Arsenal’s Final Match at Upton Park–Revenge for Opening Day? It’s Hammer Time!

Match Preview, Predicted Line-ups.  Big Motivation for both teams in a London derby sure to shape the run in.  Like I say, it’s Hammer Time:

Sorry…But, like Stanley Burrell, aka, MC Hammer, I grew up in the East Bay (Northern California, USA) and came of age in the 1980s.  Our paths actually crossed (just a bit) as I had a co-worker whose boyfriend was in Hammer’s entourage… Tune in next week for the story of my personal connection to the Green Day guys… 😀

Hammer’s personal journey from rags to riches (and then bankruptcy, but now religious work) in some ways mirrors the story of West Ham United.  Their glory days were the 1960s, when the Hammers had three players on the World Cup winning English team of 1966, most notably, Sir Bobby Moore.  It’s been up and down in the decades since, but, with new manager Slaven Bilic at the helm, WHU are sitting 6th in the league and are only 2 points away from hosting European Football in their new stadium (the site of the 2012 London Olympics) next year.  That would be Europa League football if they can catch Manchester United in fifth; if they could haul in ManCity, just one point ahead further ahead (currently) or one of the top three teams, a Champions League spot would be theirs.

Regardless, it’s been a great final season at the Boleyn Ground where they haven’t lost a league match since the third week of the season.

Arsenal won’t even realize the Hammers had a relatively tough start (they lost their first two at home) given that we lost to them on the opening day, in our stadium, way back in August.  That was the Arsenal debut for our single summer buy, goalkeeper Petr Cech.  Inauspicious would be the word.  Who can forget this image?

After our near perfect pre-season, including winning the Charity Shield, Cech’s attempted punch landed squarely in the gut of the Gooner hopeful and presaged what has turned out to be perhaps the craziest Premier League season ever.

Now, desperate to keep some pressure on surprise league leaders Leicester City, and restore sanity to the battle with Tottenham for North London supremacy, Arsenal have to take on the Hammers at their place.  Can we burst their bubble(s)?

Well, if we can, it won’t be easy.

This will be the third consecutive London derby for the Hammers and they will feel aggrieved in the extreme to have drawn both matches 2-2 while being on the short end of some very controversial referee decisions.   At Chelsea, it was a late penalty award, despite  replays showing that Ruben Loftus-Cheek hooked his own foot (cheeky, indeed) and outside the box, no less.  Crystal Palace, last weekend, were able to find an equalizer only after Cheik Kayoute (the goal scorer in the photo above) had been sent off and the Hammers reduced to ten men.  The card has successfully been appealed, but the result, of course, stands.

So, any boost from a Kayoute suspension is gone and the Hammers should feel confident hosting.  The other player many Gooners met that opening day, Frenchman Dimitri Payet, has continued his outstanding form and scored perhaps the outstanding free-kick of the season vs Palace.  We can’t focus only on him, however, as Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio have also been scoring with regularity.  Even Andy Carroll, pound for pound (and inch for inch) one of the biggest flops in English football is finally fit and making goals as well as providing a constant worry (along with Kayoute) at set pieces and under other high passes.

Luckily Arsenal bring a measure of improved form into the match and might even get a boost with the possible return of Aaron Ramsey, a guy who has gotten us a couple of late results at Upton Park in years past.  He’s probably won’t start, due to fitness concerns, but also because Manager Arsene Wenger will be unlikely to want to tinker with the group that has won two matches in a row and scored 6 goals total.  Oh how nice it is to simply copy and paste in the line-upthat won 2-nil at Everton away and 4-nil vs Watford.

Subs: Cech, Chambers, Gibbs, Ramsey, Campbell, Giroud, Walcott

Of course, I could be wrong, but it would have been easier for Wenger to switch things up after the break for international matches, I think.

The one spot I worry about is at keeper, where the size of Cech, even it didn’t work for us on opening day, could be an asset if Bilic uses Carroll at any point in the match.  Diafra Sakho, a big enough aerial threat of his own, is the regular starter at the #9 position, but Carroll might come in earlier than usual if Wenger opts for David Ospina in goal.  It would seem awfully harsh to drop the Colombian, but Wenger might be chastened by the criticism he received using him in the earliest Champions League group matches Arsenal went on to lose.  Of course, another way to combat the set piece threat might be to restore either Per Mertesacker or Olivier Giroud to the starting eleven; the line-up above is definitely not our biggest.

Your guess is as good as mine, so have at it.  This match seems a pivotal one for the rest of the run-in and a game that might also be more open than most.  Arsenal need the full points to put a tiny bit of pressure on Leicester (and Spurs who currently stand 4 points ahead of us, although we have a game in hand), but West Ham need the points almost as badly after the two derby draws and the Manchester teams in better recent form.

It will likely also be a far better test for the players newly installed in the line-up, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny, as West Ham, motivated as they are, will probably be quicker to the ball and more keen to close down space, especially on players they might believe to be weak links.  As such, the others must do their part to keep our ‘chain’ intact and the gears humming as they have been.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

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121 Responses to Arsenal’s Final Match at Upton Park–Revenge for Opening Day? It’s Hammer Time!

  1. retsub1 says:

    As usual 17HT a very good review and as you say the team picks itself, although your comments about Giroud and the BFG are valid

    The only problem I have with the review is prior to reading it, I was feeling fairly confident of at least a draw and hopefully three points. However your review of the Hammers key players (and once again I agree with you). Has scared the living day lights out of me..

    A strange thing occurred at Upton Park and Stamford Bridge, which greatly affected the atmosphere in those grounds. In my younger days at considerable risk to ones health L used to attend a number of away matches, West Han was always a place I was very careful not to display any colours as it is a very intimidating place. In what was very tight stadium the crowd seemed only inches from the pitch, so much so that there was barely room to take a run up when taking a corner. Then suddenly following some ground improvements, a fairly large gap between the players and the pitch appeared. Could never work out how they achieved it? But it didn’t seem quite as aggressive after that.

    Chelsea on the other hand had a six lane greyhound track between the fans and the pitch. At the other end of the ground it was virtually impossible to identify players, they were so far away. This o f course didn’t create a great atmosphere, so they went the other way. Now Stamford Bridge appears to be a much tighter and aggressive stadium.

  2. Pony Eye says:

    HT, you just brought us back to earth to the sound of the hammers on the anvils. Retsub, plug your ears, be strong, we are in good form.

