Crystal P-Allardyce vs Arsene-L: Showdown at Selhurst Between Escape Artists? Match Preview, Predicted Line-up.

It’s true–as the Anti-Arsene Wenger banners tell us–a Top-4 finish is not a trophy.  It’s also true that falling out of the Champions League places would mean relegation from the premier tournament in all of club football.  As the beleaguered Arsenal manager brings his troops across the Thames for a Monday night match-up at Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace, he might hope for a word of advice from the manager who has kept so many teams up in the English top division over the years.

Allardyce, who has never had a team relegated, has a simple formula: a direct, defense-first style of play and a demand upon his players to never give up.  Should Wenger adopt such measures or should he play the attacking football for which his sides are known?

Surely he’ll hope his players won’t let down, and, instead, that they will try to build upon their 3-nil win vs West Ham United this past Wednesday.  That one began slowly, but soon Arsenal came to control the midfield play, and, eventually, in the 58th minute, broke the deadlock by way of a Mesut Ozil goal, with a couple more soon to follow.   In the end, the scoreline probably reflected the dominance of the performance.

As such, Arsenal should bring a measure of belief that they can win another London derby against another team not far above the relegation places.  It’s unlikely, however, to be quite so easy.  Palace, although they lost on Wednesday at Southampton, had won their previous four league matches.  Allardyce has his team playing without fear, as they surely must, given that they have the most difficult run-in schedule of any of the bottom teams.  They have to play five of the top six teams, and, having already beaten the team at the top (Chelsea, by a score of 2-1 at Stamford Bridge), they will fancy their chances against us in their home ground.

Palace’s run to take them above the drop has been all the more impressive because Allardyce has had to re-jig his team due to injury.  At the back, he’s lost Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and defenders Scott Dann, James Tompkins, Patrick Van Aanholt and Pape Souare.  He was, however, able to reinforce with a pair of late January aquisitions, Mahmadou Sahko, on loan from Liverpool, and Luka Milivojevic, a deep lying midfielder bought from Olympiakos.  Up front, Frazier Campbell, Connor Wickham and Loic Remy have all been unavailable while Yohan Cabaye went off at halftime at Southampton.  Replacing Cabaye could be a big problem for our match, but we should beware of other Palace players who have been in good form, especially attackers Christian Benteke, Jason Puncheon, Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha.

So, how does Wenger set up his squad for this one? My hunch is that he follows the, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” school of thought and goes for an unchanged first 11:

Martinez

Bellerin–Mustafi–Gabriel–Monreal

Xhaka–Elneny

Walcott–Ozil–Alexis

Welbeck

Substitutes: Macey, Gibbs, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Giroud

Of course, Wenger might also want make some changes just to signal that it will take the full squad–firing on all cylinders–to pull off his own great escape.  Injuries to Petr Cech and David Ospina at goalkeeper mean Emi Martinez will go again, but Wenger has a plethora of outfield players at his disposal; of the regulars, only Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla are out.  He could also switch up the tactics a bit, perhaps trying a more defensive look by working Francis Coquelin back into the midfield mix.  Or he might choose to give Olivier Giroud a start as a reward for his fine goal as a substitute vs West Ham.  I think the pressure Wenger is under probably precludes such options, but I’m just guessing.  What do you say, my fine fellow Gooners?

All I really know is that this is another must-win for Wenger and his team.  The manager, who still has not announced if he has signed a contract extension, needs a further respite from those sorts of discussions.  Moreover, the team needs all three points to keep pace with the other top 6 clubs, all of whom won in earlier matches this weekend.  Only 4 of those 6 will play in next season’s Champions League.  For Arsenal, not doing so–while it wouldn’t mean failing to hoist a trophy–would be a relegation from that competition and the limelight of top flight European football.  Arsene Wenger is no Sam Allardyce (thank Dennis…) but Arsenal need a great escape of their own to meet “minimum requirements.”  It may not be possible without a victory on Monday night.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

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121 Responses to Crystal P-Allardyce vs Arsene-L: Showdown at Selhurst Between Escape Artists? Match Preview, Predicted Line-up.

  1. Waldo says:

    Really good write up 17. I think your predicted line is what we’ll see versus Palace.

    If Wenger intends to persist with that 4231/4213 setup, Arsenal really need to focus on continuing to stretch the pitch vertically, like they did versus Man City and West Ham. By that I mean they need to ensure there is a a generous amount of space between back four and CDMs, the CDMs and CAM, and the CAM and front 3.

    Doing so:

    1. Provides Arsenal’s defenders, CDMs and CAM with more forward targets to improve the team’s offensive transitional play.

    2. Provides Arsenal’s forward players with the space they need to display their individual on the ball skills (e.g. Ox/Alexis), speed (e.g. Walcott) or physical dominance (e.g. Giroud) to generate or capitalise on clear cut goal scoring opportunities.

    3. Encourages the opposition to commit more players in advanced positions to try and capitalise on Arsenal’s lack of defensive compactness, which in turn presents more counterattack opportunities for Arsenal.

    That in my opinion was the big difference in Arsenal’s displays versus Man City and West Ham and Arsenal’s displays in the 3 months prior, which were characterised by a highly cautious possession monopolisation attacking approach where Arsenal pushed all bar their two CBs (and sometimes even them) into the opposition’s half and continually recycled possession looking for a through pass in a highly crowded penalty box to directly create a goal scoring opportunity, only for Arsenal to lose possession and concede a goal when the opposition counterattacked or from a resulting corner.

