Arsenal-Stoke City: Momentum Notwithstanding, This is One Not to be Taken Lightly

At the start of a big week in the Premier League–Tuesday we play Everton away before next Sunday’s showdown at Manchester City–getting off on the correct footing with a win vs Stoke seems essential.

Easier said than done.  Stoke, after a miserable opening to the season which saw them in the relegation places, have climbed into the top half of the table with 18 points from their last 27 on offer.  Most recently they’ve kept a pair of clean sheets and taken full points vs Burnley and at Watford.  Surely Arsenal, in peak form ourselves after big wins at West Ham and Basel, presents a tougher challenge–but also a bigger scalp.  Arsenal must take this fixture seriously, especially as Stoke will be fully rested while we have been playing every 3 or 4 days for several weeks in a row.

Luckily, Arsenal are showing good squad depth and were able to get a definitive 4-1 win in Switzerland despite making 6 changes from the squad that won at West Ham.  My hunch is that we’ll revert to the same 11 that played in that last league match.  Reports are that Hector Bellerin has recovered from an ankle injury but I wonder if he’s ready to slot straight into the starting line-up.  Here’s my guess at the team sheet:

Subs: Ospina, Bellerin, Gibbs, Elneny, Ramsey, Perez, Giroud

Wenger could also mix things up in a completely different manner and, specifically, take a more adventurous approach by playing somebody like Aaron Ramsey (perhaps instead of Francis Coquelin) in the center of the pitch.  Bellerin’s inclusion would also signal more attacking intent.

Perhaps it depends on trying to outguess Stoke Manager Mark Hughes.  Will Hughes set up defensively in hopes of keeping a clean sheet or will he opt for a more expansive approach noting that Arsenal haven’t kept a clean sheet of our own since October?  With attackers like Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Wilfried Bony, Bojan Krkic and Ibrahim Afellay, the continuing evolution of Stoke into a more attacking squad suggests that this could be a more open game than many who remember Stoke’s more rugby-like approach from the Tony Pulis era would guess.  Afellay is injured for this one but so too are goal-keeper Jack Butland and team captain and Ramsey leg-breaker, Ryan Shawcross, so Hughes might not have full faith in his back line to keep a rampant Arsenal attack off the score-sheet.  So, parked bus or end to end; what sort of match should we expect?

Regardless, Arsenal will have to put the recent lopsided victories behind them and also not look ahead to their upcoming travels.  If our battles over the years with Stoke have proved anything, it’s not to look past this team nor expect that just turning up will be enough.  It’s been tougher at the Britannia stadium but surely Stoke are not one to look past, even at home.  Does the fact that we haven’t lost to Stoke at home since 1981 and have won all 8 home ties since Stoke was promoted to the Premier League mean that it will be business as usual or does it mean that our opponents are due?

As always, your thoughts are as good as mine, so have at it…

by 17highburyterrace

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69 Responses to Arsenal-Stoke City: Momentum Notwithstanding, This is One Not to be Taken Lightly

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Lovely preview, Seventeenho, and all agreed re taking this one seriously and not thinking of what lays ahead. OGAAT. Good point about Stoke potentially opting for attack rather than sit back and ask for the inevitable, and yes they have the players to hurt us so we need to be well balanced throughout the team. Agreed with line up but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Perez get a chance to build further on his fab hat trick (instead of Ox or Theo), and playing Rambo and Xhaka together once more is also a possibility, although I prefer Coq’s steel for this one.
    ⚽️⚽️⚽️

  2. Goonereris says:

    Good preview, 17Highbury. It is easy to start looking beyond this game to the ones next week, away from home, so happy to see Wenger saying the right things about the need for focus.
    “Between confidence and complacency is a very short way – top-level competition doesn’t tolerate that. We want to keep our confidence level high but also our urgency level very high.” – Arsène Wenger.
    Stoke can provide us a stern test and the lads have to be ready. I agree with your line up but think the manager may opt for Lucas in place of Theo, who has looked off the pace for the last two games now. Giroud should find a place in the second half, for this one. Look forward to a resounding win, hopefully.

