Gibbs-Alexis, Ozil-Welbeck, The Chambers: With Arsene We Thrust?

Arsenal's Danny Welbeck scores a goal during the Premier League against Aston Villa

Is Triple Thrust the future?

It often amuses me when I speak to Gooners, on and off-line, about Arsene Wenger’s management style, and they tell me that Wenger has no ‘plan-B’ and never prepares tactically for a game. It is most probably true that Wenger does not prepare for every game tactically in great detail, and he also likes to play the same system from one season to the next; but that does not mean he has not got another system of football, or Plan-B if you want, if need be. Just think back to our home game against the Chavs, when he shut the door and played not to lose (as we were still licking our wounds from a heavy defeat at the Northern Oilers).

As I wrote recently, Wenger has a deductive style of management: he thinks things through, produces a plan of how he wants to set up the team (at least in his head), talks to his coaching staff and off he goes implementing it. The plan or system of football and formation is key, and from this he will buy, train, and mould players in such a way that they bring his vision/plan to live. It usually takes time, but once the players get it and start to work as a team, some of the finest football can be enjoyed by both Gooners and non-Gooners. And what he develops is often copied by other managers, even though he has usually already moved on to the next system of football, as he is into perpetual improvement, it seems.

It looks like Arsene is developing two massive new weapons (three actually, but I will come to that later): the combo-wings within his 4-4-1-1 formation, although this could also apply for the former 4-2-1-3 system (to which we might still revert back to). On the left we have Gibbs and Alexis, and on the right, at least for a little longer, we have the Chambers: the Ox and Calum. As others have pointed out, the Ox-Calum train is moving quite nicely right now, and the longer they play together the better their partnership on the right could become. Both are very promising players and have the hunger and talent to make that wing theirs.

Of course, at one point the more experienced pair of Theo and Debuchy will be ready to take over, but one is out for a while and the other will need time to get back to full match fitness after a serious injury. So let’s see whether the young ones can make further progress in the next month or so.

On the left side, we have either Gibbs and Alexis, or Gibbs and Ozil, with Monreal coming back soon as well. Especially the Gibbs-Alexis combo is looking very promising: two very talented, athletic and hard working players who seem to be able to work very well in tandem, and who have no apparent problem with staying put on the wing. I have high hopes that these two can become the deadliest wing-combo on the left in the PL, if not Europe.

The good thing is, as we saw on Wednesday, both wings give us thrust and creativity, and plenty of options for our central midfielders – two of: Ozil, Jack, Ramsey, Santi – to make the play. It remains to be seen how effective they are against the park the bus teams; but even then, the best way of cracking these open and smash them is to stretch and attack them from all sides. And both Ox and Alexis have the additional ability to dribble past defenders, as well as receive a ball in space and power forwards to the goal.

And if we add the central partnership between Ozil and Welbeck to the mix, you can see we will have even more thrust and invention in the team. The first two goals against Villa should give us real hope that this partnership could flourish very nicely this season.

Having these three options to attack our opponents will make us very hard to defend against as danger will come from all areas, and this has been lacking for quite a while now.

Of course, there is a lot more to football than the vertical partnerships on the wings and in the middle. Partnerships between Alexis and Danny, Alexis and Ozil, Ox and Ozil, Ozil and Jack, etc, are just as important. And then there are the horizontal lines of partnership, partly depending on the formation we will be playing during the rest of the season. But this is for another time.

It is also key that the DM and the box to box midfielder are of high quality to both facilitate the attackers and protect the remaining defenders (with FBs often venturing forward, leaving their colleagues exposed). Some of us have argued that we really need to play with two DMs in order to not allow all that thrust up-front to backfire on us.

To be frank, I am not sure what Wenger is trying to achieve exactly. No doubt, it is the big battle between thrust and rebound/counter-football on the one hand, and totally controlling play on the other hand (both styles of play we have seen at the home of football during the Wenger era).

Ideally, we will combine the two into something very special, but this is by far the hardest thing to do. My money is on Wenger trying to achieve just that, as that is what he is like. It might frustrate us at times, but ultimately it will come good. Or not, but then at least we tried to be different and exciting.

And for those who doubt whether Wenger can still pull it off – and some doubt continues to linger in me as well – let’s take Sir Winston Churchill’s wisdom into account:

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”. 🙂

Or, as a friend just emailed me, ‘No moss gathers on a rolling stone!’.

Written by: TotalArsenal.

105 thoughts on “Gibbs-Alexis, Ozil-Welbeck, The Chambers: With Arsene We Thrust?

  • Brilliant TA

    Yes, your so right. I once ventured into a business partnership with “Chris Fistinyourface”, a rather unpleasant Bouncer from Hornchurch

    When our business venture, a scheme to export cheap plastic goods to China, went tits up, I said “A glorious failure Chris, which one day will make success all the sweeter”

    His response. “You owe me £8k Mancini”, then proceeded to prove he should also have had the middle name of “Kickstotheballs”

    Arsene knows what he is doing. As you say, developing partnerships all over the pitch.

    All of a sudden our wing play looks really good, on both sides.

    The two holding midfield argument will rumble on, especially against the better sides. Lets see how it develops.

  • hahaha Terry 🙂

    I bet you paid the £8k after that after wondering what his other middle names might be.

