Is it the one or the many that we need? Shakespeare and football

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A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse! – Shakespeare, from Richard III

This seems to be the battle cry recently about our play, especially after the Mancs episode and any less than brilliant effort of recent. Substitute a “horse” for “the magic guy who links all play and bosses midfield” or just “Cesc” and you about have it summed up… or use “Iniesta” if it suits.. 🙂

Arsenal-v-Barcelona-029[1]

That it comes from Richard III a Shakespeare play with a central theme about the tension between fatalism, and let’s face it we are all Gooners, and free will, makes it the perfect quote to encapsulate our desire for (even?) more and our fatalistic attitude that we are forever short that one magic piece of the puzzle. That it takes place in England, even better!

However, as I have said before, football is a game for anyone who can count to five. Even better, if you explain this later, hold up four fingers to emphasize just how simple a game we are talking here. It is always better to attack with more players than the opposition have, … always.  It’s that simple, or more succinctly, it is better to play 3 v 2 than 2 v 2 or 2 v 3. Obvious, no? So, how to get from there to our current “issues” such as they might be?

The main thing is that on attack, the motion is fluid and players have to make themselves available to stretch defenses and create numbers. Simple as that. If you are continually playing “uphill” into (larger, pressing) numbers you are one long ball away from the opposite. This is guaranteed to be true because unless the ref has failed to count accurately both sides have the same number on the field. Want more evidence, Ozil, game 1 for Arsenal, long ball to Ozil on to Giroud, goal… From uphill against numbers to 2 v 1 and goal…

Football is a simple game! Don’t believe me? Try Da Vinci, he was Italian so you know he was probably into football:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

which of course matches our prejudices about Arsenal football! J

So, what’s gone wrong? I don’t think we lack a single guy, but offense is a team or unit game. Not one player, but all working to create numbers where it matters. In particular:

Defending third: The extra player added is almost always a defender coming up just a little. This is where Sagna, Gibbs and even BFG excel.

Middle third: this is where it all happens, and where the football pundits always look to say “see XYZ wasn’t into the game today, or was taken out of today’s game”. But, in reality, it’s the added player that makes it all easy. Usually, an outside back coming forward or overlapping, or a striker coming back. Witness OG on goal #1 I believe vs Napoli, coming back to about 40m from goal and on the side line, to flick on Ramsey and then Ozil and .. history! OG was the extra player there even though Ramsey had the ball and was unmarked for a moment. He made it 2 v 1 and we were away.

In other games it has been other players.

Attacking third: Well you rarely get numbers there if you didn’t already have them so it’s about creative motion, like TR pulling defenders to allow others to score, or about OG isolating himself 1 v 1 for a cross with the defender blocked out (witness Spurs goal!)

Overall, it’s about the extra man and the effort made to get there to provide the impetus and numbers to take out defending players and create opportunities.

Thus, link up play, that drive that some feel we are missing, isn’t one player, it’s the unit. The unit is not fully succeeding to get the most out of what it has as component parts.

So, why is that? Some reasons might include two F-words (no, not those Cockie!):

  • Fatigue: we are a bit thin with the (love this but forget where I read it) “injury sniper” targeting us most frequently this year. OG, AR, Ozil are all a bit over played. Santi is underplayed and coming back into form as is JW
  • Familiarity: Santi is new to Ozil, as is most of the team. Same will hold true as Theo, Ox, Poldi come back. Gelling takes time and we need be patient, especially as Ozil has at least one bit of magic each game, and is patient enough to be the guy who “runs away” to create space.

And that’s it. The main issue with wishing for “the one” the “focus of all our attention” is that it’s bad, single minded football. For evidence I point you towards two cases in point:

  1. Arsenal with RvP and without: With him, all balls went one place. We were predictable, defendable and beatable. Without, we were better, maybe not in placing last year, but better as a team. Now, even more so!
  2. RM vs Barca: Both are galactic teams. But one is a galactic team with a titanic striker (CR 7), ie RM. The other is a titanic team with a galactic striker (Messi), or Barca. Is it any coincidence that the slightly more team focused unit has edged solidly ahead in recent years? I think not myself.

Further, for those doubt witness last years champions league finalists. Both BM and BD had excellent teams who happened to be made of top stars, not vice versa really. Especially, BM as BD were a bit thinner in squad and thus in my mind fortunate with the injury gods, and would that we were so! J

Thus, for the Mancs game, I put it to a bit of fatigue. The fatigue means the last step doesn’t get made, the last effort doesn’t get put in, and thus the last bounce of the ball doesn’t go your way. We are thin and will rectify that shortly. One hopes. But, I don’t think we lost so much as didn’t have that last step.

In general, one plays with the team or hand one is dealt. We have a great team. Iniesta would make us different but not improve us. We need to find the right combinations and effort to get numbers with those we do have. When we do that right on defense and transition (as I have written on), and on attack with the extra players coming forward, we are unstoppable. If we lack anything it is the confidence in our own ability to make it so. Or to quote the bard, about the team and the fans perhaps:

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” From Measure for Measuire.

I.e. if we lack anything it is resolve, which I think is growing every game despite any apparent setbacks, and perhaps explains slower starts first time around against “big names” like BD and the Mancs (but not Spurs or Liverpool, so how about that! J ).

