Koz and Alexis injuries cost us two points | Cech won us one

Norwich – Arsenal Match Review

Two points lost or one gained… that is the question. We all were desperate for three points after the loss against West Brom, but I guess in the long run we will still be pleased with the one point. Reality is the team looked knackered, especially in the second half, and there was not much more to get from the Canaries. In fact, towards the end of the game it looked like we would end up losing it: only a superb one handed stop by Cech prevented wat looked like a certain (own) goal, and, luckily, Norwich did not have their shooting boots on.

I thought we played well in the first half and Ozil’s goal was as fabulously executed as Alexis’ super-quick and extremely well measured assist. We had been the better team by far, with fine combination football – from the left wing especially – and deserved to be in front. The ridiculously looking pink-socked and red-booted Ruddy kicked out the ball wildly to Sanchez, but it was Alexis and Mesut’s quick, intuitive thinking and running that undid the Norwich defence and sorry looking Norwich goalkeeper.

Unfortunately, we did not have the usual energy and killer-instinct to score a second one quickly after that, and we were punished for this before the first half was over. The rusty looking Ramsey was simply passed aside by the impressive Brady and there was no DM shield in front of the defence; Gabriel, who had come on for Koz early in the game, had not been paying attention and found himself on the wrong side of Grabban all of a sudden; and some further weak defending allowed the Norwich CF to take a few touches and pass the ball past the onrushing Cech and into the middle the goal. A bad goal to concede and all the good work of the first half was undone in just a flash.

In the second half we did okay for about 20 minutes or so, but then we started to wither very quickly: misplaced passes, one on ones were no longer won, lack of collective pressure on the ball, etc. This, for me, was epitomised by the significant drop in form of Nacho Monreal: in the first half he was faultless and a huge force going forward, but in the second half he looked jaded and his balls into the box lacked accuracy and belief. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, Sanchez had to go off after sixty minutes and Campbell came on: our collective level dropped significantly after this and it became quickly clear that we needed a small miracle to fly all the three points back to London.

Throughout the whole game we were not able to involve Giroud in our attacks, which is a bit of a worry. Towards the end we decided to put a lot of crosses into the box towards him but to no effect: he looked knackered and lacked sharpness and the Norwich defence dealt easily with him (and there was not much support for him in the box either).

I reckon the team did well to hold on to the point in the end, and a week’s rest will do them good to recharge the batteries for two key games: home against Sunderland in the PL and away to Olympiakos in Athens for the CL.

Away games after intensive CL games are seldom easy, and losing both Koz and Alexis during the game, whilst Ramsey’s road to full game fitness and awareness is once again taking time, proved too much for us. Campbell and the Ox tried but just do not have the quality to fill the holes left by Alexis’ departure and Ramsey’s lack of form. Oh how we miss the likes of Rosicky, Wilshere, Theo and possibly Welbeck on days like these.

We are just two points behind the leaders and all other direct competitors also dropped two points, so it was not too bad after all given the large number of injuries. The boys gave their all and that is all we can ask for.

Win the next two games and we are back on track again: simple as that.

We are The Arsenal!

By TotalArsenal.

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24 Responses to Koz and Alexis injuries cost us two points | Cech won us one

  1. FLO8 says:

    As I said in my previous comment definitely 2 pts dropped versus Norwich. The way in which Arsenal physically broken down as the match wore on was alarming. I know injuries are evidentially playing their part and not much can be done about the accidents on the training ground which claimed Wilshere and Rosicky but I can’t help but think that had a structured and systematic squad rotation system been put in place at the start of the season (and a suitably skilled and physically able alternative to Coquelin was purchased) the likes of Mertesacker, Koscielny, Coquelin, Sanchez, Ramsey, Walcott wouldn’t have broken down at different times; the likes of Ospina, Debuchy, Chambers, Gabriel, Gibbs, Flamini and Ox would be more confident and better equipped to perform more effectively when called upon; and Arsenal would be able to produce better on field performances.

    I’m envisaging fitness problems for Bellerin, Mertersacker (again) and Monreal shortly as a consequence of a lack of rotation. More of a concern though is Cazorla and Ozil who are evidently in that infamous “red zone” and their two most natural replacements Wilshere and Rosicky are long term absentees.