    Yes our wing play looked good and it looks like Arsene is stealthily introducing it to the team. It would be lovely to take the Chavs apart all over the pitch with it… but yes the double DM roles remain a key point of discussion… 🙂

  • Love the title TA
    its exactly what I have been thinking about since the Gala game.

  • —-From previous post——

    Total, well…we can’t agree on every thing bud. Welbz is a perfect mixture of TH, Ian and even Didier Drogba( just look at how he brushes off the defender to score) . All this said, only he can decide what he wants to be. A world class striker or a flop…only time will tell. I support him as I do with every Arsenal player and he has the qualities necessary to make a name for himself,though whether or not he builds on his talent is up to him.

    Anyway, I’m pumped up for the match against Chelsea. Getting revenge against Chelsea would be the perfect way to show our title credentials. Anyhow…here’s my preferred lineup-


    You might say my selection of Bellerin is highly unrealistic but man, if he does play, he would be a good option. He would be up against Hazard/Willian and he has the pace to match them and could potentially handle them better than Calum. Then again, I’m tempted to put Calum with Koz and Per into midfield, though that would be almost impossible to imagine.

    Calum, on the other hand, will be replacing Wilshere as he is a doubt. It honestly depends on whether Wilshere is fit. But him and Flamini will be a rock in midfield. A tall, good reader of the game in Calum and a high energy midfielder in Flamini will be hard to get past. not to mention the fact that they still have to get past Koz&Per. If Calum plays in this role, he would be the one with the lisence to go forward as he loves to run into space as shown in multiple occasions in the past when he was playing at CB.

    The front four basically picks itself. Sanchez has been good in all the games he’s played in so far, and his work rate would definitely be appreciated against Chelsea. The same goes for the Ox.
    Mesut has shone in the no.10 position in this couple of games. If AW is gonna play him on the left again, he might as well drop him. I’m also hoping Danny can replicate what he did against Gala.

    —–Game plan—-
    1.Most importantly, stop Diego Costa. He has been amazing for Chelsea so far and I’m still sad that we didn’t get him last summer. Though his arrival at Chelsea and Danny’s arrival takes me back to the Theirry Henry vs Didier Drogba days.

    2.Also, we MUSN’T conceded in the first 10 minutes. It is crucial that we do not concede and gain momentum from there.

    3.Make Danny mark Fabregas. Fab has been stunning for Chelsea and we should cut off all services from him if possible. It would be like when Danny marked Xabi Alonso for United. Xabi’s services were cut off and Madrid looked vulnerable and were unable to get things going.

    I’m done ranting for now, see ya guys

  • TA, fooking great post mate!
    It was a pleasure to read and highlights what i was talking about in the previous post. we have more thrust (great word to explain the situation) now in the team, more attacking directness with strength and pace. The onus has been shifted from all out creativity in midfield to a smaller but still influential amount surrounded by options for them to be creative for, something i was calling for from the early days of my Wenger bashing here on the blog – i should have known the professor had yet to reveal his master plan 🙂

  • Shrill 🙂

    What I am trying to say is that it is too early to label DW. And by calling him not a Henry type you do him injustice imho. Surely, it would take a whole career for him to show us whether he can emulate the great master, and we have seen so little from him until now. I have seen glimpses of Danny that made me think he could become the allround striker Henry was for us. He has tried shots from distance ala Henry, he can dribble with the ball from midfield ala Henry, he likes to take on players ala Henry, he finishes in the box ala Henry, he has the same athleticism, (easy) strength and speed ala Henry….. So why not?… But it is just too early to say, and I am happy to agree to disagree on this one. 🙂

  • Steve, glad, but not surprised, you liked it. 🙂

    It remains to be seen whether Arsene will go for ‘full, triple thrust’ or revert back to control, or something in the middle. But surely he will have liked what those six players have been doing in recent games…. 😉

  • The clever title had me confused for a minute, TA.

    You keep repeating ‘partnerships’ working, or to be worked upon, whereas I would say for every pair you need the third body to make a triangle?

    The Gibbs one is a case in point. When Poldi played, the ball would get played out to the left, and Gibbs would make a trio. Then for a long time, particularly when Santi played out on the left, he would move inside and rarely look back. The difference now is, not only is Alexis drawing the ball out to the left, but also Danny when they switch, and with Ozil central, or moving off the right side, he can see the option off a Gibbs run down the line. I bet Gibbs has had more touches of the ball in the last two games that he has in half a dozen others put together?

    It does not end there though. With Ox doing pacey work down the right, it opens up the middle. I think I am right, but in the last game I don’t think Ox had a shot? Instead just concentrated on passing and moving. So again you have the two Chambo’s down the right, with Santi and Ozil making the trios?

    I hope they can turn up and just play the 11 players, and not get too tied up with the idea that Chelsea are unbeatable. But whatever plan Per is hinting at, it better be a good one?

    Take Shrillex’s team from the end of the last post. I would just swap Bellerin around with Chambers, because Hazard does like drift to that side. However, the thought of Danny shadowing Cesc about would kill our attack? If you want a man marker, Le Coq is the guy to have? Otherwise it will be very short odds that Flamini’s yellow(or worse?) will come from a floored Fabregas?

    The squad will reveal all I think?

