Arsenal v Liverpool review: Great 0-0 but why did Arsene take Giroud off?

Now that was a game of football – one of the best Harry Potter nose-bicycles I have ever watched live. We did not win and we did not deserve to either, despite a very good goal being cancelled unjustly. However, our second half display was more than good enough to win the game after all, and this gives us plenty of hope for the season ahead.


We all know how expectations can ruin our enjoyment of the game. The loss against the Hammers has turned us in to grumpy, nervy supporters already with just three games of the season played, as we are treating every game now as a ‘must win’. This is unhealthy and, to be blunt, idiotic. It also does not help the team at all as they are already tense enough to realise their own ambition of going all the way to win the title. Take a chill pill rather than frantically indulging in criticising Wenger or the team; or, by all means, dream yourself champions by adding loads of super expensive players; but whatever you do, stay behind the team and try and enjoy the football on display.

I always feel privileged to watch our team at the home of football: what is better than watching a game live with the real Gunners right in front of you? I sat next to Pete who told me about his mate Simon being unable to come to the game due to him still recovering from a long illness that kept him many months in hospital. It made me realise once again how much we need to appreciate our health and being able to go to the game – one day it might not be possible any more. Get well soon, Simon. The stadium was packed to the rafter and it was a feast of white and red colours everywhere I looked: it promised to become a great game from the start.

When Pete told me the news that both the BFG and Koz would not be playing, I told him he was taking the urine. But soon I realised that we were indeed trying to defend our goal with the untested combo of Gabriel and Chambers…

The first half was for Liverpool. The combination of playing with no concerns – having won the first two games, they were doing well, and nobody expected them to win this difficult away game – and well prepared tactics, gave to Scousers wings. The essence of the first half, as well as the second half (but that is for later) was compactness and numbers where it matters; and this is where the ball happens to be.

Liverpool were a determined six-pack and we were wobbly all over the place in first 45 minutes. We could blame young Chambers for a lot of our trouble but that would be unfair on him to a large extent. Pool boxed us in in our own half and made sure that whoever had the ball had only risky options to release himself from it. We lacked movement (which Pete rightly pointed out several times), especially for springing a counter attack or breaking through the ranks in our own half; and Pool, it has to be said, played with great discipline. And when we had the ball our passing was not sharp enough and our ability to break free from the Pool pressure not strong enough: they constantly outnumbered us in relatively small areas. The result was continuous loss of possession and many good chances against us by the opponent. Coutinho, and the rejuvenated and very impressive Milner, bossed us between our ‘D’ and the half way line. They played some fabulous football at times, occasionally reminiscent of our own team in the early parts of the last decade.

We did manage to create some half-opportunities and were very unlucky with the Rambo goal being disallowed, but Liverpool could have been in-front by two or three in the first half. Luckily, fortune was on our side, as the sound of leather slapping metal poles was heard regularly, and Petr Cech was in world class form. I saw all his saves right below me, and especially the low dive save at close range from Benteke’s effort was out of this world. I knew, I felt, I sensed it in my bones it would go in but somehow the long in the teeth Cech anticipated the next semi-second action earlier than anybody else, including the stunned Belgian, thus keeping out a certain goal. We hung on and the second half could not come soon enough.

Wenger proved once again how much difference he can make during the break…. And without taking players off. The team looked transformed in the second half as we effectively reversed roles from the start. We now kept them in their own half by playing compact and not allowing them out of our collective grip. We matched their numbers, and sometimes outnumbered them, when we attacked Pool and tried to break through their ranks from the left, with Ozil, Alexis, Giroud, Santi, and occasionally Rambo applying constant pressure with intricate passing and penetrative balls. It was great to see this all in front of us, which makes a big difference when watching it on TV, as it looks so much harder to break a defence then most of us imagine.

