Cardiff review: Arsene’s trust in Bendtner pays off

Arsenal 2 – Cardiff City nil — Never a Doubt… 😆

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Having missed the request to write a match preview, I wrote the following hoping that our fearless leader (on holiday in Scotland) might be available for a late post. Alas, it didn’t happen. But still, some of the questions seemed prescient (if I say so myself, and I do… 😉 )

(Preview Title…) Are We Deep Enough to Cope with Injuries and Illness and Rotation as We Enter 2014?

Arsenal, the best team in England in calendar year 2013, begin the new year top of the table but with question marks. Cardiff City, in our home ground, with only a caretaker manager, and coming off a very disappointing late draw vs Sunderland, would seem an automatic three points, but, in the English Premier League, nothing can be guaranteed.

Our most productive midfielders, Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey, are missing, as is our workhorse up front, Olivier Giroud. Many have argued that the only reason we’re still top of the table has been the remarkable production of those three players. Can we cope without them and will our offense create the chances necessary to see off a team which might be compared to a wounded animal?

Late reports suggest Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will be taking the Cardiff job. Will the players selected today be auditioning in a merely technical fashion for the new manager or will they be showing that they’ve got the grit and drive to steal a result from a weakened Arsenal team? Finally, the weather to start the year in London appears on the heavy side. It might not be as bad as it was for the Chelsea match 9 days ago and the Cardiff defense is probably not as tight, but our offense has been known to stutter when conditions aren’t ideal. Can we still make chances and goals with our re-arranged attack or will this one be another close, low scoring affair?

Today’s line-up appears a strong one, given the injuries–plenty of attack with both Poldolski and Walcott (carrying a knock?) in there. The bench offers options as well with Bendtner and Gnabry as well as Rosicky and Ryo Miyachi available if we’re still chasing a result. Still, by opting for both Arteta and Flamini as cover ahead of the back four, it appears that Wenger is thinking “defense first.” Can this be achieved against a Cardiff team with “nothing to lose?” Can the offense click without its spearhead Giroud? And I don’t refer only to his hair…

Bergkampesque welcomes your comments on these questions as the match plays out as well as afterwards. Please join us… 😀

Well, that’s what I was hoping to post, plus the (confirmed) line-ups…Instead we had to continue with only Gerry’s match report from the 1 goal victory at Newcastle… So, what transpired? Did any of the questions (above) get answered?

Hmmm…

I could do the minute by minute thing (to remind us of our frustrations) but instead I’ll talk about patterns and try to answer my own questions (comment writers please add yours!…)

The weather WAS heavy and comments on my television feed suggested that there was ample wind to go with the rain. And, similar to the Chelsea match, basic mistakes were on display. An early pattern was set with long (and misplaced) passes to Theo Walcott being the principal area of attack, mostly from deeper lying Santi Cazorla, ostensibly starting from a left wing position. Arsenal appeared happy to cede possession to Cardiff and there was very little pressing from the front, with both front man, Poldolski, and “hole” player, Wilshere, happy to follow Cardiff passes at a trot.

This strategy seemed almost uniquely ill-suited to match conditions but so too did the more intricate passing that seemed on tap as we tired of losing possession with the longer ones. Cardiff time wasting seemed more and more effective with each passing minute and served to subdue the home crowd. That Cardiff were able to draw the only save of the half, albeit a basic one at the near post from Szczesny, did not help to buoy our hopes. As the half drew to a close Poldolski dropped deeper, almost as a midfield outlet while frustrations in basic play from Walcott, Wilshere and Cazorla continued. The dual pivot of Flamini and Arteta were largely untroubled by the Cardiff attack (a single point clearly would have been seen as a huge victory) but we created not a single shot on target in the first period and only 2 corners from which we also didn’t threaten.

I guess I should mention the penalty shout where Wilshere kept his feet as Medel missed the ball and likely got Jack with not one but two swings. The fact that our man kept his feet for the first tackle probably undermined his claim as he fell on the second. I didn’t hear boos as the players left the pitch, but the home support was clearly underwhelmed; 63% possession was the only sign of any sort of dominance. We most certainly didn’t look like league leaders, to my eye at least…

The 2nd period began much as the first: bad weather, bad football from Arsenal. The pitch was taking pace off the ball but it was also lacking in our movement. With little speed (beyond Theo) or size, early calls for the likes of Rosicky and Bendtner seemed obvious.

Wenger, as any oddsmaker would have predicted, allowed the first group to persist until the 65th minute before those subs were made. The supporters, less patient by nature, twisted in the wind (and rain) and tried to create a sense of greater urgency. In the smallest of ways they were rewarded as more of the match was played closer to the Cardiff goal with shots and corners starting to come and fewer balls out of play. Our better play in this part of the match was down our left (Poldolski, Cazorla and Monreal working well together), but still we were constrained to high angled shots. Wilshere also did well from the same side during this period, forcing corners and having a shot hit the post. Still, Cardiff was able to run the clock down whenever they could.

Finally, keeper Marshall finally got a yellow card in the 60th minute for his time-wasting. A talking point was an uncalled handball by Monreal (in the 54th) very close if not in our own 18 yard box. Little Gary Medel, charged with marking the center of our attack got his yellow card in the 58th and was soon after withdrawn, which perhaps was a key. Wilshere certainly looked better immediately. One thing I will say is that the time wasting (very well executed by Cardiff) only served to antagonize the home support. Perhaps it’s a hardier bunch who brave the bad weather after the midnight merry-making (and against the lowly, and lower priced, C-ticket class opponent)?…

When the subs did come the urgency notched up just that little bit more and the increase in size up front and pace in MF made our attack more familiar looking. A clearance from Monreal which Bentdner got an awkward (Giroud-esque?) head to was well cheered as it kept our forward move alive. Frustration, however, continued, with not one but two Mertesacker headers put wide of the left post. Overall, however, there was extra bite in our counters and the threat from the 10 2nd half corners we earned was increasing. Merely having an extra big target (Bendtner in addition to Mertesacker) seemed to stress the Cardiff back line.

