Perez, Ox, Alexis, Xhaka and top-Gunner Giroud Fight Back and Do us Proud

What a good night to be a Gooner.

Olivier Giroud scores Arsenal's equaliser against Bournemouth

I hear you say we dropped two points tonight in the title race and this may well be true, but to come back from (harshly) being 3-0 behind to take a point from this match is something special. In fact, this is the first time Arsenal have managed to come back from three goals down in the PL.

I will have to watch the game again to analyse it properly, which I may well do later this week. Bournemouth and Arsenal were both well up for this but the Cherries played a more disciplined first half and we paid handsomely for some  very bad defending.  In the second half, Arsenal were fabulous and saved our season.

Arsene opted for playing Coquelin and Xhaka in the DM positions and, as I have noticed and posted before, they are both prone to playing very deep, in front of the defence. As a result, we invite teams to come and enter our half too easily and we struggle to move from a defensive position into attacking mode, as Coq and Xhaka are both not natural B2B midfielders imo. Bournemouth were crowding us out in midfield and then used the space behind our midfield very well, resulting in a number of very dangerous ‘turnover’ attacks. We should have pushed the Cherries into their own half and dominate proceedings – something we did very, very well in the last third of the game – but were unable to do this in the first half. For games like these we need players who are very comfortable on the ball in tight spaces, like Ozil, Santi and also Elneny, and boy did we miss them in the first half tonight.

Bellerin did not have the best of games defensively, but I blame Aaron or Iwobi – not sure who was playing with the Spaniard on the right wing at that moment in time – just as much for the first goal we conceded. It really was the sort of goal we should no longer concede: very poor defending from the team. I thought the penalty was a bit harsh, even though Xhaka was to blame for the foul. By the letter of the law it was a penalty but how many times are these sorts of fouls not given inside the box? 2-0 down and the boys tried to get back into the game but there was little cohesion between the players, and the Cherries kept fighting for each other and giving our players a very hard time physically all over the pitch, which was very impressive.

A good team talk was required by Arsene and the captain, and I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at half time.

We played a lot better in the second half but before we could score the referee made a howler by allowing Bellerin to be blatantly pushed off the ball by Fraser, who, to be fair, then did well to beat Cech for a 3-0 lead. At that moment in time, with just 32 minutes to go, we needed character to get back into the game. It was highly unlikely that we would avoid defeat, but it was crucial for the rest of the season that we would fight back with all we had.

On nights like these we need players who know what it means to wear the red and white shirt and who will move mountains to get us back into the game. This is a matter of character and talent, but without the former the latter does not mean much. I reckon all of the players showed character but it was also clear that some just did not have the qualities to make a difference. This could be down to rustiness but it is during games like these when Wenger can really judge the quality of his players… and some did not make the grade. I am not going to mention names in this post but at one point I will come back to this.

Iwobi did his very best but this was a game too many in the nr10 role for him, which, given his age and lack of experience in the PL, is perfectly acceptable. Bringing on Perez for Alex, something I would have done at half time (if not start him in the first place), gave the team the impetus and shape to start the fight back. It freed up the Ox to add more focus to our attack, which he had failed to do until then. From a more central creative role, the Ox started to get our attackers more in the game, and I have to give him credit for this.

Perez is our new Freddie Ljunberg: his runs into space and ability to hold onto the ball are key and his ability to create  space, passing opportunities and chances for others, as well as getting himself in good positions, are all very Freddie-esque. He scored with a  very sweet left-footed volley from a well-placed Giroud lay-off to make it 3-2 and thus gave us hope that we could still get something from the game. But it was his running and drive that made the real difference in the second half: he lifted the total team performance significantly, making Ox, Giroud, Alexis and especially Xhaka, who had an awesome last third of the game, much more effective players.

Before that Alexis, another player we can always count on not to hide away, had scored from Giroud’s desperate flick-on header.

