Live Blog–Man City-Arsenal: Iwobi, Coquelin in; Mertesacker, Lacazette out. Wenger Sets Up to Deny Pep’s Boys?

Six midfielders to thwart Manchester City’s threat?

Here are the line-ups:

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis.  Subs: Macey, Debuchy, Elneny, Wilshere, Walcott, Lacazette, Giroud

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Stones, Delph, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling, Sane, Aguero.  Subs: Bravo, Danilo, Gundogan, Mangala, Bernardo Silva, Jesus, Toure

It’s listed as a 4-3-3 formation, but, to me, it looks like we’re setting up as a 4-6-0, indicating that Arsene Wenger wants to win the match in MF and take the attacking moments as they come.  And why not?  Limiting the City attack–one that has put up some gaudy numbers thus far this season–seems wise enough.  They’ve averaged 3.5 goals a game in the league to this point and scored 4 at Napoli in midweek.  What do you think?  Is our best shot at a result trying to limit them (while maybe nicking a goal or two ourselves) or would hell to leather have been the better opening strategy?  At least we’ve got some real firepower on the bench in Lacazette, Giroud and Walcott.

What say you?

Don’t be shy.  Please join in as I try to keep up with the action with some descriptions of the game.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace


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163 Responses to Live Blog–Man City-Arsenal: Iwobi, Coquelin in; Mertesacker, Lacazette out. Wenger Sets Up to Deny Pep’s Boys?

  1. Goonereris says:

    I bet Wenger has been thinking about this team sheet for a long while. Iwobi wasn’t ill or injured but rested for just this. Boy, pay back the trust.

  2. 17highburyterrace says:

    Sorry about the late move to a new post, but there you go…

    Michael Oliver to referee the match…

    And we’re off!

  3. jw1 says:

    Someone said there would be a party here…


  4. 17highburyterrace says:

    Fenandinho, looking a bit nervous kicks one into touch… Kola wins a corner…

  5. Goonereris says:

    It is still a 3 at the back, apparently as Coquelin is in the back 3. Incredible choice of positioning.

  6. Goonereris says:

    What a counter from our corner kick. We were almost caught out, but credit to the lads getting back quick.

  7. 17highburyterrace says:

    Exceptionally poor delivery by Alexis who gets it back but then sets City on the break with a woeful pass to the top of the box… Luckily El Kun hits wide… Alexis already in light blue in his mind and playing as their 12th guy?…

  8. 17highburyterrace says:

    I’ve got no commentary on, Eris… It does kinda look like a back 5 with Le Coq dropping to middle-middle in the back line…

    Iwobi has a ball dropped to him but boots it into Row Z… Needed to be bit more patient before putting the laces through it…

  9. jw1 says:

    I’m liking the pressing.
    Kyle Walker hasn’t looked comfortable once with the ball at his feet.


  10. 17highburyterrace says:

    Good spell of possession but Bellerin’s pass is too strong for Alexis…Wins a corner, however…

  11. 17highburyterrace says:

    And another after it’s cleared, Kola on the right having his cross blocked out… That one’s cleared also…

  12. 17highburyterrace says:

    Sterling does well getting into our box but we twinkle toe it out and break towards theirs… Alexis hauled down, not for the first time, and we have a FK…

    Taken too quickly so must be re-done…

    Was Alexis trying to shoot from 40+ yards? Regardless it’s back with City, though, indeed, Alexis is working hard on the press…

  13. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ramsey made a fine tackle on Fernandinho and we had numbers. It got static quickly however and Bellerin’s strike wasn’t on target…

    Other end… Sane and Sterling almost hook up for a goal… That was a let off… Very end to end early…

  14. jw1 says:

    There were 2 fortuitous small bounces of the ball for MC to gotten in on goal though.


  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    Now some City possession gets broken up and Alexis does well not to lose the ball in a tight spot. His try for a 3rd early whistle near the center circle isn’t given. Luckily, Silva’s ball to De Bruyne is overhit…

  16. 17highburyterrace says:

    City starting to hold it better but Le Coq breaks a longer pass up… We only boot it forward and City will go again…

    Replay suggests Kola may have made a cheeky grab that put Sterling off as he tried to get on the end of Sane’s cross…

  17. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ozil sprays a nice ball to Kola but his one-touch pass is intercepted and City are off with it. We regroup and they have to try and build again…

  18. jw1 says:

    True– but Sterling’s reaction when sprawled in the net didn’t look like one of disbelief for no-call– just frustration.


  19. 17highburyterrace says:

    Our back line of 5 seems like a pretty solid barrier when it’s set… Ozil nips in but we can’t quite get it onto Alexis who looked ready to race forward with it…

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    Kola faces up to Sterling and clears a ball off our end line…

    DeBruyne, with a 2nd try from outside the box puts City ahead…

    1-nil… 😦

  21. 17highburyterrace says:

    It all began on the opposite side when Iwobi lost the ball and City moved it to DB’s side for his first attempt which Cech parried. They regrouped, 1-2ed it past Ramsey and our right side boys before setting DB for the 2nd strike which was better placed in the far corner…

  22. Jnyc says:

    Not playing badly, but gave the ball back to them in bad places cost us.

  23. jw1 says:

    Was in the midst of posting of Cech’s brilliant save just seconds earlier on a shot– by DeBruyne.


  24. 17highburyterrace says:

    Somehow we need to regroup…

    Kola and Iwobi lose it on our left and it’s back with City who flow down our right side… They win a corner off Bellerin…

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    City can now afford to keep their shape as they try to break down our lines… Or nip it with a press if we over-elaborate playing it out… Lotsa speed in that front line, I fear, while David Silva, De Bruyne and Fernandinho can punish with accuracy from their 2nd tier…

    Kos does well to stop Sane and we move it forward. The slide pass to Ozil is just overhit and too close to their keeper who grabs it with ease…

  26. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wow, tiny Alexis does well to bring down a Cech goal kick… Unfortunately we eventually lose it and City are on the break… Out for a throw so they have to regroup on the attack…

  27. 17highburyterrace says:

    Beauty of a long ball from the back by Silva finds Sterling… Deflected over for a City corner…

  28. foreverinourshadows says:

    Alex Iwoeful is a disgrace it was his mistake that led to the goal, he is lazy, a terrible passer of the ball totally inept as a player, good old Wenger another tactical team selection, leaving our mot expensive player on the bench is a joke, what do you expect from the clown. Our terrible away form continues and it’s all down to le fraud, another terrible November we repeat it every year. Ground hog season

  29. 17highburyterrace says:

    We defend well enough and Cech tries to get us going with a throw out wide right. Two touches and it’s back with City…

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Welcome 4-Ever… Please go feck yourself…

  31. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oops, I meant feck off and feck your fecking self… Sorry about that…

  32. Jnyc says:

    We keep giving it back to them a little too easily. Almost cost us again there.

