Sunderland Review: Szczesny & Sagna our Fiercest Warriors in Impressive Team Display

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We always knew Sunderland would be a tough, physical matchup considering their track record of being a solid defensive squad, and the pointless International friendlies that were scheduled midweek.  Fortunately, Arsenal were able to escape the Stadium of Light with a much needed three points that catapulted us over Everton to fifth place before their clash with Manchester United later today.  This game was a true test of our character since we had to weather out the storm for 28 minutes with only 10 men.

Before the game even started, we were thrown a curveball with Koscielny not feeling well and Sagna having to deputize for him at the CB position, with Jenkinson filling in at RB.

The first half began with strong physical play from both sides, with both Cattermole and Jenkinson making some careless challenges resulting in yellow cards.  The physical play continued throughout the half with Sunderland players targeting Jack and Theo at every possible opportunity.  It was a pleasure to see Ramsey, Jack and Arteta respond with some physical play of their own and take down some Sunderland players in the process.  Arsenal was full of attacking intent and we came at them with pace and astute passing that broke down their defense on numerous occasions.  As Sagna pointed out in an interview with Arsenal.com earlier this week, the free flowing nature of our attack often leaves us susceptible to counter attacks, and Sunderland had a couple quality chances themselves to get on the board.  Theo was particularly dangerous with the ball at his feet and Sunderland seemingly stood still and watched him, as he easily maneuvered around their defense and created a few quality scoring chances.  However, Mignolet was looking like he’d be impossible to beat after making some fantastic saves and us being too wasteful in front of goal; we were all left wondering if this would eventually come back to haunt us yet again.

Fortunately, after several missed chances, Santi was finally able to give us the lead in the 35th minute on a fantastic cross crease strike.

The second half started exactly how the first half finished, with both teams trading chances and plenty of physical battles.  Jack left the field in the 50th minute after being fouled by N’Diaye and it was more of a precautionary measure by Wenger, since he had played a full match midweek vs. Brazil.  Twelve minutes later, Jenkinson fouled Sessegnon after he was beat and collected his second yellow card of the game and was sent off the pitch.

From there, Sunderland took the game to us and continued to challenge our defense and threatened to score.  Steven Fletcher had the best chance to equalize on a clear one on one with Szczesny but was denied by aggressive play from our stopper.  Sessegnon gave us trouble on both flanks all game and had a few quality chances to score but some poor decision making kept them scoreless.

Theo had the best opportunity to give us a two-goal cushion when Santi sent him in on a clear break, but the post denied his chip shot over Mignolet.  Arsenal was able to hold onto the clean sheet and the crucial three points, thanks to some outstanding saves by Szczesny and headers/clearances by Giroud, Mertesacker and Sagna late in the game.

Player ratings:

Szczesny (9.0) – My MoTM and the main reason Arsenal were able to keep a clean sheet.  Szczes was certainly the difference maker today as he made 6 quality saves, with three late in the game (Fletcher one on one, in addition to Fletcher and Bramble headers).  Good aggressive play on challenging shooters and jumping for high balls in our 18-yard box by our young keeper.

Monreal (7.5) – Nacho is already looking like he’s played with Arsenal for a while and adds stability to the LB position.  His phenomenal first touch on controlling balls in the air was there for everyone to witness and he made all the right passes and runs in the offensive zone.  Sessegnon did beat him in the first half, however he was trouble for us all night and the defensive lapse never even led to a shot on goal.

Mertesacker (7.0) – The BFG positioned himself well to make some great clearance headers at the end of the game and kept our back line well organized throughout the contest.  His one major mistake came in the second half when he cleared a ball right at Fletcher that gave him a clear chance to equalize.  Fortunately, Szczesny bailed him out.

Sagna (8.5) – I thought Sagna did a magnificent job filling in for Koscielny at center half.  He was very disciplined defensively and never risked his positioning by venturing forward to join the attack.  He added a nice physical presence in the heart of our defense and made some game saving clearances in the second half.  For me, he was the one of out best players on the pitch today, and it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll get another chance at the CB position.

Jenkinson (6.0) – In the first half, Jenkinson was very steady, joined the attack well and mitigated any risks by clearing the ball out when under pressure.  However, in the second half he was beat by Sessegnon on two occasions and one eventually led to his ejection from the game.  Both of his fouls were rightfully penalized and they were careless tackles that he could have avoided with better positioning.  The sending off put our team under a lot of pressure to come out with the three points and his rating is reflective of this.  He might deserve more of a break since it was his first PL start in a while, but I would have to like to have seen Jenks be more disciplined in his tackling.

Arteta (7.5) – Our squad is more organized when he’s in the lineup and he sets up the play from deep with astute passing and vocally dictating to players where the open spaces are.  On counter attacks, he would often aggressively challenge the opposition and concede free kicks to allow the rest of our team to catch up.  He effectively killed some time near the end of the game by holding on to the ball and not rushing the play up field for a counter attack.  However, he made one visible mistake when he questionably held on to the ball and lost possession against a pressing N’Diaye right in front of our back four.

Ramsey (8.5) – Has there been a player who has made greater improvements over the last few weeks than Ramsey?  Much like Arteta, he was aggressive in challenging the opposition on counter attacks, defended the RB position against Sessegnon once Jenkinson was sent off the pitch and ran up and down the field the entire game.  In the first half, he made some good penetrating passes in the offensive zone and had a great shot on goal that was met by a fantastic diving save.  His rating would have been higher had it not been for his wasted breakaway shot right at Mignolet just before the first half.

