Akpom composed & deadly | Zelalem plays like Ozil: U21 Match Report

The Young Guns – Aston Villa v Arsenal

Under 21’s


This was a game Arsenal should have been expected to win, as they have been in good form this season, and they were aided by the experienced pair of Diaby and Coquelin. However, they were made to work hard for their victory, which keeps them at the top of the table.

The full line up of: Martinez in goal; Ormond-Ottewill(B54) LB; O’Connor and Hayden the CB’s; Bellerin RB. Midfield: Diaby And Coquelin Holding, and Crowley AM; (1st half) Zelalem CAM, and Akpom up front. Maitland-Niles was sort of somewhere between second striker, winger and AM.

The first piece of action from the Gunners’ came on the counter, with the ball played out to M-Niles who showed good pace, drifted into space from the left and hit a beautiful controlled curler that hit the bar, with the keeper beaten all ends up. Sadly, that was the last time he was seen out there during this half. Arsenal really struggled to control the game through some sloppy passing. Zelalem hardly got a touch of the ball, Coquelin and Diaby were trying difficult passes that Villa were able to cut out.

However, the solid central barrier of O’Connor and Hayden – the latter had the captain’s armband – meant Martinez was never troubled, despite getting a series of corners off other defenders. These were not always cleared effectively, but Martinez claimed everything that came his way.

Going the other way, Crowley showed some good skills, but had a couple of long range shots when a pass might have been better. Akpom’s 1st goal came about not from a tremendous build up play, rather more a case of a defender trying to be too clever and allowing Akpom strength to rob him just outside the Villa box. He showed a neat bit of skill in committing the keeper one way, skipping past him and cutting it back into the bottom left hand corner. A real composed finish which was all  by his making. He had a glorious chance to double the score when showing some real pace to get clear of the defence, one on one with the keeper, but he took it too close to the keeper who just managed to get an outstretched leg to it. And the half ended with just the one goal lead.

Whilst Arsenal had the better chances, Villa could, or should have made more of theirs. On one occasion they had a man over when both Bellerin and B54 were caught up-field, leaving acres of space behind them. Both the full backs made some great overlapping runs down the line which did not bring any joy in front of goal, so one suspects that one of the ‘holding’ midfielders were not holding their positions?

It was to change in the second half.

Bellerin’s runs over the halfway line were noticeably curbed. Zelalem suddenly became Mr Available rather than Mr Invisible in the first half. M-Niles now was instructed to stay on the right, and thus keep Bellerin from advancing too far forwards … But it was Villa that came out with the greater threat.


Their first attempt went through Bellerin’s legs and deflected past Martinez’s far post. Another saw our keeper make a last minute stop as a ball sped towards the inside of the upright. Although his parry went straight to a Villa player, he was ruled off-side when the ball came in … and from two yards he skied it anyway, which sort of summed up Villa’s night.

Meanwhile our attacks were looking much more menacing with Zelalem getting involved much more. M-Niles cut in from the left and hit a tame shot on his weaker side. Hayden found himself in the opposition box and cut a precise pass/cross to the far post. Unfortunately, both M-Niles and Akpom were waiting, and the former put it wide. A similar thing late on with Bellerin: having a mazy run off the right wing took him past three defenders, one of our strikers, only to come to a halt when Akpom helped make a double barrier with the defender clearing.

Finally though, Akpom was on to a trade mark Zelalem pass that Ozil would have been proud of, squeezed past two defenders as the keeper came out, and as he was falling he toe-flicked towards the far post with the keeper helpless, and it curled in off the post. Similar to Sanogo’s 4th against Benfica, except this had further to travel.

So top honours went to Akpom, who might have had a second hattrick, but has now scored 6 in 3 games for the Under 21’s!

Of the others, Diaby got through 90 minutes. Held on to the ball well, but will need a few more games like this to get his real sharp passing going.

Bellerin was ever keen to get forwards but played a more disciplined role in the second half. He made some good defensive tackles too, but also lost out a few times when over-doing the trickery.

Hayden had an impressive game, giving out an unruffled calm worthy of Per himself. If I was to be picky, I would say he could direct his clearances at teammates rather than just clear the lines, but that is being really picky!

Coquelin was hard working, but sadly he doesn’t look the part for a step up, and time is running out. He will get more opportunities at this level, but his passing is a bit wayward.

B54- Brandon Ormond-Ottewill to give him his full title made some great runs down the left, and followed it up with some dangerous crosses. He has not had the exposure that Bellerin has had, and has a little more time to develop, but is a lively sort who may just be right to take over from Nacho in a couple of years?

O’Connor is only in his first season and will benefit from having Hayden around. He should take advantage as he will get a new partner pretty soon, I think?

Whilst talking of defenders, Martinez in goal looked like somebody who had stepped down a level. I think he will be anxious to strut his stuff with the first team whenever he can.

Crowley has a touch of goal thirst on him from what I saw. Somebody will be having a word in his ear to tell him he is a creative midfielder, and that creativity should be directed at others first, and should only shoot when there are no better options available. That was not the case tonight, but he is one of the younger ones stepping up. Skillwise he looks the part.

Zelalem was a tale of two halves. When he can nail his second half display into a 90 minute performance, he will be a force to be reckoned with, and this second 45 will do his confidence the world of good.

I felt I was robbed of seeing the true Maitland-Niles tonight. He may not have the high profile of some of his team mates, but I see a very good player developing in him. He may not make it through to Arsenal’s first team anytime soon, or maybe not at all? But he will do any side proud for effort and no mean skill on the ball.

