How do you write a preview for an already won match?

Arsenal – Reading  FA Cup Semi-final

I jest, of course, but in the wake of (finally) beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in the previous round and then avoiding Premier League competition in the draw for the semis, many Gooners reflexively believed our path to the final was assured.  The match has finally come and now it must be played.  In other words, believe it or not, we are NOT through to the final.  Not yet, at least.

Reading FC stand in our way and a cursory look at the form of both teams would suggest that it would be a remarkable story if they could find a way past us and into the final.   Since winning their replay vs Bradford City they have not notched another victory and they currently sit 18th in the Championship–35 teams stand between the two clubs if the PL table is placed atop theirs.  By contrast Arsenal’s win at OT was just one in a run of 8 (in all competitions).  In fact, since the low point of the first half of our season, shipping 3 first half goals at Stoke City in mid-December, Arsenal have won 20 out of 24 matches played.

They say, however, that form goes out the window in the cup matches and many will remember how Arsenal struggled in this same match vs lower league competition (Wigan) a year ago, needing a late goal from Per Mertesacker to take the match to extra time and penalties.  Others may also remember needing extra time the last time we played Reading in a cup match.  That one, in the league cup in Autumn 2012, featured an even worse first half than the one mentioned above, with Arsenal shipping 4(!!) first half goals.  It took a crazy 2nd half comeback and then more goals in extra time to advance.

It’s no wonder then that manager Arsene Wenger is emphasizing a strong start in this match.  He’s also mentioned that the experience at Wembley from a year ago will also help the team come into the match with full focus.

Meanwhile, Wenger’s opposite, Steve Clarke, has taken a different tack with a one liner exuding confidence but also hinting at a psychological conundrum facing his squad.  “When we beat Arsenal, we have to wait four weeks after our last league game to play the Cup final.”  Many are focusing on the “when” (not “if”) part of the quote, but I would look at the 2nd part.  While Arsenal players would rather (or additionally) be playing tournament football for a place in a final in Berlin on the 6th of June, they will not mind the earlier date (May 30) of the domestic cup final–and, ideally, another parade through Islington the following day.  Clarke’s statement is clearly an admonishment to his players to avoid taking the easy path to putting a less than satisfying season behind them prematurely.   They are 8 points above the relegation places (with 6 to play) so they still have a measure of work to do.  Still, beating a big team at Wembley and making the cup final would be an outsized accomplishment and the perfect stepping stone to a happier summer and real promise for the coming season.  We’ll have further mind games next week vs Chelsea, but these, from another former Chelsea man, aren’t bad.

If Reading can get past that (small) psychological hurdle all the pressure shifts back to Arsenal.  This article, written by a Reading FC fan–cheers to Gerry for pointing us to it, details some vulnerabilities in our squad and the tactics and players Clarke might use to exploit them.   It’s a very interesting read and highlights the need for positional discipline and solid defense down our flanks, which is extra interesting as I think it’s in this area where we might see some rotation from Wenger.

There were no injuries from the Burnley match, but Wenger has hinted that a couple of players coming off long term injuries might be available for the semi-final.  Mathieu Debuchy and Jack Wilshere sound as if they will be named to the squad (Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby will “be short”), but will they make the first 11?  (There have also been hints at slight knocks or illnesses, i.e., “Weng-juries,” for defenders Hector Bellerin and Gabriel Paulista.)  I think Debuchy is the more likely starter as he did not play in the midweek Under 21 match.   Wojciech Szczesny has been our FA cup keeper and surely will get another go.  Kieran Gibbs played at right back at Brighton in the round of 16 but Nacho Monreal got the call at Old Trafford, where he scored the critical first goal, and has become first choice in this position.  That one’s a toss-up.  Could this also be a chance (finally) for Theo Walcott?  There’s been so much speculation around his contract negotiations that it’s hard to know if they are affecting his selection.  Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were favored in the previous round, with Walcott warming up but then getting recalled to the bench after the Ox went off with a hamstring strain.  How much longer can he go without a chance?  Many players have done nothing particularly wrong, notably Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini, so, other spots could be up for grabs too.  Still, I don’t see Wenger rotating more than a few players from the successful teams which started vs Liverpool and at Burnley.  Subs could be more important than usual given that the match could go 120 minutes (and then to penalties), and, for a nice (but harsh) change, some fit players will not even make the first 18.

Predicted first 11:


Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs

Coquelin, Cazorla

Walcott, Ozil, Alexis


(Predicted subs: Martinez, Monreal, Bellerin, Rosicky, Ramsey, Wilshere, Welbeck) 

That’s only my best guess and other Gooners may have different ideas.   By playing Debuchy and Gibbs (with his ferocious recovery pace), and perhaps demanding greater positional discipline from them, we may be able to afford Walcott on the right and Alexis more focused on attack.  Being able to punish Reading on the break would be a real treat and might actually work to inhibit them getting too many players forward when they do have the ball.

Being a former defender himself, Clarke has always emphasized that part of the game.  Thus, getting the first goal could be critical as his teams tend to be strong when defending a lead.  We cannot afford to go behind as we did in our two most recent trips to the national stadium.  Take the match seriously, start brightly–and with full focus–and, finally, be willing to absorb whatever Reading, referee Martin Atkinson and all other fates throw our way and we’ve got a great chance to make the final for a 2nd time running and (a record) 19th time since the competition began.

Go on then..

By 17highburyterrace

104 thoughts on “How do you write a preview for an already won match?

  • Big PC issues, 17ho, so after an hour of uploading, I just had to publish it as you sent it to me. Hope to add in proper formation tomorrow. Knackered and off to bed now.

    Thanks for a great preview. 🙂

  • That Mr Wenger has choices.
    Real choices.
    Make this FA Cup match different from seasons past.

    Watching stateside tomorrow,

  • I think Welbeck will start ahead of Giroud, and Debuchy/Gibbs will be in for Bellerin/Monreal.
    I also think this match will be won by half-time, 3-0 and cruising. That will allow the likes of Wilshere & Rosicky to come on and get some minutes.
    Oh yeah – and Walcott will score and make everyone say – sign him up!

  • There’s always one who is going to tempt fate, all I’ll say is Ipswich, Swindon, Sunderland. You might be joking but you’ve thought its fact right? which is ok right up until you have to eat a sodding great piece of humble pie which will repeat for at least a week. This is Arsenal and I love em to bits but, but, but, certs are not in the Gunners d n a, proven by Monaco at home just a few short weeks ago, couldn’t lose that one either could we?