Nonetheless, we were still having trouble of our own and as the match moved past the 70th and then the 80th, it seemed we might leave frustrated. Mistakes in midfield didn’t help, even if Cardiff were not very potent when they did occur. Koscielny made a couple of key blocks after Arteta couldn’t get to a loose pass, though the 2nd one lead to a corner and a sequence where Arteta again mis-controlled. Luckily, Caulker’s shot was blasted well over.

The definitive spell of pressure began in the 83rd minute. A cross from Theo to Bendtner looked a sure goal but there was a hint he might have left it for a phantom teammate just behind him. Just before that, the big guy had delivered one himself to Sagna whose looping header was cleared off the line. Overall, Bendtner’s presence up front and solid ball work coming back was having a positive effect. Still, frustration seemed the order of the day as individual runs from Rosicky and Cazorla created danger but only lead to blocked efforts. When Theo blasted over from a difficult angle in the 86th some air went out of the crowd.

Fortunately, there was no giving up in the side and the knowledge that there had to be plenty of injury time wouldn’t have hurt. FINALLY, in the 88th the goal came. An intricate move featuring great control from Cazorla, a layoff from Walcott, a cross from Monreal to the head of Sagna (forcing a save) and a tightly angled first time smash from, of all people, Nicklas Bendtner, and the match was ours!

The irony is that it cost the man who used to wear his weekly salary upon his shirt. Replays showed the Marshall landed on Bendtner’s standing foot, causing what looks like ankle ligament damage. Finally Arsene’s huge gamble on the much maligned forward gave a bit of payback. Such a shame that he won’t get a warm welcome for the FA cup match against Spurs, on Saturday…

One-nil is nice, but two-nil is nicer. In injury time, a long ball from Szczesny (contested well again by Sagna) fell to Rosicky. A controlling pass and quick (and perfect) pass allowed Wilshere to flick onto Walcott, who chipped Marshall. The keeper got a finger to it but only caused the ball to hover for a moment before dropping into goal. A late save by our keeper, the only one seemingly aware that Cardiff were sending in a free kick, preserved the clean sheet. Relief AND reward for 95 minutes of hard work…

So, questions answered or do they remain?

Much depends on the injury situation. Poldolski, unfortunately doesn’t present the commanding (if somewhat technically lacking) figure that Giroud does. Wilshere and Cazorla though industrious seem to lack that little bit of acceleration and physicality which Ozil and Ramsey bring. With Bendtner supplying the winning goal, but then going down injured, our issues in attack remain in the spotlight. He likely benefited from coming on with Cardiff defenders already tired (much as Poldolski did at West Ham 6 days ago) but he may not be available even for late cameos. Clearly, we have nobody to offer us an hour or more as a lone striking option. I probably don’t need to point out that at least the timing is right given that the transfer window opened today. ..

Regardless, we’ll have one more: a cup match against the ancient enemy on Saturday. They will be lifted from their victory at Manchester United but perhaps also content and happy to drop out of the competition. Remember, they still have home and away games to play in the Europa league, as well as teams to catch if they hope to get back onto the bigger European stage. My thought is that Sherwood will have to rotate to see which (if any) of AVB’s purchases might come good. I wouldn’t expect as smooth or spirited a performance as they put on today at Old Trafford. Still, like Cardiff today they’ll come with nothing to lose. We’ll need even more spirit (if not bandages, duct tape and baling wire) to subdue them.

It should be noted however, that all 4 of our “questionable” players played today (3 of them for all 95 minutes). Perhaps the others nursing “injuries” might be a presence on the bench at least. After that one we have another 9 day mini-break for getting bodies healthy before matches that become increasingly more daunting as January passes into February.

All told, while today’s match (and other recent ones…) may not have been easy on the eyes, we got the result without a few of the players who carried us through the early season. The bodies may be weary but the spirit was (and IS) not lacking. If that’s our low-mark, 2014 offers a measure of promise…

Written by: 17highburyterrace

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58 Responses to Cardiff review: Arsene’s trust in Bendtner pays off

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Terry wrote in previous post:

    That was tense.
    Quick observations

    1) Jack Wilshere was outstanding. Some of his skill and vison was ridiculous. Now listen here, TA’s defence of him was completly vindicated today. The crowd were purring over him. Fantastic

    2) The weather was atrocious. luckily i played a tactical blinder and added super glue to the wig and weather proof moisteriouser to the face.

    3) Poldoski can not play the lone striker role in this Arsenal side. He does not assist the five man midfield and our balance goes

    4) Theo is back to his menacing best. He can look a shit allround footballer at times, but his the most effective shit all round footballer i have seen since John Wark. He walks into this Arsenal team.

    5) The defence was great. Special mention to Nacho, who is incredibly unlucky to have Gibbs in front of him. We have two excellent full backs.

    6) Nicolas Bendtner is the most unfittest man in the premeirship. At home he must be smoking King Edward cigars and inhaling so hard the smoke is exhaling from his penis, but i love the egotistical big lump. Dont matter wether your Cardiff or Man City, you dont want the narcasist getting on the end of things.

  2. geoffchase says:

    Hi

    Have to wait for game here … Where was JW played? Wide or attacking pivot? When I see the game I want to see if my theory of his playing best when coming from behind play and through it rather than from further forward and within it holds…

    Cheers — jgc

  3. James Bond says:

    nice on @ 17HT

    not easy on the eye but mighty effective, can’t disagree with much as it’s a pretty accurate picture of the game – well done for writing it !

    time to do my 3 negatives and positives , as usual and I’m going to be controversial here, so hold onto your seats.

    NEGATIVES first :

    1: The horrible Weather.

    3: Missed chances , By Per . M in particular, usually he would bury those 2 out of 2, even in training .

