Arsenal start games too slowly and need to be more aggressive: debate!

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Remember how we blitzed Napoli almost five months ago? 15 minutes of fantastic, high-tempo and aggressive football and the game was more or less in the bag with two fine goals by Ozil and Giroud.

And what about our recent away match at Villa: two goals in equally as many minutes – in the 34th and 35th minute by Wilshere and Giroud – and the game was practically won (although we still made it hard for ourselves in the second half).

But these examples are among the few exceptions to the rule, as Arsenal tend to start slow and seldom score during the first third of our games.

Of all our Premier League goals, only 20% are scored during the first thirty minutes of the games; and between the 30th and 60th minutes we score 28%, which is relatively low as well. So, believe it or not, 51% of our PL goals are scored between the 60th and 90th+ minutes.

This raises the questions why this is the case, and whether it is good or bad.

Looking at our title rivals this season, it becomes clear Arsenal score more goals in the final third than the other teams by a margin, and we are the least prolific of all the teams in the first and second thirds of the games in the 2013-2014 season (stats from http://www.premierleague.com):

Team/Period of games when PL goals are scored First third Second third Final third Total PL Goals Total PL Goals Conceded
Arsenal 20% 28% 51% 48 26
Mansour City 27% 39% 34% 68 27
Chavs 24% 37% 40% 48 21
Pool 38% 38% 25% 66 32

What is also quite interesting to note is that simply scoring a lot of goals is no guarantee for success, as MC and Pool demonstrate: both have scored significantly more than Arsenal and the Chavs and yet they are not in the lead.

This season, Arsenal and the Chavs play a more defensively solid game and both teams score the majority of their goals in the third part of their matches (especially Arsenal). MC and Pool play a more ‘full on attacking’ style of football and score more goals, but also concede more.

Despite Arsenal having conceded almost as many goals as MC – mainly skewed by the losses to Pool and MC – we have managed an impressive 46% of clean, whereas the Northern Oilers only achieved 36% of clean sheets (Chavs 42% and Pool a meagre 27%).

As the above demonstrates once again, there is a fine balance between attacking and defending and non of the current top four clubs have been able to get it right until now, which in my view is the main reason why it is still so tight at the top.

So, just for a bit of fun, here are some questions for a ‘heated debate’ 🙂 :

  1. Why do Arsenal score relatively so few goals early on, and so many late in the game?
  2. Is this good or bad, or does it not matter at all?
  3. Should Arsenal start more aggressive/take more risks in games and try harder to score more goals early on?
  4. What would be the overall effect?
  5. What would you do for the rest of the season, to remain defensively solid and yet score more goals?
  6. How should we play against the ‘top teams’ to get more points in these games?

TotalArsenal.

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55 Responses to Arsenal start games too slowly and need to be more aggressive: debate!

  1. victor says:

    I think we should get at teams quicker and go for the kill, similar to what Liverpool did to us at Anfield, we tend to pass the ball around a lot which does, tire most of the weaker teams out as they chase shadows, hence why we finish them off towards the end of the game.The stronger teams play higher up the field and close us down quicker and we have not been able to deal with that. we panic, give the ball away easily, make losts of stray passes (under pressure), which are simple 5 yard passes which pisses me off and they are all guilty of it Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey. And this is where we struggle as a side because playing against that pressue we cant seem to do. Theres no maturity in our play and fear takes over and until these players grow and learn to play under this pressure we will allways come un stuck, we need to fear nobody…because we are The Arsenal.

  2. Domhuail says:

    Why do Arsenal score relatively so few goals early on, and so many late in the game? OUR FITNESS IS BETTER THAN MOST OF OUR OPPONENTS AND WE TAKE LONGER TO WARM UP TO THE GAME.
    Is this good or bad, or does it not matter at all? AS LONG AS WE CONTINUE TO WIN, WHO CARES.
    Should Arsenal start more aggressive/take more risks in games and try harder to score more goals early on? WENGER SAYS WE SOMETIMES PLAY WITH THE HANDBRAKE ON BUT HE MEANS THAT WE HOLD BACK UNTIL WE FEEL MORE CONFIDENT. WE NEED TO DO THIS TO STABILIZE OUR PLAY SO PERHAPS WE SHOULD STICK WITH IT IF IT WORKS
    What would be the overall effect? TOO LATE TO CHANGE NOW, COULD HURT US
    What would you do for the rest of the season, to remain defensively solid and yet score more goals? GET BACK OUR DYNAMIC DUO (RAMSEY & WALCOTT), USE GNABRY, PODOLSKI, BENDTNER,SANOGO AND ZELALEM AS IMPACT SUBSTITUTES MORE OFTEN
    How should we play against the ‘top teams’ to get more points in these games? START LIKE WE HAVE DONE SO FAR BUT SUBSTITUE THE ABOVE EARLIER IN THE MATCH, PERHAPS AT THE RESTART OR 60TH MINUTE?