Wilshere (7.0) – He never really had the opportunity to settle into the game and establish himself since Sunderland’s focus was to foul him and take him out.  Still, in the 50 minutes he did play, he effectively drove our team forward and helped dissect Sunderland’s defense.  However, Jack uncharacteristically had some misplaced passes in the final third that led to quick counters for Sunderland in the first half.

Cazorla (8.5) – Santi was all over the pitch and his rest last week vs. Stoke seemed to rejuvenate him.  Our most dangerous player offensively, he was the main beneficiary of Sunderland’s defense zoning in on Jack.  He was given space to move around the pitch and played some dangerous balls in the final third and opened up Sunderland’s stingy defense.  His goal in the first half proved to be the match winner and his slick pass to Theo in the second half would have been a nice complement to the performance he put in today.  With that said, his shot over the bar near the end of the game was very questionable and it gave Sunderland one more chance to attack down field for the equalizer.

Giroud (7.5) – Defensively, Giroud did all we could ask for from a striker; he ran up and down the pitch to help out at both ends, pressured Sunderland’s defense to rush the ball up field and made some crucial clearances with his head when we were down to 10 men.  His movements were great as he got himself into prime scoring areas but his finishing left much to be desired.  He had a beautiful pass that sent Ramsey in alone and was involved in other dangerous link-up plays that led to quality scoring opportunities.  However, he was also at fault for holding on to the ball for too long and getting stripped, in addition to a few other misplaced passes that stopped our attacking momentum in the first half.  His decision to shoot (well over the goal) on a quick break near the end of the game, when he had open men to his left and right, thankfully did not cost us.  Hopefully Giroud’s finishing will improve in time for the critical clash vs. Bayern in the CL.

Walcott (7.5) – Theo’s darting runs with the ball really helped set the tone for Arsenal in the first half.  He created so many scoring opportunities for himself that it was disappointing to see him miss on all four of his clear scoring chances.  Much like Giroud, his lackluster finishing could have cost us on other days, but fortunately not today.  Even though he did not score, his overall performance was solid and he contributed an assist on Santi’s goal.  Also worth mentioning was that he honoured his defensive responsibilities today, especially when we were down to 10 men and helped Ramsey defend Sessegnon.-

Diaby (6.5) – He came onto the pitch at a disadvantage since we were down to 10 men, 12 minutes into his substitute appearance. It’s difficult to make an immediate impact coming cold off the bench and it was evident in some early give-aways by Diaby. As the game continued, he started being more careful with the ball and was involved at both ends of the pitch. His physical presence in the midfield was exactly what we needed to see out the one goal lead.

Miquel (Incomplete) – He made a late cameo appearance to help protect our one goal lead. It would have been nice to have seen him play more minutes to help discover if we have a quality fourth choice CB. I believe that had Jenkinson not been sent off and if we had been winning by more than one goal, he would have been brought on as a substitute earlier in the second half for Jenkinson, with Sagna being pushed out to RB again.

Final conclusions

With both Chelsea and Tottenham winning their home games today, it was vitally important to return from Sunderland with three hard fought points in the bag. Arsenal played a game of two halves, but both halves contained really good stuff.

In the first half, we were able to dominate play for large periods and create a number of fine opportunities, and some of our football was simply sublime. However, we were wasteful and only scored one goal which kept Sunderland in the game.

In the second half, Arsenal’s resolve was tested by the combination of Jack’s injury and Jenkinson’s sending off. We have often been questioned by the media and pundits if Arsenal are a club that has what it takes to grind out wins like today’s; there was a willingness to fight for every ball and defend our lead at any cost. All the players played well in protecting our lead, but a special mention to both Szczesny and Sagna who fought with pride for the shirt and led the team by example.

Arsene should now be able to rotate a few players for our game against Blackburn in the FA Cup. This means that some of our key players may be rested for ten days before our CL round of 16 tie with Bayern.

A good result today and perfect preparation for two important games coming up.

Written by: Highbury Harmony.

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84 Responses to Sunderland Review: Szczesny & Sagna our Fiercest Warriors in Impressive Team Display

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Gerry wrote at the back of yesterday’s match preview post (copied):

    Not a full review as I have only seen the extended highlights on Sky’s ‘First Match’ thingy.

    First impressions:
    Nacho – Welcome to the world of Gibbs: If Santi was deployed on the left to offer support, it was never going to happen?

    Wilshere – A risk playing him? If these ‘only out for 4 or 5 days’ turn out to be anything like previous statements to that effect, then YES! Not said with hindsight either. And yes HH, I had got it in my head that we were playing BM this week in my earlier comment, but still relevant for him and Kos?
    With luck he will be okay. Would we have won without his energy and drive, who knows? But that is what squad rotation is all about.

    Attack – For a team ‘parking the bus’ they had to rely on their goalie to stop the score being 0-4. We could go on and on about our strikers not being more clinical, and no doubt Sunderland fans will be saying the same, but some games are like that.

    Giroud for instance. He could have passed instead of shooting, shot at the goal instead of over or wide, and had players receive his passes … all of that today. It was that type of game. Hustle and bustle, snap decisions, but this is a guy who scored from similar positions in recent games, and played some perfectly weighted assists in that same period,? I do find some criticism a bit OTT regards his overall addition to the side. Remember also that he has hardly played with with Jenks and Nacho, and much of the play was in the crowded middle where he had 3 defenders around him at times.

    Midfield – I think Jack is missing a trick if he wants the Ref to notice he has been fouled – You know, do a triple somersault, a half pike, and at least three rolls screaming. That gets their attention? – But that isn’t Jack is it? Just sitting there, arms raised, means the Refs tend to think it wasn’t that bad?

