Beastly Giroud Powers Arsenal into Fourth Round | Iwobi MOTM | Player Ratings

To use the football king of cliches, this was a game of two halves. What can we say about the first one? It was dire, the worst half of Arsenal football I have seen in a long while. We were disjointed throughout the team and collectively we had no fighting spirit whatsoever. Wenger left the normal leaders at home for  various reasons but there were plenty of players on the pitch who should have stood up and be counted: the likes of Ramsey, Ox, Giroud and Monreal were all not setting the example and were an insult to the shirt during those nasty first 45 minutes.

All our football pairs were not working as one, most notably the CB-pairing of Mustafi and Gabriel: it looked like they had never played together before and left our defence all over the place. The CB-FB pairings did not look much better and Ainsley had very little support from our right winger throughout the game. And then the midfield pairing of Rambo and Xhaka was disjointed, failing to dominate proceedings anywhere on the pitch. The Welsh wizzard had left his magic wand at home and the Swiss time master looked lost on the Deepdale pitch. Up-front, Ollie was isolated and our wingers, hard working Perez and day dreamer Ox, were not working close enough to him or provide him with the required service to hurt the Lilywhites. Iwobi looked lost like a jaguar on a float and all together we played absolute pants.

I was looking for leadership on the pitch: the one to three players in the spine who take initiative and set the tempo. Nobody did this but it was luckily  very different in the second half, after Wenger no doubt will have injected peppered carrots in 11 well-deserving Arsenals.

We were only one goal to the bad as a result of some woeful defending, but we all knew we were lucky not to be 2-0 or 3-0 behind. Preston had played with a high tempo and played some good football and they will be feeling quite sick to not have earned a replay at least.

With a higher tempo and a clear instruction for the midfielders to push up and dominate the opponents deep into their own half, the game changed immensely in the second half. We came out like a possessed team – the carrots had an immediate effect – and within a minute we scored the equaliser. Some very composed work by Iwobi around Preston’s ‘D’ led to a shooting opportunity for Ramsey just outside the box. The Welshman did not snatch at it but allowed himself to have a very soft touch in order to then unleash the venom in his right foot with devastating effect. It was a beautiful and powerful shot which left the keeper with no chance – Ramsey’s first goal of the season and boy did he, and we, need it.

After that, we kept up the tempo and played much more like a team. We did not create too many good chances but we also kept our opponents from causing us any danger. And then the Lilywhites started wilting and the Gunners came into the golden last ten minutes of the game phase – as Lewis Hamilton would call it: Hammer Time.

The boys increased the tempo and the attackers were now working with and for Giroud to give us the breakthrough. It was wonderful to see Welbeck joining the attack during this period and I reckon he made a difference straightaway. Rambo pumped one into the box and Ollie managed to direct the ball to Perez. Lucas was crowded out by defenders with his back towards the goal near the byline, but he managed to find his new mate Ollie with the deftest of back-heels. Ollie smelled his chance and a very, very powerful left leg got the ball over defender and goalkeeper by sheer willpower to win the match.

Image result for manowar band images

Giroud knows how much the away supporters love him and he scored that goal right in front of 6000 warm and happy Gunners. The goal meant so much to him and this time he did not celebrate with the copy of his scorpion kick but by thumping his Arsenal-logo-embroidered heart with the force of an insane Manowar warlord. He may not have the slickness and athleticism of our Gunner-Gods of Henry or Bergkamp, but what Ollie has done for us in the last few weeks is simply outstanding. For me he is very close to playing himself into my favourite Gunners team of all time. Beauty of spirit goes a long way.


Ospina: 8 – calm, focussed, safe pair of hands.

Ainsley MN: 7 – too many times unsupported, but oozed calm and control for his age

Mustafi: 6 – more willpower than experience on show, not calm enough

Gabriel: 6 – same as Mustafi

Nacho: 6 – same as Mustafi

Rambo: 5 – fist half 2, second half 8 average = 5. Time to become a Manowar warrior…

Xhaka: 5 – looked lost but better second half. Not sure whether Rambo partnership works

Iwobi: 8 – never gave up trying, much better 2nd half due to Wenger’s team adjustments. MOTM

Ox: 4 – no more excuses for Alex

Perez: 7 – struggled at times but better 2nd half and what an assist!

Giroud: 8 – see above.

By TotalArsenal.

44 thoughts on “Beastly Giroud Powers Arsenal into Fourth Round | Iwobi MOTM | Player Ratings

  • A nice write up TA…

    Talking of cliches, how about Welbeck ‘being like a new signing’…
    I was really encouraged by his cameo performance, his energy and enthusiasm is just the fillip we need going into the 2nd half of this mixed season…

    Only saw MotD after listening to the game on the radio, I’ve seen Arsenal get turned over many times by lower league opposition in the FACup, but never felt we’d lose this one, especially as Preston kept on spurning their many 1st half chances…

    Wenger has an interesting balancing act to perform over the forthcoming weeks, that is how do you fit: Giroud, Perez, Walcott, Welbeck, Alexis, Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, into 3 positions?
    A nice problem to have…

  • Totally tired of people making excuses for AOX…especially the English people,if i were an English man i wouldnt want him playing for my national me he is making the descion to let Wilshere and Campbell go out on loan look ridiculous.he has no desire to track back and help out the fullbacks.he has scored more goals and assisted more than he has done previously in a season for Arsenal but u cant win games when u continue to let in goals,teams just exploit our fullbacks cos AOX and Theo would leave them exposed.apart from that,OG12 is the man,i cant help but think of how many goals he would/could have scored if he was starting every game.. 24 goals last season,Wenger didnt even give him the chance to improve on that…that to me is a shame.