  • 17 i hate the title. Even in a joke i think its tempting fate. I hope we do as we should tomorrrow. On united vs chelsea, if chelsea drop points to them without carrick, blind and others, they deserve to lose the league.

  • Hi all..
    I think this game is so important for Wenger.. so he will keep all his first and fit players first..
    Although I want to see Walcott badly.. but Ramsey steal his position and also Welbeck..
    No one need to have rest because our next game still a week to go.. so we will see almost the same player if not because of injury concern..

    Maybe.. just maybe.. Welbeck play as CF.. for his great game and luck at old traford..
    Debuchy and Wilshere may start also to test their fitness..
    So Cazorla can have a rest.. haha..

  • For the benefit of those above, TA normally inserts the title. This one may have been HT’s ‘working title’, and because of the technical problems it never got changed (had TA wished to?).
    I agree, it does stand out as an arrogant statement, when taken in isolation. Which is a pity, as HT has always given the opposition the greatest respect. So be assured, the ‘I jest’ in the opening paragraph is very sincere.

    Sorry HT, The above apart, a fair assessment for the task ahead. I’ll go along with the team selection, although it does look tough on Ramsey? After all there is a limit to how many players you can play in the middle, even if cutting in from the wing. I slightly disagreed with AW when he said (about playing Ramsey wide right) that ‘… it game the team better balance’. What it did was to leave the more central area free for Ozil and Cazorla to work it between them, as they have done so well during the recent run. That needs to be the case again today. What Ramsey, failed to do was adequately help out the defence, in particular Bellerin. No surprise that was the successful wing that Burnley exploited? I can see Reading doing exactly the same if Walcott plays, except they will find a much more experienced RB in Debuchy to get by. Without Debuchy, Walcott does not start imo.

    Thanks for crediting me with the link to the Reading perspective, but really the credit should go to the writer of that piece, one William Owain (@WilliamOwain is his twitter handle, as I have since found out. Sorry, Will, I don’t do twits, but I will say that was a great write up for the club you support). I was most impressed. It should wipe away any smug thoughts that those who agreed with the title … Just think Monaco home tie, and you land in the real world with a bump.

    Of course that game was the shocker that got the team ‘collective’ back on track. You simply don’t see players moaning about a poor pass, or wrong option taken. Yes there will be ‘looks’, but they move on quickly. There was very poor movement off the ball and on the ball in the Monaco game, and to some extent, in the Burnley game. Although credit to Burnley, they worked hard to stop us playing, Two things from Will’s linked piece I think will be key. Reading will not leave the space behind their midfield and back 4, and they will go for the ball over the top to a speedy attacker. Hence the need for Coquelin to track that player, and hold him up, dispossess if possible before the support comes from their 5 man midfield. This will be more key on Gibbs , if he plays, as he cannot be in two places at once. He will be integral to providing width on that side. On the other wing, again if the team is as above, it will be Debuchy’s job. Centrally Koscielny will complete that line of defence if either of the other pair are pulled away.
    That is how I see the defending shaping up, allowing time to get the rest behind the ball.

    In attack we simply have to move the ball quicker. That requires players offering themselves, or moving into space to create an option for a pass. Against Burnley, far too many times the ball was carried too far until the pass option was down to one, and the Burnley defence were able to intercept. Reading players are equally good at this!
    They are also very good at shooting from long range, so WS1 will have to be at his best. They will be keen to test him out from the get go. Be warned, Szczezzer!

    Finally, if we play a high tempo game moving the ball about, players on both sides will tire. Subs will be key, especially the timing of them. Reading, as said above, this game is what will define their season, and they will give it their all. Not that I am suggesting our players won’t, but tired players make mistakes, and mistakes can be costly to whichever side makes them. We should, in theory, have a stronger bench. Hopefully, subs will be deployed before mistakes are made, and that also applies to red cards. Any one getting one here will cost us twice, as they will not be available for the Chelsea league match either. Atkinson is not tolerant of retaliation.

    On that note, I hope the team that goes through, does so on merit, not by default on a wrong decision by the officials.

    Keep the faith …

  • I hope you are wrong about Wilshere starting Henry, as I fear he will break up the good link that is so important between Czorla and Ozil.
    I can certainly see him coming on for Ozil though. Last 15 minutes as a double edge, defending and attacking.
    That could apply to Ramsey though, and he will be keen to get another Wembley goal.
    Welbeck will be disappointed to lose out to Walcott, but the latter is possibly the better option on this big pitch? He could also be about to do a ‘Bacary’, and sign off with a Wembley appearance?
    Rosicky will also be considered to add thrust if we are wilting and the score is close?

    Options options options …

  • Lennon.. I am for sure not a Wilshere fan.. haha.. and I would let him for ease..
    But not for Wenger.. Wilshere is one of his favourite player.. and that’s why he give him #10 shirt..

    Ozil also not my favourite.. I choose Cazorla first.. but again Wenger had a very different way of thinking..
    The bad new is he almost always right.. hahaha..
    I don’t see Ozil and Cazorla connecting.. so maybe Ozil-Wilshere is a better one.. hahaha..

  • Henry, if you don’t see Ozil and Cazorla ‘connecting’, who do you think has been running the show these last 8 games?
    The key is that they do not get in each others way since Santi dropped deep, and more importantly, neither has to operate on the wings, which happens when both are high up the pitch.
    Agreed, that the 10 option is best for Wilshere … if he replaces Ozil, not with him.
    Reason? He clogs the middle. Wilshere can add a lot, but not if he destroys our most effective midfield.

  • Although I will keep believing we can win the league, realistically this is by far our best chance of winning something. I have always been a big fan of Szs but, wouldn’t risk him today, it’s simply to important to risk him.

    Bringing back some of the other outfield players also presents a risk, but less so. I don’t think Rambo is a player that benefits from being rested, so he would be a starter for me.

    I also think that Theo could be one of the few players who could unlock the Chelsea defence. I doubt Wenger will start him today, but I would like to see him get some game time

  • This is a game for Jack’s return and I expect him in the hole. CAzorla has had a few under par games recently but has done enough to get a good sale price in the summer and I expect him to be gone next season. So same back five as the man from Tahoe, but then:

    ——-Le Coq – L’Aaron——-
    Der Ozil – Le Jack – El Alexis
    ————– L’Ollie————–

  • Hello, people! 🙂

    I really like 17’s previews – that’s the best superstition ever! Why there was no Bergkampesque in 1999? We could have retained the double! 😦

    Anyway, I just finished my preview for the game today (3:0 for us) and I remembered that funny incident when Le Coq and Le Giroud had to ask supporters their shirts back after throwing them into the crowd. They didn’t know there would be extra-time played.

