Tottenham-Arsenal: Match Preview, Projected Line-up. Of All the Places to Go to Save the Season, Who Would Have Believed

it would be White Hart Lane?

http://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i/?img=/photo/2016/0223/r56460_1296x729_16-9.jpg&w=738&site=espnfc

I wouldn’t have, but, indeed, that’s what this Arsenal team must do.

If my last preview was “Now or Never” this one is “Do or Die.”

But that’s what the North London Derby is all about. When Gooners feel bad, when they are ripping their own club to shreds–demanding the heads of the manager (or the owner) or hoping to never see this (that or the other…) player wearing the shirt–the only viable outlet is to trudge north up the Seven Sisters Road and take it out on that lot.  Cocks on balls, desperate to emerge from the shadow, etc., etc., etc., I really don’t care: this is OUR chance to turn the focus outwards and give as good as we get.

The toxicity in our part of North London can be measured with a Geiger counter, but that gets pushed aside.  If there’s an opportunity to let loose with a weapon of mass destruction–biological, chemical or nuclear–we all know where we want it to land.

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Tottenham, despite their 1-nil loss in another London derby (at West Ham, on Wednesday, while we were capitulating at home to Swansea), still sit three points above us and three points behind league leaders Leceister (man, oh man, I’m getting tired of that alliteration…) and would go top of the table with a win given the early kick-off.  Of course, we could go even on points and–despite our current woeful form–get a massive boost in the title race.

Despite that blip, and the fact that they’ve looked suspect on their home pitch at times, including a recent home loss to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, Spurs are good this season.  We know that from the derby at our stadium which required a late Kieran Gibbs equalizer to salvage a point.  Does playing at home actually shift the pressure onto them?

I don’t know about that, but Gooners are down to grasping at straws.  Our goal scoring has evaporated, our midfield–with injuries to more technical types like Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta–hasn’t delivered and now our rearguard is racked.  In consecutive losses to Barcelona, Manchester United and Swansea we’ve lost one of our most direct attackers (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) and our most important defenders, center back Laurent Koscielny and goalkeeper Petr Cech.

A sliver of hope (thinner than an actual straw, I fear) might be the fact that we have already won at the Lane this season.  It was in the Capital One Cup back in September and, guess what, featured David Ospina in goal with Per Mertesacker and Callum Chambers ahead of him.  In fact, Chambers scored that day–in his own goal, unfortunately, however–as did Mathieu Flamini, who scored twice.  In the correct goal, no less.  Should manager Arsene Wenger (at last check, he’s still manager, sorry…) start Chambers and Flamini?  Why not?  Nothing else seems to be working.  Gabriel Paulista, in for Mertesacker at ManUnited and for Koscielny vs Swansea, looks a haunted figure, while Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin haven’t been able to get in on the goals nor prevent our opponents from outscoring us.  (Coquelin, in fact, in his Arsenal career, has two fewer goals than Flamini scored that day at Spurs.)

I jest, of course. But what should the manager do?  Including Chambers and Flamini doesn’t really seem all that far-fetched.  Desperate times and all that…

Football is a simple game.  Somehow we have to get the ball in their net more times than they get it in ours.  West Ham won by way of an early set piece and then outfighting Spurs and keeping a clean sheet.  Do we have more promise at one end than the other or anything else that would give the manager a clue?

Hard to say.

The team, at least at the back (due to injury), more or less picks itself, although sending Gabby out again, in my opinion, would take some verdadero (real) cajones.  (Sorry for the mangled Spanish but I don’t know the word in French, in English it’s ‘bollocks,’ I believe…)  Chambers sends the shivers up others’ spines.  Mertesacker (believe it or not) seems the only sure pick ahead of Ospina.