  3. jnyc says:

    Interesting subject T A.
    can’t Rather than use statistics, I’ll use my observations about our style of play.
    Some things I would like to note:
    Our overall feeling about our defense is badly skewed by the Man City and Liverpool losses (not just the statistics)as you mentioned.
    I really have come around to the popular opinion that we need a more dynamic player than Arteta. Faster, stronger, and better quality than Flamini. I think this is an area, after striker, where we should spend big, rather than just get by with what we have.
    If not buying a Bender or Pogba type—- , maybe using oxlade Chamberlain instead. Watching him use skill and speed to leave pressing defenders behind in the past few weeks, it opened up some nice spaces to work in going forward which is so rare for us.
    We haven’t seen that at all this season, only a bit from Rosicky(which is one reason we all love Tomas), – but he’s not as fast, and isn’t really a threat to get into the box and have end product. I think it’s needed for big, dangerous opponents like Champions League teams, also Man city, Chelsea, maybe Liverpool, considering how many chances they have had in our last 2 meetings.
    My third point is– I can’t believe how badly we’ve been hurt by injuries in attack. I don’t do stats, but the goal and assists per minutes played for podolski, theo, and Chamberlain after their returns from injury must be incredible. If Ozil had a full season to work with them, I think we would be in first by a long way.
    Last thing, and you knew it was coming, I love Olivier and support him, but we need much better there. While watching Mandzukic play this weekend, I was thinking, maybe we could use this scandal as an excuse to sell Giroud, and replace with him. I think even that upgrade would make us a allot better. Let alone, if we got a top player like Benzema, or Pedro somehow.

  4. jnyc says:

    I cut myself of before I finished, my conclusion is that, we have not been too conservative, I prefer our new solid defensive style, and that combined with the things I mentioned, would make us a team that could stand up to any opponent in England or Europe.

  5. All in all we are doing well especially at home with this style, not being impatient, and not allowing the opposing team to sucker punch us or capitalise on silly errors as did happen on occasion during previous seasons. It has been a sign of maturity.

    Away from home, there is more of an issue at the moment as starting slow invites the home team to press and we lack a bit in terms of counter-attacking pace (and potential over the top balls to Theo) to deter them from doing so, so the pressure can be ratcheted up by the opposition, e.g. Southampton, Liverpool with less concern about being sucker punched, as Henry would often do around the time of the Invincibles.

    Part of the issue away is perhaps we have been missing Aaron to help connect defence with attack and have passing options for players with good off the ball movement. When things get a little static in transition from defence to attack players don’t have simple outlets and therefore have to take multiple touches, and that can be an issue for some players, inc. Ozil, who is working on body strength in adjusting to the PL. Jack is getting there, but he needs to work a little on ball security and simplifying his game on the lines of Aaron when he plays DLP/b2b.

  6. oz gunner says:

    Good stuff TA. I miss the invincible days when we’d slam goals in early and coast after the 60th minute mark. It is very hard to say though because a lot of variables come in to play (other teams attacking intent, weather, fitness levels of players etc)

    Since the beginning of last season we’ve begun slowly and needed to work in to the game. Pool exposed us by smashing us before we got going and it ended horribly for us. I think how we go about it now is working for us with the players we’ve got at our disposal. In future seasons with theo,serge and ox it could be drastically different because we would be a constant threat. The difference between this season and ones before is this season we are defensively solid. In the past we all had our heart in our mouth when teams countered, no we can rest easy.

    I wouldn’t change it, but i would change those we have at our disposal. Ox next to a defensive bulldog, theo on one wing, serge on the other, and a clinical finisher…we’d smash teams to pieces with that pace.

  7. Gerry says:

    TA – Smashing post, and so unlike one of yours – in the nicest possible way 😀 I always find myself playing guess the author when I start reading. Today I was stumped. Top man!

    I’ll come back to the questions in a minute, as I sort of go along with a lot of ‘jnyc’ has said. The bigger problem, up until the Sunday game I feel, has been the apparent total disregard as to how the opposition plays, as though it should have no impact on our game? I do say ‘apparent’ disregard, when I actually mean that AW does know what other teams do, but perhaps he does not want to alter his approach?

    Now whether the two Liverpool games are lessons learnt for future games, only time will tell. But the ‘gung ho’ attitude of the first game where we allowed ourselves to be exploited by pace behind our rearguard was naive to say the least. Who was to blame for it is an tad difficult to answer from the outside. AW for setting them up to push ‘Pool back? The players for not consolidating, albeit after being 2-0 down, and closing ranks more? Whatever. The difference in the second game was obvious. How many times did Jenks rush headlong down the touchline in the first half? I did see a comment that he was in ‘no man’s land’ a lot of the time, which might have been another way of saying he was unaccustomed to ‘blocking the space’, thus preventing that as an avenue of attack. It could be why Stirling switched to Monreal’s side, and had some early joy?

