Liverpool-Arsenal: Crunch Time Battle for a Top-4 Spot and Another Referendum on Wenger’s Future

Arsenal return to action after a 12 day break since their last outing.  In fact, it’s been a full three weeks without a league match, that one being a 2-nil win over Hull City.  Of course, before that, Arsenal had lost at Chelsea (3-1), and, even more distressingly, at home to Watford (1-2), effectively ending any dreams about a league title this season.  After the win vs Hull it’s been all about cup competitions.  The devastating result at Bayern Munich (a 5-1 drubbing in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16) was hardly mitigated by an only somewhat convincing 2-nil win at non-league Sutton United to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA cup.  Now, as the break concludes, we have to wonder if Arsenal will be able to regroup for the final three months of the season.  A trip to Anfield, as it always is, will surely be a stern test.

That it comes against a similarly beleaguered Liverpool squad only raises the stakes.  Jurgen Klopp’s team–who began the season with a 4-3 win over Arsenal at the Emirates–looked very strong in the first half of the campaign.  Free from any European obligations, there was even talk of a title run.  Since the turn of the calendar year, however, it’s been a downhill slide. The misery of home league losses to Swansea and Southampton has been compounded by more recent away capitulations at Hull and Leicester.  This is on top of being put out of both domestic cups by way of a two-legged semi-final loss to Southampton in the League cup and and losing at home to Wolverhampton in the FA Cup.  On the brighter side, Pool have had better results against the bigger clubs, including draws at Manchester United and at home with Chelsea; a 2-nil win vs Spurs three weeks ago has been by far their best result in the new year.

As such, Klopp, while not under the extreme pressure faced by our own Arsene Wenger, must motivate his troops to try and get up for a top 4 finish in the one competition in which they remain.  For Arsenal, even if it’s the “same old, same old” routine of trying for a similar finish, finding motivation will be even tougher.  There’s no famous Anfield atmosphere to provide comfort for Wenger’s men and then there’s the looming prospect of a home leg vs Bayern on Tuesday night.  Needing a 4-nil scoreline to go through, it’s virtually a dead-rubber and sure to feature a hostile environment with plenty of “Wenger Out” sentiment on display.  If Liverpool can beat Arsenal tomorrow they will jump ahead of us on points, although we do have a game in hand.

Such a result would only compound Arsenal’s current misery.  In a statement that is sure to anger those who only want to see his backside, Wenger has said that he will decide about a new contract sometime in March or April while also suggesting he’s not particularly interested in other jobs, including the impending vacancy at Barcelona.  Center forward Olivier Giroud claims that the squad is 100% behind the manager, but will that be enough?  Surely a good result at Liverpool is an essential first step for the manager and his team in this extremely difficult moment.

How then does Wenger set up to combat the Anfield atmosphere and a wounded Liverpool team that will see this one as an opportunity not only to gain points in the top 4 race, but also to right their own listing ship?

It’s very difficult to say given the two weeks since the most recent game and the fact that the first team struggled so badly in Munich in the one before.  Wenger probably has been watching his players closely in training and assessing who might be ready and who might not.  Team news suggests that Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny are in full training after injuries.  The only first team regular definitely out (if you don’t count Santi Cazorla who appears likely to miss the entire remainder of the season) is Mohamed Elneny who was hurt at Sutton.  Mesut Ozil, supposedly nursing a virus, should be available, but could also be spared for this one (and the Bayern return leg) after being the focus of so much extreme consternation from the loudest and most critical Gooners.  Wenger also reported that Danny Welbeck could be in line for a start even if he was left out of the squad at Sutton with concerns about the plastic pitch and his ongoing recovery from a long term knee injury.

The success of the lesser teams against Liverpool suggests that a strong strategy is to take away their defensive pressing from the front by giving them more of the ball and trying to play on the break, a style I believe Arsenal have been cultivating since losing Cazorla.  Playing in that manner could lead to a very open game and might call for pace up front with starts for the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and, perhaps, Welbeck or Lucas Perez instead of Giroud.  It might also suggest that Francis Coquelin returns to his deep lying midfield role despite his difficulties in Munich.  Who might pair with him in the double pivot?  Granit Xhaka seems the likely choice though the extra running of Ramsey or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain might be better suited for quick counters.  Further back, Petr Cech comes in for “cup-keeper” David Ospina while at least most of the back four probably picks itself.  Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi and Koscielny will likely start, but who plays at left back?  Kieran Gibbs was given the call at Bayern but Nacho Monreal might be poised for a return to the first 11.  Facing Klopp’s very pacy group of Liverpool attackers–he can choose from Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Phillipe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum, among others–the Arsenal rearguard will need to be on full alert, especially if trying to play mostly on the break.  At least Daniel Sturridge is suffering from (yet another) injury.