  33. 17highburyterrace says:

    Le Coq, in trouble after Cech gives it to him, is able to boot clear. Back with City who escape our press… Both teams have enough pace to force mistakes in this manner…

    De Bruyne finds Silva but his tight cross–which eludes Cech–finds nobody at the far corner… That looked dangerous but we’re fortunate that Cech didn’t get a finger to it as the rebound could’ve been worse…

  34. Jnyc says:

    And again… even luckier this time.

  35. 17highburyterrace says:

    In my comments to 4-ever, I think the site blocks the use of the actual f-word… I didn’t actually mean to clean it up by using “feck”…

    Another let off on a 2 v 1 with Sterling unable to find Sane across Xhaka the lone defender…

    Ramsey down hurt….

  36. henrychan says:

    I think Coq confused with his role.. better put Elneny / Wilshere there
    Ramsey look very nervous.. he lost a lot of ball..

  37. 17highburyterrace says:

    City certainly look more likely to get the next goal. I’m not sure we’ve put together more than a couple of passes since they scored…

    Maybe it was Kola (not Xhaka) who put Sterling off…

    Another let off. A poor Xhaka floated ball is easily intercepted but El Kun’s cross bounces off both Kos and Cech and away from our goal. That easily could have gone in…

  38. Goonereris says:

    We need to trust in one another and in our abilities. That’s not come to the fore since the first few minutes of the start. We are forced to make hasty decisions once we let them go one up. Kolasinac, for all his good work is never in a hurry to fall back when we lose possession on his side. It is annoying how he trots back leaving the work for Monreal to deal with.

  39. 17highburyterrace says:

    Sorry it was Walker to Aguero on the cross… Kos hurt his arm in the melee…

  40. jw1 says:

    Too often upon winning the ball in the final third– there are one or two passes forward– then a backpass to Cech. Nnot had a single break/counter– yet Alexis is playing CF exclusively in that fashion.


  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    We can’t get it out of our half… Gotta get to half time without them doubling the lead, I fear. Maybe at that point we can regroup and find a way back into the match…

  42. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis wins a corner…

  43. Goonereris says:

    Sanchez has been lively and strong today. Great tackle on Sane by Coquelin there.

  44. 17highburyterrace says:

    And gives it straight to Kun setting City on the break…

    Ozil can’t quite dance his way off the touchline after we stop their counter…

  45. Goonereris says:

    I have seen enough to know that with a bit more belief, we can rattle this lot.

  46. 17highburyterrace says:

    Better there as Rambo starts us flowing at their box…Alexis’ pass to Ozil is cut out, however, and Iwobi can’t catch up to a ball on the right…

    Back with City…

  47. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis does well in the corner but again gifts possession back to City. I guess we were ready enough as we defend another counter…

    Now we rebuild from the back but it dies with Rambo…

  48. Jnyc says:

    Do we have a shot on goal yet?

  49. Goonereris says:

    Ramsey needs to walk his talk. He was speaking about keeping the ball well all week.

  50. Goonereris says:

    Jync, that’s your answer from Ramsey.

  51. Jnyc says:

    Well, Ramsey got a shot on goal before the half.

  52. 17highburyterrace says:

    Back with Cech a couple of times and Iwobi, on the right is foulded… Le Coq boots into touch. Both teams ready for half-time, I think…

    Oooooh not quite… Alexis brings down a long one and puts Rambo in nicely and he’s able to nutmeg Stones with his shot. Ederson sees it and saves, however…

    Now it’s half-time… That would have been something to equalize at the death… 1-nil, however, isn’t too bad… if we can regroup during the break…

  53. henrychan says:

    We need to play a fast break.. So I think Walcott is the man..
    but will we sacrify Ozil..??

  54. 17highburyterrace says:

    We’re pretty lucky to be down just the one goal and it would have been quite something to have leveled it with the final kick. We’re not quite coping with their pressing nor hitting the long-balls well enough to avoid giveaways that don’t set them on the break. Their goal, however, was from clean work through the lines when we had more or less gotten ourselves regrouped. Given all that 1-nil seems alright to me…

  55. Jnyc says:

    Shots on goal misleading. They had a couple balls skid right across the face of our goal.

  56. 17highburyterrace says:

    The urge to sacrifice Ozil, Henry, seems like insanity to me… Gotta keep the ball and use our skill to get through their lines–assuming Pep tells them to keep their shape and not commit too many forward. Iwobi (out) for one of the French forwards seems more reasonable. Wenger, however, might want to keep giving Alexis his chance at showing that he can be the new Aguero (center forward) when he makes the switch this summer to City…

  57. Jnyc says:

    Not giving up. Need to not start chasing.. or it can be a rout for them. We can play tight and just try to steal an equalizer. From there, who knows…

  58. jw1 says:

    That’s true Jnyc– though it is going to take some good fortune to pull a result from this one.
    Not sure can rely on any more coming our way.


  59. 17highburyterrace says:

    Agreed, JNYC… They really didn’t have too many shots… The crosses, however, could’ve gone any which way, including into our net…

  60. henrychan says:

    17ht.. Yes.. Iwobi can also be replaced by Walcott.. but that would mean Walcott as our target man.. cause Ozil won’t play at the left side..

  61. jw1 says:

    I’ve not seen much from Iwobi thus far.
    If Arsene’s plan was to see how it went with him up front– then determine when to introduce Lacazette?

    Now would be my choice.


  62. Goonereris says:

    We go in at half time one nil down, with both teams nullifying the strengths they both pose, but you feel we would be a bit more confident had we gone in at 0-0. There’s going to be a temptation to chase it in the 2nd half and leave gaps which can be punished, serially.