  3. Pony Eye says:

    Once upon a time this season l could correctly guess Wenger’s 1st eleven. Now I know only 5 that are sure starters Cech, Musti, Kosh, Ozil and Sanchez. The remaining 6 positions has pairs that can be chosen from by a toss of the coin to still give a team that is an unquestioned 1st eleven. So deep the strength of our squad.

    Up for the toss are;
    1) Bel or Gab,
    2) Nacho or Gibbs,
    3) Coq or Eln or neither,
    4) Xhaka or Rambo or neither,
    5) Theo or Perez,
    6) Ox or Iwobi.

    Absolutely nothing to quarrel about with HT’s line up, but our strength is so deep that I can afford to keep tickling my fancy. With offensively conservative Gabriel at RB, can Wenger bench Coquelin and play Xhaka with Rambo? Playing 2 #10 in Ozil and Sanchez (or do you prefer to call Sanchez a false 9) can Wenger place a box man Perez at the wide right position for making himself available for the tap ins? Nothing to loose. My guess:

    ———–Cech————
    Gab–Musti–Kos–Nacho
    —–Xhaka–Rambo—–
    Perez—–Ozil——Ox
    ———-Sanchez———-

    Bench: Ospina, Bel, Hold, Gibbs, Coq, Theo, Giroud.

  4. henrychan says:

    Hi all.. Good post 17ht.. Glad to know this site keep running.. I missed some.. hehehe..

    3 tough games in a week.. Begin with Stoke.
    Stoke will park the bus and try to steal a goal from counter attack. And the have Shaqiri and Affalay with speed..
    So I think Giroud should start. Perez and Walcott could partner them in front. We must play a long ball to overcome the parking bus.. hehehe.

    Without underestimated Stoke, Ozil and Sanchez can have a rest. Cause Everton will be tougher.. So Ramsey can fill the Ozil rule one’s more.. If he failed that Ozil can come in secondhalf or Iwobi/Elneny to come.
    The rest will be fine except Koscielny.. I think he need some rest also.
    Playing Mustafi and Holding will be a nice try.. hehehe..

    Playing Gabriel and Mustafi seem to be another choice cause playing Gabriel as RB is like we play three CB.. but good try, can do great if we have a speedy wingback.. I love Gibbs for this rule.

    I have a lot of confident with our team this season.. The trough the ‘November Rain’ with undefeated in PL.. Something we always done bad in old time.. hehehe.. VCC

  5. Waldo says:

    Nice preview 17 and I think your starting 11 might be exactly what we see versus the Potters. That said, I personally like to see:

    GK – Cech (restored as he is the undisputed no 1)

    RB – Jenkinson (restored to provide attacking width and crosses from the right flank)

    CB – Holding (reward for a good job versus Basel and to give Kos a rest)

    CB – Mustafi (restored following a rest versus Basel)

    LB – Gibbs (reward for a good offensive effort versus Basel)

    CDM – Ramsey (reward for a disclipled display versus Basel and to give Xhaka a rest)

    CDM – Coquelin (restored to provide defensive strength in central midfield)

    RW – Walcott (restored to provide a goal scoring outlet after what was pretty much a rest versus Basel)

    CAM – Iwobi (to reward a better display versus Basel and to give Ozil a rest)

    LW – Perez (reward for a great goal scoring performance versus Basel and to provide Arsenal with a second goal scoring outlet versus Stoke)

    CF – Alexis (would ideally like to see him rested for this match, like Ozil, but with Giroud probably undercooked, having just returning from injury, I think Alexis will be needed again to provide creativity up front)

    Not expecting to see the line up I’ve proposed take the field versus Stoke but that’s who I’d like to see play nonetheless.

  6. Gerry says:

    A nice, crispy preview HT.