Chuba Akpom? What don’t you know already? He is tall, strong, quick, with a deft touch around goal … and he has got his head down to get a first team start. The COC beckons, and with a slight vacancy for pace down the left side, he could make more than one appearance … this season.

Overall, it was Akpom who made the difference in the scoreline, but all can be happy with some parts of their game. As to claims for a spot in the Southampton COC tie, Hayden is the standout for me. Others will have to see who is rested.

Written by: Gerry.

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105 thoughts on “Akpom composed & deadly | Zelalem plays like Ozil: U21 Match Report

  • I watched the game too last night. I was impressed with the whole team. they of course had some lapses you may expect from a u21 side but they were impressive nonetheless. Good interplay when they had the ball and possession was awesome. Any idea what the stats for possession was? Zelalem with that pass was class and crowley has some skills on them legs. Like you I didnt see much of Maitland-Niles but the periods when he had the ball I saw also he wasn’t without some style and class either. The back 4 did okay. I was super impressed with Hayden. Bellerin may need to learnt o watch his forays upfront and remember he’s a defender first. There was this chance the villains had which we might have paid for and bellerin was in No mans land. Diaby had some reeeeeeaaally good passes, but like you said he’ll need a couple more games like this before maybe a 20 minute cameo with the first team. I thought coquelin did okay. Had some interceptions but as much as i like him i also feel he wont cut it for our first team. He could be good for a smaller club though. umm….ahh…My man of the match Chuba Akpom. He had some runs where he reminded me of Henry. He’s big quick and not afraid to take on defenders. He’s goal an eye for goal and he’s also got that selfish striker ilk about him. Maybe too selfish. That would be my only problem with his game. Someone needs to tell him that if he’s shot is not going to be on target he could look for better options. Oh and he’s always looking to run behind defenders. Thats what i really liked about his second goal. The run between the defenders.

    All in all I was impressed with our youth team and super glad we can look forward to some gems coming up the ranks.

    Sorry if this feels like a mini post. (I also liked the left back. A Gibbs in the making imo. Has good control too).

  • Gerry…I enjoyed that read, really comprehensive script on our youngsters. Gutted I missed the display as I like to catch up on the youth when I can.

    Hate to say it, but Chelsea have some fine youth players. Maybe Wenger can have a sneaky look at some of them, as they will not get a chance in the first team.

    Maybe worth a steal on a couple???

  • Top stuff, Gerry. Love the passion you put into these games – Really want to watch the match now! 🙂

    Really pleased that you picked out Akpom and Zelalem, and especially, Hayden. Over the next two to four years, it would be good to see another few youngsters making it through, and for this we need positive performances right now. So Hayden is ready for some first team appearances? Let’s hope him and a few others will be played in the COC against the Saints..

    I guess the disappointing part of your report is the lack of ‘glowiness’ for both Diaby and especially Le Coq…. But at least the senior Frenchman played out a whole game.

  • Xavier – I am in no position to comment on mini posts am I? 😀 😀

    I am pleased to have a second opinion on the game, as I feared I may have been a tad too negative. It was a good game to watch if you are not expecting a flawless display. It was real end to end stuff, even if the goal action was in short supply.
    When TA ask me to do a post, I switched on my critical brain, with half an eye on the future.
    That said, you pretty near endorse everything I said, which is a relief.
    The stats they gave at half-time I think we edged it. But Villa were a very young side too and are struggling to get in the winning habit. Their kids won the Next Gen series two seasons ago, and have a good record in the Youth Cup. So it was credit to our defence that we kept them from any clear cut chance in the first half. They stepped it up in the second half and looked more dangerous. I never quite saw it as Alex Scott did in the studio, where she thought we were in total control?
    The bit where you say Hector was in ‘no man’s land’ was a mirror image of what the first team do, get too many bodies forwards, and only the CB’s to defend. It was Diaby’s side, so perhaps he should have stayed back a bit to cover for when we did lose possession?
    You will know I also see Bellerin as more a winger that can tackle, than a full-bloodied FB. I think he is far more impressive in the final third than any bar Theo. The speed he employs to get into space, and although his crosses were not foot perfect this time, he was there to make them?
    I did not dare mention Thierry when talking of Chuba, but yes, he has that look about him. 😀
    Notice in the team photo how tall he is too? I think they said he scored 2 goals from 4 attempts, so I don’t think we need worry too much about him being selfish? He did lay off a really good pass for B54 to steal in behind, so he is a team player.
    Maitland-Niles is caught by the nature of him being right-footed, so he plays down the right. The trouble is, when he cuts inside, he is at the wrong angle to shoot with his right. Similar thing when Bellerin did the run to the centre? But if he cannot cross with the left, he is not going to play that side to come inside? He just needs to be more central for shooting, else put crosses in.
    Overall though, they all had some strengths and weaknesses, and as you say, to be expected at this level. My big worry for Akpom is the timing of his birth. He is just coming to his breakout season, and he has Campbell, Sanogo, Welbeck, Alexis, Giroud and Walcott all vying for one of those front three slots? Whereas B54, apologies Brandon for the shorthand, has only an ageing Monreal ahead of him? Tough, but so is Chuba 😀

    There you go, a mini post reply 😀

  • VCC – I was hoping you or Terry might have given a pitch side view, may be next time at home?
    It will be on the Arsenal Player if you are a digital member?

    Don’t worry about Chelsea Youth, our lads have already beaten them, well bar the ones they have out on loan … all 26 of them! 😀

    The big worry is for them to maintain this unbeaten run, they need the likes of Hayden to give them stability.
    Next game they are showing on the ‘Player is the Under 19’s UEFA Youth Tournament..