    Good news is despite their dominance possessions-wise, we are ahead on the corner count and have not allowed them too many scoring opportunities (or should I say shots on goal), even if only some poor shooting on their part has kept us in the game. Ramsey is out of sorts and allowing the game get to him. He needs to wipe that smirk off his face when he fluffs his lines, for goodness sake. He should roll that last opportunity to Sanchez to have a crack.

    I am not sure Iwobi (other than being a body in the way) has done the job for which he has been saved for this game. He needs to make his inclusion count in a hurry or, I’m afraid, he may be hauled off and have very little future opportunities this season. Our closing down game has not been too good after the early parts of the game. This needs to improve.

    No need going into making changes too soon; Wenger should see how things pan out in the next 15-20 minutes before looking to bring on Lacazette or Giroud. Theo would have been ideal but is not in good form at the moment.

  63. 17highburyterrace says:

    I think we also need to find a balance between when to hoof it with a clearance and when we can afford to try and build out of the back. Iwobi’s quick feet can help our pressing them into errors but he can’t afford to over-elaborate in bad spots. Players like Alexis never have to learn such discipline, it appears, but Alex (Iwobi) is no Alexis… I’d bring in the other Alex (Lacazette) and see if the two tiny guys (Sanchez and Laca) could make things happen… Maybe by one going forward while the other plays in MF…

    Grasping at straws, I fear…

  64. Frozen says:

    Game is crying out for some Giroud. I fear his hold up play and set piece presence might be the only way for us to nick one back. Wouldn’t mind an ozil/alexis double switch for the overlooked frenchmen. Hell, while I’m dreaming let’s throw jack out there for one of ramsey or xhaka who have been equally bad. Really unimpressed with our midfield, it’s times like these that remind us how crucial santi’s skillset was for controlling tempo and playing out of those tight spaces.

    I guess the only real positive is that it’s only 1 nil..


    (ironic how my phone tried autocorrecting that to “city”)

  65. 17highburyterrace says:

    I can’t see how we can afford a run-off-the-shoulder guy like Theo, but what do I know?…

    Nice camera work of Alexis and Ozil (what language would they be speaking, Spanish, I’m guessing) trying to figure things out ahead of kickoff… Le Coq, hiding his bad breath, speaking with Nacho too…

    We’re off again…

  66. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey Frozen… Long time… Those are some radical changes you propose… I’m not quite there yet…

    For me, Rambo and Iwobi could make some good things happen…but could also kill us with more giveaways…

    The more ball-players the better, IMO, so Laca would be my go-to sub… I’m just not sure we want to have even fewer guys who are strong on the ball…

    Ah crap… Pen to City…Yellow for Nacho…

  67. 17highburyterrace says:

    2 nil…

  68. Frozen says:

    What a start

  69. Goonereris says:

    Michael Oliver giving a foul on Ozil for the retrieval that saw a break on for Alexis. Now he’s given a penalty for an unconvincing touch on Sterling by Monreal.

  70. 17highburyterrace says:

    El Kun flirted with the post but kept it in…

    Nacho bailed out Sterling for the pen… I doubt he could’ve done much with that ball if Monreal had just backed off…

    A mountain to climb now…

  71. Frozen says:

    Might not have much of a choice here shortly.. Time to show some fight

  72. jw1 says:

    Is Eddie Nketiah on the bench? 😉

  73. 17highburyterrace says:

    Decent spell of possession but Ozil hits straight to a defender… We get it back and try to build again…

    Oh that’s a poor pop up from Xhaka but we’re able to keep it… The next foray ends with Alexis flagged off…

  74. 17highburyterrace says:

    Silva overhits a cross for Sterling after good work deep from El Kun… We’re definitely exposing ourselves trying to keep possession rather than backing off to defend…

  75. 17highburyterrace says:

    Better there out of the back and Ozil and Ramsey, after breaking the lines send it to the left. Iwobi tries a long curler but it’s easy for Ederson, except that he drops it… Not over the line, however. Still, a bit more promising…

  76. 17highburyterrace says:

    Le Coq for La Caz… is our first sub…

  77. jw1 says:

    Someone enlighten me as to what the Coquelin/Lacazette swap will entail?


  78. 17highburyterrace says:

    Iwobi tries to send Bells up the right but his pass is 3 yards off… We build again but break down with the same young pair.

    City hold it for a bit with Stones darting up… We can’t take advantage of his poor positioning on the break, however…

  79. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oooh, we almost make a chance but Laca’s ball through to Ramsey is overhit. City clear and play goes dead on a Laca pull-back foul…

  80. 17highburyterrace says:

    JW, I think it means we go to a 442 with Laca and Alexis up front…

    Here comes our last chance as my beautiful wife comes down the stairs to try and help us get back in the match…

  81. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oh… Geezus, or at least Jesus… Coming on to replace Kun Aguero…

  82. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ozil knocked off the ball very easily sends City our way… We get it back and try a move of our own… Xhaka can’t control on the left and we have to rebuild…

  83. Jnyc says:

    Need something special, or just luck.

  84. 17highburyterrace says:


  85. Frozen says:

    Ya gotta love that. Great turn by Iwobi to start the move. Way to keep some faith in Ramsey. More than I can say..

  86. jw1 says:



  87. 17highburyterrace says:

    Iwobi won it, pushed it to Ramsey in the middle who moved it wide right for Laca to find the five-hole (nutmeg) of Ederson…

  88. Goonereris says:

    Maybe, resting up our players midweek may tell as the game gets into the later stages. Game on!

  89. jw1 says:

    Jnyc– that something special is an out-and-out striker to shoot when opportunity comes.


  90. Jnyc says:

    Plenty of time. Play smart.

  91. 17highburyterrace says:

    The goal has set some spring in our step… Maybe a bit too much as Bells first touch is heavy… Wins a corner but it’s too high for Kola to head at goal and they break… Kos takes one for the team on DB and sees yellow…

  92. jw1 says:

    Cech being brilliant!