    In the reverse fixtures we had 62% possession, 22 shots, 8 on target to their 8 shots 4 on target. Similar stats can repeat, but what surely isn’t going to repeat is the great man Cech fluffing it or the world’s best #10 being found ” in the pocket of a 16 yr old Oxford alongside a gum and a cell phone”.

    When we played Everton everyone said they had a bad day. Against Watford, Watford lacked motivation. The truth is that we blitzed those two teams with unstoppable performances, and that is why like HT, I believe Wenger will go with exactly the same team.

    Payet’s free kicks, and the hammers air bombardments must be given Wenger the conflict of Ospina or Cech but I feel at the end he would opt for chemistry. Ooooooospina starts.

    Our mind set should be a win and a win and a win. If we lose this match, we take our eyes off Leicester, and focus them on the bunch breathing down our neck from behind.

  3. Gerry says:

    Top post HT, probably because I share your fears 😀

    I understand your confusion with my comment on the previous post … I remember the days when ALL matches kicked off at 3.0pm on a Saturday, so I am in ignorance of any changes until otherwise informed, which you did. Thanks, I might have been doing my racing preview and missed the kick off without wearing my ‘lucky’ bobble hat. 3 nil down at half time ….. aaaaargh!
    Danger averted.

    If I were a complete conspiracy theorist I might think being ‘nice’ to Ospina had something to do with a summer purchase of O’s brother-in-law?
    That aside, the possible change in our ‘keeper matters little to our performance compared to changes in our outfield players … err, imo of course. There is a natural fluidity about our play at the moment, and any thought of tinkering with it is fraught with danger … Although in defence, the argument I used for Gabby over Per against Lukaku, is not so strong here against Carroll.

    If we play with the same verve as in the recent games will at least settle the argument as to whether it was our opposition that was weak, rather than our good play? I take the view that quick passing, along with good movement, will test any team. So for me, it is no changes beyond the back 5 for the foreseeable future … regardless of whoever is returning.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  4. Pony Eye says:

    I watched our game against Watford again, this time without the real time tension. They were all excellent. Ozil was in good company having a ball. Alexis WR, has become a real team player, as well as a provocateur and a chance creator. I particularly loved Iwobi’s energy into the
    box and Welbz, the lubricant, who gets the party going.

    Le Coq and the El, different yet inseparable. Those le Coq’s long balls on the ground, in the air tell me tomorrow will be greater. Besides le Coq like a twin, the ubiquitous El, intelligent, always showing himself for a pass and for ever delivering his assortment of tidy passes.

    Kos and Gabby, two men of steel flanked by the 2 best full backs in the league, Nacho and Bel and behind them all, watching from a vantage point our own Ooooooooooospina.

    What am trying to say is that HT got his line up spot on!

  5. FMJ14 says:

    Hey HT! Thanks for posting MC Hammer haha.. Lets hope we move like the man himself tomorrow – a quick, on it, flashy, well choreographed team performance. We certainy seem to be enjoying our game of late, let’s make it a dance in the upton park 😀

  6. retsub1 says:

    Apologies I thought I posted this earlier. Arsenal under 21’s are playing Newcastle under 21’s you can car catch the game on Arsenal.com . Currently 3 – 1 to our boys Wilshire and Risicky are playing. Gnabry, Crowley looking good. It’s currently half time

  7. FMJ14 says:

    Cheers Retsub, Wilshere is looking really good. 🙂

  8. FMJ14 says:

    Good game retsub, some good performances in there, glad to see gnabry & crowley back and doing well. Rosicky and Wilshere getting back into it. All positive. I didn’t realise the u21s are in division 2.. How did that happen?.. Great to see old Stephen Hughes in the studio too. He was a good player for us.

  9. retsub1 says:

    Yes the boys did good. No idea how we got into division 2 doesn’t seem right somehow?

    I think I am right in saying that Arsenal (and possibly Everton). Are the only team never to have been relegated from the top division.

  10. FMJ14 says:

    Apparently we got relegated as Woolwich Arsenal in 1913.. more than a hundred years ago.. That’s a decent record. 😀 And no shame for doing so as no teams have avoided relegation from the top division at some point in their history.

  11. FMJ14 says:

    And apparently Bournemouth have never been in the top division, so providing they don’t suffer a big dip in form they are and will be the only ones not to ever get relegated from it?

  12. retsub1 says:

    Huh spent my entire life thinking we had never been relegated. Oh well back to the drawing board.

  13. retsub1 says:

    Was Wenger in charge when we were relegated? Just kidding

  14. allezkev says:

    Not Arsene, Retsub, but George Morrell, a Scotsman, who was in charge in 1912-13 when Woolwich Arsenal were relegated 103 years ago…

    17tino that team pretty much picks itself for the remainder of the season imo…
    Having Jack, Tomas and Gnabry to come off of the bench for the next 7 games is helpful…

    West Ham are a really good side with an intelligent, forward thinking manager, so it’s going to be tough…
    But we need to win, there’s no alternative, so our players have to come to the party.

  15. Pony Eye says:

    Is this the calm before the storm? Well, I must be the gathering cloud.

    FMJ, history can be so unfair with its tales —- Bournmouth the only team that has never been relegated from the top division. A fact that is a lie.

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks 17ht, another fine review that shows respect for our opponent. I have a good feeling about this one and will be listening on the radio whilst travelling back home.

    Line up makes sense and this will be a big test for the ElCoqny partnership. Hope Ollie starts though. 🙂

    Catch you later.

  17. Ab says:

    Good stuff HT. This will be a really interesting test over whether we are still of a mindset to keep up the challenge. Hammers will be tough to beat, but we do have the extra quality if we can put in the right level of performance. We should have a strong bench in support too. I go with your line up, but Cech in goal. I say that not because Ospina has done anything wrong, but because I’m assuming the deal with Cech was that he was the undisputed no1 and, barring cup games, if he’s fit he will play. The game also offers him some opportunity for redemption against WH, so he would get my vote. It would be hard on Ospina, but Cech is world class and helps keep our back line settled, so why would we not use him when available?

  18. FMJ14 says:

    Yeh Ab I think Cech will start and can deal better with the aerial threat. He will want to revenge the reverse fixture!

  19. FMJ14 says:

    Otherwise I go with HT’s lineup

  20. FMJ14 says:

    Oooh..Ospinaaa plays! HT 100% spot on. 🙂

  21. FMJ14 says:

    I’m scared of Carroll an the supply.. Would Per and Cech have been better for this one? .. We must be aware of the dangers, but impose our own game on them as much as we can. Take the game by the scruff of the neck. COYG!

