Coquelin v Fellaini: MU v Arsenal Preview and Line-Up

Manchester United – Arsenal  Match Preview

Football, like life itself, is about the long haul.  On any given day, anything can happen, but so much remains the same.  Manchester United versus Arsenal–perhaps the most important rivalry in the English Premier league–goes again on Sunday in another late season clash.  It will not determine a league champion, and both clubs look comfortable in securing Champions League play with a top four finish, but its meaning cannot be denied.  These clubs are big ones and how they fare against one another ALWAYS matters.

These have been turbulent seasons for either clubs and this match represents a chance for both to head towards the summer in a happier mood.  Of course, Arsenal also have the small issue of an FA Cup final to play–a spot they helped secure by beating ManU at Old Trafford in the quarterfinal round, back in February.  That one looms large, as it was our first win at their place in 10 tries.  United will want revenge, but we will know we can travel to their place and win.

We wouldn’t mind a bit of revenge ourselves.  In the difficult first half of the season, and coming off a tough loss at Swansea, we dominated play in the reverse fixture in North London but conceded on ManU’s first shot on goal.  Pressing hard–too hard–for an equalizer, we were caught out and conceded a 2nd, putting the match beyond reach.  A late consolation goal only underlined the painful feeling that, with a little more luck–and a bit more discipline–  the better team might have taken the points.

Both teams have come a long way since that clash in November and this one is most likely a battle for 3rd place.  Arsenal can secure that position with a draw, and a win, for either team, would suggest a claim of superiority heading into the close season.  For Arsenal, winning twice at Old Trafford would lay down a marker that we’ve nudged ahead of our old rival and further put to bed the notion that Arsenal cannot hold their own against the bigger clubs.

While there are some eerie parallels to the reverse league fixture–again we’re coming off a loss to Swansea–there are many differences.  Arsenal’s better play in 2015 has been the result of having our best players back from injury while also maintaining a more solid and stingy defensive presence.  Meanwhile, Man United have crawled back into the top four with a more scatter-gun approach.  Manager Louis Van Gaal, despite the expensive attacking options at his disposal, has been forced to rely on the more pragmatic presence of Marouane Fellaini at the center of attack.  His knock-down play–particularly with balls directed towards Wayne Rooney–isn’t pretty, but it does tend to wear down opponents.  Rooney, who took a knock in their 2-1 win at Crystal Palace a week ago, will miss this one, but others, including Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Ashley Young will be looking to step into the scoring spots.  Very expensive but more peripheral players like former Arsenal man Robin Van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria will also be keen to impress.  The latter was sent off in the cup match after shoving referee Michael Oliver who had booked him for diving.  This time, with Mike Dean at the whistle, defenders will need to beware that these very pricey, albeit part time players, bring the full bag of tricks–including the more cynical elements–to the game.  Just as we must hope the ref will not be fooled, so too must we avoid such a fate.

In addition to missing Rooney, United will also be without Luke Shaw and Michael Carrick.  Marcus Rojo may be able to slot in for Shaw and Daley Blind–either from Shaw’s spot at left back or from a position as a deep lying midfielder–will surely be working hard to stop our attack and orchestrate United’s.  Van Gaal’s team has struggled to look solid at the back so another big performance from the Premier League’s keeper of the season, David de Gea, might be required.  Rumours that the former Atletico Madrid man might be headed to the bigger Madrid team, Real, in the wake of their recent failures in both La Liga and the Champions League, might serve to shine a bright spotlight on their man between the sticks.

Will Arsenal be able to test him or will they lay back and try to absorb whatever pressure United might bring?  Certainly, the latter approach has been the more successful one on our earlier trips to Manchester.  In the FA Cup match, Francis Coquelin, despite giving up several inches (in both height and hair) to Fellaini, kept the big man’s contribution to a minimum.  In that one, as in the 2-nil victory earlier in the winter across town at Manchester City, Coquelin’s work was complimented by our wide attackers dropping deeper to help out.  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez made strong contributions in those matches as did Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey.  The Ox (who also set up the first goal in the Cup quarterfinal) is out through injury as is the former United player, Danny Welbeck, who nicked in to steal the ball and score the winner.  His inclusion in that one–at the expense of usual front man, Olivier Giroud–in hindsight, looked a master stroke from manager Arsene Wenger.

Where will the inspiration come for this one?  With Ox and DW missing, Wenger may be tempted to play a 6th straight match with an unchanged team.  As I’m tired of picking minor changes and being wrong, that’s the squad I’m guessing at.  Moreover, I think Wenger will want to give this group a chance to make amends for the smash and grab loss vs Swansea.  They didn’t play poorly in that one, but a hint of complacency may have crept into their game given the run of strong results from previous matches.  Knowing each others tendencies, and the little bit of extra space United might give us if they try some attack themselves, means using the same group might work a real treat.  Others, of course, may have different ideas.

Predicted Line-up:

arse v manure May 15

Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Flamini, Wilshere, Rosicky, Walcott

The Swansea match showed that the margins are tight.  Slightly better finishing might have swung that one our way.  Against United, in their big and hostile stadium, and against players of undoubted quality, the margins will be even tighter.  With all the attacking talent they have, Arsenal will have to be ever aware to defensive positioning and execution.  Still, if we can win the battle in midfield and work our attack to its full potential, we have the quality to make them pay.

Motivation may also play a role.  Finishing as high up the table as possible and locking down a top 3–and automatic group stage spot in the Champions league–is nothing to sniff at.  United will be buying big in the summer.  Already they’ve agreed terms with the exciting Dutch winger Memphis Depay.   That could mean the end for some of the attackers who will feature in this one.  Will those guys (including Depay’s countryman Van Persie) be keen to impress or will they have one foot already out the door?  Will Arsenal’s more collective approach (especially, if the starting 11 remain unchanged) work to show that this team can really accomplish bigger things ahead of the cup final and the new season?   At the highest level, where both Arsenal and ManU aspire to reside, clubs have money and (at least in United’s case) they don’t hesitate to spend it.  Still, football is a team game, and the better group tends to prevail.  In my opinion, Arsenal’s season has been salvaged–and we sense some real promise for the future–because we’ve hung tight and evolved as a collective.  A result tomorrow would go a long way to proving that thesis.

Go on then… 

By 17highburyterrace

125 thoughts on “Coquelin v Fellaini: MU v Arsenal Preview and Line-Up

  • Thanks Seventeenho for another well-balanced and finely pitched preview. The line up is a safe one and you are probably mostly right. Would love to see Jack start in this one as we need his drive and desire to fire us on, I reckon.

    More tomorrow.

    Many thanks for keep writing for us when I and others are not able/too lazy to do so. Looking forward to this one as it is indeed a very good test for us. COYG!! 🙂

  • Nice one HT. I’ll try not to wipe my reply this time.

    I too am irritated at getting the team selection wrong. Last week I went for changes, and changes there were none. Last week I was confident about getting 3 points, and three points were also absent.
    So, this week I am less confident about getting a win … but is more based on the repeating history (based on memory, not facts) that whichever team wins the first game involving a league and FA cup games, does not win the second. And then that follows oft repeated discussion ..’Which would you rather, be in the Cup, or lose 3 points’, as if it were an option?

    However, it is not only that that tempers my confidence. Just because MU are playing pretty poorly, and they have a crap defence in front of a very good ‘keeper, and over-priced misfit players all over the pitch … it is Old Trafford, and they do raise their game in front of their own fans …. and I am not going to allow my confidence to rise just because Red Nose is not around to influence referees either

    So to the team. An unchanged team does not necessarily mean the same type of of formation. I think Ramsey will get his wish and be back in the middle …. defending! Mainly because Bellerin will need support. Last time my advice to Hector was to follow a Chelsea youngster and stand up to Young, and after reading this, he promptly got booked very early on for a very untypical rash challenge. That was not what I meant Hector 😀
    Unfortunately, Young will play on this. He is an experienced so-and-so who will dive if you sneezed near him. Don’t let him con you (or the ref) Hector. He wants to cross with his left so make him come inside and trust you will have back up when he does. Okay?

    That was just between me and HB.

    For the rest of the team it is hard not to see us not become more predictable with an unchanged line up though. Giroud will easily be out-battled by them ganging up on him if we play the long ball game. Alexis will always want to turn inside rather than go down the line. Both he and Santi will ignore Nacho’s overlap runs until late in the game. And ‘My boy!’ will leave space behind when he goes forwards on the other side.
    What is there to be confident about?

    Well the fact that we don’t need the win, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play for it. Far from it. Just to sit back will just give them confidence. What we must do is start well, move the ball quickly and accurately, and frustrate their attacking moves early. I don’t think we should commit too many forward in the first half, particularly before every player has got up to speed with the game. 0-0 at half-time would suit me fine, to be honest. An early goal might make us sit back and protect what we have, and that could encourage them. As long as there is no score all our players should be able to keep their concentration, because they know what is at stake.

    And that is how I see the game going until the subs come on … and if it is Coquelin coming off, please let it be Gabriel to replace him!

    4-5-1, plenty of possession. shoot rather than leaves open to a counter. That is the way to go about it. What will AW do I wonder?

  • Hi all.. Great job 17ht..
    I don’t mind if we get the third.. as long as we get FA cup..
    Winning the cup is more important than second place..

    But.. the way to make sure that third place is to hold MU.. a draw will be enough.. but win will be great..
    Btw.. Swansea will beat City tonight.. to make our winning be more perfect.. hahaha..

  • nice me @ ME Amigo.

    I was gutted for our loss last week mainly because your 100% record no longer is blemish free but still pretty good though 😉

    I agree with you about the margins getting even more tighter.

    your team selection seems likely to be the one AW will select,however, if we are going to play Sczny in the Final – may as well, drop Ospina and start playing Sczny so he gets some game time before the FA cup final.

    what difference does it make whether we finish 2nd or 3rd, as long as it’s not 4th.

    am with Skipper on this one, I would also like to see JW start ahead of Santiago (pref) if not a fully fit Ramsey ?

    3-0 to the Arsenal.

  • from the previous post – if we could sign any 2 players of our own choice then who they be ?

    Kun Aguero.
    Kun Aguero.

    it is absolutely 100% and utterly 200% rubbish that Giroud is an Arsenal Striker who happens to fit the system we play.

    in the absence of better alternatives, we adjust to how Giroud plays to accommodate him.

    if you don’t believe me then look at the way Barca play. where is their holding striker ? our style of play is the closest to Barca and Man city. let’s not settle for 2nd or 3rd best.

    we be on a different level with a Kun Aguero as our striker, no doubt.

    The proof is in the pudding and hence we bid for similar strikers or one closest to Kun in Suarez.

    the other option be to move Alexis from the LW and play him as the striker.

    in that case, we would need a LW’er

    so then one of these 2 would do nicely


    or Reus (don’t mind the Drax either but both of them german’s are injury prone).

    this comment was for the likes of Glic’s, Stevie wonders and PG from the last post.

