Anderlecht v Arsenal Review: Why Are We Not Celebrating?

Anderlecht – The Review

Two games, two too easy crosses from the right, two failing CBs... (Picture from The Guardian).

Two games, two too easy crosses from the right, two failing CBs… (Picture from The Guardian).

The title of the preview ended with – ‘Arsene should refocus’ : to anybody who saw last night’s game, it was more ‘deja vu’?

It was a repeat of the Hull game: not in exact detail, but neither opponent got that crucial two goal lead. More by luck than judgment it has to be said, as both could have got that breathing space that would have secured all three points, had they just had that extra bit of quality and experience up front.

Anderlecht were robbed. This crime in day time would be smash and grab, at night time, burglary.

We entered their ground and stole all three points.

Why do we not feel like celebrating? We are well on the way to getting out of the Group stage of the Champions League … for the 13th time after all! In the cold light of day, the game still looks as bad as it did in real time? Yes, the points are very, very useful in the greater scheme of things. But nothing can paper over cracks this large?

So for the inquest.

Personally, and for those who watched the same TV channel as myself, I saw what Paul Merson saw when the team and line up was announced. He said the balance was all wrong, as he ticked off the names of players who like to get forwards, possibly leaving Flamini and the back 5 to defend.

Refocus??? This problem was highlighted with the heat map last time, where 7 of our players were shown to have spent the average time crowded into a small central to right area of the box.

So more of the same could be expected?

Good grief, Jack Wilshere actually left Alexis Sanchez on the deck when they tussled for the ball, and there was another player within touching distance too.

Why does this happen? Perhaps because of the 5 players ‘who like to get forward’, and none of them want to stay wide?

A blind man and his dog could see that. So we not only lacked width, we lacked balance too.

Our only wide players were the full backs, which left us exposed at the back …. because of so many ‘like to get forward’. Calum Chambers was left for pace by both Anderlecht’s left sided players, and worryingly, he instinctively goes to grab them back. I am amazed that he did not get a card for it.

Throughout the first half it was unbelievable how this young Belgian side could get into decent positions, only for lack of experience or quality to fail when it mattered.

Meanwhile, we had no such excuse on those grounds, as we barely got an opportunity ourselves. A combination of lack of movement, causing a delay in passing, plain poor passing, and poor execution were our downfall. Santi Cazorla with the latter, when he received a great cut back from Alexis in front of goal, and skied it into row Z. Mind, this is only highlighted by the fact it was probably our clearest opportunity, the rest were squandered long before they got to the box.

If we were going to use our players that ‘like to get forward’, you would think that when we got possession back in our half that the counter attack should have been on? Merson summed it up at half time when he said:

‘It was as though everybody was waiting for somebody else to do something. Nobody wanted the ball’

Two examples: Mertersacker is inside our half. He is looking to make a pass forward. For I don’t know how long, he crept forward, and forward, to well inside their half …and not one of the (expletive deletives) could be arsed to offer themselves!

Second example: Monreal, coming out of defence, midway in our half, plays a perfectly respectable pass, cross field to Flamini … inexplicably, he stepped over it to leave it for Chambers on the wing without looking … and the Anderlecht guy behind him gratefully took and ran straight at our now exposed centre backs.

You could expect to see less in a Sunday League game?

We came out a bit brighter in the second half. Passing and moving it a bit quicker. But it did not last.

We should give an awful lot of credit to this ‘inferior team’ whose club had not won any of their previous eleven CL encounters, and lost the previous five …. but THIS team, of 2014, were a well disciplined, enthusiastic, collective of youthful endeavour with plenty of ability, and soon things were back to the way the first half penned out. So much so, on 50 minutes I worked out that I would have to wait 15 minutes before the first substitution, and started counting down the minutes …

71st minute:

Oh goody, they’ve scored! Subs on … Err No, and no reaction in our players either!

75th minute:

Chamberlain for Flamini.

Excuse me. Did we not do this against Hull, and end up crowding the box even more?

Campbell for Welbeck.

This is different, and unfortunately for Danny Boy, no surprise. I suspect that because of the crowded box he had little room to operate …. and too often, he was second to the ball anyway.

So we press, they counter. They press, and look better than us to be fair. They hit the bar. Martinez made a couple of good saves. We had a shot on target.

84th minute:

Podolski on for Wilshere. To be honest you could have taken any of our midfielders off earlier and it would have been an improvement.

The first thing Podolski did was indicate ‘two up front’, to Alexis I assume, as JC had spent his 10 minutes moving in off the right wing. Effectively for the most part, as his passes were getting through, even if the recipient did not always do the right thing with it: hence my comment in the previous paragraph.

This move unsettled the Anderlecht manager, so he took off his best attacker, and replaced him with a defensive midfielder. Mistake or not, who knows?

We were suddenly more urgent, focused: still a little disjointed, but giving it a go.

Then we had the 89th minute a surprise combination.

Chambers had a clear run down the line. Crossed it in full stride … over the heads of the near post guys … over hit or a repeat of the chip to Gibbs coming in late in the Hull game? Who cares. Gibbs hit it cleanly into the far corner.

Game saved!

Only Ox urged the players to cut the celebrations, as he carried the ball back for the restart.

1 minute 45 seconds later, Gibbs with space on the left, put in a super far post cross for Alexis to chest down, and despite a slip he was first to the ball, turned, fired in a low shot across goal which hit a defender and shot out to the waiting Podolski. If he controlled it, and it looked very much like he did, it was magical because the ball dropped about 6 inches from his left boot … and the next second it was bulging the roof of the net.

Heartbreak for Anderlecht.

We would be wildly celebrating if we had played the 90 minutes like that instead of just 9.

We did not and this is why a victory feels like a loss?

A couple of after thoughts:

Is Wilshere’s suspension ‘a blessing in disguise’, as we have now rescued two games when Wilshere has left the pitch?

Is it too soon to say we are missing Mesut Ozil?

I am sure you get the connection in the above.

So go and discuss it endlessly ….

Then regroup and support the players.


Written by: Gerry.

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111 Responses to Anderlecht v Arsenal Review: Why Are We Not Celebrating?

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Very fair and accurate review of the game and our feelings, Gerry. 🙂

    And you managed to refer to Merson in a positive way, which I would never be able to do (when it comes to his footie views): tres impresive!! 😛

    It was cruel on Anderlecht, no doubt about that. BUT, we have done this many a time this season as our last ten minutes are every time our very best (except against the Chavs and Man C) of the whole match. We all know about the cracks, the large number of injured first teamers, the brittle defence, the cluttering midfield and misfiring/positioning strike force. We know that Wenger has a hell of a lot of work to do to get this season back on track, and we need to take it OGAAT.

