Iwobi puts Panic into Defenders | Ozil is Back, Beauty is Back | Alexis/Giroud Two Top CFs | Danny is Welbeck

Winning in Swansea was sweet and our Northwest rivals dropping valuable points even sweeter. We all knew that we needed a win against the Swans but not many were confident that the boys would be able to overcome a team that we have struggled against in recent seasons and would be out to play for their new – third this season – manager. The boys are so confident in their ability to turn anything round again that they once again did not bother much in the first half. Of course this is nonsense, but what is a worry is the team’s apparent inability to gel and play at the right tempo and intensity from the start.

As discussed in previous posts, this is largely due to the lack of cohesion and dominance of our midfielders in the DM pivot. Rambo and Xhaka are fine midfielders but they are struggling to play together effectively and as a result the whole team often suffers, as these two players have a pivotal linking, protecting and enabling role in the team. Luckily, Arsene is time and again able to lift their game significantly during the second half of recent games, which has made a huge difference. We have to hope that the boys will soon start to play much better together from the first kick-off.

Eight Positives From Game:

  1. Giroud keeps delivering and Wenger knows he has more than one quality option for the CF role. OG has 13 goals from 18 attempts on target and only needs 71 minutes for each PL goal on average, which is fecking awesome (best in the league by some distance). Losing twice in a row against the Toffees and Citeh seems to have made Arsene realise that he needed to put Ollie back up-front and either rest Alexis or play him on the wing. The Chilean firecracker does not seem too happy about this but I can see why Wenger wanted to freshen things up. It has worked out very well, with three wins and a hard fought draw in Bournemouth, but I have no doubt that Arsene will play Sanchez as CF again sooner or later. Key is not to become too predictable and over-reliant on the one player. Hopefully, Wenger can explain this to AS-Baby. 🙂
  2. Iwobi is dancing his way into this team. He is learning very quickly and the combination of incredible close control of the ball, great vision and fabulous passing ability is making the team play much better. Alex was for many the MOTM and quite rightly so. Often a young player does well initially and then starts to struggle with dealing with the expectations by the fans and manager, after which they usually struggle with form and self-belief for a long time before possibly coming good again (the Ox being a prime example). But Iwobi, just like Bellerin last season, appears to be able to keep growing steadily and is becoming a regular first team player as a result. His final ball, especially on goal, still needs improving but luck was on his side with two strong deflections leading to two Swans’ OGs. He is starting to put panic into defenders which is a sign of a quality attacker.
  3. Cech is a safe pair of hands. Made a very good safe in the first half and just does not do anything that makes his fellow defenders nervous. Petr is no attention seeker; he is the night-watcher.
  4. Ozil is back – Beauty is back. Our German conductor is endlessly mobile and inventive on the pitch and we have missed him. All the rest re him has been said many a time: Mesut is Mozart!
  5. Gabriel is becoming a very good utility defender, being able to replace both Mustafi and Bellerin with relative ease. The combination of Gabriel and Mustafi needs more work, but I am happy to play him with Koz in any defensive combination.
  6. Three clean sheets in the last four PL games, after conceding at least one in the previous eight PL games, is giving us hope that our defensive play is improving. It is by no means perfect, but if we can build further on this we have a good chance to get much closer to the Chavs in the next couple of months.
  7. Alexis, despite his shenanigans when he gets substituted, is playing very well for the team and is joined top scorer in the Premier League with 14 goals already. On top of this he produced seven assists which makes him the best attacker in the league. Wherever he plays he always creates danger for the team and is an outlet for fellow players. Let’s never forget this.
  8. Welback is beck. All digits crossed he will get fitter and fitter and help us win silverware this season. The attacking combinations we can draw from with players like Welbeck, Alexis, Giroud, Perez, Iwobi, Ozil, Theo and Ox are almost endless. The versatile and enthusiastic Welbeck really adds a lot to our attack going forward. He could be the difference come May.

By TotalArsenal.


