Tottenham-Arsenal. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Biggest North London Derby in a Decade?

Let’s cut right to the chase.  The North London Derby is always a big match but this one is even bigger.  Spurs are going to finish above Arsenal for the first time in over 20 years, and, if they can show they are truly superior to their neighbors in red with a win in this match, they will be able to legitimately continue their battle for the league title with Chelsea.  Moreover, they will also put a massive dent in Arsenal’s hopes for another go round in the Champions League next season.  Simply put, Spurs winning this match would leave no doubt which team in North London is on the up and which one is faltering.

On the other hand, if Arsenal could take all three points in the final derby at White Hart Lane, it would be a massive boost in our battle for the top-4 while likely ending Spurs title hopes.  While the mathematics suggest we cannot catch them in the table, we would be poised to see this season as a mere blip in our long-standing dominance over our arch-rivals, with the promise of a return to regular service next season.  After all, Spurs will be playing their home matches at Wembley while their new stadium is under construction.  That, plus their Champion League burdens, will make life much harder for them next year.  An Arsenal victory in this derby could–quite easily and very definitively–mark the high point of Spurs football and the beginning of their downward slide.

It’s easier said than done, of course.  They say that form goes out the window in the derby.  Let’s hope so.  Spurs have won eight league matches on the trot, scoring 23 goals to their opponents’ four, while keeping five clean sheets along the way.  We have to look all the way back to 11 February to find their most recent league loss, a 2-nil at Liverpool.  A week ago, however, they also lost to their title rivals, Chelsea, in the semi-finals of the FA Cup at the stadium that will be their temporary home.  The bigger teams may be more difficult for them, but we shouldn’t pretend that this Spurs team isn’t extremely well oiled and running on full power.

Arsenal won the other semi-final at Wembley over Manchester City even if it took extra time to do so.  That was the 2nd match in which manager Arsene Wenger deployed his new 3-4-3 formation.  It wasn’t a glorious Arsenal performance by any stretch of the imagination, but it yielded the correct result.  The two league matches that also featured the new formation, at Middlesbrough and home to Leicester, found Arsenal similarly stodgy in attack but also able to eke out the wins.

In my view, the added emphasis on defending has likely come with this match circled on the fixture list.  Keeping Spurs’ attack under wraps has to be job one, but it is closely followed by refusing to concede at set pieces and avoiding getting caught out on the counterattack.  In the three matches played with the new formation, Arsenal have conceded a pair of goals, both scored when we’ve pushed the ball well forward, turned it over and then failed to defend adequately as the other team broke on the counter.  It’s a trap we cannot afford to fall into at White Hart Lane.

As such, I picture a relatively cagey match despite the intensity of the derby atmosphere.  I also believe that Wenger will put out the same 11 he used at Boro and Wembley, having rested a few key players in the midweek home win over Leicester.  My predicted first 11 looks like this:

Cech

Gabriel–Koscielny–Holding

Oxlade-Chamberlain–Xhaka–Ramsey–Monreal

Ozil–Giroud–Alexis

Substitutes: Martinez, Gibbs, Bellerin, Coquelin, Iwobi, Walcott, Welbeck

Of course, there could be some tweaking of the line-up.  Danny Welbeck offers less of a target for high balls but more movement up front than Olivier Giroud.  Theo Walcott started instead of Giroud in midweek and forced a save from Leicester’s keeper, one of the very few shots we put on target.  Might he go again?

Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs and Francis Coquelin also started on Wednesday night.  Of the three, I thought Bellerin looked the most effective and the young Spaniard might have to go again if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t recovered from the knock that saw him leave Wembley on crutches just a week ago.  Laurent Koscielny, after he hyper-extended his knee late on vs Leicester, is also an injury doubt.  Wenger suggested that Lolo had a 60-40 chance to play.  My hunch is that he will be there to anchor the rearguard.

There’s also the chance that Wenger will jettison the new formation completely, perhaps to spring a surprise on Tottenham.  Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino has also been switching between three and four at the back and there could be an element of one manager trying to out-guess the other.  I don’t see it happening, but other observers may have different ideas.  What do you think?

Regardless of the playing personnel and the formation in which they’re set out, Arsenal will need to master the cauldron-like atmosphere that this final derby at White Hart Lane promises.  Spurs and their supporters will believe that this is their chance to make a definitive statement against their rivals from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.  The Gunners–and Gooners–need to believe the obverse and make it happen.  The opportunity is there, and, as Wenger says, “We have one advantage, the advantage of clarity.”  Clearly we need a result from this one and getting one against our arch rivals in the final derby at White Hart Lane would be all the sweeter.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

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86 Responses to Tottenham-Arsenal. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Biggest North London Derby in a Decade?

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Another fine and accurate preview, Seventeenho 🎯⚽

    All agreed re predicted line up and this is all about breaking the very strong midfield duo of Wanyama and Dembele, both players who I have coveted on here over the years. It is also about winning the battle of the flanks, so I reckon 3-4-3 is likely to be the best way to play, but especially the Ox has to focus well on his defensive duties. I reckon they have more to lose and will be stinking nervous, and we will be keen to give our all and show them what we are all about. Should be a cracker of a game!!

