Ozil and Ox Juice the Cherries | Clean Sheet Cech | FlamRam Boss Midfield: Match Review

Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal

The surprising win by the Foxes against the Northern Oilers – who looked anything but Pepped up yesterday – made our game against the Cherries even more a must-win. An eight points gap is never good, and definitely not with just 14 games to go. So the three points needed to be taken today by hook or by crook. Arsene left the BFG, Coquelin and Theo out and opted for Gabriel, ‘Monsieur Passion’ Le Flam and the Ox. The BFG and Coquelin exclusions were not a total surprise but not starting with Campbell or Theo and preferring the Ox, was – well at least to me.


Bournemouth, managed by the talented and agreeable Eddie Howe, had put up a large midfield with the aim to deny us space and frustrate our game, and initially this worked a treat for them. We tried to penetrate them from our left and at times it looked like a rugby match (without the physical contact), as so many players were attacking or defending a small area of the pitch. As a visual spectacle, this was not helped by the cacophony of colours on display: the ball yellow and pink, our away shirt blue and gold and the Cherries’ shirts black and red stripes. The Sky camera angles did not helped much either with giving us a clear picture of how our attacks from the left were going.

Out of nothing, Monsieur Passion decided to go into the tackle with both feet. They were probably not enough off the ground to give a straight red but the referee was nevertheless a bit lenient in giving the Flame a yellow rather than a red card. Was this a moment of madness or an attempt to bring back focus and passion into the Arsenal team by our old-hand defensive midfielder? You tell me!

Even though the Bournemouth ground, Dean Court, holds only 11000 spectators, there was a loud atmosphere; and the romantic in me thinks it is good to see that clubs with such small stadiums can still make it all the way into the PL. But the Gunners were not affected by the noise of the crowd and slowly played themselves into the game. And, as we got used to during the first half of the season, we took control after a quarter of the game had gone. And by blitz, as we found the net twice in just two minutes, squeezing almost all the juice out of the Cherries instantly with two fine goals.

For the first goal, Bellerin moved towards the middle of the pitch with a nice cameo, dutifully giving the ball to the omnipresent Rambo; the Welsh endurance bunny puts a teasing ball into the box and both Alexis and Giroud are ready to lay it back towards the perfectly positioned Ozil around the penalty spot; the taller one reaches it first and the lay-off is good but not easy for most midfielders; but Mesut, who no doubt had flashbacks last week of his missed opportunities against the Saints, hits the perfect volley, ever so slightly off the ground, leaving the boots-to-neck all green coloured Boric with no chance to save his effort. A sumptuous goal by magic Mesut, and the away fans sang with full gusto the beloved Ozil song.

For the second goal we needed a bit more luck. Sanchez, who was positioned a lot in centre today, had not managed to control a fine pass towards him around the ‘D’, but the hasty clearance landed into the feet of the well positioned Rambo, who saw that the Ox was making a good attacking run towards the left side of the Cherries’ box; the Ox takes one touch and puts in a fine diagonal shot, come cross, into Boric’s right corner, leaving the green man with no chance to save it. The Ox paid Wenger back for his confidence in him and I am really pleased he has finally found the net again.

Two nil to the Arsenal and what’s to do now: defend and wait for more chances on the counter or push on for more goals with the risk of letting them back into the game?

We lost a bit of focus after our second goal but the Cherries did not have the imagination and quality to become more dangerous, even though Gabriel, who had a decent game overall, almost gave a helping hand with some indecisive defending against Pugh. The Brazilian was saved by a great, just-in-time tackle in the box from Hector Vector, who had devoured some Cherry ground to get there. In general, we were set up well defensively, especially in the centre and in front of our ‘D’, not allowing Bournemouth any wiggle room and us dealing well with their occasional pressing game. Afobe tried his best to get the midfield closer to the goal with some fine link-up play, but they just did not have enough quality to really hurt us in the first half.