  93. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nacho roached on a 1-2 but Sterlings floated cross, volleyed by Sane is blocked out for a corner…

    Oooh… Cech takes a real blast from Jesus but saves… Out for a corner…and another one (turned around the post) before Stones heads over…

  94. 17highburyterrace says:

    Some loose play trying to play out of the back but finally we do it… Nice work from Kola to get the ball to Ozil on the right but he can’t keep it going…

    We must build from the back again…

  95. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nice work all around but Kola’s diagonal pass, dummied by Alexis has nobody to get on the end…

    Back with City…

  96. 17highburyterrace says:

    Wifey helped get the one goal back but now she knows she either has to make her own espresso or wait until the match is over… What’s it gonna be?…

    Bit of a let off as Jesus can’t quite control near the top of our box… Next City foray is a Sane cross cleared into touch…

  97. 17highburyterrace says:

    3-1 City

  98. Goonereris says:

    What was the assistant ref doing there? That’s offside. And that’s two decisions that have not gone our way, quite unfairly.

  99. jw1 says:

    Load of crap. Offside by nearly his whole body was Silva.


  100. Goonereris says:

    Michael Oliver has produced some dodgy decisions in this game.

  101. 17highburyterrace says:

    Silva offside but not called… Alexis, after many jukes and circles gave the ball to Kola in a very bad spot… That sent City forward…

    He wasn’t as badly offside as everybody thought… Arms raised all around and even Silva stopped for a moment but still a good half yard there… Home court advantage, I guess…

  102. Jnyc says:


  103. 17highburyterrace says:

    3-1 is probably the most popular bet on this one… but maybe we can get a consolation… Aggressive subbing with Giroud and Jack on…Xhaka and Iwobi (I think) off…

  104. jw1 says:

    The still-shot graphic on my screen showed only Silva’s trailing calf was not beyond the offside line super-imposed on-screen.

    Truly horrible officiating.


  105. 17highburyterrace says:

    Yeah, we’re not gonna compete with this City outfit if the calls go against us… I still fault Nacho for giving Sterling a chance to go down when he wasn’t gonna do shite with the ball. The offsides call (or lack thereof) seems harsher…

  106. 17highburyterrace says:

    I will admit that Ozil is having a tough match (another lost ball there) but I don’t really see who would be doing better…

    Kola this time is the player who gives it back but Nacho’s pass gave him few options…

  107. jw1 says:

    Agreed with the Sterling/Nacho comment.
    That would have taken the feet of Aguero to produce something on-goal.


  108. 17highburyterrace says:

    Still trying here, which is admirable–and really the only way to go given that these are all top professionals–but we’re beaten, I fear…

    What will be the post-mortems? The officiating ended the match, IMO but Wenger haters will certainly slate him not playing Laca from the start. I dunno, to me, they’ve got the better players so it’s always gonna be an uphill battle…

  109. Goonereris says:

    There was a chance on there and Ramsey hesitated to play Sanchez in. What was that about?

  110. 17highburyterrace says:

    Alexis, still keen (to impress Pep?) does well in the corner… Next time forward (after Kos breaks up their counter) finds Kola putting it just a bit heavy for Laca’s nice run…

  111. jw1 says:

    Maybe that Iwobi-channels-Zidane in training?


  112. 17highburyterrace says:

    ‘Eris, it’s always been my thought that there’s not enough ball (nor pitch-space) for both Rambo and Alexis… It’s better playing 3 at the back, but still a problem… It should get easier (for Ramsey) next season… 😦

  113. 17highburyterrace says:

    J-Dub… Please explain the Iwobi–Zizou comment…

    A bit of late pressing but the other Silva (Bernardo) goes down and get the whistle with some craft…

    Two minutes til wifey’s espresso…

  114. jw1 says:

    Ozil showing some attitude to both Oliver and City.
    Get’s a yellow. What is that like 3 for dissent today?


  115. jw1 says:

    My reasoning in why Iwobi was the choice over Lacazette today.
    Just not seeing reciprocal value– for keeping Laca on the bench until 35mins remaining.


  116. njk84sg says:

    We should dive more and play act more to win games.

    Bloody refereeing and play acting and the off side call which was not given cost us. We should be more incisive though.

  117. njk84sg says:

    The penalty decision is another bad call. Why are referees always making such bad calls against us? And all those were made during major matches. Scandalous.

  118. 17highburyterrace says:

    3-1 seems (to me) about the right scoreline given the gulf between the teams. That said, the refs killed the game and I have a lot of belief that we have a squad capable of a top-4 finish. This one should’ve been played to the end and who knows, we might’ve nicked something.
    Somebody else is gonna have to stop their invincible run, however…

    What saddens me is that Wenger will be slated for his selection with Iwobi taking a lot of flak even if he was essential in the build-up to our goal. Others to be slated might be Ozil (always, of course), Xhaka and Le Coq (even if he was an heroic figure when we won this same fixture just a couple of seasons back). Is Nacho enough of a fan favorite to avoid (over the top) critique for the (not so bright) foul in the box?

    Hopefully the Int’l break can give a respite–or at least a bit of distance–from our own self-hate and we can channel it back towards the ancient enemy… There was enough in the performance today to suggest (to me at least) that we can get a result vs Spurs in the next one

  119. jw1 says:

    The US studio commentators both agreed that the pen and offside calls were made in error.
    Funny. I don’t feel any better about them.


  120. Shrillex says:

    Why bother bringing on Giroud if we’re not going to give us proper service. Get the ball wide and into the box. Ffs his substitution killed the tempo and slowed us down

  121. Frozen says:

    We were lucky today and we were unlucky. Unlucky to concede a soft penalty along with a clearly offside goal and lucky that we weren’t 3 nil down at the break. Either way, wengz got it wrong.

    Not only with today’s selection, but in refusing to cash in on Alexis (and perhaps mesut) this summer. Call it “knee jerky” but I don’t think anyone can deny the fact that our team lacks an identity. The constant on-field bickering among our superstars is perhaps the most painful and telling sign that all is not well within this club

    I’m not sure what the best direction would be in trying to remedy these issues but I’m growing increasingly confident that a solution will not present itself under current management.

