Why are Arsenal so Inconsistent? Or, The Eight Negatives

Editor’s Note: Gerry, in his inimitable way, ponders the question posed by this break for International matches.  Looking back–but also forward–he asks: Why can’t Arsenal get the job done in all competitions and against all opponents?  

Well, I do not think the answer is that difficult to find. Particularly if you follow the ‘Perfect Storm’ model, whereby several different ingredients combine to create something much more threatening–something that would otherwise be unthinkable.

Here are what I consider to be the ‘ingredients’ that have led to this situation Arsenal have had–seemingly from the opening game of the season–and which sadly will continue, I predict, until more of these ingredients change.

We begin by going back to the successful end of season run which included retaining the FA Cup and capturing 3rd spot in the Premier League, our highest position for several seasons. We let several players leave during the summer, but basically kept our core squad. However, despite an impressive pre-season, the first hint of problems were on the very near horizon.

1:  Two key injuries which should have been cleared up in the summer break have turned into long term problems.  Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck will be out of contention for the next 4 months.  Adequate cover was available or so it seemed.  But, as you read on, you will find how these injuries added to the overall problem.

2: Next came the unavailability of players who would have been key signings in the transfer window. I say ‘unavailability’ when it should read more as ‘unavailable to Arsenal.’ Arsenal–whether through policy, timing, or being attractive enough to sway players to want to come–signed no outfield players. That is how the window ended and it became another ingredient that will continue haunt our progress in games to come.

3: Finally, the last thing fate threw at us from the summer was Alexis Sanchez’ progress through the Copa America tournament. Few people in Europe can appreciate just how big an event that was for a single player, let alone the team or the country as a whole. To put it in perspective, think of a Europe wide tournament where one of the smaller footballing nations, like Switzerland or Ukraine, got to the final and won…then add in a highly talented, driven individual, one who has risen to the highest level in his profession, playing a major part in all the preceding rounds, stepping up to take a vital penalty and scoring it. That player was, of course, ‘our’ Alexis Sanchez.

Credit Arsene Wenger for knowing how difficult it would be for the player to come down from such an emotional high having seen it the previous year with our German players winning the World Cup. So, he gave Alexis extra time off.  Unfortunately, that was negated by the pressure from the player himself who ended up playing in early games this season without proper preparation.  Alas, his early form was a shadow of the player we knew.

The good news is–he’s back!

It took a game on the bench to click the switch in his head which unlocked that desire again. I am sure just watching, and seeing how hard his team mates were trying without him, triggered something in his emotions, which, in turn, helped him recapture that sharpness.

This was the first ingredient to change. But others still remain.

4: Apart from those mentioned above, there has been the long running struggle to get the best out of the players we have. In midfield, accommodating Ramsey (along with Cazorla and Ozil) has been an issue but one which has been partially solved by giving him a ‘free role’ from the right. In effect this means he only visits that wing when there is space and opportunity. At times this can be very effective, but at others it simply adds a layer to the inconsistency.

5: Loans.  Due to factors 1 and 2 above, we have limited choice among strikers and we particularly miss Welbeck. It is not for us to say the manager was wrong to send Chuba Akpom (in particular) out on a season-long loan as at the time Welbeck was hoping for an early return. I happen to agree with the manager that this season was probably a season too early for Chuba to take on the responsibility in ‘must win’ games. I’m slightly less inclined to agree with Isaac Hayden departing to the same club (Hull City) as I feel he is a player more ready to help us, but both needed regular game time.

6: Goals.  Our goal scoring really suffered with the Alexis hangover, Olivier Giroud having a near meltdown of confidence and Theo Walcott on a steep learning curve as our best option at striker. All of which was only emphasised by the stats which said we were on a 6% conversion rate of opportunities, mostly provided by our midfield pair, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.

Given that Walcott is now looking more like a central striker–providing he can do what he did against Manchester United on a regular basis, despite not scoring himself–and that Alexis has netted 6 goals in the last three games, one could be forgiven for thinking the worst is over.

7:  Alas, all oppositions are not the same. We are somewhat predictable in how we line up.  Whether it is Giroud or Walcott up front, teams set themselves up to cut off the supply lines once we cross the half way line. Space is denied to Walcott, Alexis finds a posse surrounding him, and the center spaces, invariably, are well manned too.

Throw in the lack of goals from Ramsey–at the moment–and the fact he does not supply width when he moves in field, that job being left to Hector Bellerin. That in itself is not a problem until a side like Swansea, who have Jefferson Montero (he of blistering pace), counter in an instant, or West Ham United, with Dimitri Payet, put our defence under all sorts of pressure.

This brings me to the final ingredient of our ‘perfect storm’ development: The defence.

8:  We have made changes enforced by the illness to Mertesacker, and injuries to both Coquelin and Koscielny, which has had a knock on effect in midfield. Even before the last few games we have made changes–some in the name of rotation–which did not work out too well, no matter who was in goal.  Rotation is important long term, so there’s no point in thinking we can send out the same 14 players to do their stuff when games come thick and fast.  The same is true over the next 6 weeks because the squad will be crippled by the time the Christmas mayhem will occur. That, may I remind you all, is where we often have a downturn, before we start off on a run in the New Year, both in the FA Cup and league which gives us a decent finish.

So this is why, in my opinion, we have had the roller-coaster season so far.

Our talisman, Alexis Sanchez, is back to scoring and driving the team forward.  We are beginning to see the potential of Walcott, ‘the striker,’ being fulfilled. We have even got the huge confidence boost from not just winning against a top 3 contender but absolutely obliterating them in just 20 minutes, not to mention the strong pairing of Mertesacker and Gabriel as cover for the absent Koscielny.

Despite all of these major pluses, we still have some familiar weaknesses:

a: The biggest one is maintaining the fitness of Coquelin.

b: We have to find a sustainable balance to be able to rotate in a way that keeps more players fit and sharp without destroying our continuity.

c: We need a Plan B for when games are not fitting the criteria for our attack.  This is nothing new.

d: Finally, we have to find formations which can get the best out of the players we have available and which also keeps the fine line between over-commitment going forward and our defensive frailties at the back.

The victory over Manchester United will give every side in the land good reason to fear us. As long as we remain committed to the basics and don’t get so over-confident that we believe just turning up gives us a victory (as has happened to some extent in the past) I think we can have a decent run in the league this side of Christmas.

I’m not sure our victory will have done us any favours regarding Bayern Munich, though. They will certainly not take us lightly and the blistering form they have been in–playing at such a high level–will be a real test of our strengths and weaknesses.

So, I will leave it up to you as to how much you put our inconsistency down to poor management, poor tactics or just individual player errors.

Instead, I have set out the background details with which Arsene Wenger has had to deal, without necessarily subscribing any blame. When such factors combine there is very little a manager can do about it…without hindsight, of course.

So, as we are still a ‘hostage of fortune’ regarding injuries, please consider (in your deliberations) how you would handle worst case scenarios prior to the return of Koscielny, Welbeck and Wilshere.  In my opinion, in order of severity, injuries to Coquelin, Alexis, Walcott, Mertersacker, Gabriel, Ozil, Giroud and Cech are our major worry.

