Campbell Awesome, Giroud the Complete CF, Theo Struggling, DMs Exposed our Back-4: Ars-Liv Afterthoughts

Liverpool 3 – 3 Arsenal Afterthoughts 

Almost 24 hours after the Pool game there is still a bit of feeling of disappointment after missing out on three points when we were so close to snatching them all. The 3-3 draw was a fair result though, and a point from Anfield is always a good one. We are doing really, really well considering we are without Alexis, Santi and Coquelin. Imagine those three having started  yesterday or coming off the bench; it probably would have meant a win for us. And it was a big improvement from our last away game against the Saints, and we fared a lot better than Man City or the Chavs did against Pool in recent months.

Flamini is a player who can still do a job for us but he should not be played in too many games in succession anymore. He has filled the Coquelin gap admirably, and Chambers was not too bad either, but in games like last night’s we could do with a more dynamic and energetic DM as back up for the Le Coq. Luckily, we have now signed Elneny and let’s see whether he can fill Le Coq’s void.

He says he wants to win the PL, FA Cup and CL THIS season! Now that is the sort of ambition we like Mohamed: Welcome to the Home of Football! (Picture from

To me it was obvious that the midfield trio of Flamini, Rambo and Ozil did not work against Pool, especially in terms of protecting the back four and winning dominance in midfield. Rambo did great work in linking up with attack though; and our ability to score goals in almost every game is a big positive. Last night it saved us once again. Man City, Everton and Spuds did not manage to score a single goal last night and Leicester needed a late Huth bullet to finally get on the score sheet. Ramsey’s running from midfield is a key factor in this, and so we need to find a better balance between a defensive wall for our back four without losing Ramsey’s forward thrust and box to box presence.

Some say we missed Santi as he would be better suited to Liverpool’s pressing game last night, and they may be right. I reckon it is more to do with missing both Santi AND Alexis against Pool. Both have the ability to hold on to the ball and squeeze out of a press, and by playing neither of them we lacked that bit of extra midfield control on the night. Theo tried hard enough to help out his full back – wherever he was – but is nowhere near as defensively strong as Alexis. Campbell on the other hand really impressed with his defensive support in terms of positioning , work rate and interventions (even though he started a bit wobbly). He was a great partner for either of the FBs and was also able to hold on to the ball and allow the team to breath out on numerous occasions.

Sitting very deep probably cost us a couple of points yesterday, though. I sat next to a Pool supporter who kept telling me how sh*te their defence was. He especially slated Moreno and Mignolet and I thought these sort of ‘supporters’ clearly exist at every club. But it was clear that Pool’s best defence was to attack and press us back into our own half. And we did not do enough to prevent this. By sitting back we invited the pressure and especially our area in front of our ‘D’ was often left wide open, presenting the Pool attackers with a Blackpool-style shooting gallery. Two shots from outside our box let to two goals and it could have been more. It is fair to say Firmino took his opportunities well and was unlucky not to make it a first half hat-trick. Especially the second goal was a peach of a strike.

When we had Coquelin in front of our defence we usually owned the area around our ‘D’ but yesterday we really allowed our back four to be very exposed. And only due to the excellent defending by especially Koz, BFG and Cech we prevented us from letting even more goals in.

I thought we played really well between the 50th and 65th minute and Ollie provided the icing on the cake with what was rightly described as a Bergkampesque goal. Wenger was right that we did not make the best attacking decisions after the third goal to close out the game, and it was especially disappointing that we could not benefit more from the space available to us. The second half should have been Theo’s and Ozil’s but both were not at their very best, although they tried very hard. Luckily, Giroud, Campbell and Rambo were punching at and above their weight and that got us the three goals and the one point. Theo will have to rethink what his role is in the team if and when we play him and Giroud at the same time.

Campbell was very, very good and his composure, timing and passing for a number of our attacks – most notably for our first goal – was especially impressive. I recommend you to watch the game again and then just concentrate on Joel – it is worth it!

Giroud’s work rate and involvement in all goals – taking two himself – was also very impressive. Yes he missed a sitter but when a ball has a bounce this is always a risk, and I wished Theo would have kept his pass on the ground (just watch Hector Vector who knows how to play a billiard ball or two from that side…).