  2. allezkev says:

    Well 17tino, I think that fine effort deserved a bit more feedback.
    Personally I’d prefer Welbeck leading the line, then he could switch with Alexis during the game allowing more flexibility rather than having the more static Giroud.
    Tottenham have a very physical midfield, more so than Man City or Leicester, so both Xhaka and Ramsey are going to have to be strong and disciplined, a NLD isn’t the time to go showboating.
    Agree with the defence.
    Both teams need the win, the Spud fans will create a malevolent atmosphere, so it’s set up to be a rustic, aggressive and nasty encounter, where cool heads will be needed, so no Coquelin.
    I’d take a draw if you offered it now…

  3. Goonereris says:

    It certainly promises to be a humdinger of a battle. Both sides will be nervous, but hopefully, the occasion gets them tense and they suffer a ‘freeze’ in the process.

    I feel Coquelin may get a place in the side; to support Xhaka form a proper shield in front of the back 3/4. We Can’t afford to have iRamsey starting this one as he is a more offensive player and may run all over the place, without affecting play. I also expect a cagey game, despite Wenger suggesting an open game. The spuds finishing above us, painful as that will be, should not be as important as the need to relish the opportunity to have a say in whether Spurs win the title or not.

    We have to rise up to the occasion and win this!

    Come on lads….

  4. allezkev says:

    As for the old chestnut, ‘change in the balance of power’ in north London, whipped up by a press who seem to love blowing smoke up the anus of Tottenham, it is imo a short term situation.
    Tottenham will suffer at Wembley next season, then for 2 or 3 years at their new stadium whilst they settle into their new surroundings. Their better players will leave, for big money, because that’s what they do and the manager could well be tempted away during that period.

  5. Waldo says:

    Nice preview 17. Pending the fitness of Koscielny and Ox, I think Wenger will deploy the starting lineup you’ve predicted.

    Personally though, if Arsenal are going to persist with a 5-2-3 setup, the starting line up I’d like to see versus Tottenham (with Mustafi and Perez unavailable) is:

    GK: Cech
    RWB: Debuchy
    RCB: Gabriel
    CB: Koscielny
    LCB: Holding
    LWB: Monreal
    RCDM: Ox
    LCDM: Xhaka
    RW: Ozil
    CF: Giroud
    LW: Ozil

    That said I still believe Arsenal’s squad is best suited to playing a 4-3-3 setup of:

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

    Irrespective of which of those two suggested approaches Arsenal deploy, the Gunners need to transition then ball from defence to attack quicker and more directly than they have been for the majority of the season and need to not overcommit too many players in advanced positions.

  6. Pony Eye says:

    Nice post HT. You covered every blade of grass.

    Am not a believer in the long-ball/isolated-Giroud set up. I’d rather opt for midfielders who are better at passing the ball out of the rear plus using a mobile striker. A 3:4:3 already means one attacker less from our usual set up and we can’t do worse than compounding matters by using an attacker who contributes virtually only in the box. In the same breath Walcott who is unable to contribute enough to the body of the play is rendered less appealing.

    For the Ox and the Bel, we mustn’t think only in terms of either or. Bel at RWB frees the versatile Ox for other roles and one where I expect him to excell is in the inside forward position. One man less in attack in the 3:4:3 demands greater verticality. It demands a dribbler at pace, and who else in our squad but the Ox. He has played in the wide positions and excelled at CMF. The inside forward is like a blend of the two. Buttressing this argument is the fact that Alexis seems handicapped tucked in at the inside left position as his skill set demands cutting in thereby loosing the directness demanded of a 3:4:3.

    Spurs suffocate the spaces with or without the ball, and that might stifle Xhaka passing ability. Ramsey’s box runs in a 3:4:3 becomes more of an asset than a liability as not only is there better security in the back (3 CD) but also the attack by his runs is able to regains its numerical status. This makes Ramsey huge in this formation.

    The line up I would like to see :-

    ———-Cech———-
    –Gab—Kosh—Hold–
    Bel—Rams—Eln—Nach
    —–Ozil———Ox—–
    ———-Alexis———-

    Really wish we are free of thinking in a must term of Ozil AND Sanchez on one hand and Ox OR Bellerin on the other. It constrains our inventiveness.

  7. 17highburyterrace says:

    Thanks for the comments boys…

    TA, there could be even more pressure on Spurs now that Chavs have a 2-nil advantage at Everton…

    Kev, Agreed about taking a draw, esp. after ManU’s result… Also, Cheers for the article on Rocastle. At some point (very busy these days…) I’ll watch the vid on Wrighty & Rocky…

    Teams are out… Gibbs in for Holding seems to be the one change (from the predicted line-up/the 11 who played against Boro and ManCity…)

    Spurs: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Wanyama, Son, Eriksen, Dele, Kane Subs: Vorm, Walker, Wimmer, Dembele, Sissoko, Nkoudou, Janssen

    Arsenal: Cech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, OX, Ramsey, Xhaka, Gibbs, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud
    Subs: Ospina, Holding, Bellerin, Coquelin, Iwobi, Walcott, Welbeck

  8. allezkev says:

    City drop 2 points.
    Chelski take 3pts, how will that psychologically effect the Totts?

    Holding out?
    Not sure about that, but then I haven’t managed 1000 games.

  9. Goonereris says:

    Indeed, Holding out. Good calls (bar 1), 17ht.

    So, we go 3-4-3 while Spurs go 4-2-3-1? They would really need to go for it now that Chelsea won. Hopefully, our snipers can pick them off as they rush forward. I still worry about the protection we have for the defence though. Anyway, without Dembele starting, they would be less creative in the midfield.