    5: Corners to goal conversions – Baffling.

    Positives :

    1: Poldi – him getting an hour under his belt, even though he didn’t look as sharp or effective up front, but bear in mind, he was out for nearly 4-5 month and is just returning, don’t forget he was the one who won us the last game vs WHU – he will still need another couple of games to be back at his best – Expect him to be firing all cylinders vs Aston Villa – should be persisted as the CF vs Spuds on Saturday.

    3: NB – no, not his goal but his injury – this means that AW will now spend less time looking for bargains and negotiating and be willing to spend that extra 3-5 million to purchase what’s needed , Blessing in Disguise.

    5: JW – I said it before, give him 3 games on a Row and you will see the JW of old, sumwat – now watch him play on saturday and take spuds out of the FA cup , I expect him to be near his best vs Spuds.

    Bonus :

    Nacho, that was a professional performance and once that gives Gibbs an extended rest , which he deserves as well…he works really well with Santiago down the left flank as well – brilliant.

  4. James Bond says:

    no.10 role, behind the striker 😉 in the hole @ JGC

  5. TotalArsenal says:

    Excellent, multi-layered match review and analysis, 17HT. You write with such ease and clarity and have covered the essence of the game, as well as the wider, bigger questions re our team, fantastically well.

    The only thing you have not stressed enough in my opinion is the fact that this was our fourth game in just nine days, with three hard fought previous battles still in our legs, bodies and minds. Cardiff made it hard by sitting back and it meant we had to give our all for ninety minutes – how much we would have given for an early goal or two….

    I am genuinely proud of the boys, as I half expected this to finish in a draw. They have given their all in the last nine days and that is all I can ask for. 10 points out of 12 and still top of the league is stuff of dreams for me.

    I thought Cazorla and especially Jack were fantastic today, and agreed with JB and others that our FB were great too. Really happy with Bendtner’s accuracy when taking his chance (the left footed Giroud would probably have wasted that one), and rather than praising Rosicky too much for the pre-assist (which was okay), I prefer to highlight Jack’s brilliantly timed assist for Theo’s coolly taken goal.

    The big questions you asked at the beginning remain (at least partly) unanswered. For me, key is to improve our home form and start scoring more goals, and keep the rest going (strong away form and defensive record). We might need another striker and/or get the team clicking more. 18 goals in 10 home games is too low, for example. January will be an interesting month, no doubt about that.! 🙂

  6. Ra says:

    Great write as always. A lot of things that can be said,but I’m only worried about the striker situation.
    Window is open…I honsetly believe it would be horribly reckless mismanagment if we do not get a striker in by latest mid-January. Remember, we were chasing various strikers through-out the previous window so its not as if the club isn’t aware of the problem. Way I see it, we have two options (a) try and get a world class striker in who is in all likelihood cup-tied in champions league, or (b) we get in a short-term fix on a six-month loan and go for the world-class striker in next window. Either way, we need to act NOW, it would be reckless to risk Giroud getting injure when he gets back and having no-one to play besides the hopelessly in-ept (as a CF, but great as a winger/wide-forward.) Podolski or Theo. And if we don’t get anyone,what do we do if Giorud is out for 2 months? We could easily end up finishing outside top 4 if Arsene Wenger and the club mismanage this window like they have most windows recently.

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Consider your theory shattered, Geoff 😉

  8. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Nice stuff 17, the voice of reason

    From todays perspective Geoffs theory is still unanswered in my opinion.

    In the first half Jack was moving into pockets of space (playing behind Pod) but raely got the ball. When he did he was class and dangerous.

    In the 2nd half Jack played deeper, but we dominated the game, so he was still receiving the ball 30 yards from Cardiffs goal

    My own opinion is that I am currently unsure about his best position, and so is every one else. hahaha

  9. Dylan says:

    17HT, I’d just like to say, even through the bad patches I’ve always known Nicky B has potential. So I told you so! 😉 Haha.

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Ra – I agree with you to a large extent. Wenger could of course decide to play a different system if OG gets long term injured and goals could still come our way from Pod, Theo and the midfielders. Maybe Sanogo would make a huge difference….. But it would be a lot easier to buy another striker who can play in the OG role of ‘holding striker’ or even a more direct and technically gifted striker…. We will find out soon. 🙂

  11. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey, I’m gonna go for my little ski outing, while the sun is high and the snow is softest…

    I don’t want to distract too much from the team effort but I think Professor Geoff is absolutely correct. Jack started in the hole, even furthest forward on many (defensive) occasions. Rosicky coming on helped, as did pesky, fouling Medel going off. Jack dropping deeper with the sub definitely made us look better. Also, as Cardiff tired and Jack took his “natural” path to his left (w/o Poldolski clogging the works over there) our spacing (I thought) improved. I know he’s trying to mimic Ozil’s work from center to outside right but he’s not completely comfortable doing it quite yet…

    Also, from the previous thread, Terry wrote… “P.s, 17, my tales about all the women are all fibs to make myself feel big. Dont tell the others. hahaha”

    Terry, this I refuse to believe… Everything else, I take as gospel… 😀

    Also agreed about Lu-lu, though he did (too) did better during his spell in the 2nd half…Theo (or somebody new 🙂 …) pressing from the front would be my choice if Giroud is out. Those (very) occasional charges after the ball can cause panic and even more (the takeaway from Boruc vs So’ton…) but Poldolski never tried one. Also, once you make the touch from deep you gotta get right back on the last man’s shoulder… Bendy looked better doing just that, and I thought he looked a hair thinner than the last time I saw him. Shame he’s out for a bit…

    Agreed with those who feel that with Bendtner out (MAYBE, stubborn…) AW will be “forced” to buy… I favor a like for like replacement, i.e., somebody whose name begins with B…(Benzema, Berbatov, Benteke…Bobin ban Bersie? Buis Buarez… 😆 Who am I forgetting?…)

