Coquelin’s bite, Giroud’s deadliness, Welbeck improving: Eight Positives from Game.


Well, that was another game in which we scored easily and just enough goals to claim all three points. This sitting deep and beating opponents on the counter is most definitely our ‘plan B’ this season… it is not for the faint-hearted, though. Just as we did against the Spuds, we were unable/unwilling to push up and release the pressure on our defence, and we almost paid for this again.

For a long time, we looked in control though, and we should take heart from this; and had Alexis converted the fabulous team counter we produced mid-through the second half, it would have been a lot easier for us. Arsene’s subs did not help at all but I was happy he took off both Ozil and Alexis to avoid a late injury to them: we will need them even more on Wednesday.

Why we were unable to release the pressure by pushing The Eagles back again, or by keeping the ball better, or by more effective counter football, is hard to explain. I guess the boys were in doubt whether to defend the lead or to add to it, and Pardew’s men did a good job at pressurising our central midfielders. Since the former Barcodes manager arrived, Palace have won many games and this showed in the confidence with which the Eagles played.

As a team we need to learn from these games so we can improve our plan-B further. Nothing wrong with that, though, as long as we learn fast…

Eight Positives from the game:

  1. Welbeck was far more effective in this game than in his previous ones, with better reading of the game and positioning. He earned the penalty by putting pressure on the CP defence and he made a strong and direct run into the box, anticipating Alexis’ through-ball; and his subsequent attempt on goal had plenty of venom, which forced the keeper to parry the ball into the danger zone.
  2. Giroud scored his fiftieth Arsenal goal and that in just 116 games, giving him a 0.43 goals per game average in a red and white shirt. We know how important his overall role is in the team, but Ollie is now adding regular goals to his game as well, with 10 goals in less than 900 minutes this season.
  3. Coquelin added the necessary bite to the team and he did a great job in shielding the defence on Saturday. He still needs to control his tackles a bit, but at times he was simply sublime, with great reading of the game and effective interceptions, as well as confidently passing the ball out of our half.
  4. Ozil and Alexis helped out our defence really well. This is not Mesut’s natural game but he was often deep to support his full back and the same goes for Mesut, who is great at coming back to regain the ball and move it forward again. I felt we lacked this support almost as soon as they left the field.
  5. Our win today was helped by a large dollop of luck, but I will not be complaining about it! With Manure dropping all three points at the Jacks, the Spuds drawing and the Saints losing, we have made a big leap forward. With Everton home and QPR away as our next games, we have a decent opportunity to hang on to our third place and produce a little gap with some of our main competitors for the CL places.
  6. Santi has taken over from Arteta the role of secure penalty convertor. Mikel was a safe pair of hands for this and it is great that Santi has fully and successfully embraced this important role within the team.
  7. Squad depth: being able to bring on fit and experienced players like Rosicky, Gibbs and Gabriel, with Jack and Theo on the bench as well, is just great. They did not make a big difference on the day, but having a strong bench at this stage of the season is simply fantastic.
  8. Per and Koz defended very well, especially with regards to the continuous high balls into the box. It was really good to see us so demanding in the air for almost the entire game; eliminating the threat of Palace’s strong wing-play to a large extent (the FBs Monreal and Chambers were truly tested and sometimes found wanting).


Now bring on the Principality and give them some old fashioned Wengerball! 🙂

 By TotalArsenal.

28 thoughts on “Coquelin’s bite, Giroud’s deadliness, Welbeck improving: Eight Positives from Game.

  • Will be watching my tape tonite (here, as in sooner than not) so more then… But, wanted to be first so … 😛 ???

    From the highlights and reading, to add *some* thing… Luck goes both ways, we were lucky not to have Coquelin carded, we were unlucky to not be up 3-0 and rip the heart out of CP, which likely would have made it all ok in the run in…

    Take it when it plays for you, and take it more when it doesn’t hurt you as badly as it might! 🙂

    — jgc

  • Well I am second, or not as the case may be? In a similar position to Geoff, as I hope to watch the game later. Power cuts and broadband dropping out would not have made a good watch.

