Alexis is Back, Wellbeck’s Energy, Elneny’s Simplicity, Rambo’s Cheekiness: Eight Positives

At about 1400 hours on Saturday the Spuds smelled Gunners’ blood. Our own le Coq had just been sent off after conceding a second yellow card and the cauldron of vileness started to boil over. We conceded a scrappy goal from a corner and not much later the half moon faced one bent a banana-diagonal ball past the outstretched hands of our tangerine coloured goallie. A ‘one nil to the Arsenal’, scored with an audacious, perfect back-heel by Rambo was turned into 2-1 for the Spuds in less then ten minutes after le Coq committed his stupidity.

There were dark clouds hanging over WHL and we all knew it was now or never for the players to stand up and be counted. Wenger showed how brave we needed to be by taking off Elneny and bringing on Ollie. The Spuds aim to dominate/overcrowd midfield and we had needed three central midfielders – Elneny, le Coq and Rambo – to stop this; so to take off Elneny after le Coq had already been sent off was not without risk. However, this provided inspiration and within a minute we equalised with a fine finish by Sanchez after a typical pinpoint diagonal pass into the box by the always combative Bellerin.

2-2 and the away fans went crazy: could we even complete the coupe with a late winner?! 

Well, we all know that Rambo came close but for a late, well-timed block by Wimmer. It could also be argued that if Dier had been sent off for his blatant pull of Ollie’s shirt, which for some reason referee Oliver had spotted but subjectively judged not worthy of a (second) yellow card, we would probably have created more chances in the last ten minutes and, indeed, take all three points back to bright side of North London with a third and decisive goal. Oliver should be questioned by the FA for not issuing a second yellow card.

It was not to be, but what was almost just as important is the size of our balls on display yesterday afternoon.  Especially for the London based Gooners, yesterday’s turnaround was crucial for their personal well-being for weeks to come. We showed guts and determination and deprived the Spuds from a unique opportunity to humiliate us. It kept the gap between us and them to just three and we will surely overcome this once again over the next two months. Furthermore, the turnaround will provide motivation for us to start a new round of victories and first up is a journey to Hull on  Tuesday. Wenger will need to pick his strongest team, very much based on the players he sent out yesterday. We cannot afford to slacken in any more games now and the FA Cup is a very worthy price to fight for.

There are many positives to take from this game. These are my eight positives:

  1. Elneny must mean ‘the beauty of simplicity’ in Egyptian as he showed us all how controlled his passing is, even whilst being under tremendous pressure. Danny Murphy, a former midfielder, was full of praise for Elneny’s midfield positioning and calmness with the ball. When we need to play three central, defence-orientated midfielders, Elneny is a great option to have.
  2. Rambo‘s motor was purring as we all know it can. His runs into the box are vital for us and he can do this wherever he plays. For me he remains our ideal box to box player but in yesterday’s game it made sense to play him on the right. Defensively, he still left gaps behind him which the BFG, Le Coq and others had to fill. The Spuds cracked us on that flank in the second half, luring both the Frenchman and German into costly mistakes. Fellow bloggers on Bergkampesque are arguing that Rambo should play in a more attacking role so his defensive lapses will no longer be exposed, but I feel that Aaron simply has to work harder on balancing his attacking impulses with his defensive duties. Clearly, this is still a work in progress, but his cheeky goal and fine pre-assist for our second goal were among the highlights of our team’s performance.
  3. Welbeck‘s energy and fine pre-assist for the first goal are encouraging. When we sit back and absorb pressure, we need an alternative to Ollie and Theo – who both have shortcomings for this style of play – and Danny seems to offer something different. I loved his measured, visionary pass to Bellerin which lead to our first goal.
  4. Bellerin had two assists and especially his second one was very impressive. Just like Rambo, he also needs to find a better balance between attacking and defending, but boy did he deliver on the former.
  5. Ospina: it is a real art to combine calmness with continuous alertness and energy. Cech is the more introvert type whereas Ospina wants to be actively ‘present!’. He made some fabulous saves, denying the Spuds, who had 11 shots on target compared to our four, time and again. There was nothing he could have done for both goals, but some of his saves were world class.
  6. Alexis: Since mid October Sanchez had not scored a PL goal for us and he could not have finished his goal-drought at a better time than with yesterday’s crucial equaliser. It was a quick and fine shot towards Lloris’ right corner; the Frenchman should probably have done better but Alexis was rewarded for his directness.
  7. The away fans were fantastic throughout the game. I initially followed the game on the radio and was so much more aware of the great signing of the away end. Especially the ‘One Nil to the Arsenal’ after Ramsey’s fine back heel was a joy to the ear!
  8. Arsene: Our manager deserves praise for the way he sat up the team and for the changes he made after we got behind. Adding Elneny to le Coq and Rambo in midfield was spot on and so was playing Welbeck and Alexis in front of Ozil. Le Coq’s foolishness was costly: if he had stayed on the pitch we would have had a very good chance to take all three points rather than one from WHL. How players behave on the pitch is something Arsene has very little influence over, but making adjustments is very much his job. Bringing on Giroud after 75 minutes and then Flamini after 85 minutes, were respectively daring and logical substitutions. They may have saved our season.

