West Ham–Arsenal Live-blog. Jack and a Back Four Including AMN? Ollie Up Top? Changes Ring as the Midweek Madness of the Festive Season Kicks In.

The big Fella says, “Go get it out of their net, Jack!”

Not much time today to set up a live blog but it looks like we got a very interesting match on our hands with plenty of changes to our team.  It sure looks like a back-4 to me with Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left back.  Jack Wilshere and Alex Iwobi slot into a midfield with Granit Xhaka, then it’s the contract hold-outs, Alexis and Ozil, flanking the big man in the photo.


Here are the full teams:

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Wilshere; Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud. Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Elneny, Welbeck, Lacazette.

West Ham: Adrian; Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Noble, Obiang, Masuaku; Lanzini; Antonio Arnautovic. Subs: Hart, Collins, Rice, Ayew, Sakho, Carroll, Hernandez.

Referee: Jon Moss.

West Ham seem to have gotten a lift by changing managers and new guy David Moyes might be transferring his own personal desperation to his players.  And it may be working.  They won a one-goal match in the London Stadium this past Saturday vs Chelsea and only lost by a single goal at Manchester City the week before.  Will that be enough to satisfy Moyes’ boys or will they be wanting another big scalp and a lift out of the relegation places?  Can Arsenal stop conceding early goals and get back on track?  Three points are a must tonight or we will be looking up at several teams above us in the fight for Champions League football… including Burnley.  Gulp…

We shall see, and, busy as I am, I’m gonna try and block out everything else to describe the action.  Please join me in the comments.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace


292 thoughts on “West Ham–Arsenal Live-blog. Jack and a Back Four Including AMN? Ollie Up Top? Changes Ring as the Midweek Madness of the Festive Season Kicks In.

  • C’mon fellas… We got a match to play! And, indeed, today I’ve got the commentary in Spanish…

    Also, I feel I simply MUST copy and paste A-kev’s historical perspective on tonight’s match (from the last thread). Here it is:

    allezkev wrote:

    Tonight we visit The London Stadium, although why West Ham changed it from the Olympic Stadium I really don’t know as it had a certain class about it imo.
    Stratford has gone through unbelievable changes over the last 10 years, it really used to be a dump, now after having millions spent on it, it’s a posh dump. 🙂
    Not really, it’s ok now in some places, especially the Olympic Park, but Stratford in general is a poor working class area.
    West Ham has always had a strong connection with its working class fan base and the area it came from, West Ham fans don’t live under illusions each season, but give them some good football and a few heroes to watch and they’re happy. Upton Park used to be a tough place to visit, you never knew what to expect when West Ham entertained Arsenal. I’ve seen some quite varied matches there, from Charlie George and Alan Ball destroying the Hammers to Stewart Robson making his debut as a 17 year old, Vladimir Petrovic playing in a team using a fluid 3 at the back system (yes really) and going 3-0 before West Ham knew what was happening, Michael Thomas and Rocky smashing the Irons 4-1, to seeing Patrick Vieira getting wound up by Neil Ruddock and getting sent off, Liam Brady in a West Ham shirt inspiring the Hammers to a 3-1 win, Wilmot was in goal for us that evening, remember him 17tino.
    Cup ties are equally unpredictable, the FACup final of 1980, Alan Taylor at Highbury in 1975 breaking our hearts on a mud heap of a pitch, then Alex Manniger starring in our penalty shoot out victory at Upton Park. It’s quite open between the clubs in cup ties so our League Cup later this month is a real banana skin game.
    Which Arsenal is going to turn up tonight, please tell me as I haven’t a clue?!
    We could go there and get well and truely turned over, if our defence goes missing again.
    Alternatively this Arsenal team is quite capable of sticking 5 in the West Ham net.
    You just never know with this mob, they blow hot n cold with the weather.
    To be honest with you, I doubt that Arsene knows what to expect half the time.

  • Observations from watching the 2nd half City vs WHU and the entirety of WHU vs CHE.

    Against City, WHU sat back at 1-1 and absorbed pressure. City’s front 7 kept it on them. But WHU was resolute, compact and organized. Playing as City did would be my preference.

    Chelsea was much softer and allowed WHU to dictate the pace– and clear/counter effectively enough to give the back 7 time to exhale. Lanzini was good, Arnautovic physical, Noble was everywhere– and the key to stymieing Kante and Bakayoyo.