It was a scrappy goal that led to Pool’s equaliser but we cannot have too many complaints about it. We invited the pressure and sometimes we hold out and sometimes we do not. Let’s hope that getting a result in the Anfield cauldron will have prepared us well for the battle with the Orcs of Stoke this weekend. If we can also sort out the balance in midfield and reintroduce Alexis on the wing, we should have a good chance to finally take three points away from there. And wouldn’t that be sweet?! 🙂

By TotalArsenal.

41 thoughts on “Campbell Awesome, Giroud the Complete CF, Theo Struggling, DMs Exposed our Back-4: Ars-Liv Afterthoughts

  • Good post. I agree with you regards Flamini. I think he needs a rest. Lets hope our new signing could hit the ground running and assist in our title challenge. Giroud had a great game, along with Campbell and Monreal. Theo probably needs a breather as well. I really would like to see who keeps their spot when Sanchez returns.

  • Welcome Keston… Glad to see that I didn’t completely kill the discussion on the last post…

    TA, very nice write up…

    I think Klopp’s (far) more emotional approach to the game will make Anfield a much tougher place to get points…Under Rodgers they were actually doing better away from home… It’s a bit of bad timing in how the fixtures came our way, unfortunately, so only 2 out of a possible 6 points…

    Flamini did just get a rest (vs Sunderland), so playing too many in a row, I don’t think, is quite what you mean… It will be interesting to see who starts at Stoke. Personally I’d go with either the new signing or Arteta, as explained in my longer comment in the previous post… That might be more of a match that we can control with short passing & possession, I think. TA (& Wenger) are spot on about the decisions made with the ball as we tried to protect (or extend) our lead…

    Theo is working awfully hard, I think, and we’d be feeling differently about him if Giroud had put his assist into the net… Yes, it could have been better, but it was awfully good and it seems harsh to give him any share of the blame for Giroud’s miss… It’s hard not to like Campbell’s contribution but Theo would’ve run down both of those long balls hit JC’s direction late on… Joel may have the superior (and certainly more subtle) on the ball skills but he has to get to them too…

    Finally, speaking of “that kind of supporter,” I rode a ski lift this morning with an elderly gentleman who grew up in Canonbury and is a lifelong Arsenal guy. He turned off the match after the first goal yesterday and believes our trouble is with our CBs who lack the ‘vision’ to see plays as they are developing… He completely blamed Mertesacker for the goal and was surprised we came back and got a result. He doesn’t rate Koscielny either, the nutmeg being just about as bad in his mind…

    I tried to exhort him to have a little faith (or at least not give up on the Arsenal) but he seemed well past that stage… Anyhow, small (and rather bitter…) world and all that…

  • Hi Keston

    Yes Monreal had another sound game and you are right to mention him. I reckon Wenger will move Theo in the CF role and play Campbell, Ozil and Alexis upfront. Now with the form Giroud is in, Theo will at best play there every other game, but the prospect of the multi-functional Campbell and Alexis on each wing will be too tempting for Wenger, I reckon.

  • 17HT 🙂

    That ski fellow needed a shove down the hill by the sounds of it. What idiot turns off the TV after the first goal conceded?

    Flamini played a hell of a lot of games since Le Coq’s injury and I reckon this is showing now. we need a third trusted player for the DM position so we are not overdependent on Flamini to cover for Le Coq. Let’s Elneny is the answer. He looks great in an Arsenal shirt, does not he? What is Mrs 17HT’s initial verdict? 🙂

    Yes it was a good ball by Theo (and a good run spotted by Joel) but that last bit of composure is often missing. Giroud should have done better though, fair enough.

    Campbell gave absolutely everything – a mammoth performance so I think you are being unrealistically harsh for him not getting to a few long balls. Theo worked hard but his impact was not great. I wonder how many times Ozil was able to pick him out with a pass: in my memory not many..

  • Hey thanks for the love guys. I am from Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island state in the Caribbean. I have been an Arsenal fan about 15 years now. Arsenal have a massive following back here. I agree with 17highburyterrace, I think Klopp’s emotional approach will make Anfield a fortress.