  • It runs smooth, this post. Never never thought of Ox as a dreamer, but that’s exactly what he is. Maybe sees himself as fleet footed warrior. Thanks TA for giving him such a soft landing. Am now minded to be more forgiven of him.

    Strange! Strange! Strange! That’s when I try to reconcile what I saw with the stats of the match. I saw crap but Whoscored gave us 68% possession, 90% pass success, 18 shots (50% on target), 70% aerial duel success, and you better believe this – Gabriel’s pass success after 63 touches sits smugly at 100%. Yes 100%. Meanwhile the almighty Preston NE had 8 shots with only 3 on target. Whoscored just got me doubting myself. All the same, I can only comment on what I believe I saw.

    I saw that we were and are poor without the ball. Or are we? The stats confuse me. If we are so poor without the ball how are we able to keep pace with the big boys. There must be more to it than meets the eye. Analysis some other day.

    Your ratings TA say you and I watched the match from nearly the same angle. Nearly.
    Mainland Niles looked a bit unsure to me expectedly, but without doubt he is billed for a great career possibly as a CMder. I rate him 6.
    Giroud scored the all important goal but I happen not to belong to the school that forgives a player all his sins because he hit the net . I forgive only a part so I rate him 7. Lovely post TA.

  • Good write up TA,

    Now for my point of view.

    We started the game with Perez and Ox not helping much on the wings to cover Nacho and AMN.
    Individually AMN made some mistakes that cost us a few times.

    Perez had some balls that were overpassed, and Ox was easily crowded out when faced with 2 to 3 opposition players. Iwobi had some good possession of the ball, but the crowded area meant that he was not able to make much headway.

    The whole team really gelled just about 10 odd minutes before the first half ended. That was when Iwobi found some space and did his thing to get the whole team moving, and that was also when high crosses were put into the box to unsettle the opposition. Ollie was not at the position we would have preferred him to be, and crosses were found overhit or too easily closed down.

    The second half is a totally different scenario altogether.
    I might be wrong, but it seems that Ox dropped deeper to the left DM position, and Rambo played on the hole, moving Iwobi to the left at times. All 3 were swapping posiitons with Perez at times and that was when we really had some decent chances.

    Mustafi is better in the second half, alongside his defenders, especially AMN, as we got everybody talking again and doing what we were supposed to do.

    Maybe it is because of the way Rambo learnt what the opposition were doing and baited them to fouls. The yellow card to the PNE player is justified as it was a full blooded tackle to me. Not sure what the PNE manager is complaining about, but it was fully justified.

    The build up to Rambo’s equalising goal is something to behold. Iwobi had the ball in the tight area, and with no opposition closing him down from the front, he made a superb pass to Rambo who unleashed a Rambo-esque shot that the keeper had absolutely no chance.

    After that goal, the team became unstuck at gear 1, and immediately moved up a gear.

    Perez came alive in the second half, due to the opposition players tiring and us getting the hang of who is where. Iwobi is easily the MoTM, he is all over the pitch winning balls and getting lively, but Perez is a close second.

    His back-heel to Ollie is a beauty, and no one expected him to do it in such a tight area closely guarded by 5 defenders. Ollie’s shot looks deflected, and if he got a clean shot maybe the keeper would have saved it. Or maybe not.

    In actual fact, Ollie only became more involved in the second half. He should have came back to help the midfielders when we were under attack in the first half, like what Alexis used to do. He did it in the second half, and our attack were more pacier with his presence.

    Now to Danny, who deserved a mention regarding his involvement in an Well-back performance. He replaced Ox, and did well in helping his teammates. It was a reminiscent of the game against last season’s champions Leicester, where he got the winning goal in the last minute, and it was a joy to watch him getting involved again. His movement in his shot on goal is brilliant.

    We have now 3 options in CF position, and Ollie should be rotated with Alexis and Welbeck, as we need the whole team to be fresh to be able to continue the good run of form, which had been a little hampered due to the recent losses and now slowly coming back.


  • I am in that funny position of agreeing with most of the comments, and the snappy review TA.

    And you are right with the ratings, mostly. You are right in that the first half we were disjointed, and dire because of it.. That affects players all over the pitch, so difficult to rate accurately. The second half, much easier.

    PE, I too thought I must be watching a different game as I waded through other ratings given on various blogs. Such variations, from dire for most players, as though the second half did not exist, to others who were more glowing as though the first half did not happen?

