Arsenal have a B2B mid again, Majestic Mesut, Nacho the Winger: 8 Positives

Arsenal v Sunderland-Premier League

A hard fought win, three invaluable points, no further injuries and Rambo is back. There are still people out there who believe there are easy games left in the Premier League, and how wrong they are. Bournemouth beating the Chavs at the Bridge… City getting hammered by the Orcs… Manure not able to score a single goal against the Hammers at home… and that is just this week’s pick of giant killing and bodily harming.

Arsenal knew they had to fight for the goals and a win today, and our winning spirit combined with team cohesion and camaraderie, go a very long way. On top of this, the players and the manager are one, and you only have to look at MU and the Chavs to realise that this is not always a given.

There are concerns about injuries and players available going into this very busy December month, and rightly so. But the area in which we have all players fit and available, our defence, we are currently underperforming the most…. Football is a strange, unpredictable game at times. Our back-five looked all over the place at times and we got away with some bad defending today, due to Sunderland not being very familiar with finding the net these days and, of course, the Cech factor. I reckon Bellerin is missing the support from Ramsey on his flank a lot; on the other hand, I wonder whether Hector Vector should play a bit more like a conventional FB, as Nacho is currently offering the strongest wing support of the two anyway…. We definitely need to play more compact and organised at the back on Wednesday, if we want to go through to the next round in the CL.

Luckily we had our shooting boots on and managed to score three goals: that is three more than MU, the Chavs and MC today, who all could not find the net despite massive player investments over the last few years. And we got those goals, despite sexy Alexis and Danny Champion of the World being injured, and Theo only playing for twenty minutes or so.

Eight Positives From the Game:

  1. Ozil: what is there to say that has not already been said: Mesut is in top form, on top of the world and carrying the team through a difficult mini-period. His vision and speed of thinking and acting are unsurpassed and his passion for football is never in doubt, even though he does not always show it on the outside. If you are about to have a baby-boy… call him Mesut, is all I am saying. 🙂
  2. Rambo is back: did you see how many times he arrived in time in the box to finish off an attack, or help to make the most of one? That is what Aaron brings and what you would expect of a B2B midfielder. Yes, he still had rusty moments and he needs to find a better balance between defence and attack (together with his DM partner the Flame), but we needed his energy and link up play so badly today (especially with both Santi AND Alexis missing). And a goal and assist make up for a couple of iffy defensive moments, don’t you think?!
  3. Nacho: what a drive and passion this guy has! Especially in the second half he just looked like an orthodox winger at times. Is there a more complete Wing-Back in the country?
  4. Giroud delivers again: unfortunate with the OG at the end of the first half, for which I won’t blame him at all, but he made up for it with a well-timed run and a fab finish that could have easily gone past the wrong side of the post. He also had the ‘pre-assist’ for the all-important first goal, with a classical lay-off to Ozil, who then found Campbell with a superb through-ball.
  5. Theo came on and added real zest to the team: really good to see him back and he got the pre-assist for the third goal, so not a bad cameo.
  6. Cech was awesome and kept us in the game, both with his saves and his persona/aura. What a signing, Arsene, what a fecking brilliant signing! How many points has he saved us already this season…?
  7. Campbell made a very good run and finished calmly for our first goal. We all had high hopes for him initially, but it is now clear that he needs a bit of time and support from us, to play himself into the team. And his all-important first goal of the game will do him good. The one that will be worried most about Campbell’s gradual progress is the Ox, who once again did not convince and did not get on the assist or score sheet today. I have a feeling that the coming four weeks might determine his future at Arsenal… This is your ‘Le Coq’ moment, Alex..
  8. No further injuries, as it stands, so happy days.

By TotalArsenal.

19 thoughts on “Arsenal have a B2B mid again, Majestic Mesut, Nacho the Winger: 8 Positives

  • Good match report TA,

    Caught the full game. Pity that Leicester won, if not we would have sat on the top of the EPL.

    Everyone was made to dig deep, and Cech is our saviour. How many goals did we manage not to concede if it wasnt for his superb positioning?

    Having Rambo back and playing deep was a real game changer. I thought that we were not so comfortable at the back and in the midfield areas, as Sunderland, managed by the former Bolton manager big Sam, tried to make history repeat itself.

