THE revolution Arsenal cannot afford to miss out on this summer

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It was back in days when Serie A was the strongest league in the world, season 1999-2000. Alessandro Del Piero only returned from a horrible injury and desperately needed a goal from open play. Referees in Italy – as you might know – gave penalties for bianconeri on regular basis, and Del Piero scored them regularly, but the problem was that he had failed to score from open play in the first 21 matches of the league.

Week 22 gave Juventus an easy fixture at Venice against Venezia. Del Piero scored a penalty in the first half and a strong Juventus side that included such players as Van der Sar, Davids and Zidane didn’t have a lot of problems to score a few more goals. Del Piero had two chances to score himself from open play but his team-mate Filippo Inzaghi took all the glory in both occasions – first he decided to round the goalkeeper instead of passing the ball to Del Piero, who would have had an empty goal in front of him – and the second time, after his first shot was saved by the Venezia goalkeeper, he scored from the rebound instead of passing the ball to Del Piero, who was in better position. Inzaghi himself completed a hat-trick, but those goals turned some Juventus fans against him – he could and should have helped Del Piero to restore his confidence, but his hunger for goals was stronger.

A real poacher is a bit selfish, it’s something that goes with jersey No.9 (and I don’t mean jersey No.9 that Khalid Boulahrouz used to wear for the Chavs), but Inzaghi went over the limits. Nobody can deny Inzaghi was one of the best goal-scorers in the history of Serie A, and one who actually scored important goals (like that lucky brace against Liverpool in Champions’ League Final 2007) worthy of trophies.

I have been very critical regarding our pre-season. If you ask me, it is rather unacceptable that we had had just one pre-season match with all our players, including three reinforcements signed in summer transfer window (it was against Koln, the very last match in which Van Judas wore a proper shirt).

It is totally unacceptable that we have spent most of our first halves this season learning how to play against our respective opponents. Whether it is a result of pre-season or poor match preparation/scouting of our opponents (I wrote before – all top players of our opponents have scored against us: Mata, Van Judas, Bale, Fellaini, Michu, Berbatov, Suarez), it has been frustrating to watch goals conceded due to individual errors (lack of concentration might be connected with poor physical condition, but that collides with the fact we have scored 18 goals in the last 15 minutes of our games), or chances wasted due to misunderstanding of our players in attack.

Now, we all know about our defensive record (which has been much better lately), and how 4-2-3-1 formation has worked much better for that department of our team, as well as the partnership that was formed between Mertesacker and Koscielny in the heart of our defence, but I haven’t seen too many words written or said about lack of understanding in our attacking department.

Most of criticism have been pointed at individual performances from Giroud, Gervinho and, to the lesser extent, Walcott. And there are things we should say about it as well.

Our attacking play has been too much one-dimensional when our strongest striker Giroud (despite his flaws, he is the best option we have for CF-role) has been the spearhead of the attack. We have relied on his flick-on-play too much, and the match against Blackburn might be a good example of how Giroud’s attempts to link-up with the rest of our attack fail. Our other attacking options lack physical abilities to cope with strong defenders.

Then, there is something that has happened too many times this season and what is the biggest reason I wanted to write this post in the first place.

How many times have we seen our players in attack waiting for the ball on the other side, and then just angrily raising their hands in the air due to lack of positional awareness of their team-mate, who picked the ball instead of playing “the dummy”? Giroud was usually doing this and that’s where he reminded me of aforementioned example of Pippo Inzaghi (which might lead us to the similar question that was asked regarding Inzaghi and Del Piero: what kind of relationship does he have with his team-mates?).

It would be unfair to jump on the Frenchman’s back as his team-mates act mostly the same when the ball goes inside the opponent’s box. Gervinho and Walcott have screwed up some of our counter-attacks due to desire to score themselves as well. Statistics can fool a bit if you don’t see actual things on the field. For instance, Walcott got himself an assist for Podolski’s goal against Norwich; what stats won’t tell you is that Walcott was dwelling on the ball on the right after Giroud’s flick-on released him (Walcott was offside), attempting to beat the defender and, when he was left with a tight angle and no free space, he decided to pass the ball to Podolski outside the box, who pulled out an individual effort to create himself a space and take a shot to seal our victory.

The worst part is that we have seen a glimpse of how we should play in that match at Anfield. There was a GIF-file after that match in which our players (I think Gibbs, Cazorla and Podolski) make a triangle on the left flank. I can’t recall of many triangles we pulled after that one.

Our players – with fine exception of Aaron Ramsey – tend to attack the ball, despite their team-mates might be having a better position after “the dummy”. In my humble opinion, Ramsey is a unique player in our team when it comes to this, and that’s one of the reasons I would like Wenger and/or his successor to stick with Aaron in years to come.

A brief look at the Premiership table would imply that there is nothing that we should be worried about regarding our attack. We have scored 65 goals (before match with FAnchester United) which is third best record in the league. 65 goals in 34 matches makes average 1,91 goals per game. Not bad at all. However, there is a problem when it comes to distribution of goals – we have scored 7 against Newcastle, 6 against Southampton, 5 against Reading (away), West Ham and Spuds and 4 against Reading (home). That means we have scored 32 goals out of 65 in just six matches. That leaves us with 33 goals in 28 matches or just 1,17 per game.

It’s obvious that we lack consistency as well as ability to score goals against top teams. Top teams are harder to break; relying only on individual efforts of our best players, and that’s something that we need as much as another top-class striker. One of the greatest Yugoslav and Croatian coaches of all times and one of the founders of Hajduk Split, Luka Kaliterna (also known as Barba Luka) used to say that it is the quality display that scores goals and not players, and that football is more played by those who don’t possess the ball than by those who do.

Watching recent Champions’ League matches in which German direct football (Bayern) dominated over the Spanish style of football build around ball-possession (Barcelona), and football built around automatic off-the-ball movements (Borussia Dortmund) dominating over direct football build around expensive world-class players (Real Madrid), was something that would make late Kaliterna smile, but also something that we should take note of, especially the latter example.

Borussia Dortmund had less ball possession against Manchester Oilers in Group Stage at Etihad, but anyone who watched that game will have noticed that they should have won with at least a three-goal margin (the very same Oilers that are second in English Premier League), despite only 39 % of possession.

Same thing happened against Real Madrid on Wednesday as Spanish giants had most of the ball (51 %) while Borussia enjoyed quality of possession. Their players have formed brilliant counter-attacks, and attack with triangles under Klopp, with off-the-ball movement and anticipation of their team-mates moves of the highest level.

It might have something to do with the current policy of German football in which Matthias Sammer has imported a philosophy of automatism from the very first football steps. His intention was to reduce the time with the ball to one second or less in order to fight against Spanish domination which was based on half-a-touch football. Marco Reus recently spoke about his understanding with Goetze (sadly, that partnership will continue only at international level after the summer), and how he knows where Goetze is without watching.

There is a new revolution on the horizon and it will be of the highest importance not to miss out of it.

Pre-season and match preparation must be focused on our players’ understanding on both sides of the pitch, as it might turn out to be the best weapon against all Abramovichs, Fergusons and Sheiks that have ruled English football since 2004-05.

