Sunderland-Arsenal Match Preview: Relegation Looms; But is it from the PL or the CL?

Or maybe not?  Maybe both clubs can stay up and fulfill their “minimum requirements.”

Who cares?  These guys do, and they’ll be hoping their players do as well…

As late season matches go, short, of course, of being one for the title as we might have hoped, this is a big one. A trip to the Northeast is never easy (ask Manchester City, for example, who only got a point at Newcastle a week ago) but this one will be tougher than most.  The personal enmity between the managers is one thing, but both clubs have something to play for. Can (thin) Arsene get his boys up for the fight or can (fat) Sam beat his rival on the pitch as well as in the war of words?

Sunderland has struggled all season, but, if Allardyce can keep them up, he will have done his job. We’ve beaten them twice (in our stadium) this season, once in the league and once in the FA Cup, both with identical 3-1 scorelines, but we should probably remember the match from the end of last year–also at the Emirates–where Sunderland were able to stifle us and stay up with the grittiest of nil-nils.  Who can forget the tears of their players, traveling support and then-manager, Dick Advocaat?

It all serves to say that both teams should be well aware that neither will back down without a fight.  A single point for Sunderland would drag them above Norwich and out of the relegation places on goal difference; the full points would make them huge favorites for survival over both the Canaries and Sunderland’s northeast rivals, Newcastle United, who are now level with them again having come from two goals down already this weekend at Liverpool.  Arsenal need all three so that we can jump back ahead of Manchester City in the battle for third, while putting a little more distance between ourselves and the other Manchester team in the battle for Champions League places.  A tiny reminder about the gap would also be good for those directly to the North of us even if their players and supporters probably rarely travel much on the underground.  Planes, limos and luxury coaches are the preferred modes for the former; the latter just need to pick a flower growing from a crack in the sidewalk before walking round the corner to woo their cousins up there in Middlesex… Unfortunately, If Leicester City win the late Sunday match (vs Swansea City), even our mathematical hopes for a league title will be gone.

Somehow we have to put those sorts of disappointment to one side and continue to build upon the 2-nil win over West Bromwich Albion in midweek.  In that one, we dominated in attack but had trouble finishing our moves.  Two goals from Alexis Sanchez, both from outside the box–the second coming from a free kick–were enough and we had full control of the middle of the pitch.  We also had a bit of trouble at the defensive end and–despite the clean sheets–Wenger will not be pleased that the Baggies got so many corners and almost converted a couple of them.

Allardyce will surely be playing for such moments but will also try to use the home crowd to gee up his players and urge referee Mike Dean to make the close calls in favor of his always feisty squad, led by Lee Cattermole.  As we know all too well, Dean will not hesitate to insert himself into the match and is quicker than most in brandishing his cards.  As such, if I were Wenger, I might be very wary of sending my more combative types into battle.  For me, that means leaving Gabriel Paulista–who Dean wrongly sent off at Chelsea earlier this season–and Francis Coquelin on the bench.  Here’s the team, I think he might put out for this one.

Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Chambers, Coquelin, Campbell, Giroud, Walcott

That would mean just one change (Welbeck for Giroud) from Thursday night’s match vs WBA so I could be well off from what the manager is planning.  What do others think?

The clean sheet was much needed in the home match but Wenger may believe we need the superior pace of Gabriel and Coquelin to combat Sunderland’s main threats from open play, former Spur Jermaine Defoe, Duncan Watmore and Fabio Borini, all of whom scored at Norwich and will not hesitate to go down lightly hoping for Dean’s whistle (or more).  Is pace and a word in the ear about cards for Gabby and Le Coq (and the team as a whole) the way to go or better to use those who rely on positioning more than recovery tackling the superior approach?

Likewise, further forward, are there other combinations we should employ which might help us put a few past their goalkeeper, the former Gunner Vito Mannone?  Danny Welbeck, who did some loan time at Sunderland, I think, might help our attack keep moving and help us avoid overly narrow passages of play although the large figure of Olivier Giroud could also give us a real target man if we find ourselves under pressure at the back.  The big Frenchman, planted at the near post, can also be a boon at set-pieces.  Some have suggested that Alex Iwobi might be tiring and that a break from the starting line-up, especially given the short time between matches, could be in order.  With that in mind, perhaps Wenger has plans to rotate more deeply with his squad and guys like Theo Walcott or Joel Campbell could find a place among the starters.

Personally, I don’t believe he has the latitude.  With fans sure to unveil yet more “Thanks for the Memories” banners, a very conservative approach to the squad seems the order of the day.  Wenger would prefer, I have to think, his best and most seasoned players to share his burden but also may not to risk the charge that he rested players (like Iwobi) who were “in form.”  Between a rock and a hard place, the manager now resides, I fear.

The rock that I hope we’ve hit, however, is the one at rock-bottom.  The West Brom match was a bounce off that low spot and, perhaps with a win at Sunderland, we can hope to climb further upward.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace



97 thoughts on “Sunderland-Arsenal Match Preview: Relegation Looms; But is it from the PL or the CL?

  • Great preview Seventeenho in which you pitch the circumstances of this match perfectly. It’s a big game for us and a win would be sweet, but it is not going to be easy. Definitely Le Coq and Eleney start for me with Rambo on the flank for Iwobi. Ideal line up

    Bel bfg Koz Nacho
    Coq Elneny
    Alexis Ozil Rambo

  • Re last post comment: with Alexis and Iwobi squeezing in at times, they create space for the full backs to use the width that becomes available. It worked a treat on Thursday, but shame for the bad final balls by the FBs.

  • Nice preview 17.

    From the previous post:

    my feeling is that with Rambo and Elneny we have about 25 kilometers per match. That is a lot of covered space. The question is, how to use it without neglecting defence.

    Elneny is a stronger passer, Rambo being Rambo wants more Hollywood passes. By leaving Coquelin on the bench Wenger probably suggests Le Coq will be the one to battle against The Rumour Mill’s M’Vila. The Frenchman has been one of rare Sunderland players to prove he has quality for Premier League next season. Our old (De)foe has done the same.

    Ozil looks a bit frustrated lately. He has scored six goals but the chance to break Henry’s assist record is about to slip away even if it is still within his grasp.

    Alexis is in top form, he looks sharp, unbreakable like Thierry used to be and his last season heroics at Sunderland would come handy. If Vito can gift us two goals again, that would be even better.

    Iwobi is the biggest gain of this crappy season. He has a touch of the man who makes love with the ball. As always with making love, stamina is the issue. 🙂 It’s his first season at top level so I expect him to improve in that department next season.

    It would be nice to know what is going through Cech’s and Per’s head at the moment. Cech has been making less of a difference in our favour since our visit to Stoke with some avoidable conceded goals against United, Swans and Palace. Per has returned victoriously but he knows that most of Arsenal fans think he should be replaced with a world-class central defender and that the manager who signed him could be on the exit door as well. Tomorrow we need both of them at their best, focused when defending set-pieces.