18 thoughts on “Iwobi puts Panic into Defenders | Ozil is Back, Beauty is Back | Alexis/Giroud Two Top CFs | Danny is Welbeck

  • Good outcome for the Gunners, but another unconvincing performance. The lack of cohesion in Arsenal’s front four persisted versus Swansea. Giroud did well to keep his goal scoring run going despite a total lack of service from Arsenal’s wingers and fullbacks. Sanchez was again wasted on the LW and Arsenal looked so much more fluid in their attack for the few minutes he played in the CF role when Giroud went off. Iwobi’s energy was good but aimless for the most part. I also thought Arsenal’s slow transitional play (from defence to attack) limited Ozil’s effectiveness.

    Ramsey was busy but his positioning largely left Xhaka exposed defensively. I thought Xhaka was good defensively and tidy in possession. His number of long passes were way down though. I think that can be attributed to a lack of separation between Arsenal’s front four and back six and a lack of off the ball running from colleagues meaning counterattacking opportunities were limited.

    Generally I think the back four played well, though Gabriel’s pass selection was a little suspect at times and Monreal and the Brazilian didn’t offer any service to Giroud from the flanks. I thought the defend first nature of the players which comprised Arsenal’s back four more suited a counter attacking style of play as opposed to the slower attacking play Arsenal employed versus Swansea.

    With Liverpool, Man Utd and Man City all dropping points, it ended up being a good weekend for Arsenal. That said, Arsenal need to focus on producing more complete and coordinated performances so that the team is well positioned both on the table and on the field when they come up against more challenging opposition.

  • Gerry, did my post yesterday affected you into dumping your post?

    Liv and Manu** drawing meant that we climbed 2 spots and fell one, and Citeh were so bad defensively that I am not sure if changing the back 5 would have made anything easier for them.

    But I think it still did not explain why you decided to scrap your comments. Looking forward to your thoughts.


  • Everton’s spectacular dismantling of Man City by 4-0, puts our 2-1 defeat at the same venue, into a little more perspective, not that it lessens the disappoint of dropping 8 points at Goodison, Eastlands and Bournemouth…
    Chelsea are the acid test for us, and as well as Giroud has played recently , I think if we are to go to Stamford Bridge and against the odds, take the points, Wenger will need a more fluid attack and Coquelin back in situ…

  • Kev, that fluidity did not help us much against Everton and Citeh when Ollie only came on as a sub. That will have worried Wenger. And once again I will say that IF the team play to all Ollie’s strengths, we can be as fluid as the Mississippi.

  • Yes, TA, your order of merit goes along similar lines to my own. In which you give a very fair reflection on how it panned out, and who made the difference.

    I thought the first half the priority was, as Waldo put it, ‘defend first’, although we did have our moments, before and after Giroud’s goal. Stemming their early passion was probably the right way to go, otherwise we might have been looking at a comeback in the second half?
    But during this first period it was noticeable that the midfield duo were very much playing to orders; Xhaka left side; Ramsey right; One forward in attack, one deeper.
    I thought in the early part Alexis wasn’t his usual bustling self, and if it wasn’t for the experience of Ozil and irrepressible, ubiquitous Iwobi we would have had very little going forward. True, Waldo, the latter is not pass perfect, but if he was he would also be on £200,000+ a week, and worth every penny of it. He has that rare gift of a quick mind and quick feet, so he can place a pass in an unexpected direction. Some of his simple passes don’t come off, but let’s not have one rule for Alexis, and a harsher one for another?
    I think it was the Ghana coach who said he feared Iwobi more [in the AFCON] than Inearcho (Man City) because Inearcho is ‘predictable’. That is what the ever improving Iwobi is, and he is making himself almost indispensable, in a sort of non position. But it blends very well with Ozil, and he can link up with the wide players on both wings
    Whilst talking of players meriting praise, Kos was his usual solid self. Lucky the ref saw the would-be penalty call, correctly observed in real time, that took most of us a couple of replays to get it right. Dyer had made up his mind he was going down as he expected to make contact with Kos’s leg. His mistake was to do it in the right order. However, they have been given many times in the past.
    In the second half, all three goals were part of a clever build up play, in which Iwobi had some part in, as well as the assists for the two OG’s. The first was a killer for Swanea, as they came out quite brightly. It also triggered the Ox switch for the injured Giroud. I cannot understand why he came out for the second half at all, as it cannot have done his knock any good at all … unless it turns out to be just a severely bruised ankle? Anyway, although Ox took a few minutes to get up to speed, once again his pace injection did see Alexis back on song with more freedom to move centrally. Ox also seemed to release Ramsey from defensive duties, as the partnership with Xhaka disintegrated once more. I think most of our poor defending occurred when Xhaka was drawn into the right full back area, along with Gabriel and Mustafi. As a strongly left footer, he is not comfortable so far over to the right?
    However, our dominance in attack tended to mask how costly that might become in future games.