    I did catch some of the other matches yesterday though, and it made me think more about the way we use our subs. At 1-nil down at half time Saints made a change and brought on a defender? None other than our very own (I wish 😀 ) Schneiderman. Not an attacker, but someone who seals the back door for when they go searching for the goal to get them back into the game. Still at 1-nil, they bring on an attacker for a creative mid with half an hour to go. It did not do the trick as MS made a poor pass that resulted in ‘Pool gaining possession deep in the Saint’s half. From there the attack gave way to the keeper parrying a shot and the follow up shot went in.

    Why do I use this example? Well first, it sets out what the manager is thinking – Don’t concede, but keep plugging away on the counter. Next, the extra attacker. This to add more thrust up front, because now they have little to lose but have time to rectify it. Of course someone had to go, and the excellent and hard working Ward-Prowse was the chosen one. That in itself was not their problem, with numerous ‘strange’ decisions from the referee making it already seem like it was not going to be their day, but in the final third they were not decisive enough. Pelle in particular is having a ‘Ramsey’ spell, where confidence is low and nothing goes right for him.

    Now compare that to our situation. We were fortunate to be 2-0 up at half time, on possession terms and run of play at least, but that goes with playing on the counter. So both team and manager, and a few wise fans … err um,cough, … knew they would come out more determined in the second half. So what is the message as the team comes out .. ‘Tighten the defence, but keep trying to spring a counter attack’ ? Fine.
    However, when is the right time to go forward in numbers while they press all the more? Left to the players who have been defending for long periods are going to get less sure if they have to run hard to get back? Manager’s solution – Bring on a defender and an attacking mid for a striker and creative mid. What message does that send to the players?
    No, I am not arguing against the players brought on or taken off necessarily, but the timing of it was likely to throw our cohesion out of rhythm, as well as not being decisive.

    Following the Saints example; First, and early sub and let that settle down. They do not go straight to the attack option, even though they needed a goal. We were in luxury heaven with a two goal lead by comparison. However, we knew they would come after us and try and get the one goal that would bring them back into the game. So when they brought on Bolaisie on 57 mins, if were were being reactive, bring on defender? My choice would have been Gabriel, and either switch Chambers to mid or, again my preference, put Gabriel alongside Coquelin.
    See how that went for 10-15 mins. Then may be bring on Gibbs to support Monreal on the other side. I have not said who I would have taken off in these exchanges because I haven’t seen the game, but the point is, this sends a positive message of what the priority is. Solid defending. Shut them out, frustrate them, and when they begin to weaken may be look to add fresh legs up front and if possible find the goal to finish it

    What we did was too predictable, too late, and has been done countless times before and cost us. If you want to stop players from quote ‘switching off’, then send a message with a bit of direction. If AW has a blind spot, this is it?

    Written by the founder, and only member of the GKB Brigade … 😀

  • Gerry knows ballsocks? 🙂

    Criticising subs with hindsight does not work for me, but you might have a point, Gerry. I disagree on how good Koemans tactical change was. Throughout the game they played well but never, ever looked like they were going to score… You just sensed it. That’s the thing he should have changed but was unable to.

    Wenger putting on Rosa and Gibbs was meant to shore up and stop crosses coming in but they could not stop them.

  • Ok

    Half 1:

    A. Ozil scores at 3 mins but is not actually offsides. Unlucky

    B. Coquelin misses possible straight red. Lucky

    C. CP run 2-3 players instantly at everything all he time. Some good old Fat Sam hoofing it blindly up the pitch might’ve worked a treat. SOMEONE had to be open, no? They deffo were very physical and aggressive, and left the half and match with the matching cards.

    D. Koz notches largely free header at 21 mins. Unlucky?

    E. One boot to chest and CP avoid Coq for rest of half … That and a straight foot race between nacho and Zaha isn’t really fair so why go via Coq?

    F. Welbeck is energetic, just the sort to counter this broken up game… It ain’t pretty for sure but… 2-0, who cares. Both goals were more than earned, and there was another in there.

    Overall, eu played all out to deny space and time. Hope was turnover or fatigue would kill us. We could’ve been a touch faster with ball at foot to pass. But the game was reduced to bitty fouls and constant short stoppages for fouls.

    Half 2 soon.

