Rubbish game with few positives but I met Ben Sheaf’s parents and the 17HTs!

Sheffield Wednesday – Arsenal: 3-0

Well, that was not what we had hoped for. It was great to meet up with 17HT, his wife and son and they especially deserved a much better performance from the Gunners. It was the poorest away game I have ever watched Arsenal play and Arsene will have to think again about finding the balance between giving the experienced bench warmers a game and allowing the youngsters to shine. I was all for the balance weighing towards the experienced players but only if they are hungry and willing to match and exceed the opposition’s tempo and desire. This was not the case and I don’t think it was due to a number of individuals not giving their all but rather a lack of chemistry and clear attacking strategy in the team.

We clearly missed a playmaker midfielder in the team yesterday. With Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky and Arteta out we are down to our bare bones in terms of experienced options. Ox, as predicted, was given a chance in the hole, but he limped off after just five minutes. It is a real pity that we were not able to see him in action and I reckon Ox will not get many more opportunities to properly announce himself as a first team player. There is money sloshing around at Arsenal and Ox holds an important position, and I just don’t see him making the much needed progression. Sadly (genuinely) his time is running out fast.

No playmaker and a lack of a busy and powerful box to box midfielders meant that Giroud was totally isolated. He tried hard to get us going but was simply powerless. I am sure Wenger saw this too, and with bringing on the unknown to me Bennacer, after yet another injury to a first team player, he tried to change it, but to no avail.

I am a big believer in the importance of Arsenal matching and exceeding the opposition’s energy and desire to win. And when we go to the cold and wet North, we need to be even more determined to win at all cost. I understand to some degree that the senior players cannot easily do this, given the lack of importance of the League Cup, but we know from past experience that the youngsters are far more eager to give their all and come out victorious. We probably did not play enough youngsters to get the balance right against the Owls. We were cautious and slow and their was no team chemistry, and whoever prepared the team tactically for this game did not do a great job.

Sheffield Wednesday were disciplined in their formation and kept well to the team drill – nothing spectacular, mind you! They did not allow us any space and time in front of  their ‘D’ and kept forcing us wide. Our wingbacks and ‘wingers’ had very little chemistry and they did not get enough help from our central midfielders to produce the much-needed quick and penetrative triangles. The result was a slow and predictable approach to our attacks and the Owls were never in danger of losing control at the back. I have seldom seen us so toothless in our attacks.

We conceded some poor goals, and especially the second one – a training ground goal – was the result of abysmal defending by the entire team. I did not see the third one and have yet to find the courage  to watch the TV footage of the game, but from a distance it looked like we were all over the place.

It is a game to forget from a footballing point a view. I liked the composure of Bielik and thought Kamara had some good spells, Iwobi had a few nice moments and the full backs kept going till the bitter end, but that is about it.

For the home crowd it was a real party and I have to applaud them for their noise and support to their team. They thoroughly deserved to go through and I hope that one day they can get back into the PL, as a city like Sheffield should have a representative in the top league imo.

I will leave it to 17HT to give us his impressions of the game, either through  a comment or a separate post.

Finally, I had a really nice surprise in the morning. Whilst enjoying my cooked breakfast at the Royal Hotel in Dungworth, I got to speak to the parents of Ben Sheaf. They were naturally disappointed that their son did not get involved in the game but gave me some great insights into our youth setup and background of Ben’s development at both West Ham and Arsenal. At 17, he is still young but making great progress and I for one will keep a closer eye on him from now on. He is a creative, attacking midfielder but can also play as the holding midfielder, and what is not to like about those sort of players….?! 🙂 He is supported by two enthusiastic and proud parents, and that goes a long way. Keep working hard Ben and you’ll get there! 🙂

By TotalArsenal.

54 thoughts on “Rubbish game with few positives but I met Ben Sheaf’s parents and the 17HTs!

  • That was a good read Total…

    I didn’t see the game, I listened to it on the radio, but from what I’ve heard and read Bielik seemed to have made the biggest impression from the four youngsters who earned their 1st team debut…

  • Hi there TA. I listened to the first half and watched the second. Very poor on all counts. Not sure what to put it down to really, but it feels harsh to blame the youngsters. Some of the more experienced look more culpable to me, and you wonder whether they really saw this as a chance to compete for s first eleven place or something of a game that was beneath them. I liked what I saw if Bielik but liked Lille else. I was hoping Campbell would take his chance as I still think there’s a player in there. Now it’s wait and see what the injury news brings – Walcott out would be a bug worry with the run of games we have now. The only real positive on the night was the chavs continuing their dire form – long may it last. Let’s hope for a strong reaction come the weekend.

  • Bielik looked good indeed, AV and AB, but we need to see more of him. An injury to Theo would be disappointing but we might see more of Campbell.

  • Good write up TA.

    Midfield and our wide forwards were a bit of shambles versus Sheffield Wednesday. Based on his appearances for Arsenal thus far I don’t think Campbell is a winger or an option that realistically should be used on either wing. I would much prefer to see him being used as competition for Giroud, Walcott and Welbeck in the centre forward role. With Walcott and Welbeck out of action at the moment and matches versus Swansea (away), Bayern (away) and Spurs (home) in a seven day period, I wouldn’t mind seeing Campbell in the centre forward role versus Swansea and Giroud occupying that role versus Bayern and Spurs.