    But I am not looking this Gibbs-horse in the mouth. This is a great birthday gift for Arsene and the club: one more win against the Belgians and we are as good as through, meaning we do not have to worry too much about the last two games, which will help us to concentrate on the PL. So let’s be happy, at least a bit. 🙂

  2. jw1 says:

    Though clearly not performing as advertised in preseason?
    This team has lost just a single game since May.
    Had Chelsea not jumped to the PL lead they now enjoy– the hand-wringing might not be so pronounced.
    The problem was maintaining the trajectory that began last March.
    Based on expectations.
    While clear that ‘something’s just not right’?
    Individual quality has shown through on several occasions to save the day.
    And the injuries. Cannot be downplayed. It’s simply a fools errand to believe a team can compete at championship-level with this number of first-choice players out.
    It’s impossible to expect a team of mostly backups to perform at the level of those they replaced.
    The dynamic will not change by Saturday vs Sunderland (though a lesser opponent is welcomed).
    And it will likely not change for many more Saturdays.
    There is no magic formula– other than healthy players and them practicing together on the pitch– that will change the state of current affairs.

    So. You can complain.
    Or appreciate that things are being held together as best they can with baling wire and duct tape.
    Everything else is simply a detail.


  3. ScottishGooner says:

    Nail on the head. We lack a balanced team, everyone wants to do the same job and play the same role. I’m very much looking forward to getting Walcott back. Hopefully him on one side and Sanchez on the other will have us playing a more balanced and strategic way. One that will stretch defences. More than that we’ll have players who want to run with the ball.

    I think mers was spot on last night. You could see he is disappointed and rightly so. The team lack cutting edge and drive. I don’t think ozil was the answer but I think maybe taking a bit of a gamble and trying something else would have been an important exercise. AW keeps talking about chambers as a cdm. We’ll why not play him there and young bellerin at rb.. That way we have a pact and defensive minded midfielder.

    I get podolski doesn’t have the energy for 90mins but why not start him and then bring on someone with pace to run at their tired defence later on…. And why did Ramsey play 90mins?? He’s just back from injury and we can tell he’s not at his best. Why risk him??!

    It’s a Frustrating time to be an arsenal fan.

  4. In regard to injury jwl… Dortmund tore us apart with a worse injury list than ours. True their league position is poor but they’ve yet to concede in the champions league. They’ve been poor in the league and sensational in Europe. We’ve unfortunately…. Been poor in both.

  5. RA says:

    Super, post-match report, Gerry, and pretty much how I saw it.

    The Pod did control the ball which bounced back off the defender with his right foot and pummelled it into the net. 🙂

    I had mixed feelings last night as even tho’ I yelled with delight when we scored both goals (relief?) it almost felt like we had done something wrong in taking the points, but it has happened to us before now when we lost to a speculative shot or bad refereeing decision – so – all’s well in love and football. 🙂

    Like TA, I will gladly accept the points and we move on.

  6. RA says:


    I should have added; “The Pod did control the ball which bounced back off the defender with his right foot and pummelled it into the net – with his left foot. 🙂

  7. Gerry says:

    TA – I tend to agree about Merson, although he made me laugh the other week, and I was reminded by from the program on before kick off – Fantasy Football Show. They have a special guest on who talks of players they played with or against, and they then make a fantasy team from the best.
    Merson is regular on it, just to put his view on the guest’s picks. A couple of weeks ago I caught an afternoon repeat with Dion Dublin guesting. Being ex-Coventry, I was interested. They got to a point where Dion chose a player from a team Merson had played with. The presenter turned to Merson and said ‘He was the main reason why you signed for them wasn’t it?’
    Merson grunted a sort of agreement with that … but then muttered loud enough to be picked up on the microphone ..
    ‘Yeh that, and the three noughts’ 😀 😀 😀
    It cracked Dion up instantly. I have had a slightly more fond view of him since.

    I agree with you, OGAAT cannot come quickly enough.
    However, the players available are capable of much better than that. Only Ramsey was coming back. The rest have had virtually the whole season together bar Martinez. Even in a 4-5-1 formation you would think that ought to consist of at least one of the 5 to stay wide?

    So we regroup against Sunderland, who rather than play like a wounded animal, I suspect they will play more like a fearful animal. Their manager has been known to lose his cool, so I think they will be more fearful of making a mistake, than doing the right thing? So if we do play with width and pace they could get it horribly because of trying to be too careful.

    Mind our line up will be key to that. 17HT said last night, perhaps senior players are just filling the spaces on the bench, and not fully fit?


    Cheers TA

    Why are we not celebrating? I suppose every one will have to answer that for themselves.

    For my self, I regard been an Arsenal supporter as honour, so am always happy following the Gunners, even when the team is, and we certainly are not, a bit shit.

    I will be honest TA, the reasons I have cut back blogging is that firstly I miss Cornwalls input. I know him personally and he is the only loon whos posts are madder than mine. It doesn’t feel the same cracking jokes without him doing the same.

    The second reason is, as ive explained. I dont feel the need for moaning or dooming so would rather stay out of the debate.

    I prefer going to games, enjoying the football and having a laugh over a beer.

    As you know Ive got a ticket for the Dortmund game with your name on it and am really forward to hooking up. We have to talk in the next couple of weeks about time and place to meet etc.

    It will also be my privilege to extend the same offer to Redders. Pick a game my friend and let me know.

    The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring


    And thank you for the post Gerry, top stuff as usual.

  10. Gerry says:

    jw1 – An unfortunate monicker in view of my last thoughts?

    I am sorry, but I don’t think you can just write this off by referring to the injuries. Eight of the players who played last night have been regulars.
    Yes the injuries have meant the line ups have change far to frequently.
    But that does not excuse the shoddy passing, the lack of movement, not taking a position that creates space for somebody else? These are just basic requirements. They don’t have to be at Championship level to do them.

    Our expectations only get dented after a match has been played. It should have little or no impact on how they play?
    The ‘something not right’ that you observe may not be changed by some magic formulae. But if something doesn’t change by Saturday, then the manager is not doing a very good job?
    Again, you cannot fall back on replacements with back ups as a get out clause. The only back up was in defence. Chamber has had nothing but praise for his right back work. Monreal, is not a regular CB, and it is true he may have done more in stopping the cross for their only goal. Mind it was Chambers who went to the same attacker that Mert was covering, and left the scorer a free header. What about those players up front? Only Ramsey was a returnee?

    Quite simply. It is not that the players who are inferior. It is the way that they are playing that is sub-standard. That is down to whatever pattern of play that the manager has sent them out to do, and they are either not carrying it out, or the plan is faulty?

    It can be recognised, and put right if both management and players accept their responsibilities?
    Play to a shape that creates the environment to bring the best out in the players.
    Get the basics right in passing and movement, and no more clever flicks and dummies that make you look like a clown.

    If that takes many more Saturdays to do, come January there will be reason for players to arrive?

    I think we are better than that?

  11. Gerry says:

    RA – Thanks for the comment, but like the team, the script wrote itself.

    Yes, very quick with his feet, was Poldi. 😀

    Yep, move on. But not more of the same … surely?

  12. Gerry says:

    Terry – It must be bad to get just the minimum … Not the post, but the game, bar the result?

    I fully understand. No point in dressing it up. I really don’t want to dismiss the effort the players put in either. But they should not be struggling in such a way that us fans cannot celebrate a win?


  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Jw1, yor points have some merit and I know at least one blogger who will wholeheartedly agree with you. But Wenger put out 9 internationals – most of them were at the World Cup – and a whiley old fox and a third goalie…..

