Alexis and Ollie Find Each Other, Koz-Gab Stand Strong, Jack is Back: Match Afterthoughs

Man City 2 – 2 Arsenal:

Gunners dampen spirits of the blue side of (for once) sunny Manchester with a passionate and quality performance.

The boys did us proud today, especially given the fact that Mesut, our creative fourth dimension, stayed home with a light injury. Our draw today and a draw or win next week will see us at least finish third, and with the Spuddies losing today we could still claim second: how funny would that be?

It was a gamble by Wenger to play without a traditional DM but somehow it paid off. I don’t like to play without a handbrake and at times we looked all over the place, but, once we cancelled out Aguero’s fine goal with a classic Giroud header, we were a good match for the mercenaries of the Northern Oilers.

Arsenal helpt Van Gaal een handje met remise bij Man City

I think we saw today that Elneny is not a DM of the Coquelin variant: this does not come as a surprise to me but there is also still time for him to develop his defensive skills further. As a distributor of the ball and box to box midfielder, ideally supported by Coquelin in the DM pivot, he is simply brilliant. And against the stronger, attack-minded teams we really should play with a more solid DM-pivot for which the combo of Coq and Elneny seems ideal. I guess Wenger opted to attack Man City because he could afford it and it fits his preferred style of play.

Man City’s midfield was solid and hard as nails and especially Giroud was given a hard time by them as well as their CBs. Rambo, among others, impressed with putting in tackles and working his socks off, even though he left Elneny too often isolated in front of our defence. Elneny may not be a good tackler but he ran his socks off to fill gaps and anticipate danger, and that still made a big difference today.

I was relatively relaxed about our defence throughout the game and felt that Koz and Gabs did well, even though they also were at fault for the two goals we conceded. The first one was of course mainly Elneny’s fault, but we should also say that Aguero took his chance very well. The second one needed a stronger and decisive intervention by Bellerin – he should have taken one for the team – and Gabs should have put a stronger block in, and Petr should have done better; but, once again, we should also congratulate De Bruine for the way he took his chance and the precision of his placed shot. In the end, they just had three shots on target in 90 minutes of football, so well done to our back -five.

I loved the way we did not give up when they went 2-1 up but intensified our fight instead. A fine goal between Alexis and Giroud got us our second goal and the Nothern Oilers did not have enough in them to get a much needed third, even though they came close when Bony blasted against the bar.

It was sad to see Danny get injured and, judging from his body language, it is not looking too good for him. The good news is that Jack is back and fought like a lion for us, with some need passing and using his head well throughout the game.

The last word is of course for Giroud, but not before I need to acknowledge Alexis’ fine performance today. The Chilean played very disciplined and with full passion for the shirt. He helped out in defence and midfield constantly and scored a very important goal for us today. He also gave us some creative input, even though his final ball often missed precision. I hope we will see him again next season after taking a well needed summer rest.

Today’s match was a perfect demonstration what Ollie brings to this team. The Oilers wanted to dominate the central area between the boxes and Ollie had a battle on his hand, but he started to win the aerial contest gradually more and more, which made a big difference to the team in terms of reducing pressure and gaining/keeping possession of the ball. He was a threat and occupied players constantly which left space for others. He flicks became better the longer the game went on and his lay-off for Sanchez’s goals was exquisite. He may not be as lethal and technically brilliant as Aguero and, therefore, he will always have his detractors, but Wenger’s plan to play Alexis and Welbeck on each side of him, with all having a licence to roam, makes us very strong and unpredictable in attack and Ollie is pivotal, literally and figuratively, to this.

We now need to focus on finishing third and for that we need to win against Villa, which is not a given of course…. ask Ajax who played second from bottom, De Graafschap, in the Dutch league today and needed a win to claim their fifth title in six years, but failed. So let’s focus on that one and hope that Ozil is fully fit again then.

By TotalArsenal.