    However, on his play, another story. I called him ‘the midfield driver’, and that’s what he did. I thought him and Santi took hold of the game in the best possible way. They found space where the wasn’t any, or shouldn’t have been, and should have been rewarded by more goals, but for the above. At least Santi has taken my previous comments to heart( I have such power in my dreams) and got his body over the ball when shooting, and got his superbly struck goal that even the mighty Ming could not stop.

    Ramsey too, had an excellent game. Perhaps he tired towards the end when he gave the ball away, but despite that, and his bad tackle, he stuck to his task even as a RB.
    I must admit, if I was AW, I would have brought on Miguel as soon as Jenks departed, and switched Sagna back. However, reading the stats on Sagna in the last 14 mins, Miguel may have found it hard to cope from a standing start?

    Ateta had another solid game. I got worried when Gra-Ham came on and they set up with two strikers (worried in the sound commentary – I knew the result watching the match!). But the team effort in thwarting all attempts on our goal was great to see. As was the celebrations at the end?

    Which brings me neatly on to Szcz – I have not been a subscriber to the thoughts that a back up goalie was high on our priority list, just to keep Szcz on his toes. He is very self critical, and today he showed not only is he a great shot stopper, but a great Gunner too. It meant a lot to him, and Bacary Sagna, who has also had his critics of late.

    That to coin a phrase, ‘is what it is all about’ …

    Gerry: thanks for a great comment which combines well with HH excellent match report.

    Re a back-up GK for Szczesny: some wanted such a signing to keep the Pole on his toes, but for me it is all today with back-up. Having the inexperienced, and not overly impressive Mannone and Fabianski as back-up is highly risky in my view. One significant injury to Wojcieh and we are fecked in my view.

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    Fantastic match review, HH!

    I know you wrote it quickly, but it does not show at all. It has depth and is insightful throughout.

    I saw both of MC’s lacklustre and disjointed performances against Liverpool and Southampton and they told me even more how important it is to have a fighting, never give up spirit in the team. Two ‘one-nil to the Arsenal’s’ against Stoke and Sunderland, by sheer team effort, hunger and pride for the shirt. We know there is quality in this team, despite the misfiring of our attackers in the last two games, and now we have steel and fighting spirit as well.

    The boys did us pride and bring on Blackburn and Bayern!

  3. VCC says:

    Good morning BKers.

    HH, that’s the best match report I’ve read all season.

    Spot on report and exactly right on ratings. I echo your highlighted two in Szezney and Sagna. Both were Trojans today and fought for the team. They have arsenal in their blood I’m sure.

    Although a couple of players were singled out as top ratings I thought the whole team deserve a big pat on the back after that sound performance.

    Montreal looked solid and performed his duties with assurance.

    Jenkinson looked rusty, as to be expected, but showed he is no push over.

    BFG gave a good performance.

    Sagna immense.

    Ramsey, deserves praise for performing well and taking one for the team. He plays wherever the Manager puts him and dosnt seem to complain. Fair play to him.

    Jack was the driving force while on the pitch and I thought we looked slightly disjointed when he went off.

    Santi the goalscorer. Excellent strike from a quality player.

    Theo, showing some steal in his make up. Although missed some gilt edged chances, I feel their goalkeeper has to take some praise for his positioning and performance.

    Giroud, worked hard for the team, but made one or two wrong decisions in the offensive areas.

    Arteta, Mr dependable as usual.

    Szezney . I love this guy. For a young goalkeeper he shows plenty of maturity. The fact he is a self confessed Gooner is good enough for me. Although some times a little wet behind the ears, this guy has the right phiseque (?) for a keeper and ensured we took the three points yesterday. I have watched Hart (MC) come through with England youth and recognised his talents, but IMO szezney has moved ahead of him. MOTM

    In summary, a well deserved victory for the good guys. Now bring on B & B.

  4. babakrdaemi says:

    For me the last 25mins wss a real worry. The defence was excellent. However, I think we were giving them two much space. I would have liked to see the wide players theo and santi closing down the midfield. We did invite the pressure a bit.

    However, it was a great win.

    Sanga was excellent as was nacho.

    Come on the gunners

  5. glic says:

    Morning Vagitarians 😆

    Fantastic report Double H. I`m going to have brekkies now, yes I know it`s a bit late, but I`ve had too early morning`s and fancied a lay in. I will watch the game on “player”, then give my usual technical tactical indepth analysis of about five words !. hahaha
    Apart from other thing`s, thats what I love about this site, there are plenty of people on here who do it so much better and it`s saves me time talking gibberish crap I dont know anything about, which leaves me time to talk gibberish crap about stuff I do know about !. ( even that is questionable ! ) hahaha

  6. Macko says:

    Hello friends 🙂 English
    One thing that I find this medium is about Arteta.
    Certe he directs the midfield but he enormously slows the speed of our attacks, he relaunched almost all its bullets rearwardly rather than do his job and try to distribute the ball intelligently.
    I found Ramsey very good at right-back.

  7. alexgunners says:

    HH,

    Great report. The boys did us proud by grinding out a win. Where in the past that may not have happened. Yes we need to improve offensively but a well organized defense is half the job and we did that well yesterday.

    Sagna and Szcezny was awesome.

    Glic,

    Enjoy Brekkie, I must say your comments are absolutely priceless. The avatar does suit you.