  22. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi folks… I guess I did pretty well on the line-up… The only mistake was on the bench…Joel Campbell doesn’t dress but the BFG does… No Sakho (at all) for West Ham and they give Carroll his first start in forever… We will want to play a clean game (no set pieces) and try to stay on the ball…

  23. retsub1 says:

    Hope Gabriel doesn’t lose his cool, he is going to come under a lot of pressure from Carroll.

    I could have gone either way on the keeper. Ospina has done well recently, but if he makes a mistake Wenger will get a lot of critiscm..

  24. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi retsub, I imagine you saw my long reply at the bottom of the previous post…

    Ospina vs Cech, with the issue you cite, is interesting and AW has gone with the more controversial, less conservative choice today…although, normally, I think, sticking with the guy on consecutive clean sheets would seem pretty reasonable. Either way many a Gooner will win–either the match or the Wenger must go narrative… For me, that’s a critical crack in our armor (armour?)…

    Beyond that psychological issue it’s definitely a small vs big situation but we can’t lose the others because of Carroll’s presence in there… Big battle for control of the MF… My guess is chances at both ends…we just need to convert more of ours…

    OK. Must.have.coffee…

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    OK, coffee in… Geezus, I guess it would have been flagged off…and the finish was missed but we were rather carved open right at the start there…

    Everybody watching on the telly, I’m hoping…

  26. allezkev says:

    Extra coffee for 17 and 3 points for Arsenal.

  27. 17highburyterrace says:

    Kos hurt after double scythe from Caroll…

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi kev, you’ve got telly today?… I can do some “live-blog” if needed, but also I don’t mind taking the morning off…

    Kos is back on his feet and looks fine playing the ball… Coq stamps Lanzini but nothing like Carroll’s foul…Makes a good tackle on Kayoute, too…

    First corner goes our way after a break led by Elneny and Ozil’s cross put behind. Taken short but Iwobi dribbles it out for a GK…

    Even better on a couple of breaks Eleneny leads one that fizzles and has his volley blocked after Alexis gets behind the lines…

  29. 17highburyterrace says:

    Geezus…Another offside flag needed after Lanzini puts Carroll’s (wild) bicycle kick into our net…

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oooh…Bells almost puts DW in after good work to find him by Iwobi in the center of the pitch…

  31. 17highburyterrace says:

    OZIL!!!!

  32. allezkev says:

    He’s Arsene Wengers man…
    He’s better that Zidane…

  33. 17highburyterrace says:

    Looked just a shade offside, but so it goes…

  34. allezkev says:

    BBC 5Live radio for me 17tino…

    It sounds a rip snorter of a game mate

  35. 17highburyterrace says:

    Replays also show that Bellerin was keeping Lanzini onside for his ball that went into our net…

    Maybe Pony Eye is right about things regressing to the mean…

    WHU have a corner but we almost break from it…

  36. allezkev says:

    Radio reckons that Lanzini was onside…

    Could be our day?

  37. 17highburyterrace says:

    Antonio fouled by Le Coq but far enough out that Payet should be looking for a head…Similar to the opening day…

    Plays it low instead and Kos clears into touch…

    The telly view today looks different…from a lower angle so it’s hard to see the far side of the pitch…Atmosphere actually seems a bit subdued but there is a lot of noise going up about fouls and the like…

  38. 17highburyterrace says:

    Indeed kev…the linesman must’ve gotten confused because the original crosser of the ball (Noble) was well offside…

    Another WHU FK but awfully far away…

  39. allezkev says:

    Arsenal have scored more away goals than any other club in the EPL this season…

  40. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nothing comes from it but more of the game is now down at our end…Gabby puts a big boot through it…

    Great take down from Alexis but after a couple of passes his long shot is tame…

    End to end and WH have a corner…

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    With the early calls going our way we should get some chances on the break…

    Corner for us this time after fine work from Ozil and Elneny who looks very strong thus far…

  42. allezkev says:

    17tino, Upton Park is a very intimidating ground, fans close to the pitch…
    I’m sure they’ll lose something when they move to Stratford…

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis also looking sharp with first touches… Long ball from Kos almost gets Nacho in behind… He loses a battle with Antonio…Both teams are moving the ball quickly once they get it.

  44. allezkev says:

    Well well well… 😃

  45. 17highburyterrace says:

    ALEXIS!!!!

    2-nil, another great assist from Iwobi!!!

  46. 17highburyterrace says:

    I agree about Upton Park, Kev…I remember that match from about 10 years ago where RvP was hit by a coin and it ended in a shoving match between AW and Alan Pardew…

  47. 17highburyterrace says:

    Welbeck’s touches aren’t working but he’s pulling defenders all over the place…

    Oooh…Carroll places a long shot well but Ospina is up to it…and grabs it after a tiny spill…

  48. 17highburyterrace says:

    Lots of talk about WHU needing to change formation away from 3 CBs…also a mention that Cech was seen stretching his calf so maybe not 100%…

    Oooh Welbeck almost in on Adrian’s kick from a backpass…

    Gotta keep this scoreline into the break… More nice work from Iwobi and Elneny to keep pressure down their way. Other end, West Ham with possession in the box but it ends with a cross and a tame header from Carroll…

  49. allezkev says:

    Gotta dig in now…

  50. 17highburyterrace says:

    Shit…

    Cresswell to Carroll on the run and this time it’s strong and well placed….

  51. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oooh, big save from Adrian on Nacho…

  52. 17highburyterrace says:

    2-2 Andy Carroll…

  53. 17highburyterrace says:

    Deflected in off Gabriel on the second attempt… Back to zero… 😦

  54. 17highburyterrace says:

    Geez, I hardly need another coffee, but I’m still gonna have one…

  55. FMJ14 says:

    Wow what a game so far.. I’m down but can’t complain. Both teams have played really well. We are on it just as I wanted. Just gutted to see those two go in. We need to defend better on that right side of our defence, Alexis needed to help out and stop that cross. But it was unstoppable once it left Tomkins boot.. Could we have done more for Carroll’s second? The passing, the movement has been slick and slices through teams like the two before this. Its a derby it can go either way. The fitness of our team, with Elneny and Alexis who can run all day will be vital, along with the subs particularly Walcott or OG could make the difference later on?

  56. allezkev says:

    Keep them coffees rolling 17tino…

    Our lads have just gotta do it all over again.

  57. FMJ14 says:

    If Alexis can’t track back maybe Elneny needs to do that role as well when needed but that need us to tighten up in the centre with attackers pulling back more keenly. We have to be more wary on that side. Jeez.. Coffee for me too.