There is not too much to say about the second half. I don’t think Bournemouth really believed they could get something from this game, but they certainly tried. The Gunners left the initiative to the Cherries and did not bust a gut going forward to get a third goal. They sensed their chances would come to score again and were happy to sit back in the meantime. The players worked hard all over the pitch to disturb any momentum Bournemouth could build up and we saw out the game well, partly due to some fine alert goalkeeping by ‘Clean Sheet Cech’.

So, very good win and vital three points to get us back on track. We have no further injuries and Alexis has had another game to get back to full sharpness, which is clearly still missing. But this was also a good game for our Double DM-pivot: Flamini was disciplined (accept for that one moment of madness) and energetic, and Rambo was at his very best today, showing us all what an athletic and aware box to box midfielder can be capable of in the modern game. Aaron needs to play himself in form which takes time, and I am hoping that he reached a tipping point in today’s game.

Gabriel grabbing his chance

We should also praise Gabriel today: except for the one moment of weakness in the first half, he was solid and positioned himself really well. Does this mean he is to replace the BFG permanently? I don’t think so, even though some will want this. Per needed a rest and Wenger has been giving his key players a rest recently, so expect him to be back soon with Koz to form our first choice central defence.

Bring on those Foxes!

By TotalArsenal.

36 thoughts on “Ozil and Ox Juice the Cherries | Clean Sheet Cech | FlamRam Boss Midfield: Match Review

  • Nice report T A pretty much agree with most of what you have said. The colours were very annoying, at times they just blended into each other and it was difficult to tell who had the ball. Personally I didn’t think Flamini’s tackle was that bad and it certainly would have been a missjustice had he got red.

    For once we got a decent lead and didn’t concede with 12 minutes to go or got a player sent off. All in all it was a pleasantly mediocre match I thought, quite relaxing – not a bad thing.

    The one disappointing thing for me was having tied up a two nil lead we failed to build our lead by catching them on the break. Previous Arsenal sides have been so good at this, but each time we broke away today we seemed a little on the slow side.

    Anyone watching on sky would have seen a funny sketch on the relationship between Ozil and Flamini … Very amusing

  • Cheers Retsub 😀

    Agreed we were a bit slow on the counter. Sanchez was still rusty and Wenger did not put Theo on till it didn’t matter anymore. We definitely won efficiently and like you, I like it.

  • Thanks for this review TA. Appreciated as I missed large parts of the game. Pleased for the Ox and for Gabriel playing well. I would like to see them both feature more prominently going forwards. Perhaps in the big games to come where we don’t play a high line BFG would be the best option but only Wenger really knows how things are panning out within the squad as it evolves day by day. He surprised us with the inclusion of the Ox and it paid off so well. The goals were clinical.

  • I like many people was surprised to see the Ox get a game today. I think I heard the commentator say it was his first away league goal. I really like the Ox and do feel that he will come good. However if it was his first ever away goal, I don’t think Wenger should get too much credit, he could hardly have predicted him scoring based on previous!!!

  • Yes very true retsub, he couldn’t of predicted it. Intersting it was his first away goal!

    Wenger pre-match was saying how Ox was in good form and that’s why he chose him above the others. I think he also knew that this was the right game to give him that chance, show he believes in him and it was the right conditions for the Ox to get that first away goal, paying back the manager in the process.

  • Of course AW should get no credit for picking the Ox…Or he should get total credit…Who cares and what power do we have to change the man or his choices?… As many have suggested, the constant blame/credit thing on the manager is a silly business… We’re all in this together: manager, players, support…everybody… Let’s make it happen, eh?…

    The report is strong TA, but I think we should acknowledge that both Bournemouth and Arsenal are teams trying to play good football and not just cynical crap that hopefully scraps a goal or two. We got the two goals, bam-bam, and played perfectly fine nil-nil football on either side of that couple of minutes. Call it ruthless, call it boring, call it unimpressive, call it what you will…like retsub, overall, I appreciated the lack of drama…

