All is Well that Ends Welbeck: Reliving a Bad Film that Ends Like the Bolero

Having now watched our games against LC for a second time, I can conclude that my initial views were pretty much on the mark  (see previous post). We did not struggle to break them down but lacked a bit of composure and quality to make it count for large parts of the game. Despite the Foxes’ military position taking, we managed to get behind and through them on many occasions and that will bode well for the future. It is fair to say we need to become more clinical up front and I am sure we will once Alexis and Theo have found their shooting boots again. The problem is not that we don’t have a beast of a CF but two months without the Chilean firecracker and a serious lack of form by Teflon Theo have been a challenge for us in the goal department. Hopefully this will change now.

It is not easy to play a team that sits back so deep, works hard to deny you every bit of space, loves to foul and is deadly on the counter. Ranieri is an Italian who knows how to make his team defend, and you can see why Wenger thinks that Mourinho’s successful first stint at the Chavs was largely built on the foundations laid by the current Foxes’ manager. There was much to admire about Leicester on Sunday: the way they worked as a solid team, had a clear plan (including some Machiavellian elements of stealthily kicking our creative players regularly) and broke lightning fast every time we lost the ball in midfield during the first half of the game. There was not a single weakness in their team and we had to work very, very hard to undo them.

The referee spoiled this game by letting the Foxes make too many fouls and disrupting our flow in the process among other malpractice. I have nothing against defensive strategies but it is up to the referee to make sure that regular fouling of key players does not go unpunished: it takes a good one to find a perfect balance and Atkinson was very poor at this, especially in the first half. The fact that he blew the whistle almost every time an Arsenal player got physical with a LC player was the most infuriating of it all.
And then there was the moment that saw Vardy, the fox of Foxes (doesn’t he look like a wily, dirty fox?), climb into Nacho to force a penalty on us through the easily seduced Atkinson. Football is a sport in which clubs pay their key players enough to buy a house every week and yet we are relying on the whim and subjectivity of the referee and a couple of linesmen to decide the outcome of key moments, and with that often games and even competitions and tournaments.

Danny Simpson’s sending off was a big turning point in the match, of course. Should he have been sent off? He should have had a yellow card earlier in the game for an assault on Alexis, but his first yellow was harsh nevertheless, and it all felt like the gullible referee was making up for his mistakes in the first half. The second one he did deserve, though, and was down to his own stupidity: when regular fouling becomes a mentality it is hard to switch off, even when on a last warning.

Defending with ten men is not the end of the world, especially if you are in front, and LC just stuck to BAU (business as usual) by making a few changes to replace the tired or sent off warriors with like for likes and leaving Vardy alone up-front (where he remained a menace till the end).

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We had about forty minutes to cracks this skulk of Foxes and we needed something different. Off went the slowly getting up to speed Coquelin and on came Theo on the right, with the, once again hot and cold, Ox moving deeper. He made a difference straightaway with his fresh legs and extravert desire and the whole team benefited from it. We became more dangerous and started to get closer to scoring; moreover, the tempo increased and the foxes started to show signs of fatigue and confusion. And finally we got our well-deserved equaliser: a fine cross by Bellerin is pin-cushioned into the path of our own fox in the box, Theo, who stayed cool when Schmeichel junior jumps wildly towards him.

After that we smelled the Foxes’ blood, but bad finishing by the likes of Alexis and Rambo and heroic defending just kept us from the all-important second goal. Giroud hammered one towards goal from close range, but just a bit too high, and the keeper was able to get a strong hand to it. Mesut landed one beauty of a cross on the BFG’s head but his improvised header went the wrong side of the post. Despite all the effort we were not going to score, but then we were given the very last gift through a silly foul by the one who had replaced the earlier sent off player who had been silly as well…very un-fox like. 🙂

Up steps Mesut and his free-kick is so good that three Gunners could have scored from it, had Danny not cushioned it in with his fine, well-trimmed carpet of hair straightaway.

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It was like the final few tunes of the Bolero and the orgasmic sight of the players running in triangle shape towards the fans will stay with us for a long time.
By TotalArsenal.