    Speaking of Le Coq, I wanted to check what I’ve written about him back in 2013. I was doing the average player ratings for all our players that participated. This is what I wrote for Coquelin:

    “Le Coq wasn’t very happy with his status at Arsenal as he claimed he will leave the Gunners in search for regular football. A low ratio of rated games and appearances says everything about Coquelin’s status in North London. His future remains unknown although I can’t stop wondering what would happen if he was melted with Frimpong into one player. Coquelin has certain qualities but failed to gave a performance in 2012-13 that would leave you with your mouth open.”

    In a way, he has melted with Frimpong into one player except Frimpong was left with his twitter-account and nothing else.

    Should be a comfortable win today. We have beaten them twelve times in a row with Baptista, Chamakh and Gervinho being unlikely heroes in three of those.

  • TA, a bit off-topic – I also wrote an article about possible replacements for Wenger in 2017 when his contract runs out.

    One of listed replacements is Frank De Boer, assisted by Dennis. What do you think about De Boer? 🙂 He has been the only manager in Dutch history to win Eredivisie four times in a row and he did it in 3,5 years.

    Preview is still not up.

  • TA – A lot of people just read NewsNow headlines, and there, in isolation it will appear to some as coming across as arrogance?
    Don’t get so touchy. Save that for the game. 😀

  • Hey guys… My biggest worry about the title (which, in fact, was more just a “lead”…) was that it was awkward sounding… I most definitely was talking about OTHER people’s tendencies, not my own… I did, sort of, expect it to get buried a bit… Normally, TA likes to add headlines about guys who might get a start who have been left ou in recent matches… Anyhow, nothing too cockie here in my opinion…Complacency would be the killer today…

    Anyhow, I’m back on the road again today–back down to the Bay Area to pick up my wife who’s been at a conference all week…The match is on national network TV (as is the Chavs-United match) so the English game is truly on the up here in the states…

    Still no line-ups…should be soon…Yeah, I may be all wrong about how Wenger wants to rotate and smart money could be on no changes beyond Szcz. I think we can afford them given that it’s a potentially 120 match. Bringing on Jack and Aaron sure worked a treat in the final a year ago… Hopefully the boys have been practicing pens, which may also give the manager some idea about subs. If we come out with good focus, generate pace with our ball movement and play to our best qualities I think we can settle it in the 90…

  • Welbeck leads the line and Ramsey starts in that right-wide position… 9 out of 11 for me, but the subs are all wrong… (No Bellerin, no Rosicky…)

    Reading: Federici, Gunter, Hector, Pearce, Obita, McCleary, Williams, Chalobah, Robson-Kanu, Mackie, Pogrebnyak.
    Subs: Stephen Kelly, Norwood, Cox, Yakubu, Karacan, Andersen, Cooper.

    Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Welbeck.
    Subs: Gabriel, Wilshere, Giroud, Ospina, Walcott, Monreal, Flamini.

  • Exactly why I responded in my earlier comment HT.

    Anyway, to the match in hand. I am trying not to get overly confident about a favourable result, because we have been down the alternative route before. All I do know, whoever plays, they will have tried their hardest …. and they will need all the support they can get to pick themselves up for the game next week if it does go pear shaped
    This one does cost points, pride yes, but not points.

    I am of course hopeful of a game where we play to our best, and that should be good enough for a reasonably comfortable win. But I am not taking that as a given.

    I am keeping the faith ….

  • nice one @ ME Amigo

    you got 9 out of 11 , me thinks ?

    from the last post or the one before it – I do have a superstition these days and it’s linked with 17HT’s previews, I reckon we are only winning because of his mighty fine previews.

    yep, those who can’t get the title really do need to start reading the PREVIEW as opposed to just the heading, I reckon

    Quite like the starting 11 and I might be wrong but Giroud also didn’t start against man utd which means that Welbeck gets the strikers slot ahead of Giroud in the same way that Sczny gets the nod over Ospina ? (similar thinking there?

    3-0 Arsenal

  • get assist Ozil – Goal Alexissssssssss Sanchez baaaaaaaaaaybeee

    I would hook Santiago , move Ramsey to the center and bring on Theo

    Santiago not at the horses today, am afraid.

  • *races


    not sure where the horses bit came from, most likely because Gerry enjoys the horse racing, ha

  • Sczny = probably the most over-rated, over paid Goal keeper in the world.


  • Fit and in form for me JB. The only one left on the bench therefore is Nacho – unless you want Ospina on…. Gibbs having a poor game, but can’t see us making the change until we need it now, unless we ship a goal. Need to keep flexible to cover for possible injuries/fatigue. How will Debuch hold up in his first game back…?

  • good reasoning.

    so if it goes to penalties, let’s do a LVG and bring Ospina to save the penalties.



  • thank you reading, thank you to your goal keeper who makes Sczny look world class 😀

    Alexiiiiiiiiiiiiis Sancheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez baaaaaaaaaaaybeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    Alexis Sancheeeeeeeeeeez woooooooooooooooooooo


  • no need to clip my nails this week, have none left

    start the engine time

    we are going to Wembley once more!!!

  • Well that wasn’t pretty and Reading worked hard. Just a couple of thoughts

    1 I don’t think we can blame Sss for the goal, the deflection was pretty close to him

    2. Both our full backs looked leggy, not sure they were ready for 120 minutes

    3. We looked a far better side when Giroud came on.

    4 not a great performance and let’s be honest Lady Luck was on our side, but we are going to Wembley.

    5. It’s about time Theo got a run, he does make a difference.

    Chelsea winning today is going to make it highly unlikely we will win the league.. Time to take the cup very seriously

  • Great result.. with a little luck.. hehehe..
    Its time to say goodbye to Szczesney.. I think his season is over..
    CROCS did it again.. 4-1-4-1 win.. but I missed my arsenal..

    But whatever it is.. I can have a beauty sleep..
    And a great result for my girl birthday..
    Happy birthday Yoona the Goona..

  • Ozil in the groove
    Reading 1-2 Arsenal
    Mesut Ozil
    Getty Images
    The two games in which Ozil has laid on two goals have both arrived since March.

    Hello Steve 👿

  • happy birthday to the gorgeous Yoona the Gooner. she is a very lucky baby for us, 2 years and 2 trophies 😀 or is it 3 years now ? Henry ?

  • We’re in the final, and whatever the media say, and we all know that they all wanted an upset, they didn’t get it, so suck it up Arsenal haters….