    Although it wasnt pretty in the end, but we managed to dig deep and find extra pace and will to get the result.

    My MOTM will be Ozil. Sharp as always.


  • Went to the game, so missed the Live blog, it looked a lot of fun 17, well done.

    Great report Total.
    I thought that Ozil was majestic, he is truly world class.
    It was a pleasure to be at the game, just to watch him…

    I thought we looked nervous at times, dropping 7 points from our previous 3 EPL games had a confidence sapping effect.
    But the team showed great resilience in coming back from the own goal.
    I also thought that Walcott made an immediate impression.
    So glad to have him back.

    FLO8 the Youth team did great in the FAYC, not sure if Bielik is injured or not, but it seems that Adelaide played well again…
    We got some real quality in the U18/U21 teams now…

  • Good to hear you had a good time, AK. I think it is the defence that is making us nervous, especially with the changes in the double DM pivot in front of them.

  • A really top class Post, TA, and is everything I have come to expect of you. 😀

    What particularly pleased me was that despite not being able to either see the game or to hear it on a radio match report your player assessment told me all I needed to know.

    This afternoon when I see the highlights it will help fill out the bits that get omitted on the TV. Thank you! 🙂

  • Yeah, I get that Total…

    To me, losing Coquelin is the most damaging injury to effect our equilibrium.
    He kind of knitted it all together.
    Flamini and Ramsey, for all their good work, lack that discipline…

  • Guys,

    Regarding the Flams and Rambo pivot, i feel that although Flams should be the defensive guy and Rambo the attacking one, it looks to me that Flams wants to get forward more, leaving Rambo no chance to make more opportunities forward.

    Its only in the closing stages when Flams went back deep, and Gibbsy and Chambers came on and hugged the wings, at times coming back in to help Flams out that we were more assured defensively.

    Some of you guys were rooting for Chambers to be the one covering for Le Coq, but i am more for Gibbsy in that position.

    But maybe with Theo back, we would be glad to stick with Flams?


  • TA, This is a really fine summation of the match and an excellent list of positives. Well done… You’ve really identified some of the elements we can build upon as we go forward.

    The heart of our best play was Ozil, Nacho and Ramsey working together in the left-center part of the pitch. We looked much iffier trying to switch play to the right and just using the width of the pitch in any meaningful manner. We rode our luck just a bit, but so it goes… AW’s post match comments indicate he’s well aware of these issues.

    Cheers A-kev. Indeed I had fun with the spontaneous decision to go for the “live blog” approach. Hopefully it helped for those blacked out with the 3 o’clock kickoff…

    I’m jealous, of course, of those who attended the match…but also grateful for the eye-witness accounts. The nervousness in the home-stadium seems to have a real effect on the players. Perhaps with the own-goal at the end of the half, AW and the boys got in the dressing room and just said, “f*ck it, let’s just do what we need to do.” Our level seemed improved in the 2nd period but there was still enough sloppiness in our basic play that we lost quite a bit of time getting down to business–not good when we need goals.

    Cech continues to be such presence and–even with the own goals–I think the confidence at the back will grow. It means a lot that he’s saved a couple of bad bounces from the defenders even if a few have gone in. That said, we could really use a few clean sheets. Getting the first goal (i.e., not conceding it…) will be massive in Greece and probably in all our matches–at least until Alexis is back.

    So, highlighting the togetherness of the group, I think, is very astute and it will be that element which sees us through these difficult moments. There’s enough divisiveness amongst the support (very, very unfortunate IMO) but, if it serves to harden the resolve of the players, it may, perversely, work to our long-term advantage. One at a time, of course, but it would sure be great to get goals and wins in Athens and B’ham before the big home match with City and the slew of games as we roll over into 2016…

  • 17ht. Congrats on your live blog, although it must take a lot of effort and you obviously type a lot quicker than me. since the demise of Wiziwig it’s become very difficult to get live streams in the UK unless you are prepared to invest funds into a betting account. One sight I find very useful on match days is Arsenal List. Run out of Toronto they post short video clips of goals, incidents during the game. So it is possible to see goals not long after they happen,. I am sure there are copyright infringements that would stop you doing this, but if it were possible it would greatly enhance your live blog