I was convinced we would score sooner or later, as the Pool defence would surely buckle and our lack of sharpness in front of goal could surely not continue. It reminded me of a typical high-quality chess game, after say 15 moves each: you are attacking a solidly defended corner of the board and are amassing more and more pieces to break through the wall; but the opponent allocates their pieces there as well and the variables of risk and opportunity multiply rapidly… something has to give but who is going to buckle?


Just as I thought we would definitely score that goal before our time was up, Arsene surprised me with taking off Giroud and putting Theo in. I wanted Theo or Ox to join the ‘chess game’ as we could do with more pressure from the right, or somebody coming into the box to add an attacking variable from there, but not instead of Ollie. Ollie had missed a few good chances, but so did Alexis, and it was clear that they were very close to scoring a few times, and were very keen to make the breakthrough.

Once Giroud was off, the game changed dramatically. By removing OG from the chess game, we were no longer able to play our triangles and break through their ranks as we missed the linchpin. We effectively let them off the hook.

The game became open again and Pool even got a few decent counter opportunities to steal the game from us, which would have been very bitter. We also managed to create a few opportunities, but they were harder ones and the Pool defence and defensive midfielders were well prepared to deal with this. Theo is not super-sub material and, although he tried hard, he did not add much to our attack during his cameo.

I felt it was a missed opportunity and would have loved to ask Arsene why he did not take Coquelin off for Theo rather than OG as his first sub (Coquelin was replaced by the Ox not much later in the game..), and pile on the pressure even more to finally get our goal.

However, the way Wenger and the team turned the game round in the second half and the number of chances we created as a result of this, are very encouraging signs for this Gooner. The team and manager that beat Man City twice, Man United away and the Chavs at Wembley in the last twelve months, will come good this season; I have no doubt about this. Whether we will win the title remains to be seen but we definitely have all the qualities for it and that is all that matters to me.

Every game is a mini-journey, and why should we bother ourselves with worrying whether we can/will win the title at the end of the season? I confidently predict six points out of our next two games and that will put us right there with Citeh. But next up is Newcastle and I for one cannot wait to enjoy the next mini-journey. We are on the road to nowhere, come on inside! 🙂

By TotalArsenal.

26 thoughts on “Arsenal v Liverpool review: Great 0-0 but why did Arsene take Giroud off?

  • TA, I am not as optimistic as you. For tomorrow’s game we are up against McClaren’s team. They have been unfortunate not to score against manu**, but our defense will be severely tested by the likes of Papiss Cisse and their new winger. We have to be tight as always and hope Kos comes back.

    If both centre backs didn’t come back, put Debuchy in for Per.. we can’t afford to play Chambers yet. He is too risky. And we need to better our defense capabilities.

    Gabby is a good player and if you use him well he will repay you with strong performances.

    So let’s do the preview for tomorrow shall we?


  • TA, am on the same page with you. What heartens me, is that we have kept creating chances. The goals are coming. Same page. Why bring in Walcott who needs large spaces to operate, after seeing that liv had closed shop. When we play at the Emirate, our opponents park the buses, denying us spaces, so time gets measured in micro- seconds. In such a condition our point man should posess both guile and quickness. Walcott lacks guile, Giroud has very slow feet, so they don’t fit. Guile and quickness? That’s Alexis for you. We don’t seem to be thinking in that direction, yet Chile oftentimes use him there. Backing the use of him up there, is the fact that Alexis high risk, high dividend style of play results in his high rate of turnovers, which should rather happen in our final third than anywhere else. TA , you must have guessed that I have already moved on ….. not pining away that we have not signed a new ” world class striker”.

  • Hmm,

    I watched live. My thoughts

    A. Half one started well, including that disallowed goal, … but then we got too aggressive wide with the backs owning up channels Gabby and Chambers couldn’t read or fill. That gave Pool all the space (wide) and all the opportunities. Cech has to be MotM, but overall we were way too open and not disciplined enuff about shape.

    B. Second, unlucky not to score. I’d have subbed Sanchez, he looked gassed but that’s me. Pool tho seriously parked the bus and did a fine job of it so…

    Short and succinct.

