Just wait till Ozil, Jack and Rambo are back!! Liverpool – Arsenal Review

36% possession, three shots on target, two goals…. does that sound like Arsenal?  Yesterday, we were outplayed throughout most of the match and yet we came so close to fantastically raid the Scousers for all three points.

Olivier-Giroud-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-second-goal

A few years ago, after we beat Pool early on in the season, I read on a Liverpool blog something along the line of ‘You have to give it to Arsenal, they come to Anfield and just play their game as they always do’. Yes our style of football and system of play were our hallmarks, and they gave us strength wherever we would go for so many years under Wenger.

Yesterday we saw the reverse. It was Arsenal that adjusted its system of football and tactics, whilst Liverpool bravely stuck to their system and style religiously. I have no doubt that Rodgers has studied Arsene’s approach to football intensely over the years, and he is coming closer and closer to the French (former) master of possession and passing football. Arsene has, post-modernly, moved on again and is trying to get Arsenal to play a new, different style of football. For this he is heavily reliant on having the right players fit and available, it seems. That is the friendly explanation, as there is also cause for concern that Arsene just is not able anymore to get his players to reach the level of performances, and with that the required style and system of football, needed to reach the very top.

I was all for not playing a high line at Anfield and applaud Wenger for doing so. I was also in favour for a double-DM pivot that could push Pool’s midfield back and give the back-four breathing space. I expected Wenger to play Coquelin next to the Flame to accomplish this. He opted for the Ox instead which, in hindsight, was not his best choice. Pool played 3-4-3 and their approach was reminiscent of the way Dortmund played us off the pitch in Germany. They floaded our midfield and we just could not keep the ball long enough to set up an attack. They pressed us hard and ran very well with and off the ball, and their passing was slicker and more accurate.

Pool basically succeeded in separating our attack from the rest of the team, making Welbeck, Giroud and, to some extent Alexis, look like lost desperados. Both Ox and Santi had a big role in preventing this, and especially in the first half they totally underperformed. Santi had a much, much better second half, sitting deeper and helping out the, for his age, phenomenal Flamini.

Flamini had so much weight on his puffed-out chest that he got pushed back all the way into the CBs area more and more. Given these circumstances, the defence did very, very well in keeping Pool mostly away from the box, only giving away half-chances from outside the box, or just inside the box, and always having enough bodies there to prevent them from scoring. Alas, it took till the very last minute of the first half, and a very good piece of skill by Coutinho, to finally beat the then knackered BFG-Debuchy-Flamini ‘triangle of determination’.

Our back six had worked their socks off and it was harsh to see them concede so late in the half, even though Pool deserved it. But these guys care about Arsenal and, fully against the run of play, it was the triangle of determination that showed the Scousers how a good robbery should be done. BFG and Flamini win their headers in the box from a free-kick and the latter directs it into the path of the third musketeer, Debuchy. Amazingly, the Frenchman out-jumps Skrtel and puts in a strong header to which the keeper has no answer.

We started a bit better in the second half, with a bit more support for Flamini. I was hoping Wenger would replace the Ox or the totally ineffective Welbeck with Coquelin, as to give Flamini more support (Ox could have been moved to the wing), but Wenger opted to give new instructions rather than bringing on new players (as usual) and it seemed to work. Then came to long injury-treatment to Skrtel nasty looking head injury. Liverpool kept their possession and pressing footie going in the remainder of the second half, but also remained quite toothless inside our box (oh how they wished bitey was still around 😛 ).

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And as we know so well ourselves, if you dominate a good team but don’t score during a prolonged period, then sooner or later you might pay the price. And so Pool did. Gibbs powered forward with the ball, finding (much improved in the second half) Giroud with his back towards the Pool goal. He quickly, and so typically, releases Santi into the box and the Spaniard then produces the sweetest of low diagonal crosses back into the centre of the box; and who is there to ram it home, low and hard…. Nanananananana Geeeeroud.

This is the 64th minute and we are 1-2 up at Anfield. What to do: attack for a third and complete the robbery in style or sit back and hold on…. The former seems the best option, and for a short while I sensed we could get that all important two-goal cushion. But Pool have tremendous energy and are rightly fuelled by a sense of injustice and a passionate home crowd (and if there is something the Scousers cannot take it is a perceived injustice!). We almost buckle under the pressure and are fully pushed back again. Cazorla plays his best football now: he is able to hold onto the ball and find space to release it to another player, away from the danger zone, regularly. The team succeeds in keeping Pool mostly outside the box and give away only half chances. We fight like lions at the back.

Wenger, eventually and late, brings on Coquelin, but for Giroud and not for the unfit looking Ox, or the still lolloping Welbeck. He will have had his reasons, but I felt we needed OG desperately for defending the set-pieces, where he is such an important force to have.

Because of Skrtel’s nasty injury there is a whopping nine minutes of extra time, and in the 96th minute it is the blooded Slovak Slayer himself who towers above everybody and powers the ball into the goal. Lallana’s out-swinging corner had surprised all our defenders and nobody picked up Skrtel; but the corner-kick had also fooled Gibbs who thought Lallana had aimed it towards a Liverpool player at the near post, making him move towards that player and vacating his position at Szczesny’s left post…. Had he stayed, he might have saved the three points for us, but that is football.

I was proud of our defence today, even though they messed up for the late equaliser. Flamini was immense and Cazorla and Giroud improved significantly in the second half. Alexis struggled to get into this game, but he was given bad service and support throughout the game; at least he was very effective in helping out our defence.