    Oh, about McAuley’s woodwork… It was Giroud who was beaten in the air by McAuley.

  • Cheers, TA & Admir… I like your line-up better than the one I suggest, Total, but AW hasn’t gone for Rambo on the right lately…This could be the spot to rest Iwobi, however, with the teenager perhaps better poised for the more supportive (for him at least) home crowd… Frankly I wouldn’t mind a bit of a 4-3-3 with Alexis in the middle (Rambo on the right, Welbeck or Iwobi on the left…) of the front row and Ozil as the middle of the 2nd pair ahead of Coqneny…

    Admir’s point about Love and Stamina is spot on. Both managers will be imploring their guys to fight for the full 90, so love, I fear, might have less to do with this one… I also forgot to mention M’vila who really can move the ball smartly and dictate things from the rear of MF. Van Aarnholdt is another we cannot afford to run wild…Bellerin may need a little help on that front…

    Which maybe calls for Gabby? It almost seems like the pairings (due to language, maybe?) are Gabby and Ospina or the BFG with Cech. You’d think the latter pairing would make us appear more solid, esp. against set pieces. To me we looked just as shaky vs WBA (with Giroud in there too) as we did vs Andy Carroll and West Ham when we shipped 3… The scoreline doesn’t lie folks tell me, however…

    In the end we have to wait and see who the manager chooses and hope for the best…Or not. Why wait at all? Simeone (The Argentine Allardyce? The Pulis of Patagonia?…) would have brought in better defenders and we would have no worries at all–in the league at least, cliched weeks ago. Still 3 matches to play in the CL and maybe two in the domestic cup…Or would that be too much to ask?… 😀

  • Great effort HT, under this sombre atmosphere.

    Wenger would go for all or nothing. Sam for all or something. Expect Sam to play deep and counter. Wenger to push and push. Therefore TA’s line up likely with double pivot of El and Rambo (offence weighted).

    However with Sund compressed into their defensive third, it would be best if Alexis stays center-front and Welbz goes WR. Alternatively Campbell starts ahead of Welbz to enhance Bellern’s offensive play.


  • Fine review HT, and I agree with TA, you have got the balance right between fear of losing and the need for a win just right.

    I think, whilst we can all but certainly rule out a mathematical chance of a ‘title’ challenge, as I fear the later result may confirm, but those coming up from behind really do show the need to concentrate the minds to get the three points.

    First let me say I am loathed to break up our attacking quartet, especially as Iwobi is a key component of that group. However, if there is a game to ‘rest’ Iwobi, then this would be it. My reason for leaning in this direction is twofold:
    First, again I stress from sound commentary only, not visual, I got the impression that something had changed in Iwobi’s last game, and it made him more inhibited than I had previously seem. ‘Caught in two minds’ was the phrase used when it came to the final ball (i.e. to shoot or to pass), but if any of those who watched the game in full can tell me that was not the case I will be very pleased to hear it. But on that basis, a one game sit out might refresh his instincts before he starts losing his confidence. But that is just my thinking.
    The second part is more to do with ‘Sam’s ruthless streak. He will not be averse to hacking down a single player with a variety of the home side’s selections. Alexis will bear the brunt of this no doubt, but I think Alex Iwobi could also be a target? From what I have seen thus far, he takes a tackle well, but nothing would please ref Dean more than to see a reaction so he can bring out a red card. In fact, whether it is double yellow or a straight red, I think it is easier to predict that 22 players will not finish this game, than it is to predict the result?

    I think under any other circumstances, we could go up there with confidence that our superior pass and move (quickly) would overcome a side that have been starved of goals, until recently at least. So I agree, the pragmatic approach is what is called for, and the HT line up in a 4-3-3 could be the answer. Indeed, go the whole defensive hog and have Coquelin in between Ramsey(left side) and Elneny, and just have have Campbell and Wellbeck as twin strikers, fed by Ozil?
    For this to work requires two things; Sunderland’s desire to attack from the off, and get the home crowd roaring; secondly, for us to defend well, obviously, but also a strong bench for a late second half blitz. That would include Alexis, Iwobi, may be Gnabry or a Rosicky, but more likely Wilshere to really tear into them, and force them to make mistakes.

    Yes, I know there will be a big argument to start on the front foot and silence the crowd. But that is the predictable way, and Sam will be ready for it?

    As you have said HT, AW is between a rock and a hard place, and his decision is the one we need to support …

  • Morning HT. Another tricky and testing game ahead of us for all the reasons you outline. Will the motivation of fear (of being caught) prove more effective than that of ambition (winning the title) has been? Or will our position now lead to calmer decision making? Really hard to judge. But we will be up against a well motivated, organised and highly physical outfit, so no place for those who like a nice day out.

    The back 5 select themselves – assuming Per did nothing wrong and therefore retains his start. I wonder about starting Rambo again, given he is just back. My nod therefore goes to Coq and Elneny in the pivot, reflecting the need for solidity in this part of the field.

    Of the front 4 Ozil and Sanchez self select, leaving 2 questions. I tend to the view that Iwobi could do with a rest, and that Giroud is back in the team for the run in and will therefore start. On form that suggests Welbeck as the 4th. I’d be happy with Campbell too, but he seems to have dropped back down the order again.

    This doesn’t feel like a game for Theo. But that often seems the case. If so, can we really keep someone of his age, value and cost? A decision one way or the other must be coming on that front.

    So my punt:

    Bell, Per, Kos, Nacho
    Coq, Elneny
    Danny, Ozil, Sanchez

    Leaves us with a strong bench to draw on to manage card risks as well as keep energy levels up throughout the game

  • We are scanning the world for a 25+ goal striker. For this tiki taka kind of ball we play, we already have one, Alexis Sanchez. Play him through the middle as a false 9 or ubiquitous 9.

    Don’t worry about a clash of space with Ozil, for Ozil knows how to give space and get spsce.

  • Yep, AW has gone for the fast start then?

    I am happy with the team … as opposed to some other variants, although looking at Sams line up, it looks like a ‘sit back and try to win turnovers high up in their half’? Safe counter-attacking ploy … unless we score first?

    Sloppy passing will be our downfall, so let’s hope they are fully aware of it, which I am sure they are.