Up front there are the goal scoring troubles of Olivier Giroud vs the lack of touches AND goals from Theo Walcott.  Press from the front (Theo) or a have hold up player who could serve as a target (and protection at set pieces) for Ospina?  Talk about your tough choices…  (Or maybe this is the match we go for the blitz and play ’em both?)  In the wider positions do you stick with out-of-form Alexis Sanchez, the guy who scored the goal (but is not nearly as good an all-round player), Joel Campbell, or both?  Does Danny Welbeck step in for one or the other?  Your guess is as good as mine and Wenger will have made the right or wrong choice depending only upon the result.  Throwing darts this time, here’s my guess at the starting group:

Subs: Macey, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Elneny, Campbell, Giroud

Spurs are a good team, and, especially if they’ve watched tape of our recent matches, they should be smelling blood.  They also might be nervous in front of their home crowd and that old inferiority complex could crop up.  Who knows?  As much as this should have been our year to win the title, they are in the pole position with both their points total and the home pitch advantage–if such things still exist.  Another sliver of hope: Michael Oliver, the guy that sent Angel Di Maria off the pitch last season at Old Trafford (and out the door at Manchester United), doesn’t seem a referee unduly influenced by a preponderance of violent nutters in the home crowd.

I’d love it if I could use my go-to platitudes about winning the technical battles in the center of the pitch and taking our chances as they come, but, right now, I fear that Spurs might be stronger there. I could also talk about pressing their back line from the front (which I do believe is our best tactical choice, especially if Wenger opts for an attack like the one I’ve suggested) but they’re pretty strong playing it forward and even better on the counter.  I could argue about dominance at set pieces (which would justify Giroud in the first eleven) but that’s a worry too.

Instead, I’ll take a leaf from Tottenham’s book and say that in the NLD form goes out the window and anything can happen.  Please dennis, let the bounces fall our way, let the ref see their fouls (but not ours), and, most of all, please (please, please) let us score more goals than they do.

GO.ON.THEN…!!!

by 17highburyterrace

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76 Responses to Tottenham-Arsenal: Match Preview, Projected Line-up. Of All the Places to Go to Save the Season, Who Would Have Believed

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Good and well balanced preview, Seventeenho 🙃

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    Starting line up, for me, needs fighters with experience, quality and pride. So first player on team sheet is Flamini. Flam and Coq in double DM, behind them Bel, BFG, Gabby, Nacho, and in front same as against Swansea, except Rambo playing instead of Campbell on the right mid wing for balance and grit.

  3. retsub1 says:

    Yep well written 17ht. I was so fed up after Swansea the other night, have gone into hibernation.. Couple of things worth mentioning. When Spurs came to the Emirates earlier this season, they totally bossed the midfield. I haven’t checked but last I heard Dembele was out is good news. I haven’t seen much of Elneny but maybe he should be included?

    Many times in the past 20 years or so Spurs have threatened our regular 4th place. Invariably they get a nose bleed and screw up. I think tomorrow may be won or lost on mental strength. Important that he picks players who are up for it.

    I don’t think Theo deserves a start, he was truly awful against United.

    Lastly a throw away thouht, maybe it’s time for a youngster to get a chance. It’s worked out before ((Rashford). That said I think we should mix things up a little tomorrow

    Ospina

    Ballerin. Mertesaker. Gabriel. Montreal

    Coquelin. Elneny

    Rambo. Ozil. Alexis

    Welbeck

  4. 17highburyterrace says:

    Cheers TA & Retsub… and nothing but good points made. The line-ups (and ideas) are interesting too. I guess all three of us are willing to give Gabby another go–or we buy into the idea that Per can make it work for him or something. Chambers, I think has done well in his (few) appearances since that run of own goals but they’ve been at RB and DM… Elneny, I fear, was bought a window earlier than AW wanted to buy him (maybe like Nacho a couple of years back) and, no matter what, we’ll need some fresh legs for the Hull match in midweek.

    The early starts for me are tough…Maybe I should just start drinking now and try and stay up all evening?…

    Happy Friday, at least…

  5. retsub1 says:

    I don’t know what is worse. Waiting all weekend for a Sunday afternoon game and then losing, or losing early Saturday and then having to be miserable all weekend.

    Hopefully it will be smiles all weekend. If they lose the Sunday morning dog walk at 7am with 3 Spurs supporters is going to be pretty tough

  6. Pony Eye says:

    Great job HT.

    Tot play with more bodies in the MF, and high pressing. I believe our best option is to respond in kind even though our best ball players, as HT pointed out, are out injured. That would mean a battle of MF, and we should tip our attack with a speedy front 3 for the quick breakaways. This rules out Giroud.