    Total, thanks for letting me make up for my missed preview… Minor quibbles between us, I think, and some of my feelings about Jack are above…Cardiff were beaten with the first goal so the glory of the second or the save from Sir Chez (that might have been a points saver, if the margin was only one) are less important…Indeed what a collective effort, hence no MOTM call for me…If others want to offer theirs, please do…

    I will say that it’s really great that nobody EVER seems to give up and that the balls from our younger guys (who we hope can run all day…) got better as the match went on. This includes the assist from Jack and the crosses from Theo (as well as his finish). These sorts of “experiences” will be drawn upon in future tough situations and in seasons to come. That nobody hung their heads despite the slow pitch and blustery wind is HUGE (I think)…Watching Match of the day highlights, it’s also nice that we don’t do all the diving and ref complaining that other teams in tight matches seem to favor…

  12. geoffchase says:

    JB and TA et al

    Thanks, will have to watch and see from where exactly the best playing came… 🙂 😛

    Positions are meaningless as I’ve seen Ozil way down the pitch going forward from behind as well.. Regardless good to see him get a good game. I will perhaps have more to say when I see the game in detail later today here in NZ when it comes on the player..

    Cheers — jgc

  13. 17highburyterrace says:

    Dylan, Indeed, Bendy saved us a few points over the years as we fought for that other trophy (the CL spot)… Even HIS head (the topknot maybe…) seems screwed on straight, these days. Truly a shame that he’s out for the FA cup match. Also, I was mistaken, it was his right (shooting) ankle that got turned…

    Good call on the subs, that’s why you’re the honor student… 😀

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    Terry, there was no benefit for Jack to play deeper as Cardiff parked the bus very deep. He was at his best today penetrating the box with either the ball at his feet or in combination with others. This is soooo important when playing parked buses, as otherwise we keep passing the ball round into oblivion, or pump the ball into the box constantly without any real chance of getting something out of it. Jack, and Santi too, made the difference, and Rosicky added more impetus when he came on at the end. Our attacking midfielders were class today.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    Geoff, looking forward to you applying your analytical scalpel to the match, in typical JGC style. 🙂

  16. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Agreed TA

    When I say he played deeper he went horizontal with Arteta once Flamini departed.

    At that stage our full backs had pushed 20 yards up the field effectivly giving him five targets and pushing on once he played it. Hes brilliant in those situations

  17. Ra says:

    Yeah agreed. This would probably never happen but I’ll always thought if OG has a long-term injury we should switch to a 3-5-2. Kos-Per-TV5; Sagna-Flamini-Ozil-Ramsey-Gibbs; Podolski-Walcott. Obviously you could go with Ox, Gnabry as wing-backs for home games and when chasing game. As for the midfield we are spoiled with options so the system offers great options for rotation. Will never happen though.

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    Excellent analysis there, Dr Stranglesausage 😆

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Ra, I would love to see that system in practice. I am not sure whether we can play such a system without a typical ‘ball holder upper’ in order to get the best of the five in midfield but it would be nice to see how it would work.

    If Diaby is fully fit, he could replace OG for a while but that is unfortunately not going to happen any more, unless pigs do fly….

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    Total, ski boots are on, so I’m almost out the door…

    I’m still not quite sure what the argument about Jack’s starting position is all about. The way I see it, it WAS critical that we went from two deeper lying MFs (Arteta and Flamini) and a striker who lingered deep (Poldolski) to the more familiar (and postitive) 4-1-3-2 which allowed more interchange and creativity from the three (Rosicky, Santi AND Jack) all pushing from slightly deeper spots (slightly) behind Bendtner and Theo. It just *felt* more similar to how things worked a week ago with Theo and Giroud up front, though, to be frank, that didn’t work very well at all. Yeah, something different (and maybe original) up front *does* seem important, esp. now that our “like for like” (Bendy) has sacrificed himself to the cause…

    That one is for Gerry (who probably will also study the match at his leisure…Don’t you guys have pubs where you can watch the matches as they’re played?…)

    OK, pigs are starting to fly, and thus, so will I. Cheers for the comments…

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    It is just a sub-discussion, 17, and a bit of banter.

    Enjoy the skiing and thanks again for such a fine match report – a great start to 2014! 🙂

  22. Super Sasquatch Stuff !
    True our leader is fearless and if you`re going to have a fearless leader, what better name for him than Total McBastard !. hahaha
    Anyway, while Sassy is out…… http://img0.etsystatic.com/015/0/6689478/il_570xN.409363868_mt2i.jpg
    I will bring up a few points….I) That has got to be the most unfit looking bastard in the black I`ve seen reffing !. 2) Stonewall penalty against JW !. 3) Pod is no direct CF and for those who knock Giroud, we missed him as our front focal point !. 4) Why does Tarzan only use odd numbers ?. 5) I`m tired…Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  23. geoffchase says:

    17

    No, pubs aren’t open at 4am here!

    Cheers — jgc

  24. henrychan says:

    Wenger almost never wrong with his players.. And so did Bendtner..
    With his performed lastnight.. Bendtner had won Gunners heart again..
    And I think his injured wasn’t so serious.. He will return in next Arsenal game against Aston Villa away.. or if not against Fulham..
    Villa’s game is as important as Spurs.. We must payback them.. and beat them for at least 3-0.. hehehehe.. And we must show them that their victory in the beggining season was totally referee’s error..
    I hope till Pebruary.. we will still on TOTL.. hehehe.. We may lost point again Liverpool away.. but City will also lost point against Spurs away in 30th January.. and also against Chelsea the other week..So It mean.. We will stay on TOTL.. hahahahaha..

    We Are The Champion.. Go Gunners..

  25. Gerry says:

    Nice one HT17, You did well to get that out so early, but I’ll put that down to your double expresso?

    I must say the note of disappointment in your overview of the game would have been okay on a sunny day in August. Fine, mentioning the bad weather as being akin with the bad football, but not fair on weary bodies running on vapours. Sorry, I am with TA with his first comment, as there were bucket loads of reasons why it wasn’t just A grade against C grade.

