Chaos without Giroud, Ozil saves us, One problem to fix: Match Analysis

After the very disappointing defeat in the derby, we were all desperate for a five-star performance against bottom club Leicester City at the home of football.

The combination of a good overall run of games, the 5-0 trashing of the Villains recently and the narrow loss against the Spuds, made us all feel extra positive about last night’s game. So expectations were high, even though we knew that Leicester are not a bad team and have managed to (semi)scalp a few top-four contenders in recent months. They also had nothing to lose and a manager who has the support of the team and yet is under enormous pressure: a combination that makes a team want to fight.

We have to applaud the Foxes for not sitting back and making it a cup-tie sort of game. They never gave up and played some fine football throughout the match.

Many on Bergkampesque know that I am a big believer in the need for Giroud in our current team. He is not the world best Centre Forward, but I cannot think of a better all-round holding striker in the EPL. He is also our attacking pivot around whom we build our play. I have to say I was surprised not to see him on the team sheet. With Sanogo on loan, we do not have a like for like player and it showed.

We basically played six at the back – Ospina, Bellerin, BFG, Koz, Monreal and Le Coq – and five attacking midfielders. There was lots of movement and the ball was passed well at times, but we also lacked understanding and automatism between the players to a large extent. We dominated play in the first half but did not create many clear cut chances without Giroud being there to bounce the ball off; the sumptuous throughball by Ozil to Theo in the box being the highlight of the first half.

But for all the criticism we can sling at the team, we are good at scoring goals at the moment: eight goals in the last three encounters gives an average of 2.67 a game, and this is what is saving us currently. And once again, Ozil delivered the bread and butter stuff, with two fine assists this time round. I really don’t get the criticism on BK and other blogs about our fabulous German maestro. He was bought to add invention, attacking intent, assists and goals and he is delivering big style, yet many focus on his perceived lack of effort. I say perceived as his stats always show he puts in tons of efforts, often not visible on the screen. What is visible to everyone, though, is his goals and assists tally since he has returned, and we should bless our cotton socks he is fully fit again.

So, although our attacking efforts lacked structure and cutting edge, we got away with it by scoring from a corner and on the rebound from a speculative, yet fierce, Ozil long-distance shot. Koz took his chance very calmly and Theo was decisive and lethal when he had his second good chance of the match.

Thanks Voetbal International for picture
Thanks Voetbal International for picture

I am not saying we cannot play without Giroud in the centre, but it is obvious to me that every time we do not play him we miss shape and purpose and it will take time for the team to learn to play without him. Do I want us to practice this at this stage of the season? Non merci!

Leicester had actually created the better chances from playing good football and were unlucky to be behind at the break by two goals. They were playing with freedom and enthusiasm and we gave them far too much space, especially on our right hand side (as we did against the Spuds as well).

And this brings me to the biggest issues we are facing currently: general shape of the team and, in particular, our struggle with dominating midfield and controlling the flow between defence and attack. We are lacking connection between our attackers and defenders and this is the biggest challenge for Wenger to resolve.

Many seem to underestimate how difficult this is, as the risk of getting our defence exposed too much is always there. The modern game is all about the battle in midfield and to win it we need a good mix of skills and a great understanding between the players; we also need the attackers to chip in when we need to defend as a team, and our defenders to support the midfield when we need to put pressure on the opposition.

It is great to have more and more players back but there is also a price to pay. It takes time to fit the likes of Theo and Ozil, Ospina and Bellerin and Coquelin into the team. On top of that, Ramsey, who in the b2b role is one of our most important players, has not hit full form as yet. And now it looks like he will be out for a long period once again. Coquelin has been a revelation since he started to play as our deep DM, but also he is not faultless of course.

It is clear to me that Arsene is looking hard to find the balance in midfield and with Ramsey out he will have to face another challenge. Some want more physical power in midfield but I am not convinced this is the main factor. Le Coq has definitely added a lot in this respect. What we are lacking is the ability to hold on to the ball in tight spaces and make darting runs forward. An inform Ramsey is good at this, and a fully fit Wilshere is even better at it. Wilshere also has a strong need to own the midfield and fight for dominance, and his forward link-up play from deep in midfield is very good. But it remains to be seen whether he can play an important role for us this season, as his fitness remains a big issue.

Rosicky and Santi should be good alternatives for the odd game or two, but it looks like they cannot do this for the team on a regular basis. Rosa looks more effective in the hole or in a free role and Santi is struggling with the physical demands of playing so deep most of the time.

If Wenger can fix this particularly area – and how he would wish either Jack or Diaby were fit right now – we will see this team hitting the heights once more; and we are closer to this than many think.

Positives from the game:

  1. Not one…;
  2. Not two….;
  3. But three points, and that three days after an epic battle with the Spuds;

The Spuds dropped three points and let’s see how many points fellow competitors drop tonight.

Sometimes we should just be a bit more happy with the ugly gift horses we get and not complain as much about how we got them. Arsene never promised us a rose garden… and beauty is for the Spring anyway . 😉

By TotalArsenal.

