Arsenal-West Bromwich Albion: Make Up Match or More Misery Coming in the Baggies?

How do you set out to win a match in a no-win situation?  How can you muster the fight against another ugly Tony Pulis team in a half empty stadium of nervous and demanding fans?  Can Wenger and his players stop the rot or do we have further down to go before we find rock bottom?

Over to you, Arsene…

It could easily be argued that our season began its first descent towards this current miserable state of affairs in the reverse fixture, a 2-1 loss at the Hawthorns.  In that one, Arsenal lost defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin and his back-up, Mikel Arteta, to injury.  Confusion at the back was the order of the day and a free kick goal put in by James Morrison was quickly followed by an Arteta own goal near the end of the first half.  As became a pattern for the season, a winning position–the result of an Olivier Giroud header from an early Mesut Ozil free kick,the German’s record breaking 7th consecutive match with at least one assist–had been reversed.

Arsenal dominated the second half and finally had a late chance to get something from the match when Alexis Sanchez won a penalty.  Unfortunately, Santi Cazorla’s standing foot slipped and he sent the would-be equalizer over. A week later, at Norwich City, Arsenal would lose both players to injury.  Alexis returned a couple of months later but has only recently begun to look the player we remember, albeit with a bit more frustration on his face than I recall.  Santi has yet to return but supposedly is back in training.  Of the DMs lost on the day, Coquelin actually came back ahead of schedule, but Arteta has yet to reappear in an Arsenal shirt.

None of that matters, however, to many Gooners, spoiled perhaps by the consistency our club has delivered over the years and the somewhat miraculous recovery the team made from those late November injuries.  Digging deeper into the squad and relying on guys like Joel Campbell and Mathieu Flamini, in place of Alexis and Santi, Arsenal recovered, and, with a grit and determination it’s hard to recall, steadied our league campaign and came from well back in our Champions league group to qualify for the eliminations.  By the turn of the calendar year, Arsenal were top of the league and in the round of sixteen.  Having survived our injury crisis, things were looking up.

It was not to be.  Minus a couple of good come-from-behind results against the two teams who will compete for the title (Leicester and Tottenham) it’s been almost all down-hill since.  As we’ve fallen out of the title hunt and been eliminated in the FA Cup and Champions league, the atmosphere surrounding the club has grown ever more toxic. First came a run in late-January and early February: draws at Liverpool and Stoke followed by a home loss to Chelsea and a frustrating nil-nil at home with Southampton.  Naive play–also in the home stadium–made advancing against Barcelona in the CL just about impossible after shipping two goals to the holders.  The real killer, however, were back-to-back league losses, 3-2 to Manchester United at Old Trafford and then–again from a winning position–to Swansea City at the Emirates.  Unexpected elimination in the FA Cup at home to Watford set the home crowd fully on edge.

Playing the so-called “lesser competition” in the home stadium, for all the bigger clubs, is always difficult as the full points–and a dominant performance–are always expected.  I’d argue that it’s worse at Arsenal given that our principal shareholder, Stan Kroenke, sees winning in terms of dollars and cents (even if the home support buy their season tickets in pounds sterling).   Results on the balance sheet seem to matter more than those on the pitch.  At this time of year, with the league title out of reach, those that choose to show up often do so because they paid so much for the privilege.  This leads to an empty stadium with many of the fans who do show up eager to turn on those at Arsenal who aren’t delivering the performances and results they paid to see.  This disjuncture between a club and its support, as between any company and its customers, has led to a state of extreme discontent.  In normal corporate relations the response is to stop buying the product.  In sport, with its deeper loyalties, it can be a more difficult process.  In football, the manager usually absorbs the pressure and the club finds a measure of relief in sacking their figurehead.  At Arsenal, for better or worse, no such mechanism exists.

Indeed, it might be better to see Wenger’s relationship to his club as a life partnership, such is the way he has married his own personal legacy to the long-term success of the club.  The raised expectations that make calls for his head reflexive with each cup we exit or point we drop are a testament to the benchmarks and success he has achieved for the club.

In the end it’s a very perverse sort of support.  When Arsenal take the pitch vs WBA they will face not only a team which has already beaten them this season and will be hungry for points ahead of a trip to the grittier part of North London (Spurs) on Sunday, but also a crowd ready to turn hostile at the first opportunity.  A win and sparkling performance–if somehow they are produced–will probably only earn a sense of respite from the disease eating at our club and a polite ‘golf-clap’ from the crowd.   Who cares if we’ll be jumping back ahead of Manchester City and into third?  The gap to the top two–one a local rival who hasn’t finished above us during Wenger’s nearly two decades at the club–is already too large.