    While I still don’t think a 4231/4213 setup, even with generous vertical spacing between the various lines, will bring Arsenal sustained success, it is certainly an improvement from the side’s prior tactical approach.

    That said, the starting line up I would like to see versus Crystal Palace is:

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

    In that setup I’m envisaging:

    1. Alexis and Ozil staying wide and forward along side Giroud in the CF role and trying to deliver accurate early crosses for Giroud to attack.

    2. The back seven (i.e. the back four and 3 CDMs) focusing on maintaining their defensive structure and shape, staying compact, tackling and intercepting with Ox and Xhaka being the transitional outlets, by executing long range passes into the channels for Alexis and Ozil respectively.

    3. If and when Arsenal are able to monopolise possession in the opposition’s half I’d like the see purposeful build up play with the primary aim of creating opportunities for Monreal and Ozil on the left and Sanchez and Debuchy on the right to deliver accurate crosses for Giroud to attack. Failing that I’d like to see Arsenal focus on creating long range shooting opportunities for Xhaka and Ox.

  2. retsub1 says:

    Well written 17 HT big game tonight. Unfortunatly for past 12 years at the beginning of every season we are all fired up with enthusiasm. At the beginning of the season very few Gooners would agree that 4th place is a trophy. f A cup aside by the time March April arrives we are normally fighting for a top four. I think a subconscious change takes place and although no silverware is involved it does at least mean there is something left to play for, which does keep it interesting. So 4th place a trophy of sorts? Sort of in my opinion, although more of a relief than a celebration in my opinion.

    As for your team, I would be surprised if he changed anyone other than Giroud for Wellbeck.

    I have always liked Coquelin, but if he brings him back in, I would see it as a big step backwards.

  3. Pony Eye says:

    HT, well balanced post as usual.

    I agree totally with your predicted starting eleven. Wenger knows he hasn’t got any margin left for error, so he is unlikely to tinker with a selection that gave a good account of itself a few days ago.

    Apart from injuries to Ospina and Coq he fielded the same players used against Man C in the following match against West Ham. I expect that trend to continue. The only issue should be Coq or Elneny and judging from the performance of our CM in the two matches respectively I believe he would choose the latter.

    Xhaka seems Wenger’s certain starter in a double pivot role partnered by one of Coq, Elneny, Ox and Ramsey. Best offense/defense balance points to the choice of Elneny especially as the pair did so well against West Ham.

    Of the other players fielded in the last two matches, Welbeck’s form has been the only one looking short. Does he bring the excellent off the bench Giroud to start instead? That would be like repeating what contributed to the disruption of our early season impressive form, when Giroud displaced Sanchez as the point man. I expect Welbeck to start again.

  4. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey guys…Cheers for the responses… Not too many, but that’s better than none…

    As Retsub (I think) is saying, I too enjoy the battle for top 4 as, otherwise, everybody but the relegation fighters (and true title contenders) lose their fight and things become rather boring if not completely meaningless. Maybe the better weather means it’s more fun to tend the garden…I don’t like these Monday night matches but this one is extra tough given that all the others have won theirs. Am I worried? Yes, yes I am…

    The thing about Top 4 is that it’s hard to argue with the domestic success this season at Chavs and (to a lesser extent) ‘Pool or even with the miracle Leicester produced last year–when none of them had the distraction of European football. A little success in the CL, however, would go a long way towards reminding English teams that it’s an important competition. Longer term, England needs to lead the way with video technology–and better reffing more generally–and force the CL to follow. If they did, we could get away from the flop-fests (Barca vs PSG) and the better football (like the way Bayern destroyed us) would be good for the game. Unfortunately, the quality of the English game isn’t where it should be, IMO… Arsenal have good depth if not quite the first 11s to match the silly money clubs, so the extra Euro matches *shouldn’t* be that much of an issue. It never quite works out that way, however, and we’ve got plenty of midweek matches here in the run-in which should test that very notion…

    OGAAT, of course, and we really need the points tonight to keep the fight going…

    PE, Welbeck got into some good positions vs West Ham and did progressively better with the chances as balls were delivered to him, going from a whiff to side netting to forcing a good save. Giroud’s goal was very nice (and I’d like to see it rewarded with a start–at some point…) but it was also “just” a well placed shot that beat the keeper, kind of like Ozil’s opener. DW pulling the defenders around as he did–even if he didn’t score–probably deserves a reward too. Thus he starts tonight, I think.

    Waldo, every now and then I really (really…) try to read your comments to try and understand what you’re envisaging (actually a word, to my surprise…) and it seems awfully strange to me. Perhaps you were a player or a coach at one time? I ask because you seem to have some very fixed ideas about stretching the play that seem completely at odds with the way I see Arsenal (and every other top team) trying to play the game. Your description of Arsenal’s failings over the past several months, I thought, were pretty much EXACTLY how we succeeded vs WHU. My take was that, after a slow start where we were feeling out West Ham’s tactics, Arsenal was able to push up further and further (CBs at the center circle) to keep extreme pressure on WHU and nullify their (possible) counters with a (very) high back line. This (obviously) reduces the space available, but, within the opposition half, we were able to use the space we had and make the chances happen. You also seem to believe it’s all about crosses for a CF (Giroud) to attack but I think tight interplay (pulling defenders around a bit…) and through-balls (with the very occasional cross or pull-back from out wide) is more what Wenger is after. Some of your line-up choices also baffle me (I no longer even mention Debuchy among the injured…and Holding, though one for the future, won’t get a bench seat ahead of the BFG…) but we all have our favorites–and those we think are overrated)… Ah well. Nothing personal… I just thought I might respond to your (much appreciated…) pre-match thoughts.

