A Mere Papering of Cracks? Villa v Arsenal afterthoughts

First One for Danny!
First One for Danny!

On the heels of Arsenal’s first defeat since (Everton away in) April, many an observer–even would be supporters–have trotted out the usual narratives.  Wenger has lost the plot, we’re playing the wrong players in the wrong positions, there’s no tactical flexibility, our record signing Ozil(shaven) can’t be arsed and the sky is–literally–falling.

We’re entitled to these reactions and living in the moment, but scanning my science blogs, I could find no evidence that the sky was–literally–descending upon us.  Could it be that daylight is waning and the weather merely getting a bit worse in on our part of North London?  It may, of course, have something to do with the calendar.  Still with only a single match remaining before the official start of Autumn, the trip to Villa Park loomed larger, perhaps, than it might at another time of year.  That we couldn’t match their current point total in the league–no matter the result–also did not bode well.

Admittedly, the defeat at Dortmund did feel a comprehensive one and many suggested the 2-nil score-line flattered us.  Another narrative is that Arsene’s Arsenal simply cannot play against the bigger teams.  With Villa having beaten Liverpool at Anfield and having the week off (whilst we took our full body blow), nerves amongst Gooners were understandable.  Looking at the table alone (which, I’ve been told, “does not lie”) they had to be considered as one.  With our next two league matches being derbies–Spurs at our place, Chelsea at theirs–the result, at the very least, seemed, er, rather consequential.

Here in the mountains of California, the smoke from our annual wildfires only barely clearing with a little lucky wind, I awoke to a line-up I liked.  Alexis Sanchez, even if he’s already become a huge fan favorite, was rested in favour of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.  Santi Cazorla came in for Jack Wilshere (who took a knock late on at Dortmund).  Calum Chambers, recovered from his sore throat (tonsilitis), was the preferred 19 year old at right back (over Hector Bellerin), and both Kieran Gibbs and Mikel Arteta (both just back from injury and/or a respite…) kept their places.

Danny Welbeck, who had spurned scoring opportunities in his first two matches for Arsenal, also remained the point of attack.  Curiously, younger forwards, including Yaya Sanogo, Chuba Akpom and Joel Campbell and the all-purpose defender, Isaac Hayden, called for by many a Gooner in the wake of the Dortmund disaster, didn’t even find a place on the bench.  Perhaps in the Capital One Cup to be played in midweek?… On my television feed, the line-up was even listed as a 4-2-3-1 rather than the much maligned 4-1-4-1 we’re (supposedly) playing even if Ozil persisted on the left of the 3 (Santi in the middle, Ox on the right) and Ramsey was the player (nominally) brought back to help out the Captain.  I’m not a stickler for formations and I tend to buy the idea that the number of players at the back is (more or less) all that matters and all else flows from there.  I’ll leave the discussion of what was actually played to others.  To borrow my favorite English saying (heard mostly in the Tube…) “Sorry…”

The match itself started with Villa on the front foot and Arsenal struggling to string passes together.  Ramsey looked a central figure but first touches appeared overly aggressive if not just plain heavy.  Additionally, the air in Birmingham looked lighter than the players favour and several long balls flew into touch.  As such, as in Germany, possession was lost cheaply and Villa looked to be creating more menace throughout the opening stages.  That several corners were conceded (the source of the last league goal scored against us in the league) did not help settle nerves.  Another set piece provided their most dangerous moment (in the 23rd minute), after an unwise challenge from Calum Chambers, which earned him a yellow for his troubles.  The cross sailed over all defenders and allowed a well taken chance for Kieran Clark with a diving header.  Szczesney moved out of his goal mouth but maintained his feet and used his entire frame to block with his left leg and right hand.  A pivotal moment, especially given the way the opponent kept Liverpool at bay a week ago after an early goal.

The truly pivotal moment happened nine minutes later.  Playing the ball deep out of our own half (Chambers protecting the ball like a more experience player and exchanging passes with Mertesacker began the move) a series of lightning fast one touch passes between Ramsey, Cazorla and finally Welbeck sprung Ozil off the shoulder of the Villa highline and he finished calmly with his better foot.

Now Villa had to attack, and the 2nd goal came almost instantly.  The camera was actually on Wenger as Gibbs took possession and passed smartly to Ozil who one-touched to Ramsey before receiving a lovely return ball out wide.  Scorer and assist maker reversed roles with an inch perfect cross from Ozil and an easy finish (no shin this time) from Welbeck to break his (Arsenal) duck.  Ozil in the center, Ozil on the wing: the record signing who just doesn’t care, suddenly everywhere?

Narratives turned upon their heads as well as points secured.  Villa, shocked by the turn of events were still unable to get back to work.  Kieran Gibbs, who was key in dispossessing Villa to start the lightning move on the 2nd, again played a key role, poaching another pass even deeper in their territory and crossing to rampaging Ramsey at the far post.  Defender Cissoko, caught, needed the most precise of clearances, but found his own goal instead.  3 nil.

That would be all the scoring in the match but Arsenal would secure the points through possession and trying for more.  Our best 2nd half chance was likely a throughball from Oxlade-Chamberlain to Ramsey but the latter’s first touch was a near whiff.  Late on, after gorgeous one touch work on the left from Ozil, Cazorla and subs Jack Wilshere, Lucas Poldolski and Tomas Rosicky–What?  3 attackers subbed in when we have a score-line to protect?!? — I guess Wenger felt the need to get more attackers involved (and we have far more of them healthy as compared to defenders) and, maybe, the score-line was doing the protecting–of the manager–in this case.

So, a result to freshen the spirits after the poor showing in Europe or a mere papering of cracks?

That’s for my old friends, a certain blogger who confuses Cookies and Monsters (and knows his cracks, amongst other things) and the one who demands Victory Con Cordia… It’s a bit of a no-win for the club despite the fact that we’re still looking up at Villa in the table.  They (and early season surprise club, Swansea City) lost today but they are traditionally a mid-table club (at best) and it all could have been a whole lot scarier if their early aggression had led to an opening goal.  Our goal scoring happened so quickly that it’s almost hard to appreciate them and they can’t possibly suggest that our problems have been ironed out.  Bigger tests await which will “prove” if we’ve turned a corner or merely gotten a fortunate few points.