    Cheers — jgc

  • Half 2:

    A. 56 mins, we do hoof it up and somewhere Fat Sam is happy… And, Ozil puts thru Alexis and… Oh dear!! Unlucky! That woulda ripped their hearts out, and was sweet by the German… Not to be however…

    B. Nacho limping at 58 from hack and be hacked but the second half is more him silencing Zaha than half 1

    C. We pass faster and are unlucky to not have more when Giroud is blocked and then deflected to GK late in half.. Again, all the effort was right but not 100% lucky, so …

    D. At 92 we have another great opportunity, … To date CP have pressed with no real threat.

    E. At 94 .. Well unlucky, but at 95, LUCKY!

    And that’s it on balance. CP played the game to frustrate and break up the game. We took most of our chances and all the early ones. So, 2-1 to the good guys. We were unable to control it all, they couldn’t really do much too threatening… Not pretty but 3 points all the same.

    Other notes, we looked a bit flat, so I liked the subs, but Santi will be hard pressed to recover. Will we see TR Weds? Similarly, Gibbs for Nacho?

    Cheers from the couch — jgc

  • TA

    I think we weren’t able to adjust to the pressure and just relaxed. Two up and hold. It’s a poor mans game in some ways but we missed opps at 80-odd and 92 mins before they scored. Those woulda made us geniuses!

    It’s also less risky. If we press some and lose one on the counter it’s all to play for. I’d call it a statement of confidence in the defenders and keeper. Negatively, a failure of will and fatigue? I lean far more to the first which risks less injuries and effort for elusive third.

    Certainly, the game was truly won. The last gasp header coulda woulda and maybe shoulda, but that is after thoughts. Without at one last gasp, the story line would be about a business like Arsenal victory, rather an luck..

    BRW… Very bad luck if it had but we were due our share. Equally, Ozil at 3 mins coulda also totally changed the storyline…

    That’s football — jgc

  • More succinctly,

    At 2-0 up its not our job to take chances or extra effort or risk injury away…

    Is it?

    3-0 is a fans score. 2-0 or 2-1 in a late consolation is a clinical, businesslike football score…. One could say…

    Cheers — jgc

  • Or even shorter

    We weren’t great but more than good enough.. Job done!

    Cheers — jgc

  • TA – I am a little short on the hindsight thing, I was referring to the Saints game regards spreading the substitutions out, as well as making a statement of intent.

    Whether or not Saints made the right subs, with hindsight, they showed their intention.

    I used the same subs as Arsene because it made sense. Now if I thought Koemen had it right from a 1-nil down situation, it follows that the the 2-nil up scenario needed us to go on the attack with fresh legs early .. I didn’t.

    I repeat what I said, we have been down this route before. Recently!
    We lost to Spurs.
    We hung on against Leicester
    And we got the result here – which about from the audio commentary, who were also looking out for subs earlier than they were made, btw.

    But the thing in common with each of these games( and plenty more before them) is that we make our subs around the 65 minute, irrespective of the circumstances.

    However, you are probably quite right about the BKB … 😀

  • Or

    Fortune favors the brave (Tho not stupidly so). CP were negative, not brave nor creative really. Thus, they got their portion, we got our larger portion. Again, job done. I wouldn’t over analyze it!

    Cheers — jgc

  • Nice post fella,
    Bring ’em on i’d say…, But this our sitting deep and hitting teams on the counter approach that we’ve adopted lately, i don’t think will work against teams with good midfielders that are good in possession a la’ totts and the Everton types. I just hope we scale the next hurdle unscathed. Missed u guys.
    Just started my Youth service and the workload is the mammon keeping me away from adding my thoughts. Been reading from sidelines tho,.

  • hahahaha Geoff, your comments get better and better 😉

    All agreed. I just wish we push up a bit more and let them fight harder to get into semi-dangerous areas..

  • I agree with Gerry about tge timing of the substitutions. Sanchez, Ozil, Giroud and Santi all needed to be protected so it was not possible.
    But Sanchez some pretty bad hits and shouod have been brought off earlier.
    Ozil worked really well and was one of the reasons we looked shaky after he was off. ( this is a first ) Sanchez too.
    Coquelin did really well not to get booked for the 2nd time after his early yellow card. Actually he did not reduce the tackles but just made sure that he got them right and boy did feel good after 2 of his crunching tackles in the 2nd half.

    I don’t know if Santi can play on Wed but I think he is doing really well at CM.