  58. 17highburyterrace says:

    Very disappointing to give up the goals before the half but hard, IMO, to fault Coquelin or Ozil for not doing more to get close on the deliveries. If Andy Carroll could do that on a regular basis he’d be worth the 35 million Liverpool paid for him way back when… Basically he’s had a perfect hat-trick even if the right-footer he tried only popped the ball up for his flying left-footer, as good as any that Giroud has ever done.

    Same analysis as at the start: chances will be made, we just need to convert more of them than they do… Momentum will be with the Hammers now, however…

  59. 17highburyterrace says:

    Geezus…Andy Carroll can do what he wants…with his hands in Gabby’s face and fancy footwork in midfield…

    Lanzini wants a pen, not given…

    More end to end… Elneny cross almost gets through… West Ham with another ball in the net but Carroll called for pulling on Kos…

  60. 17highburyterrace says:

    There’s the Hammer’s third… 😦

  61. allezkev says:

    This could get messy

  62. 17highburyterrace says:

    Antonio too much for Nacho and Carroll too much for Gabriel, off whom it deflects… Ospina might’ve saved it, otherwise…

  63. 17highburyterrace says:

    Trouble controlling the ball deep by our MF boys and Carroll gets another shot but deflected onto the roof of our net…

    This Antonio fellow is strong…has the long throw too… Hammers doing well to keep the ball down at our end but getting their lines set when we have it…

    Ramsey set to come on for the final half hour…

  64. 17highburyterrace says:

    Coq off, Rambo on… AW going all in here… Why not as it’s all width to Carroll for WHU…

  65. 17highburyterrace says:

    Possession but no penetration ends with a bad giveaway from Rambo…

    WHU well organized now…We might want big Ollie in there…

  66. 17highburyterrace says:

    Some pretty nice play on our right with Ozil at the heart of it…Rambo wins a corner…

    Elneny off, Giroud on…

  67. allezkev says:

    Wenger going for it, but are we gonna be to open at the back?

  68. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wow…Lanzini on the line clears Nacho’s fine shot…

  69. allezkev says:

    Game on…

  70. 17highburyterrace says:

    We need two goals, kev, so yes, very vulnerable to the break but we’ve got to try…

    THERE IT IS!!!! KOSCIELNY!!!!

  71. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wow…Gabby caught on the ball by Carroll then gave him a (red card?) professional foul all called back for Carroll’s earlier foul…

  72. 17highburyterrace says:

    Welbeck first touch good but just heavy so he’s called for a foul on the second…

    I’d take him off for Theo…

    Ospina has to save from Payet curler… WHU Corner…

  73. allezkev says:

    Ramsey and Iwobi in the middle 17tino?

  74. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wow…very intense football…Payet is tough to stop but so too is Bellerin the other way…

  75. 17highburyterrace says:

    If there are any positions in this end to end madness, yes, it’s Iwobi and Ramsey (and Ozil) central…

    Ospina has to save from a Cresswell dipper…

  76. allezkev says:

    The BBC commentator sounds like he must be a West Ham season ticket holder…
    Unbiased, I don’t think so…

  77. 17highburyterrace says:

    Carroll is a giant and wins the corner pushing Kos downwards…Reid only finds side netting from it, however…

    Both teams want the 7th goal…

    Theo getting ready to come on…

  78. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ooooohh… Ozil almost puts DW in…Adrian gets to it first and gathers…

  79. 17highburyterrace says:

    Another chance but Alexis goes for the pull-back rather than the left footer…Probably fouled but he overplayed his own touch… Other end Payet finally passes it after shaping to shoot…too strong for Carroll…

  80. 17highburyterrace says:

    Theo and Bells on the right are pacey but Bells, diagonal into the box, touches it long for a GK….

  81. 17highburyterrace says:

    Some players are looking very tired, others still fresh…

    Iwobi wins a ball but Ramsey puts it into touch when we had numbers…

  82. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis now on the left looks tiny battling with Antonio…

    Bells needs to do better, loses it to Payet who then carries it and tries a dive outside the box, not given…

    We can do this…gotta dig deep…

    Have WHU used any subs except the halftime switch?…

  83. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ozil flagged off… Shot of Arsenal supporters in the stands, one looking nervous, one with head down texting on his phone…

  84. 17highburyterrace says:

    Decent play by West Ham but Payet blasts well over…

    Full 90 have been played and only 3 minutes injury time…

  85. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nacho blocks a hard shot… Reid has to foul Alexis to stop our break… Getting very late here before we take the FK…

  86. 17highburyterrace says:

    Too long, easy for keeper…Another one coming…

  87. allezkev says:

    Thanks for the info 17tino…

    Sounded a great game, but Leicester will be happy…

  88. 17highburyterrace says:

    Short this time and WHU break…we get it and balloon ball for Theo is finally controlled but also hit straight to Adrian…

    FT ends a draw… Not a good result for either team…

    In the studio, the post mortems are starting…

  89. 17highburyterrace says:

    Very disappointing to see Andy Carroll play the best match of his career… The other big man, Antonio, also maybe got the better of Nacho out there, going forward at least…If Nacho could have scored a third for us at the end of the half, it might have been a mountain too high…

    Credit to both teams for coming back despite the wild swings in the scoreline…

  90. FMJ14 says:

    Very very tough game. Incredible energy levels on both sides, didn’t drop for the 90. A draw was the right result overall. We could have one it but so could have West Ham. I am looking at PEs projections in his last post and he has us down to draw here which is promising!! It also means the Hammers will be just that bit more hungry against Leicester. One game at a time. I am very happy with how the lads responded after Carroll’s early second half third.

  91. Admir says:

    Well, I have to say it’s over now. We have to battle for 3rd place now with KdB-inspired City posing a serious threat.

    Carroll could have had 50 goal attempts and Arsene wouldn’t have tried to bring Per or Chambers for Gabriel or Kos to deal with AC.

    Iwobi created two goals and, I think, opened the counter for their first. He is a top talent with a final product unlike Ox but I reckon he doesn’t have fuel to play well beyond 60th minute.

    Alexis with another goal, again when Giroud wasn’t on the pitch.

    Ospina did well but our full-backs and DMs didn’t help him as they allowed too many crosses to The Hammers.

    2010-11 all over again, unfortunately.

    And, food for thought: since Koscielny’s baegain buy, we have signed Gervinho, Park, Giroud, Ospina from Ligue 1 and Yaya Sanogo from Ligue 2. Meanwhile, players like Mahrez, Kante, Payet have been marked as not good enough or too inconsistent. It’s either Wenger makes crappy decisions or our French scouting team doesn’t do its homework.