    As for Alexis, I think AW was juggling with how soon he could take off Alexis, but still give playing time to Welbeck. I am not sure he would have taken him off a month ago, so there was a little of ‘I am the boss! about it. I can also understand why Alexis was miffed, as Swansea were being opened up at every turn, and a couple more goals would have given him a hat trick and put him ahead of Costa in the ‘Golden Boot’? But he is very child-like in him wanting his needs satisfied, so not unexpected … any more than the camera fixing on him to create headlines?

    As Kev says, we have one more ‘cheapie’ then it is the big test. Chelsea!


  • Sorry JK, your post had no influence on my lost post.

    It was ‘lost’, not dumped. I have my footie stuff on Google Chrome, but others book-marked on Firefox, including BBC/Sport/fooball. I thought I had switched browsers when I checked the final score of he Everton game. I hadn’t. So when I closed the browser down, I lost the chance to go back to my post. The essence of which is above.

    I was miffed at wasting an hour on it, and evening time is not the best for me to start again. The above was meant to be briefer, but the incidental side of the games requires a bit more explanation ….
    Sorry TA.


  • I think we missed the couple of seconds when Alexis juggled the ball in the midfield area when it looked like no one bothered to close him down.

    That was a short while before he got substituted.

    Our next game is against Burnley. We have to focus on that one rather than the one two games ahead. Burnley has our public enemy number 1, Barton. Could not forget the way he tricked the ref to a red card to our player.

  • Thanks for the post TA and I think you hit the positives quite well. All the more impressive if you’re putting it together from radio plus highlights, I say… Despite the scoreline (which probably did indeed flatter us) I’ve seen a lot of negativity in the reaction to this one. It amazes me, but these are troubled times and folks probably don’t want to get too happy when we’re (as always…) in the midst of a critical run of games. Ah well…

    Swansea players were working hard to impress their new gaffer and were very effective pressing our attempts to play the ball out of the back. In my view, neither Ramsey nor Xhaka turn particularly quickly when receiving the ball and there’s a reason that the possession helpers at FB took up those defensive positions early in their careers. Gabby and Nacho did what they could to help, but the others–Ozil, Alexis and Iwobi–seemed keen stay forward rather than come back and do likewise. To me the more forward players were needed a bit deeper and we were just missing a little of this sort of quickness and quality in those areas (Santi, Le Coq, Elneny and Bellerin all might’ve done better…) rather than Xhaka and Rambo not playing well as a combo. I also think we could use additional target men (I miss Bacary Sagna) as Giroud, his size notwithstanding, is really not the greatest in controlling balls in our other way forward–Petr Cech’s long kicks up-field. (Gabby could maybe play such a role if he continues as our RB…) As such, we struggled early on and Swansea were nominally on top.