    I also think we have to acknowledge the conditions…There was a mighty wind out there ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izr-5yitrb0 ) blowing from the camera side to the far side which maybe contributed to the blurring of the action. Because of it, much of the action was against the far touch-line so it was all a little weird looking, esp. with cameras only on top of the low rain shelter…

    I don’t think we can take too much from this match except the (very necessary) three points. It was tough out there, we’re struggling for fluency and verve but we got the job done. In the end it’s a results based game and the next test is always the biggest. Is Leicester an uppity Championship team or legitimate title contenders? No matter what happens they’ll still be league leaders after next weekend, but, if we can beat them (and I think it will take a good performance from all 12 of our ‘men’…) things, I think, will be well and truly be ‘up for grabs…’

    Again, let’s make it happen….

  • 17ht here we go again
    “Who cares”
    ” the constant blame/ credit thing on the manager is a silly business”

    Well actually I care quite a lot. As for blame / credit thing, do we just follow like lemmings then, Wenger can do no wrong etc. I love the guy I have gotten a tremendous amount of pleasure out of him and his football. Is he perfect? No,but then again who is? I am hardlly spouting abuse at him.

    I thought the idea of a blog was to encourage debate etc not just to tow the line. Guess I am wrong.

    Sorry this Schoolroom scenario just isn’t for me

  • We are the first ones to criticise Wenger for selecting the ‘wrong player’ or making the ‘wrong substitution’, so let’s give him credit for selecting the Ox. 🙂

    He worked hard and had an OK game with his goal being the crucial contribution.

  • Most PL teams want to play football, Seventeenho, and you contradict yourself by saying we were playing nil nil football before and after the goals….

    Agreed on the wind having been a factor for both teams.

  • Thanks T A appreciate your thoughts. Don’t get me wrong I am not critising Wenger for picking the Ox, in fact when the team get a little stale a clean brush is useful. I was just pointing out that when the team was short of goals, he couldn’t, have expected the Ox who has never done it before to score?. Could he?. For the record I thought the Ox had a decent game, but once again nearly gave away a goal by losing possession to easily

  • I think we were lucky that Gabby played instead of Per.

    Per definitely would have provided height and stability to the defense, but Gabby provided the speed needed against high pressing Bournemouth, and we might need Gabby still for the next match.

    If we play like yesterday we might have a chance against Leicester.


  • Agreed Retsub, going with the Ox’s scoring record he was no obvious choice for getting us a goal. But Wenger sees his players in training and can judge form a lot better than us, so I am happy to give Wenger, and the Ox, a bit of credit.

    The same goes for sticking with Gabriel and Flamini: not my ideal players normally but they did a good job giving BFG another rest and Le Coqxmore time to ease himself back in.

  • Hello, people! 🙂

    Bournemouth play football and it’s a pleasure to play against them. I hope they’ll stay up.

    Cech – another brilliant performance. Which one was better: his first-half save or the double save in the second half?

    Bellerin – a solid performance. Regarding Bellerin, I’d like to see him improving on his crossing. I have a feeling he would be even bigger asset if he works a bit on that part of his game. His touch on crosses looks a bit too hard.

    Monreal – solid display.

    Gabby – he is still raw but offers pace and sharpness. It is essential for us that Koscielny becomes to Gabby what Per has been to Kos – someone who will guide Gabby’s raw quality with commanding skills.

    Kos – he needed a stress-free performance, it wasn’t easy for him since that game at Southampton.

    Flamini – lucky to escape red. Hopefully Le Coq will start against Leicester. I wouldn’t mind seeing Chambers instead of Flamini either. We lack height without Per and CC21 looks comfortable on the ball as well.

    Ramsey – an important role with a preassist for the first goal and an assist for Ox. He should look around him when he has a chance to kill off the game though. It’s been a long-term issue – he is in the counter-attack, has a team-mate in better position but he opts for taking the shot himself and misses. He did it against Newcastle, against City, against Bournemouth. No loss in points, just a few more nails bitten, but this is a league in which goal-difference is a tie-breaker. It’s not just Rambo, Walcott has the same issue.