  • Thanks for the insight, JW… Not so groggy then, I surmise…

    I didn’t see either WHU match so I can’t tell you jack… What do you think about the “2nd team” guys–Ollie, AMN, Iwobi, and, of course, Jack– joining in and Wenger making the move to a back 4? For me it’s been coming for awhile and well justified by the injury to Mustafi… Where’s the BFG and Theo… Not even a bench seat for either…

  • Everyone is expecting a lot from Jack tonight. Let’s hope controls himself. And doesn’t get injured or sent off. I think he will protect Xhaka better, but we will miss Ramsey’s attacking prowess

  • Arsenal in black tonight… Not much contrast with the claret of WHU…except for the shorts…

    Whoa… A bit of possession and interplay down our left and AMN’s cross causes panic and his back close to an OG…

    The corner finds Kos taking a shot to the head following the blooped kick from Ozil…

  • Xhaka, early on has acres in which to work… He gives one away, gets us going with the next one… A Bellerin cross is easily cut out but they’re clearly sitting back, giving us the ball and trying to hit on the counter…

  • And we’re fortunate the linesman gave us the offside as Antonio was miles ahead of everybody…

  • United wore a black kit at Southampton many years ago and got a good hiding
    .Ferguson changed the strip at half time, because he claimed the players couldn’t see each other??

  • Antonio had already stopped chasing the ball– leading to his offside on a ball won in MF that could have been a break.


  • This channel shows the other goals around the league and blonde Mahrez has put Leicester ahead at So’ton… Could’ve used that sort of thing this past Sunday…

    Iwobi, shut down after several touches, passes back to Bellerin who promptly loses it. WHU can’t do much and we have it back after a throw…

  • Not bad there… Jack held the ball up with his back to goal, got it to Alexis who pushed it up and wide for an AMN cross… It was a solid foot above Giroud but looked scary enough…

    Next attack ends with two attempts by Alexis, the first blocked at the point, the 2nd dribbled to Adrian…

  • Had Alexis blasted the second attempt– there was a chance of beating Adrian by force IMO.


  • More good action from our left and after the cross with control touches by Giroud and Wilshere. It fell to Iwobi but he elected not to volley and the chance was lost… Biggest worry was Alexis looking stricken on the pitch… Seems OK now…

  • Mishit it, I think, JW… Alexis looks pretty happy playing with AMN on the left tonight, however…

    We’re definitely making some inroads… The most recent with Jack and Iwobi down the right. Comes to nothing, unfortunately…

    WHU try a long throw… And we clear it calmly…

  • Niles in just a hint of trouble (his own making) clears well up the sideline and away from danger.
    Somebody has been paying attention.


  • Jack fouled near the center circle and it looks awfully cynical… No card given…

    Next attack ends with a short Alexis back-heel and WHU are off…

    And they score! No they don’t!! Flagged off… It looked like Ground Hog Day all over again, or something…

  • City have scored at Swansea… Bernardo the midget crossing for David Silva the dwarf… Too easy…

  • Bellerin, standing like a statue allows an accurate cross from the wing.
    Arnautovic loitering alone heads home a bounder. Cech with no chance.


  • Back in East London, we appear chastened by the ball we had to pull out of our net… Most of the recent action is in the middle third…

    Now we try to build from the back…

  • Ozil and Alexis can’t combine near the left corner of the WHU box but Nacho fouls with real professionalism to stop any attempt at a break….

    WHU pressing us at the back with some measure of success…

  • Ay Chinga… I thought they were going to show the 2nd City goal (De Bruyne) but they didn’t… Instead we have a break in our action as Giroud takes an elbow to the face that even the beard cannot stop…

  • A decent enough attack falters with Giroud trying to distribute with his back to goal… WHU break nicely but eventually are flagged off after a nice slider by Kos in the corner…

  • Not bad there… Jack and Ollie work the ball near the top of the box but it falls just a bit late for Alexis whose shot is deflected out for a corner…

    The corner is cleared to AMN but his shot back in is both wide and weak…

  • Mix up at the back but we ride it out and get a whistle from Moss to set us going again…

    Iwobi is rebuffed on the right and we try the left… No openings there so back it goes… Somehow we’re gonna need to find a way through…

  • They have shown the De Bruyne goal… from a high angle FK…

    WHU have a bit of the ball while it’s showing but it ends with a blooper that Cech handles easily. Back on the front foot again, Arsenal is, but still no way through…

  • Very little doing for us once we get near the top of their box…

    Nice nip in defensively for Jack gets us going and this time we hit the post! Through Iwobi, but post only so we must build again… That was more promising however…

  • We’re not pinning them like City did– obviously– for good reason.
    But when the ball is cleared (or saved like just now)? We can’t recycle possession by going back out to MF or beyond) the ball has to be pushed back in to box.


