Best away defence invaluable – Theo grows – Ramsey the grinder – Arteta rules

That was better by Theo!

That was better by Theo!

Sometimes it is best to sleep a night over a game of football. On a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning it is easier to reflect on a game that was hard on the eye and tough for the heart, but THE RESULT still left us with a good after taste. And the latter – just like the better coffees and wines do – is still lingering on this morning.

Three points and a first win at Loftus Road in seven attempts makes the head nod sagely: 1-0 to the Arsenal is all we needed. Some will point out the need to boost our GD, but that is simply wishful thinking at the moment. Our team is running at its last legs and somehow just keeps scraping the barrel for more.

Since Arsene decided to put Arteta and Ramsey together in the double DM-pivot, and swap TV5 for the more organised  and composed Koz, we have, as predicted, both become a lot more solid in defence and gradually more and more toothless in attack.

In our 4-2-1-3 formation the box-to-box midfielder holds the key for creating a fine balance between defending and attacking, and only a fit Diaby or Wilshere can truly make this formation tick as per the Wengerball ideology.

With Ramsey we get a hard and disciplined worker and he and Arteta deserve a lot of credit for our recent mean defensive record. Of course, this  will not be enough in the long term. Wenger put into place his  plan-B to  get us back in the CL next season, and for me  he is showing once more  that he can play Mourinho-like football if he needs to.

But boy is our football hard to watch at the moment, as we dither and probe through the middle all day long, looking like our attackers have never played together before. Pod looked like running around with inflated testicles, Cazorla and Theo totally allergic to sticking to traditional wing-play, and Rosicky was simply not central/domineering enough.

Yet, in the first half we dominated so much that we should have added to Theo’s super-early goal. When in it the box, Theo tends to shoot at goal as soon as he can, without taking another touch, and it paid off for him straightaway. The keeper should probably have done better, but Theo gave him very little time to set himself up properly, and looking into the glaring sun will not have helped Green much either.

Theo was also a wee bit unlucky with another fine, direct attempt on goal in the first half which Green pushed onto the post, and he had another such an attempt saved in the second half. Theo, unlike the Pod yesterday, got himself in good positions in the box and  made the keeper work, and his goal made all the difference yesterday.  Does this mean he should play centrally more often, though? Aah, let’s discuss! 🙂

Arteta played one of his best games of the season with fantastic positioning, great interceptions and more than adequate distribution, including a fine, and priceless assist for our one and only  goal. I loved his physical strength and sheer desire to fight for these crucial three points: he was a true captain for us yesterday.  The Basque beast simply ruled the game against the Hoops!

Another big plus point – you must have noticed by now I am  mainly looking at the plus points – was our composure and organisation in defence. The triangle of Szczesny – BFG – Koz is quickly developing into something very solid, and that is at least one of the big positives from our current season. Arsenal must ensure we keep them together for next season, and not be tempted to cash in  on any of them.

The BFG’s composure and organisational skills are of great value to us, and Koz’ timing, energy but also his positioning and composure, combine really well with the German’s strengths and weaknesses. Add  to that a mature and controlled performance of our goal keeper – making good saves (one against Remy was simply excellent) when required – and you can see why we are proving hard to beat at the back at the moment.

In fact, our defensive away record has been very good this season, conceding only 14 goals in 18 PL games: far better than anybody else in the PL. This will probably pan out to be our saviour this season in terms of CL qualification.

Nacho had a tough game against the only player who really cared, Townsend (I wonder what was motivating him hahaha). However, he did get forward and behind the Hoops’ defence once or twice, and that appeared  to be the only way to create some danger during large parts of the game. Sagna had a decent game, but once again, he got little support on the wing going forward – often left alone with the ball with nobody anywhere  near to set up an attack from the wing.

The negatives in a nutshell (nothing new  really): ineffective wingplay for most of the game, attackers and midfielders not linking up properly or finding each other – no collective telepathy – too many players needing too much  time (touches) to take their chances, no physical – and limited aerial – presence in the box, and not creative enough.

But our defensive triangle in the centre, our double DM pivot, and an improving Walcott saved the day for us. And there are ten days now to get some much-needed new content into the barrel.

Average player ratings by BK’ers:

Szczesny: 7.7

Nacho: 6.4

Koz: 7.7

BFG: 7.3

Sagna: 6.7

Arteta: 7.7

Ramsey: 6.7

Rosicky: 6.7

Cazorla: 7

Podolski: 5.5

Theo: 7.3

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Special thanks to those who put in their player ratings.

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89 Responses to Best away defence invaluable – Theo grows – Ramsey the grinder – Arteta rules

  1. Admir says:

    Nice round-up, TA. 🙂 I would add one more thing to our positives – Cazorla was playing defense yesterday! That’s not something that we have been used to see this season but the little Spaniard was fighting with teeth and nails to keep us above our opponents.

    Yes, we can play fugly when we have to but, I must admit, I prefer seeing final score, e.g. Fulham-Arsenal 0:1 than to watch an open play from our side like the last season against Fulham and losing the game 2:1 after we failed to seal the victory in the first half.

    Instead of sorrow for losing all three points, it is much more comfortable to enjoy winning points in fixtures that cost us a lot in the past (we have won five away matches in a row with three of those being against Swansea, Fulham and QPR, opponents that had beaten us last season) and pointing out flaws that can be fixed.

    1.For instance, Sagna’s crosses have been terrible throughout whole season. Yes, Walcott hasn’t been exactly the ideal wing-man for Sagna but that doesn’t mean Sagna isn’t allowed to make a proper cross, especially since we have had Giroud who has been effective after Podolski’s and Walcott’s crosses.