  • TA – Don’t get too despondent about Diaby, it was his full game in how long??

    The fact he has come through it is something to shout about. It is all about playing a bit more and adding the sharpness he will need in the first team. Not just his passing, but also in seeing a bad tackle before it arrives?

    Coquelin is trying very hard, but as Xavier said, he could do very well for a lower league side, disappointing as that is from his earlier promise.

    Hayden certainly on this game showing, is the real deal. No more rash challenges of the past.
    He looks to have matured now, and I can see him be more the Per replacement we have been looking for … if CB is where he ends up? Remember, DM is also in his locker. He has the physical presence to bring the ball forwards and has a good range of passes. The only thing missing last night, from his CB role, was a 35 yard blockbuster shot 😀

    Long term though, see Xavier reply, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill is the name to remember, but B54 is easier 😀

    Akpom has serious talent ahead of him, but that will not stop him from trying. Zelalem? You watch a few minutes of the first half, and anything good we did in the second … chalk and cheese?

  • Well that sucks, no big comment from me then just a simple “what Gerry said” on everything.
    you know me and how much i rate Akpom (especially on his selfishness as a striker – great quality to have imo), i was calling for him to be played up front for the first team until we bought Danny and i want to see Hayden and Bellerin get some game time with the first team so nothing for me to add really.
    I will ask one question, i read in a comment (i apologize i can’t remember from who) that the whole game was shown on sky sports 2 – is this correct?
    If it is then why the hell was it not advertised on the Arsenal website, i would have loved to have watched the whole game and not just highlights on player but never knew anything about it.



    (Crowley not far off)

  • Steve, It was RA that said it was on Sky Sports 2. However, I think he gave it as Channel 483, which did not correspond with my channel of SS 1&2, which are 501 & 502 … and it wasn’t listed, because I checked earlier.

    The coverage was not full blown on the ‘Player, with the main view from high up, one camera behind the goal, and a ground level one opposite the benches. Is the whole match not still on the ‘Player then?
    The highlights will give you a flavour of how it went though.

    Glad you reminded me about Serge G, back in training and giving the slap heads eh?

    I have a sneaky feeling he will get a loan deal at Sporting Lizzie, as part of our ‘foot in the door’ pre signing of WC?… Watch this space?

    But if he sticks around it is another obstacle in Akpom’s route to glory?

  • Fair enough, Gerry. Indeed, Diaby completing a game is worthy of a bit of happiness. Real shame re Coquelin. I am convinced there is a good footballer in him somewhere, but it is not coming out. He needs to sign somewhere were he will be played as first choice and then build his career from there.

    Akpom, could well get there sooner than you think. It is all about form and staying fit, and producing the right stats…. Wenger might take a little gamble, especially now that OG is injured and Sanogo is not (yet) taking his chance….

  • Btw Forgot to compliment you Gerry on an excellent write up of the game which covered every aspect and more of what i got to see on the highlights. Nice one mate.

    We definitely aren’t looking to bad for future potential:

    Re-arranged U21 team 🙂

    —————-Zelalem——–The OX————–

    ???? – we need a young applicant who is left footed, quick, talented, and can cut in on his left and score. Its screaming out for us to buy 17yr old Patrick Roberts from Fulham, the Crowley / Roberts pairing do some major damage in internationals and i would love to see the same at Arsenal.

    And yes its going to be tough for Gnabry as he can also play like OX as a wing position of the three AM. so to get first team footy he’s either going to have to climb past a wealth of talent on the wings or nail down that one and only striker role. Two very daunting tasks lol, but i still hope somehow he manages it as he is an immense talent and one of those who has that level of tenacity to go with the class.

    With all this young talent i think the COC could become an amazing tournament for us Gooners.

  • TA – I know what you are saying re Akpom, but it goes against everything you have been saying about our ‘lighthouse’?
    Akpom is not a back to goal striker. He needs the ball to feet to run on to. And away from the centre is where the pressure is?

    Agreed re Coquelin.

  • Steve – You coward, you have moved Hector back 😀

    Regards the COC. I still think we will play a strong team against Southampton. We do not want a replay. but an easier next round could be the time for these fringe players to shine?

  • Good point, Gerry. I have not seen enough of him to judge whether he could be a lighthouse. Could he be played on the wing? Maybe he will get time as a sub when we are winning handsomely already… Maybe he will become part of plan B… Variety Variety!

  • Gerry,
    If we played two up top a big man up top a la Giroud or Sanogo plus Akpom, that combo would be lethal – pipe dreams though.

  • I would be surprised of we played near our strongest team in the COC. It is at home and we have plenty of players in need of a game. It could be something like:

    Belerin – BFG – Chambers – Gibbs

  • True TA but i would loved to have seen the youth get a go, your team could be for the FA cup 🙂

    Just a quick tweak on yours, Chambers at DM to get the chance to prove what he can do there, and Hayden taking his place at CB and Wilshere instead of Zelalem so Wilshere gets a once in a lifetime chance to play in a position which actually suits his abilities.
    That front three would be f*cking deadly!!
    8 English players btw, that’s also pretty incredible

    Belerin – BFG – Hayden – Gibbs
    —-Chambers——The OX———-

  • That looks good and agreed re Jack showing what he can do there. On the other hand, we need to not overplay him and Zelalem needs the exposure even more. Agreed re Chambers in DM and Hayden as CB (nicely guided by the BFG). But I would keep Diaby in if fit and leave Oxie out.