Amongst the players there could be some realignment of opinion about our record signing, given that he both scored and assisted.  Our newest signing might also gain a measure of confidence having done likewise.  Already (previous post comments), we’ve seen some debate about the relative contributions of Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain.  I’d give a shout out to the emerging right hand partnership of Chambers and the BFG and the two Spaniards who performed their duties well and showed a bit of their “technical superiority,” especially as the match moved on.   Kieran Gibbs and Koscielny on the (much) pacier (left) side of our defense (American spelling there…) also had good matches.  Szczesny stood tall in his one moment of true examination.  Best of all, maybe, is that we appeared to finish the match without any fresh candidates for the physio room.

Of course, that’s only amongst the players who actually played.   (Abou Diaby even looked alright after a full 90, even if it was only on the bench…)  A new group will surely come in for the midweek cup match to reveal further truths about the depth of the squad… Do we move on to predictions for that one or continue to breathe sighs (of relief) or dissect this one?

What say you Fine Fellow (maybe not Freaking Out–if only for a moment…) Gooners?


Written by: 17highburyterrace

89 thoughts on “A Mere Papering of Cracks? Villa v Arsenal afterthoughts

  • Great match analysis, 17HT. 🙂

    Villa were blitzed in two to three minutes and after that everybody settled for that score. We could have pushed on for more, but I guess we showed respect for the home team and crowd and also did not want to waste a lot of energy trying to get a fourth, fifth or more.

    There are no cracks imo but growing pains. Playing a new formation will take time and there is so much possible and to come from the four behind the striker. Against MC, Sanchez and Wilshere were the stand out players and yesterday it was Ozil and Welbeck; although, Gibbs, like you pointed out in the post, also played a good game.

    Also agreed re Szczesny fine safe after more terrible set-piece defending. It could have been different. Ox and Rambo, although not without mistakes, worked hard in midfield and contributed to the success of the team. Ox had a fine ‘penultimate assist’ for the first one – finding Welbeck in a second – and Rambo had a fine similar assist for the second one. Football is a team sport, and although we like stars, we need contributions from everybody to win a game. And the whole team played well yesterday.

    The combos between Ozil and Welbeck were exquisite and I loved the measured, diagonal throughball from Danny to Mesut. But the stand out moment was Ozil’s finish: real quality and it was so good to see the relief and happiness on his face. Danny took his chance well too, and this is something to build on.

    Agreed, bigger tests will come, but that was a fine first half by the team and three very valuable points. Now let’s play the Saints with a good ‘second team’ and then go out to mash some smelly Spuds!1 🙂

  • Ozil looked far from calm when he took his shot looked extremely nervous to me and even more shocked when it went in!

  • I’m stuck holding two differing opinions on the match and am struggling to figure out which i really see it as – maybe a bit of both 🙂
    On one hand i see it as a three goal sandwich; with impotent attacking and still looking vulnerable defensively wise before the three goals and then impotent attacking (even with three attacking subs used) but stronger defensively (probably because Villa were on deaths door) after the three goals.

    On the other hand i see us as being a bit shakey at the start but to be expected after the CL match, gelled quickly though and with devastating results, then sat back and held the lead securely like i always wish we did more often and in the end made light work of the game – job done.

    Either way the actual players themselves all looked much improved from previous games, especially Ozil – IN THE MIDDLE (hahaha 😆 – just for TA)

  • Hahaha Steve 🙂

    Now you see him in the middle, now you don’t. I think it is fair to say that Ozil was in his element yesterday. The heat map I saw indicated he operated predominantly from the left. If it is easier for eveyone, lets start Ozil in the middle and Jack on the left with licence to roam… 😛

  • Sorry, me being to eager to hear my own voice again lol, forgot to say thanks for the write up mate.
    Great write up 17highburyterrace, loving the imagery – we had weather, seasons and even natural disasters (wildfires), just what the doctor ordered while watching Man U loose (atm) 🙂
    Cheers Mate

  • “Ozil in the center, Ozil on the wing: the record signing who just doesn’t care, suddenly everywhere?” hahaha, your very talented 17ht

    Personally, i use to like-

    “Squillacci to the left of me, LaSanga to the right,
    HERE I AM……Stuck in the middle DJOUROU…..yeah Johans’…stuck in the middle DJOUROU”

    Cant sing that anymore. I also had a few catchy tunes in preparation for Kevin Doyle, but that dream signing never eventuated.

    Keep up the good work, 17ht.
    Always have liked your writing style and your diplomatic approach, and the usual serve of camoflouged injections for all the generic supporters, who think the sky is falling in on AFC.

    For the record, we HAVE been papering over the cracks for a long while now. From the January transfer window 08/09 when we failed to bring in a CBack for our long term injured soldiers and then ended up getting Sqillacci, a whole transfer window too late…..Kim Kalstrom is another papering crack example.

    There are plenty more examples where Arsenal sat back on their hands, not realising the strong positions we already held in mounting a title challenge.
    We, or AFC is learning from their mistakes…………BUT ever so slowly..
    Its also hard for people to argue that ‘the mob and sheep’ are all experts in hindsight. On many occassions, a good percentage of supporters turned to Arsene and the management with puzzled looks and frustration at the procrastination..

    The only thing that comforts me, is the belief in the bigger picture. The picture that says that Arsene knew we were nowhere near challenging for honours (in the climate that just pissed by in the last 10 yrs) and therefore stashed all the shiny pennies under the matress, knowing full well that if he saved his dosh and keeps our heads above water (ECL), that the day would come, where he can finish his third and final puzzle(team).

    The key ingredient……..the missing piece at AFC…… is the left flank…..the Arse-shaving role. That position has not been filled, since Bobby graced the wing with a ‘brazilian’ on his chin. That position is made, MADE for Rolls Reus… Ive even managed to convince myself that the stars will align and everything will fit into place, and that all the monkey business being thrown back and forward from the fans to board to media to whatever…….that it was all a sacrifice for something GREAT that is slowly being “Paper-mached” into something has hard and strong as rock…

    Reus in red n white in the summer, and just like ‘Donkey’……..suddenly, im a believer.