80 thoughts on “Chaos without Giroud, Ozil saves us, One problem to fix: Match Analysis

  • From last post !
    No argument from me, Stev11e !………I have banged on about players stamina and high tempo aggression since I first started blogging on Arsenal websites !….it`s down to one small thing that anyone can do !……..hard work !….simple as that !….as I`ve put on here previous and on others sites and is just an example as I can only speak for myself…… I run my fastest 10K when I was about 35 !…..just a shade over 35 mins !, no science involved !, no fitness guru !, no special diet !, nothing but me, myself and some hard work !.
    It`s not impossible for anyone over 30 to still run around buzzing like your wife`s vibrator !……Rosicky is an example !…..Linford Christie run his fastest 10M when he was touching mid 30`s…..fair enough it was on drugs, but hey !, so were all the other athletes !……so you can either be an Arshavin or an Alexis and the it costs nothing !.
    Winning trophies is not about playing your best skilful players, it is about getting the right balance, discipline, tactics and organisation !… much as I would love to see…Ox, Theo, Alexis, Gnabry, Bellerin, Akpom, Koz, Gabriel, Gibbs and Linford as the outfield players, making us the quickest team ever !….we need ones that can keep it going for 90 mins !….if that lot could have the hard work ethic of Alexis, we`d win the league with ease !.
    Mo Farrah is a Gooner, I`d ask him to come and train the lads !…….not only has he got the stamina to be Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Champion at 10K and 5K, but also currently holds the UK 1500M record !….so he`s fast with stamina !…….just like Alexis and I bet 99% of it is down to will power and hard work !………………….so get up you cazy lunts and do a 40 min run like I have today !.

    So less of this Stev11e !.

  • Is it just me that thinks nearly every man and his dogging session seem to be playing high tempo in your face pressing games ?……..if we play lacklustre like in the last two games we will be in for a disappointing out of top four finish, we cant just rely on the luck of the green otherwise even the Palaces, Burnleys and QPR`s etc` will whip our arses in fighting for survival !.
    The Penny needs to drop !.

  • Yes !…fine article !.
    I`m with Totes on this one as unlike a lot of bloggers who were wetting their pants in anticipation at last nights line up !….I was concerned enough to hide behind my Sofa ! . hahaha
    Leicester from the highlights looked dangerous from the wings and had we had been as dangerous from the wings then I`m sure Giroud would have had a field day !.

  • Good points by Steve and Cockie 🙂 🙂

    Alexis is a very special player who can do pressing and has all the skills you could dream of. How many players are like him? We don’t want 11 fanatic pressers who have very little else to offer. Neither do we want 11 talented footballers without ability to press. As a team we should do better pressing but it will be impossible to have 11 Alexises in one team. There are not many who can do what he can.

  • one i have come to realize is that carzola and ozil in the same team unbalances the team , ozil lacks the needed aggression but its like no one is prepared to critisise him it frustrate me because his being handled with kid gloves as if he has a thierry henry history at arsenal the guy has got to up his work ethic thats it

  • Loved the closing para TA (and the rest of the opinion)! 🙂 Based on the last two games it is clear that the very smooth passing style that we normally see has hit a rough patch. It just feels like a lot of passes are getting misplaced (not sure if the stats bear this out). Anyways, hope we get out of it quickly.
    Before his injury I thought that Theo was starting to put in a shift on the defensive end. But he seems to have gone back to his early days of jogging around mildly in our half. Part of the recovery process? Also I don’t get why Bellerin is moving to a much more central position in the last two games leaving that side (our right flank) without any cover. Is this a strategy based on the opposition?
    Lastly, it felt that the ref was allowing a lot of kicking & pulling to go on. Surprised that Wenger did not complain about this but felt the need to criticize the ref against the spurs. Difference between winning & losing the game? 🙂

  • Oh yes – I thought Ozil’s strike that led to Theo’s goal was just fantastic…and the unexpected goal-bound kick that Schwarzer just kept out! Hoping to see more of this in the remaining games.

  • Hey TA,
    Its really amazing how you can remain so positive and spread it to others through your words.
    If I were on the Arsenal board I would hire you as the motivational speaker for the team. It would work wonders. That may well be the way to get an all alexis playing XI as all of them would be equally passionate.

    I think last season set the tempo for Ozil criticism which at that point was valid. But right now I think Ozil is playing at his best. He’s got I think 6-8 assists and 3 goals since he came back. Even Bergkamp would have been pleased with those numbers. Credit has to be given where it is needed. I’m going to go a step further and say if it were not hus goal against the Spurs we might have been on course for a thrashing.

    The first goal is very important for this team and whenever we score that there is a fair chance that we go on to win the game.
    Our loss against Spurs was actually the first time we lost after sciring first since mid 2012

  • Great post. I agree we miss Sheer Willpower in the middle but lest we forget the Foxes are one of the toughest bottom teams to play against, In fact at the tail end of the season, it is the so called bottom teams that will make or break your hopes. My problem is with playing Bellerin and Walcot on the same wing, it creates a massive gape at the back coz both players are forward looking runners, especially that youthful Bellerin hasn’t mastered the art of covering his behinds. It will come with age.

    That Giroud should start is a must, though sometimes he slows our counter-attack and I would prefer Theo or Welbak there. Sanchez is not a number 9 for me but a right wing coz he holds the ball for too long to be effective in the top centre. Remember the excellent quick passing goal finished off by Willshere last season?, such a wonder 1-2-3 quick touch goal can not happen with Sanchez in the middle. Walcot to me exceptional, he always creates for himself spaces that leave him with a point blank, one on one chance with the keeper every time he plays.

    This team is strong, we need to support it. No one is playing exceptionally well right now, not even the financial dopers Chelski and Shites nor the Muncs. The ball is inour court to win something this season!
    Up the Gunners- Should I call myself Sanchesque?

  • Great piece TA! I’ve been really enjoying your positive outlooks irrespective of the circumstances we are in.

    On Giroud, I thought the exact same thing when I watched us play. We were lacking a pivot to play off of and a target man to bail us out when the space was clogged up around us. Around the edge of the box, we lacked a body to play balls to and link up for scoring opportunities. However, when he was introduced, we did not get any better in this regard. Our chances became fewer and our link-up play became worse! However, I do not blame Giroud for this since he was introduced as a sub, players around him were tired and we were defending a lead, meaning that we were less incisive in attack.