  92. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey FMJ, I wish I shared the optimism you (and others like PE have). A draw, I think, isn’t the needed result, and going from two goals up to a goal down will hurt. Great spirit and a bit of quality were needed to get the point, so that’s something for the group to build upon.

    The external noise (damning Wenger and his team) will be loud, however… Of course, folks are free to believe what they believe and Admir, I think makes good points about the French scouting although I think when big clubs come in for a player the dynamic changes (a topic for another time, perhaps)… I dunno about subbing out CBs… I think, you’ve got it right to say that the FBs and DMs couldn’t really cope with their perimeter of the box play…Bellerin, of course, was lucky that nobody saw him play Lanzini on for the early goal… He’s still a young lad whose defending will grow to match what he gives going forward.

    The points gap now really favors LC…Unless Sunderland can make them look stupid (and beat them) tomorrow–and you’d almost want Spurs to beat ManU and drop their points later… That seems a LOT to hope for…and I can never root for Spurs…

    I think the season went when our ability to control matches in the center of the park–including really moving the ball on the break–collapsed with the absence of one Santi Cazorla. Of course, others (well, mainly Admir) were happy when he went down, so what do I know?…

    Since then it’s all been extremely ad hoc. Other injuries haven’t helped, of course, and that we kept it somewhat intact shows that there’s a good deal of promise in players like Iwobi, Elneny, Welbeck and Gabriel. Bellerin and Coquelin are also very good young players pulled out of Wenger’s hat even if we have to hope their games continue to evolve.

    Even Joel Campbell did his bit (during the dark days…) but couldn’t get a spot on the bench today. That speaks volumes. No real faith in him, plus lost faith in big salary guys like Walcott and Giroud places a massive burden on the two super money guys, Alexis and Ozil…

    The revamp at the back, including Wenger’s faith in clean-sheeters Gabriel and Ospina today, will not go down well with those who want to tear everything down and start over. Gotta hold somebody responsible, and that would be Wenger. It seems silly to me (as there’s no chance he’ll be fired) but again that’s just me. My thought is that somehow the manager has to keep the group together, show that there’s some potential in guys returning to fitness (Santi and Jack in particular) and get us up for 2nd…If he can’t, the urge to blow things up will be really depressing…

    My question to the Wenger-out folks, esp. in light of the growing strength of these mid table teams, is how far down are you willing to go? It seems to me that finishing out of the European places would be our best chance to identify a new generation of players you (and a new manager) might prefer. In the meantime, wouldn’t it make it tough on a few of those better, peak year players to want an exit ticket?

    That dynamic–mid table teams taking shots at the bigger clubs who then have to revamp over several seasons–seems the future in England, another reason finishing as high as possible (above Spurs, ideally) seems so important…

    Again, just my own thoughts so please correct me where I’m wrong…

  93. FMJ14 says:

    Hi HT I agree about the centre of the park being a big problem for us our balance was all over the place at times, our form suffered and our finishing went missing.. I am a realistic optimist. It is still possible however unlikely. We must believe and finish strong. After that a balanced appraisal of where we are through looking at the big picture is required so that we can begin to see with clarity what our beloved club needs. Sensible conclusions from this vantage point don’t lead to a tearing down of what we have built..

    We did really well today. A very very difficult game. But overall a few adjustments are needed..

    We must be on the look out for a tall but quick centre half to replace the ageing Per so that we can deal with players like Carroll. I was nervous about him and the quality supply line they have before the game.. it’s not with any real insight that I was left scared before the game about this .. it has happened so many times before.. Having said that Carroll was incredible today.. More importantly what we really needed to do today was be better at cutting off the supply. Tactically Alexis and Walcott if they are to play out wide need to track back otherwise it will keep happening.. it has happened to often particularly in the ropey part of the season we have just come through.. Our central midfield was excellent and can’t always be expected to help out in the wide areas if Alexis or Theo go missing. I love the elcoqny partnership but we must never be in a position again where our balance in the team is so affected by injuries in the centre. In fairness it is less of an issue with how elneny is developing. Either can cover for each other if one get injured. Knowing our luck though we need an extra one I feel.

  94. Admir says:

    @17

    I think it’s umpteenth time that you have accused me for being happy with Santi’s injury. A bit sneaky…again.

    Our season went down the stairs when Arsene failed to deal with obvious holes in our team. He lost the league in January because he didn’t sign adequate players in the summer. No world-class finisher and no world-class central midfielder were recruited for third season running because Arsene is in love with Giroud (even if he has never scored 20 goals in Premier League), in love with Theo (even if he has failed to learn basic football stuff in a decade at Arsenal), in love with Arteta and Flamini (even if two of them combined can’t play for a title-winning team) and in love with Mertesacker (even if Germany had benched him before the most important matches at WC 2016).

    United will change their manager, City have already done it, Chelsea have done it, Liverpool have done it… We need a man who can climb to the very top and stay there, who can address our injury problems and spend the money. Or, at least stop hiding behind idiotic financial excuses.

    Of course, 17, I can’t stop you from kissing Arsene’s wrinkled bottom and believing that there is no world outside the Plato’s cave. But don’t put things I didn’t say into my mouth just because I don’t want to put a lipstick on for satisfying Arsene-lovers’ ego.

  95. 17highburyterrace says:

    FMJ, That’s a strong comment… We’ll see…Sunderland away will be a tougher match (for us…) if they can close the gap (to Norwich) tomorrow with a win over Leicester… Where’s the grasping at straws emoji when I need it… 😀 Truth be told, I’m not liking the way the old ones have morphed (become smaller)… 😦

    Admir, I fear, makes some decent points about how the table below us could tighten up…Still gotta pull for Spurs (dropping points to ManU) to get sucked down into it as well, I think… And, you’re right, it was a Bosnian friend (of yours) you quoted regarding the Santi factor, I think. Sorry…

    Before I go wrinkle-Arse kissing, let me continue with my Santi love… Coquelin is a fine defensive mid and a growing all-round player. Elneny might not be combative enough for some but he looks a very capable player with an incredible engine. For me, we’re just a bit more stuttering as we try to move from defending into attack and the overall range of potential passes is less without Sr. Cazorla available. Jack Wilshere, as best as I can recall, also is pretty good at running onto balls and moving them onwards himself or quickly with the help of his teammates (having him unable to play a single minute, with Arteta and Rosicky getting just a handful, was extremely bad luck.) Losing Santi, already probably on the downside in terms of his athleticism, hurt us critically; Losing Le Coq was more an issue of it stunting the player’s development rather than us lacking the critical cover, IMO–things actually went more to the south after he was back…