    2.Podolski has been playing hot’n’cold this season. He is an experienced German international who should have showed much more consistency and imposed himself in big matches. Apart from two impressive performances against Liverpool and the first match against Spuds, I haven’t seen too much from him. In all three matches he was given central position in attack he was mostly invisible. In a way, Podolski-Giroud duo has been a similar story to the one we have had with Arteta-Ramsey duo in DM-role – due to lack of world-class DM/striker, we have had to play two players to compensate it. Podolski is an excellent finisher while Giroud is better in finding himself in an opportunity for goal.

    3.Our Polish goalkeepers have been more or less very good this season and even Mannone made some saves worth of points. However, distribution of both Fabianski and Sczszesny hasn’t been the best and it’s something they should improve in pre-season.

  2. JGC says:

    Hi

    Nice summary, I’d add

    A. Late in season
    B. Away

    Winning ugly still counts! The big game is now tomorrow or today for you (?)… Does ManU try against Chavs?

    Cheers — jgc

  3. Red Arse says:

    Absolutely spot on TA, I agreed with everything you wrote. 😀

    Damn it —- I do try hard not to have a whinge but I cannot stop myself telling the truth — well the truth as I see it — so, I agree with everything you wrote, except for the words “an improving Walcott saved the day for us” because although technically accurate — he did score — it was actually the through ball to him that saved the day — Theo almost bollixed it up, and needed their Keeper to fluff it into the net.

    QPR should have been blown out of the game, right then, but our dreadfully ineffective tippy tappy football allowed them back into the game, especially as they had no nerves, having already been relegated, and could relax and play, we were a bag of nerves (we meaning the team AND the fans because we knew Spurs had won.

    We simply did not have a dominant ‘captain’ who could grab the initiative and yell at the missed passes, and meekly succumbing to their physical aggression.

    Three points defines this game, and let’s face it that was what mattered with 2 games to go, but I have not enjoyed our limited style of play this season — what happened to total football?

  4. Excellent post TA!!!!..about time Arteta and Rambo got their DESERVED recognition 4 turning us into mean defensive fighting machines…a Wenger masterstroke pairing Rambo with the Pass Monkey?????

    Thought Theo’s performance was a bit encouraging yesterday..getting himself into decent scoring positions

    Final thought:LOVE how Arsene is wrapping Wilshere in cotton wrapping…let our shinning beacon rest..the team are doing just fine..long may it continue till the season ends

    1 nil to THE ARSENAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. max says:

    Ramsey? When Cashley left he said that we’d gone from heavyweights to lightweights, well, now we’re down to bantamweight.

  6. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Admir 🙂

    I agree and disagree with you re Cazorla: yes he deserves mentioning for his all-round hard work and defensive support, but this is, in my view, not the first time he has done so.

    Agreed on your other points.

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    jgc, I reckon they will go for a win, and the Chavs will still be tired from the Basle game as well.

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Hahaha Redders 🙂

    No surprise at all you are having a little dig at Theo. 😀

    Agreed, we should have pushed on and turn our domination in the first half into one more goal at least.

    I thought our captain led by example but yes, he is not the extrovert needed in such circumstances.

    Total Football – it left when yesterday’s birthday boy returned to his biological/historic home… 😦

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    KG – love to read your upbeat comments! 🙂

    Do you think your fellow countryman Wanyama will be on his way to the home of football this summer? I certainly hope so!

  10. Rohan says:

    Great Analysis, and to Admir I have to say i completely agree with your analysis.
    For a while I think that Sagna has been underperforming, and for that reason needs to either be dropped, or relocated. It is, quite frankly, unfair on Jenkinson who has in general been in good form.He wasn’t as bad yesterday, but he had nowhere near the impact that you would desire from a player that was once considered a ‘world-class’ fullback.

    On your 2nd point, I would say it appeared as though Podolski was nursing some sort of injury throughout the game – he just appeared very lethargic – in contrast to other games this season – it may also be due to his stamina which has no doubt suffered due to niggling injuries keeping him out for parts of the season.
    I do think Podolski has all the attributes to be what we need, the question remains of whether Wenger has the time and willingness to waste on a prospective star at 27, when we could replace him.

    Finally in regards to Szcezsney – call this a shot in the dark, but I have a feeling that by next season – if he starts regularly – we will see a huge improvement in his distribution. I don’t imagine wenger will sit on his laurels, and there has been talk of bringing in another GK coach.

  11. VCC says:

    We play far too much Chuckle Brother football.

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    Come on VCC,

    You can do better than that! 😛

  13. Pat says:

    Ramsey is not top class,he gives ball away too often and slows play down

  14. VCC says:

    It’s true Total………far too many times we use the slow approach.

  15. VCC says:

    UMF

    Weekly scores with this afternoon’s games still to come. =

    Red Arse…….7….(2)
    Gerry………….6….(1)
    Oz……………..5…..(3)
    Henry…………5…..(1)
    Total………….5……(1)
    GLiC………….4
    TMHT………..4……(2)
    Alex…………..4
    HH…………….3……~(1)
    Rocky………..2……
    VCC…………..2……(1)

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Pat, why should Ramsey be top class? He is a very valuable squad player who is still developing as well. Without the grinding we’ll get nowhere, so let me hear it for AR16! 🙂

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    VCC, my friend, I mean give us a bit more detail on how you saw the match – so we can have a meaningful discussion hahaha 😛

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    VCC, can Henry get equal with you today?