    I’ve noticed that Ozil is shooting more and finding greater comfort and chemistry with his teammates. Of utmost importance is that Theo is healthy, as Ozil thrives with fast players around him that he can feed exquisite through balls to.

    As far as a CM that can hold the ball up and drive us up field, the best option may be Ox (in another week or so) while Ramsey is out. Watching Ramsey lately has made me realize that when he’s off-form, he’s more of a liability than anything else – losing the ball going forward, misplacing passes, not taking advantage of scoring opportunities etc. Of course, we naturally have no replacements for him and his injury was the worst case scenario. Even if Coquelin becomes the long-term solution at CDM, we still need another CM to rotate with Ramsey and Coquelin (cue Schneiderlin links).

  • Just started reading your post Total…

    Thought I’d comment on the Giroud question you posed.

    Giroud took an awful lot of punishment at the Slum last weekend, with precious little protection from that oaf Atkinson. He look battered at the end of that game and must have been carrying some bruises into last night’s encounter.
    Welbeck was just back from a long lay-off, so it wax risky to throw him into another battle so soon…

    Maybe Wenger went with the only option he thought he had?
    If either Giroud or Welbeck had started, and suffered a reaction, Wengef would have got criticised.
    Sanchez picked up a new injury, thanks to inept protection from that moron Jones.
    Wenger couldn’t win…

  • Good post Total…

    If it’s a hamstring, then that’s Ramsey out for what, 3 weeks minimum?
    We won’t be seeing him again till March then.

    I suppose that Flamini must come back into the equation again, in the short term, until Jack is ready…

    Rosicky was great last night, but he can’t do it twice a week, so I guess that AW had to pick his games…
    Also thought that Monreal had another impressive 90 minutes.

  • I just watched the match on Arsenal player
    I think it was a fine display by the lads!
    Everyone was fighting for the ball, moves were played at speed, pressing was high and passion was shared throughout the team.
    Our attacking midfielders played some amazing balls whilst at the same time doing their defending quota also, even our so called “fragile” number 10 who as well as putting some sublime balls through got stuck into the action as well and found himself dribbling and striding into the box on occasion.
    A thoroughly deserved three points and an excellent game to watch, well done lads!!

  • Oops i should have mentioned i was watching the U21 match against league leaders Newcastle not our piece of shit display against a bottom of the table team. 🙂
    Excellent work by Zelalem, Crowley, Gnabry etc etc the list goes on, so easy to give plaudits when it is obvious everyone is giving their all in a game – great job lads!

  • Well written post TA and i agree with the main area of analysis; the midfield problems you addressed.
    But what a title mate lol, really?

    Chaos without Giroud – the highest level of chaos i have seen for quite some time has been firstly at spurs in which Giroud played the full 90 and then in the last half hour at Leicester (which Giroud was brought on for). What are you basing this statement on TA, oh wait let me guess… stats i am sure 🙂

    Ozil saves us – what praise for a man who put a ball into the box on a corner and Kos did the rest (i seem to remember plenty of others doing this in my time without the moniker “saviour”). And who had a long range shot right down the middle at the goal keeper (again nothing you don’t see up and down the country at all levels of footy), luckily it got parried right into the well positioned and quick of the mark Walcott who scored (i’m sure Donkey wouldn’t have been that quick to react btw).

    £42 mil, a corner and a long range shot at the keeper;
    you say two assists, great performance, our saviour
    I say its nothing more than any of our players can do (or should be expected to do)

    Is it me who is negatively rating Ozil or is it you lot who simply overate him in the extreme?

    I don’t know tbh, i’m giving up on the Ozil debate for a while, it bores me writing the same thing over and over again and its seems i’m in the minority anyway.

    You win for now 🙂

  • I dont see why our boys are getting so much criticism elsewhere.. I agree Kev, monreal very strong again, though.. i expected one of gibbs or chambers to start to rotate from such a recent match. Santi displayed amazing work again, getting roars from the crowd for his tricky possession and movement.
    I really agree with those pointing out our open right side again, but i don’t think it’s just a hector problem, there’s an imbalance there, and his skill and pace have made up for it, but we’re living dangerously there…

    Ozil is clearly class, and i still condescendingly look down upon those who don’t see it. I don’t need goal or assist stats to recognize it..
    But…….i like those as illustrations too. His recent one touch goals and assists are the type that very few in the world could pull off. Creating tons of chances as usual.. 2 strong shots, one palmed into theos goal, one just saved. Had one wrongly disallowed for. offsides recently also.

    And one last thing, it might have been you TA, 🙂 I’m not really positive, who told me we might have to accept that ozil will probably never become aggressive in going for goals as I’d been calling for. I think my wish may have come true. !!.. I don’t think it’s any fluke or luck, i see that he wants to be one of the scorers too.. Maybe the recovery from injury time, and bulking up in the gym has added a little different mind set?

    We talk about the influence Alexis had on teammates in work rate. I think there may be s bit of that in goal competition now too..

    Fun to watch with theo, giroud,ozil taking part. You know welbeck and Jack are dying to take part also.. Not to mention akpom … And bellerin took another shot. yesterday that was dangerous. Wengerball !

  • Steve,

    If Ozil was given man of the match, then surely it’s not just bloggers here that overrate Ozil. It must be the majority of individuals in the footballing world!

    That said, there’s I’m not going to ask you to re-consider since you are firmly entrenched in the camp that Ozil is useless and not worth £42 million. However, I will give points to defend him.

    1) At face value, he is providing returns statistically. Ignore advanced statistics – he has 2 goals and 3 assists since returning from injury and there is no such thing as “luck”. He puts himself in goal scoring opportunities and make no mistake that he placed that corner straight to a surging Koscielny for the first goal. Had Theo been more clinical on his exquisite through ball in the 1st half, it would have been 3 assists.