And thus endeth my rant. Attack, like defense, like football is a game played by, and won or lost by, teams, not individuals. Some may play better or worse, but if one is marked or pressed out, others should be there to take it all forward with impact. In fact, focus on one, like Ozil, should make it easier for others!

We need to see more of this and I think we will as we gel further and players out injured come back into play.

Thus, to end, as I started, with the Bard… but modified because football **IS** poetry, really:

To want a single star, or not to want such: that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler to seek singular stars or simply seek crass numbers

‘Gainst the slings and arrows of outrageous competitors

Or to take arms against a sea of pundits, agents and second guessers…

 

And that is your question.. I think we play beautiful football and increasingly with resolve. We don’t need the right star, we need to be a bit better rested, which may require some reinforcements in January, and to gel even more than we have, and to go into the biggest games with a touch less anxiety and a bit more “tude” from the get go. We have already shown we can play beautifully and create the numbers that signal victory, next comes even more consistency.

Or to be more simple. We don’t need another Fabregas or Iniesta or anyone else. We already have the stars and perhaps the whole squad, we just need to get the numbers!

Or even more simply, football is a simple sport and religion with many small intangibles. Like any religion, we simple folk are always striving to explain the various “slings and arrows of fortune” with simplistic answers like “if only we had player Q” all would be solved, or “it’s player Y’s fault”. But, really, so much is simplicity of numbers, and the inevitable complexity of creating them versus an active opponent seeking to do the same!

What do you think? Do we need to replace parts, or get the current parts better?

 

Will the threat of Theo’s speed and ability to create numbers make Ozil even more unstoppable, or really speaking, make him less able to be targeted?

 

Who are the best of those out injured to complement or augment our midfield to be the “multiple threats from everywhere” that it is (and has already shown it can be)?

 

Written by: jgc

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51 Responses to Is it the one or the many that we need? Shakespeare and football

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Great post jgc and written from the brain and heart at the same time. 🙂

    Love the poetry quotes and the structure of your post: top stuff.

    I have a dilemma: I love what and how you write and yet I don’t fully agree. I think you underestimate the importance of certain roles being played effectively in a team and are confusing it a bit with wanting a star.

    But, it is late, and I will read your post again tomorrow and give it some more thought – it truly well deserves it.

  2. geoffchase says:

    TA,

    Thanks for the kind words. A quick response for your thinking if you are still awake..

    There are roles and tehy do have to be played, I agree. But, thsoe roles are more fluid. If one puts 2 players to follow Ozil everywhere, or to harass and assault AR, then that attention will bear fruit. That player will be more than marked out, give or take some magic. We all remember the magic but forget that others have the opportunity to take over that role

    Simply, every action has a cost. Invest more to stop one person and you succeed. The cost then is only paid if others on the attacking side dont step up. It is where fatigue and a long season are first evident in those missing last steps.

    Thus, while there are roles, too much rigidity about them makes it easy to stop you. We did this to Napoli in fact, or at least in my opinion. Others did it to us in the RvJ years, stop supply and stop Arsenal. His “magic” was enough to carry us, but it is better rely, my opinion again, on “crass numbers” where you are able to win without magic.

    So, yes, there does need to be some roles and organisation. But, link up play and that overall cohesion come best, not solely, from individuals stepping up to make it simpler to play.

    Even more simply, relying on one player can be the hard road. I am lazy and prefer the simpler road where one takes the best option of many.

    Finally, if you believe in football as ritualised warfare, then Sun Tzu may be for you, try this:

    “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

    I would say winning first is finding numbers, which is a team game, rather than going to war first and trying to force it when you have other options.

    And in the same line from the same guy, also applicable to football, I think, try:

    “In difficult ground, press on; On hemmed-in ground, devise strategems; In death ground, fight”

    Which I would see as the attacking third, the middle third, and teh defensive third, respectively.

    cheers — jgc

  3. geoffchase says:

    PS: fifth post at BK, do I get my own link now!? 😀

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Jgc 🙂

    Travelling and long day today. Will get back at some point in evening. Welcome to the Fiver Group 🙂

  5. geoffchase says:

    No worries, nearing collapse after a long day myself…

  6. Gerry says:

    Geoff – Needless to say, I am not going to argue with a single point that you have put forwards. I love the eloquent way you simplify these complex issues. That may be more prose than poetry, but beautifully expressed none the less. Great stuff.

    I suppose what people think about the Cesc factor, is that ability to supply those key passes that cut out the markers?

    As 17TH has said, the long pass is quicker than the running man.

    In many ways that is what we are missing. But for those great passes you have to have the receiver on the same wavelength, and that takes time to develop. The Alex Song and RVP as an example. Ozil is probably the player most capable of producing these type of passes. But the simplicity that he can make it look usually begins before he even has the ball at his feet. That ability to see the pass first, then get the ball, and finally execute the pass. But that needs movement from others, which a the team duty

    Ozil has it. Cesc has it. We have seen Ramsey show glimpses of it. I believe it is what marks out Zelalem as a future great player, is because he has it.

    These are the individuals that I think TA is thinking of as game changers. But it all means nought if Ozil looks up and finds that X has not run into the ideal place. Moment lost?