    Less than 3 hours to kick-off… Whoo-hoo….

  5. Goonereris says:

    It is the wise thing to do to leave the team as is, and go with sub appearances for Giroud and Ramsey. However, somehow, I feel we will see Ox and Giroud starting; basically because Palace will stay deep and invite us to them, so you’ll need strong wing play and a “sounding board” for a striker. Theo may be dropped to the bench; for me, he is the one player you can replace (with Ox or Welbeck). So, I feel Ox and Giroud will come in for Theo and Welbz, respectively.

    I didn’t see Mertesacker on your predicted bench. Is he injured or something? I think he will be on the bench, replacing Iwobi who was part of the U-23 win and cannot feature today, therefore. If we get a comfortable lead, I say he gets introduced to get back some match sharpness.

    We’ve got to win this one and should.

  6. Goonereris says:

    Waldo, you do seem to have a fixed list most previews, with Debuchy always featuring. I do like Debuchy myself and feel he should get a chance before the season is done, but just not yet. The games are just too crucial to be starting with him. Of course, if we were to have an injury to Bellerin maybe (I forbid that!), he could be a forced change. He’s not getting a start, otherwise, so maybe you adjust your squad list…..

  7. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi Gooneris… Cheers for the heads-up re: Iwobi and the U-23s… I had 8 guys on my original subs bench (including the BFG) but I guess AW made the choice for me (had I been paying better attention)…

    Personally, I think Theo did very well vs West Ham and well enough vs City, both games in which he scored a goal. He might also have had a pen vs WHU… He also looks to be slightly more aggro on 50-50 plays (that’s not saying all that much, however) and a bit more focused with what he wants to do with his first touch… Those are just my own observations and I’ve always thought Theo has been given a bit of short shrift by the support (kinda of like Ozil…) for being a less than “full-blooded” sort. That his game is usually based on just one or two touches is another factor, but that can sometimes be a good thing, witness the two recent goals… Anyhow, for me, at the moment, I don’t think he’s drop-able, another reason Iwobi (perhaps) is back with the U-23s and Perez is totally off the radar…

  8. 17highburyterrace says:

    Anybody around?…

    Here are the line-ups… Both Arsenal and CP unchanged (i.e., Cabaye recovered from his knock…)

    Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Kelly, Sakho, Schlupp, Milivojevic, Cabaye, Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend, Benteke. Subs: Speroni, Flamini, McArthur, Fryers, KaiKai, Sako, Delaney.

    Arsenal: Martinez, Bellerín, Mustafi, Gabriel, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny, Walcott, Özil, Welbeck, Sánchez. Subs: Gibbs, Mertesacker, Ramsey, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Macey.

    Man in black: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

  9. Goonereris says:

    Yep! You are right on that one, then, 17ht. Nice calls.

    I guess Wenger went with the notion “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Now, let’s just win this one! COYG!!!

  10. retsub1 says:

    17ht. I am here, but struggle to watch and clog at the same time. Comments at half time.

  11. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey ‘Eris… They’re all big, but this one seems even bigger given Palace’s run-in. If we can drop them closer to relegation they will have to battle even harder in their remaining matches, including ones with Pool, Spurs and both Manc teams…

    I forgot to mention Mathieu Flamini…on the subs bench for Palace…

  12. retsub1 says:

    Clog? Blog

  13. Goonereris says:

    Very right there, 17ht. It would seem our team coach was stuck in traffic for about 40minutes. All that serves to crank up the nerves now; the players will mis their usual pre-match routines and all that. Make no mistake about it; that will have an early effect but shouldn’t be decisive.

  14. 17highburyterrace says:

    No worries, Retsub… Here’s to an enjoyable match…

    What do you guys think of Tony Adams to manage at Granada (another place I spent 1/2 a school year…) It’s a very nice town and has a good (but small) stadium… The drinking there is encouraged because they give you free food (tapas)… Hmmmm…. To me, looking at the table, they’re cooked for this season. The 2nd league in Spain is pretty poor so maybe Tony can bounce them back (if given the chance)…

  15. Goonereris says:

    Zaha and Townsend give me concern, though. Our full backs will need a lot of support from midfield men to curtail their runs and dribbles. The trick will be to focus on our own ability to remain dangerous upfield.