And that’s if we prevail…

Overcoming the hostile atmosphere and getting the win thus becomes automatically tougher.  A concurrent problem is that Wenger’s team selection is fraught with public relation traps.  On the one hand, young players are generally given a longer leash than more richly compensated players who have disappointed, but they are also learning on the job and can lose confidence quickly–a very tough situation when any mistake is punished by your own supporters.  Going behind in this one is just about unthinkable, but surely no lead is safe as well.  Does Wenger defend first and hope to nick a goal or does he play a more all out attack and simply commit to outscoring the Baggies?

Does he stick with more newly emerging players like Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck, Gabriel Paulista, Mohamed Elneny and Coquelin or does he resort to more tried and true (or already condemned) veterans like Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, Flamini and Per Mertesacker?  Maybe a fresh face (even if only on the bench) attempting a late season return from injury (Tomas Rosicky or Jack Wilshere) could help or perhaps mixing things up with other youngsters who haven’t seen much recent playing time (Campbell, Callum Chambers).  I have no idea, but here’s the group of gladiators I think AW might send into the ring:

Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Mertesacker, Rosicky, Iwobi, Campbell, Giroud

That group, including the subs (and careful observers should note the ones missing who might also be gone over the summer) seems a reasonable blend between Wenger’s conservatism and his need for a strong squad that can both defend and attack.  Dropping Iwobi to the bench seems as tough as his earlier decision to severely reduce Campbell’s playing time.  Getting Ramsey back into the mix seems important but having him replace either Coquelin or Elneny in the middle of the pitch seems a risky ploy.  What about Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs and Flamini or others I’ve left out entirely?  Like I said above, who knows, and your guess is as good as mine.

West Brom, as with any Tony Pulis team, will be tough to break down at the back and will play for free kicks and corners where they can send their big men up.  They will miss Morrison and Chris Brunt in midfield but have plenty of quality in Darren Fletcher and guys who some Gooners might take in our squad such as Stephane Sessegnon, Salomon Rondon and Saido Berahino, the latter of whom is back to his best (except, perhaps, from the penalty spot) and will be wanting to showcase his game for a move away from the black country.  Callum McManaman, just back from injury, is also very quick and good at beating fullbacks and getting crosses in when on the ball.  If he plays, Pulis might opt for bigger targets up front like veterans Victor Anichebe and Rickie Lambert.

Anybody who thinks West Brom at home should be a walkover is failing to acknowledge the difficulty of our club’s current condition as well as forgetting the reverse fixture.  Pulis and his boys (on the magic 40 points) may be just about safe from relegation but they will also be licking their lips at a(nother) chance to deepen Arsenal’s misery as will the even more desperate relegation fighting clubs (Sunderland and Norwich City) we face in quick succession.

We play them one at a time, of course, so all I know is that, small and insufficient as it might be, this Arsenal team needs a win, a decent performance, and an uptick of almost any sort.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Arsenal-West Bromwich Albion: Make Up Match or More Misery Coming in the Baggies?

  1. Pony Eye says:

    That’s a super preview, HT. What I love most about it, is the absence of a note of despondency in it. I fear that most gunners are still sprawled on the canvass, the referee busy with the counting.

    Manc, Manu are at full throttle and that also is our only option. We have to be on the front foot but not recklessly.

    Your line up is what I expect from Wenger, but as Sanchez has been very effective from the right I see Ramsey going left, as drifting in, which he loves doing, leaves the ball on his stronger right foot. Of course interchanging positions should be expected.

    I suspect Wenger will be averse to doing any further tinkering not onty because of our delicate position, but also because he feels that the team, since Barca, have been perfoming creditably but unlucky with results in the last two matches.

    I hope we score early to settle nerves and avoid the short Emirate fuse burning out.

  2. 17highburyterrace says:

    Cheers, PE…I’m sure you also saw my comment on your post…

    Match to match I’m not at all despondent about our team. I think we’ve got some very fine personnel at the club–the players and the manager are top notch, IMO…

    I am, however, quite depressed about the more general malaise. It’s probably a general offshoot of the wider culture–expect everything then assign blame when those expectations fall short. Ideally against someone you can expell or wall off. In my country we have a guy who will win 30 or so of our States in the presidential election saying the equivalent of “I want my Arsenal back.” (Luckily, I’m pretty sure, he won’t end up as President…) I truly believe our team could win the League AND the CL AND the FA Cup and you would have Gooners (led as always by a pundit or the press or a blog in search of hits…) suggesting that we are failures for blowing our big chance at the quadruple…

    The way I look at it…if you’re gonna get on and say more than “I’m happy we won” or “I’m sad we dropped points” you actually need to have a coherent set of arguments and a reasonable philosophy. A tiny bit of football knowledge and an original observation always helps, too… Otherwise, to me, it’s just sour grapes. As such, I’m just about at the end of my patience with the most vocal elements of the Arsenal “support.” Uh oh, the quotation marks are back… 😀 😦

    Not that I want to stifle debate…I just want it to be intelligent… In the end, however, maybe Gooners get the team they deserve, if not the one they pay to see… 😦

    That said, I’m looking forward to the match… 😀

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks for the preview, 17HT. 😎

    It seems that the way the supporters behave is a continuous source for your writing. You know you will not change it but it must do you good to keep writing about it. It cannot come as a big surprise that the vast majority of supporters are not as philosophical as the average BKer and I reckon there is plenty of reason to be dissatisfied with the club and manager.