  • Iwobi tries again, this time with the right foot, but it’s even wider at the opposite near post…

    Arnautovic turns a couple of our defenders down our left side but we snuff out the chance eventually…

    Looks like serious rain up in Manchester as United take a 1-nil lead over Bournemouth…

    A high ball almost leads to a bad WHU mix-up as both Ogbanna and Adrain go for it… It’s safe with the keeper and 33 mins in we haven’t see too much to indicate we’re planning on scoring any goals tonight…

  • Niles and Giroud are communicating well.
    Sanchez has laid off more balls on the flank to Niles– in this half– than Kola has seen all season.


  • Another decent AMN diagonal right footed cross but it’s over Ollie…

    Bells shows some man-bun pace on the right but only wins a throw…

    Again we build but Giroud can only head back Alexis long looper over the top… Next try ends with a whistle favoring West Ham…

    Sterile stuff, mostly thus far, I hate to say…

  • Agreed JW… AMN does some defending on floppy Mark Noble… He gets the whistle in the end and this is a pretty good chance for them but Cech punches it across and into touch…

  • West Ham are growing in belief, I fear…

    This time they want a pen… For what, I cannot tell…

    We come again but it’s slooooow…

    Eventually we work it well in the left corner and AMN lofts a cross which Giroud tries to bicycle towards goal… Cresswell protects his face with his hands–which the ball hits–then feigns injury… All told it comes to nothing… as we tick into the 40th min…

  • Giroud goes acrobatic/bicycle on an AMN cross– which Creswell takes full-force in the HANDS covering his face.

    Adrian has the gall to appeal to Jon Moss for a high-kick YK.


  • Please don’t show us the Spurs goal, mis amigos…

    Lanzini gets the first yellow for what looks like a slap-down on little Jack…

    We come again… and get rebuffed…and come again…and get rebuffed…and Nacho kicks into touch to break up their counter…

  • Slightly better there between Bells and Iwobi to win a corner…

    Ozil’s delivery is good but Alexis can only tap out and Jack’s left footed blast is blocked at the point… We have to build again…

  • Jack needs to come out to the ball. Xhaka is a bystander.
    Elneny for Xhaka might spark interplay (with Jack) required in the middle.


  • Long one from Xhaka shows the frustration… It’s well hit but wide…

    Geez, the Spurs goal, I hate to say was the classic well placed cross…

    Getting close to tea-time…

    More interplay between AMN and Alexis but we can’t penetrate when we have the ball central. Xhaka tries another long one but with his right foot. Not in a million years and Wenger is off to the dressing room. We simply MUST have a few better ideas that this…

  • Maitland-Niles Nile’s impresses me. But sadly it’s the same old Arsenal.. well maybe a little better.

  • Way too slow out there, JW… I can’t see what needs to switch but certainly something has to change. That’s why Wenger gets the big bucks… Counting on him to straighten our boys out…

  • Trouble is 17HT we have been in this position so many times before. If he is true to form he will leave as is,.. around the 70th minute Lacazette will come on for either Giroud or Xhaka or Jack depending on fitness.

  • Hey Retsub, I didn’t know you worked at the Stratford Center, my taxi garage is only around the corner in Angel Lane.
    That was an easily forgettable and uninspiring 45 minutes.
    Maitland-Niles did ok and Jack was lively, but our build up is painfull slow.
    Cresswell, hands up but goes down holding his face when Giroud tries the overhead, not sure why the ref stopped the game?

  • Much better by Arsenal. Compact and mostly in control. Need to use the wings more to stretch the parked buses and the space will come to get proper chances. 3-0 to the Arse.

  • Might like to see Laca on the wing with Giroud on. A la his France partnership with Griezmann.


  • Kev. The tower above the main shopping centre (20 years ago). St Ratford was grim but it grew on you.

  • Well, I’d love to be seeing what TA (and maybe PE) sees… WHU look–to me– like they can defend comfortably all night long without spending too much energy…

    We’re off… Or as they’re saying on my channel… Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrancha!