    Let’s do this!

  10. Goonereris says:

    Holding is the least experienced of the defenders, at this level so, I can fully understand if the manager prefers Monreal’s central defence play to Holding’s in the derby. No need to damage the lad so soon. He is capable but perhaps, he can look to the future where he is likely to dominate that position for a long time, so long as he develops himself.

  11. Goonereris says:

    I hope the ref will be able to give the decisions for us, for fouls on Giroud. Vertonghen is scared stiff of Giroud and always has his hands wrapped around him at set pieces.

    Alexis……needs to cut out his wastefulness in flicks and misplaced passes.

  12. 17highburyterrace says:

    Whoa… A pair of big let offs for Arsenal…Both were deflected balls that Spurs should have buried…

  13. Goonereris says:

    We’ve done nothing offensively, but frustrate them so far. 25 minutes on and we’ve had no shot on target. The spuds have missed a couple of chances and its obvious they are nervous. It’s the north London derby after all. Giroud has not done much, really and isn’t even making the runs you’d expect from your front man.

    Very cagey still and it looks like we are just looking for the one goal and it will be all hands d a bag of nerves; mispl crosses and passes; even going down when he should stay on his feet.

  14. 17highburyterrace says:

    Xhaka looks done…

    Replays on the Spurs chances suggest that we were lucky the header fell to the short man (Dele) and to Eriksen’s weaker left foot…

    Our chances….?

    Vertongen down now… Giroud earlier… Time wasting? Everybody happy with a nil-nil?…

  15. Goonereris says:

    First shot to trouble Lloris. Ramsey placed it to the left side of Hugo Lloris who palmed it for a corner.

  16. allezkev says:

    I’ll take the 0-0…

  17. Goonereris says:

    Not very happy with Giroud’s effort so far; not sure he’s playing to instruction because he hardly puts himself in promising positions for a pass. He’s been useful in defending from both ends of the field, though. Wonder at what point we’ll introduce Welbeck to give them a different kind of problem.

    Petr Cech has got to do better with his distribution. There were a couple of moments when he turned an attacking situation (potentially) into us scrambling to prevent conceding.

    As far as plans go, it would seem ours have gone well. Frustrate them, get them anxious and hurrying their decisions, make them doubt a bit, then strike! We get a goal, they will start floundering and it could be 2 or more. Ox needs to get his wits about him and know why he is in the side. He needs to start keeping Davies busy.

  18. Goonereris says:

    I won’t take 0-0, Kev. We can win this with a few tweaks in the team. Welbeck, Theo, Coq or Iwobi should be brought on at some points in the 2nd half.

    Be sure of one thing. They are going to give it their all and with Dembele likely to come on, it may be a long 45 minutes or so.

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    The team will be told to play Giroud into the game, and that will make a big difference. CoyGs

  20. allezkev says:

    I’d bring on Welbeck for sure Eris, not sure about those other three, maybe late in the game if we’re hanging on, to a narrow lead hopefully.

    I’d still take 0-0 😉

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    We are getting closer

  22. Goonereris says:

    1-0! Alli.

    That wasn’t according to plan, at all. Ox should be clearing that with his left foot.
    And now, a penalty against us.

  23. Goonereris says:

    Afraid we will collapse now, if it is 2.

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    Still don’t take a draw 😂

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    Closer to what exactly, TA… 😦

  26. Goonereris says:

    We need to keep fighting, though. We have some players who are not pulling their weight today. They just need to be reminded this is the NLD, for God’s sake. We cannot afford to lose!!!

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    Still thirty minutes to go, Seventeenho

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    But if only Sanchez would ever play Giroud in rather than being so self centred….

  29. 17highburyterrace says:

    So, I think we might need some changes… Giroud and Alexis have hit shots on target but straight to Lloris, however…

    Spurs quick two goals reminds me of the NLD where we scored then Cesc stole their kickoff then took it down and scored another…

    DW in for Xhaka…

  30. Goonereris says:

    We cannot allow them use us for target practice, now. The boys need to fight for this…..and I am not seeing that. We seem awe struck, if I am to be honest.

    Ramsey….doing flicks when every pass needed to be precise. Smh.

  31. 17highburyterrace says:

    Lee Dixon says Ozil will stay because he lacks the ambition of Alexis… Tough times, if you ask me…

    DW almost connects with a fine ball in from the unambitious one… Brouhaha on the follow up…

  32. TotalArsenal says:

    Cech has been magnificent

  33. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ox giveaway and the break is on… It might be a bigger scoreline if not for Cech… who gets another from the corner…

    If we could nick one…maybe we could nick another…

  34. allezkev says:

    I’d still take the 0-0

  35. 17highburyterrace says:

    No longer possible, I fear, Kev… But I get the sentiment…

  36. 17highburyterrace says:

    It seems our nickers…the ability to nick one (or more) are in a bunch, as they say…

  37. TotalArsenal says:

    Boys are doing us proud but this formation is just not Arsenal. It did the trick for a few games, but I don’t think it has future. Yet it was Gabriel’s dumb penalty give away that did it for us.

