Arsene Wenger’s biggest challenge is in midfield

Having had some time to reflect on our painful defeat on Wednesday, I am feeling a bit more positive now. I reckon it was a reality check for almost all of us.



We are still a team that is looking for its true identity: some days we are brilliant, many days we are adequate and some days we are rubbish. And on Wednesday, as a team, we were bad, especially after we conceded the first goal. As long as Arsene does not get the midfield right, we will continue to have mixed performances.

We started slow but we were in control. There was a certain caution in our game and, given Monaco’s Portuguese style of play, which focuses hard on defending and breaking out quickly as soon as the ball is regained, that made sense – especially when we play a slow CB in the centre of our defence. I would have liked us to play a higher line and put more pressure on Monaco, with fast CBs – which would exclude Per on this occasion – as the best cover for their counter attacks; but leaving the BFG out of this big game was unlikely to happen. I would also have been happy with us playing deep and inviting them to come and attack us, for which Per would have been great of course. In the end we got a bit of both and it did not work out.

However, there is always an element of luck which determines the outcome of games: they scored with a deflection and we had our own man (Theo) blocking a sure goal from Welbeck. The Konogbia shot might have gone in without the deflection, but it was a big slice of luck for Monaco nevertheless. When you play a counterattacking team, nothing is worse than conceding the ‘away goal’ as the first one in a two-legged match. Playing in front of the home crowd means that sooner or later more risks will be taken, and that is exactly what the opponent was waiting for: and they punished us in style, it has to be said.

It was, of course, also a master class of how to play deep and on the counter; and, as we also witnessed when Monaco played against us in the Emirates Cup, their players are fit and strong, play with excellent team discipline and game plan, and are not afraid to make cynical fouls. As others have mentioned, the game had that horrible Mourinho feeling about it: it is the sort of football – not alien to us any more either – that sucks the life out of you, looks for your weaknesses and punishes you remorselessly. And they did.

Our game plan, a mixture of sitting semi-deep and pressing semi-high, did not work out. Wenger was right to have a go at our defending and we were also unlucky that Giroud had a bad-hair-day, as it could have been very different had he found the net early on, but I hope our long-in-the-teeth manager will also see that his game tactics did not work. I guess it is the fear of conceding an away goal against a strong defensive team that kept Arsene from going all out on attack; and I also reckon it is the belief in our own attacking strengths and qualities that kept us from playing the Monaco brand of footie.

On top of that, we just have not got the mix in midfield right to know what we can expect and deal with any opponent/tactics effectively. The Monaco midfield out-powered and out-witted ours and it was not the first time that we lost the battle in this crucial area this season. All our midfielders are great but getting the chemistry right in our 4-1-4-1/4-2-3-1 formations is proving to be Arsene’s biggest challenge again this season.

Ox scored the goal of the night and it could still be a very important one. But the way we conceded the last one, with our young Englishman at the root of it, was the most painful moment of this season for me. Now we have to score at least three times to go through, which is really one too many. But this result also forces Wenger’s hand in three weeks time; it allows our team to play to our natural instincts and playing culture. It is about all out attack and giving them hell: never time to settle and show them what the Arsenal are all about. It probably will not be enough to go through, but there is something else at stake here: our spirit, our backbone, our reputation, our pride.


Stand Tall And Make Us Proud Again.

By TotalArsenal.

65 thoughts on “Arsene Wenger’s biggest challenge is in midfield

  • Echo that TA! Having a day completely devoid of reading anything about the game helped immensely. While it is a horrible result, one element (and I am trying to be positive 🙂 ) that I feel has been overlooked in all the hand wringing is the sheer number of chances created by Arsenal. Giroud missed 4 clear ones and Welbeck 2 (that I can recall). So, while statistically Monaco’s record continues to be impressive they were breached several times; we just did not capitalize on any of them. In that regard I feel the anxiety of missing chances, being a goal down, took its toll on everyone leading to some bizarre decision-making. Of course, they also had 6 non-regulars starting, which will not be the case in two weeks time. So, while I am hoping for a miracle am preparing myself for not seeing one.

    Of the back 4 I found Monreal’s omission (in hindsight of course) an interesting one. Perhaps from a compatibility standpoint Bellerin should always be paired with Monreal? That way both fullbacks don’t go too far up? What do you think?

    Anyways, I feel that this was such an outlier in terms of performance that we shouldn’t be drawing any long-term conclusions (as tempting as they may be 🙂 ). Cheers and hoping for a great comeback against Everton.

  • That is such a fine post, Totes !……..trouble is !….it needed to be written just after the game when it was still fresh in the mind !….I say this because since then The Spuds have lost and I have been wanking myself silly that they will have to now get top 4 for CL !. If Arsenal could just beat Everton and Mmmmourinho lift the first cup of the season on Sunday, then I`ll probably go blind and have to buy a braille keyboard !………….I have to go now as the screen is getting fuzzy and blurry !. hahaha

  • Thanks TA. Perfectly timed after a needed cool down. I think we’ll see fireworks in Monaco.. Just might not be enough at this point. But as you say, we’ll be playing for pride and hopfully it can at least provide another kickoff point for the home stretch.