    So a little more trig, and keep the couples moving?

  • Good points, Gerry. 🙂

    Re triangles… I did say in the post there is more to it than just the vertical lines. But when it comes to thrust we need strong duos and those three are looking very promising. Football is a team sport and you are right to point out the more intricate nature of making things work…. That is why management of a team is a lot, lot harder than many of us think.

    But the potential use of those three lines of attacking thrust on a regular basis is a very juicy prospect.

  • Whichever you would prefer. It is on Sky Sports 1, and the early kickoff, so I suppose I would favour the review, but not both.

  • Coquelin imo can be the most important player if we want to secure a point at the Bridge.
    I know that it would come at the cost of keeping Jack and Santi on the bench. But what I feel is that in big games we always start shaky. If you consider our second half performance in these games you might as well ask ‘who’s winning ?’
    So just to avoid this shaky start I think we should start Le Coq. Then after 45/60 mins we can sub Jack/Santi for Flam/Coq whoever is better suited for whoever has played less good.

    I have observed Chelsea always when defending defend with their wingers as full backs and the back four almost acting as 4 CBs .
    We can use a similar system too Flamini can drop between the CBs and Coq can stay central or cover one wing. The other wing should be defended by Alexis/Welbz with the potential to counter.

    My message is simple keep the score 0-0 till 45/60 mins and then show that God of boring football how football is played the ARSENAL WAY

  • Gerry,

    You quoted’ Danny shadowing Cesc about would kill our attack?’ , however ,if memory serves me right, Danny scored a goal as well as stop the service of Xabi Alonso during that match. They starved Madrid’s best passer of the ball and it made them way,way less dangerous. I don’t see any reason why Danny can’t do the same for the Chelsea match.

    If this doesn’t suit your taste, how about this? We’ll do the opposite. We let Chelsea have all the possession they want, and break when we dispossess them. We have Welbz, Ox and Alexis who are so much more dangerous on the break and with Ozil threading through ball to them, it could work out. However , this strategy is highly risky especially if we concede early.

    For this match, we MUST play Sanchez on the left and Ox on the right. They will be key for this game. Ivanovic isn’t slower and while he is a great defender, he is slow on the turn and who else but Sanchez to cause him a few headaches with his fancy spins. Ox is put on the right because Azpelicuta or however you spell his name is perhaps the best man-marker other than Koz in the PL. the only way we are going to expose him is through sheer pace. I have seen him struggle against really pacey wingers before this.

    Matic is a tougher nut to crack. He is always so solid against good teams. But Chelsea’s match against Schalke has shown opposition teams how to expose him. In that match, he was up against Draxler. Draxler got past him with absolute ease with him sublime skill and forced Matic to foul him countless times. Which is why I wanna give Alexis a free role no the left, interchanging positions with Ozil. If anyone is gonna replicate Draxler and finally break Matic, it is Alexis.

  • If you haven’t used all your ammunition, I would say you are well on your way to doing the pre-view. How about it?

  • Neeraj

    Coquelin next to Flam could work well. I would have no problem with those two starting against the Chavs. However, Jack the lad is just what the doctor ordered against the Chavs. If he is instructed to sit back with Flam as much as is required he will do a good job, as he actually can defend. But he also gives us the option to burst forward when we regain the ball and produce a quality through-ball. So for me, it is a small certainty that both Flam and Jack will start with Ozil in front and Alexis, Danny and Oxie/Santi up-front.

  • Hey Neeraj

    This press release was just emailed to me and I thought you might like it as your local team is named in it. The Delhi Dynamos manager (Van Veldhoven) used to manage my local team in Holland…. small world really. He is a very good manager.

    Delhi Dynamos FC Launch Ticket Sales on

    Football fans will be able to buy tickets online through website or mobile app

    New Delhi, 03rd October, 2014: Delhi Dynamos FC, the national capital’s football team in the Hero Indian Super League, launched ticket sales on Wednesday through, its official ticketing partner.

    The team plays its first match on Tuesday, October 14th against FC Pune City at its home stadium, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.

    Delhi Dynamos has signed the legendary Italian striker Alessandro del Piero as its marquee player. The team, helmed by Belgian coach Harm van Veldhoven has signed talented footballers from countries like Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Belgium and the Czech Republic besides top Indian talent.

    The Club has priced tickets reasonably, starting at just Rs 200, to ensure that football fans and Delhiites from all walks of life can join in the action of the Hero ISL.

    Alessandro del Piero, the Italian footballing legend, said, “I have tried some Delhi food and I have seen some beautiful sights in the city. Now I can’t wait to meet the people of Delhi. I hope to see all Dilliwaalas at the JLN stadium cheering for the Delhi Dynamos, come on Delhi…Thok Denge Goal!”

    Hero Indian Super League is scheduled to kick off from 12th October 2014. Delhi Dynamos FC is owned by DEN Networks Limited, the leading cable TV company of India. DEN has recently launched its Broadband service and has also entered into a JV with Snapdeal to launch a TV Shopping channel.

  • If nobody objects, I think the site will be supporting FC Pune City in the ISL this season. In honour of our regular blogger Neeraj 🙂

  • Thanks TA
    Well everyone here is free to support their favourite teams as Ljunberg, Pires, Anelka are all playing for various teams and not to forget Andre Santos ;-P

  • Neeraj, do you have any symbols for your team?
    for example Arsenal cannons, so COYG!
    FC Pune city would be COY…….?