    Swansea score to bring it back to 1-2 against City

  • Bellerin—————Gabriel—————-Koscielny——————Gibbs

    Can’t get anymore FORWARD thrust in the midfield than that lot lol, i think Rosicky is actually allergic to passing backwards 🙂


    hahaha if only lol, nope same old boring slow, side to side passing shite as usual i suspect with Ozil, Santi, Ramsey and Giroud all starting yet again.

    Great preview as usual HT, i would comment more but i feel this place actually has a better feel to it without my constant negativity and personnel change dribble 🙂

    Lets hope the usual suspects can do the business up there and get a decent result


  • hahaha thanks for that comment JB 🙂

    Could you imagine a barca type formation (i.e once Giroud has fucked off) 4-3-3:
    Take your pick of our midfield to fill the roles of Iniesta and Rakitic, mines obviously the English pairing lol but then put the following front three ahead of them…… unstoppable 🙂

    ———–Wilshere————The OX———–

    Giroud who? 😆

    Man Utd v Arsenal (16:00 BST)
    Posted at 15:00
    In the absence of Wayne Rooney, defender Chris Smalling takes the captain’s armband for the first time.

    Radamel Falcao starts up front, former Arsenal man Robin van Persie is on the bench.

  • Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud

    Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Flamini, Rosicky, Wilshere, Walcott

    Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Mata, Blind, Herrera, Young, Fellaini, Falcao

  • is fab doing this on purpose ? that’s 3 soft goals conceded now.

    Swansea 2-3 Manchester City – Yaya Toure
    Posted at 74 mins
    He has done it again! Manchester City have been pressing forward since Swansea levelled and their positivity pays off as Yaya Toure drives to the edge of the box, holds off a challenge and fires low past Lukasz Fabianski. The keeper got a hand to it and, like Toure’s first goal, will feel he should have saved it. They led 2-0, threw it away and now the visitor’s lead 3-2. Can they hold on this time?

  • I don’t want Giroud to F.O to be honest with you @ Stevie

    I think that he would do a mighty fine job as a super-sub and still be scoring 20 plus goals a seaso for us. be first choice in the cup games and then be our plan B in the league.

    he seems to do well as a super-sub, from memory

    he came on as a super sub vs newcastle when we needed the goals and nearly scored a hat-trick in the last 15 minutes (Me Amigo was watching that game live at the Emirates)

    then vs Reading when we were losing 4-0, ended up winning 7-5

    even against Watford in the cup games.

    the notion that we need him for our shape and defensive duties does have merit and substance behind it but it’s only because we are having to rely on that side of his game more than the offensive.

  • Screw this.

    Giroud off the pace, Ramsey can’t do anything as a winger, Bellerin being destroyed by Young… But as long he has Cazorla from the first bloody minute in every bloody game, Wenger is satisfied.

    Arsene, either give Giroud wingers to play with or bench him.

  • you mean accommodate Giroud, don’t you @ Admir

    1-0 to Man utd

    as theo wonders…

  • Well, mate, I don’t see the point of playing him. If Wenger hasn’t figured out that Giroud can’t find space to shoot since he introduced Ramsey on the wing so that Cazorla can dwell on the ball in the middle, we will be pipped by United for third place.

  • first half done and dusted.

    we don’t deserve to finish 3rd playing like this – that’s for sure.

    what needs to be done ?

    take off Santiago, move Ramsey in the middle and bring on Theo who can service Giroud at least.

    alexis and Ozil have also gone AWOL. we are very nervous when we shouldn’t be.

    the man city blue print needs to be forgotten and needs to be forgotten pretty quickly as not every day is sunday.

  • I don’t think Giroud up top is working today. He’s too static, can’t run in behind or run at defenders with the ball at his feet,. It’s like you have to play the ball right to his foot for him to do something with it. I think he has still has a role to play in this team but in a game like today where we’re trying hit quickly on the break I think he’s holding us back a bit.

  • Alexis needs to go left once in awhile to keep the defence off balance.

  • Rosicky is a good shout, someone to run with the ball and at their players – even JW will do @ Admir

    but it’s clear to see for everyone minus the man who makes it happen.

    or we could play Alexis as the striker, take off Giroud and bring on Theo @ Arsenalnorth

    this is exactly what i have been saying since day 1- he is good but he isn’t an Arsenal type of striker.

    but now is not the time to moan, let’s get back to this game and try to win it, we still can win this


  • Bottom line we need to play better this half, game isn’t over.

  • Giroud has been our best player of the season, if you cannot see his incredible importance to this team than you are missing the essence of our game. Wenger said Giroud is great and Henry is wrong… I go with the old owl..

  • TA – in case I’m missing tongue-in-cheek here: I think Giroud doesn’t fit in this formation. He hasn’t scored a single goal since we switched to this one.

  • and that’s what Giroud brings – sitters not even finding the target.

  • what a classy comment that @ TotalArsenal – Oooozes class.

    sheer class.

    counter the comment – provide a rebuttal by all means, challenge my opinion but when someone resorts to such rebuttals then that tells you a story of it’s own.

    thought we were better than that ?

  • Great evidence that a fit Jack is so important to this team. Such drive and vision. Shame we could not start him, must not be fully fit yet.

  • Yup. Job done. Would have been good if we could have played with a bit more authority in the first half – I really don’t rate much of their squad. But the result is good enough (should be anyhow!). Tough games these at the end of the season, esp with 4th in the bag. In seasons past we would have blown it today; more evidence of solid progress in my book.

  • Assuming we don’t screw up in the last two games, all in all that’s not a bad season. Thought the lads did well today and got stronger as the game went on. No doubt in my mind that when RAMBO went central we looked a lot stronger.

    Jack and Theo made a difference to. Hope Theo stays, things do happen when he is around

    Will be interesting to see who plays in the week. I know he set a precedent with Fabianski, but I wouldn.t risk Szs for the final.

  • Assuming we pick up points midweek, Uniteds last game at Hull is meaningless. Steve Bruce ows Theo a beer methinks. Bet Newcastle fans were pretty upset when Theo scored, not looking good for them

  • Here’s a quick question…
    Should we win our next game and definitely seal our third place position leaving the last home game merely a bit of fun (and don’t pick up any injuries) type affair before the cup final, would anyone here give a shit if Wenger put out an M.I.A team?
    to give all those who have been largely uninvolved for large parts of the season for one reason or another (especially during the run in to the end) a final bit of game time.

    Something like this: (i think all are returned from injury and match fit, apologies if i am wrong)


    Or would you rather see it taken completely seriously with a full strength team and get some proper practice before the cup final?

    Just wondering, a bit of fun to see what you guys would rather do 🙂

  • Steve

    If we get the desired point from midweek, I suspect Wenger will use the last game as a chance to let departing players say goodbye. I am assuming players like Diaby, Flamini, Rosicky etc will be let go and hopefully replaced with suitable replacements.

    The bigger issue for me is who plays between the sticks. If Szs is going to play at Wembley, it’s only fair to give him some game time. Personally I would stick with Ospina, who has done very little wrong.

  • Steve

    Wilshere needs a full game so ww should play him at least. Would rest the backbone – Os, BFG, Koz, Coq, Gir, Ozil – for sure. Also key to rest Bellerin and Monreal and of course Alexis and Santi. So yes, big changes are in order.

  • Morning all, I am not going to spend too much time analysing this last game as getting a result was most important. That they achieved, but made hard work of it in the first half. Perhaps the pressure on the game resulting in so many passes going astray? I mean unnecessary losses of possession. It is not always the passer who is at fault, but even short passes were hit limply at times. Sometimes though I do think the receiver could do more by stepping towards the ball, rather than just wait for the ball to arrive?
    The other thing is, a lot of those passes in the first half were so predictable, that without more movement it made them so easy to intercept.
    This is something they will have to improve upon if they want to step up next season.

    End of analysis.

    Now to Steve’s discussion point – just miss the ‘o’ out of that last word, and somehow ‘discussion pint’ did not seem to misplaced 😀

    Yes this is definitely one that one can argue about over a few pints without it breaking out into the latest ‘Waco’ incident – see news bulletins for that reference.

    For me the answer is fairly straightforward. We have to keep both targets in our sights, and when one is achieved, the next takes centre stage. So the team on Wednesday will contain changes, but not drastically so. We need to win, and win with players who will be trying to get their name on the Cup squad list. Equally important, give a rest to those who have been carrying the team thus far.
    I am not sure if HT is already at work for a midweek preview, but here are my ideas as to how the next two games will go:
    The away trip to Sunderland is the trickier of the two. Let’s not forget we have a potential for a ‘Fabbt-esque’ repeat in the shape of Victor Mannone, but Pantilmon can be even harder to beat on recent form. They also have plenty to play for just to make sure of staying in the top division.
    So my team for that is this:

    Bellerin ——-Mert—————-Kos——Monreal
    —————— Cazorla——Coquelin————–
    Walcott—————–Wilshere —————Alexis

    * If fit.
    Bench: Szcz; Debuchy*(Chambers), Gabriel, Gibbs, Rosicky, Gnabry, Welbeck*(Akpom).
    Note, more or less the team that finish yesterday’s game, but with Ozil and Ramsey given a complete rest. Ramsey took a few niggly knocks that might flare up today?
    AW may consider switching Cazorla for Ozil, but dropping Jack back. I don’t like that combination.
    I am hoping this game will give an opportunity to get the fringe subs on, rather that a need for game changers. although that could be one and the same in the shape of Gnabry and Rosicky? Personally I think we need Gnabry more than ever in the absence of the injured Ox. We are lacking a different type of player to that what Welbeck offers, and Gnabbers does offer that drive with power and strength, with a fierce shot from outside the box as a bonus. A good showing here, especially if he has his shooting boots on, could see him start at the weekend, and secure a place on the bench. Almost ditto for Rosicky, but take away the doubt whether he will be on his game. He rarely fails on that score!

    So to the last game of the season, and at home to boot. If the above team does their job then yes, a real chance of letting the ‘B-teamers’ having a go. Here are my picks on the assumption 3rd spot has been secured:
    * If fit.- If Alexis is replaced by Welbeck on Wednesday then I expect these positions to be reversed, but I cannot see Alexis being rested for the important 3rd spot game, if Welbeck cannot start. Alexis will of course come off the bench, probably at half-time, for his last home game of season.
    If any of the following are not fit, then these replacements would be in order:
    Debuchy – Chambers
    Arteta – Coquelin/Rosicky, but swapping with Wilshere at half-time.
    Welbeck – Akpom, but swapping with Alexis at half-time.

