Coquelin for Captaincy, Alexis the mini Bruce Lee, Theo the TIger: 8 Positives from Arsenal v Stoke

Three points, a clean sheet, our main strikers scoring each and our main assisters having an assist each. Great day at the office. That we only scored twice from 29 efforts on goal we will not spend too much time on, shall we?! 🙂


I only watched the highlights on MOTD so no in-depth analysis of this game from me. Instead, I will share with you some quick observations and positives to offer a basis for discussion.

Eight observations/positives from a well worked win.

  1. We started strong, bamboozling the Stoke defence with high tempo football, lots of movement, and great variety of attacking play. Sanchez hit the woodwork twice, once with an archetypical gravity-defying header in full flight by the mini-Bruce Lee, and once with a precision drive from the edge of the box to the hero of the day, Butland’s, left goal corner. He deserved his season opener from one of these chances, but it will have to wait a little longer – next Saturday would be ideal! Theo could have had a brace if he had demonstrated a bit more composure, but more on that in a bit.
  2. But we needed an early goal to get a reward for our work and avoid the risk of conceding a goal against the run of play, which is our Achilles heel with the sort of football we play. All that energy and drive needs to be turned into goals as we cannot keep it up for ninety minutes. I reckon we need that goal before 35 minutes are on the clock, and luckily we got it.
  3. A great, aggressive but fair interception by Le Coq – a skill he has developed to the highest level – led to a quick turnover and Theo finally hitting the net. Ozil received the ball from Coq le Robber, and his ball over the top was well-measured and weighted. Theo controlled the ball well and sorted out his feet quickly to dink it over Butland. Great finish this time and the sort of goal we associate more with Walcott than being our tiger in the box; yet, that is what we all want him to be, and he has potential for it. Theo is more instinctive than composed, more a tiger than a wolf: he does not overthink or overdo, he just does. Sometimes it pays off, as it catches everybody unaware, and sometimes a bit of composure would have been the better option. But I reckon that is not how Theo is wired: he is a driller-killer, and he rather pounces a lot to get his pray at some point then wait patiently for the right moment. As a result, we will see him waste a lot of good chances…. But 11 goals in 11 starts, tell their own story..
  4. We had to wait a long time for the second goal. OG had only been on the pitch a few minutes before he hit the net. He looked a giant among the Stoke defenders when he jumped up for Santi’s well-measured free-kick, scoring a pain et beurre goal that he needed a lot. Just before his goal, Ollie missed an even easier opportunity, but let’s say he was still a bit cold (after being deprived from supporters’ luv for so long). Will OG become super-sub, or is Wenger alternating OG and Theo, depending on the opponent?
  5. Gabriel and Koz make a dynamic CB-duo, especially for these sort of games where we have a lot of possession in the opponent’s half and have to be wary of quick counters. Could it be that the BFG will not be a guaranteed choice anymore, or is he just injured at the moment? I hope Gabriel does not get in trouble for the elbow incident, but it was good to see that he was not intimidated by Arnautovic (?) and fought his corner. It would be good to hear how you saw the incident.
  6. Another clean sheet for the defence and for our new goalie, Petr Gunner Cech. After the nightmare opening against West Ham, we have now three out of four clean sheets, with just three goals conceded in in all our games. Petr had very little to do and will face his biggest Arsenal test yet on Saturday, but it is good to see that the defence is settling down and very solid right now. Without this we can forget about the title.
  7. I am loving our Spanish full backs. They provide width and are vital in keeping the tempo of our attacks going. They offer an important alternative to our box-penetrating play, and play the all-important triangles with our midfielders and attackers on the edges of the box so well. Bellerina put in a peach of a ball for Theo that OG would surely have converted. This boy will go far and fast, and not just literally speaking!
  8. One of my favourite bloggers, LB, suggested on another side that Coquelin should be considered for the captaincy. That was quite left-wing for me, but the more I think about it, the more I think it make sense. He sits in the middle of the team as DM, he is fearless yet balanced (against Newcastle he reacted brilliantly to all attempts to unsettle him) and he leads and communicates naturally. He is still young but should age come into this? What do you think fine fellow Gooners?

By TotalArsenal.