    That is where the ‘team’ need to be at one with each other. Having the players like Rosicky with his movement off the ball, and drive with it, are so key. Having Cazorla pulling defenders this way and that. The instinctive Ramsey driving to where a space is, and instinctively know the ball may find him. In defense, Flamini has that same quality to know where an attacker will want play the ball and block it, but also when a fellow defender is being harried, know where he wants to play the ball and be there to receive it..

    Without these extra players doing their bit, the Cesc’s, Ozil’s, and Iniesta’s of this world will look like an expensive luxury.

    We have seen Ozil and Walcott link up when he has been available, and when Ramsey is in full flow, but we need that to happen all over the field. the Sanit/Gibbs is not as good as the Poldi/Gibbs connection? The Rosicky/Sagna is different to the Walcott/ Sagna, but the Gnabry/Sagna has the beginnings of good understanding? Most of these examples of working together are the in short passing area. The long diagonal ball that cut cuts out the crowded middle, but is most seen going to Sagna, less so to Gibbs, and tat makes us predictable. As does the high central ball to Giroud if he has nobody to nod it down to, or control and pass before he is crowded out. Linking all these areas together is what will make us a better and more consistent side.

    All these things will come in time. When it clicks, we play the most amazing football and do not appear to need anybody. When it doesn’t, the focus falls on those not producing with the ball. As you have rightly said, the real focus should be on the others who are failing to do the essential nitty gritty to provide openings. Luckily the players themselves know this, and is why team harmony gets you past a poor game, to do better in the next?

    We do need strengthening in some areas in order not too over work our key players. Now whether this comes from the outside, or within, is something only the manager will decide.

    The Ox setback may make him more wary of over using the more forward of juniors? I feel they should be used more at the end of games in order to see if the can do the occasional start, even if only for an hour or so. They will be players who are fully integrated into the way we play, rather than have to wait for a season to get the best out of an import?

    But who ever is added to the starting line up, takes away one from those who have been forging the links we want to see. The next 6 weeks will be key to how integrated the squad as a whole is, before any speculation is resolved or quashed in January.

    In your words quoted, jgc, ‘Win the battle, then go to war’

  7. geoffchase says:

    Gerry,

    EXACTLY! The players are key, but only in he unit working together. As I said, the fraying we see may be just fatigue and (lack of) familiarity…

    Equally, your point about two C words, combinations and chemistry, is also key. IMO, Santi is far more complete and talented then Poldi, but, if his “fit” with Gibbs is less effective as a whole.. Well, in my experience, the coach has a test of character!

    I agree that TA and I are “violently agreeing” .. Individuals change games only with service and support (2 S words for those counting! 😉 ) .. We need them, but as part of a unit with cohesion and, at the top levels (1-2nd vs 3-4th) with multiple threat vectors … Now if only he’d see it! 🙂

    I agree e next six weeks should be very great and interesting. How long, glass half full here, has it been since we’ve had so much to be excited and debate about…. Ie without as much fatalism!??

    Thanks for the kind words!

    Cheers — jgc

  8. geoffchase says:

    Gerry

    I’d also note, I’m a huge Cesc fan. One to one, I prefer his balance of ‘tude and drive to Ozils more laid back appearing approach. BUT, for our team now, Ozil is the one. Why?

    More creator for our guns. Al guns need ammo supply and that is more Ozil then Cesc tho both are excellent. Ozil is just slightly more excellent in that way, and what we need now.

    And

    Our drive and ‘tude in future, and now, will come from AR, JW and Theo, who have it in droves, and are thus, my opinion, best offset and supported by a top or über creator. Ozil..

    Thus, IMO, Ozil was the better for our team for combinations and chemistry going forward, tho if Cesc had returned I’d have been just as (more so) ecstatic! 🙂

    Cheers — jgc

  9. Gerry says:

    Geoff – We are so on the same page here.

    It is all about the players we have, and probably more so with the players coming through?

    The point I was making about Santi and Gibbs is really the issues in the team in micro? Santi is a twist and turn type, looking to make a pass. When Gibbs his on his outside and he receives a short pass, his first instinct is to turn back, try and get past the defender and head towards the middle. With Podolski, it is direct and forwards. This suits Gibbs as he can go down the line and be an outlet ball. Similarly on the other side, Sagna is better with the players who go with him wide making space for the cross. Rosicky tends to stay away, preferring to be the safe outlet ball dropping back a bit. But he can also come inside and exchange places with Ozil, who can go towards the byline and cross? I see less of this fluidity on the other side, unless Ramsey heads over that way?

    It will be interesting to see how they line up to accommodate Podolski?

    But like you, I don’t see us playing with a central play-maker directing traffic. The thing I have noticed with Ozil, he has not been our instant ‘go to’ guy that Cesc was? One of the reasons may be is because he does not take up a fixed position? We are equally adept at using Santi and Rosicky, and it is that fluidity that makes it hard to mark. Likewise when Ramsey is in full flow, he can be an outlet ball anywhere. It simply is not formation football as we would know it?

  10. Gerry says:

    Two nonsense stories doing the rounds today.

    NB23 is one. It is bound to be one of those selective part quotes taken out of context. don’t fall for it.

    The other is Flamini in hot water for cutting the sleeves of a shirt that had a poppy on it, and would be used in a charity auction? Come on guys, it is one of a kind and will go for far more than any of the others?