Here’s my best guess at the first 11:

Cech

Bellerin–Mustafi–Koscielny–Monreal

Coquelin–Xhaka

Walcott–Ozil–Welbeck

Alexis

Substitutes: Ospina, Gabriel, Gibbs, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas, Giroud

Who do you think Wenger will pick, and, for those of you who believe you know better than the manager, who would you choose?

No matter who starts, Wenger has made note that the team can ill afford a slow start or a hangover from the long period with no matches.  The Anfield atmosphere and Liverpool’s own struggles will surely make for a very well-motivated opponent.  Can Arsenal match their intensity and do we have the quality to prevail?  It’s a crucial match for both sides and both will desperate for a good result.  Perhaps the famous words from another Anfield clash almost 28 years ago sums it up best: “It’s up for grabs now…”

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

 

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83 Responses to Liverpool-Arsenal: Crunch Time Battle for a Top-4 Spot and Another Referendum on Wenger’s Future

  1. allezkev says:

    That was a great preview 17tino…

    A score-draw with two sides low on confidence, scrapping for a result.
    Personally I’d like to see Perez start, but AW will probably go with Walcott.

    I see that Sanogo scored in this afternoons 2-0 win over the Spuds in the U23’s

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    Fab match preview that gets us right back into the PL campaign, Seventeenho. The stage is set for a big, entertaining game.

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed with Kev re the right wing position, other than that, I like the line up a lot.

  4. Pony Eye says:

    HT, somehow what got across to me after reading your post was “very level headed”. Exactly what I hope our players would display in tomorrow’s game.

    Somehow also, Liv poor 2017 form is not a source of encouragement to me. They are much better than that run. Liv have out ran and out sprinted every other team this term. They are a very quick passing side and I fear that Coquelin might again chase shadows all of 90 minutes as happened against Bayern, another quick passing team. Of course there is their well recognized defensive frailties and with the pace we pack in the team I expect their net to shake a few times.

    I would wish to see our 6 seconds press high up the pitch followed by our conceeding space to them as we withdraw to a low block for counters. Important we use players that can escape their gengen pressing. That should rule out Coquelin. I hear Ozil did not train today again, so he might end up on the bench.

    Predicted line up:

    ————-Cech————-
    Bel— Musti—Kos—Monr.
    ——-Xhaka——–Ox——-
    Theo——-Rambo——Alexis
    ————–Welbz————–

    Bench: Ospina, Gab, Gibbs, Coq, Ozil, Perez, Giroud.

  5. Pony Eye says:

    If Ozil’s illness persists Iwobi on the bench in his place.

  6. Frozen says:

    “As such, Klopp, while not under the extreme pressure faced by our own Arsene Wenger, must motivate his troops to try and get up for a top 4 finish in the one competition in which they remain”

    I think this might be the only part of your post, which was an entertaining read as usual, that I’m not so sure I agree with. If history is anything to go by, Liverpool have no problem finding a replacement if their man isn’t meeting the club’s lofty (arguably unrealistic) expectations. I believe this was just covered in TA’s previous post? Contrasted with the board’s comparatively modest expectations of our own manager, I’d say the pressure is very much on Klopp and his stuttering squad.

    Re the lineup– I’m expecting to see the same back 7 as you’ve suggested with a few tweaks up front..

    Cech
    Bellerin-Mustafi-Koz-Monreal
    Xhaka-Coq
    Ox-Ozil-Iwobi
    Alexis

    As much as I’d love a front 3 of Lucas, Alexis, and Welbeck–I just don’t see it happening any time soon.