Rodgers’ system of football was superior on the night and we did not have an adequate answer. I am convinced this was down to us playing too many second choice players on the night and Wenger being left with little choice but to sit back and absorb the Pool pressure.

We needed midfielders who are experienced and confident on the ball in crowded spaces, who can hold on to the ball and make a burst forward if need be, and who can pass accurately. Jack and Ozil are such players, and so is an in-form Rambo. Rosicky can do this too, of course, but he was not even on the bench.

To be fair to Ox and Cazorla, Giroud did not play well in the first half and Welbeck really offered a very poor outlet for the ball, and the Pool tactics very cleverly cut the three attackers off from the rest of the team.

In the end we got a point and were given a good footballing lesson: nothing wrong with that. The team held strong defensively and I liked that a lot. Any defence enduring 27 shots of which ten on target and surviving a game largely played in their own half, should be applauded. Shame for the late equaliser, but let’s look at the bigger picture rather than picking on the one incident…

Plenty of food for thought and I am looking forward to your views, insights, constructive rants and irrational positives. 🙂

TotalArsenal.

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53 Responses to Just wait till Ozil, Jack and Rambo are back!! Liverpool – Arsenal Review

  1. We played well against Newcastle last weekend and then had a week of rest and preparation. Your report appears upbeat but to me, after the much lauded rest that Wenger had indicated was necessary, the performance stank. Of course not everyone will play to their peak form I understand that but to me it was a shocking performance and difficult to understand how virtually no-one came out with credit. The first half performance in midfield was appalling. When the Wenger Out brigade get castigated for being too quick to criticize, this type of match is exactly why I want change – all this happens too often and for performances to vary so much is just too difficult to understand – surely its a case of the players have heard it all before and now means nothing.

  2. Nik says:

    sorry I have no time all of this atm…..just quickly wanted to express some thoughts. Yesterday we finally did what we have to do to win big matches away from home and we came so so so close.
    We sat back, invited pressure and tried to score on the break. It’s the exact same thing Chelsea do away from home. They always get credit for it and so should we. We did not give away a lot of good chances, in fact most were shots from outside the box which were either blocked or saved easily by Szczesny. And we tried to counter attack with pace and even scored our second goal this way. Unfortunately Alexis had the worst game all season and Ox did not look fit at all.
    I think Wenger should get credit for finally sitting deep in a difficult away game and we should be happy with the one point as it is far better than trying to attack and getting thumped.

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Welcome John 🙂

    The battle was lost in midfield, and as per the title of the post, I reckon we just lacked the quality to deal with it. How many teams can get a point at Anfield with super quality players missing like Koz, Ozil, Jack, Rambo, Theo. Usually the Wenger Out supporters say he does not know a plan-B…. He produced a Plan-B, as per the anticipated style of play and lack of quality options in midfield, and somehow got a result. And the defence deserves a lot of praise for their collective performance. So plenty of positives, but if you just want a win every time we play then I reckon shouting Wenger Out might be just the right thing for you. 🙂

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Spot on Nik, as always.

    Frohe Weinachten 🙂

  5. Goonereris says:

    Entice to read a different perspective to the reportage on the game at Anfield. The way some of the rags and blogs have carried on, you would think Arsenal lost to a very poor Liverpool side, whereas, it is easy to see that they have looked back to their last season’s pressing best, from the game at Old Trafford. They pressed United and dominated them but conceded first, which changed everything. Very few teams will be leaving Anfield with points, from now on. We would see.

  6. Goonereris says:

    *it is nice to read*

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Goonereris 🙂

    Liverpool played very well. As I predicted to some extent in the match preview, they had nothing to lose and were playing at home, so were up for it. And we really lacked the quality in midfield to deal with their pressing game in such a way that we dominated. But our tactics worked to a large extent, and YES, very few top teams will get three points at Anfield.

  8. steve says:

    Great read as usual TA and explains your perspective excellently
    However in my opinion your conclusion is twaddle 🙂

    If we went there to change our style of play to defensive then why use the same attacking formation we have been using for the last couple of games to promote our classic attacking style of play????
    Why not go there set up as a 4-1-4-1 and leave the obviously half injured attacking style player OX at home

    ————————-Giroud————————-
    Monreal—–Cazorla——Coquelin—-Bellerin
    ————————–Flamini————————
    Gibbs———-BFG————Debucy———-CC21
    ———————–Szczesny—————————

    That’s the way you congest and stifle a game into a boring compact mess that ends in a draw, we proved that continuously in the first quarter of the season.
    What Wenger chose was the worst of both worlds, he chose an attacking formation and players and then told them to play defensively minded – WTF!?
    All that did was end up making us look ridiculously out matched, overrun and poor and in the process gave yet another team a starting point to push on further with an excellent display whilst simultaneously weakening our confidence in our ability even further – Crap management!!
    I don’t care how good your midfielders are if it’s three against five they are ALWAYS going to lose the battle!!

    The defense did alright as a unit, however they were playing against a team that has been absolutely woeful in front of goal lately but i suppose had been given a complete license to play to their own tempo by our shite approach to the game.

    My biggest worry coming out of this game is what Wenger is doing to our players, Koscielny was injured, came back for a little bit but didn’t look himself and has now gone back to being injured, Gibbs was injured and then came back early out of necessity but gave the only shit performance he has had this season, now OX who has been playing with passion and tenacity all season suddenly comes on supposedly injury free and gives his shittest performance all season. He’s playing unfit, half injured players!!!
    He’s killing our lads!!!!!

