Arsenal were on to a Wimmer but post-CL fatigue cost us again

A draw is not a bad result but it is hard to feel good about it as we all hoped for more. I have said many times on here that if a team – or more or less a same set of players – play three games in a row within a week, it often proves to be hard to win them all. A win at Sunderland and late victory against Ludogorets was not followed by a win in the NLD. Many CL participating teams dropped points this weekend and it is the likes of Chelsea and Pool, who were resting during the week, who are benefitting from this at the moment.

I can live with the draw and think it is a fair result. Our intensity and passing was not fast and accurate enough, and especially on the wings we were not penetrative enough. It looks Iwobi needs a bit of a break from starting games regularly, and the same goes for Ox who came on later in the game but was equally below the expected level. Theo had his moment and was unlucky not to score with a beastly shot from outside the box that hit the woodwork. Alexis also looked tired/less dynamic and Ozil was well marshalled throughout the game.

But we could have been on to a Wimmer when the sorry Spud headed the ball into his own net after we had started to find our swagger. 1-0 at half time and Wenger having a chance to instruct the team to deal better with the ‘three at the back’ of Spuds, should have seen us take all three points from the game. Unfortunately, the tired looking Koz gave away an unnecessary penalty at the start of the second half to let our North London rivals back into the game. Both Koz and Mustafi looked like they were playing one game too many in the space of eight days and I reckon we paid for it.

We tried to take back initiative and Wenger made some inspired subs but we did not do enough to win the game. Spuds also did not deserve to win the game but had perhaps the best chances to do so. Some excellent defending by Monreal, Bellerin and Cech saved us from going behind. In the end it was a draw from a hard fought match in which we just lacked the energy and aggression to come out victoriously.

I happily take the point which keeps us level with Man City and three points of the Spuddies. Now let’s enjoy the break and get Ozil signed up to a new contract! 😉

By TotalArsenal

Cheers for all the support, comments and other contributions. 🙂

 

 

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134 Responses to Arsenal were on to a Wimmer but post-CL fatigue cost us again

  1. Goonereris says:

    I wanted the (and believed we could) win but in the end, cannot complain about the draw. If you cannot win the derby, don’t lose it! Our big players in the forward areas let the manager down today as we lacked composure at the critical moments. While Wenger’s subs should be commended for showing intent, I felt it was too early for Ramsey, a game of this intensity, but the manager had to try. I would leave both Xhaka and Coq as they were, instead and maybe go for Giroud, Ox and Gibbs, to help Monreal pepper the young right back sub who came on for Walker. All in all, a missed chance to go top, leaving room for Liverpool and Chelsea (who have fewer games to play) to make things more interesting.

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    Yes Eris agreed. It is a bit of a missed opportunity but with CL qualification to the next round in the bag it is an exceptional prize to pay

  3. Gerry says:

    Not a lot more to add TA. Disappointment I suppose was my post match feeling, despite predicting the correct result, and score, a month ago. Largely based on it being a post midweek contest.

    We do get a chance to still get 3 points off them later, so why waste too much time over analysing this one?

    As in the film, ‘Casablanca’, where farewells brought up the line similar to this …

    We will always have Musut’s goal …

    Cheers
    Gerry

  4. Pony Eye says:

    Yeah TA, I can also live with a draw, but find it difficult to accommodate a below par performance.

    Without doubt, Iwobi is rich with potentials but at the moment his game lacks authority. He’s been the weak link 3 or 4 games running. For his good and the good of the team, imo, he needs a more gradual exposure to 1st team play.

    We are over staffed with quality at the double pivot roles but not at the front 3 attacking midfield roles.

    At the double pivot roles we have Eln, Coq. Xhaka, Santi, Rambo meaning that our starting XI must always exclude 3 of them.

    For the attacking midfield roles we have Ozil, Theo (consistency?), Ox (not up there) and Iwobi (inexperienced). Definitely we need some upgrading here and the straight forward solution is to turn either or both of Santi and Rambo to attacking midfielders.

    I believe that very hard working players should occupy the more centre areas of the field and that is why I’d push Ozil (languid style) out wide and use a more combative player like Ramsey at #10. Trust Ozil to create from anywhere. Trust Rambo to make beautiful box runs from #10 position.

    That would give us a starting XI for example of:

    ————–Cech—————
    Bel—–Musti—Kosh——Monr
    ———Coq—–Santi————
    Theo——–Rambo——–Ozil
    —————-Alexis————-

    We need to go up one more gear.

  5. njk84sg says:

    We wanted to chase the game and the crowd was screaming for the lads to get the ball moving. We couldn’t do much in the end and it is a case of “same old same old” to me.

    And I had the spuds locked in at the worst team ever, so am frustrated.

    JK

  6. retsub1 says:

    A fair summary and a fair result. I w as crying out for the Ox to replace Iwobi, but sadly the Ox looked awful.

    Never mind onwards and upwards

    T A good luck with your project

  7. jw1 says:

    “Theo had his moment and was unlucky not to score with a beastly shot from outside the box that hit the woodwork.”
    That was the ‘one’ required.

    Best of luck TA.
    See you on the other side.

    jw1

  8. njk84sg says:

    Timely interlull and some break here, but really the lads needed it and TA, though it has been tough, it is good to see wonderful blog posts and comments. Will miss it and look forward to 27 December. I was born on the same day 32 years ago.

    Time flies 🙂

  9. oz gunner says:

    Well written as always TA. The signs of fatigue were definitely there and I’m sure arsene was hoping he could eek out 1 more win before the interlull.

    Hopefully Alexis, Ozil, Theo, and our midfield pairing get a little rest and come back fresh. We were always going to be a touch off our usual game and for that reason I would have liked Giroud to start.

    Game could have gone either way. Some lucky moments for both teams (my still cursing the ball that was a couple inches away from Xhaka’s head.

    Also, I hate Harry Kane. Mostly because he’s a spud, but also because he’s a good player and I wish he was in our team.

    A rest is good but it’s selfish…I want more Arsenal!

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    PE, agreed re Iwobi. Great talent but needs to get regular rests. Shame Perez got injured and Welbeck isn’t ready yet… and we loaned out Joel Campbell for some reason I don’t get…

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Yes Retsub, the Ox couldn’t deal with the pressure it seemed to me. Ah well, it is waiting for Perez and Welbeck to return to the squad which will give us a boost.

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers 84 and jw 😄

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    OzG, cheers. To beat the defensive minded Spuds we needed tons of energy which we lacked in the second half. I had hoped Ramsey and Ollie would have made the difference but it wasn’t enough on the day. See what you mean re Kane, the half moon faced one. Keep trucking. 😄

  14. allezkev says:

    I’m hearing that Alexis Sanchez has picked up a low grade muscle injury that’ll keep him out of Chile’s first game…

  15. Waldo says:

    Nicely summed up TA and I particularly enjoyed “we could have been on to a Wimmer”! 😀

    A mixed performance from Arsenal versus Spurs.

    Defensively, I thought Arsenal’s back four positioned themselves fantastically well throughout which was reflected in the high number of interceptions each player recorded (Bellerin (3), Kosicelny (4), Mustafi (8) and Monreal (7)). Tackling wise Monreal (4) and Kosicelny (3) were nice and aggressive in their approach, though Bellerin (0) and Mustafi (1) could have performed much better in that regard and the attacking output of Bellerin (0 key passes) and Monreal’s (0 key passes) was pretty much non existent which was disappointing.

    In midfield I thought Xhaka was outstanding defensively with 5 tackles and 4 interceptions, while Coquelin was below his typical high standards with only 1 tackle and 3 interceptions. Offensively both players struggled with only 1 key pass a piece.

    In attack, Ozil (5 key passes) and Alexis (4 key passes) certainly created opportunities but Arsenal’s front four appeared hesitant to shoot (Walcott – 1 off target goal attempt; Ozil – 2 off target goal attempts; Iwobi – 1 on target goal attempt; Sanchez – 2 off target goal attempts) and the crucial off the ball movement of Walcott and Iwobi was non existent.

    Overall a reasonable to strong defensive performance, strong creativity but disappointing end product offensively.

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    I am liking the sound of that Kev… Alexis needs a rest. Hope your move went well?

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Waldo, love the statistical analysis. If there was one big positive it was Xhaka’s mature and dominant performance. Also loved the way he came between Theo and that Belgian Spud defender. Walcott hit the post….is that not deemed a shot on target?

  18. lennon484 says:

    Morning Kev and Waldo, I hadn’t realised the commenting channel was being kept open during the ‘close down’ … until I saw your post. I was prepared to keep a daily diary of events Arsenal.
    Of course, me being me, I have had one eye on the events across the big pond overnight. But that is another story …

    Yes, the injury to Alexis is possibly more unfortunate for us, as it being done in training rather than the first Chile game. That would have meant he would have come off early and missed the second game? As it is, you can be sure if there is any chance of him playing in the second game he will play, and we will pick up the tab if it all goes wrong?

    Hi Waldo, interesting stats you produced there. My diary note from yesterday was the Wenger comment on why he moved Alexis to the No 9 position. Not so he could be a centre(as in central) forward, but to save his energy and be more effective in the final third. In my book, that same view holds for Iwobi? His performances up front have dropped off the more he has had to come back and assist in defence. Assisting Monreal in particular.
    It also was notable that with Giroud as Iwobi’s replacement, that Alexis gets pushed wider and deeper? There is no easy answer to this, short of playing Gibbs and Monreal together? However, the loss of Iwobi’s movement between the lines in attack does impact on our front line’s ability to open up well drilled defences. Our lack of shots on target in this last game was probably a combination of midweek exertions and meeting our first of the top sides that not only had a well drilled defence policy, which included having 3 at the back so their wing backs could push up higher and make our usually effective pair stay deeper, but they also read the game much quicker in defence. That resulted in a lot of our slick passing was being cut out. This may be a sign of things to come?

    It was also mooted yesterday that Arsenal might try the 3 at the back system? Everton found out if you match up with the opposition you can fail big time? So in the Spurs game it could have ended badly for us too. However, it could be used to counter other teams that employ 4 at the back?

    The question is do we have we the personnel to do that?
    Well we could use it in an adaptive way with the aforementioned Gibbs Monreal combiination? Starting off with Gibbs on the LW position, but ‘at times’ leave Monreal deep, Kos in the centre, and Mustafi behind Bellerin as cover for a more all out attacking. stance? Of course, this would also mean we would likely lose Iwobi from the front line. But if Giroud is CF and Alexis is not required to come deep it may still have legs?
    The other alternative is to go more 4-3-3 and leave the flexible front 3 to attack, two proper DM’s with creative mid – Cazorla absence again comes to mind? – which would most likely be OzIl. Good news on that front, as Ozil is unlikely to be used during this break, according to Loew.

    Those are my thoughts for the day?
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  19. allezkev says:

    Thanks Totes, yeah, nothing got broken mate 😉
    Now I’m hearing some worrying news about Bellerin having a slight problem…

  20. allezkev says:

    Hi Gerry, I don’t think that Arsene is a great fan of the three at the back system.
    Mind you in Bellerin we’d probably have one of the best wing-backs in world football and Monreal, who has played centre-back for us and at previous clubs, I believe, could tuck in alongside Koz and Mussi.
    Sorry if that’s what you meant Gerry and I was repeating it… 😳

  21. Gerry says:

    Hi Kev, That is exactly what I meant regards our personnel, and who could be used where.
    I also agree that AW, in the past, has not been a fan of three at the back. However, in the way suggested, we do have much more mobile CB’s than previously? AW has been a bit more expansive up front this time. So who knows?

    Injury front is looking a bit worse as every day goes by. Bellerin being the latest. At least he came back quickly enough. I just hope Iwobi doesn’t add to the list. With or without Giroud, move him to the ‘floating’ 10 position, and we might get by. Not ideal, but with Ox or Jeff R-A in for Alexis and you can keep the fast moving attack going.
    Yes, I know Ox played a bad game when he came on last time, but I think he was a bit miffed at being left out of the starting line up. Unfortunately he reacted in the way he has done before when his confidence has been knocked …trying too hard? There he was, on top of his game, only a late sub for the Ludo game, and no doubt with high expectation of being fresh for the NLD. Then boom! Sub again. No excuse for his display, but I can understand why.

    Bells adds so much more down our right channel, and he will be missed. I’d rather go with Jenks than Coquelin, who has been suggested. Who else will miss the MU clash we will have to wait and see, but Santi’s return would be welcome?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  22. Gerry says:

    Just on the off chance anybody might glance on here for any comments …

    Here is my team selection for this Man U game, from top to GK:

    Alexis…….>>>>>…………<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Ozil <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    Monreal……………………………………………..Jenkinson

    ………………………………………………..Xhaka…………….
    …………….Coquelin…………………………………………….

    <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>i

    …………………………………Cech……………………………..

    A liberal use of these ” to indicate mobility and freedom to move.

    I saw Pat Nevin’s analysis of Chelsea’s 3-4-3 system that he says has brought Hazard to life, and where it looked remarkably similar to the above?:
    They have; a back 3, with the central one, behind as a sweeper, Luiz; and both wide CB’s capable of filling in as FB’s; a (more) defensive full back; a converted right winger at RB; a defensive midfielder, Matic; a mobile link midfielder, Kante; leaving the front trio of Pedro, Costa, and Hazard to do their thing up front.
    Where we differ, in the team I have above, is dropping the extra CB at the back, and going more attack minded front 4, with Ozil as the creative/attacking midfielder. But as I said in the above post, it is very easy to convert that set up for the more defensive one, by the introduction of Gibbs, probably for Alexis in this game, but still carry a very good threat on the counter?