  • We shall win a trophy this season with counter attacking football. At last wenger has realised the fans wishes. In 2006 we reached the final in France by counter attacking.The only missing link this time is a Gilberto like DM

  • Hey Delano. Assuming you are the same guy who used to use the Arsenal FC blog.. Welcome whatever happened to the guys Kel, Shambo, Terry etc

  • Hi TA and everyone! Nice positives TA 🙂 Couldn’t agree more.

    One aspect that I didn’t hear anyone raise was the quality of the pitch. At least for a good portion of the 1st half, a lot of the Arsenal guys were sliding all over the place. Was this a Palace strategy to make the game a little bit less conducive for us… or just one of those things?

    Re: the substitution discussion – In bringing on Rosa and Gibbs, I thought the strategy was to get tighter to the wings and shut down the crosses. With GIbbs, I really did not notice him after he came on, which I suppose could be interpreted as job well done since crosses via Zaha did not pose much of a threat. On the right flank at least (Chambers’ side), this did not work as Rosa and Welbeck seemed to be backing into the defense as opposed to preventing Bolassie / Souare from crossing. While Rosa is an attacking mid, he also chases down the ball in a hurry and I would think that it was this facet of his game that was needed more than the creativity to score goals. So, just wondering if there was indeed a confused message being sent by Wenger with his subs or just a case of good thinking but imperfect execution…

  • Thanks Totes.
    From a shit performance I only see one positive !……the important one, we won !.
    We are 3rd in the league !……Have a good chance of getting in the next round of the CL …….Are 3 wins from retaining the FA Cup !…………….yet my sock cucking friends, why is it I am far from happy ?.
    It`s this fcuking being pressed and under the cosh deep defending which is causing me stress !. When we are good, we are good and that’s against teams that stand off of us !…..but when we are pressed we look shite !…….look at these`s games !…………..
    Everton (A) 2-2
    Leicester (A) 1-1
    Chavs (A) 0-2
    Swansea (A) 1-2
    Stoke (A) 2-3
    Liverpool (A) 2-2
    W Ham (A) 2-1
    Soton (A) 0-2
    Spuds (A) 1-2
    C Palace (A) 2-1
    Notice something familiar apart from that they were all away !……..we were overrun, pressed and out played in them all and were somewhat fortunate to win in two of them and draw in three of them, but lose five of them !. Is this really the way to try and win the title ?….by getting lucky in 5 of the games !….. by letting teams press us so much that we panic and cant come up with a plan to counter these tactics against us !…….just a silly thought, but why don’t we press them and take the game to them ?… would be interesting to know whether we could have gained more points than the 12 out of 30 we got on offer !. We deserved fcuk all in the games we lost and were lucky in the others. This has to be remedied, yes, it was great to win at Palace, but we came within the thickness of a post to all out……or shall I say…..all in……knives in the back of Wenger !…..2-0 up until the 95th minute and so close to blowing it 2 mins later !.
    We are taking a chance with lady luck it seems when we play away against teams who know how to cause us problems, the only thing I cant understand is why the other teams don’t play the same tactics !…….if they did, we`d be mid table !.
    Thankfully, apart from Dortmund and B Munich, I don’t see the pressing game with all the CL teams, so it could be our year !.

  • Very good and surprisingly indepth comment, award winning winkelman. 🙂

    Plaing deep and absorb pressure is quite alien to us, so I guess we are learning this still. I also reckon this style will suit super Jack really well…

    How is Mrs Cockie doing?

  • Touch wood, she`s stable, Totes !, thanks for asking.
    Thing is Totes, who will “Super Jack” replace in the current set up of….Ozil, Santi, Alexis, Giroud as the focal point and Le Coq Bloque sitting deep and then there`s the willing runners of Ox and Welbeck !…….it`s not as if Wenger plays horses for courses teams and would put Jack in for a certain game or role !.

  • Good to hear it, Cockie. Any news on the transplant (not the non-hairy one)? 🙂

    We need a player we can defend and is good at bringing the ball out of the defence in tight spaces – somebody with a burst and close ball control. Santi is doing a good job deep but I reckon Jack is better suited for it. Santi or Ozil can play the free role on the wing, which would sacrifice your willing runners.

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