    The point I am making is, that along with the twin pivot in Flameteta, and the more restrained use of our wingbacks, did mean the previous debacle was taken on board by both manager and players? Add the real bonus of pace to go at them from the Ox, which meant Ozil could exploit the space that opened up, and gave us quick transition, which normally we would get from Rosicky. I slightly disagree with jnyc on his lack of pace. True, he has not got the Walcott burst of speed, but what he has got that ability to move forwards and seek to play to ball forwards, far better than Wilshere doing a similar thing. Now I know this will upset you TA, but your vision, at the moment(stress), of Jack being the ultimate No10 I think is what is his undoing. I have said it before,’ mature Jack’ is best when he is just facilitating others from the middle, as I just described Rosicky’s best attributes above. Once you promote him to potential ‘second striker’, he then starts to want to create things for himself, and it sort of falls apart. Others have said he should ‘keep it simple’ or ‘not try and do too much’, so I am not particularly going out on a limb here. Doing the B2B thing, with the primary thought of providing others with the opportunity to create an opening, but if they in turn provide an opening for him, then go for it. But that should not be the main objective of his passing.

    So, having covered old ground, to the questions:

    Q1, – Keeping possession is our usual primary objective. This means that our opponents are working hard, so our lack of scoring early can be tied to them defending better, and in numbers, and tiring late on. Particularly effective against the lower level teams who have been less successful at getting the ball of us.
    Q2,- It matters if we discount the ability of the opposition to disrupt our passing game, pressing high, tackling quickly, and using pace against us?
    Q,3 – Our game is not really based on an aggressive, in your face, type game. The real key is all playing at the same level whether keeping the ball, or reclaiming the ball quickly, and moving forwards. We have not got the players that can sustain that effort for the whole game. This is partly down to the small squad, injuries, as well as the type of players we have. To do so, opens us up to a more defensive second half. Much of this would be resolved if we were to score more goals from the chances offered? We simply are better in ‘most’ games at using the space in the second half, when we can finish stronger. Any goals we score in the first half are a bonus.
    Q4, – We really have little option but to continue with what works with the players available. It is the summation of all I have said in the above questions, plus what I have said in the preamble as to being aware, and reacting to the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.
    Q5,- I think the last game gives the answer to this question. Top teams will try and remove our strength of keeping possession. We simply have to have better, less risky, passing options, until they ease off, which they inevitably will …. although Bayern might make that statement a little redundant? But essentially it comes down to how well we pass and move, and how quick we are in transition both ways. The collective spirit is what will win us more games, but not all. Fact of life?

  8. henrychan says:

    Hi all.. long time no see.. hehehehe..

    TA.. You always have a lot of question.. hahahaha..
    1. Why do Arsenal score relatively so few goals early on, and so many late in the game?
    Because we lost speed.. we lost our Winger.. especially after Walcott injured..
    I don’t know why Wenger change his tactic to put Cazorla and Podolski as our LW..
    I prefer Miyaichi or even Rosicky to play there.. hehehehe.. They have speed..
    I hope this summer Wenger will bring a good winger.. left winger.. cause we have RW already.. Walcott and Gnabry..

    2. Is this good or bad, or does it not matter at all?
    For me.. it’s bad.. Eventhought we win alot.. hehehe..
    But we will be even better if we have a great winger.. both sides..

    3. Should Arsenal start more aggressive/take more risks in games and try harder to score more goals early on?
    Yes.. why not.. But Wenger know his team better than us..

    4. What would be the overall effect?
    For me.. Offense is the best deffence.. hehehehe..

    5. What would you do for the rest of the season, to remain defensively solid and yet score more goals?
    a. Don’t play Flamini and Arteta together.. One pure DM is enough..
    They can replace each other.. So the will continue fresh for all games left..
    b. Bendtner and Sanogo must give more time to play as our CF.. and rest Giroud for a while.. So there wil be more fresh player.. and stay fit out of injured..
    c. Ozil must also rest and subs by Cazorla or Rosicky.. depend on the team we face..
    cause Ozil just can’t do his best if we don’t have great Winger..

    6. How should we play against the ‘top teams’ to get more points in these games?
    With our team now.. we must play 4-5-1 formation.. then we will win the midfield.. and win the ball.. and win the games.. hehehehe..

    SO.. Tomorrow will be a very important game for us..
    Not because of Bayern.. the team that we hold 3-3 last season..
    They just lucky by the rules.. hehehehe..
    But also because of Pep Guardiola.. We have unfinished bussiness with him..
    I still remember the ‘second yellow card’ that RvP got for kicking the ball after offside flag..
    So unreasonable decision.. And we must show Pep that their team (Barca) win unfairly games..

    Go Gunners..

  9. Admir says:

    Good questions, TA. 🙂

    Instead of answering them, I will mention something that I brought up at least once during the last term. If I remember well, we hadn’t scored too many goals in the first third of the match before the run-in when Theo (I miss him so much 😦 ) scored openers against QPR and Manure during our first attacks. He did a similar thing to Everton in the first half of the season. But, most of our goals did come in second and final third of the match. Swansea away, Norwich, Newcastle, West Ham, Wigan at home… Most of our goals came in double or triple salvos – 4 goals against West Ham in space of 12 minutes, 4 goals against Newcastle in space of 18 minutes, etc.