    We are of course in an interlull period, better known as a silly season?

  11. Hey JGC,all

    What an excellent read..thoroughly enjoyed it..great work JGC!!

    I am more than happy with what we have right now and see no need of replacing ANY part of this Ozil-inspired machine..just a bit of luck on injuries and we could all see what a special team we have

    On Theo’s impact on our squad..i’ve said and i’ll keep saying it..his partnership with Ozil will be the most devastating EVER!..Theo’s runs behind the defense with Ozil supplying those ‘butter-through-the-knife’ passes, these two will bring the VERY BEST out of each other. We know Theo improves with each season so i’m dang sure he’ll improve his finishing even further

    Whom among the injured do i cherish to have in our team??..definitely the OX..he can do it all and is a combination of Theo(Pace) and the Ipod(Directness)..read somewhere he’s suffered a set back and we aren’t to see him in action till 2014..shame!!!

    Again..EXCELLENT post man!!

  12. Afternoon Creepy Colon Cowboys 😆

    That was a lot of head scratching for a description of a simple game, but you are The BK Prof, so I would expect nothing less !. 😆

    If all teams were the same in fitness and dedication in a league, then it would come down to the talented individuals in the teams imo. One man teams can make that difference and has done in the past, there are probably quite a few examples, but I will give one…..Maradona won Napoli 2 titles way back !. Play as a team, but if all teams do the same, then it is usually the individual brilliance that sways it.
    Nowadays it`s not just enough to have one SQ player to win a title, it`s coming to the point ( because of the Chav/City factor ) where you need a team full of them !.
    I don’t think there is much difference in the top teams squads strength wise and certainly don’t think there is much difference in our strongest first team eleven as to ManU, City, Chavs, Spuds or `Pool ones. The big difference at the moment is the Injury factor of which I previously posted a link proving we are the worst off !.
    I also don’t get the fatigue factor, we had 3 and a half days of recovery against ManU and as far as I know it was more a case of the “Flu Factor ! . (” and the extra men factor, in which I mean…….well, it`s a bit suspicious when the Reff and his assistants change in the ManU dressing rooms and then proceed to join in the ManU team huddle ! )
    I`m sure, as a Professor you will have al the facts on sports science , but, these are professionals, surely 3 and a half days is sufficient time to recover being that ( if I`m correct ) recovery is the most important part .
    However, I am still just a van driver and you are still just ( just hahaha ) a Professor who happens to write top posts !.

    ” My arse, my arse, a King came up my Arse ! ” – VCC, from……. Memoirs of a Royal bed chamber trannie !.

  13. Really great stuff there, Geoff and a great way to start the week! I may have to show it to my wife (the English professor, who teaches a bit of the Bard)…

    Anyone who actually reads what I write would know that I’m in agreement here. I’ve always maintained that the positional definitions people use are waaaay too rigid, at least in terms of attack. It’s human nature, however, to need a framework for discussion…

    We ARE a solid team (led by a fine manager)… The thing about (club) football, however, is that it goes on and on and on, and, if you win (in the tournaments), it goes on some more. On any given day a “team” can beat a group of superior individuals. Over time, however, the assembled squads tend to win out. Wigan (who, IMO, had a fine coach and were capable of excellent team play…) won the FA cup last season, but also got relegated, for example. As such, I have a measure of indulgence for those always lusting for more (quality players)…

    It’s all the more apparent when a virus hits the team. (That we were “in” the United match as much as we were *could* be seen as a positive…) Getting the sick and the injured back should be a tonic. We should, however, expect the “bigger” teams to start doing better as well as they get used to their new managers and their pecking orders become more predictable. Due to the enormous pressure of expectations (and the need to get up for 4th last year…) our guys have known that their performance is judged as it contributes to our results. The players at the Manc Clubs and Chelsea (and Totts, Pool and Everton…) are starting to figure it out… Additionally we’ve only had the couple of players (Flamini and Ozil) to work into the fold. It’s tougher with 3 or 5 or 10 new faces…Everybody has to re-prove themselves when a new manager arrives as well…

    Thus, I believe the advantage of our team play (beautifully described…) will be leveling off and we’ll need to take it to the next level. The threats of Walcott and Poldolski will only help in the numbers game (at the attacking end) IF they can take their (inevitable) chances. If opponents aren’t worried about our “goal” threats it only takes a single man (or less…) to slow them down and they can work their own advantages elsewhere. Of course, putting Theo (and/or LuLu) on the pitch means taking off one (or more) of our quality MFs, but I think this will be a positive thing. As much as AW wants to give his players freedom, the experience of these guys (except maybe Ozil…) playing with other extremely capable players is limited. In the United game I noticed a lot of our play dying because of improper spacing near the top of their box. Take out a midfielder, bring on a second striker, (nominally starting from a wide position) and it’s just that little bit of a positional crutch which might help. Still, in the tight games or ones where we have a lead, I’d love to see us playing possession football in the middle of the pitch (3 v 2s, endlessly, in a tika-taka-esque style) rather than going hell for leather in the traditional English mode…Our defending and counter-attacking has improved but isn’t proven at the highest level. Possession football proves itself as it happens…

    So, great post and it’s got me really looking forward to the real football resuming. I really appreciate the reminder that it’s a team game. The cameras (and the pundits) focus in on individual players and individual moments (high-and low-lights…) so it’s natural that we do too. Trying to look beyond those lenses, we will still tend to grasp at patterns and details which can be remembered and described. When it all clicks, however, it can go beyond even that and become something beautiful, real and (almost) impossible to dissect… Maybe?…

  14. James Bond says:

    lads lads lads, football and Shakespeare , don’t go well together – hence the amount of visitors and lack of comments i reckon, since i feel JGC has written a master piece – very well written and eloquently put forward !