  • got bored so looked your crest up on google lol, is that stallions on the front?

  • piranha…. platypus…. pensioners….. playboys……

    This is fun TA, remind me though why are we naming things beginning with “p” again?

  • Give it up for the….. Pune Playboys!!!!

    There motto is actually “Passion Honour Glory” so there’s your passion part TA, and a Glory hole to boot 🙂

  • I’m loving the team colors, Orange and Purple – you just have to be playboys to pull that off, its perfect! 🙂

  • I can just see the commentator now:
    And as we have come to expect from these young upstarts we continue to see the Pune Passion Playboys Penetrative Pressing Payoff…. GOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!
    😆 lovin it!

  • good call TA, well it looks like bergkampesque has picked its new Indian Super League representative to direct our unwavering support towards! 🙂

  • But PCFC might just be a top 4 team like Arsenal in the first season
    The Mumbai team is pretty strong so is Kolkata n Goa
    Mumbai jas both Ljunberg and Anelka

  • Evening TA. What’s your view on how we receive Fabski at the Chavs on Sunday? I’ve got to the point of thinking we should give him a warm welcome and leave it at that. If anything that will create some divided loyalty in their team, whereas hostility from our fans will only serve to unite the chavs further against us.

    I can’t get used to seeing him in blue to be honest. The only thing that makes it easier is his receding hairline – he looks so much older now that he is barely recognisable, apart from the way he runs and passes, which look just as ever.

    The heart is ever hopeful, but the head knows even a draw would be a great result this weekend. Sadly I fear another disappointment, but hopefully not a drubbing at least. We have players who will work up front, but our weak spot will be defensively through the middle; there seems to be more consensus on the 11 than for any recent game I can remember – perhaps Wenger will surprise us all! I’m with you on the FlamJack pivot, but there’s a lot of risk in that pairing around temperament and fitness, up against a powerful and mobile opposition. As you say, we need to stay prudent at the back and make use of our pace up front – and lets hope the confidence in our strikers means we can take the few chances that are likely to come our way. My fear is early pressure from the Arse, but a 10th minute sucker punch on the break from the Chavs. Hope I’m wrong, but I need some stimulants to get a rosy view of this game……

  • I should have said TA – as I often don’t – that I have really valued your positivity and sense of loyalty to giving the team and Wenger a chance over the last few posts and comments. There seems to be more doom about than usual for this time of year and, though I know you have your doubts at times too, you have kept the blog focussed on being what we are – supporters, who all want the club we love to succeed and delight us with their performances. Keep up the good work TA!

  • Hi AB 🙂

    Thanks for your kind feedback – always appreciated and good to see you back on here again. I am not sure whether you were about on BK when I posted the attached post. It summarises how we should look at our relationship with Arsene. He might not be perfect all the time but he has done immense work to get this club to the level it is at today…. and our long ‘marriage’ with him has been key to it all.

  • Hi TA. I have read every lead post on here for the last 12 months at least. But I don’t get through all the comments unfortunately; sometimes the volume coincides with busy points and I just can’t get through 300 or so entries. But this is the only site I follow in this way – so you should take pride in this being special and different. I’m sure you know that anyway – I hope so.

    Its been a busy week work wise, so I’m now unwinding with a large glass, reading around and hoping to find reasons for more confidence for the coming weekend; I can’t say I’ve found it, but I’m sanguine about where we are anyway. I think we have strengthened, are working on cohesion, and will have some more beautiful moments this season – due to the pace we have – than we had in the last. Will it be enough to challenge more – I doubt it, and we may well be further off the top, as the chavs look pretty impressive to me; but we are building.

    As our squad matures, we seem to add (buy) one piece of top quality each year; will it all come together in the coming 2 years? I do hope so. There are only one or two more pieces to bring in around the core we have – assuming we can get to the bottom of whatever our injury curse is.

    Whenever it comes – next year, or in 10 years – it will be a sweet moment. I can wait, and will savour it when it arrives – a bit like a quality whisky!

  • I would like to second AB’s comments about TA personally and the blogsite in general. 🙂

    Well said AB.

  • Agreed with you, AB, that Cesc should be treated with respect. I understood why he went back – I have been there myself around the same age in a way – and I believe that he wanted to come back. Wenger did not allow that to happen which is one of my biggest Arsene disappointments I have. It seemed a matter of pride to me, but that is just from the outside looking in.

    Let’s see how the game goes on Sunday. Like you say, Wenger might surprise us. It is about time we gun those Chavs down and maybe a bit of luck (and good refereeing) is with us this time. 🙂

  • It has to happen one day for sure TA; yes maybe a little stroke of luck to help it along is all we need. I’m settled in my mind though that success and our season are not defined by our away performances against the top 3 opposition sides – but it would make life a lot sweeter if we could get some results in one or two games. I will be watching in hope whatever!

  • Which Whiskey are you sipping, AB? 🙂

    Maybe we’ll start with Rosicky and Flamini in the pivot and keep it really tight in the middle… this has to be key as the Chavs love shooting from just outside of the box.