    I thought the bias of the BBC commentators was a bloody disgrace.
    But not surprising…..

    Onwards and Upwards….

  • Agreed Allezkev 🙂

    They wanted an upset desperately, but we had by far the better chances… Just made it hard for ourselves. Really happy we got through.

  • Total/Bondy, some of their comments were outrageous.
    They made absolutely no secret of what they was hoping for.
    They were totally unprofessional.
    But that made the result all the more satisfying….

  • Agreed with much of the commentary here…The guys who came in (from the unchanged 11s in the league) all brought down the level that critical tiny bit… Mackie had a bit of field day on Debuchy, I thought, and Gibbs was really in a no man’s zone on the goal…both of them (and Szcz, of course) could’ve ALL done better on that play… It doesn’t mean they should all be sold, however…

    Also agreed about the bias in the commentary…though it’s pretty standard stuff…If only our English boys (Welbeck and Gibbs and then, late on Theo) could’ve shut them up… I hate to say it, but I think we’re a better team with Giroud and Nacho in there. as the passing is both quicker and can happen in tighter spaces. Additionally, Welbeck as a target for long kicks is about as good as….kicking it towards nobody at all… Finally–and this one will not be popular–but Alexis, despite the two goals, I think, could do more for the team and things could’ve been a good deal more difficult if his those two shots (both of them) didn’t make it through the well positioned keeper… On the other hand, hitting the target is essential and good things can happen when you do so…Just ask Rambo…

    Anyhow, never worried over here…Though there was a moment after Reading scored (and not long after Chelsea got the lone goal in their match) when I thought…Hmmmm…is that us done in the pursuit of TWO trophies?… 😦

    Alas, I fear the one is gone, but we did enough to have a hand on the other… 🙂

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend…

  • Admir, am not a fan of De Boer, as I judge him on his performances with Ajax in Europe, which are hit and mis. But yes in Holland he did well.

  • Total, we all know that the media want Stevie G to win the FACup in his final EPL season, not least professional Scousers like Murphy, so they an have a collective hard on…

    For that reason, I really hope that Villa stuff Liverpool tomorrow…

    Great result today, really enjoyed it.
    Lata mate….

  • Oh and what a pity you did not like your own title.. 😕 I liked your angle and anybody not getting your sentiment straightaway is far better off blogging somewhere else. We are not afraid of a little bit of irony at bergkampesque 🙂

  • no, that’s not what am saying @ Me Amigo but wouldn’t mind him sold either in the summer.

    so, what is it that I’m saying here ?

    we should pick our best players for the final – which means

    Giroud = IN – Welbeck = Out

    Nacho = IN – Gibbs = Out

    Ospina = IN – Sczny = Out

    Debuchy is our best RB – he needs game time and the 120 minutes would have done him a lot of good for the Chelsea game.

    he is getting unfair stick, considering he came back after 3 months and did a decent job.

    Gibbs was an attacking threat, when he got rid of the hand brakes and decided to have a “go”. we were only attacking from the left as Debuchy’s legs had gone.

    Also, Ramsey on another day could have scored a hat-trick himself.

    Ozil was my man of the match. what a marvelous player.

    how many assists has he provided this season ? am losing count = Cesc WHO ?

  • would love that @ Skipper

    tomorrow am a Tim sherwood fan who happens to be a GOONER 🙂

    come on you Villains!!!

  • Just finished watching the game and dont know what all the fuss is about !… was never in doubt !……… superstitious run has the cup in the trophy cabinet already and the final falls on my birthday and thats a day when I like to cry with joy !. hahaha
    I actually thought we played well with Le Coq Bloque awesome again along with Santi and Ozil !.
    Sanchezmanian Devil was whizzing all over the place and Ramsey even though mostly out on the right did well. Actually the only players who I thought were below par was Szczesny and Gibbs !, Szcz` is just lacking confidence at the moment and I`m still not convinced with Gibbs, I personally think he is the most overrated player we have !.
    Didn`t they call Gilberto the Invisible Wall ?…….well Le Coq Bloque is like the Invisible Condom !……blocking all penetrating spurts !.
    Bed now as I`m well behind with my semi-live delayed stress free game . hahaha

  • Mmmm … Well any thoughts that it was ‘given’ we had won pre-game, not a view expressed by me, or indeed in HT’s preview, got a rude awakening. Only on a 120 minutes could we be sure that another return to Wembley was certain.

    Strange game in many ways. Restricting Gibbs from going forward in the first hour or so meant there was little width on that side.While Ramsey on the other had not the pace to be a winger, but had a strong tendency to drive inside to a crowded middle. Debuchy was not at his best, understandably, so his crosses were limited. All in all, it played to Reading’s strength, with play going to the over-populated middle.

    Despite that we did break through a few times, but the clinical finishing was not quite there. At least we may have ‘the PL Player of the Season’ on that performance?
    Yes, Alexis did it again.
    The first from a superb pass from Ozil, and close control from Alexis, followed by a placed finish meant we should have been able to control the game from there.

    But the script for this game was never going the be that straightforward. A mistake led to their equaliser, and a mistake gave us the winner. On such fine margins these games are decided.

    Elsewhere, Chelsea scraped through to more or less seal the title, but a quick look at the table will give you the reason why I think that was the best result for us?

    We will still be in second place even if we lose to Chelsea. Better still, if we get only a draw in that game means that as long as we win the for ‘winnable’ games, we do not have to beat United either to be SURE of a top 3 finish. Only Man City could overtake us is they win all their remaining games. That to me makes more practical sense than hoping someone else takes points off Chelsea as well as us. Because the flip side of that, had United won and we failed to beat Chelsea we could be looking once more at the ‘4th place trophy’?

    Now we can relax a little. Keep players fresh and ready as we build up to the game on May 30th. The injury to Per does knock us back a CB option though.

    The Walcott situation has not gone away either. Mixed day for him, after not being selected to start, and only showing glimpses of what he might have added earlier, not to mention the risk in removing Coquelin to make way for him, did not add ‘guaranteed playing time’ into his new contract in my book.
    The Wilshere dilemma has not been resolved either, but at least the temptation was resisted here. Neither has the Ramsey ‘gives the team better balance’ on the wide right been proven.

    Oh yes, the remaining games are going to be full of intrigue and upsets. But at least they have kept the winning run going …

    Well done lads. Hard work, but the rewards have come your way.