    Having said that, supporting the team when we play is a necessity as long as they give their all.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    It would be a shame if Iwobi doesn’t play tonight, and not good for his confidence. Maybe Rambo starts instead of Elneny and Iwobi can play wide again. Hope Giroud starts.

  5. lorp says:

    I really commend you guys on the positive attitude and backing of both the club and manager, however I do think that there is another side to this story, and one that deserves to be heard without abuse, and that is the fans perspective, both the positive and negative sides.

    Disgruntled fans in my opinion have a right to be disgruntled, when there is no sign of progress after its been publicly stated we can do so now – progress. I also think that its pretty obvious what Arsenal have needed in recent and not so recent years in regards to positions, personal etc, yet no sign of change (Football Expert or not). Fans are disgruntled because they see a team of quality that just needs the addition of 1 or 2 players to make them the very best of quality, yet they see the same failings (mental collapse) ever year. Furthermore recent substitutions have done nothing more than remain consistent, ineffective and in some cases made us weaker. Finally its well known how patient Wenger is with his players, there is no doubting he has favorites, its not so fair, I think poor campbell ! ,I also think his choices of captaincy in recent years and they do not fill me with confidence (why was Arteta captain while being over-run in midfield, or in the injury room this year) , why give Theo the armband on his 10yrs of glorious service to the club, the same day we end up losing the title at old trafford (In my opinion this was the end). It all stems back to mentality and decision making and both come from 1 person and none can be influenced by the fans.

    You guys say people who give out about Wenger should give him more respect, however I feel that maybe we have shown him to much respect in the past and now we may pay the price for it.
    In my opinion the mentality of finishing in the top 4, now transcends throughout the club. Wenger is now reactive and defensive in his vision. To flourish today you must be proactive, built on new ways of doing things, thinking, adapting, collaborating and engaging.

    Apologies for the negative tones in this post, Im just airing my opinions, and trying to do it respectfully !

    Ive been a Gooner 23 years now its not like I dont care, I do too much !!

    COYG

    Arsenal 3 WBA 1

    Sanchez with 2
    Ozil with 1

  6. 17highburyterrace says:

    It does fascinate me, TA, but my obsession, I’m guessing, doesn’t always please my readers, including the gaffer… 🙂

    In a lot of ways, I think it’s the very structure of the situation that demands change, which is the role of the CEO, who by name at least is Ivan Gazidis. He seems to have been chosen by Wenger, much as Wenger, I believe, convinced the board to sell their shares (at great personal profit) to Kroenke, the Wal-Mart billionaire. Meanwhile the same guy who did all that and tries to coach the football and remain the public relations face of the whole scheme clearly takes the bad results as badly as anybody…

    If Wenger stays, and he will, the question is can he modify the (corporate) structure in such a way as to please the support. Ironically the easiest way is probably just to start winning matches–and then keep winning them. Confidence builds slowly and is destroyed in a flash, as he knows all too well… There are other ways too…Spend more money on players, stop with the ticket nickel and diming (pennying and ha’pennying?…), etc., etc.

    I know you’d prefer more about the actual football–and I would too–especially as I get to watch each and every painful minute of it on a high definition big screen (Not true, last weekend it was on my parents low def, medium size telly…) On that note, I need a big day from Mesut Ozil (at least for my fantasy squad)… Where have all the assists gone? Also on that note, no comments on my line-up or the players on (or not on) the bench? There is a match to be played after all… Still, the corporate stuff and the biographical intrigue of Wenger trying to take responsibility for it all (without paying the ultimate or usual price of a sacking) is very intriguing stuff, IMO…

  7. retsub1 says:

    Well written 17ht a pretty good summary of where we are today (with the exception of the support which I will come back to.. The team was lifted recently by the introduction of a few changes (in particular Owobi) but as is often the case the magic has worn off and it’s time to change things around. I would be tempted to start Giroud for this one. Although he started well, Welbeck is starting to look a little short of confidence and despite his recent loss of form, Giroud has been our most consistent goalscorer over the past few years and deserves a chance.

    T A has summed up my feelings about the club pretty well. There is no disease amongst Arsenal supporters, they are exactly the same as every other club, with the exception possibly of having slightly higher expectations. I regard myself as a loyal supporter. I have attended games for over 40 years and I could not in any way possible even consider supporting another team. When in the past I have attended neutral games involving other teams, I cannot support another team, even for 90 minutes. However I do reserve the right to complain when I am not happy. 10 years of threatening to win the league and nearly always fading away at the vital moment is pretty frustrating and has certainly left me feeling flat. When we kick off tonight I will be shouting and screaming at the TVs as usual and the team will have my full support.. But these guys are paid a bucket load of money and I expect a bit more than I am getting at the moment. When Palace equalised on Saturday, I didn’t see a Tony Adams berating his team mates, or a Patrick Vieira crunching through three players and smashing the ball home. I saw a number of players pushing the ball around in midfield with little idea or passion ?(in my opinion anyway) seemingly running down the clock.