  • TA

    Great post. We had the seasons horror game of style and luck etc. glad I was working and taping… This weekend simply requires the confident rebound of a team that’s top…

    We’ve also put in three away to better teams, so … Not 100% done, tho close…

    CM 😀 … It’s so in,Ike you to discover the silver lining…

    Cheers — jgc

  • Is that you Geoff ?……….I can just make out the faint line of your avatar !. 😆

  • what an easy answer TA

    My two positives from the Monaco game were firstly at 68.27 – 68.32 when OX passes a long diagonal ball early only the ground for Theo to nearly score from, the likes of which we used to see all the time, before we started all this congested bollocks up near the penalty area. Then secondly at 90.04 – 90.05 when OX smashes it into the net from the midfield position.
    And i completely agree with you about the most painful moment of this season point, seeing an attacking midfielder 20 yards past the half way line loose the ball (as happens game in game out across the country on a weekly basis) and have it automatically spell disaster for us is just fucking unforgivable – the defense was shocking! I love the way OX still blamed himself for that, what a passionate young lad and what a fucked up situation our defensive play is creating when he feels responsible for a goal, when making a mistake fucking miles away lol.
    It pisses me off that the type of performance i saw from the likes of Kondogbia and the rest of the U21’s that made up half of Monaco’s team is the same as i see from the likes of A-M-N and the rest of our youngsters week in week out but i am stuck having to cheer on our shite first XI every week – getting fucking bored of it now tbh.

    So my midfield suggestion is….
    OX is one of my midfield picks for sure, the other is Wilshere – simple
    Cazorla and Rosicky are the old timers who can bring experience to that area if needed.
    Ramsey is stuck firmly in his “is he shit or is he sublime” phase so demoted to the reserves until he actually sorts out which one he wants to be.
    Coquelin as the DM.
    Play a 4-3-3
    job done
    It really is as easy as that for me tbh

    You lot can keep your world cup winners, flair players and older more experienced guys;


    And i will keep my energetic, pacey youth;

    ————The OX————-Wilshere————

    Only Sanchez, Coq and Kos would make it into my team anyway tbh and between them are the only reason i still believe we can battle through this season successfully.

    Bring on Everton where i expect to see an unchanged team as usual and will be ready to see if the coin lands on heads or tails.

    Arsenal do it before each game…
    heads we play shit
    tails we’ll give it a go

    Sounds crazy but look back at the performances this season and you will see it all starts to make sense 🙂

  • Stev11e !……………………Wilshere has contacted Diabyitis….there`s no cure !…..condemned to a life on a treatment room table !.

  • Yes CM

    It IS a likeness of me.

    Steve, I’m chalking it up to horror game and moving on before the smell of it ruins my weekend away with my wife (children ditched with inlaws)

    Cheers — jgc

  • Fine comments gents and thanks for the feedback. 🙂

    Good to see more positivity on the blog, yet we are all accepting that that was a poor game.

    St. H agreed on the number of chances we created, and we should take heart from it. I would not have taken Giroud off, as at least he was getting in the right places and sooner or later one would have gone in. I can see though why Wenger felt it was time to take him off.

  • true, Cockie, the post is far too late 🙂

    All agreed on the glee over Spuds’ exit from the UEFA League. I prefer a Spuds win so the Moaner gets egg on his face. The League Cup is a nothing price and if it makes the Spuds proud than that would be quite funny too. 🙂

  • Did I give an easy answer, Steve? I didn’t know I gave an answer in the first place ehmm what is the question any way? 😆

    Ox was definitely not entirely to blame for our third goal, but you are being a tat naive in thinking that him losing the ball there was not a major factor in us conceding it. As a midfielder, the one who replaced our DM, he should have known better than lose the ball there. However, it is the way we, as a team, were positioned when we lost the ball, and how we responded to the breakout, which made me feel that was the worst moment of the season so far.

    Ox scored a great goal and that is what we should remember most. Bring on the Toffees. 🙂

  • Great post TA and Steve I think your highlights from the match summed Arsenal’s current problems beautifully – vertical positioning. To often Arsenal are losing because of (as you put it Steve) congested bullocks up near the opposition’s penalty box. That approach is creating a two fold problem: our attacking play becomes ineffectual because our attacking players have minimal space to move an attempt to create and score goals; and when our attacking attempts invariably break down we are horribly exposed when the opposition counterattack as we have overcommitted going forward.

    How do we correct this? By sitting deep and playing on the counter attack ourselves and getting our central midfield combination correct. To give effect to that I think we should:
    – adopt a 433 structure with the three central midfielders (from a combination of Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky, Santi, Coquelin and Arteta) sitting close to but in front of a disciplined and largely conservative back four (RB – Debuchy or Bellerin; RCB – Per or Chambers; LCB – Koscielny or Gabriel; LB – Gibbs or Monreal) and working hard to harry the opposition and force them a reasonable distance away from our penalty box;
    – when the opposition’s attacking play breaks down, counterattack via: either one of our full backs hastily bringing the ball forward and combining with one of our wingers (RW – Ozil or Walcott; LW – Sanchez or Ox) to create a goal scoring opportunity for our central striker (Giroud or Welbeck) and the opposite winger; or a long early ball is played to one of our front three to give the space and time to combine to create a goal scoring opportunity amongst themselves (eg Giroud’s first goal versus Aston Villa) or one of our three central midfielder hastily brings the ball forward and quickly combines with the front three to create a goal scoring chance amongst themselves;
    – we maintain at a minimum a deep sitting back 6 at all times.