  • Well Keston you are a lucky person to live there! An ex colleague of mine is from T&T and she told some fine stories about the islands. She had a great accent as well… very smooth! 🙂

  • Interesting and fair report in my view, you make some really good points. I would definitely agree that Ramsay seems to be becoming a scapegoat again in some quarters which I think is unfair. It’s true that he gets forward a lot, but he puts a shift in defensively and he adds so much more dynamism and power to our midfield. I also like reading Arseblog but the “stats” guy on there really ha it in for Ramsay and keeps trying to “prove” that since Ramsay replaced Cazorla in central midfield we have been terrible, completely ignoring the fact that since Ramsay has been playing there we have had to make do without Coq and Alexis (two much more important players than Cazorla) and nevertheless moved to top of the league and against the odds stayed in the champs league. None of last night’s goals conceded were down to Ramsay last night and I’m just pleased he was on the pitch to haul is back into the game. It’s true that Ramsay could do with some help on his positioning, bit that is something the coaches and manager should be working on with him. Santi is a technically good player, but people who think he is the answer to our defensive weaknesses seem to have forgotten how slow and small he is, and the fact that he can’t tackle. Don’t get me wrong I like Santi, but he is not a premier league standard defensive midfielder. It would be great to see how Ramsay would do with Coq to protect him. Maybe this new guy could do the job.

  • Even more welcome then for Keston… You should come here (mountains of California) for a visit…and, in exchange, maybe I should come visit you… 😀

    Yeah, TA, I’ve been trying to get the missus excited about Elneny but she wants to wait until the deal is closed and she sees him on the pitch and in the tight kit… He should be just her type…After all, I used to have hair like that… More smileys…

    I think our disagreement re: Theo vs Campbell is very subtle… Currently we’re lacking players who can control the ball in tight spots so Campbell is more valuable, esp. against an aggressive group like Klopp’s Pool boys. (Calling someone a pool-boy, isn’t very nice around these parts, btw…) If we can keep the ball in the opponent’s half and they still try to push up and play the trap, Theo’s pace can really be a weapon.

    I think we both agree that Theo seems happier playing up front (alone) rather than off on a wing behind Giroud. Also, I wouldn’t discount the effect being a left footer has for creating some extra kinship between JC and Giroud… Campbell also should be getting acknowledgement for aggressively moving into central positions as a good inverted winger should. Theo might benefit from being equally aggressive but he also may be seeing those spaces already filled…

    I can’t believe no one has ripped me a new one for suggesting another ancient (Arteta) in for Flamini… I’m just as happy to believe the new guy is the answer but (maybe) not so quick to say that the Captain is absolutely past it. That movement towards the ball to provide easy outlets is a real missing element with Coq and Santi gone, IMO…

    Yeah, whatcha gonna do about bad supporters who know everything (from the ski-lift)? Regarding the need for better CBs he even said, “But Wenger doesn’t listen to me…” 😀 😦

  • Great post TA, and some good follow on comments.. I think we did well to get that point, 3 points would have been very sweet but we were just too short in that central midfield and on the left side to take control of the game at key times.

    HT I liked your last comment on the previous post and thanks for watching the entire game again to give further insights – I’m not sure why Ramsey still hasn’t learnt how to control his forward running particularly with the aging legs of Flamini in there. You’re right there is often no one there to pick up that ball in the middle and take control of possession. Hope he can correct this ASAP and also hope Elneny can shore up any holes he may leave in future games.. As PE said gaining that possession in games like this can take out the 12th man.. Fingers crossed TA that Elneny shores up that D area in Coq’s absence, he certainly seems to have the attributes.

  • HT I think the Arteta option is a good one and as an effective ball circulator he could work well alongside Elneny but not in place of him. I don’t think Wenger would put Arteta in for Ramsey at this moment but I would go for it just to give Ramsey a view from the sidelines of how to position himself in another tough away game on Sunday. More likely it will be Flamini and Ramsey again with Elneny probably introduced from the bench in place of Flamini.