31 thoughts on “Coquelin for Captaincy, Alexis the mini Bruce Lee, Theo the TIger: 8 Positives from Arsenal v Stoke

  • I’m quite surprised no one noticed how many more chances we create when Cazorla plays nearer the striker. He is a genius!

    I actually feel like he should be the one in a more advanced role & Ramsey plays deeper.

  • Coq has the kind of spirit we need more of. Fighter to the end. He, Gabriel & Sanchez have that lion heart that we need.
    Also, I’d like to see us play with a front 3 of Alexis, Giroud & Theo. We can blend Giroud’s power & tenacity with Theo’s movement & finishing. At some point they had began forming a very dynamic partnership.

  • Without Ozil, Cazorla would be a lot less effective and vice versa. We need two magicians to avoid one being marked out of the match. I did not see the whole match so cannot comment on Cazorla’s chance production, but I reckon he loves the space that Ozil and Sanchez make for him to come forward..

  • Definitely. Ozil & Santi are brilliant together. Ramsey is the one who I feel shoud play further back. His industry & ball winning ability could be useful next to coq. And his energy means he can contribute offensively.

  • Agreed. I guess to some extent Ramsey plays next to Coq, but in a more free role, on the right of him. I feel Ramsey is a free role to add his skills and qualities were he sees fit.

  • Well I am in the same boat as TA in not seeing the match in full, So my comments are also restricted. But from what I saw on Sky’s extended highlights, goes as follows:

    From a tactical point of view, it appeared that we played a loose 4-3-3. With the defensive trio of Ramsey, Coquelin, and Cazorla, in which any two from three could go forwards. The attacking three of Alexis, Ozil, and Walcott interchanged throughout.
    Crucialliy, what made the difference, imo, was that the mobility of Gabriel enabled Koscielny to get in a more advanced position. Not only to help Coquelin out with defensive duties, he also could carry the ball much higher up the pitch himself, and when he didn’t, Coquelin could.

    Tim, from 7.0am KO, writing on the Arseblog site, ‘Arsenal by numbers’, backs up this view, as Coquelin has already passed his ‘key passes’ from the entire 2014/15 season. In fact he has improved his all round game, which in turn, has naturally been beneficial to the team effort.
    Apart from Gabriel’s solidity on the right of centre, and the movement of Kos into a more central DM position when were attacking, with Monreal on the left and either Ramsey or Cazorla on the right, this in turn gave Bellerin the freedomto get forward, and stay forward for much of the game. Not that he neglected his defensive duties, just that he had plenty of cover behind him for the most part. No surprise if I tell you that his stats show his ‘average position’ was an area well inside the attacking half on the right touchline?
    Also no surprise following on from that, that when Ox finally came on, it was on the left, not his more usual right side.

    What I am highlighting here is the way we achieved a balanced attack, a fluid midfield that produced a record amount of chances, but without compromising our defence … at least not against a team of Stoke’s capability.
    Cech kept the goal area in tact. Gabriel had the mobility to snuff out and solo threats. Koscieklny was given the confidence to defend higher. Coquelin improved his game to a level which he will only get better at, as the season progresses. Cazorla narrowed the gap between defence and attacking the around the edge of the box, which left him one short of Ozil’s number of ‘key passes’, an amazing 15 between them. Ozil’s game was not compromised in his game either. Ramsey got involved in a lot of the attacking moves, but unfortunately is still nowhere near his top form. Alexis too, is in dander of getting that tag of ‘being found out’, as he had a huge amount of shots blocked from positions where he scored freely from last season. No surprise element now of course, and defenders now will be well aware of his ability. Fortunately he still poses a threat which helps create openings for others.. Walcott and Giroud are both missing chances that should be put away, but at least they are getting the opportunities?

    My big fear going forwards is that the tinkering that will follow, and may take away this very successful base that this game has produced, and leave it with a less cohesive replacement?

    However, changes for the midweek game are likely. Despite having time to put any reverse we may have in this away leg, not losing has to be the highest priority?