  • ———— Flamini——————-Rosicky———————-

  • Bunnahabhain TA. The mildest Islay malt. I know you are a Scotophile TA – another sound choice on your part; but I am biased being Edinburgh born! I’m combining it (not mixing you understand, but drinking alongside) with a Thai beer – fusion drinking, a new craze? It works very well, at least on a Friday evening.

    I’m not sure what we are doing with Rosicky at the moment. At this rate I can see him leaving, back to Germany or the Czech Rep, come January. He was so effective used in small bursts last season, but it feels like we can’t use him because there are so many of our emerging talents queuing up to play. Pod is the same, as 17 has argued – we can’t keep a guy on £100k/pw sat on the bench. And with Theo and Gnab coming back I can’t see much hope for him to be honest. Will we clear out a couple of midfielders and go back for Draxler? Not sure how we would fit him in now if we did, not with Sanchez in the team?

  • I cannot see us go for Draxler anymore, not even Reus right now, AB. Alexis is our man on the LW, I reckon (although I happily play him behind the striker and ask Ozil to play on the left, but that is for another discussion). I reckon Rosicky is a man who can stick to a task and he will be keen to make good his mistake against the Saints. He has ferocious energy and is fearless, which might be helpful. But I am just as happy, or even happier, to see FlamShere in the pivot.

    Sounds like a nice whiskey, although I do not know it. A very nice city to be born in, Edinburgh. Bee there many a time and just love the place (although same goes for Glasgow).

  • Edinburgh is a delight. I was back last weekend for some friends joint 50th birthday – ceilidh and drinks. Great place just to mooch about, at least when the sun is out! I know Glasgow less well, though I visit friends there each year; but agreed it has a great feel, lots of facilities and also a huge amount of greenspace.

    I agree Draxler has probably past us by now, but if he came available I think Wenger can’t resist his type, so you never know. Reus I suspect will go to one of the big european beasts, though I will curse if he ends up somewhere like the pool! DM must be the next priority for Wenger – but how many times have I said that before! We shall see!

  • TA
    I will support PCFC after all I love my home city but I will also look out for FC Goa and Mumbai as they are either in same or neighbouring states.
    They also have the Arsenal players Pires, Ljunberg, Anelka, Santos(in order of stature) 😆

    Is David Trezeguet a good player ?
    I have never seen him play in his playing days but he looks in solid form right now.
    3 goals in as many games.

  • Shrillex, as that is a early morning post, and TA is on a bike ride today – suspect for the local charity he is supporting? – I am sure he would appreciate it.

    The way I do mine is type it up on as a text document(Open Office in my case) then Copy&Paste it into an email. that takes care of the different type faces, as TA ‘tarts it up’ at his end.
    You’ll find TA’s email address at the top of this site; Contact us

    Get typing, and TA will confirm that he will look forward to your post before he sets off, sometime in the next hour.
    Sorry TA if I am assuming too much, but, again I am guessing that you planned to write yours this evening, and even if you had an idea for the post, you normally welcome fresh writers?

  • Neeraj, I can see you are interested in the clubs that are still reasonably local and sport a former Gooner, but supporting Pune City has to be your choice. 🙂

    Trez was a very good player who probably is still one of the fittest of them all. Three goals in three is promising for Bergkampesque’s favourite Indian team! 🙂

  • AB 🙂

    I will be moving to Southern Scotland mid next year and at some point we’ll share a good Whiskey in one of those great cities! (When you are visiting again). 🙂

  • Shrill, best to put your text in a word doc and attach it, but in the text in an email will work as well. If you want to use your pictures or a line up, please attach separately.

    Gerry, the only charity for this bike ride is to my body and soul. 🙂

    I want to get fit.

    Catch you guys this afternoon.

  • Total, I sent you the post already. Expecting to see it up by the afternoon. No pressure though.
    Enjoy your bike ride 🙂

  • AB, what a great city Edinburgh is. My Wife and I visited 4years ago. We went to see our Daughter in the Fringe.

    Great bus service, you can throw the car keys away of an evening and travel cheaply by public transport. Probably a reason why the Scots like their drink, lol. 😉

    While we were there my Daughter was in two shows, “The Scaredy cat prince” she was repunzel and “The railway children” loved all the shows we see.

    We managed to catch two professional shows, one was Jason Manford and the other was Paul Zurkin.

    One regret was not seeing the Edinburgh tattoo, it was sold out. That’s one for the bucket list.

    Would also like to see Scotland v England in a five nations match.

  • Hey boys… Long one coming but hopefully it’s quickly buried by the match preview. Apologies in advance…

    I was busy yesterday actually watching a pack of English boys playing football (Soccer…) at my wife’s college (there’s an interesting story there, but I’ll save it for another day…) so I missed out on (what we would call) AB’s boilermaker (Whisky, beer back…) and associated discussions. I have to say, that I have nothing but agreement over his sentiments about Cesc and the team heading into this important match tomorrow. Of course, that won’t shut me up… 😀