By TotalArsenal.

13 thoughts on “Alexis is Back, Wellbeck’s Energy, Elneny’s Simplicity, Rambo’s Cheekiness: Eight Positives

  • Great job, TA… Sorry to have doubted you about writing something… Worth the wait… 😀

    I only have one little thing to add… Re: positive #4 and Bellerin’s defending. The yellow he was given (very early on) was harsh, esp. as it was a shameful dive from Danny Rose. It may have been a foul but ref Oliver seemed intent on “controlling” the match with cards from the get-go. That had to make life tougher on Hector and even worse after he saw his teammate sent off. (If Oliver had REALLY wanted to control things he should have given BOTH Bellerin and Rose yellows as it was both a foul and a dive and there’s no reason you can’t sanction both…) That he overlooked Dier’s shirt pull at the end seemed just as capricious but probably to be expected…

    Indeed, the first day with the puppy was taxing but she seems a great one…

  • Nice balanced piece TA. It didn’t go promising heaven and earth, yet it takes us far away from hell.

    9th Positive goes to Gabriel who spent all his English, bellowing, screaming, barking and pumping up his mates just when shoulders were beggining to drop after Spurs had taken the lead. That was a moment of leadership that breathed new life into the team. No doubt at all that Gabby’s fierce energy flew in straight from a rundown street of Sao Paulo. Stand up and be counted and Gabby surely did.

  • It is like having a new baby, Seventeenho. Sleepless nights and all. 💤🐶

    Bellerin did well to stay on the pitch. It is so amazing how he plays with such calm and control for such a young player.

  • PE 🙂

    The fight back gives us hope again and isn’t that the biggest gift of all?

    Love your ninth positive even though he almost messed it all up with a wicked deflection. I like extrovert leadership and Gabby has it.

  • Well TA, positives there were aplenty. I thought you captured the build up brilliantly, which made for a very good read. Top marks.
    However, I really thought you might go for the ’10 Positives’ this time, with only Le Coq getting a minus score?
    My additional two would have been a plus for Gibbs, who was no where near his best. But in his first start in ages, as well as very few minutes from the bench lately, I though he did really well. Passing could have been better of course, but he matched Walker’s pace on our left flank time and again. Great deputy to have available?
    The other is more the damage we have done to Spurs confidence with this result, as well as boosting ours. It could be vital over the next 9 games? There is no doubt in my mind that they got too cocky after their second goal, because they thought they had it under their control. With a man advantage they should have kept pressing the way they did after the red card. They didn’t! Net result is their regular end of season collapse will start to eat into them in each and every game from here on …. and that is worthy of a big plus!

    Of course, I will argue about the rosy picture you paint concerning Ramsey (big smiley face).

    For me it is quite simple. Ramsey’s best position for his style of play is a deep lying No 10. Playing centrally, but with freedom to roam, and above all, in a position where he can make effective runs in and around the box. The most damning stat from the game yesterday to belie this idea that he is a box to box player is this one – Zero successful dribbles from 10 attempts.
    He is not a ball carrier!
    To be a box to box player at the highest level you need to get to forwards with the ball at your feet, or do some neat 1, 2’s so it arrives in attacking area in our possession. The other stat from the game was no surprise either as he had the lowest successful pass rate of all our players, and that included Gibbs on a lowly 64%.
    You may argue that this was just this one game? But can you on this season as a whole?

    As for the ‘notional’ position on the right. I think that lasted all of 90 seconds. To be honest, for the first 10 minutes of the game I had a doubt whether Ozil had started because Ramsey appeared in places where I would have expected Ozil to be? You are quite right though. This was the AW plan to have Le Cog cover in front of Bellerin. Which is why it was him chasing Kane down the line and not Ramsey. But instead of trying to make Ramsey into the player he isn’t, take the rose tints off and see him for who he can be. He has exceptional energy. He can make intelligent runs in the attacking 3rd. he tracks back and can make a tackle – Interesting stat here; Ramsey was 2nd on the list for the number of successful tackles; El Neeny was Zero from 1( I think that is correct, as with all these stats, I am going by memory from what I read on ‘Arseblog – By the Numbers’ yesterday).
    These are all plusses. Played to his strengths, he can be a brilliant player.
    But it points to El Neeny as the more appropriate B2B player?