    Arsenal were so close to being able to mount a serious title challenge this season and it appeared as though Arsene was finally positioning players in on field roles within Arsenal’s playing system that suited their skill set and attributes! But familiar problems in the form of a lack of structured squad rotation and ensuring suitable depth in that central defensive midfield role continued to prevent Arsenal from genuinely challenging.

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    I have responded to your views re rotation before, Freddie. In theory you have a point, but getting a quality first team together that can gel and get results week in week out is very hard. Once this is established, careful rotation can take place. We are not, and have not been, in a position to rotate as yet as we had big injuries from the start, especially in midfield.

  3. allezkev says:

    Thank you Total, a post with some perspective, which is sadly missing elsewhere in the Arsenal blog world…

    Important point regarding the absence of Coquelin.
    Losing him at the Hawthorns has definately been a major contributing factor in the 5 points we’ve recently dropped.
    Chambers played for the U21’s at Brighton this evening, with mixed results.
    But we won 2-1, the winner coming from young Dutchman, Malen…

  4. allezkev says:

    That is, Chambers played def/mid…

    According to Physioroom.com, Koscielny, Gibbs and Walcott could be available this weekend. Not sure about Theo tbh, but fingers crossed.

  5. njk84sg says:

    AK,

    If I am Wenger, I would not risk Theo this weekend.
    I will start both Rambo and Ox on the wings, and depending on the injury to Santi, pair him with Flams.
    Without Santi, Flams can rule the midfield, but we need our Alexis back.
    Or else, put Campbell up front? For those PTB teams, we need a quicker forward.
    Not that Ollie is too slow or short, we need someone to crack open the defense like Theo do.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Cheers,
    JK

  6. allezkev says:

    Yeah, I agree with you 84…

    Maybe have Theo on the bench and give him 15/20 minutes at the end of the weekends game, depending on his fitness of course…

  7. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi folks, sorry to be out of the loop for a bit… Travel on Sunday and then ‘puter troubles (plus other priorities) yesterday… At least TA got a match review out even if he couldn’t find the magic 8 ball, i.e., the positives… (He got a couple in there and avoiding the list, I think, was probably for the best…)

    My wife and I went across the bay to San Francisco to watch with the Bay Area Gooners at Maggie McGarry’s in North Beach and got a parking spot right. out. front. Very nice. The crowd was strong and Mark, who started the whole thing about 8 years ago, told us you couldn’t even get into the place before the NLD. The Gooner brand is thriving in the hipper parts of Northern California, it seems…

    I didn’t think we started the game so well and (I thought) we looked slow moving the ball and Norwich looked pretty comfy letting us have it. Then Koscielny went down, uh oh. We did have a decent chance when Monreal did really well but Ozil couldn’t direct the fizzed pass on target. He made no mistake for the goal. Incredible vision from Alexis to find him with the pass, I thought. “More please,” I also thought…

    Instead, it pretty much went exactly the opposite direction and, in the end, TA is right, we were probably fortunate to get a point, thanks mainly to Cech being such a pro…

    Of the (very few) comments here, I think I’m most with AB. The situation seems really bad. A week ago, writing the match review from WBA, I called that one (and the injury to Le Coq) ‘strike two,’ If so, I think we’re now looking at strike three if not 4 and 5… Like TA says, it’s possible we could find a way to win these next couple of matches AND the rest of the league is less than convincing. Still, things look grim heading into December.

    Ozil and Giroud will have to keep playing and will have to come up with some goals too. Ramsey will have to fill in for Santi and get in on the goals/assists as well. The Ox couldn’t do the basic stuff during his cameo in Norwich. Will he do better if given more minutes? I hope so, given that Campbell is all effort and very little product. I love you MatFlam, but geez fella, if a guy is in the box and the ball is anywhere near him you cannot run through him as if he is made of air. Finally, let’s hope Gabriel wasn’t “good as always,” (JK’s comment…) To me, he was very poor on the goal, almost scored an own goal (assuming other players had beaten him to the ball) and not much help for Nacho on our left side. Hopefully some time together on the practice pitch iron things out. (Bellerin and whoever–Ox?–plays on the right, will need to do better than he and Rambo did…) Or maybe Kos’ injury was nothing. To me, it looks like he’s suffering from some complex back issues which could be career ending or at least require surgery and the rest of the season off…