    Gerry and 17HT, have covered all the basis and pretty much said what i had in mind – however i will come straight to the point on your questions…

    – no, we don’t need to replace anyone as such, we have all the parts needed and so it happens, they are not at the right place (treatment room and not on the pitch).

    – Theo playing with Ozil already has shown that it makes Ozil more effective, in one of the games, he provided Theo with 3-5 golden opportunities to score only for Theo to finish them off

    – people will say Theo, but i will say Podolski – why ? because Poldi’s understanding with Ozil, Giroud and the rest …also, he is the best finisher we have at Arsenal in my opinion, the lad is still 28 and i reckon, his best is yet to come hence he is one of the top earners at the club , the numbers will takecare of themselves, as long as he manages to stay fit – he can do a super job even as a super sub , people will forget about the likes of Dzeko’s, Hernandez’s and so on, Poldi has enough quality to be a game changer and have that direct approach towards goal – he’s not one for fancy passing , if he see’s an opportunity to pull the trigger, he does it .

    on a side note, Ox delayed return is a blessing in disguise for Ger-Na-Bry.

    🙂

  15. Gerry says:

    JB- It is an interlull. People may not comment, but might still have a read.

    Yes, that is the combination I want see Poldi and Gnabry,and Theo on the wing, if Giroud comes back just short of dead?

    Southampton is the tricky one, but they should carry the other two off before the tricky trio?

    But OGAAT – France v Ukraine.

    It has been tough on the Ox. He walked off the pitch like he would be out for a week or 10 days. It seemed a fairly regular knock too? I doubt if he sees it as a blessing in disguise though?

  16. James Bond says:

    no top notch professional see’s a long term injury, especially one that could hamper their world cup spot as a blessing in disguise…but yeah, it’s a strange one that, as the other player who seemed to have come out worse, was able to resume and was fine and The Ox has to be out for so long, very unfortunate – he’s been really unlucky with the injuries so far in his career.

    Southampton, will be a great game, it’s like playing Barcelona B, the way they press and press or much like Chile, if you may but only difference being that we are the mighty Arsenal, well rested and eager to resume our march forward with full throttle !

    keeping fingers crossed for France !

  17. 17highburyterrace says:

    Lack of comments? Was it Shakespeare who said “Pearls before swine”? No, in fact, it comes from Jesus (of Nazareth)…

    It’s all a little touchy-feely here amongst the Bergampesque as the regular greetings from Fozzie and Cockie will attest… Ah well, quality over quantity any day, I say… 😀

    Agreed about O-GAAT, Gerry, but I was thinking So’ton…

    If France can do it, it will be a big one…AND it turns out I get that match on the telly (in Spanish) so I will be watching. Kos rested is fine, but if they get through (on a clean sheet one would guess…) his spot will be in trouble… We’ve also got the return match of Sweden-Portugal as well as Engand-Germany and US friendlies. The NZ-Mexico match happens at past my bedtime, but that one seems O-Vah… Football, finally, is kind of getting some coverage over here…

    The blessing in disguise idea is very interesting… Wasn’t it the Roman poet Sextus Propertius who said (in his Elegies): “Always toward absent lovers love’s tide stronger flows,” or something… The Ox has a tough road back, but maybe if England take a(nother) beating (at the hands of the Germans) he’ll be like the first guy I quoted (i.e., a savior)…

    It’s all a part of the “modern” experience of football. Since one can only watch so much football (or none at all…) we rely on the media to highlight and summarize and conclude. It’s collective group-think mostly related to conclusions drawn from the “big moments” of matches. They’re called, “talking points,” and talk we do 🙄 ….

    Let’s face it, the essence of football is boring. In this day and age we can record the matches and watch them over and over…Do we? With the exception of Gerry (maybe), I would think not…Instead it’s a race to make declarations (and vent)… The game itself is totally different. Good players work hard and don’t get too excited about the ups and downs that we as fans sputter on about. It’s all fine, we need a break from the drudgery of real life, I guess. For those guys, however, it IS real life and they just need to keep their heads down and keep working. On that note, it’s a shame Nick Bendtner didn’t get his toe to Sagna’s cross the weekend before last–might’ve helped in his transfer to Barca or RM…not to mention helped us pick up a very nice point… Ah well, in his mind, all seems fine… 😆

    Like Nick, I need to get to work or at least make some big plans…

  18. I must be the only one who would love to see all the countries with Arsenal players not qualify !. No ” Injurie/Fatigue/WC Burnout” excuses after a summer of rest !. So c`mon Ukraine and why didn`t some bastard knock Germany, Spain and England out !.

    What an Arsenal patriot I am !. Make Islington a country !. A Monarchy or Republic ?……I don’t care……..King Arsene 1st or President Arsene !.

    Arsenaland….Wengerland…..what say you traitorous bastardos !.