    Maybe the same could be said about Alexis, too… His willingness to drop deeper for the ball isn’t what we saw early season but at least he’s back in the goals. That late choice to pull the ball back rather than shoot with his left indicates less than full confidence…

    Over the summer the big thing, I think, is making Ozil and Alexis our highest paid employees and having them sitting down with Wenger (who will be right with them on top salary…) to discuss each and every player and how we want to play our football. It’s been too much cut and paste (and lacking a real plan in which we could believe) this season and as much as we don’t like a cold night oop Norf (Liverpool, Stoke away were bad draws) 0 from 6 against Chavs, 1 from 6 against West Ham, 1 from 6 against So’ton and 2 from 6 against Spurs probably has been the real killer…

  96. 17highburyterrace says:

    OK, then, a separate Arsene kissing response… And a desire to get you, Admir to respond to my earlier question…

    The Wenger Out position, I think, gives comfort to folks because he’s going nowhere…which makes the argument an all purpose winner… Kroenke loves him because he keeps us up there. If, as you might be hoping, we implode and fall out of the CL places, you could yet get your dream. And then we can explore just how low we can fall…

    In that scenario maybe Wenger goes and the extra salary goes to Ozil and Alexis who then tell Bouldy whom he should buy…Or they bring in their own guy who can move with some of his own players (Low knows the Germans, Simeone the Spanish speakers, who else is the dream man of the moment?) and we remake with the instant success we are assuming will happen at City, United and Chelsea. Are there European implications (does England lose its 4th CL spot) if Klopp can get past his old club and goes on to win the undercard?

    Berahino makes it 1-nil to WBA at City…

    It just seems to me a good deal more complicated than the idea that we can lop off the head and the body will grow back stronger…

  97. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oooh, that’s a soft pen on the Kolarov dive… El kun makes it 1-1…

    In truth, I think there’s a REAL argument to be made that Arsenal as an organization have gone backwards in its development due to Wenger taking on too much. Kroenke views him as a CEO with share price (Stan owns two thirds of them) as the bottom line. It’s not a great product out there, but if the customers keep buying it who cares if they gripe?…

    That’s the way WalMart was built (Stan’s father-in-law’s business)…If the customers are stupid enough to not buy from their local merchants and producers someone has to provide all the cheap (and very plastic) stuff from overseas…

    Anyhow, I could explain myself more, but only if folks seem innerested…

  98. 17highburyterrace says:

    I have question about European qualification…Who can help me? Admir?

    If Man City win the CL (lol…) then only 3 other teams would get spots no matter where City finish in the league? y/n?

    If Liverpool win the Europa League they get a spot in the CL meaning only top 3 qualify for the CL? y/n?

    Only 5th place qualifies for the Europa league along with the winner of the FA Cup, assuming that club doesn’t finish 5th or better in the PL? y/n?

    I guess I could do my own research, but like the Wenger out or “buy world class players” folks, I too like an easy answer…on occasion, at least…

    😀

  99. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey, that guy with the straw colored (coloured?) hair isn’t DeBruyne… 😀

    Just trying to get Admir to come out and play (or answer my questions…) but maybe I lost him by apologizing (re: Santi) above…

    More smileys…

  100. Ab says:

    Evening HT. I think today was a big game. I’ve not seen the game, but judging by reports we played pretty well and so did WH. The result, given their home form, is hardly a surprise nor of itself a cause for doom mongering. The context though means we are probably now thinking about staying in a CL position, planning for next season, and of course hoping we can avoid the embarrassment of coming in behind the spuds. I really can’t see us making up 10 points from here.

    So, while we cross our fingers that we can stave off disaster, it does become the traditional time of year for some refections on what went well, and what went less so. Its too early in my mind to come to all the conclusions. But while there have been some bright sparks around the development of individuals, my overall sense is that the team has not really progressed since the year before. I am baffled by this, given we have a talented core that is young and should be improving together. It leaves questions therefore around what ingredients are missing from the squad, and what maybe is lacking in the team culture or the coaching practice, that leaves us so consistently that little bit short?

    Like you, I am not inclined towards the easy fix of Wenger out and bring in someone (who?) to make it all better – its interesting to contrast the fortunes of Klopp and Ranieri this season. I doubt many would have been voting for the latter to take on our club, but quite a few thought Klopp was the answer… But I’m not an apologist for Wenger either. We do have frailties in our squad, and they are not entirely new ones as anyone who follows our team will know. And it is Wenger’s job to address them. Despite adding a top quality GK to our team, the main failings have still been evident – we don’t convert enough of the chances we create, we concede too many goals and appear to lack confidence when put under pressure, and we seem sometimes complacent against weaker teams or when we have a narrow lead. Wenger has to address these shortcomings through selection or recruitment to our squad. I remain of the view that the goal scoring we have within us, but I don’t see enough of the drive and steel in the defensive spine to tackle the others.

  101. Admir says:

    @17 – apology accepted. I had in-laws coming over so I could not respond earlier.

    So, Stan’s father-in-law built WalMart and Stan has made us stuck with WalMert. 😦

    I actually think that there is no position that is more comfortable than Wenger’s and his advocates right now. You can always opt to put all the blame 1) at the refs (because they have screwed us a lot of times this season), 2) at Kroenke (because he is a terrible owner of the club) or 3) bad luck (because our shots go “this” wide and their shots go in). Because, as we all know, when Arsenal blow hundred chances created by Mesut, it’s because we are not lucky, not because Arsene has put a lot of faith in mediocre strikers Giroud and Walcott.

    You mentioned players brought out of hat by Wenger – Coquelin (emergent return from the loan after Arteta and Flamini got injured), Bellerin (if Debuchy hadn’t been assaulted by that idiot from Stoke, Bellerin would have been sitting on the bench) and Iwobi (a real gem and kudos to Wenger for giving him the chance). Hardly a result of planning. We have an example of a manager who has been developing talented individuals into top-drawer players but I don’t think most of Everton fans appreciate Roberto Martinez these days. Even if Romelu Lukaku is now worth of 60 million pounds, John Stones can easily command a 40 million pounds fee and Gerard Deulofeu will only get better once he resolves his attitude issues. Ditto goes for Bešić, Funes Mori and others.

    Take a look at our team.

    Cech is a world-class goalkeeper. Ospina is a top goalkeeper in my eyes but truth to be told, he is hardly a goalie who can win you those 10-15 points required to win the league. Szczesny is a crazy mofo.

