Everton 2 – 1 Arsenal
Was it one game too many? To me it looked like it, as our key players, who gave absolutely everything, just lacked a little sharpness when it mattered most. We deserved at least a point, and nine out of ten times Iwobi’s well taken chance at the death would have given it to us, but it was not to be. That my friends, is the cruel side of sports, or maybe life in general. Last night, Lady Luck was chewing Goodison’s sweetest’s.
We saw composed and battling performances from Xhaka and Coq, who made a joke of some commentators’ comments that Arsenal do not like it when the game is taken to them; they have not noticed yet that this is exactly what we want. Koz was immense and Gabriel was very good too; the full backs were also awesome and Cech, who had little to do, stood his ground when he needed to.
There was disappointment though: Theo and Ox offered little support which does not necessarily mean they did not put in a shift; they were just ineffectual, making us battle with less than the sum of our numbers. It was clear that Mesut and Alexis battled with all they had and the frustration in not taken their chances, most notably with the German, was carved on their sweaty faces. We really needed a top performance from one of our ‘midwingers’ last night; someone to take away the pressure of our super duo, but both Englishmen had anonymous games. When Bergkamp and Henry graced the mighty shirt and occasionally failed to win us a game, we had Pires or Ljungberg to pull us over the line. Last night, we needed someone to show we have this spare capacity in the current team. Wenger, rightly so, brought on Iwobi and Giroud, who will have been a little miffed not to have started in the first place, but also they did not manage to save us, even though the Nigerian got mighty close.
I cannot wait to see Perez get more starts on the wing and see Welbeck finally entering the battle for us, maybe they will be our new Freddie and Robert. Theo, Iwobi and Ox need that competition asap.
22 thoughts on “Last night Alexis and Mesut deserved a Ljungberg and Pirez”
Good review TA,
Below is another brilliant review of the game, from a cool-headed Gooner:
All our players performed below par. Can’t blame them. Same players for 2 matches in 3 days. That looks to me like poor game management particularly viewed in the light of our quality squad depth. The gods weren’t against us. We just couldn’t find our height.
Damned if you do….
And disagreed, only two players performed below par, and significantly so imo
I gave my overall view on the previous post, but I think this finger pointing at two players alone I find unnecessary and unhelpful TA.
It is not about effort. It is about being effective, as you rightly say. But being effective relies on other players working together.
Last night I saw Alexis frequently call for players to push up when we were not in possession. No doubt he got applauded by fans because he showed commitment, but he had no concern for how much that would expose our defenders should this high press fail?
Collectively there was a lot less off the ball movement than we have seen when we have been successful. If you want blame the two players for being part of that, without acknowledging that they both put in a big shifts in the previous game, Walcott in particular, that is your prerogative.
It was notable that on the Arseblog ratings where they compared their own to that of their readers, it was the ‘popular’ players that got similar ratings, other less so. For example, Ballerin described as ‘rusty’ got a five from both, and compare to Ozil who got less? And needless to say, Alexis got top marks.
If anyone should not shift blame to the players without examining his own decisions, it is AW. I am with PE on this, and ‘damned if you do,….’ is not really appropriate when successful changes had been so successful in the last 3 games? Going into the next game, l presume he was going to make some changes, or else why would he think all these players could keep it going for all three?
Bottom line, is we have played a tough fixture and might have squeaked a result. We did not take our chances, as few as they were. But it does not mean we are overnight a poor team!
Changes that are made have got to be appropriate to bring back that flow and unity. Not easy.
Gerry, that is alright if it all is a bit of fun, which in many ways of course it is. But if you have watched the game and did not take from it that we lost because of Ox and Theo’s very poor performances, then I rest my case. And here is another view: we will not win the title or CL if we cannot get the midwing positions to the Freddie and Robert levels. That is how I see it.
Btw, I don’t normally discuss posts on other blogs on BK.
I have to say I agree that our wingers were less effective than was needed on a night as that one. However, taking another look at how things panned out, you have to say they were matched against two of Britain’s top class full backs who saw the contest in that light and wouldn’t give them much room. Both are quick and tenacious which is why Theo was not even given a sniff of offensive play.
Ox did, relatively better but both were made to do more defensive work, chiefly owing to the pressing game and physicality resorted to by the Everton midfield and full backs. At a stage, both wingers and full backs nullified one another. Bellerin couldn’t find his usual joy bombing forward, which worsened Theo’s output. With the right skill set and pace, maybe they could have performed better, who knows? I won’t rule out the possibility of fatigue which they did well to overcome, all considered. There was no excuse for one full back being allowed to cross for another to score. Theo should have been more determined to prevent the cross while Ox shouldn’t be losing his man for the first goal.
