Koscielny robs, FlamRam unbalanced, Cech saves us: Match Afterthoughts

Arsenal 1 – o Newcastle United Afterthoughts

I only saw a summary on MOTD and extended highlights on Sky, so any additional insights are very welcome.

From what I could see, the key in this game lay with Ramsey’s positioning and discipline. Flamini is no Coquelin, and, even though he had a rest against the Cherries, he looked a tat knackered today. Matthieu is at his best when we play deep and compact, similar to the BFG behind him. The fiery Frenchman also really needs to play close to another DM to keep thins tight and disciplined.

However, this was a very open game due to Ramsey and Flamini not being in tune with each other, which resulted in leaving our defence far too much exposed. We got away with it due to Cech’s presence and some woeful finishing by the Magpies.

I also thought our wing duos got the balance wrong: good support for our attack from our full backs and wingers but defensively we gave away far too much space. In my view, playing both Theo and Ox on the wing leaves us light in midfield. The Ox offers penetration with the ball and Theo makes great, albeit it often chaotic, runs so there should be plenty to work with for Ozil (and Rambo). But Theo lacks a bit of composure at the moment and the Ox’s final ball is often not the right one. Not playing Campbell was a mistake in my view, as he just offers a better balance in midfield and is Ā a similar outlet as Alexis to Ozil.

The Barcodes were simply too strong in midfield and they also did very well at keeping their ‘D’ very tightly protected…and it nearly cost us. Koz scored a priceless, ‘kitchen sink’ goal, after Giroud had out jumped a couple of defenders, to mercilessly rob all three eggs from the Magpies’ nest.

The team was clearly knackered and just fought for those three points with all they got till the sweet end, and luck favoured us on the day. When playing four games in just twelve days we should not overanalyse a game like this. It is a matter of survival, and with nine out of twelve points we did very, very well during the festive PL onslaught.

Now it is time to prepare for the next few battles, give some players a rest, get the mini hulk back in the team and hope for the Elneny effect. It will also give Wenger time to work out a better midfield balance, as Pool and the Orcs wil not let us get away so easily with leaving our defence so exposed.

By TotalArsenal.


34 thoughts on “Koscielny robs, FlamRam unbalanced, Cech saves us: Match Afterthoughts

  • Good review TA, about the same time i filed my last comment.

    We have to have 2 man at the central defense at all times, and yesterday’s one man at the back show nearly cost us if they had their scoring boots on.

    Our next opponent is Sunderland in the FA cup, and I watched their highlights so it is quite dangerous if we play the same way this coming Saturday as what we see last night, so please do not make the same mistake again.


  • Agree Total, tired legs and tired minds…
    I got soaked going to the stadium, so I had some sympathy for our players trying to perform on a slippery surface in filthy conditions.
    But to be fair, Newcastle did ok, and have had to play 4 holiday games as well, so go figure?

    Campbell made an immediate impression when he replaced the disappointing AOC.
    Joel does seem to bring more of a balance to our midfield both on the offence and on the defence…
    Anyway, 3 points in the bag, forget this game and move on…
    Sunderland in the FAC should prove interesting, from a rest, rotation and cup line-up perspective. Ospina possibly?

  • Well, I wrote my stuff as it was happening but I think I’m feeling a bit more positive about things than you, TA… Yes they had one great chance and a second decent one right after but we could easily have snuck a couple through as well at both ends of the match… It’s definitely one where we did a bit of a smash and grab but the conditions were against us ever settling into what we think of as our standard, through the middle, possession game.

    We should recall that we started well and Bellerin might have made crosses all day as Janmaat did at the other end but Ox was absolutely killing him with bad choices when they were paired together on the right. We looked slightly better when he and Theo switched flanks.

    You’re correct that the Flam-Ram combo was very poor throughout the match, with Flams dropping off relentlessly and leaving Ramsey too far forward. Again, IMO, the sodden pitch played a role. If we were a little deeper up front we could have played more long balls up to Giroud. As it is, he’s been playing every almost every minute of every match and we don’t really want him having to jump at (mostly) lost causes and risk injury just to get the ball into their half. Remember, Anthony Taylor was the ref and he seems unwilling to call ANYTHING if there aren’t any broken bones.

    The rain also made it extremely hard to pass the ball out of the back. Kos pushed forward on his own on several occasions but misplaced a lot of final balls leading to some dangerous breaks the other direction. In general, this bare bones group, I think, has become happy giving ground and playing on the break. Without Santi to kick them long through the air, there was overall too much running and along the ground passing which just didn’t come off with the ball kicking up a tail-spray. At least Kos and Giroud (through the air…) showed tremendous individual desire to get the set piece goal. Our threat at corners (and other set pieces) is new and very welcome, I think.