    That would also mean adopting the 4:3:3 or 4:1:4:1

    ——————–Ospina——————-
    Bel————-Per——Gab———–Nacho
    ———Eln———Coq———Ram——–
    Welbk———Ozil———-Alexis

    Those front three have enough pace in them, and they are all hard workers which lifts them above Walcott. Three in the middle also affords Rambo greater freedom for those late vital runs into opposition box.

    Our game plan should be to neutralize Tot’s MF, stay compact, and grab a goal or two from quick thrusts. If we are able to nick a victory here, our chances of winning the league would improve dramatically. Leicester are no longer flying under the radar, so I believe they would loose a lot of points in this home stretch.

    Just hoping that my thinking is identical to Wenger’s.

  7. Ab says:

    Good stuff HT. As you have done here, we have to stay positive and remember our track record. Poor runs always end, and we will bounce back, often where least is expected of us.

    I’m not sure what the bookies are betting on this game, but the Spuds have to go in as favourites on balance. They are at home, in better form than us, and most of their key players are fit. They also have less to lose from this game; a loss for us is probably fatal, whilst for them they remain second and very much still in the title chase. So I go into this game with high hopes but low expectations. It could not be a better time or place for us to bounce back. But we will need to show real fight, patience and discipline if we are to get something tomorrow.

    You have posed a few questions in your intro here, which are pretty hard to answer. I go with your same back and middle 7. I don’t see Gab being dropped for Chambers, as that would be a major blow to his confidence. The guy can play, and I’m sure Wenger will be reminding him of that, building him up and stressing what the team need from him tomorrow. Flamini is tempting after the cup game, and Coq has been rusty since his injury. But can I see Flam holding the spuds attack, and shielding our makeshift defence? He would put in the effort, but I’m not sure of the end product. Elneny doesn’t look ready to me for a game of this intensity. So, unless Coq needs to be rested, like you I presume Flam starts on the bench.

    Ozil and Sanchez must start. Despite Sanchez being off form, we cannot leave him out; we have to persist until he finds it, and where better than the lane.

    So that leaves the 2 hardest places to predict, I think. Campbell had a pretty good game on Weds, and having played little of late he should be fresh enough to start again tomorrow. Danny has looked impressive each time he has come on, and there would be no surprise to see him start tomorrow given his pace, work rate and form. Giroud, whatever people may think of him, remains our best striker, our only hold up player, and an effective defensive presence. His form is poor measured in goals, but the margins have been very fine. Walcott looks least deserving of a start to me, based on form; but his form against the spuds has sometimes been more memorable.

    It would be tempting to pick Welbeck up front with Campbell on the RW, based on recent form. I’d love to see us try this, but I’m not sure that a game of this magnitude is where you experiment so much. That leaves me going with Giroud up front and Campbell, based on form on the right. Danny and Theo represent pretty good attacking options on the bench. Lets hope we find our shooting boots tomorrow, and miss the woodwork on this occasion.

  8. davydavy says:

    What a pity Thomas can’t play, because the stage is perfectly set for him. But no matter, I can see a big game coming from Campbell. I would start with both Campbell and Giroud, and probably would stick with Gabriel as long as big Per is beside him telling him what to do. Welbeck, Flamini and Theo look like good options to bring on if we need to.

    This game is all about psychology, both pressure and motivation. More pressure will be applied to the Spurs team by their deluded home crowd whereas our team will have our wonderful away fans egging them on.

    Motivation also points to an Arsenal victory here – for us, anything but three points would probably mean the end of our title challenge, so we will be focused on the win and nothing but. On the other hand, Spurs would still be in a decent position even if they draw or lose, The mentality of ‘a draw will do’ might creep into their thinking, and then their focus and intensity drops a notch or two.

    It’s all set up for our second win this season at the Lane – come on you Gunners!

  9. Gerry says:

    Brief one from me HT – Saturday is a busy day … but I will be watching the match live. I just hope I can find the lucky ‘bobble hat’ that has gone missing!

    Good job on the preview in difficult circumstances. Not a lot to disagree on the line up v AW’s version either.
    My observations are these:
    Chambers v Gabriel – Per does not mind playing on the left, and has Monreal for cover. So Chambers on the right is not a bad call? … and the latter is probably better at backing up Bellerin on that side of our defence?

    Welbeck v Cambell – I’m not sure that Welbs is that convincing on the right, but nor am I convinced that Cambell compliments Bellerin’s attacking game. Campbell will be buzzing after MOTM performance last time, so gets the nod from me.