    That said, you did bring an accurate picture of how dour a struggle it was for much of the game.

    However unfit the referee may have looked, I think we benefited greatly from his non-anti Arsenal decisions:
    The Wilshere penalty was dubious from what followed. Wilshere evaded the tackle by stepping over the outstretched left leg, and getting passed the contact with the right foot on his outstep. Then, when faced with another defender he stubbed his toe in the ground and went down. With our two previous referees, a stonewall booking for simulation?
    Monreal hand ball inside the box, although he was standing outside the box. He did clearly control the ball in his favour, however ‘accidental’. I repeat, the previous two refs would have enjoyed giving that penalty.
    I could also mention Per Mertersacker not being given a post-advantage played yellow card, after bringing down Frazier, who was then not able to assist in what followed?

    I have slightly different conclusions of player performances too, although probably more with the comments that followed in some cases – and yes I did watch it at my leisure.

    First up Podolski: The reason I think he does not do so well as a CF is fairly simple. When playing in the middle he can move to the left and right of goal. The problem is, when he is to the right of goal he is about 80% less effective than he is on the left. This is partly due to him having to readjust to get the ball on his left foot if he gets an opening, whereas on the left he can ping it first time. I am not sure playing there for any more times will improve this?
    Perhaps on Saturday we may see the option of putting Gnabry in between him and Theo put to the test?

    Jack Wilshere: I have two theories on Jack. Forget all the misplaced passes, he had a very good game today. Better than against Newcastle in fact. I put that down to what goes on in his head.
    When he is seen as trying too hard, making one-twos difficult for the second part to be accomplished because of the movement he makes, is purely down to him trying to achieve something for himself. He being ‘it’, the one that the game revolves around with his achievements, and finished by him.
    Today, like the game against Norwich, he was playing as a creative midfielder, with the emphasis on ‘creative’. He was invariably trying to create for others. When he has this head on him, it does not matter whether he plays deep, or as his number suggests, he can be brilliant.
    It is the maturity that we, the critics, have been calling for.
    I have had another thought on his running style, and TCM and HT might like to comment on this? I think, or at least it appears on TV, that, unlike 100mtr sprinters coming out of the blocks all couched up, with their heads over their knees until they get to the full power, upright stance – Hold that image -When Jack sets off it appears more like his backside goes down and he does not get his head and shoulders over his knees, or far enough forwards, so the drive tends to come from the lower leg, not the big thigh muscles. If he were to stay taller and lean the whole of his back forwards he would be far more effective. i suspect it may be an ingrained thing he does to keep a low centre of gravity, being small, that helps him get round bigger opponents. the trouble is, he seems to do it in open play?
    Just a theory, open to correction.

    Monreal and Cazorla: Yes they do play better together, but that is largely because Santi actually remembers he is there? It is because of that the left right balance is generally better.

    Cazorla worked well around Wilshere in this game, and was often an outlet in attack as he stuck to the touchline well in advance of Monreal. This meant better cover in defense as Nacho did not have so far to come back. But his over laps also backed up by the double pivot.

    Sagna is one tough cookie. Yet again another strong performance, as were the back 5 as a whole. Even if it takes £90k, sign him up!

    I will finish on Nicky B. For those thinking it is fortuitous that his injury may force a purchase, it also means if he is out for a month, he may not be sold either? His stats are amazing. On for 25 minutes, never gave away possession, apart from the nick on goal, saved by the keeper, and a dubious off-side decision. Possibly that could be down to the fact he played the least football of any player in the side? It is also true that he has been looking sharper with every game he has been involved in? If it is true he now wants to stay, who is going to argue that he is the best alternative to playing Giroud, so any purchase should really be about someone who can play alongside both of them? I would not deny him that chance.

  26. geoffchase says:

    Ok

    Watched… My thoughts

    A. Cardiff parked a passive bus, compared to Toon’s very aggressive mad max armored one

    B. Wet conditions meant ove the top and thru would be very hard to slow down today. So wet and quick the field was effectively 5-10m shorter, allowing Cardiff to park further up the field. The fact that in half two they were still way back is testament to superior play for the red team really. Ie better then it looked despite the frustration..

    It also slows the ball down as you cannot pass as quickly with confidence, rather counter intuitively. This further shrinks the field and makes the defenders job easier

    C. I thought we did way better is week in forcing them to play our game. We went back to midfield better to draw them out and decrease density of players so they were more open. Didn’t pay until late but way better then last games try to force it directly. Much more patient and better attempt to make them okay our game. A patient game is better then trying to force IMO. Ie not tika-taka for the sake of it but ball motion and control looking for the numbers and opportunity to arise = smart football in my book.

    We will see lots more of this so it’s good we are learning patience and how to deal with it. Equally, such tactics also often equal later scoring so expect some more of that too. Notably when ManU win that way it’s called something good. When we do, the punditry is all about a lucky escape!?

    D. JW: IMO, very good and, FOR ONCE!, a PATIENT game. That said, his best moments came when he was at the back of play and players. Many such cases of brilliant longer passes cutting out Cardiff players and such for there. He was good throughout but most effective, sit up and take note then. Best example early was the cross thru to oncoming, sliding TW that was just missed. He was behind players and main play, and vision found TW across, behind but coming thru with touch to time it perfectly.

    Thus, watching as we had them back a lot he was mostly top of the box to 35m out where that vision will pay off looking for ball to come back and to play thru or carry forward to give-go and try to create mismatches in numbers = smart and patient from a vantage that works for him. Ie he was best behind the play (just behind) not for starting within it. That would be a deliberate positioning choice that doesn’t force hi to try to do too much, and let’s him maximize his gifts of vision and “burst” to create opportunities and mismatches.