  19. davi says:

    It’s so good to see how much Ramsey has improved. His energy and new-found confidence has given the side a massive lift recently and over the next few years I expect he will start to add a few goals to his game. He’s really starting to remind me of Flamini during the 07/08 season and now simply needs experience. A little more composure and suredness in his passing will take him to the next level but he’s well on his way now that he’s found his role in the team.
    Lightweight? Hardly. He’s a strong player now and will only get stronger in time. Flamini wasn’t the strongest/most “heavyweight” player in world football but no one could handle him that season – we were taking on the best sides in Europe with their 3-man central midfields and holding our own or even dominating with just Cesc and Flamini in the middle! Ramsey is getting to that level.

  20. davi says:

    Rohan – a pattern is emerging when Podolski plays through the middle. His movement simply isn’t good enough and while he is obviously more talented ball-player than Giroud, OG knows how to play the position and is more useful as a CF. That said, Podolski is clearly the best finisher at the club and we do need to figure a way of getting him into shooting positions more often. Sadly I think to do that we need to be playing him behind a main striker and our current formation cannot accomodate him there.

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    Rohan 🙂

    I hope you are right re Szczesny. I thought he looked different yesterday, but maybe it was the ‘Tour de France’ yellow jersey! hahaha 🙂

  22. TotalArsenal says:

    Davi, hi 🙂

    Ramsey could indeed be our new Flamini, maybe even our new Parlour; Every team needs such a player.

  23. alexgunners says:

    Hi TA,

    Agreed with your post. We are surely grinding wins these days but we are sure playing ugly. Still 3 points was the goal and we achieved it.

    There is certainly no cohesion. We pass the ball without a purpose and we just cannot find each other out on the field. We need to win these last 2 cup finals that we have but we need to get back to as you call it, ‘Wengerball’.

    Unfortunately for us in this point in time we need to rely on other results so lets hope the Chavs get done tonight and when the Chavs play the spuds lets hope for a draw. All we have to do is keep winning.

  24. VCC says:

    Hi Total……Yes, Henry can not only catch me, but overtake me. He is on 106 points with two games to account for today, and I’m on 109 with one game to come today.

    If he overtakes me I think I will have to take out a contract on him hehhehe. Also Redders is sneaking up on the railswith 7points and 2 games today with a total of 93. Then comes HH with 92. All hotting up at the sharp end.

    Do you think we will be running the UMF next season?

  25. alexgunners says:

    VCC,

    I hope that next season we will be running the UMF. It’s all good fun and I would like to contribute to an End of Season Prize. If that’s ok with all of you.

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    Alex, if we win the next two games, I will jump a hole in the air as we say in Holland. Yes we grind it out, but it is a quality we need in order to win anything in the future.

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    VCC, that is entirely up to you!

    I reckon, if we advertise it throughout the summer we can get up to thirty participants. If I could find a way for everybody paying a one-off amount for taking part, we could do prizes for the top-three and number last…. Say a one-off ten pounds for the whole season… What do you think, oh might old rusty zimmerframe? hahaha 😛

  28. alexgunners says:

    TA,

    That’s all that we can do, win the next two games and hope for the best. We’ve had a good run lately and now we need it more than ever.
    COYG

  29. alexgunners says:

    TA,

    I am willing to put up the prize. There is no need to get the guys to pay a tenner to get involved. I am willing to put a first prize of 100 pounds to the winner to be spent on the Online store at arsenal.com and 50 pounds to the Runner up. What do you think?

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    Wow, Alex that is very generous of you! 🙂

    Catch you later guys, beach is calling (and Henry is woofing)

  31. alexgunners says:

    TA,

    Have fun and we can discuss this further at seasons end as you guys nut out what is happening with the UMF next season

  32. VCC says:

    Hi Alex,

    That’s nice to hear you enjoy a bit of fun with the UMF. I did in fact post the prizes several days back. Unfortunately I can’t find the post right now. One of the prizes was a left clog from Total.

    Inflatable zimmerframe from me

    A Dic……tionary from Redders

    A paperback from Terry….”How to pull a Sheila and F**k on the first date”

    Annother paperback from Gerry ..”Gerry’s tips. How to become skint from betting”

    A two week holiday on board Richie’s yacht.

    A boomerang from Oz & Prince.

    A bag of Brazil nuts from yourself

    etc

  33. Dylan says:

    I agree with everything said above 🙂 I would however say that I personally thought Ramsey had a fantastic game. He continued to work extremely hard, but he also played a very Wilshere-like role in my opinion. I often saw him pick up the ball, look up, take the space he had, and distribute intelligently rather than try to be too fancy. There was a few typical Ramsey moments where he ran himself into multiple defenders and lost the ball, but for the most part I thought he was superb. 🙂 One thing I wish Wenger had done differently is sub on Coq instead of Jack. Jack needs surgery and when we have another player who can play DM (Coq) I would prefer we use him rather than risk Jack. 😉 Another point is about Theo playing up front. I believe when Ox came on for Poldi, Theo took his place in the middle. Immediately after that so think I saw Theo once for the rest of the game. He isolates himself too much as a striker. As when he is on the wing he prefers to run away from the ball rather than move to the ball to support. However on the wings he can usually get a ball to the corner and run onto it to cross. As a central striker he needs to read the game and run to the ball more often than not. However to do this he needs to bulk up and work on his hold up play. Therefore I don’t think Theo is a suitable striking option and is better on the wing. 🙂 Overall, good result for the Arsenal 🙂

  34. VCC says:

    Alex…..that’s far too generous of you, but a lovely thought.

    IMO I think it’s best to keep it a fun thing only, and no monetary gain.