    Oooh… Arnautovic almost gets his foot on a point blank 8 yarder….

  • Very end to end early here… But all we can win is a corner…which can’t clear the first man…

    We build again…

  • Kos tries a long one too… Jack? It’s rebuffed and we try again….

    Better, I guess, but Giroud’s tight ball in the box is just behind AMN as he races in…

    Geez… a 30 yarder by Bellerin?… I wanted BETTER ideas…

  • I think you’re right about the pitch, J-Dub…

    I’m getting tired of trying to describe the pushing forward and getting rebuffed… This last one ended in a Xhaka long shot easy for Adrian. I guess we could get a lucky bounce or something but nothing suggests that it’s coming…

    Down our end Cech smothers a reasonably aggressive WHU run down our left…

  • OK, AMN back with a high one into Giroud… Fairly close outside the post but it must’ve hit a defender as we’re given a corner… And another…

    From which West Ham break… Bells races over and puts it into touch…

  • Jack hacks but Moss says it’s clean… We keep pushing and getting it in their box but we cannot fashion a real chance… Alexis lofts a cross to no one and later tries to shoot but it’s rebounded off him and into Ozil who can’t quite control for a shot… There was the good bounce, but no reward…

    Arnautovic and AMN exchanging words …

    Long throw routine sets us forward but Iwobi’s pass is too strong for Bells…

  • Getting close to the hour mark and this looks like a slower, more boring version of the Burnley match, right down to the colors of the opponent…

    Jack slides one in but Giroud isn’t even moving in the correct direction…

  • Iwobi loses it but we close down their break with some aggro tackles. They get it back and cross to Arnautovic but he can only head behind to give us possession…

    Giroud heads back when he looked goalside of the last defender?…

    Lacazette warming up… Most exciting moment of the 2nd half?

    At least we keep working at it, I guess… Next Giroud header is weakly over the end-line for a WHU GK

  • Long Throw routine again, even down to toweling off the ball… We clear and try to break but Alexis can’t quite chase it down… We try again but this time AMN’s cross is easily back with Adrian.

    This looks like it’s a nil-nil even with 25+ mins to go…

    Adrian comes out of his box but beats Ollie to the ball easily…

  • Really poor attempt at a give and go between Bellerin and Iwobi… But we don’t lose it until Alexis bounces it off a defender… The WHU break is at least appreciated by the fans…and it almost comes off with an Arno-Noble 1-2 and then the worst punch of Cech’s career… The sure goal is woefully mishit…

    Comedy of errors but still nil-nil…

  • Replay shows that Cech’s missed punch at least put spin on the ball making it harder to blast home…

  • Cech with a swing and a miss on a nebulous cross.
    Jeebus. My kidneys clenching. as Nacho clears on the line– on Arnautovic’s weak attempt.


  • Hammer support is getting loud and, maybe, is transferring some belief to their players… Seems to me that subs are needed but WTF do I know?…

    Oh man… Another lofted AMN cross and Giroud works around to knock down to Jack. He takes a touch and blasts OVER the bar when it seemed infinitely easier to hit the target… It was his right foot, however…

  • We’re down to a third of the screen as they show City’s fourth goal at Swansea….

    I’m exhausted and need to figure a copy and paste line I can use…

    Maybe… Arsenal move the ball forward but again are stopped and have to try again…

    We get a FK from 35 and Alexis hits it about as well as possible… Adrian saves but we have a corner…

    Arsenal move the ball forward but again are stopped and have to try again…

  • You say 28, JW, I say 35… 31.5 yds will have to be correct…

    Arsenal move the ball forward but again are stopped and have to try again…

  • Welbeck came on for Iwobi while I slept, I think…

    Arsenal move the ball forward but again are stopped and have to try again… Out for a GK so this should take us into the 77th min…

  • Welback stand with no defender in his path from 20 diagonal left-side of the box.
    No shot. Put the ball on goal. Maybe fate smiles.


  • The announcers are having fun saying, “Jack-IE Wilshere.”

    Was that a bit of genuine goal-mouth action… No, no it wasn’t…

    Alexis shot blocked at the point and…

    Arsenal move the ball forward but again are stopped and have to try again…

  • This is the same scenario as WHU vs City at 1-1 same point in the match.
    City blasted away. And fate smiled.