  7. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi guys…and Cheers…

    Frozen, I guess I left out Iwobi who likely is ahead of DW and Lucas in the pecking order. Maybe my head is still on the beach and/or in the sand…

    Iwobi probably takes the #10 spot if Ozil is out but maybe takes the LW if Ozil can play. It’s probably a big enough game that Wenger will tend towards his most conservative selection. If Ozil plays then maybe Lucas loses his place on the bench…

    Or maybe I’m all wrong and the longer period of training has changed the pecking order around a bit. AW hardly should worry about people second guessing his selection; the result is all that really matters at this point, I fear…

    PE (who also forgot Iwobi, perhaps)…That’s an awfully bold call to put in Ox and Rambo, IMO. We’ll see, however…

  8. retsub1 says:

    Well written 17ht it’s amazing what goes through your head when queuing for flights. I agree with your strategy about sitting back and catching them on the break.

    I would go for your team with two changes. I would play the Ox ahead of Coquelin and Perez ahead of Walcott. Just a case of playing players in good form. I really like Coquelin, but he just not pulling his weight at the moment.

  9. 17highburyterrace says:

    Thanks retsub… Personally I think the Ox with his running (and the occasional defensive switch off..) is more suited for matches where we can afford to lose our shape a bit going after goals. Thus it’s Le Coq all day for me even if he had a (very) tough outing vs Bayern. I read a thing–in line at the airport, in fact…) about Klopp’s approach to the Leicester game (which I didn’t watch…) and the high line Pool played on the day. The writer said it played directly into Vardy’s hands. One footed as he might be, I think Lucas is the better football player but Theo will always threaten a team which pushes up. The more space he has to run into the better. Lucas (and Welbeck) both have decent pace but Theo’s reputation alone can help pin a team back.

    That said, he didn’t start at Bayern and Ox went on the RW so maybe that’s the plan for tomorrow…

    Scanning the comments again, I see that PE didn’t forget Iwobi… Sorry about that…

    Finally, I think Akev predicting a draw may be a very good bet. The match could start out cagey but might open up if a goal is scored–and then get more conservative if it’s leveled… As bad as both teams are reeling, a draw puts their troubles over for a bit… Of course they’d also be well warned that it’s a 6 team race for the top 4 with Spurs and the two Manchester clubs clearly in the better form. In other words, full points would be a tasty treat for either club tomorrow… while plunging the loser into even deeper gloom…

    Good times…

  10. Waldo says:

    Great preview 17. Whole heartedly agree that a good strategy for Arsenal versus Liverpool is to take away their defensive pressing from the front by giving them more of the ball and trying to play on the break. The problem for Arsenal is that none of the club’s CDMs options (Xhaka, Coquelin, Ramsey, Cazorla, Elneny, Ox) have the necessary combination of defensive and transitional skills to allow Arsenal to play with only two CDMs and realistically rebuff Liverpool’s attack.

    In light of that, and with Arsenal’s mid week clash with Bayern likely to be a dead rubber and our match next Sunday versus lowly Lincoln City, the starting line up I would like to see versus Liverpool is:

    GK: Cech
    RB: Debuchy
    CB: Mustafi
    CB: Koscielny
    LB: Monreal
    LCDM: Xhaka
    CDM: Coquelin
    RCDM: Ox
    RW: Alexis
    CF: Perez
    LW: Ozil

    In that setup I’m envisaging:

    – Alexis and Ozil taking turns coming in off their flank and dropping into the No 10 role when Arsenal attack, with the other winger moving centrally to playing alongside Perez as a strike duo and that duo making off the ball runs behind the opposition’s defensive line for the winger who has assumed the No 10 role to target
    – The back seven keep it nice and simple by focusing on maintaining their defensive structure and shape, staying compact, tackling and intercepting and Ox and Xhaka being the transitional outlets and long range shooters.

    I’m hopeful more than confident that Arsenal will get the needed victory versus Liverpool.

  11. Pony Eye says:

    HT, you are right. I forgot Iwobi, but remembered him soon after I posted. Nobody seems to be giving recognition to the fact that Liv is the hardest working team in the League and one of the fastest passing. Apart from our usual 6 seconds high pressing we should employ more of the passive defending i.e. controlling spaces. Liv would tire us out if we try aggressive defending because they pass the ball so quickly. To me, Rambo is better in defending spaces than Iwobi.. Maybe Wenger might consider him not match fit enough and play Iwobi at #10 instead.

    Liv always raise their game against the big teams and they are feeling hurt by the Leicester rout. They would press all over the field like maniacs. If we can remain level headed and conserve a bit of energy with some space defending, and when in possession keep possession almost as an end Liverpool will tire miserably by the second half when we would then square up toe to toe with them. The classic rope-a-dope.