    I would not mind this, or your, team playing the Oilers…. let alone Koeman’s Saints! 🙂

  • A long read but full of football and life insights.

    ‘Cruyff has said before: “Van Gaal has a good vision of football but it is not mine. He wants to gel winning teams and has a militaristic way of working with his tactics. I want individuals to think for themselves.” Does Van Gaal remain “militaristic” in his stress of “the collective”. Cruyff nods. “Yes. But I’ve always been an individual who likes to create something himself within a team performance. So I am happy if my players start thinking. [Pep] Guardiola is a good example. As a player he was tactically perfect but he can’t defend. That’s what he said. So I said: ‘I agree – in a limited way. You’re a bad defender if you have to cover this whole area. But if you have to defend this one small area then I think you’re the best. So take care that there are people there to help you cover the other areas. As long as you do that you can be a very good defender.’ And he did become very good.”


  • Wow. I love that read TA. Cruyff was definately one of my best coaches. I always loved his teams.

    Back to the post, I’m glad we agree on the game gerry. It really was interesting and i look forward to watching more of them. TA I wouldnt play Akpom on the wings. Maybe a 442 but the wings may do him a disservice (a la Welbeck Or welbest? 😉 ). I like that he can play to feet and considering his height i think he may be able to pull off some of the lighthouse thingy if he practices it a lil. He also has good lift off for someone that tall. I saw a goal he scored with his head the previous game or so (I think we won 4-2). The thing is, Its exciting to watch him and I know its still an u21 side but if he can pull off some of that stuff in the main team he could be unstoppable.
    I think it was steve who mentioned how selfish he is and loves it. I love a selfish striker too. Watch henry. He was maaaad selfish. The thing is, it could become a problem if you had a team mate in a better position and you dont even hit the target. I think he had one like that last night. Or 2. Crowley also did somethign similar.
    But as Gerry pointed out, If you watch it without too much expectation and with an eye that some errors (inexperienced errors) will occur you’d really enjoy the game..
    TA Diaby did really good. Im just glad he could get through 90mins without an injury.

    LOOL. The way I’m going I’m may have just joined Gerry’s youth team fanasitidness. Yes. I made up the word. Its a thing now. hahaha

  • Hahahaha. Just noticed I didn’t even spell what I was trying do right. Fantasitidness. Youth team fantasy. Something that should be along those lines. Oh well…

  • Match Day!

    We’ve done the preview and preferred line ups. Enough of the talking, time for the warriors to take to the battlefield and do the shirt proud.

    Today Bergkampesque is two years old. A win would be brilliant way to celebrate it.

    Come on you rip roaring Gunners – let the canon roar! UTA!

  • I think Monreal has done very well Gerry and i think he will get stuck in more then Gibbs i think its a good call

  • I just hope in the first half at least, Ramsey rather than Flamini stays back to assist Monreal v the Navas threat?
    Flamini can take care of the pensioner, whilst Wilshere feeds Ozil, playing in a better position, common sense rules 😀
    So, more a 4-2-1-1-2 … Exciting!

    I hope Ozil take note of whatever was said at half-time to Zelalem on Thursday, because it worked a treat.
    Of course I could be wrong, and they are playing JW or AR up front, with Ozil pushed wide …. Surely not???

  • Defo Genovese,
    We were the better in the first half, i am gutted to go to half time 1 nil down.
    We can beat these today, we just need to be very good at the back, as Gerry said put another man on our left hand side to help Monreal. Then just be clinical and put our chances away.
    Welbeck was so unlucky, if that goes in it was a perfect start
    a 2-1 OR 3-1 WIN WOULD BE AWESOME. opps caps lol

  • Where is the furry blue chap. Hope them monks are not water boarding him.
    Hello Cockie if your reading, let us know your thoughts on the games

  • I would take a draw, but i want the win and we should be going for nothing less.
    COYG smash the ball in the northern oilers onion bag!

  • Yeah, PG. To be honest, I definitely felt we were the better team. Especially in the first 20 or so minutes. Like you said, defend well, be more clinical and we can hopefully get ourselves back in. Plus, I can defo see Welbeck being a good goalscorer for us, he’s just what we needed – height, power, pace and he IS able to finish, I know it!

    2-1 to Arsenal, please! 3-1 would be fucking incredible!

  • Hopefully Özil will find his way back from the hole he got into. He has to step up in games like this one or Wenger can prepare his Ferguson-about-Veron-to-annoying-journalists-speech.

    We can win this one if we score an early equalizer. And, we can do it. Welbeck should rise above that miss and hit the net with the next one. I already like our Danny boy.

    However, if we don’t, we will concede at least one more goal and we can forget about our title challenge as early as September after spending the biggest amount of money in our history.

  • I’d switch Alexis to the left to put some pressure on yellow-carded Zabaleta and introduce Chamberlain on the right instead of someone from the midfield.

  • Well done Jack he had played very well today
    His best game in ages.
    Come on you Guners, we can win this.
    We have loads of players out there that can score , come on lads.

  • Looks like Hector Bellrin becomes very important and will now get a lot of games coming up

  • Wonderful performance by Jack and what a goal by Alexis!

    Last time our team has shown this sort of spirit against Spuds in 2012.

    Hopefully Debuchy will be back soon. That injury looked terrible. 😦

  • Great comeback but wasn’t to be, and could have been worse in the end. Jack and Alexis were superb and carried the rest today. If Wanyama or De Jong had played in Flamini’s position we would have won this one. Welbeck worked hard but should not have started IMO. I reckon Sanogo must be injured. Good game to build on.