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    Terrance, I will email soon. Glic is still welcome here but seems to choose to stay away, and I can understand why you need him to work your humorous magic. 🙂

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    What worries me is we are overplaying Welbeck. OG is one but missing Sanogo as well is just too much right now, hence Danny gets played game after game, and in such an important position!

  16. Gerry says:

    TA – I think it is more important that we have two up top, or at least another to assist. It is too easy for the opposition to mark him?

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed Gerry! 🙂

  18. ScottishGooner says:

    One other thing that i’ve noticed which i think contributes to us not scoring and becoming predictable and easy to stifle is the high backline we use in conjunction with no one to hug the sides.

    I think defensive frailties aside when we have Mert and co near the halfway line it means our defensive mids have to push up and because nobody wants to “poach” in the box or hug the line, that Centre part of the pitch between the middle of the pitch and their penalty box is over run with out players who just stay very central.

    Take Bayern Munich who often employ a similar formation (4-1-4-1). They have Robben and Ribery who both hug the lines dragging the defence back and creating space.
    Either we need to go back to old formations or get the right sort of players who can hug the line and allow for us to have more than one option.

    Just some food for thought- I want to be clear though that I am not in the camp that is anti arsene wenger or anti arsenal. I’ve been a long time fan and will continue to be so in the face of our troublesome times. But what was the internet made for if not for every tom dick and harry to give their “expert” opinion on Arsenal related blogs 🙂

  19. Gerry says:

    SG – Yes, some very valid points there.

    The thing I have found about Mertersacker, he is one of the few that can make those difficult passes, when everybody is waiting for a pass, but not in an ideal line to get it. So, as you say, perhaps if he stayed about 15 yards further back there might be more room for players to move into.
    I also agree on the formation thought, although when camped into such a small area of the pitch it is difficult to determine what formation might have been decided – 1-1-2-7 seems pretty close at times 😀

    I am also not in any anti Arsene, anti Arsenal camp, but could be guilty of being a Tom Dick or Harry, giving my ‘expert’ opinion.

    However, you have just put forward a very astute observation, without considering whether that is a criticism of Arsene for not seeing this flaw, or worse, continuing with it as a plan any way?
    That was a point I was making earlier on whether it is the players or the plan that is faulty, and if we continue to fail for the same reasons, the blame has to fall somewhere?

    I am of the view that we will turn it around at Sunderland, because in a perverse sort of way, we are more wounded than they are? No player wants a rating of 4 or 5, as freely given out on other blogs. To me there was a collective failure, where some players had a moment or two of good play here and there, blotted out by an enormous amount of time not being able to string simple passes together. It is AW’s job to restore their confidence, if that is what is lacking. Or the belief that each can play the role being asked, and have the confidence the the team are pulling in the same direction. Not a collection of individuals playing, and working out what will happen next as they go along.
    For all their effort last night, and they did try hard, it was only in those final few minutes that they seemed to believe they were capable of getting something. And it wasn’t Podlski running around like a thing possessed, because he didn’t. The important thing was he was there, and players recognised a change. Partly because it made Anderlecth more nervous, and the backed off a bit.

  20. steve says:

    I can’t bare to analyse such a dismal display tbh, so glad Gerry did such an excellent job in his review that there’s nothing to add really. I wish i had just watched the last 9 minutes 🙂

    So something fun (trying to ignore last night as much as possible), an Arsenal line up without any “creative” midfielders – the “anti-wenger” team.

    What would the attack look like with just strikers and wingers?

    Here’s my attempt:

    —————Back four—————-

    Sunderland can’t come quick enough 😆

  21. steve says:

    hahaha Gerry “Tom Dick or Harry, giving my ‘expert’ opinion” – I will try then:

    I just wish we had ONE creative genius in the middle at CAM with FOUR scoring options to pass to instead of FOUR creative geniuses in the middle with only ever ONE scoring option up ahead – it just seems backwards to me.
    Take the bit of fun formation i just put up, take out OX and replace him with any of the SIX creative midfielders in the list i put up – Take Ozil for example, can you imagine Ozil with what are essentially FOUR strikers to pass through to. There would be so many chances, as it is he is just one of many in the cluttered mess of midfield all trying to do the same thing.

    That’s all i’ve got atm 😆

  22. Neeraj says:

    Gerry excellent post
    Completely agree with you about all the wide players coming
    I think we need a pure wide man
    Walcott has been that for years but with his new found idea of being a CF he also likes cutting in
    If we had another good CB I would have definitely played Gibbo as the winget he has pace, crossing skills, he can pass and most of all he can defend too
    I am not trying to pull of a Gateth Bale but it could have been an option
    The other option is the resurgence of Serge
    Gnabry is a natural winger
    Joel Campbell may also do the job but he still looks raw

  23. Neeraj says:

    I think we should have a screen shot taken and stored on BK memorablia where he says “Remove wilshere”
    😛 😆

  24. Neeraj says:

    He = steve *

  25. steve says:

    😆 😆 😆

    Nice one Neeraj!!

    That’s what i needed, a smile or two to get over last night – good man!

  26. D-Money says:

    1stly, just glad we won. Win v Anderlecht and expect Dortmund to beat Gala at home. And we are through. 9 points, whilst Ander-Gala stuck on 1. We’ll probaly draw Madrid but hey “we’re through at least/we made top 4 at least” – worrying trend of acceptance of mediocrity.
    Whilst no one can deny the existence of the injuries (won’t go into their causes as let’s be honest, none of us REALLY knows), I think its a poor excuse. Wenger could have chosen a more balanced team with width and pace with the avaialable players, fact he didn’t isn’t down to injury, don’t kid yourselves.
    We could easily have played Campbell instead of Santi and even Ox instead of Flamini from the begginning. Flamini doesn’t do any actual/much DM/HM work so saying we need for solidity won’t hold. In any event, none that Ox or even Rosicky or Coquelin or Diaby can’t do.
    Watching Madrid last night, I realised that their midfield comprised of Kroos-Modtic-Isco-James…possibly more superior players jointly ito quality but from what we had available last night, why can’t we play “four #10s” as the cliche goes? Why do we insist on playing passengers like Flamini-Arteta? I genuinely think the team would be any weaker for it. Considering the poor quality of whichever of Flamini-Arteta we play anyway. Its time for 4-4-2 or at least if we persist with this 1 DM/HM thuing, then let’s at least be good going forward and add width and speed coz defensively we will always be exposed. Simple as that.
    What I’d like to see v Sunderland: 4-4-2
    Bellerin-Chambers-Kos(apparently back for Sunderland)-Gibbs

    You may cry it will leave us exposed, to which I’d say we have kept 1 clean sheet all season, way to victory is to outscore teams as our defence is poor ATM.

    Aleternate formation (not line-up):4-3-3
    Same Back 5

    Disclaimer: I’ll admit bias and say that I will never wilfully put Arteta in my preferred XI. I have also left Diaby and Walcott out as it is unclear how ready they are.

  27. ScottishGooner says:

    All good points- one thing i would say in regards to the formation above is the lack of any passers. Ox, Walcott, Sanchez and Welbeck are more fond of running with the ball or onto the ball. Having just one player such as Ozil isnt the answer. All the opposition have to do is double up on him and they immediately cut of supply to any of our players.