    Lee Dickson

  38. 17highburyterrace says:

    Another “passed” shot from Theo… Simple for Lloris…

  39. 17highburyterrace says:

    I think it’s spelled Dixon…and I turned off the sound after the Ozil comments… Agreed however that a mid-match switch of formation might have been fun…

  40. TotalArsenal says:

    Definitely DICKson

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    2 nil down and I cannot see the point of keeping Gibbs in as a (would-be) attacker…is what I meant…

    Still not out of the top-4 chase… And then we can talk about rebuilding for the future… Just have to take this result on the chin and move forward… Spurs the better team on the season and on the day… Painful as it is to say it…

  42. TotalArsenal says:

    Only a dick could say something like that about a World Cup winner

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oh, got you, TA…Sorry to have missed the real meaning there…

  44. 17highburyterrace says:

    Indeed… The idea that trying to believe in your teammates (Ozil, the opposite of Alexis) shows a lack of ambition… It astounds, IMO…

  45. 17highburyterrace says:

    Full time…

    OK, I’ve still got the day ahead of me (Spring skiing)… Sorry for the Gooners who don’t…

  46. allezkev says:

    Kane, according to BBC5Live, dived for the penalty.

    17 points between Arsenal and Tottenham.

    Max Allegri signed a new 3 year contract with Juve, so maybe he knows something.

  47. TotalArsenal says:

    Thought it was pretty even for a while but the better team won. We can play a lot better but not in that formation which is very unfamiliar to our attackers and midfielders. And I will say it once more, combining Giroud with Alexis does not work.

  48. Goonereris says:

    The irony of it all. The squad Wenger claimed is his strongest since the 2004 side is the one which fails so poorly against a Spurs side that will finish above Arsenal since 1995. My heart goes out to the Arsenal fans who live and work in that part of London. The banter they will have to face….

    We need to move on and focus. The 2nd goal did us in so, maybe some positives to look at. The pundits will regale us with how there is a shift in something in North London. Dumb talking, if you ask me. Too eager to write us off.

  49. TotalArsenal says:

    He dived but there was contact before that and Gabriel missed the ball

  50. TotalArsenal says:

    If Spuds finish second but we win the FA cup then we have still done better this season. Fact.

  51. allezkev says:

    According to Danny Mills, who is no fan of Arsenal, Kane instigated the contact Total, but you saw it, I didn’t and it doesn’t change anything mate…

  52. TotalArsenal says:

    Well I would love to agree with Mills, Kev, but I saw Gab making contact with Kane’s foot before half moon face even attempted to dive, leaving the ref no other option than to point to the spot.

  53. Admir says:

    Kane is a diving cnut and a cheater. Whenever someone makes a claim that the foreigners had brought cheating to English football, he should be kicked in the crotches and forced to watch videos of Vardy, Young, Rooney, Rashford and Kane getting penalties for diving.

    As for Arsenal, the season has been going South since the very first day and the next one won’t be any better with Wenger in charge. When cockroaches survive the apocalypse, Wenger will still be an Arsenal manager and will get a pay hike.

  54. allezkev says:

    Yeah Total, I’ve seen it now, Kane made the most of it, but it was a pen…
    And you are probably right about a back three…

    I thought, in the little that they showed on MotD, that Arsenal were lucky that Cech was on form, we could have lost by 4 or 5…

    I don’t want to overreact but there’s no way Arsene is winning another EPL, and that’s not based on one game, it’s just crystallised by today after a succession of games that we’ve lost in such a disorganised fashion. Our players seem undercoached, if there’s such a thing.

    I’m dreading the visit of Mourinho next weekend.

  55. Pony Eye says:

    4:2:3:1 leaves us porous at the back while 3:4:3 leaves us sterile going forward. The problem cannot lie in the make of the vehicles but in the men at the wheels. Poor selections? Poor instructions? Poor applications? Am convinced that in our squad is a team that can do much better than these poor shows even with the least of instructions.

    A 3:4:3 plays with one forward less. To make up for this deficit requires the front 3 be made up of fast and enterprising players like Pedro, Harzard and Costa. There should be no place in it for slow coaches like Giroud or non enterprising players like Walcott. We have Sanchez, Iwobi, Welbeck, Oxlade, Perez, Ozil to choose our front three from. There must be an effective combo 3 from these 6 names. To me, 6 names and not 2 names plus 1 from 4. Must we always think Ozil and Sanchez plus one? We think 6 and if Ozil and Sanchez jump out, all well and good. But think 6, we must.

    One luxury player like Walcott or Giroud can be accommodated if we revert to 4 attackers in the 4:2:3:1. Wenger has to get it right, at least for our pride for each remaining match, and there is the FA cup final to look forward to.

  56. retsub1 says:

    Just a throw away comment on Lee Dixon. Lee Dixon was bought from Stoke City in 1988 for 375k. He made the right back position his own and played their successfully for over 10 years. During this time the Team won the league 4 times, the FA cup 3 times and the EUFA cup. This included two doubles. He was an England international and twice named in the player of the year PFA team. By his own admission he wasn’t the most skillfull player, but he wore his heart on his sleeve and gave his all for Arsenal. My memory cells may be fading a little, but I don’t remember him ever letting the team down.

    But I have to agree it was wrong of him to critisize Ozil yesterday, as as far as I could see the most expensive player in the history of Arsenal football club wasn’t on the pitch.

    In fairness to Ozil I don’t think he is lazy, like some people think. I just class him as a luxury player, who will perform well when surrounded by hard working and industrious players. Which is clearly not the case at Arsenal.