    On the right side of midfield/right wing position, I would like to see Flamini deployed there in Ramsey’s absence. As I commented prior to the Everton match:

    ‘Personally, I would play Flamini in Ramsey’s vacant right wing spot as I think he is the most like for like player in Arsenal’s squad and I think continuity of playing style is crucial to Arsenal performing consistently.’

    In addition to that I would add that Flamini, whilst hardworking, doesn’t appear to have the positional discipline to occupy either of the deeplying central midfield roles. That said and somewhat surprisingly he does appears to have a natural goal scoring instinct (unlike many of our midfield cohort) and is tidy enough in possession to serve as an effective replacement for Ramsey.

    In relation to the Ox, I’m super disappointed for him. Not just because of his latest injury but because I don’t think he has genuinely been afforded enough opportunities in a position within Arsenal’s system which compliments his skill set and attributes. I know many (including Wenger) see Ox as Ramsey’s competition on the right wing but the fact is Arsenal don’t play a game that supports traditional wingers, which Ox is when deployed on the right wing.

    Arsenal’s system of play supports a hardworking passing midfielder with a natural goal scoring instinct on one wing (i.e. Ramsey) and a dribbling inverted striker on the other wing (i.e. Sanchez). If Ox’s attributes and skill set is considered in that context, he is better suited to Sanchez’s left wing role than the right wing where he seems to be repeatedly deployed. It is somewhat similar to the Ox’s deployment in the No 10 role behind the centre forward. Does Ox have similar attributes and a skills set comparable to the likes of Ozil and Rosicky? I don’t think he does. So it is difficult and somewhat harsh to judge him if he is not deployed in the position within Arsenal’s specific system of play which best suits his skills set and attributes. Also given he is only 22 years of age and 23 seems to be the age the majority of Premier League clubs start blooding young players, I believe he still has some time on his hands to make a successful career at Arsenal. That is however, provide he is given the correct opportunities.

  • Flo8,

    I believe that if we play Ollie against the Munich super passing lads or even Swans he will get frozen out in front. What Theo did against Bayern in the first leg was that he dropped deeper, and became another CAM in the process, running at defenders who are spooked by his pace.

    If we are to play Campbell in the front area against the swans, we need him to have speed and also defensive skills. However, we have to up our game and stick to Ollie for now.

    And Flams second last game looks like he likes being in the centre rather than out right. But like Rambo he can be anywhere he wants, even as a defender if he wants to.

    So for me these 2 players (ollie and flams) are in a position where they could play the next 2 matches as there are simply no one left.


  • Excellent defence of the Ox, FL. 😀

    You might have a point re the Ox’s best position and he being still young, and I hope you are. But I don’t think he can deal with the tempo Arsenal play, as in making the right decisions whilst it is all happening around him. He has had a lot games now and if you can only play well in one position, which might not be the case anyway, you are not going to succeed at Arsenal imo. Love the guy but it is time to bring in top quality, as we are risking silverware.

  • More strong writing and a better assessment of the match than my comment on the night (bottom of the last thread). Of course, it was a treat to get to attend the match with such an esteemed blogger… 😀 That you made it to your hotel seemed a pretty big accomplishment (winky face…) so meeting the family of one of our players (over a proper fry-up, I hope…) seems a just reward. Well done!

    My own biggest takeaway is that I now have a clearer understanding of the full level of what it means to be a fully addicted, er, dedicated, Arsenal supporter. Driving the long distances, braving the poor weather (actually just fine on the night but rougher yesterday) and then the banality of (some of) the matches is not for the faint of heart. Wenger clearly set out to barely give this one a go and is now regretful that he played as many senior players as he did.

    It’s a tough situation and, from an outsider perspective, it’s easy to say that we should just sacrifice the league cup completely. Going to great lengths to get to the match, obtain tickets and lodging, etc., etc., etc., I have to admit, clouded my own rationality. I was hoping to at least see some of our better players run around a bit and do their stuff. In the end, I did get to see some of our biggest horses–Giroud, the BFG and Cech–go through their paces. At least (unlike Theo and the Ox) they were able to warm down and get back into their trailers without too much in the way of splints and lineaments… The stuff from the away end was an education esp. for my (less foul mouthed) wife and kid. The half-hour of “We love you Arsenal, we do” restored a quite a lot of faith to the proceedings…

    Going forward, I think FL08 makes an interesting observation about Flamini. Given that Bellerin can cover so much ground I think AW will have to start Campbell over there. At least he works hard (and can move at pace) and his presence will help slow down the likes of Montero, Douglas Costa and whoever Spurs play as a LW… Ideally we have a scoreline we can protect in those matches and then Flamini can step in.

    In terms of systems and players, I don’t worry about getting too rigid with those ideas, esp. if we’re talking about that right sided spot where it seems the player has a LOT of freedom. At least that’s how Ramsey was playing and how Ox might’ve. On that note, I think TA makes a strong point about our money sloshing around and players needing to take their chances by this point in the Ox’s development. That said, the player has unusually strong first touch skills to go with his other physical powers. If he can marry those to better decision making and execution (i,e., the final ball) he could be a big player for the club (and his country). It all seems delicately poised at the moment, so fingers crossed the hamstring isn’t too bad and that he does better when he comes back. It’s a long way to January…

    On that note, maybe that was the plan for the league cup (note the lower case)… try to get through and then maybe call back some of the loan players who were doing nothing (Gnabry at WBA is the one which jumps out) to try and manage the semis… Nope, better to just get out of the tournament. So, who do we contact for our ticket refunds… 😀 😦

  • Hey JK,

    Thanks for your response!