    Meanwhile, I shall steel myself to the forthcoming audio via TS … only wish I could turn the sound off and just imagine us skating to a thumping win. But that isn’t the way it works is it ….
    back to the lucky bobble hat then 😀


  • Halftime, no score… A couple of offsetting handball (no) calls and a couple of very close free kicks at either end. It was mostly Arsenal but, as per usual, not much in the way of clear cut chances. Iwobi is playing well and fatigue doesn’t seem an issue. Plenty of our own players appear to be yelling at one another with Rambo at the center of the disputes. I dunno, we need to sort it out here at the break, get our guys playing together and making a goal or two… Or this one, poised as it is, will go the wrong way, I fear…

  • Thanks HT for the update from a fellow gooner.. unable to see or hear the match just standard updates from main footy sites. Cheers 🙂

  • immediately, I think, we’re looking better…Ozil getting further forward might have been the instruction… Bellerin gets the first yellow of the match for a late tackle on Khazri the January signing and Sunderland’s best player (IMO) so far…

    Oooh Cech forced into a pair of saves… Game seems more open early in the 2nd half…

    Cech has to save from KIhazri and gives up another corner which eventually goes behind for a goal kick…

  • 55th Minute… We’re having trouble getting on the ball and but for the first minute of the half it’s been mostly Sunderland forcing Cech into action… A Sunderland player is limping around and the camera goes to fat Sam chomping his gum…

    Better for Arsenal after great work from Alexis to bring a long ball down and drive at goal…He almost puts Giroud in but Ollie has to cross for an Iwobi volley that gets screwed badly. Rambo rebound goes wide too,,,

    Soon after Alexis and Ozil penetrate but get tangled up and lose it, Ozil falling to the ground in sorry fashion…

  • I’ll try to keep going with the narrative here, for FMJ at least…and easier now that I pulled a 2nd espresso at the half…

    60th min… decent move down our left leads to a corner…

  • Falls to Rambo outside the box but his left footer is badly mishit…

  • Building from the back but we lose out to Khazri again…Sunderland only have it for a couple of passes however… The next move dies with a chipped ball from Alexis too long for Giroud…

  • Oooh….Let off…. Cattermole sends a long ball forward and Defoe beats the BFG to it and tries to chip it in. Cech is completely stranded but it falls wide…

    Sunderland attack again and Yedlin’s cross almost finds a finisher… Giroud offside from the counter… And even more attack from Sunderland but eventually out for a goal kick. We look less than secure at the back…

  • 68th minute… A bit of possession ends with Iwobi lofting a cross to nobody but Mannone,,,Other end, Sunderland have a 2v1 but Kos, the one, breaks it up. From the Corner, the ball should have been tucked in by Kone but bounces away instead. We are looking very exposed…and are riding our luck in the extreme…

  • Theo and DW about to come on but first we have a FK with a bunch of head tennis which leads to an easily cleared corner…

  • Subs have been made, Iwobi and Giroud off… Something needs to change quickly here if we want the goal which would decide the match…

    Borini does fine work at our end but eventually Cech has it…

    Dean bails out Elneny for a FK…

  • Ozil’s deliveries today have been poor but for one in the first half that might have worked..,

    Borini off, Duncan Watford on…. Sam senses the full points are on offer here…

    Arsenal try to build again…

  • But lose out…Elneny gets it back and we try again..

    Bellerin set between the lines by Ozil tries a long shot, blocked at the point….

    Alexis on the right is also blocked… but almost sneaks in on a cross from deep right by Theo…

    Defoe offside down our end…

  • 78th minute…Larsson in for Kirschoff…. Arsenal can’t build from the back so Cech has to hoik the ball…which means Sunderland get it…

  • Yedlin cross is ballooned to Cech…Other end Mannone comes out of his box and misses the ball!! It falls and the goal is empty but Theo cannot reach it in time… Replay shows that Welbeck may have been professionally fouled to prevent getting to it…

  • Sorry folks but this game is a mess…Very stretched and it might come down to a mistake or a foul…

    Jack about to come on….

  • Welbeck, at the end of many bounces and efforts at their end, shoots but straight to Mannone…

  • 84th minute… Jack on for Ozil… Gets an early touch as we try again to build along the floor but only play it back to Cech for a blast…Which finds us flagged offside…

  • Watmore flagged at our end…

    Very nice to see Jack out there and he makes a nice turn and drive with the ball… We make a bit of pressure and Alexis from the right shoots but Mannone is down well to block…

  • We’re pushing but it’s back with Mannone who uses a full minute to take the kick…

    89th minute… and he blasts another…and another as we can’t get on it…

    Sunderland passing it around and win a corner….

  • Cleared at the near post by Elneny but Sunderland have a throw… 4 minutes extra time and Sunderland earn another corner…

  • Kone tries a bicycle but it’s well over… Our ball… one of the four has been played.

    Sunderland look the only team that could win this as Kos fouls and gets yellow…

  • We clear their play and Jack gets pulled back as he tries to lead the break…

    3 of the 4 played…

  • Full time… finishes nil-nil… Over to those with a more positive bent as that one looked pretty bad to me…

    Sunderland looked the more motivated side so maybe we need to be content with the draw…

    Leicester to play now…If they lose all their matches and we win ours we could still be champs on goal difference… (I’m kidding, this Arsenal team will be very fortunate to finish fourth based on what I saw…) I don’t mean to be so negative, just calling it as I see it, I fear…

  • Can you help me here, Total?…

    To me there was some effort but this team looks lost and very out of sorts… Could have nicked it but much more easily could have come away with a loss… Or am I missing something?…

  • Nonsense Seventeenho. The boys were totally motivated and worked their socks off but we just messed up the penultimate ball time and again.

  • Boring game.

    Three positives: a new clean sheet, Jack is back and we are one game closer to Giroud’s and Walcott’s departure to some North Korea labour camp or wherever they would be accepted.

    Negatives are just two: we will miss out on CL and The Overpaid One won’t leave.

  • This was a game for Cazorla as Rambo was poor in adding something up front. Mesut has stopped finding assists and the rest just miss composure and technical ability to produce a quality final pass. The exception is Elneny who was sublime once again. Jack looked good but not enough time to make a difference.

  • Well, I think Admir wins the nonsense prize and, like I said, I thought the effort was fine. To me we just seem out of ideas about getting through a parked bus (and very slow on the buildup which allows it to park)… We definitely could have nicked it but Sunderland probably should have…

    In my opinion, of course…

  • Agreed about Rambo and, of course, I think we miss Santi badly…

    We seem to get the ball into the box quite a bit but then it’s all very clogged and improvised and hopeful at best. Of course, you put one in and the game changes…. In a lot of ways I think we’d be better off w/o a center forward on the pitch…more room for everybody else to play through the center and into the net…


  • The effort was fine you say, but I thought it was great. That’s the difference. You thought Sunderland wanted it more, but I cannot agree with that. They sat back and played on the counter. It was us who wanted to win desperately.