    Another good example in reverse. At 17 mins or so he is back and wants it from Sagna which would give him ball behind front line of TW, Poldi et al… He doesn’t get it so reverses to other end with a great run off the ball gets it at front, the other side of play, and finds Santi on the cut back for a good shot. Same thing but reversed… Best from ends of play..

    Again at 38 mins back from Sagna and TW to JW and a good pass that goes astray towards middle top of box looking to create. Saw this a lot down the right side!

    And again at 42-43 mins going forward to create from well back of the striking line. Again at 50 mins to start and enable a great move that we didn’t finish strongly but the opp was there.

    Equally, he was more invisible going forward with Podolski and letting Flamini or Zorro bring it (back) forward. Created space but far less impact. Better when in the same cases the ball moved up a wing past him and then came into him in that more slightly rear of play spot middle of the pitch. Just sayin.. 🙂 … And not bad, just less impactful…

    An exception? 63 mins throw in from Nacho and one good move and drive for a good shot and opp. All a one player move tho. So great talent and outcome, from an individual effort situation outside of what I’m on about at excessive length.

    IMO, thus, his best place is still a touch back of main body of play and players and coming thru. Call it what you will by position. Maximizes his vision and aggression IMO. So I’m not fully sold on him at 10 yet and like him better next to Flamini in Zorros place but with a more attacking stance thus requiring a more beauty DM perhaps (eg 4-1-4-1 or 4-1-3-1-1 using Ozil behind the sole ST).

    I should note at this positions him well when the ball goes back a bit to draw out the bus.. Especially if he follows it all/most of the way back. As he did today. Thus, playing him to start further back should give him way more opportunities to so this, not less.

    E. Podolski not yet fitting well at ST as others noted but early days. Perhaps he goes wide and TW comes forward? Gerry I suspect is going for an all youth team vs Spurs? 🙂

    F. NB solid but… We need another top ST.. See G below..

    G. Defensive four loses nothing with Nacho who is playing like he really really wants Gibbs to get a huge rest. Ie another good reason to get at least a solid competitive ST this TW if we can…

    And is endeth this very long effort which is all just my bumble opinion of course! And as they say, anything free comes with no guarantee! 🙂

    Cheers and goodnight!

    — jgc

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    Great analytical comments by Geoff and Gerry.

    For me, Geoff, Jack was the perfect nr. 10 in a 4-2-1-3 formation and your excellent analysis supports this. If we were playing 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 I would agree with you more that Jack should play in a deeper midfield role. In our current formation, the ‘1’ needs to play like a harmonica between the double DM pivot and CF – sometimes being deep and sometimes being able to penetrate – with or without the ball at his feet – into the box. Key is the ability to dominate that area, make it yours. Jack did all of this very well.

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    Henry, happy New Year to you, and remember one game at a time. 🙂

  29. Gerry says:

    Geoff – I think me wanting the Youth team to play in the Cup is about as fanciful as Spurs likely to take it easy because of other commitments?

    All clubs and players want to win games in the FA Cup.Even those player struggling against relegation say it is good to have a game without points at stake. Of course, teams like Birmingham and Wigan have taken that commitment to the point where it has cost them. Many will ‘accept’ a Cup defeat if they have something else to play for (… us for instance?). But overall I would like us to get past this round in the hope we can get some academy players time on the pitch against a lesser team.

    But the cost of yesterday’s win might just mean a first early exit in AW’s time at Arsenal?

    Not only the shortage of fit players, or even the players coming in to replace, but there is a saying ‘ …that you can only go to the well so often before it runs dry’. That and a repeat of the foul weather is highly likely, it is going to take an almighty effort to win this one/

    I cannot the the TW coming to our rescue either, if we don not hear of a deal going through tonight, as they have to be registered before the offices close tomorrow?

  30. Gerry says:

    Geoff – Your thoughts on JW are very enlightening. The big question remains, can he work in that area with different personnel around him?

    I am thinking here with Ozil in particular? This area of best operation for him, is also that where Ozil specialises in, is it not? i think he was aided enormously by Santi working around him in this game. But he is another who likes to have that central position to work in? He also had the benefit of the double pivot behind him, particularly for the first hour, which meant his previous duties of defense were lightened?
    I think he will be fine doing the 2nd DM role as long as he remains committed to creating for others, including better positioned team mates like Ozil and Cazorla?

  31. Afternoon Minus Foreskin Points Like for Likes !. 😆
    He may be slower than VCC getting down on his rusty zimmerframe to a furry cup, but he`s becoming a Ledge !.

  32. Good morning from the mountains of sunny California–When will it end? We’re parched here and getting desperate for some snow…

    Despite a little trouble this morning with my “sexy” blend (the Costa Rican seems a hair over-roasted, the Ethiopian and Brazillian about right, but requiring a coarser grind…) I found myself enjoying both Gerry and Geoff’s extended musings–on the match and our #10–By writing as you guys do (there are some similarities, I think…) it’s almost like taking a trip through your minds. A fantastic voyage, as it were, minus Raquel Welch…

    In retrospect, I agree with those who feel I underplayed the importance of the nasty weather and it being the 4th match in 9 days. These factors plus injuries to key guys in our attack meant that defense would always have the upper hand. The referee, while unwilling to make any truly decisive interventions, at least helped push the narrative by sanctioning the time-wasting. We took it from there however, with relentless pressure that finally brought the goals. The spirit in the group is the main thing to take from this one and the more technical issues (i.e., the flaws that kept us nervous for soooo long…) can hopefully be righted in the next bit of time off and with better playing conditions in the games later in the month.