  19. 17highburyterrace says:

    Indeed, Cockie and keep those middling-sex people out…

  20. Gerry says:

    Geoff will be pleased with this link, as Flamini tells you like it is. Attack together, defend together.:

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/features/-we-are-the-gladiators-on-the-pitch-

  21. Too many of you fcukers are much more cleverer than me, all these quotes from the likes of Shakespeare, Plato, Da Vinci, etc` drive a person who was brought up on The Beano, Dandy, Mad, Juicy Jugs….. well……Mad !.
    I prefer plain English meaningful quotes such as……” If you were to freeze time, would you know whether I was pissing into the urinal or syphoning the piss out of the urinal ? ” – from, William Shakecock, Itchy Park Toilets, Whitechapel 1971 . hahaha

  22. First let me say, I like the design of this stadium, but is it any surprise that it looks like a giant vagina when the person who gave the World Cup to Qatar is that prick, Septic Bladder !.

  23. geoffchase says:

    KG

    Thanks for the kind words. I too am interested to see if more can be made of Theo’s best attributes than we have before. How Ox/Pod/Santi fit into a unit or playing time could be interesting. But, with Theo we have 4 for 2 spots if you consider AR an automatic selection right now.

    cheers — jgc

  24. geoffchase says:

    CM

    “If all teams were the same in fitness and dedication in a league, then it would come down to the talented individuals in the teams imo. ”

    ==> Unless one team has a style of play that better suits their players and their players talents. In which case they will be seen to be the better players and team…

    That’s the hard part, separating talent from what is seen within a system that supports their talent. Maradona is a great point. Great great talent but in a system that supported it, he was even more effective then elsewhere in Europe (ever)… Was it all him or the system around him?? 🙂

    Regarding injuries, 3.5 days per game is enough or close enough, but not over 4 weeks. So, you lose X per game to be recovered, but typically only recover 90-99% of X.. Over time that deficit, both mental and physical, builds and requires some rest. How you keep physically active men at a peak the longest is a heavy science.

    For example, the US and other military’s invest heaps in metabolic research to see how to keep troops “resilient” for longer, as in more acctive and energetic on average, because the long term deficit and fatigue is what causes mistakes and gets you killed (in the military and in football more figuratively).

    Thus, it’s about resilience and maintaining peak or near peak levels for a maximum of the time. The teams that do this best have an edge in the crowded part of the schedule.

    Equally, this deficit is well recognised by the Oilers et al who simply buy a few extra first teams and substitute a lot. It’s the simpler but far more costly solution, and, I think, bad for the game but…

    cheers — jgc

  25. geoffchase says:

    17

    Thanks for the kind words and ask your wife to be kind to my misuse of the Bard! 🙂

    I would ntoe we agree, but in regards to viruses, and my response to CM and others. Fatigue deficit, even small ones, add stress. Stress causes initially a rise in immune response ability. Over the longer term, mental and physical stress reduce immune response. Thus, when a virus hits, it often hits more than one player.

    Your wife will see this where she teaches, one student gets ill, then a second, a third, and then 10-20 more and then seemingly they are all ill. Always at midterm time when assignments and midterm exams stack up against them.

    cheers — jgc

  26. geoffchase says:

    JB,

    Generally agreed. I think that the real question on January is whether Poldi can stand in effectively for OG. I think yes based on past and his understanding as you rightly call out with Ozil from the German side.

    Else, we need someone to take some stress off OG I suspect

    Regarding others. I am a bit nervous about BFG. He is highly durable though. But, when he is out and TV is in we still dont seem as solid. Others have discussed this at length. I think for me, if I was manager/emperor for the day, I’d say that if a great CB came available for some reason in January (not sure how but then Ozil was available in summer!) then we should grab them.. Equally so for a younger up and comer in the position. But, not just to fill a slot.

    ps: thanks for the kind words, but football IS poetry! (in motion…) ..:)

    cheers — jgc

  27. All right Professor, you win !. hahaha

    By the way, as you know, I value your enormous grey matter opinion, so should I be laughing at this video or angry ?.

  28. Something different I thought you boyz may like !.

    http://www.arsenalcartoons.com/blog.html

  29. Good news !, Giroud has been dropped by France !.

  30. geoffchase says:

    17,

    I would definitely agree that media and access have made it far to easy to be given “data” and opinions that create turmoil as that creates traffic and thus money or interest in products. Witness the terror window. I thus agree it becomes easy to desensitise fans to the sport which sort of robs something form it all.. It’s one reason I like BK, less anguish, more actual discussion..

    cheers — jgc

  31. Fournier Michael says:

    Yes football is a TEAM sport BUT…. In football also ONE mistake by a single player can ruin a solid defensive display or blow a attacking chance in a game that often has few chances. So the quality of the individuals DOES matter no matter how well you play together. And when 2 teams are well drilled it often comes down to ether a mistake by one individual or a moment of individual brilliance. AND more then a few players still in this Arsenal squad have provided both moments of brilliance and mistakes. What will make the difference this season will be more constant solid performances with fewer mistakes. That is why I say the addition of Flamini has as much to do with the improved form as the arrival of Ozil.

