Merry Christmas From Bergkampesque

Dear fellow BKers

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The year is almost over and us Gooners have little to complain about, except then for the last two disappointing, narrow and harsh losses in the North-West. Arsenal finished second in the league in May, ended up top of their group in the CL and are still well placed to Β have a go at the PL title for this season. Wenger’s contract is running out this summer, and surely only a PL or CL win will make him want to sign a new one. If we win one of those then that would be double bliss, and if we don’t it is time to have somebody new to get the best out of our very good squad. The latter is also appealing as change is sometimes just what’s needed.

I know the gap of nine points with the rejuvinated Chavs is big, but Arsenal have bouncebackability it their DNA and I am convinced we will get back into the title race by March. Then we will have to show the leadership skills, on and off the pitch, that will see us through to the end and lift the shiniest silverware with proud Gunners’ arms.

All to play for and let’s start the hunt for the Chavs on Boxing Day.

Let’s support the Arsenal with all we have and stand behind the manager at least until the summer and the season is over. He deserves that.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Healthy New Year. Happiness is a warm Gunner. πŸ™‚


37 thoughts on “Merry Christmas From Bergkampesque

  • I agree! Happy Holidays to one and all!…

    On the other hand, I disagree about the manager and winning the PL or CL… Stability may feel boring but Wenger, in my opinion, is a fine manager who has overachieved with the club and would likely continue to do so if he signs a new contract. (I also like him on a personal level and find his wisdom and insight very valuable.) Sign him up (along with our best players) and look towards the longer term, I say. If we’re miserable now after a couple of road losses and (again) being drawn to play Bayern Munich in the Champions League round of 16, imagine being stuck with Europa League football or worse…

    That’s the current fate of mighty Manchester United (not to mention our little neighbors to the North). Chelsea and Liverpool are 1-2 in the league (currently) but only by dint of finishing 10th and 8th last season. We are prisoners of the moment and their current moment is better than ours. Their yesterday, however, was a good deal more grim and could easily haunt their ability to stay up in their current lofty heights.

    Arsenal are a self-sustaining club and, because of that, our natural level in English football is 4th behind the bigger spenders (the two Manchester Clubs and Chelsea). Does that mean our ambitions are limited to a top 4 finish? No, of course not. Does it mean we should be surprised, shocked or outraged if that’s what we achieve–year after year after year? Probably not…

    At this time of year we celebrate and are thankful for the presence and health of family and friends and hope for another year of the same. I’m thankful for those qualities in my football club too, even if it is a little boring. Some real prosperity (winning trophies) in the new year would be nice too, of course, but at least we’re in the game.

    Just one fellow’s opinion, as always. Again, have a great holiday!

  • I applaud the sentiments wholeheartedly. There is indeed a lot to be cheerful about.

    Returning players should add a bit more zest. The fixture list in the immediate future is a little more benign than of late. And we know we have a happy squad that usually comes good in the second half of the season..

    No question, IF it is the time when AW ceases to do a job he clearly loves, then it will be a sad day if they do not have something he can hang his retirement hat on.

    In saying that, things will have to improve in some areas which are entirely his responsibility. And I don’t mean he should take advice from me, or anyone else who has been in the management hot seat to know what are the deciding factors, regarding team selection?
    But as big a fan of him as I am, can find no sane reason for tactical substitutions being made when they are. The last game a prime example, 4 minutes after they scored when we had been under pressure for a long time?

    Two things going forward. I watched the Dortmund v Ausburg highlightsthis afternoon, and it had an interesting insight on Monreal’s problem, that another blog used as a critical comment ‘ … he played more like a third CB (in his positioning), leaving Iwobi to do his job for him’…
    Visually true?

    Watching said Dortmund game, where they frequently employ 3 at the back, and do it so they can get their wing-backs higher up the pitch. They are having trouble keeping clean sheets too, btw. It then struck me that is what AW is doing in a ad hoc sort of way, because some of the time Monreal gets forward and overlaps down the line. The reason why it fails is, the players we have to do the ‘wing back-ing’ are not defenders. Iwobi is inexperienced, but did try hard. But it kills his attacking game. Ox can do it down our right side, but he is always in an unnatural position to tackle on the left? But at least it explains why we get repeat showings of this vulnerability down our left side?
    The flip side of that is, with a back 3 in place, Mustafi is in a better position to cover Bellerin when he goes forward. Add to that, Walcott performs better when Bellerin supports him.
    Conclusion, Nacho gets it in the neck because Theo is much good on his own?
    At least that is the way you might look at it if you only look at it in small areas?