    However, JK ticks the most boxes, as he looked at the differences, and possible reason as to why we got better in the second half.

    Sorry franck, you only tick one box because you correctly observe that we get easily attacked by leaving our FB’s exposed. The other stuff is incredibly naive. To think if we played more of Giroud, and less in consequence, of Sanchez and yet get more goals than we have now, is too simplistic. To blame OX and Walcott for not supporting the FB’s is not even accurate, let alone missing out on the tactical side of it? A more balanced view, rather than regurgitating the ‘rent-a-crowd’ view next time, please 😀

    For my part I want borrow, and manipulate, a phrase from Oscar Wilde:
    ‘To have goals scored against us once, from poor defending in the full back area may be unfortunate. But to have goals scored against us more than once, from poor defending in the full back area may seem like carelessness?’ – ref ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.

    Either our tactics are inadequate. The players are inadequate. Or the wrong players are picked, assuming we have the right players? Or they do not carry out their roles adequately.
    This comes from a comment I made a few games ago, about being vulnerable to the quick cross-field ball, aimed at our isolated, or absent full backs.
    Apparently, Preston watch our game against Bournemouth on their way home on the coach after their game. They knew then how they were going to play us.
    Ian Wright has every right to be angry at our two goal scorers, post match, when he heard them say ‘they were surprised how committed Preston were’.
    FFS! What the hell do they do in pre-match briefings????

    Again, my pre-match words of ‘TEAM wins it. Collection of players doesn’t’ And Preston won that part hands down in the first half. Luckily enough, they could not get their full on attack up to the same level. It is hard, and we should know, we have done that ourselves. Go in at half time 1-nil up after a rampant first 45, only look totally average when the opposition changes their play.

    One thing is for certain, we cannot keep this going come March, when we meet nearly all top half of the table sides. Just reflect on that West Ham Man City game to get rid of any complacency.
    Note to JK – We are not in a good run of form. We are repeating the same mistakes and having to overcome them.

    I will come back on the specifics of this game, when I have a chance to recollect my thoughts.


  • I’m baa–aack… Who missed me?… 😀

    This one I was able to watch, sort of, in a disjointed sort of way around the final leg of my travels…and, TA, I think, has got it just about right. I was also able to watch and/or follow the three league matches (WBA, CP and B’mouth) to varying degrees of effectiveness and it is/was quite interesting to hear peoples’ takeaways on those matches too…

    As always, I think Arsenal are in a very strange space. We have so much invested in our “perspectives” that we’ve lost almost all ability to speak objectively about what we’re seeing. Results can’t even be discussed coherently because expectations dictate so strongly. It’s almost as if we should just suspend conversation until the trophies are raised or we’re eliminated from the competitions…

    For many of the loudest Gooners if Wenger does not deliver those trophies it’s not even worth it. Here at BKesque we’re pretty much past that sort of nihilism but still suffer. If we celebrate too much aren’t we just priming ourselves for a later come-down?…

    Or maybe that’s just Giroud… 😀

    Too much celebrating is one issue, but other forms of communication are just as bad. “Surprised by their intensity and commitment” is as bad as saying “screwed by the schedule maker.” “Injuries” is one nobody wants to hear but we seem to be in another spate of soft tissue troubles. Winter break or “illness” is all good, as long as results keep coming (and contracts get signed). Should Alexis be rested (out with a minor knock…) for Swansea away, Burnley at home and the next round of the FA Cup? I’d do it, but only if we the go on to win those games. Everybody will be correct in hindsight, I fear…

    Like Gerry says (amongst all the 1000s of words and other stuff I have trouble following…) it’s a team game and no player is bigger than the team. Could Ozil have played in these recent matches? Probably. If he comes back stronger and better and we go on a run it’s genius to have given him the virus…Same as with all the others. (What is Theo’s injury, exactly. Is it real or Weng-jury?…) If we’re just too depleted do we blame the physios or is all on Wenger or just that the players who made us feel so deep aren’t all that? Again, it probably just comes down to your perspective (and your expectations) and what you’re hoping to see. Our young right backs (including Bellerin) have been on the learning curve a lot lately, for better or worse, for example.

    For me, I thought our chances took a big hit when Santi went down but I know that’s not a very popular view so (after saying it a couple of times) I went quiet. I still believe we can compete for the three trophies still available but we need some (very) good luck. Giroud can’t save us every single time, I don’t think (at least not if he wastes time celebrating…) and our depleted forces at CB and DM suggest other teams will keep making chances and (very likely) scoring goals.

    So be it. I just wish the famous 12th man (the support) could see the long term picture more clearly yet take them one at a time–and actually find some goodness in the proceedings. Thanks, TA (and others) for doing your best in that regard…

  • HT, I think your pessimism stems from not only reading other blogs, but reading the comments they provoke?
    Regards Cazorla, I think the general view on here is that, if we are not missing Santi himself, then we are scrambling about looking for someone who could do the role justice until he gets back …. whenever that may be. Another month at the earliest I read?

    If you care to enlighten us with the ‘objective’ view of the latest match I would be pleased to read it. The trouble is most people have an emotional involvement which clouds objectivity.