And then it was Giroud himself, after providing two hard fought for assists, who scored a technically perfect, classical header from a peach of a Xhaka cross to equalise in extra time. I know Ollie will always have his haters, and we can point out his fabulous stats – best goals per minute ratio in the PL this season for example – or his considerable team contributions, till the cows come home, but tonight he showed again how much he is a true Gunner and how valuable he is for us. Pound for pound, Ollie is one of the best Arsenal signings ever.

Had the game lasted five more minutes, I reckon we could have won but also lost it, as Bournemouth were as keen as us to win the match. In fact, Cech saved us very late on from defeat with a characteristic stop.

If the Chavs keep winning games the way they have done in the last few months, we will not win the league – and chapeau to them if this were to be the case. But the fight back by our boys tonight tells me that we have what it takes to make it very, very hard for them if they were to become human again, which, as we all know, will sooner or later happen.

Goodnight to you all from one proud Gooner.

By TotalArsenal.



44 thoughts on “Perez, Ox, Alexis, Xhaka and top-Gunner Giroud Fight Back and Do us Proud

  • Very rare (and pragmatic) perspective of a game that was more or less, an emotional roller coaster for our fans. To be honest, I could not see the game and could hardly monitor the scores, as a result of a stream of visitors who came in to pay their condolences on a bereavement (mother in law passed away).

    I had an opportunity to take a peek at the ‘live score’ site at 3-0 and thought “this could not be happening”. I have only just known there was a fight back and we did equalize. That must have been real mettle shown there. It will be interesting to know how we found ourselves in such a position as to be 2 down to a mid table team in 20 minutes; not to speak of 3 down. That’s some escape, but such a situation, really, shouldn’t have been allowed. Could it have anything to do Mustafi breaking up the Kos-Gabriel partnership that had started to put together a run of clean sheets?

  • Wow T A you must have stayed up late writing this one. I think your statement about picking players who wanted to wear the red and white is spot on. Also it’s very easy to pick on players who didn’t play well in retrospect, but it’s up to Wenger to know who is mentally and physically ready to play.

    Bellerin is a good example. He would have been one of my first names on the team sheet last night. I don’t know if he was mentally or physically tired, but he had a pretty rough game. mustafi obviously needs some game time, his passing can best be described as inaccurate. Others like The Ox Perez and Gabriel all showed some hunger when they came on. Maybe if we had started with those three things may have been different. Once again easily said in retrospect.

    Goonereris, sorry to hear of your loss. I agree with you about Gabriel and Kos. It’s hard to drop a defender after two very welcome clean sheets. Stats will show that the only three games we have lost this season have been when Mustafi wasn’t playing. Last night make a bit of a mockery of that, but although he didn’t play well last night, Mustafi has added an air of calmness to the defence. It’s good to have three strong centre backs plus of vourse Holding.

  • That’s a brave report TA, and what a comeback. Still do I see it as 2pts lost. As I warned in my last post, the extra one day rest for B’mouth gave them a massive advantage which Howe admitted he capitalized upon by upping the tempo of his game all over the pitch right from the first blast of the whistle. Unfortunately for us the unavailability of a host of players who did not play against Palace (Mert, Debuchy, Gibbs, Santi, Walcott, Ozil, Welbeck plus early injured Coq) could not allow us to bring in more fresh legs.

    Howe’s strategy was to weary us in the 1st half us with a pace and intense pressing and thereafter pick us apart in the 2nd half. He must have been astonished at how poor we were 1st half, and how strong in our last 30minutes. We simply dug deep and that’s bravo.

    My dilemma atm is who to support in the Spurs/Chelsea match today. Do we conceded to Chelsea as champions with 18 games to go, or do we back Tot to whip them and us get pushed to 5th position with Spurs at 3rd? A goalless draw suits me best.

  • Allow me to give you a pointer in your ‘proper analysis’, TA

    Briefly, it is the Ramsey effect.