I understand that there is a reason for commercial Asian tours, as Arsenal have been rather popular there as well, but even those tours should serve more to reaching tactical perfection and automatism than commercial purposes.

Written by: Admir.

 

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84 Responses to THE revolution Arsenal cannot afford to miss out on this summer

  1. Milo says:

    I loved the part about Luka Kaliterna, and what he had to say about football! It’s interesting to learn about genius’s that you have never heard of before! Not being very familiar with Croatian or even Balkan football, it was interesting to hear what he had to say πŸ˜€

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    Glic πŸ™‚

    Previous post: not being too kind at all: your work is great and it enhances the site tremendously – I am honoured to have you sharing all your creations with us. πŸ˜›

  3. Highbury Harmony says:

    Admir :),

    Fantastic masterpiece! I loved the references to both the historic and present events of football. What I loved was that you are cognizant of the fact that the sheer number of goals scored this season is not quite as impressive when you break down how undistributed it is and how much we struggle against the top sides. However, I did hope that you were going to allude more to how Arsenal would take advantage and learn from this revolution and if it was possible to with a fairly established in his ways manager like AW.

    With that said, I actually was just discussing this at the tail-end of TA’s article on Maureen! Bayern and BD both play a very purposeful brand of football that always looks to move forward (passing and movement) and is very direct. The players have established an extremely high level of familiarity with one another and innately know where each one will be, even when moving at full speed. The lack of emphasis on possession ultimately means less sideways and backwards passing; however it also means less wasted possession. Bayern take their scoring opportunities at full speed extremely well, just as there is no better team at counter attacking and forming triangles than BD.

    I think your article also leads to the discussion of how difficult it is to integrate new players into a side that have constantly been going through transition. At Bayern, only a piece or two are added each TW since the base of their team and style of play have long been established. Thus, playing an entire pre-season becomes less of a necessity for all their players. While an extended pre-season with all our players (new and established) would be extremely helpful, there would ultimately still be growing pains throughout the season if we transitioned too many new bodies into the squad and the starting line-up.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    HH πŸ™‚

    Good to see you in fifth gear again with some fine comments at the end of the last post and this one.

    All agreed on TSO – the post was just a bit of fun, but I know damn well he is a very good manager, just like an Audi is a very good car. πŸ˜›

  5. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, on a side note, why would Maureen get his teams to play beautiful football when he can win through other means ;). Also, someone has to take the dirty mantle of the villain in proving that there are ways to win outside of beautiful, flowing football (the latter which is slowly becoming the norm).

  6. malaysian gunner says:

    Fully agree with HH on BM direct soccer.Barca ,who people thought were unbeatable afew seasons ago,have been completely ripped apart.You see Arsenal play to a similar style like Barca.It;s pass and pass all day.This style requires time and space and unfettered access to goal.
    The problem is it can be stopped inits track by swift counters which the Germans have shown to beat the system.Hopefully Wenger,if he’s still around,will take cognizance of this.

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    The answer is simple: because his paymasters demand it. Beautiful winning football creates more income and kudos.

    What Barca did over the last four, five years, will not be repeated in a while, if ever, and Maureen will have to continue living in the shadow of this.

    Yes, he does make a great villain though, hahaha πŸ˜›

  8. Highbury Harmony says:

    What I’m saying though TA, is that Maureen will never be short of options of owners asking him to be their manager. Look at the Chavs, they fired him because he didn’t win playing beautiful football and look who came crawling back because they can’t win in any other way ;).

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    MG

    How quickly people forget the great football Barca produced. Remember that CL final against the Mancs – breathtakingly beautiful football and deadly as anything.

    Barca are missing Guardiola and if they can get the right manager, which Vilanova does not seem to be, they can continue where they left it last season. The players are still young (enough) and it will just take somebody to regroup them.

    Bayern have been great though – very powerful and well organised. Luckily, they face another total football concept team in the final with Dortmund and this team is brimming with confidence and focus.

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Totally agree HH, he is a trophy cabinet filler for those who can splash le cash and don’t really care how it is been done.

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Admir,

    Fantastic post compadre! πŸ™‚

    I have scratched my head many times this season re the lack of automatisms, triangles, communication and mutual awareness, or telepathy. What has been causing this: is it indeed lack of a proper preparation? Or did Arsene simple introduce too many players in one season in one particular area: our attack. A Frenchman, a German, A Spaniard; combined with An ‘Englishman who plays for Arsenal’, and The Gerv from Ivory Coast.

    There must be language and cultural issues. On top of that, all these players have to unlearn the things they knew, and try and understand, AND implement, the football philosophy of Wenger and Bould. Furthermore, I don’t see much warmth/camaraderie between them either at the moment.

    Add to all of this, Wenger still struggling with getting the best out of our midfield, and you can see why our team has struggled so much with fluency and effectiveness up-front, and it looks like a really big job for Arsene and Steve to make a step improvement with the team this summer.

  12. jgc says:

    Admir

    Great post. Not much to add, but I would note that for me the main point was that our attack lacks multiple dimensions or options or “looks”.

    To me the question is why? Is it:

    a. lack of understanding or gelling between players

    b. inadequate elements, i.e. not the right mix to succeed or a missing player?

    c. systemic failure as in not having the best formation for the talent and opposition?

    I would posit that it is less “a” and “b” than “c”. I think we have talented players who are not as well used as they might be. While we are missing a beast DM to drive things and lead the counter, another approach might work better for what we *do* have given Diaby’s woes. I think it is more our failure to adapt than a failure to have good players, which is where more of our discussion usually focuses

    Thus, too much (single) form and not enough function as a result …

    I think this is a bit “out there” but posit it to see the discussion even tho while I say it 100% I perhaps mean it only 50% and do want to see some new players.

    Thus, are we too wedded to one approach that doesnt suit the players who have remained fit?

    cheers and my 2p — jgc

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi jgc πŸ™‚

    Good to see you back on BK.

  14. Admir says:

    @Milo – the most amazing thing about Kaliterna is that he was born in 19th century. πŸ™‚ City of Split gave a great coach Tomislav IviΔ‡ who worked at Hajduk, Ajax, Porto, Olympique Marseille… Speaking of Croatian football, when our ex-player Eduardo Da Silva was playing for Dinamo and I heard he might be joining Arsenal, i was afraid how he would deal with physical demands of Premiership. One of the most controversial people in Croatian football late Stjepan SpajiΔ‡ – who was chairman of NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac – used to mock Eduardo calling him “Da Svila” (“svila” means “silk”). Unfortunately, Martin Taylor’s tackle proved my fear wasn’t unrealistic. 😦

    @HH – thanks! πŸ™‚ Statistics can tell you a lot if you know how to read it. You can also find funny and unexpected things – for instance, the biggest number of conceded goals this season in Premiership was against Fulham and Newcastle (three on each game) but we took four points out in those matches.
    Regarding transition – yes, that’s something that I also touched in my post and in some of my previous comments. Since 2010-11 in which we were competitive in all four competitions for the biggest part of the season we have sold five players from starting 11 (Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Nasri, Van Judas). Jack Wilshere said something regarding that – he found awkward to play alongside Arteta, Giroud and Cazorla after he returned from the injury. Before the injury, he played alongside Fabregas, Song, Nasri and Van Judas. I guess consistency on the field is usually a result of consistent policy off the field and, frankly, we haven’t had enough of neither of those in the last two years.