    I would dearly like Chamberlain, Coquelin, and Gibbs to score our 6th, 7th, and 8th goals, and Cech to keep a clean sheet. If I remember rightly, a\ll three were starters in that 8-1 loss we suffered when AW threw on a very young side? Personally, I think AW went over the top in trying to show the BoD that we needed to spend some money back then? Let us hope the Moo reserves suffer a similar fate this time. Whilst 8 – nil is a tad optimistic, anything less than 3 will seem like a disappointment?

    I think the above team is the way to go if all are passed fit, but happy for Ox to replace Alexis, for an hour at least, if the former is saved for the CL game.

    Enjoy ….
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  23. allezkev says:

    Gerry, at least Oxlade-Chamberlain made the perfect cross for Giroud to execute the perfect header to give us a point that didn’t look likely after an unconvincing performance.
    But I’ll take that point, thanks very much…

  24. Gerry says:

    Hi Kev, it seems it is only you and I still lurking…

    Yes, it was a point saved in a poor game. Poor from us us that is. I only listened to the first half on the ‘Player, but I’ve just watched the second half.
    It seems any break in the season throws us off course. I guess because some of our Key players still played in this latest break. It is so easy with hindsight to see where it went wrong, but I tend to go along with Alan Smith on substitutions. In commentary, even before the 60th minute he was urging for a change up front. However, the lack of creativity in the middle was not going to be helped by taking off our more mobile midfielders and bringing on a striker who needed crosses?

    No point on dwelling on it too much, but I hope something changes as we head for this run of midweek games over the next 6 weeks. For me, we seem to go flat whenever there is little off ball movement. The cure for that is to have Iwobi up front as a ‘nominal’ CF, but in reality, just free floating between the lines when we are attacking. The other thing that has been exposed, yet again, is without Cazorla we lack any creative spark from deep? Elneny is a pass and move player. Xhaka can pass well enough, but he is not getting enough game time to gel, and fully utilise that part of his game. Ramsey falls short on both the other pair’s excellence, in that he is a runner from deep, not a ball carrier. Part of the lack of creativity is AW trying to find a position for Ramsey to fit in, and unless that is in the middle, he is less effective than the other two, and way below what Cazorla brings?

    I was really pleased for Ox’s in his 10 minute showing. Having got his frustration out of the way for not being a starter in the l
    last game, he came on and did the job he was asked to do. As you say, topped off by the perfect assist. If he cannot compete with Walcott for the wide right berth, then just maybe, he could be both the short and long term answer to the absent Cazorla problem? He may not be as two footed as Santi, but he can use both. He has the pace and skill to bring the ball forward quickly,. He just has to know when to release the ball, and not fall into the Wilshere trap and think he can beat the next man as well. A thought at least?

    I just hope Alexis agrees a deal soon so AW can tell when he plays, or when he comes off 😀

    Unless anybody makes another comment, I’ll put my thoughts on the PSG up on Tuesday. It will be more or less a repeat of this game in terms of how they will play like Man U, so we will have to up our game if we are to get anything out of it?

    Cheers Kev,
    Gerry

  25. Neeraj says:

    Hey Gerry
    Where is everyone?
    Yesterday’s game wasn’t something we usually see from the always attacking or atleast counter attacking Gunners. We were affected by the break but even before that we did lose our tempo since Santi hs beem ruled out. Elneny was a bad chouce yesterday, he cost us in defence and attack almost as if we played one guy against ourselves. Ox should’ve started. The substitutes could’ve come earlier too. Ozil slept through the game maybe giving him that 2 week rest worked against us. I have no idea om how we could replace Santi. There isn’t a player like him. Maybe Wilshere cluld fill his boots but he’s doing his good work at the Dean Court. So that is something Wenger needs to sort out.
    I read a column which pointed out something which i didn’t think of while watching the game. Wenger showed that he prefers being cautious by playing Elneny over Xhaka. That’s a good thing or a bad one is debatable.

    The team showed good character and earned one point, whereas considering how the Devils have been playing so far Wenger had a perfect opportunity to get ONE over him but he missed it.
    No’win’ber hasn’t been as bad as we always though and a CL win wouldn’t hurt that at all.

  26. Gerry says:

    Hi Neeraj, Officially the site is closed until Boxing Day, as TA has a new project that needs all his attention. I only posted my comment on the off chance that somebody might turn up … and you did ☺
    I think it is difficult to point the finger at individual players when the balance of the team wasn’t quite right. That, and the fatigue factor that was going on as well.
    So when you say Ozil was sleepwalking through the game is a bit hard when he relies on the others to run to the spaces where he can play the ball?
    Elneny likewise. He likes to pass and move, but as Man U closed down very quickly in the second half, part of his game was lost. Add to that, he was deployed as part of the defensive trio, which is why, like yourself, I would have thought Xhaka would have been the better choice? Mainly because Elneny rarely tackles. He did do some good interceptions though.
    Ramsey would have been better if he was in the middle doing the B2B role, but that would have required two defensive midfielders if we were going to control the game. Instead, he tried to play an attacking midfielder from the left. Nets result, Montréal was left as exposed as he was in previous games … and Man U exploited that until those last 10 minutes when we took control and pegged them back.
    That as you say, is the one good thing that came out of the game … character!

    How are things with you now?

    As I said, I can keep posting on match day if there is anyone around. Nice to see you are still following the good guys, N ☺

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  27. Waldo says:

    Hey all,

    Disappointing performance from Arsenal versus Man Utd.

    Defensively I thought Cech, Jenkinson (4 tackles and 2 interceptions) and Coquelin (7 tackles and 2 interceptions) were good. Kosicelny (0 tackles and 1 interception), Mustafi (1 tackle and 3 interceptions) and Monreal (0 tackles and 4 interceptions) though like in the Spurs match were much too passive and/or inactive defensively. Elneny was also poor in the centre of midfield with only 2 tackles and no interceptions.

    Offensively, there were no key passes from Monreal, Jenkinson, Coquelin, Elneny, Ozil or Ramsey and Alexis, Walcott and Ox only recorded 1 key pass each. Shooting wise Coquelin (1), Elneny (1) and Alexis (2) had a couple of off target shots between them, while Giroud’s goal was Arsenal’s only on target shot for the match. Overall offensively Arsenal showed limited intent.

    While there is a valid argument that Alexis’ international ventures to South America in the week prior to the match meant Arsenal should have deployed a front four versus Man Utd comprised of Giroud in the centre forward role, Ramsey in the number 10 role and effective crosses of the ball like Ox and Ozil on the right and left wings respectively (to capitalise on Giroud’s aerial strength and Ramsey’s tendency to make surging off the ball runs into the box), I don’t think Wenger got his front four wrong in terms of their composition or positional deployment.

    Alexis when deployed in the centre forward role likes to drop closer to the midfield to join in the build up play with Ozil. To best capitalise on the space Alexis creates by vacating the centre forward area, Arsenal need to deploy wingers like Perez, Ramsey or Walcott who are naturally inclined at making off the ball runs into that space and beyond the opposition’s defensive line. The problem versus Man Utd like the match versus Spurs is that Arsenal’s wingers simply failed to make those off the ball runs. The result was that Arsenal had plenty of possession but offered no real goal scoring threat.

    Similarly it was no surprise that when Ox came on as a substitute on the right (albeit as a right fullback) and Giroud came on as the centre forward, Arsenal scored. Ox’s strength when deployed on the right is his accurate crossing ability and this complimented Giroud’s aerial strength.

    As I’ve said before, the composition of Arsenal’s squad this season can be essentially divided into two quiet different sets of attacking combinations. One which effectively complements the strengths of Alexis the other which compliments the strengths Giroud.

    1) Ozil/Iwobi (CAM), Walcott (RW), Perez (LW), Alexis (CF)

    2) Ramsey/Alexis (CAM), Ox (RW), Ozil (LW), Giroud (CF)

    For me, Arsenal have limited scope to create a hybrid of the two attacking systems and I think Arsenal’s success this season will depend on Wenger’s discipline in deploying either option 1 or option 2 depending upon the opposition and rotating between those two options in some sort of structure manner throughout the course of the season so that Arsenal an maintain a high standard of attack.

  28. Gerry says:

    Interesting Waldo. I would take a somewhat different view, especially with stats, and look at the personnel involved.

    I have to defend Elneny on stats alone. I have been saying for ages, he is not a tackler. Even in the game where he got the MOTM award he only made 1 tackle. You have to see his game through more than just stats. His strengths defensively is that he blocks the passing lines, thus forcing players to play either a more risky ball, or retreat deep. In attack he thrives on quick, one touch, passing, and getting the ball forward into threatening areas. But to do that he needs players around him to bounce off and move. So where we are in agreement, in the match as a whole, was once again there was little off the ball movement up front.
    To that extent, it was a game that he, and Ozil, were not going to have a lot of joy.
    This is also the point where I say Iwobi is the missing link up front, as long as he is not asked to track back deep into defensive areas, which is not his strength.

    I would be interested in your thoughts on Ramsey’s ‘nominal’ position on the left? Was it AW going on what Ramsey did in the last Welsh game? Or just the left side of a 4-2-3-1 set up? Or in a 4-3-3 formation to help control the midfield?

    The commentators on the ‘Player, namely Alan Smith, thought the latter, but with the idea if giving more protection to Monreal. Which failed. Visually if nothing else, as attacks down our left flank were again a target by the opposition. Indeed, with reference to your stats quoted, although none given for Ramsey in defence, but Coquelin’s seem to take the lion’s share, backing up the visual view, that he was kept busy enough on the centre to left side of midfield?
    However, no matter how much you move that trio around in midfield, it was not a combination was going to create a great deal … imo of course.

    The other point to note about the stats was those with zero tackles in the back 4, as all 3 played during the Intl break, on top of the majority of our league games?

    It goes without saying that without any drive and speed of passing in transition, our front 3 were always going to struggle. Interesting though, that bringing on Giroud alone did not make that much difference during the 15 minutes that elapsed before Ox came on? A player who could cross the ball, and did make a difference. I also noted that Alexis came alive during that 10 minute spell, which suggests it wasn’t fatigue that kept him quiet, but lack of inspiration from those around him, but including himself too.

    I wish I could say we might learn a lesson here, but it has been repeated too many times for any hope of that.

    As always, good to chat Waldo,
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  29. Neeraj says:

    Hey Gerry,
    Yeah you’re right Elneny hasn’t ever been a tackler. Also Mustafi and Kos, I thought played well and kept is in the game. The stats don’t do the justice. Coquelin made some great tackles but there was one major flaw in his strategic game he left Pogba open all the time. Maybe someone else was supposed yo mark him and I’m blaming the wrong guy but this has happened before too. Coming back to Elneny. He was employed as a replacement for Santi to keep us ticking but he was far too nervous I thought which isn’t the case usually. Ramsey should’ve played through the center and Ox on the left.

    But a point isn’t that bad at all. It also had a psychological part to it I believe. If we had taken the lead and then Man U equalised then we would’ve received a lot more slack and Mourninho would’ve again looked superior but the fact that we went behind first might’ve actually helped us.

    Cheers,
    N 😉

  30. allezkev says:

    Great news regarding Hector Bellerin…
    6.5 year contract, so he’s ours till 2023.

    Would he have signed if he wasn’t sure that Wenger would be staying???

  31. Waldo says:

    Hey Gerry

    I agree with your take on Elneny, in that he is not much of a tackler, interceptor or key passer but is a hard working midfielder who tries to press opponents and block passing lanes when defending and quickly recycles possession when on the ball.

    That said, and not to be disrespectful to Elneny, I think his skills are ones which I would expect to find in most Premier League central midfielders and I think Arsenal need more output from their two deeplying central midfielders than what he offered versus Man Utd.

    As for Iwobi being the missing link in an Arsenal front four otherwise comprised of Ozil in the CAM role, Walcott on the RW and Alexis in the CF role, I personally don’t believe Iwobi offers enough off the ball movement beyond the opposition’s defensive line to balance Ozil and Alexis’ tendencies to gravitate to the ball and create for others. If Arsenal don’t get that balance right of at least two attacking outlets and two creators in their front four, Arsenal’s attack becomes predictable and easy to defend against. That’s exactly what happened versus Spurs were Iwobi, Alexis and Ozil all tried to create and Walcott, Arsenal’s only attacking outlet, was marked out of the game. So while I think Iwobi would be a good back up for Ozil in the aforementioned attacking setup I don’t personally see him as Arsenal left wing solution for that system.

    In terms of Ramsey being the solution, after reading your comment and further reflecting, I actually don’t believe he is suited to any other position apart from the CAM role as he is simply lacks offensive and defensive positional discipline. His past tendencies to serve as an off the ball attacking outlet and his work rate conceptually make him a good candidate to play as an attacking outlet in Arsenal’s front four. But the reality is, like we saw versus Man Utd and in recent seasons, he has become a player who increasingly gravitates to the ball as opposed to making off the ball runs and seemingly lacks any positional sense when required to defend. I agree with you that Coquelin’s impressive defensive statistics were most likely in part due to Ramsey’s unwillingness to track back and support Monreal.

    Ramsey like Iwobi and even Wilshere are all, in my opinion currently in a tricky situation at Arsenal. All three players are most suited to the CAM role where they have creative freedom and limited defensive responsibility but none are as effective creatively as Ozil and Wenger doesn’t generally rotate Ozil. The result is all three have been required to play in ill suited alternative positions which highlights their weaknesses

    I’m really hoping Lucas can serve as that second attacking outlet amongst Walcott, Ozil and Alexis as without that I think Arsenal are going to start to struggle to score goals.