    2) Without him in the squad, we likely would have had a lot more trouble attracting other world class players. A selling point for Alexis to join would have been playing alongside a world class talent in Ozil. Like it or not, Ozil represented a turning point for the club and it displayed to the rest of the world that we can compete with the majority of clubs in the transfer market.

    3) Ozil is not Alexis. He is not (and never has been) the type of player to completely dominate matches with his work rate or ability to drive an offense forward. He will disappear throughout matches, but can contribute in changing a game when you least expect it. He is incredible at creating space for others and drawing the attention of opposing defenders.

    4) Similar to #3, Ozil has yet to play in a system that optimizes his talents. He is a decisive player who thrives in situations where quick thinking is required (i.e. counter attacks) and where fast players surround him. Once he plays centrally in a counter attacking-like system with Alexis and Theo on the wings, I imagine we’ll see a similar Ozil to the one we saw at Real Madrid. However, I don’t ever see that fully happening since Wenger’s tactics are different than Mourinho’s and Ozil has been asked to retain possession and focus on patience.

    5) With approximately 1.25 through balls played per game, Ozil’s been robbed of even further assists due to our relative inconsistent finishing.

    These are just a handful of reasons why Ozil is class. If statistics do not do it for you, then what justification is there for being worth £42 million? I’d rather have a player that scores and assists goals than one that is continually involved in the play but leaves himself open to injury and is perennially on the sidelines. Bear in mind that just because you do not appreciate Ozil’s game in the mould of the type of player you prefer watching, it does not exclude him from being considered a top player by a large contingent of others in the footballing world.

  • Steve,

    did you miss all the delicious passes and through balls fed to Theo and co by Ozil ?

    and did you also miss how he didn’t lose the ball when he had 3 PLAYERS cornering him .

    I thought my obsession with Sczny was a tad unfair SOMETIMES but you take the biscuit .

    wake up and smell the coffee matey.

    you know what ? at the risk of upsetting the majority here – drop Santiago to the bench bring on Rosicky and then see Ozil flourish some more .

    Why we play Santiago now is beyond me considering he is having to sacrifice his offensive play, as well get Rosicky, Flamini or JW in .

  • Boyd aka Sanchesque, good comment. 🙂

    In an ideal world, Giroud occupies one or two defenders whilst creating space for either Theo or Alexis to run into. If and when a direct throughball is not available from the creative midfielders, they will be well pleased that Giroud is there to bounce the ball off from. I reckon that is Wenger’s plan going forward.

  • Steve 🙂

    Loved your trick comment earlier. You almost had me there.

    Re Giroud, I was referring to yesterday’s game and with regards to our attacking play. Did you think our attacking was effective without him on the pitch? It is true that he did not make a significant difference after he came on but I think there were good reasons for it, which you have highlighted as well.

    Re Ozil. There is a huge, huge difference between what players CAN do and actually DO on the pitch, and how that impacts on the game. You might not find it special what Mesut does when he is on the pitch but it is making all the difference, especially at the moment. And maybe real beauty and quality is closely linked with simplicity and effectiveness. 🙂

  • Thanks HH and nice to see you drop in. 🙂

    Agreed on Ozil needing a fit Theo to sparkle. I just cannot wait to see Ozil in the hole with Jack/Ramsey/Ox and Le Coq behind him and Alexis and Theo on the ‘wings’/in free roles and OG as the pivot. This for me is stuff of dreams and with a bit of luck we will see it in action for many games of the remainder of the season.

    You could be right that Ox should be given a go in the centre of midfield. The b2b is such a hard role, as it requires many football skills, good speed and strength, as well as good reading of the game and decision making, which usually suits the more experienced players.

  • Kev, I have to watch the game again if you say that Rosicky was good last night. I felt that he did some good stuff from an attacking point of view, but not so much in terms of protecting the shape of midfield and helping out Le Coq in protecting the back four.

  • Johnnie, it could well have been me, and if so, I will eat humble pie. 🙂

    I am liking this new Mesut a lot. He is no longer just introducing his mates to the pretty ladies but having some for himself too. Good man. 🙂

  • TA @ 23:11, I was simply referring to EPL matches, but yes if you include cup matches then it further confirms his statistical dominance!

  • Well from where I was standing Total, I thought Rosicky played well.
    Sometimes you pick up a different feel for the game when you are there, a bigger picture perhaps, although my eyesight isn’t what it was 😉

    I guess I’ve always seen Tomas more in an attacking sense, that’s where I think he does his most effective work…

    In truth, Arsenal probably need another bona fide def/mid.
    A player like, say Schneiderlin, who is a natural in that position rather than someone ‘filling in’…

  • Mesut looks like he has finally got some fire in his belly. He is starting to beleive that he can change the course of games by himself. This is what we fans expect from our 42m signing. But sadly it took longer for this realization to come than I expected. It was obvious that no player who played in the team which consisted of Ronaldo, Benezema, Di Maria, Mourinho to expect himself as the sole game changer. In his first season he expected a lot from his teammates. He wanted them to defend, pass him the ball and then make runs into the box which he could pick. But 1 and 1/2 year in England has finally changed his attitude. He is going deep to pickup the ball, holding off defenders, tracking back or atleast retreating back to his position.
    On top of that he is scored in all but one of his starts since he returned. 3 goals and 5 assists in 4 starts isn’t bad even in La Liga.

    I know most of us are disappointed by how he did not live up to his own standards last season. But give the guy a chance. Watch his last few games closely you can see that apart from a new celebration he has also found the hunger for success.

  • looooooool @GLic’s link. I swear I’m like that sometimes. Hell, I’ve not watched our last 2 games and in my mind thats the reason we played so poorly. So i’m going to watch the game this weekend and watch us smash them to smithereens.