    Whilst I am on a roll. If Arsenal kick off tonight and spend 2 minutes pushing the ball around in our own half, I will let a volley of verbal abuse go at the TV. It maybe a great tactical move ( which I don’t understand). But to my simple mind it’s just wasting vital tome, that we will need when it’s one each after 90 minutes

    Rant over. COYG

  8. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oops, Sorry TA, you caught me with the second comment… 😀

    Personally, I understand about keeping Iwobi in the line-up but I personally would prefer giving Rambo that sort of free-role with plenty of side to side interchange with Alexis. I also wouldn’t mind getting Giroud back up top, or if you want to keep Iwobi in there, putting Alexis in as the #9 with Ozil tucked in (and switching fore and aft) with the Chilean. Talk about a bit of pace to press the ball now and again, between the two of them…

  9. 17highburyterrace says:

    lorp, I think you and retsub (below) are more or less on the same page… Believe me, you have my sympathy. Personal history: I was based for a few months in the autumn of 2006 at my screen-name and fell in love with the club, having always been very interested in football, but I’m based in Calfornia. I’ve made it back twice to see the team play and meet up with fellow bloggers…

    The situation at the club is making me miserable, too… Where I would disagree with retsub is that Arsenal ARE different with the ARE only needing an S, an N and another E to spell it out. The manager as CEO is simply a different model.

    The Greater Mancester area clubs are more typical–Spend big, whether you earn it or not and a manager for life (SAF) can win some titles as can a pawn (Pellegrini)…Martinez has got a great goup of players and maybe can save his job with an FA Cup win…Can LvG do likewise after taking over for the chosen Scot, David Moyes who looked so comfortable at Everton but couldn’t do it at ManU? I wonder if Martinez is ruing his decision to eschew the red side of the Mersey for the blue?… Speaking of Blues, I have no envy (at all) for the evil the Moo-man has wrought down at that South London club where he’ll be due back in a couple of years…

    So, I see nothing wrong with being fed up by the current situation but if you advocate change for the sake of removing the figurehead whom you can no longer stand I would just be braced for some lean years given the other structures in place at the club. He may be projecting his own lack of confidence onto his players, he may not be finding the right guys to be Captain nor making the correct choices of who to buy, who to play and who to sub in… Will the next guy? (Who, by the way, would be Steve Bould…) Who knows, a new manager might spark our players into winning and our fan-base into happiness…It could also be a much longer slog, esp. given that Kroenke is not prone to spending like an Emir or an Oilergarch…

    Look, I’m just trying to explain what I see not trying to judge right or wrong one way or the other, though I like AW and hope it all works out, short term and long…

    Short term, there’s a match to play and line-ups should be out in a few…

  10. Pony Eye says:

    lorp,

    You are absolutely right that there are things in the club that one would wish were better. Bergkampesque encourages opinions and the pointing of the way forward. At the same time it tries to discourage criticisms that can only inflame passions, is divisive, and that tends to destroy instead of build.

    Football is a game of passion that exists within modern societies that place a lot of premium on civilized conduct which is basically live and let live. To conform with the other spheres of our life we must learn how to master our passion and direct its energy positively and creatively.

    You know my starting point? I see all the 20 managers in the epl as geniuses, no different from how I see the chief executives of the multi-national firms. It permits me to offer my judgement of them with a little dose of humility.

    Bergkampesque is a brand and you are welcomed. Disappointed fan is far preferable to disgruntled fan.

  11. retsub1 says:

    17ht. To clarify, I am a huge fan of Wenger and always have been. You could argue that he inherited a very good squad from Bruce Rioch with a fantastic defence and Sir Dennis in place, but Wenger added some brilliant talent, without breaking the bank, Thierry Henry being the be past example. But he was immediately successful and I see no reason why somebody
    Y else cannot repeat that. We went into this season with a weakness in defensive midfield ( I don’t think Arteta or Flamini were ever going to provide top notch support. As soon a Coquelin got injured the wheels came off. In my opinion you didn’t need to be a football genuius to see that coming. Personally I thought our attack was strong enough (Giroud, Welbeck, Wallcott, but many on here argued for a top notch striker and have been proven right.
    It’s happened before, when Wenger gambled with Alminia. I have no doubt that if he had splashed out on a decent keeper that year we would have been champions. But hey who is perfect? What. Has Moyes ever done?