    That’s pretty much it from me, I want to move on from this performance as quickly as possible as it was one of the worst I have seen for many a year.

    I won’t bother highlighting individual player performances in such an all round disaster, that a few of you seem to overlook the fact Giroud couldn’t hold on to a single ball played up to him or that Sanchez looked like he had literally forgotten who he was but singled out an equally shite performance from Welbeck is quite funny. Overall Shite performance by all, highlighted to an even greater extent by a shite approach to the game and the use of injured or unfit players by the manager.

    We were lucky to escape with a draw, Liverpool now have confidence and rhythm back in their team and we kick our confidence in the bollocks once again – MOVE ON QUICKLY!!

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    The formation was the same but the tactics were different, Steve. We sat back deeper and the onus was on Ox and Santi to both help defend and link up with our attackers: a significant difference. I dont know why Ox played but I dont think it was lack of fitness that was the reason for his underperformance. No crap management at all and your 4-1-4-1 is just an alternative, nothing better or worse. Ox, and Santi in the first half, really could not handle it and maybe Wenger should have made changes earlier, but I thought we played better in the second half, at least in the beginning.

    All managers take risks with players when they feel they need them. When there are so many injured, the risk taking will only increase. Ox is never injury free for long, so I dont blame Wenger for playing him. It was a gamble worth taking.

    Disagreed on Alexis. He might have struggled offensively but supported the defence a lot.

    How were we lucky to escape with a draw? It is not just about possession but also about creating good goal scoring chances and taking them…. We did that and they didnt….. And who was leading a the 95th minute?

    The big plus you are missing was our fight and resilience… So no need to MOVE ON QUICKLY. 😉

  10. steve says:

    what kind of tactic is it to use two attacking midfielders as defensive bolsters and sit back?????
    you want two defensive bolsters in the midfield to help out Flamini why the hell not Coquelin and A-M-N or even Monreal – OX and Cazorla are pretty far down my list of defensive midfielders.
    They have both shown they have that side to them but for Cazorla its always a massive battle considering his size and OX was at about 20% of what he normally is.
    “Ox played but I dont think it was lack of fitness that was the reason for his underperformance.”
    What do you think it was then, just having a complete shit day?
    I am fucking positive he was carrying a knock TA!
    “OX is never injury free for long”
    wtf? he’s played every league game so far this season and just about the only person who hasn’t been injured, what are you talking about TA?
    “your 4-1-4-1 is just an alternative”
    yeah an alternative that puts five in midfield instead of three lol, if you are not going to attack much and use the bloody three strikers you have up front then better off bolstering the numbers in midfield to stop the absolute onslaught we saw happen time and time again. You do realize pool played with four in midfield with one of the front three often dropping deep, thats five against three with us sitting back and letting them play – wonderful tactics 😆
    If you are going to play a difficult away fixture and want to approach it defensively fine i fully support that but give the team a bloody chance, and attacking 4-3-3 but played defensively?? its a joke!

    We obviously disagree on every single point here TA lol

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    What can I say, Steve…. You have your views and I have mine, and they are definitely very different. :stating the bleeding obvious:

    But your first sentence is worthy of a reply. Arsene played two attacking midfielders deeper, to protect the back four AND be able to spring an attack and lead the counter-attack. And Ox especially was found out on this occasion, whether we like it or not. Time for a loan me thinks.

  12. steve says:

    OX out on loan hahahahahahaha 😆
    Thank you TA i needed some cheering up 🙂

  13. Gerry says:

    Not quite what I was expecting TA – but a bold attempt at righting the over the top stuff.

    Some where between your and Steve’s view is probably closer. I think you have given AW far too much credit for having a Plan B, and Steve too much damning comments on players not playing well.

    I am not sure if Arsene had reports on ‘Pools midweek game against Bournemouth where they deployed players in the same rough 3-4-3 formation, or did it come as a surprise?

    The reason I ask is because the way to beat that line up is to have pace out wide and try and get behind their wing backs. The loss of Bellerin meant we did not have the balance of pace on each wing. Part of that seemed to be our fixation with what Sterling might do?
    When Alexis dropped deep to make the extra man in midfield, there were so few options of where he could go, or pass to, that possession would be lost time and again. The big miss of course was the driving runs from AOC. But Coquelin is not the same type of player had he started, so that in itself was not an instant fix. It is hard to think that having Chambers at CB and Debuchy would dramatically have changed things, for better or worse. I am not sure Debuchy did anything spectacular in the middle that Chambers was not capable of? Whether his stronger presence at FB might have intimidated Sterling into trying his luck elsewhere, and thus opened up space for him( Debuchy) to get forward with more purpose, at the same time also leave us open to the counter? Who knows.

    What Steve says is quite correct, about having more bodies in midfield – which as they said on Arsecast Extra, ‘Pool played with 3 fairly average CB’s and 7 midfielders. If that had been Gerrard of 3 season’s ago, it may have been worse that the 5-1 last February. Luckily for us, he played worse than our worst, with no pressure on him.

    What was required was a change in our set up. We could have matched them like for like, given we had 3 players at the back who have all played as CB’s. Not hard then to leave Giro up front, with Alexis and Welbeck alternating, and gone for a 3-5-2?

    The other problem was that our attack suffered because we were defending, and the only way to break out of that is by controlling possession. This we failed to do, and it goes a some way to support TA’s view that was down to lack of experienced personnel, yet on paper we had supposed we were okay in this area. It might have been an excuse if Maitland-Niles had started, and we played is the same way. Personally I think he would have had a more positive effect had he started in place of the downbeat Ox, but we will never know.