    He was selected to play in the 10 position. That lost us all that was good about Iwobi two days earlier.
    Ransey, chose, or was chosen, to play the left side of centre, when attacking and defending. Thus we lost all that was great about Xhaka two days earlier.
    Ramsey attacking centre left meant there was space for Coquelin on the right to run into, which he duly did…. leaving us light in defence?
    Iwobi tried to press defenders down the right, but unlike his ‘between the lines’ stuff, he only has one way to go from a wide right position.
    Bellerin, when supporting the attack had two less effective players on his side to support him in defence.
    The fist goal, which you can rightly point to Ramsey or Iwobi for not being this side. In fact Iwobi was way over the other side, and Ramsey was marking a guy in the centre. Bellerin was doing the same job as Monreal has done on the other side, placing himself as the far post defender for any ball over the top. But as I pointed out a few days ago, we are vulnerable to the cross field ball. Just this time it was over the head of Bellerin, where our right sided winger should have been?
    Monreal had plenty of support from Alexis, which meant he spent more frustrating minutes away from the Bournemouth goal.
    When Coquelin went off things changed. Ox on the right freed up Iwobi to move in side. However, Xhaka remained on the right.
    Credit to AW, the first thing to note in 2nd half, Xhaka to to left side! All our good spells came when these positions were maintained. Unfortunately, Ramsey had a habit of slipping into the inside right position again, and Xhaka, being the professional that he is, moved to the right.. The only good thing Xhaka produced from the right side was the precise pass for Giroud’s goal.
    Ramsey did eventually drop deeper, given he was part of the defensive midfield, but for all his attacking qualities, and he had a few good moments, the effect of his positional play does the team no favours whatsoever.
    The ‘Player gloss over the dispute he had with Alexis early on, but ‘5 Live’ were more than happy to report on it. Basically, Alexis plays a ball in to the box which comes to nothing. Alexis shouts at Ramsey for not moving away from his marker. To be fair, Giroud was equally stationary, but I’m guessing there is a bit more chemistry between those two? Anyway, Ramsey, wouldn’t let it go, and has a verbal ding ding for Alexis losing possession. Make of that what you will.

    2nd half was markedly improved by the introduction of ‘super sub Perez’. An expert finish for our second comeback goal. We should try a 4-4-2 more often 😀

    Finally, don’t go down the route of blaming the ref. Oliver had a very good game. Xhaka gave the penalty away with his elbow swing iinto the back, with Oliver perfectly positioned to see it clearly.
    Bellerin tried to get a similar result when defending, but no arm movement, he just wasn’t strong enough. The Bournemouth red card may have long harsh with several replays. Oliver had one view, and it looked dangerous.

    Waldo can come up with all the stats he likes that show Ramsey had run X amount of kilometers, X %age of successful passes, and X number of tackles, it does not alter his impact on the game one bit.

    Enjoy your re-run.

  • Guys,

    Only caught the highlights, and the brilliant comments over here.

    Sorry to hear about Goonereris’ loss, and condolences.

    Gerry summed up our deficiencies. Rambo is best kept out wide, or at DM with Xhaka on the left side. However, with Iwobi going off for ANC, we need Ozil back.


  • Eris, so sorry to hear about your wife’s and your loss. Please give your beloved a big hug from us all.

    In hindsight bringing in Mustafi was probably not a good idea. I think he struggled with the tempo and aggression of the game. But he never gave up trying and supported our attack by providing extra width till the end.

  • Cheers Retsub, I wanted it out of my mind before I went to sleep 😜

    The subs made a real difference, even though the Ox was a bystander initially. I would have started with Perez instead of Coquelin or Rambo, but Wenger decided differently and that is fine with me.

  • Cheers PE, I thought we fought back like lions and shit happens in football. The third Cherries goal was a refereeing disgrace and many team would have given up then… but not the mighty red and white boys. A want a Spuds win all day long, but a draw would be ok too.

  • And if you think that Bellerin was not fouled for their third goal then I rest my case. It was also never a red card, so that is two woeful decisions in one game. If only they could get European refs…

  • T A always amazes me. Football is a multi million pound sport, but in may grounds a player has to virtually embed himself in the crowd to give himself enough space for a run up to take a corner.