    Interested to know who you would play versus Swansea, Munich and Spurs based on Arsenal’s current cohort of fit players and where you would deploy them?

  • You thoroughly deserve the refund, 17HT, and so do we all. This game was on Sky Sports as well and our national profile might have dipped a bit after that clueless, insipid performance. Losing is not the biggest issue here, but not giving it a proper go and not creating any meaningful chances is not good enough.

    But we had a good time in the away end and it was good to meet up for the first time before and during a match. 🙂

  • nice insight into the game and the night out TA, good stuff.

    Right i have just figured out my pc problems so have a little time on my hands before i start to fix everything so i thought i would drop a comment in.

    Firstly my take on the OX;
    I don’t like him at right wing, i don’t think he has the positional and movement skills out there to get into real penetrative areas at the right time and so mostly ends up having to take two or three guys on at a time in a closing down scenario. He does this well much better than say Theo would have done in the past but then Theo would never have been in that position very often as he would have already been ahead of play in a dangerous area waiting to get on the end of a through ball from a more forward and reaching pass or would have passed back and not have even attempted to take on the aforementioned couple of defenders if he was further back field and in a closed down circumstance. The problem is i think OX has recognized this failing and has even spoken about it, highlighting his conversations and advice he is now getting from Henry on that very subject matter, however the results on the pitch aren’t working. He doesn’t advance with purpose and penetration enough when the team is in an offensive state of play and then when we are in a defensive mode he now stays much further up the field for a lot longer than he used to, only sprinting back when the other team really encroaches into danger areas in our half (pretty much like Theo does when on the wing). This then results in the same old lack of performance up front and now adds a decrease in performance in defensive duties also – its a wreck atm tbh. Crazy to say that because the last couple of seasons OX was right up there in my estimation as one of the players who would track back, get stuck in, win balls back and generally provide some needed energy down the wing. This new shift in his wing play development is a real step back in my opinion but all is not lost (for me anyway) as this is not the position i want him to take up in the future anyway.

    On the left wing cutting in would probably suit him better but if we are seriously looking for a back-up that is in the same mould as Sanchez, with the silky moves, turns, flick and tricks then i just don’t feel OX has this level of comfortability on the ball that a Sanchez or Cazorla has. If i was looking for a 23 year old candidate for that role then I would have someone totally different in mind – more on that later 🙂

    I can think of some better candidates in that CAM role as well which leaves only one position really available (luckily its the one i want to see him in);

    Box to box midfielder next to the DM, OX to me just screams Arturo Vidal potential – he has the same body type, same speed, same aggression (well used to before this season), same drive for getting forward, he has a cracking shot on him also. Every time he has been played in that position (AC Milan, Galatasary, Newcastle) he has excelled, every time he is asked he says he would like his future to be in CM and even when Wenger was asked the boss said he saw OX’s future in the CM. Everybody seems to think Vidal is a DM but he’s nothing like any DM i have ever seen play, he’s a quick, strong, attack minded box to box midfielder that simply happens to be good in the tackle and aggressive. For me arsenal could easily mould OX into this type of player especially considering his age – don’t forget Coquelin’s career didn’t start at all until he was 24 and he had reassessed what he was going to be within the team 🙂

    I know we have got used to the silky moves of players like Cazorla in that CM role and that the player most like him to take up this position in the future would be Jack but i also feel theres a lot to be gained from having that type of Vidal-esque option available in the midfield.

    Add a 22 and 23 year old looking to move away from Madrid to our reserve squad and some high quality experienced competition for Le Coq at DM in the first team and we are sorted imo 🙂

    First team

    ————————–Gir / cott————————–
    —————–Cazorla———-L. Bender————–
    Ospina – second choice keeper

    Reserve team (all younger)

    —————–The OX———-Le Coq——————

    Arteta, Flamini, Rosicky, Debuchy and Campbell moved on soon

    Well a man can dream can’t he 🙂

  • Would we actually have enough money to get those three players?

    Lars Bender
    Raphaël Varane

    how much would that little lot set you back lol

  • Excellent comment, F11 🙂

    Ox to Ox in the box to box – or Oxy in the boxy boxy – is an interesting shout. Does he have the calm and control and the passing ability to do this in a static situation? I can see it work during turnarounds, especially if he were to improve on his final ball, but not sure whether he would have the intelligence, vision and passing ability when we have to make play…

  • Did someone mention Isco ?………………………….BOING !……………….it`s the tracking device in my knob ! hahaha

    Great stuff, Totes !. I`m not pissed off with the result, just the injuries !. Fair do`s to Arsene, he has admitted he made a mistake in playing too many first team squad players and our great chance of winning the EPL this season will fall firmly at his feet if our injury curse stops us winning it !.
    If you look on the BBC website, you will see that Arsenal have a squad of 30 players and surprisingly Manshafter Std have only 24, Chavs 26 and Mansour City 29.
    I don’t know the details of them bastards youth or injured, but out of Arsenal`s 30 we have 8 experienced players injured, 6 youth players of no experience and 1 player who does not cut it imo ( Campbell)……….disturbingly that leaves currently with only 15 decent players for the next 3 games before the international break.
    What does all this mean ?……………..basically, not buying any outfield quality players in the summer TW will possibly come back and bite Arsene`s arse big time !…… 3 weeks will be Alamo football stress of the highest order !……………….I need a bigger Sofa !.