  122. 17highburyterrace says:

    OK, espressos have been pulled and distributed…

    These are the sorts of matches that bring guys like Shrill back into the fray. Welcome… Seemed to me that the game was gone by the time Giroud was introduced, but maybe that’s just me… I’d tend to agree more with JW that the reffing didn’t help…

    I’m probably too much of a Wenger apologist but I can see the logic in wanting on-the-ball players (Le Coq and Iwobi) over guys who use their positioning (and then single touches–the BFG and Laca) to do their thing at one end or the other. To his credit he made the sub earlier than usual…

    Problem is… We’re gonna lose Alexis (and Ozil but keep Rambo) and we won’t spend 50 million to get a guy like Walker hoping that Nacho (who cost how much exactly?) has a few more years in him. Likewise we NEED guys like Bellerin and Iwobi (and Jack) to come through the youth ranks while City only build their youth complex to give a wink and a nod to FFP… Players like Delph (hardly noticed him out there today) or Sterling are a good deal better than guys like Ox (or Le Coq) who we (more or less) hope(d) to make central to our plans…

    Nonetheless, if we could create the right atmosphere–supportive fans influencing the refs, for example–this team could get back into the top 4 and give any team in England (or Europe) a game on any day (or night), next season. Let’s do it, I say, but, I fear, my voice will be well drowned out…

  123. henrychan says:

    The penalty is still debateable.. but still Monreal did several penalty-defence error in several Times.

    I just can’t believe the offside ones.. even Silva knew he was offside, but continue to kick after see no flag.. what a joke..

    And maybe it’s time for Wenger to think more seriously about Ozil role.. If he didn’t performance well.. than he must be replaced.. like others and maybe Wilshere can be given time playing with our first team..

  124. 17highburyterrace says:

    I respect your view there Frozen but I disagree. I too would’ve liked to see the backside of Alexis but I also think it would’ve made top 4 all the more difficult. Lemar (perhaps a guy who could be at Ozil’s level in a few years) might have felt good in the moment… Dumping Wenger would be like that emotion for most Gooners a hundred times over… And, I think we might’ve been able to stay in the top 6 and get some additional Europa league football. Down the line, after a few more crises and new managers, I’m thinking more like top 8s and 10s until somebody new is able to work a real plan for going forward.

    All that, of course, could also be blamed on Wenger, the guy who brought in the billionaire Kroenke to keep things stable–when he needed a billionaire who would’ve (maybe) poured his money down a hole. At least it would have been different…

    In my view, we gotta see this as a two season project. Keep our shite together this season re: results and getting back to the top 4, while rebuilding around the holes left by the players who are able to get out. Next year, hopefully feeling like we’re on the up, a post Wenger manager can also be groomed. Losing big players and buying scattershot is what leads to Koeman’s fate at Everton–or Andre Villas-Boas at Spurs and Chavs–for example. It’s fun stuff to always be in flux, but does it really get the best results?…

    Anyhow, that’s probably all that I can give from the last espresso, but there you have it…

  125. jw1 says:

    The singular point in my griping– is that City doesn’t need advantages of any sort.
    They were afforded two– both leading directly to their goal-margin-of-victory.
    Just want an opportunity for the game to be decided by play on the pitch– not the whistle.


    OTOH? Our fair city of Houston (laid low from historic hurricane Harvey flooding just 10 weeks back) held a World Series victory parade downtown on Friday (approx 1M fans jammed into a 20-city-block area)– that I was right in the middle of. Our Astros had not won the WS in its’ 56-year existence.
    Till Wednesday! Vanquishing media darlings Boston, New York (Yankees), and Los Angeles en route– including a pair of Game 7 (best-of-7) wins vs NY and LA.

    This team is a joy– and joyous in their chemistry.


    So in all honesty– getting a result vs City would have been some icing-on-the-cake this weekend!


  126. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey, I’ve actually been meaning to congratulate you–and Houston–on that front… And thank you for beating the Dodgers, given the old Northern/Southern California divide that we used to have out here. That feeling is kinda gone, but when I grew up the fog vs smog thing felt real…

    Anyhow, congrats on how you guys pulled together after the storm (maybe a more permanent rethink is needed re: land-use?…) well rewarded by the local sports stuff… 😀

    Also, agreed re: City not needing extra help… Sorta like given the richest folks all those extra tax breaks, IMO…

  127. 17highburyterrace says:

    giving, not given… I dare not read back through all my comments looking for errors… Nor let my English prof wife do likewise now that the coffee’s in her…

  128. jw1 says:

    Thanks 17HT.
    The 12M people in the surrounding area needed the diversion– and the ray of sunlight.

    As for land-use? We have no zoning laws per se.
    And so much concrete has been poured in the huuuuge metro area that is Houston suburbia– over the last 3 decades– as to make flood planning impossible.
    (Though– I’m personally tempted to quit paying for flood insurance. If I didn’t get hit this time– it’s not going to happen.)

    Lastly– thanks again for the commentary. Always quite good and rollicking!
    This is a great community to share a long-distance game with.


  129. 17highburyterrace says:

    I agree re: the flood insurance… Unless it was a matter of inches… 😮

    JW, if I can ask, what do you do for your money down that way?…

  130. 17highburyterrace says:

    Watching the Chelsea-ManU game in 4k makes it, well…watchable…

    Slow Cesc is another sad case of not being able to hold onto a player we (more or less) were trying to build the team around… RvP–where is he now–again shows that the two Mancs (and Chavs) are ahead of us, financially at least. If guys like Alexis, Ozil and even super-sub Ox won’t take our salary offers…That says to me that Arsenal has become a toxic environment. Alexis, in the end, will move to Manchester, Ozil to Istanbul and Ox chose to live in Liverpool. If had a choice between those places the only one I’d consider would be Istanbul, and then, only if I was of Turkish descent…

  131. 17highburyterrace says:

    Well, it looks like I’ve driven off everyone… (Where did folks go? What are the best web-sites for complaining our our team/manager/club?) Chelsea are ahead by a goal after 70 mins… Morata with a well placed header…

    Frankly (get it)… I think there are plenty of positives to be taken from today’s match so maybe you should have at it, TA. The result stings, but, without the two missed calls we’d have (maybe) gotten a point, though City might have found a way through. From a neutral’s perspective, I’m guessing, City taking the full points probably seems about right.