    On the issue of the appropriate central midfield combination under the above approach, I think any combination of the six players I’ve identified would work as they have all proven themselves to be tenacious, hard working and willing to harass opposition players when playing defensively. I don’t advocate the inclusion of Ozil in that list as I think he is very clinical from a goal scoring perspective and think his attributes are best served as part of the front three.

    Whilst I would love to see those type of fundamental changes to the team, I’m not expected to see the above approach adopted anytime soon. I think it might be too radical change for a manager like Wenger.

  • TA, you titled the post the biggest challenge is in midfield so i simply said the answer is easy, change the personnel lol (that was my answer to the challenge lol)

    I didn’t get the memo about OX being a DM, i thought he was brought on as another attacking midfielder to actually add some pace and drive to our team and maybe score a goal – thought he did his job pretty well.
    Agree with you completely about it being a positional fuck up for the last goal, like i said OX was definitely the one who lost possession but surely that high up it should not have been such an obviously easy goal – terrible play.

    Yep bring on the Toffees, which team do you think is going to turn up for this match?
    Shite Arsenal or sublime Arsenal?
    I guess its coin toss time lol

  • FLO8, yep that congested shite has been a problem for a while, I can’t be the only one who remembers we used to play quick, direct passes FORWARD. nowadays our build up or counter attack play involves way too much unnecessary short passing and a lot of it is sideways, it always makes us look slow as hell even though we have some amazing pace in the team.
    Thats why i liked that pass by OX that almost put Theo in, he didn’t fuck about, ignored all the short passes he could have made and went for the long pass FORWARD and gave Theo something to have a go at.
    That is one of the main reason i like good old Rosicky, that fucker will always play it FORWARD if he can, even if its a ball that might not work.
    Pass more into space for players to run into on the break, not into feet so they have to stop their forward motion to receive it – this is a big problem i see with our break time and time again, always passing to feet and slowing the whole process down.
    I’m sure you will have plenty of opportunity to see us get caught on the break again when we play Everton lol

  • FLO8 🙂

    Great comment and agreed with quite a bit. I personally would not like us to become a permanent counter-football team, and I don’t think it would suit us either…. other teams are better at it any way. But yes, IF that is how we want to play your tactics could work a treat.

    Key is for me that we have not looked too good when we were sitting deep, except for the MC game. We end up too deep and unable to play ourselves out of the pressure we are under. I don’t think we have the midfielders to deal with this appropriately, especially now that both Jack and Aaron are missing. I also feel we would need another heavy weight DM to help us push back the opposition.

  • Okay I am with you, F11 🙂

    Have to agree that I don’t know either what Ox’s role was. We needed somebody to be our DM and I guess it was him with a licence to roam forward to add extra drive. I did not like the subs on Wednesday as Giroud and Coq should have played till the end imo. But that is hindsight sort of stuff.

    I reckon we play well against Everton but it won’t be easy to take all three points from the game. Maybe it is time to play both Flamini and Coquelin and shut up shop, with Ozil, Alexis, OG and Theo/Santi running the show up-front?

  • Hey guys, I’m a bit late to the party but I did write quite a bit yesterday… 😀

    I dunno if I can totally agree that the problem emanates from MF or even basic fore-aft balance… I will concur that we were unlucky to give up the first goal and after that more than a bit of a panic ensued. Still, we made numerous chances and remained unlucky to end up with such a poor scoreline for the 2nd leg. I wrote (at length…lol…) about the high expectations in our home stadium for entertainment AND results which only gets worse if the other team gets ahead. The big problem, as I see it is that we just got lured too far forward, particularly at the Fullback positions and at DM. Where were those guys on the three Monaco goals?…

    On the first, Gibbs and Le Coq are both out wide right when Welbeck misses out on a 50-50 leaving a massive space between Cazorla and Bellerin which Kondogbia exploits for his lucky strike. On the 2nd, again, Gibbs is out of the play, far too forward (in the Monaco 18 yard box, in fact…) considering the ball is on the opposite side. Coquelin hesitates in getting back, thinking the BFG is going to make the tackle and then both cannot help as Berbatov gets forward. On the 3rd Ox (who came in at DM in place of Le Coq) is so excited from the goal he’s just scored that he pushes forward w/o the ball. Gibbs being forward make more sense as that’s what FBs on the strong side (the side with the ball) are supposed to do. Bellerin in that case should be rotating back and central to help cover. Ferreira-Carrasco is maybe just too fast and the pass from Bernardo was perfect. Ospina, of course, might’ve gotten a stronger hand to it…

    Sh*t happens and they made 3 of their 4 shots on target while we fluffed everything except the nice curler from Ox. Still, in a 2 legged tie, it all seems pretty basic. As the ball goes forward the weak side FB rotates central and deeper. There should never be a time when both FBs are forward simultaneously but that happened over and over during the match. Maybe at the death when you need absolutely need goals (I’m remembering Chambers cross for the Gibbs goal at Anderlecht…), but not in a situation where 90 minutes = halftime in a two legged tie. To me it was a real lack of discipline, which maybe can be blamed on inexperience. The pressure from the never satisfied support cannot help, but still shouldn’t induce the panic we witnessed…