    It is an 11 man team game, but some 11’s are better suited than others..

    The second item for people who can wrench themselves away from watching Plymouth in the FA Cup?
    There is a match of much interest, to me at least. That of Bayern v Leipzig.
    Not only might we see how a potential candidate for AW’s vacancy performs, but his team plays a fast moving pass, move, and shoot type of football. AND they are playing our CL opponents.
    So it should be a guide as to how we might approach that game.
    I should add, this is a top-of-the-table clash, to which Bayern are ahead on goal difference. That said, it is not a bad tally for Leipzig who have lost only once, scored 36 goals in 15 game, and conceded a modest 17. Not bad for a newly promoted side?
    Arsenal; played 17;; scored 38; conceded 19 …. Yes plus all the other midweek games.

    I shall watch it anyway.

    Sorry TA/HT you probably wanted short sharp Christmasy messages of joy and goodwill? πŸ˜€

    Happy Festive period to one and all.


  • Leipzig down 0-3 already, having gone a man down after the 2nd goal, by the way. Only thing to learn from how they played is to play with confidence and not show too much respect to Bayern; and of course, not to lose our heads and avoid silly red cards. It is one way traffic and the game was over as a contest when that red card was shown.

    Merry Christmas with hopes for a glorious 2017.

  • Agreed with all that Seventeenho. I reckon Arsene will decide to go if this is another trophyless season. The BOD would be a fool to let him go for the reason you have pointed out.

  • Bulletin for G-eris
    Sad – Stop Leipzig young side – Stop – Manager will learn – Stop – Arsenal v Leicester 5-2 They won Title – Stop – Danger – Stop – Might lose players in transfer window – Stop

    Bulletin for HT
    Arsenal not play like Leicester – Stop – Wrong personnel – Stop No Kante – Stop – Answer – stop – Sign Ake – Stop

    Bulletin for TA
    Understand – Stop – You Work Me retired – Stop- Suggest Speed Reading Course Stop

    πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Gerry – Stop

  • Happy holidays everyone!

    I hope that the lads can have a clean and nice head to go into the festive period and win our games one at a time.


  • Happy holidays all!!

    My Arsenal related Christmas wishes (in no particular order):

    1. Arsenal rotate their first 11 once every three matches

    2. In attack Arsenal either play:
    – Walcott (RW), Ozil/Iwobi (CAM), Perez (LW), Alexis (CF); or
    – Ox (RW), Ramsey/Alexis (CAM), Gibbs/Ozil (LW), Giroud (CF)

    3. Arsenal continue to persist with the CDM pairing of Xhaka and Coquelin as the first choice combination

    4. The squad stay fit and healthy for the remainder of the season

    5. Arsenal revert to their early season counter attacking style

    6. Ozil and Alexis signing long contract extensions


  • Merry Christmas greetings first, the new year one can wait.

    So, here goes.. Merry Blessed Christmas to everyone here and be it whatever religion you are stay happy always.


  • With the match versus West Brom being Arsenal’s only fixture this week and the Ox missing through injury, the Arsenal team I’d like to see versus West Brom is:

    GK: Cech
    RB: Jenkinson
    CB: Holding
    CB: Koscielny
    LB: Monreal
    CDM: Coquelin
    CDM: Xhaka
    RW: Walcott
    CAM: Ozil
    LW: Perez
    CF: Alexis

    With that setup I’d be expecting a defensively solid performance from the back 5 and central midfield, quick transitional play through Xhaka’s long passes, creative interplay between Ozil and Alexis and off the ball attacking runs through on goal from Perez and Walcott.


  • Waldo, W. Brom is 19th in the possession table and 18th in pass accuracy. it shows they are a defensive team which must mean they employ the counter. They however lead the table in goals from set pieces. Is the stage set for Giroud to start? Is the stage set also for Walcott not to start?