    Probably not possible but just a thought

  • Allezkev, they may lack the discipline at the moment, but the combo of FlamRam needs time to settle in. Flam cannot do two games a week month after month, so Wenger has to work on an alternative in the meantime. 😀

  • It is what it is Totes, and you are right, FlamRam is a work in progress.
    With a bit of luck luck we might have Wilshere, Alexis and Arteta back by the time we visit Southampton…
    Flamini might actually surprise us, you say he cannot do two games a week, well he ain’t exactly ready for his bus pass yet 😃 and I don’t think he’s been blighted with injuries like say Arteta and Rosicky, so there should be a little left in the tank.
    I think he’ll do ok, it’s just that someone needs to sit in front of the back-four and not go walkabout. And that man has to be Flambo, mainly because he’s the last man standing. 😉

  • Guys,

    I hope Theo will be fit enough to play the first 60 odd minutes in the coming match. His pace helped us break the defense.

    We need him to break the defense on Wednesday too.

    Keep the same team except Ollie this weekend?


  • Guys, sorry for the typo error in the third paragraph.

    It should be this coming Wednesday.

    There is an interesting article on espnfc.

    Some note worthy points:

    We are 15 poimts clear of Chavs, which was what Terry mentioned in the off season that Cech can save us.

    The table is so open that a team like Leicester can top the table, with us only 2 points off.

    However, given that we have yet to play our festive games, it is all too early to say, and my response to Tom Adams is:

    Not so quick mate. Let us play one game at a time and we will see at the end of the season.


  • Good list of positives TA!

    Cech was fantastic again and keep us in the game a number of times.

    I thought Per and Bellerin struggled defensively, though Per did make some timely interceptions in the first half. Koscielny and Monreal where better than Per and Bellerin though a little reckless going forward at times. Both look like they could do with a rest in my opinion.

    I thought Flamini, who was occupying the CDM role, kept things simple and effective when in possession of the ball (his 104/108 completed/attempted passing stat reflects that). His defensive positioning though gave me heart palpitation at times!! Flamini in particular is going to need to curb his obvious attacking inclinations if deployed next to Ramsey in CM as Ramsey is the more effective player of the two going forward and Ramsey appears to rely on his workrate to make up for his deficiencies in terms of his defensive discipline and awareness. That strategy of Ramsey’s doesn’t always work and that combined with Flamini’s positional indiscretions, exposed the team and in particular Arsenal’s back five a number of times versus Sunderland. Versus better quality opposition we will be punished for that sort of poor defensive positional play. I think it requires both players to modify their game somewhat to account for the other’s.

    In an attacking sense, Ramsey was fantastic! He always looked to drive forward and create/offer himself as an attacking outlet.

    In terms of Ozil he was again sensational! Working hard defensively, knitting our fractured play together as best he could and drifting across the width of the pitch help create overloads. On top of that his through ball to Campbell was impeccable. With Rosicky, Arsenal’s most like for like replacement for Ozil, not due back from injury until the new year and a lack of suitable options at youth level (Zelalem is on loan at Rangers and Kaylen Hinds, who was absolutely outstanding in the number 10 role for Arsenal in their recent FA Youth Cup match versus WBA, is only 17 and not really a specialist No 10), I’m concerned the festive period might burnout Ozil and result in another long term injury but we shall see.

    Further forward, I though Campbell was excellent in the wide striking role with his work-rate and off the ball movement particularly impressive.

    Giroud did okay. His goal was extremely well executed and he did well to battle against Sunderland’s three centre halves. That said I though his off the ball moment and link play (bar the pre assist for Campbell’s goal) was lacking and I’m still not convinced that he is the style of forward Arsenal need in the centre forward role with the system Arsenal are currently playing. I think he slows Arsenal’s play down too much, forces Arsenal into aerial crossing too much and doesn’t make enough off the ball attacking runs. For that reason, I’m very excited that Walcott is back from injury. That said Giroud definitely provides an alternate option from the bench.

    As for the Ox, I’m not sure what to say. He was almost anonymous, particularly when he moved to the right hand side. I’m not exactly sure where player with Ox’s skill set and attributes best fit in Arsenal’s system. Though I might ponder on that particular issue more and put together a piece for 17 and TA to consider. 😄

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