  • TA,
    We should have had Wanyama way back last summer. He would have been perfect for us. We both wanted him then, shame we did not get him.
    The worry of the day is Doubchy who was really getting stuck in and up for the fight. He is a big lose, that is a massive shame.

  • Jack and Alexis hats off or maybe “shirts off” 😉
    But …
    Im growing increasingly worried about our defense today surprisingly i found Per to be the worst. Looked like he was doing some shadow training. I can’t remember 1 usefull contribution from his side. Plus Debuchy injury , time to recall Jenko I guess. If we keep leaking such goals I think we may draw all the rest of our games. I heard many people talking about Arsenal playing with 10 men because of the anonymous Ozil but actually we were down to 9 because the 2 Germans simply did’nt turn up today.

  • YesNeeraj, we looked vulnerable and disorganised. But Citeh attacked very well, it’s fair to say. Harsh on Ozill though. He did not play great but it was not for a lack of trying IMO.

  • Swansea may be on the top of the league.. this week.. They play very good teamwork football.. very interesting how the become so good under Monk..
    Fabianski do a great save.. he is still a gunner..

  • After looking at how Costa created a goal from the corner out of nothing and keeping in mind the cheap Demechelis goal we gave away I wish FIFA bans corners for a mont or so

  • Bit of an emotional roller coaster that game. Unfortunately I missed the first 20 or so minutes (USA kick off 4 am.. nice) but it sounded like we came out strong? To nobody’s surprise our back line was brutally exposed to the effective and clinical city counter. Perhaps my only lingering gripe, apart from debuchy’s injury (shit) , is the ease In which demichelis was able to equalize.. When will wenger understand ZONAL MARKING DOES NOT WORK. As TA mentioned, we were lucky to not lose the match entirely after that. Would be harsh and undeserved, but that’s just the reality of the PL.

    Kudos to jack in finding form at just the right time and overall I think it was a solid performance that should give the team some needed confidence.

    Special shoutout to the dirty Sanchez. Loving Alexis more with every match.. What more could you ask for in a player?

  • Agreed Sanchez is going to be massive for us.
    Sanchez was basically playing in the hole today wasn’t he?

  • Defending set-pieces has been a nightmare for us this season. We have conceded most of the goals this season via set-pieces, the same problem was clearly visible during pre-season and Mertesacker’s return didn’t help. Giroud’s absence might be one of the reasons for that. I don’t know if anyone noticed but Koscielny was also holding his thigh in the latter stages of the match.

    Welbeck had a fine debut. I like the way he makes pressure on the opponents’ defenders and fight for every ball. Hopefully he didn’t pick an injury.

    Wenger has to address to that problem we have down the left flank in the defence. Opponents keep outnumbering Monreal and creating goals down that side.

  • About Welbeck, I dont know if anyone noticed but Welbeck was signalling for a ball in behind the defence throughout the first half but neither Ozil, Ramsey nor Wilshere understood that
    I think with Giroud leading the line we have just forgotten about playing through balls behind the defence. Time to REinvent

  • TA.. Wilshere play an avarage game.. before the goal.. hehehe..
    Costa Hattrick.. wow.. Chealsea really lucky to bough him for only 34 million..

  • I dunno, TA. I don’t think we missed Ollie that much, especially in a game like today where everything was super fast pace and the attack was more about movement and precise passing. These sorts of games don’t suit Ollie because he just gets outplayed. He can’t cut it against the big guns. As for Welbeck, he did good considering it’s his debut. He offers us a lot more dimensions in attack than Ollie. Plus, he was unlucky that his delicate chip didn’t go in but got to hand it to him, he played a vital part in the first goal and he worked hard in attack and in pressuring the midfield to release the ball. All in all, once Welbeck pops his cherry for Arsenal, I can see him solidifying his place upfront.

    Just my two cents.

  • My thoughts – Jack had a very good game, but in the first half he did not always pass the ball quickly. There were also times when nobody was moving off the ball….again!

    Welbeck fine, but a big worry he did not win a single header?

    Alexis at both ends of the pitch, a big plus.

    Ramsey a big minus

    Debuchy did not look an upgrade on Sagna (at his best), but stuck to it. Injury looked awkward and very painful. Scans will tell more, I would guess a sprain rather than a break?
    Chambers now, with Bellerin on the bench.

    Monreal actually got better as the game went on, but with only one striker they could/should have had someone to help him. The switch of Ozil and Alexis was asking a lot of our second striker? Tactics AW? You knew the threat from Navas.

    I said I’d settle for a draw before, but we missed a golden chance to close out a win against a much weaker City side that won the league last year? Where were the subs to counter Kolarov and Dzecko?

    Oh yes, Ozil? What did Zelalem do on Thursday? Played in the centre and made himself available. From there he directed traffic. The problem, and it is a major one, AW is not playing the team around Ozil’s strengths. Instead we are pussyfooting around trying to get other areas working, while the engine is stuck in first gear all of the time. Today Jack had the space to do what he can do well. Would he have done that without Ozil on the pitch? More importantly, can they fix it before the Dortmund game?

    At least if Koscielny is injured we do have a CB to step up. Isaac my boy, fill your boots!

  • Genovese, I like Welbeck a lot and am extremely pleased we have signed him. But we missed OG a lot. I will watch the game again but now with a analytical eye, and write on the subject in the next few days. We cannot just change a style of play from one game to the next, and it was evident to me that things were not working as well as they could have.