    My team:


    Ozil wide right, for inswingers for Giroud.
    Sanchez #10 for instigating chaos at centre of opposition low defensive block.
    Gibbs for crosses from the left for Giroud.

    This imo should be our classic Plan B set up for PTB teams.

  • Hi Guys, πŸ™‚

    A belated ‘Noel’ for the festive season, and I wish all you happy BK’ers an ‘early’
    HAPPY NEW YEAR and to say keep up the great comments/Posts which I enjoy very much, even if I do not pop in to clutter up the intelligent conversations with dopey views!!

    All the best for 2017 to all !! πŸ˜€

    [I now post as HenryB – the days of RA are long gone.]

  • Hiya Henry B, As I recall, your posts were never of a cluttering type.

    I seem to recall you had health issues, I trust they have improved too?
    Anyway, all the best to you for New Year.

    I am short of time today, as it is a big horse racing day, so I will be brief … this one time before 2017

    Regards the selected line up, all options can have their merits, and down sides. If AW is really trying to employ a back 3, as it appears with Monreal’s positioning at times, then I think you need to sort out who can track back. But if he replaces Monreal with Gibbs, it might make sense to have the 3rd back on the other side, as Bellerin quite capable to track back if Holding Gabriel Kos are the 3?

    More likely is we will match up in one way or anther, with their 4-5-1? And one suspects the one will be Alexis starting?

    I am not that confident that AW can match up the defensive requirements to go with our best attacking style, and the weak spot is the cross-field ball whenever we lose possession and there isn’t cover down our left?

    Hoping for the best, but fearing the worst, as the longer we go without scoring, the same fragility will come back as in the last two games?


  • Hi all.. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year..

    I pray that Arsenal will not lose again for the rest games left.. And win back to City, Liverpool, Everton and MU.. hehehe..

    No new post today..??

  • 3 points, but our shooting is way beyond par. Should have scored more.

    We need to shoot better on sight and Rambo did well coming on.

    Our speed dropped due to Ollie up top, and on the wings we were strong, but the final ball is lacking.


  • Belated Christmas wishers to all BKers . I listtened on the radio and it didn’t sound like a great game. Still 3 points is 3 points and I can’t complain.

    Amazing how many keepers have been booked st the Emirates for time wasting and then concede late goals. Funny how they suddenly seem to get this extra burst of energy when they need a late equaliser. Love it

  • Watched it on live TV Retsub1.

    It certainly wasn’t great and there were moments where the heart was in the mouth. Terrifying.

    We played with 2 forward players and the changes on the wings were great, but still we lacked the incisiveness.

    Hope this win will make us find the lost swagger.

    P.S. TA. Today is supposed to be the day. So. Something big coming up? And it is my birthday today too.

  • A much needed win for the Gunners versus WBA. Couple of observations from the match:

    1. West Brom defended in numbers and defended well.

    2. Arsenal’s slow and repetitive horizontal passing outside of West Brom’s penalty box combined with an unwillingness to cross the ball, particularly in the first half, didn’t effectively test the Baggies.

    3. While Alexis, as always, and Iwobi were energetic on the flanks, neither player crossed the ball enough nor combined well enough or regularly enough with Gibbs and Bellerin respectively to created crossing opportunities for Arsenal’s fullbacks. If Arsenal play Giroud in the centre forward role, Arsenal’s wingers and fullbacks need to provide regular and accurate crosses into the box to try and capitalise on the Frenchman’s physical strength and strong heading ability. To that end I think Arsenal missed the Ox’s ability to dribble past the opponent’s fullback and whip in a dangerous and accurate cross for Giroud to attack. Outside of the Ox Arsenal don’t really have another winger with those strengths, particularly one who is naturally left footed. It’s a deficiency in the squad which I’m hoping Arsenal rectify in transfer window. That said, I thought Gibbs was probably one of Arsenal’s better players on the day and his willingness in the second half to at least attempts some crosses into the box for Giroud to attack set him apart. It’s an important lesson I hope Arsenal learn and rectify their approach when they come up against more park the bus teams this season.

    4. While WBA offered little going forward, Koscielny and Coquelin effectively snuffed out what little attacking threat the Baghies did offer.

    Onto the match versus Crystal Palace!!

  • Nice one Waldo.
    I have not seen any of the game so I can add nothing.