    FL08 has some interesting ideas about 2 players at each position and better rotation. Unfortunately, I think we’re not that sort of club (i.e., patently unwilling to spend crazy money for a shadow squad)… Instead we rely on younger, unproven and older “last legs” players who now will be getting chances. Can they step up and into the spotlight or will it shine too brightly? I hope for the former but I fear (and think the smart money is on) the latter. If guys like Ox, Campbell, Gabriel and Flamini (and maybe also Chambers, Debuchy and Gibbs) cannot do well in their roles against Sunderland, Olympiakos and Aston Villa those might be the sorts of clubs we should be selling them to…

    So, I fear we’re over the tipping point, though I’m sure I’ll conjure some hope by the time the next preview needs to be written… After all, one at a time is the only way to take them. In turn, however, they will all be must wins…and Olympiakos is a must win by two goals, lol… If not, we’re looking at real trouble and a (fairly) massive makeover of the team in January, esp. if we’re facing some Thursday football…

    Sorry… 😦

  8. Nobody talking today? I didn’t mean to hog the stage… Honest…

    Also, I’m only speculating about LK6’s back issues based on my own troubles in that area. Fingers crossed, obviously. Tacoma Tim (7amkickoff) has a very good piece today on “speculation.” He also takes on the ‘value’ in predicting doom… Worth a read, I think…

    Happy Tuesday…

  9. allezkev says:

    Stoke, Everton and Man City into LCSF…

    That’s a couple more games for City to deal with and maybe a trip to Wembley.

  10. FLO8 says:

    I really liked Bellerin’s recent comments about Arsenal’s current situation being an opportunity for some of Arsenal’s academy players to be given a first team opportunity.

    As I’ve mentioned previously, prior to Arsenal’s first team squad being decimated by injuries it appeared as though Arsene was finally positioning players in on field roles within Arsenal’s playing system that suited their skill set and attributes (e.g. Ramsey and Walcott). Whilst injuries have decimated Arsenal’s depth in certain positions (e.g. the deep lying central midfield playmaker role, central defensive midfield role, wide striking role), rather than attempt to solve the issue by playing other first team squad members out of position (e.g. Flamini or Chambers in the CDM role, Ox in the wide striking role or repositioning Ramsey into central midfield), I would much prefer to see academy player with the requisite skill set and attributes to effectively perform in those positions being given an opportunity. For example, I would like to see Kamara given an extended run in the first team in Coquelin’s CDM role, Ox given an opportunity in the central striking role (with Giroud reverting to his super sub role), Crowley given an opportunity in Cazorla’s central midfield role, Campbell deployed in the wide striking role (albeit on the right flank).

    I don’t believe square pegs in round holes is the answer to Arsenal’s current dilemma.

  11. Having seen Kamara play–and thinking he was at least better than Iwobi, I couldn’t agree with you less… Sorry FL08… 😀 (Why no mention of Iwobi, btw?…)

    I gotta switch computers but I have more to say on this…

  12. 17highburyterrace says:

    OK, new ‘puter…

    Our most likely players who could *truly* fill a hole for us are out on loan and some are struggling to show their managers enough to justify game-time at those lower levels. I’m talking about Akpom and Hayden at Hull City, not to mention Sanogo at Ajax or Gnabry at WBA… The loan rules need to be reformed, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic (as we say over here…)

    Up there at Sheffield Wednesday, AW was accurate in saying that none of those guys were ready for *that* level, let alone the Premier league… Of all of them I saw on the night, Bielik looked the best and Bennacer looked OK for his age too… He’s tiny, of course, just like Kamara, so I’d think it’s an even bigger stretch for those two to look the part…