    Personally I would like Wenger to move upstairs as his decision. I don’t know who the best man for the job is, but when Wenger was appointed I had never heard of him, so who knows

  12. 17highburyterrace says:

    Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Elneny; Ozil, Iwobi, Sanchez; Giroud.
    Substitutes: Ospina, Chambers, Gabriel, Coquelin, Campbell, Walcott, Welbeck.

    West Brom (4-3-3) Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Chester; Sandro, Yacob, Fletcher; Sessegnon, Berahino, McClean.
    Substitutes: Myhill, Olsson, Gardner, Anichebe, McManaman, Rondon, Leko.

    Retsub, cheers for the further explanation… Inneresting that AW has chosen to sit Le Coq this evening… Very attacking line-up but I like it… As you know, I have always thought we’d miss Santi more than Le Coq and, like I tried to say in the preview, we actually got on top of the league (and got back up in our CL group) when Alexis and Le Coq were out… I guess I’m a bit on the Elneny train with the avatar…

    PE, as per usual, plenty of poetics in trying to state the BKesque philosophy…

    We can debate the big picture stuff over the summer–or after the match if we don’t win and Admir (others?…) makes his (their) appearance… 🙂

    In the meantime, let’s do this thing!!

  13. retsub1 says:

    Gotta laugh. Alan Smith being interviewed pre match on Sky Sports

    1. Q. Wenger has said he will honour his contact for next season. Smith well it’s no sacrifice he is earning 8 million a year.

    2. Q Will the fans be happy that he has decided to stay another year. Smith well many of them won’t be jumping through hoops, but to put this into perspective, it’s not Wenger decision if the club decide to keep him on or not!!!.,.

  14. lorp says:

    Although maybe a bit of a roy of the rovers vison. Koeman and Bergkamp as no2 for me. I hear you PE and 17, dont get me wrong, Im not here with malice..

    Lets hope in 2 hours, were all happy 😀

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    No new faces on the bench, but some older ones (Flamini and Gibbs) didn’t make it…

    Cheers, lorp… Alan Smith, I believe is right about point #1, not so much with #2, and therein lies the rub…

  16. retsub1 says:

    Iorp

    I could go with that, although I would keep Bouldy on in some role.

    First signings would be Roy Race and Tubby Morton

  17. Gerry says:

    Evening all. This will be another game that I will not see, but I shall tune in to whatever radio station is airing the game … alas, that may be ‘Talkshite’ as they seem to have an arrangement with Sky.

    If I am honest, I will be disappointed if it is the team you have named HT. Not that it makes any difference, as AW makes the decisions.

    Apart from the last game, the goals were flowing quite freely? Perhaps a 4-3-3 could accommodate changes better?
    I think more likely the changes will come from the bench, unless Ospina is recalled?

    However, I shall follow any comments on here should there be any, but only as a passive listener.

    The result? I want a good game with a result as a bonus. Not fanciful scorelines that are more likely to bring about disappointment ..
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  18. 17highburyterrace says:

    Lotsa talk in the US studio about the mental frailties at the club and no passion during the warm-ups, blah, blah, blah… Retsub, I fear everybody is ready for your first two minutes of stroking it around leading to rage and a rant… C’mon lads, can’t you go for at least 10 minutes of pointless stroking before you lose your load?… Over here, they demand at least 20-25 minutes, or so I recall…

    😀

  19. Gerry says:

    Well Ramsey in for Coquelin? Mmmmm. I hope he stays on DM mode rather than AM?

    The 4 up front should score, and that is some relief 😀

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    Gerry, shame that you didn’t actually read the comments as you might have seen the line-up and thus not been disappointed… Only 8 of 11 for me this time… Giroud, BFG and Iwobi play (rather than the Coq, Gabby, Welbs, I chose)…

    We have kickoff…

  21. 17highburyterrace says:

    Less than 50 seconds of stroking it around before Elneny chips it into an empty set of seats, er, bit of space where nobody resided…

  22. 17highburyterrace says:

    ALEXIS!!!! Turn and burn…

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    Referee played advantage… Arsenal get all the breaks… WBA look a bit like they want to come out and play… How many goals before we could consider a result safe?

    Oooh, Ozil blocked from about 5 yds, Ramsey volley from the rebound not too far wide but not perfectly hit either… Ozil might’ve pulled that ball more central for an easier

  24. Gerry says:

    Talking of comments ….’ at least the front 4 will score’ 😀

    While I was writing my comment, there wasn’t any other comments up after your lengthy reply to TA. I go off to see the team sheet, come back, and my previous comment was the last one.

    The point I am making, I am not so worried about defensive tweakings, but taking out what works from the attack is a different mattter.