With thanks to the Guardian for pictures above.

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19 Responses to All is Well that Ends Welbeck: Reliving a Bad Film that Ends Like the Bolero

  1. allezkev says:

    That was a good review of the game Total…

    Leicester play to their strengths and they do it very well, so winning this game was no mean feat.
    The fact that hardly any of our competitors have beaten them this season, and certainly not twice, says something about the quality of our team, who have stayed in contention despite an awful run of injuries…

    But that isn’t enough for some…

    I read in some sources, that our players did a lap of honour at the end of the game.
    I sensed that in certain sections of the media the beginnings of a ‘knocking’ campaign, a theme of reporting that could grow into ‘let’s criticise Arsenal for triumphalism’ which included the mild criticism of the pictures appearing on social media of our players celebrating the result in the dressing room.

    Of course those journalit’s, knocking our players for a lap of honour, deliberately ignored the fact that a majority of our players regularity thank the fans at the end of every home game.
    But don’t lets the facts get in the way eh?

    Pictures on social media is a modern phenomenon, so get over it…

    But that’s all normal I guess, it’s part of being an Arsenal fan, having to read between the lines to decipher the press agenda and what way they are going to ‘dig out’ our team…

    We won, we’re still in the mix for the EPL title, in fact if we get the rub of the green and hopefully avoid Mike Dean, for the remainder of the season after this weekend, we’re very much in the mix for another domestic Double…

  2. njk84sg says:

    I was also on the edge of my seat for most of the game, after the penalty which I thought I saw a foot stamped on softly, but that penalty was very very harsh.

    The 2nd yellow to Lester which got them a man down looked harsh too, but that was when I started to breathe a little more normally. I was giving up until then.

    The free kicks from Ozil were top class and we could have won it if Per used a little more strength. Just that wee bit more. And we might not stay on the edge of our chairs until the very last minute.

    There are more ifs for Alexis and Rambo, but that was history, so, let’s turn our focus to Hull City.

    JK

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers guys 🙂

    The world still exists then! Will get to you later today.

  4. Hey TA, sorry for getting to this one late… I saw it last night and knew I’d write a comment this morning but the thought passed over me that maybe I should write a “placeholder” comment, you know…”Great post, very true, too tired to respond at the moment, etc., etc.” In other words, I was worried that this one wouldn’t get a lot of comments. Like AK said in the last one, there was no transfer tittle and worse, there wasn’t even a bad result to celebrate. Hell, there weren’t even any obvious digs at lucky, lucky Arsenal and their escape after being outplayed by media darlings and fairy tale princes, Leicester City…

    My theory is this: The Goonersphere, for much worse than better, arose due extreme frustrations due to the ineffectiveness of the more normal call and response of the media leading disgruntled fans into shows of stadium protest which lead to managerial changes, in this the first part of the 21st century, aka, the internet age. The Arsenal “brand,” partly created by our manager and the fine football to which he aspires, attracts a more educated crowd who might have enjoyed the beautiful football for a bit. Once the winning shut off, however, the solution was something altogether different and more normal: blame the architect (Wenger) and tear that building down…

    So, what do we do when we’ve sharpened our spears and soaked our torches, but then, out of nothing, a guy like Wasilewski (Arsenal player of the year?…) punches Nacho in the face and Martin Atkinson is forced to give a foul and Arsenal steal the match in orgasmic fashion? Other things…until we slip up vs Hull in the domestic cup, get our asses handed to us by a club which takes cheating to a much more extreme level (“Uh, Luis, if you want out at Pool, just bite somebody at the WC….” ) or revive the Van Gaal project (or will it be Moo-rinho’s debut?…) up at Old Trafford…

    So, no worries, folks will be back and commenting, Arsenal just have to slip up…We were oh so close, but alas, this one got away…

    😀 😦

  5. 17highburyterrace says:

    Continuing on…and I have to admit that I’ve got lots of other things to do so no posts for me until the preview, probably on Friday… (Sorry–gotta drive across the state on parent care/business stuff…)