33 thoughts on “Alexis and Ollie Find Each Other, Koz-Gab Stand Strong, Jack is Back: Match Afterthoughs

  • Excuse me, I did not see their first goal but the second one we conceded was literally fault of at least four Arsenal players, no tackle from el neny or Bellerin, no tackle from Gabriel not even a half hearted attempt at blocking, and then I believe Czech has all the skill needed to make that save but his dive looked pretty lazy in my opinion , as if he was hoping for one of before mentioned players to do their job, but hey, in the end none did and that cost us 2 points. That I think is main problem with Arsenal, the attitude, not the skill.

  • My first thought after the match is Job done.

    Sure, we have not defended well in our second goal, the mere fact that we played like there is no citeh midfielder other than Fernandinho speak volumes about our countering game.

    Defensively without Per we are bound to be undone by mistakes of Gabby. Second time the similar goal got conceded near the same spot in 3 games, which became the second goal conceded of the match yesterday.

    My motm is always going to be the livewire Alexis. Theo’s speed is always going to be a problem for Citeh, which i foresee massive squad changes by Pep when he takes over.

    Jack added the Santi dimension to our DM area. Rambo… ok i could not say as i watched only the second half due to oversleeping and forgot the time.

    Ollie looked more involved due to the less dynamic nature of the citeh defense, which proved their liability.

    Third spot almost secure, and we have to win at all costs next weekend.


  • The first goal was the fault of Koscielny, and Cech..The former for standing like a statue instead of attacking the ball, and the latter for being too slow to get down at his near post..Cech also managed to make the same error for the second goal.

  • Jim, the first goal was unsaveable, but I felt Cech was too slow to react for the second one. Having said that, the pitch had just been watered which made the ball move faster and appears to take Petr by surprise.

  • 84, a lot of one liners cramped in your comment. I can tell you did not watch the whole game, and especially your Giroud comment does not make any sense to me…

  • TA,

    Yes. I watched only the last 40 minutes of the match.
    I liked Alexis’ goal and his tackles, trying to win the ball back, and the whole team is fantastic. The defining point at the end of the match is Le Coq’s tackles that stopped the ball from going to a citeh player, while also noting that Giroud tried to fight for the ball together with Alexis against the citeh defenders, when citeh have almost the full squad of attackers on the field.

    We could have scored more, but a draw is fine for us. Still not sure of third place, but we are almost there as our next opponent is against the villans. Unless they manage to do something to us like the opening day a few seasons ago (I am not going any further).

    I wasn’t myself this morning. A little sleepy due to the fact that the game ended almost 10 to 1am in the morning, and was thinking about the things i have to do today….


  • TA. Very nice report to match the good result…

    First things first…Apologies for mis-analyzing the points scenario in the preview. I think I may have been waylaid by watching such a woeful ManU performance and figuring West Ham would get something from the midweek match. I still think they might although they were just as bad in front of their home support vs Swansea. They’ll have to do better, I think, in the final match at Upton Park. That said, City may have a tough time trying to get full points out there in South Wales. The battle for 4th still has some twists and turns ahead, perhaps…

    Our spot looks more secure but I’m glad the Villa match isn’t completely a dead rubber. It means we’ll need focus and a good performance to get the required result. Hopefully it also puts a few extra bums in the seats and isn’t just a reprise of the Norwich ‘protest’ affair… There could (almost) be something to feel OK about given that any result would see us finish ahead of the teams that spend more than we do. We even beat the league champs a couple of times and, if Spurs keep slipping…

    So, I think I can do better with the permutations next time… Again, sorry…

    As for yesterday, I think you’ve hit all the major points… Leaving Le Coq out was a strange call and I think we paid for it. Both City goals came from those area he patrols and certainly we lacked his vocal presence which made our Spanish FBs look very vulnerable, esp. under all that early pressure. Gabby and Kos (and Cech, of course), like you said, looked pretty solid defending crosses, however…