    Love the name by the way: where are you based?

  • I thought we played pretty damn well today against City, but bear in mind that Yaya Toure was not playing and that makes a HUGE difference. I saw the game exactly as Gerry saw it and thought he recapped the performances excellently. For me, the two weaknesses were Flamini and Ramsey today – Flamini was basically useless and to make matters worse, he stopped running and watched Aguero slide home the first goal. Ramsey abandoned his man on the second goal from the set piece and constantly slowed down our play when receiving the ball in the attacking half. I think he was affected by the sprained ankle since I’m not accustomed to seeing him play with 0 urgency.

    Alexis was once again our best player by a decent margin. Work rate was superb and he was making things happen all over the pitch, whether it be by beating opponents on the dribble, making good runs or working hard defensively to regain possession. My only criticism was that there were a couple opportunities he should have passed the ball sooner, but he fortunately ended up winning the fouls anyway. The point about not making passes quickly enough around the opponents box resonated to all our players though.

    TA, I don’t get the criticism on Welbeck. I thought he was good in his first game with limited practice with his new teammates. He’ll only get better and it was his work rate and defensive contribution that led to Kompany rushing a pass, which then led to Jack and Ramsey closing down on the City player to create the turnover for the goal. You keep mentioning that we miss what OG brings, but I don’t buy it. What I saw this game was finally real chance creation – for me, that was a result of the threat of Welbeck’s pace since he has the ability to set others up and run behind defences. OG on the other hand comes back to collect the ball but is so god damn slow that he can’t catch back up to the forward play or he’s so slow that CBs can man to man mark him without concern that he’ll gain a step on them.

    Does he have room for improvement? Of course he does. There were a few plays where he should have made passes around the box sooner and he needs to win more headers with his strength and height. He also should have scored that chip shot and it was very unfortunate that he hit the post.

  • Also, Sanogo has been garbage this season and should not have started over Welbeck even if he was fit. He works hard on the pitch, but has 0 composure in front of goal and seems to lack the instincts around the opposition’s box, outside of the 1 cup game vs. Benfica. He also takes ill-advised shots and overall his decision making needs improvement. I’m sure he’ll come good eventually, but for now, he deserves to only feature in cup games or as a substitute.

  • I’ve got my cousin visiting from south africa atm (havent seen her in about 3 years) so very drunk right now but had to comment before i go back downstairs.
    Please note i was already pissed while watching the game so my analysis may be a bit off.

    I thought it was a cracking game!!
    Jack proving he can do what me and TA have been telling you he can do all along, he played an absolute blinder from start to finish and thoroughly deserved MOTM with Sanchez a very close second. NEVER PUT JACK IN THE DM POSITION!
    I also thought Danny had an excellent first run out against very tough opposition with little time to have gelled so i am eagerly awaiting to see what he can produce with more time with the rest of the team.

    Those were the standouts, the rest of the team and performance was just the same old reflections of deficiencies in the manager. Wenger failed to buy a new CB in the transfer window and in this game the pace just got away from BFG and a different option would have been very beneficial (Lovren who liverpool signed for example – just one of many options we could have gone for). The same can be said for Flamini who made some very critical mistakes, would a Carvalho had done the same? So his lack of defensive signings really cost us today but were certainly not the only flaws to have been highlighted today. His inept stubbornness to play Ozil every match so much so that he plays him out of position every bloody time is just beyond crazy and is certainly detrimental to the teams performance. I thought Ozil actually showed a little more spirit today not that it resulted in much more than his usual below standard contribution. Either play him where he wants to play and like someone else said shape the team around him (definitely not my choice, i have no faith in him at all) or leave him out of the team and put a more suited player out there like OX or Campbell or the many others. This flaw was then further compounded by Wengers newly developed flaw, the “never use any substitutes” flaw. I, like Wenger, would have chosen to start with Ramsey but you can’t play a blinder every game and indeed today he certainly did not, by the 60th minute an injection of freshness both in Ramsey’s position and Ozil’s could have seen us easily go on and win that game. OX for Ramsey, Campbell, Rosicky etc etc for Ozil and that would have still left one sub for any injuries which indeed we ended up needing (a massive shame btw).

    If you look back at that game and imagine BFG with five times the pace, Flamini as a 6ft, quick, strong, DM beast, Ozil as an actual winger and Ramsey being subbed for someone like OX, Cazorla or Rosicky – Tell me we wouldn’t have gone on to win it!

    But again its not down to the players, they all (even Ozil) were giving it their best but they were let down by managerial flaws from Wenger.

    It was because the players who were on the pitch were giving it their all that the game was such a cracking game to watch and they all deserve a huge pat on the back, the half’s flew by! If only the boss didn’t make their lives so difficult!!

    TA, sorry i haven’t e-mailed you yet mate its hectic at mine right now and will be for the next four days so i will be very lax on writing anything, sorry mate. My cousin has some tasty mates with her so i am letting my other head prioritize things for the next couple of days. I’ll be back on it soon though mate 🙂

  • TA – I think HH’s point about criticism of Welbeck may have been directed at the commentary team? In particular Paul Scoles, the retired Man United lackey, therefore as expected.