    Bench: Ospina; Debuchy*(Bellerin); Koscielny; Monreal; Wilshere; Coquelin/Rosicky; Alexis.
    Players needing to impress with both fitness and sharpness
    Szczesney a dodgy performance could cost him his starting spot in the Cup.
    Debuchy – might not make the bench in the Cup if he has not made an appearance here.
    Gibbs would need a spectacular performance to unseat Monreal, but fit, a bench spot is secure.
    Arteta – A symbolic appearance I fear, but a good game could get the bench ahead of Flamini.
    Flamini – a farewell game I think, but he might get his Cup medal for his ‘unfininished business’ ?
    Rosicky I hope gets this place ahead of Coquelin in this game for fear of a red card for the latter. Again, a possible farewell performance if he doesn’t make the bench in the Cup game?
    Gnabry – Still only an outside chance of a place on the bench in the Cup, and a strong performance here will do him no harm?
    Ozil could shine with these pacey front runners around him … if they can gel quickly. Interesting to see how well he does with the creative task all to himself though?
    Welbeck has to have shown something in the previous game else he could miss out big time?
    Walcott I would expect to move to the middle if Welbeck doesn’t make it, with Akpom taking his spot.
    Akpom only injury will see him feature here, but if he gets a chance, then I hope he does a ‘Bellerin’ and takes it with both feet. Again, only injury or suspension would see him making the bench in the Cup game, but he could leave on a high note very much in the managers thinking for next season?

    All yours folks …

  • Gerry all good points and hopefully you will see this as a bonus. The away trip to Sunderland is at the emirates

  • We got a draw/point at Old Trafford, that is what matters in consolidating 3rd place. Tentative and pragmatic approaches (by our team and AW) for the next 2 PL matches to round off our season.

    I expect a better performance from our team in the FA Cup final vs Aston Villa, to win it.


    Arsenal vs Sunderland

    Both sides needing 1 point to achieve their respective goals (more so for the away side):

    Us – 1 more point to mathematically confirm our 3rd place in PL and automatic qualification to next season’s CL. We have a better goal difference than Man. Utd. (a +7). This is bearing any freak result in our last matches, i.e. us losing terribly against WBA and Man. Utd. thrashing Hull City.

    The Black Cats – 1 more point to be assured of next season’s PL status. They would be keen to avoid a defeat and be dragged into a last day relegation battle alongside Hull City and Newcastle Utd. Expect a pragmatic approach from Dick Advocaat’s men ….. PtB mode.

  • TA agree with most of your comments up here.
    And I “get” what Giroud brings, those who point to “hasn’t scored in x minutes/games” to show he is not playing well, do not understand our system or as some would put it “the comprises/adjustments we are making to compensate/accomodate for Giroud” in our system, either way, the system means Giroud is effectively a false midfielder (Yes, that’s a thing I just made up LOL) whose job is to create space and lay off goals to midfield runners. Goals compliment his game, they are not the primary asset or value he brings. I fully understand why it is difficult to understand a striker whose primary job isnt to score goals, but that’s the way it is (for now?). Of course this ignores the fact that he has 18 goals in all comps (14 PL) despite missing 3 months of the season, which is nothing to be laughed at.
    At midfield runners is where I disagree with TA where he says the tactics were spot on. The singular tactic of playing Ramsey at RW has provven to be piss poor before (Remember when he was extensively booed and some fans wanted him out the club due to poor displays at RW?) and is proving piss poor again. It.Simply.Does.Not.Work.
    We can not say the tactics were spot on when we wasted Ramsey at RW for 70 minutes and then once we switche him to CM he began to boss the game. By that point Man U should have been long out of sight, and it was Wenger’s obsession with fitting in Ramsey-Ozil-Santi in the same XI that killed us, did the same v Reading-Chelsea-Swansea.
    I like Giroud, I would take better of course, but I do not for 1 minute buy that we cant win the league with Giroud. We can. BUT we need to flank Giroud with TWO WINGERS, only way we can win the league with Giroud. Not only will he score more, but those (wide forwards) wingers will both easily get 20+ goals in all comps. We all know the one winger is Alexis. Who is the other one? Do we have one (of sufficient/high enough quality) or do we need to buy? When asked about Depay signing, Wenger said we have “6/7 players in his position”, then WTF are we playing Ramsey RW? If those 6/7 players are not good enough to challenge a CM who is a poor winger then maybe we should be looking to sign a proper winger. (Please NOT Pedro. Average player. Worse human being.)
    I am tired of everyone and their pony being able to see that Ramsey at RW does not work, persisting with it honestly makes me slowly lose faith in the manager. I am not asking for brilliant inverted tactical formations here. Just play players in their damn positions. if you don’t have any or don’t have any you trust in your squad then use the damn window and sign some.
    We Are Arsenal and we need to stop “making do”. Play specialists or buy them if you dont trust those you have.
    Based on above drivel, Preferred XI for Sunderland-4-2-3-1:
    Giroud/(Welbeck if fit)
    If Welbeck plays, becomes 4-3-3, with Jack dropping into the midfield and Alexis-Welbeck-Theo forming a trio upfront.
    I do not think playing 3 forwards in Alexis-Theo-(Giroud/Welbeck) is too risky against a Sunderland team who go into their last two games needing just a draw from either to avoid relegation, if that doesn’t smell like an impending bus, IDK what does, and as we’ve seen Ramsey at RW v bus teams is a disaster (See Chelsea-Swansea-Reading)

  • @D-Money

    I’ve been pointing out (literally) from The Day One what Giroud brings to table. The thing is, he has scored just one goal since our run of the same line-up started and that one happened when 1) opponents were down to ten men and 2) we had two wingers on the pitch (Welbeck and Alexis).

    It’s one thing to use this formation with Ramsey-Santi-Özil against Hull and Liverpool – teams without effective full-backs (actually, for the biggest part of the season both teams have played with three in the back-line) as Ramsey cannot harass opponents’ full-back – he doesn’t have pace for that (remember that video when Chamberlain and Walcott mock him because of that?) – and that leaves Bellerin exposed to players like Montero and Young. Even the fact Ramsey has scored goals while playing as right winger shouldn’t fool us – Özil has scored from the wing against Villa and Spuds but the costs of that formation exceeds the benefit.

    I recall the whole Ramsey-conundrum from 2012-13 and it happened because Arsene pulled the trick against Manchester City away and it worked (we came out with a point and should have won all three of them had Gervinho had any composure on that day) but later on that trick didn’t work.

    If you ask me, even if we should put some pressure on Manchester City before their game against The Saints, we should also make a rotation in a way that Alexis, Mertesacker, Cazorla and Ramsey get some rest with Rosicky, Gabriel, WIlshere and Walcott coming on. Also, Gnabry’s last game for Arsenal was our home victory against Sunderland last season (he missed a sitter to make it five) so he might make a fine cameo. Bellerin is more effective at home than on the road so I’d leave him there. Gibbs to replace Monreal so that we get more width in the attack.

    If we can score ten against Sunderland, let’s do that.

  • Happy Monday… Busy early part of the week for me but, TA, I will get you the next preview at some point here over the next day or so… Nobody will miss me too much here in the comments after what I have to say, I fear…

    First off, D-Money, that’s some funny stuff…”Slowly losing faith in the manager…” As I recall all your faith was plenty gone but then the better results brought it back. Let’s be clear. Results are everything for most “supporters.” In our last 4 matches, we’re 1 win, 2 draws and a loss. Not. Good. Enough. as Piers (and people like him) like to say… Fingers must be pointed. Your guy is the manager… Well. Done. (That is sarcasm, by the way…On the other hand, you’ve noticed Giroud’s work as a false 9…Nice job– Where your analysis breaks down is that you’re not seeing that our width–in attack–is supposed to be coming from the full-backs. Proper wingers, blah, blah. blah… in truth, translates to “1 win in four makes me sad”…)

    Others, of course, go for the players. I was looking forward to the in-match-chat yesterday but I got a bit of late start as somebody messed up the auto-timer on my espresso machine. I was still gonna at least toot my own horn for getting the starting 11 and the subs 100% correct, but already the blame game was on…Admir (another who’s gone quiet on the calls for Wenger Out, but one who–generally–know his football and can see a lot of the tactical game…) is now on the Santi is the root of all evil bandwagon, while 007 has moved on from All-Szcz-Hate to Na, Na, Na NananaNah…Na More Giroud… While tossing in a lil’ Ozil hate, perhaps for his mate from the Isle of Wight (Steve, he of the 11 fingers)… We were very poor in the first half yesterday, but I’d say it’s due to extreme static positioning. The movement has to start somewhere. Ozil and Ramsey are at least trying to keep moving while Santi needs to stay back and help Le Coq… Alexis, who might be injured or ill, standing there in attack and failing to track runners going back (Herrera) for the goal… seems an issue. At least our resident haters were able to mention his contribution (or lack thereof) over the half time break…

    The Walcott is a genius for his deflected cross while Giroud is a lout for turning a not very good Ozil pull-back into a legitimate chance (blocked by the departing De Gea) or getting the tough-angled one-touch onto the side netting…IS (are) a (pair of) dick-head comment(s), so well done, TA, for calling it (them) out. Hyperbole IS the essence of the communication, but our Superspy (as per usual, sadly…) has gone too far. Szczesny would’ve merited a dozen comments worth of vitriol for failing to block Herrera’s goal, but Ospina’s weak hand at the near post is Giroud’s fault or maybe due to Santi and Ozil playing like poo or AW persisting with Ramsey on the wing? Sorry guys, I don’t get it…

    The bottom line is that we’ve got nothing here and if this is the level of discussion I need to find another place to go. If Total is too busy except to come on and play the bad cop…Well, I am too…So, like I say, I will keep doing the previews (unless others want to step up…) and I’m looking forward to these final home matches and wrapping up 3rd place. (I also like our chances for some minor tweaking over the Summer and even more progress next season… Does that mean even more spoilt Arsenal “supporters” joining the ranks?…) People will want a crushing in the FA Cup but that’s rarely how these things go… (Note: Villa, despite shipping 5 first half goals at So’ton, also celebrated their biggest goal of the season–safety from relegation–on Saturday… ) Maybe we could get an Oz Gunner special for the Cup Final… (So we can go out on a high note…) After that, my advice is shut the place down. There’s little support here and even less analysis happening. If you’re still reading this comment, please also take a moment to read “About Bergkampesque” to see just how far we’ve strayed… Thanks… And…My favorite British saying of them all, which, of course, means the exact opposite… “Sorry”…


  • “Admir (another who’s gone quiet on the calls for Wenger Out”

    It’s simple – Wenger has shown that he means business in 2015. I wasn’t that much shocked (positively) with our performance at Etihad (where Özil didn’t play and we had two natural wingers on the wing) but with Wenger admitting that players asked him for more tactical preparation. Those who blindly adore Wenger skipped that part or used it in their own way.

    I judge on the ground of the evidences.

    “but one who–generally–know his football and can see a lot of the tactical game…)”

    Speaking of which, we have agreed already that full-backs should have been used more in the previous games…no? Well, that doesn’t mean wingers are no longer needed.

    “is now on the Santi is the root of all evil bandwagon”

    I don’t believe Santi is a problem. The way he has been used should be reconsidered.

    BTW, I’m to lazy to see the goal we conceded (I just don’t like to see them again) but I think it was Coquelin who caused the mess after Young’s cross.

    And Young’s cross came from Bellerin’s side.