    Formation – 4-2-3-1 v 4-3-3/4-4-2? I do not see much future for any of our strikers if they are left isolated? To move Alexis alongside Giroud(my choice) does mean you need cover for Monreal. PE’s thought of Ramsey on the left of a 3 man midfield, or in a 4-4-2; Ramsey Ozil, Coquelin, and Campbell does have a fair defensive look, and a potent attack? Could backfire if the get too attack-minded. But with Ram/Coq as the stay backs, and Ozil/Joel for the counter, could be exciting … and different?

    HT – If you want to run with my earlier comment you liked, irrespective of the result today, then feel free. Just remind people that had we been a Mancs or a Chelsea we would have bought players that would have complimented Ozil more or less at the same time. Perhaps instead of our ground being called the ‘Emirates’, if SS(Silent Stan) had coughed up £300m plus and we were now at ‘Walmart Grove’ things could have been different? Instead of trying to make the best of the players we have …
    In other words, don’t blame the water carrier!

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Some fine analytical comments on here over night and morning doing Seventtenho’s fine preview justice.

    I don’t feel like saying too much about the game as the biggest change that needs to happen sits between 22 ears. And that’s where Wenger will have to excel today.

    Up the Arsenal 💥💥💥

  11. allezkev says:

    Form and confidence can be an elusive element for any team and if you’re struggling for it, a slice or two of good luck can suffice, like getting away with a clear foul before your team equalises (Ozil/Swansea)…

    Maybe today is our turn, because whatever the system/personnel, sometimes it comes down to the ‘rub of the green’ and it’s about time we enjoyed a bit of that…

    Great work 17tino..,

    COYG

  12. retsub1 says:

    Yep agreed Kev, we need some luck today. Mental strength is huge today and we need players to stand up and be counted. Don’t want to put a damper on things, but if Spurs score first I think we could be in a lot of trouble. Historically we have given them a goal or two start and still thumped them. So come on lads toughen up and make us proud.

  13. Ab says:

    I’m not liking the look of our 11 here. Do we play 4,3,3? No Nacho either – injured, or rested? And Spuds welcome Dembele back, which is also a blow. We need to be up for this as we can expect a real assault from the start today.

  14. Pony Eye says:

    Ab, Spurs overan our midfield the last time because they had more bodies there. Rambo will be drifting in to correct that imbalance. So it’ll be more of a 4:3:3. This is a game any number can win.

  15. Ab says:

    PE you are right of course. This is an open game. But we are playing a rejigged side, whilst they have their best 11 effectively out against us. Lots of pressure on us already

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Listening to the radio. It is on at a local pub but every time I went there we lost….

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Sounds like we are being dominated with little possession. Hearing that Elneny has started well.

  18. Ab says:

    Backs to the wall at the moment. We are weathering it but don’t seem to be able to hold the ball at all when we do have it. No threat so far at all by us.

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Who is going to command the team into regaining dominance right now? CoyGs! 😳

  20. Ab says:

    Too many yellow cards coming in. Grief I’m sounding like Glic! Where is that man? Hiding behind a sofa somewhere

  21. Ab says:

    We need Mert to be commanding at the back. And for Ozil or Sanchez to take things on up front

  22. TotalArsenal says:

    He only supports when we have won, Ab. 😉

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    That would be me, TA, except that it’s awfully early (in the morning) here…

    Interesting and very defensive line-up and most of the action is down at our end thus far… These early yellows are a bit frightening as was the ball that Ospina had to save…

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    Good to hear the fans singing the Mesut song

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    RAMBO!!!!

  26. oz gunner says:

    get in ramsey!!!

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    Get in! Fucking brilliant 😳

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    “That was quick thinking three times by Arsenal”

    1-0 to the Arsenal! Love it.

  29. TotalArsenal says:

    Hey Oz, how you doing

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    Tutut tutut Danny Welbeck

  31. oz gunner says:

    F*cking brilliant now TA. Yourself?

    Could have easily had another after that goal. Dream start really and we look dangerous on the break!

  32. TotalArsenal says:

    We will take that thank you very much! Second half will be tough though.

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    Yeah Oz, shame we did not get a quick second, but we cannot complain being in the lead.

    All good with me too. You enjoying last of the summer?