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Good comment VCC, and all agreed. 🙂

    Morning Glic, Macko, VCC, Alex and baba 🙂

  9. glic says:

    Thanks alex. My avatar suits me because it is me !. I`m not a real person just a cartoon character !. hahaha

    Well that was most enjoyable. First half awesome , should and deserved to be out of sight, great football and so pleasing on the eye, they needed us to be down to ten men to make it a fair contest. Jenkinson`s second yellow was no worse than anything I saw Sunderland players do throughout the match !.
    I dont know what any of you think , but I thought Sunderland were pressing us hard, the same as quiet a few teams do against us, but with hard work and higher tempo we can still out play teams, we just have to work as hard as them and I think this showed in the first half. If we work as hard as other teams, then our better technical players will eventually be too much for the opposition.
    Thats enough technical talk from me, the thing is, when I`m watching a performence as in our first half, I just sit there with a smile on my face, marvelling and just watching the ball being pin-balled about, it really is how football should be played.
    I`m now going to watch MotD and see what they say.

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Hahaha Glic, just as I thought ‘oh boy, Glic must be ill he is being soooo serious’, you wrote ‘that’s enough technical talk from me’! 😛

    Really good comment though and good to see you highlight the beauty in our game during the first half.

  11. glic says:

    Hahaha Totes, you know me, I`m usually only technical with my imagination of ” Award Winning ” Ideas.
    I thought I had another “Award Winning ” idea the other day. I was alone in the house playing silly buggers with some bubble wrap, when I thought, ” Genius !!!…. bubble wrap Y-fronts !!!…Insulating, cushioning, no detergent easy wipe clean !”.
    So I took a pair of the wifes Y-fronts and used them as a template and made a few, using heat sealing seams. I put them on and hey presto, stylish, comfortable and due to the magnifying effect……. made my hampton look bigger, straight away my mind was ahead of me thinking, bubble wrap budgie smugglers, bubble wrap mankini`s and the ultimate for those of pre-mature ejacution symptoms…….bubble wrap condoms !.
    I sat down in my bubble wrap Y-fronts and proceeded to watch a porno, thats when I found the flaw in my idea…..pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop,pop.

  12. Ain't Got A Kalou says:

    Wow Highbury Harmony, you rushed that article? It’s miles better than any report I could do and was exactly how I saw the game!

    Very impressed with the overall team effort, we need to win these ugly type of games more often. Gutty effort from our defense and we’ve won 2 league games in a row now! Can’t believe how quickly Sagna adapted and his versatility will be a huge benefit for injuries and/or if AW wants Jenkinson to start.

  13. Ain't Got A Kalou says:

    Or did Total Arsenal mean he rushed in posting it? Either way another quality article for a top notch site!

  14. glic says:

    Good news, Santos has joined Brazillian club Gremio on loan !.

  15. Gerry says:

    Happily it has all been said, so I can keep this very short, for me at least?

    Yep, top review and it does make the depressing days fade that much quicker. They were asked a question, and they answered the call heroically.

    Sagna could indeed extend his playing at centre back, but I just hope he gets to extend his contract before too long?

    It was so strange seeing Per away from his normal side, but he looked assured as ever. Should they ever try out the triple back option, he looks well suited down the middle?

    TA – Thanks for the headline comment reprise. I know I go on far too long most times.

    Not today though ..

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Glic 13.48 hahahahahaha 🙂 Genius my friend, simply fecking genius 😛 😀 😆

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Ain’t GaK 🙂

    Fully agreed on Sagna – at times I felt I was watching Sol Campbell: his positioning for advancing danger was brilliant and his timing in the air, as well as his upper-body strength, were awesome. He and the BFG seemed very at ease with each other as well…..

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    Gerry, excellent point about playing only three at the back with Sagna included. I would love to see more of Sagna as a CB this season anyway.

  19. Highbury Harmony says:

    Gerry, excellent comment from yesterday, glad to see we more or less saw the game the same way! Also thanks for the kind words about the article :).

    Hopefully Jack is alright because he’ll be integral for the CL if we have any hope of getting past Bayern. He definitely should be one of the players to get a rest vs. Blackburn in the FA Cup. Ramsey, Sagna, Szczesny and Santi were all fantastic yesterday and the difference was in seeing a complete team effort in defending the lead. Szczesny is quickly showing everyone why he’s considered one of the best up and coming keepers in the world.

  20. Highbury Harmony says:

    Alex,

    Cheers for the kind words and reply!

    All agreed, these are the types of games we need to persevere and win more often! We are a team frequently known for miraculous comebacks or conceding late goals. We had a few games earlier in the year where we grinded out wins and championships are won by the teams who still manage to win even when they are outplayed (not saying we were outplayed yesterday by any means).

  21. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA,

    Thanks for the praise, I always want to give my best effort in writing for your fantastic site!

    Definitely nice to see us win two PL games consecutively against teams known for their stingy defence. Lots of positives to draw from as it was a tale of two halves; first half was pure Arsenal, free flowing football and the second we effectively formed a nice defensive shell with deadly counter attacks. The players’ exposure to versatility in strategy will only benefit us in the future since I hope we’ll be defending leads more often than constantly trying to outscore our opponents!

  22. Highbury Harmony says:

    Glic,

    Cheers mate! I always look forward to your acclaim and the humorous content of your posts :).

    We are certainly more talented than teams like Sunderland, so it’s nice when we see our players perform in that manner and come out victorious. Glad you enjoyed the overall team effort we displayed yesterday, and I’m really hoping you come out from behind that sofa soon and see the games while they’re live on tv!

  23. Highbury Harmony says:

    Glic @13:53,

    That is great news! Hopefully that means Meade will get his chance with the first team. Unfortunately, it certainly means that he’ll be up against Bayern in the CL – talk about a challenging, pressure filled, meaningful debut…

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi HH,

    If we can add clinical finishing on a regular basis to yesterday’s ability to create as well as grind out, we’ll go far with this squad. It was also good we were able to rest Pod yesterday, who started for Germany on Wednesday.

    Fingers crossed Jack is indeed ok, and agreed we should rest him on Saturday.