    All relevant points covered, and a line up much as expected. So much so, my initial thoughts were you may have the bench wrong 😀

    It is only when reading the other comments, from TA to Waldo, to see there are other possibilities.
    However I still come back to your line up as the most likely … unless Ox switches wings and Gibbs continues in the attacking spot, with Monreal defending?
    That would be a surprise though. Another would be Bellerin getting anywhere near this game? He is too important to risk while Gabriel is doing fine a a stand in? I therefore do not see Bells on the bench either.
    I think it would be a less of a surprise to see Perez start, given AW’s comment about him needing to learn to handle the physical demands of the PL? You could read that either way in terms of this game, i.e. here is a game to show you what I mean, or this is why you are not starting?
    I go with the latter. With Theo up front, he will keep their FB on his toes, leaving Gab’s to deal with ‘Naughtyvic’ – we do remember how we lost Debuchy don’t we? He’ll think twice about bullying Gabby 😀

    Personally I think Stoke will be more of a threat down the middle. Allen in particular is a tricky beggar, and has a knack of wriggling through defences, so midfield support will be required, which means this is another 11 man job.

    Barring injuries, I think AW is content to let Alexis and Mesut keep going up to, and including the Man C game, then it will be bye bye to the pair of them until mid or end of January?
    That is only two more games after this one, Just my thinking, of course.

    The above bring me back to your starting 11, with just a possibility of tweaks. The bench?
    Martinez, Holding, M-Niles, Gibbs*, Ramsey, Iwobi, Perez, Giroud
    *if playing, then Walcott

    Simples …

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  7. 17highburyterrace says:

    Line-ups are in… Only Ramsey left off the bench (Iwobi on it)… Cheers for the comments and other ideas. COYG

    Arsenal: Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Coquelin, Walcott, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez. Subs: Gibbs, Lucas Perez, Giroud, Ospina, Iwobi, Bellerin, Elneny.

    Stoke City: Grant, Johnson, Muniesa, Martins Indi, Pieters, Allen, Imbula, Shaqiri, Adam, Arnautovic, Diouf. Subs: Whelan, Bony, Given, Crouch, Krkic, Sobhi, Ngoy.

    Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Well done 17ht, 11/11! 😀⚽️

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    Listening to the radio. Decent start by the sounds of it..

  10. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi TA…. Stoke are defending well but also not afraid to get forward when they can. Joe Allen should have done better just now with Arnautovic’s lay-off…

    Mustafi is down so it looks like Bellerin might come in with Gabby moving to CB….

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Isn’t that typical, the one who was rested midweek gets injured…. 😟

  12. 17highburyterrace says:

    Stoke win a penalty… Didn’t look like one but Joe Allen got his head smacked by Xhaka’s elbow…

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Was it a penalty, 17?

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    Cech is due a save

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    Charlie Adam to take it… and scores it… nil-1

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    At least we will up the tempo and go for it.

  17. 17highburyterrace says:

    Bellerin looks bright if not sharp (cross floats out for a GK and now he loses possession again)….

  18. 17highburyterrace says:

    That was better… Bellerin almost finds Ozil…Then, from the corner, Xhaka got into a good position but crossed past everybody…

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Let’s get one back before half time

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    Agreed… Stoke look very well organized and we’re not finding a way through…And they aren’t afraid to come forward. Arnautovic almost gets a clear look at goal…

  21. 17highburyterrace says:

    THEO!!! From Bellerin who was well found by Alexis… Game on

  22. 17highburyterrace says:

    We’re on the front foot now… Alexis shoots over but before he almost put Ozil in with a chipped pass…

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    Commentators saying Bellerin has made a difference

  24. 17highburyterrace says:

    He certainly did on the goal, getting into a spot that Gabby would not have done….

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    Good chance there again put in from Bellerin. Ox hits over instead of on target…

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    Referee is from Bolton, the north east and Wenger has criticised him in the past…

  27. 17highburyterrace says:

    Half time…

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    Bolton is in Lancashire, which is more Northwest, no?

    Bellerin looked a little rusty early but finished the half very strong. Ox final touches are disappointing thus far but he’s a physical presence in there that we need as they’re very focused on Alexis. As per usual Theo didn’t look great until the well finished goal…

  29. Goonereris says:

    Looks like Stoke are willing to make this as hard as possible for us, but if we stay calm under pressure (easier said, I know), we should go on to score a few more. Giroud should have a role in this game, hopefully, despite the forced change reducing the subs’ options.

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey Goonereris… Do you have the game on the telly? Where are you located?