    Totally agree on the Belleron foul and the sending off. Have never been a fan of using technology, but I think it’s about time it was introduced for sendings offs. There have been a number of bad decisions recently

    Lastly don’t know if anyone saw Thierry Henry being interviewed after the game. The commentator saidI suppose you will be supporting Spurs tomorrow night? Thierry responded
    With a look that would kill and said no way would he support Spurs. Still a hero in my book

  • Sorry Goonereris, I dived straight into my comment after watching the game. Please accept my condolences too.

  • TA @ 10:55 – Can you tell me what comment you are referring to as ‘proper analysis’ please?

    It surely cannot be the few lines @ 10:51 where you simplify it down to ‘a magnificent fight back and a refereeing disgrace’?

    I did focus on Ramsey’s positioning because of the way it affected other players.. I was hoping you might say where I am wrong in that reasoning.

    As far as the refereeing decisions went, I too, thought Bellerin was fouled, as I thought his feet got caught? But the rear view camera angle showed it was a shoulder to shoulder contact, and they are rarely given as fouls?
    The red card, I repeat, from what Oliver saw from a one take, you can understand why it was given. And despite the replays, I would not be that confident of them winning an appeal? It looked like a two-footed challenge with studs showing, AND making contact with Ramsey’s leg, albeit not his standing leg. Howard Webb went through the categories that can prompt a straight red card the previous night. They are: Endangerment to another player; Excessive force, more than is required to make the particular tackle; Reckless, as in not in control when contact is made.
    What grounds would you appeal on?

    Also, somewhere along the line of this ‘magnificent comeback’, which of course it was, but where is the ‘proper analysis’ of what got us hock deep in the mire in the first place?

    Had I spent more time writing this morning I would have got around to other players. Ox coming on was very strange at first. It took time for him to get up to speed with the Bournemouth pressing game, but also there was Bellerin doing his own thing?? I mean, normally, when a winger comes on, the FB would be there to feed him, and support his runs. Not a bit of it here. If you look again at those early moments, it was Bellerin ahead of Ox. It was Bellerin being the winger, and in some cases, an inside forward, he got that far into the box? Very odd

    On corners, Xhaka has a problem. Left footed, he can do an out-swinger from the left side, or an in-swinger from the right. He is not Cazorla. However, why he was so naff was a question of height. His approach was to go forpace, hard and low, but he never got it high enough to clear the first man.
    Ox went the other way and ballooned one sky high, but at least it created confusion in the box 😀

    Time and paragraphs forbids me to expand on the lack of movement by Giroud in the first half,
    so I’ll stop there.
    Nothing gets me more riled than glib one-liners. You should know better TA?


  • What puzzles me is the penalty in the first half and the foul on Bells is virtually the same.

    Ox did well in this game, and provided a more defensive help to Bells compared to Iwobi. He is trying hard on the defensive side but was caught too far forward when trying to defend.

    Was confused myself whether Rambo or Iwobi was supposed to be the person protecting Bells. It looked like both were reluctant. When Ox came on it was clearer that it is his position.

    Watched the first half, but I think with the highlights it is sufficient to say that the defenders were not too much at fault. They are not able to be in 2 places at the same time. It is the person in front of them that are the culprits.


  • Gerry, the third and fourth paragraphs of the post are my analysis of what went wrong – as comprehensive and to the point as you will get from me.

  • Ramsey was played in various positions and did not have the best of games, but by no means was it his fault we went three nil behind. I think your comment serves your anti Rambo views, which, as I mentioned, doesn’t surprise me at all.

  • It’s a bit heated on here today, but interesting.

    For myself, Bellerin dived in and overcommitted for the first Bournemouth goal and to me he was clearly shoved in the back for Bournemouths 3rd goal…

    We all knew the fixtures weeks ago, it’s not ideal but you have to manage it, Arsene complaining about it before the game sent out a negative message to me.
    That’s when I started to worry about our approach.
    2 points dropped…

  • Kev, we are not going to win them all so for me, given the circumstances, it is a point gained. Let’s try are reduce the deficit with the Chavs gradually, say six or seven points by end of the month, then three to five by end of February, and then go for the kill in March and April. 😀

  • Total, I’m with you, starting with the Spuds this evening…
    It’s a long long season mate, a lot of twists and turns…
    I just wish that Arsene would keep things a bit more in-house. 🙂

  • We still got a mathematical chance of ending up the champions. Atm there is a bigger mathematical chance of our best squad in a while dropping out of the top four. I am amazed that few seem to be aware of this. I hope for the best but like to ready myself for the worst.