  25. Highbury Harmony says:

    Hi Macko,

    Always enjoy your input, thanks for commenting and stopping by :). Ramsey did a fantastic job of marking Sessegnon at RB when Jenkinson was sent off and he was running down the field to join the attack the whole second half too!

    In reference to your comment from yesterday, Giroud presents us with an interesting situation. I agree with you and feel as though his finishing is not good enough to lead the line if we’re to win a championship, but he offers a lot in work rate, heading, holding up the play etc. Theo and himself also complement each other very well, but it’s my preference to have one player who can do what both do instead of compensating by having both on the pitch.

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi HH, I reckon TV will play at LB against Bayern, unless unfit of course.

  27. Highbury Harmony says:

    Hi TA :),

    What are your thoughts about my predicted line-up vs. Blackburn?

    Szczesny
    Sagna-Koscielny-Miquel/Mertesacker-Monreal
    Coquelin-Diaby
    Rosicky
    Ox-Giroud-Gervinho

    Giroud needs to get on and could benefit from the confidence in scoring vs. Blackburn next Saturday, before we meet Bayern. Jenkinson would have ideally started, but he crippled us with his stupid sending off and will be suspended for our FA Cup tie. If Sagna gets injured before Bayern or from playing too much, Jenkinson’s suspension will look even worse (only just realizing the repercussions for us). Coquelin needs a game out to get fit and Diaby and Rosicky need some playing time.

    Mertesacker may get a rest and perhaps we’ll see what Miquel has to offer us as a 4th choice CB. Monreal obviously starts since he can’t play midweek vs. Bayern in the CL. I assume Szczes will start since goalies always need to game time to stay sharp and focused.

  28. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA,

    Forgot about Vermaelen, I assume Meade will then be his immediate back-up in case of injury.

  29. Highbury Harmony says:

    Kalou,

    Haha thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed the post-match review!

    Isn’t it interesting to see us win in a manner different from our typical style of play? I was surprised at how quickly we adapted to the change of pace in the second half, especially after we went down to 10 men. Kudos to our team defensive effort!

  30. Highbury Harmony says:

    VCC,

    Thanks for the extremely generous high praise!

    All agreed with everything you said and we often see the game and player performances in the same light :). Also, glad to see you come around on Giroud a bit; his finishing certainly let us down but he always puts in a full effort and cleared the ball on a few occasions late in the game. Another victory next Saturday will bring us to 4 in a row, so hopefully this run of consistency will continue!

  31. glic says:

    Hi Girlz 🙂

    Just by chance, I came across a different kind of Arsenal blog, being an unreal cartoon character myself I quite liked it !. What do you think ?.

    http://arsenalcartoons.com/

  32. glic says:

    Archive. One of Ozzies first pre-matche team selections !.

  33. glic says:

    When nature calls !.

  34. glic says:

    Dont know what happened there !. Oh well I`ll just describe the image, basically it was Arsene pissing on a Spud shirt, I`m sure you can imagine that !. 🙂

  35. Highbury Harmony says:

    http://www.goal.com/en-ie/news/3908/main/2012/08/03/3284368/cartoon-of-the-day-wenger-attempts-to-turn-van-persies-head-with-

    I found this cartoon to be funny at the time, that is before the man now known as van Judas left us…

  36. Highbury Harmony says:

    hahahaha Glic that historic prematch selection was hilarious

  37. TotalArsenal says:

    HH wrote:

    “What are your thoughts about my predicted line-up vs. Blackburn?”

    Szczesny
    Sagna-Koscielny-Miquel/Mertesacker-Monreal
    Coquelin-Diaby
    Rosicky
    Ox-Giroud-Gervinho

    This could well be the line-up. I would like us to rest Sagna, as we need at least one experienced, fully fit R/L back against Bayern. Like you, I also would like Diaby to play. He was our weakest player yesterday, I felt; and he is due a really good, all guns blazing performance again. I also feel we need to rest Giroud, as an injury to him could really set us back against Bayern. So my line-up would be

    Szczesny (although a risk as well)
    Yennaris-Koz-Miquel-Monreal
    —–Coquelin—-Diaby———–
    ————–Rosicky—————
    Ox———–Pod——-Gervinho

    It would also not surprise me if Arsene would play Gervinho centrally and Arshavin on the left. If things are not working out he can bring on Giroud, Cazorla, Wilshere! 🙂

  38. VCC says:

    UMF 1 League up date.

    Weekly scores.
    VCC……………..6
    Rocky…………..5
    Herb…………….5
    Alex……………..4
    Oz……………….3 (1 result tomorrow to come)
    TMHT…………..3
    Total…………….3
    Henry…………..2
    HH………………2
    PPP…………….2
    GLiC……………1 (1 result tomorrow to come)
    Red Arse……..1 (1 result tomorrow to come)

    Overall leader board.
    VCC……………62
    Herb……………57
    Henry………….53
    Total……………50
    PPP…………….50
    HH………………46
    Red Arse……..46
    Oz……………….46
    Rocky…………..39
    Alex……………..34
    TMHT…………..33
    GLiC…………….26

    Overall leader and still Yellow jersey wearer is VCC..

    Its open to the floor regarding next weeks games. If everyone wants to include FA Cup week that’s fine, or we can have a week off.

    Please relay your thoughts.

    Cheers again all for participating in a bit of fun at week ends.

    Stay safe and have fun.

    COYG

  39. VCC says:

    Total 19:08.

    The only change I would make to that line up is Manone instead of Szezney.

    Wenger will never make that many changes though unfortunately.

  40. TotalArsenal says:

    Good call on Mannone, VCC. I guess he needs a game badly as well, and at home against BB should be ok.