    It was almost like the perfect storm phenomena, where elements individually are not that threatening, but when they combine, it can be overwhelming?

    Liverpool had the right number of bodies in place to disrupt our game. We had a key player who might have broken free and caused them to change tack, but was right off his game. They had a very talented player who attracted attention in attack. We had a very talented player who was drawn in to defend. Add to that home crowd support and their need to win, against our worry about not losing, and a nervous need to win ….

    It is amazing we came away with a draw, and our defence stood strong with little assistance from the bench late on.

    Not quite the time to say move on? We should at least hold out some home that this will not be repeated before our next quartet of games are come and gone, else our season will be well and truly over.

    At least two or three players have to return for an introductory time against QPR, so they are ready for West Ham two days later. Namely; Koscielny, Hayden, and Walcott. Anyone else will be a bonus. But who will be fit to start against QPR is anyone’s guess?

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    He has so much to learn, Steve. Tell me where would you play and who would you leave out once most are fit? 😕

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    And remember we let Gervinho go because of him…

  16. steve says:

    I will ping you across a festive e-mail shortly TA and that will hopefully answer the question of what to do with OX for you 🙂

    Nice balanced view Gerry, and yes it would be amazing to see those players back soon!!

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Not much to argue with Gerry. Other than your suggestion to mirror them with 3-5-2…. was never going to happen, as we never play like that. 😕 You are right though that Welbeck and Alexis should have supported the midfield more so we would have been playing more of an Arsenalesque 4-5-1. We did not play compact enough, especially in the first half.

    Other than Ox and Santi not being strong enough in the middle, it has to be pointed out that Alexis was drawn in to defend (which you do) AND that Welbeck was no outlet whatsoever. We basically played with ten yesterday, and luckily some other bloggers picked up on this yesterday. On top of that Giroud struggled to impose himself in the first half.

  18. AB says:

    Evening TA. I’m sitting here with a large whisky (or whiskey 17 as its a bourbon for once), and I’m loving your positive post. Like everyone who followed the game yesterday, the feelings at the end were crushing disappointment, and a sense that (again) we had managed to lose points that we should have held on to (however undeserved). But after the emotion the head has to kick in again – for most of us at least.

    Your basic premise here is that a) we set up differently to absorb pressure and hit the pool on the counter, b) that we defended well, with the players we had available, (recognising that you and everyone else on this site want us to buy a SQ DM), c) that our team performance (and shape) was constrained by the injuries we have suffered to quality players, and finally d) we had some below par performances from some of our remaining key players. I struggle to see how anyone could argue with any of these points; they should be apparent to any individual who cares to reflect. The problem is that these answers provide no satisfaction to a bruised pride and hence why so many would rather rail than accept the basic facts.

    I’m not particularly into the ‘what ifs’ of games that are over – who might we have played in place of player x is no more valid a view than wishing that same player x had had a better game! I am more concerned about what happens now. Our ability to withstand pressure at the end of a half is worrying – we have shipped too many late goals this season. And our depth in midfield (other than the non-existent DM depth) is starting to be a problem again, given the ridiculous levels of injury we are again carrying. Our season has yet to get started, and we desperately need to have players back, or else be willing to buy prime quality (24 – 28 years) in January. I can’t say I feel confident about either happening at the moment, but once again we have to remind ourselves about the consistency we have shown over the years under Wenger and hope (expect) that we do indeed put in a run of performances sometime very soon.

    We are missing calm leadership on the pitch, especially at critical points of the game, and this is what Arteta brings and why he was made captain. We will only put in a strong run of performances with some leadership back on the field. Let’s hope we can build a result against QPR and start again from there. For the moment let’s just support the team and the manager – neither let us down yesterday.

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Cgeers AB 🙂

    You summed it up masterly. I will get back to you tomorrow.

  20. Morning guys… I was too depressed to comment yesterday, not so much about the match nor (even) the performance but because of the reaction around the Goonersphere, some of which we see parroted here, of course…

    We also have a few keen (and more appreciative…) observers too but sometimes their views are so at odds with my own that it is difficult to “take the tour” around their thoughts, as it were…

    I will say that I think you’ve got it just about spot on, TA, and I also agree that AB sums it up very well, with a very concise nod to the emotions at play for the average Gooner. He’s been around longer than I, so I’m in no position to criticize too much even if I find it tougher to take when the angry (and/or spoilt…) sorts find poo in their diapers and start flinging it at the wall just to see what sticks. My least favorite–and one to which even the usually level-headed Arseblogger resorted–is “I don’t know the answer, but I’m not paid to know…”

    Anyhow, I did a lot of writing during and after the match (and yesterday) but why sink to the level of trying to answer those who only want the scoreline changed?… Instead, Happy Hanukkah (final night tonight) and Merry Christmas or, at least, Happy Holiday. The darkest days (literally, at least in terms of the Winter Solstice…) are behind us… 😀