    I also posted a while back that I was going to put up a piece of memorabilia from my Arsenal collection.

    I was going to post one of my old Arsenal programmes to the winner. I remember a few years ago I sent an old programme to a guy who lived in Peru (met over the internet) he says it has pride of place on his bedroom table beside his bed, all framed.

    .

  35. alexgunners says:

    VCC,

    I remember my one.

    It was a clock so that i could get my predictions in on time

  36. VCC says:

    Alex……hahaha….lmfao………..yes that’s right, I remember the clock now.

  37. davi says:

    Dylan – It’s interesting you mention Coquelin. Are we looking at another Vela situation – a really talented player being basically forced out of the club due to lack of opportunities? We could certainly have used a defensive midfielder of his ilk a few times during the season but he’s been largely overlooked and you’re right that there’s no point in playing Jack now. He often hasn’t even improved the side when he’s played this season and I think it’s time to take him out of the firing line until next year when we can integrate him properly. Like Podolski, I don’t think we’ve found the right position for him this year and the system probably needs a rethink if we want to fit them in.

  38. alexgunners says:

    VCC,

    I disagree with everyone putting up some money but it is something I wanted to do for a bit of fun amongst a good group of Gooners. Ive had a great year and it’s just a little something that I am willing to put up. Business has been far too good in the last year or so, That’s why I have chosen my charity to sponsor. It happens to be the UMF

  39. alexgunners says:

    Guys,

    Time to call it a night. We can talk more about this whenever you guys are ready, but my offer still stands.

    Good night to all

  40. Rohan says:

    Davi – You make a good point and his movement has sadly been poor. I’m not writing him off in the CF position yet, as both Wenger and Podolski have gone on record as saying he has been battling an injury for the large portion of this season. Giroud has been better in the CF role, but has also been afforded more time in that position, so has been able to build more cohesion.
    I do suffer from placing too much faith in our players, but I genuinely think that both strikers could begin to strike fear in defences next year, although I do see Podolski as the player with greater potential, due to his proven finishing which is supposed to be more difficult to develop than cohesion within a team.

  41. VCC says:

    Cheers Alex…….your so kind….You’ll have to run it across Total when he gets back. 😉

  42. VCC says:

    UMF update……..MU v Chelsea and Sunderland v Stoke still to come

    Weekly scores =

    Red Arse…10…(1)
    Gerry……… 9
    Oz…………..8 .(2)
    Total……….8
    TMHT……..7..(1)
    HH………….6
    Henry……..5 (1)
    Alex………..4
    GLiC……….4
    Rocky……..2
    VCC……….2

    Overall leader board

    VCC 109
    Henry…..106
    RA……… 96..(1)
    HH………. 95
    Oz……….. 89 (2)
    TMHT……88..(1)
    Total……..87
    Alex………81
    Rocky……75
    GLiC……..60

  43. henrychan says:

    Hi all..
    TA.. good post as always.. hehe..
    I sm not so surprise that Walcott can make more goals ahead.. he is one of the best winger.. and his 20 second goal was amazing.. And for Ramsey.. you see what I had said before.. he will be great as a DM.. hahaha..
    If only Gervinho played instead of Podolski.. I think We can get 2 more goals.. hehe..
    I think next week We will see him playing central..

    Soton was great lastnight.. just unlucky of them.. Bale stole their night..
    Soton do have a lot of potential players.. Bale and Walcott was some of them.. just hope Chelsea will not get 3 points.. cause the play so much powerfull football again MU..

    Wow.. this week UMF is very interesting.. hehe.. not because I probably may get the same point with VCChampion.. but many of us scores a lot points.. hehe..
    And that’s means this war isn’t over.. haha..
    And thanks to OZ.. for his genorousity..
    Of course this league must go on.. and no need to limit the participant.. hehe.. the more the better.. haha..

  44. Admir says:

    God, I hate Manure! 😦

  45. VCC says:

    What a stitch up that was. ManUre are scum

  46. VCC says:

    Hi Henry.

    Your points total in the UMF is 106…….3 behind VCC…….I have Sunderland tomorrow so hoping for a correct call. Things are hoting up at the top.

    High scoring week, still with Oz and VCC one game 2moz.

    Weekly scores so far =

    Red Arse…10
    Gerry…….. 9
    Oz………8
    Total……8
    TMHT…..7
    HH……..6
    Henry…..5
    Alex…….4
    GLiC……4
    Rocky…..2
    VCC…….2

    If you overtake me next week I am going to send the hit squad around your gaff 🙂

  47. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, excellent job on the ratings and a fine post match review!

    I’ll take the 3 points and it’s imperative that we are able to grind out wins when needed, but it is concerning that we are struggling mightily to dominate teams in the lower end of the table, especially ones that are clearly short on confidence after being relegated. Had Cesar been in net, Theo’s early strike may have never gone in (though he was unlucky to hit the post later too). With that said, Theo continues to be an enigma on the pitch, being fantastic at some points and pulling a Houdini at others. What I did notice was that he seems to have improved his strength and does not look as awkward on the ball anymore, which is crucial if he wants to play as the lone ST.

    It was games like yesterday that remind me why we’re not challenging for the EPL crown; not enough quality, but still a good team that works hard towards a common goal of finishing top 4. We’ll definitely need to add some quality this summer to reinforce our squad and give us that something special that we are sorely lacking right now.

    Lately, we’ve been linked with a host of pre-contract agreements (however I do not believe any of them to be true). Villa and Cesc of Barca, Jovetic of Fiorentina, Gonalons of Lyon, Adler of Hamburger and Remy of QPR have all been “confirmed” as done deals hahaha. First hand example of how the media is able to easily manipulate and contort our perspectives ;).