    You will be pleased to know I just shelved a 2000 worder on the last game…
    so there is space for one of yours 😀


  • Knock that 2000 words down to 500 and I’d be pleased to read it too… Truth be told, I have often shelved (or lost) plenty of posts of my own which seem written a little too much just to satisfy myself. If you got something from writing it, sometimes that can be good enough…

    Obviously, I have no monopoly on objectivity, but that’s probably your point…Additionally, I don’t know much about football so who am I to go on and on trying to convince myself (and others) that I might…

    That said…

    In Mexico I got a pretty uninterrupted stream of the first half at Bournemouth and I saw that first half yesterday in much the same light. We were probably worse yesterday w/o Koscielny at CB and the more predictable presence of Cech. I’ve just about never seen a CB forget how to play the offside trap (at this level) the way that Gabby did yesterday.

    Xhaka might be Pirlo-esque but that guy (Pirlo) wouldn’t look very good either trying to stop the fast breaks of the English game. We miss the subtle touches of Santi in there but he too needs Le Coq to cover when things go awry. The one touch work of Ox and Rambo does not impress me and Iwobi is a work in progress in that regard too. Not putting in a January recall clause on Jack Wilshere (especially as Ake goes back to Chelsea) was a bit of a blow it…(as we say over here…)

    Once a team breaks us through the middle our back line needs to come good and they really struggled (in both matches). The best defense (American spelling) is offense but there again it appears that the nice pitches at both opponents made balls just a little tough to control and decision making when ball-control confidence goes tends to suffer as well. Not enough intensity? No, just too much belief that technical superiority would win the day, and, when it didn’t, no (immediate) rolling up of the sleeves to get it done in grittier fashion.

    Until we did, of course… 😀

    Solutions? Isco seems happier at Real Madrid these days so I doubt he’s buy-able in January. Santi may have been “found out,” and he may make an occasional multi-touch poop circle but there are few players who can work in tight spaces and (generally) make good footballing decisions at that level in world football today. (It might cost more than AW wants to pay to get Xavi Hernandez out of Qatar…Cesc, I fear is “once a blue, always a blue…”) I wouldn’t count on him at all this season but at least we can extend his contract one extra year.

    So, rest up and move on. Sit Alexis down (until he signs a new deal or for the next three matches) and hope for the best with Ozil back in there. We need the deeper squad confident anyhow…

  • TutTut, Salvation via the transfer market … You will not be popular ☺

    One minute I read that AW is going to concentrate on getting the contracts sorted, and not buy? Next, ‘deal close … so who knows.’

    More from me tomorrow, but thanks for sharing. One thing, what do you think of Pérez?
    I am not convinced, until proved wrong. I think he may be a ‘flat track’ bully.


  • Welcome back SeventeenHo, and yes you have been missed. Love the analysis and your views re Santi are well known here 😀⚽️

    I would have loved to have him against City and Everton, but am less convinced about how much of difference he would have made.

    How was Mexico; did you meet any Gooners?

  • TA, Mexico was very nice and I didn’t want to leave…to compound matters we’re experiencing a huge atmospheric river of rain (on the snow) with associated flooding, avalanches, etc., etc. up here in our mountains…

    I didn’t meet any Gooners but I saw a nice knock off Arsenal kit in a market stall in a small town way out in the countryside… I should’ve snapped a photo… Sorry… 😦 😀

    As for Perez… He seems pretty strong in the Theo role to me–you know, present a threat, stay out of the build up play and put the ball in the net. It sounds like folks are down on him for being very one-footed or maybe not being able to dribble past people. He’ll never be part of our British core, however, so that probably puts off some folks as well. He seems a good buy but might not be getting enough playing time to want to stay, a problem that Welbeck might just exacerbate…

    To answer Gerry, I don’t really read comments on any blog except this one and I really only read this one and Arseblog unless something piques my interest on NewSnow…and that’s pretty rare with all the (very negative) clickbait crowding the headlines there. Those things probably contribute to my pessimism about the Goonersphere and the lack of appreciation of all the (very good) things we’ve got…

    Overall, I just think the inherent grimness of being a football supporter isn’t well suited to the modern happiness now–or else–culture. After all, we play for 4 trophies, it takes all year and there are a lot of clubs out there fighting just as hard (with a few spending much bigger money…) so lots of sad folks is a natural result… Additionally the luck element is SO big (we were very lucky Preston didn’t take their chances, for example; less so at B’mouth…) that it masks all the hard work and the drive and commitment we’ve been showing with these late wins/draws. (If that could be appreciated more, I’d have more hope…) We’re pretty disjointed at the moment but the tough schedule is gone for a couple of weeks and maybe we can sneak through with a couple of winter breaks and good enough results. (It’s a very big month for Aaron Ramsey, but then I’m just agreeing with what’s already been said… Xhaka also needs to come up big as probably Mustafi and Gabby do too) We’re walking a wire and good results, increased confidence and general improvement will be needed in Feb and onwards….