    And Bellerin’s helper on the right side of the pitch was…Ramsey. 🙂 I’m not saying that Walcott or Chamberlain would have prevented that goal but Young would have had more defensive work to do. Pretty much like Montero would have had last Monday. But, spilled milk…

  • HT.
    It is one thing to disagree with someone’s view and then present clear strands of thought to back that up, but is completely unfortunate to place yourself on some pseudo moral high ground where you refer to other gooners as “supporters.” If you don’t see that as a problem, suit yourself, I am not the thought police…
    If you were to refer to ANY thread in which I have commented, you will note that my call for us to play two wingers has been consistent for YEARS. Through any run of form or results. So your assumption that it is reactionary /hyberbole after a string of poor results is not accurate. As you stated, Bellerin and Nachoare “supposed to” provide the width, and in the old formation pre Ramsey return from injury they were, but the change in personnel (more than formation) has meant they no longer are, I do not think it is unreasonable to INQUIRE whether something that isn’t working cant be fixed. Apparently this offends you. Also note that all you’re doing is deflecting/shifting blame to other players, but that’s fine I guess.
    I have stated often enough how I feel about the manager. I want him ton stay on, but only if I feel he is what’s best for the club. I’ll be honest, earlier in the season, I was not convinced he was at all, and I was not the only one, but he proved me wrong OVER TIME, not 1 game, and so too I will not lose all faith over 1 or 5 games. (We all realise our opinions wont affect anything decided in the boardroom, but we hold them all the same.)
    Also, there seems to be this assumption that once you express an opinion on any player/manager etc. you are bound to that for life…circumstances change and with them so too your opinion, now I’m obviously not referring to any knee jerk reactions, but if over time the circumstances have changed are you not allowed to form a different opinion? Come on.
    Another poor assumption is the notion that any form of criticism directed at any player/manager means you are not “supporting” the club [ with or without the quotation marks, you choose 🙂 ], we are not and should never become blind to our own manager’s and player’s flaws and most importantly, criticism and support can mutually exist…if not then Henry is no longer an Arsenal fan.

  • I personally think it`s all down to how we interpret peoples opinions and being that there is a fabulous melting pot of different nationalities and creeds on BK, sometimes our writings are seen differently and maybe misunderstood !. Just an opinion, but I thought JB was hard done by !……but like I say, that`s how I saw it and 17 obviously sees it different to me!.
    As for ..” About Bergkampesque”……to me it says we can appreciate the beauty of the game , but that`s OK if we are watching the beautiful game, sometimes we have been far from beautiful football, so do we still have lavish praise when we play crap ?… the saying goes and I suspect this saying means the same whatever part of the world you live in !……You cant polish a Turd !.
    May be we( Arsene) are(is) trying to accommodate Ramsey by playing him in the wrong position and I go back to the years of England trying to accommodate Gerrard and Lampard in the national team when they were too a like, it needed a brave manager to play just one of them and make England a better TEAM !.
    As good as we have improved this season, I still think there are better coaches than Wenger out there, better Managers ?….probably not !.
    FFP has helped us slowly bridge the gap, but possibly bad news on this front, as from this link I post, it could change back to help the likes of Mansour City again !…..probably needs someone more into law and accountancy to give a more understanding point, but I dont like the way I have read it………Uzzy In !.

  • See what I mean !………….apparently you can polish a turd !…..I was wrong !.

  • Well summarised Seventeenho! Finding fault in players, the manager, the club at the earliest opportunity is how most of us are wired unfortunately, and the site has become detached from its roots. BK will be closed after the FA final till the start of next season and I will email you about what to do next season.

    Unfortunately, I cannot issue a post tomorrow or Wednesday. Maybe focus on the Sunday game instead? Big thanks for the offer though. 🙂

    Great quotes by the master, Cockie. The man is pure class, as we know. 🙂

  • HT – Can I inquire if you are now up on your required level of espresso? 😀

    I am very glad I did not spend too long on analysing the game. In fact my only comment was yours on the first half – lack of movement off the ball, plus the poor passing partly due to the former.

    On people expressing a different point of view … well, fine if it is a well rounded argument. At least on this site they are printed. I made a comment on another site that did not get printed, perhaps because I was opposing the author’s view?

    Things like ‘Wenger out’ are so stupid in their timing because replacements of the level we might aspire to have are simply not available in the early part of the season. Having Bould as a caretaker manager would not fill me with great confidence …

    D-Money on having two wingers is a very attractive thought, but the weakness of the argument immediately shows up when stating ‘Alexis is one, who is the other one?’
    Come on DM, one minute you are calling for proper wingers, then think Alexis is one?
    He is a striker, full stop. He has the striker’s instincts, which include being selfish. If he has two criticisms about his game they are; he will often ignore a better placed player in favour of a chancy shot of his own; and he rarely goes down the line, instead he predictably turns inside.
    Which really is the opposite of a winger’s play I might suggest?
    But even the very basic thought of how you fit wingers into a side you do not develop. Ignoring for a moment the Alexis part, it takes a Gk and back 4 for defensive duties, you have a central striker, and your two wingers … which equals 8, but you would probably want a DM? So the remaining two roles presumably are an attacking mid and a creative mid?

    Now I am not sure we have the players to carry that off. So the simplistic talk of ‘if you haven’t got the players, buy some’ starts to look like a shopping list?

    Admir, I do appreciate your comments as they tend to be well thought out. I think we all have our blind spots with players (or manager’s decisions), and I am definitely in that camp. I was fuming at Bellerin for not listening to what I said/wrote …’Young wants to play it in with his left foot, so turn him inside and assume you have cover’ … Grrr!
    Then I tell myself, he is really a (proper 😀 ) winger who can tackle, and still has plenty to learn.
    However, it was Alexis who had not tracked back early enough so was too far away, despite a late burst of speed, to get the block in and keep it at 0-0. Coquelin was more in the vicinity to go out assist Bells, but he would have left his man in the middle to do so? Ramsey I think was tracking Mata, or whoever it was that Young might have passed it to? At least Bells made that fantastic dash across to cut out a one-on-one with the ‘keeper. It reminded me of how good Gibbs is at that, which people quickly forget?

    My reason for the lack of analysis was I was so grateful that we got the draw after the first half, I just thought take the points and run.

    I am sure HT, in a calmer frame of mind, will be his usual more positive self? I too am looking to see how we play out these last two league games.

    Thanks JB for the correction. I did no research on my piece earlier, so anybody can point out that X, Y, or Z are out for the season and I will not be a bit surprised.
    However, I was surprised when I realised I left Ramsey out of both games, so he may slot in in place of Flamini if fit. I am speculating, but he did get stopped in his tracks several times yesterday, mostly with knocks on his toes?
    I am a little more sceptical about his move to the middle improving his game. A touch of having subs on who opened up the game, and Man U tiring, along with Ramsey’s big bonus …. endless stamina. In the words of the well known supermarket … ‘every little helps’

    Now I can wait to see how the big hitters chime in. Steve will be miffed that his discussion topic has got a bit lost, but at least I gave it a go …

  • Message to the UMFers,

    I have emailed Alex twice over the last few months but he did not respond. That’s not like him and we should be worried about him. Let’s hope he and his family are ok.

    Whoever wins the UMF will get his price though, I take care of that.

  • Good news you will be back next season TA – Shame all the TW stuff will be left t the ‘fantasy blog sites’ 😀

    HT don’t let what you have done so far, Just put it up as a post tomorrow?

    Night all, I’ll have to go before I start thinking the voice of reason came from TCM ….
    Lampard and Gerard … so true 😆

  • Like, I say…Busy this week, but thought I’d check in on the Chelsea-WBA match…Glad my little tirade got a bit of back and forth going. I still maintain that supporters (no quotes, if that’s better) who love the manager when results are good but want him out when they go wrong need to buck up their ideas. It’s easy to criticize but the ramifications of getting a new manager aren’t always very pretty (as Gerry points out). Even getting a good manager in doesn’t always work the instant charm, either–Just look at the money spent and the not-very-good product we saw yesterday from LvG and his group at Man U… Funny enough his best attackers are a Fergie guy (Young) and a Moyes player (Fellaini)… They made enough progress, however, and still have lots of money so he gets another year… If we bloggers are really such great managers why aren’t we out there ourselves?… Where’s the humility, folks?…

    Nice Shot Saido Berahino!…1-nil to the home team…

    Admir, from discussions last week you seem to see what the manager is trying. D-Money, did you read any of that back and forth? Ramsey, (like Ozil, Santi, Jack and Alexis and others) gets listed as a winger. Does this mean that (he) they are expected to do the things the (English) pundits go on and on (and on…) about? I don’t think so… Let’s remember that plenty of these pundits know “the English game” from their own efforts in mid-table teams from a couple of decades ago. There’s plenty of comfort in saying “Why don’t they just play a 4-4-2 with proper wingers?”… If that’s your bag, I’m sure there are a few teams playing that formation–probably a lot more in the Championship, I’m guessing…

    The problem at Arsenal–IN MY OPINION–is that we need that little extra bit of quality and depth in a few spots. Center back was an obvious one last summer but we spent our deadline day money on Danny Welbeck, who, I think, would have helped in this recent micro-slump we’re having…Deep lying mid is another area. While we may have known Diaby was always a fitness liability, losing Arteta–and Wilshere–for almost the entire season is bad luck Fortunately Santi has done well and Le Coq, by limiting his own expectations, has been great. This area needs an injection of quality over the summer.

    Full-back is the real problem. Nacho–another deadline day purchase–was bought to spell Gibbs. He’s made the most of his situation this season but few see him as a world class left back. Personally, I wonder how many more celebratory meals at McDonalds (worse than a cigarette, for AW, probably) Gibbs has left. If he cannot get the starting position back in the next season, he will be done, I fear.

    Recent news suggests Bellerin was headed out on loan earlier this year. He’s a strong footballer with lots of potential (as is Chambers) but clearly can be beaten off the dribble and/or fails to communicate and get the help of his mates when he needs it. His offensive game is strong, esp. with his off foot and diagonal runs to the near post. Chambers, however, might be better at getting to the byline and crossing with his right foot–something we could really use. Debuchy, with the greater experience, unfortunately has lost 80% of his first season. It’s hard to even comment upon his game…

    As Gerry says, it’s a team game, so just as Alexis shouldn’t be “blamed” for failing to track Herrera on the ManU goal, ALL the help the wide forwards should be expected to give defensively needs to be modified. In other words why hate on Ramsey? IMO, it’s clear that Wenger wants a MF 5 rotating around the center man, Giroud. Because Le Coq cannot contribute further forward and because Santi has to him help out those two (generally) sit deeper, esp. against the better teams. These two are the ones who need to help on the side with the ball. Because Ramsey, Alexis and Ozil need to cycle deep AND wide (in attack) their defensive tasks should (obviously) be lessened. In attack, when out wide, holding the ball for an overlapping FB is also part of the job. Ramsey is reluctant on this front, but Alexis doesn’t even think about it. Ozil, in fact–from his nominal starting position in the hole–probably does more good work out wide than EITHER of them.