    Likewise, I’ve got nothing but praise for Edinburgh as we had a fine time there two years ago at X-mas. The holiday itself featured that rarest of Scottish commodities–sunshine (very low in the sky of course…) and we had a great day of walking. (I climbed Arthur’s seat in the morning, solo, but then we did a long loop which included Calton Hill and a circumnavigation of the castle, which we had toured the day before.) Unfortunately, my wife had caught something on the flight up from Spain and was getting pretty ill. The following day, normal weather restored, we walked a mile or so North to drop off some silly gifts we were carrying from some (Kiwi) friends we’d met in Granada to some friends of theirs. This family of perfect strangers took us in–for the entire day (they were under the weather, too)–and more or less kept a steady stream of food and beverage flowing our way. For some reason I cannot recall, there was no Arsenal match that Boxing day and their hospitality was far better than finding a pub and watching our rivals…

    In a similar manner I was hoping for some neutral football to go with my coffee this morning but it appears there’s no lunchtime PL match. Instead we get a 2nd division match (Leeds-Sheffield Wednesday, Owls winning by a goal early in the 2nd…) although there’s also some prepackaged hype on tomorrow’s game on the main channel. I’ll hold my thoughts there until the new post is up…

    I will say, however, that the Cesc business is tough to swallow. In general, it illustrates two things–that we’re still choosing not to compete (financially) with the money-losing clubs AND (the bigger issue in my mind…) that there’s a huge disjuncture between the approach we (supporters) bring and that of the manager–the guy who is paid to make the hard choices. We’re a dedicated bunch and (for the most part) we know a bit about football. On the other hand, we also have the luxury (or distance maybe…) to turn away from the hard truths about the moment at hand, allowing us to dream of formations (and players who we might fit into them) and the glories of how the game might be played and won. By contrast, the manager must deal with the exigencies of the day in the framework of a long-term plan. As such, even with the financial incentives in the (well-written…) contract, and good will (we assume…) on the part of the player, timing is everything. Maybe if our big buy the Summer before had been Higuain instead of Ozil…

    Or at least that’s what most observers say… I think it’s more that we have Ramsey and Wilshere and our manager has a vision of loyal players staying together and winning things as a group. At more or less the same price (less in wages, I’m pretty sure…) Alexis was probably the better choice (amongst the two big-ticket Barca rejects…) given our needs on the pitch. Still, it hurts–more than ever as we head into tomorrow’s match…

    Obviously, management has a long-term plan and the loyalty element is huge. He’s widely been criticized for giving the Captaincy to guys in an effort to keep them at the club. It didn’t work and losing Cesc and RvP set us back. Replacing them with younger, internal solutions (Ramsey) or players in our price bracket (Giroud, Poldolski, Cazorla) hasn’t truly panned out either. Now, however, we’ve got these guys PLUS Ozil and Jack Wilshere (not to mention Danny Welbeck from RvP’s current team…) and things look better, even if I remain skeptical about loyalty as viable concept. (Money Talks, I fear…) Would I have taken Cesc back if I was manager? In a heartbeat. Would he slot right into the spot vacated by Rambo’s twangy hammy (not to mention his misplaced form…)? Indeed he would, and very nicely at that…

    So, in my mind, I understand what Wenger was thinking (and players need to play, so we can only stockpile so many…) In my heart it’s tougher–much tougher… Cesc isn’t the villain here but neither is the manager. If we want to blame anybody, better the two owners and the different goals they have for themselves and their clubs. Better yet, let’s just accept the situation for what it is and hope our boys can outplay (and outscore) those f**kers…

  • Cheers NB…

    Having a glance at your blog now and again, I would imagine “passing” on Cesc can’t have been your favorite decision. What do you think about Wenger’s latest, that the deal with Chavs was in place as early as last January? If so, might it have been a better PR strategy to at least try to get a bidding war going, which I think, if understand the terms of the contract, may also have netted us a little extra cash?… Or maybe management (Gazidis/Wenger taking orders from Kroenke) already had pushed it as much as possilbe… Cursory research indicates that Chavs paid 30 M AND gave him a 5 year contract worth approx, 200K/Week, (total value = approx 50 million) which (of course) exceeds that of our highest paid employee, who is either Ozil or Wenger himself, depending on what figures you accept…

    Anyhow, overall, it’s a sad state of affairs given all the badge thumping (at Arsenal) and the supposed wage cut he took to help force his move back to Barca…

    Ah well…

  • I have has enough of Chelsea fans giving it the big one, about saying we are going to thrash Arsenal. We are going to win the league etc. Every Chelsea fan i have spoke to has given it the big one last few days.
    I would love to beat them. I think the game plan has to be 2 DM’s , i think the CB’s should stay put i don’t even knw if i would want them going up for the corners tomw. I want our full backs to do as TA has written in the post. We need a solid defence tomw and i believe our attackers have the pace and skill to course Chelsea defence a lot of problems tomorrow, Welbeck and Alexis can defo get at Terryand Ivanavic withere pace and skill , the OX too.
    COYG 3 points please, tough i would take a draw.

  • TA
    New Signing : PCFC sign Kostas Katsouranis
    The Greek stand in skipper during the WC(Brazil).