    I did watch the BT panel discuss, ‘live’, the second half, and John Hartson said they created more attacking threat in the first 8 or 9 minutes of the second half than they did in the entire first 45 …
    which is reflected in your observations.
    The game went much as I thought it would though, as I think AW is juggling with a squad that the needs at either end of the pitch cannot match up to get the best from both of them. Not risking too much going forward ensured a clean sheet at half time. Stepping it up in the second half with a mish match of styles, because as you and I have both said, if you play Giroud in the middle then you have to use the players that play to his strengths. Only after the 70th minute(again) when defence was sacrificed for attack – to quote BT …’they have to be prepared to lose in order to win the game’ – did it yield any result.
    The 3 points are welcome, but the defiency is still there?

  • Hi Gerry,

    BT’s commentator is bonkers.. In no time did we prepare to lose in order to win the game.. Le Coq was sacrificed due to him being unable to make any headway in attack, and it was either taking Le Coq off or taking Xhaka off..

    It does not matter as WBA were well marshalled by Gabby and Bosscielny… at the end they were using corners to scare us, but they couldn’t get past the back 5 (4 defenders plus 1 DM who absolutely did nothing much).

    And only after 70 minutes we made changes. so Le Prof did a good job in managing that we are ok defensively.

    The only thing that we did wrong is play Ollie at the start.. His lack of speed made us look so slow, and the combination of Le Coq and Xhaka, whose eagerness to shoot misplaced shots made us feel like our attack is out of place.


  • To be fair JK, if you are taking off a DM for a more attack minded midfielder, it does open up the defence to possible danger when both backs go forward? That required WBA to be good enough to exploit that, which, with hindsight, they were not.

    I am more with Waldo regards to Giroud. Iwobi is not a crosser of the ball, so a bit of a waste? The set up relied almost entirely on the FB’s putting in crosses, but as Waldo informed me, they were little used in the first half. That leads me to think possession was preferred to risk?

    But not starting Giroud also carries risks as we have found in the previous two games. To bring out the best in Alexis, Ozil, and Walcott who presumably would have played if we were going for the fast pass and move from the off, would have needed the backs getting forward at pace, and one of the MF’s? That exposes the greater risk to the counter attacks, when WBA would have been fresh.

    That is why I cannot fault AW too much for whatever side he puts out, because we haven’t go the right players, to go in the right slots that enables us to fully exploit our attack, at the same time as fully supporting the defence. Just remember, what Leicester did in the second half of the season was not going so ‘gung ho’ in attack and simply out score the opposition, instead they wanted to be more secure defensively. We might also get away with it against lesser sides, but the better sides will break up our possession based attack much more often

    I am not expecting things to change too much in this transfer window either. Big players won’t leave, until the summer at least, and the same really applies to some of the fringe players.
    Apart from that, they have already signed their best player, Reiss Nelson.

    Note to Waldo: After failing to find confirmation to my first impression, that Ox is right footed, I did eventually get that confirmed on a German website. He is right footed, but very good with his left.


  • Gerry, I think Giroud was a ‘must have’, tactically speaking, for this game, both for his aerial defending abilities as for his heading abilities. Not so bad to allow the ‘wingers’ fill midfield spaces while freeing up space for the full backs to bomb forward to do more of the crossing. It’s tactics which have worked for us since we started to go 4-2-3-1. It forces the opposition to concede possession to us when we apply this well with a good press.

    Theo is injured and wouldn’t have played anyway, or it would have been Iwobi dropped for him. As for the window, if only we can see into the future to know we won’t have any more injuries and can have everyone fit, no new buys required except we sell at say, full back. We have a weakness on the left side and may be looking to strengthen that side.

    If we win (and we should) against Palace, we can get some fluidity back as confidence is restored.

  • Hi G-eris, regards the first paragraph, I agree.

    What I was agreeing with Waldo’s observations was that the tactic you describe was not carried out in the first half?
    Indeed, having watched the highlights, which, if the whole game was like it, we were very good.
    However, a first half snapshot did support that observation, as there appeared to be 21 players in the WBA half between the with of their box! That might I suggest, was not consistent with FB’s ‘bombing down the line putting crosses in’? And that snapshot was consistent with the rest of our ‘best bits’.