As for playing Lucas from start, this may have disrupted our flow because I am not sure how ready he is for such a battle, out in the cold at Goodison, whose fans were in full voice, pushing on their players to perform.
A major culprit, if ever there was one, has to be Ozil. Missed a few sitters and ducked (cowered,even) away for Ashley Williams’ header for their winner. Ozil has to be told it is a battle in this league and if he didn’t intend to be useful from a corner, he may have just remained at the centre circle and let others worry. It has become a normal mode for him to duck out of aerial challenges, but it is less disturbing if this was at the other end, not inside our area, with the clock ticking. He should have done better.
Well, hope Wenger can lift the boys up for the game on Sunday. Dropped points are not what we need at this time.
Oh, and who can forget the mad sequence of referee errors leading to their second goal. Or the last seconds when Cech went forward for set pieces and stayed forward for a bit? Great game of soccer, albeit, with the good guys losing. We will learn from this, hopefully.
Walcott seams to be outperforming himself this season. I’d bet he does it by psyching himself up to that level. That’s why, imo, he should not be played when his body and mind are still battling fatigue from a previous match. He needs a fresh mind and a fully recovered body to be able to outperform himself which is the minimum demanded of him by the team’s standard.
It was a tough game and Everton played at the top of their game. Hindsight is easy, but I can’t help thinking that resting a few players last night might have made a difference. At one nil up we were cruising and I almost got the impression we went into cruise control. I.e. Doing just enough to stay ahead, when we should have been hungrier.. the Ox and Theo both tend to fade in and out of games. Playing them both together in a tough away game might be to much of a luxury.
Ozil looked tired to me, but Alexis seems to be running on duracells.
During the build up to the game all the talk was about Arsenal being unbeaten and Everton not winning for 10 games, everything was set up for a fall and we fell. That said with a little bit of luck last night we would have at least come away with a point. Let’s regroup for the City game and hope Chelsea hit a rough patch
Tough game. Sad to see us lose exactly when Mustafi got injured. The 3 times we’ve lost are the 3 times he’s missed a game this season so we have to break the trend against City who themselves are missing quite a few important players. COYG.
Hey TA, Gerry
Update on ISL, Our team Pune City FC have shown promise all 3 seasons but have eventually lost out. They finished 6th, 7th and 6th in 2014,15 and 16 respectively.
David Platt being the coach in 2014.
I’ve also started playing in a Sunday League 😛
Interesting point Neeraj, although I think most would put this one down to the three day gap and an unchanged side?
Glad your home town team is at least holding its own in the ISL. This is more than I can say about my home town team, Coventry … even Jimmy Floyd Hasslebank has turn down the managers job … previously with lowly Burton Albion!
Playing footy too? Enjoy 😀
I have not spoken about Paul Merson before but no longer. I think someone should just shut his big mouth.
Talking about his ex-boss like he is the boss. Ask him to join in the training session for a week just to see how Le Prof works. Grrrrr…..
The last game we have not rotated, so it was strange and saddening not to win. If we rotated on the wings it would have been good, and well, it is in the past and we play Citeh next, away too. Then we head into the festive weekends, so it is going to need some rotation and revived legs.
Sorry I’m late on this one but I had to watch part of the match “on tape.”
I think the critique of the wing players is pretty reasonable. If they had performed better it would have likely been a better result…
My overall takeaway on the match is that, once we scored the goal, we were fairly content to play on the counter. At the start of the 2nd half we tried to press and create a bit more in attack but, beyond, Ozil’s very good chance and the flurry at the end, we didn’t produce much. Everton played with spirit (“nothing to lose,” as AW said after the match) and we were unlucky. So it goes. The key is bouncing back with a strong performance at Man City.
I’m not sure what the answer is. If teams sit back against us I would prefer seeing Lucas and/or Iwobi at the wings, but, given space to run, Theo and the Ox seem pretty good options even if nothing really came off for them at Everton.. I also think dropping Alexis into the wing position and bringing in Giroud (to start matches, not just finishing them) would be our strongest option of all. Much has been made of Alexis at CF but he drops deep enough (and often enough) that I think he could play just about the same role even with Giroud in there. The wingers tend come central as it is so Giroud as a real CF target might help create some wider options–something I think we’ve been missing.