    You’re absolutely spot on about the referee ruining things by 1) turning a blind eye to the handball shout, 2) allowing the serial fouling by LC, including the ridiculous pounding Ozil took at the start of their breakaway and 3) Rewarding Vardy’s Suarez-esque tap and dive penalty, Now, it could be argued that we did some cynical things, too… Coquelin’s earlier (I think…) take out of Mahrez near the half way line (which earned him a yellow) and Kos’ attempt on Kante between the Ozil-Morgan incident at the one end and the Vardy-Nacho at the other of the key play… He got yellow and he hurt himself, so the punishment fit the crime. Props to Kante for jumping out of the way and keeping the play moving.

    There were other pivotal incidents… Earlier, Ramsey probably should have forced the issue and tried the tap and (flying) dive over Schmeichel on that delicious pass from Ozil that saw the fat blonde and purple-clad keeper leave his box for the do or die… Replays suggest Rambo–if he had been thinking about things more cynically (i.e. playing to get the red card for Schmeichel…) probably could have gotten there. Maybe he worries too much about a(nother) major injury… A FK and Leicester down to 10 after 20 minutes would have also killed the spectacle but it is simply how the game is played (see Robben in the CL vs Szcz, a couple years back, for example)… Shame on you, Aaron, for wanting to actually “beat” the keeper and roll the ball into the empty net, not to mention living to play another day…

    The MOST heartening thing, however, was that the supporters (in the stadium, at least) turned their rage upon Atkinson (rather than Wenger and/or his players) and he buckled. The two Simpson yellows (on either side of failing to give yellow for a Mahrez dive, too similar to Vardy’s…) were exactly what the game needed to avoid a high-speed leg breaker like the one Ramsey got at Stoke and almost got again late on when Drinkwater got all leg and no ball… I keep checking NewsNow for the retroactive red card, but I haven’t seen anything…Instead, it’s multiple headlines suggesting “Barca in talks to buy Ozil”…

    Anyhow, down to 10, the advantage swung our way but it was heavy going. Finally we got the leveler but it seemed like they were going to hold out until the Wasilewski gift foul and the Welbeck header. Chambers, who seems revived since that nice goal in the FA Cup vs Burnley, would have placed the ball in the other corner if Welbeck hadn’t glanced his header in… (Well spotted, TA…)

    I dunno, I don’t think there’s too much you can take from a match that was so badly officiated–and don’t get me started on the handball Clattenburg gave in the other match,though that one badly “needed a goal,” as they say… Atkinson and Plugs, as many probably already know, are considered the two “best” English refs, and our representatives to work the Euros, hence their assignment for these Super Sunday matches… Consider my mind blown, and not in a good way…Very worrisome re: the future of the English game, etc., etc…

    What it all adds up to is the true mountain we face when you put it all together. You got that section of our support that won’t be unhappy if results go against Wenger’s lads, plus the refs and the media. On Monday I found Football 365 and their mediawatch column which seems a winner. The headline was “Arsenal taken to task for celebrating win over Leicester,” or something thereabouts and it shows a litany of back page headlines and ‘analyses’ all designed to denigrate our club… Check it out, if you can… So, against all those forces, the accomplishments of this Arsenal team maybe are all the more impressive and that late winner feels both deserved and, perhaps, a turning point…

    In my opinion, we’ll see, etc., etc…

  6. retsub1 says:

    Well written T A, the lack of responses is in no way a reflection on the interest in your article, or the fact that we won the match. I think it’s much simpler than that. As you said yourself you had pretty much covered the match in your earlier report. I know I had used up all my ramblings on the initial post.
    There is so much rubbish on the net about transfers etc, I tend to ignore most of it. Seems to me that much of this is driven by the title ” Arsenal Legend spotted in Barcelona”. Which turns out to be the ball boys , cousins little sister.

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers to all 🙂

    It is clear that we all support the team in different ways but the passion for the club is there and that is the main thing. I do think the media spoils a lot of the enjoyment with their need to attract readers and willingness to feast on fear and worry of the fans. On top of that, there is an army of fans who genuinely believe they can do a better job than Wenger and/or that they know a manager who can do much better than Wenger. The latter may be true but nobody can be certain of this.

