‘Are you with me, Edinburgh?’, and yes we ‘were with him’ all the way.

It made me think again that what’s is so important in anything that is being done by humans, whether it is serving food in a restaurant, driving people from A to B, managing an organisational change process, operating on a patient, selling fish from a market stall, performing on stage, or indeed, manage a sports team, is threefold: focus, energy/joy, and team work. Talent/know-how help too, but most things can be learned through hard work, education/training and tenacity; and relying on talent alone will not get you far. Without focus, energy/joy and team work there will not be real success, it will not be very enjoyable and you will not be adding much, if anything. to the job at hand.

And that is what I would like to see at Arsenal – on all levels – in 2019: focus, passionate commitment and VCC.

Yes I like some new good players too, but let’s not believe too much in shop-therapy. Just look at Manure and you know we cannot just buy ourselves out of a ‘crisis’.

Despite some personal irritations about Unai’s team selection and handling of players, I have no doubt that Unai offers Arsenal all three aspects in abundance. He is focussed: knows his targets, knows how he wants to play and knows what needs doing to make progress. He has tons of energy and really, really enjoys managing our club: his energy is infectious and he lives for football. And he is also a real team player even though certain players do not seem to fit into his team for the future, which is natural when a manager takes over.

Fact is it is going to take time. But let’s not forget Unai beat the Spuds already, we drew at OT and got close to winning there, gave Pool a real game at the home of football and could have won that one too, and we had a 23-game unbeaten run and are just a handful of points behind the fourth-placed Chavs (who were a bit lucky to beat us in the second game of the season). These are all signs that Emery has what it takes to make our club great again… eventually.

As JW1 keeps reminding us perspective is required, and we, as considered yet passionate supporters, need to trust the club and Emery and be patient in 2019. I have been critical about some of Unai’s player choices and decision making until now but am also aware that he is leading the troops from the front, and I am not. It takes time to reach a true crescendo of fireworks, and let’s see where Emery will take us in (just) 12 months from now.

Line-up for today’s game?

Hard to predict but this is of course a must-win so I expect the strongest possible team out (with the exception of Ramsey who has his head turned by five ‘big’ clubs who have a space on the bench for him to keep warm apparently – the sooner he sods off the better).

My line-up would look like this:

submit football lineup

Let’s get the job done in the first half/60 minutes. Play with the strongest team and aim to score three before half time. High tempo, crisp passing, good movement, Ozil as the conductor (aligned with composer Emery), Auba with focus, Laca to get the service he deserves, Iwobi to do the penetration, Xhaka-Torreira to boss the midfield again, and Nacho to bring back balance on the left side and in defence.

We got a kicking at Anfield and nobody likes to experience this. But real winners don’t doubt themselves too long and definitely don’t become all self-deprecating. No they get up again, lick their wounds and go and win the next game.

Hope 2019 will bring you health, happiness and joy/success at whatever you do.

By TotalArsenal.

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Arsenal at the Crossroads? The January Window


Arsenal’s ‘Russian Dolls of Evolution’

We need to delve into the market for the right buys. At the same time these group of players we have should be able to give us more. There is this feeling that they are stuck in gear 1 afraid to venture. Its all sideways and backwards and two meter passes in our own half. However there are some players who have the right heart.

GUENDOUZI …  the youngest but the bravest. He is always searching for the penetrative pass. He wants to be the protagonist. He is so keen to take it to them. No wonder, in spite of his inexperience, Emery loves to play him.

LACAZETTE …  is an angry man on the field. That is a right attitude. This team needs fighters. I mean the fight that is a fight for the ball and for a win. Emery should play him more often. Without him to engage the defenders, Aubameyang is a lonely and fairly ineffective man.

TORREIRA …  might not be the player that we hoped he is. Yes he’s got the garra charrua, plenty of it but his inability to run fast and particularly his small size work against the beast of a defensive midfielder that we have been dreaming of. In my thinking we still need to acquire that beast and one of it’s fallouts would be to liberate Torreira into becoming not only the team’s metronome but also the deep lying playmaker. There is so much intelligence in his use of the ball that he needs a more influential role going forward.

SOKRATIS  … the armband should be his for keeps. He embodies the fact that football is a serious business. He gets angry not dejected or nonchalant when things are not going right. It is easy to see that the players would respond to him. What the team needs to know more than anything else is that from the tunnel it is nothing else but hostilities. Papas would ram that message home.