    Watching these two teams (United, Chelsea), I think I’d fancy our chances quite a bit more… Too much hoof-ball for my taste, so maybe we could out-play them along the ground…

  132. Goonereris says:

    17ht, Arsenal a toxic environment. You’re having a laugh, right. If there’s a more benign environment in the EPL for a player, I want to know it. True, we don’t look like winning the league soon, but we’ve had trophies to celebrate and have a manager who is respected by the players and treats them like a father would. What more do players want? The thing is both Ozil and Alexis are edging towards the end of their careers and naturally, looking for their last big pay day, usually helped by getting a huge sign on bonus plus hefty salary, so easy to see why contracts are not easily re-signed.

    As for the Ox, I reckon he merely responded to his father’s wish to maybe, “teach Wenger a lesson” (I agree I am speculating here) for playing Theo ahead of his son all those years. He was advised not to sign unless he had re-assurances of a egular role; or get more money, either way. I don’t believe the story making the rounds that we offered less wages than Liverpool and he yet chose to leave. That’s a tale put out by agents. Neither club has corroborated that bit of fact.

  133. Goonereris says:

    Sorry, I meant to write that we offered more wages than Liverpool did…..

  134. Goonereris says:

    I am not sure what I want more from the current game. For U tied to be pegged back a bit and leave us within reach, or for Chelsea to drop points so we remain even.

    However, the joy I get from seeing Mourinho’s face when his side is defeated probably tips the scale for me. Hope they can hold on, Chelsea.

  135. Goonereris says:

    Unbelievable stat here from the Azpi – Morata combo. Azpilecueta has 5 assists this season; all to Morata. How about that for a stat?

  136. TotalArsenal says:

    Evening guys. Well that was disappointing from start to finish. The line up was poor with both Bellerin and Iwobi being the weakest players on the pitch and Coq in central defence. What the f! I just don’t get it. Why play boys when we have men available? Our attempt to dominate them was ill judged as they carved us open embarrassingly easy on the counter. The referee and linesmen were v poor but MC were also very wasteful.

    Best to forget this one and take a break. In a fortnight we can focus on the battle for runner up.

  137. 17highburyterrace says:

    OK, I can forget the game…TA… For a change, I think I see more positives in it than you… 🙂

    Iwobi & Bellerin are the future, but then so to is Lacazette, so that one seems odd, maybe showing the ineffectiveness of Alexis was part of the plan (for trying to keep him). Debuchy, I fear, is just biding his time with us while BFG will go into coaching–for us–but is almost as gone as Arteta. Clearly we’re missing Mustafi, but I think Elneny would’ve been a better choice than Le Coq at middle-middle given that both played on Thursday with the former in that position. So, in the end, I too can’t quite defend the selection…

    I’m not having a laugh, ‘Eris… The hatred for Wenger flows down to his players during the matches even if he protects them in the press conferences and gives them “injuries” instead of saying that he’s dropping them. Part of it is that they’re his players. At the serial manager clubs (the other 19 in the league…) players who were recruited by the previous managers need to play in spectacular fashion in order to not find the wrath of the new manager. Luke Shaw is a good player and would be a fine guy to pick up after Mourinho slates him a few more times, IMO…

    Arsenal offer good salaries, but agents make more when they churn their players through multiple clubs while putting ideas in their heads about more playing time and huge (next) contracts. Sorry, but IMO Arsenal will be a less toxic place when Wenger is gone and we’re finishing out of the European places and we get a new manager (new hope…) every half season or so. Does Kroenke want that? Hell no. Going down to 19 (home) matches per season (plus the odd domestic cup games) AND paying off sacked managers does not help the bottom line. The slew of new players on mid-table salaries would off-set some of those losses, but not if they have to be loaned out or sold at a loss. Overall, if you look at it rationally, the current set-up makes a lot of sense. If you’re a Gooner dreaming of the (lost) golden years and thinking a new manager is the answer, you’re looking at things through rose-tinted (and beer-stained) glasses…

    Just my view, of course…but I also think it’s the way the powers that be (owners, managers, players, agents…) see things…

    Sorry, once again… 😦

  138. makayah says:

    At what point does is a legend like Wenger just past it I wish he had walked away from all the abuse he will continue to receive. I mean I was hoping he would pull off a Leicester style miracle but may our renewal process get started sooner rather than later. For all of Kroenke`s faults I will have to look at the positives as we are seeing him turnaround the LA Rams in the NFL after getting rid of a long tenured under achieving manager (not comparing him to Wenger). I will continue to back the team but look forward to the inevitable new era.

  139. jw1 says:

    17HT– (Just awoke from a nap!)
    For the last 5+yrs I’ve worked as an IT Mgr.
    The previous 25 as in advertising/marketing as a web/graphic design and Marketing Mgr.
    (Got my start in the ’80s at a design studio owned/run by Neal D– whom I played Ultimate with/against for a couple decades. Cindy knows Neal well.)

    As for Arsenal’s ‘toxic environment’? I can’t go there either.
    Press-wise? Sure. It’s a nasty little bit of business to create and regurgitate conflict-for-profit.
    And if the players read the rags and pop-up blogettas– they have only themselves to blame.

    I get my pre- and post-match info from the NewsNow Arsenal article/post aggregator.
    Since about a year ago– the echo chamber was so stifling, so negative, so impossibly one-sided?
    I began to use an option called ‘Hide Publication’ and did so to any site I visited who posted negatively, re-posted negative content, or did so by sourcing to another site that did.
    (To be fair– if a site made a reasonable point, though negative in nature– I wouldn’t ‘hide’ it.)

    I could look. But at last count a few months ago (when I was satisfied with the nature of the feeds I allow)– I counted over 120 sites I had ‘hidden’. I still get any news of import– right away.
    And I wasn’t paying someone’s bills who agitated me!

    As for Wenger’s tenure? He stays for this year– and next.
    If he can find a form of magic in replacing Alexis/Ozil– maybe longer.
    But he will have to thread the needle on a consistent basis.


  140. TotalArsenal says:

    Sure they are the future but why does that mean we need to play them in the hardest game of the programme?