  • It’s amazing how negativity can influence our thinking. Is it inconceivable that the Chavs drop four, five or six points in their next two away games against Spuds and the Foxes? For us it is OGAAT all the way: stay calm and professional and have the passion to win as many points as possible. The boys proved last night they have what it takes, so let’s keep believing..


    Tonight is a tough one. Main priority is Chelsea don’t win, I could stomach a draw, but may struggle to keep my dinner down if Spurs win.

    I think the best we can hope for is multiple (not life threatening ) injuries and sending offs etc

  • I’m hearing that we’ve signed 20 year old Cohen Bramhall.
    I’m sure I read that the fee is £50,000…

  • Tot leading 2-0 2nd half. Am smiling but wondering if I ought to be weeping. My flame is still burning bright.

  • A disappointing result and performance versus an impressive Bournemouth side.

    A couple of observation:

    Bournemouth played well and were aggressive with and without the ball.

    Arsenal didn’t move the ball around quick enough, their wide players, with the exception of the Ox, didn’t cross the ball early enough or regularly enough and Ramsey didn’t offer himself as a second target in the box. The result was Giroud had very limited opportunities to test Boruc with his aerial prowess and when crosses did come in he was out simply numbered. Far too often this season Arsenal’s attack has been disjointed as a result of a failure to deploy particular wingers and a central attacking midfielder which best compliment the style of play and strengths of the chosen centre forward. For example, Alexis when deployed in the centre forward role likes to drop closer to the midfield to join in the build up play. To best capitalise on the space Alexis creates by vacating the centre forward area, Arsenal need to deploy wingers like Perez and Walcott who are effective at making off the ball diagonal runs into that space and beyond the opposition’s defensive line and a creative central attacking midfielder like Ozil or Iwobi who can effectively combine with Alexis and provide the killer pass to the off the ball running wingers. Alternatively for a player like Giroud who is strong in the air, good at knock downs and likes to take up central positions in the opposition’s penalty box, Arsenal need to deploy effective crosses of the ball like Ox and Ozil to capitalise on Giroud’s aerial strength and a goal hungry central attacking midfielder like Ramsey or Alexis who is willing to offer themselves as a alternative crossing target in the box and feed off Giroud’s knock downs. That said, for some reason we haven’t seen either of those combinations this season. Instead we are seeing players repeatedly deployed in unsuitable attacking positions (e.g. Ramsey and Iwobi played on the flanks, Ox played on the left wing despite being very right footed, Alexis played on the flanks without a creative central attacking midfielder). Don’t get me wrong, Arsenal have a fantastic array of attacking players in their senior squad and for the first time in a long time Arsenal have the ability to change their attacking system and approach with two substitutes. I think Arsenal just need to become more pragmatic about their attacking approach and the combination of players that can realistically execute those systems of play to fulfil their goal scoring potential. Part of that is coming to the realisation that we don’t have four attacking players in the squad with the skill set of Alexis to be able to effectively play the fluid interchanging of positions attack that I think Arsenal want to play. If they don’t come to that realisation and adopt a more pragmatic approach to team selection, I expect to see more disjointed attacking displays from the Gunners.