    Bellerin is a world-class going forward, still learning his trade defensive-wise. I hope we will keep him for the next decade because he has a lot of goals and assists in himself. His replacements are loaned out. Jenkinson can put a real performance but more often a really frustrating one. Debuchy is still our player but not for long.

    Nacho is a complete full-back, extremely intelligent lad but he has never won the league. He is 30 this year and his replacement is Gibbs who has been disappointing us for years.

    Mertesacker – for all his organizing skills and extreme intelligence – doesn’t have pace. He has never been a vital part of the title-winning team – Germany put their faith in someone else to claim 4th World Cup – and he can’t learn how to be a champion in his thirties.

    Koscielny is our best central defender but he needs a good organizer next to him. Hummels from Borussia Dortmund would be a perfect foil for him. Kos is in his thirties as well and there is a reason why Didier Deschamps prefers Sakho over him – Kos has never won a league and still makes costly mistakes.

    Coquelin – he doesn’t feature in his national team plans. In my book, he is an excellent defensive midfielder, perhaps limited when it comes to moving ball forward. I think playing next to Elneny suits him much better than playing next to either Ramsey who likes to go forward as much as possible or Santi who gets dribbled past like a training cone. None of aforementioned players bar Elneny in that mighty Swiss league has won the league. In fact, of all our central midfielders, only Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini have won the top league (Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan respectively).

    Alexis – he has done excellent job with quick attackers around him. Add Giroud in the equation and you lose most of Alexis. He has won the top league with Barcelona and Copa America with Chile. The Ox is worse player now than he had been when he arrived to Arsenal but I would give him a slight benefit of doubt because of his huge contribution to our FA Cup glory in 2014 and 2015. Campbell is a decent squad player who doesn’t have that X-factor which would force Wenger to use him more often.

    Özil – a top player who is losing nerves with injuries of our key players and mediocre performances of non-injured ones. A real world-class who has won the league with Real Madrid and World Cup with Germany. We don’t have a real replacement for him even if I would use Cazorla as his deputy whenever Mesut is not available.

    Iwobi – a real gem with a final product. Has a touch of a genius which is not a surprise given who is his uncle. He is still young though which could be the main reason why his goals and assists come in the first half of the game.

    Welbeck – probably the best striker we have which doesn’t say much given who his rivals are. He can offer pace, strength, aerial prowess…but doesn’t have 20 goals in himself. He has won the league with United but he was part of the supporting cast. His injury was a major set-back though and I believe that with his return Giroud’s days at Arsenal are numbered. The Frenchman would be a great striker for teams like Southampton but he doesn’t have quality to play for Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United. Walcott should write a self-help manual one day based on how he had managed to make Arsene Wenger believe in his (non-existing) top quality for a decade. “If I could do it, anyone can.”

    Speaking of CL regulations:

    a) if Manchester City win Champions League and finish outside Top Four, the fourth-placed team will play Europa League (just like Tottenham had to after finishing fourth in 2011-12).

    b) if Liverpool win Europa League, they will be fifth English participant in Champions League, except they will have to go through a play-off stage to get there,

    c) if Manchester City win Champions League, Liverpool win Europa League, with both teams finishing outside Top Four, and I sleep with Monica Bellucci, the fourth-placed team in England will be dropped to Europa League.

  102. Pony Eye says:

    ” Take a look at our team. ” ….@Admir.

    That team, Admir, with those players you described must be swimming in relegation waters, far, far away from where we are.

    For today’s (yesterday’s) match, we got a draw against a team that have not lost a match in 14 home games. That’s the bottom line and that wouldn’t make me grief.

    My main positive today is that our 3 goals were well worked. 9 goals in 3 games is turning our poor season goal scoring form right round.

  103. njk84sg says:

    Guys,

    Have only seen highlights, which was not even close to representing the overall picture of how we played.

    But if we played BFG we might have kept Carroll quiet. Just maybe.

    So, the Le Coq post came true.. and we are hoping for a spectacular crash in both teams above us.

    Good point earned, but we should have converted more.

    Cheers,

    JK

  104. Admir says:

    @PE

    No, we are not in the relegation zone nor we will be. With our wage bill, it would be an epic tragedy.

    But we are not top of the league either nor we will be with the mentality we have.

    That’s my point. A few real champions, a few champions with a supporting role in their CVs and a lot of players that have proven either they don’t have what it takes to win big trophies or they might do it one day but not today. Which leads us to the very uncomfortable truth:

    Every season we start with minus points due to the unresolved key position(s) in our team. That has been our modus operandi for almost a decade: a goalkeeper (between 2008 and 2015), a central defender (Koscielny had spent most of his opening two and half years conceding penalties and own goals), a defensive midfielder (since 2008 with a footnote that Coquelin has done well in 2015) and a striker (since 2012).

    There is a pattern in behaviour which, I’m pretty positive, is not my fault.

  105. Pony Eye says:

    @ Admir,

    If truth be told, big history is negatively critical to how fans react to the now, because I know that the fans of the last champions Chls are disgusted with their team, so also the fans of the most successful epl team Man U, and the oil rich Man C. Non of them including “great” Liv is basking in her past glory at the moment. As a matter of fact the bigger your recent past the more torturous for the team is the now except when sitting at the top.

    The only reality for a fan is now. And the only agreeable reality to the fan is top of the table, or if your team hasn’t got the curse of a big history round her neck, victory in the last match.

    It’s far less torturous if we learn how to live in the now. Now says that Arsenal still have a chance (just a chance and nothing more) to win the league or to be in the top four. Why should that leave me moaning all night.

    All the “negatives” of Arsenal, as far as the reality of now is concerned, also reside equally or more in Man C, Man U, Liv, and Chl. At the worst, currently, we are the best of a bad lot. But is that not too negative a way to look at it?

    We should not allow the past to poison out present. With fresh we see that yesterday we worked our 3 goals brilliantly. We only got pegged back by a monster of the day in the shape of Andy Carrol.

  106. FMJ14 says:

    PE .. I agree wholeheartedly. Onwards and upwards! Stay centered. Wishing all a great Sunday.

  107. njk84sg says:

    PE,

    Actually i have always wanted to get spuds finishing behind us.

    Our lads have played well this season, only that injuries and external parties have gone against us.

    So, lets just believe that the luck will run out for those teams.

    That spuds is above us is the only negative. Nothing more.