But what say you, fine fellow Gooners?  Are we past the ‘perfect storm,’ or is the ManU win (and this break for International matches) just the eye of the hurricane?

by Gerry

49 thoughts on “Why are Arsenal so Inconsistent? Or, The Eight Negatives

  • Well thanks for publishing it HT. My hours of scribbling may not have been in vain. 😀
    I am surprised you did though, as Fl08 covered much the same area (whilst I was still writing mine, I hasten to add), and why I said it was probably redundant. We will see how many responses it gets?
    Sorry you felt you had to do so much editing. Can I ask, are those hyphenations you put in an American style? Or is it a journalistic thing? Or a blog spacing thing?
    I was happy with a comma, or my usual ‘dot dot dot’ breaks. I am just curious, that’s all.

    Just in case anybody points out that I might be contradicting myself when I say ‘we might get a good run in the league before Christmas’, whilst at the same time as saying we will still have problems?
    What I think will happen is we may beat a number of teams, but the roller coaster will still dip, but perhaps less often? That is provided we stay clear of batches of injuries, of course.

    Readers will also note from the order I put the injuries in, with Cech being the least problematic in my view. I am talking about singular injuries here, not a multiple pile ups, say in our CB department for example. You may not agree with that order, but it will be interesting to read the options that may be put forward, as to how we cope in such an event?

    Over to you …

  • Good post Gerry…

    Like you, I am also a fan of Isaac Hayden, but injuries have stunted his development, so I believe the loan to Hull City will do him good.
    Not sure that he would have got much, if any, first team exposure if he’d stayed at AFC, up to this point.

    The match at Sheffield Wednesday could open the door for a couple of our youngsters.
    But sadly not Adelaide, who’ll be away playing for the France, so I’ve heard…

  • Hiya Kev, Yes, I agree about Hayden not getting much game time, and that should make hi a better player next season. But as I rate any future injury to Coquelin as being the worst news, I think the club might yet be grateful if he was still around. For a particular position I think you need at least one of the two DM’s to a proper DM. Hence for mo hoping Kamara would get a few minutes if he gets the call anytime in the next two months or so..

    Of the other youngsters, if ‘The Jeff’ does well for France it will not harm his prospects. Bielik is currently being used ass a CB, which may develop his all round game, but I doubt he will be added to the squad post January. No decision on Iwobi going loan,so he is the best hope of reinforcements from the youth ranks. Although Zelalem’s loans has to be renewed after Christmas, which is handy should Ozil get a long term injury?


  • Hi Gerry, IMO, Gooners are likely still basking in the warm glow of the ManU result (and performance) but keeping things “real” (as we say over here) is not a bad thing. I’m kinda busy these days (including trying to enjoy the great Autumn weather here) but–since you wrote it–I felt like I should put it out there…

    I actually considered just publishing the post as you had written it–so, I’m sorry if the editing is a problem. I understand all the question marks you use (but which I took out), for example, but I’m not sure they would be clear to a new reader of your work. We get a lot of “looks” here but we’re always hoping to attract more regulars… 🙂 Overall, I’m just trying to ferret out your ideas (you have a lot of them…) and make the whole thing as readable as possible.

    I use the hyphens (in lieu of brackets and ‘comma brackets’) when there are lots of additional bits of information (which both you and I tend to feel compelled to include). You have to remember that my wife has a Ph.D. in English and taught writing for 25 years or so… She tells me all the rules but (like you) I enjoy a bit of stylistic freedom. Editing is very new to me… Anyhow, apologies all around, but maybe some folks enjoyed it? 😀 (The question mark isn’t ‘correct’ but I thought Gerry might like it… More Smileys…)

    As for the content… I think you worry too much… 😀

    I’m concerned too and I think we’re rather down to bare bones. We need Flamini and Arteta to get past these old-man muscle problems and we need Debuchy to play well when he plays rather than working on a move to a team where he can be a starter. Our English boys, Gibbs, Chambers and the Ox need to do better when they get their chances, Gibb’s great header off the line of Harry Kane’s equalizer at Spurs notwithstanding. I’m less concerned about our “main group” after the United match.

    Overall, I think supporters need to take a breath and realize that it’s a LOOONG season and there will be many twists and turns. At the last international break, everybody thought Man City was gonna win the league without dropping a point nor conceding a goal. (They still look pretty good, but a decent amount hinges on El Kun’s fitness, I’d say.) Now, on the back of drawing at (woeful) Newcastle and losing at home to Southampton, it’s all over for the club who was gonna win the quadruple (Chavs). It’s nuts. At the close of the TW, Gerry picked us for 7th (or was it 6th) at Christmas but I think we could be a good deal better than that. The table is very tight at the moment but it will look quite different at the next Int’l break…

    Finally, as tough as our position appears in our CL group, I’d “rose-tint” the situation (very slightly) by asking, isn’t this what we want in European football: a chance to play the best on the continent? Bayern is a GREAT test. If we play to our potential–and get a lucky bounce or two–you never know… Also, I expect Giroud to wake up and start playing the game–not the refs–to nearer his full potential…

    Football is a tricky sport, so much luck involved (on the day) but such a tough grind where the richer, er, better, teams tend to prevail–over time at least. Just as we thought (heading into the season, at least) our group is not so bad or (maybe) even pretty good. Good enough to put a whooping on ManU but also bad enough to lose to teams like Olympiakos or Dinamo Zagreb. We need a little fortune–and we’re definitely playing with a tight group of quality players–but good (or bad…) things could (and probably will) happen…

    What’s not to like? 😀

  • Anybody watching any football? Over here we’ve got Spain- Luxembourg (nil-nil after 35, Santi playing and has hit the crossbar…) and Columbia-Peru with Ospina in goal and keeping a clean sheet after 65…

  • Hi HT, I’m staying on late for replies. Honestly, the question about hyphenation was as much about the appearance, and I think without spaces fore and aft, it looks like it is linking two words, whereas what I was putting in, in ‘my style’, was little additional thoughts that were not directly a follow on from the part of the sentence that went before. Hence the need for the pause? That is a ‘question’ as to whether you want to agree or not, btw. All part of my style, and being a basic anarchist, you can guess I don’t like to be tied by convention or rules. But all that aside, I was curious why the-linkwas this, and not this – if you see what I mean? As I see it seemed an awful lot of work you put yourself through.

    But on the football front. Yes I am all for playing the best team in Europe at the moment. But I think it may be more confidence damaging right now. Plus the fact that playing the same teams year after year does not make for a pleasing competition. TA’s point about it just ensuring the same teams end up in the semi final and everybody is happy in UEFA?. And the 4 usual suspects!

    Whether we finish 6th or above will depend on how this stretch goes, particularly on the injury front. There are also a couple of clubs who might bounce back, ‘Pool and Chelsea to name but two. (El KUn was reported injured in his game for Country, not club). I still worry about a Swansea revival too. They and Southampton are the sort of club we could lose some points, not to mention the ‘Villa’s of this world. So let us not get too far ahead of ourselves on the back of one excellent game.