    Defensively Arsenal, as a unit, fluctuated between:
    – pressing high up the field, which effectively negated the defensive strengths of Xhaka and Coquelin (who are Arsenal’s best midfield tacklers and interceptors but aren’t the most mobile) and exposed the back four to counterattacks; and
    – sitting deep which meant Arsenal were unable to counterattack as there were no advanced players when the ball was cleared.
    This isn’t a new problem Arsenal are experiencing. It’s a balance issue that Arsenal can’t seem to figure out. To address the issue I think Arsenal’s front four need to consistently stay high up the pitch and press, while the central defensive midfielders and backline need to sit deep and focus on their defensive structure and organisation. I think that will provide Arsenal with the opportunity to steal the ball high up the pitch without unnecessarily exposing the backline. It will also provide Arsenal with more opportunities to counter attack when they do reclaim possession deep in their own half as there are multiple forward options for the deeplying players to pass to.

    Arsenal need to better rotate their first team squad rather than flog the same players match after match until they are exhausted and their performances suffer. For example, in the match versus Bournemouth not resting Bellerin and giving Jenkinson a run was the wrong decision. The Spainard was caught ball watching and out of position for Daniels’ goal and subsequently put in a weak attempted tackle and for Fraser’s goal he simply got outsprinted and outmuscled. I put those mistakes down to fatigue. Then there are other players like Ramsey who struggled due to a lack of prior match time. Again this is not a new problem for Arsenal. I’m just hoping the Gunners start learning from their negative experiences and start rotating the squad in a coordinated fashion.

    With Chelsea losing to Tottenham, Arsenal still have a chance to win the Premier League this season but to do so they will need to quickly address the aforementioned fundamental areas which are repeatedly costing the team offensively and defensively.

    Hoping to see a more coordinated and balanced approach versus Swansea.


  • Thanks for your kind words; truly appreciate it.

    I was hoping for a draw in the Spurs v Chelsea game but seeing as Spurs won, I am embarrassed to say it but… I am pleased. Is that such a bad thing? 😉

  • On the contrary TA, what Waldo is saying tallies largely with my viewpoint. Giroud’s main assets to the team is as an aerial bully in the box, and as a hold up player to bring others into the attack. What is traded off by playing Giroud is some quick creative technically assured movements in the final third attack. Giroud’s forte of aerial contribution is drastically reduced when we employ inverted wingers like Perez (WR) and Sanchez or Iwobi (WL). But Theo or Ox (WR) and Perez (WL) would fit perfectly into Giroud’s strength. Trading off somewhere demands we optimize somewhere else, a minus hand in hand with a plus.

    Of course such a set up means the non inclusion of one of Ozil or Sanchez. Imo, Ozil’s in-swingers from the WR suits Geroud’s aerial prowess to the tee and so we could also have a front three of Perez-Sanchez- Ozil behind Giroud. The only snag I perceive here is with Ozil’s tracking-back to help the full back. The great plus is Sanchez, more or less as a support striker, in the role custom made for his DNA.

    Meanwhile Spurs have done us a favour, but at the same time bared their mighty fighting fangs for all to see. My optimism though remains high, because before our tough matches begin to come Welbz would have been fully back, and Santi not far away and our mood would have become “bring them on”.

    Congratulation Gunners. Our 14 match successive wins’ record remains intact, maybe never to be soiled!

  • TA – My comment surrounding Ramsey wasn’t anti Ramsey, only the effect his inclusion had?
    It could have worked if the rest of the team had been deployed to get the best out of him. The disjointed approach that Waldo describes so eloquently, was a manifestation of the lackof just that.
    Anyway, moving on. As Waldo says, we need to learn from this game.

    Waldo, that overview in the first paragraph is very close to what I have been on about. There were a couple of things that could have been done differently, with the personnel available that might have changed things. One, keeping Coquelin back as the DM, and restrained him from powering forward and being the extra man up front. It looks good, but it rarely achieves anything, as quick passing in tight spaces requires a tad higher skill-set than he possesses. At DM he has a clear view of the game ahead of him, and can read that side of the game very well. Knowing where team mates are, and how to reach them whilst being closed down by two or three defenders is a different matter?