    JK

  108. FMJ14 says:

    njk84sg, I agree we have played well this season. When we haven’t it has been caused primarily by the injuries in the centre which led to an obvious imbalance in the team and our form suffered at a critical time. Now Elcoqny has restored most of this balance and will enhance it further than what Coq-Cazorla partnership achieved. I say most because the forward wingers need to help in defence more than they have, as Kos alluded to (probably in deep frustration at it) post match interview (usually these things are kept private). That and an ageing BFG has hurt us too. Fingers crossed luck will run out for those teams.. Have a fantastic Sunday Manchester, please!!..

  109. allezkev says:

    Interesting to see Andy Carroll being touted for England in Euro 16.
    A typical overreaction to one performance…

    Of course I can imagine him going in two footed for England, as he did against Koscielny and staying on the field, not…

  110. njk84sg says:

    FMJ14,

    Regarding BFG,
    I believe that he will have brought us better defensive capabilities in the air than Gabby.
    Even if he is aging, Le Coq or Elneny or even Bells will have covered his lack of pace well.

    Thus, we should have brought back BFG for Gabby in the games that play more defensively.

    I want to say that we should change the way we train the lads and maybe beef them up to handle knocks better. Wilshere and Theo is just too fragile.

    So, hopeful for tonight’s matches.

    Cheers,
    JK

  111. FMJ14 says:

    Yes JK for those reasons you gave I wanted BFG before the game.. He would have calmed my nerves for this one. Cech is taller as well so I would have put him in too, even if Ospina has been playing well of late.

  112. Pony Eye says:

    Regarding BFG ……@ FMJ

    BFG has his strengths and weaknesses. Same as Gabby. Choices can sometimes be two marginal. One forgoes something for something else. Maybe the most important consideration for Wenger now, is what fits with the way the team is playing atm.

    Atm we are using the slow build up with numerous passes which demands a defensive high line (the team moves up field together). Such expouses BFG’s slow pace if the opponent counters. Bringing in BFG would mean a change to quicker vertical transition i.e. a different strategy which in turn may affect the personnel used and their arrangement positionally. That’s overhauling something already working very well.

    Bottom line, away draw against W. H. aint bad. We move on.

  113. FMJ14 says:

    On Wilshere & Theo they have both beefed up. Theo will usually lose the physical battle not because of his lack of strength but because he is so light on his feet. Wilshere is a more complicated matter. He suffers recurrent injuries mainly to his ankle/foot because of biomechanical imbalances that many sports medicine people however advanced find hard to correct. Looking at his injury history his first appears in 2009 as an ankle injury which may have created a lack of mobility in that area causing compensations in muscles on one side of the leg affecting the alignment of the pelvis and the running gait. The ankle problem is recurrent the calf, hamstring and lower back injuries are a result of this original and ongoing weakness in the ankle area. I hope they corrected this through a proper and full functional movement screen but developments in physical therapy with a focus on movement quality are more recent so perhaps they haven’t looked at this or given it as much time as it deserves. In the meantime while he corrects his running style and imbalances I would like to see him find more space like Ozil does rather than dribbling through a forest of angry legs..

  114. TotalArsenal says:

    Beautiful, insightful comment, FMJ 😄

    Just imagine what a fully fit Jack this season would have meant for us! (Or indeed a Diaby…over the last few seasons)

  115. Pony Eye says:

    “On Wilshire’s injury” ……..@ FMJ.

    Meanwhile Wilshire’s injuries are mostly impact injuries. Therefore, he basically needs to reconstruct his game. Yes, Wenger said that his style is to provoke, and that if it is taken away from him he will loose his game. Unfortunately if he does not reconstruct, he, again, would loose his game in this case rather too harshly.

    Imo, for starters, he has to incoporate more change of pace and change of direction in his game. That requires an attitudinal change. Give up bee-line-always route to your target, which in fact is a disguised long ball mentality. Watch Messi, he chooses his bee-line moments very carefully, and aborts whenever the noose begins to tighten. Jack never aborts.

  116. Pony Eye says:

    Leicester 1 goal up 66′

  117. njk84sg says:

    Utter bu****** from Sunderland.. can’t finish

  118. Admir says:

    @PE

    Since our last league title Manchester United have won the league five times and a Champions League, Chelsea have won the league four times and a Champions League, City have won the league twice and Liverpool have won a Champions League.

    You only get a league trophy for ending above all 19 teams. That’s what Leicester City will get because they have been more competent than our team. We had an opportunity handed to us on a silver plate by Manchester City (streak of injuries of their key players), Chelsea (unrealistic crumble but still too good for us regardless of who their manager is), Liverpool (Rodgers-to-Klopp transition, number of poor transfers since Suarez’s departure) and Manchester United (Van Gaal has been cleaning the mess Moyes had left). We didn’t use it because we have a manager who doesn’t address the injury problems we have had for a decade, a manager who believes Mertesacker, Walcott and Giroud are top quality and who had believed Almunia is a top goalkepeer, a manager who doesn’t want to spend money available to him but is ready to use other clubs’ money spent as an excuse, a manager who is the highest paid in the league.

    When the pressure mounted on them, they didn’t break – they remained strong and firm.

    Just take a look at how they have reacted since that last-second defeat against us and how we have been dealing with dropping points in the last seconds of the game. Again, you can go back in time a decade ago to find out the same pattern (just take a look what happened after that unlucky draw at Birmingham City when we lost Eduardo or after that 4:4 draw at Newcastle).

    Arsenal of today is a team of technically gifted yet mentally and physically weak players who can’t handle the pressure and I would put that on the manager.

    Spuds have been trouncing Manure. 😦

  119. TotalArsenal says:

    Admir, we won the FA cup twice in a row and that was not just because the players are technically gifted. Wenger was also in charge for those trophies. Can we improve on Wenger? Possibly but it can also go downwards. I respect that some want to see Wenger leave and I would not mind a change either, but if he is to stay I am also happy. We are just missing a world class CB of the Sol Campbell calibre and back up for Coquelin…. and there is always next season… 🙂

  120. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 🙂

  121. Pony Eye says:

    @ Admir

    Thanks TA on your chip-in. Arsenal used 2004 to 2014 in investing on growth (future). More 3 yrs needed for full upgrading of the team. We are nearly there. As at now, as a self sustaining institution, the role of one man is not anymore critical to the well being of the club aka Bayern M. Therefore Wenger or no Wenger is no longer the issue to me. The trust the institution to deal the right card. But at the same time we cannot fail to accord the right recognition to Wenger for the special role played by him in our achieving this height.

    The Spuds might atm be ahead of us on the table, but we are about 15 hard-to-bridge years ahead of them.

    Spuds v Man U was a win win situation for us. Our rear is feeling a lot less uncomfortable now.

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