    Whoa–Cesc sent off, Chavs down to 10…

    None of that matters however, if you’ve made your mind up about a player–as all Bosnians seem to have done with Santi or James Bond has done with Szczesny and Giroud. Alexis–who works hard (supposedly) gets more love than Ozil (who actually, match upon match, does more running) but also expresses frustration when things don’t come off. The former is probably too selfish, the latter not selfish enough. (Had Ozil taken the quick but low percentage shot rather than laying it off for Giroud, we would’ve had our first half shot on goal…) To suggest that Walcott’s lucky goal makes him “better” than Giroud, is the opposite of well reasoned logic, I fear… (Dickhead, in retrospect, is perhaps a step too far…)

    So, for those still reading, that’s my take on the ideas Wenger’s trying to use (which have worked pretty well, in truth). There are areas for improvement and it’s definitely not always pretty–our long ball game is something I’ve always critiqued–If this sounds like I’m part of the thought police or taking some high moral ground or that I don’t want to learn more and modify my views, then apologies ARE in order… People can say whatever they want, of course, I’m just not inclined to participate when it seems stupid…

    TA, I WILL be getting you the remaining match previews (I think you may have misread what I said, above) but shutting down for the summer (if not permanently) seems a good idea, IMO,…Sadly… Worrisome news about Alex… (Maybe Oz knows a more current e-mail? Does he still check in? If he does, maybe a “blowout” in his inimitable style would be a great send-off for the blog…)

    Oooh..2nd half barely on and Terry takes out Berahino in the box…

    2-nil WBA…

  • Gerry 🙂

    You know my feelings re transfer speculations, so yeah, you will have to get your fix somewhere else.. This summer. 🙂

  • HT. You see the difference between that post and the previous one and why someone would take offence to the previous one and not this last one? Cecs being sent off for being a douche has lightened my mood anyway.

  • Oh, OK, gotcha TA… It’s mostly written, but I dunno about posting it as a long comment… I’ll think about it. In general, my long comments (and maybe the previews too…) probably have done more to kill this place than to help it… 😦

    D-money…I came down on you a little hard after my experience reading the comments during the match… (But maybe you didn’t read those)… Sorry… I guess it was a little bad cop/good cop with the good one being easier to write while watching Chelsea failing to turn up…Or showing how tough they are and ending their season early–in Cesc’s case, at least… John Terry was trying to end his too on the pen?…

    Mourinho–cheering the traveling supporters in the black country… Not my favorite character, I have to say…

    Night, night…

  • TA. Sorry to hear you will be shutting down for the summer. I for one will certainly miss my daily BK fix. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of effort that goes into running the site and I thank you for all your efforts.

    I hope as suggested you are not considering a permanent shut down. I sense a weakening in the force, somewhat similar to when Chelsea signed Cesc.

    Personally I think that differing opinions and ideas help make a blog interesting. You have some really interesting characters on here and a little punch up now and again is not such a bad thing.

    Just my thoughts

  • DM, you summarised Giroud to a tee earlier today. Some people want a Ferrari not realising that our Landrover is the best possible car for the rugged landscape around us. If the team fail to score enough goals he gets the blame from the the situation-blind ‘supporters’, who just want a Ferrari full stop, rather than realising that Ozil, Alexis and Santi have almost stopped entirely hitting the net recently…as well….and when they keep going on and on for weeks without any perspective or statistical analysis and then put the boot into a player who creates his own chances, often out of very little – making Falcao look like a spoiled waste of space all game long – then I feel justified to label people a dickhead, fellow BKers. How many analytical posts did I write about Ollie? How many one liners does JB produce? Yet he has the audacity to challenge me to argue against his silly player destruction. There are plenty of sites where they love this sort of player destruction, so we don’t need to feel sorry about him.

  • Seventeenho, you kept the site going with unwavering support and high quality reviews. Please post your preview as a comment, if you can.

  • Retsub, agreed about differing opinions, especially when they are well argued, they are good for the blog. That is the rule of the game: good argumentation.

  • Thanks for the nice comment on the blog, though. I just don’t like the footie free summer as it leads to us all scraping for news where we probably should enjoy ourselves with our families and other hobbies. Plus I will be working over the summer and moving house.

  • HT. I didn’t read the comments in game, which I think you did and in game that can be quite annoying if not infuriating. As a rule, I put my phone on silent and face down during games, even sometimes change to some foreign language I don’t understand if it all gets too annoying.
    Read ALL comments afterwards and on Monday morning after I had cooled down from result and performance. My view on Ramsey’s best pos. has literally stood for years, irrespective of form and results.
    As for Wenger: I was 4 when Wenger too over at Arsenal, he is literally the only AFC manager I can remember, others are from history books/doccies etc. So Wenger leaving scares us all, I’d prolly cry harder at Wenger’s passing than I would @ 60% of my family member’s passing, yet the believe that he is somehow irreplaceable bothers me because it implies 1. Wenger eventually resigns (don’t believe he will ever be fired in any case, no matter the results) we will be plunged into choas, is that the assumption? Arsenal are bigger because of Wenger, but he will never be bigger than the club and I fear in some people’s minds he is. Arsenal is a VERY attractive project (to use that dreaded word) because of Wenger and the base he has lead, trust me when he eventually goes, there will be coaches lining up to take over.
    I do not pretend to be a tactical expert or football coach, but then I do not need to be a chef to know someone is busy burning the food…admittedly some are still better cooks than others…;)

  • evening BKers

    Well i better throw my two cents in i suppose lol
    I see nothing wrong with Giroud the player, and indeed no-one can argue he is pinnacle to the way we play and i rate him highly at what he does in this style of play. I do however fecking hate the system of our play atm to which Giroud is key – hence i am always looking for replacements for him, but its got nothing to do with him personally, just pissed off we don’t play a better system of football in which he would definitely not be part off i’m afraid.

    The template is obvious atm: (Barca)




    —————————-Ozil———————————The OX—————————–


    —————————————-Hayden / Chambers————————————–

    I hope that explains my position TA, before you tell me to feck off lol, i don’t dislike Giroud and appreciate what he brings to the team, i just wish there wasn’t a need to use what he brings to the team because we would be playing fast paced dynamic football like Barca with a quick, pacey dynamic front three. With a few signings in the summer i think we are nearly there and pretty much covered playing that style for years to come.

    new GK
    And a fecking left footed version of Sanchez lol, anyone got any suggestions?

    ahhhh a 4-3-3 attacking Arsenal theres the dream lol (for me at least), but one thing is for sure Giroud would not be part of it. – nothing against what he brings to the team and its system atm though 🙂

  • I’m sorry to hear that. Hope you come back stronger than ever in the summer.

    I have way too much respect for you and 17HT, to start a petty argument – it was unlike you to be name calling and getting personal like that, which took me by surprise. but rest assured, I have been called even worse (thanks Glics) and I hold no ill feelings because of that.

    Instead, I will write this comment to Thank you and everyone else here for putting up for me for so long and also giving us a platform to express our opinions.

    We often say things in the spur of the moment that get taken out of context. My apologies to anyone and everyone to whom I may have offend with my Sczny or Giroud bashing — It has never been personal, I like others do it as we all bleed Arsenal and we do it because we want the best for the Red Army hence sometimes you form an opinion of someone which gets repeated. one players world class is another’s waste of space. we all see things and players differently on the field – and rightfully so, otherwise this world be a boring place. My sincere apologies to everyone – life is too short to hold grudges.

    Together we have all been through a lot, over the last few years anyway – difference of opinions, name calling, bashing and so on is all part of the game. Even family members and blood relatives often exchange blows but then when sanity prevails – normality resumes and it’s business as usual.

    I certainly feel that way, so even if TA tells me this that or the other, or if 17HT takes the moral high ground – it’s well respected and they are absolutely right. Both me and Glics are party poopers, we should have written a post or 2 to add more weight to our silly one liners and comments. Again, I blame Glics for this, it’s all his fault.

    I respect their opinion but I also feel that respect is a 2 way street.

    Thought I shouldn’t part ways without saying good bye to the best blog on the web. Memories are forever, People always leave. My memories of this place and everyone will always remain close to the heart and I will take the good times with the bad and hard times with the dark.

    The show must go on – keep smiling and do try to keep the blog open, if possible @ TA – you’re a great leader and have put in a lot of hard work behind this site. You are also right that you have earned the right to do as you want. I trust that in the end you will make the right decision,albeit not an easy one either way. Blogging is worse than an addiction is all that I am going to say.

    last but not least – do read my comment @ 16:49. I did talk sense, sometimes 🙂

    Adios Amigo’s and ME AMIGO – you’ll all be missed!


  • Arrr, sanity restored.

    Well done HT, I knew once the caffeine levels were restored things would not look so sharp as when the contrast was so high. I can understand your disappointment though. You put up a great preview, get team and bench 100% correct, match that did not go quite as well as hoped, particularly in the first half, but the point was secured …..
    …. and then no one wanted to talk about the tactical battle? It’s enough to make me give it a
    GGGGRRRRRRRRRR! for you 😀

    Oh, a tip on the Wednesday preview/comment. It will copy and paste okay, but put it into two or three smaller blocks, which should fall into the following categories; Scene setting; Likely opposition danger; Our line up.
    I hope that helps?

    JB, I did just flick back to your comment at 16:49 … whose a clever boy then. 😀
    If I am honest, after half-time I was just thinking ‘get Ramsey off and put Walcott on’. Now who is the dickhead, eh? 😆
    I only ever read the in match comments after the game, purely for logistical reasons, as I cannot watch tv and have the computer on … in high demand periods it weakens my broadband signal. So when I do, I refrain from commenting there and then, but rather sleep on it, as there is usually something to annoy me.
    You were always hard to take with you view on Szczezzer. On the one hand you would lambast him for brain-fart moments, yet happy to keep him as No2 … presumably as long as he didn’t have to play? That my friend, is unrealistic. At 22 he has a long career ahead of him, and I believe, both with age and experience he will be a very good ‘keeper. I think all the speculation about getting a new keeper is largely based on the thought that WS1 will leave in the summer?
    I cannot think the club will have 3 keepers on high wages, and if he looks at it sensibly, with only Ospina between him and No1 spot, I think he will stay? Ospina on the other hand might not?