    Needs: we need to open games and play like we did the second half, not wait for it to come to us. We will eventually be punished for it.

    Cheers — jgc

  • Well, as I wrote so much yesterday I actually thought it was Friday, and the match was today!
    So I’ll be briefer … Everything the Prof has just said.

    Great report on the match though, TA. Funnily enough, to the right, and behind the goal was one of my favourite spots for watching matches live. From the halfway line you may get a bigger picture view, but the only close up action is less intense winger v fullback action. Whereas from behind the goal, as you get to see your defence and your attack where it really matters.

    I got slightly distract by the chess board though – Assuming it is Black to play, bishop to take pawn at A2 – Whereas the football was very much a game of two halves.

    Given the late changes we did well to recover in the second half. The Koscielny loss they had covered without a problem, as he injured his back in training, presumably the day before? But with Mertersacker we assume must have been developing that morning. Chambers was not a bad shout in the circumstances, as the rest of the team could stick to their pre-game plan. But as I recall prom the only previous use of this pair in pre-season, I was shocked that Gabriel treated CC21 as the senior partner? Until somebody had a word at half time, and after that they did not do too bad.
    Here at least Gabriel took the dominant role from the off. He really gave a performance against Benteke that not many other CB’s will better? Not afraid of resorting to the ‘dark arts’ either, which included an off the ball elbow in Beteke’s midriff, as both scurried back from the Villa goal to take up their respective positions in defence and attack.

    i think ‘Pool had the tactics right, particularly with regards to Cazorla. By closing him down and suffocating any quick outlet ball, we always seem to lose that momentum that would give Ozil the quick options and movement going forwards. Of course we aided them a lot with our sloppy passing, so they were able to keep the pressure on without having to retreat too far.
    In the second half the change was dramatic. So much so I cannot believe it was just down to our better control. Liverpool became timid in a way that a really good side wouldn’t. For that reason i could not see what they had to cheer about. It was like they were defending a two goal lead, and were keen to hang on to what they got. Yes, they defended well. Got back in position and worked hard at blocking all our avenues of attack. But nearly all teams know that is the way it is these days. Newcastle will be no different. Nor will any of the promoted sides.

    That then is the challenge for us, to do something different?

    You are quite right TA, Walcott is not the player to bring on late when the opposition are shutting up shop. Different of course, if we score first and they have to come out and play if they want anything out of the game? If Walcott starts, then we have to play the quick pass and move game while there is space ahead of us, for him to be successful. Once the bus is parked, it is like a chess game. Like the above move, he is the bishop that needs space to run into to be a threat?
    If the space gets blocked, then he is redundant because sideways movement is not his game.

    Just another reminder, our last 5 goals we have scored have not involved an overlapping full back putting in crosses. That includes the disallowed Ramsey goal.

    Food for thought?

  • JM – I enjoyed our chat yesterday. It was good to get your more detailed views on the game.

    I also got the impression that you like the last word ….
    so I let you have it 😀

  • Pony Eye – love that name – I would love us playing Alexis central at certain games, but then we need a similar player to play on the left wing. Good shout though.

    Re him getting turned over…at least he usually recovers the ball quickly. 🙂

  • Geoff your last sentence is what Arsene will have said during the break. A heat map of the entire game will show how much the game was played right below where we sat at the clock end. The way the team turned the game in the second half was impressive and well done to Arsene for sticking with Chambers.

  • Cheers Gerry 🙂

    From a tactical point of view this was a fabulous game to watch.

    I like the Theo chess analysis and good point about Santi being being targeted.

  • TA, … note that I don’t mean Alexis turnovers as a negative. It is a natural component of his high risk high dividend style. The reverse component of his style is of course goals galore. His vacated position can be filled by Ramsey, who also likes cutting inside and those runs into the box by Ramsey, can only be replicated by Walcott. Our right vacated by Ramsey is then filled by Ox or Theo. TA, I want my ideas to be prettier than my name. Thnx all the same.