    So, let it rain, (we need the water…), I say… 😀

  • Good to hear you had a good holiday and that you discovered The Shirt in the middle of nowhere. 😀

    Yes there is a lot of dissatisfaction around but it will be different again soon 🙃

  • 17ht, we sure missed your input here greatly.

    To Gerry, by continuing the run of form, I meant that we should get the good times back soon.

    Yes, we hit a roadblock lately but the feel good times are starting to show.

    If Perez can offer more in protecting the defender… He is as good as Alexis.


  • Enough. Enough. Enough. – Let’s get down to an objective assessment ….

    Arsenal v Bournemouth: First half…
    The collective out of sync in every key area, with possible reasons for it.
    Back 3: – Ospina, Gabriel, and Mustafi. Ospina not as vocal as Cech. Gabriel switched to the left side, after doing a good job on the right, including RFB. Mustafi, only second game back, without the assured Koscienly behind him. Consequently, attention split between supporting M-N out wide, and being closer to his CB partner. Tried to compensate with tricky balls to the midfield and beyond, which only returned possession to Preston.
    Full Backs:- Monreal and Maitland-Niles. Both protected very early on, by Ox on the left, and a combination of Ramsey and Perez on the right. The latter two started to disappear up field, particularly after they scored. Their goal came about, predictably, from a cross-field ball while M-N was up supporting an attack.
    Midfield:- Xhaka and Ramsey. This was arguably the most confused area. The plan appeared to be, Xhaka left side, Ramsey right while we defending, but Ramsey would go forward in attack down the inside left channel, with Xhaka moving centrally.. It worked fine until the 12th minute. We lost possession down the left, Xhaka covering, urged Ramsey to go round him back to their starting positions. Ramsey ignored him. From that point on it got so erratic as to who would cover where, so no surprise to read the comment ..’Xhaka looked lost”.
    The biggest loser in all this was M-N, because he was up against one of their most skillful players, McGeady, and with Xhaka not willing to go as deep to offer RB support, and Ramsey being too far away. Meanwhile Perez running marathon distances from deep to front line, was also not always available. This lack of chemistry in a crucial position cannot continue. My own view is whatever we gain from Ramsey as an attacking force, we lose out on Xhaka as the calm controller.
    Attacking midfield:- Ox, Iwobi and Perez. Here were three separate battles. For some reason Monreal and Ox were not on the same wavelength. It seemed that Monreal would not pass to Ox when he only had one defender against him, and Ox not willing to run into space and hope the ball would get too him. Consequently, Ox gets the ball with two defenders against him, so he turns inside, so Giroud rarely saw a cross come in from that side.
    Iwobi was a standout. Worked tirelessly all over the pitch, despite seeming to have to carry the whole team forward. Well done that man!
    Pirez, worked hard, bringing the ball from deep. However, his lack of interaction with M-N was a big minus. The latter, despite the problems defending offered himself down the line, and mostly just ignored. Meanwhile, Perez was getting little joy when he turned inside, including a snapshot that was cut off by two defenders sticking timely legs out.
    CF:- Giroud for much of the time isolated. No crosses coming in, see above, and the slow build up with ‘tika taki’ stuff going from one side and then back again. That left him forlornly attempting to ‘high press’ on his own.

    Very few teams could overcome so many handicaps. 1-nil was ideed a fortunate score?

    Thank your God and AW, the second half was different.


  • Hm.. this site needs to have an edit button for the comments made.

    Sorry Gerry, I realised that it was comments for the first half.
    Same length as mine, but only the first half…. “Watches in horror”
    So… second half is longer?

  • Okay, second half.

    Changes were subtle.
    CB’s play a higher line, use Ospina as a sweeper
    Instructions to the DM’s; One go forward, the other deep and work together.
    Iwobi go left side.
    Ox right side, or middle if Ramsey is right side.
    Perez work across the pitch, rather than up and down.
    M-N Get tighter, but keep at it.
    Giroud move around a bit.
    All of you – Move the ball quickly!
    ….. Or words to that effect?

    Ratings: 2nd Half only.
    Ospina 7.5. – Claimed everything that came his way.
    Monreal: 7.5 – Made more of his interchange with Iwobi, and the high press got him involved with many of the attacks to good effect.
    Gabriel: 6.5 – Much improved. Minus 0 5pnt for getting a yellow in ‘revenge’ tackle.
    Mustafi: 8 – Complete control in the centre of the goal. Distributed the ball well from deep.
    M-Niles 7.5 – Not the complete defender by any means, but his support in attack deserves an extra point.
    Xhaka 7.5 – Got his proper role sorted out, so his long passing game came to the fore.
    Ramsey 8 – His goal alone was worth an extra point. good work in and around the box.
    Ox 7.5 – Really took his game to them. Made numerous runs wide left, and central. Bagged himself a ‘pre-assist’ with his knock on to Iwobi who in turn made Ramsey’s goal possible.
    Iwobi 9+ – Involved in almost everything that was good about Arsenal’s attacking play. Without doubt MOTM. Not pass perfect every time, as that would have made it a 10+ 😀
    Perez 8 – Not convincing everywhere, but a hard earned 8. No extra point for his back heel. I treat that the same way I did with Giroud’s ‘scorpion’ kick. It was only made great because it came off. It was not a pass, as such. It was a back heel into the only space he could put it.
    Giroud 9 – Far greater presence with more support around him. One whole point extra for being the one to be in the right place at the right time to prod home the Perez back heel, and the ‘pre-assist’ he earned for the knock down to Perez.
    Welbeck 7.5 – Two shots on target, and well saved, was a good return for minutes played.
    Note to AW; He was better when central than out on the wing?
    AW 8 – For getting it right at half time. Query why some changes could not have been made during the first half? Almost a minus point if the two changes in injury time, had they backfired because of the disruption they may have caused to an otherwise coping defence? Surely one sub would have wasted the same amount of time?