    Steve, my over subscribed person in the digit department, what a dreamer you are? 😀
    Did you read about Hayden yesterday? He is back in training.
    If you saw my W.Brom line up you’ll know I am more than half way with you with the need for pace up front. However, I think it you do need all the pieces in place before the team will function along the lines that you are thinking. Not only that, despite Barca brilliance, how well would that team do in this league, seriously? Early on they would rip teams apart, no doubt. But later on the clogging, PTB teams would have half that team on the treatment table. Chelsea only lost their 3rd game in the league last night, mainly because they do not rely on a team of highly talented midfield midgets, and soft touch squealers the moment a flying boot gets anywhere near them. The reality is, in this league, the winning model is Chelsea and Man C?
    Not that I want us to copy that, but just look closely what we have in comparison, okay?
    You, yourself leave blanks for new players to come in – that is other than the ones we have used this season – but you name Schneiderlin? And for good reason. It is that second top class defensive midfielder that we haven’t had for many a long season. Flamini and Arteta did a job there, but singularly or together they were just below our needs of today.
    Chelsea have that solid base to work from, and so do Man C. Both capable of fielding a defensive double act in midfield.
    What I am saying is, you cannot have a fully committed attack if there is a weakness behind. I believe AW is working towards that. I mentioned Hayden at the top of this piece because if he gets a good pre-season, he could be an in-house contender. Indeed, if he had stayed fit we might not have had to recall Coquelin … now we have both?
    Much has been made of the use of Ramsey down the wide right. It is an unnatural position for him, and one that definitely does not work as intended ….BUT, and here’s the rub, it is because our defence behind that position means that we can ill afford to have a flakey player like Walcott as back up support? In the absence of JW or Arteta, or anybody to play that defensive role effectively, we drag back Cazorla. Ludicrous idea, but HE made it work. If you want an alternative to Alexis for MOTS, then Santi is the man!
    It did not solve the weakness on the right, with or without Debuchy. However, move Santi slightly forwards, with a double DM behind. Problem solved.
    Without that, you cannot have an attacking full back be in two places at once. Gibbs got criticised time and again … but that was before Alexis came on the scene. Bellerin is in that same position now, and he is still a young player in his breakthrough season.

    Bottom line is, judge the team and AW when all the pieces are in place.

    TA, I shall not be sorry to have a break this summer, as my shoulder will pay dearly for these contributions later today. However, the teams do return early, pre-season and all, so hopefully I will be fully up to speed with my soon to be installed ‘Dragon Talking’ program, and then only the voice will suffer.
    You however, most definitely do not want to be looking over your shoulder to see how the site is doing while you move house. They reckon it is one of the top 3 most stressful times of you life, so yes, take a break.
    Like others, I have enjoyed my time on here, and even if some of my comments have not been well received, at least they were published. Many thanks.

    Oh, and regards to the TW, I will try and slip my thoughts on it before closure after the Cup final. Hopefully when everybody is in a good cheery mood after the result?

  • I hope the break freshens every one up. This site is too good to shut down. We are spoilt for choice on this site. TA has the best analysis of any arsenal supporter I’ve come across. 17 the best previews on the net. Gerry’s comments are like posts and are often gems. GLIC and terry for the laughs….plus more.

    Also who said what about Giroud?! I didn’t help bring him to arsenal for people to bad mouth him.

    Come on gents. Look at our recent form. Carry that into next season (after another cup win) with a few more purchases and we are ready to rock n roll.


    Apology not accepted Szcz > Ospina 🙂

  • Weds, Morning here….Match tonight…I’ll look over what I wrote the other day and post it–or write something new…In general, I write for my own amusement as much as anything…and with the drop-off in traffic here–coinciding with me doing the match previews–I cannot take it as too much of a vote of confidence. Cheers, however, to those who have been generous with the kind words… Cheers also to 007 for your side of the in-match issues–well done sir, and to Ozzie directly (and others) for the more direct support. Any clue about Alex and his whereabouts/disappearance?…

    Of course, it could also be that me doing the match previews, as noted by 007 and others, has been coincident with Arsenal doing much, much better and THAT’S the reason for fewer comments. Is the Goonersphere just a place for people to complain? When things are better with Arsenal do we move onto other areas in our lives that need a re-think? Maybe so…As always, of cours, what (TF) do I know? 😀

    One thing I think I know is that there’s a strong tradition of watching football where punditry is characterized by extreme opinion and making more of the moment at hand than the situation justifies. Why not? This is (big money) entertainment and when it fails to satisfy people have every right to throw tomatoes. I watch from afar, on a high definition (relatively) large television and I can rewind and even do my own super-slow motion replays–all very different than the community based trudge (in the rain) down to the pub and/or the stadium to watch the local lads.
    In lieu of this sort of experience, the interweb as a place for vent-based blogging makes a certain amount of sense.

    Still, I think there’s a place for a more analytical “close watching” sort of chat. I also prefer my watching to stay–when possible–on the more “supportive” side. For me it starts with trying to put myself in the manager’s shoes. My support for our current guy is not completely blind, but I do tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. As such, comments going on and on about changes that will never happen (whether it be Kun Aguero or Isaac Hayden–in tonight’s match, for example…) don’t do much for me. I realize, however, that others love that sort of stuff… It takes ALL types, after all…

    All this goes to say… I think this blog can and (ideally) should go on. Total needs to have the time and energy to make it happen (I’ve got an idea on that front for him–watch your e-mail, boss)… but I also think it’s gonna take a stronger, er, collective effort (to quote AW…) if people want to create that sort of place. There are a few good Arsenal writers doing their own things with their comment people relegated to a second tier. And, of course, there are others out there just going for the hits… I “like” the community based model, but I also think it takes a good deal more effort–and respect–from all participants–to make it work…

    OK, enough said. Match tonight… Thoughts on that here in a minute…

  • I’m sorry HT, the interspersing with comments has sort of dried up … probably awaiting an edited version of your preview?

    As to Hayden playing tonight, I sure I haven’t seen anybody, including myself. put forward his namer in any way, shape or form? In fact for tonight I put forward the side that finished up the Man U game, except that has been somewhat amended with the ‘flu bound Kos and knackered Santi.
    However, where Isaac Hayden got into the latest chat was when Steve put forward his name, 3rd line down, as one for the future, probably as a taking over from MS who we haven’t signed yet … far off in the future 👿
    All I asked was did he(Steve) see he was back in training. Indeed, since that went out, he put in 46 minutes of the Under 21 match where they won 4-0(and 2-0 when he left the field). In that same game, Serge Gnabry scored one and had two assists(indirectly), and was the star of the game.
    So having got that straight, I am not saying the latter will play tonight either, although I hope he makes the bench. As I said in my pre-preview, all these fringe players have two chances left to catch the eye for a spot on the bench at Wembley. In the absence of Ox, who I am not sure if he has been ruled out altogether as reported earlier, but a fully fit and sharp Gnabry is a very good alternative, imo. (You can read your own phrase there if you like 😀 ).

    Re – the preview – As I suggested above, cut and paste you current stuff onto a blank sheet, then paste it in chunks into the reply slot, as a rewrite will not leave much time?
    In fact I might just do that with my earlier effort.

  • Here is my edited version for tonight’s game, in lieu of later developments:

    The home* game Sunderland is the trickier of the two. Let’s not forget we have a potential for a ‘Fabby-esque’ repeat in the shape of Victor Mannone, but Pantilmon** can be even harder to beat on recent form. They also have plenty to play for just to make sure of staying in the top division.
    *ref JB’s correction.
    ** I was really chuffed that I switched GK’s in the FFP as he scored oodles of points … now I am stuck with him thanks to this game being included in last weekend’s fixtures :ROLL:
    So my team suggestion is:

    Bellerin ——-Mert—————-Gabriel——Monreal
    —————— Ramsey**——Coquelin————–
    Walcott—————–Wilshere —————Alexis
    **Now declared fit?
    * If fit.
    Bench: Szcz; Chambers, Gibbs, Ozil, Rosicky, Gnabry, Welbeck*(Akpom).

    I am hoping this game will give an opportunity to get the fringe subs on, rather that a need for game changers. although that could be one and the same in the shape of Gnabry and Rosicky? Personally I think we need Gnabry more than ever in the absence of the injured Ox. We are lacking a different type of player to that what Welbeck offers, and Gnabbers does offer that drive with power and strength, with a fierce shot from outside the box as a bonus. A good showing here, especially if he has his shooting boots on, could see him start at the weekend, and secure a place on the bench. Almost ditto for Rosicky, but take away the doubt whether he will be on his game. He rarely fails on that score!

  • Gerry, Thanks for the support…and for your “alternative” preview… I’ve just edited my line-up based on the latest news…It took 10 minutes… I’ll post the whole bit due to the “popular” (or at least your…) demand… 😀

    Also, I was just joshing about your support for the trainees. I know you well enough that these names you stump for are just an area of the team you keep an eye upon and that you develop favorites and guys who might make it… Personally, I appreciate it as I stop short of watching these guys with the reserves and youth squads, much as I don’t seek out video packages of (so called) transfer targets… Overall, I was just trying to suggest that I prefer to talk about what actually might happen as opposed to things which seem (to me) to be impossible. That said, I really think the chances of Gnabry making the bench today (or Saturday or in the cup final) is 0.000000001… Sorry…. 😀 (Is Ox really injured, I thought he was one of the ones “back in training…” )

  • Arsenal – Sunderland Match Preview
    A point to Take and Points to Make?

    Due to our run towards a 2nd consecutive FA Cup Final, Arsenal face a late season make-up match vs Sunderland. The match was originally supposed to be played the weekend we beat Reading in the semi-finals. Instead we make it up here in midweek before the 10 simultaneous matches played on the final matchday, including ours vs West Bromwich Albion. On the heels of a late equalizer at Manchester United. Arsenal need only a single point to secure a 3rd place finish in the Premier League and direct qualification to the Champions League group stage. With an early start to next years campaign, avoiding a two-legged qualifier seems a very good thing indeed.

    Sunderland also only need a point from their two final matches to guarantee safety from relegation. They come into the make-up match 3 points ahead of Hull City and a point ahead of their Northeast neighbors, Newcastle. The problem is that they face consectutive trips to the best two teams in London: Arsenal and league champions, Chelsea, who surely will want to do a little better in front of their home fans than they did on Monday night at West Brom. By contrast, Newcastle host West Ham United, secure in mid-table, while Hull host Manchester United who have also wrapped up their declared goal of finishing (at least) 4th and gaining re-entry into the Champions League. They will be keen to take control of their own fate, rather than leaving it in the hands of their relegation rivals.

    As such, both teams playing to a “gentleman’s draw” has to be a thought. Obviously, nobody will admit to such a notion, but, should the score be level moving to the final minutes of the match, I wouldn’t expect extreme urgency from either team. For Arsenal then, as long as at least a draw can be secured, it might better seen as a chance to get minutes for players who might feature in the FA Cup final. If those same players might be ending their careers at Arsenal, a final appearance in front of the home support might also be deserved. Hopefully then, this match (and the final Saturday) can be a chance to close out 3rd place, give some minutes to players who might need them–while resting others who need it ahead of the cup final–and begin a two-match lap of honor for the squad and some senior member who may be wearing the red with white sleeves for the final time.

    It might not be that easy, of course. Dick Advocaat’s team will want to try and be solid at the back while still taking their chances when on the ball. The easiest way for them to get their precious point would be to get a lead and then try and hold it. They have scoring weapons in their imposing forwards, Conor Wickham and Darren Fletcher, as well as real pace through Adam Johnson and former Spur, Jermaine Defoe. Service is provided by former Arsenal trainee Seb Larsson, whose right footed corners and set pieces are some of the best in the league. From the left side, fullback Patrick van Aanholt can belt them too. Although the rearguard has let in 50 goals this season, they have tightened up substantially since Costel Pantilimon took over in goal from former Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone.