  16. 17highburyterrace says:

    The “tunnel” (hallway–then cheerleaders…) at Selhurst is funny… I think I read something about somebody attacking their eagle…

  17. 17highburyterrace says:

    Elneny forces a good save from distance…Mustafi unmarked at the corner but it floats just over his head…

    Pattern of the game seems obvious… CP all on the counter…

  18. 17highburyterrace says:

    …Plus Route 1 to the big guy (Benteke) up front…

    Ooh…Bad kick from Martinez…

  19. allezkev says:

    Evening fellas, any goals yet, nothing on BBC5Live, just a panel of talking heads…

    Looks as if I’m gonna have to listen to those idiots on TalkSport… ☹️

  20. allezkev says:

    I see that Iwobi played in the U21’s at Reading…

    They won 5-2, Bramhall scored his first goal and some new guy (?) called Sanogo, got a hat trick.
    It’s a crazy world… ☺️

  21. 17highburyterrace says:

    There’s a goal… Andros Townsend… Route 1 play and then the former Spur gets to Zaha’s wobbly cross first…

    Nil-1

  22. 17highburyterrace says:

    Big noise in the stadium now…

    It looked like the whole defense went to the long ball from keeper so that when Palace switched the play to our left Zaha was able to get into a good shooting/crossing position. He actually slipped when making the cross as have a bunch of other player early in the match…

    Alexis has a left footer saved…too central…

  23. Goonereris says:

    Bellerin just needs to wake up defensively. He gets caught out so often.

    I feel we are allowing them to play their game instead of forcing the issue. Alexis needs to play with every teammate available, as often as possible. On the break, they will cause us problems so the more we keep the ball, the better for our cause.

  24. allezkev says:

    Martinez makes a good save…

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    Mustafi gets his yellow for his 2nd bad tackle of the evening… Set piece for Palace is poorly cleared but the 1v1 (that Emi saved) was offside…

  26. Goonereris says:

    It is 1 – Nil, 17ht. We are away. I like the way our forward players are dragging them all over the place now. Nice attempt at a bender from Alexis.

  27. 17highburyterrace says:

    Looks to me like Bellerin needs longer spikes, Eris…

    Alexis’ right footer is wide of the far post…

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    Sorry, good point about the scoreline… I always think, “Arsenal first…

    Arsenal are probing but there are lots of giveaways that might set Palace on the break…

    Long one from Xhaka but Nacho is offside…”

  29. 17highburyterrace says:

    Better defending by Mustafi and Bells but Elneny gives up a FK….

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    We clear it but that was dicey as they won the header so easily…

  31. 17highburyterrace says:

    Our attempts at Route 1 aren’t very strong… Both Emi’s and Xhaka’s long passes aren’t sticking to their targets…

    Truth be told we’re bit under the kosh esp.with Mustafi on a yellow…

  32. allezkev says:

    Sounds like Ozil is drifting out to the left, from what I’m hearing…

  33. 17highburyterrace says:

    Good chance there after a great turn by Ozil…his pull back falls to Alexis but his left footer was blocked at the point…

  34. 17highburyterrace says:

    Very poor from Theo to Bellerin and easily intercepted. Ozil again down the left but his cross doesn’t have a target. Other end, Townsend gets in onto his right foot but he balloons it from the top of the box…

  35. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis with a(nother) head down run and giveaway but it doesn’t hurt us… Whoa, Bellerin back pass finds Benteke… Mustafi inch perfect on the tackle in the box…

  36. allezkev says:

    Sounds like Palace are really working hard, closing us down, so it could be a case of not letting it get worse and going again in the 2nd half when Palaces energy drops?

  37. 17highburyterrace says:

    Better now and we win a pair of corners…

    The 2nd one pinballs around in front of goal but is then cleared. Delivery was rather short from Xhaka… It sure would be nice to level this before the break…

    Bells gives up a foul and FK in a wide spot but reasonably close to our box…

  38. allezkev says:

    Well done Martinez…

    The radio says our defence is all over the place and Benteke should have scored.

  39. 17highburyterrace says:

    I was a good one but Martinez catches it… Just a little high for the tall Palace players…

    WTF was that Granit?… No pressure pass straight to a Palace player as if he had blanked him out of his view…

    Benteke from a tough angle has his shot saved…It was probably going just wide…

    And we survive the corner…but give up another…And survive it too…

  40. 17highburyterrace says:

    We cannot handle throw-ins from deep in our half…

    Now, maybe getting to halftime only a goal down seems the target…

    Our Route one, Xhaka to Welbs yields a high angle shot just wide…

    Still under the Kosh down in our box, however… Townsend just offside…

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    Monreal wins another corner and Gabby gets a good head to it… Keeper saw it coming and it lacked real power…

    Half time… We’ve got to get the game down on the pitch as we will not win a long-ball battle… They probably deserve their lead, I hate to say…

  42. retsub1 says:

    Well that was pretty painful. When will some of our players learn that they have to give 100 per cent? I get the impression that as few of them just think they have to turn up. We see this so often aga inst lesser sides. We spend 10 minutes moving from side to side creating zilch, they hoof it into the box and Benteke creates mayhem. ( their goal looked like a foul when he went for the header). It’s simply a matter of percentages. We have 75 per cent of the ball anfpd they create better chances than we do.

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Kev, I think your analysis is spot on… Hopefully they will tire. We’ve had some penetration but been unlucky with the final ball. Too many giveaways in the middle of the pitch and, now that we’re chasing the game, Palace are quick to pounce and dangerous on the break. Bells is a very wary (at best) defender and, with Mustafi now on a yellow) we look vulnerable on that side.