  • Okay… We’re easing past the 80 minute mark and the routine is broken by a little West Ham possession and then a DW break which comes to nada…

  • West Ham fancy nicking it too…

    Welbeck shaped to cross but took a short, well not that short, touch and lost it… Por favor, say mis amigos…

  • Laca’s first touch is as poor as everyone else’s. The next try is better but Giroud wasn’t moving to it… He approves, however…

    Back with Hammers for a minute…

    85th minute now…

  • Wilshere, in space, shoots from 22 yds but it’s blocked by Giroud…

    86th minute…

  • Ozil tries to slide in AMN but it’s overhit and out for a GK…

    87th minute…

  • Bellerin, with a really poor pass, tries to get it back and gets whistled… West Ham aren’t even concerned about trying to waste time… And why not, they could nick it… Chicharito wins a FK and then Arnautovic a corner…

  • Cech punches better but it’s a WHU throw…

    90th minute now and we can’t get it back…

    WOW… A shambles at the back and West Ham MUST win this… It’s off the bar and back in play… NO GOAL… We’re gonna get our point, it appears…

  • Maybe not… West Ham really pushing hard and the little pea wants a pen…

    Last chance saloon and it will be a right footed FK from 25 yards… Chances of scoring it? None, I fear…

  • Finishes nil-nil after the FK hits the wall… Misery…

    Or maybe not… If I avoid the internet entirely…

    OK, now I drive (6+ hours) to Los Angeles… Have fun fellas…

  • Work in progress, but this is the sort of team that will get us back on a run. Not enough good wing play to stretch the West Ham defence and get behind them. Ainsley did well and could have had an assist with a bit more feeling in his crosses. Hector does not seem to dare to go for the byline and keeps going inside. Jack had a good game and so did Ainsley. Ozil tried his best and So did Alexis. Koz….. what the hell is wrong with him??

  • In this style of contest? Xhaka IMO is a null participant.
    Recall one pass to Niles to widen the pitch, switching the attack.
    Arsene must have replayed WHU vs City/Chelsea to prepare. Soton played us same way.

    Now granted, it was BATE in Europa? But Elneny was the facilitator of Jack’s energetic play that night. And always moving to accept the return one-touch from Jack.

    Jack did have that one skied shot late today. *sigh*


  • It fell to his wrong foot, JW. I thought that Xhaka played well defensively. He was the deeper DM tonight. Biggest worry I have is Welbeck who seems totally out of form. Anyway a win on Saturday sees us back on track. All to play for.

  • Retsub, I moved, with my Dad, to Manor Park in 1972, so I’ve seen enormous changes in Stratford over the last 45 odd years even after I moved away from East London/Essex.
    Yeah, I know where you mean, I thought those towers were all residential flats.

  • TA, my thoughts entirely, Welbeck looks totally shot, he is devoid of any kind of confidence in front of goal, all he does is look to lay it off, it’s quite worrying as we need him firing.
    I wish we still had Perez…

    Wilshere did ok in his first 90 minutes in the EPL since whenever and AMN had a very encouraging full debut. I think he did enough to retain his place.
    Shame that Jack put that shot over the bar, it seemed set up for him to win the day..

    I thought that Xhaka did ok, he dovetailed well with Wilshere, but the rest looked out of ideas.
    Why nobody tried to put in more crosses for Giroud is a mystery to me, but the squad seems completely wedded to playing short, intricate passes whatever the circumstances.

    That’s 2 points from the last 9, which kind of says it all as to where we are.
    Arsenal are a cup team, so it’s up for the cup next Tuesday. 😉
    I’ll be there and I’m looking forward to it.

  • Normally I will watch the highlights of the midweek matches which is impossible for me to watch (3.45am in the morning), but I think I will skip this one.
    Feels like same old Arsenal

  • Strange our best players were the fringe players ; Wilshere, Iwobi and Niles in that order. But one of them Welbeck was out of his depth particularly playing from the right. His general limitation is that he does not seem to recognize marginal advantages that need to be pushed. Neither does he recognize half chances for goals. He plays for the perfect goal, which hardly ever shows up. It leaves his game on the sterile side.

    Better to move on to Saturday’s game against NCastle where I expect 9 changes. I expect Musti back from injury. Wilshere, Kos, Nacho, and Bel ought to be rested.