  • Southampton or Norwich away in FA cup. Not too bad but would have preferred a home game. The Saintsalso play the semis of the Micky mouse cup this month which could be an advantage for us

  • For those who haven’t the time or the patience to read a long intelligent post, you can ignore this one too. But for those that like alternative view on our season so far, this is a good one:

    However, I see a major flaw in his final line up. That is, ‘Where to put Coquelin?’
    He suggests the left, to enable Alexis to stay in a more attacking area. But that would leave Bellerin exposed in the same way that M-Niles was in the last game? Or rather the space behind is exposed if the opposition go for the quick counter?

    His full analysis is worth a read though.


  • “For those who haven’t the time or the patience to read a long intelligent post, you can ignore this one too.”

    Gerry, thanks for the link, please post the other ones to which you refer… 😀

    Regarding the writer’s proposed formation change and its flaw…Isn’t LeCoq already out injured? To me it looked like he was trying to get forward more in the pieces of the streams I saw down in Mexico… (The only match I completely missed was vs WBA. I’ve got it on tape but it sounded so dreary I can’t bring myself to watch it… Maybe if the snows and winds keep me inside all day…)

    I like the 4-2-1-3 but I think we play it in a far looser (side to side re: the 2) style than observers (you and the author of the piece) would like. In attack, Xhaka is the anchor man, but going backwards he has trouble and LeCoq is always ready to do his bit but to whichever side he sees the need. Maybe that’s not as “organized” (American spelling) as folks would like but it’s also the nature of the beast when we need to win each and every match (go forward with real aggression).

    This lack of side by side organization indeed has left us vulnerable to long cross-field balls but we’ve also had some very poor one v one defending from our FBs combined with some very poor (panicky?) play amongst the CBs in keeping a tight line (to created the offside trap). The margins are fine and just one or two successful dribbles and shots by the opposition can seem like an avalanche. Preston and Bournemouth scored early and then kept coming at us, of course, which made things look worse.

    In a certain way, however, we were actually somewhat fortunate that both teams kept trying to attack, allowing us (finally…) a chance to stage the comebacks. Swansea, Burnley and Watford (and So’ton very likely in the cup) are more pragmatic teams, I think, with Chelsea (on Feb. 4) a more dangerous version of the same. We’ll need to start those matches better and be more prepared if (and when) we lose the ball…

    So, hopefully we’ve learned from the last couple and will do better. We need to go on a run and surmount the loss of the defense-first instinct that Coquelin (not to mention Santi…) helps give us. Xhaka is positioned there but is just learning the English game and needs to know when to use his hands and feet (never in the box, always outside of it)… Ramsey is clearly more motivated going forward than back. If Ozil returns (and I predict he will…) he has a much better eye for fore-aft balance even if he’s renowned for not wanting to stick his foot in… Iwobi, I think, is learning quickly under his tutelage but still isn’t quite sure… I would give that bunch of fellows (plus another mid-winger, Lucas, Theo or, as a last resort, the Ox) a run in these matches while resting Alexis as much as possible. That’s just me however and, I’m NOT Wenger in disguise…

    Besides the (poorly scheduled) Bournemouth match we’ve actually gotten the needed results. It hasn’t been pretty but we need to keep our nerve and make it through this “easy” run of fixtures while giving some desperately needed rest to the likes of Ozil, Alexis and Koscielny. (Nobody answered my question so I’ll ask it again: Is the Walcott injury for real or just a Weng-jury?…) It may not have seemed like the best way to kick off the new year but it could have been worse…

  • Hi Seventeenho, you is up early. No doubt you had a couple of espressos already ☕️☕️☕️☕️

    I don’t know what is up with Theo exactly. Funnily enough, I have not missed him at all.

  • The weather here is the biggest I’ve seen in my 18 years in the mountains…Biblical rains (which flooded my garage) followed by snow and high winds. Already we’ve had over a foot and the storm total is supposed to be 2 to 5 feet…The schools are closed again today and will likely be closed tomorrow too. It’s too dangerous to drive anywhere so there’s not a lot to do besides moving snow around…and (maybe…) have another coffee… 😀

    Let’s talk about Theo… He’s easy to miss, I think, when he’s on the pitch… 😀 😦 His game is one or two touches and done…And to present a threat at all times. IMO he is much more valuable against teams who are willing to play (i.e., push up their back lines and try to outscore us) than vs the bus parkers–simply because he has more pitch space to use his pace when he gets behind the line.