    Anyhow, that’s how I saw it. Others see things differently, of course… I don’t think this is a situation to throw the babies out with the bath water and I expect a good reaction against Everton on Sunday. In fact, I’d better get started on the preview (I’ll probably finish it in the morning, if that’s OK, TA)…

  • Beautifully summed up post TA. Disappointing defeat but the question still remains, who do we blame for this defeat? .Ospina? For not saving the first and third goals? Per? For not doing anything right and not being the captain who leads by example? Giroud? For missing those chances? Or do we blame Wenger, for starting Per(a slow CB) even though he planned to play a high line which did not suit Per’s strong points. Im not the kind of person who likes to blame people for their mistakes, but this has gotten goddamn out of hand

    For me, all four were to blame. Ospina couldve and probably should have done better with the goals. But what really worries me is that how bad he is. His handling is poor and drops every goddarn ball, he tries and horribly fails at sweeper-keeping and he doesn’t try to collect balls that are floated into the box. Look at Szczesny’s performance against west ham. He collected balls that were floated into the box and commanded his area well. For me, Szczesny has served his time on the bench. It’s time AW brought back our no.1

    As horrible as Per was, you gotta say, the gameplan and the team let him down. If the plan was to play a high line and press every Monaco player, you can’t really blame him as it didn’t suit him playing style. But he still should’ve done better. As for Giroud, he just had one of those days.

    Last but not least, Arsene Wenger. Should he shoulder the blame for this defeat? For me, yes. His gameplan didn’t suit his player’s strong points. He started Per who lacks the recovery pace needed to play in a high pressing game. And he also played Coquelin in a flatter role, asking him to press the Monaco players instead of playing in the holding role where he does best. This is tactical naivety, he should utilize his players to their strong points and not just plan to entertain the fans. Tbh, I would rather have a boring game with a good result than what he planned for us.

    Still bummed that Jack will be out for a slightly extended period. I believe he can thrive in a holding role alongside Coquelin. He would add an extended passing range and stability to the current Arsenal squad.

  • TA – I will have one more go at this before we are in preview territory.

    I think you have nailed the problem area. The solution is a big headache for AW to solve.
    Luckily – and I say this in the same sense as TCM celebrating Spurs demise out of Thursday night football is somehow a good thing? Why, when it gives them the same freedom that Southampton and Man U have in only having league points to worry about? I don’t rule them out of beating Chelsea again this weekend either. They raise their game for big matches. – Luckily, I repeat, AW has the last game to beat over the head any player he wishes to drop, so he can, as Steve suggest start afresh.

    FLO8, you fall into the same trap that has got us where we are, when you say ‘any’ combination of the following X,X,X,X,X,X players will be alright. No so. Yesterday I was at pains to point out that a combination of our attacking midfielders and strikers leads just to that congested bollox that Steve highlighted.
    HT, you and I are more or less on the same wavelength, but the if the balance in midfield is sorted, then forward progression of our wingers will be better protected, albeit with the caveat restriction of not both going beyond the halfway line when the ball isn’t there.

    Like TA has suggested, there is a need for a second DM. I am not sure Flamini has the pace for the high line, and he too, can get drawn forwards. It was Coquelin’s discipline that made so valuable after all. My choice will be Gabriel until proved wrong. Until the summer window at least. I don’t think it will happen against Everton though, as I think he will be in the back 4 again.

    There is little difference in a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 / -1-3 if there is a CAM, DM, and B2B in the mix, only the degree to which the B2B gets forward? Too often, and you can open up the back door if we want to use our FB’s to provide width? Ideally we will get some one to play wide left before the likes of Willock are ready to take the stage? In the meantime, short of playing both our ‘fit’ FB’s together on one wing, one forward one back, then a double DM pivot seems the best option?

    Finally, the benefit of having Alexis up front, not having to constantly come deep will be enormous, even if we lose one or other of the creative midfielders, or a surplus ‘I want to play in the middle as well’ striker.

    How strong AW will be we will have to wait and see. For me, it really comes back to the basic problem of trying to fit in Cazorla and Ozil together. It can work in certain situations. When lesser teams allow us space, and the duo work a more forward role – Ozil – and a deeper one – Cazorla. Because the build up, or if you are playing the counter, TRANSITION was so slow against Monaco there were numerous occasions when both Santi and Mesut were in tandem across the pitch around the halfway line. That too led to clogging the central area. So to be effective we need a player like Ox or Rosicky to move it forward quickly. Personally I don’t see Wilshere in that role unless he is more disciplined. By that I mean he has to remember he is a facilitator for others, not always the end product. For the latter he needs to be in the number 10 position, which might work better with Cazorla? Why are Ox and Rosicky better choices? Because they are prepared to run wide and link up from there. Simple as that.

    You might ask, ‘Why we did we not move the ball quicker, like we did against other teams?’
    That, I think came back to the fear of the opponent, and how vulnerable we might be rushing forwards? The double DM pivot might help with that, as the front 4 can speed off and attack?

    Keeping the faith might ring a bit hollow right now, as it hangs on AW making the right choices. Alas, something only decided with hindsight?

  • Hi TA! Agree there are more experienced exponents of the counterattacking approach in the Premier League and Champion League but I really believe that with the natural inclination of our central midfield cohort (i.e. tenacity, technical passing and dribbling) their deeper positioning as a trio of defensively focused central midfielders will provide the side with a better balance than what we’ve seem this far this season and in the last couple of seasons.