  • Cheers FMJ 🙂

    It is a really hard one re Rambo. We needed his running badly but it also made us vulnerable athe back. Balance and defensive support are key. Time for Alexis to move onto the stage.

  • Nice right up TA agree with you on Campbell, he is getting better every game. Got to be honest and say I didn’t think he was up to it.

    Whilst the lads did well last night, I would have to agree that the Liverpool defence was pretty poor. If it hadn’t of been for our quick equalisers, which were very preventable, it could well have been another Southampton.

    I guess there a number of reasons for this, but Flamini look a little tired to me. I don’t think Arteta is the answer anymore, he seems very prone to giving away free kicks and I was concerned when he came on. Chambers is trying very hard but lacking confidence, which makes him a little error prone. Which leaves our new boy. Hope he is good.

    Shame we couldn’t hold on last night it would have set us up nicely for the weekend. I don’t think Stoke will be as generous as Liverpool were.

  • Agreed Retsubster, the Stoke game will be another heavy weight test and we need to defend much better as a team.

    How is life treating you and how is your recovery going?

  • Welcome Dej and that is just the sort of comment we like at this blog. I also happen to agree with all you have written. 🙂

    I reckon Santi is a good 12th player to have going fwd who can play regularly in various midfield positions… Maybe our new Rosicky, but then hopefully a fitter version. 😉

  • Yes Dej good point re. Ramsey. He definitely shouldn’t become a scapegoat he is fantastic! Just a few tweaks needed positionally and a strong runner and interceptor like Elneny should do it. The Egyptian team player who runs forever will be a welcome partner in Le Coq’s absence. There is only so much Flamini and Arteta can do now given their age.. And yes Cazorla is too small in those physical battles but can be extremely useful for ball circulation purposes, so depends on the game. Can’t wait for Alexis TA!! 😀

  • Yes. But the introduction of Arteta, was really a tuning point to ou misout for three points. Also Ox, isn’t that good anymore, i’d prefer Joel remined. Probably he should be sent out for loan to gain momentum or listens to suites. The first goal also was Walc, error to hold the ball in 18.

  • Hi

    some quick comments:

    1. Not AR but lack of a solid tackler with enough pace to keep up. Flamini I think has lost the step. Not one, but the one after which even good positioning doesn’t help. Sad, but, I suspect true. Missing it is troubling because you cant even then catch up to the game.

    2. Coquelin, last year’s Joel Campbell(?) :), made one major change to his game that made him super, perhaps two. Emotional control and equally good control of his positioning. Lack of adventure saw him moving and constantly shielding with intercepts and simply forcing teams to pass sideways, just once, early, so that their attack slowed and allowed our defenders to get into shape. We have been missing that. And better teams and/or coaches have hit us hard for it. Better coaches, perhaps, witnessing Klopp and Koeman in recent adventures. Just a thought.

    3. I would like to see, per prior comments, El Neny with AR (now) and Coq when he’s back. El Neny comes with serious rave reviews about his DM aspects, and ability to outlet the ball, from a variety of sources. So, I would hope to see him sooner than later… Here is another good review that to me showed he was “an Arsenal and AW type of player”

    4. I think our ability to score, even in horrid conditions for Arsenal football, and away, are likely to hold us in good stead.

    cheers — jgc

  • Guys,

    I will prefer Giroud to be rested once Alexis comes back, moving Theo up.

    I rather Elneny be the DM, and we bought him for that role. Rambo will be his partner until Santi comes back.


  • Silky well timed post, TA.

    I’ve watched this game three times. The 3rd time, I switched of the sound. It helps to view the
    proceedings more objectively. It becomes a study, a different kind of fun.

    On the positive side, I was very much impressed with our quick vertical transition play. 5 or 6 passes and we are box to box. Everybody is saying Liv had a poor defense. I am wondering if it is not really our expert incisiveness that created that impression. I have been preaching ball circulation almost as an end for neutralizing gengen pressing. But without the right compliment of players for possession football, Wenger might have deliberately opted for the quick transition play. Walcott and Campbell out wide with their pace, Rambo through the center with the late lung bursting runs, Ozil incisive passes, Giroud a power focal point. Well, it got us a point at Anfield, and history will record it as not too common a feat.