    @TA – I have watched football since 1989 when I was six (of course, I didn’t understand most of the football like I do now) and I have to say that – after this season – I divide the most dominant teams in two categories: before Bosman ruling and after that one. Ajax from 1994-95 are the best side I have seen in pre-Bosman era while Bayern 2012-13 have been the best after it. All three Barcelona sides that won Champions’ League in 2006, 2009 and 2011 looked much more vulnerable than this Bayern side.
    Speaking of Barcelona, they suffer due to lack of inspiration and their best players struggled to make anything worth of success. Iniesta totally ignored Pedro tonight when the result was still 0:0 and I haven’t seen too many players that are more rational and brilliant in the same time like Iniesta.

  15. Highbury Harmony says:

    Also, I would like to point out that I’m not convinced Ramsey has what it takes to be a top, top player at such a crucial position in our set-up. He’s definitely good and I admire his attitude and work rate, but his lack of vision, finishing, ability to play any type of pass, assertiveness in tackle and ability to run forward with the ball leaves much to be desired. His decision to pass the ball to Poldi (whether or not he was calling for the ball) against Norwich, ultimately cost us a 2-0 lead.

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Admir,

    Too early to say for me. Bayern, like Maureen’s Chelsea and Inter, benefit from clubs trying to play football against them. They soak up and pounce as soon as they can. If a half-decent team decide to play a bit more carefully/ conservative against them, as in fight them on their own terms – I reckon they might struggle.

    I don’t agree on the vulnerability of Barca in previous years though. Only a lot of bad luck could hurt them and sometimes, especially in a tournament, this can break any team up. I still don’t know how the Chavs got away with eliminating Barca last year….

  17. Highbury Harmony says:

    Jgc, instead of reacting to our opponents, why not be proactive and take the game to them? I think too often we become the victim of trying to wait out our opponents and patiently hoping for an opening that any little mistake is taken advantage of by the opposition because we are too complacent and reactive in our strategy.

  18. Highbury Harmony says:

    To all those who do not watch the Bundesliga often, their footballing style has always been furious and attack, attack, attack. It should come as no surprise that the Bundesliga is finally being recognized as the next super league now that the young talent is finally experiencing a coming of age.

  19. Admir says:

    @TA – thanks! πŸ˜€
    Well, Barcelona in 2012 had a lot of problems with their attack when Villa got injured on CWC and Alexis Sanchez hasn’t been a guy that cut mustard for them. In 2011, they were afraid of Walcott and were beaten by us in the first match. In the second leg, they needed Van Judas’ red card to break us. In 2009, they needed Ovrebo against Chavs but they indeed destroyed FAnchester United in the Final.
    This Bayern hammered Juventus 4:0 on aggregate and Barcelona 7:0 on aggregate and we are talking about teams that are going to comfortably win Serie A and Primera respectively. They have two weak spots – sometimes they don’t defend corners well (we gave them two goals after corners) and Alaba still lacks positional awareness which leaves their left side of the defense exposed (remember, Walcott made an assist for Giroud via right wing – not just the one when Giroud scored the tap-in but also that volley in the first leg that could have changed our luck).

  20. jgc says:

    Admir and other

    A note on comparing other teams in other leagues that has bothered me a bit lately…

    We do naturally a lot of comparison of teams and the players and performance that make them what they are. However, we never look at the team’s context.

    A critical thing to remember is that many of these teams in La Liga (Barca, RM), Bundesliga (BD, Bayern), etc, all have “limited competition”. They are dominant teams in a 2-3 team “oligarchy” that have a huge step down to the rest.

    The PL has much less of that, even with dominant teams they are not *as* dominant and the games are closer. Thus, we cannot necessarily “be” these teams without the (warning MAJOR heresy here) easier schedule between times.

    I.e. how much of their success comes from having “easier” leagues to help them both rest but also gel without that annoying tougher competition.

    cheers — jgc

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    Admir, the link between the two teams of your ‘Admiration’ – before and after Bosman – could have the same link: LvGaal… What’s your view on this?

  22. Highbury Harmony says:

    Admir, just wondering but was there any consideration to the fact that Bayern have plenty of top, top quality players that allow them to play a specific, direct and attacking style of play? With Ribeiry, Robben, Shaqiri, Muller, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Gomez, Pizarro, Mandzukic, Lahm and Alaba, there’s no surprise they can play with so much purpose and completely take over games! The difference is plenty of their players are committed to team defense and players like Ribeiry and Robben can completely take over a game with their ball control, dribbling, vision and ability to take players on and create space for others.

  23. Highbury Harmony says:

    Jgc, I also think what you’re not considering is that there are no real top teams in the EPL either. Even at full strength and fully rested, $hitty, Manure, Chavs etc. would be no match for the likes of Barca, Real, Bayern and BD at their best. The discrepancy between all the teams in the league has lessened not because the mid and lower table clubs have become better but because I believe those at the top have become complacent and have used other EPL clubs as a measuring stick opposed to the best in the world. Whether we like to admit it or not, the EPL is in a state of decline. However, it could be as you say that the decline is a result of the league becoming more competitive throughout.

  24. Admir says:

    @jgc – to the certain extent, you are right. Stronger league sometimes makes things harder for their best teams to perform in European cups (when Serie A had famous Seven sisters as title rivals between 20th and 21st century, their clubs struggled to make any result in Europe). However, there is a little problem regarding Premiership. It seems that the gap between champions and the other teams are getting bigger and bigger. For instance, Oilers won Premiership last season with 19 points more than 3rd placed Arsenal. In 2011, United won with only 12 points more than 4th placed Arsenal. This season, that margin will probably be even bigger.
    @TA – absolutely. Van Gaal made a foundation for today’s Bayern and proved he should be considered as one of the best coaches in the history. Perhaps his results weren’t always the best – after all, he failed to make an impact with Figo, Rivaldo, Kluivert and millions of Dutchmen in Barcelona – but his work is recognized by his former players (Ivica OliΔ‡ gave him a credit for today’s Bayern).
    @HH – you’re right. What I envy Bayern on the most are defensive midfielders and overall squad depth. They have Javi Martinez, Luiz Gustavo and Anatoliy Timoschuk for that one spot next to Bastian Schweinsteiger, arguably the most important player of their team. They have three strikers that fight for one place – Gomez, MandΕΎukiΔ‡ and Pizarro. Their flanks are brilliant – Lahm and Alaba, Robben/Mueller and Ribery which give them width while special player in the like of Thomas Mueller snatches every opportunity to find free space and score (Ljungberg-style). They have a lot of individual quality, that’s true, but this season it looks like they finally gelled with each other (remember, last season Ribery had beaten Robben).