    The goal, which they are showing now, was too much surrounding the first ball and then Palace getting the next couple of touches and swinging it wide before it went back in…

    Hopefully the manager can get the group back to its regular game. Need to level it before too long or we’re in trouble…

  44. Goonereris says:

    The ref has got to see that Benteke is deliberately leaning over/into Mustafi for the headers. That’s a foul, usually. For their goal, he has jumped before the ball came and impaired Mustafi’s route to the ball, before he planted his elbow into a falling Mustafi’s back, to boot. If we keep being denied some of such decisions, we are going to find that Big Sam will encourage his boys to “rough up” our boys a bit more.

    It will have to be a real gargantuan effort to get back into this and win it. As long as we have minutes, I will remain hopeful we can win it. Ox and Giroud will have a role to play in it.

  45. 17highburyterrace says:

    Retsub, it looks to me like the players are giving their all even if the scoreline says something different. No excuses of course, but their goal had a bunch of fortunate bounces, including Zaha bobbling the cross after he slipped…

    The problem, I think, is that we’re under soooooo much pressure that the boys rather lost their gameplan by (perhaps) trying too hard and making too many giveaways. Some were poor decisions, some came from playing too many long balls. We can’t just hope to walk it in, of course, but we “need to dance with the one who brung us,” i.e., play OUR game instead of theirs…

    Hopefully we can get level then pull this one out to “prove” we wanted it…

  46. 17highburyterrace says:

    ‘Eris, Mustafi on an early yellow is definitely a worry with them hoofing it up to the big man so regularly…

  47. Goonereris says:

    I’ll say it (and he may go on to score a goal or 2, afterwards) but Theo has not done much from that right wing and it is for fear of him they have a quick full back in Jeff Schlupp in there.

    He has to start swinging soon or he may just be subbed for a more effective winger.

  48. 17highburyterrace says:

    2nd half on…

    Good run by Theo and then he pushed off the much bigger man–Sakho–to win the FK… Ozil, hits it too long, however…

  49. Admir says:

    @retsub1

    Our players will give 100% when they get a manager who will kick their behinds before, during and after the game at the first sight of complacency.

    Unfortunately, we are stuck for a while with a guy who has proven this season he doesn’t know how to spend money well.

  50. allezkev says:

    On the radio, they keep on babbling on about Palace not beating Arsenal at Selhurst Park for some 40 years blah blah blah, obviously hoping tonight is the night to end that record.

    17tino, for some reason this season Arsenal have been been quite underwhelming in the 1st half of so many games.
    Maybe I’m not reading it right, but we seem to be better in the 2nd half, except against Bayern!

  51. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey wow…The refs figured out a missed call on a throw in… Of course, we can’t execute it and Palace break from it but Zaha’s cross is overhit…

    Not that time…Zaha beats Nacho but Benteke can’t quite turn and shoot… Corner, however…we can’t quite clear it and it’s in our net. Benteke flagged off, thankfully…

  52. allezkev says:

    Phew, that was a close call…

    Palace still up for it, Arsenal in a trance…

  53. 17highburyterrace says:

    Another poor giveaway from Alexis but we get it back… Elneny tries a long one as nobody really looked to be moving into good attacking positions…

  54. Admir says:

    @allezkev

    Arsenal don’t prepare for the game well and that’s why Arsenal have struggled to enter the game properly for a while.

  55. allezkev says:

    17tino, what would you change from what you’ve seen…?

    On the radio they’re saying that Allardyce is going potty with the 4th official, trying to get Mustafi sent off….

    Maybe BFG should come on for him?

  56. 17highburyterrace says:

    How is that not a yellow on Zaha pulling Nacho to the ground?…

    Elneny now is the one to give the ball away and, eventually, Palace win another corner… Puncheon wins it but Martinez has an easy catch at the near post… They will score if they keep getting corners and FKs

  57. allezkev says:

    Admir on the radio they’re saying that Wenger has spent most of the game hunched over on the bench. Doesn’t send out a great message to the players does it?

    Giroud needs to be brought on, we need a change or two, it’s just drifting…

  58. 17highburyterrace says:

    Better sustained pressure but the box looks too crowded. Xhaka and Elneny want to loft it in but the final high one to Theo is too long…

  59. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis lofts one across the box but Bellerin,trying a high angled volley, fluffs it badly…

  60. 17highburyterrace says:

    Kev, because we need to score, I cannot see AW using a sub for a defensive switch…

    Here come the cavalry… Welbs and Elneny off, Rambo and Giroud on…

  61. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nice high ball from Xhaka to Alexis but his first touch lets him down…

  62. allezkev says:

    Fair comment 17tino, makes sense I guess, just worried about us going down to 10 men…

  63. allezkev says:

    Well that’s it now…

  64. 17highburyterrace says:

    Better work by Alexis and Bellerin but then Ozil dawdles with the away end screaming at him to shoot… Eventually he overhits a wide pass into touch…

    2-nil through Cabaye… There goes any vestige of our season, I fear…

  65. 17highburyterrace says:

    Very poor tracking and it was easy for Zaha to pick out Cabaye who placed his shot well… He was ideally placed between Ramsey and Mustafi…

  66. 17highburyterrace says:

    I’m pretty sure Admir should take over the commentary from here… 😦 😀

  67. AB says:

    There’s time enough yet to get the goals. Does the team have any spirit? We will see now. Season over otherwise. And more than that I suspect

  68. Goonereris says:

    2-0.