  141. 17highburyterrace says:

    Like, I said, TA, I can’t defend the selection either… I’m not so down on Bellerin, however. Both he and Kolasinac, I think, are taking the “wing” idea more seriously than the “back” part of wingback (i.e., are better going forward). Has Debuchy even played the position? I think he might’ve had to replace Kos to get in this one… Laca (out) and Le Coq (in), however, I don’t get. I was 100% sure that naming the line-up was a no-brainer (and only off one player–Jack for Bellerin–from yours)…

    That said, I thought we did pretty well… Might’ve nicked a result but for a bad line call and mistakes from Nacho and Iwobi. You’re right, however, City were quite wasteful… DeBruyne and Sane… Now there are a couple of very good young players… (Oops, just looked them up. DB is 26…Sane is only 21, however…)

    So, no “positives” post, I guess, but the match made me feel more confident ahead of the NLD… Upcoming injury news from the Int’l games could change all that, of course…

    Cheers JW for the personal info and the re-butt of “my” toxic statement… I also insulate myself from the negativity as much as possible. Still, we have folks who come on here pleased as punch that bad results reinforce their narratives. (Fewer, I guess, if I tell them to f*ck off, maybe.) In this environment, I just can’t see this group being “more than the sum of its parts” (like your Astros maybe…) until it’s broken down and rebuilt and expectations are taken down (down, down…) accordingly. But who knows, I may also love the new manager (and his players) just as much and we may vault right back to the top of the league, win the CL and all the other things we’ll never do (again) with AW…

  142. Goonereris says:

    17ht, my error then. When you spoke of Arsenal being a “toxic environment”, I didn’t see it from the perspective you just painted; you know I agree with that view, absolutely. But, as a reason for players to want out? That will be a cowardly reason to seek to leave the club, no? Ordinarily, it should result in a “backs against the wall” disposition in the whole club but some would argue that perhaps the fact that Wenger is very comfy in his role, he isn’t able to use the situation to fire up his players.

    If there is a positive from our situation, it is the that we have played all of the big teams we’ve met, away from home. If we are still a good unit by the time the reverse fixtures come along, who knows, we may get to improve our points haul towards the business end of the season. Of course, in the same way, we go away to the likes of Spurs and United at about the same period. I guess these things must weigh heavily on the manager’s mind. Tough job.

  143. Jnyc says:

    17, I left here just before the game ended. I see a great discussion came afterwards. Great stuff.
    I’ll talk more about it tomorrow but i think most interesting comment in a long time is yours about toxic environment.
    Maybe i wouldnt use those words, because it sounds like anger in the locker room, but there are so many signs that things just aren’t right at the club. I’m even worried about Wilshere not wanting to stay possibly. So many players needing to sign on, I think it includes Ramsey in a year too..
    The one player who could have helped us better today.. Santi Cazorla in midfield.

  144. Goonereris says:

    To be honest, City will do that (out-possess) to just about any team in this league now, so the manager’s selection may have been with a view to changing some things up in order to sharpen the focus of the players to the tasks set out for them. With the pace this City side has, Mert was going to be suspect (report says he was ill and didn’t even travel). Without him, we were down to Holding, Debuchy and Elneny, to replace Mert and one other on the bench. Coq has played at CB in pre-season too and does do it in training often, from some of the stories coming out of London Colney. He also is quicker than Elneny and may have been given other tasks like tracking runs and he does have a good leap on him.

    Sometimes, you gamble and it pays off. At other times, it doesn’t. Lacazette had struggled to impose himself in the game vs Swansea and maybe, Wenger, basically, felt it would surprise City if Alexis started up top instead; you know, different prospect and all the adjustment to plans they will have made…the presence of Iwobi was also intended as some unknown factor for them to contemplate. We didn’t play that badly; it’s not unheard of for a team to be battered all over but end up with the result, so why couldn’t that have been the case today? City missing a couple of gilt-edge chances, then we get an equalizer at 1-1 (penalty was soft) and the tide would have turned against City. All we needed was some belief and committed players all round (not intended to slag off Alexis and Ozil, but it doesn’t help that you have one player auditioning and another who knows he is being scrutinized), plus good officiating and we may have gotten a point, at the least.

    Yes, I know. All about “Ifs and buts”….

  145. TotalArsenal says:

    Am not down on Bellerin or Iwobi but about Wenger’s formation and player choices. Hector’s final attacking ball is not good enough time and again. I am sure it will come but he was our most often free man in attack and his choices and executions were below par, and we just don’t get away with this against opposition like NO. Iwobi was involved in our goal with the preassist, but he is out of form and confidence and played a part in the first goal conceded.

  146. Jnyc says:

    I actually liked playing all midfielders and defenders. I think it made an interesting theory to test against City. And i do like Lacazette, but having as many people in the middle of the park made sense. Just didn’t work. They outplayed us anyway.

  147. njk84sg says:

    Actually the gulf between us and Citeh is not that huge. We did well with and without the ball but was unfortunate that Alexis did not bring his compass to Manchester.

    We were so close to drawing or winning and it seemed that we had to do better than the ref.

    Lots of positives but the only real positive is my new iPhone X

  148. TotalArsenal says:

    Morning BKers 🙂

    Feeling a little better this morning. Especially now that MU have lost too. It looks like MC will run away with the title at this rate and we will fight for the second best trophy and the FA cup…. 🙂

    In a way it would be good if MC win with 20-30 points as this would highlight the vulgarity of buying a title. Let them have it, I say, and we will go for the people’s trophy(ies)! 🙂

  149. henrychan says:

    Hi all..
    Hi TA.. I agreed with you about the starting eleven.. That’s Wenger big problem.. as he did it before with Liverpool..
    We have a fit and rest players.. why don’t we play our first team..?? Why must change the model drasticly..
    I still believe if Mertesacker was there and Lacazette play from beginning.. it might be delifferent result we got..

    But, it’s too late to retreat it.. “Nasi sudah menjadi Bubur..” (the rice has turn to porridge).. nothing we cant do to changed it.. hehehehe..
    So, know Wenger must change priority.. EPL is no more our main target.. 12 points is a lot..
    Now We can focus on UEL, FA and Kerbau Cup.. hehehehe…

  150. njk84sg says:

    Let’s do the domestic double with the Europa League. We can fight on all fronts, and show them that we are not a team with a soft underbelly.

    Let’s fight on and win games one by one, like the Invincibles season, from now on

  151. jw1 says:

    Along the lines of Jnyc’s comment:
    “I actually liked playing all midfielders and defenders.”?