    Alternatively, Arsenal could deploy Ox on right wing, Giroud in the CF role and shift Ozil to the left wing and Alexis to the CAM role and then target crosses at Giroud and Alexis. That is probably a more balanced and coordinated attacking combination than what Arsenal can currently produce with a front four of Alexis, Walcott, Ozil and one of Ramsey or Iwobi. I don’t think that is the long term solution though and if Perez fails to prove the answer Arsenal might need to do some wheeling and dealing in January to complete the quartet.

    In relation to your comments about the heavy recent workload experienced by Monreal, Kosicelny and Mustafi potentially impairing their effectiveness versus Man Utd, I absolutely agree.

    Some semblance of structured squad rotation is going to be essential in my opinion if Arsenal want to maintain energetic and high quality performances from match to match. That includes occasionally rotating defenders. For example I though the match versus Man Utd was a great opportunity to rest Monreal and give the fresher Gibbs a run, who has been impressive of late.

    We can only hope! 😀

  32. allezkev says:

    Arsenal currently have 13 players out on loan or in the shop window, depending on how you view these arrangements.
    Looking at Calum Chambers for example, who has quietly got on with things and is now a regular in a very organised and hard to beat Middlesbrough team, you have to wonder where his future lays?
    Arsenal already have 5 top centre-backs, so does he have to move on permanently to continue to progress or is there a opening for him at the Emirates?

    Szcesny is in a similar position, playing regularly at Roma, so he isn’t going to want to bench warm any time soon. Shop window?

    Despite his recent comments I still think that a fit Jack Wilshere has a future at Arsenal, and would be a definite asset to the squad at this moment. The thing is, after being a regular starter for Eddie Howe, would he be content to sit on the bench at Arsenal?

    Asano and Nwakali have been doing ok at their respective clubs, work permits will hopefully be in the post for the pair next summer…

  33. Gerry says:

    Cheers for the replies folks, we might make this work if we keep it polite and simple.
    .
    Waldo, I think you and I are close to agreeing on most points. However, rather than run through them point by point, I’ll offer you this as a good read … err, even if it exposes my thinking that Elneny was playing down the right. 😦 To be fair I did say I only ‘heard’ the first half,, this analysis, and ‘The Verdict’ on the ‘Player, both point to our static play being our shortcoming:

    http://outsideoftheboot.com/2016/11/22/tactical-analysis-manchester-united-1-1-arsenal/?

    Kev, I think we need to worry less about our loan players being in the ‘shop window’, and worry more about the ones playing who might be doing likewise?
    I will go along with your first two, but CC may have a chance if Gabriel does not make the grade, and it being likely that it is Per’s last season?
    We will see.
    I’d rather not get into the Wilshere thinking. But it is clear he is enjoying it more playing regularly than necessarily playing for Arsenal. It could also be he likes being the big fish in the small pond?
    Either of these make a return less likely, especially if we strengthen in that area come January?
    This TW looks like being a busy one, for January that is, if the rumours are anything to go by?

    As for the promised thought on the PSG game tonight … well news on whose fit and likely to play is a bit thin on the ground. Others are speculating that a ‘Back 3’ is on the cards. This I think partly due to the way we finished the MU game, after both DM’s had been removed?

    My thinking goes this way:
    AW wants to keep PSG out of the top spot in our group, and a draw will suffice … if we win our final game.
    AW does not like making major changes for important matches.

    So therefore the only changes I can see he might make are:
    Bringing on Gibbs for Ramsey, if only to make the point that he wants more cover for Monreal, as Ramsey admitted after the game that was the job he was asked to do… ???
    The other is whether Xhaka starts in place of Elneny, although there was little chemistry between him and Coquelin in those last few minutes. AW is not one to experiment in big games? However, he may have been saving Xhaka for this one? The alternative is Ramsey in the middle?
    Another might be to bring Ox in to replace Walcott, but I am guessing he might want to keep Iwobi, Giroud and Ox for ‘super sub’ duties if it goes pear shaped and we need the point(s)? Less likely, and for the above reason (not experimenting), is Ox starting in midfield, although that is a possibility as long as Cazorla is out … and Ox keeping it simple!
    Ospina is a given.
    The bench will be the three ‘super subs’, plus; Martinez, Gabriel/Mertersacker/Holding*, Ramsey, and Maitland-Niles.
    * Any one of three.

    This will be a tough game as PSG are in better shape than they were first time around. But if we can defend well and attack quickly we could make it difficult for them, but we need to squash any fatigue related sloppiness from our game as they can, and will, score whenever an opportunity arises.

    0-0 would be a good result, even if it is not so good to watch?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  34. Waldo says:

    Thanks for the link Gerry. I completely agree with you that our recent attacking shortcomings are linked to our static movement.

    Kev, Arsenal’s centre back battle is an interesting one. For me the depth chart ranking for this position is:
    1. Mustafi
    2. Koscielny
    3. Chambers
    4. Holding
    5. Gabriel
    6. Mertersacker

    Koscielny has been a little underwhelming this season while Chambers has been very strong and consistent for Boro. If that trend continues I’d like to see Wenger give Chambers the opportunity to start next season alongside Mustafi at the heart of Arsenal’s defence.

    In relation to Szczęsny, I rate him as a more complete goalkeeper than Ospina, who is a superior shot stopper but is horrible dealing with crosses and long balls. That said I actually consider Martinez to be Arsenal’s best all round goalkeeper after Cech.

    As for Wilshere, if he can demonstrate some defensive discipline both positionally and in terms of output (e.g. 2 tackles and 2 interceptions per game), he has the key passes in him to assume Cazorla’s mantle in Arsenal’s central midfield. That said he is yet to demonstrate any improvement defensively in his loan spell at Bournemouth (0.6 tackles and 0.1 interceptions per game).

  35. allezkev says:

    Hi Gerry
    I don’t think that BFG is fit yet, not due back till January.
    Wilshere has completed, what is it, 4 games now, when did he last do that at Arsenal?
    Is Eddie Howe tailoring his coaching in a different way?
    Are Bournemouth using him differently?
    Do opponents approach Bournemouth less physically than they approach Arsenal?

    Gerry, I do hope that the club doesn’t leave it until the summer to settle those ‘shop window’ candidates you allude to…
    Cazorla needs to be tied up imo, I don’t want to be reflecting on his departure being too early as was the case with Robert Pires back in the day…

    With 8 players from our senior squad, out of contract in the summer of 2018, it’s certainly going to be a busy time for that dept of the club…

  36. allezkev says:

    Waldo, hi mate, yeah Gerry I think commented that with BFG being out of contract this summer, that a position in the squad could open up for Calum’s return. Also, despite an encouraging start to his Arsenal career, I wonder if Gabriel has a long term future at the club?
    He seems happy enough to play the role as cover for Koz/Mus, atm, much as Gibbs does for Monreal…
    No doubt the scouts will be watching his performances and reporting back to Arsene…

  37. allezkev says:

    Interesting what you say about Martinez, Waldo, because it’s likely that Ospina will probably leave next summer and unless Arsene plans to bring Szczesny back as our No.2, then we might see Martinez get that gig…

  38. Gerry says:

    I have just read a few snippets from AW’s prezzer on the BBC. It sounds like He does not like the idea of playing both Alexis and Olly in the same team. One reason could be, when we have so few options at CF, it makes sense to rest one?

    I don’t know what to make of story I read yesterday that AW has been ‘told’ to give Alexis a Winter break? It makes sense, if we can manage without him, but who tells AW on team matters?
    Mind, his high praise, and a Winter break might be Arsene is telling the BoD to find the money for a big contract offer. But that side of our outlay is growing at an alarming rate. The reported £48m for Bellerin, a 3 year deal for Alexis might another £35m, and Ozil a tad more? That means at the very least a CL final or a League title to gives us any transfer kitty to play with?

    Back to tonight. I still think Alexis is more likely to start, but, rest at the weekend. In fact, looking at the fixtures, Alexis could take his break from tomorrow and not come back until the Man C game?
    A lot depends on what the priorities are; the League; the CL; or the EFL Cup and FA Cup.
    The first two are the money earners, which is why we need to be at our best. If I remember rightly, the count back procedure if we are tied at the top with PSG after drawing tonight, it will eventually come back to goal difference, as our head to head scores will be level. A win tonight puts either team in pole position.

    As an alternative to what I put out above, if Gibbs replaces Monreal and Iwobi is restored in attack, it would suggest AW is risking a win over a draw? it might be the wise choice, as a draw is not guaranteed whoever we put out.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  39. Goonereris says:

    Gerry, nice summation. Firstly, we play PSG tomorrow (Wednesday) night, not “tonight”, as you suggest. The second thing is the observation about the spike in our wage bill. It is a concern, but we know the revenues are growing too and these figures are spread over the life of each contract, anyway. The club will get by as it improves placings in Europe (go as far as the final, agree) and the domestic league.

  40. Gerry says:

    Yes, my biggest errors lately occur when I solely rely on my memory … Doh!
    I only just found out when I went to look at the TV coverage, that is how convinced it was tonight.
    Thanks Gooneris for being gentle with my frailties.

    As far as operating costs go, yes we are a pretty healthy club regards regular income. But these things tend to spiral as other players press for more ‘parity’. As good as we have been to be in the CL the last 17 years, there is no guarantee we can continue that trend, and the first thing that will be hit is the transfer budget. That can then lead to a ‘sell before buy’ policy, and soon players will go elsewhere ….

    At least, with that thought in mind it should keep the club on a sound footing. Rather than spend millions just to satisfy the next new manager who comes through the revolving door, as some do?

    No what do I do with the rest of my evening 😀

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  41. Goonereris says:

    You are right there; hopefully, we sustain the trajectory of revenue levels and win some big things before such situations start to play up.
    What do with your evening? You can watch the Spuds for the laughs 😉

  42. Waldo says:

    Hey all,

    Here is the team I’d like to see Arsenal deploy versus PSG:

    GK – Martinez (aerially Ospina too much a liability in my opinion)
    RB – Jenkinson
    CB – Mustafi
    CB – Kosicenly
    LB – Gibbs
    CDM – Coquelin
    CDM – Xhaka
    RW- Ox
    CAM – Ramsey
    LW – Ozil
    CF – Giroud

    With that starting 11 I’d be expecting plenty of crosses from Jenkinson, Gibbs, Ox and Ozil targeting Giroud and Ramsey in the box and long passes from Xhaka targeting Giroud, Oz and Ozil to speed up Arsenal’s transition from defence to attack.,

  43. Gerry says:

    Morning all. So Spurs are back to Thursday night games ….

    Mind if we had played with the same zest as Monaco they would not be just behind us in the league?

    Waldo, I think you have the very team that AW was talking about when he said Giroud and Sanches are different styles, and need different approaches.
    GK excepted, that is. You forget Arsene still has to play the politics side of the game. By that I mean keeping players happy in the squad. Martinez has just signed a new contract and has a long career ahead of him. But the here and now suggests that Ospina has been given the CL role as long as he keeps his form. On that point I don’t think you can argue he has let the side down?
    Otherwise that is a perfectly feasible team option.
    But do you think he is going to upset Alexis while contracts are under discussion? Alexis not playing a crucial CL game would surely rile him, even if he has to have his personalised crutches on standby pitch side 😀

    I appreciate that is the side you would like to see, rather than an AW select, and if it were the weekend I would say you might be on a winner. Although, in the format you have it, and from previous comments, I am guessing you see it in a 4-2-3-1 formation? Whereas I would have Ramsey in the middle of the 4-3-3 set up. One of his main assets is his energy to keep going with the B2B runs, and he is not creative enough to be behind the striker, nor a second striker on current form. With Ozil doing his floating role, I think we can ill afford to have another ‘floater’ making runs for a ball that someone else has created, whether that be a through ball from Ozil, or a knock down from Giroud.. It simply comes back to my view on the last game, in that we need a Cazorla like player to move the ball in transition quickly. Ramsey is a runner off the ball. At his best, that can be very productive. Right now it seems he cannot even follow a simple directive like ‘ Track Valencia’ ,,,?

    The inclusion of Xhaka helps when it comes to switching play, as long as we have players out wide. Ox and Jenkinson seem to work better together than Walcott did in the last game, but then again that may have been instructions to Jenks not to get too far forward?
    This is the weakness of having FB’s being wingers in attack, in that they leave big gaps in behind. Something AW will be well aware of regards PSG, as they have players capable of switching play at the same time as occupying the DM’s down the middle. That will be our main danger tonight … yes tonight, not deja vu 😀

    My first thought on that was to compensate by having Gibbs in front of Monreal, but the thought of having a sharper attack with Iwobi in the role you have marked down for Ramsey, does appeal if Gibbs simply replaces Monreal? That means having Walcott on the right, with Alexis on the left-ish Then we are back to our free flowing front line …. if they can be fed at speed? I do think AW sees Walcott as the greater front line threat, with Ox as a better provider for Giroud?

    Now unless AW is looking to surprise PSG by slippng in Maitland-Niles in for Ramsey, I think that is the way it will be. I did read one website suggesting we could start with Jeff R A and Bielik with Holding … a suicide note if ever I saw one? They clearly forgot that the first two will be playing in the Youth version of the CL, and I am not sure if Holding is up to the task of keeping Cavani quiet just now?
    However, a sparkling performance from ‘The Jeff’ in the Youth League could see him in line for replacing Alexis at the weekend?

    I cannot say I am confident about tonight’s game, but I’d settle for a boring 0-0 draw if offered. Then we would just have to outscore PSG in the final leg against Basel?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

    p.s. Goonereris, I did 😀

  44. TotalArsenal says:

    Morning all

    Good to see there are still comments on the blog and good ones too. 😊

    Wenger has learned to sacrifice style for discipline against Mourinho teams and the result was an ugly but very important draw. I will take it any day, and now the most horrible fixture of the season is out of the way.