    Thanks again to all you bastardildos who put up headline posts, and give up your time and brain power…………………. LaterZ

  • TA, heat maps are a load of bollox, who ever brought up the idea of using them as any kind of judgement must be a fucking idiot! 😆

    I,m all for Jacky boy on the left though mate, worked well against Marseille 🙂
    Although he belong in the middle like Ozil.

    Maybe a 4-1-1-1-1-1-1 😆

    Back four

  • hahahah Good call TA, Good call!!

    Man u beaten 5 – 3 hahahaha
    Spuds beaten 1 – 0 hahahaha

    What a Sunday afternoon!!!

  • Fine stuff 17HT. Those that wish to look for cracks will no doubt find them. I like the positive view.
    I said before the game that what Ozil needed was movement from players around him. If he got that, then the position of where he plays is secondary. What also is important for him is not having too much clutter in the middle. So the ‘slight tweak’ as Arsene put it, was to remove two or three players out of the equation. Resting Alexis was fine, a good sign of rotation perhaps? Resting Wilshere was also sensible, given his knock on Tuesday. And moving Cazorla to the left, was less clear cut, but at least his primary position was not in the middle? All of this combined to give Ozil the freedom to move around. That combined with the speed and movement around him from Ox, Welbeck, and later on Gibbs all helped to produce his best form this season.
    From the press conference after the game, the sub-text seemed AW was more afraid of Ozil’s reaction to being ‘rested’ than Alexis. Of course he did exactly the opposite to what he said when defending Ozil …’What should I do? Drop my best player’
    Which is exactly what he should be doing if they are not performing?

    The other thought I had, relating to the space in the middle, was the improvement in Ramsey’s game. He is still trying too hard to be the player he was at the peak of his form, imo. However, he was told to go back to the basics last time, so a little bit more of that might help him here?
    He was certainly more help around Arteta, which made for the solid base, but then the whole team worked more as a unit, and that should carry forward in to future games … if we retain the same balance as we had in this game?

    The absence of Academy players will be more revealing in the Under 21’s(reserves) game on Monday night? As those not playing, but could play, are the likely ones for the COC match? Who comes out of that with credit should be under consideration for the Spurs derby?

    I watched the match on Sky 1st Choice, which was really extended highlights, and they too had us lined up in the 4-1-4-1 formation. But I agree with you HT, the debating point on that is less important than the personnel assign to the roles within it. Especially when that second line of 4 can spread across the pitch from a point just ahead of our defensive/holding midfielder through to another, attacking midfielder/second striker, well into our opponents half at its highest point. It will take time to get the players to be disciplined enough to carry out their roles, and not just work on an individual effort. As has been pointed out from AW down, we do have a lot of players wanting to, or who could play in the middle? The key will be to have the combinations that work well together?
    TA has touched on the Ozil & Welbeck one. I also think Ox played a more disciplined role on the right …. less of that drifting across the front of goal looking to get HIS shot away. It is cameos like that which need to continue, whether or not Ozil or or Ox are playing, or having Welbeck at the pointy end.
    In a way, I thought AW sort of threw that away with his selection of subs? Yes they were more or less like-for like, but with Chambers on a yellow, may be a little more continuity kept in midfield, and a 20 minute glimpse of Coquelin would have made sense? Admittedly said with hindsight, after seeing Chambers do that grab late on. A yellow followed by a red in even the most blind Arsenal’s fan’s book? A very lucky boy indeed? So for me Ramsey staying on, and rested in the COC, and Rosicky and Poldi for Ox and Welbeck, would have had them playing the same, but with the different style striker?
    Overall though it was a great result needed, once the team realised they were not playing a full on Dortmund? Now whether this can continue with the next league game will depend entirely on team selection, and that could go either way?

    One final point on Coquelin, for those who were asking about him. My memory of his best game, I don’t know which, but he was assigned to man-marked a very experienced player … and the player never got a look in. That was the sort of promise he showed a couple of seasons ago?

  • So Leicester won 5-3? I think there but for fortune. Last time when I saw Blackett he looked like an accident waiting to happen? I hope AW gives Chambers the chance to see how it could cost the team some valuable points?

  • It was a crazy first half between Leicester and Manure: it was like an old fashioned English kick and rush game with no break or control of play. Absolutely mad. I missed the first 35 minutes of the second half, so I don’t know how that was part of the game was played. Well done Leicester and maybe Loser van Gaal will not be bleating about winning the PL anymore now…. 🙂

  • Im sort of dozing in an out (trying to find the perfect part of the pillow 😉 ), so im sort of skim reading.
    Some comments are really hard to swallow. In particular, comments saying that Ozil needs runners all around him. It makes it sound like he’s a magical garden gnome that sits static in the centre and consistently producing the killer ball, as if it were a production line. Its not happening!

    My first training session, i was 5 years old and my coach took every squad members football away. I almost started crying. It was a brand new “adidas- world cup- tango” football, my whole world was in that ball, and he turned to us (yes, we were age of 5) and barked,
    “Number one rule.- In football, it is always more important in what you do withOUT the ball than it is WiTh the football”

    Arshavin, just like Ozil is a magician with the ball at his feet.
    In making the probing runs, behind the lines, and carving up defences to get onto a throughball, both were/are/is intelligent to make the moves but lack in stamina, to consistently break free in search of space and opportunity and usually tire out when asked to carry their share of defensive chores. Both have had man of the match performances in which over 11.5km has been travelled on top of assists and or goals, but those performances have been in isolation.
    One was worth 11+million and some peanuts, and the other (with a champions pedigree) was a cheap 42million and some jellybeans, inflation, and so on….

    Few people may remember that i was a staunch defender of Arshavin, and in general usually appreciative of flair players, and more than capable match winners. So in turn, i managed to relax my stance on other qualities where these players lacked. (stamina, defence, recovery) but we all know that this is a NO GO at Arsenal. Everybody MUST track back, everyone must press at the same time.

    Arshavin and even Poldi these days get crucified by media and supporters because they’re exposed on the wing, vulnerable when our attack is in full flight (meaning the full backs are already ahead of our midfielders) and yet we see and know from day Uno, that these players DO NOT have the engines of Ramsey, or Toure, or Gilberto or Gattusso….