  21. Arsenal_VCC says:

    Nice write-up TA as always! 🙂 The result was really quite disappointing. But, I agree with you about how hard the team fought despite a day when passes were just not coming together smoothly as they normally do. It seems to me that Santi has really rediscovered his form. His footwork in the last few games to escape tackles has been everything to drool about. The defense-splitting passes are not quite there yet, but …Per, to me, seems mentally a bit jaded (or zen-like depending on viewpoint I suppose) in the interviews I have seen. Wonder if the pressure of the injuries, captaincy, and lack of a break is starting to throw him off just a bit. Hope that is not the case.
    There were moments yesterday when I wondered if the Pod might have helped stretch the width a bit when we were attacking. Nothing against Welbeck but I think that the Pod might have done better yesterday (at least as a 2nd half sub). There have been a reasonable number of comments that he does not put in a good defensive shift. While I agree that Welbeck provides more cover, this was not such a big issue during Pod’s first season. Going with the theory that he was injured part way through last season, world cup, etc. and that he is fully recovered now wouldn’t he be a good counter to the 3-at-the-back formations?
    Not sure how/where Campbell fits presently. From the little action he saw it was not clear that he could put his speed to good use to help shut one wing down. Lastly, are we totally into this zonal-marking-for-corners strategy? Can anyone comment on whether using a hybrid approach [where someone like Welbeck / Giroud can man-mark key people like Skrtel / Terry] will destroy the zonal marking approach? Still puzzled as to why we don’t seem to try and throw the timing of runs like Skrtel’s off…

  22. 17highburyterrace says:

    One final note… As I’ve yet to make any comment about the Ox and his contribution at Anfield and I’m looking forward to Steve’s post on the topic…Also, I’ve got too much happening here at the holiday so not much time to contribute…

    Out on loan seems a little harsh and at odds with our (desperate) need for bodies at the moment. Likewise probably with Sanogo, who might’ve been a better choice than Campbell once Giroud was off (and would’ve represented at least an obstacle at the decisive set piece)… But maybe he must go if we’re buying a forward in January (Sissoko, anyone? My friend, D-Money? Though, it might mean a whole lot less time for D-Money, aka Welbeck)… (Or maybe he’s gonna promote Akpom or recallAfobe or Aneke… I can’t keep the “A-list” kids straight, although I know that Ajayi is a defender…right?… Now I’m making myself laugh…) I would tend to agree with Admir that Rosicky was probably the better choice on the day, but his fitness issues were maybe even worse than Ox’s and (as only real managers must) there are more games (coming thick and fast) which must be considered…

    Let’s be clear. The manager picks (and scouts) players with enough technical ability to believe that they can play just about anywhere in attack except perhaps as a shape-giving #9 (Giroud, Sanogo) or as a true “pace or boot only” wide man (Walcott, Poldolski, Campbell, maybe)… That list, in the current team includes, in order of sheer technical ability…includes Ozil, Cazorla, Alexis, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, and Rosicky. Note how high on the list I’ve put the Ox… Ahead of the other British players and the guy who was the #10 at Everton…

    Sheer technical ability is nothing, of course, if not married to physical prowess (or “power” which Ox looks to have), decision making AND execution if you’re playing as one of the deeper lying mids. A player in that role needs to know when he can make the pass, when he can make the tackle or takeaway (or when he must take the foul…) and when he must concede possession and retreat to help the next line back and then he must do those things… The Ox has almost too many skills in his arsenal (bag of tricks) and must learn which one to use when. (Decision making is easier along the touchlines, but ultimately, the dream is for players to fill and cover for one another–wide and narrow, fore and aft–for a truly buzzing MF and attack…) A period on loan makes sense from that perspective, seeing that–if I were to change the list above to a (current, when fully fit…) pecking order–he’d be at the tail end (8th out of 8)… If we were to buy another all round MF (not a versatile defender as in Flamini, Le Coq or Chambers, who might also play as a deeper lying mid…) in January, he moves further down…

    Now add in not being 100% fit and the recipe is for disaster. To be outplayed back there by Alexis and Cazorla (on the day) doesn’t help the argument that we “need” him in the short term. Of course, it doesn’t mean he cannot become a great one, just that he isn’t there yet. At < 21.5 years of age, there is no shame in that…

    Our current needs, however, are extreme. Blame Wenger all you want, but at least realize that a reason he didn't buy was to give him just the sort of chance Ox got on Sunday. Surely, in consultation with his player, (both) the manager (and the player) thought he'd do better than a guy originally sent to such powerhouses as Freiburg and Charlton or the 17 year old with the 3 names and the moustache he has yet to shave… People living in the real world will know that we cannot test these hypotheses, of course, but my guess is that the manager rolled the correct die…

    My true worry about AOC is that his confidence appears so fragile. He'll try audacious things but even on those rare occasions when they come off he doesn't seem buoyed. When they fail I see a lot of hands on head. Additionally, just putting his head down and running doesn't seem an option as he tires too easily even when fully fit. Watching some clips from the match I see a lot of Alexis and Santi attempting to defend while Ox is found following the play in positions where he cannot contribute. This will improve over time. In general, however, more time on the treadmill (or track or road) and less on the weights might help…

    Hopefully he takes the match on Sunday as a learning experience. I'd offer the same to Gooners and suggest that there's a lot of truth in the headline Total chose–which, of course, looks like an "excuse" but, I think, rings true– Hopefully the match up there–on the darkest day of the year–was just that. That it ended in a (very disappointing) draw, where a season ago we trailed 4-nil after 20 minutes, maybe (perhaps…) is something to be appreciated…As are the efforts (and developments) of our #15, disappointing as they were…

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    Arsenal VCC… I assume you are VCC, the (former?) keeper of the UMF and the man with the Arsenal tattoo…I’ve been wrong about these things before…so please correct me…

    Very good observations about the guys in my avatar (Santi and BFG), IMO all our players are too stretched to play every match at their best. We have to hope that Wenger was saving a couple who might be nearing fitness (Walcott, Rosicky and then Ozil, Ramsey, Kos and Arteta) and that they can slot in and contribute instantaneously as Giroud and Debuchy did. I think he takes more chances in the away matches (Stoke, Liverpool) where he’s more hopeful (rather than completely desperate) for a result…