    That problem (if that is a problem – after all, all goals count the same) might be connected with our problems in big matches. I’m afraid that we have developed a complex in those – not just for long-term rivals like Manure and Chavs but also for Manchester Oilers. Whether it has something to do with Wenger’s reluctance to scout our opponents or with lack of killer instinct and quality among our current players – I don’t know.

    And then, there is a lack of pace in our team so we have to create something, passing the ball till eternity before we find the hole and score (like Chambo did against Palace after Santi’s fantastic ball over the top). Barcelona had had the same problem last season and even a season before that – they hadn’t had enough width nor someone like Giroud to open space for Messi, Pedro and others. It’s no wonder Messi had had to score almost all their goals before Neymar arrived.

  10. VCC says:

    1)..We always start with a slow tempo.
    2)..At the end of the day, apart from getting dark, the fundamental fact is if we score more than the opposition we will be successful. I know, I know, this is stating the obvious, but my theme is, buy a SQ ST, and we will achieve this more often than not.
    3)..Not necessarily. As many have sated already, sometimes you have to adapt your play according to the opposition. Prime example, away to Liverpool. Remain calm, consolidate and reap the awards late with our superior fitness.
    4)..If we go gung ho in all our matches, we will be picked off against the superior sides.
    5)..Remain compact and move forwards collectively, and not create spaces/gaps between defence/midfield/attack. A strong SQ DM would enhance this project.
    6)..Maybe, let them try and beat us rather than us playing on the front foot all the time and get picked off easily. Patience is a virtue.
    7).. Buy a SQ ST in the summer.
    8)..Buy a SQ DM in the summer.
    9)..Don’t listen to a word the TCM says.
    10). Get a patition up to force TMHT back blogging.
    11).Donate the organiser of the UMF league a season ticket to the Emirates.
    12). Make sure 7+8+9+10+11 are dealt with = SORTED

    PTW….Excellent post Total and equally excellent follow ups, especially the one after admir. 😉

  11. alexgunners says:

    TA,

    Great post and it is a good point. It is something that i said during our loss to Liverpool. We do start too slow. Whenever we score early, we tend to go to sleep instead of going for the kill. We play a brand of football that would allow us to destroy the opposition but instead we play around too much and not go for the jugular.

    I think that it is important to scow early on and set the tempo for the game. Essentially this does not necessarily mean that we will win the game but if we were to knock the wind out of their sails early, it could only benefit us.

    For the rest of the season, i believe we need flamini to continue playing as i feel that he is our x-factor. underrated by most but so important to our team. We need to go into the rest of the season with no fear. We need to bully teams as we were doing at the start of the season and not give them room to play.

  12. VCC says:

    Hi Alex…….Bella is beautiful………..good job she takes after Mummy not Daddy….. 😉

  13. alexgunners says:

    Hi VCC,

    Thanks, she definitely takes after mum, very lucky indeed.
    How have you been?

  14. VCC says:

    I’m good Alex…..getting excited/hopeful about the rest of the season. Fingers crossed.
    Will you sign my patition to get Mr.Mancini back blogging please?

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks guys for some superb responses. I have very little time to respond at the moment but will get back to the blog later on.

    Alex, Bella honours her name to the full – what a sweetie!! 🙂

    Henry, how is your Yoona the Goona doing? 🙂

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Terry, get your sorry hairless arse back on BK! We need your anecdotes and glass-brimming-fullness, and the pigeons are getting broody too! A man cannot escape his responsibility! 😛

  17. alexgunners says:

    Vcc, I will gladly sign the petition to get mr Mancini back. Glad to hear that all is ok.

  18. alexgunners says:

    TA,
    Thanks, she is a sweetie but a dad would always say that about his little princess.
    Been really busy lately and missed the blogging but I have been reading all that’s been happening. Good to see some new guys blogging here.

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    You have been missed, Alex, and I am hoping the arrival of Bella Bergkampesque will inspire you to write a new post for us in the near future. 🙂

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    Indeed Alex, that is one really good looking little Gooner… 😀

    Yeah, where is Terry? My fear is that the use of his glorious chompers, combined with an overstretched neck may have led to something snapping… 😯 In truth, I hope all is well and I would love to hear his reports from this recent bunch of home matches. I guess we’re only halfway through them, so maybe he’s holding his counsel until later or is just busy…Those matches take more time when you have to get past the pubs (and your mates, and for Terry at least, all the Goonerettes…) on your way in and out…