    So this line of “he needs runners” (and i hope im not taking the comments out of context), i just dont buy it. If your having a bad day at the office, your struggling to get up, getting pushed around, Whatever??
    It means jack shite whether your Ozil, or Arshavin or Poldi or Arteta(c).
    If that player, has not turned up, or the attitude is switched to defeatist mode or his mind is on some sex romp three houirs before kick off, than it makes no difference who is running for you.
    Bobby Pires was lucky, that Gilberto was wiping his arse, because truth be told, Arshavin did way more defending than Bobby ever dreamt. Patrick Viera said the same, “he got off easy”. In todays AFC line-up, on the left flank and an ageing Arteta patrolling patches of our back third, id put money on it, that Pires wouldnt last 4 games before being eaten up by the media, fans, than the manager.

    Bottom line is, if your having a rubbish day, than IT IS WHAT IT IS.
    Ozil has had a fair few of them, for both club and country. This season, hes taking a while to wind up to top gear. Poldi and Arshavin have had plenty of dud performances……hundreds of them. So, just by putting in a couple of speedy gonzales’ and freddie ljungbergs to do all the running, will not miraculously lift the perfomances of these former mentioned, into MotM performances.

    In todays football, every player is needed to put in a shift. Even keepers are running 1-3km more in a match than the days of the Columbian scorpion- Higitta etc

  • I want names Totes !…….”Not everyone likes your sense of humour”.
    A clerical error as obviously you meant only one !. hahaha

    No problem with being challenged on my take on Arsene and Arsenal and when someone engages provocation ( something you seem to fail to see ! ) with me I defend myself, simple as that !.

    Any manager at a club as big as ours is judged on his success with trophies. Wenger differs as he oversaw a stadium move and financial constraint until 2012/13. He will now be judged as any other manager on his ability to be able to compete for the EPL !. Either fortunate or not ( that he has the money and unfortunate if he makes a hash of it ! ), he has a vast fortune to make us compete with anyone ( quote Gazidis )
    As always my comments are just an opinion, but (mostly) always with a tongue in cheek attitude, something some seem to be losing sight with !.
    Great results ( along with ours….yes, I do love my team winning and anything else is a phone call to the Samaritans ) so far today !…..my son was trying to show me on his phone the Manshafter Result, but all I could do was scan down and scream at the Spuds result !……real Gooners hate Spuds !.

    Some insight to how everyone else can beat our nemesis teams and we cant !. Obviously just an opinion from an ex-pro who doesn`t know as mush as some experts on here !. hahaha

  • Villa fan in peace.You deserved the win on the day,and I much prefer your passing football and ethos to that of the other usual suspects at the top of the Prem tree.However your back four is really suspect,cant figure out why you havnt bought some decent defenders and a top class keeper.As for the game,.If half the Villa Team wern’t close to throwing up,would have been much closer, we so much miss Vlaar/Baker at the back,and Benteke up top ….With that team out I would of fancied us for a point at least.(i know you had injuries as well,but relative squad depths and finance I think apply) good luck for the rest of the season,but i fear for you when you play the other champs league teams.

  • Oh ! ….thanks for the after thoughts, 7eventeenho !…..impressive for someone who lives in a mountain cave, you must have been up at the crack of Dawn to write it !. Your smarter than the average bear . 😀

  • Nice one 17

    That three minute spell was like having three women fighting over you. Orgasmic

    We toyed and played with Villas emotions, made them believe they were the one, and then danced the three goals to the tune of “Staying Alive”

    Ok, second half was a bit shit, but still enjoyable. Like making love to a beautiful women whilst match of the day is on. To big of a distraction.

    Ozil was more invloved, thats for sure. The Bug Eyed one seemed to relish the extra freedom and his peripheral vision is fantastic. Well, lets be honest, with eyes like that it shpuld be. Ime actully surprised that he didnt spin a web, craped acid on Lamberts face, and dined on the fat bastards backside.

    To make the weekend, Tottenham lose at home. I dont give a toss about Utds result, thats just ammusing, but Tottenhams defeat is fantastic.

    I like the idea of Tottenham fans trudging home after a defeat knowing that there team is shit, there club is shit, there area is shit, and they will probably get mugged.

    Very nice.

  • Cocker of Doom,

    Your son was pointing out the Manure result to you for obvious reasons. It is you who tells us all that you need spend big to win big and you love the fact that Losers van Gaal has spent so much more than our Socrates…. So it was an egg on your face moment, and well done junior GLIC! 🙂

  • Great passionate comment from Le Prince. 🙂

    Pires got away with everything because he scored and assisted constantly. Those were different days, and Arsene was happy to have a flair player who was there just to do the special stuff up-front. Arshavin was too inconsistent, and Ozil is altogether a different animal.

  • Hahaha Totes !….too deep and philosophic about the Manshafter/Gaal In shit !, I`m just a simple Gooner who loves nothing better than to read about The Spuds misery and that is reflected in Stretches comment about the tiny totts as well !.
    Proper Gooners get aroused at the slightest pain caused to them Spuds and although I cant confirm it, me and Stretch probably had a wank at the same time……obviously in different parts of the country and not in the same room !…….but of the same bellend result ! hahaha

  • All in all a great weekends of results !……..and I`d like to thank the Villains for fielding a less than 100% team to help us recover some confidence !. hahaha
    Cant wait for the Southampton game to see some of the young Gooners getting a taste of the action and hopefully Wenger saving our first choice players for part 1 of our seasons most important games……Spud Destruction Part 1. Nothing comes close to beating the N17 retards for hardcore Gooners…..fuck the Manshafter shit…..( shame on you Vics ) the Spud game is all that counts ……… position, points, trophies etc` means nothing on them matchdays, it`s all about winning and having the bragging rights until the next battle. It`s a game that determines my whole mood for weeks on end, nothing but a win will keep me happy !. Win and I will even be nice to Arsene !…..draw or lose and my Doom cock will explode !. hahaha

  • hahaha, got to agree with Cornwall on that one TA. Tottenham hating goes with the territory, though I admit its a bit old school and London centric.