    Lucas Perez, in my limited view, has a very similar style but perhaps a little more subtlety over a stopped ball. The longer he plays in England the more he ought to lose this quality as defenders are more or less allowed to barge players off it…unless, of course, they’re Arsenal defenders… 😀 😦

    So, if Theo was rested in these last two matches then I think that was poor management. If he was actually injured then so be it…

    Most observers of the English game seem to like more active players who can run a bit with the ball–guys like the Ox and Welbeck and (especially) Alexis. To my mind, if players can use each other (pass the ball…) and the spacing of the pitch, it’s all good (as we say)…just a different sort of game. It’s always easier to describe individual heroics (or the obverse…) than the team game so that may be part of the issue… Personally, I gravitate towards the less selfish (role?) players than the guys who have always been the best (most physically and technically dominant) players at every level they’ve played and have trouble reigning in those instincts as they move up.

    As such, I’m interested in another thing I think I saw (on a stream) but haven’t seen well explained–the contretemps (angry yelling) between Alexis and Ramsey in one of those matches (CP or B’mouth)…To my mind there might not be quite enough ball (or pitch space) for the two of them, even if most observers think it’s more about playing Alexis up front–instead of Giroud–or that he and Ollie are otherwise incompatible. Again, I believe Ozil’s presence (and sometimes his ability to get out of the way and create space for others) will go a long way towards cleaning things up…

    Oops, hit my word limit…’nuf for now…

  • The Ramsey Alexis spat was nothing at all. They don’t have to be nice to each other all the time.

    I really like Perez’s use of space, reading of the game, confidence on the ball, sharpness in the box, workrate and attitude. There’s still a role for Theo though.

  • Dan Crowley, on loan at Marc Overmars old club Go Ahead Eagles has gone and got himself sent-off in his first game for the Dutch team – a friendly!

  • Gedion Zelalem has 2.5 years left on his contract, so Dortmund will have to make a decent offer to tempt Wenger to sell…

    Comparisons with the Gnabry situation are tenuous, but that won’t stop our mates in the Press comparing the two…

  • Quick break from the shoveling…Maybe I’ll post a picture at some point…Parked vehicle are starting to disappear…or at least look like white elephants…

    A-Kev…Cheers for keeping us abreast of the window ‘news.’ The American connection with Zelalem makes me want to see him stay around. The biggest up and comer in US Football (Christian Pulisic–another smaller guy) is already at Dortmund so it could be awfully tempting for the player. On the other hand, maybe GZ is the guy to get back from loan if that’s in his contract. I also just read that he’s out of contract in the Summer so somebody has either got bad information (or an agenda)… Where did you get the 2.5 yrs info?… Is it Gnabry-esque or no?…

    Inquiring minds and all that…I don’t see anything on Arseblog news (yet) and it looks quiet (last several hours, at least) on NewSnow… Jon Toral to join GZ at Rangers seems the headline that indicates real activity… We’ve also signed a left back (from the 7th division) so Nacho and/or Gibbs will (soon) be (rumored) on their way out…

    In happier news, Bellerin, Ozil and Gibbs seem to have recovered from their various illnesses and knocks…Theo maybe caught the virus and–you heard it hear first–I think Alexis and Koscielny might have the sniffles too… 😀

  • That’s not our house but it gives a bit of the flavor (flavour?)… The 2nd half of the storm should be starting up soon….School has already been cancelled for tomorrow (the 3rd straight day) which I cannot remember having ever happened before…

  • You stay in the western part of USA I believe? It was reported in the papers.

    Hope the storm will ease sooner.

    I hope that a week worth of break is enough for our first team lads. We need them to help our team out.

    About Zelalem, I believe he is able to break into the first team next season. He is like Iwobi though, but also tracks back more than Iwobi. We need to keep him.


  • 84, I’d like to see Zelalem stay, but I have my doubts over his patience and the patience of his father who is (or was) his agent…

  • Allezkev, I understand where you are coming from, as we have seen so many good players with huge prospect it seems like he would have gone the same way as them, but I think he can have the ability to break into the first team.

    Wenger can give the others a place on the bench during cup games, but the idea is there are definitely better players in this club, and youngsters with a good eye on the ball is not uncommon, but Wenger knows his worth so we might see him develop further.

    If Wenger does not play him more in the cup games this season or the next then it is the end of Zelalem in this club.

  • Well done HT. You have sparked the blog into life, after I thought I killed it stone dead.