    The zonal marking debate was well played in the US post-match coverage (which also put paid to the, IMO, very shameful way the photo of the goal was used to portray the character of our players)… Monreal and Gibbs appear to have abandoned their spaces giving Skrtel the free run and the opening at the near (relative to the corner kick) post. Cowering BFG might’ve made a phantom jump (and Chambers a better one) but fundamentally it was the two LBs at fault. That one was out of position, maybe mattered more… But that’s Wenger’s fault for giving the team the days off after Newcastle, or something…007 will blame Szczesny for not reacting fast enough, if he takes the bait here… More big bodies, sticking to their roles–probably is the real answer, over time at least…

    Finding blame is a game that I don’t believe is very fun… (You’re only asking questions, I realize…) Why not give credit instead?… I’d nominate the Anfield crowd who did they’re fair share to inspire their injured CB to his late heroics. If we tried that sort of thing (rather than disparaging management for not buying his replacement…) perhaps we’d win a point or two, here and there, maybe…

    Reaction time vs QPR, but (if you’re the VCC I think you are) that one could be a case of divided loyalties…

  24. Arsenal_VCC says:

    Sorry 17 – I am not the VCC you are thinking of. 😦 Would love to meet him though…seems a very interesting chap!

    I missed the discussion on zonal marking (too bad, would have helped me). And I will be first to concede that any analysis could be made to sound well thought out when sitting on a comfy chair and seeing action in slow mo… as opposed to executing in a mad cauldron of noise and split second reaction times. It just feels like we have this issue crop up a few times recently. I am sure that they discuss this and train on this. But, until it becomes second nature, it is difficult to execute consistently. Hence the question as to whether the system needs more adjustments before it becomes second nature for the players. Hopefully QPR doesn’t end up doing anything dramatic! 🙂

    But, it does bring to mind a question I forgot to raise after reading your last piece on youth policy. Are academy players (or players who Arsenal obtained when they were very young and molded them) more prone to “mental mistakes” than players who were brought in from other clubs? If one takes a look at the early squads, they generally had spent ~5-7 years at a top club (different league) before turning up for Arsenal. This is not a reflection from the LFC game or the ongoing discussion (sorry if that is not the blog etiquette, will shelve it for a more appropriate time).

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    OK, AVCC… (You might consider a name change as ra did to avoid confusion…Yeah, you two didn’t sound like the same guy…)

    The problem in moving from youth level or any lesser league is that the speed and size of the players is different which alters the pace on the ball and just the speed at which things happen. As such, a guy like Alexis or Ozil has simply played at a much, much higher level for so much longer (even in training) than our kids or a somebody like Kos or Giroud. Still, when physically mature they can add weight or power or stamina quickly through personal work… Do that and the confidence and decision making comes quickly too…

    As such, guys playing at a lower level in the PL, even if people don’t get excited by them, will adjust quickly (Debuchy for example) and another reason to work the loan system. (Plus, they have to sit out when we play them. 😀 ) SQ who have trained or played with the very best (including Shaquiri, the most exciting of all the linked players recently, but more bad news for the Ox…and young Jack, if he were to come) then are the very best buys, even if they’re “rejects.” Not everybody can make it through at a place like Bayern or Barca or RM… This is another reason they and the loanees are ahead (and usually older and maybe at the correct level with their loan clubs) relative to the U21s and U19s… The number of players who can actually contribute at any club is always less than 15 or 18 (maybe 20 if you’re playing in Europe…) which converts to how many coming up per season?… A whole lot less (or is it fewer?…) than we tend to discuss…kinda like transfers, in truth…

    Bottom line, for the moment we’re stuck with who we’ve got. On the play in question, the pundits argued that Nacho picked up a runner when zonal dictates staying put (to block out Skrtl). Gibbs also left the front post. Mertesacker was trying to back peddle and make a play but is too slow and only got into a crouch… Szcz doesn’t dive because he can’t get to it and, if he keeps his feet there could be a rebound… Collective failure… but also an example of both academy trained and imported players failing in individual ways. On the plus side, it’s ALL stuff to work on, even if it’s easier to say, “shoot them all and bring me two (or 3 or 4…) new guys…NOW!”

    Of course, I’m no coach… On the other hand, as time goes by, I feel like I’m learning more about human nature–at least as it applies to following Arsenal on the interweb…

    😀

  26. Gerry says:

    Arsenal_VCC – I’ll leave HT to take up the point in the last paragraph, but I would say ALL mistakes a mental ones.

    I mean if you think about it, a mistake involves decision making, and that is a mental process?
    And all players make mistakes.

    However, the subtext of what you are asking is, ‘Does Arsene Wenger train players who are going to be more prone to making mistakes if he coaches them from an early age, rather than when if they come when they are more mature?’

    As for the way things have developed over the years? Well the whole financial climate has change in the Premiership era. The big question with that is whether you save any money paying 80 kids who have signed a 3 year deal at a £1000 per week, when only a handful make the grade, over buying ‘off the shelf’, the ready made product? To put it in crude commodity terms.
    We have a transfer window coming up which will show if there are the ‘ready to play’ bodies out there. Perhaps then we may value our academy players a little more, after we get the ‘Sorry, just sold the last one,’ messages everywhere?