  • What I`m about to say now really goes against everything I stand for and hold true in the war of good against evil and will probably have to severely punish myself by sticking my knob in a juicing blender !…..well, I shall take some precaution and wear a fruit flavored condom as being health conscious …..I need my 5 a-day !.
    I want the Spuds to win today !!!……the reason for this outrage is simple !……we need them to be on Spursday nights and have some Micky Mouse Cup to keep them in a position for possible fatigue wear out !….otherwise they will only have to play once per week and we`ve seen what that has done for Manshafter and the Bindippers in the last two seasons !….they had a free run at CL qualification !.
    So there !….Cockie thinking with his head !.

  • Ha, the pool blow it. Villa in the final it is. Potential for us to be complacent once more sadly, so expect no nails again then!

  • We haven’t lost to Reading since 1957.

    Aston Villa haven’t won this cup since 1957.

    Tim Sherwood looks like he was born in 1957.

    57 divided by 19 is three. We have beaten Villa twice this season.

  • On May 30th 1957 I was ONE !…….How many times this season have I run the Superstitious 4 Miler ?….ONE !……..To log off of my computer I have to put the cursor arrow up the crack of David Seaman`s arse on the Emirates Stadium mural which is my screen saver and he`s doing a Poznan with number ONE on his back !…..I give all the BK Wag`s ONE !……I`m so gorgeous that when I see my reflection in the mirror all I want to do is give ONE self`s ONE !.

    So that makes it ONE trophy in the bag !. hahaha

  • Noooo, Cockie, we have already won one! Community Shield is already in the bag!

  • No Adders !……..Community Shield is what it says it is……a Shield !…..not a Cup !……and whilst we`re at it !……The Emirates Cup, The Vietnam Cup or any other crap cup doesn`t count on The Superstitious 4 Miler Scale !….only bona fide cups and competitions count !……so that`s…EPL, CL. FA Cup and only just squeezing in…The COC !. The Europa League is just a notch above The Johnstones Paint Trophy and the 1970`s Anglo Italian Cup, but just for you I shall change to ……ONE cup in the bag !. 😀

  • Reading a lot of comments around the blogs and most although happy we are in the final again , seem to be more happier moaning about the display . No we all know that I am the Protector of The Chart of Doom, but I watched the whole game and I thought we played some great football in patches and the stats that we had 72% possession and 23 (12 on target ) shots compared to Reading`s 12 (4) and us forcing 7 corners to their 4 tell a lot of truth imo and don’t forget we hit the woodwork 3 times and had they go in we would all be saying what a great display !. Anyone woyuld think we were lucky to win and that we gave a performance like the heavy defeats to Manshafter , Mansour City , Bindippers and Chavs in recent years !.
    Lets all be realistic !………Semi`s and Finals are usually close encounters no matter what division or league position you are in….it all go`s out of the window !.
    Lucky enough, other teams do not have a Cockie Monster who goes that extra mile to win us an in the bag trophy….sorry …cup !. 😀

  • Nobody writing on this Monday?… I guess all is OK in Arsenal land… I’ve got stuff to do but must procrastinate…

    Personally, I’m pretty pleased with our 9th win on the trot (in all comps), even if it wasn’t our best performance and it was settled on a shot which never should’ve beaten the keeper… Also, I prefer Villa in the final as they are a good story under the former Spurs coach. Those are a couple of good wins at his former club and now against Pool, again in London. With Benteke finally fit they are a different prospect than the team we beat twice (total score = 8-nil) this season and they’re also (most likely) the tougher foe…They’ll certainly play with nothing to lose…

    As for our semi…as close as it was, I wasn’t too worried. Reading would’ve required a lot of luck to get a 2nd (our defending is improved, I think) and I would always fancy our chances in a shootout. Luckily it didn’t come to that. Overall, I thought we controlled the match well. If anything, I think that our game is just so dependent on Giroud’s presence–not so much for his strikes, but as an outlet for relieving defensive pressure and as a central figure for our play along the ground. Without him we just look too spread out and rely too heavily on (longer) killer passes which require both skill and fortune to convert into chances. We got the 1st goal through one of those, but it was the exception, not the rule…I thought… When the big guy is in there, players like Alexis, Ramsey and Santi seem to look to him for the tight 1-2s which often result in nice chances. Without him, I don’t really sense much of a plan beyond Ozil looking for the runs in behind…

    Now, of course, the cup goes on the back burner, and instead we’ll get a long week of build-up to the Chelsea match which, unfortunately, means a lot symbolically but not nearly as much in practice. I expect the Moo-man to cow on and on about this… and otherwise make it seem even longer…

    Happy Monday… 🙂

  • Yes, strangely quiet on here. It is funny how winning affects people?

    Anyway doing my usual browsing I spotted this, and I thought I would have a peak. I include the link, mainly for my appreciation to William Owain’s dedication. However, he does point the finger at one or two Arsenal players, and does not praise the the good bits. Understandable.
    He does though, through his clips, point a way of playing the high line defence without too much risk. I think it is worth a read from an Arsenal perspective too.
    See what you think?

  • Sooooo…Nobody with nothing to say?… Time to shut this place down? I’d probably write a bit more but the previews keep me busy enough…

    Neutral football is always a good time to do some typing and the low-scoring half of the CL matches are on….talk about a game needing a goal…Between the two Madrid teams playing English (style) football but then doing the more continental injury simulation it’s all rather dire. Nil-nil for another 75 and we go to pens…

    Arsenal probably aren’t quite tough enough to beat these teams and defend the endless set-pieces for which they are playing, but, on current form at least, I think we could get by the teams in the other match (Juventus or Monaco) who are also playing a very (very) tight match. No Pogba in that one, but that Kondogbia fellow seems a strong prospect amongst all the French DM types out there these days… I know Gerry wants to see Gabriel play in that role, but my punt would be Kos…

    I mention Gerry as he’s the ONLY other guy to have made a comment this week. What’s the deal? My theory is that the rise of the Arsenal blog-o-sphere was (mostly) a function of anti-Wenger sentiment as it was always the manager who had to take the blame for the corporate decisions of the club. Choosing to move to the bigger, more pricey stadium in order to compete with the money-down-a-hole clubs (and the other team with the big stadium and global support–ManU or even the other American owned and more adventurous “big” club, Pool…) was never gonna go down easy. The laugh is that the internet made everybody a better football manager as well…