  32. geoffchase says:

    Gerry,

    good link, I would also note regarding discussion of fatigue and various tolls his quote

    “In the Premier League, from the first minute to the last minute, there is a very high intensity. It’s very physical. You don’t have an easy part of the game, like you could find in Italy.”

    On the differences between leagues..

    cheers — jgc

  33. geoffchase says:

    FM

    Agreed, credit is shared always and blame falls at one persons feet.. Always.. 🙂

    that said, that is also where fatigue and such show up. That one mistake.

    Equally, mistakes are hard to control, unlike how you play as a unit. Thus, they do happen, especially when teh “wrong team” wins! 🙂

    I guess I am saying, I agree, but they happen even to the best, so talent does matter. But, I think we have the talent to have the same minimum number as others (tho we may or may not get them at more or less opportune times). Or, more succinctly, there is no such thing as a mistake free game or footballer really, just those whose mistakes were not as costly today.

    When we changed teh team thsi summer, I felt the biggest thing was thsoe players who left were far more mistake prone and what is left and coming in is far more top shelf in that regard.

    cheers – jgc

  34. geoffchase says:

    CM

    😀

    And I found it funny myself regarding the video! 🙂

    L’esprit est tres important!!

    cheers — jgc

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    Evening gents, cockie 🙂

    Had a read again and can see where you are coming from re numbers, and agree a lot with you, jgc. The problem I see currently is that against the top teams our midrif becomes too weak, as our double DMs sit back a lot and do not link up enough with our four attackers….. Numbers indeed.

    However, I reckon Ozil is not doing enough (yet) to link attack up with our back-7 and the jury remains out for me whether he will hack it there long term. I think Jack is better suited/equipped for that role long term against the top teams as it is a certain skillset, I am after in both a team and a player. Ozil is a fantastic footballer and I am super happy to have him in the team, but I am missing a certain ability to dominate the middle of the pitch when we sit deep. And for me Fabregas epitomises what I am missing. Numbers are key but so are certain skills within the team.

  36. geoffchase says:

    Hi TA

    I see your point. I think we have to wait on Ozil to see how he fits in more perfectly and where. Every new player will adjust a teams style a little.

    IMO, with Flamini there and Ozil you get what you want but in a different way. To me, if Ozil continues to grow with the team, we will see that bossed midfield getting better and stronger. But will need a new Flamini in turn sooner than later

    Equally, its a case of different strokes or styles for different folks. I am happy to sit some if teh defense is solid and it suits our squad. Which I think is increasingly true for us. You seem to prefer a more aggressive, proactive midfield. No issue, just a preference.

    If I were to agree with you its in the area of transition. We coudl be more aggressive earlier about pressing an opponent in midfield at times. Something I think Jack’s aggressiveness brings. It also brings risk. For whatever reason we sit a touch more now, and so far so good for the most part.

    IMO, we will see more in December. I am not yet convinced about JWs role in the near term (I see him more as a TR dynamo for now) as he heals. Equally, in December we get City and Chelsea.

    For them my BIG concern is that we are often still not thinking aggressive enough. So, not the team but the attitude in the first minutes. We didnt do that vs Napoli, Pool or Spurs and came out very well. We need to lift that part upwards vs the ManU, BD (first time around not second)..

    The rest, well time will tell.

    cheers — jgc

  37. TotalArsenal says:

    All agreed, jgc. I like us to find a better balance between solidity at the back and aggression, as I felt, and like you say as well, we did not do enough in an attacking sense against Dortmund (first chance a goal, though..). and Mancs. Agreed Flamini is as important as Ozil in this, and then there is Ramsey who is developing into the perfect ‘box to boxer’.

    Like others have said, the next eight games till Christmas will be great in many ways and I really hope Ozil will settle further into the team; and yes the tests against Chavs and Northern Oilers are to be looked forward to.

    Are you coming back to Luik next year?

  38. TotalArsenal says:

    Gerry 🙂

    I will issue your post in the morning – hope that is okay buddy.

    Night all 🙂

  39. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Thank you Professor Geoff. Excellent thought provoking post as usual.

    Without sounding like an old Git, i have been going to Arsenal for near on 40 years, but one thing that stands out in my mind was something bought to my attention before that

    I recall watching an interview with Alan Ball (England world cup winner 1966 and Arsenal midfielder) in which he stated his dislike for one Stanley Matthews (played to 53 years of age and regarded as one of Englands greatest players)

    Ball went on to describe how Matthews had the feel of a prima donna about him and demanded “ball to feet”. Mathews would not move it, he wanted the ball passed to him direct so he could then go past 5 players whilst smoking his pipe. Ball on the hand was the ultimate team player, running of the ball was his forte.

    Football has, and always will be both a team game and an individual sport, and we as fans will have it no other way.

    Thats what makes football great. It is both simple and complex at the same time, capturing the imagination through its beauty.

    As the game has progressed, more emphasis is now placed on “team responsibility” with fitness paramount and players working in groups. Yet, despite this reality, individuals still shine. Often games are changed by those who can do something out of the ordinary by sheer individual abilty

    Football ehh? Bloody marvelous.

  40. geoffchase says:

    Terry,

    good points. I would say that the one thing that has changed is the balance since then, not teh game

    Now: a good team can shut out a great player most of the time. Thus, the team must work to allow the player the chance. And vice versa really.