    Amazingly we’re through this festive period and December as a whole and (somehow) sit top of the table and in the CL elims–and Alexis has gotten his winter break. Somehow we have to rotate through this Sunderland match, ideally getting a rest for Ozil (keeping him on the bench perhaps) but maybe having Elnenny and Flamini trying to be the deep lying mids behind Ramsey in the #10 role. Giroud getting a rest also seems important. I don’t know what to say about the Ox. Maybe if he could get a goal or an assist more would follow. As it was, it almost seemed like we would be better off playing with just 10 on the pitch, he was that out of sync with everybody else (IMO)…

    The trips to Liverpool and Stoke seem scary but those teams have to play an extra match (against each other in the Cap One cup) while we rest this week. Also, both lost today. We may feel like we also lost due to the desperate nature of the performance, but we actually grabbed the points. Yes, it would be nice to feel more confident coming out of the match, but so it goes… IMO, we should enjoy the points, rest up while getting some extra bodies in and pray for better weather…

    Our position in the table raises expectations and things feel very delicately poised… But don’t they always?…

  • arsenal shd buy a striker, a DM and an attacking midfielder plus a winger( who uses left) and play no.7.

  • Hey A-Kev… Sorry to simulpost my long-winded drivel over your man-at-the-match, right-to-the-point report… Cheers however for the American spellings of the two fenses… šŸ˜€

  • Hi

    I’ve watched first and most of second… My few thoughts:

    A. Ox is the conundrum. He can do magic things, but never all at once it seems… It’s gotta be just a matter of time and POW! But, for now it’s at times “interesting” … His lack of help to Nacho with Sissoka, kept Nacho out of attack, which we missed. Here, JoelC was doing that better and contributing up forward. Not he magic of Ox at times, but …

    B. We were tired but not as bad as most say… Last ball in terrible conditions wasn’t there. Still, while Newcastle had opportunities, they also played very well, but we too had some very good ones too. I lean as much toward conditions than to actual mistakes. In such atrocious weather, this will happen… It’s bankable

    C. Imo, barring a new buy, I’d bring Chambers or perhaps Gabriel in at defensive mid. Flamini as you saw, left with AR too big a gap to AR who was perhaps too forward or too tired. A younger fitter type like Chambers or Gabriel might well suit better despite loss of some through balls… Imo, of course! šŸ™‚ .. (Full disclosure, I’ve oft fancied Chambers there as a taller more athletic Coquelin?)

    D. Keepers were men of the match. This is the reason we bought Cech, who shows no signs of age! Not to make the saves like that but to give everyone the assurance that if such saves are needed, he’ll be ready. Scz could easily do it but not always enough to provide that assurance.

    E. Time for a rest. One week until FAC vs Sunderland will do a lot for us IMO.

    Cheers — jgc

  • FYI

    Anyone think that Taylor, the ref, and team, will get a quiet sanction for so many very poor and missed calls etc? Second half was atrocious.

    — jgc

  • Final thoughts:

    F. When Campbell came on late I saw him lots recovering the ball and interfering with Newcastle going forward. Just per my thought above..

    G. Day like today, we really miss TR, who always brings some spark… Was wishing him health around 60 mins….

    Cheers — jgc

  • Prof,

    Yes the ref was bad but somehow Ox was even worse. Alot of chances to pass ended up in him shooting miscued chances.

    And we have to be better than the ref when he makes this type of decisions.

    Also, look at how Joel changed the team dynamics when he came on.


  • the evening was good, three points important. urge the team to focus on the two away trips and who knows? we can possibly get 6 out of 6. which is what league leaders do take a game at a time. kudos lad

  • Hi JK

    Agreed. What I mean about the Ox is he does some wonderful stuff every game! Every game… But, somehow …. See what I mean? He does some wonderful stuff, but somehow the impact is minimal. JC did much less overall and per minute, but impact was notable!

    It’s gotta be a matter of time, no? :-/

    So frustrating because you can see Ozil like skills with Theo like pace and …. (Argh!!!)

    Cheers — jgc

  • HI Prof,

    Its true that he made a good cross from the left wing to Theo on the right, but that was it. The rest of his game is exactly what you mentioned. Little impact. At least Theo made more impact than him in the whole game.

    The reason why JC came in and the impact was notable, is that Ox is bad defensively and JC is a better shield to the full backs than him. And the willingness to try to win back the ball rather than standing static. Look at the whole positioning of the team changed when Ox came off.

    That was why I always mentioned that Ox is a liability to the team, and yesterday it clearly showed.


  • Hi JK

    I saw some other great stuff, but then after dribbling away from two it’s an easy/easier pass made badly or at least not perfectly.

    I agree on Defense, but JC got two crosses in both of which were good to great… So we agree on JC…

    Cheers — jgc

  • Mertisacker stands helplessly as chances go high and wide. If we dont drop him he will lose us the title. We may be keeping clean sheets but its more luck than judgement. I wanted to see chanbers get a run in midfield but Flam always gives his all just slows the game down at times. Ramsey looked good and is slightly wasted playing so deep. Giroud offers very little and we desperately need a top striker. What’s happening to the ox? Seems to be going backwards. Campbell looked sharp when he came on and should start in front of ox. Cech saved us and thats what we bought him for.

  • 17,

    Not sure what you mean with me being negative in your opening lines.