    I’ll comment on the post later. Gotta prep for the day ahead

  • Neeraj, as HH described above, if you look at the bigger Ozil picture then he’s been a success from the start. But yes him adding goals to his assists is even better.

  • Good Morning TA, and all.
    I am sorry you couldn’t find more positives from the injury ridden match. But hey, those points are worth double. 😀

    Quick response, as I wasn’t going to write anything this time, ‘bin men’ day. However, reading the comments so far, I’ve probably missed them.

    Giroud – I think too much is being asked of him just lately. He is dropping far too deep in adding assistance to the defence, but when he is that deep he provides no relieving ‘out ball’.
    Just keep him around the half way line, except for set pieces and corners.

    Ozil – Steve, what you miss when you are watching in anticipation of a ‘beautiful game’, following the play, and that is usually where the ball is. Plus trying to spot potential runs that can take us forward. Then you recall the pieces of the game when thing fell into place, or fell apart? It is what most of us do, myself included. I have not seen this Leicester game yet – my database crashed yesterday,, grrrr! – but every now and then, in the Spurs, defending deep, Ozil would pop up. No, not diving into a tackle which would be memorable by its success or failure, instead his body positioning steering the attacking player to play the ball away from where he would most like to, usually a cross. So they either/mostly played it back, or risked a 40/60 ball around him.
    That is what Mesut does when he is not scoring and assisting.
    Unfortunately, because of the demands of tough games, he does fade a little in the last 15 or 20 minutes. But that is more a substitution matter if you want to get the best out of this quality player.

    Bellerin – This in answer to St Henry’s point. In the Spurs game he was asked by AW, apparently, to keep close to Ericksen. He sort of over did it, when he should have passed it on to someone else. But he is 19 and learning. If we were looking for a not so small Spaniard to do the box to box thing, and assist the DM, he is a far better proposition than Santi? That is providing they don’t expect him to do the FB job as well. He is quick, but not that quick.

    Cazorla – Has had a real purple patch lately, but the Spurs game too much was expected of him. It was almost back to the TA comment at the start of the season, in that ‘he has been found out’. What is clear, when we press the opposition and allow more space, he can be deadly in that deeper role. Almost impossible when they are allowed to press us.

    The answer lies in passing and moving. Players must know when they receive a ball just where their next pass is, before they look for alternatives. Some players do this instinctively, others are a little slower. The way to tire a high pressing team is to keep the ball moving. That means accurate passes, good control, and a good read of the game. Now I hear the call for Alexis in this role, but he is not the answer everywhere. Alexis has great skill, and that is what gets him out of tight spots, but like Wilshere, I don’t believe he reads the game as it will be, before he gets the ball, only reacts to it once he has it. Which is why he loses possession quite a lot of the time. He does of course make up for it. 😀
    Fabregas was the master of this art, but Mesut too, as HT would put it, has the ‘eyes everywhere’. An out of form Ramsey is the complete opposite. Coquelin is getting there, and while doing so, he can play the simple, safe pass well as any, as long as there are options. Rosicky buys his time with his first movement, but also, he tends to be in space, because he moved into it, before he get the ball.

    This is what we have to do. It sounds simple, but very hard to be 100% effective when sides are fresh and eager. So whatever team plays against Boro’, they have got to get this part right first. It will be a much rotated team as league points become more precious. That in itself creates problems. But it opens doors for others. Akpom, Gabriel, Chambers, Gibbs, will all be fresh. Szczesny, Flamini, Welbeck and Walcott are likely returnees. While Mertersacker, Rosicky and Ozil are the ‘regulars’, which leaves the rest available on the bench?

    Team sorted HT, sorry. 😀

    I also saw the Under 21’s Steve. I noted how much better Zelalem played higher up, even if a bit out on the wing. More Ozil training I think?

    Time to go …

  • haha re Ozil everyone, i said before i give up, you win. If someone as insanely prejudice as JB is calling me overly bias then it really is time to stop pissing against the wind and shut your mouth 🙂
    So i’m not going to say one more word for or against Ozil anymore – simples 🙂

    As far as trying to influence HT’s preview @ Gerry, i’ll give it a go;


    Please lets not risk Sanchez on this game.

  • That is about what I was thinking Steve.

    Two big questions though.
    1,- Will AW risk that many changes?
    2,- Is Coquelin due for a rest?

    That apart, I might tweak it slightly and have GP5 on the right side, and use his pace to help out Chambers, given he will not get much from Walcott?

    At least with that line up, only Welbeck is likely to come off after the hour, which leaves one change for Ozil and may be one for Rosicky, and in that order, and assuming we might be leading, it would be:

    We might need Rosicky mid-week, and I think Coquelin will get a second wind with extra help?
    It would be nice, and pretty formidable, to see what Bielik can show in the final 10 minutes?
    Just at the moment we are a tad short of attacking subs, if we are to patch up the wounded for the Monaco game. They are looking very good right now so we will have to be at our best out there.

    Well that is my contribution for the day. Got to salvage my database, or start again …

  • I bet stevie wonders is gonna start or re start his Ozil hate affair – sooner rather than later .

    And I do Everything without prejudice hence you get to see the joys of Ospina instead ; )

  • C’mon Steve don’t give up !
    Last year when Ozil played poor maybe TA was the only one genuinely batting for him.
    He never gave up. Make your case.
    One thing I know frome being the lone Arsenal supporter from the whole class with strength 42 is that keep backing up your case. Because sometimes you can get moments that you will savour for the rest of your life. Like when Arsenal beat Chelsea 5-3 at the Bridge. My friends didn’t speak a word about football. So much that I even got away with a penalty against me in Sports Break. COYS

  • JB, “I do Everything without prejudice” 😆 😆 classic!