  • Yes, a man can dream… 😀 But I think that dream is the idea that every Continental player who has arrived at the very pinnacle of the (Continental) game wants to play in the wet and the cold and in a league where every match is hell for leather (and shinbones) and the refs have had a full pint not just a can(y)a or a tubo before the match. In some parts of Spain, the beers are extra small because you still get a tapa with them… 😀

    In the end it’s all about salary (and promotional add ons) and playing at Real Madrid is in a totally different league than playing at Arsenal, unfortunately. Let’s not forget that City, United and Chelsea can always top any salary offer Kroenke and his managers might offer by some 50% (minimum). Lars Bender (injury record and all) might be at about the right level but seems to have an injury record that is almost Rosicky-esque…

    The comment about the Ox, however, I enjoyed very much…and it actually makes a lot of sense… 🙂

    That said, my observation would be that Vidal works at a much slower pace (as he’s afforded in those other leagues) and reserves his ability to move into his top gear for special moments. I just wonder if the Ox has the mentality to vary his pace (of play) in such a manner. That’s why it’s really sad we didn’t see him get the chance on Tuesday and makes a good argument for allowing younger players to develop at lesser clubs where the pressures aren’t quite the same.

    Time will tell on this one but we’ve got to hope Ox can get fit and into form sooner than later, I would guess….

  • Uh oh, Cockie Simulpost…We must be on the same island… Stay away from my wife, eh… 😀

    Indeed, sofa time could be the trick. I’m more hopeful (of course) and we just have to do like my Kilt and Clog wearing friend says and pray to Oh Gaat… Get a result at Swansea, hold our noses (with our hands in the prayer position…) on the trip to Germany and then take on the Syrups…

    Who are they?… That Kane fellow will be bald by the time he’s Giroud’s age, same as that Eriksen guy… Stop them with a little Kos and Coq combs (and a bit of that Santi cresta) and it’s really not such a worry. In fact, when it comes to the hair business there’s only one team in North London…

    It’s all quite sad, really…

  • hahaha great minds think alike aye you two lol:

    Does he have the calm and control and the passing ability to do this in a static situation?

    HT (while talking about calmness and slower in control):
    I just wonder if the Ox has the mentality to vary his pace (of play) in such a manner

    Yep couldn’t agree more with those questions you raised and to be honest its almost impossible to answer since every time he receives the ball he’s going hell for leather or being closed down by two or three guys, calmness and control hasn’t been a big part of his game so far.
    Although if my memory serves there have been a few instances when he has been in the position to play a central provider role and his passes and control have been pretty assured.

    He’s never going to match the control of a two footed magician like Santi but he does bring other qualities to the table.
    Unfortunately like HT mentioned i just don’t see him getting a chance to develop there in any kind of capacity especially now the Carling cup run is over, maybe the FA cup but we take that quite seriously these days.

    lol – “it actually makes a lot of sense… 🙂 ”
    Yep for once HT lol, i must find a way to disagree with you soon as all this like mindedness i seemed to have had recently just doesn’t suit me – maybe when Jack starts to nudge his way back into the team i can start bringing up his inclusion over Santi or Ozil, that should get the ball rolling (seems too far away though).
    Also good point about the pace of that Italian league Vidal came up through – slightly different over here lol.

    TA, wouldn’t you pay money to see an OX Coq penetrating the oppositions rear 🙂 🙂

    And Cockie me old rectal ranger good to hear from you again and right there with you on the Isco arousal. could you imagine a line up with Santi, Wilshere, Isco and Sanchez in it – the unstoppable midgets!! 🙂

  • Ox seems unaware of tactical spaces when he is without the ball. When he is with the ball he plays with his face down. That means poor vision. With his huge talent and mentality, he’ll be up there with the best if can overcome these two limitations. Meanwhile for the Swansea match, push Bellerin up and bring in Debuchy at right back. Giving his (Deb) form before the injuries, I feel he will brush up quickly with more game time. With so much injuries, its time to get inventive.

  • “if you can only play well in one position…you are not going to succeed at Arsenal”

    Very interesting comment TA! I agree with you if the concept of a player succeeding at Arsenal is defined by the number of first team appearances he makes. But if success is defined by the number of cups and titles the player contributes to Arsenal winning, I think that concept of a player needing to be a ‘jack of all trade master of none’ is at the root of Arsenal’s lack of success over the past decade.

    The inherent problem with that concept of ‘jack of all trades master of none’ is that it fails to pragmatically acknowledge each position in a team’s system of play requires the player occupying the position to have a particular skill set and attributes that optimise the performance of each individual positions which in turn makes the team’s system of play work effectively.