    It’s incredible how all of a sudden JC has taken center stage. Those his reverse through balls, the first of which he made for Sanchez many games ago, is now a fixture of his and Ramsey, right footed, sure knows how to make the runs for it to maximum effect. More grease to their elbows as Joel continues to grow. As HT rightly pointed out he has to improve on his off the ball runs, he still wants ball to feet.

    Ramsey, is again the most divisive topic. Full of assets, is he also full of liabilities? Should he remain a BtoB, or should he just compete for #10 with Ozil? Or be turned into a false 9 (those his runs into the box are so creative)? I have been cracking my brain to have him in the team without the “liabilities”. I have finally given up telling myself that Wenger sees more than any of us, so whatever he does with him, must be the best for the team. Or have I really given up?

    Meanwhile, we all seam to have forgotten, that Arteta was the indisputable choice for the DM position before his series of injuries. If he is close to his old form, –a big if–, then he should be in contention for either the DM or the BtoB until our 1st choices come back (Coq, Santi, and who knows Elneny?). Arteta was quite good in dictating the tempo of our play. I believe Wenger brought him in v Liv to calm things down, but the team was already too tired and too much on the back foot, for him to have influenced their play.

    People don’t mention his name enough, but Monreal was a Trojan that Anfield night. He is the quintessential professional, an unobtrusive leader of men.

  • Cheers Geoff and PE

    Elneny surely needs time to adjust to the Rigours of the PL and the team, so let’s not expect too much. Agreed on AR not being the main problem and his benefits far outweigh his defensive issues. A more mobile and dynamic DM is the answer, with Ramsey finding a better balance, and Alexis also offers more defensive support than willing but ineffective Theo or Ox.


    It looks like Arteta will struggle to get back to the required level to help this title ambitious team. It is so hard to be out for that long and then hit the ground running when you are that age. Love the guy though.

  • Great comments PE,

    I believe that we are still not strong enough in our positional play to curb teams playing with a high line.

    El Capitan is quite good in his positional sense, but with pacy midfielders we might be a little short at the DM position as we are not that fast. Maybe Elneny can do something to raise the level of the DM position, but then his broad shoulders are being burdened by the stuff we expect of him.

    Nacho has gone from a left back which gets turned inside out to someone that turns their full backs inside out. This is due to the players he is used to, and with the team undergoing not much changes, it helps him in understanding the surroundings around him.

    For Rambo, no. I would not turn him into a false 9. Ozil is someone that dictates play, but he is not able to dictate play from between the back four and the front 4. Rambo is different. His strength is to stay back and look at the big picture in front of him, and sees holes to pass to.

    Following Elneny’s signing, we will see Elneny doing this job of defending and attacking, and we might see Rambo venturing up further. So, we might see a 4-1-2-2-1 formation rather than 4-2-3-1 formation in the future, with the formation changing to 4-2-3-1 with Rambo coming back deep when we are under attack.

    So, TA or 17ht, the preview for Sunday’s (Rugby) match?


  • Do you fancy writing it JK?

    We have 60 hours before kick off so we will have at least one different post before the preview. So plenty of time to write… 🙂

  • Splitting headache Mr Wenger when your MF is jammed full; Coq, Elneny, Ramsey, Santi, Ozil, Jack, Joel, Alexis, the Ox, Chambers, the vets, Flam, Arteta, Rosicky, and the lads too, Iwobi Jeff Reine Adelaide ……. This has gone far beyond a nice headache!

    Unfortunately Mr Wenger, there is no such thing as a 4:5:6:5:1 formation.

    JK, I see you got a headache too, tinkering with formations. Goodluck all.

  • PE

    What is the weather like in Nigeria today?

    It is only a headache when all are fit and, as our wise 17HT pointed out recently, fat chance of that happening. 🙂

    I expect a few to go this summer.

  • Seventeenho, I only just read your 22.37 comment for some reason. Good points about Theo and I am thinking about writing a post about him at some point today.