    A day on and I’m still sad for Nicky B. He did look really good out there and If he could’ve comeback on Saturday with a similar performance for an hour plus it might’ve been a real eye opener for his critics (including me…) as well as a check (cheque?) book closer for AW. That option seems gone. I know those ankle injuries and they’re either 5 minutes or about 5 months (until fully fit). He *could* probably run on it in 10 days time, but it’s a big set-back and I really wouldn’t expect him to play again until late Feb/March…

    With that scenario evaporated I have zero idea how the manager is going to try and get us through this cup tie. Personally, I think Poldolski has to try up front again with Gnabry taking over from Theo and protecting Jenkinson on the right. Fabianski and Vermaelen probably come in but maybe Nacho and Koscielny stay, with the latter moving to the right side of central defense?…Who plays in MF, I think, is anybody’s guess. Do we put some of our injured guys or stronger threats–Ozil, Giroud, Theo–on the bench, just in case? As always I feel we’ll keep closer to the regular first team players and have less in the way of youthful (exotic?) names on the team sheet, though Ryo on the bench yesterday might suggest that he gets a run out on the left wing? Your guess is as good as mine and neither amounts to un cerro de frijoles as it will be Arsene who knows… With bad weather predicted again (by Gerry) keeping them off the board seems critical. You’re right that nobody wants out of the cups (until they look at in retrospect…) but I do believe there’s a collective mental toll or let-up factor that may creep into the Spurs mindset on the back of their remarkable victory at United yesterday… Same reasoning as why it’s hard to play top notch darts or snooker without proper rest and rejuvenation… 😉

    Anything happening in the market, 007, or have you taken the rest of the week off? For me, though it’s Thursday, it feels like a Monday… ‘Nuf said, anybody else?

  33. Gerry says:

    HI HT, it is a little quiet on the TW rumour mill. I suppose any of those clubs having a winter break will only just about be getting back to action now.

    However, the Berby thing has taken off with some of the papers … who are short of other fodder. This quote of £2m barely seems credible though? Jackson Martinez covered all his bases saying he roots for Arsenal and Chelsea ha ha. I only mention his name because if we were interested we might have tried harder while he was here at the Emirates Cup? So I don’t see that happening at the £34m release clause? Serbian Matic, ex of Chelsea, but ‘much improved’ now, and is a fresh link. But as everybody is looking at the ‘new, improved’ JW, I cannot see a similar positioned DM/B2B player likely either? He is 6’4” tall, so would be different?

    If anything is happening, it is likely old rumours gone quiet are the real targets. I just hope they are bold enough to push for some good targets now, rather than wait for the summer. I get the feeling there will be a few clubs trying to strengthen for next season, and after similar targets?

    As for Gnabry starting, it might be worth thinking about just having fresh legs, because Spurs will be similarly knackered, albeit without the injuries. Although Adeybarndoor was supposed to be a doubt?

    See who appears in the training pics, look at the squad, and anybody not featured in the photos will be the likely starters 😀

  34. Gerry says:

    TCM – Yes the Big Friendly Giant has is sights on 99 points 😀

  35. Is that all Gezzer !………Mertesacker Out !.

    Paul Pogba said he dreamed of playing for Arsenal or Barca as a youngster !…………Pogba In !

  36. It will be my fault if we lose to the Spuds !…..after the disappointing results against Everton, Chavs and City…….I said to my Manscum neighbour that I would take a Spud loss if we beat West Ham, Newcastle and Cardiff as the EPL was more important !……..so there you have it, if we lose, it is because me !. You can however look at it a different way and think that it was because of me that we won our last 3 league games !. For I`m a jolly good fellow !. hahaha

  37. Gerry says:

    TCM it is not the UMF you know, you don’t get extra for getting 5 on the bounce.

  38. Kaboom says:

    Totally spot on the post game report.

    Generally refs had been kind in awarding handball/ballhand situation this season. Monreal’s hand did stop the ball going into box. No doubt. Guess luck is finally on ourside

    Its a real shame nikki B picked up injury. Would love to see him replacing giroud in the next few games. He is free to sign for any clubs now and really wonder if he would stay or move aboard..

  39. Gerry says:

    Kaboom – re NB23 My guess is he would like to stay at least until the summer. Two reasons:
    One; he may not match his salary elsewhere?
    Two; I think he would like to be a part of the League Championship winning side 😀

    But also, I think he has a chance of playing in his rightful position and will gain more creditability in the EPL regarding his WC hopes with Denmark.

    Hopefully he will be back for February when the CL kicks off again, and he can pick up where he has left off?

  40. James Bond says:

    I would also like to give Credit to AW for this one, with his tactics in particular as I have been very vocal about the lack of them in the last 2-3 weeks… no, not about the subs

    him switching Theo to the LW at the 85th mark, first he was screaming himself and then had Steve Bould do it for him, until Theo had switched, that tactical switch played a vital part in us getting that vital first goal.

    and 2ndly, we shouldn’t be too harsh on the unfit ref, in fact, Flamini must be in love with him already as he didn’t get a booking at all yesterday – WOW

    let’s stop with all this wishful thinking and keep it real, the first opportunity Nicky B gets to leave the club,he will grab it with both hands and be on his way out – I am not expecting anything called loyalty from the likes of him – and no, he is not a big loss being injured to Arsenal either – most of you speak as if he had played a huge role in this season’s campaign, he hasn’t and he won’t be missed as Giroud will be back against spuds more or less – even if he doesn’t return then it’s only spuds we are talking about, My granny could put 5 past their fragile defense at the emirates.

  41. Gerry says:

    JB – You never let your bitterness drop do you?

    In the above reply, I did not mention ‘loyalty’ and what is this ‘likes of him’? Do you know him personally?

    Could you not make a New Year resolution not to slag off any player that is still playing a part in our current squad and spread a bit of humanity about the place?