  34. oz gunner says:

    Very tough but they will leave openings on the counter. Hopefully Bellerin can keep a cool head and doesn’t get sent off.

    It has been good. Have been locked up all summer though with work. humidity has been a killer at times. I bet your looking forward to the warmth coming.

  35. retsub1 says:

    Well played lads. We were getting caught in possession too many times early on, particularly Rambo, Mertesaker and Bellerin. Great goal by Rambo that will do his confidence a powere of good

    Great save by Ospina, he must be under a lot of pressure

    Good to see Gabriel yelling at everyone, not sure they understand him though

    Have s horrible feeling a sending off could be a big factor here. The two favourites Coquelin and Lamela. We should pressurise Lamela as much as possible.

    Squeaky bum time for both teams in the 2nd half. Substitutions old be crucial

    COYG

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    Commentators very positive about Elneny – good to hear it

  37. TotalArsenal says:

    It has been exceptionally wet here, Oz, so yes Spring cannot come soon enough. CoyGs

  38. TotalArsenal says:

    Fingers crossed nobody gets sent off, Retsubster

  39. TotalArsenal says:

    They are saying Le Coq is also playing well…

  40. oz gunner says:

    idiot!

  41. TotalArsenal says:

    Ospina’s testicolos to the rescue. 🙂

  42. oz gunner says:

    god by a hair. Thank christ for goal line tech

  43. oz gunner says:

    what sort of defending was that. jesus

  44. oz gunner says:

    that strong mentality we have again…

  45. oz gunner says:

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! COME ON LADS!!!

  46. 17highburyterrace says:

    2-2,

  47. TotalArsenal says:

    2-2 CoyGs, we can win this

  48. TotalArsenal says:

    But a draw is fine too

  49. oz gunner says:

    Giroud to win with a header

  50. oz gunner says:

    how was that now a second yellow?????

  51. TotalArsenal says:

    Wonder whether we should put Flamini on.

  52. oz gunner says:

    *not

  53. TotalArsenal says:

    They say the same on radio here, Dier lucky..or ref biased…

  54. oz gunner says:

    he yanked giroud down with two hands tugging at his shirt. bloody joke

  55. oz gunner says:

    real good game from welbeck. constant running, pressure and creation. Flamini on is smart.

  56. oz gunner says:

    come on score from this free. ozil!

  57. TotalArsenal says:

    Good to hear it re Welbeck, Oz.

    Gabby almost does a Koz…

  58. oz gunner says:

    ramsey no!!! we had that!

  59. TotalArsenal says:

    Well done boys. Catch you guys later.

  60. oz gunner says:

    I’ll take a point but take away that brain fade by coq and we had that. ramsey should have done better late. took far too long

  61. retsub1 says:

    Wow. Some guts at last, hopefully that will be a catalyst. Come on you Hornets

    Well played Ospina

  62. Rocastle 07 says:

    The boys played tough/ slick football today really proud of performance, welbeck a star today, Elneny looks like a really good buy. What a audacious goal by Ramsey. If I’m completely honest 2-2 was a very fair result. Can we still win the league, I don’t know but at least our confidence is back in shape to give Hull a real hammering on Tuesday, and that 3rd FA cup is a real possibility.

  63. Admir says:

    Excellent display from the Arsenal players today. Everyone out there praise Spudettes for their energy and shit but Arsenal outplayed them with ten men on the pitch. If you have nerves to watch the game again, take a look at how Spudettes looked frightened in the last half an hour of the match. If I were an Englishman, I would be very afraid of the prospect seeing either Danny Rose or Kyle Walker on the full-back positions.

    Arsene deserves the credit for making the right calls in the last 20 minutes. When you are a goal and a man behind, you can get massacred from the counter-attacks but we were solid at the back and dangerous up front.

    The Chilean master is back. We need him sharp for the run-in and today’s goal should do wonders for him.

    Elneny did well today, Bellerin picked a pair of assists even if his defensive work wasn’t the best and Welbeck was a real menace.

  64. Gerry says:

    I don’t want to tread on the next post, entitled ‘The 10 Positives …’, but I would like to comment on the tactics and choices.