    If it is about getting away with it then you seem to agree with it later. They had twice as many shots on target, 6 versus 3, and had a few very decent heading opportunities Ollie would have loved to receive. Our defending was poor, and defending of our defence by the mods was as poor, and this needed pointing out.

  • Guys,

    I am quite impressed with Le Prof’s way of dealing with Elneny’s impending transfer.
    As the transfer has yet to be finalised he is giving 100% respect to Basel by not giving his thoughts to the media.

    Elneny looks to me closer to Issac Hayden in stature and positioning rather than Le Coq, and the way he plays really suits Arsenal.

    His transfer is in for the long term, and this will spell trouble for Hayden and Le Coq.

    Your thoughts?


  • Good post TA. Hit the nail on the head in pointing out that the balance was not there. Therefore, we were unable to pull in the same direction and so confidence and energy ebbed quickly.

    Result wise we have done well this festive season but imo our playing level over this period has not been top of the table.

    Basically we are a very technical ball passing side, but fielding the two of Theo and Ox in our AMF four meant that we could never get our passing game in full flow. Our AMF four must contain at least three gifted ball team players for us to be able to do our triangles and passing game at the desired high level.

    Three of the names below have to be in our AMF four, listed in the order of my preference;
    1) Ozil,
    2) Santi,
    3) Ramsey/Jack
    4) ———
    5) Alexis,
    6) Welbeck,
    7) Rosicky,
    8) Arteta,
    9) Campbell,

    Don’t get the order of this list wrong. For example, if all are fit, I regard Alexis as a must in our AMF FOUR but 5th choice in the list of our passing TRIO. That means my top choice AMF FOUR is ….. Alexis – (Ozil, Santi and Ram/Jack) the passing TRIO in brackets.

    From the above list, the starting AMF FOUR for yesterday’s match would have been Theo – (Ozil, Ramsey, and Campbell). If Ox is in the starting line up, Theo is out. My best passing TRIO l would always try to keep most inviolate.

    The “passing trio” ought to become a technical unit in our formation.

  • To summarize and simplify the above, our attacking MF four, should be composed of a minimum of 3 of our best available ball circulators and passers so we can maintain our passing game which is what our system is based on.

  • Good observations TA. I also thought we looked a bit worn out. We have to find a way to get rest for Ramsey and Ozil especially.
    This is the first match in a long time that i feel we were really fortunate to get away with. We have drawn or lost games that we played better. How did they get off so many headers also?

    Watching spurs at the moment. I have been noting something for a couple years that commentators never mention. They are actually a bunch of thugs. I have thought so, then saw a stat that they have committed most fouls in the league (and we the least)..

  • All agreed Johnnie, especially re giving them too many decent header chances!

    Thanks for the Spuds aggression observation. Really happy they dropped some points today. šŸ˜œ

  • I think a good headline for such performances could be……Win ugly or Lose pretty ?…………….Personally I`ve had a bellyfull of pretty football and losing !…..time for some paper bags and winning fcuking ugly to come first !. šŸ˜‰

    Spuds dropping two points has made my day !…..the shadow force is strong in this team !

    Still too early for St Totteringham`s day, but the more they drop only brings a glow to my heart and reminds me of their Latin club motto…………………………..” Forma est temporalis, stercore est permament “………………………….”Form is temporary, shit is permament “

  • Didn`t come out as I expected, but the last stat on the link shows that the Spuds have a table topping 41 bookings ( 43 after today) !.

  • All

    PE, good point on passing. IMO, two thoughts on that ::

    A. It’s a passing and motion trio. Hence, I’d rank JC higher a touch but can’t disagree with your list. Reason is that when JC came on he was in space and passing more actively rather than mostly take ons. That reduced some pressure on Ozil.

    Related to:

    B. More germane to your comment, yesterday they marked the heck out of Ozil and with no other more serious passers there to attract their attention it got hard. Ozil will now always attract that attention but with more passers AND motion off the ball types they cannot focus as much on him AND he will have more and more early outlets.

    Finally, interesting stats on bookings and such. I wonder how close they are to some suspensions (at 10 yellows I think)??

    Cheers — jgc

  • Fellas this is a might glum strand of comments given we are clear top of the league!

    How many times have manure played rubbish, managed to take the points and then collected the title? Lets not knock it when our turn comes!

    The difference for us and many of the other sides who also played 4 games in a couple of weeks is that half our first team are out injured, and we couldn’t rotate half as much as them. We still got 9 points – well above par from the 12 available. And no more injuries. Party time!

    We must ensure that Ozil, Rambo and Giroud get some rest. If that means we take a risk on the FA cup in order to focus on the league – then I’m ok with that. But lets not scream at Wenger if we do have a duff showing against Sunderland.

    And finally, yes, Campbell gets the nod ahead of the Ox for me all day long. Not necessarily on talent or potential, but on performance – and we have to keep players rewarded for that.

    Its a great year to be a gooner!

  • AB

    I dont think anybody is glum but we have to be realistic that we got away with it on Sunday. I said we should not overanalyse the game, but we can still pull some key conclusions.. which we have been doing. šŸ™‚

    New Post New Post šŸ™‚

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