    Back to the game …

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nice attack there…Iwobi held the ball up 40 yards out which allowed Elneny to get forward into acres… Alexis’ ball just a hair strong for the Egyptian…

    Attacking but maintaining the shape but not in an overly rigid manner…

    Ozil finds Alexis but the first touch takes it wider than he’d prefer and his cross is just out for a goal kick…

  26. 17highburyterrace says:

    Sorry, Gerry… Gotcha… So, not worried about Le Coq sitting then, I guess…

    As unmotivated as our guys are supposed to be, the Baggies really look uninspired…

    I guess I was unaware of the stat about Pulis–never having won a point in our stadium… Sounds like he might get the sack at WBA even though he’s kept them up…Insufficient levels of fun, I guess…

    Rambo finally stops Sandro with the 2nd foul…FK from the center circle eventually cleared in unconvincing fashion by the BFG, Alexis and Bellerin…

    Alexis trying to float a(nother) one into Giroud, overhits it (again)…

  27. 17highburyterrace says:

    They’re trying to put us all to sleep, time-wasting down a goal,in fact…

    Nice layoff by Alexis for Bellerin who runs by everybody…tough angled shot is wide of the near post…

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    They’re only playing for FKs and get one in a good position but it only finds the BFG…Back in they win a corner… But it’s also cleared, this time by Giroud for another… That one too…kind of, by a Cech punch and an Alexis touch in our box with his hand…By the letter of the law that’s a pen, I fear…

    More kind reffing…Rambo gets blown for less of a hand but outside their box…

    Yet another corner for WBA…

  29. 17highburyterrace says:

    McCauley open header is off the bar…Huge let-off… Ozil falls over and is then caught offside on a nice throughball…

    Arsenal playing very sloppy and will need more goals if this continues…

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Bellerin-Giroud 1-2 but he can’t shape around for his right foot and it’s both (very) high and wide…

    Ozil asks for and gets a whistle… FK finds opens Kos but he can’t control. Back in Bells is open and his pull back falls to Ozil who gets it between Foster’s legs but his bollocks did enough to see it cleared off the line…Elneny then blasts over from distance…

    Need that 2nd goal, I fear…

  31. 17highburyterrace says:

    Better play there after some Alexis bobbly stuff… FK won by Ramsey at the edge of the box…

    Alexis or Ozil to take…

  32. 17highburyterrace says:

    ALEXIS!!!!

  33. 17highburyterrace says:

    Keeper and wall befuddled by the set-up…Giroud and Mert, in the wall, bent out of the way and Foster, more set up for the left footer, didn’t even make a move… 2-nil should do it, but this is Arsenal…

  34. 17highburyterrace says:

    WBA still earning corners…This one hauled in by Cech and we break until Giroud is flagged off…Shoots anyway out of frustration…

  35. 17highburyterrace says:

    First yellow, McCauley holding Giroud back…

    Lovely play and Ozil almost finds a wide open run by Nacho…Just a foot or two long…

  36. 17highburyterrace says:

    Mesut Ozil does his best Bruce Lee kick on Yacob, but it’s not good enough to earn more than a warning…

    OK, halftime here…and the group gets the (early) golf-clap… Tea for me…

    If anybody is actually enjoying the narrative, lemme know… Otherwise, I’ll shut up, hope we ship three and then have the usual back and forth with Admir… 🙂 😦

  37. allezkev says:

    I’m reading 17tino

    And

    Listening to radio…

    Some good healthy and respectful debate on here today, very enjoyable…

  38. Gerry says:

    Sorry HT, I am working whilst listening….

  39. 17highburyterrace says:

    OK Kev…Thought I might have the rest of the afternoon off…

    WBA look a little stronger with Olsson and Rondon on…They were able to get McClean a header with only a tiny bit of pressure from Bellerin,but enough to make it weak enough for Cech to gather easily. Iwobi looks bright but very one footed… Rambo has been good at the defensive end and overall looks a brighter character as his stamina takes over… Personally, I really like the look of this Ram-neny central pairing…They both look like they can run all day and they also seem to be covering for one another well enough. Of course, WBA are only playing for corners and FKs…

    Nearing the hour mark… Bells loses a ball wide but deep and Rondon and Berahino almost make something of it. Iwobi down in the box and the ref doesn’t choose to give it… Rondon trying the same in our box, but Nacho gets the call…

  40. 17highburyterrace says:

    Bellerin and Ozil almost work the 1-2 in the box…

    The atmosphere has just been described as a “conversational hub-bub…”

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ooh…Nice work from Ozil and Giroud to put Elneny in but the ref gives nothing…Much hub-bub about Jamie Vardy wanting a yellow for our player…

    Ozil in space elects to pass–but straight to the one defender trying to cover both him and Alexis…

    Arsenal corner but Giroud’s half-volley is blocked at the point and then he’s whistled using a smaller man as a ladder when the ball is put back in…

    McClean out, Gardner in… All subs used by Pulis, none by Wenger…

  42. allezkev says:

    The atmosphere sounds ok to me, on the radio 17tino

    Giroud could really do with a goal…

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Critical 10-15 mins here and my hunch is the next goal will decide things…