    I really don’t believe playing two deep lying central midfielder from our current cohort is sufficient as time and again during this and recent seasons our defensive has struggled due largely, in my opinion, to inadequate protection. We simply don’t have Vieira and Gilberto style players in our squad. That said I think we can compensate with an additional body.

    Love the website TA! You’re doing a sterling job and maintain your positivity!!!

  • It is great to wake up and then read such fine and fresh follow up comments by 17, the Shrill, Gerry and the Fredster 🙂

    I might not always agree but love the insights and angles.

    I gotta go but let’s imagine we had Diaby fit over the last two seasons… That is what we have been missing, especially this season in which Rambo has been unavailable/inconsistent and for Jack goes the same.. 😦

  • Hallelujah TA! Diaby is a beast and I would have loved to see him and Song develop together as a defensive midfield duo!!!

  • Sczny back in goal over Ospina ?

    what rot says this

    thanks for the positive and well balanced post @ Skipper

    truth be told, then we are missing Ramsey, even when he has been struggling for form, he still adds to that balance we need in the midfield .

    Le Coq had some good games but surely , he needs a bit more protection as well .

    in my opinion, our FB’s let us down – I can forgive young Bellerin but Gibbs should know better hence why you see Nacho being ahead of him in the pecking order recently .

    lightening doesn’t strike twice, we will win against Monaco

    it’s our pride and AW’s pride at stake, the players will do everything possible to make this happen for AW and for themselves .

    the bright side is that we will have Ramsey back and hopefully no more injuries, so the current crop of players can train together 2 weeks in a row before the return leg .

    any other day, it would have been 4-3 Arsenal even with our errors, the amount of chances we created clearly tells me that Monaco aren’t that all and we should not fear that – we had far more clear cut chances and if we played the same, we will win with a 3 goal margin hence let’s not get overly adventurous with our 3-5-2 formations .

    football is a bit like a game of chess – sometimes in order to win, you must sacrifice your bishops and knights but as long as we have our queen up our sleeves , we can cause mayhem .

    checkmate in Monte Carlo !

  • one or two quick points on some very fine comments;
    I myself have relaxed a bit on the whole 3 at the back formation stuff but i would point out that for 80% of most matches we play with only a 2 at the back anyway (fucking only 1 some times against Monaco) so having 3 guys forced to stay back at all times would probably enhance our defensive capabilities tbh – still more interested in a strong 4-3-3 myself though.

    Gerry raises a good point about people actually doing their job in the wide areas, it took OX about 8 games at the start of the season to learn not to keep drifting in and once he did he provided great wing play and balls in, but then he got injured.
    In Sanchez and Welbeck you have two players who will always want to come into the middle and help out and try to score, probably why both fullbacks were up so high trying to provide some bloody width all game.
    If we are talking about players who will actually do their jobs out there on the wing then….

    On the right we have:
    Walcott – got to be first choice imo
    OX – better support defensively but i think he would be better suited in MF
    Bellerin – Wildcard option up there tbh but i think at least he would be another who would properly hug the touchline
    Akpom – is very selfish and always looking for goals, he would drift inside constantly so not an option if we want disciplined wide play imo.

    On the left:
    ??????? – help me out guys, what left footed wide playing winger/striker option do we have?
    Gnabry – maybe but he is right footed for a start although he has a decent left foot and he’s not match fit yet anyway lol

    Maybe both don’t have to be wide playing options so one could be either Sanchez or Ozil, allowing the left fullback to provide most of the width on that side but that should automatically mean that the right fullback should never get far forward in the game – a discipline we severely lacked the other night.

    I don’t really know what the answer is tbh especially with Jack out for an extra while now, i’m leaning towards this type of line up;

    ————The OX———–Rosicky———–
    ———————-Back four——————–

    Sanchez over Ozil anyday
    Welbeck given his chance in the middle ahead of Giroud, with Akpom to sub later
    With OX and Rosicky in midfield you just watch how direct and FORWARD the passing and counter attacks are, those two add some serious drive and forward purpose in midfield imo.
    Cazorla and A-M-N as sub options for OX and Rosicky.

    Thats the best i can come up with 🙂

    Oh and btw when i hear all the many plaudits around the internet for the performances of the many youngsters in Monaco’s team (including Kondogbia), this is why i have the likes of A-M-N as a serious sub option.

    have a watch – the crossbar challenge King!!

  • Hello, people.

    TA, nice text about our defeat the other night. I think you have raised a question that I’ve been asking since the beginning of the season: how to keep the balance with Per Mertesacker on one side of the pitch and Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sánchez on the other one? Per is the best when we play in a deeper formation while both Welbeck and Sánchez tend to play high pressing game. That forces our midfield to cover the gap between our defence and attack.

    Speaking of The Ox, I don’t see him as a central midfielder despite all the energy he possesses. We have been punished many times after he lost the ball so I wouldn’t use him in the middle unless it’s a CAM position higher up the pitch.