  48. Bond James says:

    bloody mancs, was it deliberate ? that team selection certainly didn’t give me much confidence.

    i just hope chelsea don’t lose to spuds not, i am plenty certain that Aston Villa can surprise chelsea and win against them on saturday either way, it’s our fault for not winning one of the 2 last two games we played.

    re- last evening, i hope Wenger drops Ramsey on the bench and has a midfield of Wilshere, Rosicky and Santi with Arteta in the hole with Jack.

    if Ramsey can’t cut it against the likes of QPR and after been given these many chances then i doubt he ever will.

    Podolski needs to be persisted with, he will come good but for the life of me i just can’t understand why leave the subs so late ? if Wenger brought on the Ox and jack at the 60th minute then he wouldn’t need to bring his defensive subs in the last 5-10 minutes of the game.

    this thing may go down to goal difference and sadly because of wenger’s tactics, we let a major opportunity slip by…(soon as we scored within 20 seconds, i thought here we go, the perfect start) the thought of us defending our one goal lead for almost 93 minutes never crossed my mind.

    we have a nice little break now, with wigan playing twice including a big final vs man city, they are bound to be knackered, let’s hope we can capitalize and punish them – winning by a 3 goal margin would be rather nice.

    best result on wed would be a draw for us, it’s a shame it’s come down to this, sometimes i do wonder if finishing 5th may not be as bad but i hope not.

  49. Highbury Harmony says:

    BJ, what did you think about that ridiculous group of players I posted as “confirmed” pre-contract deals we’ve already signed hahaha?

  50. Bond James says:

    HH,

    i’m surprised it’s only 6 and not 12.

    even more surprised that there is only one so called “confirmed and pre contract signing” from Germany 😀 mind you, that is where Wenger and Mr. Dick have been seen wandering during January.

    isn’t it amusing that some clubs when they do actually manage to sign players on a pre- contract, they are quick to make it public….i remember us doing the same re-podolski same time last year in May (if my memory serves me well ) ?

    i won’t be surprised, if there a are a few more names linked to us in the coming few weeks with bulk of them being from germany 😉

    as grapevine has it, we actually have made a bid of and around “30 Million” for a mysterious player in January – if rumours are to be believed and if i was to believe one of my nutter friends, then i might be inclined to believe the Jovetic deal being the 30 million player.

    for now let me mention only 2 names of the “confirmed” pre contract names you’ve mentioned 😉 Villa -Remy , so why would Villa be coming over to Arsenal if we also have Remy in the bag and have Giroud/podolski/Gervinho/Theo ? if we were to take it with a pinch of salt then the only way i see that happening is , if we get rid of Gervinho (might be a possibility) or Podolski (highly unlikely).

  51. TotalArsenal says:

    Evening guys,

    Lovely day here and warmer than in Spain – another reason for Cesc to come back?! 😛

    HH,

    I would not read too much into the game against QPR re quality. But yes, we all agree Arsene needs to add a few TQ players this summer.

    I was pleased with Theo and on another day he scores a brace.

    BJ 🙂

    Are you hoping somebody will bite re your Ramsey comment hahaha? 😛

    Yes, the Mancs are a bunch of fuckers! 😈

    How did the Judas play?

  52. Bond James says:

    Ta,

    what are you trying to imply ? no way, i do not rile people up or wind them up , that’s HH’s forte 😉

    it’s just that i’m a bit frustrated seeing mediocre player/s been given these many chances when we have special players like jack on the bench being wasted….we should be more ruthless against the bottom teams since we can’t beat anyone above us in the table. Don’t get me wrong, finishing top 4 might still be within our grasp but i much rather us finish 3rd but for that we should be pressing that accelerator button a bit more and be more ruthless with our substitutions…..as it stands , we’re in for another nail bitter finale to the season.

    RVP looked flat and spent, not sure why Hernandez didn’t play, he would have score a few against his favourite team.

  53. Highbury Harmony says:

    BJ, I absolutely agree that Villa AND Remy would be overkill, especially if we’re lining up a move for Jovetic as well. One also must consider that Theo and Poldi are also pining for the ST spot as well.

    For now, I believe the strongest links to be around Jovetic and Remy, with Cesc believable but still a pipe dream. I, too, would like to see more names from Germany being linked to us since they are the next golden generation of football! Draxler is a wonderful talent, but no “done deal” or “pre-contract agreements” of any sort yet.

  54. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA :), it’s not just the QPR game that concerns me, but the general lack of quality chances created in the second half of the season. We’ve had a couple games where we just explode, but the scoring is not distributed. As I said though, I’ll take 3 points any day of the week, but we’re scratching and clawing, barely surviving teams we should beat by 2 goal margins (at least).

    But yes, cannot wait and see what happens in this summer’s TW! I trust AW will not leave us behind in the dust :).

  55. Bond James says:

    Cesc will always be linked back to a move back to us but if we’re going to be linked with anyone other than him from Spain then i don’t mind Isco (i do fear that he might be already on his way to man city tho or chelsea).

    yep, Germany is the way forward and who better than you to comment on the bundesliga.

    Draxler as rumour has it might be on his way to dortmund, not sure if it will happen but you might be in a better position to shed some light on that one.

  56. TotalArsenal says:

    HH, spot on. Our biggest problem is not finishers but creators and that’s why, next to a DM, a player like Jovetic is an absolute must.

  57. TotalArsenal says:

    BJ, if VJ did indeed not give his all against the Chavs today, then he has missed an opportunity to redeem himself a bit with us Gooners.