    I think we dont have the players who have the balance. my “Expert” formation/line up would be:

    Back 5


    Walcott Ramsey Arteta Sanchez


    Diaby has the ability to run the ball out of defence and start attacks- strong, good passer and a “bully”
    Ramsey and Arteta are the heartbeat of the team, a combination of runners, passers and people that will work for the ball.

    Plus i think Arteta would be better suited slightly higher up the pitch- he would have the ability to interchange with Diaby to allow for more flexibility.

    If we play a more conservative defensive line with this team, i think we’ll “flow” a lot better. We then have the ability to bring in Cathorla, Ox, Cambell, Podolski, Ozil.

    It’s been said that all our players are the same and it’s true- we need to play the best team and not the best players.

  28. steve says:

    Good news about Kos D-Money, something else to smile about, and i am afraid i would have to agree (sorry ScottishGooner) Arteta wouldn’t make it into nay of my line ups tbh.

    I get what you are saying about the lack of passers btw but i think that is somewhat underestimating the passing ability of OX, Sanchez, Danny (when he’s dropped deep is good at passing) and Theo always had a pass in him, add them to the one main passer (in this case Ozil) and if they doubled up on him the others would run riot – happy days 🙂

  29. RA says:

    Terry, sweetheart, that is the closest I have seen you to being a bit down! It simply is not allowed! 🙂

    What is it about my potty friend The Little Cockie Monster? Has he pinched your telescope and done a runner? 🙂

    I have said many times before that behind the mad-cap humour of the pair of you, are two clever and interesting people, and I recently read a comment from the Glister on AA that was top class.

    Anyway, you have no excuses to go missing, because all the disappointed stuff on nearly all the blogsites today will soon change again once we get another win under our belts.

    We won the sodding game last night and the old adage applied to Manure when they jammy won their last Premier League title, is also true of Arsenal at the moment – a good team still manages to win – even when they are playing badly.

    And boy we played badly. {oops, that just slipped out – just like the Glic’s toddler at a hen night.) 😳

  30. RA says:

    toddler = todger – self correction is bollix. 🙂

  31. RA says:

    Hi D-Money,

    One of the features of last night’s game was that the younger and supposedly less skilful Anderlecht players made some very good and accurate passing moves — whereas a lot of our passes from players noted for their skill sets was very average, with intricate moves breaking down at the last knockings, so to speak., leading to break-aways.

    And don’t get me started on our apparent refusal to press the opposition, although that might have something to do with the lack of mobility of our ageing midfielders.

  32. jw1 says:

    Gerry, TA–
    Many thanks for your replies.
    A brief backgrounder on me personally might be helpful.
    A ‘soccer’ fan in Houston TX USA
    Played GK in the early/mid-70’s in high school and college.
    I’ve been an Arsenal fan since ’06– drawn in long-distance by the poetry of Thierry Henry.
    I understand just how much I don’t understand– even with an 8-year education to date.
    I frequent Bergkampesque exclusive to almost all other AFC-related blogsites– because I learn here. About the game, strategy, the history.

    I’ve played every major American sport; as well as coached and managed.
    I once excelled in the sport of Ultimate (Frisbee)– having participated in 2 World Championships (’93 Madison WI USA; ’99 St Andrews Scotland UK).

    In Ultimate, like football, the flow of the game is quite similar and positional as well.
    The amount of running is parallel– as is the type of athlete and level of athleticism.
    The idea in strategizing for a team that was even or possibly better than yours– was to pinpoint aspects with which to decrease the efficiencies of the opposition by percentiles.

    In a simple example– if you could reduce an opponents level of efficiency by a factor– and operate at peak yourself you stood a chance of beating a superior team.

    With that mindset? I look at AFC’s lack of string of performances lacking in coordination as a combination of reduced efficiencies.

    And it begins with the injuries. One after the other.
    Without any consistency in the selected XI each week? It’s impossible to mesh as a unit.
    New formation. Backups playing. Players out-of-position. Backup players playing out-of-position. Experienced players in new positions.
    Add in the latent start-of-season for the WC winners.
    Carve off a percentile or percentiles of efficiency for each of those aspects– and hypothetically– you’re starting off operating at let’s say– 90% of peak.
    Then there’s the percentiles carved off by the opposition’s tactics. To wit, the crowding and closing down by Dortmund’s defense. Wreaked havoc.
    There has simply been no time yet– to come together– such as AFC did last March. Which took January and almost all of February following Ramsey’s injury.

    Though I digress– I submit expectations remain too high– considering.
    Now, I could go on. But I think this does give all a better window on my thoughts.

    And why I pin a turnaround on the the timetable of players returning from injury– and their ability to practice as a unit.

    In the mean– I have expectations– quite hopeful too. But not the same ones I had after the Community Shield fixture.

    Thanks for the soapbox!


  33. RA says:

    Very interesting comment, jwl. 🙂

  34. RA says:


    I forgot to say thank you for the offer of a ticket. When I am able to sort things out it will be a pleasure to accompany you, TA and Glicster to a game and to have a beer! 🙂

  35. ScottishGooner says:

    Steve, it wasnt meant to disrespect any of the other players, simply put you need balance in a team and Ox, Walcott, Welbeck and Sanchez are good passers but they’ve got to where they are because of other attributes- mainly running with the ball or running onto the ball.

    Players like Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Cesc, Ozil are known for their ability to thread the pass- we need a better balance in our midfield.

  36. D-Money says:

    JW1 very interesting comment!!! Most of us no longer even expect us get Arsene’s favourite “4th place trophy” (juding by the comments on here, twitter and other blogs), how much more must we reduce our expectations? I never thought we could win the CL this season, doubt many realistically did as without a superior squad we don’t have a coach with the tactical acumen to reduce another teams “percentiles”. So that’s CL, PL dismissed. Out of COC. Only FA Cup left, do we even have room to lower our expectations any further? Lol
    Sidenote: I’d be willing to lower my expecations if we at least played some sexy footy “aka Wengerball” again, that used to make the losses worth it or at least more paletable, we don’t even have that anymore.

  37. Gerry says:

    Yes Steve, I am glad that once we clear the decks with this one, tomorrow is preview day!

    I have a feeling AW will be a little ruthless with Saturday’s squad, and those that did not play will come back into favour?

    The serious question is can AW get a ‘team’ that works well together.
    We will see…

  38. Gerry says:

    Neeraj – Thanks for your input.

    I might disagree about Gnabry. I would put up as more a contender to be a second striker, rather than a winger. He has pace, but he has also got a powerful shot? Like Theo, he probably needs a little more time?

  39. steve says:

    ScottishGooner, sorry mate wasn’t meant as a harsh come back or anything, i actually completely agree with you but with the 4-1-4-1 giving us two or sometimes even three passers in the team and now nearly every combination of them tried, we still don’t seem to be cutting any defenses open.

    If i was playing the 4-1-4-1 with the players we have at the moment i think i would have gone for (as you have said) two passers in the middle flanked by quick wingers told to stay wide and a front man.
    But since this has been done with nearly every combo of players including my man Wilshere and the likes of Ozil and not produced results then i was just spit balling something different 🙂

    tbh the only combination that hasn’t been tried in the 4-1-4-1 (apart from the Arteta idea you had) would be to count on Sanchez’s passing ability from midfield (i was skeptical he could perform well here but have since had a rethink) and play him next to Jack maybe whilst keeping fast options on the wings with Campbell and OX.