    Still, we never lost shape at the rear and the back 4 played very well as a unit, I thought, limiting Swansea to long attempts, the best of which required turning round the post by Cech. Those result in corners (which are always unnerving) but we defended them well too, IMO. The nearest we came to losing the clean sheet owed a lot to Mike Jones sanctioning Ki’s planned fall. (Consider me shocked that we actually got a call rather than the ref making a better spectacle of things by rewarding the home team.) That close one plus Giroud’s injury–and his indication that he needed to come off–muted the complete turning of the tide our first goal (scored after a very incisive counterattack) probably should have merited.

    Since Ollie was able to continue we have to hope that his injury isn’t too serious. If I was Wenger I’d probably use it as an excuse to sit him in these next couple of matches and experiment with closer to a 442 giving chances for Lucas and DW to play (just about) alongside Alexis. Is the latter crazy for the golden boot, crazy for a big money move away from the club or just plain crazy? At least he’s not biting anyone, I say, and I’ll only worry about things if he does–or when we get more solid news on his contract situation. Wenger makes generalizations about South American players so I will too. I’m concerned about his agent(s) steering the player too aggressively in almost a 3rd party ownership style, remembering as I do players like Mascherano and Tevez (who were at West Ham when I stayed in London back in ’06) and who took circuitous and very different routes in their careers. (I would hope Alexis could model himself more after the former than the latter, the less talented of the two but the one who has made himself a stalwart at Barcelona.) A case could also be made, I think, for sitting Alexis in these next couple of games. We’ll need him well rested and firing if we hope to get results at Chelsea and Bayern early next month. That no player is bigger than the team would be the other message, of course…

    Putting all that to one side, we sure looked good after the break with Ozil and Iwobi bringing all the rest into the match to create extreme pressure on Swansea and net the remaining goals. The opponents, still auditioning for their new boss, kept at it, but we were relentless and simply better than them all over the pitch. What’s not to like about that? I didn’t think we got even better when Giroud went off and the Ox came on, but maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention given the comfortable scoreline.

    A week now of articles about contracts and other (far-fetched) January business, Whether you opt to build up your worries (or your confidence) is probably a personal choice. It would be lovely if we got some good news (beyond Jenko gone back to play for Fat Sam…) but I doubt we will as long as the window remains open. (At least, in midweek, we should learn where we travel for the 4th round of the FA Cup…) Too much time on our hands, perhaps, as we must wait all the way until Sunday until we take on another opponent with nothing to lose…

    Good times…

  • Total, that was a very fluid point you made upstairs…

    Taking the lead at City and Everton, before losing both, was a huge disappointment, and certainly opened up those oh so familiar doubts about Arsenal flattering to deceive, but did not Mustafi miss those two defeats, plus the 70 minute defensive shambles at Bournemouth?

    Don’t get me wrong, Giroud has been fantastic and scored some fabulous goals for us of late.
    It’s just against Chelsea I feel that we’ve gotta have more variety in attack and try to replicate the kind of fast, incisive football we used to beat them 3-0 at the Grove, imo…
    But if Giroud starts at Stamford Bridge and helps us to a famous victory I promise that I will never disagree with you again…. 😉

  • Cheers Kev, I think there are two kinds of fluidity: one with a solid centre to work off and one with a more fluid centre. I like Alexis as our CF, but if he has a bad day it leaves the team vulnerable in terms of scoring (enough) goals. Play Giroud and Alexis together and we carry a much bigger goal threat. I think Alexis and Giroud do not get on though and especially the Chilean firecracker should work harder to make the partnership work, which remains a challenge for Arsene. I guess with Alexis, Perez and Welbeck and Theo, Wenger could play three of these upfront and go for total fluidity with plenty of goal bite…. options options, which is good….as long as it works 😀🙃

    Leaving a striker out who scores every 70 minutes is not for the faint hearted though… especially at a vital point in the season.