    Ramsey keeps a ball in nicely but then delays his cross and lofts it softly straight to Foster…

    Great box work from Iwobi, Alexis but he elects to pass wide…Ozil’s right foot shot smothered by Foster…And he wins a corner from the next sequence…It’s cleared but then sent back in to Giroud who chests down for Iwobi. He puts it on target but straight to Foster…

  44. 17highburyterrace says:

    The atmosphere seems “content but not fully satisfied,” I think… If WBA were to get a goal things would get very tense, very quickly, I fear…

    Rambo out wide chooses to try a chip or lofted shot and ignores Giroud’s good run into the six yard…

    Corner WBA…

  45. 17highburyterrace says:

    Another massive let off as everybody misses the corner and Rondon’s reaction kicks it away from goal rather than in from 2 yards…

    The resulting FK from a cornerish angle is cleared by Ramsey…

    Cech might’ve been screened off at the original corner. Elneny is staying down having taken a shoulder to the ribs… He’s back up now, however…

  46. 17highburyterrace says:

    Very nice one touch football but too clogged through the middle too…You’d think we could use a bit more width with Giroud as a target but it’s only when things break down…As just now with Ozil forced wide left and lofting one for only Olsson…

    Oooh giveaway comes to Iwobi but he can’t get his behind the leg flick through to Ozil… Needed to do an Alexis and get it onto his right foot for a shot…

  47. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis gives a nice ball for Bellerin but he also cannot make up his mind and it rolls harmlessly to the keeper…

    Arsenal sub coming… Coq for Iwobi…

  48. 17highburyterrace says:

    Well, we got through and now it’s the 83rd minute as we shore up with Le Coq…Who immediately looks lively and as if he wants in on the attack. Rambo can now push forward but final balls aren’t what they need to be for a third. Wins a FK but too deep for something direct…

  49. 17highburyterrace says:

    Looks like Campbell and Theo will be coming on…

    Mert clears a cross and it’s behind for a Cech goal kick…

    Alexis and Ozil off… Still no assists and Henry’s record only has 4 more matches to survive…

  50. 17highburyterrace says:

    Campbell, first action is direct from an angle on the left but the shot is wide…

    88th min…talk already to the tough match up at relegation fighting Sunderland…

    Wow, great work but Giroud’s powerful shot is blocked by Foster’s head…

  51. 17highburyterrace says:

    Geez, Campbell and Giroud still working hard but cannot put it in…

    More good work but also very clogged in the middle. Rambo, Joel and Elneny cannot sort it out for a shot…

    Stadium emptying with the news that the Picadilly line is out of service…

    Only two mins of ET…

  52. 17highburyterrace says:

    Campbell overhits a pass that was so hopeful it was hard to see to whom it was intended…That should do it, however…

    Full time whistle and the golf clap is given…but the camera also goes to the Wenger out signs…

    So, two points up on City, 4 on United…

    Tougher match coming on Sunday up in the Northeast…

  53. 17highburyterrace says:

    Studio talk about Arsenal’s dominance but also the signs and the sense of frustration.

    I dunno, we looked shaky on corners and needed a reasonably generous ref to play advantage and give us a FK for Alexis to do his thing. Hopefully the boys can be up for it on the short turnaround much as they were at Everton after the midweek trip to Barca… Fat Sam will certainly be big on the mind games over the next couple of days…

    Rambo given public relations duty and trots out all the proper homilies…

  54. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alright then, work to do around here… Happy Thursday…

  55. Gerry says:

    Well after listening to the aptly named radio station, I can see where most of animosity is well catered for ….
    I need a lie down.
    Catch you tomorrow….

  56. allezkev says:

    Thanks 17tino

  57. njk84sg says:

    Good match commentary 17ht,

    We needed to be prolific in front of the opponents goal and only Alexis made full use of the chances.

    Havent watch the highlights, so will comment more after that.

    Cheers on a 2 point lead over Manc s*****, which we really needed that.
    JK

  58. Gerry says:

    Having had a night’s sleep on thoughts about the game, here are a few of them.

    The result was great. The manner they approached the game, fantastic.

    The reality is: one more win by Leicester finishes any ‘mathematical’ chance of the title. We need Spurs to lose two of their 4 remaining games, and us not to drop any more points.

    That is the ‘Now’.

    So to continue to compete at this high level has made need for a little more than the muted support that the team have got recently?

    Other points to clear up:
    I have said in the past that I think Collymore is a very good analyst when he talks about team tactics ……. BUT, boy does he go overboard with his personal attacks on players he has taken a dislike too … mostly to do with ‘attitude’.
    Giroud was one of his targets last night. It is what gets repeated on the blogs everywhere, and it is easy to see where the ‘one liners’ get their script from? Apparently, it took 45 seconds for Olly to get over an eye problem. It took Ozil 25 seconds to recover from being dumped on the deck without a foul being given (I cannot comment on the merit of the tackle as I have not seen the match). Clearly they spend a lot of time running replays? The ‘they’ on this occasion was aided by a ‘Baggies’ supporter. But to be fair, he was far worse on his team, and if there is a ‘Pubis out’ campaign going on, he is surely a founder member.