    Neeraj, i haven’t given up or changed my opinion yet mate, just taking a nice long break from voicing it, i think my i’ve put my case forward thoroughly enough anyway 🙂

    Gerry, those are the exact same questions i asked myself mate, and i’m completely undecided on both at this point. As far as Coquelin goes he will have a whole week to rest before the next game and as you said the Flamini sub is always an option if he begins to look fatigued so i’m leaning towards thinking he will start. However the rest of the multiple changes i’m not too sure about, but we shall see – it will be interesting to see what HT can come up with 🙂

  • Thanks for believing me Total, I feel very humble… 😀

    (Memo to Kev, never disagree with a Dutchman 😉 )

  • Yeah, I like those teams Gerry/Steve, possibly Flamini in there somewhere, just to save the legs of either Rosicky or Coq

  • Hey guys…Early morning here… TA, you will have mail shortly, re: planning match previews…I thought the Cup match was Saturday but I’m pleased to see that I’ve got an extra day… As such, maybe I can spend my writing time today on the current (fine) thread…i.e., look out, long one coming…

    I said most of my piece on match day–having actually seen it at the time, but I’m rather shocked by the reaction, esp. when so many were taking their cues from what they’d “heard” about the match via the blog-o-sphere. IMO, Arsenal are at a point where the narratives are just too deep. Too many gooners (note the small g…) have worked themselves into corners where the football is no longer the focus and, instead, it’s about being right or wrong with the story they have chosen. Most of it circles around the manager, but others glom onto ideas about players that harden into sticks which are then used to beat each other. I realize that there’s a LONG tradition of this sort of “support” but (IMO) things are changing rapidly, at least when it comes to the top (big money) teams and that sticking together (a bit, at least) might be a better way… Anyhow, I’m sure I’ll write more on this topic now that I’ve got a forum (the match previews)… Cue evil laugh again… 😀

    Neeraj, it’s good to have you back. Please don’t, however, encourage people to hold onto their irrational views… I’m pretty sure I was also in the group who never stopped appreciating Ozil. In fact, I think Wenger blew our (league) season a year ago by trying to take pressure off Ozil and not starting him at Stoke City. For me, that match and that decision was the turning point… What’s that thing you guys say?…”Form is temporary, Class is permanent…” On that note, it’s “nice” that Steve says he won’t discuss Ozil any longer or that 007 has backed off the Ospina = Dios, Szcz = Diablo… Let’s see if those decisions are ones of class themselves… or will our guys revert to form…or something… 😀 I like to think of Gooners as a classier bunch, but the longer I hang around, the more I have to recalibrate… :/

    Placing all that to one side and commenting on this post… I think, TA, you’ve got it right when it comes to analyzing the match. Without big Ollie in there our attack is somewhat at sea. The spaces just seem tighter and the front line can get very static working off the shoulders of a well organized line of defenders. I think the manager is suggesting that Alexis and Theo can go central as they please, but their styles are so different from Giroud’s. Instead of backing into defenders, confident of holding them off if a ball is played into feet, these smaller, faster guys are looking to time their runs off through-balls. Very different. It’s all good if it works, of course, and we got the one great one (Ozil into Theo) which would’ve maybe changed the outlook many have on the match if Schwarzer hadn’t used his face to make the save…That the other goals looked (or sounded) “cheap” by comparison was enough to sour that section of the support who “require” convincing… Maybe?… I noticed that some of our attackers are trying the “self passes” or nutmegs and blasting by defenders more and more to make their own assists…w/o Giroud the (forward) 1-2s just aren’t on offer…

    Meanwhile, like you say, TA, the balance in MF and our transition defense (American spelling) seems off. The focus on getting back that worked so well up at Man City, esp. with players like Alexis and Santi (and Ox/Rosicky and Ramsey) will naturally drop off against a lesser team. After all, a nil-nil is an unacceptable result in matches like Tuesday’s… As such they all want those early goals and instinctively push forward to get them. Rosicky has good recovery speed but he wants attacking action too. Alexis and Santi spent much of the match rubbing their real (and feigned) wounds and were far less up for helping out at the rear. Theo can use his speed to help defend, but mostly from the front. I hate to say it, but if we hope to continue the “revelations” that are Le Coq and Bellerin we are probably gonna need a whole lot more commitment from their teammates to help them out. (Let’s be honest, those guys have played great, as did Chambers beforehand, but if they continue to perform well they will cement no more than back-up roles going into next season…) At City, where nil-nil would’ve been a fine result, the other MFs showed the spirit and even (supposedly) begged the manager beforehand to play in that style. At Spurs, Santi and Ramsey struggled to keep up the fight once we had the lead and we clearly missed Ox and Alexis. Some will argue that the difference is trying to work Ozil into the side with his lack of defensive focus, but others will notice the more subtle things he does to help corral the play. But this gets back to the bigger problems (above). Like with the keepers, views are so polemic about him (our Messy…) that there’s hardly a point in writing down my thoughts. 😦

    But, like TA suggests, this fore-aft balance IS the key and it gets even more essential with youngsters and new players in our back lines. When I write the match preview for Sunday vs Boro, beyond the rotation we might expect up front, we’ll have to consider that our rearguard is (very) far from set. Moreover, with Ramsey out again that critical main B2B role is up for grabs as well… Wilshere just back from injury (and the smokers lounge…) and Rosicky will likely split the time in some sort of 60-30 (minute) rotation… Flamini seems no more than a defensive sub these days, but he did start in the last Cup match (giving Le Coq a rest)…so short term he might be the guy. Why did I volunteer to do match previews? For Boro I can’t decide if I’m leaning towards 11 changes or just a couple… 😀