    Your point on the main group is exactly what I worry about. If we try and stick to a small group of players, we will get injuries, and probably long term ones. If we don’t rotate then some of the names you mention are not going to come into any game with confidence, so unlikely to perform much better than the last time. If we get 3.0 up in another game, that is the time to give an airing to a lesser light.

    Well that is my take on it. Not much rose tint I grant you, but I still look forward to watching the games.


  • Gerry, Spain’s just about done with Luxembourg…So maybe there will be some highlights of the other matches… Santi ended up getting two…

    Argentina-Equador was also on and El Kun was playing when I looked… Oh, actually, they’re still playing…and no sight of the little guy… (BTW, that was a good pick, using your triple captain choice on him last weekend in the fantasy league…)

    I can’t really follow your stylistic stuff about the writing and I’m almost positive nobody else is interested. I use two – – (dashes) but with no space so they appear like this — It’s a very subtle difference but it’s there… If you write shorter pieces they’d be quicker to edit, but I was up early anyhow… 😀

    Ooooh…Ecuador look like they might smash and grab in Buenos Aires… nil-1 from a corner… Wow!! 2-nil Ecuador on the counter!!!

    Back to content… I understand that “low expectations are the key to happiness” but I think you take it too far, especially when you add in the incredible faith you (seem to) have in our youth players or players we might have bought in the window. IMO our first 11 looked pretty strong in our most recent match. Yes, there are little things–Ramsey (or Ox or Santi or even Le Coq) getting a goal, Giroud looking a little happier when he comes on. My hope is that the Int’l break helps guys heal up, gives others who haven’t been playing much (with us) a little change of scene, etc., etc.

    We have to take things one game at a time, of course, but we made a really good statement in our home stadium against United, so why not? I missed it, but you said we looked strong early vs Olympiakos but just didn’t get that first goal.

    Pressure for results sets up a difficult situation when it comes to rotation. If we had prevailed in the CL matches people would be oohing and aahing about the depth of our squad… (Luckily we got lucky in the Spurs match and Flam was the Man until he did his ham, or something…) As it was, there’s additional pressure on AW to play his very best 11…

    The biggest element, I think, is that there is greater parity up and down the league. Yes, City had a great start AND are stockpiling talent but many of their players (beyond El Kun and David Silva, maybe) can have their off days. If West Ham & Spurs can beat them on the day, why can’t others? By the same token, like you say, overconfidence is a killer…

    So, watching the end of Argentina-Equador I missed the highlights from Europe, ah well…

  • Great to see Santi getting in the goals tonight; lets hope he brings this back home with him. City will be worried tonight with Aguero and Silva out injured – I’m not crowing about this, both players are great and I’d love them to be playing with us.

    The article’s is a thoughtful one, as is always the case with Gerry’s writing. In my view its a simpler diagnosis though – I think we have had too many players slow to come into form; Sanchez, Giroud, Ramsey, and Ozil patchy, and Rambo out of the goals too. We have dominated games but not been able to score early and get the results.

    I don’t think we lack cover at DM as I still see Flam/teta having some miles in them, albeit as cover rather than first choice. We need to keep the rust off our reserve full backs, but both are quality so not a problem there. And as per my last post, I think we have 2 good options up front (provided our wider attack come to the party), with Welbs hopefully returning at the end of the year.

    We didn’t sign any outfield players in the TW, because there are precious few good enough to improve our first team who were actually available. We do need to strengthen; but this means buying when we can find the right people, not just blowing cash for the sake of it. As many have commented, we have a new and promising crop of youngsters. With both Coq and Bellerin establishing themselves last year, it will be interesting to see who comes through next. Could it be Jeff? Who knows. I look at the RW slot and think there is a role to be found there. It could be that Rambo turns into the new Freddie for us there, but it could equally be someone new. There are few top teams where the opportunity is there for a new talent to step in like there is at the Arse.

  • Hi Gerry…

    Yes, Coquelins fitness is a vital ingredient to the teams recent improvement from a resilience prospective.
    His fitness is a constant worry to me as well, fortunately he is a very strong lad and, touch wood, doesn’t suffer from the injury disease that infects so many of our players.

    Kamara, from what I’ve read and heard, is a proper def/mid.
    Bielik has been getting some really good reports, and would be one I’d like to see included in the squad for Sheffield…

    Gerry, I believe that Mathieu Debuchy has played def/mid before, when he was playing in France, and as he’s unlikely to get much of a look in at right back, it might be an idea to give him a game in that position, to see if he has the potential to do a job there?
    Peter Storey springs to mind…

  • Gerry,

    Good write-up and offering a 360 degree view of the whole inconsistency we are facing right now.

    Flo8 and 17ht has covered some areas, but you dissected them like a surgeon, looking deep inside each organ and looking at what could be the root cause.

    Agreed that our small conversion rate is the one that knocked us off our feet, but also the loans that you mentioned left us light in 2 crucial areas:
    1. Chuba can be played as a cameo role, and be a spark when our strikers are not scoring.
    2. The loan of our up and coming DM Issac Hayden makes it necessary that we rush Mikel back in the first CL game, which we lost. A creative spark there would have done us a bit of favour.

    However, seeing our lads gel-ing and getting their swagger back I feel that the overloading and constant switching of forward positions left a few teams in shock. But against ultra defensive teams we might still lose out if we do not have the shoot on sight mentality. However, the last 2 games clearly dispelled that thought.

    Maybe someone at Arsenal is reading this?


  • AB – Thanks for the comment and the compliment. While I was writing I was very conscious of how easy it would be to point the finger at AW, and tried to explain things as they were at the time, and not with the benefit of hindsight.

    So regarding the transfer window. Well some players did move during it. Most were not the ones we needed or wanted. Others, like Martial, AW was keen on, but told he was not for sale. That is until United took the big gamble and paid a huge sum for a player of great potential, but limited experience. Not the Arsenal way for sure. Then there was Schneiderlin. We do not know how much the lure of Man U (and the big money that went with it) or that AW did not want to pay £25m for a guy in the last year of his contract, that he did not sign for? But you are right, and I agreed, in a way, (mostly for the reasons shown in the above two examples) that none were available to us.
    The Benzema chase took away alternative until too late in the day, and then it did have a look of desperation. While I think he would have probably converted those early games into wins, and we would have been in a very healthy position now, if other results had gone the same. But like the signing, it is not testable, and other clubs might have reacted differently? But that was how it ended up for us, and it was one of the factors that has left us a little light in those two areas.

    The problem now is, including the names you mention, it is doubtful that any could do a long term spell, should the need arise. I am hopeful, as is AW, that such a crisis, especially with Coquelin, does not arise. Debuchy is needed at RB imo, because Bells cannot do it on his own, twice a week for the foreseeable? I think Debuchy needs to be more himself, and not try to do what Bellerin does. He has the experience to know when to go forward and when to defend. He should use it.