    That said, a little more on Bournemouth’s approach, tactically, should also be noted. By going 4-4-2 they had two up front that occupied our defensive pair, Kos and Mustafi at every turn over. It was clever deployment in having them start centrally, thus drawing in our CB’s, whose starting point is generally wide apart to compensate for the high up wing-backs, so the centre ground would normally be covered by the defensive midfield ….. Except …. see paragraph above.
    Had Coquelin remained in situ, we might have been less defensively naive? Or indeed, in a 4-3-3 deployment, with Ramsey given the central role as B2B man, and not Coquelin being the extra man. The subtle difference here is that Ramsey would return to central DM duties when we were out of possession, rather than remain high in the 10 role? He did this later on, after Coquelin’s injury brought Ox into the game, but erratically so it meant Xhaka was frequently displaced to the right side, where he was less effective. This of course is where Coquelin would have been, and now it looks like we have lost him for a while now, so redeployment will be required?

    Both you, Waldo, and PE have touched on Giroud’s strength, but where I was very critical of him was his movement, or lack of it.
    In the box, yes, he was outnumbered, but receiving Cech’s clearances, time and again he seemed stationary waiting for the ball to come to him, and the defender would step in front of him and prevent his knock downs. This may be due to the two day turnaround. Fatigue can work in two ways; either they start sharp and fade towards the end – classic case was Bellerin being nudge off the ball for their third goal … and he just stood there and watched. Normally he is so quick to recover, and goes chasing to make amends?; the other way is when a point in the game gets the adrenalin flowing, and everything begins to click, as was the case for Giroud, I suspect?

    As for the 6-4 split, that is fine on paper but you need the personnel to carry it off. We have it sometimes?
    Part of that 6 is the need for a ‘Cazorla’. The player that can defend, and yet turn the game into a forward smash and grab in a twinkling of an eye?
    Of the 4, you simply cannot have 4 players ‘free-loading’ high, without some commitment to defence, even if it is just blocking lines. With Giroud you have the ideal set piece defender. Alexis tracking back. Ozil or Iwobi doing what they can. But out on the wings we struggle, particularly on the left. As TA said about a previous defeat,.. ‘We haven’t got a Pires or a Lundgberg’.

    The transfer market seems very quiet, so I guess we will see if Welbeck/Perez and Ox/Walcott can provide the right balance … Or maybe someone from our youth ranks will step up?

    A good opportunity beckons for the Preston game, even if it is only enough to allow proper rotation?
    Jeff R-A and Maitland-Niles opportunity knocks! I’d love to see our best signing, Nelson, come of the bench and dazzle, but that is a wish rather than an expectation.


  • All

    Seen highlights, extended, and some player. Read comments too. I’ve two takeaways, unless a bird hits me while typing. Short and simple.

    A. Two deep mids left too much space to front line (Xhaka and Coq), leading to too much momentum and inability to consistently break a clearly aggressively running Bournemouth sides attacks early on. In turn this choice puts you at a serious handicap in the back. They are too organised and can too easily isolate players and positions deep in your half. This, in further turn, means you are way more susceptible to errors (of any type) like a missed push on Bellerin, Mustafis rustiness, a slightly late challenge by Xhaka created by too much momentum that made us look like we are standing.

    Simply, momentum in attack, means control over situations and matchups. It also means they are relatively faster, so you are essentially slower or standing. Bournemouth did all this and got the benefits.

    –> Thus, Xhaka and AR would have been better with Iwobi in the 10. Note that Coq at his best always had Santi about, the more forward one. Just not a good pairing for this game. A deeper sitting CP, and we wouldn’t have noticed. (Credit to Bournemouth)

    B. Given A, ref didn’t have best day, but, BUT, we put ourselves in the situation where he was more important as a result. That too is part of the game. So, yes, not his best day, but a big part of blame to Arsenal and their play that magnified the opportunity loss due to a missed call, and face more opportunities for a missed call to hurt us badly.

    That’s a takeaway… if your not going to sit back, then don’t play two deeper DMs together. We didn’t sit back but did play two (too?) deep. The rest followed.