    2nd half starts rather end to end…

  31. 17highburyterrace says:

    OZIL!!! Headed looper that looked offside but wasn’t…Pass was from the Ox…. 2-1

  32. TotalArsenal says:

    North west indeed, 17HT. Really good to be ahead… an Ozil header as well

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    “A vibrant performance by Arsenal”

  34. 17highburyterrace says:

    Stoke are having much more of the ball lately…

    Iwobi in for the Ox…

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    Shame Rambo isn’t available; let’s see whether Iwobi can make a difference in terms of taking back our dominance

  36. 17highburyterrace says:

    Crouch in for Diof… And immediately heads a corner towards goal…

  37. 17highburyterrace says:

    IWOBI!!!!! 3-1 Alexis went down but Mason played the advantage…

  38. TotalArsenal says:

    Assist by Mesut. Alexis will be hungry for a goal as well.

    12 goals in last three games

    Alexis coming off so no goal

  39. 17highburyterrace says:

    Final sub: Giroud in for Alexis…

  40. 17highburyterrace says:

    I think the assist for the 3rd goal goes to Alexis, TA…

    Theo forces a good save…

  41. TotalArsenal says:

    Ok, even better, as I like them all to be involved in the goals

  42. 17highburyterrace says:

    Finishes 3-1…

  43. TotalArsenal says:

    Well lovely result, really happy we bounced back so well

  44. Goonereris says:

    Hey Goonereris… Do you have the game on the telly? Where are you located?

    Sorry 17, was too engrossed in the game to be posting and watching. Lol. Saw it on Telly; I am in Whitby, Ontario and do have a box from Rogers TV. Nice win and vibrant performance

  45. 17highburyterrace says:

    Good to know, Goonereris… We’re fortunate to get all the matches over here (I’m in California)…

    We’re top of the table…

  46. Goonereris says:

    There’s just something about this side that lets you know they won’t give up. I thought Bellerin coming on for Mustafi (hope it’s not long term injury) was a good thing, with hindsight, as he helped the urgency in attack from the right side. That wasn’t a penalty by any stretch. Lee Mason is just sometimes, a bit lazy. This is the premiership and we all agree it is a physical game. Ozil was just the master on the field today; ran the show. Alexis didn’t look happy to be taken off. I think the manager wants him to rest up for Tuesday; besides, with Aguero ineligible for 4 games, he seemed to be too eager to get on the scoresheet, thus putting himself under pressure. The manager has saved him from that, methinks.

  47. Goonereris says:

    Kolarov just buried a free kick to make it 4-1. But, you have to say City have made Leicester find some of their old speedy, canny selves back. Vardy gets a hat-trick, to boot. Well, they have done well in the CL and maybe, can now focus on the EPL. This is such a shame for City’s league aspirations.

  48. Goonereris says:

    4-2, Nolito. Too little too late, methinks.

  49. henrychan says:

    Hi all.. Happy Sunday..
    What a nice weekend to see us on top by winning 3-1.. and City lost by 4.. hehehehe..
    Pep now really in a real league.. never ever before.. which each can beat others..

  50. njk84sg says:

    The first thing I caught on live TV was the injury to Mustafi. Gabby is working hard to make the right tackles against Stoke, who played like they were going to cost us some damage on the scoring front, but Bosscielny and Gabby were brilliant on the defensive side.

    If this game used Rambo instead of Le Coq we should have leaked more goals, thus it was a good call to bring in Le Coq.

    Overall we had the extra eagerness to finish the game on a high, and Theo, Ozil, Bells and Iwobi made the difference.

    Bringing Bells for Mustafi is a gamble, and though he had a good game up front, he was not as good defensively at times but he did make some important tackles to keep us in the lead.

    Good game for the whole team, and cheers for 3 points.

    JK

  51. Gerry says:

    Well I have had a little time to meditate over my second breakfast – don’t get all pedantic on me, for any food I have before my main meal is breakfast, okay, – so here are my thoughts.

    I joined the Radio 5 commentary just as we equalised. During the second half I got thoroughly confused because they repeated a few times saying it was Gabriel who was replaced, despite naming him in play.
    Despite that, the flow of the game changed after we took the lead, and then they had a good spell, until Iwobi scored. I read the Arseblog thing above, which in typical style was very amusing.

    What more in factual detail did I get from watching the game? Not a lot really …
    But for the nuances, read on.