    In the reverse fixture, played back in October, Arsenal failed to create much in the way of attack. Instead, the game pivoted on two defensive mistakes from Sunderland and goals scored by Alexis Sanchez. For the first, Alexis pounced on a mistake by Wes Brown before chipping over the stranded keeper, Mannone. The second came right at the death when Vito made a mistake of his own and allowed Alexis to finish into an empty net. The dominant feature of the match, however, was our ability to frustrate Sunderland’s attack.

    Keeping a clean sheet will be the first priority for this one, too. After playing an unchanged starting 11 for 6 straight matches, manager Arsene Wenger, surely must switch it up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes up and down the squad, but maybe fewer at the back, notably Gabriel in for Laurent Koscielny, who is (supposedly) suffering from a virus (cough, cough). Santi Cazorla and Alexis, who both looked tired and static at Old Trafford would be my picks for getting a rest. Olivier Giroud also frustrated Gooners even if he played much stronger in the 2nd half. Danny Welbeck was supposed to be “just short” for that one, but Wenger has signaled that nobody new will be ready here in midweek.

    At United our offense really seemed to step up a notch with the double introduction of Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey’s move from the right wing to the center of the pitch. Those are the changes I see to the first 11. Could others like Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, who all seem to be back in training, at least a shot from the bench? If they don’t their seasons could very well be over and their names could become meat and drink for the always ravenous back pagers and (fractions of a) penny per click blogs. A final question? Does Wojcheik Szczesny need a game in goal before the cup final–or to prove he doesn’t deserve that start and David Ospina does? Here then is my guess at the starting 11.


    Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Chambers, Flamini, Arteta, Rosicky, Alexis

    To me, this cast of characters represents a good balance between the need to get the point(s) and the desire to rest a few and get a few others competing for a role in the cup final. What do I know? What say you, fellow Gooners. Who would you sit and who would you play? What should be the priority in the final matches and last 10 days of our season?

  • Well, there it is…

    Like I said earlier in the week, I’m very busy at the moment…All because I scheduled something for today at noon. I could’ve changed it if it had registered that the Sunderland game had been rescheduled for the very same hour… Alas, my game must be slipping, as I try to have my life dialed in to the point where I can see each match as it happens…

    So, if anybody gives a poo…No game day chat for me today…but no reason for others not to engage in it… (Estoy diciendo a ti, mi amigo, cero, cero, siete…) …And blame Sir Chez, Giroud and Santi Cazorla (even if they don’t play)… And, of course, Wenger for not buying el Kun, (plus Messi and Ronaldo) when he had the chance or playing a team of all U-18s who would at least play in their positions and give it 110%…

    Just kidding… 😀

    Go on then… Enjoy the match and Come on You Gunners!! Up the Arse!!! (and/or) Start Your Engines!!!!


  • That’s more like it HT, I’m glad the pasting worked okay.

    I have another take on this being a pre-selective draw, as I think both teams will try and secure their needs so as not to have to worry about the weekend results? But you are right, if it is a draw with 10 or so minutes to go neither will overdo their efforts to get the win.

    They do have a little bit of leeway in that both Newcastle and Hull have to win for them to drop without a point here? Also the Fergie – Bruce connection is long gone. VG will want his team to look an attractive proposition for incoming players, so that makes a Hull win unlikely? Newcastle don’t really convince anyone, even their own supporters?

    That said, Sunderland had put a tidy little run together, and I think they will go for the physical angle, banking on our players not wishing to get injured this close to the Cup Final?
    Our team choices only differ in the Ozil – Alexis option. I’ll stick with my thought that Ozil is the one they don’t want injured, and Alexis might just get us in front in the first half?

    Regards Ox and injury – a week ago he had a hamstring twing and was ‘out for the season’. This week it has gone back to ‘we’ll wait and see (for the Wembley game). So your guess is as good as mine.
    Debuchy only starts full training this Friday, so he has only a minor chance of getting any time on the pitch before the ‘Cup?
    Whereas, if Gnabry gets a few minutes here and looks good, he may well get a start at the weekend while Alexis has a rest. If he puts Walcott to shame in that game …???
    Walcott has a lot riding on this match, so he needs to continue to add more that just his reputation. It was noted in ‘The Breakdown’ that we picked up our game before any of the changes were made. But Santi did look like one game too many with a short rest gap, so he can be fully refreshed sitting this one out.
    Where Wilshere plays will be interesting too, as he is another trying to push for a starting slot, but his bench place is pretty secure I think … barring injury.

    I had a feeling we might get lucky at Old Trafford because when I was out with the dogs a passing seagull gave a very different meaning to ‘Head and Shoulders’ hair treatment.
    I had no such encounter today.
    They are such annoying so and so’s, because when they cry ‘Bombs away!’ from a great height, by the time it reaches you the skies are empty and you cannot give them a futile ‘V’ sign.

    Well that is me done … keep the faith and they will pull through.

  • Well we both got it wrong HT – Same as, same as … errr except for Wilshere in for Coquelin????

    I think this might need a rethink … where are those bloody seagulls when you need one …

  • Damn those bloody “supporters”. They have now caused three home games in a row without scoring a goal. 😦

  • Eerily quiet here. I’ll say it. If you can honestly you are surprised by the manner of that draw after Chelsea and Swansea please let me know.
    But luckily, 3rd should be safe now, progress.
    My bigger worry is that Tim Sherwood could not have been watching Chelsea-Swansea-Sunderland and not thought “Oh, so they really can’t break down a deep lying defence? Where’s that bus driver again?”
    Will any of us be surprised if Aston Villa set up the same way? Question is: what will we do differently? At some point it stops being “bad luck/GK had a stormer”, some point we need to look at ourselves and not be so easy to set up against. Luckily, this will only be for a small percentage of games as only a small minority of teams will set up as ultra defensively.
    We have 3rd, bar a huge collapse, that’s progress. Wenger needs to work on a system to counter a deep lying defence. I’d be willing to bet good money that’s how Villa will set up.

  • Yes, but it was an exciting game, and as long as we don’t pay the price by losing to West Brom while United stick a hat full into the doomed Hull net …. I would say they deserved their draw?

    Not to mention my oodles of Pontilimon points in the FFP, ha ha. I was already top scorer in our Best Bloggers league for the second time this season. tee hee.

    It was nice of Sunderland to let us have all the time in the world when we had possession in our half. I would imagine the stats on their tackles in opposition territory must be the lowest ever? Just too keen to get back and defend …. and it worked.

    It is a pity Alexis did not come off for Walcott, and Rosicky on at the same time for Wilshere. I had a feeling Theo would cramp Hector’s space a little. But hey, the point should be enough?

    I cannot see Santi turning out at the weekend, he looked out of it in the opening few minutes.
    Not that he did not try hard right to the end, but both he and Alexis looked to have lost their spark, and Ozil was getting a bit twichy before he came off.

    Nothing that the weekend off will not cure I am sure … I’m going for 6 changes 😀
    Take that HT!

    Perhaps we could distract Berahino by talking huge personal terms if he cares to move?

    If there is no one else around, I’m off to bed too …

  • Considering i see Giroud more as a midfielder than a striker (like a taller slower Ramsey), i just got to watch 5 passing midfielders and Sanchez try and pass their way through an eleven man wall for 90 mins lol. I have gotta say it was a fascinating game but as D-Money highlighted as with so many times in the past it was ultimately non-productive.
    Theo made a bit of difference with some good shots (that were actually on target) but with Sanchez having an off day and the rest of the team made up of players who pass pass pass i couldn’t see us getting anything more than we did.
    imo Wenger should have taken off one of the defenders and put on Diaby along with Rosicky and he could have furthered his mission to stick a midfielder in every fucking position lol.
    Lets hope we don’t fuck up the last game lol

  • You may not be wrong on Villa’s tactics DM, but that takes some doing at Wembley?

    I would rather wait and see how it turns out against the Midland’s side.

    You say 3rd place is almost secured … on the back of using the same 11 players. Now we are in a similar position to Chelsea who use a small group for too long?

    I said at the time, the Swansea game was an opportunity missed to freshen up the side.
    I hope that now take place at the weekend. Rosicky did his chances no harm at starting in that, so let us not think we cannot play better when the time comes, eh?

  • Steve – Ditto with above is my reply. You have to say both keepers made some vital saves?

  • Gerry? what the hell are you doing up at this hour mon frere 🙂
    How much were you wishing (like me) we had Gnabry on the bench to put on in place of a non firing Sanchez to see how he would fair 🙂

  • Yep both keepers put in great performances no question about that Gerry

  • Giroud hasn’t scored for six consecutive league games now and Wenger denies that we lacked width today. I have written at least five articles in the last three months in which I have either defended Giroud (and others) from Henry’s criticism or Wenger’s position regarding possible arrival of a new manager but after Wenger’s claim that we had played with two wingers and a striker against Sunderland (which is true if only the last 20 minutes are taken into account), I feel like he spilled a full bucket of crap down my neck.

  • Morning all, and yes, I wish for many things Steve …ha ha.

    Alas, like HT is only too quick to remind me (and you), they are only pipe dreams in Arsene’s mind. May be different next time?
    Admir, you are sounding more like the ‘I want it now’ generation. I think the bigger picture has to be looked at in the context of the game last night, as well as the winning run before it.

    First of all the players are jaded after a long season. Last night in the first half, I guess AW was thinking in terms of not conceding a goal and have a doubly difficult task of getting one back. Which, you may have noticed, we did not manage to do even after the game was reassessed?
    Walcott really only provides a threat going forwards.

    Secondly, what AW says publicly is more likely to be a deflection from what is going on inside the camp, regards player’s future, contract talks, fitness, etc.

    Thirdly, I would argue we were starting with one winger, Hector Bellerin, and unless Theo was going to be deployed on the left, that remained the case. However, I too have said in the past, that when players have played hard in the first half it can be difficult to keep that up when ‘fresh legs come on? Alexis and Cazorla were well past their ‘use by’ dates, having put it all in to get us to the position we are now in?

    We are a couple (or so) players short of being able to switch things around at will, and not lose any momentum. The injuries in the first half of the season compounded that. So it has been a supreme effort to get us where we are now from those desperate times in 2014. In fact, only Man City, and perhaps Swansea (who had different expectation levels?) of the top 7 or 8 teams look to have overcome their slump in these final games. in fairness to the players, we haven’t crumpled completely the way Spurs did?
    Be thankful of that.

    If we put out a team of Under 21’s and bench players against ‘Brom I will not bat an eye. Bring them on. Because we are not going to beat ‘Villa if the first team is not refreshed. Right now, I would settle for the Cup and risk 4th place, because to play the key players of that team again could risk both.

    Players are not machines.

  • JB, I am humbled by your conciliatory, kind words. It’s me who should apologise and lets shake hands. 🙂

    And hope to see you back on the blog soon.

  • A John Lennon nose-bike score is not what we wanted but it was to be expected somehow. Scraping through before the big price is up for grabs.