    Something like this: (taking into account Theo is still not really fit)
    The OX—–Wilshere—–Sanchez——Campbell

    What do you reckon?

  40. steve says:

    D-Money 😆 your sidenote is my whole philosophy 😆

    Sidenote: I’d be willing to lower my expecations if we at least played some sexy footy “aka Wengerball” again, that used to make the losses worth it or at least more palatable, we don’t even have that anymore.

    Hear Hear mate Hear Hear!

  41. steve says:

    Gerry, I’ve got to say mate i really have no idea what team Wenger is going to put out at this point lol.
    I think Jacks out for this game also no?

  42. Quick one here…Busy day…Plus, I said my piece during and immediately after the match… Thanks Gerry for the match review. Well done once again…

    Just wanted to mention some commonalities in personal experience with jw1… I too was a serious Ultimate player, my team (East Bay Firestorm) winning the Western Regional championships in 1991 and 92 and competing (but not as well as we should have…) at the National Championships those years. Indeed, some of the running and fitness requirements are similar, but I’d dare say the athletic talent isn’t quite what you get at the higher levels in football… Also, I fell in with the Arsenal in the exact same time period, when we were given free housing at my screen name during my wife’s teaching exchange over there…

    Back into hiding…hoping we can do a bit better on Saturday…and build our way back into the season, bit by bit…

  43. Gerry says:

    D-Money, I think you go way too far with your analysis of Flamini’s input.
    Even worse to call Arteta and him passengers.

    They may not have the leg speed they used to have, but you would be dragging either of the bench quick enough Ox, Chambers or Rosicky were left on their own for any length of time?

    As for your formation options. I am not sure we can go 4-4-2 without a proper DM, because it would mean our backs would be restricted in going forward with either Jack or Aaron in midfield, because both ‘like to get forward’.
    The 4-3-3 can be tweaked to allow 2-1-3-1, or 1-3, or the pyramid 1-2-3?
    Mind, draft in Hayden and it would be possible to do a :1-3-2-3-2.

    I cannot see Kos playing a full game so soon, possibly dressing up the bench?

    Squad details will reveal more?

  44. D-Money says:

    Gerry, fair comments. But my 4–4-2 suggestion was based on the Madrid set-up who as you may have noticed also do not have a proper DM/HM. As stated, besides quality (and not that far apart) I really do not see the big difference between James-Kroos-Modric-Isco is all that different from Santi-Jack-Ramsey-Ozil, and then they have Ronaldo-Benzema and we have Welbeck-Alexis. Yes their six is better, but not by much. Arsene Wenger gave that interview a while back where he said his 4-1-4-1 formation was based on the Brazil NT from the 1970/30s (can’t remember for certain) who played with “six #10s”, so I don’t think its beyonf the realms of possibility. And Wenger has also said we will see 4-4-2 upon Giroud’s return. Lol, anything to get us out if this funk.

  45. TotalArsenal says:

    Jw1 🙂

    It is a honour to have you reading and commenting on the blog. You are making strong points and I think you are right that if too many first team players have to be replaced it becomes harder to achieve the expected performances as a team.

  46. Gerry says:

    jw1 – Many thanks for that extra input. So good in fact, if you have any spare time and have an idea for a post, I am sure TA will welcome another transatlantic view to go with 17HT’s.
    Contact details at the top of the page. Don’t be shy.

    Whilst I accept all what you are saying about the knock on effect of all these afflictions, I still don’t think it excuses professionals not to be able to give or receive a pass when under no pressure whatsoever?
    They were not just a percentile here and there down. The game plan, or how it was played, was way below that.
    I come from a horse racing background, in knowledge terms, and whilst the two have no real comparisons, I do know a class horse can beat a very good handicapper when it is only 90% on its game … when it is given the circumstances to perform to near its best. That includes being put out of its stride by something going off too quick. The jockey simply has to ride to how it will best perform, not how the inferior opposition dictates. Read into that what you will 😀

    Had the team played anywhere near half a good as they can do, that game would not have been a problem, as long as what we did wrong did not automatically go to the credit side of the opponents. Which is what we seemed to do, with giving away possession? The stats made strange reading too. Ramsey had the most touches, and the highest success rate. Welbeck only had 39 touches. I could go on but you get the picture. It was a game that NEED not be repeated. I don’t think it will be on Saturday.

  47. Gerry says:

    SG @ 18:31 Agreed

  48. Gerry says:

    Thanks HT17 – I can see you and jw1 have a lot to chat about over a coffee one day 😀

  49. Gerry says:

    D-Money @19:51 Talk of ‘Hamez’ and Santi being of similar quality will TCM frothing at the gills.
    Yes, things may be different when OG returns. I have expectations of something a little sooner.

  50. Gerry says:

    Nah TA, your just saying that because of his monicker 😀

    I’m off to watch ASSE in the Europa, BT Sports if you care?

    Back later …

  51. Gerry says:

    Well a hard earned draw for St Ettienne against Inter, away.

    When I say ‘hard earned’, I mean a game of few chances, but enjoyable never the less.
    Rouffiier made a fantastic finger tip save late on, and bits of goal mouth action at the other end. The point was enough to keep St. E in with a chance to get through, and the return fixture in two weeks time should see them attack with more conviction.

    Don’t forget your UMF selections .. it is Friday!

  52. RA says:


    Your comments have spanned 12 hours with nary a comment betwixt them. 🙂

    I wonder how my comment will get on.

  53. Gerry says:

    RA – Too much footy on last night, and ’nuff said about our last match?

  54. ScottishGooner says:

    @Steve- Not offense taken. I didnt mean to come across so snippy, the internet has a habit of doing that though.

    @D- Money- While i think Santi is a great player i dont know if i would put him in the same bracket as James, who consistently has given excellent performances, be it on the wing, behind the striker or in a midfield trio. The problem i have with Santi is bar his amazing debut- i think he’s struggled. Yes he’s not getting as much game time but i haven’t seen him change a game in a while. He has so much talent and has two feet that can put the ball in the back of the net, he needs consistency.

    Regarding the rest of Madrids midfield- I see the difference being their ruthlessness. Which i think comes down to mentality. I read a quote regarding Van Judas when he joined United “At Arsenal you wanted to win, at Manchester you have to win”- or something along those lines. I think Madrid have that confidence and arrogance which we lack. It’s ok if Wenger doesnt have that arrogance but we need player to have it, Viera, Henry and Freddy all had it in spades. Alexis has it too.

    I think if you take our midfield individually, we’re probably not to far BUT as a unit not as close as i would like. Our forward line is still quite far behind Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema. Who all bring something special.