  • It’s gone rather quiet around here but we have some news… Arsenal will travel to Southampton the weekend after next for the 4th round of the FA Cup…

    IMO, this is not a great draw. It’s a rainy day here so let me try and explain… Please pardon me if I get a bit long-winded…

    As most will recall, Arsenal have struggled mightily against Southhampton gaining only 1 point from 6 last season in the league (nil-nil at the Emirates and getting crushed 4-nil at their place). This season we’ve played them twice in our home stadium. Early season we eked out a 2-1 win thanks to an injury time penalty put home by Santi Cazorla. More recently we lost nil-2 in the EPL Cup quarter-final.

    On the plus side, So’ton have been struggling in the league (including home losses to Spurs and West Brom) but they also have beaten Liverpool in the first leg of the EPL Cup semi-final along with winning today’s replay at Norwich. Also, they will be playing us on only three days rest as they’ve got the 2nd leg of the EPL Cup semi a week from today. Hopefully that will tire them out ahead of our match. We’ve got full weeks between matches so maybe we’ll have a few extra bodies back in action (Le Coq and Bellerin, perhaps Theo…) and this could be a chance for some of them to get up to speed. If AW rests some stalwarts as he did in the previous round (Kos, Alexis, Ozil, Bellerin) it might be a chance for those guys plus some others (Welbeck, Lucas, Gabriel and Holding) to show that we don’t lose too much if we rest a few of our best players.

    Obviously, we need to take them one at a time and first we’ve got Burnley on Sunday (who just beat So’ton this past weekend). At the end of the month the matches come at us more quickly with a Tuesday night match vs Watford before we travel to Stamford Bridge. If we were to draw at Southampton we’d have to replay them in the following midweek before Hull City away then the trip to Bayern.

    In other words, winning and advancing is surely the best plan. Losing and being out of the Cup–like any bad result–would be a catastrophe (or at least dent our confidence) but a draw and replay might be worse. In late February we travel and play them again in the league. If I was forced to choose only one to win it would probably be that one…

    So, long story short, as I said at the top… IMO, this is not such good news… but, so it goes… 😀

  • I say put Giroud and Alexis up front against Burnley and hit them with perfect crosses.

    Soton is a good team that we must be very tight at the back, and if we were to start what we did the previous few games we will be slaughtered. No words minced as that is how good they are. Burnley too, but just a tad less.

    So, anyone knows if Le Coq and Bells is still injured?


  • You’re right HT, it is quiet. Short of delving into aspects of the transfer market, which at the moment does not seem to be involving us … other than getting a right back so Jenks can move on, and Debuchy hobbles off to France, that even I cannot find a trace of anything to grab my attention.

    But going with OGAAT, Burnley win is the priority. But winning with style and confidence is a close second? For that reason alone, I think Giroud will be benched.
    Despite the outcry of ‘a goal every 71 minutes, are you mad?’. No, because behind that wonderful statistic I would simply ask … ‘Just how many of Giroud’s goals have been scored before the 40th minute?.
    I think he scores most of his goals when teams are tiring, not when they are fresh. So it makes sense to use him as a late sub? We cannot just keep pushing Alexis out wide in his current frame of mind. He needs cenrtal action, and above all goals. So give him the fluid, fast pace front line and see if it brings back his smile? It we come unstuck we have Giroud.
    The Southampton game could be all changed if they lose Dick Van Dyke in the TW? Burnley beat them after they played midweek, so recent stats will mean nothing. Confidence in our own game is what we should be concentrating on.

    So to pick a team by eliminating Giroud, and players who can play to his strengths. Namely, Ox or Matland-Niles, and probably Perez. That leaves Welbeck, Ozil, and Iwobi playing behind Alexis in the CF position … nominally that is. Fluidity is the key.
    The midfield duo will continue, for better or worse, whilst the back 5 will be the best of the fittest.

    Come Southampton, we might actually get to see the Xhakaitland -Niles pairing? The returnees from injury might also get their moments.
    Worry about Watford after that game. The Chelsea game is more or less a title decider for us, but it is no good if we drop points to Watford. The two games before should give us an indication of what our ‘strongest’ team is, and if we have a good enough back up option. Good enough to have confidence in them that will spread to the team who ever plays.
    Way to go!


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