  • Mahrez scores…. on an Ashley Williams howler…

    It’s hard to gauge effort, I always think, so I don’t feel a need to argue on that front. Overall I think Wenger has kept the group together, effort-wise, despite the massive negativity surrounding the club… The issues seem more about having a real plan of attack which is what I’m failing to see…

    I’m loving Elneny and leaving Coquelin out suggests an idea for playing it forward and into the net. We did so–the forward part at least–fairly regularly but also struggled at times and gave Sunderland a lot of chances at our end. To me, we’ve got the talent to do better in that regard but just aren’t doing it. Also, it looked like Ozil was very deep in the first period but that the plan was for him to push much further up in the 2nd…

    I can’t figure it out so your thoughts are appreciated, TA…

    What can we you do about folks like Admir?…The search for simple answers is just too tempting, I fear…

  • I think we switched the play too slowly when we regained the ball in midfield at times. But in general, they parked the bus’s sitting very deep and then we just have too work hard to create clear cut chances. We did that all game long but just lacked a bit of quality and composure. Maybe we were too eager.

  • 2 nil Leicester… Set piece headed in by Ulloa….

    Just looked at the remaining fixtures and Man U will have a tough time trying to catch us–assuming we get the results we ought to expect…

    I look at our team and think we have sufficient talent… Like I said, right now, if AW chooses to keep all of Iwobi, Alexis, Ozil and Ramsey in the team, I think we might be better served by playing w/o a striker (move Alexis to the #9) or with somebody who looks more comfortable than Giroud moving out to the flanks then back in, i.e. Welbeck…

    It’s all very fine margins but damn if I’m not tired of being on the wrong side of them….

  • 17, have I asked you to do anything for me? No? Then there is no point in asking questions regarding my wishes as you can’t answer on them.

    @TA, Giroud’s last league goal was in January against Liverpool. He has missed quite a few chances since then. If your best argument regarding Giroud is lack of missed clear-cut chances in a game that ended 0:0, that only means he failed to find himself in goal-scoring situations. He is 30 and could find himself a place in some mid-table team in Italy or Germany.

    And, Theo is even worse.

    This is a copy & paste of our 2010-11 campaign. Goal-less draw against Sunderland was part of it. If Guardiola wins Champions League and City confirm third-place finish in the penultimate match of the season, we can rename ourselves to “Predictable predictable Arsen(e)al”. After 2010-11 we lost Cesc, Nasri and Clichy. Expect Alexis, Ozil and Bellerin to leave next summer, Arsene to rest his old groins doing punditry on EURO 2016 and nothing on our squad strengthening.

  • Admir, I should never underestimate how attractive simplicity is to people, even the more intelligent ones. Agreed: let’s replace Giroud with your Griezmann and we will win the league with ease! 😂

  • 17, I like the idea of Alexis playing central. His passes and final balls are quite poor for a supporting attacker as many are over hit or intercepted …. As a CF he can focus us what he does best.. Scoring goals… Now this will put a smile on PE’s face as well… 😅

  • Wenger in his sky interview pre-match did say we miss a 20 goal forward in PL.. Alexis or Griezmann could do it.. we should test out Alexis there and however it pans out get another like Antoine in the summer.. if possible (not easy).. Theo & Giroud are too inconsistent therefore bench players. We do miss way too many chances, though this is also down to our mentality that needs fixing.. better coaching required there..

  • I practically missed the whole game in trying to get sound out of my computer, not TS thank heaven, but the Beeb’s intermittent one.
    Eventually I got it via bluetooth and a small speaker, and most of the time I could pick up the the thread of the game from the updates.

    Not a good result, and for 70% possession in the 1st half, not a very productive one? I saw a comment around 55 minute mark … ‘Time for Welbeck’ … and I thought, stupid boy, doesn’t he know the rules? No subs before the 65th minute 😀
    Even then, the subs were a mixed bag. Welbeck; Yes, Walcott; No. Wishere; Yes, and double it for taking off Ozil – In my book as to who plays best with who, at least.

    For those talking of replacements; there is a team playing Monaco tonight (ko 8.0pm) if you can get a view. It is on BT Europsort, so you too may get it HT.? If you do, look out for the player with the initials OD , and he does not play for Monaco. He is the most expensive ‘bargain’ you are likely to see. Given that there has been a lot of distraction names floating about recently, I still harbour a little hope he may end up in our half of North London?

    Off to find out how Leicester did …

  • @TA – maybe we will, maybe we won’t. After all, if Griezmann get signed by Wenger, he is going to spend at least a quarter of the season on the sidelines due to an injury.

    What I know is that we will never win the league with either Giroud or Walcott. The former has been our main forward for four seasons and hasn’t won the league with Arsenal. The latter has been around for a decade but hasn’t learned basic stuff.

  • You don’t know that either, Admir; it’s just your personal view. If we get a good winger, like Bale or Reus, holding CF Giroud could have a super season. 😜

  • 😛 😉

    No, I am million percent positive for many reasons.

    Players like Bale and Reus won’t choose Arsenal over any competitive club managed by a modern manager. Reus will rather join Klopp and Liverpool, Bale will rather join Guardiola or Conte.

    Our only two players of that caliber could leave though. Alexis has been invited by Vidal to join him and Ozil could think about whether Arsene had brought him under false pretenses and ask Di Maria about life in Paris. “Dear God, I left Ancelotti, Ronaldo and Benzema to play for Wenger and create chances for Giroud *hits the wall with his head* and Walcott *hits the wall two more times*.” Ozil has already sent a message regarding new signings but…

    The Overpaid One has already said he won’t spend big in the summer which means we will pretend he still knows the best when he signs a good player (an Elneny) and turn off our brain when he admits he had opted against signing an excellent player (a Kante and a Payet) for some reason.

    It looks to me like watching Sir Anthony Hopkins (Arsene) feeding his own advocates (Ray Liotta) with pieces of their brain.

  • History shows Wenger still pulls in the stars… Alexis, Mesut, Petr… And nobody will leave who we do not want to leave. And what Wenger says he will do publicly, he often doesn’t do… So why not sit back and let it all happen, with or without Wenger in charge.

  • I see positives and negatives from the game.

    Positives is that we defended well, we linked up well, but the crucial final ball is missing. A goal would have been nice to pull away from manu**, but i can take positives from a good bfg performance.


  • This comment contains a warning – the linked article could have been written by Admir 😀

    It is this:

    For those who cannot be bothered to click the link, I will outline the three things mentioned.

    1, Injuries – Are they linked to training methods?
    2, Transfer dealings – The need/or failure, to back up the ‘quality’ players with more quality players.
    3,The manager – Is he stuck in his own past, and now is the time for a change at the top?

    For some this is quite predictable stuff. Alas, there is enough in this article to acknowledge more than a kernel of truth,and questions need to be answered rationally?

    Injuries over many seasons have plagued us. That cannot be denied. Some of it can be self-fulfilling though, in so far as a small group of players who have been injured, either return too quickly out of need, or just to keep the same group together. But could the training methods have something to do with it? If, as the article would have us believe, AW has not changed his training methods over the years? These are kernels I refer to, and should be look at objectively.