    Positions, for me, are starting points. We need 11 quality players on the pitch. Where was Gibbs the other day?… As poorly as I rate him, I think he might’ve been the better final sub (ahead of Campbell–Campbell at least is all effort–What about the really young fella, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, why didn’t AW go for him?…) But at least we had the Ox… Except that–even with all the power and skill he brings–his execution in match situations is almost never at the level required. He’s still young, however, and it may come together for him. We need it to happen soon…

    If you’re watching these guys and your takeaway is that they’re going to be truly class players and they just need first team action (right now…) then I will take your word on it, however. Please share…

    For every season that two players emerge from the deeper squad (Bellerin and Coquelin, last time) we will have plenty of seasons when nobody will… (That’s why people hunger for transfers…) Moreover, these younger players–no matter how good they are–will make mistakes which will cost us points. IMO, Gabriel cost us two points (and nearly three) while Bellerin was caught napping at the back and was only spared because Hoolahan volleyed over when he should have scored. IMO, Le Coq, going for a bad 50-50 (near the center circle, after his own giveaway) will cost us the most. We’re down to such bare bones that I want all our first 11 stepping out of such confrontations–and how do you win matches doing that?… That’s also a separate issue…Sorry…

    Players we haven’t seen are *always* better than those we know. Some prefer transfer targets, some prefer academy lads (some of whom, I’d argue, are too young to even KNOW what position is their best)…

    Again, if you’ve scouted them, I’m all ears…and I don’t mean to be overly strident here… I think we’re ALL grasping at straws (at least a bit)… and trying to find hope wherever we can… 😦

  13. njk84sg says:

    Guys,

    After the Canaries game i feel that we really have to dig really deep for the next 2 games.

    Without Alexis we are devoid of ideas. We need not only the midfielders to work their magic, but everyone including Giroud, our remaining centre forward. He has somehow tried hard but like the rest of the team, a little too hard.

    If we are to win the remaining games this year, we cannot just rely on Giroud. He keeps the ball well, yes, but other teams have seen through him and are rendering him useless in attack.

    Although he still scored some goals, he hasn’t reached his full potential against ptb teams.

    JK

  14. allezkev says:

    Rumours that Cazorla could be out for 3 months..!

    It’s not getting easier and might force Wenger to enter the market next month.
    Of course, our need for reinforcements will force up the asking price.
    It could be said, that that is the price you pay for not doing your business last summer…. 😟

  15. njk84sg says:

    Allezkev,

    It will get harder before it gets easier.

    Our next opponent is difficult now that we are lacking in depth.

    Cheers,
    JK

  16. FLO8 says:

    I fully respect your view 17 but respectfully disagree. I’ve watched a lot of Arsenal’s Under 18 and Under 21 matches over the last few seasons and Kamara has demonstrated that his strengths lye in his defensive discipline and awareness, mobility and tackling skills. Whilst his passing and dribbling skills are inferior to the likes of Ramsey, Flamini and Bielik and physically he is smaller than Chambers, Coquelin demonstrated last season that the player occupying the CDM role in Arernal’s system need offer limited offensive skills or physical size to effectively perform in that role. The critical skills the player filling that role need possess are effective defensive discipline and awareness, mobility and tackling skills – Kamara’s strengths. Whilst Coquelin’s skill set and attributes make him even more suitable to performing the CDM role in Arsenal’s system, Ramsey, Flamini and Bielik’s evident lack of defensive discipline and awareness and Chamber’s lack of mobility, means that Kamara arguably possesses the most suitable skill set and attributes to fulfil that role, of the fit and available options.

    Whilst I highly doubt Arsene will actually deploy Kamara in that role in the coming weeks given Arsene’s comments after the Shiefield Wednesday match and based upon how Arsene has historically managed the first team squad in the event of injuries, I think Arsene’s comments about the academy players after the Sheiffield Wednesday match was rash and an over reaction which I disagree with.

    To judge a player on one performance alone seems very harsh and unreasonable, in my opinion.

    As for Hayden, I think he is an interesting prospect but better suited to a CB role in Arsenal’s system than the CDM role due to a lack of mobility.

    In terms of Jeff, from what I have seen thus far, his skill set and attributes appear to align best with the requirements of the free wide role which Ramsey is currently occupying. That said, with Ramsey and, in my opinion, Flamini possessing more suitable skill sets and attributes for that role and both fit, I don’t envisage Jeff get many first team opportunties in the immediate future.