    Nice post, Total, and an interesting topic. Singling out the league data while we’re playing a couple of other competitions doesn’t bother me but also alerts me to the notion that they are quite different. In tomorrow’s match a low scoring draw or win would be heavenly. Sunday, as in the league matches, draws are seen as lost points. Against the lower teams, we also want big scorelines and easy outings (as subs) for our young guys and chances to rest our key players. We also have this hoo-doo about the “big” teams so draws in those matches (esp. at our place) also bring out the end-of-days crowd…

    Personally, it doesn’t bother me too much and I like watching and feeling confident even if the scoreline doesn’t change until later in the match. That’s a different thing than these recent matches where opponents have had all the best early chances. Fast paced, end to end matches, like the Liverpool games, give me the willies (as we say). Our smaller, more technical guys, need to wear down opponents by playing keep away, and the tika taka is the model. (Unfortunately, we’re not nearly there at this moment, but it’s still the goal, I think…) It’s classic schoolyard stuff. Make the big bullies chase and they will tire. The last thing I want to see is us trying to win by pushing the challenges, attempting to physically batter the thick-heads. As we saw on Sunday, these sort of matches tend to engage the referee. It went well the other day, but, in general, I’d rather win without depending on penalties or sending offs…

    While the stats paint a certain picture I would say they also lie. As Admir points out, we got quite a few results during last season’s run-in by scoring early and then defending. This Autumn seemed similar and, back when Giroud was actually scoring (on the pitch… 😉 ) his goals were coming early. It’s only more recently that we’ve struggled. Between his ineffectiveness and the injuries to other goal sources (Walcott, Ramsey) it’s fallen more to guys like Santi, Ox and (when he plays) Poldolski (whose goals per minute stat–in all comps–must be looking pretty good). My hope is that with tweeted apologies out there and a convincing, I-can-do-your-job-if-you-cannot performance from Yaya S, Ollie is ready to sharpen his focus and take those glorious opportunities as they present themselves (see the recent ManU match, for example)…

    This new defensive solidity is a good thing, and with it, it becomes more about getting the first goal than when the first goal happens. We’ve got a huge challenge tomorrow, even if I believe both teams will play cagey and on the slower, more methodical side. As much as the comeback in Munich got our season restarted last time, I believe the goals were of the luckier variety and the key was keeping the clean sheet. If we can do that second part tomorrow (play solid at the back…) we’ll be in it heading to leg 2. If not…

    So, without checking the questions you’ve posed maybe I’ve suggested (my) answers(?)…

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    We need more focus, 17! 😀

  22. RA says:

    Your usual excellent Post writing skills are to the fore, TA 🙂

    I have a slightly different question to pose, simply because I cannot figure out what is often said about our game plan.

    It is obviously true that we often start slowly and that in turn can backfire on us spectacularly as it did agains ‘Pool and we go 1 or 2 goals down.
    This frequently leads to the sage advice that Arsenal should ‘switch on from the start,’ or that we should be ‘on the alert from the off’ and so on.

    OK, on the face of it, that is incontrovertibly good advice but what actually does it mean in practice?

    Does anyone really feel that our lads stroll onto the field of play trying to shake off the effect of a little weed, or perhaps spend the first five minutes wondering who Giro has been shagging or thinking ‘damn, I should have had a wee before I came out’?

    After the first 10 minutes does someone throw a switch to engage their brains?

    So I know the phrase probably means concentrate for the full 90 minutes, but then as professionals why wouldn’t they? Even that term implies our guys have a communal team self destruct facility to concentrate, or not, for only parts of the game, and I would like to know what that is, and what the point of it might be? 🙂

  23. RA says:

    As for where the Terry Man is, has anyone noticed that the Glicster, aka Blue Shaggy Horror, is also missing.

    I just hope that Terry is slogging away at his gainful employment fiddling someone’s tax return and not chained up down in the evil Cornish basement built by Pull My Cockie! 🙂

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    Excellent comment, Redders, and good to see you back on BK. 🙂

    You have highlighted the key points re the title of the post. It looks like we start with composure and control rather than with a whirlwind appetite from the first whistle. I don’t think anything is wrong with this approach at all and agree that our team is full of professionals with real passion for our club.

    Liverpool did us over the other day but that was not caused by ‘bad, lazy attitude’ but a lack of concentration and, for once, superior attacking power (once we were chasing the game).

  25. RA says:

    Very true, TA.

    How is the job front going?

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    Okay, RA. Doing a number of projects right now and the work seems to keep coming.

    Are you still in the USA and how is your health progressing? 🙂

  27. RA says:

    I am, TA, and still doing some short contracts to. My health is not bad, but can be a bit up and down.

    I’m pleased that things are OK for you and fingers crossed it continues. 🙂

    Off for some lunch – see you later hopefully.

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    Indeed nice to see the Red fellow around these parts… Glad to see he’s got it straight about about all the assorted idiocy regarding how we start matches… I would love to hear more from him as this CL tourney takes shape re: the bigger picture of finances, etc….