    If me and Cornwall had been in the same room when west brom scored, I would still have got it out and had a stretch, and would have been disapointed if he hadnt done the same. hahaha

  • Hahaha True Stretch !………it is old school, but it needs to be passed on to these new brand of Gooners who basically hate the 2 Mancs and Chavs for their success, whereas the Spud hate is territorial deep hate ! . All them years ago and me and you with out knowing were at Shite Hart Lane watching “Chippy” Brady taking the Spuds apart in a 5-0 thrashing !…….with hindsight, all I had to do was look out for another Gooner knocking one out and we would have met earlier !. hahaha

  • Prince – I thought for a minute you were referring my comment, until I read
    ‘needs runners’.
    What I said about Ozil was he needs movement off the ball. Because all the while he is scurrying this way and that to create spaces for his team mates to run into, and he looks to play a ball and nobody has moved, I think I would start to wonder at times?
    Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Ozil have the second highest distance covered in Dortmund?
    I think perhaps our starting points are different. I don’t see him as a lazy player. Therefore I appreciated his movement on the pitch as well as his talent, which of course a lot of people were questioning before yesterday’s game.
    It was however, a much better team game. I think the stats gave Danny boy a good shout for MOTM, with something like 93 successful passes in the final third.

  • TGM – Your really should not confuse humour with some of the thing you spout. Then again I shouldn’t wind you up again after you calling me ‘Bypass’. I mean, that is the nicest thing you have said to me in ages.
    You probably really like me in the same way you do with Arsenal? But every now and the you let guard down.
    Don’t worry, I won’t tell any one 😀

  • hahaha, I think during that game we were all knocking one out Cornwall.

    Cornwall / Gerry

    Cant you both agree to leave the past aside? Gerry showed his true colours when he expressed his sympathy for Mrs Cornwall, and Cornwall done the same for Gerrys Dog heartache.

    Remember those comments, and move on. Lifes to short.

  • Terry, there was me thinking I was joining in on the humour of it all.

    Talking of my 15 year old dog. I dragged her in the trolley up to the top hill today just to see if it would spark a little bit of interest for her. Damn me if she didn’t get up and trot over the grass right down to the bottom, leaving me bouncing the trolley in her wake! 😀

    But you are right, life is too short …

  • Terry, I understand the Spuds hate. But if you get more pleasure out of Spuds losing then the Arse winning, which I sense with Cockie, something is wrong in terms of supporting the team.

  • hahaha, dont think Cornwall was saying that TA

    I totally understand were Cornwall is coming from. Its a working class London thing going back many years. When it comes to football, Totenham fans dont like us and we dont like them.

  • I know Terry, and I worked and lived in London as well, and have experienced some of the mutual vitriol. What I don’t get is that Cockie on one hand says how much he loves to beat the Spuds and on the other hand does not rate the man who has been keeping them in our shadow for almost two decades. Does this add up to you? 🙂

  • Any one who has a pop at Arsene is a cad and rotter of the highest order. I challange all these swine to a duel at noon, pistols of there choice.

    Of course, I wont turn up. Just pay my friend Dave, national pistol champion to impersonate me instead. hahaha

    Theres are exceptions though TA. Namely those who are clinicaly insane or suffer from terrible arse pain.

    Unfortunately Cornwall is both f*ucking nuts and a f*ucking pain in the arse, so we have to forgive him. hahaha

  • TA,… I is around, but we had a drop-by of out-of-town friends (trying to hide from the smoke) and I’ve had to do my entertaining thing… The weekends can get awfully busy, at times… 🙂

    Thanks for the comments boys. I get pretty annoyed with what I consider questionable “support” but, in the end, to each their own, live and let live, etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah… To me, it’s a little sad that we get more participation here when the team struggles…

    IMO, the football weekend must be considered a good one. We get our 3 pts, United, Spuds and both Liverpool teams drop theirs while City and Chelsea drop 2 apiece… Not bad…

    As for the match and some of the other larger questions, I think we’re starting to show some good depth–up front at least–and the 2 guys who really needed a dose of confidence got it. I do believe a lot still has to be worked out with the running and the awareness of players to fill spaces for one another. Clearly, nobody seems consigned to overly rigid positional roles amongst the front 5 which requires an added layer of focus from the lads. Once it clicks, however, it might have quite a bit of potential… The value of keeping eyes up and noting the spacing seemed key yesterday. Adding in the relentless work of Alexis (not to mention Jack and, soon enough, Theo) into such a scenario is the next step. Hopefully, the trouble holding the ball early in the match will lead to a little more conservative work when in our own half. Breaking quickly is nice, keeping the stress level down at the rear, even better…

    Finally, the way the goals came proves the old adage that a dangerous moment is directly after a goal has been scored. Usually it’s an admonition for teams to get back to business, but yesterday it worked the other way and showed that we might possess a certain ruthlessness. I also think the way we played the 2nd half and broke their spirits through possession and pressing when we did lose the ball was impressive, excuses about illness amongst the Villains notwithstanding. Anyhow, like I say, a good football weekend for the Arsenal, but maybe that’s looking through the rose-tints… Tougher tests lie ahead but we can only play the game at hand…

    Carry on…

  • This game may not prove our quality or our credentials but it gave us something which we badly needed, confidence. On top of that goals n assists for Welbz n Ozil could be the best piece of ‘good luck’ we have had for a while. We were not exposed at all by Villa partly because they were all suffering through a virus but maybe it was a little piece of help from the heavens so that the stars who had somewhat lost their shine could twinkle again

  • JM – Very informative read, and backs up what you were saying earlier.

    A £40-£50m available cash in January TW.

    Several important things to note though.
    I, and I think most non-accountants who try to follow things as they get reported, were thinking the Emirates Stadium was all but paid for …Yet the truth is we still have a ‘Gross debt’ on the stadium build of £240m! The fact that the increases in our financial income can comfortably pay off the interest and repayments, it is still a big shock?

    The other thing that stood out is just how important the CL is these days. For those who sneer at 4th place, it is worth noting that getting out of the group stage is worth almost twice as much as winning, repeat, WINNING the Europa League, had we have finished 5th or 6th.

    Looking at the comparisons though, Man U will be able to out spend us year on year, despite recording a Gross debt of £340m, such is their income stream. Which increases by £75m per year from 2015-16.

    At the other end, for those that dislike Tottenham so much, they are in the worrying position of flat-lining income growth, but an increasing wage bill, and no more big stars to sell? If anyone is likely to be a ‘selling club’ for the next few years, it is them. No wonder they are exploring all possibilities of a free new home. If they are not careful they could find themselves ground sharing with Milton Keynes if it all goes pear-shaped in the middle pulling down WHL? It also explains why they are looking for a ‘sugar daddy’ to buy the club?
    You don’t think our ‘Gazprom Guy’ would be tempted to jump ship do you? I mean, it would be entirely his ‘plaything’. No Silent Stan to block his path there?