    Same 11, except for the keeper of course, tonight as on Saturday but slightly different instructions. CoyGs

  45. Waldo says:

    Hey Gerry,

    Yeah with my above line up I was envisaging that it would be in a 4-2-3-1 setup, with Ozil being disciplined positionally on the left and Ramsey being similarly disciplined in the central attacking midfield role. In terms of chance creation its about the fullbacks and wingers combining to create crossing opportunities, Xhaka predominately being responsible for quick transitions with long passes to the wings and Giroud and Ramsey acting as the goal scoring outlets.

    That’s just my thoughts though on what I’d like to see. I gave up a long time ago trying to guess what team Wenger would actually deploy. 😀

    As for my preference for Martinez to play instead of Ospina, as I said in an earlier comment, I think Martinez is a more well rounded goalkeeper (i.e. shot stopping, aerially and demeanour). That said I agree with you that Ospina’s shot stopping in the Champions League thus far has been pretty impressive.

    As for Ramsey versus Iwobi, I haven’t seen Iwobi threaten enough as a goal scorer in contrast to Ramsey to propose Iwobi’s selection over Ramsey in the particular setup I’ve suggested (though Ramsey’s reputation in that regard is beginning to wane).

    Definitely agree with you that Arsenal are missing Cazorla’s key passes from deep central midfield. While I don’t think Santi has been at his best this season, Arsenal don’t really have a like for like replacement for the Spainard in the squad. Xhaka in my view is proving to be more Coquelin than Cazorla.

    It will be a tough match versus PSG. I just hope Wenger rotates the squad appropriately so that the team has enough energy in the tank come Bournemouth on the weekend and he fields an attacking quartet which is balanced (i.e. 2 creators and 2 goal scoring outlets) and who are coordinated in their approach.

  46. allezkev says:

    Yep, I can’t see too many changes for tonight, if it ain’t broke etc, nor do I expect too many changes for Bournemouth either, although the Southampton game should be interesting in that regard.

    Good to hear that the Jeff is playing well Gerry, I did read that Willock and Zelalem both trained with the seniors this week…

    Waldo, I think we’ll see Martinez in the Southampton game, but I believe that Arsene promised Ospina the CL to keep him at the club for another season, not sure who’ll get the gig in the FACup, but that seems to be Arsenes policy with the goalkeepers…

  47. Gerry says:

    Hi TA. Don’t get too distracted with the chatter on here.

    I was surprised the channel was still open when I replied to Kev a while back, and I thought somebody might take a look on MU match day. And from just us two, the band has grown.

    As I said above, as long as we keep it polite, we should cause you no worries running under it’s own steam. If you are happy with that?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  48. Pony Eye says:

    Interesting comments and analysis.

    Le Coq is a fixture. Between Xhaka and Rambo, who can transit the ball better from defense to attack ( as Gerry dubbed it – the Carzola role)? Maybe, just maybe Rambo. Furthermore Jenkinson or Gabriel at right back playing more conservatively than Bellerin, creates a greater need for a more attack minded box to box player which again points to Rambo. This compensates the loss in offensive imput by the absence of Bellerin.

    Also for the same reason of moving the ball from defense to the attackers, I expect Nacho to be selected ahead of Gibbs who forever is passing the ball backwards. Luckily for Nacho the pacey Serge Aurier at Psg right back would be missing.

    Wenger has declared Sanchez fully recovered, so expect him to play.

    Likely line up:

    ———-Ospina——–
    Jenks–Must–Kos–Nacho
    ——Coq——Rambo——
    Theo—–Ozil——Sanchez
    ———–Giroud————

  49. Gerry says:

    Waldo, you are right in saying we have not got a like for like player for Santi, but there are possibilities beyond Ramsey, whom I consider the least alike.

    I mentioned Ox already, and today I threw in Maitland-Niles. In one of the lesser games, he could be an option, in that he can nick the ball high up the pitch, he has pace,, and despite his recent appearances, he has played in the CAM position. Just a thought.
    Ox would be my favoured choice if he got a decent run there.

    Iwobi’s goal scoring will come with time and experience. The value he adds up front is more to do with his movement making himself available, and ability to move quickly in crowded areas. He interacts well with whoever is near him, and because of that he makes that front line fluid. He is the oil in the machine. Alexis may be the drive mechanism, and Ozil the cogs that keep it going, but it all slows down without the oil?

    As for the game, I think it will be a squeaky bum time from the kick off.
    Fingers crossed, but my ‘Boxing Day’ forecast gave us a 1-1 on the back of a win at OT, so now I am not so sure.
    Play well and no injuries will be a bonus.
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  50. Gerry says:

    Hi Kev, I think ‘the Jeff’ and co will find their next gig will be the EFL quarter final. Although the odd bench appearance is possible. Not tonight though.

    In the Cup games Martinez has either played or been on the bench, so the lead role may be shared between Ospina and Cech?

    Cheers
    Gerry

  51. TotalArsenal says:

    no problemo, Gerry. 🙂

    PE, if Alexis is playing then Ollie will be on the bench, as their styles clash. Only as a supersub will wenger combine Ollie with Alexis, I reckon.

  52. Gerry says:

    PE, I see the band is expanding. Nice to hear from you.

    For the reasons I said earlier, I don’t think AW will play both Gioud and Alexis as starters, as one can rest when the other plays?

    So if you take out Giroud and replace with Xhaka you might be on the money.

    Enjoy the game, catch you all later …
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  53. Pony Eye says:

    TA, Gerry,

    Who says Alexis and Giroud can’t play together. That’s how it used to be, and it was no disaster.

  54. TotalArsenal says:

    They can PE, but it is a clash of styles and Wenger now plays with a mobile CF rather than a classical CF who needs servicing with high balls. Alexis has been brilliant until now and I cannot see Wenger going back..

  55. Pony Eye says:

    Confirmed line up:

    Ospina
    Jenks- Must- Kos- Gibbs
    Coq- Rambo
    Iwobi Ozil Sanchez
    Giroud.

    Good line up. Expecting a cracker.

  56. TotalArsenal says:

    Well you were right, PE, well done! 🙂 I expect this to be a one off for the French footie and TV market 😉

    CoyGs

  57. Gerry says:

    Well I for one do not understand the logic of this team.

    Nobody to provide crosses for Giroux, apart from the FB’s.
    Very limited cover for the FB’s
    Only creativity coming from Ozil, so mark him and we’re stuffed.

    What is Aw on?

    Ospina will be a busy boy tonight. I just hope the subs will come on at half time!

    I hope I am wrong, but ….

    Cheers
    Gerry

  58. Pony Eye says:

    Gerry,

    I believe Gibbs is chosen over Nacho because he is a better crosser. Also Oxil would be drifting to the wide areas and proving crosses also. Who knows what Iwobi can do from the wide right. I expect Sanchez to interchange often with Ozil to operate behind Giroud. Wenger has no option but to sometimes experiment particularly when performance dims like it’s done in the last couple of games.

  59. allezkev says:

    Not disappointed to see Gibbs start, he needs some game time and is a steady performer for us.
    Just seen a snippet of him clearing one off of the line, so a good pick by Arsene.
    Not seeing game, listening to BBC5Live…
    Saw their goal on Arsenalist, a bit scrappy, but they all count.
    Sounds as if Cavani should have got a red card for striking Ramsey…
    Girouds penalty should hopefully settle things down.
    A big 45 for the Gunners coming up…

  60. Waldo says:

    Nice industry by Giroud to win the ball back in the lead up to the penalty. Arsenal are lucky to go into the break at 1-1. Offensively, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis and Giroud have been very poor thus far. Arsenal are not transitioning quick enough from defence to attack and bar Giroud’s penalty there have been no goal attempts from any Arsenal players so far. Defensively, I think Coquelin (again) and Ramsey are doing a solid job in midfield.

  61. allezkev says:

    Coquelin suspended for the Basle game, hopefully it’ll be a dead rubber.

  62. Goonereris says:

    A better second half showing after a shaky and rather ponderous display by our lads. I am not too sure why I sensed they played more to NOT lose than win the game; some sorting out for Wenger to do.
    This PSG side will out-pass any side in the world, bar one. Some forget they beat Chelsea home and away in CL early this year, after a dominant display both legs. The match up vs Chelsea in 2015 was equally good on the eyes, I recall.
    I am not too worried about the draw and am pleased we gave it a go and may have won, on another night. The quest was for a 1st place finish in order to get a favourable last 16 draw, but with the likes of Bayern, Madrid and Sevilla likely to be 2nd in their groups, what are the chances that 1st still gets drawn against one of these? Very high, as it stands.

  63. Pony Eye says:

    We allowed them to impose their rhythm on proceedings, which was a slow measured play with sudden busts of pace just as Wenger warned.

    Topping the group or coming 2nd hardly make any difference to our chances of progressing in the round of 16, this time around.

    Top the group and face the possibility of playing against one of R. Madrid, Bayern, Sevilla. Finish 2nd and waiting for us is the possibility of one of Barca, BVB, A. Madrid, Juv. Little to choose between the two.

    What is important is our finding our form quickly.

  64. Goonereris says:

    Agree with you, absolutely, Pony Eye. Wenger has to restore the fluency we’ve come to know his teams for. Hopefully, it is the November blues and if the boys can navigate it with wins in the last 2 games, we’ll come good.

  65. Gerry says:

    Morning all. Yes, we are in our usual position of waiting to see which of the bad guys we will be drawn against. We can live with that, just!

    As to Goonereris’s point about setting out our stall not to lose, if that was the case, and I doubt it, is simple. A nil nil draw saw us top the group without even bothering to turn up for the Basel game. A 1-1 draw would see us through as long as we kept pace with PSG score in the final game, having a 3 goal advantage going into it. Lose, and were were in the second spot.

    Why do I doubt that was the case? Team selection.

    Playing Alexis, Giroud, and Iwobi up front. Remove any one of them and add the extra defender; Monreal,, Xhaka, Gabriel, or Holding. (My order of preference).

    The logic of startng Giroud still baffles me. It certainly wasn’t to save Alexis’s legs, as he did more back tracking than any! Whatever slender tissue is holding his achillies in place is going to be very sore this morning.
    Justified on experimental grounds PE? But you are right about the first half display. We sat back. No pressing. No high line. Just two banks of defending in our final third.

    Fearing that this was going to be a disaster, my only thought after the penalty was ‘You jammy b******s!’. The best of it was, it came about after a bit of pressing. Grrrr!

    I am not sure why they kept looking at the penalty, as though it was questionable?
    The big difference from what I saw, without any replays, to the Valencia claim at the weekend was Alexis foot did not move in the direction of the defender, asit was just about to go forward when contact was made. Look again at the Man U one and it is clear that Valencia moved his left leg away from a true line of forward motion so he could get it wrapped behind Kos’s right leg.
    Correct decision in both cases, although the latter ones are often given?
    Cavani’s claim was an outright dive!

    The second half they did at least put pressure on PSG, and got the reward. Another somewhat lucky OG, given the defender’s clearance, as they say, ‘could have gone anywhere’. Instead it hit the hapless Verrati.
    That was in the 60th minute. Good time to wrap it up with our usual 65/70 minute substitutions, eh?
    I mean, PSG had nothing to lose now. They even pulled off their main DM for an attacking mid on 67 minutes.
    Hindsight i know, but when you want him to be predictable AW lets you down 😀 ironic smiley!

    Ian Wright was most critical of Giroud in the first half, with video evidence, because of his lack of movement when we had possession in their half. This is an example of the clash of styles. Had we played wingers, or supported the FB’s to have the freedom to go forward and put in crosses, fine. Giroud needs to be in the middle and make his move late to receive them. In the quick pass and move fluid attack, all three need to be involved. Grrrr!

    I have one more hindsight moment to get off my chest. Why was Iwobi, who is not a defender, on the goal line? Surely the place for him would be out towards the corner taker blocking any low cross. Gibbs showed in the first half how a defender does things … Grrr!

    Btw PE, I was not querying Gibbs selection in my ‘no logic’ comment, as he was my selection, with or without Monreal. It was this halfway house in style clash with Giroud and Alexis that made little sense to me. Admittedly, they did get in a winning position, rather fortuitously, but then dithered about how to go on from there?

    Ah, there is always the next game to lift the spirits, eh?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  66. TotalArsenal says:

    We were up against a very strong team tonight and we were below their level, so a draw ain’t bad. It has been a while since I saw such good defending, such quick transitioning and such penetration up front: PSG impressed me.

    Great performances by Ozil, Alexis, Koz, Rambo, Coq and Ospina, but we lacked a bit of quality on the flanks to really give the Parisians a game. We may meet them again in the final. 😛

  67. TotalArsenal says:

    Goonereris at 4.11′ spot on. They are a very good, expensive team and the manager has made them even better. With Bellerin and Nacho and possibly Santi we may have won the game, but they were very, very good opposition and would beat most PL teams, if not all, with ease. Especially their defence was the strongest I have seen in quite a while.

  68. Gerry says:

    Minor up date from me.
    I have just read the ‘Untold’ review of the Man U game, apparently it was Monreal involved in the Valencia pen claim. Correct decision though.

    Now much as that is a good read, as 4 players should have been sent off for double yellow offences, more in the case of Darmian, this is also worth a read:

    http://news.arseblog.com/2016/11/arsenal-2-2-psg-by-the-numbers/?utm_source=feedburner.com%2Farseblognews&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+arseblognews+%28Arseblog+News+-+the+Arsenal+news+site%29

    Cheers,
    Gerry
    p.s. TA, yes PSG looked very good, but we made them look better? They did not look quite so clever once we got a bit more involved. The number above tell how ineffective we were in the final third, and a lot was down to good defending, but also our slow movement off the ball did not help.

  69. Waldo says:

    An improved second half performance from Arsenal but offensively we still lacked coordination and cohesion.