    First has to be Welbeck. Basically given the role of lone striker, even if his ‘nominal position’ was not adhered to in any noticeable way. If fact perhaps his best work came down the left side, where he is often asked to play? However, what it did for his confidence was clear to see. I think that is the best I have seen him play in an Arsenal shirt. He wasn’t selfish in the role either, but having the freedom to move across the front line without running into a team mate meant he could go where he was comfortable. He said when he first came to the club that he hoped to play the No 9 position, and was why he left Man U. This is the first time he has taken the opportunity with both feet. I was particularly impressed how he played the off-side trap and get beyond their back line.
    Top marks Danny!

    A confidence restoring goal for Ramsey could be a real bonus going forward, but this was a chalk and cheese display. His passing in the first half was dire. The speed at which he left his ‘nominal’ position on the right to get involved central and left side was clearly pre-planned. The tactical ploy of have a twin defensive pair of Coquelin and Eleny enabled him to do this. However the space ahead of Bellerin for Spurs to exploit is a second consequence. The team need a better balanced approach against a counter-attacking teams. Especially as it can expose Per’s lack of pace.
    However, to have Bellerin come away with two superb assists shows how valuable he is going forwards. Perhaps Chambers at RB and Bells on the wing might be worth a try? although his dependence on his right foot does tend to make his passes predictable when he is crowded out.

    My third standout was Alexis. It seemed to me that the team effort when down to 10 really got him going. So to end his goal drought with his first touch, rather than than taking an extra one through lack of confidence, has got to be a major plus for the next 9 games. If he can take that forward we should be in for an exciting finish? Perhaps the Coquelin red card may just have a silver lining?

    I cannot leave it without a mention of Ospina’s contribution. No chance with either goal, but match-saving performance that should get the moaners off his back?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  65. njk84sg says:

    Gerry,

    Great comments as always.

    Le Coq’s red card means we have to start Elneny in our next match. Flams is next best, but we have to get past Hull City and their keeper first.

    My take is get Alexis to play as the lone striker and Welbeck on the left wing, Campbell or Rambo on the right wing, which means the same striking partnership for the remaining games which are crucial to our season’s well-being.

    Bells have to be right back, and Chambers can play as the central defender in place of Gabby.

    Our defense was too open in our second goal conceded yesterday. We need to address that.

    Cheers on a point taken from the NLD, but I would rather have 3 points to be closer to Leicester, which are now 7 points ahead of us.

    JK

  66. allezkev says:

    Yeah Retsub, you got it mate, they showed guts, and fight and determination and all the things you need at this stage of proceedings…

    Can they go on a winning run now, they’ve done it before at this stage of the season?
    Tottenham bottled two opportunities to take top spot?
    Maybe if Arsenal go on a winning run, turn the screw, we might see Leicester start to bottle it also?

    Ospina and Elneny played well, from the extended highlights I saw.

    Psychologically we can take a lot from this result.
    Up for grabs, still..??

    And btw, well done to the Youth team for reaching the FAYC semi-finals…

  67. njk84sg says:

    Allezkev,

    I am not sure if we can last the mile sprint, seeing that Lester had some easy games, and spuds showed that they are the diving and counter masters.

    This might go all the way, and with manu** joining in the fun, we need to watch our shoulders a little more than usual.

    2 points from 4 and 5 spots means we really cannot afford to drop any points.

    For me, i will forgo the Barca match and focus solely on the title and fa cup.

    JK

  68. Pony Eye says:

    Great tactical comment, Gerry.

    Remember I predicted a 4:3:3 formation and basically that’s what we played. Spurs crowd their midfield and also employ high press. We needed an extra body there (Rambo) to match them. When we have the ball our extra body affords us more passing options. When Spurs have the ball, our extra body reduces their passing options. In this respect Elneny’s pass and move was tidy and impressive and considering that this was Spurs regular playing pattern our performance there was quite commendable.

    Tweaking to strengthen one area invariably means another area has to compensate. Rambo movement infield meant that Danny Rose had a lot of space to operate in and threatened quite a number of times. But Spurs employing exactly the same strategy also left huge spaces for Bellerin who was able to provide 2 assists.