  25. Mike says:

    huge problem comparing ANYONE in the Arsenal Squad with Inzaghi is that Inzaghi scored when he decided not to pass and be selfish. Arsenal needs MORE players that want to shoot instead of constantly looking for one more pass. Of course they also need to have the quality to make the shot as well. A classic example of just what Arsenal needs more of is Yaya Toure’s curled goal vs West ham in fact that game showed both sides of City’s attack first a great team goal with Aguero, Nasri and Silva all involved in what I would call a very Arsenal type goal BUT the second goal was ALL Yaya. If our deep mids could add a few like that to their game Arsenal could have turned more then a few ties to wins this past season. (JACK THAT MEANS YOU) Sure Giroud Could have scored more goals BUT apart from the top 5 of RVP Suarez Bale, Benteke and Michu our top goal scorers are within 2-3 goals and Giroud has netted just as many as Tevez and Aguero And Podolski as many as Gerrard. SO and both Walcott and Cazorla match ManU’s pervious top scorer Rooney. .What Arsenal Lack is the ability to get that all important goal when the front man is having a bad day ONLY Cazorla and Podolski have put up any decent numbers from midfield and really both have been played in the same position as well which I think part of the reason Podolski does not get more games or is used as a sub or the first to be taken off. Is that He and Cazorla like to play in that same space behind the forward both play left wing for their national team at the beginning of the season when played together Cazorla would be drifting left from central mid and pod drifting in until they were on top of one other it made for some tight little passing but also both at times got in each other way when ether alone might of had a shot on net instead their movement congested the defense and they resorted to little passes to each other trying to play in one or the other through very tight space in the end most of the time if they got a shot off it was blocked or the final pass simple not making it through as it was just to congested. ANd I mentioned earlier in this post It does not help when your Number 10 hardly even attempts a shot never mind score a few. Jezz Song was a DFM and he scored more golas and had more assists that Jack We’ll all love you shere. The most over rated player in the squad by far. If he si so great why does he not match Fellaini’s goal tally or Mata’s Assits tally in fact Jack Wilshere is not even in the top 20 assits or goals and HE wears the Number 10 for cripes sake.. Defensive midfielders and defenders have better goal and assist record then him. I’n sorry but his lack luster stats have to be considered at least partially to blame for Arsenal’s troubles this season.

  26. weedonald says:

    A very Good ,if flawed analysis Amir. There are some serious questions about Arsenal’s pre-season training and game regimes over the last 2-3 seasons. We have started poorly in these last 2 seasons and have had to play catch-up (which we did brilliantly) and this is likely due to losing some key elements in the off season and bringing in entirely different players who needed a lot of time to adjust to Wengerball.
    I remember Pele telling me (after an NASL game I officiated in) that it didn’t matter as much what you did with the ball, but much more what you did without the ball. Wengerball is all about possession, positioning, fast counter-attacks and total Football (a la Dutch model) but with the gap in talent now evident in the EPL, all of the above are getting much harder to achieve.

  27. weedonald says:

    I feel that BM,BD,Barca and Real all played a form of beautiful Football. The difference over two legs was that two teams failed to shut down their opponent’s attack, while the winning teams clearly muffled their opponent’s superstar players AND dictated both the pace and style of play for large parts of their games (with the exception of Dortmund’s 15 minute lapse in their 2nd game).

  28. Highbury Harmony says:

    WeeD, you’re right that our fast counter attacks have become non-existent, but is it a result of a gap in talent? My issue is that we’re not decisive enough on the counter and that our possession is too wasteful and not purposeful enough. It’s great to have 60-70% of the possession in a given game since it prevents the opposition from creating scoring chances, but not when you create as few scoring opportunities as we do.

    I think the talent is there to play more purposeful possession football, but unfortunately I believe our players lack the guidance and instruction to do so since AW prefers “expressive, flowing football”. Too often, we are stationary and watching the play develop, opposed to moving into space going forward and creating triangles to confuse the opposition. Also, our players have to stop being selfish and charging forward after making a pass, looking for the through ball to score goals.

  29. jnyc says:

    Admir, great analysis. I have been screaming all season, that it was suicide to add three new starters, all attackers, and expect to start the season strong. The lack of ANY pre season made me sick. Foolish and unrealistic. Something must be done about this. I dont care about these tours, send the kids on tour, and schedule matches with lower English teams who would jump at the opportunity. this will be better test for our starters than malaysians or chinese opponents.

  30. henrychan says:

    Great post Admir..

    But I don’t agree about revolution in our team.. Revolution means totally change.. and that will never be applied in our team..
    If We compare to a nation revolution.. that would means change of BoD.. the manager and his team.. even the ownership.. hehe..

    I prefer Evolution.. and that already done by Wenger for 16 years..
    We produce youngster.. and it should remain the same.. We create stars.. and it also should continue..

    After what happened to Barca this morning.. do we still need Villa or Sancez..?? Or Pedro.. or Tello..?? If any spanish players really need to bring.. then Vela and Campbell as our own players should be.. Fabregas only if under 20 millions..
    If We are looking for Germany.. don’t forget We already have some.. Eisfeld and Gnabry are stars to be..

    I want some Dutchman.. Arsenal just ain’t complete without one or two Hollander.. hahaha..
    So bring Strootman or Classie.. and swoop Sagna with van derweil from PSG..
    With Remy and Cesar from QPR.. that will be good enough..
    Sell 8 buy 4.. promote another 4 to 5 youngster.. it will be great.. hahaha..

  31. jgc says:

    Hi HH and Admir et al

    thanks for the comments HH, hard to tell whether it is decline of top teams or rise of others or just competition. I am not sure it is possible to tell. I would note that in US sports like the NFL the advent of salary caps and revenue sharing has made dominant teams and 10 year dynasties (eg Steelers and Raiders of the 70s and 80s) far less possible just as it increased competition week in/out. No guaranteed easy beats as it were. So, potentially some modest ammunition there to support my argument.

    However, you are correct that perhaps we dont have all teh best players anymore. Again though, are the players better at Bayern or BD or do they appear better because they are “less played”.

    I am certain there is no definitive answer, which makes it perfect for blog discussion! πŸ™‚

    TA: hi back atcha… hellish bits of work schedule lately so not as active on more fun reading..

    I would finally note that none of this solves our need, in my opinion at least, for more depth and to either:

    a. change how we play to fit the players we have

    OR

    b. add some players to better enable how we want to play

    cheers — jgc

  32. JM says:

    For Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and the rest of the Bundesliga teams, they have a winter break of six weeks (mid-December through to the end of January).

    This has been beneficial for their league’s teams that are competing in Europe, and especially gives significant advantages if they have a strong squad of excellent players, just like the 2 finalists in this season’s champions league.

    EPL has no winter break (and also a crazy winter schedule of domestic league and cup matches), while the La Liga has 2-3 weeks of winter break.

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    Morning all,

    Some fine comments last night. πŸ™‚

    Henry: agreed, we need a Hollander, but let’s get get rid of the ‘Dutch flag’ on our shirt-sleeves next season hahaha πŸ˜›

    jgc – always good to read your and 17HT’s comments: you both have a great overview of everything Arsenal which is reflected in your comments. I don’t think it is a or b, but a, b (as soon as possible) and c: a little bit of a and b, and ‘c’ would be a summer full of practice and team building stuff.