    We make the same mistakes and it will usually cost us. Why not retain Welbeck and take out Theo from the fray? What will Ramsey bring other than take away our defensive security? Sometimes, it is hard to tell what the manager sees that inform his decision making.

  69. Goonereris says:

    Penalty! How is that given?

  70. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi AB… I like the spirit but 3 goals is a tall order and now Emi gives up a pen at our end… Now we remember why he’s our 3rd choice…

  71. allezkev says:

    Blimey, this is humiliating

  72. 17highburyterrace says:

    I don’t know, Eris… Looked stonewall to me…

    3-nil… Ugly now…

  73. AB says:

    No way back now. The critics can have their moment of pleasure, for whatever that’s worth to them

  74. retsub1 says:

    17ht. If those players are giving 100 per cent I am Donald Trump. Great Arsenal players from the past would be embarrassed by this load of powder puffs

  75. 17highburyterrace says:

    Make that 4 goals for AB…i
    Theo off… Ox on…

    Oh my, the hole is getting very deep. Fat Sam as our next manager?…

  76. Goonereris says:

    This is a very bad night. And it could get worse, seeing as the fans have started to chant war songs.

  77. Admir says:

    @17

    Nope, the mic is all yours. I’ve predicted Arsenal ending sixth come August so…

  78. allezkev says:

    C.Palace fans singing ‘Arsene Wenger, we want you to stay’…

    Sounds like Giroud should have scored…

  79. 17highburyterrace says:

    OK Donald… Gotta agree to disagree…

    Bells just misses both the goal and Giroud….

  80. allezkev says:

    Of course the tossers on the radio are having a good laugh at the Palace songs….

  81. Goonereris says:

    By the way, there goes our goals difference edge over United and with Everton not far behind.

  82. allezkev says:

    Whatever you may think about Wenger, the players should have the wherewithal to sort things out on the pitch without needing to be mollycoddled by the manager…

  83. 17highburyterrace says:

    It does seem to me that Wenger’s position is untenable but I’ve thought the same many (many) times over the years…

    I still respect the vision and I don’t think going to an English manager (the only ones who would take the job, I fear) and a wider Brit-core is the answer… But maybe Fat Sam has different ideas… Why is it that he’s so easily back in the club game after being dismissed by England?…

    Still trying as best they can (to my eye) but time to jump ship for all those who can, including Wenger, IMO…

  84. AB says:

    Even now the more serious threat seems to be coming against us.

  85. retsub1 says:

    Oh now they are bringing Flamini on just to rub our noses in it

  86. AB says:

    Flam on. And our DM woes still with us sadly

  87. 17highburyterrace says:

    Here comes one who was able to get off (the sinking ship, that is…) Mathieu Flamini…

  88. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nothing to see here folks, move along… As we say around accident scenes over here…

  89. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wow, Nacho avoids an OG from Benteke’s shot-cross… This is grim…

  90. retsub1 says:

    I think the Arsenal fans are singing “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”. I can honestly say I never thought I would see the day

  91. 17highburyterrace says:

    “Is humiliation too strong a word?” Martin Tyler is one of the best things in English football, IMO…

  92. AB says:

    Unless you are a Palace fan HT. Nearly 40 years since they last beat us at the Park

  93. allezkev says:

    4 mins added time

  94. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wow, we really couldn’t make a game of it once they got the opener… Doesn’t bode well for upcoming matches at Wembley (Man City), Spurs, and vs the MooCrew (United)… We’ll get it back at Boro?…

    Only if AW and the club part ways, I fear…

    Ox into Row Z and even HE will probably be gone in the summer…

  95. AB says:

    This is one for a long drink and put it behind you. Unless you are Wenger. He either needs to find the rockets to use or else look to his legacy. I fear it is moving to a space where he wont even have the choice left before long.

  96. allezkev says:

    17tino, there isn’t any British managers who are good enough for the Arsenal job.

    But there are other foreign managers who could do the job, it’s a great job, we wouldn’t have a problem getting a top manager, Guardiola would have taken it if he’d been offered it.
    Big stadium, massive support, London, the set up is there.

  97. 17highburyterrace says:

    The other excellent thing about English football, AB, is that the money has trickled down nicely and teams like Palace can really get in on it… They’ve got some fine players there. (Maybe Admir will comment on the new Serbian fellow, bought for over 10 million…) Maybe we can pick some of them up in our rebuild….

    Full time…

    Eulogy first or should we head straight to the wake?…

  98. retsub1 says:

    I think Nacho had a reasonable game and I don’t think too much blame can be apportioned to Martinez ( he didn’t give away the penalty.)

    As for the rest of them a complete and utter shambles

    Once again why was Theo captain?

  99. 17highburyterrace says:

    I agree A-kev… I meant here before the end of the season if the board choose to make a “real” statement.