  • Some mildly inneresting results in the 3 o’clock matches… Pardieu gets a draw at (early season surprise) Swans… Sunderland finally get a win as does Pool and all the other teams playing in their home stadiums. Now it’s Villa trying to fend off ManSheikity…

    PG’s ready for the match preview, as am I… Who’s your 2nd DM? And corners taken short and/or quick? I dunno, I think keeping the ball and trying for a goal now and again is OK. Maybe just gotta rotate the FBs a tad less aggressively in case of a turnover…

  • 17,
    I would go for Flemini and Rosicky, i don’t know if Diarby is ready yet or if this is the right match to try him in.We defo don’t want to be to gun-ho, it should be a great match. I really want us to win, what 2 DM’s would you prefer?

  • not everything is in black and white – Always .

    re- Cesc – maybe, the deal with Chelsea was done and dusted and Dein (not the lesser of the 2 evils) came to the Emirates to inform AW – hey boss, you want Cesc back ? if you do, then you have to match his wages of £200 k per week, along with the signing on bonus fee of 5 million and of course, that £25 million to Barca – AW , £200 k per week ? who’s offering that much money to a player who left us at the name of LOYALTY and going back home , even lowered his wage demands and took a pay cut to join his club ? Boss, he’s off to Chelsea,so if you are interested then those are the numbers you need to match or else it’s hasta la vista .

    I don’t believe he wanted to come back to Arsenal ,in the end he ended up where he wanted to be – let us all move on and it doesn’t bother me what kind of reception we give him as he’s just another player who left us for money, ventures new, success or whatever he wants to hide behind .

  • Aloha lads

    I would play Flamini and JW in the 2 with Ozil playing in that free role, with both OX and Sanchez interchanging with him on a fluid 3 behind Welz .

  • I don’t really see it that way, PG… Personally, I’d play the exact line-up we used in mid-week, i.e., Santi as the man in the middle helping out Flamini but also free to get forward. My bet is that he gets dropped and Jack takes his place. (Or, possibly, Ox is the one to lose his place…) This match–my opinion, but one I think Wenger shares–is not one for guys who haven’t been getting regular minutes or for re-jigging the formation or playing people in new positions. I’m pretty sure this will be at odds with Shrill’s preview… (Sorry, in advance…) Overall, we’re working on a system and we need to carry it match to match, without too many changing parts. With so many injuries (Giroud, Debuchy and Ramsey were pretty much automatic choices…) and the Int’l break coming, I don’t see a need for rest/rotation either.

    Just my take on things…and making sure the FBs rotate properly (if one is forward, the other is near the center circle…) is probably the best way to protect against getting hurt on the break. A little more conservative in attack perhaps, but not a whole new system. Of course, WTF do I know?…

  • Hey 007, I think we’re on the same page re Cesc AND the line-up for tomorrow…except maybe at keeper, of course, though I’m just about completely neutral on that one, your arguments (maybe) wearing me down (just a bit)…

    Set pieces are a worry. We miss Giroud (and Sagna) at the defensive end and Ollie at least occupies the markers when it’s our turn. If Danny W could score one with his head we might be back in business…Better delivery seems a key as well…

  • I’m sorry that my arguments are making you feel less assured about Sczny in goal, but look, it’s not much of an argument if the lad is unable to learn the basics in 5 years .

    but I do think that he will be played tomorrow , whether right or wrong , I don’t know but one thing I do know is that when you have other team goal keepers baling them out and winning MOTM’s – our own goal keepers are no where to be seen . I just miss David . S , ha

    don’t worry about the set pieces, tomorrow it’s our turn to be scoring goals from set pieces (you heard it here first ) .

  • Villa don’t look so ill today and seem pretty tough for City to break down… Plus City are playing the English Szcz so that might be good for a goal or two… 😀 That new fellow Mangala had a rough time last week as well…

    Uh oh, Silva and el Kun are starting to find some spaces…

  • The English Sczny is still heads and shoulders above and ahead of our own, sadly .

    what a player Kun is though , I always rated him ahead of Bitey – the lad has swagger .

    I’m just waiting for Glics to come out and say that we will lose 5-0 to the Chav’s, ha

    good to see JGC- Damus making predictions again .

    by the way, I love your use of quotes at the end of the posts you write – 10 out of 10 every time and very well used @ skipper

    and yes, I agree with you re- AW having a plan B in his locker – we won against both Bayern and Dortmund last year, after successfully implementing and executing the plan B . @ Skipper

  • Indeed… I also meant to complement Totes on another interesting and well-written post…

    At the risk of jinxing a fine, fine keeper… I gotta say that Cortois (much more than Cesc or Costa, IMO) could be the big factor in Moo-bramovic buying themselves a title. As big keepers go he’s the best at being decisive and staying big as he comes out to stop the 1 v 1. Not so bad having the helmet guy on the bench if you need him…

    Getting on half-time and I’m not sure how much longer our man Senderos and co. can keep City off the scoreboard…

    But back to keepers…007, what style do you prefer?…I think this sweeper/keeper thing, while risking the spectacular failure, also has a lot of positives and might be another reason Wenger gives the PIG the longer leash. Unlike Jurgi Loew, AW doesn’t have such good options if he finds our BFG too slow…Neuer certainly bailed him out a few times down there in Brazil…

    Stays nil-nil but knocking (hard) on the Villa door as they take their tea…

  • Tom, baffled Arsenal fan: Are City just paying Sagna to not play for Arsenal? Great career move at 31 years of age.