    That’s why I’m a big believer that Arsenal maintaining its continuity of playing style from match to match is crucial to the team performing consistently. Practically that means identifying the necessary skill set and attributes of each position within Arsenal’s playing system (whatever Wenger chooses that to be), deploying the player with the skill set and attribute that match the position and acquiring suitable squad depth in each individual position which can be drawn upon in the event of an injury or a need to rest a player with superior suitability to a particular position.

    It is something that I think Arsenal are getting better at but at the same time appear to be making the same mistakes with the likes of Ox, Wilshere, Welbeck, Arteta, Flamini, Campbell and Rosicky.

  • Interesting comment Fredster 🙂

    I have had too much wine and Aberlour with our fine fellow blogger 17HT and lovely family to respond to you meaningfully, but tomorrow, like 17HT famous fellow statesman would say, I’ll be back! 🙂

    Sleep well FFGs – next up are the Jacks! 🙂

  • Le Coqster 🙂

    It would have been good if Arsene had added a quality player this summer, but he could be injured now too…. money cannot buy you luck.. 🙂

    Re the squad size…. OGAAT OGAAT. We will cross every bridge when we come to it! 😉

  • Flo8,

    Apologies for my late reply.

    My thoughts on the coming game, less the injured lads:

    Bellerin, Per, Kos, Nacho
    Santi, Coq
    Flams, Ozil, Alexis

    As the rest were just not good enough or injured, i have to put the same team here and for our midweek match.

    Stay injury free guys


  • Ok, now my take on the hot topic.

    For Ox, he is more like Theo, good out wide and cutting in, rather than a b2b player. Too bad he is out injured, if not he will be on my teamsheet this week, but not for the midweek match.

    So, getting ready for the match against the Swans?


  • Hey JK,

    I like your proposed line up.

    On reflection I would like to see that line up deployed versus Swansea and Spurs, with the below line up used against Bayern in midweek.

    GK: Cech
    RB: Debuchy
    CB: Chambers
    CB: Gabriel
    LB: Gibbs
    CM: Coquelin
    CM: Santi
    RW: Flamini
    CAM: Ozil
    LW: Sanchez
    CF: Campbell

    The above is obviously a weaker side than one containing Bellerin, Kos, Per, Monreal and Giroud. But I think with the extent of injuries Arsenal have at present (7 out of their top 22 players), playing the same side for three matches in a week (two of which are away fixtures) is a recipe for more injuries. As such I think Arsenal need to prioritise which competition, the Champions League or Premier League, is more important and rest what players they can in the other fixture(s). For me, I think Arsenal should focus on the Premier League and play the above listed line up versus Bayern.

  • Hi flo8,

    The reason why we lost 3 goals is due to Debuchy and Gibbs playing. If we deploy debuchy we will get overpowered on the wings by a combination of douglas costa and Arturo Vidal.

    No way they will play.


  • 84, that’s how I see it for Swansea.

    Steve, Tottenham play Anderlecht next Thursday, so I think we can go with a stronger line-up in Munich…
    Campbell at c/f vs the Jerries is an interesting option…

  • Um i think my comments on Debuchy and Gibbs is too harsh.. but i would not bet on them to play against the top team in the world. Look at how they dismantled their opposition after their loss last week.

    I wanted to put 2 weeks ago but realised it is only a week.. oh well,,,

    Maybe gibbs can play this weekend.
    Nacho is a little overworked IMO


  • Love the talk of Ox being a CM, he definitely has the potentialand skill set needed to excel there. But, as I’ve probably said before, where does the other more natural CMs go? Santi is in his early thirties, and looking at our squad, Wilshere is the most likely to succeed him, provided he isn’t injured again. Rambo also wants to play in the centre. So I can hardly see a future in CM for Ox.

    Saying that, I have an interesting proposal. What if Jack is moved to RW? He played there in the last 2 games of last season and really impressed me. He was basically putting in a Messi-esque performance. Could it work out? He provides a balance to Alexis compared to when Ox plays on the RW. With Ox you had a dynamic midfielder on the wing, with a high tendency to lose possession. With Alexis doing the same on the other flank, albeit with a much better end product. So when Ox and Alexis were playing, you had a high chance of losing the ball many,many times during a match. If Wilshere moves to the right flank, he would provide accurate long range passes and he WILL keep possession better than Ox. As a matter of fact, that is probably his best trait. Keeping possession. It was also a fact that was noticed by Xavi himself. Jack,at his best, has the acceleration needed to make it work out. A good dribbler, good at keeping possession,good accelaration, a deadly left foot…. Doesn’t it remind you of a certain Lionel Messi?

    And for the Swansea game, I see Campbell playing on the flank. Though maybe Bellerin can play as our RW with Debuchy as our RB? Unlikely, though I would love to see it.

  • Shrillex,

    Bells playing on the right wing might not be a tall order, maybe debuchy switching with him during the game will make it more fun.

    Jack playing in the right wing may not be a tall order too, as he is not able to play in his preferred spot for a while, as everyone will be back when he is fit.

    Apparently he can strike it out if his injuries are not common. Theo is another super calibre but beset by injuries.

    TA/17ht, we are looking forward to the preview.


  • FL08 wrote:

    Very interesting comment TA! I agree with you if the concept of a player succeeding at Arsenal is defined by the number of first team appearances he makes. But if success is defined by the number of cups and titles the player contributes to Arsenal winning, I think that concept of a player needing to be a ‘jack of all trade master of none’ is at the root of Arsenal’s lack of success over the past decade.