    Many thanks, for reading the link too. At least he made a more coherent attempt to enlighten us, than my cut down 2000 words spread over three pieces.
    Mea culpa

    Picking up on your points. I think the writer was trying to pick a best 11 down the line. But you are right, Coquelin is out for another 3 weeks or so (hamstring). In doing so, and a bit like AW, was looking for the right set up in order to get the best out of Ramsey. The 2-1 set up is just a variation on a 4-3-3. But I tend to agree with you in that changes in both personnel and shape might be needed according to how the opposition are expected to play. Although I think there is a blurring of the lines of difference when teams like to ‘play good football’, but quickly get back into shape, and those that stay deeper and counter quickly? My feeling is that we are a bridge between the two, in that if we start slowly, it is a bit of the latter. But when we come out of the blocks quickly, we dominate with a high press. But what we don’t seemed to do, even as well as Preston, is get back a defensive shape quickly. So any attack down one side draws out of positioned players that way, and nobody covering the other side. It was this that got me so annoyed about Ramsey’s part in this confusion in the first half against Preston.
    Note to TA – I said at the time, the spat between Ramsey and Alexis was neatly covered up by careful editing on the ‘Player. I did not see it ‘live’ either, because it was covered by Sky, but I listened to it on Radio 5 Live. They were talking about it for what seemed like over a minute, as Ramsey angrily responded to Alexis moaning at both him and Giroud for not making more of his ball into the box. Six of one and half a dozen of the other as far as I was concerned. However, I think behind it was Ramsey as the aspiring would-be leader/Captain knocking back the self assumed leader Alexis? The two and fro between them, as reported on the radio, was because both thought the other was wrong, and why it carried on longer than just a moan about a wasted cross in. Wasted by whom got lost.
    That was in the Bournemouth game, HT. Just maybe, AW wanted to keep their ego’s apart against Preston. It might also explain why Ramsey saw himself more as the commander, than Xhaka?
    For me I would rather the calm, steely eyed, Xhaka as captain every time. In my opinion Ramsey lacks the awareness that Ozil (or for that matter, Cazorla) has, as to knowing how his position has an impact on those around him. Instead, he takes on the role of freedom to go anywhere he pleases, without any responsibility for the outcome. Including returning to a defensive position, anywhere he chose, was a moot point in that first half against Preston?

    Just a little aside. I recall Xhaka being clobbered by a late tackle, and he cast his steely gaze to find the culprit. Mark Clattenburg saw it, and just had a quiet word in his ear as the two passed by at the restart. Not a big Mike Dean moment for the cameras. Just a quit word in passing. That is what I like about Clattenburg. AND what I like about Xhaka, as he did not do what Gabriel did. It is that sort of discipline you need as a Captain, and the sooner it happens the better ….
    imo, of course.

    Time pressing, as I am late up the second time, having watched Obama farewell speech earlier. The American people will miss his oratory I think.


  • I hope you are right 84, Wenger obviously sees him every day in training, but after a full season in Scotland where he played in big cup ties and a final, I wonder if frustration will kick in after only 2 substitute appearances in the League Cup this season….

    It makes you wonder why he didn’t go out on loan again, unless possibly Wenger thought he could use him more in the 1st team?

    As it stands I think sending him out on loan is necessary this month, unless Arsene is seriously considering moving him on permanently?

  • Just a few additions to what I said earlier …. and while I was scrolling down I saw this:
    Arsenal v Bournemouth … Which should have been Preston…. although there were similarities.

    What I was hoping to do was highlight our problems so, as you concur HT, that we (AW really) will learn from these repetitive errors.

    It is now complicated, by both the contract negotiations, and injuries. Both of these, us observers can only look on. Team performance however, we can comment on. We have three more games to come, where, given a good team performance should result in 9 points. But if the mismatch continues, I fear the worst.

    So looking at it from AW’s perspective, he is going to play the side that he thinks are likely to bring in the best result, and on past history means no risks on alternatives, at least as starters?
    That is why we are seeing the likes of Akpom and Toral going out on loan, and is getting the frustration of GZ through lack of playing opportunities. All three might have been useful in any other season?
    The vibes are not good about Alexis, but AW still played RVP whilst probably knowing he was being strung along? But whether he will now want to bolster Giroud at CF we shall have to see. My hope is if AS has decided to go, and AW has an alternative lined up, I would rather he goes now. But we are only on the outside. The only thing that might confirm that, one way or another, is if PSG for one does in a concrete offer, in preference to one of our rivals? If Ozil goes the same way in the summer, all the more reason to keep young Zelalem?

    In the immediate future, I see the Ramsey Xhaka midfield continuing, hopefully as the better version of the 2nd half v Preston povided, and improved upon?
    I think Giroud will continue at CF, although I think we could rotate more.
    As for Perez, it is not that I do not see what others see in him, especially when he gets it right. But, after the next three games he will face much tougher defending, and I feel he is too lighht weight for those sort of games. I have seen signs of him pulling out of 50-50 challenges already …
    It may have been this that prompted my jest in calling for DaSilva to come on at half time, as it would be the Preston defenders that would be bouncing off him. Next season may be?

    I was surprised that Per might go on loan, as it his organisational skills that could needed, Especially if Mustafi was tried in the Coquelin role? It might also mean a signing is in the offing?

    Anyway, there will be much to discus for the Swansea game, with Welbeck pushing hard to displace somebody. If Ozil returns along with Alexis, it might be Iwiobi who steps down?

    Yes, a lot to be cheerful about, if they regain the momentum they had before the defeats.

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