    I have a philosophy in managing a team (in any sport) defensively against talented opposition.
    That you have to change the ‘comfort zone’ of your opponent. Make something so different to them as to cause them to change from normal tactics.

    For instance, I have been managing teams in a 50+ Senior Softball (like baseball, but slowpitch) league for years now. It’s a big league (over 300 players)– but over years you get to know player’s batting tendencies. Several years ago– I began shifting players on defense to cover the more likely areas where a batter would hit. If a batter is able to beat the shift– power to ’em. But it meant that they would not be doing so with what they do best.

    By that same token– I saw that aspect at play early in Wenger’s setup. Where I commented on Kyle Walker’s uncomfortability in playing the ball out of the back versus our pressing. The first couple of times he hoofed it upfield. That caused Pep to place Stones on the touchline as the oulet on that side– meaning one less connection through the middle for City.

    For the first 15mins we played toe-to-toe with City. Then Silva and DeBruyne began to come deeper to receive– and City began to look like they were breaking on us almost every possession.
    IMO, that was where the mobility of the back 4 was purposeful– as we only conceded the one goal (though, on the verge of 2 or 3).

    Think about it in those terms. Arsenal only conceded one goal (without an official’s assistance)– against a powerful, in-form City scoring machine.

    Wenger conceived of a way to slow City’s attempts at the edge of box– and it worked for the most part. This strategy could morph into a model for teams to slow them down as the season progresses.

    And I give Arsene props for trying it.


  152. TotalArsenal says:

    we will porridge on, hehehe

  153. TotalArsenal says:

    jw1, we looked more uncomfortable with our tactical switch than MC did, but nice try. frankly, it was suicide and we were very lucky at the start of the game. I’ll stick with my prematch report tactical views: deeper, very compact, winning midfield battle and play experienced players.

  154. jw1 says:

    I respect that strategy when looking from a OGAAT angle.

    But I have a hunch Wenger saw it from a different one. With the standings the way they are?
    That this Man City team– might be the first team truly capable of matching or besting the record of the Invincibles. In that light? Devising a new set of tactics to somehow alter City’s tactics– and– if successful getting a win, as icing on the cake.

    That even if ‘nearly successful’ — and IMHO it was– then other teams would have a blueprint to beat City. And possibly keep the Invincibles record intact too.

    Last season, Chelsea’s switch to the 3-5-2 went unchecked strategically until it was too late in the Spring. I’ll give Wenger props still for trying to reduce City’s talent advantage through tactical means.


  155. Jnyc says:

    Thanks JW. And TA, I definitely see your point. Either way things look a little bleak. It will take a pretty strong effort to get into top four at all. I worry where things are heading in the near future.

  156. njk84sg says:

    If the next ref give us the same hard time as the last match I will conclude that the FA is against us.

    We should be as compact as the last game, and pressure them, while keeping an eye on their fast breaks. Since it is now interlull so not much to talk about.

    Wake me up when interlull ends.

  157. 17highburyterrace says:

    A couple of days on and just catching up. Like I said, I can’t defend the team selection… I guess Holding and the BFG weren’t available. Still, from the subs list, Debuchy’s name sticks out. Why not play Kos at middle-middle with Debs as the right side of the 3 (behind Bellerin)? Wenger seems to believe that MF types (Elneny and Coquelin) slot in better in that spot which seems weird to me…esp. if the BFG (not exactly a midfielder…) would have been the normal choice. Iwobi over Lacazette still baffles me. Lots of folks (over many seasons) have wanted Alexis as our #9, but not me. He chased the ball with some gusto but otherwise seemed drawn out to his more usual left-sided position, where he was mostly ineffective and perhaps cutting down space for Iwobi. All very strange. Not quite suicidal, I don’t think, but I have to agree (with TA) that it messed us up more than it did City… Not as badly at the back, more so in attack, I thought…

    Nonetheless, the match made me more hopeful about the NLD, assuming we get everybody back from Int’ls healthy. Also, I’m not sure why folks (or at least JNYC) are despairing about our top 4 chances. We’re four points off 4th but only 5 off 2nd…And we’ve played three of the top 6 teams away from home. If Spurs beat up on us in our stadium maybe I’ll join in with the moaning, however…

    Nothing much more to say…except that it’s a sunny Tuesday here… Just waiting for it to warm up…

  158. Goonereris says:

    I agree with you jw1, the power of this cityside was such that we needed to try something unconventional and it did knock them off their stride initially. The angst against playing Coq in the middle of the CBs was also unfounded as the stats suggest he did a job, it turns out. He was our most effective defender on the day, per the numbers. I listened to Adrian Clarke, the ex gunner and Arsenal analyst, who will give a frank view of each game, win or lose. Check him out in the link below:

  159. Jnyc says:

    Good link Eris. I enjoy Clarkes analysis.

    17, i see the reality of the points situation that you point out. Again, it’s negativity creeping in with my disappointment. Maybe it’s all a combination of spurs looking so good.. I don’t buy the media spurs hype, but when i watch them, they are looking so solid, efficient, they’re nothing with even a slight Kane injury( though i have always rated Son). Their champions league performance so far compared to ours last year not a good feeling.

    Man city still not faltering, but, I swear, they will have a rough patch… that i wish would’ve started with us.
    Mourinho building a strong Man U… who i picked to win the league. Chelsea, who knows, they are so up and down from year to year manager to manager.

    Then there was the embarassing performance vs Liverpool. They’re inconsistent, but always difficult for us to beat.

    Then there is our unsettled transfer/player situation. So much wrong with it that I don’t wanna get into now.. even in the interlull. Just that feeling that things aren’t right. I will try to focus on the positives you mention, but it’s not always easy.

  160. Jnyc says:

    And great article on Graham, Kev ! I’ve shared it.

  161. allezkev says:

    Cheers Jonnie, having lived through and relished most of the time under George, I find it quite sad that he is slightly airbrushed out of the clubs recent past, I know he was a naughty boy but he wasn’t alone during that period.

    Where the club is now didn’t just start under Arsene, it began under Dein and Graham back in the 80’s, both of them shook Arsenal out of its slumber.

  162. 17highburyterrace says:

    Speaking of naughty boys… I’ve got a little take on Int’l football…or football in these international times, or something… At least there might be a bit less scrolling down in the…


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