    Focus…yes, sorry, TA, I’m a bit long-winded there between coffees… 😀

    If we do OK tomorrow (including a strong start to the match…) it will be down to our concentration, desire, passion, etc. and if they blow us out it will be the distractions, the petulance, the lack of fight. Could it be (sometimes) that it’s the size of the dog rather than how bad he or she wants it? My view is that tomorrow will be sort of like a German Sheperd/Doberman cross against our little Husky-Lab. The girl in my avatar won all her fights, but we tended to intervene as quickly as possible–and she certainly had a scar or two… Passion and luck play their roles, but over the longer term, the genetic factors seem to win out…

    The big dogs in top Euro football (which starts up again today…) seems to be the old guard of “National” (Bank/National, i.e., corrupt money?) teams (Bayern, Barca, Real Madrid, the Northern Italian giants) and the up and coming, Nouveax, Sheik-o-garch money clubs. I’m quite interested in the Man-Sour City–Barca match. The former were “the better team” according to one side of the Moo-man’s mouth and the latter looked pretty smooth in a 6-nil trot out for Messi, Cesc, Iniesta and even Pedro, Alexis and Neymar looked sharp. Interesting that the dominant players at City (Yaya, Silva, Navas, Negredo) were either let-go or passed over by “the Catalan giant.”

    In a 3rd, lesser, category seem to be the American owned teams including our own, ManU (in a difficult transitional period… 🙄 ) and Liverpool. Only 2 of us will actually get invited back to the bigger Euro tourney next season… Hopefully some of the smaller “selling” clubs (Atleti, Leverkuysen) can hold their own, as well…

    People (and other shaggy characters…) were crying out against our prioritizing of the CL over the FA cup with rotation the other day, but the truth of the matter is that it IS a far bigger stage…I’m looking forward (warily) to our match, but will be watching as a neutral today. Anybody else?…

  29. Xavier says:

    @17
    Yeah. I’ll be watching too. Definitely a neutral for this one. Don’t even think I fancy any of them to win it.
    On the post well… Like someone(can’t remember who) said above, starting slow or starting fast doesn’t matter so much as long as we’re winning(or win anyways). But I think we may need to choose which opponents we should use which approach against. Alas, wenger,being the alchemist manager he is, will more probably allow the players figure that out themselves on the pitch. It’s a good and bad thing. Depending on what the scores at the end of the day turn out to be.

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    Good to hear about your health being not bad at the moment and enjoy your lunch Redders. 🙂

  31. 17highburyterrace says:

    Whoa…First 15 mins and ManCity look just like Rayo Vallecano did on the weekend… Can’t even get it out of their own half… Still nil-nil, however. PSG already ahead early…

  32. Xavier says:

    Ibrahimovic is something!!! He’s second goal for Psg is just wow. Man city have held their own this first half. After a dull first 15 mins they’ve actually had the best chances of the game so far. Messi still showing some mercy so far. Yaya has been awesome and negredo seems to be having a ‘Giroudish’ sorta day. Nil-nil at half time and pretty dull so far.

  33. 17highburyterrace says:

    Half time at North Abu Dhaby City and still nil-nil. Negredo even had a chance on a cross but went wide in Giroud-esque fashion. Dude was working hard the whole period helping get them back in the match…Ref gave him a yellow so he may have to tone it down just a bit…

    City attackers have their parallels to our own, I think, with Negredo a shorter but faster version of Ollie and Dzeko (not playing) a more focused Bendtner. They’ve also got El Kun (injured) and Jovetic…Nasri on the bench in favor of Kolarov (ahead of Clichy) on the left. Might AW try something like that, i.e. Nacho ahead of Gibbs? Not in a million years…

  34. 17highburyterrace says:

    X-man, haha…Seems like we agree on the Negredo–Giroud comparison…

    They only showed the 2nd Ibra goal…Bit of quality there… If ManU won 5-nil at Leverkuysen maybe the Qatar team is trying to go a few better…So PSG are in the quarters…

    Barca guilty of trying to walk the ball into the net? Certainly it’s a bit of midgets amongst the trees and high-balls seem bread and butter (meat and drink?) for City. Negredo needed to get that late one on target… No corners yet for the home team, announcers just said…

  35. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oops, this tie is over too…DiMichelis sent off and called for a pen (might’ve been just outside the box…) while their whole defense was pushed up with Navas on the floor wanting a foul… Maybe if 10 Man City can keep it to only a couple, the trip to Spain won’t be for only the good weather…

    For personal reasons this suits me. Hopefully (after we beat Bayern… 😀 ) we get drawn with Barca as our neighbors from Granada have moved there and the tie might coincide with my wife’s spring break… An expensive ticket but maybe a fun one and free housing in Barca…

  36. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wow…City almost equalize…Brilliant from David Silva in the 77th but saved… and Barca seeming a little off-kilter with Neymar in for A. Sanchez…

    Ooooh…Not sure Cesc was offside there… Still only a goal down and into the 80s…

  37. 17highburyterrace says:

    Man City did sooooo well to keep it to a single goal and even make a chance or two to equalize…Too bad about blowing it there right at the end… 😀 Seemed they were riding their luck a bit with the likes of Clichy and Lescott over on that left side…Is it a consolation that it came from a fullback rather than one of the more famous attackers?…

    My hope for tomorrow’s match (is there a preview coming?…) is that the “experience” of playing with HoWebb at the whistle keeps us from making the stupid fouls which get called in CL football…

  38. alcide says:

    I suppose nobody saw Leverkusen? No chance to see any game where I am (but looks like I can catch ours tomorrow on ZDF), and I was curious to see L. Bender to form a better opinion, although a 4-nil loss is not the best baseline…

    So one less trophy-chase for ManC?