    Coquelin shouldn’t be part of a passing team playing against an intense high pressing team. The beauty here is that it is exactly the same tactics that should be used against Bayern on Tues imo.

    Most think we collapsed mentally against Baiyern. No. Our first collapse was physical. We tired out trying to aggressively win the ball back from a slick, cunning, fast passing team. So naive we were. I hope the team have gotten wiser.

  12. Pony Eye says:

    Liv is caught between the devil and the deep sea with their shape. Their midfield trio (without Henderson who is injured) of Lallana, Can and Wijnaldum are too attack conscious apart from their system demanding they join the attack to give more passing options. If the CD moves up the pitch to close the spaces vacated by the MF they get expoused to a fast countering team like ours. If the defense stays deep there is a huge space in the midfield that the opponent could capitalize on (the sort of thing Ozil loves).

    On the other hand if their MF does not push up they would lack the offensive numbers that their whole tactics hinges on, pressing and speed passing.

    The dilemma for Wenger would be whether to defend with 4:4:2 (two banks) at the expense of an offensive shape or to defend with a 4:3:2:1 or 4:3:1:2 to retain a more and more offensive shape.

  13. Pony Eye says:

    Liverpool missed Mane during the ANC. They are now missing Henderson the leader and brain of the team.

  14. retsub1 says:

    Can’t for the Life of me see why Coquelin and Iwobi are playing today. Iwobiis a great prospect who looks mentally jaded to me and the Le Coq has lost his drive recently.

    What does Perez have to do to get a chance to prove himself?

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    Team news:

    Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Xhaka; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Welbeck; Giroud. Substitutes: Ospina, Gibbs, Gabriel, Ramsey, Alexis, Walcott, Lucas.

    Liverpool (4-3-3) Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Klavan, Milner; Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho. Substitutes: Karius, Moreno, Lucas, Alexander, Lovren, Origi, Woodburn.

    Wow… I didn’t see those sorts of changes (no Alexis, no Ozil…) being made… 8 out of 11 (9 if you give me my miss on Iwobi…) for me… It does seem quite a lot to ask of the likes of the two guys named Alex…

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Retsub never mind Coquelin and Iwobi, what about the Ox? I know he looks like he gives his all, but a total liability defensively.

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    I guess it is Ox on the wing and Iwobi in the hole…. or vice versa. Good to see Welbeck and Giroud start.

  18. retsub1 says:

    17HT i think one of the Alex’s (no prizes for guessing which one) has been our in form player over the past few games.

    I don’t know why Alexis is on the bench, but personally I am glad Ozil isn’t playing today. great talent that he is he often goes missing on days like this.

    I’m sure Wenger has his reasons, and I sincerely hope I am wrong, but this doesn’t look like a winning side to me.

  19. allezkev says:

    4 4 2…?!

    Man City (a) revisited perhaps..?

    Well Giroud did claim this week that the players are 100% behind Wenger…
    Let’s see if they can walk the walk…

  20. TotalArsenal says:

    Welbeck – Giroud – Ox
    —–Iwobi——–

  21. retsub1 says:

    T A sorry my good friend, its the Ox all day for me. I’m pleased about Wellbeck and Giroud as well.

    Don’t like to say this but will take a bet Iwobi is subbed early second half

  22. Goonereris says:

    The team picked will get the 3 points at Anfield; just because it is the manager “kicking ass”, with Alexis not starting. He’s, lately carried on like we can’t win a game without him. This is Wenger’s way of telling him to respect the team.

    It will be a humdinger of a game.

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    Well the Ox can show us now how good he has become because this is a proper opponent

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    fair enough, Retsub. We all see different things 😉

  25. Goonereris says:

    Oh, and Giroud always scores against Liverpool. Even their fans have a concern with him starting, from some stuff I have read. In any case, we have Bayern midweek so, maybe both Alexis and Ozil can consider this “saving them” for that game.

    COYG!!!!!

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed Eris, Alexis has been put in his place…. or he is in Wenger’s Houdini act plan for Tuesday 😉

  27. retsub1 says:

    just a win would be good

  28. Pony Eye says:

    Liv is weak at set pieces so Giroud. Alexis 2nd half sub. But why not the other way round.

  29. retsub1 says:

    Am about to kick the Wife and Mother in Law off my new TV. Wish me luck

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Good luck with the wife and mother-in-law,retsub…

    I’m skeptical about some of these line-up choices and I have just about zero idea what’s going on with Alexis starting from the bench. By hook or by crook, I guess…

  31. retsub1 says:

    Thanks 17HT mission successful.