    Well the parked the Stoke version of a Routemaster in good old 6 – 4 – 0 fashion, but actually made it end to end by breaking out quickly. In the first half it was mainly down our left, presumably based on getting Monreal isolated, even straight from goal kicks? They also switched play from their left to employ the same tactic.
    This had a big consequence on our attack, because without Monreal getting forward, any pass to Ox got quickly closed down … they had clearly watched recent videos?
    What I think changed that was the injury to Mustafi. Once Bellerin came on we possessed a greater threat on the other side.
    Unfortunately, one of their attacks made an impact when Xhaka gave way the penalty. Although Xhaka had control of the ball, he did not outstretch his arm to prevent Allen getting past him, he left the pointy bit of his elbow to make the contact. Allen, being a short-arse, caught it in the face, not his body. On balance, correct decision, imo?

    However, the superb low cross from Bells, and the even better reaction and finish from Walcott, meant we ended the first half all square.

    To counter this in the second half, they in turn moved Naughty V and Babybel, together or separately, to stem the flow. of our attacks down that side. Thus Ox had his one glorious moment to shine, with his assist for the Ozil goal, on an otherwise disappointing game for him.
    That said, his replacement, Iwobi, made an impact with his one two, which started wide on the left, back off the fouled Alexis, strolled into an acre of space inside the box to score a great curled finish into the far corner. You have to think, that without the goal he scored midweek he may have fluffed his lines here. That is what confidence does 😀

    From that moment we were no longer in danger, as Mark Hughes seemed to accept the result by final two substitutions.
    It was an entertaining game. Only slightly worrying going forward to our next two games is the role of Alexis. In two games he has spent more time creating, but hardly a sniff at scoring? When he came off this time he looked annoyed. How long will it be before he starts to make different decisions? Part of the ‘problem’ is the make up of the front line, and probably why he wanted to stay on.
    What I mean by this thought is, play is invariably dictated by where the space is. In the last game it was all over the pitch so Alexis could contribute handsomely. In this game the space was down the right. Not only that, Ox, not getting any joy down the line, also came central, had a couple of chances too, but this made it more difficult for Alexis. Once Iwobi came on he did his usual thing of quick passing and moving into space. His goal was a perfect example. Had Alexis stayed on, in his mind at least, he might have thought that a space like that would happen for him …?
    The Giroud subbing killed that off, hence the disappointment. Mind I think that decision was possibly a more defensive one to counter Crouch’s success at set pieces?

    As for the Tuesday game, Everton may be more of a threat at home, but they are not in top form at the moment. It will be a more open game, and that should suit Alexis’s play, with a few minor tweaks up front?

    A West Brom win today could complete our weekend bliss.
    😀 😀 😀
    Cheers,
    Gerry

  52. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers guys and good comment Gerry.

    Alexis will never be happy to be substituted, but well done Wenger for saving him for the Everton game.

  53. njk84sg says:

    Chavs have won, meaning we are 3 points off the top. If West Brom have been able to defend better to stop the goal we would have a chance.

  54. Gerry says:

    Thanks TA. 😀

    Why I was comparing the last two games, re Alexis, was because he seemed to be all smiles when he came off in the Basel game. Job well done sort of satisfaction.
    This time around it was more out of frustration I thought?

    JK, I would be more worried about how well WBA defended, than the single mistake. We play them after Man C I believe?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  55. Goonereris says:

    Alexis will be unhappy to leave the game early. Probably interested in keeping up with Costa on the goals scorers’ chart. Looks like Wenger has to save him from himself because the team needs him healthy and there will be many more days to catch up with goals. WBA has shown that Chelsea can be beaten by a few sides in this league (I can think of 3), when the chips are down. Did anyone else sense how tense they looked, knowing only a win can take them back to the points gap they had over us?

  56. njk84sg says:

    Gerry,

    Given that it was Pulis’ side, they are definitely a good defensive squad.

    Chavs are not too mobile enough, and we can use a string of good passes to break them down. And please do not use Ox in that game please Monsieur Wenger.

  57. Waldo says:

    An important victory for Arsenal versus the Potters albeit a laboured one. Winning these types of matches against teams outside of Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool is crucial if Arsenal want to be in contention for the title at seasons’ end. It’s these same sort of matches which Arsenal have slipped up and dropped point in past seasons which has ultimately cost them.