    Before the match I was concerned that the lack of a coordinated attacking approach, which in my opinion has contributed to Arsenal’s recent scoring troubles versus Spurs and Man Utd, would persist versus PSG and that goals would be hard to come by.

    Then after the team was announced Gerry’s comment rang loud and clear in my head – “I for one do not understand the logic of this team. Nobody to provide crosses for Giroud, apart from the FB’s.”

    A penalty and very fortunate own goal did nothing to alleviate those concerns.

    Individually I thought Mustafi (3 tackles, 2 interceptions), Gibbs (5 tackles, 1 interception), Coquelin (4 tackles, 2 interceptions), Ramsey (6 tackles, 2 interceptions) and Giroud (4 tackles) were the pick of the bunch defensively.

    Offensively I thought Giroud (1 goal and 1/3 shots on target) and Ramsey (2 off target shots) showed some attacking intent while Ozil and Alexis each recorded a key pass.

    Pending any injuries post match, I’d like to see Arsenal go with the following team versus Bournemouth:

    GK – Cech

    RB – Debuchy (Jenkinson was poor versus PSG and Debuchy is a better player)

    CB – Holding (Koscielny needs a rest and Gabriel is too indecisive to rely upon)

    CB – Mustafi (Despite the German also needing a rest, Mustafi’s performance versus PSG was better than Koscielny’s and as I said above Gabriel is just too indecisive to rely upon)

    LB – Gibbs (Monreal struggled defensively versus Spurs and Man Utd while Gibbs was impressive versus PSG)

    CDM – Xhaka (He was excellent versus Spurs but hasn’t really had an opportunity since)

    CDM – Coquelin (He was again solid defensively versus PSG. He really needs a rest in my opinion but there are limited alternatives as Cazorla is injured, Elneny has struggled of late and Ramsey in my view is needed elsewhere)

    RW – Ox (Has been bright in his last two substitute appearances and he nicely compliments Giroud’s aerial strength)

    CAM – Ramsey (He was excellent defensively versus PSG though positionally he again lacked discipline. He did though make a couple nice off the ball runs into the box and with Giroud as the CF and Ozil and Ox proposed as crossing wingers, I think it will improve Arsenal’s goal scoring threat if Ramsey is deployed in the CAM role in this setup)

    LW – Ozil (I think Ozil’s vision, precision passing, particularly aerially, and being a natural left footed player, would compliment Giroud’s aerial strength and Ramsey’s surges into the box. Possible alternatives are Alexis, but he is too predictable on the left and needs a rest, Ramsey is needed elsewhere and like Iwobi isn’t positionally disciplined enough to play on the flanks plus Iwobi hasn’t really demonstrated himself to be a crossing wide man which is what Giroud’s needs)

    CF – Giroud (Alexis needs a rest and Giroud played well offensively and defensively versus PSG, despite limited service)

    Arsenal, attack wise, are at a difficult juncture in their season. With Arsenal not having a left winger in the squad of a similar style to Walcott (though I hold out hope that Lucas is that player) a front four comprised of Ox (RW), Alexis/Ramsey (CAM), Ozil (LW) and Giroud (CF) whose strategy is to target crosses at Giroud and Alexis/Ramsey, is probably a more balanced and coordinated attacking combination than what Arsenal can currently produce with a front four of Alexis (CF) Walcott (RW), Ozil (CAM) and one of Ramsey or Iwobi (LW).

    While I don’t think the quartet of Ox (RW), Alexis/Ramsey (CAM), Ozil (LW) and Giroud (CF) is the long term solution for Arsenal, I think that is Arsenal’s best bet to arrest their stuttering attack.

  70. njk84sg says:

    I think we can have anyone on the field, when it comes to Santi he is the absolute game changer. We need him back.

    As for the match I have yet to see the whole game, so I have to read first before saying anything.

    I felt that Iwobi should not be there at that time. A defender should be guarding the post, and that was a non-opportunity to begin with.

    I am one who wants Iwobi to have nothing to do with defensive work at any time. Once he gets his attacking traits brushed up then we can talk about defense.

    JK

  71. Waldo says:

    Gerry, I 100% agree with your assessment of the match and agree that Gibbs would have been a much more complimentary LW option for Giroud than Iwobi.

  72. Waldo says:

    Agree JK regarding Iwobi and his defensive involvement. Unfortunately the only position in Arsenal’s current setup that has the luxury of limited defensive involvement is the CAM role and I don’t envisage Iwobi usurping Ozil anytime soon. That said i actually think Iwobi would learn a lot as Ozil’s understudy, with the occasional match to give the German a rest.

  73. Gerry says:

    Plenty of agreement going on. I’ll stick with that theme, as I agree with your rotations Waldo.

    And with JK on Iwobi. I think his attacking game would improve on its own accord if he was allowed to to only track back to the halfway line. But as Waldo points out, if he doesn’t do it then, as with this game it falls to Alexis. Not that Iwobi did not put a shift in, he did. It is just not as effective.

    Two things I would point out about your midfield selections Waldo. it is that it still lacks that creative spark we need. The link I put up from Arseblog shows all of Ramsey’s good points,; his energy, his tackles, etc, and he even topped the team in passes, a lowly 59. All of which points to a fine, working for the team, effort. However, ‘key passes’ were missing on everyone’s score sheet?
    The second thing is the Coquelin Xhaka partnership needs to gel.
    Bournemouth may be a good game to improve on that? They have injuries, and I am assuming Wilshere will not be part of it either, so it could also be an opportunity for Ox in the CAM role too? On the back of his cameos in the last two games at RB, why not?

    I noticed Debuchy featured heavily in the training photos, I thought he might make the bench last night, although I thought Jenks looked better when the team got there act together in the second half?
    If Holding plays it will probably be at RCB, with Mustafi switching?
    I get your point about Ox being preferable to Theo, regards Giroud, and that may happen if Ramsey sticks in the middle. Maitland-Niles would be the only other option. He too appeared in the training photos. We definitely need some fresh energy in the team, and those two could provide it. Jeff R A played in the Youth draw, but surprisingly Zelalem didn’t? He could be on the bench at the weekend?

    There was a comment made on the ‘Player that worried me somewhat, on the Man U game. They said AW appeared to be picking the best players, and expected them to find an individual spark.
    I hope AW is paying more attention as to what works as a team, rather than a collection of individuals?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  74. TotalArsenal says:

    Gerry, we did not make them look good; they were very good and we had to work hard to contain them. Nothing wrong with this: they are ahead of us right now. But they also needed an own goal to get level with us, and yes we were on top of the game at the first half of the second half. If we had had stronger flank players i.e. Bellerin, Perez/Welbeck and Nacho, I reckon we would have played better.

  75. Goonereris says:

    Agree with TA. We don’t have to be ashamed to have played to a draw against this PSG side. They are a good side; composed in passing and that’s because they have stocked up on some very technical players with great physicality to boot. I did have the sneaky feeling we will meet them again soon, myself 😉. The game was that end to end. Hopefully, by the next time, we have a fuller squad.

  76. Goonereris says:

    Gerry, “As to Goonereris’s point about setting out our stall not to lose, if that was the case, and I doubt it, is simple. A nil nil draw saw us top the group without even bothering to turn up for the Basel game. A 1-1 draw would see us through as long as we kept pace with PSG score in the final game, having a 3 goal advantage going into it. Lose, and were were in the second spot.

    Why do I doubt that was the case? Team selection”.

    When I referred to playing NOT to lose, I was actually referring to the players’ apparent default mind set. Not something the manager planned, but may have unwittingly suggested (losing is not an option!, type of talk). Wenger set up the team to have a go, but the players are intelligent enough to see how dangerous the opposition is and adjust their game accordingly.

  77. Waldo says:

    Fair point TA about the quality of our opposition. Our last three matches which have been draws have been against Spurs, Man Utd and PSG all of which are quality teams. For me though it’s downward trend in Arsenal’s attacking and defensive performances during those matches which is cause for concern. Not enough players are performing forcing others to turn in exceptional performances. Coquelin versus Man Utd was a good example. He was having to cover both Elneny, who was struggling to assert himself as well as Ramsey who failing to track back. In the Spurs match, Walcott and Iwobi were like statues on the flank which forced Ozil and Alexis to work overtime to try and create openings. Mustafi and Kosicelny have also started to dip in their performances. So it’s the downward trend that is the concern for me and I think that’s linked to a lack of a coordinated attacking strategy and lack of squad rotation. It’s unfortunate that that has also coincided with having to play the like Spurs, Man Utd and PSG. Fingers crossed for an improved performance versus Bournemouth.

  78. Waldo says:

    Hey Gerry,

    Yeah, I agree with your comment regarding a lack of creativity in a CDM partnership of Coquelin and Xhaka. So far this season they have been averaging 0.7 and 0.4 key passes per match. Contrast that against Cazorla who is averaging 1.3 per match this season and averaged 2 per match last season and the drop in creativity from deep central midfield is pretty clear. Ramsey (0.5) is marginally better than Coquelin in that regard but for me Coquelin’s superior defensive positioning and per game defensive output (3.2 tackles and 2.7 interceptions) in contrast to Ramsey (0.8 tackles and 0.8 interceptions) wins out. Iwobi (1.2 key passes per match) and Ox (0.7 key passes per match) are other potentially more creative options in central midfield but their respective defensive contributions (Iwobi – 0.9 tackles and 0.3 interceptions; Ox – 0.9 tackles and 0.6 interceptions) are similarly lacking.

    I like your idea of Ox in the CAM role but not sure if he would compliment Arsenal’s current RW, CF and LW options to create a cohesive front four. On the RW and with Giroud in the CF role Ox’s purpose is clear, beat the left fullback and whip in a cross for Giroud to attack, and that nicely compliments his strengths (dribbling and crossing).

    Agree with your comment regard Holding and Mustafi and really hoping to see Debuchy back in action (which shouldn’t come as a surprise 😀).

    Also agree with your comparison of Ox and Maitland-Niles and hold the same concerns
    that Wenger appears to be picking the highest profile players, and expected them to find an individual spark rather than paying more attention as to what works as a team. Hopefully it’s just a funk though and Arsenal will be back and firing as a unit versus Bournemouth. Draws against Spurs and Man Utd isn’t horrendous but the performances and results could have been much better.

  79. Pony Eye says:

    Our high press is unconvincing and it would never be convincing with Ozil at the central areas of our offensive zone. His style is simply too languid for him to be an effective presser. Sanchez is our best attacking presser and it might just make sense for Sanchez to be the #10 when Giroud is at #9. Ozil moves out wide left, from where he actually has created a lot.

    So far this season (this year to be exact) Ozil chance creation/assists has been very much below par. This is probably due to the opposition parking the bus or, for the bigger teams, pressing intensely. Either situation degrades the quality of Ozil’s creative performance dramatically as he thrives in abundance of space which is more available in the wings. On the other hand Sanchez thrives in small spaces, another reason why #10 must be beckoning.

    Carzola has been very successful linking defense to attack, but now that we have Ramsey and Xhaka available, he can become our #10 with Sanchez at #9 and Ozil in the wide areas as Germany uses him. Carzola and Sanchez are ideal for the PTB teams and for evading intense pressing teams.

    Yes l dare suggest that Ozil should move away from the #10 role.

  80. Waldo says:

    Throw a right winger like Ox into the mix PE and a front four of Ox (RW), Alexis (CAM), Ozil (LW) and Giroud (CF) with Ox and Ozil the chief providers and Giroud and Alexis the goal scoring outlets makes a lot of sense to me.

    Not as sure about the goal scoring effectiveness of a front four comprised of ? (RW), Cazorla (CAM), Ozil (LW) and Alexis (CF). I think Alexis’ tendency to drop closer to midfield to help create, combined with a lack of off the ball movement from Ozil and Cazorla, beyond the opposition’s defensive line, would result in lots of possession in the opposition’s half but limited goal scored.

  81. TotalArsenal says:

    Waldo, those three games fell awkward with the interlull in between and them all being against tough opponents. We cannot judge the attacking and defensive qualities accurately based on those, so I suggest to put things in perspective and us to stick to the game plan. Sanchez CF, Mesut in the hole, and two of Theo, Iwobi, Rambo, Ox, Perez and Welbeck on the flanks.

    One of the good things about the PSG game is that Rambo had his first really good game. I expect Wenger to continue with CoqRam in the DM pivot on Sunday.

    Cheers guys – keep truckin’ 🚚🚛🚐

  82. Gerry says:

    Replying to all as I go this morning …

    TA,
    I do not necessarily disagree with you that PSG are a good team, and the emphasis is on ‘team’.
    I think their balance was superior to ours. In that they had; a striker who moved to create opportunities, not always clinical though; they had runners to support the striker in Moura and Matuidi; they, crucially, had a balanced midfield with Krychoviak, Verrati, and Motta who worked to ensure there were two deep lying mids at any transition, and either Motta or Verrata capable on moving the ball forward intelligently; throw in Maxwell at LB who made attacking runs to put pressure on our second choice RB, and a pair of solid CB’s, who individually would do well in the EPL, but compliment each other at the heart of defence.
    That adds up to a pretty good team, but not because of their respected price tags, but because they compliment each other all over the pitch. Add to the fact they are pretty confident that they will win their league in the second half of the season, so they rested key players at the weekend, unlike us.
    So yes, it was a big ask to expect to win, but when we actually played as a team we could have snatched it. That is the team we sent out to play, not the ones that might have given us a better balance. This is our weakness at the moment. PSG were the same early on in the season, but now they have got it more or less right. We are disjointed both laterally in midfield, and vertically in transition both ways. I may be wrong, but I do not see PSG progressing much further in this season’s CL, because they are about on the same level as us, so when pressure is applied they expose some weaknesses. If the team stays together, and perhaps add a more clinical striker, they could be up there with the best next year? But as you pointed out, with our best players in we could have beaten them, and as it stands at the moment, I do not think we are strong enough to win the CL either.