    Oh, as will be the case on Tuesday, I shall wear the ‘lucky’ bobble hat. I am just pleased I did not throw it away straight after Coquelin’s red card ….( another big smiley face)

  • Cheers Gerry and good additions. 🙂

    Gibbs did okay but nothing spectacular, but happy to see him added as another positive. Happy to agree to disagree re Ramsey and I am not going to say that you wear brown tinted glasses! 😉

    When we play compact and deep to absorb pressure, there are better players to sit next to Le Coq than Rambo. Elneny was a big plus and we know that Cazorla can be very effective as well. But this is not our natural style, and Rambo is ideal for an Arsenal box to box player.

    Anyway, keep hold of that hat. 🙂

  • Top marks Gerry. I love the subtle inflexion you have given to the Ramsey mantra which seems to be crescendoing. A million more times, and am still chanting it.

    1) Rambo should be played with a minimum of 7 players (including the keeper) behind him. Put less tediously with at least 2 MDers behind him e.g. Coq and Elneny.

    2) Put the other way round Rambo should be played in the front four or not at all.

    3) Rambo’s extra touch has a creative value, but done in our half of the field the risks of a turn over far outweighs the gains of its inventiveness. Done in the opposition half the relationship between the risks and the gains reverses.

    3) Rambo lacks the quick, simple, tidy and efficient passing style of new boy Elneny which is a style loaded with defensive caution, the right thing in our own half of the field, but could become sterile in the opposition half.

    4) Rambo’s claim for a front 4 inclusion is given a mighty boost by his unique top class late runs into the box.

    @ Gerry ” But instead of trying to make Rambo into what he isn’t, take the rose tints off and see him for …..’ who he is’….”. Wenger and the Arsenal fans have tried for a couple of seasons with rose tinted glasses, all to no avail. And Rambo is not alone there, otherwise nobody on this planet would be smoking a cigarette and all of us would have had perfect manners.

  • Others will no doubt join in later, but the real debate is on the one I raised a few days ago.

    That is the team should really be built to show off the best that Ramsey can offer, if as you suggest PE, he is a nailed on front four player? Ideally, would that be to have two wide players and a central striker completing the four? If so, then one of the mids behind needs to be the creative hub?
    Wiilshere could an option when fit, likewise Cazorla.
    Alternatively, a wide player becomes the creator, in the mold of Mahrez for example
    But, and it is a big BUT! … The team is not built around Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, or even Alexis. I think AW wants to make the most of Ozil talents.

    What happened yesterday, when Ramsey really came alive in that final 3rd, it was the almost total eclipse of Ozil? That is the big conundrum that AW has yet to solve?

    I can agree with you PE up to a point about when the ‘extra touch’ can be turned to a positive, risk-wise, depending where it occurs. However, late on I just wished Ramsey had played with the same instinct he did for the first goal, by striking it first time with only the keeper to beat, rather than the extra touch which allowed the defender to block. On that occasion his decision made it a negative risk?

    Of course each game can play out differently, so the line up on Tuesday will be interesting. Will Ramsey drop back to defensive duties, or the same again, except for Flamini in for Coquelin?
    Will he rest Ozil or Rambo for the weekend’s ‘must win’ game. Switch to a 4-4-2 with Campbell on the right?
    Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

    Over to you AW 😀


  • 🤓

    Rambo ; WR, WL or #10 in 4:2:3:1.
    Rambo ; front man of middle 3 of 4:3:3.
    Keen, I am, Rambo a hero be,
    Saving him much vilification,
    Out team more potent, goals galore.

  • Gerry,

    Yes, decisions, decisions, deciisions. Your prelude to the decisions is your probing and probing and probing. A GOAL is smelling.😅

    Perfect if “one of the mids behind …’has’…to be the creative hub” @ Gerry. Apart from being creative, such a hub needs to be tidy with the ball also. Santi and Jack, l accept, look our best options. I wonder if Coq has the potentials to improve his passing game. That would reduce the opponents’ focus on whoever is his partner, when we have the ball.

    The team should not be built around Ramsey, or any other individual for that matter. The team is built out of the materials that we currently have. Rambo is just fitted in where that most valuable asset or assets of his can be maximised for the overall good of the team. Same with Ozil.

    Building a team around a player is a longer term project. Say for example around Ozil. With Ozil as center, a concept of the team is created. Then one begins to look for players to fit that concept with Ozil as its centroid. The danger is that a Cescesque phenomenon can happen to that concept even before it reaches maturity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s