    The inherent problem with that concept of ‘jack of all trades master of none’ is that it fails to pragmatically acknowledge each position in a team’s system of play requires the player occupying the position to have a particular skill set and attributes that optimise the performance of each individual positions which in turn makes the team’s system of play work effectively.

    Freddie 🙂

    If a player can only play in one position, he really is not that good in most cases. Football has moved on and there are not many traditional, well-defined, and clearly allocated positions left, other than GK and CB. All other positions at Arsenal have changed, and will continue to change, a lot. If you can only defend in midfield, you will not make it at Arsenal; if you can only defend as a full back, you will not make it; if you can only attack as a winger, you will not make it; if you can only run and dribble with the ball, you will not make it, etc etc.

    If Ox can only be successful in a narrowly defined role that suits his qualities, he will not make it. Players do not need to be jack of all trades, but within our fluid formation and playing style they cannot afford to be pure specialists anymore. We are in need of more complete players, who can play different roles within the same match, depending on where they are on the pitch and what is required of them. Those that can adapt and grow their skillset will survive, and those who do not will not make it. Look at Arsene’s recent purchases: Santi can play as box to box and in the hole, he is also quite comfortable on the wing (despite a lack of speed); Sanchez can do almost everything and play everywhere, Ozil can play everywhere behind the striker – from wing to nr10 -…

    The main reason we did not win anything till two years ago was our inability to hold on to our top players and to recruit top quality players. This has now changed and that is why Arsene has started to win silverware again and beat our direct components on a regular basis. And the multi-functionality and general quality of our players are a big part of this. 🙂

  • Shrillex and JK, the problem is Santi, he has fucking spoiled us with his adjustment into the CM role and his performances since being there. If you took him out of the equation say a couple of seasons ago when he was languishing out on the wing, Ozil was CAM (as he is now) and Ramsey was the CM next to Arteta the DM, then the situation looks a lot easier when concerning recommendations for support.

    The CAM position needs to be filled by an intricate passer and a guy who has a very high technical ability on the ball, apart from Ozil only Wilshere fills the requirements for this role (remember removing Santi from the equation atm).

    The box to box CM position needs a high energy, high tempo guy who can drive forward and track back proficiently, reasonable level of passing and then pace would be a bonus (we seem to have a higher percentage than most teams of attacks against us initiated on the break – probably because we are in high possession in the other teams half more than most other teams) this pace is a massive bonus when trying to track back to stem a counter attack and support the DM. Ramsey encapsulated this skill set when he was there on a regular basis those couple of seasons ago and indeed had his best season ever at the club there, the candidate that fills all those qualities in a younger less experienced guy to have in reserve is most definitely the OX.


    It has now all become fucked up lol, Santi said fuck this i hate it out here on the wing (just like every center midfielder Wenger has ever put out there) and thought i’m making that CM spot mine. In doing so he changed the balance of that CM from containing box to box dynamism to having midfield maestro magic as the driving force. The goals from that area decreased but the quality of the football and plays developed from midfield increased.
    Now we are so used to this awesome talent pulling the strings in midfield we take it for granted and automatically require his stand in have the same abilities so therefore Wilshere becomes the obvious choice here.

    I hope you can see what im getting at lol
    Santi has ruined everything by being just too damn good lol – now Ramsey is out on the right wing lol, that’s how good lol.

    If you went back a couple of season to when Ramsey in the box to box mold ruled the roost tell me OX wouldn’t have been a strong candidate to support him in reserve. Now like you say its not so simple and he has Ramsey and Jack both ahead of him there – very difficult.

  • TA, i really disagree with that last comment bud.
    I think you are confusing footballing abilities with roles within the team.

    Take Monreal (just one of numerous examples), like you say he is a defender he but he doesn’t just defend he goes forward well in attack, he can pass well etc etc – he’s a very well rounded footballer.
    Does that mean he should ever be placed in the CM position – no
    Attacking midfielder out on the wing – no
    As striker – no

    His attributes are many but his role is very clearly defined as a singular option (maybe as an absolute emergency extended to include CB)

    Cazorla, a central midfield player, skills, trickery, protects the ball, tackles and passes etc
    Extremely well rounded footballer – where has he played his footy? In the middle
    The season he had out on the wing he fucking hated it and his performance dropped – he could fill that position because as you say he has all the attributes and abilities of a complete footballer but that is definitely not his role within the team and once moved back centrally this time from CAM to a deeper CM position he has excelled once again.

    Don’t get me started on Ozil out on the wing and contrast that to how is playing now in the CAM position.

    Coquelin for crying out loud, i don’t think i have ever seen a clearer set of instructions followed on a pitch to create an individual role within a team. Get in there, break stuff up, win the ball and make a simple pass to Cazorla – job done. But what about lovely passing like Arteta boss, can’t i do that? NO be a fucking DM break stuff up and pass it on. Simple role, well defined role – amazing results.
    Do i want Coquelin playing as the box to box midfielder – no, does Wenger – NO
    attacking winger? – NO

    Just because our players are multifaceted in their abilities and attributes does not mean their roles when placed in a team are. Their strongest attributes from the list are identified, singled out and exploited to their full potential through the position (role) they play in within the team.