    I will leave you with that thought …

  • Thanks for the link JM

    No surprises there for me, the results are generally as expected.

    Its funny how people always misinterpret cash in bank with money available to spend.

    In layman terms, if Arsenals year runs from 01/01 to 31/12 and receives most of its cash up front in terms of season tickets, it then has to use that cash to service its running costs for the year. In addition Arsenal have bonds that require £35 million to be held in reserve.

    So all of a sudden that £200 cash becomes more like £70 million available for transfers.

    I wouldn’t worry about the stadium debt Gerry. Its perfectly manageable. My understanding is that we are looking at 2035 or somewhere in that region before its paid off in full, but then again why should we?

    As the years progress, Arsenal could well finance the loan, i.e. borrow more, if they see an opportunity to make money. Thats business.

  • In a nutshell: we are running with the big boys, except for our commercial revenue income…. There are healthy cash reserves but a big, long term debt on the stadium – the former now almost covering the latter.

    The club can afford to add quality player – 1 to 3 a season – and keep its best players, whilst also promoting youth players (either self-developed through the Academy or bought from other clubs).

    Not necessarily a recipe for instant success but a very good basis for long term survival at the top and winning silverware down the road.

  • And if the big growth is in commercial revenue going forward, then surely it would pay for the BOD to invest in winning trophies and not only finishing fourth every season… No?

    Hence the step towards buying a SQ player every season and replacing departed players with at least the same quality levels..

  • TCM 18:58………You have me all wrong my sweetheart. I too hate the Tottenham Hotspurs, and find it highly amusing when they spend all that money and still cannot topple us, or get into the top four. BUT, the greatest thing I dislike is “CHEATING” and “DISHONESTY”.

    That trait also applies in life general.

    So, for almost all of my football loving years I have seen all too obvious events concerning the Mancs and their “fortunate” decisions, bias towards them from all angles, the media, the officials and the glory hunting Cockney Reds. It festers inside me and won’t go away.

    I have old fashioned ideals. I believe (with some small exceptions) you should support the team from where you come from. In support I mean follow/adore/love/pay to watch, put it how you like, I’m not talking about looking to see how other teams get on because you have a soft spot for them. For example, the Spanish team I follow is Valencia…….German team Borrusia Dortmund…….Speedway Lakeside Hammers (local side) Rugby Union Saracens ( London Club, place of my birth) etc.

    London and the South East is full of dirty Mancunian supporting imbeciles. They are purely Glory seeking supporters, and nothing else.

    The joke yesterday that cracked me up was =

    LIVERPOOL beaten after Champions League
    EVERTON beaten after Europa League
    SPURS beaten after Europa league
    MANUTD beaten after Eastenders.

    LMFAO……that’s my kind of humour.

  • The latest Swiss Ramble is out, following Arsenal’s annual accounts. A must read to avoid making silly assumptions about our finances.

  • Interesting post…

    Looking forward to the Southampton game, was hoping that Walcott would be back for that one, unfortunately……..

    Really enjoy the Tottnum hating, brings on a nice warm feeling, similar to a Phil Beal OG…

  • VCC,
    I tip my hat geez.
    Loving the Mancs beaten after eastenders.
    I have just got tickets for the United match at home 🙂
    It realy was a great weekend for us, a bit like early last season when all the results went our way. We need a good few more weekends like that.

  • The Swiss Rambler appears to have invested time into researching or confirming the basic accounting practices use in producing the accounts (which is imperative before you can analyse any financials), and lines up relevant comparatives.

    On that basis, the analysis looks very sound and straightforward, and I I am just happy to read his conclusions – to be honest I don’t want to bring my work into my hobby so I’m not going to give more time in reviewing the accounts (which he did well) than what I have already done – i.e. just reading his post with a slightly critical eye.

    What I note from an Arsenal supporter perspective – finances are really sound, the club’s operations (and bottom line) seem well managed; we still have a way to go regarding commercial revenue – trailing in value and not growing faster than our main competitors; we should be able to continue purchasing 1 SQ per year (maybe 2?). As for the cash reserves – well nothing I haven’t said already and it is well documented in SR’s article. It’s nice to have cash in your pocket, but it’s not much use if you still have to pay the rent, utilities, car loan etc. with it. Oh and I had linked the previous iteration, but this is the #1 piece of information for analysing the past ten years’ EPL results with a bit of financial perspective:

    I don’t know if you realize how much some of those number represents, but they’re in the ballpark of the GDP of a rich country like Switzerland (population of 8 million). Anayway that’s one of the reasons I actually value the consistency of our “top 4” trophy very much, knowing that better times are coming (at least in terms of finance).

  • Whoa massive copy past mistake –

    “It’s in the ballpark of a national budget for a country like Cambodia.” Not the swiss GDP :/

  • Gerry, the fact that we still have a 240m debt on the stadium shouldn’t be a surprise… it will be on our books for a quite a while (just like my 2 mortgages…), but Terry said it well, it doesn’t matter, we made that investment which was funded from future revenue – for a few years this impaired our capactiy to invest in players, but as our revenue increased (largely thanks to the stadium increaseed capacity actually), we don’t have to make money on players anymore, and will start to compete more with the top clubs (ManU being a class apart though).

  • Terry- I wasn’t too bothered by the Stadium debt, It was just the sheer size that is still left. But that is what comes of having to get the money with a big interest, you spend the first few years just paying very little off the debt, and more off the interest. Which is why we have not even halved the original loan. Like I say, just surprising.

    I checked with JM, Arsenal’s year runs April to April, but the same thing applies, an early boost through season ticket sales, but less available seats throughout the season, except for the extra matches.
    Funny, I did not see you as a Speedway fan? I have your football dislike for Poole, on the grounds of cheating, dishonesty, and other well chosen words. It’s Coventry Bees for me.

    My ‘other’ teams are generally ‘underdog’ sides, Ausburg(Gm), St Ettienne(Fr), Fiorentina(It), and of course Coventry here. Would support them more if I still lived there. You don’t get enough live TV games to be able to ‘follow’ them properly.