    So far we have been lucky that FC34 has only missed a couple of games. It should be noted that his injury was not a contact one, just an awkward landing. The former type could be a whole lot worse? So we/he needs to continue to be lucky.

    I also made a strong point that the lack of goals cost us dearly, given that our midfield were so productive. But it is only one factor, imo. Alexis would still have struggled with his game, even if others had clicked, but for a more specific reason. The others may be trying too hard, and changes in the line up make them more anxious. There is no guarantee that after the break they will be any different? What I am saying is, without the other factors, they may not have tried so hard if results had gone our way. That said, Walcott and Alexis are big, big positives.

    Regards the youngsters, I agree, there are some very promising ones to look forward to seeing. The trouble is AW seems to share HT’s fear, in that their inexperience will cost us, and them, if they are put on the spot. Yet the two players you mention, Bells and Le Coq, both got over their first time introduction and developed into the players we know today.It is easier to slot in players when the team is playing well, but sometimes the gamble has to be taken?

    Anyway, thanks again for the time taken to respond.

  • Sorry AB – The reference to Debuchy came from mixing your post with Kev’s. But your replacement choices come under my heading of ‘Not long term’.

  • Kev – Thanks again. Having just corrected my error above, you will know what my view is on your last paragraph. 😀

    However, I hold strongly to the view that DM is a more specific role than any other. It requires 360deg vision so the player is aware of who is behind and who is ahead of play. Now, with the common use of wing-backs, the role of the full back has to some extent also needed that extra rear view. So the transition from full back to DM is always a possibility. But there is the more complicated factor of reading the game from many angles that distinguishes a true DM.
    imo of course.

    This brings me to the point I was making about Bielik. As a natural DM, dropping back to CB is not a problem. So I think the training staff are probably trying build up his ‘core strength’ while he is still filling out as a growing teenager? That way, when he goes back to DM he will know how to position his body better to shield the ball in the hurly burly of the EPL
    Kamara is in a different situation. He is 6ft1ins tall and played over 80 games for the Under 21’s, predominantly as a DM. That is a lot of experience even at the lower level. He has been training with the first team squad, so that should be a good learning environment. I would still like to see him get some real game time replacing Coquelin for the final 20 minutes. But for that he need to be on the bench?

    Agreed on fingers crossed for Coquelin.


  • JK – You are too kind. But I so much enjoyed your response I borrowed your ‘360 degree view’ phrase in my previous reply 😀

    Whilst I agree on Chuba Akpom being a useful super sub, the reality is that will not develop him as a player. Well not as much as playing the full 90 minutes will. He has still to round off all his fine attributes and turn them into goal scoring opportunities. In simple terms, scoring goals on a regular basis. I want to see that 17 year old guy who so coolly stroked the ball past the keeper in that pre-season tour of Asia, what was it, three season’s ago? Get that composure back and he will be some player next season.

    Hayden has been cruelly denied by that injury in training last winter. But for that, I think he would have established himself in the squad. Instead we got Coquelin back from his loan, and the rest is history. If he hadn’t have gone on loan there is a possibility he could have been an ideal sub or starter, rotating with Coquelin. But only the Asenal trainers know how much of a legacy that injury may have left him with? So again, if he comes back the player he looked like he was destined to be, so much the better. Regular game time is what it is all about. I just hope we can say next season, ‘MS, who is he?’ 😀

    Coquelin and Hayden are different players, and they could be our future pairing for many years to come? But fate moves in mysterious ways. Glen Kamara or Bielik might step up and ruin both their parties in a couple of seasons time?

    Cheers, and thanks again for the comments.

  • Well done, Gerry. ⚽️⚽️

    You put all your cards on the table and I agree only with point three. Sanchez scoring now IS the big difference and has helped us back int he saddle in the PL. Nobody in the PL, other than Leicester, is consistent, and that makes sense. Teams are finding their mojo and the competition is stronger than ever. After the West Ham loss we have been good to great consistently. The loss against the Chavs was pure robbery by the ref Dean. The real anomaly is the CL performance until now, but I have a feeling it was just a lot of bad luck in both games.

    At our last international break, we were five points behind the leaders, and this time round we are just two away from the top, even though we were referee robbed at the Bridge. That to me is not inconsistency but a clear sign of gradual progress, and just what we need right now.

  • Well that is the beauty of blogging TA. You are free to disagree.

    Surely the manner of defeats is a bit repetitious to be completely confident of consistency?

    The West ham game was very similar to the ‘Villa defeat two seasons before, except we did not get kicked about so much in the last one. Not having learnt lessons, albeit with a gap, is another? Getting back to 2-2, and going ‘gung ho’ straight after Zagreb’s kicked off is a typical repeat performance? So it is not so much how the goals were scored, or how the ref handled the match. These things happen throughout the season. It has been known for us to get a deflected goal.

    What I was trying to reflect in the post, that had we had a different result in any of the 8 factors, it is likely, as you quite rightly point out with Alexis, things will improve. But for the time being, Factors 1 and 2 still remain, and add to the former, Koscielny,
    Cover for Coquelin may happen before January if they get the loan deal for Kokorin – Remember him? He came with a back injury and hardly had a game? However, once his back trouble cleared up he went back to his parent club and played really well. Mind, with him being fit now might be a reason why they are reluctant to loan him out again?

    Yes to our improvement, at a time when M.City were having a bad run, so the two recent wins which gave us 6 points, so in effect we have had on more win since the last Int’l break. Nice in the short term, but are we really equipped to continue that form before January?

    I stand by my No 4 reason, because the solution has only been fudged, and ties directly with No 7 on my list. So with Ramsey wide right, Bellerin at RB, some oppositions will exploit that gap down that channel better than others.

    Even No 6, which is a major plus, will be tested by lowly Watford. Much as it was great to see us blast Utd apart, Watford have a stubborn defence record, and will not play like MU did.

    Finally, injuries. We will get them, so can you be confident that we can cover in all positions? I am not. However I still think we will pick up a lot of points despite the CL distraction. The crunch will come nearer Christmas when we try and fit in returning players. So although we may not be that many points behind the leaders, 6th place is still a strong possibility?
    Imo, of course.

    Happy to be proved wrong …

  • Cheers Gerry, to make a comparison between the West Ham and Villa opener is a bit rich for me. Yes they were both opening games we lost, but for different reasons and with different players. Every team is sensitive to injuries and that never really goes away. Even at Citeh they will be worrying about Silva and Aquero injuries, despite having quality players at stand by. So your premise in my view is wrong. Injuries are part of the game and luck is required to win the league, like the Chavs had last season.

    Furthermore, For Coq we have Flamini and Arteta, for Theo, we have OG and Alexis to play in the CF role, for Ramsey we have Ox and in defence and goal we have a great squad now. We have plenty of creative midfielders and yes getting back Wilshere and Rosicky will boost us further…but we will cope without them. But Alexis is irreplaceable, I feel. He is our X- Factor. But we would cope by playing OG central and Theo on the left wing and if Wenger knows a good winger ala Alexis we will get him sooner or later. So, you predicting us finishing sixth is far, far too negative to me and not based on realism. Let’s both hope your wrong in any case. 🙂

  • TA – I will let you have the last word when you have digested this. 😀
    I suppose I was drawn to compare the opening season games because it is one of mentality?
    This season we had a far better squad, a better pre-season, but despite this we do not carry confidence into conviction about games we should have won.