    I don’t think Arsene can afford not to make a number of changes. We need a good result against Bayern in our home game and therefore our best team, fully fit.

    I reckon it is a small advantage that we play them first at home, as a good result can give us something to build on in the return leg.

    Thanks for the UMF update. We need Red Arse back to do his own predictions to give you and Herb some competition! 🙂

  41. TERRY MANCINI'S SOLICITOR says:

    Nice stuff HH

    I agree Chesney and Sagna were magnificent. The whole team played well, apart from poor old Jenks. Why go to ground when your already on a yellow? this is just what the follicaly chalanged Oneil needed to get back into the game

    Oneil put us under severe pressure but we held strong. Also in the first half Oneil employed a rotational fouling policy that realy got on my nerves, but once again we stood up to it.

    Some people like Oneil, i dont.

  42. Highbury Harmony says:

    Interesting line-up TA, after you criticized my original suggested line-up from a week ago with too many inexperienced players hahaha! Is Yennaris going to make it with Arsenal? I guess the Blackburn game would be a good run out for him and there are enough talented players up front to counter the inexperience at the back. We’ll likely be asking the back four to be very defensive anyway and I love the idea of resting our top players.

    Do you think AW will give Pod a run out against his former team that he still has something to prove to? If he plays vs. Blackburn this weekend, I doubt he’ll start vs. Bayern. My biggest concern is Robben terrorizing Vermaelen on the left, he just doesn’t have the pace or one on one ability to stop him in my opinion but we’ll see what happens. Gomez, if healthy, will also terrorize Kos and Mert with his size and skill; we all know how poor our track record is against strong, big strikers. We’ll also need Theo to be responsible defensively as Lahm and Ribeiry love to run down the wings in a relentless attack.

  43. Highbury Harmony says:

    Terry,

    Glad you could stop by today mate :). Thanks for the kind words too!

    I agree with your little recap, Jenkinson’s 2nd foul was just so unnecessary. He was cleanly beat near the byline and at most, Sessegnon could have crossed the ball but we had adequate cover to defend that. He’s really hurting his own game time because he was likely slated to start vs. Blackburn this weekend too.

    I don’t like O’Neill either, the guy looks like he’s a creepster who should be working at a laboratory or library. His tactics are stale as hell and several players under perform while he’s in charge. I was hoping he’d be sacked when Sunderland were in the relegation zone earlier this year.

  44. TotalArsenal says:

    All good question H2! 🙂

    I have seen Yennaris play a few times, and I would not hesitate at all playing him against Blackburn. Playing Sagna would be quite risky in my view. We need him to be fully fit to deal with Ribery.
    0 m
    On the left, we could indeed have an issue with Robben v Vermaelen. As Vermaelen would next to Koz, I reckon he will get plenty of cover, but it would also ask a lot of our two DM and our other CB. Vermaelen’s experience would be key, and I reckon Pod would give good support as well. So for me it is Vermaelen (or Koz).

    Yes, I would play Pod centrally. He did not play this weekend and playing him 60 minutes would be a good warm up; otherwise he would come into the Lederhosen game too raw.

    Key question for me against Die Lederhosen is who should play next to Arteta. A fully committed and confident Diaby should be our first choice, but I reckon Jack will be pulled into that position to give the disciplined defensive cover, which means a big, big game for Santi as in pulling the strings of our attack!

  45. TotalArsenal says:

    O’Neill loves the sound of his own voice. You can tell from the way he answers questions: a self-celebrating twat! 🙂

  46. VCC says:

    Total….we do indeed need Red Arse back selecting his teams to give Herb and myself a run for our money.

    There’s still time for some one to make a late run on the rails.

  47. Highbury Harmony says:

    VCC,

    If you spent more time writing articles than making your selections each week, perhaps you wouldn’t have to worry about evening the UMF playing field hahaha ;).

  48. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA,

    I would prefer Sagna not to start as well and just had him there due to a lack of an alternative, since I just wasn’t sure if Yennaris would get the call up. If he does, I’d certainly start him over Sagna so he can rest for Bayern.

    I agree with you on Pod, and now that I think about it, he didn’t really play much against Stoke either. If he started against Bayern, aside from the International friendly, it would be asking a lot of him since that’d almost be three weeks without playing a meaningful game. I think him-Giroud-Theo will help push the attack forward more and we’ll need some more scoring up front since we seem to thrive on scoring by committee.

    Santi as the creative attacking mid seems to be our only option, though we all prefer Jack there instead. My issue is where does Santi play if Diaby is on form? Diaby’s the perfect complement to Arteta and Jack is the best at driving our team forward at CAM. Santi’s good on the wing as an extra creative outlet but lacks pace and the combo of Giroud and Theo are not clinical enough yet to compensate for him not being a natural finisher.

  49. VCC says:

    Harmony…..I’m hoping to do an article soon. Must do some research and hopefully get some time on my hands and bingo,

  50. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi H2

    If Diaby is in form, we should play Santi on the wing indeed. Yes, he is not a typical winger, but he combines so well with everybody and he would work things out with the wingback (not against Bayern though, unless he is deployed on the right with Sagna).

    We need Pod to play against Bayern, and he would add a strong element of clinical finishing, agreed. So the top-four would almost certainly be Pod-Giroud-Theo with Santi right behind them! And Wilshere can drive from the back! Bring it on..

  51. TotalArsenal says:

    Great news VCC, looking fwd to your future post! 😛

  52. VCC says:

    HH….Wenger might surprise us all and start with Pod up front with Theo and leave Giroud on the bench against Bayern.

    I want Jack to play in the attacking mid field position, and take it to them at home and give us a chance in the return leg.