    As for Lee Dixon, no way would he have put up with some of the mediocre players around him yesterday. If we had just two or three players with Lee .Dixons heart, things might be a whole lot different. Given a choice between Lee Dixon and some of our over hyped, vastly over paid players I know where my loyalty lies.

    I appreciate this post goes against the majority and the thinking of your site TA. In any case I have decided to bring out my pipe and slippers (of which I have neither)and retire from posting. My feelings are obviously to George Armstrong (left wing) with apologies for the pun. If I say what I really think I will just create bad feeling on an otherwise friendly blog

    So thank you to you and 17ht for putting up with me for as long as you have. I wish you and all the Bk regulars health, wealth and prosperity.

  57. allezkev says:

    Hey Retsub, I wondered where you had got to mate.
    I agree wholeheartedly about Lee Dixon, a wonderful servant of the club whose emotions probably got the better of him, not that I saw it as I was working.
    You see Lee Dixon cares about his old club, when Arsenal lose it hurts him like it hurts the fans. There were a few in our team yesterday who probably weren’t as upset or minded to give it everything they had. That kind of attitude is anathema to Dixon.

    Pipe & slippers Retsub, a youngster like you 😉, you must be joking.
    Who can I reminisce with if you aren’t here mate?

    Look it really pisses me off too Retsub and I could really go off on one, but I rein it in and rant at the cat instead. Nothing we say is gonna change anything because our club is a franchise, a part of KSE, and I have to wonder how much Stan really cares about his investment?
    Anyway, that’s for another day.
    Don’t be a stranger Retsub, see ya later mate.

  58. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Retsubster

    I know all that about Lee Dixon and I rated him a lot as a player too.

    I reckon that you are more in a majority here than I am. But that is fine with me. We just have a different view on people and that is showing in the way we look at the club or deal with a disappointing result. Sometimes I respond too strongly to this but in general i value your and other bloggers’ views. And Kev needs you and vice versa, so put those slippers and pipe back in the loft and stay with us. We need you 😀

  59. retsub1 says:

    T A you are a gentleman, but as you say because of this crappy run of form, feelings are rising to the surface and frankly I have to say what I feel. I don’t think I am ever rude to anyone, unless another teams supporter infiltrates the board, but I simply cannot toe the line and not vent sometimes (as I did the other day.). As and example you are obviously a Xhaka man, I am in the Ox camp. In truth I want to be in neither I just want to support my team. A couple of weeks back I thought Xhaka had sn awful game but in your comments he was man of the match. I seriously thought you were being sarcastic or had been on the waccy baccy Then the City game I thought the Ox was terrific and you sort of agreed 8.5 out of 10 and his best game ever in an Arsenal shirt. Xhaka 9 out of 10 and Arsenals best player”!!!!! WHAT? (Various unprintable expletives). So the Ox had played his best ever game but Xhaka still better. I am not saying I am right or you are wrong, But I bit my tongue so as not to cause any friction. So the frustration built and built.
    Normally when I watch Arsenal play I position myself on the floor in front of the TV and yell away at every decision. Yesterday and for the Palace game I sat on my favourite armchair and barely moved. After Spurs scored there was a certain inevitability about the game. No fight back, no goal mouth incidents, no leadership we just rolled over and died. I didn’t feel that angry , just an acceptance of what I expected to happen. I didn’t feel that bothered about if it were a penalty or not, we have used that excuse too many times this season. I don’t claim to be clairvoyant, but I knew Ozil,probably wouldn’t turn up, Giroud would have poor game, because in my opinion we are not playing to his strengths? Why was Holding dropped ? Why did Gibbs play wing back? Why is the world round? Etc etc
    .
    Frankly I am sick of our insipid board who don’t seem to care less about anything but the bottom line. A once great manager is being reduced to a shell of a man and I have serious concerns about his health. And what do we get from our board………Zip

    So when good old Lee Dixon made his Ozil comment (on American tv) I wanted to give him a medal.

    I am happy to stay and post, it’s certainly part of my daily ritual and I enjoy the blog and the people on it very much. but I am afraid it’s warts and all with me.

    Kev thanks for your support, the feeling is very mutual. kev, have you ever watched fever Pitch?great film, I am sure you have, but can you explain to me where Ruth Gemmell kept her cash to pay the cabbie at the end of the film? Lol

  60. Alex says:

    If you think Özil disappears in big games, he’ll disappear in big games no matter what he does…

  61. retsub1 says:

    Alex on his day Ozil is the most talented player in the team, but let’s be honest how many times has he performed in the past few months?

  62. Goonereris says:

    Ozil’s attitude has always given me concern and I have said it here a few times how it baffles me the way he ducks out of making any challenge for the ball, aerially and otherwise. A paid professional with an aspect of the game he doesn’t care to be involved with? He backed out of a challenging the keeper in the league game against City, where any other player I know will burst a lung to reach the ball, nick it away from the keeper’s reach and score, or force a penalty situation, at the least. The club’s aspirations depended on it and our star man ducks from the 60:40 challenge. I don’t get it.

    Having said that, he is a fantastic creator on his day and covers a fair bit of ground.

  63. Goonereris says:

    retsub1, hey, enter shelve the thought of “retirement” from posting (on here) as it is allows you vent and hear contrary views. Which, in itself, is the essence of a platform as this. It is no longer a forum if posters cannot freely share opinions (in a civilized, reasoned manner, I must add, because I have visited some downright rude/opinionated blogs), irrespective of whose views they negate.