  • I expect Elneny to hit the ground running. His beginning is African football which is all about flair and physicality. His three years at Basel would have groomed him in Europian tactical discipline. He also speaks English. He only has adjusting to new environment to do.

    Remember how Kolo Toure nearly broke a couple of valuable legs in his Arsenal trial, before clattering Wenger by the side line. Wenger loved it all, and quickly got him to put pen to paper. Epl rigors can only be bread and butter to our Elneny. Expect him on the bench against Stoke, and possibly a 15 minutes cameo appearance.

  • It seems that Wilshere, Welbeck and Coquelin began light training this week, according to several reports I’ve read…

    With Alexis, Elneny and Rosicky in the provisional squad for the weekend, we could have close to a fully fit squad in 2 to 3 weeks time…

    Just in time for the run in…

  • Soooo…. JK has written his own match preview?… I was gonna do my usual thing, try to write something while watching the Saturday matches… I’m actually under the weather so if there’s something already in the can, let’s be having it…

  • JK,

    I’m quite sure that TA was joking about you writing the preview… He also sent me an e-mail saying he wouldn’t be able to look at anything he received until later…

    So, if you’ve written one maybe you should print it as a comment and then I can see what I might do about it… I was working on one of my own as I tend to do…

  • Re: Hello from Singapore – JK
    Me to {recipients}Sent
    HI Frank (TA),

    Stoke City vs Arsenal. Our second away game this week. Should we settle for a point or take all 3 points with me banking on Elneny starting his first 90 minutes in Arsenal colours?

    This game was historically not a game that Arsenal can boast or brag about, as we have not done very well against them. We have lost 1-0 and 3-2 against them away in 2014, and we have won against them back home in 2015, and not conceding any.

    Preferred starting lineup for the game tomorrow:
    Keeper: Cech
    Defence: Bellerin, Per, Koscielny, Monreal
    DM: Ramsey, Elneny
    MID: Campbell, Ozil, Alexis
    ST: Walcott

    An alternative lineup will be:
    Keeper: Cech
    Def: Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal
    DM: Ramsey, Arteta/Flamini
    MID: Theo, Ozil, Alexis
    ST: Giroud

    We are strong in 2015, and I hope that we can win against them with Elneny starting in place of Flamini, to plug the gaps in midfield.

    For a while, we have not done well against teams that attack from the start, forcing us to use the counter attacking style.
    However, we have seen stronger performances from the team and somehow they managed to win their games with a compact DM and defense.

    The midweek’s game was somehow shocking to an extent, as the DMs were missing, and apart from Arteta, who is always injured, and Le Coq, we do not have a person in the team that can back them up the same way.

    The answer to this question is Elneny.

    But how good is he in DM? Or is he better as a B2B player?

    Surely that answer leaves much to the imagination, but having seen how he plays, he is more of a tough tackler and one that deals very well with the space ahead of him.

    So, if Le Prof is reluctant to start him, I would rather start either Flams or Arteta.

    So, what are your thoughts?

  • Hey Thanks JK… I’ve got mine almost written… but wanted to add some photos, etc.

    It sounds like you’re keen on the new guy getting thrown in from the start… Same with Alexis… Hard to say, IMO, at least, and I’m fine with letting Wenger make the call…

    When you write about Elneny and say this, “having seen how he plays, he is more of a tough tackler and one that deals very well with the space ahead of him,” what exactly do you mean? Have you watched some of his matches with Basel or with the Egyptian team or are you relying on some video clips? If the latter, maybe you should link to those…

    I also think it’s a bit harsh on the DMs as–to me–it seemed like our troubles at Anfield were more about failing to take some good chances when we had the ball or even just hold it a bit better or for longer periods as we tried to defend our lead. Also,it seemed like Pool’s goals didn’t involve our DMs at all…but maybe that’s what you’re talking about… Finally, we can’t use Arteta because he’s always injured? He seems available for this one and, indeed, there he is in your alternative line-up…

    Anyhow, those are some of my thoughts…Others are in the one I’m writing. Maybe we can get some more comments and some guidance from TA about how to proceed….

    Cheers again…

  • New Post…

    JK, I’m gonna copy and paste your preview in as the first comment with a little explanation. Thanks again…

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