    Ozil – efficient, leader by example. Scored with his weaker foot.

    Ox – scored a goal that should mean a lot for his confidence.

    Alexis – hasn’t scored in the league since Watford in October. He will eventually start banging them for fun. He looked sharper in previous two outings than yesterday though.

    Giroud – gave an assist for Mesut. He hasn’t been as efficient at set-pieces as he was in the earlier stage of the season. Perhaps he misses Per and their routine at corners?

  • T A Rambo is my favourite player, so my excuse is he didn’t have s great game, he just performed normally. Plus you had sdequately covered him in your match summary, Poor excuse I know.

    Interestingly a player who didn’t have his normal high quality game on Sunday was
    Montreal, He has been one of the star players this season and doesn’t always get credit for it. I thought he looked s little off the pace. Maybe another one in meed of s rest?

  • I see RetsuBo – you is a fan of the Welsh wizard!

    Yeah, Monreal might have been a bit below his high standards yesterday – I did not notice him that much to be fair.

  • Yes T A a fan of the Welsh Wizard I is. The poor lad was given such a tough time when he was Shawcrossed. Seeing your leg hanging off must be pretty traumatic and it was obviously going to take him a while to get over it. Even when he was playing poorly Wenger stuck by him despite the abuse and on a previous blog I was one of the few people defending him. It was a nice feeling when he finally blossomed. That said , playing Rambo at that time wasn’t conducive to getting results, so you could argue both camps.

  • T A a genuine question for you. Apologies off topic. I used to post on Arsenal F C blog. Despite many requests from s hardy few, the site was left neglected and to this day is still receiving bucket loads of Spam. If you look at the latter postings on the last proper post (something about 101 management). You will see that the majority of them appear to gibberish, ramblings (computer generated Maybe?

    I am just intrigued to know what purpose these postings serve? They don’t appear to be advertising anything. Can you explain? Once again sorry to go off topic

  • Retsub, those sort of messages can make it through to a blog’s comment section if there is no filter or there is no comment control. Most of these end up in the spam section straightaway at Bergkampesque. It is a shame to see a blog like that lay dormant and it is not the only one.

  • Yep, I like CC21. 😀 Maybe because wife’s boss prefers chocolate over vanilla. 😉

  • Guys, something to stir up traffic here.

    What do you think we must do to stop Leicester City from playing their usual passing game and press them back?

    Elneny has been absent from the last game, and Le Coq brought on after 65++ minutes, so who is to play in front of the back 4 and protecting them from counter attacking us from the central area?

    Should Rambo stay on the right and Alexis stay on the left wing? Monreal has been exposed a couple of times, due to Alexis not being 100%, which we need him to be against his former club.

    And on the front, Theo to be on top? or Ollie’s hold up play works better?


  • Happy Tuesday…

    Having (once again) stepped in it with some Sunday comments, I took yesterday off…

    Today, I’d like to get back at it but first I need to apologize–once again–for my blithe comments on Sunday night regarding this post and giving (or not giving) credit to the manager for his selections. I (absolutely) didn’t mean to imply that we cannot discuss such things nor that folks need to toe any sort of line about how to support (or not support) the club or the manager or individual players.

    Retsub, I very much value your thoughts and opinions so please keep giving them. That we’ve had so many misunderstandings over the past couple of weeks is really upsetting to me…

    Enough said, for now at least…

  • JK, there’s plenty of time to figure out our line-up for the Sunday match and surely Wenger will be signaling his ideas as the week moves on…

    I don’t picture anything too radical and certainly no moving players into new positions…

    My hunch is one change, Le Coq for Flamini, but we’ll see. That means Giroud, I think, starts up top, Ox on the right and Gabby in the BFG spot…

    I’m not sure what you mean about “pressing them back.” Leicester seem more than happy to play on the counter… If anything we’ll need to be extra wary about not committing too many men forward and super-keen to have a very disciplined FB-DM rotation. If one of the FBs goes forward the DM should cover deep on the vacated side and the other FB should drop deep and cover the center of the park.