    Like the Eastender joke too.

  • Hehe TA – I initially wanted to say that it represented 1/1000th of the Swiss GDP but that did not look like a big figure (although it is – think the collective output of the work of 8000 people for one full year). As for cash reserves, teh central bank did sell a lot of reserves (gold mostly), but per capita I’m sure they probably top the charts!

  • Alcide – As I have said to Terry, when you get all the talk of how great our finances are, it is an injection of realism just how big a gamble the investment was, and why AW earned his £7m a year just getting to where we are now.

    It also goes to show it could still go down the tubes for Man U if they do not get a top 4 finish next season, as much of their headline sponsorship deals are related to performance. As indeed are ours.

  • Very nice logic Alcide. Are you an accountant by any chance? You have a very good grasp of the figures.

    Gerry, the size of the loan is relative to the value of the assets. Big financial institutions tend to have a safe gearing ratio, dependent on the industry they are in of course.

    Arsenal are reported to be worth up to a Billion so debt to equity ratio is around the 25% mark, which really is rather moderate.

    When we first took out the loan the club was worth a lot less, thus making the lenders nervous. This resulted in financial “Covenants” within the loan restricting the amount we could spend on transfers.

    We have passed that stage now and the move seems to be reaping dividends. Without concerns of FFP, etc we can now compete on a much healthier footing, securing our players on long term contracts and spending more money on acquisitions.

    We are not in the class of the two Spanish clubs, Munchen, or Man Utd, but the long term aim has always been to build a successful side that will hopefully attract further sponsorship and retail, thus bridging the gap

    Oh yes, “The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring”

  • Quite right Gerry, it was a massive gamble.

    The Club, and Arsene Wenger, should be congratulated for leading us through it. Yes, risks, dependant on performance remain, that applies to all clubs, but the move was no joke. Bad management and we could have ended up like Leeds or Rangers.

  • Though, I must add this.

    People are perfectly entitled to question whether Arsene is the right man to lead us forward into this glorious new era. He might be the right man going forward, he night not. Thats down to individual choice.

    After all, Moses led the Israelites to the Holy land, but once there buggered off and some other geezer take over

    But whatever happens, Arsenes legacy to those come after is akin to Herbert Chapmans, and he will always command my respect

  • Damn right Gerry. And that’s again a good benchmark for the net transfer spend. The money we’d have saved by not investing in the stadium so far would not have allowed us to compete on the transfer market vs. City or Chelsea (or ManU) as they resorted to huge injection of extraneous capital (shares or debt). I’m kind of proud our club stands where it stands on its own doing, with no sugar daddy.

  • Terry, I’m probably a bad accountant but like to think I’m a pretty good financial analyst (at least that’s what a previous supervisor told me!). I used to work for the late Arthur Andersen wordwide entity, and am now responsible for the Budget and Budgetary accounts of an international organization, so hopefully I’m good enough to pretend having a decent grasp of figures :/

  • Ah, one of the big five hey Alcide. I started off with Peat Marwick before it became KPMG.

    I now have my own practice were I fleece the tax man and my clients by pretending to do a good job.

    Theres nothing more satisfying than a client been really grateful, giving you a big fat cheque, whilst all the time knowing you have really done a shit job for them because to much time was spent on the internet discussing Wenger and the 4141 system.

    Makes me feel good just thinking about it

  • Lightbulb moment, courtesy of TMHT:

    David Dein recommended AW before Bruce Rioch was appointed and said “this is the man to take us forward.” I suspect DD saw the way football finances were going and knew we’d need a champion economist and tactical genius rolled into one to help us compete with the big boys long term.

    I’m having an “I like Arsene” day today.

  • ‘Morning fellas… I probably will glance at the Swiss Ramble stuff but I appreciate the pros summing it up for me.

    Am I wrong that the timing of the deal didn’t particularly work out in our favor (favour?) given that the bottom rather dropped out of the real estate market just as we did the conversion and sold the units at Highbury? Based on my personal experience (having to rebuild our house in 2007-08), construction costs remained persistently high even as values tumbled during the great bubble burst. For Arsenal, the plan seems a good one, but in the shorter term (the bottom line in recent years) it must’ve hurt. Finally, the graphic on net spend is one thing but might also not tell the whole story. The wages offered and Wenger’s more “socialistic” wage structure also seems as if it’s something for which we must account. (And long term, I believe. it’s a very good thing for creating a more unified squad, even if it keeps certain “big names” most likely beyond our reach…) But maybe it’s all in there and I just need to look at it. Unfortunately, I need an accountant of my own (and a barrister…) to deal with my “work” these days (trying to straighten out and protect my parents’ finances) so the hobby stuff may have to wait… Like I say: Carry on…

    The CoC match is tomorrow night so we maybe need to pivot in that direction. As much as many will be interested in which younger players get their chance I’m very curious which seniors are forced to play or take a seat on the bench. Remember, matches are settled on the evening, even if extra time and pens are required…15 minute outings can turn into 45 plus the mental taxation of a PK… So’ton, given the hand wringing over all their Summer sales, have now got to be considered a huge early season surprise team. Koeman’s always seemed a sly one to me and it’s curious that they were able to hang onto both of their deep-lying mids (Wanyama and Schneiderlin). As many here suggest, that position may be the hardest to fill in all of football…

    Happy Monday…

  • In general, I’m always with TMTH–even if I eschew the syrup and my teeth do not gleam with a searchlight quality… We must remember, however, that old Moses, even if he smashed a few golden calves in his time, never actually saw the promised land. Obviously, I hope our old man can take us there, but I agree he that he might do well grooming a Joshua (or two) for the future…esp. given that he’s always a single bad result from having the entire internet set ablaze and thrown his direction…

  • 17th, just because it’s you, and it’s a relevant point (wages) – still from Swiss Ramble:

    So no, the wage structure does not change the lessen the argument. Note incidentally how we’re now at the same level as Chelsea – who said FFP wasn’t working at all?

  • Gerry 12:25……..have you a fetish on Transplant? Twas I, Le Clerc who likes speedway.

    I got into it big time way back in the eighties. A friend of mine rode for Crayford Kestrels. I just went along for the ride and got hooked.