    But, before we put Leicester in the rearview. Put me with AW who says he thinks (or hopes) they stay up. They showed both a desire to play and some real grit. IMO, we showed those qualities too. Perhaps if our fan base was more united the ref would’ve stayed a bit more neutral rather than going full on to favor (favour) the underdogs. As it was we got cynical at the end and took their momentum away and saw out the match to take the full points. It didn’t go perfectly to plan, even if that’s what Gooners demand. (Some, at least, will be happy that Ramsey got hurt… 👿 even if they didn’t get their secret–or not so secret–wish for a poor result…) Still, I’ll take a bunch of whiny gooners over dropped points, any day… 😀

  • Listen Broke Backers !…..first priority is winning the league !…..that aint going to happen !… best team out against `boro and make the FA Cup a priority over 4th place trophy !…..yeah CL money is a bonus, but with all the new TV deals, a relegated team gets more money than we get in the CL !….back to winning trophies for me !. There`s plenty of time to recover for the next EPL game, so full strength team against a very good `boro team !.
    Just to get an idea, here are the comparable stats…..fair enough they are in a league below us, but a top of the table Championship side is just as good as a relegation fighting EPL side and we have to play those teams and they are not easy !.

    Boro : P30…W17…D8…L5…..Goals 48…Against 20…Points 59
    Last 10 games in League : WLWDDWWWWW

    Ars : P25…W13…D6…L6…..Goals 47…Against 28….Points 45
    Last 10 games in League : WDWWLWWWLW

    We would have to win our next 5 league games to better their current total !……they are not so great in the scoring department, but are definitely better organised defensively !.
    Home advantage ?……it`s a cup game !, so treat them with respect and play a full strength outfield team !……….goalie doesn`t matter as some are pro midget and some pro Szczesny !. hahaha
    I look forward to emerging from behind my Sofa on Sunday with a Samaritan free evening !.

  • What a pathetic attempt at an evil laugh by 7eventeen !….sounded more like the embarrassment of getting his todger caught in Arsene`s zipper whilst going through Arsene`s dirty wash basket !.


    Stev11e has discovered oil under his garden on the Isle of White and has just bought out Kroenke and Usmanov !.
    Stev11ve was unable to comment, but looked comfortably smug as he sold Ozil back to Real Madrid !.

  • HT, on the subject of that fore-aft balance when i look at the team in the attacking midfield i see two groups of players, one which is more adept at tracking back and defending and the other which shall we say lacks a little in this department while offering more in other areas.
    I personally (please feel free to correct me if i am wrong, this isn’t me declaring some strict opinion i have btw) see the two groups as;

    B2B types;
    Ramsey, OX, Wilshere, Sanchez

    More attacking specific;
    Cazorla, Ozil, Walcott

    Of course the idea is to get a balance of both in the team but i just had the thought (considering that whole top line is out injured atm) that we cannot play those bottom three in the same team at the same time and not look defensively frail.

    Just a thought and i have no stats to back it up but it popped into my head so thought i would chuck it on here for discussion 🙂

    Cockie, “play a full strength outfield team” – don’t just leave it like that lol, give us your line up 🙂

  • 😆 Cockie 😆

    If i had that much money i would sell him to Stoke for shits and giggles 🙂

    (not getting involved in an Ozil debate btw everyone, just trying to add a funny reply to Cockie’s comment)

  • Btw if Spurs win the europa league and we finish in our usual 4th spot wont that mean we get the boot??
    that’s a terrifying thought!!!

  • Thank you Cockie…I stand corrected…

    I’ve been meaning to say… regarding the finger, er, artwork… When it comes to our man from the Island don’t you need a single finger (with just a little dark line drawn in at the tip…) WRAPPED by an entire fist (ideally showing all 5 fingers PLUS the thumb) to characterize our friend?… Perhaps a bit of lubricant slopping out… It’s a big (and kinky) internet, so I’m sure it’s out there… Get searching… 😀

    Re the FA Cup…I’m leaning your way–at least in attack–IMO we’re getting more settled on pecking order and roles up front than at the back…

    TA, do you need a preview sooner or later? On that account, you’ve got mail…

  • That’s a very hard image to find 7eventeen and it would be easier to draw one yourself and photo it and post !…….however I did manage to find a photo of yourself showing off as Tahoe`s champion one handed skier !. hahaha

  • I too have posed over that question, Stev11e and cant find the answer apart from making sure we get 3rd instead of 4th to be on the safe side !.

  • Ahh HT i see you have one arm for easy, low resistance entry round the back while the other does the hard graft round the front – you always put so much thought into everything you do, fair play! 🙂

  • Cockie…At least you’ve been trying to find it…Unfortunately, that’s not me…I’m a lefty… 😀 (and the proportion of body hair to head hair is all wrong, too… I hate to say it, but Steve is closer to my overall look, except for the quantity of fingers…)

    Steve, finger art jokes aside… And also not trying to convince you of things of which you’ll never be convinced…but…

    I really think you (and many, many others) take this stuff about (starting) positions and “roles” and who is “physical” vs “frail” (or flair vs ‘ard nut) too seriously. Santi IS tiny but he’s also a quality footballer and, when fully committed to the task can do a job–even very deep in our own territory–as he did up at Man City. (Ox, not the biggest guy himself, but very muscular for one his age, did very well for an hour there too, ably relieved by Rosicky…) Ozil doesn’t risk too many broken legs on 50-50s and his body language suggests the high standard (perfectionistic tendencies…) he has for himself… rather than the preferred “commitment” to making up for a turnover with a two-footed lunge. It doesn’t (IMVHO) mean that he’s not able to help out defensively…