    I find this one a very liberal, Arsenal-centred blog, as against the Wenger out or nothing blogs. If you feel hard pressed to express your honest views here, you should try the one that sounds like ‘Le Groan’, where it is all about Wenger Out, or nothing.

    Take your time, if you wish to, but don’t let that result and recent happenings with our club steal your joy.

    PS: was a bit sleepy typing these posts and hope it made sense in the end…

  64. 17highburyterrace says:

    I gotta run this morning, but, before I go, I want to say to Retsub that I hope you keep posting here. We may not agree on everything but IMO you’ve been nothing but respectful in your commentary. Disagreement is just fine by me and I always enjoy your comments even if (or maybe especially…) when they don’t echo mine…

    These are very tough times to be a Gooner but I think we should hang together (lest we all hang separately, as they say)…

    Anyhow, that is all for now, back later…

  65. retsub1 says:

    Thanks Goonereris although I still haven’t forgiven you for 1 destroying my spellchecker and 2 putting me firmly in my place about the Invincibles defence lol. I have spent time on other forums. Was virtually banned from one for suggesting Arshavin was lazy. Trouble is if you go on a really busy blog it’s difficult to have a meaningful conversation and follow what’s happening and in most cases not worth it. I have always liked posting here as there are always interesting posts to follow up on and a friendly crowd

    I guess I am just a little sensitive about creating bad feeling, arguments which wouldn’t occur if I kept my big trap shut.

    I have always been a big fan of Wenger he has provided glorious entertainment in the past, but the poor guy looks completely knackered to me. I can’t understand why Steve Bould never speaks. I an only assume he has been gagged

  66. retsub1 says:

    And just to lighten things up a little more my Favourite Spurs joke from happier times.

    Arsenal were playing Spurs at the Lane and had stopped off in a pub for a few beers and a game of pool. The lads were enjoying the banter and sank a few too many. Bergkamp came up with a suggestion “Spurs are crap, you lot carry on drinking and I will take them on, you can join me when you Finnish your beers. So the lads drank on regardless and at 3.30 Freddie suddenly remembered they had a match to play. So they looked the score up on teletext (younger viewers will need to google teletext). Spurs 0 Arsenal 1 Bergkamp 15 minutes. Pires said “sod it Dennis is fine let’s have another pint”. At 4.55 they suddenly remembered the game again and fired up the teletext. Spurs 1 (Campbell 89.) Arsenal 1 (bergkamp 15)

    A few minutes later an immaculately dressed Dennis walked into the pub. “Really sorry lads got sent off just before half time”

  67. Goonereris says:

    Hahahahaha! That had me in stitches.

    Lol @ destroying your spellchecker and the invincibles defence thingy. On the former, I will have to ‘join’ Bill Gates in my law suit to reclaim your forgiveness on that front. 😀😀

  68. allezkev says:

    Yes Retsub, I have Fever Pitch on DVD, oddly enough I don’t have a DVD player at the moment.
    I ain’t sure about the fare mate, but I’ve seen a few interesting things over the years and had a few interesting offers from passengers, both male and female, it’s all part of the job and makes me chuckle.

    Total, I believe that there is a definite split at Boardroom level, the silence of Gazides and Keswick leaving early at Crystal Palace suggest it to me.
    Kroenke and son are fully committed to the LA Rams project and stay in the background.
    The Director of Football issue, Director of Youth, new scouting set up, to name but a few, I believe these things are causing the division as I suspect that Arsene is not happy at seeing his total control of things being watered down. I have no proof, it’s just a hunch.
    I think he will sign a new two year contract, but to me, the question is, will he see it out to its finish?

  69. njk84sg says:

    This season we have seen lots of team winning due to diving for penalties.. Why did we not do that too?

    As they say, go with the flow, so…

  70. Alex says:

    I hope you all would be as demanding towards Özil as towards others. Accepting Ox losing half of his passes is beyond me from football fans. Oh, yeah, sorry, Özil costed a lot… oh, yeah, then he can be guilty for all… and oh, yeah, what has he ever won in his life?

  71. retsub1 says:

    Alex, by recent standards the Ox had a poor game. I would argue that he has never claimed to be a wing back, but that’s another story. As I said before on his day Ozil is top notch. Just over a year ago ( I think). TA posed a number of questions. They included something like would Ozil break The Arsenal records for assists, which I think is held by my all time top Gunner Thierry Henry. Another question was would he be PFA player of the year. From memory I answered yes to both. Sadly he trailed off, but he was undoubtably playing really well at the time. Maybe he is a victim of his own standards, but I don’t remember him playing many good games this year (West Ham from memory). I think if you search the news wires you will find Ozil admitting he is not playing well. The other problem is that he offers very little from a defensive perspective, so if the creative part of his game isn’t working he does effectively become a passenger. Ozil is one of those players who splits opinions, but that’s my view

  72. 17highburyterrace says:

    Retsub… You’re posting as much as you ever have! I like it…

    Indeed, Ozil does divide opinion… My take is that he’s a facilitator (i.e. team player) first, though talented enough to finish plays (score goals) when he’s at the end of the move. As much as his assists have dried up this season, he’s gotten to the number of goals (10, in all comps) many had hoped for… Googling, “Ozil” (to find the # of goals…) I get his latest transfer news with the Daily Star (the least reliable of all the tabloids?…) saying he’s off to Barca in the summer…

    That maybe bull, but there’s a reason they would want him (as opposed to Alexis, Cesc, Pedro and others who have been jettisoned)… Playing a deeper role (Iniesta’s or Rakatic’s) he is talented enough to help get the best out of NSM (Neymar, Suarez, Messi)…

    So, maybe Ozil is being played out of position. Certainly, to my eye at least, he’s forced to rotate into ever deeper spots because our deeper MF play is so woeful. Playing out of position is no excuse, of course, but I’ve heard it used (over and over and over…) about enough other players to grow sick of it… As such, why not use it about the best player (IMO) on the team? People use it about Alexis and the Ox all the time, so why not Ozil too?