  • Giroud has responded to THOSE Henry comments. I’m with Giroud on this. Lost all respect for Henry after those comments. He is held in such high esteem at the club, those comments coming from him are almost as if Wenger said it. Very thoughtless. Hope he chokes on his Sky funded croissants. #NotSorry

  • stupid comments to make in such a public setting but true nevertheless wouldn’t you agree D-M?

  • Honestly, not even relevant whether comments are true or not. He trains with the players and has ease of access to the club and Wenger, why didn’t he say it in person? Does he still expect to train with club after those comments? Must Giroud welcome him with open arms? All so unavoidable. Fear Henry is heading down the Stewart Robson route very fast. Such a shame. Doesn’t need the money, he is an average pundit anyway, just quit.

  • like i said stupid to make them in such a public forum, very agreed D-M, imo bang on the money though, i don’t think we will ever win the league with the strikeforce Giroud provides.
    btw name a pundit who isn’t average lol 🙂

  • @steve – imagine if someone had put Henry’s career under the microscope and focused on his appearances in the final games.

    “Look at Thierry Henry. There were moans why he had never won Golden Ball but let’s take a look at one huge detail of his career. He played in nine finals for Arsenal, France and Barcelona respectively without scoring a single goal. He won European Championship with France – but Wiltord, Trezeguet and Pires were the key. He won Champions’ League with Barcelona – but it was despite of his missed sitter, not because of his contribution. Eto’o and Messi spared him from blushes. FA Cup glory? Goals were scored by Parlour, Ljungberg and Pires. When he should have confirmed Arsenal victory against Barcelona, he sent the shot straight into Valdes. He gave uninspiring performances against Galatasaray (2000) and Italy (2006). No wonder he had never won Golden Ball.”

    See, I didn’t write a single lie about Henry and yet something is wrong. Pretty much like his comments about lack of spine, Özil and Giroud.

  • hahaha steve suddenly becomes the defender of all things Henry lol
    I am agreeing with you guys, it was a dickhead move on his part and definitely don’t need a history lesson Admir, i simply tend to agree with the actual subject matter regarding his comments about Giroud.
    I take it you guys both see Giroud as a world class striker who’s going to lead us to the title next year?
    In my view if he had help i.e two up top then maybe but on his own as the lone striker in our current system then i am sorry i have to agree with Henry.
    I say three up top like Barca play, three dynamic, pacey strikers – just so you know where i’m coming from

  • Been very busy if late, so only just catching up…

    Total, you can’t be serious?

    Closing down the blog during the summer,
    say it isn’t so Amigo?

    Gotta agree on the transfer speculation, but there’s always something to gossip about mate.
    Even if it’s only discussing a day-trip to visit the tulip growers of old Flevoland.

  • Could be an interesting summer in our Youth Academy.

    Just a guess, but I suspect that there could be further changes in the Coaching staff.

    Jonker has had a full year to access the situation, so expect him to shake up a fee more aspects of Hale End and the Academy in general…

  • @Steve – let put it this way (it’s never just black and white):

    Giroud is not a world-class striker but he has been playing like one this season, scoring goals in big matches, scoring goals consistently and being an integral part of our revival in the second half of the season both offensively and defensively. If we had signed Lewandowski back then, I would have been over the moon – he has Giroud’s qualities and his pace, finishing and ability to create space on his own are better than Giroud’s.

    It’s difficult to say whether he will ever be capable to propel us to the very top of the English football. I think his performances this season minus his performances where we didn’t have both wingers (e.g. Spuds away where Özil played on the left wing due to Alexis’ absence) suggest that he can give us enough goals to win the league. Then again, you can’t expect from a 12-million-man to deliver on the same level like Alexis.

    Our team do miss Ox on the wing but he has been Diaby-ing on the sidelines for so long that we have forgotten how good they actually had been before the injuries. I mean, Ox had had a spell of 22 games without either a goal or an assist to his name.

    But, who knows, maybe it’s down to linguistic differences. 😉 I would like to send a text on TA’s mail based on something I had read earlier this month which might explain some things.

  • Busy week for me…And watching the match after the fact just isn’t the same… We got our point and we got to see Sunderland celebrate their survival so I can’t complain too much…

    But that shouldn’t stop others… In the American broadcast there was a LOT of talk about the Arsenal supporters (no quotation marks…) and how it’s a divided group…Some very demanding (impossible to satisfy?) and others who are happy to see such nice football week in and week out…


    Personally, what I saw wasn’t all that nice… 8 attacking players making just about zero headway against a very parked bus. Snatching at shots or attempting them from ridiculous angles and distances… Additionally, there were some good (very good…) chances the other direction. Fortunately two of our the three defending players Ospina and Koscielny looked the part… We were pretty lucky we didn’t have to get a goal (or two) back in order to get that (precious) point…

    There were mitigating factors, of course. Anthony Taylor is a ref who never wants to stop play so that means our players are risking their bodies (and their spots in the cup final) with no chance to become heroes (or club legends, even…) as Seb Larsson will be for Sunderland. The calls Taylor DID make means 30 seconds are wasted. The faux injuries to Larsson and Cattermole and LemonPants all took minutes to restart play yet we saw only 2 minutes added at halftime and 3 at the full-time whistle. (Every time we blasted over or Mr. Pants had his hands on the ball it was another half minute)… By the time it was getting late I too (along with Advocaat and the Sunderland fans) had the tears going, even if they were from boredom…

    So, our points total is two less than it might be but at least we know we need to improve our ideas against PTB teams (and defending on the break)… I agree that playing 8 midfielders is NOT the way forward even if the opponent plays a flat back 9. Somehow we need to keep moving–and I don’t mean racing back for a bit of fan approval after you’ve given the ball away… I’ve talked about a rotating shell of the FBs and the DM(s) so I won’t repeat that here. In general, to my eye, Santi, Ozil and Wilshere (and Theo when he came on) seem aware about switching spots on the pitch, while the others look a LOT more static. But that’s just me…

    Oh well… On then to appreciation day…and ironing out the kinks against evil Tony P and his lads who gave such a hard time to the Chavs… TA, I’m working on a preview…Mail coming your way soon…

    Everybody else… Happy Friday!

  • Is the blog closing down completely for the summer break or will it be just left open for bloggers to chat amongst their selves on Transfer matter etc`, with no actual post`s ?.

  • can we not just have a “transfer bollox” title, no post and then we can all comment about media speculation and other summer nonsense below until the site is back for business at the start of the season – what do you think TA?

  • Cockie/F11ngers…

    This is what I’m picturing…

    Lunatic(s): “Hey, Asylum people? Are you guys gonna be watching this place or what?…”


  • hahahaha fair point HT hahaha

    we’re not too bad at policing ourselves though are we? We’re quite a level headed group, me and Cockie not included

  • Good morning all, I think there is a problem with your idea if the blog is kept open. Because then somebody has to be responsible for comments on it, and as TA cannot be available all of the time, and if something goes pear-shaped he would be the one legally responsible? So I think that means there will be a gap in the summer program?

    Anyway on to matters football. HT, I think your view of the last game was reasonable, but then, with the intense programme we’ve had since January, keeping the run going with the same group of players, as well as our making sure that our the continuity between the players with each game, it is understandable. Fatigue was certainly going to be a problem, mentally as much as physically? I think that is why the shots were taken from ridiculous and narrow angles. But as you rightly say several players did play their normal game and I didn’t think there were that many crunching tackles that we had to worry about? So I don’t think too much of their minds were actually on the FA Cup, I just think they were mentally tired.

    However it does put a big emphasis on getting at least a point out of this next game, and whilst I would like to rest a whole chunk of players, and I do think that might be the right way to go, I am sure AW will like to see the points secured so we don’t have to worry about starting the next season with extra games. However, if he wants to win the FA Cup I think it is essential that at least five or six of the starters from last two games will have to be rested? It is not easy being a manager and I don’t see how he is going to overcome this dual problem?

    I guess with those who have just returned, as they are fresh enough to play this and some part in the FA Cup, thinking namely of Wilshire and Walcott. But that’s when the page runs a bit dry, because players like Bellerin have got no real backup? Mertersacker or Koscielny (or motorcycle or push only, as the DT translated it, ha ha) have got one proper backup in Gabriel. Without Welbeck too, it does look like upfront we are a tad short. My personal preference is that Gnabry (or DT’s ‘NAB three’, which would be an appropriate Freudian slip :D) will get in and that would solve the problem of resting Alexis, and with Walcott on the other wing that provides us with pace, amazingly? It also means that we could actually play a game where Giroud might score? And he needs to before the Cup. I don’t think he is one of the ‘leggy’ ones, just out of form by being denied in front of goal. A more open game will suit?

    Then we turn our heads to the midfield and the need to rest Cazorla and Ozil (DT’s ‘because all and 00’, if you must know?), as well as Alexis, does mean that Ramsey and Wilshere (‘welfare’) are almost certain to continue. Frances Coquelin (‘Francisco:’) will also be put back in as the defensive midfielder, but at least he had a rest last game.

    The back four could see Gibbs continuing on the left side as he also has not been playing recently, but unless Chambers comes in on the right full-back position, I cannot see anybody else playing their other than Bellerin (‘bellowing’)? If Debuchy (‘debate she’) has got the slightest chance of playing in the Cup, then he will have to at least make the bench in this game I would have thought? I also think Gabriel (‘Gabrielle’, close 😆 ) must start this game in place of Koscielny (‘Cossey only’). But that does leave the problem with Per Mertersacker – wait for it – (‘per Murtagh sucker’ – have fun with that one, ha ha) to play all the games in this run. It would be very unfair to then rest him in the FA Cup? But providing Gabriel does not get injured or banned on Sunday, then we do have a replacement.

    This would be my thinking, and I guess it will be trickling across your mind as well HT – guess your mis-tran?- (‘hates to’ – Mnnn, say no more?). It just depends on whether you are going to lean towards the 3rd, or possible 4th spot, or more towards the FA Cup, to decides how many players you rest?
    As you have been more right than I have in the past, I’ll leave it to you. But those are just my thoughts above …. plus a few of ‘Dragon Talking Naturally’ insights …
    … I really like ‘NAB three’ for Monday morning’s newspaper headlines 😀 😀 😀

    This is my first attempt at writing with no keyboard, with my ‘dragon talking’ program. It will know all the players names by the start of the season I promise, and half the trainers and jockeys in the racing world. I look forward to see what it makes of Marco Botti and Frankie Dettori first time?
    Needless to say, I added the errors for amusement only …
    I am still having to do a lot of post editing but it is very easy to work, and very quick so far.
    I think it will work out well.

    Until tomorrow then ……? Stop listening (sorry, that was meant for you DT!)

  • TA, you’ve got mail…

    Gerry, at least you seem to be having fun with the new technology… I can’t say I agree with your ideas regarding tomorrow’s match, but you know, viva la diference, or something… To me, 3rd place is a done deal AND we should relish a mostly unchanged squad given another go against another parked bus. The preview will say just as much…

    WTF do I know, of course… 😀

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