  55. Friday morning here and a busy day ahead…Who’s writing the match preview?… And maybe the big question for the writer is which team is coming into this one in worse shape…Like Gerry suggests, maybe our draw and late win aren’t quite as bad as Sunderland losing 8-nil at So’ton…

    Still, NOW would be the time to call for Arsene’s head on the platter–doing it in the middle of the match seems reactive. If we don’t want such qualities in the manager, shouldn’t we ask the same of ourselves? Why wait until Christmas, when we’re still likely to be missing important players like Giroud, Ozil, Debuchy and (I fear) Koscielny. (Not to mention our “best” keeper, Ospina, who he bought already hurt…) Nope, if you’ve lost faith in Wenger, now’s the time to shout it to the rafters. After all, he should’ve bought the Portuguese Yaya Toure, (William Carvalho) at the deadline even if almost everybody who has seen him play believe the 25 million pound asking price is some 15-20 million too high. Or maybe a central defender with some experience. (Who exactly IS the Squillaci of the present moment?…) I finally got to see a little Kostas Manolas the other day as he was in every one of the replays from all SEVEN of Bayern’s goals at Roma… Of course, AW was counting on Diaby to be the proverbial LANS (Like a New Signing),,, Calf injury is the news on him today… 😦

    Indeed, 007 (and others)…the above would be an example of the use of sarcasm…saying the opposite of what I mean…but attempting to fix the spotlight on the hypocrisy and lack of rationality in others… 😆

    Back to the current post…. While I would’ve highlighted different factors from the performance at Anderlecht, I find the consensus about our lack of wide play interesting. As others may have noticed, the current squad is TINY. As such, we have no (real) targets for crossing the ball. Maybe if we go with pace at the FB position (Bellerin and Gibbs) the touch-line runs should merely be decoy for diagonals. Either way, we look sketchy (almost beyond belief) if the little attackers who start out wide (Alexis and Santi) have to cover when the FBs go forward. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that (also tiny) Jack is suspended or that Arteta and Ramsey are only half-fit and thus won’t get forward too much so they can protect our CBs, who lack both pace (Per) or pace AND experience (Nacho and Chambers), no matter who plays there… Or will Flamini (the “Corsican Arteta,” but not as good on the ball AND losing his hair) get another chance to help with his vocal skills?… Uh oh, more sarcasm, it appears…

    Those who believe we *should* have enough to easily dispense with Sunderland should also recall last year’s same fixture which was a coming out party for Mesut Ozil who had 3 assists and made numerous chances for Theo Walcott. He’s missing of course, but we’re replete with #10s and at least they give a crap (more sarcasm)…Theo might dress for this one but will he do better with all those chances (oh wait, no Messy–nor Jack–to actually make them)…Maybe he’ll be the roll of the dice if we’re in search of a goal late on. But that would seem harsh on Campbell and Ox and the Pod–our supersubs who turned around the match in Belgium… (Do we worry that Anderlecht should have put the match out of reach during their run-outs and before our last minute heroics?…)

    The goals last time (on Wearside) came from Giroud and Ramsey. The former is hurt, the latter only half fit so others may have to step up. Hope springs anew, so who do we fancy? More Alexis, Santi (por fin…) or from Danny W?… F11ngers will say Afobe or maybe Hayden and Ajayi at a set-piece delivered by Coquelin…

    I dunno… Tough times and probably best to take things one match at a time, cross your digits and hope for the best. Do we get behind the team (including the manager) or our slogans? I can almost guarantee that “Not Good Enough” will ring true. As such, maybe we should keep them positive…How about “Steve (Bould) In!!!”

    😀 (I’m only picking on you F!!ngers, in jest, our back and forth was probably the highlight of my Arsenal week– Also, I’m looking forward to more “fun” in-match chat tomorrow with both you AND 007–and anybody else)… Here’s to happier times… :cocktail glass:

  56. Gerry says:

    HT, I’ll save my answer for a bit longer. I think TA is probably putting his fingers to the task right now.

  57. steve says:

    haha evening 17HT, looking forward to it mate, should be a good laugh as always 🙂
    also evening Gerry 🙂

    I have tried to give a run down of our squad situation below, with my suggestion on what the team should be for the weekend derived from its state of obliteration. If i have got any of the injuries incorrect or missed anyone from the squad out please up date me (a lot of you are far more up to date with the latest happenings than I)

    But for those that are interested here goes:

    Ospina – injured?
    Choice – Szczesny (Martinez on the bench)

    Back four:
    Debuchy – injured
    Koscielny – injured
    Hayden – I think he’s back from a slight knock?
    Choice – Bellerin, BFG, Hayden, Gibbs (Monreal on bench)

    Ramsey – not fully fit (although didn’t stop the boss from playing him a full 90 poor bugger)
    Arteta – not fully fit and back from injury yet, I think?
    Diaby – injured
    Coquelin – who know’s?
    Flamini – probably still fatigued from mid week?
    Choice – Cazorla, Chambers (Flamini, Ramsey on the bench)

    Attacking midfield:
    Ozil – injured
    Wilshere – suspended
    Rosicky – still alive I think?
    Walcott – not fully fit yet
    Choice – Campbell, Sanchez, OX (Rosicky on the bench)

    Giroud – injured
    Sanogo – injured?
    Gnabry – injured
    Podolski – still at super sub deployment atm
    Choice – Welbeck (Podolski on the bench)

    Starting XI
    —–The OX———-Sanchez———–Campbell—

    Bench: Martinez, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Rosicky, Podolski, (last spot is a battle between Coquelin and Arteta, both of whom seem to be pretty far of the radar atm)

    Have a look at the squad, what can you guys come up with? I really have no idea what the boss is going to do.

  58. Gerry says:

    Steve – Hayden not among the training photos, but Sanogo was? So was Rosicky and Arteta.

    Like you said, no sign of Coquelin, Gnabry or Flamini

    So you line up will mean Chamber to CB. Arteta in place of him
    May be Sanogo ahead of Welbeck, or my thought of Ramsey with Arteta, Santi in the hole, and Alexis in the middle?
    Bench made up with the left overs

  59. Well, I was working on a reiteration of my views w/o the sarcasm…but maybe (if there’s interest…) I’ll save it for a post when we’ve got a little more downtime…After this match, where, if we get a win, (please oh Dennis, please…) maybe we’ll have a tiny bit of breathing space…

    Probably not, of course, because, like I said, there is no way we’ll see a performance worthy of the crest… There are just too many players of too iffy a quality we must rely upon–even if we don’t try the ambitious line-ups of those who (say they) don’t care about the results…If I weren’t an inherent optimist, this one might be a good shout to lay some money on a(nother) draw…

    IMO the team just about picks itself with the only question being which Spaniard (Nacho or Hector the Bellerina) gets dropped to make way for callow, er Calum Chambers… I’d stump for the younger guy and not just because I’m trying to curry favor (favour?) with Gerry and Steve…Despite his great late cross, I just think there’s more upside in playing both teenagers.