    I do not think the above narrows our respective positions, because I am still critical of the team selected, and the way we played. You are more forgiving because of the strength of the opposition.

    Goonereris, I accept your difference of team ‘mindset’, over AW’s team selection.

    Waldo, the downward trend not only coincides with the opposition we faced, but also with the less effective use of Iwobi? and your second point … ‘linked to a lack of a coordinated attacking strategy and lack of squad rotation’.
    On your next comment I think you slightly misunderstand my point on ‘lack of creativity in midfield’ as I include the attacking MF line up of three whenever we have twin DM’s. Whereas you push him up being the N10. We also differ on Ozil. I see his position as being wherever he is, and if there is space down the left he can create from there, but as he moves to other areas, whether central or wide right, he will create from there also. Just remember when we were riding high, he was scoring goals from runs from the middle, as well as creating from wider. That of course was when we had Cazorla lying deep. That is where we have not found the same balance to date.
    As for Coquelin Xhaka combination stats, I think you need to look at the minutes played before jumping to too many conclusions? Xhaka not starting games does not help build the chemistry between them, which is what I was referring to. If they both start, then I want a bit of creative pace in that trio, at the expense of Iwobi, sadly. Because if we are not to learn the lessons of exposing our FB’s, we need two DM’s to be back when danger strikes. Coquelin and Xhaka can do this with a little more togetherness(aka teamwork). This would free up Alexis(until his winter break), Ozil and Walcott the fluidity to interchange at will, and the spark in transition coming from the third MF.
    I named Ox and Maitland-Niles as possible options. Very good long interview with the latter on the official webste, Arsene likes him, and may just give him a chance, leaving Ox free to replace Walcott, should Giroud start … IN PLACE of Alexis …. grrr!

    Finally PE. Regarding Ozil and high pressing, I refer you to some of my response to Waldo regards how we were with Cazorla in the team. Ozil has felt the pressure more than anyone since that player’s absence, because he becomes our creative hub. And as I pointed in at least one comment earlier, block him off and we stumble. Part of that problem has been we have not come out with a balanced pass and move team, and the other has been the static nature of players up front. This limits creative options. Ozil worked his socks off in the last game, yet he seems to bear the brunt of criticism. Elneny was also the scapegoat in the Man U game, yet one brave reviewer gave him a 7 for his not stop working to provide options for players. That is the either unseen, or taken for granted work that I keep praising Iwobi for, who also gets castigated for his contribution. It is the same for Ozil.

    I am not sure why you include the whole year stats for Ozil, as our team has evolved this term?
    No matter how you cut it, our goal ratio has been higher with Ozil and Cazorla, no matter who provides the assists. Ozil is invariably in the build up, and up until recently finishing moves as well. Until we get a proper replacement for Cazorla we will continue to struggle. I will repeat my earlier comment that Ramsey is the least like Cazorla of all our options. Now if he were to use his tackling ability more in defensive positions he could be an effective DM, but as Waldo has pointed out, he does lack a bit of positional awareness that can allow players to skip beyond him?
    Lets face it, we are not going to meet very many who are not going to PTB against us, so if Carzorla is essential on these occasion, why not look for the nearest equivalent? Both Ox and Maitland-Niles have played at RB recently. Both have proved they can tackle back. Both have pace to move the ball forward quickly. All it needs for them to be successful is getting the ball to the runners. They have the skill, but do they have the confidence?

    My morning work is done.
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  83. Gerry says:

    I hope he doesn’t TA 😀

  84. allezkev says:

    Bournmouth might be a good opportunity to start Ramsey and Xhaka as a pair this weekend. Not sure if that combo has started for us yet this season.
    I’d also start Iwobi, give the lad a confidence boost perhaps.
    I hope that Arsene goes back to Alexis leading the line, with Theo on the right.

    I believe that Guardiola commented that Bournmouth are the best technical team he’s faced since coming to England.
    So this weekend promises to be a good game of football…

  85. Waldo says:

    TA, in my opinion the Ludogrets away fixture, 70 minutes of the Sunderland match and the Middlesbrough home fixture could be tacked onto that list of progressively poorer collective performances. So I do think there is a downward trend particularly in the cohesiveness of Arsenal’s attacking play but happy to agree to disagree.

    Agree with your appraisal of Ramsey and Coquelin’s performance versus PSG. Both were excellent defensively, though I thought Ramsey’s positioning at times lacked the necessary discipline and both struggled to transition Arsenal from defence to attack. I’m personally not convinced Ramsey is best suited to one of the two CDM roles in Arsenal’s current setup but to each his own.

    Sorry Gerry, you’ve lost me a little bit with your comment regarding ‘a lack of creativity in midfield’. By ‘midfield’ are you referring to:

    a) the 2 CDM roles plus the CAM role, or

    b) the 2 CDM roles, the CAM role plus the RW and LW roles, or

    c) the CAM role plus the RW and LW?

    Alternatively are you proposing a potential change in slight shift in formation with the CAM (e.g. Ox) operating closer to the 2 x CDMs (e.g. Xhaka and Coquelin), the LW (e.g. Ozil) effectively operating as a free role and the CF (e.g. Alexis) and the RW (e.g. Walcott) acting as the attacking outlets? Almost like a 4-3-3 drifting to a 4-3-1-2 setup? That sounds well balanced to me.

    As for Ozil’s role in the CAM position in Arsenal’s current setup, with Alexis as the CF I agree Ozil should have free reign to move around the attacking third as he sees fit to create goal scoring opportunities. To enable Ozil be successful in that capacity though and in recognition of Alexis’ tendency to drop closer to midfield to create, Arsenal need another attacking outlet aside from Walcott.

    When we were scoring goals at the start of the season, that was in no small part to Ozil’s intelligence in so far as recognising Alexis’ tendency to drop closer to midfield and create and Ozil counterbalancing that, and Iwobi’s lack of off the ball movement beyond the opposition’s defensive line, by making those runs and providing Arsenal with a second attacking outlet (Walcott being the other).

    That said, when Giroud is the CF, that space isn’t really available. In that case I think Ozil should be shifted to the LW and maintain positional discipline on that flank. After all his primary role in that setup would be to combine with the LB to create crossing opportunities and/or fire precision crosses into the box targeting Giroud and CAM.

    Either way, as I said in an earlier comment Arsenal need balance in their front four of at least two attacking outlets and two creators. At the start of the season the creators were Iwobi and Alexis and the outlets were Ozil and Walcott. In the last couple of matches, Arsenal have seemingly lost that balance and in particular the attacking outlets. Hoping Arsenal can rediscover that attacking balance soon.

  86. TotalArsenal says:

    Waldo, respect for your views. Indeed I disagree but nothing wrong with that. 🎯

  87. Waldo says:

    Absolutely TA. I really enjoy that your site gives Arsenal fans the opportunity to share and discuss their ideas and thoughts in a constructive manner. Much appreciated!

  88. Gerry says:

    Sorry Waldo for confusing you, But a, was what I was thinking.

    When you have such positional interchange that Arsenal have employed recently, I find that formation and ‘nominal’ positions therein, means very little.

    Now this gets complicated, but this is how I can best explain it?

    Your thought of a 4-3-3 morphing into a 4-3 -1-2 in attack comes pretty close, but the three behind can be pushed up and interchangeable with the two As can the FB’s of the 4 push on ahead.
    .
    More confused.?
    Well take out the numbers and just think of the players involved.
    Take the front four of Alexis, Iwobi Ozil, and Walcott. No matter where they are on the pitch, they are our potential strikers, but they are doing other things for most of the time.

    Whereas, if a third player in the midfield, replacing one of the above, playing with twin defensive midfield line up, who would be rare goal scorers, mostly defending, exceptt for the addition of a CAM, who links and provides the forward movement.
    So for example, in the team I was suggesting it would be Coquelin, Ox/Matland-Niles, Xhaka and the CAM replacing Iwobi – on the grounds that if he is expected to track back and assist the LB in defence, you may as well not play him for the benefit he gives the attack.

    A variation is sort of what they have been doing, is having a DM (Coquelin) and a B2B (Ramsey), and keeping the 4 up front.. That has failed for two reasons, imo; 1, because the Coquelin position gets over exposed, with the B2B going forward; 2, the FB’s get exposed through inadequate support from a non-defensive player, and on the right because Jenks is not Bellerin.

    I would not be convinced by Ox replacing Iwobi or Alexis on the left either, if he has to tackle with his wrong foot? So unless we play the double DM with a semi defensive CAM, likely to be Ramsey in AW’s thinking, but not creative enough for me, and that means the creative key passer falls largely on Ozil’s shoulders. No surprise that the stats say his form dips in ‘big games’ when the better sides just employ their players to mark him out. Lower sides can leave themselves exposed elsewhere if they employ too many on that job, so they are less successful at stopping him.
    But the stats simply say Ozil is crap, and fans say he ‘goes missing’ … Grrrr!

    That is why a different picture emerges when Cazorla was playing.
    I said many, many moons ago that Cazorla was the only player that truly worked well with Ozil when Santi switched to that deeper role. He surprised us with his ability to tackle and win the ball back, but basically he is a creative midfielder, and as such he complimented Ozil by moving into spaces where Ozil vacated. Thus he provided the defensive side with a second target. Hence Ozil had more freedom.
    So to solve this current malaise we need a deep lying creative midfielder. That, in my opinion is not B2B runner Ramsey. Sorry TA.

    So my selection for the Bournemouth game would be:
    A, With Alexis, as follows:
    Cech; Monreal, Holding, Mustafi, Jenks; Coquelin, M-Niles, Xhaka;; Alexis, Ozil, Walcott
    B, With Giroud, as follows;
    Cech; Monreal, Holding, Mustafi, Jenks; Coquelin, Xhaka;; Gibbs, Ozil, Ox; Giroud

    Not going to happen, but that is who I would play

    Digest that lot if you can ha ha,

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  89. Pony Eye says:

    Bournmouth / Arsenal….. Whoscored Stats ;

    Position……… Bourn 10th — Ars 4th.
    Possession…..Bourn 10th — Ars 4th.
    Pass Success.Bourn. 8th — Ars 4th.
    Rating…………..Bourn. 9th — Ars 2nd.

    Bournmouth is a top 10 team in all stat areas and tomorrow is not going to be a stroll in the park, particularly as there is currently a slight dip in the performance of our team.

    The big question that we are all wrestling with, is how do we get back to our early season form. I believe we need further experimentation like Xhaka and Ramsey as double pivot, Sanchez at #10 and Ozil wide. Who knows, this could crystallize as a viable plan B, in the absence of influential players like Carzola and Bellerin.

  90. Waldo says:

    Much obliged Gerry. I understand now where you are coming from and like both setups you’ve proposed. My only tweaks would be Ox for Maitland-Niles and Debuchy for Jenkinson.

  91. allezkev says:

    Interesting listening to Arseblog yesterday, Amy Lawrence mentioned that she had spoken to Ray Parlour about Arsenal’s annual November dip, and Razor had said that even in his days the players experienced a dip as did most clubs in the EPL.
    Apparently, the way Arsene trains the guys is so they can come on strong in the 2nd half of the season. It’s worth listening to, Phillipe Auclair and Arsenal photographer Stuart MacFarlane is also on there, with some interesting stories.

  92. allezkev says:

    Interested

  93. Gerry says:

    Yes very good Kev.
    I especially liked the bit on Ramsey, ha ha.
    Cheers, G

  94. Pony Eye says:

    My team for today:

    ————Cech————–
    Ox—-Must—-Kosh—-Nacho
    —–Xhaka—–Rambo—–
    Theo——-Alexis——–Iwobi
    ————–Ozil**————–

    ** Not an error. Ozil as striker, Sanchez as #10.

    Bench: Ospina, Jenkinson, Gabiel, Gibbs, Elneny, Jeff, Giroud.

  95. Gerry says:

    On your tweaks Waldo, I would agree that it is a toss up between Ox and M-Niles for that mid spot, but I had one eye on the late subbing of Giroud for Alexis, and so would prefer Ox to replace Theo at that point. Bear in mind that Ox is only 100% effective for about an hour, so moving him out of midfield to the wing would not be an option. M-N on the other hand did not look like he lost his edge at the end of that EFL Cup game against ‘Forest?
    Referring to that Arseblog link, and they did mention it, that both Ramsey and Ox do not have a defined position in the Arsenal team. They almost all agreed that Ramsey’s best form recently has been with Wales, where he is given free rein to pop up anywhere, in a similar way that we grant Ozil that freedom. The problem is, if we play Ozil we need a more disciplined role from Ramsey, as you have been saying. The rest of that bit of the 1.5 hours of conversation …yes, it is a long audio, was saying pretty near exactly what my argument is above. Particularly to this position as a B2B midfielder. It simply does not fit in when the way are playing, as it is a creative mid, not an ‘off ball’ runner?
    Ox’s problem is he is being used sporadically as a Theo replacement if he starts, or, of late a RB attacker. Central mid could open a whole new option for him, but he will have to learn quickly on the job if he is going to reduce Santi to a super sub role that many predicted at the start of the season. Otherwise I can see him doing a ‘Wilshere’ and fulfil his potential elsewhere, which we may regret in a similar way to the Gnabry scenario (On that, I don’t think AW had a chance of keeping him when he left him to rot under Pulis?).

    The RB situation is a subtle one. Whilst I accept that Debuchy could be an option, although AW has since said he needs another two weeks to get match sharp, I thought Jenks looked a lot better when allowed to go forward, so with the amended midfield giving him more cover, he should be okay, particularly with the Giroud option?