    There is also so much growth from within in this team: younger players getting a year older, experienced players entering the second or third year in the PL, great youngsters pushing at the door. Add a bit of quality and off we go! πŸ™‚

    Mike πŸ™‚

    You leave my little Super Jackie Wilshere alone! hahaha. Let me say this again, he is no ordinary nr10, but a feeder of three attackers in front of him, We are not playing 4-4-1-1; if that were the case I would fully agree with you. And the goals and assists will still come: we need him to stay fit though, which is a big worry for us.

  34. Gerry says:

    Great post, and fantastic replies. I can agree with a little or a lot of what everybody has said. The reason for that is, as IGC put it, there is no definite answer.

    I would argue more for AW than most though. I think it has been his philosophy to have ‘free flowing’ football moving forwards, more than the ‘possession style’ that Barca play.
    The (flawed?) model of ‘total football’ of the Ajax era was surely about all bar the GK moving forwards in attack? … and yes, anybody who was available doing the defending ..(the flaw?)

    I said after BM beat us at home that that was the team should model ourselves on, particularly with regards to getting ‘the team’ to get back from any attack breakdown to defend. By and large I think that is what we have been doing, and getting the rewards for doing so. Now you can argue whether AW should have got that over to the team at the start of the season, but the players failed him, or it took the visual display of BM in action that brought about the change in the players attitude?

    Without doubt the changes in key areas over the last few seasons has cost us that valuable intuitive gelling time amongst the players. And again, I think IGC has a point in reference to there being no easy games in the EPL. Particularly so with regards to our run in? They may look easier on paper, but it still takes the same amount of effort and concentration to win them?

    Then we come to particular players style that does not seem to work with others. Mike was harsh on Jack for his current form, which is way below his best of late, and carrying an injury does not help. But that does not disguise the fact that his position in the side is every bit as key as Ramsey’s is? Had we have bought Goetze where would that have left Jack?
    Cazorla is another enigma to me. At times he can be everywhere looking brilliant, and others completely ‘awol’, often in the same game? There is going to be a lot work done in getting in new players to play in positions that bring out the best of their abilities, and at the same time get the best out of those around them. Add to that, the squad as a whole has to develop an understanding that they can maintain the same momentum, even if it means a slightly different positional role. But as I have said before, much easier to do when the side is winning games.

    In short, see out these next three games, take a deep breath, and look forwards to a whole new ball game next season. Simples

  35. Red Arse says:

    Good Morning to you happy Bkers, πŸ™‚

    Excellent Post Admir, blending in historical, European and British football styles and cultures in an easy to read and absorbing way. πŸ˜€

  36. Red Arse says:

    It took me a while to read back through last night’s deeply knowledgeable comments, and there was so much in there that someone who knew nothing about football would end up a professor by the time they got through them.

    One item particularly caught my eye, and it related to the speed of our counter attacks, for which we were once famous. Perhaps I should have said the ‘lack’ of speed of our counter-attacks.

    My friend, TA, good morning to you, πŸ™‚ will want to beat me up for this, but I have gone from loving Theo (I watched his youth team games against Arsenal, and he was brilliant) to someone who does not know quite what to make of him.

    You see, he has blistering pace, and he finishes very well when he concentrates, and could be a world beater if he got his act together.
    But —— often he gets the ball in a break away, and instead of haring for the opponents goal, he checks back inside, slows the move right down, and then passes backwards to a slower team mate trying to keep pace with him.

    Theo will never be another Thierry Henry, but if he loses his caution and just remembers the damage Titti caused just from sheer pace in relevant circumstances, he could revolutionize his game and bring us big benefits.

    At the moment that is just not there.

  37. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    Hats off to you Admir…that was a quality read. Thanks

  38. TotalArsenal says:

    Morning Gerry πŸ™‚

    Good to see you back again. There is no defensive flaw in total football; if it is done properly – better to have all eleven defend than just four or five – a team will hardly concede goals all season.

    When does Cazorla ever go AWOL? As far as I see it, he is given a free role and boy does he do well in it (especially when started on the wing).

  39. TotalArsenal says:

    Gosh that is a Shark from the past! πŸ™‚

    How is life treating you, Sharkey?

  40. TotalArsenal says:

    Redders πŸ™‚

    Good morning.

    I am not going to beat you up over that at all. Theo is an enigma to me. Once he is in the groove, he can be such an effective player, but once he is out of it, he can go game after game without kicking a dent in a packet of butter (as the Dutch saying goes).

    Yet, he stats will be great again this season…

    But I must admit I have been disappointed in Theo since his return from injury. 😦

  41. henrychan says:

    TA..
    Our home jersey is either Dutch or France.. but I prefer Dutch.. hehehe..
    so.. because it present dutch flag.. then can’t be without one..
    No need to get rid of it.. better to ajust it with some ducthman.. hahaha..
    All we need is to get rid our deadwood.. that’s for sure.. hehehehe..

    COYG.. We are equal to the top team..
    And we all must remembered that we almost go to semifinal of CL.. and we beat Munchen at their homebase 2-0.. Barca lost 4-0 in Allianz.. and they lost again lastnight 3-0.. we only lost 3-1 in Emirates.. that make us better than Barca.. hehehe..
    We just need to be consistent.. And if wenger only change a little bit of this team.. then he could maintained consistency of the team.. we just need a killer striker.. if only we still had RvP.. then a lot of goal would already been made.. and maybe we already in second place.. hahahaha..

    And you know whom will I recommend to bring.. hehehhee.. Yes.. Wilfreid Bony..
    31 goal from 28 performed in Eridivisie.. compare to Jovetic only 12 goal from 27 performed at Serie A.. even Cavanni only score 23 goals.. hehehehe..
    Cheaper than Jovetic and Cavanni for sure..
    watch this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m35ht2Ex9zY
    or this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_fVd-Dx_eU
    Would it be nice altough we fail to bring Wilfreid Zaha.. we get Wilfreid Bony.. hahahaha..

    When I was child.. I sing this My Bony song.. hehehe..
    ” My Bony is over the ocean.. my bony is over the sea..
    my bony is over the ocean.. so bring back my bony to me..
    bring back.. bring back.. bringback my bony to me.. to me..
    bring back.. bring back.. bringback my bony to me..” hahahaha..
    If we don’t go for him.. some other clubs will.. and it will be an advantage for them..
    Liverpool and Chelsea are already move forward..

    I guess Sagna and Vermaelen is forsale this summer.. and of course our deadwood..
    Vela, Campbell and Miyaichi will return.. Frimpong and Coquelin will either loan or sell..
    And if we really get rid 8 unperformed players (Squillaci, Arshavin, Santos, Djorou, Park, Bendtner, Denilson and Chamakh) then there be a lot of space for our youngster to show off.. Hope it will happen.. Go Gunners..

  42. TotalArsenal says:

    Today is David Rocastle’s – Rocky – birthday and I share it with him: in fact, we were born on exactly the same! However, I have never seen him play, and if any of you who have seen him in action live, could tell me what he was like, I would very much appreciate it! πŸ™‚

    Out for a bit now.