  39. Admir says:

    “Might AW try something like that, i.e. Nacho ahead of Gibbs? Not in a million years…”

    You might not believe this, 17ht, but I actually proposed this one today. Except I’d put Gibbs ahead of Nacho.

  40. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey Admir, where are you proposing such things?… Just curious…

    Personally, I think Nacho is the better attacker–uses his off foot better and really strong with high angled pulled back passes…and maybe places his crosses just a little better–while Gibbs recovery pace makes him the better defender. I guess the other day, late on, Gibbs did play ahead of Nacho (and Santi went to the right, though, of course, he always drifts wherever he wants)…

    Yeah, I don’t see a lot of flexibility match to match re: Wenger playing players out of position (part of AW’s increasing conservatism or nerves, as time goes by?…) so ideas like ours, or Vermaelen (or anybody else…) as a DM just don’t fly. Did Pellegrini (in essence) blow his CL campaign with just such a move? Was DiMichelis thinking like a DM when he fouled Messi too close to, if not in, the box?…

    Alcide, I didn’t see Lars Bender but I saw another couple of guys who were (supposedly) Arsenal targets at DM–just by watching the goals–Matuidi and Cabaye… I wonder if we’ve lost a little edge in the French market, now that we’re not the biggest French club any longer… 😯

  41. Admir says:

    On the internet today on two different forums.

    TBH, I feel that Nacho has been out of shape for a while. Against Liverpool, every dangerous Liverpool attack – as I can recall came down – their right attacking flank: Suarez’s chance saved by Fabianski, Sturridge’s chances at the opening of the match, Suarez’s move that resulted with Podolski’s foul in the box… Nacho might have been a victim of the fact we don’t have a natural left winger that plays on the wing and make pressure on the opponents’ right full-back – Cazorla drifts inside too much and Podolski doesn’t have enough pace to stretch the opponents.

  42. oz gunner says:

    @ RA

    glad to have you back, your comments are sorely missed.

    You are right. I think it does take time to work in to a game. Just like boxing there is a feeling out process at times (trying to find range etc). Once you find that rhythm then things start clicking. There are times our midfield just doesn’t find that passing rhythm or hold its shape and our game never gets going. Other times it happens quickly. I think Arsene prefers the time to settle in to their structures and passing game so the team is more cohesive and defensively solid before they attack. Without that I think we are exposed like we were to Liverpool and Tottenham early in our 5-2 smashing.

    Anyone who has played a team sport and a reasonably high level knows it takes a little bit to get going. Some need different triggers, I knew once I got smashed in a contest early that it was time to kick into gear.

  43. oz gunner says:

    Has anyone see or heard from Herbie lately. Seems awfully quiet. Not sure if it’s because he’s taking a break from blogging or because we are having a good season. Also that we wasted our money on Kozzer when we should have gotten Cahill 🙂

  44. Gerry says:

    Morning all, I fell asleep during the Mancs game. Nothing to do with the game, just over stretching my poor old brain lately.

    Re Bender. From matches I have seen recently he is a tad too keen to get forwards for what our need is. I also said last week that he is prone to the odd mistake, and he duly followed up with a costly one at the weekend. Not exactly what we need either … ?

    As for tonight, I am clinging to the hope that it is only 11 against 11, so we could spring an upset, or perhaps sneak a draw. Nil – Nil preferably.But everything I have seen of BM lately does not encourage such hopes. I think they will come here, like last time, and try and blitz us from the start, with whatever team they put out. That means pressing hard in the middle of the park, particularly anybody slow to move the ball on quickly. So keeping the backs deeper for outlet balls will be the order of the first half … if we have learnt anything at all?

    Will it be Gnabry or Ox, or both? I am sure the former would like to impress if WC boss is watching, as will Ozil, Poldi and Mert? The other big question will be who next to Flamini in place of Arteta? Jack looks the obvious one, unless Rosi or Ox drop back?

    Interesting thought on the double booking of Gibbsreal on the left. I was right about Gibbs having an injury, so I would guess it will be Monreal again, although I agree his form has not been great lately?