    Defensively:

    – Bellerin, who came on relatively early in the match at right full back, was too passive and inactive.
    – It was a similar story for Gabriel and Koscielny who allowed Shaqiri and Arnautovic too many opportunities to threaten centrally and deep in Arsenal’s half as the were seemingly unwilling to intervene. Gabriel also positioned himself far too right of centre which created gaps for Stoke to exploit.
    – Monreal was marginally better than his back four colleagues but he showed no signs of arresting the evident dip in his defensive performances since the Man Utd match.
    – Coquelin was by far and away the pick of the bunch defensively for Arsenal. He tackled well and his defensive anticipation was excellent which enabled him to intercept a number of Stoke’s attempts to move the ball forward. While he was marginally less aggressive than usual and he left too much space between him and Arsenal’s central defenders, which Stoke partially exploited, he was still better defensively than the vast majority of his colleagues.
    – Xhaka was again aggressive in his approach and he tackled particularly well. I thought his defensive anticipation wasn’t up to the same standard as it has been since the match versus Spurs and like Coquelin he could have and should have played closer to Arsenal’s centre backs.

    Offensively:
    – Starting from the back, Bellerin was very proactive offensively after coming on. He crossed the ball particularly well and was rewarded with a great assist for Walcott’s goal.
    – On the opposite flank, while Monreal’s offensive positional play was good, that didn’t translate into any offensive actions, which is something he will need to improve.
    – In central midfield both Coquelin and Xhaka offered good offensive support with 4/5 and 6/10 accurate long balls respectively.
    – On the right wing, Walcott was very willing and was rewarded with a well taken goal from his 3/6 shots on target. He also provided a number of crosses and his positional play was spot on.
    – Ozil was solid again. His off the ball run and finished for his goal was excellent and he also crossed the ball well when he drifted into wide positions.
    – On the left wing, Ox was willing albeit a little ineffective. He dribbled the ball down the left flank well, though a little less frequent than usual. He also had 1/3 shots on target which again reflected his willingness to try in nothing else. His lofted assist for Ozil’s goal was sensational and his positional play was pretty good as he didn’t get drawn into the centre of the pitch too much which helped to stretch Stoke’s defence.
    – It was a similarly willing if not polished offensive performance by Alexis, who picked up a fortuitous assist for Iwobi’s goal and had a lovely pre assist for Walcott’s goal. As a goal scoring threat he had 0/3 shots on target. Not his best day at the office but he was still able to meaningfully contribute in a creative sense.

    Overall an important victory for Arsenal, who were much better offensively than defensively. Losing Mustafi to injury is a huge blow particularly coming into the busy festive period. Based on the players performances versus Stoke, Monreal and Gabriel could justifiably be replaced by Gibbs and Holding for the Everton clash.

  58. njk84sg says:

    Waldo, not too sure about your take on our central defence on Saturday. Bosscielny was his usual “rock” self, and Gabby, sometimes caught a little wide, was able to come in and close the gap on some occasions, and helped out Bells well throughout the game. Maybe he was caught out a little wide due to Bells being more to the midfield area, so he stayed on the right at times.

    For Nacho, he did well enough, but at times he lost out to quicker opponents which needed Bosscielny and Xhaka to help avert the danger.

    Maybe you mentioned the time when Mustafi got injured, and it took a while for Gabby to link up with Bosscielny well.

    What I saw on the match though is that Le Coq has lost a little of his rampaging self, but he did well enough to ensure that we do not leak more goals. Without the penalty we should have kept a clean sheet, and 3 defenders around Crouchy Grouchy (it rhymes! :)) meant that we kept him quiet when he should have scored.

    JK

  59. Gerry says:

    Much as I prefer the new look post match post, Waldo, it is starting to look like the same script , but with the stats removed.
    I get it. Stats are your thing. The trouble with most stats available, they only tell half a story.

    What is missing from this report when you break it down like this is the overall picture, and in this game we went more offensive, which had a cost to a potential defensive lapse. However, what seems to be the collective endeavour now, is when we press high, we also retreat quickly when danger threatens. It is this 11 man effort that is making the difference?