  43. TotalArsenal says:

    Henry, I reckon Glic will have a field day with that song and your reference to Dutch and deadwood hahaha πŸ˜›

    Sagna and Vermaelen will go nowhere, I hope.

  44. henrychan says:

    TA.. do you mean today is your birthday..?? and so do Rocky..??
    If it so.. than congratulation bros.. Many happy return of the days..

  45. Josh says:

    Great article i’d love to see us invest in some strong, talented, pshyical german talent such Lars Bender who most in Germany think is better than his brother sven who plays for BD.

    Julian Draxler smart player who can create opportunitys from behind the striker or on either flank at just 19 he is also a massive goal scoring threat as he’s scored 11 for shalke this season.

    Also Rene Alder great leader on the pitch cobsistent performer and unlucky to be no.2 for his country as nuer is the best keeper in the world. These 3 german players with the addition of Jovetic or another top/world class player and centre back with leave us woth a half strong half trophy challenging squad.

    But most of all what i’d love would be that wenger tweaks his philosophy to in a way duplicate dortmund and bayerns set up and hopefully if carried out correctly could leave us looking a top top side without spending 40 million on players like the rest of the top sides in the prem.

    4-2-3-1
    ——————-ReneAlder——————-
    Jenkinson—Mert/newCB–Kos/TV5–Nacho

    —–Whilshere/Arteta–Bender/Ramsey——

    Walcott/AOC—SantiCazorla—-Draxler/Pod

    —————–Jovetic/Giroud—————–

    COYG πŸ™ŒπŸ˜‰

  46. VCC says:

    Happy Birthday Total……also Many thoughts of Rocky Rocastle too.

    I was fortunate to see him in the flesh on many occasions. One of the finest mid fielders Arsenal ever had. We could do with him in todays side. Quiet, unassuming and gentleman off the filed, but a true professional on it. Great memories, thank you David Rocastle. God bless.

  47. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Brilliant article Admir, very educational. Its fascinating watching different styles of play. We do tend to be rather open and sometimes i would like to see us overload a flank to break through, but hey, ime no coach.

    Happy Birthday TA. Hope you get that mechano set you said you wanted. hahaha

    Rocky was a legend. I remember one game in particular were i was in the west side lower and had a great view of his battle with Stuart Pierce. No quarter was given and some of the 50 50 chalanges between the two made me wince. It summed him up realy, he was incredibly skilled but very physical with it.

    I also went to what i belive was Rockys first start, against Villa in the mid eighties. We were going through a bad time, a lot of over paid prima donnas and the club had gone stale. i will never forget his performance, absoloutly outstanding.

    His performance that night gave me hope, in many ways he represented the resuurection of the club along with all the other young crop that came through with him.

    Man, i love that guy. God Bless Rocky.

  48. VCC says:

    UMF needs entries before 18:00 Friday please guys.

  49. Gerry says:

    VCC – Your wish is in my command … well as far as mine go:

    UMF sels

    Fulham v Reading – Away

    Norwich v A. Villa – Away

    WBA v Wigan – Away

    Spurs v S/hampton – Draw

    Liverpool v Everton – Draw

    It won’t match last week’s score, but may be close?

    Cheers

  50. Gerry says:

    TA @9.20. Is Total Football a bit like communism in so far as nobody has done it properly then?

    Your point about defending with eleven is exactly what I said in reference to BM, so I don’t disagree with you.

    As for Cazorla? Yes, may be ‘awol’ was the wrong choice of phrase. Less affective, in similar way to Walcott, is possibly more accurate? Whereas at times he can wriggle around two or three defender and play sublime passes, yet early on in games he can get caught on both counts.

    Quiet day on the racing front, but it is a quiet before the storm.

    Happy birthday. Don’t give too much cake to your Henry though!

  51. Glic says:

    Afternoon Pornocheyneyeds πŸ˜†

    Happy Birthday Pornocchio πŸ™‚

    Don’t worry, I have sent you some award winning treatment for the DED ( Dutch elm disease ). Which is caused by Sacomycota…..sac funghi…..so apply ointment to the scrotum and Henry will stop tea-bagging you !. hahaha

    Great post Admir. After years of trying tippy tappy, tikka takka or whatever you want to call it and winning f**k all are we now going to copy the Germans ?.

    Personally, I would like to see us cheat a bit more !. Being a cockney it comes natural to me.
    I wont even let my kids win at Snap as I hate losing. I will stoop lower than your great grannies nipples to win. I once put a contract killing on some bastard for beating me at Snakes and Ladders at Butlins Holiday Park !. I haven`t forgot either as I dance on his grave once a year ….bastardo !. hahaha

  52. Glic says:

    ############# Arsenal U21s Vs Scouse Gits U21`s, live tomorrow on Scouse Git TV @ 6:30pm, Sky Ch 429, it`s a free channel !. ##############

  53. allezkev says:

    Happy Van Der Birthday, Total… πŸ˜‰

  54. Glic says:

    Sorry, that should have been Ascomycota….not ….Sacomycota, although the latter sounds better to me and I`ve probably invented a new word !. hahaha

  55. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks for birthday wishes guys. πŸ™‚

    Also nice to read about Rocky and I really liked the video, VCC. How nice is to see somebody driving forward from midfield and score a brilliant goal from outside the box?!

  56. henrychan says:

    VCC.. here are my prediction..
    City and Arsenal away win..
    MU-Chelsea.. WHU-NU.. Norwich-AV all draw..

  57. TotalArsenal says:

    Gerry πŸ™‚

    Here is Ajax’ record in 1994-95 in Dutch league. Look at the games won, goal difference etc and you’ll see that TF can work defensively as well. They also won the CL that season, conceding just three goals during the whole tournament.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994%E2%80%9395_Eredivisie

  58. 17highburyterrace says:

    Great stuff here, fellas, and very apropos given the mauling handed out last night in Barcelona. It’s a time when many long-time observers want to make sweeping statements about teams and leagues and how to deal with the new realities. Nonetheless, Admir and the guy he quotes (new to me, I must say….) suggest a greater truth: football is a team sport and a good group of players playing together can create something special. It’s taken all season and we’re on a knife’s edge but Arsenal (results-wise at least….) are actually getting the job done. It’s a shame we dropped points, at home, vs Everton and ManU, but now, if we can hold our nerve, we have a chance to create a bit of a platform for the summer and next season.

    Like Admir says, doing so would be quite a revolution. Like it or not, the top level of football is being skewed by all the money in the game. The top clubs can hoard the best players by offering obscene contracts AND competitive opportunities. It’s a very rare player who can resist the idea of winning all the time, getting paid bundles of money and not having to “carry” his club through dark times. As such, at the very top, unless a collective can simply overwhelm finding super, super (super) quality to motivate guys who have already “made it” can be difficult. At the next level (ours) it’s hard to avoid selfishness as players are constantly auditioning for their next contract. Winning combinations CAN happen and look awesome in doing so. The flip side is that they seem to go stale very, very quickly and top clubs must constantly refresh with top talent who can produce when needed. Barca (Pep, in fact) are being judged for the buys they’ve made (including our own Cesc Fabregas….) who cannot step up when their holy trinity (Messi, Xavi, Iniesta) cannot answer the bell. At our level, as a top “selling” club, it may be more about purging those characters who’ve had their heads turned no matter how deflating (witness the guard of honour for RvP and runaway champions, United….) while pushing teamwork, teamwork, teamwork…..Not always easy if your supporters want results RIGHT NOW!….