    I am more looking forward to seeing Bellerin ahead of Sagna later in the season, now the former has returned from Watford. Mind, I think that may have something to do with the Under 21’s need as well? It seems daft talking about putting him the first team when he couldn’t breakthrough at Watford, but that is not how the loan system currently works. Watford have no incentive to play him ahead of their own players if they are fit to play. Different situation at Sheff Wednesday with Gk, Damien Martinez, because their regular first choice GK is fragile, so he is needed … apart from the fact he is doing an excellent job there. In the FA Cup quarters too?
    Bellerin, when he did play, seemed to be on the losing side a lot, without being directly responsible for those defeats.. But if we are short of a real pacy right winger later in the season, and someone who can give that extra defensive cover, then Hector’s the guy to go to.

    Back to the serious studying ….

  45. VCC says:

    Hi Oz…..Herb blogs on another site under a different title. He is still down in the mouth and knocking Wenger at any given moment.
    I/We all knock Wenger at some times, but he is unrelenting in his posts about our manager.
    Like you, I miss him though, because he is intelligent and knows Arsenal and their history. It’s just a shame he cannot see the bigger picture and compliment Wenger occasionally when things go right.
    Oh well, it takes all kinds, and it would be a boring world if we all agreed.
    I miss Mr.Mancini as well. I’m going round his gaff later to sort him out. If he doesn’t get his A— back on here I’m going to threaten to shoot his pigeons, and make a pie out of them.

  46. Admir says:

    My hope lies (hint: you may just saw an unintended pun!) in the fact Bayern haven’t had serious opponents since Shitty. They’ve been dealing easily with the Bundesliga opponents and some of them played without their best players who were rested because their managers had known they would lose anyway! In a way, our tough streak of matches might work for us here because Bayern might search for the right gear at the beginning of the match. An early goal from our hotel-screwer would be a decent start and a repeat of the start from Munich.

  47. Gerry says:

    Admir – I hope Giro’s lawyers are not reading you above comment – insert ‘allegedly’ every time. It has save Private Eye a fortune over the years 😀

  48. VCC says:

    Morning Gerry. The voice of reason, as always. If Wilshere plays, Bayern will target him and try to force errors. I hope he doesn’t try any fancy dan stuff early on. Keep it tight for the first 30 minutes at least.
    I’d like to see Gnabry get a start. As you say, he will be chomping at the bit to impress Germany’s manager.
    With several players coming back after a rest the week end we should at least be able to match them stamina wise?
    My money wouldn’t be spent on Bender. From what I’ve seen of him he is prone to far too many lapses of concentration and sloppy play. This may appear a tad too harsh as I have had limited sightings of him.
    Likewise with Reus. Many punters fancy him, but not me.
    Tins in the fridge cooling, Home shirt pristinely ironed…..COYG

  49. VCC says:

    Admir……my hope would be on any Arsenal player caressing the back of the net tonight. Whether it’s the “allegedly” hotel screwer 🙂 or Szecesny with a punt from his box.

  50. Admir says:

    @Gerry, I didn’t name anyone. 😀 I meant someone in the hotel where Bayern players are will screw with them by hiding their equipment or forgetting to book their massage so they get all tensed and annoyed at the opening of the match. 😀

    @VCC – I agree. Still, I’d add that if a hotel-screwer doesn’t score, I hope Olivier Giroud will. 😀 It would be a massive goal for him. He might have a special motive against Bayern as they had been interested in him before he joined us.

  51. VCC says:

    Admir…..Bayern interested in Giroud before us……..that amazes me…..I would have thought they would want a more mobile, pacey player. 😉

  52. Admir says:

    Well, apparently they did that and signed Mandžukić instead. 😉

  53. VCC says:

    Admir…Ah, that makes sense, so would I have. Shame Wenger didn’t think the same.

  54. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 🙂

  55. oz gunner says:

    @ VCC and Gerry

    I would pick wanyama over Bender. He is what we need. He was immense when we played them earlier in the season and he torn apart Barca. He knows how to play in the big games!

    @ Gerry

    The Hector news worries me. My first thought was: Sagna is gone, Jenks to start next season and Arsene wants to start grooming Hector now. Training him with the first team etc. I hope I am wrong.

    Definitely will be Wilshere next to Flamini. The tie is so important that I’d go with Rosicky on the right. Just to keep them honest and press them all game. A sneaky 1-0 is what we need. Can’t concede at home this time around! I would be tempted to chuck in Ox though because he has been the difference lately. I do want to see more of Gnabry too, just not in this one. Both he and Ox give us something different and add much needed pace to our attacks. Not to mention bringing the best out of Ozil.

    @ VCC

    I did like Herb, sometimes he did make me want to run in to a wall head first but overall he was good value. That sod Terry needs to get his act together. Less absenteeism, more ghost and 5-0 talk! Perhaps he’s gone down to that lake he frequented as a kid in hope that he would cross paths with that mysterious ghost girl again. Or he’s gone to the school bus stop again where he was attacked by the escaped loonie lady. Poor poor terry!

    @ Alex and PPP

    No excuse tonight fellas. I know the game will be on at 430am on the East but I expect your company throughout. If I’m up so should the rest of the Aussie contingent

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