There are one or two other names but these four represent the bench mark we should always aim for.

Liverpool walloped us 5-1. Give it to them. They are fighters. They fight for the ball. They fight for victory for the team. Individual egos have merged into the group will. When a player is substituted his faith in the larger design is evident. There is no sulking. No display of rebellion. No me, just the team. It is admirable and in these areas exist the main gulf between them and us. They are a wonderful orchestra under the maestro Jurgen Klopp who even knows how to play the willing Anfield voice. But it must be said that behind him are forces full of ambition. I salute the Fenway Sports Group, USA.

We are stepping into the January window. My worry is that our club is getting satisfied with just getting bye or just missing to get bye. The men at the top should be ambitious and bold and the quicker their response to the hard facts the better because our rivals are not resting on their oars. We start today otherwise tomorrow would be a steeper hill to climb.

We like to talk about the Liverpool three-year revival under Klopp. That is all fallacy. Mighty Liverpool have been in the wilderness for 28 years. That is the number that should be scaring us and it is that scare that should be fuelling our ambition. Do the men at the top have in them the penetrative passes of Guendouzi? Or would it be the sideways and backwards passes in the form of cheap nondescript signings? The January window is upon us. When the bell rings the ring shrinks and there will be no place to hide. We’d soon know if they have any fight in them.

By PE.

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Genius Ozil to Feed AubaCazette, Xhaka-Tor-Rambo to Boss Midfield: Pool v Arsenal Preview

Rest in Peace Peter Hill-Wood and thank you for all that you did for the club – including all the silverware and the new stadium. Our thoughts are with his family.

Peter Hill-Wood

Match Preview and Line-Up

Liverpool v Arsenal, forever a ‘classic’, is our second hard away game during the Christmas period, whilst our opponents tomorrow play their second home game in a row. The mood in that proud city could not be higher, now that Citeh has lost twice in succession and the red supporting side of this small city is becoming the favourite to win the title this season.


Time for World-Cup winner Ozil to play in the hole and get the respect he has earned

In recent seasons, Arsenal have struggled at Pool and there is every chance that we will be at the end of thrashing once again tomorrow. Having said that, Arsenal are only one of three teams not to be beaten by Pool, and it can be said that we could have won the home game. So there is some hope that Unai can get the tactics, team instructions and first eleven right and go home with one point, or even three points.

High confidence can sometimes lame a home team as we have seen so often during the Wenger glory years, and post-glory years. If we beat Pool and they then drop points at Citeh, we could even be back in the title race… but let’s not get carried away.

I guess our big issue will be once again the lack of quality in defence, further hampered by fitness issues: Monreal, Mustafi and Bellerin are all doubts for example (and Holding is out of course).

I have no clue how Emery will set up the team and who he will pick, but I reckon we have to play 3-4-3 – or 3-4-1-2 to be precise – to have a chance.

My ‘dream’ starting 11:

submit football lineup

Leno in goal but Cech would be good too. I guess Leno is the nr.1 now so let’s go with him.

A back three of Koz – Sok – Mustafi is ideal but it will depend on the fitness of Mustafi. I have a feeling he will be fit for this one.

The Wing-backs for me are Kola and Rambo, with both under strong instruction to be defenders first. Pool will press us into our own half and we need experienced players with speed and aggression (Kola) and good passing (Rambo) to beat the press and get the three front men into play. Rambo will also strengthen the central midfield which is key when playing Pool: we must not let them settle there.

Please let it be Xhaka-Torreira in the centre of midfield again. If not, I have no hope whatsoever for a positive result. This is not a game for the adventurous Guendouzi in deeper midfield.

Up-front it has to be harasser Lacazette to give the Pool defence something to worry about. We all know that Auba loves to run into space and that Ozil is the man to find space and spring the counter-attacks for us – and Pool will leave space behind their defence. Absolutely key is for Emery to trust Ozil and to give him a free role in das Loch.

Both Xhaka and Torreira can also quickly switch-over from defending to attacking, and if we start with Auba and Laca there is every chance that we will score at Anfield. Having said that, I would also be happy for Auba to come on in the second half and Iwobi to start. The Nigerian is good at controlling the ball in tight spaces in our own half and help us spring counter-attacks.

I think we would have a decent chance with the above team, subject to fitness of Mustafi. Will Unai have similar first-11 thoughts? Doubt it.

By TotalArsenal.