    Straight from the start we must impose our game on them and not be too fearful, although the left back position is causing me concern.

  53. Highbury Harmony says:

    VCC, I was only kidding mate! But, I am thrilled to hear that you will be joining a fine and distinguished list of authors at BK – I can’t wait to read your article :).

  54. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA,

    My biggest fear is deploying Santi on the right with Sagna. It’s a tall order to ask anyone to help Sagna defend against Ribeiry and Lahm. There’s just so much pace and skill between the two of them that it’s just scary. Santi is known for being very astute and sneaky defensively so who knows, it could work!

  55. Highbury Harmony says:

    Teams outside of the Bundesliga have a terrible track record when playing in Germany, so getting the three points at home is a must if we are to have any chance of making it to the next round.

    LB also concerns me too…it wouldn’t be as much of a concern were Nacho not cup tied, but Robben and Ribeiry on the wings is just a nightmare.

    It would be interesting to see Pod as our central striker since he has been ineffective when deployed there so far this season. If he starts centrally vs. Blackburn we’ll see if he can get on form as a striker and carry it into the game vs. Bayern.

  56. Highbury Harmony says:

    That last comment was for VCC by the way!

  57. VCC says:

    HH …we need Bayern to worry about us at home and not vice versa.

    I really think we have enough offensive armoury to give them a battle. Who knows, if we get an early goal we could just surprise a few punters.

  58. Highbury Harmony says:

    I made a mistake, Sagna won’t be defending Lahm on the right. It’s worse than I had originally thought…Vermaelen will have to deal with both Lahm and Robben!!!

  59. Highbury Harmony says:

    VCC, I don’t think Bayern are very worried about us in general hahaha. Granted, anyone can win in a tournament and they’re obviously not going to take us lightly but we really don’t fare well against them (on paper of course).

    If all are healthy, their likely starting line-up is:

    Neuer
    Lahm-Boateng-Dante-Alaba
    Martinez-Schweinsteiger
    Kroos
    Robben-Gomez-Ribeiry

    Subs: Starke, Badstuber, Van Buyten, Gustavo, Shaqiri, Muller, Mandzukic

  60. TotalArsenal says:

    HH,

    I thought you ask the question in a more generic way. Yes against Bayern, I would not put him on the wing as my first choice.

    My Lederhosen line-up:

    Sz
    Bacary-Per-Laurant-Thomas
    ——–Mikel—–Jack————
    ————Santi——————-
    Theo——Ollie———-Lucas

  61. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA,

    Am I being realistic in my fears against Bayern or perhaps a little too pessimistic? I just do not like the sites of Robben, Ribeiry and Lahm on those flanks!

  62. Highbury Harmony says:

    sights*

  63. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA,

    I was asking in more of a generic way, but against Bayern I would certainly not play Santi down the wing as you have stated in your line-up.

  64. TotalArsenal says:

    HH,

    You are doinig it again: projecting your own fear onto us! 😛

    There is no doubt that Bayern are worried about playing Arsenal. Their track record against English clubs is not that brilliant at all, and they know that Arsenal will not fear them at home. The team you put out does not impress me anywhere near as much as it does you. If we have the first-11 fit, as per my preferred line-up, I reckon we will give them a proper match.

  65. TotalArsenal says:

    Their wings are strong weapons and they are also strong through the middle, and of course that is a worry. But Arsenal play a great brand of footie: their own footie. And at home, we should be able to put our game onto them. Bayern have shown against your German favourites Dortmund that they find our sort of football hard to deal with. Let’s keep the ball, pass it and use our attacking weapons as good as possible.

    Like VCC said: let’s get at them from the start, just like we did against Milan at home: full power, and with the home crowd behind us.

    Bayern are regarded the favourites, and that might suit us very well. Let’s go and enjoy ourselves and show the Germans what Arsenal are like! 🙂

  66. VCC says:

    H x 2.

    I think you are doing Arsenal a massive miss justice.

    While I agree on paper Bayern look extremely impressive, we cannot dwell on their players. We need to give them a few head aches with our star players.

    We have an Express train in Theo. An attacking midfielder in Jack that can precision pass into Theo or Pods path. A maestro wizard in Santi who can pull their defence all over the place. Add to all that, there’s our boom boom howitzer Podolski.

    Early goal and we can cause an upset.

  67. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA and VCC,

    Perhaps I am under rating us a bit, but not at any point this season have I been able to look at our squad over a consistent period of time and say, “this is a team that could beat anyone”.

    TA, you mention that Bayern struggle against BD’s style of play, but even this year they were still able to pull out a draw (controlled most of the game and were leading but BD tied it in the 74th minute). Their wings are miles better than ours and if Gomez is healthy, their attack force is much more potent and clinical. Neuer is a top 3 keeper in the world for me and Lahm is a world class fullback, perhaps also one of the best. Fortunately, Badstuber will not be available, as I forgot about his torn cruciate ligament suffered against BD.

    Bayern dominated the game against Chel$ea last year in the CL but were unlucky with Drogba’s late equalizer and to lose in a shootout. If we have that amount of luck, perhaps we can pull out a win, but it’s one thing to hold a lead over Sunderland and another to hold one against Bayern. I just don’t think we have the personnel to defend their attacking players. Kroos has also been outstanding this year and has had a revelation of sorts being deployed in the hole.

    We’ll see what happens though as we have quite the strong midfield ourselves in Jack, Diaby, Santi and Arteta. Our front three and back four don’t match up though, which concerns me the most. If Szczesny continues his outstanding form, he gives us a chance to win on any day and we all know anything is possible!

  68. VCC says:

    H x 2.

    No worries against Bayern.