    Kev, I agree that Bournemouth will not be a pushover as they are generally sound in defence. According to FPL(Fantasy info), it looks like they will have their top defender Smith back, which makes it harder. However, the difference between top clubs and the lower sides is that generally they are not strong everywhere, so it is up to us to exploit their weaknesses? In the end, our midweek draw will be a pointer towards that, as they will be a proper ‘team’ like PSG were. But I don’t see them going on an all out attack against us. We just have to be better, and part of that will be down to team selection?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  96. Gerry says:

    PE that is an attacking line up you have there.

    I think it is just semantics with the front quartet though, as we all know throughout the game they will interchange across the park.

    Ox at FB? Are you serious. It is one thing to look good in the final 10 minutes when we were having a real go, but as a starter, surely not.

    I fear the midfield pair will be the way AW sees it, and the lesser pace of Xhaka rather than Coquelin means both our FB will leave us exposed at the back? Unless of course our back four remain in tact and don’t get forward until we are desperate, which sort of wastes Ox’s inclusion, and it puts real pressure on the front men to provide on their own. Quicker passing and good off ball movement will help in that regard, but I don’t see us keeping a clean sheet.

    Sorry, not for me.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  97. Pony Eye says:

    Gerry, you made good contact with all the conflicts I went through to select my team. I was bent on creating an attacking machine. Ox is there at RB because of my reluctance to pick Jenkinson. Alexis at #9 is equivalent to our playing a double #10 which crowds up Ozil’s space degrading his output. So why not push Ozil up at #9 seeing that Alexis does not possess the required patience for a striker role.

    This my team will flog Bournmouth, but don’t expect Wenger to be this adventurous. I hope am not bored by his line up, same bunch in same positions that have failed to light us up.

  98. Gerry says:

    PE, I did wonder whether you were influenced by Chelsea’s use of Moses?

    They of course are more fluent in the language of having 3 at the back. We have the personnel, but like yourself, I do not think AW is ready for that.

    I had forgotten the EFL Cup round is midweek, and that might also influence my thoughts on playing Gibbs and M-Niles, although neither have been that over-worked thus far this season. I am guessing both CB’s might be rested for that, and perhaps Alexis too.

    Back to this afternoon, when I shall probably only keep a casual eye on the game as I cannot see it ‘live’, so it will be the ‘Player version tomorrow morning. I will watch the Motor racing, and see how that unfolds.
    But if we put out a balanced side, both attack/defence and left and right, and we play a sensible game i.e. no individual mistakes, we should win comfortably. Start slowly, dither about in the middle of the park with plenty of possession, and you can call it a draw now. Most of that will be down to selection.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  99. Pony Eye says:

    Gerry, are you ESP, a mind reader? I did think about Moses at Chelsea. But first I thought of Ox of tomorrow. Play him at FB to learn how to keep his focus for 90 minutes and how to defend and we might have the most fabulous B2B ever in our hands.

  100. Goonereris says:

    PE, I also hold the view it is all good to have Ox come on late on, when we need to be offensive and look good, but it will be a different matter starting with him in a crucial game. I like to believe Wenger knows the players better than I can ever know them and will make choices based on efficiency. However, if we have a whole pre-season to experiment it (pretty much as we did with Bellerin and Iwobi), it is possible to have Ox make a career shift to RB.

    Why do we all seem to have written off Debuchy, in the scheme of things. With the way the manager spoke of him, I think he is either putting him out the shop window, or seriously considering using him as Bellerin’s replacement, as soon as he is ready. A game against Bournemouth should not task him too badly, no?

  101. Goonereris says:

    Oops! Looks like I spoke too soon there, about Debuchy. He’s starting! Even I didn’t believe it when I posted, just thought to remind us he was an option…..

  102. Pony Eye says:

    Goonereris, how could you have smelt that…. Debuchy come back from the dead!

  103. Goonereris says:

    Well, he’s gone right back, hasn’t he? Poor guy.

    He was doing well too; but, Gabriel hasn’t been too bad himself.

  104. Waldo says:

    Hey Gerry, good points regarding Ox versus Maitland-Niles and the generalist nature of Ox and Ramsey’s roles in the squad. I’m hoping Wenger provides the Ox and Ramsey with greater definition of their discrete role going forward, so both players can knuckle down and refine their respective skills to give themselves and Arsenal their best chance of success. Otherwise, like you say there is a chance both players will become disillusioned and leave or turn in subpar performances because they are being ineffectually utilised (Ox’s deployment and performance on the LW versus Bournemouth was a prime example of that ineffectual use of the player).

    As for the RB situation, I thought Jenkinson was good versus Ludogrets away and Man Utd but poor versus PSG. That said I think Debuchy is a better player in attack and defence so I’d prefer to see him play when fit.

  105. allezkev says:

    Gerry 6.38;
    Bournemouth really impressed me ( I was at the game) they had us pushed back for long periods, showed a lot of confidence and despite their dodgy penalty (Jones the ref was terrible) could have taken a draw imo…
    As it was our lads overcame their nervousness, which transmits itself to crowd and then back to the team again, and showed a resilience that to me shows that we can compete for the EPL this season, all the way…
    Was really impressed by Mustafi and after a shaky start I thought that Paulista did ok at an unfamiliar right-back position….
    Sanchez was outstanding, he was everywhere, I wish I had a 10th of his energy…. 😉

    I’m doing the Soton game on Weds, I know you’ll be interested in that Gerry, hopefully we’ll have a mixed team of experience and potential. It won’t be easy as the Saints are doing really well but it’ll be a fascinating face off between both clubs and managers…

  106. allezkev says:

    Waldo, I’ll be interested to see if Maitland-Niles starts at right-back again, in the League Cup this Wednesday. Sometimes a player has to be realistic and accept that he may not get into a team in his favoured position, but if he can show a versatility to adapt to another position, a position with more opportunities, then a 1st team career in that role is a definite possibility…
    For AMN a spot at right-back, could be the key to his progress…

  107. Gerry says:

    Well I am fresh from watching the full match on the ‘Player …

    I am not going to steal TA’s ‘8 positives’, but there were a few on show.
    However for my MOTM it has to go to Bournemouth’s AKE. If there is one player I would like to see playing for us it would be him. With 3 at the back we might never concede another goal 😀
    Well done that man. Pity, Chelsea would never sell to us?

    Arsenal positives:
    Top of my list has to go to the Xhaka Elneny partnership. Note to others: This is how it is done!
    Clearly the basic plan was to use Xhaka in the advanced role and have the more mobile Elneny as the one nearest the CB’s. However, whenever Elneny got forward Xhaka dropped back. That is how it should be. Result was, both had excellent games. Not massively outstanding, but simply very effective in a key positions.
    Elneny, had his customary low tackle rate, both fouls 😀
    Xhaka always probing with some long passes. With more regular starts he will get better.
    I know it has been said of Elneny in particular, that an open game suits him better, but the thing is our quicker movement made it an open game.

    Key to that movement was the non stop effort of Alexis, Walcott, and Ozil. Oh so different to the miserable off key draws we have seen before this game.

    Alexis takes our MOTM award, not only for his two ‘on a plate’ goals, the first of which got us off to a great start. No, much more impressive was his range and vision of his passes. Understandably his good ones tend to block out the misplaced ones that lose us possession, but we would not have won this match without him. Excellent 90 minute performance.

    Debuchy made an excellent start. A different type of FB to Bellerin, and to a lesser extent, Jenkinson. He is a player that likes to impose himself on opposition players. That tackle early on, a yard away from the corner flag demonstrates what I mean? Alas, short lived.
    Gabriel, an even more imposing type, and really impressed in this unusual position. Not just defending either. I thought his positioning in our attacks was pretty good too.

    Monreal had mixed fortunes on the other side. He had a bit more protection, partly due to Ox ahead of him, playing down the line. This meant there was little room for him to overlap, and thus not get caught up filed. Also, Xhaka patrolled that side when we were defending. The penalty decision was very debatable. The ref pointed to the spot straightaway. But it is one of those I said often get given. Both players were moving towards the line of the ball, but Wilson had to get across Monreal, who was trying to see the ball out of play. Technically obstruction, but anywhere else on the pitch it would not have been given as a foul. Their two bodies came together, but if the ref thought it was Monreal’s hip , rather than the full side on challenge, then it might explain the instant decision?
    He had more influence in attack as Ox’s game faded.

    Some negatives.
    I am not sure about the security of the Kos Mustafi partnership. At one stage in the second half I saw Gabriel, Mustafi, and Koscielny ALL within 10 yards of the right corner flag??
    There was a set piece, corner most likely, when the ball only just got cut out, when there were two Bournemouth players free at the far post. That needs sorting!
    Luckily, Cech in goal does his bit very well.

    Ox had some good early drives into the box, and he drew defenders towards him. In fact Ozil might have scored from one of his crosses but for the excellent Ake. Not a bad 60 minutes, but more effective on the right. I would have like to see in the Cazorla role. One day perhaps?

    I have a query for AW.
    Why start Debuchy when he was ‘two weeks away’ five days earlier? I am guessing taking Jenkinson out of the firing line, with a blow softener, starting in the forthcoming Cup game? Was Gabby being saved for that one too? A hindsight error I know. ….

    Not subbing Ox 15 minutes earlier is a given.

    However, leaving both DM’s on and putting Ramsey up font is a lesson learned? I wish 😀

    The positives by far outweigh the negs, so plenty to be cheerful about.

    On to Wednesday night then. Selections there will be interesting. We know it is a quarter final, and Wembley beckons … but the league game against West ham has to be the priority?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  108. Gerry says:

    Kev, I hope my above comments reflect what you saw live? Lucky you.

    I get the feeling AW will leave the Southampton game to a lot of the fringe players, but I am all for playing players in the positions they are familiar with, so it is Jenks at RB for me.
    I am guessing, as Gibbs was an unused sub he will again start as captain.

    As for elsewhere, I would say, Jeff R-A, Zelalem, and A M-N could figure in midfield or wide.
    Holding and Gabby?
    Giroud or Alexis?

    Up for grabs for one or two others, depending how many key players like Coquelin and Ozil are risked.
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  109. njk84sg says:

    One sentence on yesterday’s match: Heart attack.

    It gave me a heart attack due to the high pressing nature of Bournemouth, and though they did not really trouble us too much (Kos and Mustafi was really good at repel-ing balls, and Cech got a few good saves), we had ourselves to blame for showing imbalance for a while after Debuchy’s injury. Cruel, but I will get to that later.

    First, let me say that we needed Le Coq alongside Xhaka, but somehow we tried out Elneny. We were absolutely blitzed by Bournemouth in the midfield area, and our defense barely made it till the end. We started nervously too, even after the first goal by Alexis, we were not playing to our strength. Instead, we were playing to our opponent’s strength.

    Let me list it out on the points that we did well in and the things that our opponents have done well in: (A little different from Gerry’s)

    Home team positives:
    1. We were incisive in our attack, given the at-times-a-little-bit-more space which we used it to perfection.
    2. Central defense was good and at times lucky. More good compared to lucky.
    3. We needed Cech. A truly world-class keeper that managed to keep out shots from open play.
    4. Debuchy is a good alternative to Bellerin. Made good tackles and worked well on the right with Theo.
    5. Kos. How could we not make him the MoTM.

    Home team negatives:
    1. Our defensive strength is at times shaky, due to the impact from Matt’s injury. We only recovered from it in the second half.
    2. Defensive midfielders are too forward-minded, and resulted in the central backs needing to work over-time.
    3. We needed Gibbo back. Nacho has been over-ran in his last few games.
    4. Ox. Just Ox.

    Away team positives:
    1. Good intra-team play, and took advantage of the left-side defensive crisis in the first half.
    2. Good players with good tactics. Did not come to just aim for a goal-less draw.
    3. Ake. What a player. We could have scored 6 or more without him.

    Away team negatives:
    1. They have a weak defense (3 out of 4 defenders were bad and were overran on the left side).
    2. Too much simulation.

    If any of the above were the same to Gerry, I apologise.

    Cheers on a well worked 3 points. Goodbye November.
    JK

  110. Waldo says:

    Hey Kev,

    I agree with your comment regarding versatility but I think that only stretches so far and if a player is continually played out of position and consequently delivers poor performances due to their unsuitability then both the player and club ultimately lose.

  111. Waldo says:

    A much needed victory for Arsenal versus Bournemouth to keep the Gunners in touch with the early leaders.

    Defensively I was happy to see Debuchy back in the side but disappointed with his early injury. As for the rest, I thought Kosicelny (4 tackles, 6 interceptions and 3 successful aerial duels) and Xhaka (9 tackles and 3 interceptions) were fantastic (though Xhaka could have positioned himself slight more centrally at times). Mustafi was again too passive in his approach for my liking (1 tackle, 5 interceptions and 2 successful aerial duels) and his positioning was at times too far right of centre. That said, he provided good coverage for the more aggressive Kosicelny. Kudos also goes to Gabriel who did well in an unfamiliar right fullback role (4 tackles and 1 interception). His offensive shortcomings were pretty obvious but defensively he was aggressive if nothing else. Monreal (2 tackles and 1 interception) struggled again defensively and I was a bit surprised to see him return in place of Gibbs who impressed versus PSG. As for Elneny, positionally I though he was pretty good and his output was okay (1 tackle and 3 interceptions).