    There is a point that I have been hammering home which appears, unfortunately, not to have been fully grasped by most. Rambo should not be played anywhere where his runs forward is placed under some constraint. Watch yesterday’s match. As the ball arrived into the opposition box, more often than not, Rambo was our point man. HIS DESIRE AND WILL TO GET INTO THE BOX IS WITHOUT EQUAL. LITTLE WONDER RUMOURS HAVE IT THAT BARCA DESIRES HIM. SUCH A QUALITY MUST BE MAXIMISED NOT CONSTRAINED. He got us a goal and nearly got us an injury time winner. This quality is under constraint when he plays box to box, his performance in that position made worse by the fact that Rambo is poor defensively both in agility and in mentality.

    One more point, we (me as possibly the point man), have built a cult like following of Walcott’s speed and Giroud’s hold up play. What the Arsenal playing style specifically needs more than the specific quality of speed or hold-up-play, is a ball playing striker. Only Welbeck has that amongst our designated strikers, and he backs that up with speed and sufficient hold-up-play ability. I can foresee longer stretches on the bench for OG and Theo.

    It was a heroic performance yesterday. But 8 points adrift of leaders Leicester, might make it more prudent of us, instead, to begin to mind the heels thumping right behind us.

  69. Alex says:

    And Ramsey lost 40% of his balls… Is it worth letting him taking Özil’s role?

  70. Pony Eye says:

    No. The important thing is Ramsey should be played somewhere in the front 4 positions OR NOT PLAYED AT ALL. I would have made same statement on Ozil or Sanchez or Giroud or Walcott if they were being played behind the front 4.

  71. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey folks… It’s been an exhausting weekend around here because of the new girl in my avatar… Add in a ridiculously nervy NLD (which kicked off at 4:45 am, local time) plus new snow & it’s all been a bit much… but in a good way, sort of (with the new puppy at the very least)… 😀

    My hunch is that TA isn’t gonna write anything about the positives because he didn’t see the match, but I’d happily be proven wrong…

    To me, the match was a bit of a shambles, but, of course, it could have been much, much worse. I’m very pleased that neither Gabby nor Ospina made the own goals they came extremely close to creating. Everybody seems to be giving Le Coq a free pass on his. Always smart to make an apology as quickly as possible, it seems… To me the match suggests even more fuel for the (usual) fire: Wenger should have bought an improvement for Coquelin (not just back-up…) and the decision to keep and/or not improve upon Giroud and Theo seems not quite right for a team with the financial reserves we’ve got. If you can’t play them in this sort of match for more than the final 20 minutes (and then only one of them…) I’m not sure if you’re spending your quarter million pounds per week very wisely… Cheers, Admir, et. al, for taking a pass on that sort of accounting…

    But, even if the refereeing (once again) seemed against us, we got enough fortune to claw back a point and both Alexis and Ramsey really needed those goals. Good too that Bellerin–who has had about a million assist opportunities–got a couple. The first one might’ve been behind Rambo but the 2nd looked like he sent it where he meant it.

    Overall, the draw might help us finish above Spurs but we need a perfect run-in, I fear, to have much of a chance with Leicester. Take a gander at their schedule and you’ll see that the tougher teams come when their opponents might not have much to play for…

    We might need a perfect run in (including in the FA cup) for this team and its main characters to stay together for next season given (the toxic nature of) our situation… Luckily, there are still games to play, including one in 48 hours, which is probably what I’ll spend my energy thinking (and writing) about… If I’m not playing with the puppy…

  72. TotalArsenal says:

    That is a truly gorgeous puppy, Seventeenho. You will indeed have your hands full. Enjoy. 🙂

  73. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 🙂

    Been busy this weekend so late match review from me.

  74. Admir says:

    @17 – I’m probably biased about Le Coq. He is a player who has been one of my dark horses since 2012. He has been a crucial player for our defence since the beginning of 2015 and looks every bit as our Makelele – limited going forward but crucial in making interceptions, especially higher up the pitch.

    Arsenal need a back-up of his quality. Schneiderlin…no, I won’t go there. Mourinho will be thrilled with Schneiderlin emulating Matic next season at United. We are apparently back for Krychowiak so there you go. We won’t spend 30 millions on a DM but then, there has to be a way to fool fans into buying a season ticket. 🙂 Elneny did well though even if he has this annoying habit of letting the crosser to cross without any pressure.

    I do expect a world-class striker to sign for Arsenal next summer though. The fact Walcott earns just 20-30k per week less than Alexis is an insult to Arsene’s education. Giroud’s dry spells every season mean he should be kept as a back-up striker at best.

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