    Deb, Musti, Per, Kola
    Coq, Eln
    Theo, Ozil, Alexis

    Clever rotation should see us do well this hectic period.

  • I am not sure about that formation PE. I expect us to go back to a back 5 and with Debuchy and Kola on the wings.

    And for the rest i suspect Wenger will not deploy a defensive midfield formation with Elneny and Le Coq. Maybe he will try Jacko for another game this week, with Elneny protecting the defenders.

    The front 4 except Alexis is agreed, and we should rest Alexis. He cannot be better if we keep playing him and he keeps missing his passes every game.

  • TA–
    I see your point per Xhaka’s role.
    Though the formation was not so suited — not for Xhaka– but what was required after the half.

    Last Saturday, City started against WHU in a 4-3-3. Delph as DM. With Hammers holding a 1-nil lead at half Pep subs Jesus for Danilo (LB). Describing City’s setup then as a 3-3-4 holds true until they level (Otamendi 56′).

    How City played thereafter was Pep risking the win by ostensibly going to a 2-1-3-4. Otamendi became the defacto DM– with Delph moving into the ‘front 7’. By placing 7 ‘attackers’ so close to the 18yd stripe (with Silva often closer)? Left no gaps for Lanzini or Noble to spring Antonio or Arnautovic cleanly? The Hammers blocks and clearances could not be converted in counters. When the occasion ball did come out to midfield– mostly Otamendi, at times Walker– took possession and the regroup to attack was mere seconds. Hammers didn’t flinch at that level of pressure. The barrage of shots was relentless– until DeBruyne found Silva in the 83′. Silva’s goal was also quite skillful– catching the short over-the-top pass shoulder-high and shooting across goal on the volley. Pep then replaced Aguero with a defender and locked down the 3pts.

    By contrast? Largely noted by HT during today’s match how we would regroup and bring the ball back to MF before again sizing up the defence. That must have been like a respite for West Ham compared to City’s approach. Like being attacked in slo-mo.

    No doubt there’s lingering shock from errors starting off recently. Saw plenty more balls cleared longer today. But not emulating Pep’s strategy at half? Perhaps bringing on Laca (for Nacho) to team with Giroud? Elneny for Xhaka to form a front 7? Kos to play the Otamendi role– with the speed of Kos, Bellerin and Niles to run down counters.

    The blueprint was given Saturday to break down the Hammers today. Requiring risk-taking after half– and long before Welbeck’s 19 minutes. I’d have preferred risking the one point today. This season it’s not just 5 teams playing for Top-4. It’s seven. After today, Arsenal sit seventh.

    IMO some risk is in order– after today.


  • jw, I agree with you that the time for risking it is upon us. For a very different reason from Man City’s. MannC can afford to risk knowing they can afford a loss. We risk knowing we can no longer afford a draw. We are only 2 matches from the half way line. We have to go for broke.

    All we need do against the PTB teams, is greater speed in our vertical transition, which would mean more turn over of the ball by us, which would help in drawing them out. The more end to end the game is, against the smaller teams, the better our odds of winning that game. We should stop seeking security in possession against such teams.

    Another point lies in our use of inverted wingers which forces our attacks through the centre where these PTB teams camp. 36% of our offense against WH went through the centre. Not smart at all. So why not Ozil to operate from the left side supported by Kola at full back and Sanchez or Walcott from the right side supported by Debuchy.

    That would give this line up (assuming all available except Carzola);


    Discontinue with the inverted wingers to stretch the field and shift more attacks to the wide areas. Increase verticality to entice a more end to end game. These days there is no profit in 70% possession. 54% tends to be more effective against PTB teams.

  • PE–

    I like every bit of it. Except. Elneny for Xhaka.
    I’m not ripping on Granit. His effort defensively now is better and improving.

    But when the turf is wet/slow and teams play the way WH now does (and they have been very good for 3 matches defensively)? Then I really like the way Elneny is constantly in motion to support Jack’s creativity. Then there could still be the prospect of ‘through-the-middle’. Making the pitch even wider/more open. Understood that Elneny and Xhaka are both only faster than Per (Bould could probably still outrun all three!). But Mo’s awareness and positional defense is superior to Granit’s IMO. (Believe that’s why Arsene had Mo at CB vs Doncaster(?).)

    And? Jack and Rambo have to rekindle the chemistry they once had. It’s been awhile in terms of on-field, in matches. There were some sparks when Jack initially came on vs Soton– but as the minutes passed– Rambo drifted further from him.