  • if you want me to be blunt and if I had it my way then I would have bought Hugo .Lloris before the spuds got to him for a meagerly £8 million . he is the complete keeper .

    we would have been sorted for the next 10 years, comfortably – we can still be fine , as long as he sorts out the brain farts, he has all the ingredients to succeed just like Bendy, but he is letting not only himself down but AW down as well, sooner or later, he will wake up and smell the coffee like I did a few years ago , ha

  • Good one, 007… Lloris also might’ve contributed on the WAG front…

    I think, however that you might be bending numbers to your beliefs… This is what I read about Lloris to Spurs… “Lloris signed for Tottenham on 31 August 2012 for €10 million and €5 million variable. Lyon also receives 20% of Lloris’s future transfer profit.” You know me, Wikipedia is the final word, lol–unless you go on there and correct it… The 8 million figure then maybe gets closer to double that and I recall 15 million being the number we were quoted… For a keeper that was maybe too much for AW (and Stingy Stan) back in that era… Now we pay that for an unknown 19 year old versatile defender (Chambers) while Sagna (as you point out) sits on a contract for (more or less) that same amount… My oh my, it’s a wacky world, that English football… All in all these are good deals for everybody. The Sheik has two world class RBs, Stan saves his money and we get TWO exciting (and unknown–when they first arrived, at least) defenders who actually play. You might have a point, however about buying a ready-made Keeper. He even speaks the language…(Lloris and French, I mean…) For me, I’m not ready to put all our ills at the feet of the keeper and I feel good we’ve got another exciting prospect nipping at his heels…

    10 more mins to try and keep the nil-nil but Villa are subbing like they want to try and win it…

  • you do realize that the figures you are quoting are in euros and not pound sterling ? ; )

    oh what a goal that was from Yaya.T

  • not too short, the quality of the strike was just quality – nice and easy , left footed right in the corner though the crowd – regardless of the height, there wouldn’t have been many keepers saving that one .

    didn’t know he had such a fine fine partner, that spud goalie – ha

  • so that’s the 2nd one by Kun, start the engine time .

    RE- the transfer fee for hugo – it was just over £8 million with the remaining being another 2-3 million as add-on’s , performance related – so if you want to be precise with me on the actual figures it was still not more than 11.8 to £12 mills including everything over 5 years .

    a bargain that, in my opinion for a ready made keeper .

  • 17,
    I am more then happy if Cazorla keeps his place next to Flemini, either works including Jack as long as they do there job there before attacking.
    007, 17,
    On the keeper position, he is a good keeper but he is still making silly mistakes. We need him to be on top form tomorrow and i really hope he is , if picked. I just hope he learns from the match on Wednesday and really makes himself stop making the mistakes, he looked really disappointed with himself after getting sent off, so he will try to correct it.
    That all being said him and Ospina are now in complete competition , the man on form will play. It will be interesting to see who is the number 1 by the end of the season. I just get the feeling that Ospina is a great keeper. 🙂

  • I do realize Euros vs Pounds… But(t) you cannot put a price on WAG quality… 😀 (Why can’t I find an image of Whoa Check’s GF wearing that dress that showed off her butt-crack…

    I’ve Gotta run and I like Guzan (the American)… It was a great strike but a taller keeper = another untestable hypothesis, so in the end it’s all conjecture… More 😀 … El Kun’s goal, however, might make the debate moot…

    Sir Chez–if he plays, and I think there’s a chance he might not, hopefully wins us some points…

    See ya, always a pleasure, agree to disagree, etc., etc., etc., ….

  • A prediction for tomorrow is not an easy one.
    I have a 3-2 in mind but i am not sure , i will have to think a bit more about this one.

  • utterly concurred re- no price tag for the wag, it’s peanuts that ahahahahhahahahaha

    see you later @ 17HT – have a good day .

    who would you like starting in goal tomorrow @ PG

  • call me optimistic but I think that Diaby might start tomorrow, he was being saved for the big one ?

  • We cannot afford to play Wilshere:
    a) He hogs the ball and will inevitably end up getting clattered by Matic or Ramires
    b) He doesn’t pass or release the ball quick enough
    c) Wilshere is sometimes too nonchalant in a defensive role (it depends on the day really, sometimes he’s okay)

    Anyway, as far as I can see, one of the main reasons why we ran riot against Galatasaray was because we were effective in the way we released the ball. Santi despite his diminutive stature actually did pretty well in a ‘Ramsey’ role because he tracked back but more importantly, he shielded the ball and released it to the attackers really efficiently (look at the build-up to Welbeck’s hattrick goal). I’d love to see Diaby start one day because he’d make a commanding figure in the centre of midfield but it’d probably have to be Flamini and Cazorla for me. Keeping what we had with Galatasaray.

  • Rosicky wouldn’t be a bad shout in that role either. He’s good at hounding the opposition and getting back to defend, he’s really focused on whatever he’s set out to do. Plus, he offers more height and strength than Santi but alas tomorrow’s the day!


  • Ramires is injured .

    Matic lacks the pace .

    Wilshere is a must for tomorrow .

  • I’m was just about to put my opinion up (my normal lengthy comment) when i realized its normally about this time i see the “new post new post” alert lol, so i’m waiting lol
    But just as a quick comment, ABSOLUTELY agree with JB;
    “Wilshere is a must for tomorrow” !!!!!

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