    Part of this links to what I am saying about tinkering with the team. It is fine for you to put up names for players who can play in positions, should ‘X” get injured, but they are never like for like. Most of the time they change the whole dynamic of how the team will play. Not to mention how well the replacements gel. You said yourself we do not cope well with rotation. Part of that comes from from what I have just said above. Individually we have a very strong squad. But as a group it is a bit more tenuous. What I fear is that AW will continue with simplification of putting in very good players to replace others, but with a more hopeful approach that it will work.
    Hence the roller coaster ride will continue. Blisteringly good games played when the opposition suits us, and intermittent stodgy games played by exactly the same players.

    We will have an example coming up with the Under 19’s. They are short of 4 players, all from the main choice strikers. Now the very astute Jorge Bird has put up a possible team to cope when they play their equivalent home and away legs with Bayern Munich’s Youth. The link is below:
    However, he has quite rightly selected a team, and cover players that have a very similar profile.
    They not only have the luxury of being able to train for the first game in 9 days time, but there is no certainty that they will gel as a whole group?
    I don’t think has AW either option. The one thing he does have is the confidence generated by their last win, but if he has to tinker with the team, that could soon evaporate. Chile playing Alexis while ‘not 100%’ could be a case in point?

    If you glance down the fixture list it has that look ‘on paper’ of being quite favourable? Mind, the run includes mid week fixtures right through to December:
    Everton(H) after midweek game v Bayern(H)
    Swansea(A) ditto v Sheff W((A) in the COC, which some senior players will play or be benched?
    Spurs(H) ditto v Bayern (A)
    Norwich(A) ditto v Dinamo Z(H) – Destiny of our CL/Europa future!
    Sunderland (H) ditto v Next COC opponent?
    Olympiacos(A) D v Aston Villa
    Then Christmas games, both of whom are rivals in the top 6. positions:
    Man City(H)
    Finally, the last game of the year;

    Are you still that confident? A bad run would see us with only 11 more points, a good run 18?
    That is a slim margin I think?

    Enjoy the ride …

  • Guys

    We are closer to 4th than to 6 i believe for what we see from now. If they are to play their second half of the season form earlier we could be in for a pleasant surprise.

    And although Watford is not manu**, we can still see us scoring some, if Alexis shakes off his injury issues we will see us scoring at least 2.

    Why not play ox on the right for added pace?


  • good read Gerry (as usual), you explore the variables surrounding this seasons inconsistencies in great detail mate. My only questions stem from the fact that this is most definitely not a pattern confined to this season alone and indeed over the last decade or so our pattern has become one of repeated oxymoronism (i think i just made up that word lol) stuck in results of consistent inconsistency.
    My thinking is that (removing the defence for a second) if you fill the midfield and attack with flare players that by definition have VERY good days sometimes but also inevitably have some days when the magic doesn’t come off then your results are going to invariably reflect that uneven team balance with uneven (inconsistent) results.
    It is the price you pay for the amazement when it all clicks and the beautiful game unfolds in front of you.
    It is the very basis of my Ozil hate over the years, i’m not a complete moron i know the guy has it in him to create an amazing bit of skill but its the time in between him doing it that is too long in my opinion which obviously leads me to my conclusion that the price is too high for his added flare.

    Funnily enough i think we are in the position to be the most consistent we’ve been in years having now tipped the balance of the team away from the flare bias and into a more workrate orientated team.

    Coquelin over Arteta at DM removes that added flare but bolsters the dependability and workrate.
    Ramsey over OX or Theo on the wing removes that added flare but again bolsters dependability and workrate. For those of you that think Ramsey has flare you need a wake up call lol, one good season out of how many he’s been here surrounded by tricks, flicks and shots that all fail to come off is not flare. For me he is the Welsh James Milner but like i explained above he brings with him that benefit that a Milner type player brings, amplified even moreso in a team containing other players who actually do have genuine flare as they are given more security to ply their particular brand of football artistry.
    The acquisition of Sanchez for the left wing brings a huge level of flare but incredibly (he is an incredible player don’t forget) when that flare is off its game the dependability and workrate levels remain extremely high and he works for the team like utility player – very rare quality, amazing player.

    That leaves Cazorla, Ozil and Theo right through the middle of that spine and with Theo amazingly becoming quite consistent in his new position up top (i think its a goal a game or something there abouts now) you can see how the balance has shifted quite clearly now to a quite dependable team, and when those remaining two fire on all cylinders we will look great when they don’t we will falter but that is part and parcel of having them there.

    Like i said before in the defeat to Olympiacos and Chelsea i was actually quite pleased with the football especially the pace of counter attacks, it has just been a few crazy flukes and crap referee collapses in those games that have prevented us showing our real strength atm but the gods can’t keep throwing those at us – hence the Man U result 🙂

    I think the loss of Wilshere and Welbeck is massive this season as Wilshere could have replaced either one of Cazorla or Ozil if one is having an off day and Welbeck could have replaced Theo up top if needed to provide more strength, power and closing down up there without sacrificing much of the threat of pace that you do with the Giroud switch – but alas it is not to be.

    Anyway great read Gerry and i’m outta here – can’t handle typing all this stuff on an ipad touch screen pad, its a f*ckin nightmare.

    Line-ups as usual: 🙂

    Premier league Champions and retain the FA cup:

    ————Theo or Giroud————

    Europa League winners and Capital one cup winners

    Campbell——–Rosicky——-The OX

  • F11ngers, very nice comment there… Happy to have you back… Do those Ipads allow for a plug in keyboard? Surely you can find one at the charity shops, no?… 😀 Apple probably even has a special order model to accommodate the extra digit… (More smileys)

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I think you’re saying is that flair (or is it flare?…) players, i.e., gifted attackers, esp. if they’re not of the harder-working variety, are almost always a bit of a hit and miss proposition. The things that Alexis and Ozil try to pull off don’t always work out, but when they do it’s rather spectacular. In the meantime, a consistent work ethic (i.e., Ramsey running all day or Alexis chasing back after his turnovers) or even just consistent levels of confidence (Theo) seems better than just being angry or sad with yourself (Ozil) or blaming the refs (Giroud) or losing that belief (Ox). All told–at times at least–why not spend the money to shore up at the back, let the other teams have a bit more of the ball and then hit them with pace and power on the break?…

    IMO, that’s what we’ve done in recent windows. Our last two biggest buys have been Cech and Gabriel, after all… Those two plus the emergence of Coquelin, Bellerin and Monreal have been quieter but big improvements resulting from good “competition for places.” Thus far this season it hasn’t always resulted in full points, but we’re also not on the receiving end of any major routs. Bottom line, we’re more balanced these days for many of the reasons you mentioned, Mr. 11… (I also agree that the two English boys,just hitting their best years, Jack and Danny, are big misses. Hopefully they can be significant contributors in the new year…)