    Basically a team full of:
    Jack of all trades master of One

    Thats the way i see it anyway.

  • TA, am in complete agreement with you. The modern trend is the development of the universal player. Even goalkeepers now need to be good foot technicians, to be able to pass out the ball from the rear and also act as the sweeper of the team. The FIFA Coach of the Century Rinus Michels changed the game with his Total Football philosophy. There is so much movements and interchanges during play that a player just has to be a jack of many trades and master of quite a few. A few teams epitomize this modern trend. Arsenal happens to be one of them. Aguero is generally accepted as the top striker in the league because he is a striker as well as a full fledged midfielder when you factor in his repertoire of skills.

    Ox needs to expand his game. Just running with the ball, is the long ball philosophy in a new guise, only worse because it is energy sapping. Notice that whenever he starts a game he must, almost without fail, be substituted later in the game. By 70 minutes he is already spent and liable to errors. Forced substitution is a liability to the team because it has denied an opportunity for a tactical change.

    If Ox can expand his game, then his runs become the icing on the cake.

  • Why not, i’m sure this would be fun to watch lol:


  • TA:
    “If Ox can only be successful in a narrowly defined role that suits his qualities, he will not make it.”
    Ozil has only been successful in a narrowly defined role that suits his qualities no.10 (CAM), both he and his performances weren’t best pleased out there on the wing and that is the only other position i have ever seen him in – does that mean he will not make it?

  • F11,

    I was responding to a comment made to me by FL08. Unless you are FL08 as well, I’d rather keep this discussion between him and me.

    The only thing I want to say is that you look at positions and roles far too static, as per your tendency to see the game in formations. All players you mentioned can play successfully in more than one position, and they do so continuously, even though they might start in a certain position. Ozil might start in the hole but is often most effective when playing on the wing; Sanchez might start on the wing but is often in the CF position etc etc. Where they start does not matter so much anymore: it s about fluency and having the skills and quality to be effective in a number of areas and situations on the pitch.

  • PE wrote:
    ‘There is so much movements and interchanges during play that a player just has to be a jack of many trades and master of quite a few’

    Bang on the money! And nice to see you make a reference to the Generaal!

  • Hey JK,

    I think it’s a bit harsh to criticise Debuchy or Gibbs for the goals Arsenal conceded versus Sheffield Wednesday. The first goal was due to poor tracking back from Campbell and poor positional play from our central midfield duo when the cross came in. The second was because of poor zonal defending namely by Per on a set piece. And the third was due to poor marking by Flamini on a set piece.

    On top of that Gibbs and Debuchy have had next to no first team football this season due to a lack of structured rotation amongst the squad. That is going to invariably impact on the players’ ability to perform at their optimum level when they are eventually called on.

    That said, you are probably right that if Arsenal were to rest the likes of Bellerin, Kos, Per, Monreal and Giroud for the Bayern match Arsenal will lose the match. But for me if it means those players are fresh and Arsenal can secure victories against Swansea and Spurs without anymore injuries, then a loss versus Bayern would be worth it.

    Like you say though, that won’t happen. The same 11 players, with Campbell on the right wing, will play against Swansea, Bayern and Spurs. I just hope that doesn’t result in dropped points versus Swansea or Spurs or more injuries amongst Arsenal’s top 22 players.

  • Flo8,

    I will prefer a rotation of Campbell and Flams, Flams playing this weekend and next weekend, Campbell in midweek.

    I am a little scared of more injuries as they make us already low on resources.


  • Um guys,

    Do you think we have a chance in midweek? After losing in our match last week midweek, Bayern have gone on to win 2 games and drew the latest one.

    Some good news for our lads?


  • Hey TA,

    I’m happy to agree to disagree on this issue. I love the posts you and 17’s put together on all things Arsenal. They’re always very topical and interesting to read and the forum you’ve created makes it enjoyable to share my thoughts.

    Keep up the great work and I’ll keep on commenting! 😊

  • Hey JK,

    As much as I would like to see Flamini deployed in Ramsey’s right wing position, I don’t see it actually happening given Arsene’s most recent comments on who will fill that spot:

    “My short-term option is Campbell or one more defensive midfielder like [Mathieu] Flamini, and put [Santi] Cazorla out on the flank.”

    If they are to the two options Wenger is contemplating, I would prefer to see Campbell on the right wing than the Coquelin/Cazorla central midfield partnership broken up.

  • Hi Flo8,

    Did you remember me talking about Flams in a double pivot with Le Coq, then for Santi to be deployed on the right? Hm.. Wenger or his team is reading this blog…..

    Compared to Campbell it is better that way, as double pivots have traditionally been working well for us.

    I am for the double pivot, and the chances from the deep would not be broken as Flams can be the playmaker too.


  • Spot on FLO8. The CoCa pairing is the new conquering Arsenal. We can tinker elsewhere as long as we leave that pairing inviolate! Our prayer is that there be no injuries there. Wenger should think hard to find ways to keep the pair ever fresh. Maybe with substitutions whenever we are cruising.