    I take your point on Theo. I had no idea he had picked up a ‘wenjury’. Mind, Iwobi quite impressive in his place.
    However, it is not the next couple of month’s fixtures that we have to worry about, with opponents, Chelsea apart, all coming from the lower half of the table. Which means March April will be exceedingly tough. Certainly it is the period that will make or break our title hopes?

    Regards the TW, I only try to make an intelligent observation. as much as one can from information available With that, I see a lot players not being sold in this window, and the ones that are will go to the winner of a bidding war. Draxler, a case in point, and we disengage at that stage.
    Not that I am making a case for him to sign for us, as I think he fails an AW test of character, on the grounds he is appearing to be a bit mercenary? Hence I feel we might only sell Debuchy, and only buy a prospective young player … if we get a clear shot at it.


  • I am not sure about selling Matt.. I rather sell Ox and bring in a better winger.

    Matt is a good player, and his injury condition is appalling. Once he is able to get this out of the way, he will be able to challenge Bells.


  • Morning All…

    84, I certainly wouldn’t sell Oxlade-Chamberlain to another competitor in England and most certainly not to Liverpool, who I’ve always disliked.

    Debuchy is a strange one, you would think that he would be retained, especially if Jenkinson is going to leave on loan again? I guess it may all depend on the value of any offer Arsenal received for him. It would not be a bad thing to get his salary off of our books.
    I feel sorry for him because he’s been dreadfully unlucky since he moved to Arsenal, but that’s the fickle finger of football fate.
    Ainsley Maitland-Niles is an option as cover for Hector, so that allows the flexibility to release Debuchy if the circumstances fit I guess…

  • Morning Kev, The latest thing doing the rounds is Debuchy saying he has hardly spoken to AW since he blocked his move to Man U, which is not going to make their relationship any better? Mind, I think that was snapped when he broadcast his views whilst at Bordeaux.

    Agreed on Ox. But apparently Klopp will not make an offer until we put him up for sale. Again, unlikely …. unless it is a part exchange for Sturridge, which I doubt will happen.

    JK, any addition down the right wing has a knock on effect with Walcott and Bellerin, and along with Ox, we are reasonably well covered?. Our need is a real threat down the left. One, to attract defenders away from the middle. Two, to allow a more conservative approach from the LB. At present we have Alexis who is more lethal nearer the box, and Iwobi who works his magic between the defensive lines, or Ox on his wrong foot?


  • Gerry, I’m not 100% certain, but I’m sure that I did read somewhere that currently Arsenal have one space available in our 25 man squad for a non U.K. signing….
    That might explain why we’ve been linked to quite a few potential English/British signings….

    Of course the departure of Debuchy could change that scenario…

  • Not that surprising Kev, because of the way they qualified selections. for example. They may name a certain transfer twice and do that a hundred times a week but for a different player, and only ever come back to the link when it is done and dusted. Same with the Newcastle journal. They probably only talk about a transfer locally, when enough info comes directly from the club involved, then run it in every edition for a fortnight … thus reaching qualifying mark of 10 times.

    As for Arsenal’s non-events, it quite often isn’t lack of interest in a player, but simply not willing to pay the price being asked. So completion of a transfer is not an accurate measure of it being a genuine story. Or if you look at it another way, who is going to appear at the top of completed transfers when money is no object? |Oh, what a surprise, Man City?.
    The Guardian link is interesting, but again, they do not fill column inches every day with 6 or 7 rumours, like say the Daily Star does? Just because they are more selective, they may not be that original? Paul Pogba going to Man U could give them 100% success if that was there only one commented on ‘more than 10 times.

    Of course the biggest blurring of facts in order to get %age figures, is the recycling of the same stories from elsewhere?

    Possibly the spare space Arsenal may have for an incoming non Uk player is because of the departure of Joel Campbell? Assuming that Perez filled the slot that Vardy, LaCazette, or Mahrez did not fill?

    Just musing out loud …

  • Gerry, do not forget that we still have one important player coming back.. and he is back in full training, so it is a matter of time before he is unleashed..

    And Mustafi is back in the squad, so it is a timely comeback.

    Still feel that Ox should go.


  • TA,
    Ps chech your email for a post sent by me. Accept only the ” Revised Version”. Cheers.

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