  • Pony Eye, can I invite you to write a post about your idea re our attack at some point next week? 🙂

    In cyberspace nothing is easier than a name change! 😉

    But I like it as is anyway! 🙂

  • Guys, especially Pony Eye,

    My idea of one in our team who puts in crosses nicely and passes neatly is not Rambo. his passes are at times too wide, and crosses are mostly too deep.

    And yes, I will start him rather than sub him in, in the closing stages.

    Why I like Theo is his work rate. Why I wanted Le Prof to start him is because he passes well, gets his crosses nicely to Giroud or Alexis or anyone in the box. With Rambo around we are not as effective in the final third.

    I know that not all will agree with me, given the comments here over the past 2 weeks.

    Gerry, I understand why you mentioned Giroud and Theo don’t mix, like oil and water don’t mix, but given glimpses of last season Theo and Giroud can complement each other if they do not try to be in the same place at the same time.

    For Alexis’ role, I am not really sure if Ozil and him can switch their roles to good effect. Lately we tend to cover a wider area out wide and that proved hard for the midfielders to weigh their passes. We need to stay a little more inside and stay compact.

    That’s my 2 cents.


  • TA, am thrilled at your invitation. I will love nothing more than to share my ideas through your site.

  • Ah I have left out mentioning that Rambo’s work rate is not bad either, but his work rate to leading-to-goals ratio is horrible.

    My take on the lineup for tomorrow’s early kick-off:
    GK: Cech (Looking to build up on a good game and a clean sheet)
    DEF: Bellerin, Debuchy, Gab/Kos, Nacho
    DM: Santi, Coquelin
    CM: Theo, Ozil, Alexis
    ST: Ollie Giroud

    NewU’s play is very quick on the counter, thus we need fast wing backs and intelligent defenders to curb their play. If both Kos and Per comes back it will be great, but Kos needs to be more aware of the surroundings and close their man down.

    Their defence is also solid against manu** last week. We need intelligent play to break the defense. Intelligent play means playmaking role comes from Santi, and distributed to Ozil, Alexis and Theo / Rambo. Alexis, Ozil and Rambo / Theo have to be good passers and foresight to put in passes in quick succession to Ollie.

    Another 1 cent/penny from me 🙂


  • JK – Just a slight correction. I wasn’t saying that Giroud and Walcott couldn’t work together, Just Theo needed to start games. Not come on as a game changer when the opposition are settling for what they have.

    I did say something about Walcott and his bumper new contract though. In that it might turn out to be a poisoned chalice. Meaning that if he essentially wants to play down the middle, he has to deliver goals? If he was willing to play out wide, then yes, he can add assists to his value, and still score?
    The big question is, does he want to at this early stage of the season?

    I suppose it was inevitable that the press would try and make something on Per not wishing to rely on antibiotics every time he gets a chill. I say good for him. But I query why his personal medical record ever made it out of the treatment room????
    Apparently Kos has a better chance with a late fitness test. Risky. Backs, when they go wrong should not be rushed back into action too quickly, as long term damage can happen.
    Although I don’t know if he is suffering from bruising, a pulled muscle, or a spinal problem. A late fitness test might suggest it was a muscle tweak?

    My guess is that Chambers will start and Debuchy will be the RB? Tough on Bellerin, although as an option, he could start in front of the RB, and provide pace and width from higher up the pitch. It was also add that extra defensive edge on that side. Ox could do a similar job on the left, and have a choice of Alexis, Giroud, or Walcott as the striker? That is if you retain Coquelin and Santi as the DM pair, and Ozil the CAM?
    This would be at the expense of Ramsey and a Striker. Unlikely. So you are back to Ox in place of Ramsey, and either Giroud or Walcott , with Alexis as the strike pair?

    Those are not the only possible options to your set up, but the best I can come up with.