  • Admir, “Speaking of The Ox, we have been punished many times after he lost the ball”

    Any other examples other than on Wednesday night?
    And should a player loosing it in the oppositions half really be responsible for punishment stemming from a goal conceded – do we simply not have a defense anymore? lol

  • TA, you’ve got mail…

    Palace put a beat-down on West Ham in the early match… Inneresting…

    F11ngers, the thing about the Ox is that he’s got tons of skill and tons (or is it tonnes?…) of enthusiasm. He’s not totally to blame for the last goal (of course), but pushing so hard for a second goal so late on–in the end–didn’t help. IF he can get his decision-making down he will be a huge force in the game. If anything he needs to control that enthusiasm, take that extra split second to do things right. He’s got so many tools at his disposal, after all, which may lead to even more troubles in picking the right one. He needs to learn from what happened on Weds and move forward…

    In my opinion, of course… 😀

    It may be exciting to propose youngsters in all positions for every match (or every other match) but there’s a reason experience is valued. That was half time of a 180 minute match and the last thing you want to do is get rash right before half-time…

    Look, we’re not going to be switching formations or basic ideas about positioning during this run-in period. IMO we’re suffering from too many changes in our back 6 which forces fewer changes up front or in the spots where players can help us defend from the front. We miss Debuchy A LOT (and Sagna, even more). Gibbs’ body language frustrates me a whole lot more than Ozil’s and he was standing around (in poor positions) for much of the match the other night. As much as I “like” him, if he’s not close enough to the play, all the recovery speed in the world will not help when teams counter at pace… If he were a bit more two footed I’d probably accept him in such a forward position, as it is, keep moving or just stay back and defend, I say…

    A couple more things… Gerry, I like the idea of trying Gabriel at DM, but I haven’t seen enough of the player to believe it would work. Nobody will believe it but (I think) we miss Arteta a lot more than we think. We need him (or Schneiderlin) sooner than later. F11ngers says if Kondogbia is so young and so good why not AMN? (AMN is the “new Hayden,” I guess…) The inference there is that all young players are good and can do the job. How about all old players are good? As such, why not Rosicky in (instead of Ox, for example as the earlier sub…) Moutinho (another veteran) had a very good match for Monaco, too…

    I’m NOT saying all old players are good and, believe me, exciting young players are exciting…They often play with a freedom and confidence (bad) experience has taken from the oldsters…Still, insisting on judging based on the number of years a player carries seems not so good for understanding–or discussing–what’s really going on…

  • Chelsea when we were battered? I think he lost the ball twice before the counter-attacks that resulted with Chavs’ goals.

    He was also a liability against Newcastle when we won 4:1. Luckily for us, he managed to get just one yellow card. He lost the ball around the center and had to commit a foul in order to prevent a goal-scoring opportunity.

    I write this from top of my head as I’ve noticed Chambo is far more comfortable with the ball when he is higher up the pitch.

    And, I agree with you and Wenger 😀 – it wasn’t just Chambo’s fault for the third goal (after all, nobody pointed a finger at Alexis who lost the ball to Fabinho before their second).

  • wake up and smell the coffee @ People

    as soon as the OX came on – he delivered what was required – he sent Theo on his bike twice, with a couple of wonderful passes, one on one’s – I think one of them was the one where Theo takes a shot , and then the rebound is missed by Welbeck ?

    then he scores the goal and then sure, he slips but he was doing what was asked of him to do which was to help in attack and move the ball quickly – what was Gibbs doing ? what was Koc doing ?

    bottom line – it was not our day , how many times would you see a keeper get a hand to a shot drilled from the right on that angle and still go in ? 9.9 times out of 10, it would go out for a corner .

    let us all move on and hope for Defoe to do us a favour at old toilet, ha

  • Former Tottenham striker Garth Crooks
    Final Score
    Man Utd 0-0 Sunderland
    Posted at
    “Manchester United need to take the handbrake off. If I was in that United dressing room, I’d be having arguments with my manager. I’d be saying: ‘Are you going to allow me to play? Or are you going to keep restricting me? You’re bogging me down with tactics. Let me go and play.’ These are top-class players. They’re not being allowed to play.”


    on the other hand, AW should have done the exact same according to the majority here, at 1-2 – should have told the team to shut shop ? so it was OX’s fault for scoring a goal and then rushing back wanting to score another goal so it could be 2-2 , if we scored another one it would have been 2-2 and everyone would have been banging on the drum and what not, instead we concede a goal to make it 1-3 .

    there’s a fine line but it’s football, sometimes the risks you take pay off and sometimes they don’t – take the sexy football with the unlucky mistakes or suicidal mistakes .

    you lot really are a confused bunch of very nice people 👿

  • This stuff is funny…

    When we lose, if Ospina is in goal, you have to expect that some Gooners will blame the collapsing sky on him, 007, it’s human (goonin’) nature… 😀

    The Chelsea battering is a funny example, Admir, as Ox never should’ve even been on the pitch…Instead Gibbs got sent off for the handball on the shot (which was actually going wide)…

    BTW, guess who the ref is tomorrow?… One Andre Marriner, the guy who was in charge in that match and couldn’t tell them apart… :/

  • HT, i take you’re points but its just getting to me atm, watching teams like Anderlecht, Spurs and now Monaco incorporate tonnes of youth in their teams and completely out pace and out battle us, we only seem to be able to showcase our higher level of skill gained through years of experience when teams give us the time and space to do so – and those types of teams are becoming fewer and fewer in number these days unfortunately.
    Did i see a mail alert? 🙂 Have we got a preview on the way? 🙂
    I tell you mate the match previews lately have been of far higher quality than the fucking performances they are previewing lol, keep it up bud can’t wait for the read.