    Oh, and awesome fightback! 🙂

    Cheers from here — JGC

  • PE

    ‘What is traded off by playing Giroud is some quick creative technically assured movements in the final third attack.’ This is not correct. Just because Ollie is not fast himself, it does not mean our attacks are not ‘quick creative technically assured movements in the final third’. This is a common misconception. Ollie is indeed a presence in the box and the other attackers need to use him, all over the pitch, to combine your kind of attacking with having more presence and link up play right inside the box when teams sit back and defend.

  • PE, the idea that Ollie works best with the likes of Theo and Ox crossing the ball into the box does not work for me either. There are loads of players who can cross the ball into the box and Theo and Ox are not particularly good at this anyway: more crosses are misplaced than Giroud-friendly. Xhaka, Ozil, Perez, Rambo and the full backs can all produce a more than decent cross into the box. But the idea that Giroud is best used by using him as a traditional CF is not one I subscribe to anyway: he is a lot more than that. Fact is we are scoring a lot more goals this season, whether we play Giroud or Alexis up top…. our main problem is our defensively discipline as we are conceding too many goals.

  • ‘–> Thus, Xhaka and AR would have been better with Iwobi in the 10. Note that Coq at his best always had Santi about, the more forward one. Just not a good pairing for this game. A deeper sitting CP, and we wouldn’t have noticed. (Credit to Bournemouth)’

    –> Thus, Xhaka and AR would have been better with Iwobi in the 10. Note that Coq at his best always had Santi about, the more forward one. Just not a good pairing for this game. A deeper sitting CP, and we wouldn’t have noticed. (Credit to Bournemouth)

    Spot on Geoff

  • Agreed TA, The Prof’s comment is so good it was worth repeating 😀 😀

    I think what he is saying, is a slimmed down version of what I was saying. That is redeployment of AR could have been made to work if the rest of the team benefited by it? I have said many times that when one player replaces another, there is never a like-for-like change, and that has a knock on effect on others. Displacing Iwobi is a case in point. Again, the deeper central pivot depends on capability. With the Xhaka Coquelin combo, I would rather it be Coquelin because he is more mobile and reads danger well. It would have worked okay if we went 2-1-2-1 in front of the back 4, with Xhaka Ramsey in front of Le Coq?
    Each game has to be taken on it’s merits, and Swansea will throw up a different challenge, and with the added complication of absent Coquelin. But not repeating this error of judgement, if that is what AW sees it as(?), is more important.
    The only thing I have against Ramsey, and it has been said by others, is his positional sense. Or rather the lack of awareness as to how that integrates with the others.

    As far as any overreaction goes, I don’t mind that at all. It was the lack any reasoned argument that could have gone with it? But I thank you for the mention, and it is taken in the spirit it was meant.

    As for Preston, I know you will probably expect AW to ‘give respect’ to FA Cup’ and play the bulk of the first 11, and you may be right. But I would rather the bulk were rested, especially Alexis, and he uses those bench warmers. Although if Gibbs and Ozil are fit, include those with Perez as CF, and Ospina, Gabriel and Holding, and Jenkinson at the back. The other 4 can come straight from the under 23’s, but keep Ox and Walcott on the bench, which again should have a large dose of youthful content. Sorry, no OGAAT from me, I have eyes on the Swansea game which we cannot afford another slip up?


  • Gerry, I dont think we are on the same wavelength when you think that Coquelin deep and then Xhaka and Rambo in front would work. For me, and i reckon Geoff, it is either Coq or Xhaka deep, and then Rambo, Elneny or Santi as B2B with either Ozil or Iwobi in the hole.

  • That would put me back to the pre-Bournemouth comment, on who is the better DM?
    The Xhaka Elneny partnership worked well because they worked as a pair,
    The Xhaka Coquelin was a work in progress.
    The Xhaka Ramsey partnership is the only one available for the next month, bar Santi getting back, or Maitland-Niles doing the Elneny bit. But without those possibilities, Ramsey has got to be more restrained, because neither are capable of being a 1 in a 4-1-3-2 set up, or the 4-1-4-1. variation.

    Ideally, I’d offer £30m to Chelsea for Ake, and train him up for the role … Ideally!


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