    As for Iwobi, I don’t honest believe his skill set and attributes suit any of Arsenal’s forward positions to be honest. A distinct lack of off the ball attacking movement in the Under 18s and Under 21s makes me think he is ill suited to the centre forward or wide striking role in Arsenal’s system. Whilst he has impressive close control, link play and has proven clinical in front of goal, his lack of off the ball attacking movement similarly makes him ill suited to the free wide role Ramsey currently occupies.

    In terms of Akpom, I regard him very much like I did Benik Afobe, very well suited to Arsenal’s centre forward role. But like Afobe I fear that he will simply not get the first team opportunities.

    Jon Toral, who is on loan at Birmingham, is also very impressive and I think very well suited to the free wide role in Arsenal’s system. Personally I see him taking Flamini’s spot in the team as Ramsey’s competition next season. Again though it’s an issue of effective squad rotation giving such players an opportunity. Based on history, I’m not confident that will occur and expect more square peg in round hole solutions (e.g. Gibbs as a left winger) to be forthcoming.

    I support the team nonetheless.

  17. allezkev says:

    Ainsley Maitland-Niles could well prove to be the best of the bunch.
    He plays regularly for Ipswich and is a very popular and well thought of, part of their promotion chasing team…
    Akpom I like, I’ve seen him play equally well across the front line and in the hole.
    I’m not sure he’s clinical enough and certainly not as good as Afobe in that regard.
    Good comments though…

  18. FLO8 says:

    Wholeheartedly agree with your Maitland-Niles comment Allezkev! Based on his performances particularly for the Under 21s in recent years I think he is well suited to that wide striking role which Sanchez currently occupies.

  19. Ab says:

    Just catching up after being off-line for couple of days. I’m not going to engage in the lines above around what we should or should not have done earlier in the season to avoid injuries – we are where we are, and need to plan our way out of it. Will this be through a spending splurge in January? I very much doubt it – though we could have further injury to cope with of course; just to cheer everyone up!

    With Santi out for a spell, my assumption is that Rambo gets a go in the centre alongside a nominated CDM. That looks more like a 4,1,4,1 than a 4,2,3,1 to my mind given Ramsey’s attacking preferences. Depending on how he fares we will see whether Jack gets a chance in there too whenever he comes back into contention. Who then plays alongside Rambo in the CDM? Flamini is in the seat at the moment. He can do a good job there as he has proved, but I’m not sure that his fitness will hold out long if played week in week out. There are reports that Arteta is back too. I’m not sure if this is confirmed, and would hope that Wenger looks to play either Flam or Teta, rather than the flamteta combination of a couple of years back, but he will want to try and get our captain some game time I’m sure.

    Further up, our obvious options look like Ox and Campbell on the flanks, unless a) we are forced to play Theo out wide, or b) one of the youngsters comes through. I’m more of an innate optimist around whether someone will come through than some others here – but I have no evidence on any individual to base this hope on! But looking back, Wenger’s crops have consistently delivered a number of stars – although not always the ones that seemed most predictable. Coq and Bell last year were nowhere near my list of high potential to be in the 1st team. Can Ox deliver now on all his huge potential, or will a Jeff suddenly come on? I can’t predict, but I remain very hopeful that someone will, and pretty soon.

    On a gloomier note, HT’s comments on Kos strike a chord with me. TA’s post of a couple of weeks ago around predicting the team for 2 years time made me reflect fully – though I never got to putting it down in writing. I ended up concluding that Kos was very doubtful to be in our regular starting line up in 2 years, and Gab is his replacement not his partner. Can Kos convert into a slower organiser type of CB? I doubt it. Chronic injury and slowing of his pace will rob us I fear before too long.

    To end on a positive. Jack should be back soon. Our injury crisis will mean we have spaces for him to fit into the team and hopefully play himself into the form we know he possesses. This has to be a good thing for both him and us. If we can work our way through the next few games without shipping too many points, then I think we could on for a ‘bounce’ as some of our younger established players with stuff to prove start coming back into our ranks. We are still only 2 points from the top and in a season still full of promise!