    Admir, good memory mate and i’m not going to check tbh lol but i will still disagree i’m afraid, OX is one of the better and more tenacious battlers we have in the team imo and i am sure he has lost a ball a few times but i am equally as sure some of the best midfielders in the league have also – it is certainly not a familiar recurrence that has developed into any kind of a pattern that would keep him out of a midfield role imo.
    we will have to agree to disagree lol
    Good point about Alexis, plus i think Welbeck missed a tackle that was the start of one of the goals, i could be wrong though.
    With such a weak and leaky defense it may well be time to start blaming strikers and front men for goals lol, after all the defense can’t be expected to stop these moves, who ever heard of such a thing lol

  • oh crikey 😀

    Andre Marriner ehhhhhh – let’s marinate him ahahahahahhahahahahahaha I mean, let’s put on another show (not a horror one).

    well, they can blame the sky collapsing on Ospina, I have already given the link which proves that he’s a much better keeper than Sczny based on all the date collected by the peeps doing it .

    he will come good, give him another 3 games . if he doesn’t stand up and deliver as per our expectations then I will join you in getting Sczny back .

  • 007, I’m not sure if you’re singling me out… It’s called “controlled aggression” and it can be done…

    IMO, the Ox is an extremely talented player but I worry that even though he’s still very young he’s not learning from his mistakes and for all the good he brings (he may be our most physically gifted player, IMO…) he still seems to blow it with a lot of final balls and (slightly) uncontrolled play… It reminds me of another young player we have, who (sometimes) keeps goal for us…


  • Agreed with Admir. Ox plays without a brake. Great instinct, great technique, great energy, but pretty much clueless defensively. Another example is the rash challenge against Liverpool in the FA cup last season. Should’ve been a pen but he got away with.

    A Ferrari without brakes is great on dessert planes, not so much on a football pitch. 🙂

  • On that note, how do we measure experience? Age seems wrong… Szcz and Ox for example, though young have played a lot of matches…and some very big ones… Gibbs, due to injury hasn’t played so many, maybe… Le Coq and Bellerin–if you had asked them if they’d be in a CL elim match, in the Summer, would’ve laughed at you (and then gone all dreamy)…Ospina too, maybe…

    Thanks for the compliments on the preview(s), F11ngers, but you should maybe read it first…Judging on reputation is always a recipe for disappointment (or at least surprise)… 😀 Already I’ve realized that I (meant to but) forgot to mention the referee…

  • Me Amigo, me and singling you out ? no, nunca amigo !!!

    all am saying is that cut the lad some slack, he was out injured for 4-6 weeks, no ? was his first came after a break but he still managed to do much more than Ozil or Santiago did all game with the key passes, moving the game forward, driving us forward and in showing the hunger ? he’s not a defensive midfielder, we all know that and it’s not his fault that we had to take of Le Coq or not one of Ozil or Santiago for him – if Ox has the luxury of LE coq behind him, then it may well have been a different story .

    he is learning and he is getting better – that masterclass against man city was down to him being on the money as well (let’s not forget that ).

    Hi 5 @ Stevie wonders

    how you doing ?

  • Le Coq behind him (no pun intended and don’t you dare @ Glics


  • oh come on now @ me Amigo

    comparing Sczny’s games to OX’s is apple vs oranges, no ?

    how many games did Sczny play as a sub as opposed to OX’s games, where he was coming in for the last 5 minutes, 10 (if he got lucky) – there lies your answer

    OX is still pretty young in terms of game TIME and development – Sczny is miles ahead on that one .

    if there is a player that deserves the stick then that’s Danny Welbeck in my opinion and not OX .

    he wants to be our no.1 striker and play up front but his finishing is pretty poor, even worse than Giroud . he needs to start scoring goal, I know he contributes a lot to the team but he needs to start converting them chances as well.

  • OX has been out for a lot of the previous season with injuries also, and i think this season is the longest he’s had consistent matches for the first team.
    I think experience has to be judged on a sufficient time, at a sufficient level, consistently in one position.
    Take OX as a great example, how can you call him experienced, what bloody position does he play? Right wing, attacking mid, right back a few times this season, bloody defensive mid on Wednesday apparently lol.
    Its just like Ozil, he i would call experienced BUT at playing the number 10 role, put him wide on the left and he has to learn a whole new game. I don’t rate the guy much as you know but even i have to admit it must be annoying for him at this stage of his career.
    Fuck it lets play Sanchez in goal, he’s experienced enough lol

  • Man Utd 0-0 Sunderland
    Posted at 16:12
    Oh dear. Groans from the Old Trafford crowd as Ashley Young, on the left edge of the Sunderland box, passes to… no one. I presume the Manchester United winger thinks team-mate Adnan Januzaj is on his shoulder. He isn’t.
    United boss Louis van Gaal responds by scribbling a note in his A4 pad. “Must pass the ball better in the opponent’s half…”

    didn’t I say at the start of the season or more like predict that LVG is an over-rated manager ? and am glad he’s not at Arsenal !

    how do you spend £150 million and be this clueless .

    look at the Saints, they lost their key players got 5/6 new in and still play an impressive game .