    Theo will get a hat trick, Podolski will chip in with two and Arteta will convert a penalty. Szezney will keep a clean sheet for our return in Germany.

    Now where’s that nurse with my pills? 😉

  69. VCC says:

    Nite nite all. Hablo pronto.

  70. TotalArsenal says:

    I can see where you are coming from HH, and you might well be right. I am more worried about the quality of refereeing (especially in the away game – think Barca away) – and about dirty tactics by the Germans: targeting Jack for example by fouling him a lot and trying to get him send off.

    I think you are wrong about our attack being weaker than theirs, but we will have to see when the games are played. Of all the players, the one I am most worried about is Arteta. This is a big game for him and he might be overwhelmed. Hope not of course, but this will be the biggest game in his career. A beast of a DM would have been very welcome against Bayern…

  71. TotalArsenal says:

    Good night, VCC, Sweet dreams! 🙂

  72. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA,

    I will agree that our attack can be as good as any as a collective unit and it’s a team game so there is some hope that we can pull out a win. What I meant to say was that as individuals, our front three is nothing compared to Bayern’s. I’m not saying Giroud, Podolski and Theo aren’t good, but we’re dealing with a different class of players in Robben, Gomez and Ribeiry. It’s a good thing games are not won on paper or through complete individualism (although sometimes it appears it works that way for some teams hahaha).

    Arteta is certainly a fear for me since he’ll have to adjust to the speed and pressure of their midfield, but you haven’t even gotten to our back four. We can’t even defend the likes of City, Chel$ea and Manure who easily have weaker wing players than Bayern. That is my greatest concern! Kos and Mert are too inconsistent and suffer from far too many mental lapses in the middle of our defence, but I am hoping that perhaps they are set to hit some good form and consistency. If we had been able to sign up a proper DM and a CB, my fears might be reduced by a large margin :).

  73. TotalArsenal says:

    A different class in what way?

    Our boys have managed 44 goals between them in 95 games this season: Theo 18/30 games, Giroud 14/34 games and Pod 12/31 games.

    The Bayern trio a mere 13 goals in 50 games this season: Gomez 5/12, Ribery 5/25 and Robben 3/13.

    On paper, it is should be a doddle! hahaha 😛

  74. TotalArsenal says:

    Koz and Mert started both for their countries in this week’s friendly against each other. I share your concern, but on the day, both can play brilliantly. We will need them to against Die Lederhosen!! 🙄

  75. TotalArsenal says:

    Looking at Bayern’s stats the two to look out for are Muller (15 goals in 28 games) and Mario Mandzukic (20 goals in 30 games).

    Anyway, off to bed now.

    Our next competitive game is always the most important one and that’s against Blackburn, and they won’t make it easy for us, I reckon.

    Thanks for great match report, HH, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday. 🙂

  76. Highbury Harmony says:

    …Gomez is coming off a fresh injury and Ribeiry and Robben have never been noted as prolific goal scorers, you’re completely missing my point. In terms of footballing skill, they’re in a completely different class. Theo, Podolski, Giroud could only dream of having the blend of pace, skill, dribbling, first touch, passing, ball control etc that they have. It’s not even close, stop overrating the those three. They’re good on they’re day but no one in the world would select them over Robben-Gomez-Ribeiry in terms of skill.

  77. JM says:

    It would be Muller on the right flank of Bayern Munich’s starting line-up. Robben has barely featured in their line-up. If not Muller, it would be Shaqiri.

    Neuer
    Lahm-Martinez-Dante-Alaba
    Gustavo-Schweinsteiger
    Kroos
    Muller-Gomez/Mandzukic-Ribeiry

    Subs: Starke, Rafinha, Van Buyten, Tymoshchuk, Shaqiri, Robben, Mandzukic/Gomez

    Boateng (suspended for next 2 CL matches – ie against us), Badstuber (injured).
    Therefore, they are likely to play with Martinez partnering Dante & Gustavo coming in alongside Schweinsteiger. It is still a strong line-up, though their defensive options on the bench will be weakened.

    Muller and Ribery are 2 of the most in-form wide players in the continent this season. (Averaging 7.87 and 8.51 ratings every game played).

    Bayern has not been defeated in all competitions since 28 Oct 2012, this season.

  78. Highbury Harmony says:

    JM,

    You are correct, I have not been following the Bundesliga as closely this year and I just read a couple articles on most of your observations on Bayern. Shaqiri has a knock from what I remember and has not featured for Bayern the last two weeks and may be out for the CL clash against us. Boateng’s suspension certainly helps us, but Muller and Ribeiry have been fantastic for them this year. Bayern loses a lot of pace on the wing when they play Muller but he’s class and similar to Santi makes up for it with his smart positional play, passing, creativity and finishing.

    Bayern’s record is substantial and we have to keep in mind how amazing they were in their CL run last year too. They have significant momentum on their side from Oct 28 2012 as per your stat too.

  79. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA,

    Forgot to mention, there’s nothing wrong at all with your optimism :). I just like to temper my expectations so I’m not left with massive disappointment!

  80. Macko says:

    Hello Friends English
    I am am in agreement with TA, I as well would leave Sagna on the bench and even our Giroud hou hou (the Beatles).
    Yenaris, Gervinyou, Ox, rosisky can take over.
    The important and winning :). plus we have a week of rest;)

  81. TotalArsenal says:

    Bon jour Macko 🙂

    You can come again! haha 🙂

    HH, I was just winding you up a bit with those stats. I know that Bayern have very good players, and my expectations are medium, not more. But, but, but, I do think you are seriously underrating the qualities of Pod, Theo and Giroud. Well, let them do the talking, I’d say! 😛

  82. Gerry says:

    Damn It TA, I was just about to join this debate!

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