    Transfer dealings are probably the biggest thing that divides the fans when it impacts on the team results. I have long argued that Arsene has probably had the purse strings pulled tighter by Kroenke than most realise. To me, and more so by HT, it appears the financial model is preferred by the owners to results on the field. I am not sure that would change with any new appointment, and without a commitment to invest we are unlikely to attract any ‘high profile’ manager?
    However, that does not let AW off the hook entirely. His misplaced belief that the squad he has could cope, possibly has led to more injuries that could have been avoided? That in turn leads to poor results and unfilled ambition of players and fans alike.

    Finally, is now the time for AW to go? I have to admit, I fear for AW’s legacy ending in failure more so, after reader his post match comments.
    One, he says Giroud’s problem is confidence, and he will turn the corner in our run to the line.
    I find that disturbing on many levels, particularly if he means Giroud starts in the last three games? This is the predictable style of play being handed to our opponents on a plate. Something I warned of before yesterday’s game, to which big Sam could set his team out accordingly! Not only that, it smacks at this ‘loyalty to players’ that he can be beaten over the head with time and again. Admittedly, usually with hindsight after it has all gone terribly wrong.
    Well I fear, if we go down this route we may not win another game, and even 4th place will a misplaced dream. Hopefully, AW has the sense to play him from the bench until he is confident and sharp, but then I would be guilty of misplaced loyalty.
    Of course, Giroud is not the only ‘sacred cow’ that needs his place protecting is he?

    Reality check Arsene. Yes, you may bet right, but, although not winning, the team that provided the energy and drive over the recent weeks, did provide us with goals. Reverting to type, as the article puts it, is not the way to go …. unless there is a sub-plot afoot?

    Time will tell, but the divided fans who cannot give their full support to the team, at such a crucial time, is only going to get worse if our next game goes the way of the last one?


  • @Gerry

    The worst part of the post-match statement is the “He has already had spells like this one, he’ll get through it”.

    Logical thinking would be: “If he has had spells like this one before, that means he is unreliable. Therefore, we need a consistent goal-scorer, not a 30-year-old virgin who is yet to bang 20 league goals in England despite having Ozil, Cazorla, Alexis, Ramsey…to create chances or to win the Premier League.”

  • Giroud will score a brace next weekend and that will shut you all up. Confidence and loyalty are closely linked. He wears the shirt and he works hard, so support him.

  • One more loss say to Manc and we are in Europa league if Manu win their remaining matches and Manc win 2 more games. The scenario worsens if we loose further points.

    It would be foolhardy to allow any other sentiment but efficiency to come into the decisions for our last 3 matches. Atm I dare to say that Giroud and Walcott are clogs in the wheel to our flowing style. Sanchez and Welbz in this order are better options as front men.

    If we drop, I really do worry about our will to fight our way back up (having to invest several times more than we have been doing).

  • TA – I am not turning on Giroud, I just don’t think he is the right player for this moment in time.

    In order to get the crowd behind them, I think that will only happen if we play the fast moving, interchangeable, dynamic, and most important, unpredictable attacking style. The slow build up, more defensively mindset, is that of ‘reverting to type’. And that frustrates the fans even more.

    As for Giroud scoring a brace, it could happen. But surely it will need the team to be built around his game?
    What I have been saying for some time now, is that the team is built around the ability of Ozil to provide assists. Unfortunately, there have not been enough of them to take advantage, or of enough quality to sustain it through a season. Just when Iwobi emerges as the type of player that works well with Ozil’s vision, and the all over the pitch work by Elneny, and the energised Alexis, and the fluidity that Welbeck adds, you seem to want put that away, in the name of loyalty, or whatever, and take a backwards step … Even if it costs Wenger his job?

    If that is the case, then we differ. Unlike Admir, I want Arsene to see out his contract. Have a good wallet to buy the players he would like in the TW. And for the first time, start next season on more or less a level playing field with those with similar aspirations towards winning the league title, amongst other things.

    I am just issuing a warning that things can get a whole lot worse, and that would be a terrible shame for what AW has done for this club.

    That article did not say anything new, but the fact that so many things have not been resolved is the real story. Unlike Admir above, I am concentrating on the remaining three games, not what we need for the future. We have a squad of players now, capable of winning all three remaining games, but it can go either way. If you want to go down the Giroud route, then play Wilshere in the 10 spot with Alexis and Campbell as supporting strikers, With Coquelin and Ramsey supporting Wilshire. No need to play any body with pace because it will be wasted. No need to play Ozil because the movement will not be sharp enough to take advantage of it ….

    Or you can play the riskier option, to play on the counter, and perhaps get caught out by having too many bodies forward? An exciting 3-3 draw, perhaps.

    Time will tell ….

  • Ozil has not produced an assist for a while; in fact, ever since Giroud was benched, so your argument doesn’t hold much strength Gerry. Wenger knows the frivolity of playing desperately running Danny comes with a high risk, as he scores about one in five games. Giroud is his only hope, as he lays off better and create space better, and he also has a better chance to score, in spite of his lack of form.

    And against parked metro systems you need somebody to occupy the CBs and create space, and that’s exactly what Giroud brings. Against Norwich he will of course start once more.

  • Everybody would do well to focus on the players around Ollie to raise their attacking game; well at least as much as believing Giroud is the sole culprit for us not scoring yesterday.

  • Monday morning here and it sounds like no match report from TA will be forthcoming. I appreciated the back and forth directly after the match, however. I’m curious about the general plan here at BK. I’m committed to my 3 remaining previews but these are grim times for our club and not much fun, I imagine, when it comes to being in charge of an Arsenal blog aiming for a positive or appreciative outlook.

    Perusing the comments overnight (and noting the very low number of views of the site) I would say that those who are still paying attention are pretty much thinking about the summer already… PE is worried about Europa League football but, looking at the fixtures and knowing that LvG can (kinda) save his season with the (or should Is I say “our…”) FA Cup, I’m not too worried. If Leicester can get a result at OT next weekend things will get all the more settled. City, I think, would have to get extremely lucky to get past RM in the CL but if they did it might give us just a bit more incentive to try and get a result up at their place…

    Admir’s extremes of emotion, sarcasm and hyperbole (search for blame and simple but also impossible solutions…) are tough to take (and predictable in the extreme…) but at least I can tell what he’s saying and his take on the actual football, I usually feel, is pretty close to my own. Gerry is another story. Sentimentally, we probably pretty close but it’s becoming more and more difficult to wake up and want to read long-winded attempts at insight (or is it cleverness?…) when it’s all in code and mostly focused on worries about upcoming matches or particular players (who may or may not even be in the team) including transfer targets or loanees. If the odds of a player ever putting on the shirt are 1000 to 1 do we really need to use code? Worse too if you’re not even watching the matches and thus are just trying to comment upon or channel others’ impressions our way. I don’t use my “ignore comment writer” function as I know you’re reading mine (Cheers, 17HT…even if I don’t always end my comments with that tag…), but I’m getting close…