  32. allezkev says:

    Retsub, you are a brave man…

  33. 17highburyterrace says:

    We have kickoff…

  34. 17highburyterrace says:

    1-nil Liverpool… Carved open…

  35. 17highburyterrace says:

    Suddenly it was a 3 v 3 with our defenders in a panic… Looked like Bellerin got nutmegged. After that it was a done deal…

    Any chance we can come back from this?…

  36. retsub1 says:

    I actually thought we started ok. Think we need to stay calm for a while.

  37. 17highburyterrace says:

    We’re starting to string a few passes together and we’ve won a couple of corners… Poor deliveries on each one, however… Pushing up we look very open to Pool breaking on us. I wish I could be more optimistic here but Liverpool look very comfortable and I don’t see us able to play through their lines… We could always get lucky with a cross into Giroud, I guess…

  38. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nice save by Cech… Pool attackers able to work very easily across the top of the box… We clear (eventually) from the corner…

  39. 17highburyterrace says:

    Le Coq loses it in MF and Pool are on the break…Eventually he blocks down the shot however…

    Another corner for Liverpool…

  40. allezkev says:

    Firmino has an amazing set of choppers

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    Yellow for Coquelin who seems unable to do anything right… Grabbed a jersey there…

  42. 17highburyterrace says:

    2-nil… Mane in acres of space after Coutinho chooses to pass rather than go for goal himself… It was coming…

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Sorry, but this is a stroll for Liverpool…Defending with complete comfort, taking the ball away with ease and then having fun on the break with it…

    Was it Firmino (not Coutinho) on the assist for the 2nd?…Maybe I got that one wrong… Coutinho almost makes it 3 but hits it to Cech on the fine takedown of the long-ball…

  44. allezkev says:

    Heading towards our 4th defeat in 6 games…

    Not looking forward to Bayern next week…

  45. 17highburyterrace says:

    There’s half-time… Scoreline maybe flatters us, I fear…

    If anybody sees a way back please let me know…

  46. Pony Eye says:

    Coq cant handle the pace of passing. Giroud box man only. Nothing hapening in the box.

  47. retsub1 says:

    17ht. Not really

    But I would start by taking off Iwobi, Wellbeck and Coquelin.

  48. Goonereris says:

    Maybe I should have said the side selected SHOULD get the 3 points. What was that? I guess I expected a lot (too much) from the boys Wenger picked, believing they would want to prove a point, but I never knew just how low on confidence the team has become. We have had a toxic situation all around the club and it beggars belief how it can be said that this lot train during the week.

  49. allezkev says:

    I’m listening to the game on the radio, but I’ve seen both Liverpool goals and we had plenty of defenders in attendance, but they looked so disorganised, all over the place…

    Do our defenders actually talk to each other?
    Because it doesn’t look like it…

  50. Goonereris says:

    For the first goal, how does that cross get to reach Firminho? Look, Liverpool looked unsure at the start. The more we showed we weren’t ready, the more assured they became and unless we make the changes immediately, we could be in for a roasting.

    Welbeck has been disappointing. I hope this explains why the manager has been careful about involving him too soon at this crucial period in the season. He is strong and quick; he hasn’t shown any of those abilities today. Giroud and Welbeck off, for a start.

  51. Goonereris says:

    Still think we can get something here and that will do our confidence a world of good. It’s not all lost yet.

  52. TotalArsenal says:

    Without Ozil we look mid-table at best. A totally unlike Arsenal performance until now. Take off Ox, put Iwobi in the hole and keep him there and put Perez on. That is what I would do. Weakest player on the pitch is the Ox, Retsub…. but we see things differently. 🙂

  53. TotalArsenal says:

    Second most rubbish player is Monreal: very poor overview and positioning for both goals. Shocking

  54. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis on for Coquelin…and looks already to make a difference…Mingolet gets a fist to a pretty nice cross of his…

    And Giroud forces a REALLY good save heading a ball crossed in by Nacho…

    We’re trying at least…

  55. 17highburyterrace says:

    FK won by Iwobi but lots of Gunners offside on Xhaka’s lofted ball.