    He labelled Welbeck for being ‘not clinical enough’, when missing the early chance. Strangely enough I saw an identical miss by Erding, who plays for ‘my’ French team St Ettienne. He was one of their top goal scorers last season. The commentator said of him, ‘He should have done better’. Which is a far cry from the implied ‘you’ll never score goals like that because you are not clinical enough’

    The truth is they both missed for the same reason. They used the instep to do the chip over, which is what you do to get it over the keeper – the good old ‘sand-wedge’ in golf’ – but because they both came to the ball from the right they were at an angle with the goal line, and this allowed the slight spin on the ball to curl it away. Just a slight adjustment in body shape would have resulted in both goals being scored. Welbeck will know this and be more clinical 😀

    I have to say the first thing that made me smile was seeing who the referee was. I have said before, I don’t believe Clattenburg is biased, but he is the best referee that Arsenal can have.
    No, he did not have a perfect game, but I can think of a few that would at least have ensured we lost 0-2? The fact nobody above has mentioned him is testimony to that?

    I guess there will be a match report out later, so I will save further comments for that.

  • I am busy with fam activities today, so won’t be able to write a MR till the evening. Therefore feel free to comment now or later, Gerry and others. 🙂

  • If we take our preseason into account, we have conceded seven headed goals out of total number of nine. Out of two footed goals one should have been ruled out due to Naismith being offside. We have conceded goals after corners, throw-ins and indirect free-kicks. That’s our biggest problem right now.

    Weird absence of Joel Campbell and, especially, Tomas Rosicky from the team is the second. I mean, WTF?!

  • That said, I’m actually very excited when I see Alexis and Welbeck heaping pressure on the opponents’ defenders. We look like a dynamic team, something that we haven’t had for a very long period of time.

  • We are missing Sagna and Giroud during defending set pieces, and defence needs organising better, Admir. But with Chambers and Welbeck we can get better at it.

  • On debuchy ,
    He is a definite upgrade on sagna he never left his wing. I dont remember a single dangerous move from the right flank except the kolarov shot
    Sagna was known for his work rate but if u notice Debuchy is always at the right position
    How many times do you remember Flamini filling in for Debuchy ?
    A direct comparision – look at the times monreal was caught on the wing on the other hand debuchy was always there to defend

  • Sorry, I have been watching the Moto GP – over 5000 career points for race winner Rossi!

    To be very, ever so slightly, fair to Arsene, he has had one eye on the team for Dortmund on Tuesday. I think he was giving Gibbs the extra time, and Rosicky only played on Wednesday. Pity he didn’t rest Ramsey too, who is either going to be played until he strikes some sort of form – a return to a couple of seasons ago? – Or he gets rested on Tuesday?

    Admir, are you talking about abandoning ‘zonal marking’ ? Perhaps we need a mix?

    TA is right though. we are missing two of our best headers in Giro and Sagna. I think the reason Debuchy goes to the far post when we defending corners is because he is less likely to cut one out any at the near post. But with the absence of Gibbs, there is little point in switching Monreal around, for the same reason. Giroud is usual position is behind Monreal, and clears a good many near post corners from that side.
    We will be better with Chambers one side and Gibbs the other, and if need be, with Hayden. But if Per has not got back up to the speed with the EPL since the WC, we are in trouble?
    Szczesny can only point to bodies who need to be covered, but that is while they are stationary? So there needs to be communication between the defenders as to who picks up who when they change zones. By then Szczesny has his own thing to deal with. So that falls to Per?
    It is early days to know where Danny would be in the mix, as his timing and positioning was always second best in attack yesterday. He is not that experienced playing with his back to goal, but we can assume he needs more than a couple of practice sessions to find out more?

    One thing is certain, none of this will be lost on Klopp?

  • Neeraj – I think Debuchy and Sagna are slightly different players. Debuchy is the more ‘in your face’ aggressive type, whereas Sagna was the sort that rarely made a mistake in the tackle.
    When I made my comment above I did bracket ‘at his best’, regards Sagna. We did not see him play yesterday so we have no idea he is as good as he is now?
    I like Debuchy because he keeps coming back for more. But when he mistimes a tackle and the winger skips past him, that is when we are caught out. As to who covered for him, you have to really go back to our formation and set up?
    4-1-4-1 was a poor tactic against Man City because they play how Bayern Munich used to, with creative players out wide, that look to cut in between gaps inside between full back and centre back – All this was predicted by the ‘7.0am’ link I put up earlier – So you had Barry, and later Nasri on their left, and Silva on the other wing. However, Monreal had Navas line running. That exposed that flank. Whilst Debuchy had only Clichy supporting Barry, so the main tussle was between them.
    When I first saw the team sheet I thought, great. Flamini to help Debuchy, Jack to take care of Lampard, who was an easy touch? and Ramsey, because of his pace,to help cover the Monreal pair. But AW, in his wisdom, i.e. we play our game, ignore what other teams do, went for the 4 across the mid-field, presumably to out number there 3, excluding their DM. It looked good for about 20 minutes?
    But then we come to who was in that line of 4: Ozil, none tackler, Wilshere, centre attacking midfielder, Ramsey, box to box, and Alexis, our second striker come retreating defender, it was doomed to fail? It did not take long for them to see the opportunities on the counter if they could isolate Flamini, and get 2 on 1 on both wings … it was another 2-6 in the making if they had Toure available, and had we not got Alexis running himself silly?