    Instead, he had no qualms to take a penalty against us….

    Ah well, it makes it easier to keep detesting him.

  58. Highbury Harmony says:

    BJ, not sure what to make of the Draxler to BD rumours. It makes complete sense with Gotze going out the door, however Draxler is a confessed Schalke supporter (his childhood team). I guess anything can happen nowadays and BD are a top club in the Bundesliga (imo Schalke are just under performing when you consider they have Papdoulous, Howedes, Huntelaar, Farfan, Afellay, Bastos and Draxler).

  59. Highbury Harmony says:

    BJ, my gut tells me that Isco will actually stay at Malaga. However, I would not be surprised to see him go to Man $hitty before the Chavs. The Chavs links were always confusing as they have Mata, Oscar and Hazard all as small, fast, creative talents. If anything, they need to replace the departing Lampard or complement their current squad with a physical ball winner like Capoue.

    If Isco is on the market, AW would do well to bid for him as well considering we have the Nacho and Santi connection and have a direct need for another creative talent who can drive our team forward and be a versatile, pacey threat from out wide and centrally.

  60. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, I think it’s a combination of creating more and finishing more! No point in creating 5-7 more chances a game if we can’t convert them! I think our finishing is good, but it could be better if you catch my drift ;). If the rumours surrounding Jovetic are true, we may be able to kill two birds with one stone (his finishing has continued to improve year after year in a stingy Serie A league).

  61. Highbury Harmony says:

    Also, Draxler was quoted in the Express claiming that he will never play for Dortmund and that the rumours made him quite sad (for what it’s worth of course since players can go back on their word…).

    http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/395697/Arsenal-target-Julian-Draxler-closes-door-on-Borussia-Dortmund-move

  62. TotalArsenal says:

    Chicken or egg, HH, chicken or egg! 😛

  63. jgc says:

    Hi All,

    HH: I long back posted some stats on finishing and we are as good as ManU so, it’s the number of (reasonable quality) shots that we are getting. This would imply that those who think we are “too patient” (trying to be diplomatic here) waiting for the “best” shot perhaps have a point…

    All: While it is certainly not required, I think Chavs have to get some credit (hate it but..). I would certainly have expected some points to go begging between the two Manchester clubs, but … not to be… mutter.. They have done the job when it needed doing.

    Thus, what do others think the outcome will be now?

    cheers — jgc

  64. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, I would prefer to see us create more first since in theory, it leaves the door open to potentially converting more of those chances. However, I’d rather not test that theory and have our finishing come into question next season!

  65. Highbury Harmony says:

    Jgc, I saw those statistics, but what massing stats like your own fail to recognize is distribution of finishing over a consistent basis. If you look at goal distribution, suddenly the stats become less impressive. We scored 7 against Newcastle, 6 against Southampton, 5 against West Ham, Reading, Tottenham (10 men) and 4 against Norwich.

  66. TotalArsenal says:

    HH, a fully fit Podolski and further developing Theo, Cazorla and Giroud should be good for taking our chances. It would be great if we add a creator/finisher to that lot and also see Ox, Gervinho and a couple midfielders score more goals next season.

  67. Highbury Harmony says:

    I think if you factored in conversion rates of goals scored with the distribution of goals, those statistics would be more telling of how our finishing is only average to above average.

    By the way, why is Manure suddenly the standard? Because they won the EPL? The EPL isn’t worth crap right now…Also, they’re ahead of us by 18 points, so if our finishing was so great we’d be much closer with them in the standings right now, regardless of chances created.

  68. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, if we buy Jovetic, one of Giroud or Poldi comes out of the line-up. Either way, you are replacing one of them with a good finisher too, but my point is that we still need more goals and on a more consistent basis.

  69. TotalArsenal says:

    HH, for me the biggest problem is creating enough chances, and I don’t need stats to tell me that. The big question is whether the system is the cause of this or lack of quality in creating chances, or both…

  70. TotalArsenal says:

    We might need more goals, but I am sure you’ll agree, we especially need more quality or value goals i.e. the goals that win us matches or turn a loss into a draw, especially against the bigger teams.

    Re Jovetic

    I can see us play us play Pod on the left, Cazorla on the right, Giroud up-front and Jovetic in the hole, with new DM/Arteta and Jack/Rambo behind them.

  71. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, it’s not whether or not stats are indicative of an “answer”, but more to do with the fact that we need more goals. Even if we are to believe that all the players on our team will incrementally improve their scoring output next season, we are still replacing one finisher with another of equal or slightly better finishing ability in a player like Jovetic (for either Poldi or Giroud). However, what he does bring is the quality to also create more chances on a consistent basis with two key passes per game in Serie A this season.

    All I’m saying is that we could still stand to bring in more finishers (hopefully better than what we already have) to further complement a talent like Jovetic. Jovetic does have the potential to be a world-class talent, so there’s also the possibility that he could become the finisher we all desire, but his creative instincts could also potentially suffer with more of an emphasis on scoring (not necessarily true but it is a possibility).

    My point was that if you remove Poldi out of our starting line-up, you undoubtedly lose some goals and assists if you replace him with Jovetic :). Also, as our line-up currently stands, Jovetic would be replacing Giroud since Santi has replaced Poldi on the left more or less.

  72. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi jgc 🙂

    When was the last time Chelsea had a result in the league at Old Toilet? Something is quite smelly there.

    I expect Spuds to win at SB and it will go to the wire. But I feel quite relaxed about it. If we finish fifth then so be it. It does not make next season less exciting for me in the slightest.