  • 17ht no need to apologise, you have your point of view and I have mine. It’s very gentlemanly of you to apologise, but underneath it must be very annoying / irritating / frustrating for you. I can sense this in your last sentence. Listen, at the end of the day your contribution to this blog is far more important than my incoherent ramblings. If we are going to continue to clash I am more than happy to stand aside. You obviously take far more attention and pride in your postings, whereas I tend to shoot from the hip. I will be honest and say that sometimes I miss some of your subliminel ( I think that’s the right word, I am not being derogative ) messages In some of your longer posts and probably appear a little insensitive.

    As I say I don’t want to spoil this blog for other people and certainly do not want to hog the limelight. I don’t think I am ever abusive to anyone (other than Spurs fans) and very rarely swear, other than at the TV on match days. However I am what I am and will continue to say what I think. If it is going to divert the momentum in what is a friendly and knowledgable blog, I will happily disappear with no hard feelings.

    Ps Retsub is my old Labrador, now sadly departed spelt backwards. If you google it, it is also a space craft in Star Wars . I am sitting here with Racso, who is a mischievous 2 year old lab. Maybe if I switched to Racso, I would develop a new persona, kidding

  • Retsub, big thanks for the response… You are absolutely NOT spoiling the blog for anybody… If anybody is doing such a thing I’m looking at him in the mirror…

    I would likely be a cheerier fellow if I could get over the loss of my dog. I think I’m getting close and this spring could see a new puppy for us. I really miss our old girl who we played god on two years ago. In fact, this Saturday will mark that sad anniversary…

    In fact, I think it’s time to change my avatar (back to her image) as the guys in mine no longer make the Arsenal first 11…

  • Retsub, you also shouldn’t worry about my last sentence (above). I’m having a little trouble with my computer (browser issues) so I actually wrote more but have been breaking it up as it isn’t posting reliably… Luckily, I’ve saved it so maybe I can do a little cut and paste and turn it into a coherent comment…

  • 17ht nice dog sorry for your loss. If I can work out how to do it you might see Oscar later.
    I would like to think that I have a fairly good relationship with Americans. I spent over 30 years working for American Banks and had numerous American bosses. I often state that I am well travelled in the States, but I don’t think around 13 visits to Florida and 15 to New York count for much. Didn’t the West get colonised at some time? Of course getting put in prison in the Middle East on a triple murder charge ( A guy with exactly the same name as me from Scotsdale Arizona). Didn’t enhance my Uk/ US relationship status.

    Anyway I am rambling off topic and apologise for doing so. A long winded way of saying we’re cool lets move on

  • Geezus, retsub, that’s a hell of a story (and surely the long version is MUCH more harrowing)… Yes, the west is the best and you should come for a visit… 😀 Long-winded?… Now you’re taking the piss… More smileys

    Yeah, ‘Mericans… People shouldn’t be put off (too much) by the extremes of the American political speech which may reach a bit of a peak here today (or tomorrow, for y’all)… There are some nice people who don’t need a hundred guns (or a wall…) to protect ourselves from everybody who looks or talks not quite the same as we do…

    Same as Arsenal supporters whose views don’t quite match my own… I have lots more to say on this topic (as per usual) but I’ll hold off and maybe turn it into a post, unless TA has something else on tap…) Long week here before the big match, after all… plus I have some business to conduct before some midday snow recreation…

    Thanks again, retsub… Re: the face in the avatar…Half Lab, half Husky, pretty ideal for our climate and activities… Lived to 18 years and I still feel a lot of misgivings about ending it there…

    Time to end, as I began…

    Happy Tuesday…

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