    They say in screen-writing (and I only know screen-writers, I’m not one myself…) that you take the character to a spot where he (or she) can’t go any lower and then you take them even further down… As such, I cannot look away from this study (in character)…

  100. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nacho? Looked to me like Zaha had him completely beat all day…Sorry Donald… 😀

    To me, the game was pretty simple. We really needed that first goal because not getting it pushed the game straight into Sam’s hands… not too mention heaping even more pressure onto the players (who, I think) still are (or were…) trying to play for the manager, powderpuffs or not…

    Ah well, it’s just a game… Too early in the (my) day to start drinking, however, dammit…

  101. allezkev says:

    17tino, if Arsene announced that he was going at the end of the season, I think the fan base would change and get behind the team to try and give him the send off he deserves.
    Maybe the players would as well?

    The Board wouldn’t sack Arsene, but I think some of them would like him to move on…

  102. allezkev says:

    Have one for me 17tino… 😉

    Off to put the kettle on…

  103. 17highburyterrace says:

    Sorry Kev… Had to make a call…

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking the same, that an announcement would let the (highly pressurized) air out of the system and everybody could breathe a whole lot easier… I think I said as much after the WBA game (for sure) but maybe earlier… It seems to me like the board (or at least the majority owner) like to keep a level head and believe (in a purely intellectual manner) that AW is the best man going forward as he could best keep the team together and give the best chance for improved results… Maybe?… In general, it’s probably not a bad idea, but it’s a game of emotions too and they must be reckoned with…

    We’ll see what the next move is…

    Wenger faces the press, talks calmly and avoids discussing anything beyond the match itself (no matter the 8 questions regarding his “situation”)… Tough times…

  104. Admir says:

    If Usmanov really thinks Wenger should pick his own heir, he is insane. The only decision Wenger should be allowed to make is to pick a pen with which he will sign a resignation letter.

    Simeone, Allegri, Whoever (just not British managers, please) IN. Wenger OUT.

  105. 17highburyterrace says:

    Theo faces the microphone too… Biggest problem on the night? Letting the fans down…

  106. Admir says:

    @17

    It was one thing to give Wenger a chance to go forward ten years ago when he was 57.

    He will be 68 this year. He doesn’t look like a man with a spark anymore, he makes wrong calls week in and out with his starting eleven, our midfield looks like an incompetence fair and if condoms were made out of our defenders, there would be 120 billion people on Earth.

  107. Goonereris says:

    Gazidiz was watching on and it did look bad to have him watch that. If he had any authority, he will be recommending to the board, by the morning, that Wenger does need to go at the end of the season; but he is not and probably came to see a win so together, they can announce Wenger’s new deal. Now, that’s put paid to that little plan.

    17th, I have seen it a number of times and the keeper had no chance of touching Townsend if he hadn’t gone out flicking his right foot to make some contact with the keeper’s hands. Michael Oliver seemed to derive pleasure giving it. Townsend dived, in my view.

  108. Goonereris says:

    Lol. Was writing that in a big hurry with hands shaking from it all…..hope it made any sense.

  109. 17highburyterrace says:

    Gotcha, Eris… To me it looked like he crashed the attacker when our defender had the situation under control and he’d have been better keeping his feet… At 2-nil, the points were gone already, IMO…

    Colorful analogy, Admir… We’ll see if the new guy can do better (and the new cast of characters)… whenever it happens… Like they say on the telephone line, Your call will be answered in the order it was received, we thank you for your patience… (I’m actually on hold right now; the US health insurance system is quite the model…)

    Good call on 6th in the league, it seems… Unlike Chavs, I think it will be harder to buy our way back to the top, unless there’s a change in ownership philosophy (or owner) which I doubt. Seems like you’re unsold on the #2 shareholder as it is…

    Pochettino, if he can at least get a result in the NLD and finish ahead of us, will win a lot of goodwill at Spurs. Finishing top 2 in the league and/or beating Chavs at Wembley would be super-bonuses…. Klopp looks well positioned at Pool and finishing above the Moo-crew would be spectacular for him. Mourinho looks secure enough (he won the milk cup and has a chance with Europa League…) and will likely keep on spending. I dunno, seems like tough times ahead for the Gunners even if there’s a fresh face at the helm…

    OK, that’s enough time on hold… I’ll try again tomorrow…

  110. Goonereris says:

    I’ll rather we finished 7th (and avoid the Europa league exertions completely), than finish 6th, to be honest. I know it is nice to play in Europe and winning the Europa is an in-rod to the champions league, but no way we will win it if things stay as they are. We need some radical changes at the club now, you’d think.

  111. Pony Eye says:

    It’s time for decisions. Wenger, Ozil, Bellerin, Walcott, Elneny. Welbeck, Giroud and a host of others.

    72% possession by us yet 17 shots against us is a team that is abysmal without the ball. 72% possession and 3 shots on target and no goals scored is impotence in possession. Wenger has failed. Can Wenger be trusted further with funds to rebuild? It’s time for decisions.

  112. Admir says:

    First decision has to be the one to let this Wenger’s contract run out.

    Second decision is to hire a manager who is tactically astute and is capable of motivating players.

    Then the new guy has to make decisions. Heartless decisions. “Sorry, Danny, but your knees are dead and you are not a good technician. It’s time to leave. Gabby, you’ve been here for almost two-and-half years and you look like a 3rd choice CB even when all other defenders are out. Rambo, 2014 was three years ago” etc.

    But the egomaniac will stay for at least a year so all those average players can sleep tight.

  113. Pony Eye says:

    TA, check your box for a new post.