  • Hey TA, Very nice match report. It sounds like you’ve got the right attitude and perspective to actually enjoy the football rather than being tortured by the media-driven narratives and then dying (or holding over until the next death experience) over results. Well done! Also, it sounds like you happened to be sitting at the end with all the action given that it was a classic tale of two halves. Consider me jealous and I hope you’re ready to bring the same spirit to tomorrow’s noon-time match at Newcastle. Enjoy!

    I’m up early trying to write the preview for that one, but I thought I’d maybe post here first, fishing for some ideas. As much as some folks (Gerry, above) seemed to enjoy the various comment threads after the Pool match, I was left flat by the predictability of the knee-jerk stuff immediately afterwards and (mostly) unable to follow the more subtle (read: incomprehensible…) tactical solutions people are suggesting. That said, I should give a shout to FLO8 (earlier post) and PE (this one) who describe their rationales clearly.

    My take is that home matches are tough for us and will continue that way even if we give out a few drubbings. We love to amble (swagger) into our home stadium with confidence but it’s not REAL yet. Fans (and players) want to just show up and have us put on a show, so when it doesn’t happen it’s a pain. Ah well, we’ve got a match on our hands but we can still prevail. Small things then happen which sow the seeds of doubt and before you can say “Bring on the Ox,” “Spend Some Money” or “Wenger Out,” it’s Gooner vs Gooner. It’s not a majority sentiment, I don’t think, but it’s a vocal one. Unfortunately, IMO, it’s gonna be a long time and many ground out victories before the ghosts of matches like Monaco (last year) or West Ham (this one) are forever put to bed. It’s the kind of thing which could easily be worth several points, I fear…

    Vs Pool the changes at CB, Coutinho off the bar and early trouble playing out of the back set the tone. Nerves set in and old wounds (and arguments) come to the fore Somehow a perfectly good goal (early on) called back isn’t the lineman’s fault but just another sign that we’re playing the wrong guys or are otherwise not deserving. We need the Ox, we need Theo, we need Benzema and change is ALWAYS better than trust. I’m with you (TA) in believing that movement (off the ball–you too, Alexis…) and Giroud as a focal point is the recipe for success. Patience is a key as is keeping the ball and keeping pressure against the opposition whenever they have it. Anything which works to shorten the match (giveaways, fouls, allowing corners, set pieces, even goal kicks and the timewasting that comes with them) helps the opponent.

    To me the subs made a certain amount of sense just because the presence of Le Coq seemed important ahead of Chambers/Gabriel–meaning (of course) that the 2nd sub made less sense. That we had no 3rd sub was a bother and suggests that another attacking option is something to find at the deadline. Chess match true, but not enough of the right sort of pieces also, maybe…

    I don’t know and I guess I’m cranky from being under the weather all week. OK, gonna work on the preview… Like I say, hints, ideas, etc., are welcome…

  • Gerry, I see you’ve beaten me to punch with your ideas re: the match. Can’t say that I agree with them, but so it goes…

    My take on these things is that AW has a LOT thicker skin than most and disappointing results just make it that much thicker. Toonies played in midweek (and finally won)… The draw at OT (with several legitimate chances to have snuck the win) will be a blueprint…but now I’m giving it all away… Boring, boring but I think the group AW currently favors (favours?…) gives us the best chance to both grind out results AND run up a tally…


  • I like your last paragraph HT, but from the prelude to that, the dots ‘…’, surely should lead to … ‘as long as they agree with me.’?

    You do have a tendency to lump all other opinions into one big bag. Namely the ‘Wenger out’ bag. Not constructive or helpful.

    I would have thought the NY Stock Exchange recovery would have lifted your spirits?

    Come on live on the wild side. I am not even in the ‘Giroud Out’ camp.

    😀 😀 😀

  • Talking of being beaten to the punch? ha ha ….