  • Just so you know, after Tom Fox went over to Aston Villa to become their new CEO, we appointed Vinai Venkatesham as our new Chief Commercial Officer.

    He is also a board member of Arsenal Broadband Limited (entity that owns Arsenal’s media and digital rights) and has previously led all negotiations for the 2 largest deals (Emirates and Puma) while being our head of Global Partnerships.

    Emirates – international airline (subsidiary of The Emirates Group)
    PUMA SE – MNC in clothing, sportswear (under Kering)
    Citroën – automobile manufacturer (part of the PSA Peugeot Citroën group)
    Cooper Tire (Europe) – manufacturing and sales of tires (under the Cooper Tire & Rubber Company)
    Europcar – the leading car rental company in Europe
    Gatorade – manufacturer of sports-themed beverage and food products. (under PepsiCo)
    Indesit Company – home appliances
    Huawei Technologies – official smartphone provider
    JEANRICHARD – official watch partner (under the Sowind Group)
    PruHealth – health insurance (part of Prudential plc)
    Bharti Airtel Limited – Indian telecommunications services (operating in South Asia, Africa)
    Bodog – official asian betting partner (under the Bodog Group)
    Paddy Power – official betting partner in the UK, Ireland and Italy
    BT Sport – British MNC in telecommunications services (under the BT Group plc)
    Hansa Pilsener – official beer partner (under SABMiller plc)
    Imperial Bank – commercial bank in Kenya
    mbna – bank holding company
    Sterling Bank plc – banking (Nigeria)
    India on Track – soccer schools in India

    more (and better ones) to come in the future.

  • Note also Cit’y wage bill – times 6 in the course of 8 years. I like watching football, and supporting Arsenal, but in general, it’s a pretty messed up world :/

  • Alcide – I liked the one with the income line of those same teams. Tottenham wages increased to £96m by last April. In fact they show a steady increase once they started changing managers every season?
    However, their income is very much a flat line?

  • Cheers Alcide, and I guess I will have to look at the original article myself at least for a few moments here before the US markets open… I like the graphic and our extremely stable pattern of wage growth–it almost looks likes a Bernie Madoff returns chart… 😀 From what I heard yesterday, Chavs is about to take an upward bend, with Hazard to get a monster contract renewal. As much success as they’re having early season–and despite the irony of their own oldster, Lampard, taking points from them–they still have some generational challenges ahead. Luckily they’ve got the two dozen plus players out on loan to choose from… 🙄

    Here are a couple I was reading this morning… Another, more general take on FFP and the overall structure of football finances: http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/sep/20/footballs-fat-cats-end-hope-equality-and-fair-play And one for the tactical/formation fellas: http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/sep/22/louis-van-gaal-tactics-leicester-nigel-pearson IMO it’s good to share these things even if we cannot read them all. Certainly the core group of BKesquers bring some, er, unique perspectives… Did anybody actually watch the whole Spurs match? I guess they were frustrated offensively and then beaten at a set piece. Is it too early to be thinking tactics ahead of the NLD…

    Already I can feel the week getting away from me…

  • Oops the moderator caught me…Trying to link more than one article at a time?… Here’s what I was trying to say, broken into pieces:

    Cheers Alcide, and I guess I will have to look at the original SR article myself at least for a few moments here before the US markets open… I like the wage graphic and our extremely stable pattern of wage growth–it almost looks likes a Bernie Madoff returns chart… 😀 From what I heard yesterday, Chavs is about to take an upward bend, with Hazard to get a monster contract renewal. As much success as they’re having early season–and despite the irony of their own oldster, Lampard, taking points from them–they still have some generational challenges ahead. Luckily they’ve got the two dozen plus players out on loan to choose from… 🙄

    Here’s a more general take on FFP and the overall structure of football finances: http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/sep/20/footballs-fat-cats-end-hope-equality-and-fair-play

  • …And another one for the tactical/formation fellas: http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/sep/22/louis-van-gaal-tactics-leicester-nigel-pearson

    IMO it’s good to share these things even if we cannot read them all. Certainly the core group of BKesquers bring some, er, unique perspectives… Did anybody actually watch the whole Spurs match? I guess they were frustrated offensively and then beaten at a set piece. Is it too early to be thinking tactics ahead of the NLD?… I should check if the CoC match is on tommorow’s telly…

    Already I can feel the week getting away from me…

  • VCC – You is right! Sorry about that, I scrolled down looking at his other comments and got blurred vision.

    Anyway Le Clerc, what is your view of the ‘Pirates? Mine is, good riders, sneaky bastardos management?

  • Poole are not my favourite by any stretch, but they are always top or thereabouts.

    Neil Middleditch used to be a dirty rider, I can remember him when he used to come to Craford all those years ago. He used to ride for Eastbourne.

    I once went to a Sunday afternoon away meeting with Crayford against Eastbourne and my friend (Crayford rider) almost had a horrific accident while one of their riders tried to run him against the barrier.

    Dave Lanning was their PA guy at the time and he fuelled the situation so much there was almost a full scale barny in the middle of the track. Really scary.

  • Sounds about right Vics. My beef with them was the following season that the Bees won the play-off’s against them for the title. In a crucial match Middleditch claim to have signed a Bees rider when he hadn’t, the board accepted his version until Coventry protested, but wouldn’t allow the Bees to use that rider. So much rancour ensued right up to the end of the season, the Bees manager resigned, in order to give the Bees a fresh start. The last round I saw on Sky Sports was the Bees getting thrashed by Swindon, no managed by our former manager, Alun Rossiter.
    Strangely enough, both are in the play-off’s, against Kings Lynn and the dreaded Poole, and I’ll be cheering on who ever gets to knock them out. 😀

  • Lakesie were doing well at the beginning of this season, but fell away when they had injuries. 😦

  • 17ht,

    Financial Fair play could be defined in many ways, and I hope we will never have it ‘Arrys’ way. To me it would be something like linking wage+transfer spending to to the level of football revenue vs. resorting to debt or influx of capital. I’d take commercial revenue in consideration (some wouldn’t), perhaps cap it to a percentage of another metric (to avoid silly commercial deals more akin to grants than having pure economical sense). In any case, I think clubs with a larger support base (game-attending supporters, overall fans, commercial base) should be able to enjoy the benefits of this base which indirectly but ultimately comes from the quality of the team on the pitch.

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