    But lets see what happens in the next ten days! 😛

  73. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, 100% agreed which is why I believe we need more finishers in addition to more distributors! The only way to combat the top teams is by having a plethora of finishers/creators of our own :).

    Your line-up is interesting, I never considered playing Jovetic in the DB10 role, mainly because it would likely mean both Arteta and Ramsey out of the starting line-up (not the worst move in the world, but still fairly drastic). I would love to see Jack back in the B2B role though, especially playing alongside a dedicated DM beast!

  74. TotalArsenal says:

    HH,

    I am so convinced he is the man for the hole for us. He had such a drive, close control and hunger for Montenegro against England, and I could see him battling it out of us in the hole.

    I wrote a post a while ago that I can see Santi and Pod developing into our new Pires and Ljungberg, and for me Jovetic would be great in the hole and over time could become close to Dennis. It remains to be seen whether Giroud can score the goals and produce the assists required for our team, but he deserves at least another season to show us this.

    Vila or Remy might be good alternatives to have some more depth in the team, and especially the former would add quality finishing to our team. But I reckon we don’t need them anywhere near as much as Jovetic: he would help us transform our team.

  75. Admir says:

    Van Judas had a few chances today but his finishing was poor. Last time Chavs won at OT was in 2009-10 when they won 2:1 and took the title. Now, Chavs already managed to stay undefeated at OT this season (2:2 in FA Cup) in the match in which United had something to play for so I don’t have any suspicions regarding today’s match.

    I have a feeling that neither Gervinho nor Podolski will play for Arsenal next season, there are a couple of hunches that suggest they are going to leave Arsenal.

    Now, our conundrum regarding attacking options must take in account all-time-favourites in the likes of Chamakh and Bendtner that are loaned out at the moment. If we add new players to attacking department, Remy might be a good option given that he has already played in Premiership and his price wouldn’t be too much for our war chest. Villa would be too expensive for 12 million pounds given his age and recent injury record and I don’t see him as Wenger-signing while Jovetić would probably have to go through period of adaption to league with higher pace than the one he is used to in Italy.

  76. jgc says:

    HH and TA

    Thanks for the comments.. Quick responses:

    a. HH, I agree we ofte score “too many” and our median goals per game (not average) is much closer to 1.0 than 2.0 which creates problems.

    b. For striking I use ManU as “a” standard simply because VJ, like it or not, is still one of the best in the EPL, ManU are on top (good median per game), and with Rooney, Hernandez et al they have depth to do it too. That said, you are right they arent the only ones to think of.. But, perhaps one of the most consistent

    c. TA: somehow we need more incisive attack, that creates more and better chances. Currently, we are not incisive enough and that is a very subjective term in itself, but, how I feel. Re: Jovetic, I have to take everyone else’s opinion that it is his drive that will make the difference. Certainly, VJ had the drive and that drive made us more “incisive” last year (at least at times) than this year. I.e. I dont think it’s something one can answer exactly..

    cheers — jgc

  77. Bond James says:

    HH,

    staying at Malaga may not be in Isco’s best interest since no champs league next season, world cup year and so on.

    he will want to be plying his trade on the biggest stage to make a better case for the national team.

    the thing about pre – contracts is that they do sooner or later reach the surface so to speak, we have a pre-contact for nacho arriving in the summer from malaga which was fast tracked to jan, same was the case for lewis holtby (more common knowledge than our deal).

    what ever the case might be, most of us won’t know what players we get until it’s officially made public.

    Re- Draxler, then i do remember a certain wayne rooney also make such comments and even wear the slogans “once a blue always a blue” , suffice to say the following season he was a red.

  78. Bond James says:

    by the way, i also made a mistake the other day when i said barca owed us 7 million (4 from cesc and 3 from song).

    it’s actually more than 8 million (they still owe us more than 5 million from cesc, and more than 3 for song).

    so i won’t be surprised if we actually got villa for a net spend of 3-4 millions ? that will be acceptable but to spend an actual 12 million (cash outflow ) would be bad business for a player who is at the wrong side of 30 (will be 32 in december).

  79. Highbury Harmony says:

    TA, ultimately I feel as though it’d be a mistake to depend on OG to be our key finisher. There’s no way of truly telling, just my opinion and gut feel. I think he’s a good finisher and a quality option for our attack, but ideally I’d want someone better. However, you are right that he likely deserves another chance.

    With that said, if Jovetic can aptly fill the DB10 role, does that not negate OG’s usefulness in a way? Jovetic then becomes the main distributor in terms of receiving the ball with his back to goal and finding everyone else. To counter my own point, OG was more effective in a set-up where Belhanda played the DB10 role at Montpellier, so maybe Jovetic is what OG needs to properly thrive. Hopefully, he is not as wasteful next season if we get Jovetic.

    I agree that Remy and Villa should not be priority buys. They add depth, but when you consider the fact that one of Poldi or Theo will be displaced from the starting line-up, we suddenly have decent depth scoring on our bench. If OG cannot be clinical enough for us, then we will need to reconcile this in the January TW at the latest with a more dependable finisher (if Jovetic does not become that man as well).

  80. Highbury Harmony says:

    BJ :), which is why I said for what it’s worth! Only time will tell what Draxler will do.

    I’m not privy as to what Isco will or won’t do, but I do believe it would be in his best interests to stay at Malaga over a move to Chel$ea. Their AM is cluttered as it is and they’re more likely to bring in a top striker like Falcao or Lewandowski before committing more cash to another CAM. Also, one must consider that they are in hot pursuit of Andre Schurrle (rumoured to be a done deal by relatively unreliable sites) who will ultimately play on the wing. That forces Mata centrally, vying for the CAM position with Oscar already.