    Let’s discuss those two (Alexis and the Ox)… On the ball they look mighty impressive–minus those brutal giveaways in the wrong part of the pitch that produce instant chances for our opponents. Individual heroics are very nice to see–when you’re winning matches. What good are they when you lose? Well, they’re good as talking points. How can you blame a player who skinned a defender (or three–in impressive fashion…) even if nothing came from it?

    In the end, it’s a team game and, IMO, we’re not playing as a team. To my mind this is why we lost so badly at Spurs, at Palace, at West Brom, at Pool and at Chavs, and home and away to Bayern. Those are ALL better teams than we are at this time. I still retain hope that we’ll make the top 4. I haven’t been very impressed by the two Manc clubs (in terms of playing like more than a collection of players). I missed the Pool match yesterday but their result is a good one, picking up at least 2 points on all the other clubs–note, I didn’t say “teams”– who are fighting for a top 4 finish. They’ve had their stumbles however so they also remain vulnerable…

    Under these dire circumstances, I have a lot of faith that Wenger (as much as the other “star” managers, Jose, Pep, Jurgen…) can keep this group together and grind out the needed results, but we shall see. This is a VERY big game on Sunday vs United… If we can regroup, win it and go on from there, we might even have a fighting chance in the Cup final… If not…Oh dear…

    When things go bad, everybody wants to point fingers while very few enjoy a long hard look in the mirror. (This goes for fans as well as players, but that’s another topic…) If the players start playing for themselves (and their next move…) we’re doomed. (Therefore, I like the idea that Ozil admits he’s not playing his best football…and I like it a whole lot better than I like the idea that he’s off to Barca…with Bellerin, but that’s another discussion as well…)

    So, is Ozil the one to point at and name as our problem? Maybe so, maybe not… In the end, it’s all in the eye of the beholder…

  73. retsub1 says:

    17ht. I totally agree that it it is a team problem. Every week we shuffle players around hoping we have found the magic formula. Three at the back was probably a false dawn. The boys played well against City but also had luck on our side for a change. The Boro game wasn’t anything to write home about and Nacho’s winner against Leicester was heading for a throw in.. although credit to him for having the confidence to have a shot.

    Personally and I am no expert I think our best hope is introducing youngsters who have a desire to do well and bring a freshness to the team. Thought Rob Holding was excellent against City and when he didn’t make the Leicester game assumed he was being rested for the Spurs game. Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference,but I believe we should have kept the same back five that performed well against City. Msitland Niles is another who has impressed when given the chance.

    I wasn’t specifically targeting Ozil as the problem, but to use Cockney rhyming slang if he thinks he is worth £300k per week he is having a bubble..

  74. retsub1 says:

    Without wishing to advertise othher blogs I think today’s a cultured left foot is very well written and compares Ozil with no less than Dennis Bergkamp..

  75. Admir says:

    Özil is played out of position? Who plays him out of position? 🙂

    I watched him at EURO 2016. He was in his top form and – alongside the football perfection called Toni Kroos – was the best German player in the tournament. What he didn’t have was a decent striker as Müller was totally out of form and Gomez was injured for the game against France. It looked a bit like his Arsenal years where his talent was wasted on Giroud, Walcott, Welbeck and, to some extent, Podolski.

    Which leads us to this: in order to function properly, Özil needs someone like Kroos in the middle to connect the defence and attack. That makes him a rather expensive player to rely – if Cazorla, with all his flaws in terms of height, physical ability and lack of the final product, is the gadget we need to make Özil work, then someone is to blame for not finding a replacement/second solution/better solution when Cazorla is not in the starting eleven (which, given the state of his Achilles tendon, is a very long period of time). Even with Cazorla in the team, Mesut was too often invisible and left without any real influence on the game. Find me a game at Wembley where he put a stamp on the game.

    I’m not saying that we should sell him because we shouldn’t. Replacing him with a more economical model would turn out to be another “sell-Nasri-get-Gervinho”-type of business. We need him to succeed at Arsenal for more reasons than just his price tag. In order to do so, he has to lead Arsenal on his back. The first half-season in 2015-16 was a good example what he’s expected to do.

    Also, one more thing: he’s been criticized for lack of assists this season. It was a result of Wenger’s decision to move Mesut further forward to make him a second striker more than a No. 10. Wenger expected at least 15 goals from Özil but even he bangs five goals in the remaining games, the price of those 15 goals is already too big. His numbers of created chances have gone down significantly.

    Whichever way you put it, all lines of responsibility point at one direction.