  27. VCC says:

    Arsenal_VCC, 15:56

    Hi, nice to meet you. Thank you for the compliment, but I have to say I’m no longer the interesting guy I may have been in an earlier life 🙂

    I’m now a boring old fart who has lost patience with Arsene Wenger. It would be going over old ground, but the last few years he has lost his way (imo).

    Yes, we have a core of a fine team, but, instead of strengthening in the right areas he has purchased a surplus of the same kind of player. Very unlike the Wenger of old.

    His stubbornness, and refusal to give others the leeway to help with their expertise ( Steve Bould etc) is waring thin.

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    Gerry, Does AW have any influence over the coaching of the academy teams? Maybe he and the other coaches talk a few times per year and talk about who looks good for first team (emergency) play along with perhaps a couple of playing ideas?… I really don’t know, so just asking…

    This area of narrative, to me, is particularly mind-numbing–the idea that all Arsenal ills can be traced to the one man, thus, you change him and–voila–we are better up and down the club. The idea would be that if our academy is producing good or bad professionals (or giving a decent education to the lads…) it is all down to one man who probably only shakes hands with a kid once a year…

    Likewise, at the other end of the spectrum, with the spending, but AW addressed that issue in pressers before the Liverpool match…(while still failing to mention that he’s very likely the club’s highest paid employee)…

    And speaking of D-Money, who LOLed the lack of adjustment when Pool “switched” to 3 at the back… and he and others who mocked the idea of trying to play on the break… Wenger (of course) acknowledged that Pool were playing with 3 at the back in pre-match comments AND we actually scored what should’ve been the winning goal….(say it with me, people)…on the break…

    Yes indeed, we should’ve scored 6 more to “prove” that he was right…but then again he should’ve bought the players who might’ve scored them while giving a Christmas break to Alexis and BFG and all the other tired ones before he played them into the ground…

    But now I’m guilty of Agiprop (sic) or A-Git(with a)prop or something myself… (“Agitprop,” the g is soft…is derived from “agitation-propaganda,” or so says the on-line dictionary…) but somewhere in there I’m attempting to suggest that I’m a not a full supporter of all of AWs ideas… For a full repudiation of one of them you’ll have to wait for my next post… “Liverpool 2 – Arsenal 2 and the (woeful, dire) prospects for English football the match suggests…” 😉 😀 😦

  29. Gerry says:

    Still stirring this late in my evening HT 😀

    Getting back to how much day to day stuff AW has or had over the academy was probably very small, and even less with these latest bods in.

    However, he does lay down the principle that the Academy teams play in a similar style to the First team, so in that sense he does impose a certain amount of influence?

    I was just reading between the lines anyway, not advocating it as a factual state of affairs.

    I’ve been busy on the UMF site, so I am calling it a night …

    But the UMF is open for your selections …
    Cheers.

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed AB, we lack calm, organisational leadership. Arteta has this to a large extent and BFG can have it if and when Koz is around. Koz should be back against QPR and things might fall into place soon (still need to get another CB though).

  31. TotalArsenal says:

    Arsenal_VCC

    Good points and thanks for commenting. There is a very good piece in the Guardian re BFG (a good read for D-M as well 🙂 ):

    http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/dec/22/per-mertesacker-meekness-poor-form-arsenal-lacking-security

    This is particularly telling:

    ‘Beyond this Mertesacker’s best attribute – his positional sense – responds to a settled partnership. There is no doubt Arsenal have missed Laurent Koscielny. This season they have lost only once in the league (to Chelsea) with Koscielny in the team and kept clean sheets in 42% of the games he’s played, as opposed to 23% without him. Mertesacker has been most obviously affected. Of the two it is the Frenchman who attacks the ball, on the floor and in the air.’

  32. TotalArsenal says:

    17ho.. 🙂 Give us those thoughts in writing…. I am sure they will lead to some good discussion. 🙂

  33. steve says:

    “Of the two it is the Frenchman who attacks the ball, on the floor and in the air.”

    hahahahaha!!!
    wtf does Mertesacker do then 😆 😆

    Why is it every other team has two Koscielny’s and we opt for one and a passenger?? 😆 😆

  34. TotalArsenal says:

    17 🙂

    ‘Out on loan seems a little harsh’. I dont get this at all. Why harsh? Do you see sending somebody out on loan as a punishment, a demotion? I see it in Ox’s case as the best next step to keep developing him further. Why? Because he needs to learn so much and get his key stats up (goals and assists especially). As soon as Jack, Ozil and Rambo are back, we will see Ox on the bench. The former should be the case at the end of the TW, and if Ox goes to Everton, West Ham or Newcastle with some guarantee to start a certain number of games, he can develop further. A win-win-win situation for all involved.

    That list of sheer technical ability surprised me a bit. It would make a good topic for a post in which you could explain why you favour (ou!!) that order and ask others to give theirs.

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    ‘My true worry about AOC is that his confidence appears so fragile. He’ll try audacious things but even on those rare occasions when they come off he doesn’t seem buoyed. When they fail I see a lot of hands on head. Additionally, just putting his head down and running doesn’t seem an option as he tires too easily even when fully fit. Watching some clips from the match I see a lot of Alexis and Santi attempting to defend while Ox is found following the play in positions where he cannot contribute. This will improve over time. In general, however, more time on the treadmill (or track or road) and less on the weights might help…’

    Exactly, 17ho. He is only 21 and lacks football intelligence. Expectations are too high at Arsenal right now and this is another reason why a loan would really makes sense (once the senior players are back).

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    Did you read the whole article, F11ngers… 🙂

  37. steve says:

    No i’m too busy writing an e-mail to you 🙂
    are you about for a bit? it should be coming through in a minute.