    If TA chooses to keep the blog up, we’ll have the whole summer to speculate on rumors (rumours?). If you think the answer at a certain position is Serge Gnabry or Isaac Hayden or Ousmane Dembele (did I put the pieces together correctly?) or (as perhaps others might…) Antoine Griezmann or Leo Messi, or a dozen other players who will (almost certainly) never wear our shirt… why not just come out and say it?… Do you truly believe that someone will steal your idea and thus the player himself?… Is the idea that the price will go up (and thus we’ll lose out on the player) if you write the name? If so, I admire the self-belief. If not, asking me (us) to ferret out all the clues seems a (very) weird way to treat your reader… On that note, did the FA ever get back to you about your ideas on reforming the loan system? If he did, it could make for a good post… Otherwise, IF communication (with others) is the goal, please (please…) keep your (would be) reader in mind…

    But maybe I’m just getting to the point where I’M the one who should be done trying to get my views across (and my posts, I realize all too well, are NOT brief)… If there’s no actual football upon which to comment (and none has been in this piece…) and it’s only Wenger out or transfer tittle (or, just as predictably, sack the fitness crew) then I probably ought to quit… I don’t mean to single out A or G but very few others are commenting and, as I said, “views” on the site are down, down, down…

    I can’t blame folks. We’re just hanging on to qualify for a tournament which we “need” to be in (for corporate purposes) even if we cannot compete there. I don’t believe that to be true, of course, (You gotta be in it to win it, as they say…) As I said yesterday, I think we have a strong squad and, with a little tweaking and tinkering, we could win some matches and build some momentum. (Next season, not this one, of course…) In my view, the manager is trying his best and attempting to inject quality and collective confidence where he can with the squad he has. A handful of players out, a couple of bigger names join up and some younger project types (even if just back from loan…) and then confidence could build again even if it will take MUCH longer to bring round the skeptics (who will still send in their money to renew their season tickets). Even a couple of CL qualifiers in August could be seen as chances for the broader squad, some of whom I might get to see play when the team comes out for their California tour in July…

    Still, the fact that it’s gotten to the point where each (bad) result is a referendum and the loudest voices would prefer a full tear down and rebuild (rather than smaller attempts at appreciating what we have and then tinkering and tweaking) says it all. I keep asking (Admir,our one major voice representing the Wenger Out view), “How low are you willing to go?” but I never get an answer. United are 5th, Pool are 7th, Chelsea 9th. It is frustrating (in the extreme) that Leicester and Spurs are 1 and 2 (and I’ll give a shout to Hammers in 6th and So’ton in 8th…) but big picture types have to ask what price should Arsenal be expected to pay in our Moses, oops Moyes (Bould) year(s)? And then, what’s the route back?… As bad as it seems, Wenger is not Moses and it hasn’t been 40 years, even if the promised land still has yet to be seen…

    Anyhow, there’s my quota… Happy Monday!

  • So happy I just put myself through watching the second half of spurs trip up at the lane!! Hahaha! I’m looking at the games and our objective should be to get above them now.. Maybe they end fourth.. They have to play Chelsea, Southampton and Newcastle.. all tough games especially when heads go down.. 🙂

  • I enjoyed that one too, although I was reading a book to do something with all the time WBA was taking off the clock… WBA grew into the match and once they got even (and they, in fact, scored both goals…) they looked as likely to win it as Spurs did… Leicester can win the league at Old Trafford this weekend… Tough league we play in these days, I guess…

  • Yes, tough times HT. However, it somewhat amuses me that your response to some of my comments, and you spend it on the trivia that is football transfer gossip? Curious?
    Very little mention of the last item I commented on. You always seem to have a go at Admir for not answering questions you pose, yet when I present the three areas of concern that have raised such a division amongst fans, you barely give a couple of sentences?

    I know that these topics have been aired before, but my concern was more to do with the immediate future, following AW’s post match comments. The fear that he indicated he was prepared to go down the route that is almost a certainly to antagonise those of whom we have been hoping would unite behind the team? Not that I am suggesting AW picks his team to appease disgruntled fans. Rather the logic of not playing a player who is out of form, over others who are in good form.
    I outlined my reasons for not going AW’s way, TA gave his thoughts on the opposing view.
    You descend to talk trivia?

    So let me clear up the trivia points for you:

    For very much (desperate) financial reasons, it seems I picked a bad time to give up my Sky Sports deal. Thanks to the nature of the finish of this season’s Premiership title race, I will more than likely not see another game this season. I am very reluctant to comment on highlights from MOTD as it only shows the bits they want us to see. So I don’t. The previous week I gave my comments on what was said on TS radio, with the hope of being enlightened as to how biased it was.
    I also did not renew my Red Membership with AFC, for the same financial reasons, so I cannot access full match replays from there either.

    Regarding the ‘code’ that bothers you so much, partly because you either skip past ‘boring’ transfer chatter, and so you did not remember when I did give a mention to the player’s name.
    Does me naming the player have any influence on the direction AW should be looking (imo of course 😀 ), or any success in the outcome? Of course not.
    However, I am not so far removed from the world these headline writers, and know how they could come up with stories day after day, and with that they can grab a hit or two (thousand) … just by simply repeating the name. Any search engine, if you put together the name of the club, the name of a player, will feed back a number of hits. Why make it easy for them?
    Nothing to do with my vanity, although a tad of superstition always can creep in …. along the lines of superstition = predicting a coincidence, and if the coincidence is that of failure to get the right result, I try and bypass it. Okay?
    We humans are such frail things ….

    Back to the footy. Last night’s result was something to cheer us all. I agree with you that it makes it harder for those of the WHL persuasion to be confident about their remaining games. I remember them complaining that they were set to play AFTER Leicester right through to the end of season, and I could not understand why that was such a problem? I mean it meant they always knew what result was the minimum needed? This weekend fixtures can really bring it home to roost, thanks to Sky’s stranglehold and manipulation of fixtures to fit their TV rights deal. Although it could go either way, as a win on Sunday would kill any motivation Spurs might have on the Monday night? The reverse of that will hurt us twice, as a ManU win could shuffle us towards Thursday night football next season, as well as having our NLD rivals having fresh desire to keep their 2nd place.
    Time to get behind TA’s call …….’Come on LEICESTER!!!!!’

    Whatever the outcome of that battle, we need to support our team, no matter who AW selects to play Norwich. I just hope he makes the right call …. 😀

  • @17

    Why is there a need to draw parallels between Ferguson and Wengerson? Ferguson left an over-aged team with number of injury-prone veterans and lack of quality in the midfield. Most importantly, he left them on the very top so there was only one way from that position. United allowed Ferguson to pick Moyes, a mediocre manager who can do the job in clubs where you don’t have to win trophies or play attractive football as long as you win enough points to stay in top half (except Moyes can no longer do that neither, it seems). That’s why I wouldn’t like Koeman. I have a feeling he would crumble under pressure. Anyway, Fergie left United clinging on Van Judas, Evra, Rooney and De Gea while Moyes didn’t know how to repair central defence (Vidic, Ferdinand) and central midfield (Carrick, Fletcher, Cleverley) with some hilarious management of Van Judas and Rooney.