    I’m in complete agreement about trying to integrate too much talent too quickly, esp. up front, and the example of Inzaghi and Del Piero highlights the issues with the three new boys, never-settled Gervinho and contract-holdout, I-wanna-play-central, Theo Walcott. I was at the Newcastle match and it was as unconvincing as a 7 goal tally could ever be, with individual moments of great play (Giroud should’ve had a hat trick too, and Ox scored a nice un-assisted goal….) overshadowing an almost non-existent sense of teamwork. Newcastle had played in midweek (at United, I think) and just couldn’t keep up on a night when (some of) our boys couldn’t miss….Still, I came away thinking, “That was nice, but nothing to build upon.”

    Already I’ve gone on too long and I’ve got plenty more to say….But I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves….

    Obviously, we need to do the business in these next three matches then add some key talent, ideally before the TW opens. Check that box and then we must have a successful July and August–resisting losing other players (TV5, BS3, anybody else?….) or replacing them decisively. I keep saying it, but I think two extra (high-pressure) games–the CL qualifier facing the 4th placed team–could work to our advantage. Yes, win, win, win (to close out the season)…. Then “win” over the summer break (with a good pre-season too) then win, win, our early matches in the league and a CL qualifier….That’s not too much to ask, is it?….

    Anyhow, plenty more to say, but I feel too nervous about the giant game against QPR. Hopefully we put more holes into their already sunk ship, but you never know….With all their players AND their cappy, he of the twitch (‘Arry Redknapp) desperate to jump off, we might see some impressive individual performances. Does Loic Remy want to join Arsenal? If so, should he put enough goals in so that we drop from the CL? Maybe RIGHT NOW is the moment for the revolution to begin and our “team” can dole out a beating on that group of talented individuals….

    Also (for those still reading….) Happy Birthday to TA and I agree with the Glic….about stooping down low and enduring some ugliness to win….Maybe I’LL have to hide behind the sofa for Saturday’s match….

  59. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi 17HT

    Mostly agreed, but I would love to avoid the CL qualifier games. They are knackering, nervy games and usually come with a cost in the league.

  60. Highbury Harmony says:

    Happy birthday TA!!! I echo the thoughts of others in not sharing too much cake with Henry hahaha :).

    Bit of a busy day, but I’ll be back on later to blog with you all.

  61. TotalArsenal says:

    Are you guys saying my devastatingly gorgeous dog is FAT? πŸ˜• πŸ˜€

  62. VCC says:

    17highburyterrace.

    A few days back you showed an interest in joining the UMF next season.

    There are two ways to join…=

    1) You have to donate an Arsenal season ticket to VCC….OR

    2) Free to enter.

    The choice is entirely yours πŸ˜‰

    Take part for the rest of the season as Gerry does, and I will count your scores in the weekly chart only. Give it a go.

    cheers…..VCC

    πŸ™‚

  63. 17highburyterrace says:

    I hear you TA….and, if you want your dog to look skinnier, he shouldn’t wear the dark colors…. (Does that require a smiley?….)

    A point I was trying to make about Arsenal is that we’re in a spot where we cannot really compete for quality in depth with the crazy money teams. As such we need to be resolute against the teams we can beat while trying to nip at the ones above us. IF we can finish out this season and IF we can make the moves to solidify the squad and at least somewhat mollify the support and IF we can have a nice pre-season with no big injuries and maybe some youngsters stepping up….Well….that’s a lot of IFs….

    Still, if those planets all line up then the next step is coming through in the big matches. The problem for Arsenal is that they’re ALL big matches. Still, with a moderately easy draw and not too far to travel along with some good early season fitness and health, a couple of extra-must win games (the CL qualifier) gets us right back on the track we’re (hopefully) finishing this season on. Last year we stumbled to the finish line, and with another very bad summer (and a poor pre-season) we dropped a lot of early points–promising clean sheets notwithstanding…. My hope is that we look a bit (or a whole lot) classier this time around.

    It’s true that we’re unlikely to suddenly to suddenly morph into world-beaters and my honest assessment of the squad isn’t all that glowing. Still, like Admir says, if we can make a habit of putting in quality displays (and getting the needed results….) it could go a long way against some of the bloated clubs above us. They’ll be all puffed up with their Cavanis and Falcaos but, as the song says, “The bigger they come, the harder they fall”….

    We have to face facts about the structural (or self-imposed?…) limits to our situation and keep our expectations similarly muted. Currently, I see a path forward, but maybe that’s because it’s been a few days since we eked out an iffy result with an even more questionable performance. Fingers crossed that we get all three points, look better and build some momentum come Saturday…..

  64. 17highburyterrace says:

    VCC, I like, uh, option #2….

    I just have to pick (all) the results from this weekend? Are there other rules I need to observe (or, better yet, bend)?…..

  65. Red Arse says:

    17,

    Your choices are to pick an away win, a home win or a draw for 5 of the games.

    Away win = 2 points
    Home win = 1 point
    draw = 3 points.

    The more points the better. (helps to bribe VCC)

  66. TotalArsenal says:

    All agreed 17 HT

    Next game is another cup final for us.

  67. Red Arse says:

    Henry is not fat looking — he is gorgeous!! πŸ˜€

    I bet Hehehe Henry is too!! πŸ™‚

  68. Bond James says:

    splendid , Admir

    i think you’ve nailed most if not all of our problems in this article of yours.

    in the end, football is a team sport which requires a certain level of understanding amongst team members, it’s no wonder the likes of Barca/Real and BM are doing ever so well, they have had a stable team with not many in’s and out’s of the team, they add a quality player or 2 to strengthen the core of the squad they have at their disposal i.e. Martinez to BM last season.

    the more i see this current team play the more i am convinced that they have certainly started to understand each others game that much better, with a decent pre-tour including most of our players (minus podolski and jack) should do wonders for us next season.

    add in a few quality players in there and we’re sorted, our key signings should be done as early as possible i.e. Cesar/Jovetic/DM.

    PS: Many happy returns of the day, TA.

  69. RockyLives says:

    Very good article Admir.

    I feel football is in a bit of a transitional phase in terms of playing style.

    The Barca tika-taka that dominated for a few years has been found out (to some degree) and some people have likened Bayern’s style to the style of Arsenal’s Invincibles. However, I think both BM and Dortmund have formulated a style of play that merges elements of tina-taka with the direct and powerful style of the 2004 Arsenal vintage.

    As you say, if there is a new trend you would hope we will be aware of it (as I’m sure AW is).

    Arsene should be perfectly suited to following this new hybrid approach. He has, in the past, worked with both the direct approach and an attempted version of tina-taka.