  38. TotalArsenal says:

    Yes I am, although I need to go out for a bit to walk my four footed Cazorla 🙂

  39. steve says:

    just sent the e-mail mate, it was just an answer to the question you asked me the other day – done in my usual over the top, detailed manner lol

  40. TA, you’re right…Nothing particularly “harsh” about a loan stint for the Ox… I guess I meant that we probably need him too much at the moment, esp. if a not completely fit Ox beats out the other options from Sunday. When will all our guys be fit?… Probably never, esp. given Arteta’s recurring calf troubles. Those fibrous muscles that morph into tendons are the worst… Thus, Achilles is worse than calf but basically the same bunch of fibers… Hamstrings can sometimes be nursed along (a bit) but groin tears repair very slowly… MF is maybe where we could wait to buy until the January deadline (to save a few million quid…) if the returnees all come back decently. At that point a loan might be the best way forward…

    F11ngers, how did our (former) Captain (Vermaelen) lose his spot alongside Koscielny? Or how did the idea that they couldn’t play together come about? Were they too similar? Was he dropped because of injury or Weng-jury?… That sounds like one for my research assistant i.e., you… 😉 as my memory doesn’t serve. Additionally, memory (and facts) are easily twisted to fit whatever narrative you like. Per as passenger doesn’t quite compute even if he was dropped by his National team this past Summer. Did he play ahead of Lehmann in the Euro finals of ’08? Or in the teams that made the semis in 2010 (WC) and 2012? Again, I cannot be arsed to do the research, and it doesn’t mean he’s not past it or in need of a break… IMO he was our best defender on the day, but maybe that’s to be expected as he’s the only seasoned international actually playing in a familiar position…

    Perhaps, (like others) I should actually read the article and see how that writer is spinning things… But, speaking of harsh, “Cowering Kitty Kat” seems just that, you know, if you pur-port to sup-port…

  41. Gerry says:

    I just read that article on Per, catching up with what went on after I left.

    It was a bit too much ‘cake and eat it’ for my liking. I don’t think spending half the article pointing out his failings, as though they are his normal game, which they then go on to say, actually he is pretty good. The key point, and one I had to explain to D-Money, is that he thrives on a settled defence line up. In particular with Koscielny, which he has not had this season. Nor has he had a break. Whereas he has played full games, Ox, the only other player to feature in all games, has now succumbed to injury, has come off the bench a few times. No wonder he is looking a little ‘off it’?
    Steve, with reference to having ‘two Koscielny’s, we should recall that Kos’s game goes to pot without Per there? I guess that point will show up very shortly if they try and give Per a break?

  42. James Bond says:

    nice one @ Skipper

    yes, I agree – Plenty to look forward to with most of our key players returning .

    but like most on here, am not with you on the OX going out to loan – it won’t happen as AW is using him as a utility player for now and once we have our key players fit and back then he will be used as an impact sub –

    OX does a very decent job as an impact sub .

    he hasn’t been used as much as AW over the last 3 years but like you I feel that he needs to contribute more but saying that, if we are sending him out on loan based on key stats then we should send JW on loan as well – his stats are baffling for a no.10 🙂

    keep the faith, the OX will come good, it’s not his fault that every time he takes a step forward in his progression then it’s 2 steps back with an injury – he clearly was struggling in the last game and AW decided not to take him off until he basically was running on empty .

    my real worry isn’t the OX – it’s Chambers , I feel sorry for the lad and if AW doesn’t take him out of the firing line soon then his confidence will be shot , sooner rather than later .

  43. James Bond says:

    *on

    I also forgot how Welbeck has gone off the boil , completely .

    he has been given plenty of chances in his favoured position and he hasn’t done enough in my opinion .

    he has had the chances to score and get his stats at a more reasonable level but it’s not happening for him at the moment .

    let’s have a strong Xmas period and if we can get 12 points from our next 3 games then am confident that we will be very close to the 3rd position .

    no doubt we can do this with the likes of Poldi and Theo getting more game time in the next 2 games and yes, they will be getting more minutes as you can expect Welbeck and Alexis being rotated .

  44. AB says:

    if only we could get 12 points from our next 3 games JB…..

  45. RA says:

    HAPPY CHRISTMAS, YOU LOVELY BERGERS!!!!!

  46. James Bond says:

    we have done it before, no reason why we can’t do it again .

    we just have to go back to basics and learn to do the very basics of the game right – the rest will automatically fall into place as will the results @ AB

    Merry Xmas to everyone – have a good one and I will be away during the next couple of days, however, will be back for the West ham game .

    best wishes to everyone .

    PS: Glic’s come back, it’s xmas time, let it be my old china 🙂

  47. TotalArsenal says:

    With all those injuries, I certainly believe we deserve four points for every game, JB! 🙂

  48. TotalArsenal says:

    Ox becoming a utility player is not as good for his career as going out on loan and do a Wilshere or a Jenkinson, is all I am saying, JB.

  49. James Bond says:

    I’m losing the plot , isn’t it ?

    No worries 12 from the next 4 then ahahahahaha

  50. TotalArsenal says:

    Hahahaha JB, just as well you are a seasoned accountant 😀

  51. Gerry says:

    Yes, I am just dropping in to wish you all a Happy Christmas … and let us do the football talk on Boxing Day … on the pitch!

    Cheerio for now, because as Geoff pointed out, Cheerio’s are cereals, I’ll be back!

  52. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Gerry…. See New Post 🙂

  53. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post – my shortest ever! 🙂

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