    Offensively, Sanchez (2 goals, 2/4 shots on target, 5 key passes) was a beast and richly deserved his brace. Walcott was again quiet (1/1 shots on target) but took up a great position off the ball for his goal. Ox (2 off target shots and one key passes) tried hard early in the match with some nice dribbles down the left flank and two notable crosses. Apart from that he was pretty ineffectual. Ozil (2 off target shots, 3 key passes, 8 crosses) was back to his creative best and with more penetrative off the ball movement from Arsenal’s wide men he will add assists to go with his toil. Centrally Xhaka and Elneny again struggled to create from deep and while Monreal hit a peach of cross for Walcott’s goal, he again offered little in the way on end product going forward.

    While by no means at their fluent or cohesive best, I think Arsenal produced a better performance than in contrast to their recent displays versus Man Utd and PSG. It will be interesting to see who Wenger selects for what should be a tough midweek EFL cup match versus the Saints.

  112. Waldo says:

    ‘On to Wednesday night then. Selections there will be interesting. We know it is a quarter final, and Wembley beckons … but the league game against West ham has to be the priority’ – 100% agree Gerry.

  113. Gerry says:

    JK, we agree on Ake ☺
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  114. TotalArsenal says:

    Some fine comments and views over the last few days. 🙂

    I thought we played very well given it was our third game in eight days and the tactical strength of the opponent. The Spine seven of Cech – Mus – Koz – Xha – Eln – Ozi – Sanchez were all awesome, which, dear Waldo, is not always reflected in stats. 😉

    Loved the assists of Monreal – such feeling in his foot – and Ollie. Alexis was back at his beastly best and then Ozil becomes also a lot better. Loved Elneny’s eating up of space and never give the opponent time to settle. But Xhaka’s second half performance showed us all why Wenger bought him last summer. What a composed player with such strength and vision at the same time. All agreed re Gabriel: he was hungry and after a shaky start became a beast. Bring on the high flying Saints. 🙂

  115. Gerry says:

    Waldo, I slightly disagree on the midfield pair, I think it was their role to facilitate the front four, not necessarily be too creative themselves. I think Xhaka will improve on his connection the more he plays. Elneny was everywhere providing outlet balls, and he moved it forwards whenever possible.

    Yes, the defence is a different problem. Kos is bound to get good stats, but many of his tackles and interceptions might not have been needed if those around had some clearer positional sense?

    Walcott stats do not do any justice to the runs he made off the ball.

    I was just pleased they got that pace going again, as it offers so many more opportunities.

    I wild await Kev’s pitchside verdict with interest. Quiet day Monday, so fill your boots on here, Kev.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  116. Gerry says:

    Agreed TA on stats, and your other observations.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  117. allezkev says:

    Good point Totalinho, the way that Monreal caressed the ball across for Walcott to nod in, was a thing of beauty…

    Thanks Gerry, had a busy day myself, but there was a few interesting omissions from the U23 game today, but with both Zelalem and Willock playing, I guess we can assume that they won’t be part of the League Cip squad…
    Marc Bola, Mavididi, Bielik, Jeff and AMN all look set to be involved in the squad on Wednesday…
    Bola is an interesting one, as I’ve read some encouraging things about him, could be on the bench I guess.
    Have you seen much of Bola, Gerry, and what do you think?

  118. allezkev says:

    Striker could be a bit problematic on Wednesday, unless Perez has made a complete recovery, other than him, I reckon we’re gonna be a tad light in the option dept.
    I wouldn’t risk Giroud as he was feeling his leg almost from the time he came on last Sunday and I’ve since heard that he has a hamstring issue…
    Such a shame that Akpom has been out during this period as he could have enjoyed a reasonable amount of 1st team involvement.
    What he returns, so will Welbeck, c’est la vie…

  119. allezkev says:

    When he returns (Akpom that is)

  120. Gerry says:

    Thanks for the update on the Under 23’s. I am having a few dog related issues at the moment so I missed that one.

    I have just had a quick refresher course on all things Youth football, and related. I only get to see what I can on the Arsenal Player, and read up on what I can. Jorge Bird being my best source. For example, the Official site failed to identify which Bola came on last night, Bird’s website kindly identified that it was T. Bola, the younger half.

    So, apart from the ones you have named, I will add Ben Sheaf as a possible bench candidate, as he was relieved by the aforementioned Tolaji Bola at half time. Donyell Malen was another omission from the U23’s, and has strong bench claims if not injured., especially in the absence of Chris Willock?

    I would love to say Reiss Nelson might make it too, but Mr Bird thinks we will have to wait until next season before seeing this, soon to be 17 year old, play first team football. JB only mentioned 3 players who a had above grade marks in the Uefa Youth game against;PSG; Nelson, a glowing assessment, Mavididi, who could actually start (if you are right about Giroud, was it the long stretch to get that cross I wonder?, and he is sidelined), and Keto the GK.

    This brings me back to your question on Marc Bola. I mentioned him a little while ago a possible starter in the previous round, when he was an unused sub. His favoured position will be taken by Gibbs, I suspect, unless he is being kept for the WHA game to keep Payet quiet? Not likely to make it into the CB spot, despite Gabriel’s possible absence, and Jenks may also be ‘saved’ for the weekend, now Debuchy is crocked again? That premature start for him may also keep Perez from starting too? So it is a very open question as to where Bola might start, as really it is down to who drops out of AW’s initial thinking following our Sunday game. My best guess would be at LB, rather than partnering Holding on the LCB spot.
    Is he up to it? Physically yes, so as long as the nerves don’t get to him, he’ll be fine. He is big and strong, and likes to get forward so we will hardly notice the difference if he is an early sub. 😀

    At this stage, and subject to change with later squad news, would be:
    CF -Alexis ………….. alt Mavididi
    LS – Iwobi ———— alt /Jeff R-A/ Ozil
    RS – Mavididi ——– alt Malen/M-Nlies/ Ox
    LMF – Jeff R-A —– alt Coquelin
    CDMF – Coquelin….alt Ramsey
    RMF – M-Niles …….alt Malen
    LB – Gibbs ……….. alt M Bola
    LCB – Holding……. alt Bielik/M Bola
    RCB – Gabriel …… alt Holding
    RB – Jenkinson …… alt M Bola
    GK – Matinez ……… Ospina

    I have left out Ozil as a starter, and Iwobi IF Mavididi starts in the middle. I think if the Alexis will be difficult to keep out, and I would rather him start than put him on late and be out of kilter with those around him .. fresh legs v tired legs basically. Mavididi has been playing on the right side ans can become a simple switch to interchange in the middle. Ox will only be used on the right if needed.
    The thing is, if too many players that will be required for the next league game, you only have three subs to save them. One would be for Alexis, one for Ozil if he starts, which leaves one other for Coquelin?, Gabriel?, Gibbs? or Jenkinson? Which is why I do not see either of our first choice CB’s playing? Any injury will throw my whole thinking upside down, so fingers crossed, eh?
    Ozil is also questionable for that reason. It is a toss up between Ramsey and Coquelin. The former might get the nod because he will keep running, but I favour Coquelin as it gives ‘The Jeff’ more freedom to get forward in the Ozil role if the latter is on the bench. M-Niles is unlikely to need subbing, so he is a strong choice for that position, both in attack and defence.

    Quick start and try to get a two goal cushion, and the hope they hold their own in the second half?
    Malen, Bola and Ox are all good options for the subs. Although Perez might make the bench too. The rest will have to survive.

    That would be my reading of how we might go, AW may want to start with the fringe players and leave the key players like Alexis, Ozil, and Ox to pick up the pies in the final 20 minutes, if it all goes pearshaped?

    We shall see …

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  121. Gerry says:

    I see my rushed finished has missed the odd letter or two … e.g ‘pieces’ not pies.
    Martinez not Martinez.
    Hey ho!
    Gerry

  122. allezkev says:

    Malen is a great shout Gerry, he totally slipped my mind, here’s some info on the lad;

    https://arsenalyouth.wordpress.com/youngpros/donyell-malen/

  123. Gerry says:

    Thanks Kev, He has been playing regularly with the U23’s, I hadn’t realised he is the same age group as Nelson.
    If Perez is close to returning he is more likely to get the nod from the bench I think?

    I was surprised AW had Coquelin and Gabriel as options for RB last time, and even more surprised he went with Gabby 😀
    But I still think Jenks will be at RB tomorrow.

    No announcement on Giroud though, so he may be ok to start? I’ll stick with my starters for now.

    Cheers
    Gerry

  124. Goonereris says:

    This is a game against a good Premiership team, for a chance to go to Wembley, gentlemen. The kids will al be on the bench except for those who have featured and done well before, in the EFL (Jeff, Zelalem, Maitland-Niles). I expect to see a fairly strong side put out to win the game, especially as same side knocked us out of the cup last season.
    I think more like Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs, Coq, Ramsey, Jeff, Ox, Giroud/Perez and Iwobi. We can have the kids, plus Monreal, Xhaka and Ospina on the bench.

  125. allezkev says:

    Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott, Elneny, Xhaka, Holding, Iwobi, Martinez, R-Adelaide, Monreal, Gabriel, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jenkinson all trained 1 hour ago
    Maitland-Niles, M. Bola, Mavididi, Bielik, Bennacer all in first-team training today. 1 hour ago

    From J.Bird, on Twitter…

  126. Gerry says:

    That numbers 18 Kev, and no CB’s lurking?

  127. Gerry says:

    Goonereris, It happens sometimes when both teams are playing at the weekend they will have a tacit agreement on the type of side put out.
    It may not be quite so important for Southampton to win at the weekend, but they would like to be challenging for Europa spots, rather than the uncertainty of who they play after this game in a Cup?

    So I would say fringe player plus 3 or 4 from the first team is what will turn out from both sides. They have a few injuries too.

    I doubt if those listed are the only ones down to make the final 18, as some will be given extra time to recover, but I would say that would be the bulk of the squad, with only those who do not look up for it dropping out. We need asecond ‘keeper for a start?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  128. Goonereris says:

    Gerry, Puel is already speaking of wanting to win the EFL trophy. It is another route into Europe, no? Of all of the kids mentioned, we will be likely to see no more than 2 start and maybe another 2 coming on late, when things are wrapped up, hopefully, in our favour. Oh, and if Jenkinson is fit, he will start, so Maitland- Niles may play in the middle rather than RB.

    For some reason, the networks in Canada, where I am presently, have not been airing the EFL games, so far. I miss Nigeria!

  129. Goonereris says:

    Great! Have it on BEINsports.

  130. allezkev says:

    Yeah Gerry, I did notice that there 18 and no reserve goalkeeper, who will probably be Matt Macey I imagine…

    No Perez either, which baring in mind what Arsene suggested about his involvement in tonight’s game seems to confirm what you said in your 19.13…

    It does seem that Arsene is leaning towards a much stronger starting XI than I would have thought with those training in mind.

    All will soon be revealed… 🤔

  131. Gerry says:

    Goonereris, I just checked my team prediction of my first choices down the left side, and I only see two players starting from the ‘young ranks’ : Mavididi and Jeff R-A? Maitland-Niles is 23, had a full season on loan, and has moved up into the first team training group a long time back. Add to that he has not put in a poor display whenever he has been called upon, so I don’t put him in the same bracket as the other two, and they are ones I listed as possible alternatives, i.e. bench. Given how short we are if AW does rest both Mustafi and Koscielny, then Bielik and Bola are good candidates for defensive subs? Malen I got wrong because of his age. If you note another one that might have made the bench, Zelalem, is probably because they have yet to turn 18, and so haven’t signed ‘professional’ contracts yet. West Ham found out that if you advertise young talent at the top level, like they did with Reece Oxford, then the vultures circle around very quickly. Bennacer is 18 and may make the bench. A lot depends on how many of our ‘key players’ will be rested and benched, or get the complete night off.

    I take your point about Southampton want to try and win this competition, as we do, but what managers say publicly and what the priorities are behind the scenes, we know all too well here.
    It is known as Wenger-speak 😀
    We most definitely have our priority with the league games. Even the CL can take a bit of a back seat with the away leg with Basel. It is not just our game with West Ham, it is giving players a chance of staying fit through the heavy December schedule. So how strong a team Southampton put out is not in our gift. AW will be concentrating on getting the most from our guys with the least long term cost?

    Mavididi I think will only start if Giroud is not risked. Jeff R-A will only start if Ozil doesn’t, and Iwobi does not replace Alexis. It is a balancing act. Same in midfield. If AW pairs Ramsey in midfield, then M-Niles will be benched or at RB. I don’t think Jenkinson was injured before the last game, but when Debuchy was given the nod, bench space was given to players that were able to cover more than one position, Coquelin and Gabriel.

    The choices AW makes in reducing the numbers will soon be revealed, but my stab at the 18 is:
    (Defence) Macey, Martinez; Bola, Gibbs, Monreal; Bielik, Gabriel, Holding; Jenkinson; Coquelin, M-Niles, Ramsey; (Attack) Iwobi, Mavididi, Ox, Ozil, R-Adelaide, Sanchez, Walcott.
    Note; The above are named in alphabetical order in each area of play. Not necessarily my first choices. Okay?
    I have left out Giroud, Elneny, Xhaka, Koscielny, and Mustafi. All kept out for the league game.
    I think Bennacer may miss a bench spot, and Walcott is a possible swap for Giroud. Bola is vulnerable for a number to defensive player listed above, as well as Monreal if he is in the squad, as he too could cover the LB/CB spots.

    I am not confident that this is also AW’s thinking, but refreshing our CB’s, and keeping the Xhaka Elneny as a unit in midfield is at the centre of this line of thinking.
    Upfront I have every confidence that Mavididi will do well, and will be an excellent partner to Alexis and Iwobi. Apart from anything else, he is physically more imposing than Walcott against a solid Saints defence.

    That is my case for selection…
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  132. TotalArsenal says:

    I had a few spare minutes and got a bit tired from having to scroll down for so long to get the latest comments…. hence a new post. Just a quickie. 🙂

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