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    Good stuff, AB, and I’m pretty much fully agreed as my match preview will reflect. I too had to get away from the computer…too sad after hearing the news on Santi…

    Perhaps my earlier comment suggests I have zero faith in youth…NOT TRUE…Just that the odds are difficult and the pressures at Arsenal are so high that it’s really better (IMO) to wait until a kid actually has the physical (and mental) abilities in place…Otherwise, it’s lambs to the slaughter, though their sell-on price could go up, having played with the Arsenal first team… 😀 😦

    On that note, I REALLY want to thank FL08 for the long response with the deeper scouting report on the youngsters who might get a chance. In truth, you could easily turn it into a post. We will certainly be mulling over our January options and bringing back loan players seems more likely than a real splash of cash. That other list you wrote up about potential purchases should also be explored more fully.

    That said, I still think AW is less rigid in terms of players and positions and formations so it’s less about who can slot in where and who has the quality to contribute. Clearly he looks for footballing talent first when selecting players to buy… We have a team full of guys who grew up as #10s… It’s not a bad thing, IMO…

    Ramsey has been effective on the right but surely must be relishing his chance in the middle of the pitch. Ox, I believe, was thinking the same and probably pushed himself to play when he should’ve bowed out in that (fateful?…) Cap One Cup up in Sheffield. It was his night (finally…) to pull the strings as our #10, after all… What a shame…

    This brings up a point…AW and our physios probably need to do a better job forcing players to sit out. Players like Alexis (last weekend) and Ox (up in Sheffield) will ALWAYS say “I’m good” even if they’re not. (Even little Santi played on through ligament damage…) Sometimes we really need a cooler head to see the longer term implications if things go badly. AW is an optimist, however, AND he believes in the intelligence of his players. Sometimes too much, maybe…

    That belief, I think, will be tested to the limits over these next few matches. As much as Flamini and Ramsey will have to do a job in central MF, I think it will really be about the eyes of Ozil, watching and filling and (maybe) even doing a little talking and directing of traffic. Smiling Santi and (no hair-out-of-place) Arteta may seem like less vocal characters than Le Coq, but they do a job out there with their choices. Movement, filling spaces, offering targets (for easier, outlet passes)… it’s all critical but it’s all (or mostly…) missed by those fixated on the ball…

    Some will be happy that Santi is out–he’s been ‘found out,’ he’s a luxury player, he hasn’t scored from open play (nor from the spot…), etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. I disagree. It’s very likely that his main contribution at Arsenal could be done. Finding a REAL replacement will not be easy. It’s a big chance for Ramsey (and hopefully Wilshere, before too long) but I doubt it will go as smoothly as all that…

    In the end, I gotta stick with AB…There’s still some promise in this season. Nobody is running away with anything, after all… OGAAT (and a prayer) seems better than ‘I told you so’ and all the other (so called) satisfactions to be spouted from the sofa (or armchair)…

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    Some fine comments, thanks FFGs 🙂

    Too late to comment, but I’ll be back tomorrow.

  22. allezkev says:

    I was wondering where Dan Crowley had got to, in the hope that he could be considered for the 1st team, via the bench, but have discovered that he’s out injured as well…
    It’s beyond belief all these injuries, I’ve never before, seen a season like it…
    If Wenger can steer us through this period and still have us in contention come January then he’ll deserve a medal…

  23. FLO8 says:

    I just realised that about Crowley too Allezkev! Bloody shame as beyond Cazorla and Wilshere I really believe Crowley possesses the most suitable skill set and attributes to fill that deeplying playmaking role in Arsenal’s system. Arsenal experimented with Iwobi in that role versus Brighton’s Under 21 team, with mixed results. Iwobi’s shoot was excellent, as usually, as was his touch. His passing range and defensive effort wasn’t the best though. Chambers played alongside Iwobi in central midfield and struggled in my view. His lack of mobility was quite evident. Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Ben Sheaf in that deeplying playmaking role for the Under 21s in Crowley’s absence. His passing range and touch appear very accomplished and he seems to have more natural defensive awareness than the likes of Iwobi.

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