A final question, esp. with Mustafi sidelined is just how strong we are inviting teams forward and trying to get them on the break. It’s been ages since we’ve kept a clean sheet so maybe offense is the best form of defense for this squad even if we look a bit stifled when teams drop back and pack the lines against us.
In truth, I’m glad I’m not in charge because, while we seem stronger and more confident all over the pitch (Ox and Theo are both improved this season, IMO)–and our team (finally) seems to have depth in quality, I’m just not sure what our best playing style might be, let alone the right combination of players. As I’m fond of saying…your guess is as good as mine… 🙂
The Mustafi point can be just a coincidence but I think against Everton it wasn’t. Koscielny is our leader but he leads through example. Mustafi, he’s the organiser, the talker. They don’t just complement each other well because of playing styles but also because of personality. Against Everton(I have not watched the complete match) ehat we missed was communication on the headers which is important in zonal marking. Also Gabriel not only is not a talker, he hasn’t quite learned English yet.
Another thing Mustafi does very well is passing. I think he has been absolutely wonderful with his passing and especially the through balls in between the opposition centre back and left back. We missed the composure in passing.
I would like to add, the reasons we have missed Santi a little less in the past week.
His responsibilities have been taken up by players.
1) he comes back and plays the ball out when building play- Mustafi(right), Xhaka(left)
2) he stays put while Coquelin presses – Xahka staying back
3) he breaks up play by putting in tackles before the opposition reaches the penalty area- Xhaka, Coquelin and Sanchez
Also we’ve had better defending from Theo after he accepted that the Mata goal was his mistake.
*4) Sanchez is dropping deeper to play those through balls into the penalty area
84, I’m not sure what Paul Merson said, no doubt it was enlightening…
When on the odd occasions I see him on Sky Sports he seems to be there more as a comedian than a serious observer of the game…
As far as any comments that Merse made about Arsene Wenger, he’s obviously commenting from a position of strength, being as he was, so memorably successful as manager of Walsall…
Satire learnt from years behind the wheel of your cab, thus not offending anybody before they go away and think about it 😀
It works well on here too. I am sure Mr Merson would smile at your comments … until somebody told him you were taking the pee ha ha.
It made me smile anyway.
Until Gerry’s comments I didn’t know that you were deliberately trashing him in another angle.
Your words are more enlightening than his.
Neeraj, Excellent follow up.
I like it when you give an in depth and reasoned reply.
I have long argued that Koscielny is a better defender when he was partnering Mertersacker, for precisely the same reasons you are giving about Mustafi.
I agree on the interchange between the DM’s too. In fact it was lack of such play between Coquelin and Xhaka this time, as both were pressing high for much of the time were were on top. I expected us to be more defence conscious, and have Coquelin as the designated DM,and nothing more.
The fact that he provided numerous runs into the attacking third looked good, but ultimately, his ability, thus far, to supply a killer pass into the box is what is lacking?
You are also right in thinking recently we were better defensively because it was an 11 man show in those previous games. I think it was Gibbs that quoted ‘We all clicked”, which summed it up pretty well. In this last game there wasn’t that sharpness to make that 11 man connectivity, to which I think mental fatigue played a big part.
So you keep these comments coming, as and when you can.
Good morning HT,
I am taking the 5th Amendment on your first couple of observations …
But I think you kind of miss the point about what a difference Giroud makes to the dynamics of the front quartet.
1, When Alexis is given his ‘free role’ whenever he drops deep or goes wide, he, both in theory and in practise, creates space for others to fill. Most notably for Ozil, but also Iwobi or Ox, depending who is playing. With this action on the centre left side, it draws defenders away from the right for Walcott and Bellerin to exploit.
2, When Giroud plays CF he is basically playing the width of the box, thus drawing defenders to a crowded middle. If he goes out wide, not only does he not draw defenders away from the middle, because they know he isn’t going to score from there, but he does draw the question as to why he is out there when you want him in the box receiving crosses?
Thus, if we are playing quick players who all have good lateral movement, they don’t want to be hindered by someone who doesn’t? By all mean play Girould, but change the tactics to suit.
On Mustafi’s absence I will refer you to Neeraj’s comment. However, I think Gabriel is a much improved defender this time around, and his spell at full back has sharpened him up just right for his preferred position.
This next game will be more about regaining that collective responsibility when it comes to defending. Changes in personnel are inevitable, but who and where will be AW’s headache?
According to FFL site we have 8 players out, but only Ramsey is one AW might have played if ready. So at least the midfield choices are fairly straight forward? So your next thought will be interesting?
Mertersacker could be back for W.Brom, with a bit of luck, which is another tricky encounter?