  • Hi, TA…Not bad for a match report considering you didn’t get to see it… 😀 I can’t argue with very much of it…The idea of Le Coq for Captain I think is from left field (rather than left wing)…The current method of captaincy–give the armband to anybody who is either injured or slow–seems more like a classic Wenger ‘collectivist’ solution…

    Cockster, that’s a good one…Piers Morgan in for Gazidis and bringing in Moo for AW…The stuff of dreams–from behind the sofa, I guess–and good to see that PM isn’t too worried about the current form of the other guy’s team… 😀

    How’s the weather in Cornwall? We’re all messed up this weekend with nasty smoke (from a nearer fire) fouling our air…Henry in Indonesia maybe has the same sort of thing from what I’ve seen in the news…I dunno, it’s changed all our plans and maybe is even messing with my sleep. Surely I’m not up early just to watch Sunderland-Spurs?… And Defoe hit the post with just the keeper to beat!!

    Actually, I’ve mostly been re-watching our match this morning which leads to a couple of comments. First off, Stoke are in trouble. Maybe it’s the injuries or suspensions but they really played almost without a midfield. The player they’re really missing is N’Zonzi, a guy who maybe fit the mold of the bigger DM so many Gooners have wanted over the years. Good for him for running his contract down and forcing a move (to Sevilla), I say…

    As such, and maybe due to fear over the pace of Theo (and Alexis) Stoke played super deep but also did well to force our play out wider. Chances came and some of them were gilt-edged. I’m more of the mind that it’s just early season and we’re a little indecisive about when to shoot and when to pass, when to hit for power and when to aim for a post. Chances are being made–from all areas of our attack and that right side of Bells and Rambo are almost as much fun as Santi and Ozil (from anywhere) and Alexis popping up and making them on his own. The goals will come, and, on what I saw yesterday, Chavs may have bought the wrong guy from Stoke as their back-up (now starting) keeper.

    The only thing other thing I would say about Le Coq as captain is that I think there will be times when he should get a rest. He was utterly dominant (much as he was at Newcastle) but things will happen just that hair quicker against the better teams (the ones who have actual midfielders of real quality) so he needs to know that he can’t win every ball out there. Watching his game evolve, however, is a real pleasure… He’s gonna get that first Arsenal goal sooner than later, I think…

    He could take a spell because you gotta keep Rambo, Santi and Ozil in the line-up, all of whom are moving beautifully and playing well. (Ramsey’s slip when he went to belt one from the right was unfortunate…Ozil and Santi both came close to scoring but for fine work from Butland.) Alexis was doing more off the ball as well and looks like he’s adding a bit of patience to the passion. That said, he was unlucky not to have a brace in the first 10 minutes…

    It will be interesting to see how AW rotates for the trip to Croatia. Getting the CL campaign off to a good start is key, but we should be able to do it while resting some key players for the early Saturday kickoff in South London. I expect extreme cynicism in that one and a long day for the ref… Are Gabriel Iand Bellerin) the best pair to deal with that sort of thing or would a bit more experience be the answer?

    Hard to say, and hard to know if the BFG has been dropped or if he’s really hurt. Midweek should tell us more…

    OK, ‘nuf said, again, well done, gaffer…

  • I know that Cockie cannot watch Spurs with anything less than blind hatred–much as when we hear Moo, we see a cow when he sees the most lovely creature–but, this battle of winless clubs is interesting so far…

    Son, the Korean Berahino (or a least C. Eriksen), is working hard–taking shots when maybe he should pass–but will anger teammates and those folks up the road if he doesn’t score soon. Naturally, that would elicit a round of “Take a bow, son,” no?… Not because he’s Asian (re: the bowing…) but because his name is Son… or maybe both?… Harry Kane seems like he needs that first goal too… Shame Defoe wasn’t able to score the 1v1 (and he had a good shout for a pen with Alderwield pulling him back later)… Anyhow, reasonably fun to watch for a foot of the table battle…


  • Oops… Having trouble with my multiple personalities above… (Cockie surely can understand…)

    It’s my photo but TA’s name (but no blue box)… Apologies, eh…

  • I agree with most points except 1. I think Ramsey should be the next captain. I just think so. Wilshere was my choice a year ago but his injuries have compelled me to change my opinion. Coquelin is a player I like very much though and may be in Wenger’s thoughts too.