  114. allezkev says:

    Quite a worrying development in Germany, with 3 bombs let’s off close to the Borussia Dortmund coach…

  115. Waldo says:

    Yet another match where Arsenal adopted a highly cautious possession monopolisation attacking approach and fail to break down the opposition’s deep defensive block.

    It was painful watching Arsenal repeat the same flawed tactical approach of pushing all bar their two CBs into the opposition’s half and continually recycled possession looking for a through pass in a highly crowded penalty box to directly create a goal scoring opportunity. Surely it must be obvious to Wenger by now that a high possession attacking approach results in the opposition crowding the penalty box (“parking the bus”) which effectively renders the use of through passes to be an extremely difficult means of creating clear cut goal scoring opportunities. Despite that attacking strategy repeatedly failing, Wenger continues to persist with that fundamentally flawed approach. Until Wenger adopts a setup and system of play which gives Arsenal’s forwards the space to create and capitalise on clear cut goal scoring chances, I fear Arsenal’s impotence in a goal scoring capacity will continue.

    The match versus Palace also further highlighted how the lack of a third genuinely defensive CDM in Arsenal’s setup and system of play is costing Arsenal defensively. For example:

    1. For Townsend’s goal, once Xhaka lost out in his aerial duel versus Benteke, Elneny was simply outnumbered by Townsend and Cabaye who quickly played around the Egyptian and worked the ball wide for Zaha to fire a quick low cross across our 6 yard box which Townsend gleefully tapped home. A third CDM would have made it much more difficult for Townsend and Cabaye to effectively combine in the lead up and/or tracked Townsend’s run into the box.

    2. For Cabaye’s goal, the situation was even worse, with neither Ramsey nor Xhaka bothering to drop deep when Palace’s was about to throw the ball in half way into Arsenal’s half and then both players failed to make a concerted effort to get goal side when Beneteke won his aerial duel against Monreal from the throw in and the ball landed at Townsend’s feet. Instead Townsend was able to quickly pick out Zaha on the right wing whose early cross to the edge of the penalty box was met by the unchecked run of Cabaye who it must be said executed a beautiful dipping strike to beat Martinez in goal. A third genuinely defensive CDM would have positioned themselves goal side and much closer to the back four than Ramsey or Xhaka, which would have enabled that third CDM to cut off or block Cabaye’s unchecked run / shot from the edge of the Arsenal’s 18 yard box.

    It was just another example of match in which Arsenal’s setup and system of play fails to respect the defensive side of the game.

    That said, credit should also go to Palace for defending with an excellent deep block and playing to the strengths of their key attackers.

  116. Waldo says:

    Sorry, a correction in relation to Townsend’s goal. It was Gabriel not Xhaka who lost out in the aerial dual versus Benteke. Xhaka was further up field at the time and not goal side attending to his defensive responsibilities in that instance. That in fact further supports the argument for Arsenal to deploy a third genuinely defensive CDM in midfield.

  117. njk84sg says:

    Hi Waldo,

    I have mentioned many times in this blog that we need 3 DMs and 2 AMs with 1 striker. And had identified the 3 as Rambo (Ox), Coq and Xhaka. Some had identified them as Rambo, Ox and Xhaka, but I feel that they are sometimes capable of venturing too much upfront, so Coq solely attached to the back 4 is better for me.

    Apparently Wenger did it well by deploying a 3 DM formation (ROX) against Bayern, which we did well before we were killed by the sending off, but reverted back to a 2 at the back after that and our issues at the back came back.

    The point was not so much about defending the central parts last season, as we did most of the attacking and controlled the game mostly. This season we played less confidently, and once we are open, we were undone mostly in the central positions. Without Kos in central defense, we were not strong enough as our positioning was not good at all.

    I am all for BFG to make the trip to the next game, so that his positioning and aerial capabilities can be called upon.

  118. Hi folks,

    I’m not sure where TA is at the moment–Probably busy with work–but it doesn’t seem the worst time to take a break, IMO… I need one too. The Palace match literally made me (quite) sick and I had a very rough night on Monday. (Actually, I’m pretty sure it was something I ate…) I’m recovered now but travling this week so nothing (no posts at least) from me. So, PE, I’m not sure what that means for the post you sent in…. TA, if you’re reading, give us a heads up, eh…

    Anyhow, tough (very tough) times for Arsenal so it’s nice to have other things on the (my…) agenda… So, enjoy (as best you can)…Back soon enough…

  119. njk84sg says:

    I think I will write something here for the sake of bringing up the mood here. It really feels like there is a huge dark cloud bearing down on us here.

    So, here goes. Who would you think will be the player/manager that can lift the team? Our current captain (BFG)? or Santi? or another player on the pitch?

  120. allezkev says:

    Hey 17tino, how’s the tummy?

    What’s the sitch with Enos and the good people of St Louis taking him to Court.
    Quite an interesting development with the St Louis Rams/ Los Angeles Rams/ who knows Kalamazoo Rams?

    Now if he’s gonna have an LA Law case going on as well as getting JP Morgan to loan him a big chunk of the £3 billion Inglewood development, is he really gonna be spending too much time focusing on Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, AFTV, Ivan Gazides leaking info to who ever, £200 million war chest (😃), yadda, yadda.

    Any info/views from your side of stream would be informative…

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