  • Experience is a funny thing though HT, sometimes players like Sterling for example come from nowhere and have a massive impact because they simply have the skills.
    If it was up to me (as far as attacking players are concerned) i would like to try different options – Gnabry, Akpom, A-M-N, OX, Silva (who’s on loan), even Zelalem for Ozil sometimes. Its defense where real experience at the highest level counts the most i feel and even then it has to be tempered with actual ability on the ball as well.

    JB, i’m not saying anything yet, not while its still 0-0. I am temporarily enjoying their misery but know full well those bastards normally grab a bloody goal.

  • if we can’t beat this man utd team in our upcoming QF then people are really going to be getting those AW banners out, ha

    am watching the match and am baffled as to how they are 5th on the table .

    mind you, they have been playing like this whole season, even the game they won against us, we should have won comfortably (it was a monoco’sque game, wasn’t it ?

  • 😀 That’s funny too… 007 more of less absolves Ox of any fault because he’s an attacker and did his job, but then F11ngers forgives him his inexperience with the excuse that he doesn’t have a position on the pitch. Seems to me that unless he communicates with his mates and somebody else takes over the Le Coq spot, it’s his responsibility…

    We can argue all day about blame and such, but it all comes from places of different values. Some are more reactionary (blame for a goal, player is shite…) others stick to their guns (player is old and expensive or player is young and cheap, player is shite–or player has too many consonants in his name, player is shite…) All I’m trying to say is lets try and keep an open mind when we watch… On that note, F11ngers, you never answered my query about whether or not you did (and what the deal is with Telly and CL matches over there…) From in-match comments it sounds like you (and retsub) were only listening…

    United are at least drawing against Sunderland…(and have just been awarded a pen…) So’ton are losing at West Brom…

  • you were right @ Stevie Wonders


    Man Utd 0-0 Sunderland – John O’Shea
    Posted at 16:20

    Man Utd 0-0 Sunderland

  • am glad you are finding all the arguments very funny today @ Me Amigo

    always at your service , however, next time we should play Alexis as our DM , no ?

  • another Andre MEriner moment @ Me Amigo

    Man Utd 1-0 Sunderland
    Posted at
    “It’s a clear sending off. John O’Shea tackles Radamel Falcao on the penalty spot. He gives the striker a tug. The ref sees Falcao go down. But clearly he’s sent off the wrong player, because he’s sent off Wes Brown. Now Wes Brown should have said: ‘Referee, it was me.'”

    not by Andre this time, mind .

  • HT something tells me you haven’t gotten over OX’s slip and the final goal against us it led to on Wednesday night lol. He may have replaced Le Coq but do you think he was really subbed to perform the same task??? Come on man! the entire fucking team was on full attack mode at that point, the only fucker that was back was Koscielny. If you think OX was brought on to shore things up and settle things down in a defensive mid capacity then you’re off your rocker lol. He did what he was put on to do in my opinion, sorry mate thats just the way i see it.
    I watched the game live bud, we get all the CL matches live on TV over here, its only the 3 oclock kick off’s on Saturday we have to stream.

  • ahahahhahahahahhahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahha

    play nicely @ Stevie wonders

    ahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahah 😀

    do pardon me .


  • HT, i must admit though a lot of the match i spent watching a droplet of condensation slowly running down the inside of my window – it just seemed so much more exciting than the build up play i was seeing on the tv 🙂

  • And they gave a red card… Sunderland down a goal and a man now, was it really the wrong guy?… Time to switch to a different match…

    Let me say this, but then I have to go (and watch my kid in a ski race)… I agree with you, 007, that being a selling club (like So’ton) is not at all a bad way to go… Unfortunately, we’re beyond that now, with expectations to match. We cannot compete on salary, so no matter what people say there’s a reason Sagna (and Nasri, Clichy and all the rest) went to City and Cesc went to Chavs and RvP went to ManU (and Rooney was never gonna come to Arsenal no matter what Gazidis might’ve said)… Like it or not we’re a team of re-treads (there’s probably a different word over there for recycled tyres…) and callow youth. I like our team (and our manager) but that’s just me… I’d take nil-nil at OT (and a replay) in a heartbeat…

    I dunno F11ngers, about Ox and pure, all out attack… Gibbs, no doubt, could’ve done better, as could Ospina… Bellerin with a bit more experience might’ve gotten on his horse trying to rotate back (and central)… Regardless, the manager was none too pleased with the “suicidal” decisions he made. Unlike us on the internet (or on our playstations, maybe?…) he cannot move his players himself…

    Like I say, I gotta move on…as does the team–with the Everton match tomorrow…Right now I need late goal from Burnley and Villa for my UMF…

  • JB, who is the ref? fuck ever being in a line up for a crime with that guy doing the picking, can’t even distinguish between race, height, and build. 10 to life for being a stand in for a line up, fuck that! hahaha

  • we can’t compete on the salaries ?

    erm, we have the 3rd largest Wage bill in the PL – it’s more of a case of wasting the monies on players that are not good enough or paying them over the odds i.e. Sczny = more than £100 k per week , Poldi the same e.t.c e.t.c

    good luck to the junior 17HT, hope he wins the race!!!

    have a good day.

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