    Overall, IMO (and, I think, more importantly in the manager’s opinion…) if you want to win big matches you’ve got to play your best players. They know how to help out in little ways that are hard to see on a bad stream and even harder to read about in a blogger’s play by play description, esp. if you’ve chosen the site based on your own proclivities for narrative. (In other words, if you’re on a site where every goal against is Wenger’s fault and every goal for is a lucky one, it’s gonna be hard to see things for yourself…)

    Wenger will rotate for Boro, but how and where and how much will he gamble with the result given that we need more depth of confidence in the squad is the question… Rotation (at places like Stoke, So’ton and Spurs…) hasn’t worked so well AND it’s probably even tougher in front of the quick-to-turn home crowd…That we got the result on Tuesday but gooners are by and large unhappy may force his hand towards a stronger line-up in defending the cup…

    Anyhow, I’ll try to figure it out in the preview… No matter what AW does, it’s gonna anger huge swaths of the support and the match (because we are expected to win it…) is rather a no win affair… Sad, sad, sad…IMO…

    Ooh to be a gooner, or something… 😀 :/

  • OK, I gotta get the day going around here… In other words, you’ll have to play with yourselves… 😀

    Thanks however for all the advice on the self-pleasuring and I’m almost wishing I had that extra finger… I do however, have a battery operated toothbrush, and like I say, I need to get my day started… 😯

    Party on, lads…

  • HT, you obviously feel those three can all play in the same team and not lack anything defensively when compared to the other group and that’s a fair enough point, and they do all chip in defensively when all on song, i’m just a little dubious about that trio combination though when it comes to the hard pressing teams.

    Still it was just a thought, probably popped to the top of my head now the off form yet still industrious Ramsey has just got bloody injured again 👿

  • Had a look on Google and if the Spuds or Everton finish outside the top 4 and win the Europa League and we finish 4th, then there will be 5 EPL teams in the CL, so it`s OK……………that’s if we can finish 4th or higher !…..but !!!… the worse thing that could happen is the Spuds win the COC, the Europa League and finish top 4 !…….FCUK !… many videos would they make ?. 😦

  • Trust you and the family are well Frank

    Excellent post. I went to both the Totnumb and Leicester games TA

    My Totnumb mate, well he thinks ime his mate The truth is I despise the Bastard and would love to sleep with his wife, but unfortunately he hasnt got a wife, sorted me a ticket.

    You have to be careful sitting in amongst them TA. One false move and they may work out you read books without pictures. Never raise a singular eyebrow or cock a little finger whilst drinking. This form of sophistication means Gooner, so you will soon have a brutish mob demanding you pay for the excess of the intelligentsia.

    We all know what happend in that game. We lost the game in the middle and the Bastards ran as over

    What about Leicester? The main factor was of course Giroud. When we went to the Dortmund game TA you made a very salient point about our big nosed Frenchman been the focal point and the top of the pyramid. He basicaly gives the team structure

    Throw in an unfit Sanchez and we were left with a side that lacked cohesion and purpose.

    On Ozil, yes he can infuriate. Without the ball he is a physical luxary, not getting close enough to opponents etc. However, once he has it under control he is a craftsman. He bailed us out in the first half with moments of class and vision only he could provide.

    My overall conclusions are the same. All our players are of the required quality, but sometimes the balance and cohesion of the side is not there. Its Arsenes job to address this, and if we can find the right balance on a more consistent basis, we will have a very good chance for the big prizes.

    The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring.

  • he does belong there to be fair to the lad, didn’t look out of his depth and league whilst he played for Brentford . It’s a shame that Brentford can’t afford to put together £10 million to buy him from Arsenal .

    yikes ahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah


    Hi Neeraj !

    how you doing matey ? did Pune win the footy thing and are you looking forward to the world cup and a swift return of the indian team back home ? 😀

    am good mate – thanks for asking !

    good to see you out and about ! hope it’s not at the expense of your exams or studies though !

  • And I wasnt joking about Totnumb fans. Cornwall will back me up.

    If they get the slightest inkling that you are capable of holding to polar opposite thoughts on the same subject simultaneously, youve had it.

  • Absolutely Stretch…anything you say detrimental about the Spuds is fact !. The Walking Dead is filmed there in N17…..saves millions on special effects and make – up !.

    40 footballers when they were young !.
    Just an observation on some, like….Frank is still a porker !…….Bales ears got smaller as he got older, whereas Zlatan`s nose got bigger as he got older ! ……..Neymar must have bought Michael Jackson leftover bleach !……Rio looks like he was a double for the Joker as a child !…..and John Terry needed slapping when he was younger as well as now !.

  • Hello, people! 🙂

    I agree with TA’s assessment – it’s pretty much as I would have said myself. The spine of our team doesn’t exist without Giroud.

    Speaking of Spuds’ fans, I have met 1 (one) Spud in Bosnia during my whole life. He has managed to fall in love with a…hm…lady of the night and had to settle with being the only guy allowed to kiss her in her mouth. And, I suppose that kiss has the same taste like that league cup Juande Ramos won for them.

  • No 007 I’m not wasting my study time. I hav been preparing for this exam for 14 months now and I’m starting to get bored doing the same things again and again.

    On Szczesny,
    I think I have seen enough of Ospinia to conclude Szczesny is the deserving no. 1 . The stastics may say that Ospinia conceded less goals but he hasn’t looked convincing in the last 2 games. He hesitates to collect crosses maybe because he is short. He has a good strong hand but sometimes makes too many unnecessary ” TV saves” when he could have simply gathered the ball. Against Tottenham it was his couple of awkward moments which gave them the complete momentum.
    Until then Arsenal had stopped them from enterin our box and taking close shots. But as soon a they made their first run into the box he looked bewildered.
    His games where he kept clean sheets were actually solid displaus from the defence n Coq n Co.
    So I think Szczesny should start against Boro and depending on that should make his way back into the XI

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