    I also agree that Ramsey made some good interventions but that we suffered from his tendency to always be moving away from the ball (and into better attacking positions, maybe) when we had it. If Ozil is done for the season I’d really like to see Jack in the #10 with Elneny and Santi as the deeper two. Iwobi, to my eye, looked like it was all a little quick for him trying to get through the two Nando’s and we certainly looked better when he went off for Theo… Of course it’s a shame about Welbeck’s injury but it may open a Euro spot for Wilshere (and/or Theo) that otherwise would have been more controversial. I dunno, gotta try and make lemonade and all that…

    It sure was nice that Ollie got his goal and (even better) assist and he should have maybe had another with the ball that Theo chipped wide. That chance, though not as close as Bony’s nor the 1-2 with el Kun and KDB showed that either team might have won the match and a draw was at least fairly well deserved. That assisted goal (I thought) was pretty spectacular for the speed of thought and action between the scorer (Alexis) and Giroud and also provides some good counter evidence to the narrative that they cannot work together. Of course, it was hardly the park-the-bus situation where such ideas probably ring most true…

    So, onto the final weekend and then the summer…with maybe a little more perspective (i.e. hopefulness)… We don’t have a bright and shiny (headed) new manager coming in (and a slew of new signings, we presume…) but maybe our old guy with his (old or at least familiar…) players, though boring, aren’t quite so miserable…


  • I cannot add much, having to rely on the Beeb’s commentary team of Alan Green and Savage. But I am happy to report the did reflect all of the above pretty well. Savage in particular, came around to the view that Giroud had a rough time of it, with any number of fouls not called by the ref, on top of the ones that were!

    Actually, you can blame me for the first goal. I had the timing wrong between the afternoon matches, and I struggled to find the ‘lucky’ bobble hat until nearly half time, then I was late coming back for the second half … 😦

    I was nervous about the line up beforehand, particularly with the creativity up front. Then losing Welbeck sort of confirmed my prediction that it would adversely affect Iwobi’s game. But the reshuffle meant they had to play around Giroud’s strengths, and it was good to see his confidence return.

    It was a good result for us, no doubt. Just not the best result. That may have been tilting at windmills a little, given the full points were definitely needed by our opposition. So all in all, it is a result we should be happy with … and there is still a chance that Spurs could slip up ??? 😀

    From the post match talk, I am guessing that Wilshere was looking for the odd 25 minutes in that game, and similar in the last. At least, he was only ‘hoping for a few more minutes next weekend’ himself. Apparently he looked pretty tired late on? But if he starts, I cannot see Ozil ‘recovering’ to play in the last game, as AW has come around to my reasoning .. ha ha.

    Still, plenty to look forward to …

  • @17

    You know that I’m a huge fan of Le Coq (yes, I know there is a joke on me here 🙂 ) but…wasn’t he patrolling just outside the box when Yannick Bolasie chopped two points away from us? What happened with Zarate’s goal in the opening match of the season? Or, for that matter, Ward’s equalizer for, again, Crystal Palace in our second match of the season? Let’s forget about Le Coq for a second. What about that incredible once-in-a-million-years strike for Martina (Southampton) on The Boxing Day? Firmino’s second goal at Anfield? Or that Herrera’s goal at the Old Toilet?

    We concede too many goals from outside the box. Generally, we are not aggressive enough in closing down the opponents. That’s why they have so much space to give Cech a hard time.

    On the positive note, at least we didn’t completely emulate 2010-11 by losing third place to Manchester City in the penultimate match of the season like we had done back then (except we lost that time to…wait for it…Aston Villa at home but this time Darren Bent won’t score a brace). The team showed a lot of character to make a double come-back. Giroud and Alexis kept our heads above the water. It’s a real blow to lose Danny to a knee-injury again. It didn’t look well at all. 😦 Iwobi is still learning his trade. Theo had a suprisingly good outing. Jack’s return is a huge thing if he is going to finally deliver the promise he has been making since the start of his career.

    Without Mesut we struggle to create too many chances but at least our attacking line had shooting boots on this time. If Guardiola watched the game, he is going to grow a few hairs on his head just to have something to grab while doing an analysis what he has to change at City next summer.