    Which brings me to Wenger. A new manager would have a squad that hasn’t reached its peak and with enough motive to go for the title with two major signings next summer.

    The problem is, we don’t have a leader either on the pitch or in the dugout. Wenger is a grandpa they love because he lets them do whatever they want without consequences, including a departure to a more ambitious club for peanut-sized fee (Cesc, Van Persie).

    You ask me how low and I answer you: who says we will go down with a new manager? Make a good choice from the top shelf and give him money to add missing pieces of the puzzle.

    Wenger has failed to collect 80 points or more since 2007-08 and you can put your money on failing to achieve anything next season as well if Kroenke doesn’t act like a real owner and sack him after we beat Villa. He always has a good half and bad half of the season. That’s why we win calendar years every two years. 2016 is and will continue to be a garbage (we always have a slow start after international tournaments so I predict us going out of the title race by November with Wenger in charge).

    @TA – as for Ozil, his only two assists in 2016 were from free-kicks and converted by Welbeck. He scores more goals though and I don’t think he creates fewer chances than he had been doing before Wenger’s Biannual Slump started. It’s down to Giroud and Theo being as useless as two strikers can be.

  • Admir,

    Somehow the hardworking Danny Welbeck has also went into a slump.. maybe there are not enough good passes, or the passes are simply not towards him, but to Alexis instead.

    We have to work on that area too.


  • Admir,

    Why are you going on and on and on. You sound like one on a mission of personal vendetta. Halt, take a deep breath and let things just flow.

    Any old how, you need to remember that Wenger is not Arsenal and that if I have that much venom to pour I’d direct it at Arsenal FC. But then I’d rather quit and embrace the new champions Leicester.

    Meanwhile we dream of 2nd position, we expect 3rd or 4th, as we stay in fear of 5th. Still very much exciting times.

  • Guys 🙂

    Let’s be a bit more tolerant to each other and not get personal unnecessarily, and that includes me as well. Just ask yourself when you are about to issue a comment: am I adding to the football debate or am I trying to wind somebody up; and if the latter is the case just don’t post it. It makes for a negative atmosphere and does the blog no good at all.

    It is a disappointing end to the season so we are all hurting a bit. I am aware there is not much appetite for positivity – only my Nigerian soul blogger PE has some of it left it seems – but I will put something out at some point today.

  • Well said T A . There is an awful lot of typeface being taken up,which is not about football and frankly pretty dull reading.

    Personally. I am feeling flat and unfortunately it has become an annual event. We can analyse to death where we went wrong, but at the end of day we simply aren’t good enough. There are a multitude of reasons for this and I am sure that the answer is a complex formula made up of many facets. My own opinion is we badly need an inspirational leader on the field, which we have lacked for many years. Also for whatever reason Ozil has not performed in the second half of the season. This has meant our game has slowed down with no finished product

    Couple of interesting stats I heard to throw in. Newcastle had until recently (haven’t checked). Scored more home goals than Arsenal and Arsenal had the best away scoring record (once again not checked)

    Every year we seem to have an Achilles heel, normally it’s the top teams (always Cheldea) this season it’s the London derbies

    West Hsm. 1 point
    Chelsea 0 points
    Spurs 2 points
    Palace 4 points

  • I have just spent some good time watching Jack Wilshere’s you tubes. Back to form, Jack is our top player. There is nothing like him in the whole of our midfield. If we have to construct a team around anybody, it should be around Jack.

    First of all, we must start having a more optimistic view of his proneness to injuries. Unlike Diaby his injuries are not muscular but impact, and that is a cause for greater optimism.

    To build a team around a player, a manager selects things to rhyme and compliment the player’s playing style and personality. The first thing is the philosophy. The second the formation. The third, the position and role for that main man and finally the selection of the other players suited to the philosophy with that player as its center.

    With Jack as the center, the philosophy must be offensively weighted and the transition quick. Jack is excellent as a deep lying play maker with a wide range of passes even when under pressure. He is also very good at running at the opposition. He is also excellent at one/twos in crowded boxes of tiny spaces. Is he to be played deep, forfeiting a chunk of his excellence closer to the goal? Or should he be played further up thereby forfeiting his immense contribution from the deep? The deep demands also a lot of defensive duties, but Jack is not yet adept at defending spaces as he still lacks the right awareness. On the other hand, further up, his game is so provocative that it invites injury causing tackles. Can we then place him not too forward not too deep? What formation then? 4:3:3 or 4:2:1:3 or 4:1:2:3 or 4:2:3:1 or 4:1:4:1 or ………..

    IMO, the 1 of the 4:2:1:3 formation which is a variation of 4:3:3 looks tailor made for Wilshere. The 2 shielding the back 4 makes the formation look defensively weighted, but as we would be using inverted wide men, our fullbacks would be bumping forward almost as wing backs.

    Who fits in where. X stands for top new signing or promoted from jnrs. 2nd name is back up. X* = same player.


    That looks a formidable team to me as long as the X of the striker position is a 20+ goal a season player. Thus a typical line up will be:


    Am anticipating that Iwobi, the way he has been going, would have moved another gear up.
    Two X factors and we are there and what a bench also.

  • Jack has already been our focal point. Start of last season, three months, Jack n°10… Terrible star, horrific games. Özil back to n°10: great shows against Villa and Gala.

  • Nice one Retsub and Pony 😀😀

    Didn’t get round to do a post but hopefully tomorrow.

    PE, Jack loves working with a strong pivot up front! 😜

  • TA,

    Spot on on Jacko..
    He needs someone to play well like him, and i am impressed by what he can give. Too bad his cameo is too short, as we could maybe see him setting up Welbeck for a winner.


  • TA,

    Do I understand you to mean that Jack loves working with a strong target man up front? Of course I agree with this and it is covered by “he is excellent in one/twos in crowded boxes of tiny spaces”. Jack combines perfectly with OG as the target. But when all things are considered OG falls just short to be the man.

    The target man is basically a man who can play with his back to goal. He could be a static target man who employs his body strength to hold the ball for his mates to join (OG). He could also be target man who can use twists and turns to hold the ball for his mates to join, and further can use his twisting and turning skills to create space for himself or for others. Alexis first goal against West Brom is a perfect example of the latter.

    In my comment above at 18.46 BST, I omitted Santi mistakenly. He replaces the asterisked X and in fact the double pivot should be manned by any two of Coq, Santi, and Eln.

    With Jack back to form I would loathe that he be moved to the wings. Ozil has the excellent habit of wanting to create chances irrespective of where he is. Therefore, imo, the team will be better served with Ozil moving WR, the only down side being his tracking back.