    I saw on several occasions both Coquelin and Xhaka well inside the Stoke half fully assisting our attack. But on turnover I don’t recall seeing players dawdling back if Stoke broke out.

    JK makes the obvious point that if Bells is off attacking, and his starting position is on the halfway line, then Gabbs has to be able to cover that space behind him? If that moves him away from Kos, temporarily, that area should, and was by and large, covered by Coquelin. Once an attack starts to attack the space behind Bellerin, Then both Kos and Nacho move their positions towards the centre. If the attack is switched to the space left by Monreal, that is where Ox, Alexis, and Xhaka come back to fill. Theo too was coming deep to assist Bells if play was switched from the other side. Throw in Cech, and you have the full 11 man game I was so happy about. I did not expand my post on this side because I half expected TA to slip in a ‘Ratings’ post.

    I think what makes the points you raise so obviously stat based, is this need to separate out the defence from offence individually without any reference to the tactics employed?

    We clearly wanted to attack in numbers, and wherever possible regain possession high up the field. I read a couple of blogs doing ratings, and they both show the better figures going to the attackers. Much as your summing up suggests. But what they also show that the defence got above average ratings as well. One showed the average team rating over 7. Yet reading your narrative on our defence makes it sound like, bar Coquelin, they all had a crap game?

    I think it is this isolation, particularly on Monreal, I have a real bug about. When the team plays collectively well, and we did, no player deserves a comment ‘arresting the dip in form’ without putting it in context. When we played tika taki, keeping possession slow build up from the back, Monreal was able to use his experience as to when to go forward. Hence he was rarely left exposed. We are not playing that style now. Stoke actually targeted his position quite deliberately. Not because he is a poor player, but because is has been all too often left isolated, and if they could get him on a 2 on 1 situation, then they have a way in to get crosses into the box.
    I thought he had a very good game, and he had better support from Xhaka, who spent a large part of his game close to that wing. These were our tactics. But when we play our full team effort, the cracks get covered.
    The BBC Match stats say we; committed more fouls; level on corners; had the greater number of shots (21 – 12): and 64% possession. However, the key one is the shots on target: we had 6, and scored with 3 of those, and they had 5 and scored zilch in open play! Where does that suggest we were poor defensively? I suspect that if you isolated that spell in the second half, that would be where most of those shots on target came, of which none were scored, because when they did score, it was from the penalty in the first half.

    Now I am not saying that a more clinical team might have done better, but perhaps we my adjust our tactics to avoid any extra pressure when we play a ‘better’ team?

    Sorry Waldo, I don’t like negativity whenI don’t think it is deserved.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  60. Pony Eye says:

    Bayern v Arsenal!

  61. TotalArsenal says:

    Flipping Bayern again. Ah well we can do it, but this is just rediculous.

  62. Pony Eye says:

    Manc v Monaco
    R Mad v Napoli
    Benfica v Dortmond
    Bayern v Arsenal
    Porto v Juv
    Lederhosen v A Mad.
    Psg v Barca
    Seville v Leic.

  63. retsub1 says:

    Hmmmm I thought the blog was asleep until after Christmas. I have only seen the highlights having listened to the match on Arsenal player. I guess I am in the minority but I didn’t think it was a penalty (must be that Arsenal bias kicking in)

    Once I know the score I cannot watch a whole match to analyse it, but for my penny worth, it seemed to me that the team became more positive when Bellerin came on. Gabriel has to partner, Kos for the next few games. I think Holding will be a good player, but he doesn’t have the experience to carry it off every week.

    It’s also good to see the Ox performing. He,s not consistent enough yet, but hopefully his confidence will grow

  64. TotalArsenal says:

    Hey Retsubster 😀

    Yes we are sort of half going again. Agreed re penalty.

  65. Goonereris says:

    Bayern again? Well, we go again. If they tell me they are not worried about meeting us again, considering how hard we made it for them in the KO games we have had to play them, they will be living in denial. While our squad is stronger than it was then, theirs is certainly less fearsome.

    With focus (keep clean sheet and get an away goal in 1st leg), we can take them out.

  66. 17highburyterrace says:

    New Post

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