    Oh, yes: thank you Gael Clichy. 🙂 It’s nice to see your ability to screw up in our favour for a change.

  • Cheers guys for good comments and all agreed. 😄

    That draw did us good and may have put the Oilers out of top four which could have longer term consequences for them.

  • Admir, you’re tough…but at least it’s equal opportunity toughness this time around… 🙂

    I think Jack might look better in tighter spaces (i.e. closer to goal)…Otherwise he’s so very wee…as I think I’ve heard people say…

    Yes, Le Coq can make mistakes too… (In the real world they’re called ‘babies’ and we try to learn to love them anyhow…) I just remember him barking orders in the same fixture 14 or so months ago…and he doesn’t run away from the ball when we have it. By comparison, Rambo seems more soft-spoken and I doubt that Gabriel understands Arabic (Elneny) if he’s still struggling with the English…

    El Kun is pretty spectacular but he also looks a bit lost out there w/o Silva… Which leads to a final question: why didn’t Nasri play? (And why did he show up in that outfit?) I know the answer is out there, I just can’t be arsed at the moment…

  • Just read the link above TA – Did you read the line that said ‘ … instead they played the direct ball towards Giroud’?

    So whilst it is fine to point out the advantage of having Giroud – the beacon, the lighthouse – but he does attract the ball like moths to the flame.

    My argument for having a speedy front line holds true, but if you have the personnel to make it effective. Just as Giroud in the line up means you have to play to his strengths, by having players around him, and getting balls in from out wide. Hoofing the ball forward is a predictable recipe for seeing him bullied out of it?

    The most positive thing to come out of it was that the team did adapt to the enforce changes.

    Without Ozil the speedy players would find themselves having less space, as balls played to them are not as effective or as easy to mark as balls played into space for them to run on to. I will repeat what I said way back about Iwobi, he will not be able to ‘carry’ the team when things are not going well. That will come with age and experience. Without the fluidity of Alexis and Welbeck and himself as the front 3, his instinctive play has to be curbed. which makes him vulnerable, but long term he will be better than a good many in the current squad.

    At last, HT has agreed with me about Wilshere’s best position, if not the personnel alongside 😀
    And while I am trotting out some of my better observations, I will add, that in only his second start I commented on Elneny not being a tackler. This post is the first to recognise that fact.
    Well done TA 😀
    However, in the above link, they said that Wilshere and Ramsey were playing in front of Elneny? If that is the case, then surely Le Coq for Ramsey would have been a better alternative?

    I am pretty sure that Elneny is probably as fluent in French, and have a smattering of German to boot, HT? Not that I think that language is Gabby’s only problem. Yes he may need some organisation, which BFG can give in simple terms better than any, but his instinctive play can be both inspirational as it can be dangerous. If he stops to think, he can be like Walcott in front of goal. Unfortunately, we have seen that can be a lifetime affliction … Sorry Theo 😀


  • Nothing wrong with him attracting the ball, Gerry. It was vital to deal with pressure put on us and his lay offs could have won us the game. I have nothing against a fluid front three, but in games like these we need more than only Ozil to produce the key passes.

  • Really good article excellently written. Actually a really good result, both in terms of league position and getting a result that was needed. I believe that at times in this game and throughout campaign defence takes a lot of criticism from our midfield and attacks inability to rest in possession. We have not looked like having ability to control games and dictate pace of match. As such the kos and particularly gabigol shit themselves for full 90. Elneny seems to me a player who can keep ball but is also an athlete. Let’s get a couple a them please. Also, great to see capin’ jack back. smoking.

  • We are still in nervous times. ATM, with one match left for Spurs, Manc and us and two for Manu we could still finish anywhere between 2nd and 5th. The times are made even more nervy by our performances in the last two games, not minding the results, which were quite lackluster.

    Despite the nerves, these matches afford us the opportunity to draw the final conclusions on our evaluations of the team as well as the players.