    $hitty makes the most sense since they lack a true CAM since they move Silva out wide often and play with 2 strikers up front since Tevez produces at a similar rate to a CAM.

  81. Highbury Harmony says:

    Jgc, all good points and one must also consider that Rooney may just be having an off year. Even if he never reaches 30 again with van Judas in the line-up, he’s still capable of notching 15-25 goals a year. I think he’ll bounce back next season and get more familiar with sharing the ST position.

  82. Milo says:

    We could always play Jovetic in the “Bergkamp role”, and put Theo in to the middle above Jovetic, to feed off of his flicks and through-balls…Walcott might play with more conviction as a central striker, with someone closer to him. This is assuming we change formations. I have a feeling we won’t though. This would mean that Jovetic would have to adapt and play the attacking midfield role, or “in the hole” as it is termed in the footballing vernacular. I don’t think that best utilizes Jovetic’s ever-improving finishing ability. This is what I think will happen. Wenger wants Jovetic to lead the line for us. He wants him to improve his finishing like Van Shitsicle did, and will be willing to sacrifice some of his creativity in order to accomplish this. This would then mean that Wenger could keep his beloved three in central midfield. I don’t think we need three players there all of the time, but he knows a tonne more than I do. It will be interesting to watch, that is for sure! 😀

  83. Highbury Harmony says:

    Milo, Jovetic would undoubtedly offer us more variety in attack and it would be quite interesting to see Theo and Giroud rotate in the main ST role with Jovetic playing behind them. Both offer different looks and both would benefit from his creativity and ability to open up space for them. Having a player with as delicate a touch as Jovetic, in addition to the ability to beat a man or score on his own will draw in defenders and free up others.

    While I believe Santi and Jack are great at drawing attention away from others, neither have the combination of being able to beat a player (Santi lacks this) and efficiency in and around the box translating to scoring goals and assists (Jack lacks this). It’s a win-win for us in theory!

    I concur that AW is unlikely to alter his rigid formations. My belief is that if he spends big on Jovetic, he will view him as our answer to van Judas and play him as the lone striker. On rare occasions, he may push him further back field and line-up in a 4-4-1-1, but you are right that this is just not AW’s style. AW is fascinated with players who are versatile and supremely skilled, so it would come no surprise to me if Jovetic displaced Giroud out of the starting line-up, with Santi and Theo near him on the wings.

    What becomes interesting then, is the fact that it becomes less imperative to have a player playing close to Jovetic, which may ultimately make Jack more effective as a CAM (can focus on dropping back more, opposed to staying very high to get OG the ball). Jovetic has the pace and ability to drop deep in attack and rejoin the attack, as well as staying up top to score goals when given the opportunity. He’ll obviously need to refine his finishing skills, but he’s a top notch player who will likely learn fast.

  84. Highbury Harmony says:

    Also Milo (you’ll be happy to hear this), I would be happy to see Jack/Ramsey rotate at the B2B role if we were to accommodate a formation shift to get both Jovetic and another striker into the line-up, so long as we buy a dedicated beast of a DM. I value Ramsey’s work rate and dedication to his defensive duties and other players on our squad would do well to follow his example in giving 100% every match.

    At worst, Ramsey becomes a utility player for us who never complains and can slot in at numerous positions. The upside is that he continues to keep his game simple and build confidence and becomes the next Arteta pre-Song departure. Hopefully he can work on his long and through balls and he could certainly become a nice dual DM pivot as a deep-lying playmaker (provided he improves his appetite for risk on passing and his accuracy on his range).

    I do, however, find it difficult to leave Jack out of the line-up. He is the true driver of our team and plays the game with a certain passion that is non-existent in the rest of our squad at times. Jack’s ability to carry the ball up field and take on defenders makes him the ideal first-choice though to play alongside a beast of a DM (not to diminish what I said about Ramsey though 🙂 ).

  85. Red Arse says:

    Morning Pumpernickels, 🙂

    Beautiful day, even tho’ Fergie stitched us up yesterday …………………… bastard!

  86. TotalArsenal says:

    Morning fine fellow G’s 😛

    NEW POST – NEW POST! 🙂

    Redders takes us through the fundamental flaws of FFP and makes a strong case for Financial Freedom Play. Enjoy!:)

  87. TA..read back in a local newspaper that Wanyama’s dad favors a move 4 his son to us…he believes his son will develop better under Le Prof…so fingers crossed!!!!

    PS..his name translated to English means ‘Animal’!!!

  88. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks for update KG,

    I heard about ‘Animal’ and I love Wanyama even more to come to the Home of Football now! 🙂

  89. Milo says:

    HH, I still don’t understand why you keep intimating that I favour Ramsey over our other players…I don’t like or dislike him more than Wilshere, Rosicky, Jenkinson, Arteta…anyone of our players really…they all offer us something different and that is important. Some are better than others, yes, but they can’t all be top quality. Someone of a higher quality will displace Ramsey from our starting 11, if we buy, and when that happens, I just hope that they display the same type of drive and commitment that he does. I remember when he was criticised for not getting “stuck in enough”, and now that he is, he’s being criticised for not having enough quality in attack. I just found it exasperating, is all really. He doesn’t have enough quality in attack. He might not be able to adjust or rectify this problem. He might be able to, I don’t know. I just hope people can appreciate the divers abilities that all our players can contribute. Not just him. People are now starting to criticise Jack Wilshere, and I find it amusing, because this is exactly what happened to Aaron, a year or so ago, when he was coming back from injury…the cycle continues, unfortunately 😦

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