    What’s funny, however is the two line-ups at the bottom. You say we’re doing a domestic double with the first 11 and then winning a couple of the lesser prizes with the back-ups. Meanwhile, Gerry has us mid-table at Christmas… Not exactly singing from the same hymn sheet (as they say)… 😀

    The truth is (very likely) somewhere in the middle with plenty of drama still left in the calendar year..On the back of the CL results it’s sky-is-falling, hand wringing stuff. After the United thumping, I’m inclined to worry a bit less…

  • Going a step further… I’d argue that an enduring legacy of Wenger’s time in England will be the insistence that the top clubs win in style (or attacking flair, as steve mentions)… Add in the revenue sharing by way of television contracts up and down the league and even some of the lesser teams are starting to insist upon the same–see Leicester City and their suicide tactics in our match… This is why a club like Stoke City, once they’ve gotten firmly established in the league with Tony Pulis doing his long throw and leg breaking thing, get rid of him and bring in a “sparkier” sort..

    Same thing on the East Side of London with Allardyce and West Ham . Fat Sam (now at Sunderland…) and Pulis will always have places to go to try and keep teams up, but the trend is away from those pragmatic types (Moo too) towards an attack is everything, Wengerish mentality. It makes the top teams more vulnerable to those off days when they can’t break down the parked buses and fall a goal behind at a set piece or counter.

    To me, it makes the league more fun to watch and less predictable but also maybe hurts when it comes to making a big mark in Europe. It all gets super loco when you add in the press and its self-styled pundit types playing a massive blame game when we (or other teams…) fall short of invincibility…, So it goes, so it goes…

    How many points will it take to win the league? (Less…) To stay up? (More)… Fun times, or maybe not… Depends on your perspective, I guess…


  • Nothing to add, Gerry, I would simply be repeating myself. The first team is very strong, the squad is almost perfect and we are second even though we played many top teams already. Can you feel that sun in our neck?

  • haha computers coming on friday hopefully HT so no more of this “tappy tappy, give up, mash pad furiously, end up with gobbledygook” nonsense i have been suffering lately.
    Yes mate you summarised my point perfectly, and absolutely agree with you when you add that it is no coincidence that the most valued players in the team are turning out to be the ones who simply do their job well without any cock ups and with high work rate and commitment throughout.
    Players like Coq, Monreal, Gabriel, Cech, Bellerin, even Ramsey if he’d stop trying to be something he’s not – they are getting the plaudits they have for simply being dependable and proficient in their duties. Its nice to see and contrary to Gerry’s inconsistency theme i think going forward these guys will swing the balance back to being more consistent but maybe not as balls out amazing so frequently – a graph showing a steady progressive line forwards and upwards rather than one with high peaks and troughs if you will 🙂
    the result of which in real world footballing terms on the pitch is exactly as you put it above:
    “Thus far this season it hasn’t always resulted in full points, but we’re also not on the receiving end of any major routs.”
    Exactly, nicely put, that is the kind of foundation you can start building champions from, especially once that little (but essential) bit of flair starts to increase in frequency.

    Oh and the two line ups lol, they weren’t so much a prediction (although that would be lovely) but more a subtle poke in the direction of discussing whether people would like to see such a split of priority in competitions (considering we may be out of the Champions league).
    We have a first team squad of 24 players now (nicely trimmed from previous seasons) with an almost cemented first choice and back up for most positions splitting the squad into effectively two teams. With Europa league and Capital one not holding such a high esteem in some peoples minds i was wondering if this would be a welcomed move to see our whole squad utilized and some great experience gained for those in the back up positions.
    Or is that blasphemy and we should go all out in the Europa league with our full first team whilst taking on the Premier league at the same time – it is a European trophy at stake after all.

    And to your final point, the thing that makes me worry less this season is the progression of Gabriel, i don’t mind admitting i was very worried about quality back up for Koscielny in the future but seeing him slip in there and just do the job well, its that extra needed bit of relief mate – no ” sky-is-falling” rhetoric coming from me 🙂

  • err?
    Anyway Flingers, I sort of agree and disagree all the way through. How you can have Ozil hate, and not Ramsey hate for virtually the same fault ie only shining absolutely on rare occasions. When not shining, one is moving about creating spaces, while the other is just running about doing things, says to me you should get out more 😀

    Seriously. The problem over the years has been the imbalance in the team. To which is largely in midfield. I think the players that AW would like to buy, but has not, and therefore he has been unable to complete. But it might have solved that … over time. You can have too much of a good thing, in a football team at least.
    I believe that the fudging with what we have got is going to bring about its own inconsistencies. The one I referenced to TA, and you have alluded to, with Ramsey over a wide player, will bring about problems in certain games because it over loads Bellerin’s work if he has to provide width, and defend?

    You hit exactly the right reasons why I chose the extended injuries to the two ‘W’s as my first ingredient this season. Spot on!

    When we look good is when the movement off the ball matches the creative flair within the team. When they are stationary, Ozil may as well sit on the bench, or a beach somewhere sunny.
    Personally, I would rather we built a team around Ozil, than say Ramsey or Wilshere. Especially as we have MK2 waiting in the wings (Zelalem). Workhorses are ten a penny if you are not looking for outrageous skill levels. But the point I am ma\king is you cannot have too much of any one type. Balance is the key. Right now AW is trying to achieve that from what we have here.at the moment. I don’t believe we can go through the this busy period with a tight 14 or so players. But at the same time, every tweak brings with it a slightly different way of playing, and may be needs another change to preserve the balance?

    The next few seasons could be a whole new ball game, with Akpom, A M-N, Iwobi, Silva (of the boot variety), Zelalem to name but a few, all coming good over the same period? That is skill, flair, and work rate. Throw in Coquelin partnered by Hayden and you have more protection than a double layer of Durex.
    That is then, roller coaster right now.

    Sorry, just my opinion …

    Thanks Flingers for enjoying the post though.

    I too have got to go, my keyboard batteries need recharging.

  • Gerry you know me, when the team is lacking a performance in a match then i greatly prefer “running around doing things” to “moving about creating spaces” to provide the security we need to grind a draw out, maybe snatch a win from some ugly footy but most importantly NOT LOOSE.
    And for me Ramsey is one of the most consistent players on the pitch, this “virtually the same fault ie only shining absolutely on rare occasions” stuff is only reserved for those deluded few who believe Ramsey actually shines sometimes lol. Take just that one season out of his time at Arsenal and the rest should show you that he is a consistent utility player with great work rate but who is no more capable of the flair or shinning qualities than our full backs – definitely not a player i would build a team around lol, but one of those that is bringing the balance of the team back at Arsenal. – the welsh James Milner
    I myself placed a HUGE amount of promise on OX as i feel he has it in him to provide both the security and work rate of Ramsey and at the same time still holds the threat of pace and attacking drive down that wing like Theo – so far this season however he has greatly underperformed and has probably been my biggest disappointment so far (especially considering i really rate the guy).