    Now a FK for Pool at our end…

  56. 17highburyterrace says:

    WELBECK!!! From Alexis… Dinked over the keeper… looked offside in real time but replay showed he was played on by the player on the other side…

  57. 17highburyterrace says:

    At 2-1 now there’s a bit of spring in our step… But Pool still look able to take it away and break… Mustafi very fortunate to be able to play up and over his own goal…

  58. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nice ball from Xhaka to set Bells up for a cross or pull-back. He tries the latter but there’s no scorpion kick for Giroud this time and Alexis is late arriving behind him…

  59. 17highburyterrace says:

    Both teams allowing a lot of space in MF so the ball is traveling from one end to the other. It feels like more goals are on tap but who will get them?…

    Theo and Lucas being prepped to come on…

  60. 17highburyterrace says:

    Those two come on…Giroud and Welbeck off… We’re done with our subs and (I don’ think) Pool haven’t used any…

  61. 17highburyterrace says:

    Countinho FK almost shouldered in by Matip… Other end, Theo goes over to win us a FK… Emre Can is hurt but avoids a 2nd yellow for the wild challenge… Instead Xhaka gets one for arguing for it…

    Mustafi with a free header over goal but he was offside…

  62. 17highburyterrace says:

    82nd min and both teams want goals…We have a decent break but Ox’s cross finds only a defender…

  63. 17highburyterrace says:

    Origi heads a Pool FK off the post!!

    Woodwork keeps us still in the match but just barely…

  64. 17highburyterrace says:

    Bells speedy down the right but his cross is defended well and comes off Lucas’ shoulder for a goal kick…

    Bellerin again brings it forward but gives it to Theo and that’s where it dies…

  65. 17highburyterrace says:

    Decent work and a throughball but Lucas’ left footer is blocked at the point… Still trying here but it’s getting late…

  66. 17highburyterrace says:

    3-1 Liverpool… Origi to Wijnaldum on the break… We’d had a chance in the box at the other end but Lallana controlled the ball well to start it the other way…

    At least we actually made it a game…which I didn’t see happening after the first half…

  67. 17highburyterrace says:

    FT

    Onto the Bayern return leg… Gulp…

  68. njk84sg says:

    The referees were an absolute disgrace to their federation, just to borrow a word from Wenger.

    An absolute second yellow and the build up to their third was an offside.

    And talking about bad refereeing, today’s decisions were the worst ever. Have Liv bought the referees?

  69. Goonereris says:

    Yep, JK. Amazing how United get to be given such calls.

    That was a disappointing outcome, as we are now behind Liverpool in 5th. This team is absolutely shot of all confidence and it is hard to see how we can stay in the top 4. The whole media and our fans’ hullabaloo has also served to distract the team. Alexis did change things a bit but you could see his heart is no longer in it. These players need to dig themselves out of this because Wenger won’t be the one to do it as he looks helpless himself.

  70. retsub1 says:

    T A I don’t think we will ever agree on this. To my view the Od was one of the better ones from a pretty mediocre bunch. He did at least get a few decent crosses in, played a art in the goal.

    Once again would be willing to bet with you that if you took a straw pole on all the player ratings around the media, the Ox will do pretty well

    In the first half Giroud never got a kick,
    Wellbeck looked lost
    zhaka is looking a very overpriced played
    Montreal was poor
    iwobi was like a little boy lost

    And just a few questions on the 2nd half.

    Why was Can not sent off

    How come only 3 minutes injury time, Can was dying for at least 3 minutes

    Liverpools 3rd was clearly offside

    All that said the best team won

  71. Frozen says:

    Now what?

  72. Goonereris says:

    For some player assessments. Of course, the Ox did well. He seemed to be under instruction to tuck in and not necessarily go gung ho at the wings, so in the first half, he looked busy doing more chasing. In the 2nd, when he could concentrate on his midfield role, he won a few balls and drove the side forward at times. Monreal just doesn’t inspire confidence when coming against players with twinkle toes and, for my money, could have cut off that Origi cross if he chose to slide in. Xhaka did okay but looks out of his depth in this league, to be honest. Looked laboured and slow at times. He is young and may have a chance to improve. Bellerin has dropped off significantly. He makes poor decisions except when tearing down the flanks without opposition. Giroud only came to life when crosses started coming in. Beyond that, a liability most times. I feel the manager expected more from him given his record against Liverpool.