  • Game finally got a goal (wrong team, however) and now that they’ve carried the scorer (Mason) off on a stretcher it’s wide open… Rodwell hit the post from a corner but it’s getting late for Sunderland…

    The question of the Captaincy doesn’t bother me. Currently it goes to our excellent veterans, two of whom came into the club when we were at a very low ebb… I think Ozil is our most important player but not exactly one to gee up the lads… I agree with Neeraj that Ramsey could be that guy and I’m really liking his emerging free-role but keeping-an-eye-out-for-Bells-on-the-right thing he is crafting for himself. Goals and assists will be coming his way, I think. I’m not so sure if he’s best for the Captaincy just because I think his relationship with supporters has been somewhat poisoned by their ire at having him come in for Cesc in those dark days. Personally, I was quite pleased he refused Piers Morgan’s handshake late last year (causing our “super-fan” to double down on his hate for Rambo)… Overall, I like defenders as Captains…

    Totts take the points, not sure they deserved them… 😦

  • This late game is also wide open…and the kid with penguin hair (Grealish) has scored his first goal… and jumps into Timmy Sherwood’s arms up in Leicester.

    Of course, I’m less interested in the comb-back Grealish employs but I’m thinking that maybe Ranieri’s little Roman comb-forward might help me with my forehead growing issues… I could always go clean like that Gokhan Inler fella… Alas, it was only a few short decades ago that I had hair like the Colombian playing for Villa (Carlos Sanchez)…

    Anyhow, I guess it’s just me watching the football…Everybody else saving it for the American stuff later on…Maybe?… What’s the fun in that when the only hair you see is that which comes out from under the helmets…

  • Weathers been lovely here, 17, but is due to come over heavy with rain tonight !.
    Shame about the Spuds winning as I now have a limp knob !…………….but all is not lost as a Newcastle win at West Ham tomorrow night will put The Chavs in the relegation zone and help with my erectile dysfunction !. hahaha
    Piers Stefan Hughe-Morgan maybe a complete twat, but he did give me the opportunity to come up with one of the best ever anagrams and quite fitting it is !………….previously seen on here but who cares as it`s worth reading again……………………………..Piers Stefan Hughe-Morgan…..=…..Huge Fat Penis Sperm Organ .

  • Sorry about the limpness, Cockster… But maybe a night off for your wife is for the best… I hope her health is OK these days… Sounds like you shouldn’t let her watch too much of our #1 supporter given his powers…at least with letter rearranged…

    Whoa…Goal line technology rules one in for Leicester… So now it’s 2-1 and the comeback is on! Sorry I can’t support Timmy Tott’s team, even if Leicester is still invincible, er, undefeated and all that…

    Both these teams (and the others earlier today) have brought in so many players–they seem improved, but the turnover, while refreshing, seems extreme. How many of these new-to-England players will do well over a full season?…

    Anyhow, the smoke is so bad around here I might try and run to the other side of the state (SF Bay Area) to try and get some business done…

  • 2-2 now through Vardy who did very nicely on the knee-slide to celebrate… Micah Richards needed to do better there, among others…

  • Whoa…3-2 Leicester and wee Nathan Dyer got it…flattened in the process…but he’s up and walking… 6 mins of extra time…

  • That was quite entertaining… Once Timmy took off Carles Gil they could no longer hold the ball…Shame that…

    OK, I’m outta here… One last thought…Emmanuel Adebayor has been released from his contract with Spuds… We know he’s always loved Arsenal (love being so close to hate and the sort of thing that makes you run the length of the pitch when you score against your old club)…

    Why buy…when you can get something for free?… Fill in for Welbs? (better than Jo-el Camp-bell?) Plus, who doesn’t love a story of redemption…


  • Cheers for the follow up comments, FFGs. Cockie wet-dream on! 😀 Our club has class and will never touch the likes of Maureen and co. 😉

    17, ‘Shall we take back Adebayor’ would be a good title for a new post by you, perhaps?! 🙂

  • Gerry, TA,

    I too didnt catch the full game. I only caught it in the second half.

    Regarding the Gabby incident, far away tv shots were showing it was an aggressive hand to the head after an unsuccessful block. I am not sure if anyone sees it differently, but he needs to learn to have a level head from Kos..