    As for the future how bloody pissed off was i when Youtube took down all TerryAFC’s line of Arsenal loanee watch videos for copyright infringement, the guys were putting in some great performances and i was really enjoying watching them get some proper game time – Bastard Youtube!!

  • I watched quite a bit of the Rambo running show yesterday (with Wales) and F11ngers makes some solid points there… Shame we can’t speak openly about Ozil… but at least we’re moving that direction regarding other favorites (the Ox)… 😀

    Gerry (maybe, I think…) makes the point that Ozil adds in ‘observation’ to his willingness to run. If others aren’t moving then there’s nowhere to go and then that sense of frustration he conveys. Ramsey is maybe more upbeat even at the lower level (where he can, perhaps, shine a bit more).

    Early season, I thought, the trouble was that Alexis was standing and waiting for something to happen before he would start moving. Ox sometimes does the same… It’s a bit natural for both of them as they have the skills to make things happen from a standstill… As part of a team game, however, it can all go static quite quickly. Naturally, guys playing at CF (Theo or Giroud) tend to do even more standing and waiting…

    A lot of the Int’l football I’ve been watching these past several days falls into that same category. No problem when you’re playing Luxembourg (i.e., in Santi’s case…) but more trouble when it’s Watford (for example). That’s part of the “hangover” that can happen coming back from these breaks…i.e., Watford away–after everybody’s been off on their break–presents a different but no less of a challenge than playing ManU when the full unit (with a couple of small changes) has come up short vs Olympiakos…

    So–we have to hope–guys are starting to tune into the full potential of the fun football they can play together at Arsenal when they come back to their ‘home’ in North London. They also need to accept the pressure of playing on a team whose fans expect them to win every match and put them under the microscope for small errors. That’s different than playing on a team which just needs to show up in order to get the full points… My point: we should be getting stronger as the season moves along, not weaker. Plenty of sunshine here, so I need to get out in it… 😀

  • Gerry, 17ht and all,

    Ollie scored twice in a friendly match against the Danes, apparently bringing his mood for scoring up.

    His late cameo goals make us feel like he is the super sub, but i still feel that starting him against a certain kind of slower teams can do him good.


  • I see I am ticking your boxes Steve, and you do come back with a follow up comment.

    I honestly do share a lot of your opinions. On Ramsey I differ slightly, because I think you are wrong on what he can bring to the table. I stand my comment on an earlier post, i think Ramsey is our most effective, ineffective players we have. Unlike you, I don’t want to ‘take out that one season’ because it shows what he is capable of doing …. when he is on top of his game. That is the frustrating thing about him. Take the MU game for example. He was energy personfied with his harrying and pressing, but in front of a practically open goal and he fluffs it. Compare that to the technique when he scored in the Cup final against Hull and you would barely believe it was the same player? Other times when he has hit his top form, the timing of his runs, the close in goals he scored were a pleasure to behold. Unfortunately, unlike Alexis who started the season on an off note, a short spell on the bench seems to have got him fully switched on again. With Ramsey, any break seems to knock him back to the bottom rung again, and the harder he tries to climb up to his top level, the more he seems to miss his steps and slips down again. I think AW keeps playing him in the hope that the next game will be the turning point … a bit like me when I buy a lottery ticket.
    Perhaps you are more on the right track Steve, he should do a Coquelin, and just concentrate on the basics for a while. Cut out the tricks and flicks, don’t think about shooting if there is a pass on.
    Just keep the passes simple, especially as I don’t think he has the technique for clever balls even when on song. He can see and play a perfectly weighted flat ball, but chips over the top are rarely successful.
    Who knows, it might work?

    Ox is a different problem. I thought the early games where he was bombing down the line, working in tandem with Bellerin I thought he had it made. I said as much at the time … .he has made that position his own’. What happened? AW dropped him to ‘accommodate’ you know who. Since then it has been bit parts here and there, His try out on the left side could be useful if we are to lose Alexis when he comes back with a worse injury, as Ox does share that similar drive and desire to get forwards, although personally, I still think Iwobi is the more natural fit.
    Since that early spell Ox looks like he is trying too hard, That amazing dribble he did to get to the edge of the box was typical. For all it’s brilliance, if it comes to nothing, other than a turnover, then he might just as well passed it early. The thing I liked in those early games was he used hios drive to get down the line and looked for a cross or a pass, and if not, waited for an interchange with Bellerin. I missed most of the England game, and I was surprised, pleasantly, that he played the centre-mid role. Long term I think that could be his ultimate destination. One of the key thinks that his Southampton manager said about him before his move was his ability to bring other players into the game. He could relive that part of his game more so in that mid position, but for now, I think the wide right is where he needs to be? So don’t give up on him just yet.

    Really good to have you back Steve, and if I call you ‘FLINGERS’, rather than you own self mocking bit.

  • Ha Ha HT, I am glad that you two are taking a ‘realistic’ view of the Watford game.

    Not that I think it will have much bearing on our progress over the coming weeks. Nevertheless, 3 points will be very welcome. But as you point out, after coming back from the Internationals we can never be sure of anything. Especially as they will have an uninterrupted week of training.

    In fact there will be no such thing as a ‘should win on paper’ games with all the midweek stuff going on. It is not a case of me being overly pessimistic or undervaluing the qualities we have got in our team. I am just reminding people on here of the dangers of expecting too much.

    Like I say, I don’t think even a draw will dent our hopes going into the Bayern game. We already have some valid excuses in place. However, the Bayern game could be a great uplift or a big downturn, which is quickly followed by the return leg for more of the same?

    After that we will have a better idea of where we stand. Feet on the ground folks, it might be a bumpy ride …

  • Oops – That is ‘Two’ in the sense of both us, but from my original thought of the sentence, and ‘Too’ as in also, in the sentence that was used.
    Hey ho …

  • So much nonsense being spoken about Rambo, all based on preconceived ideas. Watch the the first half against Manure again and just concentrate on him and you all realise with Crimson cheeks how complete Rambo is. Third best player on the pitch after Ozil and Sanchez. Two pre assists, exquisite ones as well, always an outlet for defence, fabulous support for Bellerin (his flank was being targeted by MU), great defensive contributions, precise and simple passing and filling the gaps in midfield constantly. Flair, stamina, simplicity and good reading of the game, or…. A willing runner prone to flicks who scuffs big chances.. It is up to you. 😕

  • That’s what makes football fascinating to me…
    How fans can watch the same game and take something totally different out of it than the person next to you…
    How our views of players can be influenced by who we like, or dislike, as much as what they do on the pitch…

    For example, I always rated Nigel Winterburn, I took to him from the first time I saw him play, at right-back, and never wavered in my appreciation of him throughout his Arsenal career…
    I just liked him…

    Alex Song I never took to, despite many fans lauding his talents.
    I just saw him as lazy and over rated…
    It didn’t make me right, but it was my opinion.
    And I was delighted when we sold him to Barcelona…

    And that’s how I see it…
    Maybe an over simplification, but there ya go… 🙂

  • There are certain incidents, in games, that also colour a fans view on ‘a’ players performance.