    There is a clear and present danger of losing out of top 4 unless the players pick things up. We are better than this! Wenger has a job on his hands, which isn’t helped by the whole uncertainty at the club over Wenger’s and our two key players’ futures.

  73. Pony Eye says:

    Can’t understand the selection particularly Sanchez on the box, our hardest working player when the opponent is the hardest working team. Then we play Giroud against a team likely to dominate possession against us when Giroud is effective only in the box. 1st half we never got into their box. Coq is a tackler and a tackler only. He should never be played against a quick passing team.

  74. Pony Eye says:

    ……..Sanchez on the bench

  75. TotalArsenal says:

    Retsub, I make up my own mind and what others say doesn’t bother me much. The average fan in the UK values effort above everything else, so in a poll AOC will do well.

    Because of the Ox we played mediocre football but I will say he played better when he was positioned deeper. Did you notice how much better we played in the second half once Iwobi was moved into the hole? We had our structure back for a while and played with much more confidence and ‘plan’.

  76. retsub1 says:

    T A undoubtably we played better in the 2nd half, but I think most people would put that down to to Alexis giving the team a shot in the arm.

    Still if we all agreed the world would be a boring place.

    More worrying, l get the impression that our beloved team may be busted beyond repair.
    Alexis and Ozick will no doubt go to pasterues new.

    Bellerin in my opinion is way below his best at the moment

    The centre backs both look a little uneasy and st the moment we don’t have a viable left back

    Our keeper is aging and his reserve is a little nutty

    I will stop there, but I don’t think I am over reacting to much am I?

  77. TotalArsenal says:

    That is because Alexis looked busy too, but he actually was pretty poor imo.

  78. TotalArsenal says:

    We are down as a team at the moment, and this was not an ideal game to regain confidence and momentum. I reckon we will play well against Bayern though.

  79. Admir says:

    Hello.

    I haven’t posted a comment for a while and I don’t think it was a wrong call. Arsenal have been awful for a while and that is a result of a poor management by Arsene Wenger. Poor transfer policy, poor in-game management, poor scouting of the opponents, lack of defensive intelligence (apart from defending his own poor decisions in front of the press)…and the worst part is, with Kroenke as our main man, we might become an Everton or even worse, an Aston Villa in the next decade once a new man starts sorting Wenger’s mess, especially if our best players decide to follow Wenger at the exit door next summer.

  80. Pony Eye says:

    Top of the list, Admir, is poor purchases.
    Ozil: less than 42.5M. The modern #10 is there to win the ball as much as create.
    Sanchez: worth his salt. A good buy.
    Cech: not a modern keeper. Can’t play out from back in a team so poor without the ball.
    Gabriel: cheap but should never have been bought. Can’t grow.
    Xhaka: turns like a train, much less than 35M. Possibly has made the team worse.
    Mustafi: benefit of doubt, could grow tactically. Atm a little shot of his value.
    Perez: the truth is nobody knows him enough. But not being played means he should never have been bought at his age,

    Arsenal have grown to the size where their purchases should either be on players to improve the team (a bit of the Galatico mentality) or investing on young potentials like
    Holding (good gamble, nothing to loose).

    Pep’s teams struggle when they don’t have the ball, so he would never accommodate a gk who is only at home hoofing the ball out like our Cech who gifts the opposition possession repeatedly.

    Arsene showed complete disrespect for Liverpool’s strength by playing Giroud (a box denizen). We were not able to get into Liv’s box once in the whole of the first half totally nullifying Giroud’s presence on the pitch. Poor fellow. The improvement of the team in the 2nd half was partly because of the presence of Sanchez and partly because of the absence of Coquelin. Coq, but for his height, is CD stuff. It’s a shame that 12 games to the end of the season our 1st eleven is yet to materialize.

  81. Pony Eye says:

    Wenger planned to go direct against Liverpool and made Giroud the tip of the spear! Get me right, am not lambasting Giroud. On Monday we saw Vardy destroy Liv with sheer pace. To lead our attack we had Alexis, Perez, Giroud, Walcott, Welbeck to choose from. Mystifying that the slowest player in that group, nay, in the squad was chosen. Always better not to try to be too clever. Giroud is for the PTB teams. Period.
    Pardon my new mantra “Coq but for his height is a central defender stuff”. If Wenger insists on playing him, then he should play a 3 man defense. The possibility is huge that we will be out of the top 5 (out of Europe completely) unless we get our selection right immediately. 12 games to go. No room for error.

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