    Given the way they set up, you can see why Wilshere had so much space in the middle, once he skipped past the pensioner?Iit was only a bit of ‘rotational fouling’ that stopped us having more opportunities?
    So did AW almost get it right? Having got the lead, we should have closed it out. Like they did with Lampard, we should have done with Ramsey, Half time subbing? As that was moment they brought on more pace down the left and moved Barry into midfield, we should have had Chambers on, probably for Flamini if Arteta was on in place of Ramsey,

    Pro-active is the word missing from AW’s experienced notebook …

  • I thought Jack was awesome yesterday, he got stuck in scored a great goal and got the assist for Alexis.
    It was his bets performance in a long time, well done Jack.
    It is a shame we did not win thoug, looking at the table today and seeing that we are 6 points behind Chelsea after only 4 games, with 3 draws is quite a gap already when you look at the team we are chasing. We must turn these draws in to wins going forward in future.
    But it was a great game and performance. The defence needs to do a bit better though. I am sure it will come , but the MD injury is a problem as Chambers cant really play at CB now ness Hector plays RB which is fine with me but i am not sure Wenger will do that much.
    I actually think he should play Hector there quite a bit so we have that cover for CB in Chambers something we badly need.
    Lucky MD is suppose to just have a bad sprain and not ligment damage, hopefully he will be back in 3 weeks max.

  • Dropping a few thoughts on the performances from our players last night.

    Wilshere (MOTM) – Is he having a Ramsey revelation? It seems to be.. After his recent England performance, he looks a completely different player. Sharper, quicker, and constantly driving our attack forward. One thing I’d like to touch on is he’s a lot more tenacious in his tackle and dribbling, he’ll barge players around (as we saw with Nasri) and there’s a lot more grit about him. He’s breaking up the play, stopping opponent attacks and winning us the ball so we can initiate a counter. Secondly, he has the capacity to play some beautiful long balls over defences, some proper lofted pearls of beauty! We could do with a lot more of this attacking steez and there’s a lot more to come, I know it’s early days but trust me, I see a chemistry forming with Wilshere & Welbeck. They tell eachother exactly when and how they want the ball and sooner or later, it’ll be all done in a psychic fashion. That aspect comes with time.

    Alexis – Man, honestly, what can you say about this guy? You know it and I know it but I’ll say it anyway. He benefits our attack 1000x fold. He dribbles, he turns, he twists, he beats a man, he looks to play a key pass, he looks to shoot. This guy has it all. You could see it yesterday in our attack, he’s almost revamped our system not only with his play but his attitude and energy. The other players seeing and being around him are injected with this urgency and desire to batter the opponents with incessant attacking but even on the defending front, we looked a lot sharper and stronger – every one of our players were fighting for the ball.

    Ozil – 50/50. Not his best game. But I have faith in his ability (you’d be crazy not to), in time, he’ll observe how our attackers operate and he’ll play the perfect decisive pass to turn the game on its head. You know how he does. It’d help if he played in the middle too, not on the flippin’ wing!

    Welbeck – Has all the ingredients to be a top class striker and I was happy with how he played yesterday. I’ve mentioned this before but he offers us more dimensions than Giroud because he can take defenders on and get past them. What can he improve? His decision-making and his finishing could improve slightly but I’m confident it’s simply a matter of: he scores once and you can’t stop ‘Datguy’.

    Ramsey – A bit like Ozil’s, was a bit underwhelming but on the bright side he got an assist and he has bailed us out on a few occasions this season already. Was the little nick he caught in the Wales game a part to play? More than likely. I have faith he’ll find the rich vein of form he was in within the next few upcoming games.

  • Our left hand side was attacked a lot yesterday, i was wondering if Campbell or Podolski would have been better for us on the left wing yesterday.
    I have not seen enough of Campbell, but Podolski was getting a lot better at his defending at the end of last season, even just tracking back and just being there would have helped Monreal no end.

  • Alexis has to play on the left wing for me. He has the ability to dribble and cut inside like Hazard does for Chelsea. But even with our suspect defending, Alexis will seriously strengthen our left side because he’s got the pace to track back and he can put in a gritty tackle. Basically, we have a player who could boss the left hand side like Pires used to for the Arsenal.

  • Its a shame that we are still relying on Arteta and Flamini. We should be offloading these players to QPR and the likes. If Wenger brought back Flamini why could’nt he do the same with Song? Mertesacker despite his positional sense is not up to it for us to compete for the league. Players like Coquelin need a chance to compete against Arteta and Flamini. At the moment Ozil does not deserve to be even on the bench hw can Arsene ignore Rosicky and continue with the disappointing Ozil. Players must play on performance not price tags. We need to give Hayden, Coquelin, Bellerin, Rosicky, Campbell opportunities to play and not field the same disappointing players again and again.

  • Barry is Milner’s middle name, I thought everyone knew that?

    Oh alright then. The guy I pictured whilst writing was Milner, the name came from the Everton clogger. :OOPS:

    But apart from that you liked it then : D

  • PG – I doubt very much Debuchy will be back that soon. Geoff can probably have more of an idea, but my feeling was that he was in too much pain for it to be a simple ankle sprain. It may not be a serious ligament tear, but they can be longer to repair than breaks?
    We will know more tomorrow.

    Chambers is the obvious one to replace him, as he has played RB this season. And CB is better covered Hayden, imo. If not then Bellerin off the bench and Chambers moves across?

    I don’t know why you are looking around for someone else to help Monreal, when we had Ramsey there? His passing may be off, but if he was fit to play, then he was the guy to stay back on that side?

  • Simba – You will have to wait until January now. We have what we have.

    We might not have Bellerin available on Tuesday if he travels to Dortmund with the Under 19’s?
    Mind Coquelin has played RB in the past?
    Rosicky was probably kept back for the CL game. He is 33? now, and played an International last Wednesday, so it makes sense?
    As for Campbell, I think he is doing ,more stamina work to get him to last longer in a league game. The COC is his likely target, if Akpom or Sanogo doesn’t push him out of it?

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