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Missing our Englishman in Defence | Why’s Emery so Keen on Guendouzi? Post-Brighton observations


mesut-ozil-unai-emery-aaron-ramsey-arsenal-gfx_1fe7nqjsqqaay1087jnx10o5im (1)

Against Brighton we had 68% of the possession. That domination is a farce. We had only 7 attempts on goal the whole of the 90 minutes. Brighton with 32% had 12 attempts.

We had 68% of possession yet in terms of territory only 25% of the action was in the opponents final third while 26% of the action was in our defensive third. Are we scared or incapable of transitioning the ball to the forward areas or is it part of our game plan?

Our deepest 4 outfield players(back line) of Lichsteiner, Sokratis, Koscielny/M-Niles, and Kolasinac had a total of 335 touches of the ball. Our 4 most forward players of Auba, Laca/Ramsey, Ozil/Iwobi and Torreira had 256 touches. That tells us where the dominating possession comes from.

If it is in accordance with our game plan then we are a disguised counter attacking team. As TA always says the whole idea might be to draw opposing players out to create spaces in their rear for our quick vertical thrusts. Nice idea but I wonder if the lack of a creative defensive base is a chink in the armor. Holding is being missed. He was by far our best creative passer from the back.

Such a game plan easily explains why Emery seems so eager to play Xhaka in the defence. He sees more of the defender when with the ball than when without it. That must be the reason too why Emery appears so keen on Guendouzi who actually plays as our deepest midfielder. He has penetrating forward passes. Unfortunately Douzi like Xhaka doesn’t know the first thing about defending.

Meanwhile I wonder why we bothered to bring in Lichsteiner even on the free: am yet to see the wise head. Chambers would have deputized better for Bellerin. Mainland-Niles who is so talented is too laid back and am beginning to doubt that he can rise to the top. He lacks that proactive quality that is propelling Guendouzi forward and that is visible in players like ESR, Nelson and Saka. I was so appalled when after he lost the ball in Brighton’s box, he chose to nonchalantly walk back as Brighton broke and this was in injury time. Yet his biggest weapon is his speed. Please don’t plead that I should forgive him. I confess that I never new that Bellerin is so cute.

Ozil can be enthralling and frustrating in equal measure but the most defining thing is that there is nobody around good enough to take his place. Iwobi replaced him at the interval and contibuted nothing. As for Kolasinac, he is the best today the worst the next day. Emery’s revolution would only have begun if the club exercises the will to make his signings this winter window. Luckily, we are still on the tail of the top four.
By PE.

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Time for Sok-Koz, Tor-Xhaka and Ozil-Guen-Iwobi to Feet Laca: Match Preview

Merry Christmas fellow Gooners!! 

images (2)

A big, big game today at the Amex stadium in beautiful Brighton. Teams will drop points over the next few games but with Pool away to come next, it is vitally important to take at least a point from the Seagulls, as we could simply drop too many points in quick succession from which it will be hard to recover.

A win would of course be best. It would allow us to go to the League leaders and play with confidence and a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude. And it would not surprise me at all if then we would get something from that game too. But OGAAT is the principle, so let’s focus on today’s game.

I have not seen much of Brighton this season but under Chris Hughton they are doing well, currently being nine points away from the drop zone. So with The Arsenal coming to town during the festive season, they can be themselves and play us with a ‘nothing to lose attitude’, which often does not work in our favour. If the boys once again start slowly away from home and we concede early, and the crowd get really behind the home team, this could become a difficult evening for us.

Luckily, we had our first ‘half-time win’ a few days ago and are likely to see Sok and Koz start today, which would give me confidence that the team will mean business from the start. Unfortunately, Xhaka is still likely to be played at the back rather than in midfield, and that would once again mean the weakening of both our midfield and defence. Xhaka-Torreira in the midfield is a MUST in games like these, but just don’t count on it my friends.

Up-front we still have options. I am really hoping that Mesut will play again. Furthermore, Iwobi is producing a lot of (almost) pre-assists and he scored during last game, so I hoping/expecting he will play too. Ramsey on the bench to bring something extra late on if required. It would be good to see Lacazette start and I would be tempted to play Auba from the bench late on. He is just as likely to score in those final thirty minutes or so as he is during the entire game, and we need him fresh for the Pool game.

So the desired – not necessarily predicted – line-up is:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx LENO xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
AMN xxx Sok xxxxxxxxxxxx Koz xxxxx Kola
xxxxxxxxxxxx Torreira xxx Xhaka xxxxxxxxxxx
Mesut xxxxxxxxx Guendouzi xxxxxxxxx Iwobi
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Lacazette xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Enjoy the game fine fellow Gooners!