    Then: I think the balance was different. Less a team game, less athleticism all over teh pitch meant one greatly fit player might well do more and be more dominant. I think, as noted, that balance has changed.

    But: that said, a great player can produce magic on teh occasion, or at least a hand of god! RvP did this for us in his last season and regardless, he did it again last week (mutter) for his new team, keeping them in something they had no business being in.

    If I had an opinion, and I do, it’s that I’d rather rely on a great team made of great players then one magician… That’s the engineer in me, more reliable is always more better! 🙂

    cheers – jgc

  41. geoffchase says:

    TA,

    I am in Luik every year! 🙂 … working towards my honoray belgian-hood.. Usually mid-April or second half, and late November as a rule..

    thanks also for your comments…

    cheers — jgc

  42. Gerry says:

    Geoff – I think you write and think in the same way as I do. So your answers have expanded the original post with little extra nuggets. Your brain also works quicker than your fingers , hence the ‘teh’ .. I chuckle to myself there because that is why I spend more time editing these things out than I do writing them :D. In your replies you had no time to edit.

    On your very final point about the great team v one magician, I think what can be great about the team effort is that, every now and then, one of the humble members of the team can have a moment of magic which is more uplifting than the ‘usual’ touch of brilliance by the magician?

    I feel I should apologise in advance to JB, and others for the next post. It is another broader football item that may only appeal to a few. Plus, it may not be as coherent as the current post, as the ‘muse’ that I had when writing got interrupted. So, where I normally get the ideas down as they come to me. Then the big edit follows while I sort, and clean out most mistakes. The Reverend Spooner has nothing on me for getting words and phrases inappropriately in the wrong order.

    So please bear that in mind before you rush to say cucking fobblers, okay?

  43. geoffchase says:

    Hi Gerry

    Technically, ‘teh’ is due to the different speeds of left and right brain I’m told. Also, I work 60-70 hours a week, so rather than skip out on arsenal and BK and other enjoyable a, I live with typos! 🙂

    That said, thanks for the kind words!

    I wouldn’t worry about JB, he will return after my dose of culture and poetry clears his system! 🙂 😛 😀

    As for magicians, and Visionarys for that matter, I agree good team effort is rewarding. Recall Napoli, or Spurs for examples of dominant play from all around team effort! A magician however is always in for the big “whew!!” right at the end, ask ManU at least twice this year about our former magic man… Ideally, you have the former, and, if you need it in the last 15, the latter as well… 🙂

    Given one choice, I’ll go the former every time. For many years we had the latter and ManU the former. Now it’s reversed, and, to date, so are certain places…. Hmmm.. 🙂

    I will look forward to your post, give or take my hecticity of late…

    Cheers — jgc

  44. Fozzie B says:

    Thank you JGC for your posts … I do enjoy the detail and my furry eyeballs have been doing figure 8s! 😆 I agree with everything you have said including your last comment on JB’s literary colonic cleansing which I too have now experienced!! 😆
    We are in the fortunate position where le prof looks to only bring in SQ or magic men now to supplement what we now have. But even without an SQ striker it shows you what team spirit and all the things you mentioned can get us.
    I really look foreword to a SQ striker and I believe Wenger will push the boat out to get that quality if not jan then the summer!!
    Theo to be the key player to come back but the chemistry with Poldi and Ozil shoul be incredible because Poldi has 100 plus caps with Germany.
    Could be great to give Ollie the break and keep Elmo on the left although I think Poldi and Gibbs work better.
    Exciting times!! 😀

  45. Fozzie B says:

    Elmos philosophy… He’s so adorable.. You just want to pick him up and give his hair a good knuckling dont you?

    Meanwhile, Santi Cazorla spoke to El Pais about life at Arsenal and he summed up his football philosophy perfectly:

    Joy, inside and out. I love to laugh, even in difficult times I’m trying to bring positive thoughts. They say I always laugh, but it is a way of seeing life. And I think my football is like that, happy. I do not understand football without joy. I do not understand how you can play without joy.

  46. TotalArsenal says:

    Gerry

    Please see your email.

    TA

  47. Gerry says:

    Done TA

  48. Gerry says:

    Sorry Geoff, I can deny the left right brain theory. It is simply the brain works faster than the hand. How do I know?
    Because I type one handed. The left hand is usually holding the keyboard still, and at an angle that does not reflect the light off the keyboard.

    I am forever clearing the teh’s and taht’s from anything I write quickly. Particularly when I am ‘in the zone’, thinking about the subject and what I am about to write. It can get really bad when I am typing the end of the next word onto the previous half words. Words that have repeat letters or groups of letters usually only get half. So remember becomes rember, and remaining becomes remaing. You get the picture?

    The one that gets me almost every time is the second ‘i;’ in ability. I get so annoyed at that one! More often with unusual words I become conscious the the letters I am typing, because they are following a letter they shouldn’t be following, I know to check what I am writing.

    However, I’ll grant you that it is probably worse if i am using both left and right middle fingers, because the flow is so much faster.I rarely discover these until the editing stage.

    Talking of quotes, the one from the Shrek is very interesting, apropos what I said about Ozil being ‘a mover and a shaker’. he says:
    Ozil is a very clever player because he never remains in one position,always moving along the line.

    That fluidity?

  49. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post 🙂

    A great post that will get you thinking! 🙂

    Back later today.

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