    Nobody has the courage to breathe it out, but am beginning to wonder if Cech’s Achilles heel is ground shots. They seem to always go past him if it entails diving for the ball. However I shouldn’t say that summer should come visiting.

    Gabby? A little bit more brain and less brawn will do it. Easier said than done. With Per at the dusk of his career I would say summer is welcomed.

    Le Coq is very good when the opponent has the ball, but he spends a little bit too much time in processing the act of giving a pass to a mate that he is unduly susseptible to the quick press. That completely rules him out against high press teams, as Wenger’s team must play out from the back. All the others available for the DM position lack the destroyer qualities and that space is yawning fo a new Viera.

    When Wilshere came on against Manc, we seized to look like a flock of sheep without a shepherd, that is tactically speaking. Am not by any stretch of measure campaigning for the captain’s arm band to be giving to him. Bundled to the floor, but without the referee blowing the whistle, Jack’s customary way of protest is through a short nap on the turf, a far cry from Tony Adams. Maybe his little drama gave us the luck for that pretty goal number 2. But I seem to remember the last time he did same, we conceded a goal.

    IMO, with Santi and Jack back, Iwobi’s participation should be reduced, to ease the weight of expectation already placed on his young shoulders that can only harm his development.

    Striker department? Two magic moments against Manc has made Giroud all but untouchable. I also wouldn’t touch him. I only ask this summer to give us a 20+ striker.

    Not much for us to be there.

  • W Ham beats Manu 3-2, and we qualify for CL. Our final position 2nd, 3rd or 4th. Teams come and go, but we are like the Northern Star.

  • Guys,

    Is fourth place still able to get into the KO round of the UCL?
    Fools winning the Cup will they be taking that spot?

    If yes, 4th spot is a no-no for me. We have to win anyway, and a draw is not enough for us.

  • Love the way Bergkamp scores.
    Giroud is in the same mold of him, but the issue is that he does not shoot on sight of goal. He prefers to pass. I am expecting him to do more next season, and prove the world that he is a capable striker to lead the front line.


  • Great video T A what a difference a Bergkamp would make to the current team. No one in the current side is his equal iMO. Sorry J K gotta disagree regarding Giroud, he has many good qualities, but Bergkampesque…. No way

  • Retsub1,

    That’s why i mentioned in the seson preview last year that he is able to if he works hard.

    He sure works hard for the team, a little too unselfish, but we need a little selfishness of Alexis in Giroud for him to be a good striker.


  • Totally gutted for Danny Welbeck after reports that he’s gonna be out for 9 months, which means he won’t be back until next February…

  • It is sad for him as he is such a committed and enthusiastic player, Kev. At least the timing is right for the club as they act during the summer..

  • Agreed Retsub, a totally different player with a totally different job description. Mesut and Alexis combined are a Dennis Bergkamp 😍

  • Agreed TA on Bergkamp.
    That was why I wanted to transplant Alexis’ brain into Ollie’s body during last season’s offseason comments. That is the perfect footballer everyone would like to have.

    Welbeck has not been totally fit throughout a whole season, even with manu**.
    Let’s hope Jack has shaken off this curse. His performance last Sunday makes me feel that he will be a very good B2B player.


  • Danny Welbeck’s league games:
    2010 – 26
    2011 – 23
    2012 – 30
    2013 – 26
    2014 – 32
    (Move to Arsenal in 08/2014)
    2015 – 9
    2016 – 11
    2017 – ?

    I think these a pretty accurate 84…

  • Unless Ollie is able to continue his form up front, as he needs lots of space, we will only be moaning about needing a new striker next season.

    However, we need to get 3 points and hope that our old foe and current newcastle manager win. Its not something for them to stay up, but its some pride if they could win against the spuds.

    For me, maintaining the lineup we are playing with after the injury to Welbeck is important for the attacking front. Le Coq could be the DM in place of Elneny, but i do not see that Wenger should field a more defensive team, and definitely not against a team who has the lowest scoring this season in the league.

    However, we cannot be complacent, and we should make St Totteringham day happen this season.


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