    Creative ball circulation which gives the Arsenal play its character and which is central to its effectiveness, has as its epicenter the Ozil, Carzola, Ramsey trinity. With any missing, the right replacement could have come from only one of Wilshere, Rosicky, Welbeck. With these out, injured, and Ox not available, to me any number can then win ; Campbell, Flamini, Iwobi, even Chambers. Bellerin up front with Debuchy behind is yet another number. We just have to throw the dice for the coming three matches!

  • 😄 Certainly do JK!

    I’m not convinced though about Flamini or Ramsey for that matter in a central midfield role alongside Coquelin. Whilst both provide the side with an excellent goal scoring threat when deployed there (due to their evident instinctive goal scoring ability and a natural tendency to make unchecked runs into the opposition’s box) I don’t think either have the discipline (like Santi has demonstrated) to curb those attacking instincts in order to genuinely support Coquelin when the team is defending. In the past when Ramsey partnered Arteta, Ramsey was excellent going forward but frequently isolated Arteta leading to the team conceding goals on the counter attack.

    Whilst I think Coquelin is a better central defensive midfielder that Arteta I fear the same thing will happen if Ramsey or Flamini is deployed next to him in central midfield.

    For me, Santi’s natural replacement and/or competition in that central midfield role alongside Coquelin is Wilshere. Beyond that it’s another ’round peg in a square hole’ solution.

  • Flo8,

    For me, Flams goes upfield when really necessary and does a better job in defense than any other AMs.

    In his first stint, he covered in the left back position for a few games and rarely put a foot wrong there.

    It will be good to see him playing for us on the right wing, so that the Coqzorla partnership gets retained. To close the game swap Santi and Flams.


  • It is okay to disagree, Freddie. You made your points very well and that is what it is all about. If we can subsequently agree, even better of course, but it is about fair and well argued debate, and that is what you add to Bergkampesque. 🙂

  • Re our options in the absence of Ramsey on the right wing, I reckon we will see Campbell start against the Jacks and Bellerin, ahead of Debuchy, against Bayern. Against the Germans we will need speed to escape the pressure and with Giroud in the mix and him and Ozil combining and battling to regain the ball, we need outlets: Sanchez on the left and Bellerin on the right. And once we can release either player the rest can get themselves into the D-area and even into the box to pounce on our turnover. Bayern’s Lederhosen are full of doodoo anticipating this… 🙂

  • TA, I like your ideas, especially the one with Bellerin ahead of Debuchy for the Munich game as I’ve also mentioned it before quite recently. I was thinking though, for the Munich game, why not start Reine-Adelaide? Honestly think he’s a more attractive option than Campbell, Santi , Iwobi and even Bellerin on the right wing. I think Bells HAS to play at RB in Munich. He’s the only one capable of stopping D.Costa atm. Debuchy has been out of the picture for a while and doesn’t have the form needed to cope with Costa. He probably won’t start against the match against the Swans cause he just returned from the Under-17 WC but I hope he’ll feature against Bayern. I would love to hear your opinion on the matter

  • Hi Shrill 🙂

    How is life treating you? Are you now at university?

    I have not seen much of R–A, so cannot comment. I reckon, we will play mostly in our half and very tight, so Bellerin would operate very close to Debuchy and would offer great additional cover for Debuchy. The latter is still a good and intelligent FB and I would trust him to play really well. But it is soooo important to have real speed on both wings and Bellerin now also has the confidence to not be overwrought by the occasion, which is likely to be the case with R-A.

  • Hey Pony,

    The Coquelin/Cazorla central midfield partnership does seem to work very effectively. A lot of that, in my view, comes down to both players demonstrating the discipline to prioritising their defensive duties over their attacking instincts and use their passing skills to help initiate attacks as opposed to physically advancing forward. Full credit to both of them. The slightly worrying aspect is who in the squad can provide those two players with competition?

    For Santi only Wilshere seems to have a comparable skill set and attributes, though I still have some questions about whether he is disciplined enough to prioritising the defensive duties required of that position over their attacking instincts and whether he is willing to use his passing skills to help initiate attacks as opposed to physically advancing forward. I don’t consider that Ramsey, Flamini, Ox, Rosicky, Ozil or even Arteta have the requisite skill set and attributes to suitably perform the central midfield position Santi is currently occupying.

    The internal competition within Arsenal top 22 players for the position Coquelin is occupying is even more threadbare. Arteta, despite his absolutely fantastic off the field and dressing room influence on the squad, has regressed enormously on the field. Glen Kamara, who isn’t even in Arsenal’s senior squad, is the only player in the club’s senior and under 21 side that comes even close to possessing a comparable skill set and attributes to Coquelin and that’s mainly due to his discipline to prioritise defence over attack. Some might point to Hayden and Bielik as potential options but from what I’ve seen of both thus far they too have a tendency to physically advancing forward as oppose to pass when in possession. It’s a situation I hope the club addresses in the January transfer window.

    That’s why I’m a big believer that Arsenal maintaining its continuity of playing style from match to match is crucial to the team performing consistently. Practically that means identifying the necessary skill set and attributes of each position within Arsenal’s playing system (whatever Wenger chooses that to be), deploying the player with the skill set and attribute that match the position and acquiring suitable squad depth in each individual position which can be drawn upon in the event of an injury or a need to rest a player with superior suitability to a particular position.

    In the meantime, it’s fingers crossed both players an stay fit and healthy, which is far from an ideal approach.

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