    So, all of those who called for his head during those periods where we had at least 3 of our top 5 players out injured (as we seem to have every season, at some point…) now have to bide their time and hope for a sudden reversion in our current form (and dropping out of the CL places), a big loss (at home) to the Moo-man and his team of cud chewers this weekend–who will likely stifle the life out of that match much as they have with the league title (and their other already won domestic cup)–or a loss to Little Timmy Sherwood’s Midlands team in 6 weeks time… Talk about your boring, boring Arsenal (“supporters”)… Can’t we even muster a little (always ridiculous) transfer talk?… Give me Schneiderlin and Higuain (amongst current faves…) and I’ll be a happy camper, though I’d be just as pleased to see some English boys (Wilshere, Walcott and Welbeck) or some older injured types (Arteta, Diaby, Rosicky) come good and continuity over the summer…

    In other words, the team, when healthy and getting a chance to play together, isn’t really so shite after all and being an Arsenal supporter, although boring, isn’t the worst fate on the planer…

    Or something…

    Thanks for reading… 😀 😦

  • Hey TA… I know you’re busy, but where are the others?… We need another post just to take off the hubris laden (but ultimately correct) title… Didn’t I write it as, “How do you write a preview for a match which is already won?” 😀 Very slightly different than the edited version but more correct–to my ear, at least… (More winky, eh…)

    If that’s all we can argue about, I guess things must *really* be good in the Arsenal-land…

    Uh oh, Atletico down to 10…Arda Turan came in studs up but hardly made any contact and the ball was already gone…Well sold by Sergio Ramos…

    It IS unfortunate that the negative teams all ended up on one side of the draw while the teams that make goals all ended up on the other… Does it go to show that entertainment IS actually important? (Or that football, at heart, is a boring game?…At least as the money gets more and more concentrated?) Barca looked pretty good over the two legs but PSG really gave very little fight… This rematch of last year’s final is cynical in the extreme as one might expect from a derby, but you’d fancy either team to win our league, I fear…

    Ooh…ANOTHER chance for the Mexican (Chicharito) goes just wide…

  • Finally, the little pea scores… and Monaco cannot… so at least we’re (all) spared extra time…

  • Nope…the bigger clubs win… Time to create an actual “league” instead of the all too predictable tournament?…. Money IS success is maybe the theme here?… Klopp or Simeone to Man City, I guess?… At least it was a good evening for the Colombian and Mexican players on that RM team…Shirt sales going up, up, up….

    Haha… Reduced to reading my own crap… I meant “planet” not planer above… 😀

    Even that troll probably cannot get the haters out of hiding… Go Chavs, (or Villa in at the end of next month), I guess… 😦

    Assuming all goes well vs Chavs, (and, after a few nice comments it all goes quiet again…) I could turn my troll into a mid-week post, or something…Lemme know… 😀

    You should write something, TA, if you’ve got the time… Otherwise, what are we doing here?…

  • Evening HT and TA – anyone else? Prob not. Yes its been quiet and felt a bit flat. I’m not too sure why? Well perhaps its just that time of the season. I don’t think there is any real belief that we could yet win the title. Unusually, we don’t seem to be in a nail biting position over whether we might scrape into 4th. And, whilst we can look forward to the cup final, the manner of our reaching it was pretty insipid. All that means, barring idle transfer speculation – which really is even more utter bollocks at this time of year than normal – there’s very little to get excited about! Hence the sense of mildly satisfied anticlimax, if you can have such a thing – we’ve had a pretty good year, but not enough to either really excite us or worry us.

    Perhaps this is the subject of a post? Does any other club have this dilemma? Liverpool would love to have our ‘problems’, as would the spuds. We have created a niche that is uniquely our own, between the mega-spenders and all the other big clubs/wannabes. And at this time of year it does feel a tad boring Arsenal. Do we need a Moyes type experience to shake ourselves out of it and appreciate what we really have? I hope not.

    Further on the flatness theme, we have built again this year. My problem now is that, barring buying really huge players, I don’t see a lot of people that we are linked with who would really improve our first 11; depth yes, but first team not really. So even the speculation for the TW is a bit flat because, we already have a top squad and anyone we buy now will either a) start on the bench or b) displace an established quality player. The real challenge for the summer is how to coach the collective to up their game/consistency levels a fraction. Again not a matter for impassioned blogging.

    The only big issues for the heart rate, for me at any rate, are now a) can we break our duck against maureen’s Chelski, and b) can we get 3 points against a team with van judas playing for them? Either or both would be really sweet moments for me and, from a blogging point of view, we will either all be depressed (and blaming Wenger for it no doubt) or ecstatic and predicting global domination. I can’t get worked up over the cup yet – after such a bland performance against Reading; but I’m sure I will be fired up (i.e. worrying) come the 30th.

    Hardly a catalyst for conversation, but hey, its where my heads at!

  • Hola Amigos and me Amigo!

    well, the weather in England has been rather good off late and that normally means one thing.

    Glics going on his long runs and recruiting more for Lesbania.

    Am happy with my bicycle rides these days – have taken a bike out on the cycle2work scheme and as you can imagine, am well spent as I return back home – until my stamina and fitness gets better, you’ll be seeing a lot less of me, ha

    I feel that it’s Real Madrid’s CL to lose this year, as much as I would like Bayern Munich to win, I just don’t see Pep beating Carlo at his counter attacking tactics with “BBC” or BCC” ” at the front.

    The little pea is injured and didn’t look good for him. Feel sorry for him. He would have done really well at Liverpool or Southampton (hint).

  • That’s it, 17, I have no time or energy to write,so the options are continue as is or let it slumber till next season, or for regulars to blog more…… Regularly… 🙂

  • Nice one AB, I think are mostly right but a little harsh on our performance against Reading. Steve Clarke is very good at containing a team and the Royals were up for it, with nothing to lose… We were unlucky as well.

  • Yes TA. A bit harsh I guess. I’m not angry or down about the Reading game, just left a bit uninspired by it. We did just about enough; they fought hard and rode their luck. But we should have won in normal time I feel – that would have been professional, and avoided necessary energy expenditure and injury risk. Not a negative, but not one to get us all fired up and chattering either I guess.