    That’s the back 5. Front 6 are likely Flamini (unless Arteta has just been playin’ possum, as we say…) and then Ramsey, Santi, Alexis, DW and the Ox. I’d probably rather see Campbell get his first start over the Ox, but, in Wengerland, pecking orders are important…With the same rationale keeping Lulu on the bench as well… (Sorry Gerry, training photos leaving out Flamini might be because the impending hair loss was looking worse than ever…i.e., they influence my thinking not even a whit…)

    I watched the last 25 mins of the Anderlecht match, playing it for both my kid and my wife w/o letting them know the outcome and I still stand by the idea that we got EXTREMELY fortunate and that it was the naivete of the Belgian boys which was really their undoing… English teams (trying to stay up–Anderlecht, even with a win would’ve still been a long-shot for making the CL elims…) are FAR more cynical… We need to play defense first up in the NE, as well… The ball-control work of the would be forwards is also very important. As such, the Ox is probably the better–if certainly the more conservative–choice, ahead of JC and Pod…

    So, there you go… Happy Friday… Let’s have a better weekend beyond just the extra hour…(We don’t get ours until next weekend…)

  60. TotalArsenal says:

    No need for a prematch, FFGs! We have 17’s upbeat opening comment, willing us to say the Wenger out now slogan loud and clear, and f11ngers has produced the options for tomorrow’s line-up. Job done, cheers guys! 😛 😛

  61. steve says:

    Thanks Gerry, i knew you would have the latest news 🙂

    You know me, if Hayden’s still out then i would just move Monreal into his spot and keep Chambers at DM.

    I just look at Arteta, Ramsey, Sanogo and even Flamini after his mid week effort and just think why play not fully match fit players?

    Revised from Hayden being out:

    Starting XI
    —–The OX———-Sanchez———–Campbell—

    Bench: Martinez, Flamini, Ramsey, Rosicky, Podolski, Coquelin, Arteta

  62. steve says:

    haha we still need you to give it some poetic and inspiring illumination TA! 🙂

  63. TotalArsenal says:

    My preferred line up:
    Bellerin BFG Chambers Gibbs
    Arteta Ramsey
    Alexis (new Bergkamp)
    Ox Welbeck Pod

    16-0 to the good guys

    Wenger out – Shake it off! 😆

  64. steve says:

    still no Campbell for you TA? how come?
    and are you really sure you want to play two potentially non match fit players together in the middle of the park? I know they are top quality when they are firing on all cylinders but this is surely not the case atm.
    Can see you and me coming to the same conclusion about Sanchez mate – would be interesting to see for sure 🙂

  65. TotalArsenal says:

    I think Ramsey is getting ready, Steve. Arteta yes, could be too early..

  66. TotalArsenal says:

    Rather Pod than Campbell as I feel Welbeck needs help upfront, as per Gerry’s point.

  67. steve says:

    Can’t really argue with that but would like to see Campbell get the start with Pod as the super sub he is later on in the game.
    As for the middle of the park either my Cazorla / Chambers combo or your Arteta / Ramsey – should be interesting either way 🙂 COYG!

  68. Gerry says:

    Your line up would do for me TA.
    I’m not so sure about starting Poldi though.
    Steve – The problem I have with Chambers at DM is this tendency to pull back when a player goes by him. Free kicks in a central area is not what we want, they have an ex-Arsenal man who is very good with those?
    You keep on about about Ramsey’s fitness. I quoted his stats earlier. 93% success, and the most touches. That is a sign of somebody coming into form.

    I agree with HT on the need to defend, particularly early on. But I suspect as soon as we start attacking they will retreat for fear of another hammering. We need fast attacking, with plenty of width. But if we are going to use the speed of Gibbs and Bellerin, then Ramsey needs to stay back. Cazorla should have more room if he is in the 10 role, and with Ox on the wide right, Campbell on the left, plus the overlaps, pull backs to Alexis in a ‘false’ 9 and Santi, and shoot on sight.
    Poldi to come on with Rosicky to tie it up at the end, may be even a touch of Sanogo if they are down to 10?
    They don’t score very many, and they have more injuries in their back 4 than we have.
    Performance and a win is what I am predicting … and I don’t do predictions!

  69. Gerry says:

    Don’t forget to get you UMF’s in. See note on GMT switchover for next time, for those on a big time zone difference too

  70. Gerry says:

    Sounds like Gnabry might be heading for the under 21’s with Walcott.

    I think basically AW wants to keep Theo away from a touch of Cattermole thuggery?
    Kevin Friend is the ref, and he might just let the home side get on with it?

  71. Gerry says:

    Right, I’m off for an evenings telly viewing, and an early night.
    Bit of Moto GP in the early hours …
    Night all

  72. TotalArsenal says:

    Steve, I reckon we need a quick goal and the Pod is our man for this tomorrow. Happy to swop Ox for Campbell though.

  73. TotalArsenal says:

    Take care, Gerry. 🙂

  74. Well done, TA, and like I say, I can express my views w/o sarcasm at any point…I was roasting some beans this morning and writing when I didn’t have to tend them…It was getting to post length as it was… Lemme know…

    Just to be clear, you know, so I can get credit for 11 for 11. Here’s what I see…


    Overall, against Hull, and then worse as we struggled in Belgium, I just think we need to strike the right balance between players using each other (passing) and trying to take the ball themselves. With Wilshere out (has this been confirmed anywhere?…) and Arteta unlikely to play, Rambo can be the guy to take extra touches or play 1-2s with Santi…A lot will be on his shoulders to encourage the others to do the right thing (at the right time) from his example. Similarly, DW (or whoever is playing as a true forward) needs to be right on the shoulder of the last defender forcing them back so the the MF can work. His hold-up work went even further south in the mid-week match, I thought…

    Anyhow, hopefully the group is learning and, like Gerry suggests, if we can get an early goal Sunderland might not come at us, worried about another drubbing. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if they’re awfully aggressive at the kick-off, trying to show their fans something positive…

  75. TotalArsenal says:

    That might be it, 17, and yes JW is definitely suspended. Please go ahead with your post – I look fwd to it. 🙂

  76. Busy weekend, but maybe by early next week…Depending on “conditions”… i.e., how this next match plays out, relative to expectations…

    In the meantime, looking forward to your match preview… 🙂

  77. TotalArsenal says:

    I am confused now, I thought you started writing your post already….

  78. TotalArsenal says:

    Night all FFGs

    I have nothing to write about for tomorrow’s game that would not duplicate views and sentiments I and many others have not already said over the last few weeks. The line ups can be found in comments above, and we all know what we need to do tomorrow.

    It is now up to Wenger to get structure and system, and discipline in our team and the way we play. That’s his job, and it’s about time he starts making progress. I really have nothing more to say about the game.

    COYG! UTA. 🙂

  79. Gerry says:

    UMF – Last orders please.

  80. Gerry says:

    UMF – Only He He Henry and Oz of the regulars still outstanding. Jozefos and Shrillex of the DNE brigade. You have an touch over an hour left …

  81. Gerry says:

    When I watch ASSE in the week, I nearly mentioned a player who I said the world would be after. Guess what, somebody has said we are ‘linked’.

    I couldn’t read the blog because an ad came up and I could not see a way of cancelling it, so I have no idea what the ‘source’ might be,or whether it is a fishing in probable waters, without any substance.
    Suggest you check out Inter’s next Europa match. He did not play in the first leg, but may well at home?

  82. Totes

    About time one of your lazy fucker bloggers put up a new post 🙂

    Lots to talk about and discuss this week… where’s the pre-match?

  83. Gerry says:

    NB – If you care to read the above posts – TA has said there will not be a preview.
    Get you pre-match discussion going now …

  84. steve says:

    west ham vs man city now
    Arsenal at 3
    El clasico at 5

    The kettle is on 🙂

    Happy days!