  42. Ahhh Gezzer…the UMFL !…..the league which proves beyond all doubt, that I am the most loyal Arsenal supporter on BK !. I pick all the teams to beat the Spuds/Manscum/Chavs/City/Liverpool whereas you lot pick the their likes and secretly get a boner when they win and get you UMF points !.
    I should imagine the table topper…one Mr HH, was undoubtedly high fiving his cock when City and Chavs won on New Years Day gaining him valuable points !. His missus got prematurely excited saying ….” Oh double hachie baby, is that for me ? “…….” Don’t be silly woman !….Torres has just scored ! “. hahaha

  43. James Bond says:

    that’s a pretty poor comment considering all the recent statements he’s been making or has made in the past whilst he was at other clubs at loan about Arsenal.

    lucky me for not knowing him personally and I will slag whoever deserves it for disrespecting the hand that feeds them, fed them and made them who they are.

    thank you very much .

  44. Gerry says:

    No need to thank me Bondy, I just don’t like unnecessary comments being left out in the public domain go unchallenged.

    It is not like you are speaking to your mate on the telephone, where only the two of you and GCHQ are listening is it?

    You probably know several words beginning with ‘F’, but forgiveness is clearly not one of them.

    Personally, if AW is still offering a helping hand, and he in turn has worked to get a place in the team, may be scored the goal that gets us over the Championship line come May,, I think why not go along with the 60,000 fans that turned out on a wet night and cheered him off the pitch.

    You have a different point of view …

  45. James Bond says:

    that is precisely it, AW chose to gave him another chance , which meant staying and fighting for the team to be champions , and there you are, during the season – he comes out regretting he didn’t move to a championship side to fight for the bottom 3 teams – instead of being grateful of the opportunity and life line, he was still hell bent on showing Arsenal in a bad manner, and no, I don’t believe the “media spinning it” either.

    I know exactly what I say and I know it’s an open forum but sadly you are challenging something you sadly don’t have a case for, hence you scoop down to the “do you know him personally comments ” even after his public outbursts directed at Arsenal.

    Yes, he scored the goal and show cased his skills for potential suitors – you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours is the motto here.

    forgive and forget – I do forgive but I seldom forget.

    funny you mention 60 k fans applauding him when he went off injured, I wonder how many of them belonged to my school of thought, thinking, ah yes, perhaps now AW will speed it all up and finally get a SQ striker due to this – 👿

    and yes, I do have a different point of view and I see things differently to most, never denied that.

  46. geoffchase says:

    CM
    You have me all wrong. My weekly UMF is almost always Arsenal to win followed by picking all our nearest and dearest to win as well (Chavs, City, Pool, Everton! Spurs) .. Why? That way I always win!

    Either they all win and my UMF is good, or some of them lose/draw and my UMF suffers but.. 😈

    Cheers — jgc

  47. geoffchase says:

    As for NB

    Well, all psychology aside he is, as one very English professor once said of me, “good, but, … Not great”

    We need short term cover and excellent long term addition. Whether they are one and the same comes down to timing, money and who’s available and who’s willing.

    Cheers — jgc

  48. James Bond says:

    indeed and spot on, Professor. JGC

    summed it up rather brilliantly – hence “blessing in disguise” was the word used by me.

  49. My turn to sit down with some popcorn !. hahaha

  50. You`re excused Proff Geoffers…..you`re way too intelligent too get a boner from looking at results and figures ………. unless it`s the 19 year old cheerleader with 38-24-26 figure and the Y shaped bed ! hahaha

  51. James Bond says:

    😆

  52. Gerry says:

    I am not going to pursue this much further, but

    It was you who questioned his personality regarding loyalty, that requires ‘personal knowledge’.

    So I was not stooping when I questioned the generalised term about an individual .. ‘likes of him’

    You have a strange notion of forgiveness? You either forgive, and therefore do not question the person’s integrity again. Remembering is one thing, but to throw the same mud back in their face shows that your forgiveness was a waste of breath.

    That is truly where we differ in our respective points of view.

  53. James Bond says:

    yes, and I backed it up with substance – the substance being his open statements and interview published in the media, along with his shenanigans of the past – which led me questioning and doubting it.

    we differ on a lot of things and points, it’s rather obvious now and you best be careful cause my amigo Glics is in the house 👿 one mention of fatigue or jaded by the likes of me and voila 😆

    only joshing, of course.

    no worries, agreed to disagree , thanks for challenging my views and further strengthening my argument 😉

  54. My serious comment of the day !…….actually that should be accompanied by some music……..” Monsters serious comment of the dayyyyyyyyyy !!!! “.
    There are quite a few so called expert ex-footballer pundits out there saying we are never going to be in a better position to win the league . So, Monster Logic is saying……..We are TOTL ( although -4 points worse off like for like !…..just for you Gezzer !. hahaha ), have a few injuries of major players, so surely, we really should be trying to better this squad whilst we are in the prime position !. Get some SQ in whilst we have the money…..lure them in with a possible champions medal .
    This is the best time to do it, not when we`re chasing there tails, now whilst we`re TOTL and to try and stay there !. If we falter without buying, everyone will say we fcuked it up from a position of strength. Even if we didn`t have the injuries we should buy, having injuries (and we know we could get more ! ) make it even more imperative to buy now !.
    Fcuk me, that is award winning logic yet again !. hahaha

  55. TotalArsenal says:

    Gerry and James, best to agree to disagree and let it go. 🙂

  56. James Bond says:

    that was marvelous @ Glics

    I wonder where Arsenal would be without your expert advice and -4 reminders 😀

    Hello skipper – we’ve already done that 🙂

  57. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 🙂

    Cocker, please copy and paste your comment into the new post – it is, for once hahahaha, very appropriate! 🙂

    Catch you later guys 🙂

  58. Gerry says:

    Good heavens TCM, you have made a very good point there. Obviously, not the minus 4 one.

    But as the Professor above, it still comes down to availability?

    Many player will not want to disrupt the WC prospects by changing clubs midstream. Except the ones who are not getting regular games at the clubs they are with … which probably means they are not SQ?

    The category we may be in luck with are the younger ones looking at stepping up. With Man U wallowing 11 points behind us, is rival less? But like AW keeps saying, they need to be ‘special’ – Note, he is not saying, high value, top of the market players, just ‘special’

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