    I think we basically disagree because you want a small group of players to carry the flag. Which is what I call the ‘one size fits all’ approach.
    Whereas I favour alternative selections according to the circumstances prevailing. This involves a larger squad.

    Apologies for stepping on your preview toes, I got caught up reply to JK.

  • Total or should I say SuperMac, I’ve just caught up, read your post and bravo mio amigo, that was a brilliant post…

    I listened to the game on the radio, so I heard about Chambers’ trials and tribulations in the 1st 45
    He seemed, from what I heard, to improve markedly in the 2nd 45…

    I think, once the transfer window had closed, that fans will calm down a bit and get behind the team more.
    As it is, imo, the constant stream of lies and fantasy in the media is winding-up our fan base, causing discontent among a few.
    But I loved the positivity and upbeat theme of your post, more power to your elbow mate…

    Chambers and Gab at Newcastle it seems, but I reckon that they’re gonna be ok.

  • Gerry, I am glad that the markets have recovered (opening a little lower at the moment but maybe the wild swings are over for a bit)…but there was a bit of “wealth destruction” in there which we’ve yet to recover… Ah well, so it goes, but also not a good sign for Stan to spend in a free-wheeling manner early next week… 😀

    I guess it’s “good” that somehow you’re able to remain patient with people who trot out the same (frankly ridiculous) “solutions” and only appear when results disappoint. Simba, like a few others, only comes on when results aren’t up to snuff. Admir and D-Money at least make an appearance once in a while when they actually like things, before trotting out the Bosnian wisdom (Santi sucks) or whatever the rage on Twitter happens to be (Ramsey on the Right, argh!!) Like I say, if you have the patience, great, I don’t…

    The problem (for me) is compounded when you seem to intuit their communications and have hearty back and forths with their (mostly) unformed ideas adding your cleverness in ways I cannot follow. I’m sure I could have put more effort into the stuff you and JM were talking about but, after the first twenty minutes, I start to ask myself if it’s worth another twenty. I realize some (JM I’m pretty sure, and JK also…) don’t have English as their first language but when the ideas get murky and it’s all hypothetical to begin with, what’s the point? (After all, from comments earlier in the summer, it would be Gnabry, Hayden and Akpom, with Wellington Silva on the left as main options heading towards the Toonie match, Ozil having moved to Juventus…) As long as you’re having fun, I guess… Spare a thought, however, for those of us who try to read each and every comment and want the site to be attractive to others…

    So, yes, I am dedicated to my own approach (trying to understand what Wenger, an outstanding manager, IMO, is thinking, and why he decides as he does) but I don’t think I’m opposed to other reasonable ideas as long as they’re well explained (note, I did give shouts to FLO8 and PonyEye). For the record, I think Wenger would like to rotate much more and try different approaches but is also under (extraordinary, absurd) pressure for results, esp, in front of the home crowd…

    OK, back to work on the preview, but happy to continue here about this sort of stuff…

  • Thanks 17HO and Allezkev 🙂

    I am at a stage now where it really is the football itself that only matters, and from one game to the next. We won the FA twice in the last two years so I am not trophy desperate anymore. I want to see how far this squad can go and for that I am prepared to be patient and just enjoy game by game. Would I want a sexy beast of attacker to join the team: aber sicher, bien sur, natuurlijk, of course… but I don’t want it to be another Di Maria or Falcao…. and Wenger will have his beady eye on something special no doubt.. 🙂

  • Sorry Boss… !7ht impersonating you… 😀

    I was having a little issue with the multiple personalities for final touches on the match preview but I think I’ve got it straight now… Should be out shortly… Any final thoughts?…

    Anyhow, you sound like you’re in a good head-state for supporting the Arsenal. These results oriented narratives *should* give folks a wider perspective, but when they’re altered with each result it sort of works in the exact opposite fashion…

    Have fun at the match tomorrow. Are we on for Everton (home) or Swansea (away) or both?… Time to start planning (the details of) that trip of ours in October… 😀

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