    Collymore did give an insight as to why teams lose interest when their players have one eye on the end of season. From players bulking up because of spending more time in the gym … Not to help their play, but rather to get their ‘beach bodies’ in shape 😀
    And the ‘Why bother?’ attitude.
    His co-commentator was even more scathing, saying that the W. Brom subs were very reluctant to get off the bench, such was their lack of commitment to seeing out the season.

    In answer to HT poser about Ramsey replacing Coquelin, and whether I was worried by it.
    Well, I would say I was ‘less’ bothered by it.
    My view on Ramsey is this: If you want to keep the balance in the side, the last place you put him is on the right wing. He does not like it. He does not stay there. It exposes Bellerin when he gets forward, and in turn, Mertersacker if he is playing. His cross-field movements are far less effective than his north-south ones.
    So, if you are going to play him, centre-mid is where he needs to be. Hence my suggestion before kick off was of a 4-3-3 formation.
    Fortunately, I think you- HT- said the partnership with Elneny worked well, as one stayed back if the other went forward. That has not been a constant thing, hence my ‘less worried’ answer above.

    As far as the back 5 go, apart from Bellerin, whoever comes in they perform a similar role, so no real concerns on the choices made by AW.
    However, the Elneny-Iwobi duo is far more interlinked, and if either one goes out, that chemistry will be lost …imo.

    Collymore did have a few harsh words about Iwobi too. In particular when he contrasted Campbell’s 10 minute cameo. He went so far as to say AW should show a video of Campbell’s effort to Iwobi, and say ‘That is what you should do!’.
    He was basically accusing Iwobi of being indecisive, which I found strange because that is what we have been saying on here, is the very thing he isn’t, for better or worse. It struck me that the coaching staff may have had a word … including one about going down in the box, because Moss gives penalties??

    A little aside point:
    I think Moss was set up in that Leicester game. Clearly the ‘Leicester bias’ accusations were getting through to POGMOL, and they gave him instructions not to give any 50/50 decisions to them. Carrying that out to the umph degree, he had to backtrack in the second half. Hence no after match retribution from his bosses, despite criticisms from all sides?

    On Campbell, I think he would be better deployed in the Welbeck role, rather than on the right wing? Collymore said he looked sharp and keen, so he may be the one that gives Iwobi a break next time?

    That is my lot for now.
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  59. TotalArsenal says:

    The boys played with passion and a good tempo throughout and the spine of Cech-BFG-Elneny-Ollie was a joy to watch; the others danced around it and got us an easy win. AlSexis played ala the Argentinian sausage runner: very central, very free and very lethal. 😜

    Giroud was not prolific but he created space and allowed us to get into the Brommies’ box time and again; he also played a lot better in the second half when his confidence was gradually returning.

    How bloody good is Elneny?

    Great performances by the rest of the team with Ozil again brilliant in driving the game, supported by super willing Rambo, Nacho and Bellerina, who all lacked a bit of composure when it mattered most.

    But last word goes the man in the post title: Per was calm and composed and read the game well time and again with his interceptions. Got to love him.

  60. TotalArsenal says:

    What can you say about Colymori, Gerry?

    Iwobi was less effective and Campbell looked good when he came on, but no need for big conclusions. I was happy to see my prediction that Rambo would start in the b2b role with Iwobi wide came through. Elneny in the deeper mid role looked very good.

  61. li says:

    There are number of arsenal supporters who sit near me who want the team to lose on quite a consistent basis. The tension and ugly atmosphere this creates is really not what I am looking for when I go to matches. It’s not about Wenger debate, as every view is valid. But I beg hold it down, kids still (occasionally) Come to games and listening to grown men whine and generally talk recycled talksport S% $€ is really not the way.

  62. njk84sg says:

    Guys,

    It looks like we have to hand it to BFG and Elneny who are the giants in our team.
    We need to play them every single game.

    More later.

    Cheers,
    JK

  63. allezkev says:

    84, BFG is one of those players, who a lot of fans don’t appreciate, until he is out of the team…
    I’ve always liked him and I’m pleased he’s alongside Laurent again…

    I only saw brief highlights, but Elneny seems to be really looking a key member of the team, I like him a lot…
    A friend of mine, who went to the game told me that none of the ‘regulars’ who sit near him, were there and that he thought about 1 in 3 of the seats were empty…

  64. njk84sg says:

    Allezkev,

    Teams are always bogged down by the pressure the fans give the team when they are not doing well.

    Lets hope this result gives the team the chance to secure champions league next season, as only the top 3 will have a shot at champions league next season probably.

    Cheers,
    Jk

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s