    Could things be better? Yes but not much better, and they certainly could be much worse. I think if experienced, well-established and quality squads like those at the Southern and Northern Oilers cannot dominate the league then it is clear that there is a lot of competition in our league and absolutely every game is a battle for three points. I am proud that we are well in this title race despite the injuries over the last few months, and beating Leicester home and away, the only team to do this this season, is something to be happy about. And I am happy that our BK bloggers are happy about this too and like to look at the positives rather than indulge in the whinging I can see on so many other blogs. We have a good team, a great team spirit, a very good manager and we are fighting for all the key prizes… Ooh to be,.. 🙂

  8. retsub1 says:

    Hah great videos T A particularly enjoyed the Mumbai piece. Supporting Arsenal has always been a personal thing for me (no one else in the house is interested in football). Brings it home what an international brand Arsenal are.

    You even managed to include my favourite goal, the RVP volley at Charlton

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Retsub 🙂

    Same here. In fact, first ten years of supporting the team was in isolation of fellow Gooners. It was only when I started working in London when I started talking Arsenal with other Gooners. In that respect, the blog world is a huge improvement. 🙂

  10. allezkev says:

    Arsène Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Hull City:
    on Laurent Koscielny…
    Koscielny is doing well. He has a test this morning and he looks positive.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160218/team-news-koscielny-gabriel-and-elneny#DLCwv7JfdUmKv0Ad.99

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Good news Kev. I am sooo happy that we are likely to have a very good squad to play the Catalans next week. They have an awesome team but with the right tactics and players available we could hurt them. And Koz will be key to have available then.

  12. davydavy says:

    I think that this was a most interesting post TA!

    Until now, I had no idea just how very Italian the way Leicester play actually is. It’s a classic combination of a top quality keeper, a massed compact defence, midfielders (and strikers) who rotationally foul and harrass their opponents into playing too hastily, and the whole team doing all they can to disrupt the other team’s ability to play creatively. On the counter they move forward directly into attack with fast transitions toward a pacy and clinical finisher, often hoping to catch wing-backs out of position..

    It’s very effective in the Premier League, where defence is a bit of a lost art, and in truth we could have been two or three down at half-time were it not for Cech’s excellent goal-keeping. But we dominated them territorially and once we worked out their vulberability down the flanks it was just a matter of time before we equalised.

    I wonder if other teams could adopt the Italian game with the same success. When Arsene Wenger hangs up his managers boots, I wonder if an Italian manager could one day do a job for the Arsenal, someone young and tactically astute like Allegri perhaps?

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Davyx2. I definitely like to see us defend more assured at times, even though we have a good defensive record this season. The Italian clubs are struggling to keep in touch with the European elite, so I am not sure it would work for Arsenal to play the Italian way. A good balance between attack and defensive seems the way forward and the role of the midfield is key in this. I cannot wait to see how Wenger will populate the midfield against Barcelona next week; it might a sign of things to come…

  14. RA says:

    A super dooper Post, Totality. 🙂

    I was slightly puzzled [a frequent occurrence in life for yours truly] by the headline title; with the final words ‘that ends like the Bolero’.

    Que? The bolero is a type of Spanish dance isn’t it? My mum used to wear another garment also called a bolero – probably taken from the dance – but either way I could not make the connection between Dan the Man and some poofy dance or a woman’s shawl?

    But I suspect you are going to tell me. 😀

  15. RA says:

    Unsurprisingly, I loved the way you described the game and it was pretty much the way I saw it too.

    With the opening goal scored well by Theo, i think a little credit is due to our big lad, Giro, who did gently cushion Belli’s cross down to be wellied into the net. No pun intended.

    And thank you for educating me that a ‘skulk of foxes’ was the group noun for a bunch of foxes. I had never heard that before – a ‘skulk of bloggers’ gathered around to chat about footie, maybe, but even then I had never thought of that before either. 🙂

  16. 17highburyterrace says:

    New Post

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