    Assuming Jack is already fully match fit, my line up for the next match is:


    Santi fit, replaces le Coq.

  • Nice one PE, and on paper that team does look exceedingly strong, and should win against most double decker sides.

    Don’t worry TA, I am not going to upset you with this post, or anybody else I hope. 😀

    I will just like to say, and I’ve said it before, there is just something about Mesut and Jack’s style that does not gel. At least as well as it should on paper?
    The main reason as I see it, is that Jack will not stray from that central position, or very close to it.
    Ozil like to find space where ever he can see a possibility opening up, and to do that smoothly from one wing to another requires others to move accordingly?

    Out of that front 4 above, Ozil is the waste (in the nicest possible way) of space. He will not score enough goals from wide positions, and if he is unable to glide into the centre easily, he will not provide many assists either. If, what Retsub1 said is correct, then he too is not in form and should be benched?
    Put Welbeck in, switch Iwobi (nominally) to the right, and you have that same fluid attack that scored a lot of goals recently. With the added bonus of Jack being more likely to score as well.

    The real truth behind our ‘slump’ is the two draws that killed off our title chances. Now matter how professional they are, there will be an subconscious air of ‘just going through the motions’. I think this particularly applies to those who have more of an ‘expectation’ to win trophies, i.e. Alexis and Ozil. Not that they go short on effort … but if the mind is elsewhere …?

    That is another plus for Jack,as he will undoubtedly want to show what he is capable of. The only negative there is, the next game is not about Jack Wilshere, (or Alexis Sanchez, or Mesut Ozil for that matter), it is about performing for the team. This is where Elneny and Iwobi stand out, and it is up to the rest to match their efforts.

    I doubt very much AW will risk the change in the above team that I am suggesting, which could be spot on for Norwich, although Ramsey may keep his spot over Coquelin?

    I expect 3 points either way.

  • Cheers PE 😀

    I like it to see that team play and find a way to score goals. I fear we would become very dependent on Alexis, as the others are not (yet) regular scorers. I also think you underestimate the strength, work rate and effectiveness of Ollie as our holding CF.

  • I don’t think there is a risk of Mesut or Alsexis slowing down or lacking focus. We are still playing important games and they are intrinsically motivated players.

  • TA,
    Maybe I do underestimate Giroud’s contributions, but sincerely I believe that great technical level, quickness, intelligence and not being one legged would serve our playing style better. Giroud is to us what Benteke is to Liv. Great but in the wrong team.

  • In defence of those under attack (as opposed to those attacking). I actually thought Theo put in a couple of decent crosses during the game. Giroud may have dried up scoring goals, but it’s only fair to assess the service he has been getting recently. If Theo and .Giroud had spent time on the pitch together something may have happened. Just saying

  • Another early morning here… Apologies TA (and others), I should not have posted what I did and I was REALLY hoping you would bury it with something related to Arsenal football.

    That said, one of the responses, I think, proved my point, so I will stick with the idea that I truly believe we can ALL do better. (I read the response three times and I still couldn’t figure most of it out except that I was supposed to answer questions from a–not trivial–linked article and that it’s personal finances that prevent Gerry from watching the matches, so we have to take what he hears about instead.) One thing I was told is that I don’t enjoy transfer talk and thus I missed a name mentioned earlier. Not true! I don’t mind transfer talk at all, I just wish we could speak directly and then talk about the chances of things actually happening, you know, in the real world. Ousmane Dembele? Please Gerry, please…tell me if I’ve got the fellow you rate (and, then, if I did, why you rate him?)… Or not. In the end, who am I to suggest that If I read something (which I do…out of a sense of duty to ALL the comment writers here–thanks to ALL for your input…), I’d like to know what I’m reading about?…

    So, TA, I was hoping you’d put up a new post but at least we’re talking a little Jack…Cheers to PE on that front…

    I definitely enjoyed seeing him play a bit at the end up at Sunderland. There were some NewsNow headlines about him getting a new 140K/week contract (and into more late night scuffles) but I don’t see them this morning so maybe they were a little premature. I did notice that PE had omitted Santi from his squad building exercise–in addition to Theo and Ollie–so I figured that’s where the money must be coming from… The headlines about the contract were all very negative (giving that much money to a crock = another Wenger mistake…) but I understand the obverse–pinning hopes for the future on a player who has all the elements (except fitness…) and already wears the shirt seems easier than hoping Wenger (or the new manager…) will buy us the right guy(s).

    IMO we have to take Jack as a bonus player (and probably Santi too 😦 …) until he shows that he can play the minutes and deliver the goods. I agree with TA about Giroud. I’ll go even further and say that I’ve never seen Ollie play better than when he had Jack tucked in close behind him. I think a big reason is that they’re both left footers so they know what the other guy wants even if one is big and lumbering and the other is small and slithery…Ozil’s a left footer too so I would like to disagree (in the strongest possible terms…) with Gerry about dropping him to accommodate Jack. The absolute best combination of midfielders I’ve seen in recent years were the two of them (Jack and Messy though, of course, Santi was in there and helping them along…) working together when one was nominally given the wide right role. Scanning the pitch and moving in from that position (when there is space–created by the other…) their ability to play balls in behind defenders is unmatched. And, if that option isn’t on, dribbling into even better positions (on that left foot) is what both of them can do, ideally using the big figure of Ollie as a screen or for 1-2s to keep things driving into the box.

    For me, and I know this will be less than popular, the trouble is with our right footers, currently Alexis and Iwobi, who have no hesitation in taking up those central spaces (no matter who is already clogging them up) and have yet to find much (if any) kinship with Giroud. (The big guy, in fact, probably just needs to get out of the middle of the box and fill their wing positions…) I watched both Spurs and Man City over the past couple of days, and, though neither team made goals, they at least kept their spacing in attack. Many want to blame the inherent quality (or lack thereof) in the players (or the guy who bought the players…) but when our own guys are getting in each others space it’s like adding defenders. So many of our attacks die before shots get off and ones that are taken are often blocked at the point (no space for another touch to get around the defender) or from very wide angles so the keeper can block them if they’re able to hit the narrowed target. We have to salute the spirit and drive (and skill levels) of the two Alexes, but such single minded play, if it’s not based on intelligent spacing (working with your mates and occasionally moving away from the ball) can mess things up… A lot of that fine interplay amongst the left footers was early after Ozil’s arrival (I’ll be posting video of the goals vs Norwich from Autumn 2013 in the match preview)…and before Alexis arrived at the club. Just saying… (to borrow from retsub, above)

    So, sorry I got overly personal with certain comment writers and glad we’re talking more football… Still looking forward to your post TA–assuming it’s not about the upcoming fan protests… (I get to cover those in the match preview…)

  • all agreed on spacing and working better together. such a shame cohesion is missing in our play so often this season.

    Thanks Seventeenho. 🙂

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