    TA, regarding Adebayor, i reckon he had burnt the whole back-to-Arsenal bridge as thoroughly as he could. So no way back for him.


  • I would also like to see a formation with Alexis – Giroud – Theo as our front three.Giroud gives us physique & aerial presence. Theo gives us pace & movement. Why not combine all those attributes?

    Besides Theo’s best season was when he played to the right of RVP. Not to forget that he & Giroud had started forming a potent partnership.

    Giroud is one of the best at holding up the ball, but this is only an asset if he has players running beyond him looking for the pass. Theo is that guy.

  • Plus, how did you fancy that Gabriel – Kos Partnership? I think that would be our title winning defensive partnership. Both are fantastic in the air & crazy aggressive. Love it!

  • Hi Marcus,

    I have always advocated the thought of Theo and Ollie partnership. But somehow it looks like Theo has threathened to leave or something that Wenger has refused to play both of them together.

    Gerry has said before that they are technically different and do not complement each other, but playing Theo up front has its pros and cons.

    I like the way he did in the first goal, but i still feel that we are better putting crosses in from the wings and swing it in to Ollie.

    Just look at how he scored the second goal and the way he played when he came on.

    My thoughts after the game is:
    Is there a way that both can complement each other? Yes, but not in the formation we are playing. I think Gerry is referring to this one.

    If we play 442, yes we can fit both theo and ollie.


  • Hey njk84sg,
    Arsenal would never play 4-4-2 and i would advocate for them to do so.

    Ollie & Theo do complement each other. The last time they played that way they would play off each other and even set each other up for a goal a piece in a 2-2 draw with Liverpool.

  • Hey all!

    Love the 8 observations TA! I hang out for them after every match so keep up the great work! 😊

    I managed to catch the full match from a bar. I think we played really well in patches but still seem a little unsure how to break teams down when the pack their defence.

    My 8 observations of the Stoke game.

    1. Stoke were very very poor.

    2. Alexis is going to struggle this season if he is continually deployed on the left flank as he continually cuts onto his right foot to shoot and opposition defences appear to have figured this out and how to deal with it. A central striking role in place of or alongside Giroud, Walcott or Welbeck may give him more freedom to be less predictable. 😉

    3. Coquelin’s defensive positioning was impeccable.

    4. Arsenal’s back five looked very solid and calm (again).

    5. Walcott’s off the ball attacking runs were fantastic, even if his finishing was a little rusty. A run of games should help.

    6. Long balls over the top from Ozil and Cazorla to Theo and Ramsey seemed to be quite an effective strategy to transition quickly. Otherwise Arsenal were very slow in transition which is a problem.

    7. Ozil seemed a bit too conservative in his creative and attacking play. It would be nice to see him add take ons and long shots (like Pires use too).

    8. The wing positions remain a problem. Neither Alexis nor Ramsey contributed in the goal scoring department against Stoke. With the side containing two attacking full backs and creative central midfielders of the caliber of Ozil (Rosicky) and Cazorla (Wilshere) all of Arsenal’s front three need to be regularly scoring, particularly in the Premier League. Given his skill set and natural tendencies I still think one of the flanks is the best position for Ramsey. Maybe the left flank though rather than the right will provide will provide Ramsey with better shooting angles. If Alexis plays up top, maybe Theo could play on the right.

  • TA, No time to write a post about Ade back to Arsenal, though it would be fun to see how many looks/hits we got or if any of the other papers would pick up the news… 😀 😦

    In fact, it may be tough to get something out before the CL match as I’m criss-crossing California trying to outrun the smoke and get a little business done. I’ll check in tomorrow (and possibly post something). At least with the win vs Stoke, we’re not quite still in crisis mode… 😀

  • Nice eight additions, Freddie! 🙂

    17, stay safe and take your time re pre-view. Plenty of time left! 🙂

    Keep rocking FFG’s and have a good day.

  • Flo8,

    Shall we try putting Rambo behind the striker? I somehow got tired of him running around like a mad man.. and not creating enough chances for the team. Take him out from the right and put Theo up there.


  • New Post

    In the end, this morning was my only window for getting a preview out…So there it is…

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