  85. Oh dear, I missed that…

    Two classicos today, Sunderland vs Arsenal and then Barca vs Real

    Gerry, still doesn’t mean someone couldn’t have posted something.

    I think we’ll have a tough game today. Sunderlands humiliation last weekend will mean they tighten up a bit and we can be sure Mannone will have a blinder against his old team mates. 0-0 is the prediction from my perspective. But now after saying that we’ll probably win 3-0.

  86. steve says:

    northbank1969, its a pretty thankless task this week though. With all the injuries we either play a fully fit team that picks itself or add in a few players literally just back from injury and swap them into the line up in very obvious positions – not much of a preview post tbh lol (and all said and laid out in the above comments anyway).

    Just fingers crossed for a victorious match review later 🙂


  87. steve says:

    I see Madrid getting the upper hand in the first half but i am sure Barca will “bite” back in the second 😆 😆

  88. Steve

    Lets hope Totes has something decent to write about later


  89. James Bond says:

    At last … AW gets the balance and team selection right .

    We should win this by a 3 goal margin – at least .

    Won’t be surprised if it’s more… today we finally find out how much of an influence of JW we miss .

  90. geoffchase says:

    you have some mail..
    — jgc

  91. geoffchase says:


    we should win by 3 anyway, shouldn’t we! 🙂

    — jgc

  92. Frozen says:

    Thoughts at half time…

    Missed the first ten minutes and watching on a dodgy stream– so I can’t say with complete certainty– but it looks like more of the same: nervy start, not a ton of purpose when in possession, inconsistent referee, but a timely bit of Alexis brilliance. Boy would we be in trouble if HE went down.

    I do have to admit that the absence of Wilshere does leave our midfield wanting in terms of structure and that little burst in the transition from defending and counter attacking (not that we’ve had a ton of opportunities with a team like Sunderland). My only issue with the line up is the combo of Flam-teta. These are players that in the summer we were talking about possibly getting rid of. And here they are taking up TWO crucial positions in the starting XI. I realize we are a bit short on numbers right now but i suppose this is just me being frustrated for lack of alternatives.

    Fingers crossed Theo makes an appearance

  93. TotalArsenal says:

    Well well, 2-0 to the good guys. What a player we have in Alexis, and well done for defending as a unit today. Thank god we have Wilshere back for the next one.

  94. Retsub says:

    Some credit to Monreal is due, I thought he was pretty sound. Hopefully the confidence is building, but even a very poor Sunderland side couldn’t make us look good. Credit to Arteta too. The team seems more secure when he is around

  95. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Geoff 🙂

  96. steve says:

    poor old Cazorla, couldn’t hit a barn door today lol
    Sanchez and OX always looked dangerous, but i’m not sure how much we gained from having both Arteta and Flamini in CM, it looked a bit Keystone cops defensively wise today.
    Can’t believe it had to take an injury to Gibbs to get everyone in their actual positions but they all looked a little more comfortable once it was Bellerin at RB, Chambers and BFG in the middle and Monreal at LB.
    I hope Gibbs isn’t out for too long and am very glad Wilshere will be back next time.

  97. TotalArsenal says:

    Good points Frozen, I reckon we just did not want to concede today and Flamteta did a good job supporting the defence. Is was a risk though as we lacked shape and structure in our attack with well below par performances by Ox, Santi and Welbeck. Luckily Sanchez knows his way to the net…

  98. Retsub says:

    Steve, spot on with Cazorla, I think he must have asked for size 9’s and got 9 irons instead.

  99. TotalArsenal says:

    Retsub, fair call on Monreal and Arteta. They put in a defensive shift and the late cross by Nacho to Welbeck was great. 🙂

  100. TotalArsenal says:

    Steve, I thought the defence worked well most of the game but yes we looked more composed after the switch, although Chambers had a good game on the right.

  101. macko says:

    Hello, very nice match AOC lol, but what see Mr Wenger in AOC, do not see in campbell ???? Santi seems very tired, but 3 points are good for to everyone:-)

  102. JM says:

    100% priceless anticipation from Alexis on both occasions (vs Brown & Mannone each) makes the key difference between another draw and a victory.

    Our overall concentration level was just better than Sunderland’s.

  103. geoffchase says:


    they mostly parked the bus. Alexis did, however, totally pounce on two errors .. We made no serious errors, end result 2-0 …

    cheers — jgc

  104. proudgooner says:

    Alexis Sanchez is our Agaruo
    Alexis Sanchez is our Luis Suarez for Liverpool last season.
    He will only get better and more deadly.
    He fights for everything and hates to lose, he is a winner.
    Signing of the season? Maybe.
    3 Good points is all that we needed.

  105. geoffchase says:


    dollar for dollar, I would go with Chambers as signing of the season in the EPL this year… But, Sanchez would be competing well in that competition too, along with Costa for Chelsea and some others.

    cheers — jgc

  106. proudgooner says:

    Yes i agree with what you say.
    I think we are just starting to see Alexis hit form and feel at home.
    There is going to be a lot more to come from him, he will be our main man.
    Wenger finally got that South American striker that he wanted.
    On the defence, it does not look great. But i have a theory. It is that Wenger may well be readying some of the academy defenfers to step up. I dont know the academy players that well, the CB’s i mean. Maybe some of the guys who watch them often can fill us in.
    Wenger has always brought though great young players. At the end of the day if the are not going to play for us then why have them.?

  107. steve says:

    haha just watched the El Clasico and Barca looked exactly like us atm, slow, over elaborate passing build up forward allowing the other team to get back and set defensively, couldn’t break through, lost the ball, got caught on the counter with pace and direct play whilst all their guys were still high up the pitch – goal conceded.

    Is anyone else beginning to see a pattern arising in these great passing teams?

  108. geoffchase says:


    yes, other teams are using athleticism to funnel them into dead ends and get back with numbers in front almost no matter how fast the break (almost). I.e. a good counter attack break now is harder than ever given the level and depth of athleticism available. I.e. you don’t have to be a graet player to be really fit and fast enough to get back and slow things down. That is just discipline.

    Perhaps what Terry means when he says “the ghosts of the 30s are stirring” is that we are heading back into the pendulum turning back towards defense. Defenses have really risen over the last few years. More disciplined (even if bus just parked) than ever before and thus with more fitness, harder to crack.

    Just some semi-random thoughts — jgc

  109. geoffchase says:

    Or to continue..

    And it never helps that these passing sides seem to play a smaller game, which makes it easier for athleticism to overcome talent. Today we were again far too central focused. We started using full width and looked good

    But, gradually we ended up in the middle again and again … That shortened the width of the field and made us far easier to defend and get back in front of …

    cheers — jgc

  110. steve says:

    I agree completely geoffchase which is why i was so pleased to see us cut out the disciplined defense so often today and go for quick counters. There were much more than usual in today’s game and they nearly paid off but the finishing today was a bit off.
    I think we should play like that more often, i see Szczesny hold onto the ball way too long way too often for my liking and then there’s the “cazorla circle” i like to call it lol, where he spins round protecting the ball on a break but looses all momentum in the process lol.
    We have the pace and skill, lets use it because as we have seen trying to beat 10 men defenses consistently is bloody hard.

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