  70. RockyLives says:

    UMF:

    Fulham v Reading: H
    Naaarch v Villa: D
    Swans v Citeh: A
    WBA v Wiggers: A
    WHam v Toon: H

  71. RockyLives says:

    *tina-taka is a version of tika-taka that also involves Tina Turner dance moves…

  72. 17highburyterrace says:

    Cheers VCC….I’ll have to think on my picks….a very interesting format, no doubt….What’s funny for me is that “fantasy” football actually helps me with being a realist. If I’ve got nothing at stake I’ll always pick my favorite teams/players and never those I detest….(i.e., I could never bring myself to play people like van Judas or the rug–Wayne Rooney, unless there was something to win πŸ˜‰ )….As such, given that I’m in late, I’m most certainly going for a Tots-Sots draw….Do make up games count?….If so, put me down for a Chavs-Spuds draw too…. So, for now, at least, I’m a wide-eyed optimist….. Like all good Arsenal supporters would say, however, “Just wait until next season.” πŸ˜‰

    Moving away from the more general comments towards specific players, something I’ll be looking for in these next two matches is if Santi can get some good balls to Theo (and maybe, visa versa). Personally, I think Santi is at his best if he can drift–not left to center, but deep to forward. Those long balls are sooooo pretty but only when they come off. It doesn’t help if they float out of play or if the first touch bringing them down is poor and the defense can re-set (or worse). With a spirited AM or false nine, there can be an in-between touch that can also set Theo (or Gerv–who might start, given that it’s an away match….) off on a mini-break. For me, we look a whole lot less threatening when teams park the bus or when both Santi and Theo are working the tiny or non-existent spaces along the 18 yard line. We’ve really missed consistency at the #10 spot and Santi’s small stature and lack of real acceleration (or drive into the box) means that he lives off one-twos with like-minded players. Frankly, I think we miss Giroud’s efforts in this area and Lu-lu’s obvious lack of fitness combined with Gervinho and Theo’s distaste for a pass might yet be our undoing….

    Anyhow, I’m already onto the weekend, when I still might be painting the big picture in happy colors….

  73. VCC says:

    Cheers Red Arse for getting back to 17HT

    Hi Rocky, how’s things.

    VCC =

    WBA v Wigan…..home
    Ful v Read………home
    Nor v AV…………draw
    QPR v Ars………away
    Sund v Stoke….draw

  74. Bond James says:

    last year, these 3 teams

    QPR , Wigan and Newcastle managed to get make life very tough for us, i hope this time round we’re able to return the favour and pile on the misery for them.

    if memory serves then QPR and Wigan defeated us and Newcastle drew with us (was a cracking game though).

    i hope we’re able to demolish QPR and give them a 5-0 hammering.

    17ht,

    good point re- podolski lacking match fitness but he did look good in the first half against the mancs, faded away in the 2nd but that’s understandable, hopefully he will have more of an impact vs QPR and WIGAN, he can really be a potent threat up front for us .

  75. 17highburyterrace says:

    BJ, I see all the potential in Poldolski (despite, him being “old” and a “failure” at Bayern….) and I think (or I’d like to think) that his lingering ankle problem is one of the great untold stories of this season. I just can’t see his lack of starts as anything but a fitness issue. Another way to look at it is that (IMO) we shouldn’t judge his ability to fill in for Giroud based on these three matches….

    If I’m right and he too (along with Jack) needs surgery in the summer I’d start him (and Jack) on the bench and hope that we can get by with Gervinho and Rosicky instead. Get a lead in the first hour and then hold it with subs at fullback (or FBs as wingers or Le Coq or some other “strategic” subs)….

    Obviously, we’re pretty freaking bare bones at the moment and you’re dead right about the teams we have to play. QPR already relegated should (italics) work to our advantage. If Wigan get ideas about another great escape (with a win at WBA and vs Swansea) they might want something from our match, thinking they could maybe get a chance on the final day vs Villa. Meanwhile the Toon are in free-fall despite the French Foreign Legion thing. If they bungle against West Ham and QPR, they too could be dragged in!!! This relegation stuff (including our own battle) sure works to keep the Spring fever in check….

    So, can I use the make-up games to score my 15 UMF points?

    Tots-Sots, WH-Toon, MU-Chelsea, Merseyside Derby, Chelsea-Tots….All Draws

  76. Bond James says:

    agreed.

    all you have to look at the wages we pay Poldi, he was signed to play more of a role and have more involvement but due to his injury that has been restricted sumwat. His one two’s and understanding with the players is very good and he does have a knack of providing killer passes and crosses, we also forget his free kick taking ability (has been under used i reckon).

    jack should be on the bench considering Rosicky hasn’t done much wrong, we should ease the pressure off jack’s shoulders and use him sparingly from now till the end of the season.

    the time we play wigan i think works in our favour as we will have 10 days between QPR and WIGAN, with WIGAN also playing a high intensity final vs man city on a sunday and playing us 2 days later ?

    i hope by the time we play wigan, we’re in a strong position for the 3rd spot and don’t necessarily go to Newcastle needing all 3 points (like last year with WBA) – that be ideal really.

  77. Bond James says:

    *have to do is to look at*

    PS : we could really do with edit features on the blog, maybe install and run vb or other scripts @ TA ?

  78. Bond James says:

    by the way, chelsea’s next 4 (and last)games in the league

    1: Man Utd away

    3: Spuds home

    5: Aston Villa away

    7: Everton home

    is it me, or they will do well to muster 4 points out of the remaining 4 ?

    they are also cruising to the europa league finals currently – interesting. (another final for them to lose, will be perfecto!

  79. jgc says:

    TA et al,

    Before it’s too late, TA, gelukkige verjaardag! I had to use google translate because that wasnt close to Danish (tillyke foedseldag!)…

    BJ, Chavs have a serious (deadly so) run in, and you forgot they have some other games from Europa league tossed into the mix… I think we sometimes forget that a season is measured on the whole and everyone’s distribution of games id different…

    For the limb, I am going out on it with 2-0 to the Arsenal guys this weekend..

    cheers — jgc

  80. TotalArsenal says:

    Dat is erg attent, jgc! πŸ™‚

    BJ – no that is not possible, but we don’t expect bean counters to be good spellers hahaha πŸ˜€ (unless your name is Cul Rouge of course) πŸ˜‰

  81. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post – New Post πŸ™‚

    Umair looks at the growing (?) rumours that either Jovetic or Cesc, or maybe even both, are on their way to the home of football this summer and what this could mean for our formation next season. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

  82. ian says:

    Outstanding report. Summed us up very well and some great inclusions and comparisons. Giroud has been a dissapointment and has so much to improve because next season is crucial. I think a lot of teams have learned from us and we have fallen behind now and selling star players and looking for hidden jems is too risky.

    With the individual talent we have the lessons from germany could transform us with the likes of wilshere, ox, walcott, cazorla, gervinho and podolski we should be better. Defensively we are improving but there are better defenders out there than our current crop.

  83. malaysian gunner says:

    Just seen the highlights of the latest Europa League sf.One common thread,unlike Arsenal,is they don’t dilly dally infront of the goal.That is why thye could score wher defenders are not given time to mass and stifle the attack.
    Don’t be surprised Wenger plays like this ie passing till eternity and QPR beat the gunners.

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