    Theo had a great game against ManUtd, pulling their defenders all over the place, creating space and leaving gaps for Ozil, Ramsey and Sanchez to plough through…

    But the two things that stick in my mind is Theo winning a header and flicking the ball off, as if he Alan Smith.
    And the way he hunted down Schweinsteiger, tackled him and took the ball off of the capt of the World Champions.
    Those incidents would have many fans enthusing about his performance, as am I now.
    Both out of character to his usual performances but a very welcome improvement.
    Long may it continue.

  • TA – I think it is because I have spoken about Ramsey a lot recently that you are not getting what I think of him as a player. It is more of a frustration to me that a player on top of his game can show tremendous levels of skill, particularly in front of goal, but also with his attacking runs, and indeed some of his passes are sublime ….
    Yet interrupt that flow and it takes an age for him to recapture it. Yes, all players have runs of losses in form, but not only are his runs out of form longer, the level in his overall ability drops off to a greater degree.

    I agreed with you about his Man U performance, as I just did to Steve above, but it is just knowing he can be so much better that I find annoying. Plus the fact some of the earlier games this season when he was regularly losing possession with sloppy passing, which is an even more unacceptable drop in performance?

    Mind, it was notable that in the Man U game he did start off from a more defensive role, from the centre right midfield, which I think suits him best. Even allowing for the fact that we pressed high early on, he was playing it short and simple a lot of the time. Often when playing deep, and he gets a turnover, his first instinct can be to pass it back to a CB, and that can slow any counter attack down? But that comes back to what I have been saying about players having different styles. He is not a Santi or a Rosi, and therefore perhaps the players around him need to be tweaked. Going back to the Man U game, it was Santi who ran the show from the back, probably his best game too, but in doing so he complimented Aaron’s game, as It allowed him to push on and do what he can be good at.

    None of this alters the fact that many are waiting, as I am, for him to start scoring those stellar goals which we know he has in his locker. I think he can be compared more to a snooker player, who, when they are ‘in the zone’ the pockets can seem an extra three inches wider, but the ball still goes bang in the middle, just where they were aiming it. They too, go on runs where even the simplest ball can miss the pocket altogether. Usually, if they relax and play their shot freely it comes back to them. That is why I think if Ramsey stops trying to think about his technique, and just let the action take care of itself, he will be the better for it. One goal will then lead to many I sure, and we can both be happy to put this conversation to bed. 😀


  • Gerry, I really am getting what you think about Ramsey and I have been reading your comments on him for quite a while. He is so important to this team and it is no wonder to me that we did badly in CL when we did not play him. Ramsey makes Santi shine too. He was very disciplined and stayed to the right almost constantly. For me he always adds something to the team the others, other than Sanchez, do not offer. It is no wonder either that Arsene plays him on the right now constantly, because he is by far our best option there right now. Yes it would be nice if he starts scoring again, and he will sooner or later score important goals for us… but it is his all-round midfield play that makes such a difference right now and there is not a more complete midfielder in our team.

  • True Allezkev, there is a lot of subjectivity when judging players, and we are all prone to it. I thought Theo did really well but when I watched the game again I realised the game passed him by for a large part in the second half. Like you, I did remember his assists and workload in the first half and yet he did not really turn up in the second one. But we forgive him! 🙂

    I thought Alex Song was fantastic and was livid when we let him go. But Wenger will have had his reasons and they might not be what many seem to think!

  • Well there you go Total, you rated Song…

    I just couldn’t see it and wondered if I was missing something?
    I used to try and watch him, but I still couldn’t see what others lime yourself, saw.
    I likes Cazorla and you wasn’t sure…
    As you say, subjective, but that’s what fuels the debate…

    I see that Arsenal are being linked with an Ajax youngster.
    Can’t recall his name, but he a big, physical def/mid…
    What do you know about him?

  • Allezkev, i would say no to new additions for now.. lets keep the squad ready for new challenges and consistency is the key. New additions will only break that.


  • Short and sweet from me today.

    TA – Agree to disagree on the finer points of Ramsey’s game. Fully agreed on Song.

    Sorry Kev. I was a fan of Song when I first saw him play in the AFCON, even before he signed for us. I think he is up there with the very best when applying spin to dead weight on passes over the top. RVP should testify to that?
    Oh, Bazoer is the Ajax player. Free scoring attacking mid who can play DM too. 19 years old.

    JK – Sorry, you are wrong. We should sign players that can improve our squad when they become available. We have a future to look at, not just the present.
    I am not sure where we stand with Ajax though. We went ahead and signed Malen, somewhat against their wishes?


  • Kev, if it is Bazoer, I don’t know much about him. I don’t get to watch Dutch footie, although I have Sky now so it will change going fwd. 🙂

  • Yes Gerry, we should buy if available, but the issue now is to fix the squad and buy yet. Look at manu**.. there buy to fix the squad and see what happens.


  • Excuse my english today. I am in a little bit of rush while i typed that out.

    My point is step 1. Fix the game play and how squad works.

    2. Buy players after that.

    But we might fall into a situation where everyone prized us out and we do not sign anyone.. because of the 200m pounds we got..


  • Ah Gerry, seems that I am on my lonesome when it comes to Monsieur Song…
    Ok, I shall do a tactical retreat on that one, still can’t see it though… 😉

    84, Gerry beat me to the draw.
    Mate, you always have to strengthen, if you can…
    Stand still in football and you are actually going backwards…

    I’m not saying pay a De Bruyne type fee for some wonder boy, but if a player becomes available, at a realistic price, who can improve your squad or is a marked improvement in a certain position, you have to try and get them.

  • Perhaps I can weigh in on the subjects of favorites…Or at least Alex Song…

    I liked Alex Song to a certain extent. He did some audacious things for such a lumbering fellow and when they came off, you almost couldn’t help but enjoy them… There’s a reason–called irony, I believe–that people called him “Songaldinho” when he’d do that kind of thing… 😀

    IMO, that kind of stuff looks A LOT more natural when Santi does it, a reason it maybe goes under-appreciated…And now that Santi is playing deeper–with at least as much concern about positioning and all those subtle defensive elements–I prefer the little man over the big one…

    Size, however, matters, or so they say…heheheh… But we now have that–plus focus and a bit of a harder edge–with the likes of Gabriel, Koscielny, the BFG and Petr Cech… I think Coquelin, despite being quite a bit smaller than Song, jumps and makes decisive interventions quite a bit better…

    Overall, defensive mid is a pretty interesting position and one which can be approached from all sorts of angles… At Arsenal it’s all shaped by what Patrick Vieira did over a decade ago so finding a new version (Song, Diaby…) always piques interest…

    But that’s a topic (maybe) for another day or (maybe) another writer…

  • New Post, new post…

    This one is about Aaron Ramsey, an emerging favorite of mine, but (careful) readers will also find some Santi love in there too…

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