  76. TotalArsenal says:

    Good to see you have changed your mind, Retsubster. Re Ox and Xhaka let’s just say we are at opposite ends. I say it as I see it, and yes the Ox played his best game the other day and yet Xhaka played better…. which is how I saw it. But I reckon we value different things in players and that’s how we get to our different player ratings. 😳⚽

  77. TotalArsenal says:

    Re Ozil, a formidable player who was born to enable others. An introvert who always looks and plays for the best ball. With Alexis being such a poor passer and Giroud such a relatively slow target man, and Alexis and Giroud having the chemistry of Obama and Putin, he has very little to play with. There also seems to be little chemistry between Rambo and him, whxich puzzles me no end. Mesut also needs quality wing backs and none of ours is fully there yet.

    Just imagine Mesut in a team like Man City … we need to keep him and build a team around him.

    Night all.

  78. 17highburyterrace says:

    I enjoyed reading that, Retsub… I think Admir might not like the conclusion about the other problems at the club (Wenger Out being such an easy solution…) but so it goes…

    He (Admir) brings up some good points, however. I love me a little guy so I think the loss of Santi is a very big deal. The two players, IMO, he helped the most were Coquelin and Giroud, both of whom, I think, look lost these days… Being little–and exceptionally two footed–Santi could work tighter spaces, giving Le Coq a nearby option when in trouble near the center of the pitch, and allowing big Ollie to get his back to goal near the top of the box and let Santi run across him, either giving him the ball, or, if the defender bit on that piece of play, turning onto his favored left foot. People are right when they say Giroud is slow, they are wrong when they say (because he’s tall) that he’s a target man. His size and slowness belie the fact that he’s better with the ball at his feet and not half bad with his back towards the goal… In my opinion, of course…

    Final bit to ask Admir… What’s the deal with the Bosnian left back we may have already signed? Is he any good? An improvement over Nacho? Surely he must be better than Gibbs, no?

  79. Admir says:

    @17

    It’s still in the air as Kolašinac’s father has said there is another offer on the table (AC Milan that is).

    Kolašinac is a physical type (he is built like a boxer with 1.83 m of height and 85 kg of weight), one that looks more like a Pochettino player than an Arsene one. He can play a central defender as well. He is not the best LB in the world – that’s reserved for Marcelo – but right now Arsenal need players with his passionate approach and never-die attitude. Now, is he an improvement on either Gibbs or Nacho? Well, he is stronger in 50-50s than either of them but he looks to me as one-footed as Gibbs is. His crosses don’t have some exceptional technical quality so don’t expect Beckham-esque crosses that would bounce of The Handsome Frenchman’s eyelids into the net.

    His price is exceptional though. 🙂

  80. 17highburyterrace says:

    Admir, you must be quite the night owl… Thanks for the information… Marcelo is a strong LB indeed. Seems like he’s lost a couple of kilos and is playing his best football right now…

    That’s funny about Kolašinac’s price… More questions. Who would you break the bank for? I think we could get a very good price for Alexis (and save salary money) and get a really fine and mature (age and mentality) player plus an outstanding prospect or two. Sadly enough, I don’t see him (Alexis) fighting very hard to keep us in the top-4 as being out of CL football just makes his move away all the easier… Of the two, I’d much prefer keeping Ozil, but that’s no secret if you’re a regular reader. And Wenger, of course… 😉

  81. retsub1 says:

    I like Admir’s comment about him looking mote of a Poccecttno player than a Wenger player. I do think Wenger has leaned towards the lighter more skillfull players, who tend to get blown away by Djembele, Wanamaya etc

  82. Admir says:

    @17

    Nah, it was just 22 minutes past midnight when I posted a comment. 🙂

    Breaking the bank? I’d break the bank for Harry Kane. He probably wouldn’t defect though and he has a contract until 2023. So, move on.

    We need a killer striker so we should try to get a player who has a name closest to the word “killer”. 🙂 Kylian Mbappe Lottin is the hottest thing which means we won’t get him. His agent is Mendes, if I recall well, and that means he will go somewhere else (he is a fan of Ronaldo so…). Griezmann has gone through a rough season, I think he has never recovered from losing TWO big finals last year, but he is still better than anything we have. Or anyone else in the league for that matter. Getting Lukaku wouldn’t be a bad thing though. We need physical presence (check) and goals (check) so Lukaku might be the guy. I do have a few question marks over him but I reckon he’d bang goals for fun at Arsenal.

    Also, we need a tall central defender. Van Dijk would cost a fortune but he is a type of player that would become a legend in a big club and we would moan for not signing him. His signing would mean we have to get rid of players like Chambers and we are yet to find out what stupid adventure called Brexit would mean for English clubs.

    If you ask me for a single response, it’s a complex issue. I’d need a lot of time to think what we need (because we are shIt in all lines of the team and I don’t think any of our loanees would improve any of those lines), what we can get and what we can offload.

    If I have to respond with one position, I’d say we are thinnest in the central midfield where we have diagonal passing solved with Xhaka but we don’t have either a defensive midfielder who can tackle (because Coquelin thinks he should be scoring goals) or a central midfielder who would make sure our passing through the middle work. I’d probably try to pick someone from PSG (Verratti is the guy to break the bank for but Krychowiak and Matuidi are not bad either) and Barcelona (Rakitic would be a good option for many reasons, starting with both his Schalke background – Mesut and Kolašinac – and German-speaking background – Mustafi, Xhaka, Per, Ozil, Kolašinac and, at the end of the day, Wenger).

  83. Pony Eye says:

    Admir, I admire your ideas.

  84. Pony Eye says:

    TA, a post in your box.

  85. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers PE

    New Post

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