  • Yes AB, you are right. I also guess the Chavs beating the Mancs also didn’t help, as dropped points would have given us belief. But OGAAT and let’s give the Chavs a proper game! 🙂

  • Well, a few more voices, at least…

    AB, I think you’ve summed it up well enough, though I think the issues run deeper (as per my troll up above)… The Cup semi (like the Burnley match…all of them, really…) are all about the result. Regular time or ET, I think, didn’t matter too much with more than a week until the next match. Having to use the early sub (and then needing to be extra sure at the back with the new CB) made having the extra 30 mins a nice luxury… I keep saying it, but margins are tight and fans get a whole lot more nervous than players (who actually can do things to affect a match)…

    Tournament play is ALWAYS defense (American spelling…) first… Another reason they need to get rid of that away goal rule in the CL and then (sooner than later) create a European Super League… If Chavs can have 2 dozen guys on loan or City can keep guys on top money on the bench or in the shadow squad, it’s bad for the game…Those guys need to play and they need to play in 6 pointers against the other big money clubs on a regular basis… In my opinion, of course… 😀

    Arsenal (and our manager, who serves at the pleasure of his owner, Stingy Stan…) trying to do things on the cheap, really should be saluted for where we are. If only we could’ve been that 4th team… Or had a better Autumn so these end of season matches really mattered…

    007, looking past Barca, I think, doesn’t seem reasonable… IMO, they’re the favorites, but again that’s just me… On a personal note, good job re: the bike… I’m trying to get back at it (running) but it’s hard after the travels (and too much eating)…

  • Ha, is that a conversation that broke free???

    I guess I am as guilty as any, in not providing food for thought, and allowing the 7 day lull between matches to follow my other sporting passions …. but the Moto GP has been fantastic and horse racing is warming up nicely for the classics.

    Anyway HT, I thought it was your turn to write something yesterday 😀

    AB, if you had a look at the link I put up on Tuesday, Reading were far from lucky. There were two ‘stills’ (from BBC’s MOTD) that showed why we found it so hard. The first from the opening few minutes, the second on 84 minutes, both showing Reading players in a line of 4 in front of their defence (English spelling :D). That showed how disciplined they were.

    Pity we haven’t got a young tech guy, or however unlikely, tech female to do similar on here? Job for your lad HT? Make it his summer holiday project 😆

    I think the real problem to the lack of business on here is that most readers are responders, rather than writers. Like TA, and I am guessing Steve too, and myself, we have very major ‘real world’ issues to deal with, and supporting Arsenal is a happy diversion, but not necessarily a priority? Not that you haven’t HT.

    Last night I watched the Monaco Juve match, and I don’t regret the thought of us not having just played a midweek dirge some 3 days before the Chelsea game, with the severe consequence of the rugged tackling going in, and us depleted yet again, ahead of a big match?

    Food for thought on that game. I don’t believe half the stuff coming from them about struggling strikers. Even if they do play their 17 year old up front, on the evidence of their Youth Cup win, (2nd leg still to come), he is like Chuba Akpom with a clinical finish. Nor am I buying the thought that they will ‘stifle’ the game. We know the long season has finally caught up with them, having repeatedly used the same small group of players throughout. However, just as we can drag ourselves off our death bed and beat Spurs, knackered as they are, they will do the same. As a surprise tactic, I am guessing that M will go for the high pressing game and stifle our attacks in our own half. Thus try and win it in the opening 30 minutes …. and then let the rest of the game take care of itself.

    Fortunately, I repeat, fortunately they beat United, and so gave us breathing space, and according to our favourite pundits, we only play well when the pressure is off?
    Yes, it probably did put the final nail in our chances of winning the title, but, as this is a ‘game in hand’ for both teams regards the other top challengers, so a draw would not be such a bad result.
    On the other hand, with us going for a 10th straight win, and killing off the ‘Chelsea hoodoo’, of recent times that is, as there was a time when we were a bogey team for them ….
    it is a great time to catch them at their weakest?

    Wait for the mind games to start as M plays up his injured squad, and then plays it like an ‘end of season game … which for them it is? Win this, and they only need a draw to give Cesc his ’17 year wait’ prize ……Yuckkkkkkkkkkkkk!

  • I think the reason blogs go quiet is there isn’t too much to get excited about at the moment. Chelsea are stumbling towards the title and we appear to be cruising towards our regular top four spot. The past few seasons, Spurs Liverpool etc have been much closer to that cherished 4th place, but not this year. We could of course still screw up and we may well be back in 4th place when we kick off on Sunday😬

    Getting to the cup final is great, but as pointed out, was totally expected and the Reading victory was hardly inspiring.

    Things will pick up for the Chelsea game

  • Hello hello, how’s my favorite bunch of rainbow lacers then!? 🙂

    I knocked the internet on the head whilst that strange bright object in the sky came out in my country over the last week or so but as usual that bastards fucked off again now so back in doors and looking for something to do.

    It looks as if you guys are getting pretty bored of agreeing with each other in all these comments and its gone a bit quiet – never fear steve is here to piss you all off again and hopefully put some debate back into things lol.

    Well it seems that after a string of wins in the league against bottom of the table clubs that any other top four side would beat and a narrow escape into the cup final over a championship side that took us right down to the wire simply by playing high intensity football (as usual) that we are now looking quite confident in the upcoming game against the scum.

    Color me concerned in this first real test of our quality since the Monaco game, in Chelsea I see a side that gives the intensity and pressing that causes us problems but unlike many of the teams who fail to capitalize on this weakness of ours Chelsea have the quality up top to punish us – I think if reading had just a fraction of that quality up top we would have a lot more to moan about atm lol.
    Yep I see this match being too much for our group of pansies as usual and I don’t see Wenger breaking his duck this weekend im afraid – we are getting closer though.
    I think this test will be too much for the Ozil / Cazorla partnership, and I have no faith in Ramsey atm anyway so could be bad times ahead. Not all bad though, I do see a spine developing at Arsenal that has the strength and tenacity to overcome these fuckers in the very near future:

    –Le Coq–

    These guys can battle with the best of them whilst still producing the technical level we all demand, we just have to get Wilshere and OX back fit to add some strength, tenacity and pace to the midfield and we will be golden.

    My personal shout for this game is Bellerin on the wing, fuck Theo and Welbeck out there this kid gives the qualities of both and then some. Other than that I guess its just the same team unchanged that’s been getting all the plaudits for the recent run in the league and we will see if my concerns are warranted – I hope not.

    How confident are you lot then??

  • Steve

    Not overly confident,but this has to be our best chance of beating them for a long time. I am going to put a vote in for both Theo and Rambo to play. Ok RAMBO hasn’t reproduced his form from thr the beginning of last season, but I regard him as a battler and on his day he does carry a goal threat. I also think Theo should start. Everytime he’s come on recently things have happened in the box. Giroud has to play to hold the ball up, but in a straight stand off with Terry and Cahill he is going to take a lot of punishment. I don’t see us carrying much of a threat in the air against Chelsea, we need to attack quickly and with speed which both Theo and Alexis can provide.

    Maureen will set up not to lose, so chances will be limited. Many times before we have thrown the kitchen sink at them and got caught on the break. I think the big difference this time is we have a Coq. Now if we can just find the balls to go with it.