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





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Southampton – Arsenal: Eight (mainly) Painful Observations

So there it is, we finally lose a game again. Did we deserve to lose? I guess the answer is yes. Here are my eight observations:

  1. With Holding out for a long time and Mustafi and Sokratis both suspended, Unai was left with little to choose from for the centre of his defence. He picked three at the back – Lichtsteiner, Xhaka and Koz – and played Bels and Nacho on the wings next to central midfielders Torreira and Guendouzi. This makeshift ‘defence’ was all over the place and we got hit by three goals the old fashioned way: ball goes out to someone who could put in a cross, they manage to do so and we get simply beaten in the air. It is like being killed of by a wolf, a bear and then a leopard whilst walking the woods around Loch Lomond. Unai will be fuming to see his defence beaten so easily: why was nobody trying to avoid the crosses into the box? why were we so unable to deal with the crosses?
  2. The good thing was that Koz held out for 90 minutes and fought with all he got. He was rusty and struggled with reading the danger in time, but with such little aerial support for Licht and Xhaka, I am not going to blame him one little bit. Welcome back, Kozzer.
  3. We all knew it would be hard to beat the Saints at their home ground, with their new manager refreshing things and they having kind of nothing to lose. In such games, we HAVE TO start with the right focus, and intensity and when chances come our way we need to take them. I thought we started quite well but failed to score from a decent opportunity, and then we conceded the first goal once again. Auba, my friend, you have to step up the intensity in games like these. We need you to really want to beat the defender and keeper and get that ball behind the line by hook or by crook. Today I missed that desire in you and you really should have scored once at least.
  4. Unai is desperate to get Guendouzi into the double-DM pivot and regulars here know how much I dislike that combo. Okay, sacrificing Xhaka for a CB role was a necessity for Emery, but I reckon it cost us. We lost our defensive discipline in midfield and as a result it became embarrassingly easy for the Saints to put balls into the box. The big question is: why didn’t Emery play Elneny today – not even as a sub? I reckon that was a stubborn(?) mistake.
  5. The 3-4-3 formation leaves three big gaps in the team: behind both wing-backs and between the central midfielders and the three attackers – the hole area. In theory the ‘wingers’ – Iwobi and Mkhi in this game – have the freedom to play in the hole. But they also have to provide width and support the lone CF, and so the central midfielders – Torreira and Guendouzi – are enticed forwards into the hole area. That is what I do not like about this formation. There simply is no option to play Ozil in the hole and I reckon we are much poorer for it. The only way to make it work is to push up high and keep the opposition in their own half, so the central midfielders can link up with the ‘wingers’ and find a way through the opposition’s defence. But that comes with the risk of being extra vulnerable to counter-attacks and one of them – for their third goal – cost us at least a point. My big point is, IF we are to play 3-4-3 we really cannot afford to split up the Xhaka-Torreira partnership, and I would have played Elneny in the centre of the three at the back (next to Koz and Nacho, with AMN as our left wing back).
  6. The big plus of the game – other than another fine performance by Torreira and Kozzer playing a whopping 90 minutes – was that Mkhi scored a brace. As soon as he changed shirts he was a different player, so I hope he will keep this one as his lucky away shirt and keep scoring goals for us. In the 3-4-3 formation it is so important that all three up-front carry a serious goal threat. Iwobi misses this at the moment and Mkhi is a bit hit and miss, but at least today the Armenian found the net with quality (and luck). I think it is criminal not to play Ozil anymore, and I reckon Unai is taking big risks with this apparent change in first team selection policy.
  7. Leno did not have a good game. Okay he was left exposed by the makeshift defence but his decision making was not great and I reckon he should have done better for the third goal. I love his agility and quickness of thinking but I reckon Cech would have been the better option today with both all the changes in defence.
  8. My final comment is that Unai will learn from this game and it may well influence his January player purchases policy. With Holding out for a long time and both Sokratis and Mustafi not overly impressing as automatic first choices, I reckon Emery must look at a super-quality CB to steady the ship at the back. And if he wants to continue with 3-4-3, he will also need to look at getting a proper winger who can put away between 12-18 PL goals a season. But first we have to re-group and prepare for battle with the Spuddies this Wednesday.

By TotalArsenal.

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