  • who gets the boot then Retters?
    If you have Sanchez, Theo and Ramsey either Cazorla or Ozil has to sit this one out.

    I think just based on the battling merit you described i would have Ramsey partner Cazorla and let Ozil sit this one out. Not really a suprize from me but the decision has more merit here i feel.

    Sanchez——Cazorla——–Ramsey——–Theo / Bellerin

    Like you say with that midfield above we have the best chance we’ve had for a while but i’m still not confident, but as you know im still holding out for Wilshere and OX to take that central Cazorla / Ramsey partnership spot so what do i know lol.

  • Welcome back, F11ngers—I was almost starting to get worried about you… Glad to hear that the sunnier weather didn’t affect your eyes… Somehow you’re still blind to seeing the (very) positive effect Ozil adds to the team… 😀

    Ah well… (And yes, I know, I know, at what he cost he should’ve scored a dozen vs Reading… more smileys…)

    No sunshine here. In fact, we’ve got snow due tonight/tomorrow. Too late to do anything for the skiing, but good given the drought conditions and always fun to have to sweep out the satellite dish when it comes in sticky…

    I’m putting the final touches on my match preview, TA, but I will check in if anybody has any “big” ideas that need to be included before I send it off…

    In other words…Big match coming, let’s have some blogging, eh…

    Happy Friday!

  • Well, people seem to have better things to do on a Friday evening… 😦

    You’ve got mail, TA…

  • hahaha class blindness quip HT, i like it 🙂
    I would love a bit of snow mate, in fact any extreme of weather would be nice now and again instead of the perpetual season of grey windy rain we have here – hence the extreme absorption of sun when it pokes its head out lol.

    My shout was for Bellerin on the right wing bud, ahead of Debuchy at RB. why not? he’s scored more than Theo, runs faster than Theo, takes people on better than Theo and defends better than Theo – wheres the negative?

    Other than that i think it may be a match to try a Ramsey / Cazorla partnership in the middle and keep Ozil in reserve to sub for Ramsey should he have one of his off days, this would be simply to add that extra bit of battle in the central area.

    Other than that i am sure it will be business as usual as far as team selection goes until the likes of Jack, OX even Diaby are back fighting for places.

    Looking forward to seeing what you have come up with though matey as also i am sure it will be excellent.

  • Glad you liked that one, F11ngers… Whatcha drinking this evening?…

    I like you’re idea of Bells as a wide forward…At least for closing out a match now and again… He did look awfully strong scoring that goal against Pool even if his pen was the proverbial “learning experience”…

    On the other hand, I think Ramsey’s been playing pretty well and done enough to avoid getting dropped for the big match. Perhaps against the high standard he has (now) set for himself it’s not quite what we demand but he’s doing well for being played in a position he might not prefer…Same goes for Santi, sitting a bit deeper… Both need to hit the target (and, ideally, bulge the net) and not the post (or Row Z) when they shoot… I know, I know…Youth talent can’t prove itself if it cannot get a chance… What about Ryo? He’s still on the payroll (I think…) and imagine the shirts he’d sell if he got a goal against the Chavs?… 😀

    Ain’t no way anybody (in their right mind, at least…) is gonna sit Ozil out for this one… So my preview is gonna be boring, boring… If the results maintain, however, I doubt I will complain…

  • “Your” not “you’re”…d’oh… Also, no Ryo…as I forgot about his loan to the Netherlands (Twente)… Proofread (and research) before, not after, posting…esp. when my Friday drinking (except for the caffeinated beverages) is many hours away…


  • I’m T total tonight mate unfortunately, house sitting for my folks who are in Antigua atm.
    I expect you are right as far as Ozil’s involvement is concerned but do you really think we get the most out of that right wing position with Ramsey playing out there and conversely get the best out of Ramsey – looks to me like another Cazorla on the left wing situation if you ask me. They all do their best out there but they are not wingers.
    How do you think Ramsey did out there against Reading, he looked a little lacking going forward imo, although provided more involvement in the midfield area than a normal winger would, but i think we have that area pretty well covered as it is lol

  • I think we will see the end of Ryo pretty soon especially if his performances (or lack thereof) at Twente are anything to go by, my hope for this position is that Silva turns into a Sanchez version 2.0 and looking at his performances so far this season in la liga i think he’s the closest we have to Sanchez.

  • Its very quiet in place atm, winning must agree with us lol, frees us up to do other things rather than moan lol.
    I can’t wait to see how Coquelin gets on in this game, every big test he has i seem to repeat that statement and he always seems to shine, the lads been a revelation. To see him do the same job he did on David Silva to Fabregas would make my day lol

  • Indeed, winning isn’t too much of pleasure for too many (posting types) in the goonersphere, I don’t think… Or maybe winning is relief to suffering, which is maybe the fate of the average gooner…Hard to say, and a post for a midweek or in the summer, if we can keep it up, of course…

    As for Rambo (or Santi) being played out of position, you could argue the same about Ox (if he actually had a position or could keep fit) or just about anybody. Coming up, they’re ALL 9s and 10s… That’s the beauty of Ozil…if he makes space by (his far from aimless…) drifting, others need to be keen to use it. The best, IMO, was Wilshere, but those two have hardly been fit (at the same time) at all this season…

    You can argue that playing less accomplished players in their correct position is always better but I (and more importantly, AW…) would disagree as would all the folks who are into the spend, spend, spend mantra. Great players *should* be able to find a way to work it out (for the benefit of the team) and should be able to take advantage when the pressure is tightest (i.e., big matches). In the preview I talk about Hazard vs Alexis and try to argue that the latter, even if his scoring tailed off, has been a pivotal player due to his efforts in other parts of the pitch. The same for Ramsey and Santi even if they’re not so much in on the fantasy stats (Rambo, of course did have two assists vs Pool and the goal at Burnley…Santi is the one who is truly sacrificing individual for team results, atm, IMO to go full on txt speak…)

    Anyhow, I know agreeing with others (including the manager) isn’t your bag…but now and again you play nice enough to make even us jaded types try and show you the sunshine, er, light… 😀

    Gotta run… Tomorrow, while we wait for our match, maybe…

  • Final bit…Re: Le Coq…Big match for him as his last outing vs Chelsea (Autumn 2012) turned on a play of his. Going to ground but not winning a foul led to the Chelsea opener… Hopefully he has learned, esp. given that it’s Michael Oliver at the whistle…Just ask Angel Di Maria what that ref thinks of divers… 😀

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