    Roll the dice Arsene– then let it ride.


  • A very very lucky point for Arsenal. But for a marginal offside call, a miscue from Arnautovic and the crossbar, Arsenal could have easily lost this match 3-0.

    From Arsenal it was the same old same old type of performance:
    – lots of possession but no real attacking or defensive strategy
    – too many players selected in midfield and attack who are drawn too the ball rather than making off the ball runs
    – with the exception of Ainsley Maitland Niles and Wilshere, the team frequently fail to play to Giroud’s strengths;
    – while Wilshere was excellent defensively and Xhaka was improved, Arsenal committed too many players in advanced position and got caught on the break on a number of times.

    In terms of individual performances:

    GK: Cech
    But for his wayward attempted punch which almost resulted in a goal for Arnautovic, Cech was solid both in terms of his shot stopping and claiming crosses.

    RWB: Bellerin
    A marginally improved but still underwhelming performance by Bellerin. Defensively he wasn’t particular challenged as Arsenal dominated possession. When Masuaku did take him on though, Bellerin did get beaten and failed to cut out the crosses, one of which led to Arnautovic’s marginally offside goal. Offensively while he show more initiative than usual with 4 crosses for the match, none were accurate and he only recorded one dribble. Despite his ongoing poor form he continues to be select ahead of Debuchy and Maitland Niles as he’s obviously one of Wenger’s favourites.

    RCB: Kosicelny
    A reasonable defensive performance by Koscielny. His positional play was good which lead to some timely interceptions. But he was not aggressive enough in the tackle. Aerially he did well with a number of successful duels and he frequently took a no nonsense approach with a heap of important clearances.

    LCB: Monreal
    An excellent defensive performance by Monreal both in the tackle and in terms of his positional play. Not quite as no nonsense in his defending as Koscielny but he was equally strong in the air.

    LB: Maitland Niles
    A good overall performance from Maitland Niles. Like Bellerin, he wasn’t particular challenged defensively as Arsenal dominated possession, though his positional play was good and resulted in some timely interceptions. Offensively, he largely failed to show his dribbling skills with only one dribble for the match. That said, he was the only player in Arsenal’s team that actually played to Giroud’s aerial strength with a plethora of excellent crosses throughout the match. Given he was play out of position on the left flank his crossing performance was particularly impressive.

    RCM: Wilshere
    Wilshere was excellent defensively with a number of crunching tackles and well timed interceptions. Offensively, his transitional play was also excellent with a number of dribbles and accurate long range passes. His 90% passing accuracy was also exceptional. If he can replicate that performance, particularly the defensive aspects, match after match he should be able to lock down one of the two central midfield spots with ease.

    LCM: Xhaka
    An improved defensive showing from Xhaka, with a couple of nice tackles and interceptions. That said, his lack of pace was once again on show as he was easily bypassed when West Ham counterattacked. Offensively, his transitional passing was exceptional with a plethora of accurate long range passes and his passing accuracy of 85% was also very good. As per usual he didn’t offer anything in terms of forward dribbles.

    RCAM: Iwobi
    An underwhelming performance from Iwobi. He showed good initiative with a number of forward dribbles and attempts of goal, but his shoot accuracy was poor and he only had one attempted through pass for the match. His 83% passing accuracy was very good though.

    CAM: Ozil
    Another underwhelming performance from Ozil who only attempted a couple of dribbles, had a couple of off target attempts on goal and made no attempted through passes. As per usual his passing accuracy was exceptional at 89%

    LCAM: Sanchez
    A marginally improved performance from Sanchez in contrast to his effort versus Southampton. Plenty of attempts on goal, a couple of which were on target, but only a couple of dribbles and just the one attempted through pass. His passing accuracy was much improved at 78% (which is still not good enough).

    CF: Giroud
    A frustrating and difficult match for Giroud given the likes of Bellerin, Iwobi, Ozil and Alexis struggled to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for him. All things considered he did well aerially.

    Hats off to West Ham who stayed compact but aggressive defensively and counter attacked well with there limited opportunities.

  • Hey Waldo, you’ve been quiet lately but this comment of yours made me rethink about what you can think of.

    Most of the people were saying the opposite of what you said, but i guess i should trust you this time. The problem is with the 3 musketeers making the chances from midfield. If we get pinpoint crosses or passes we will do better in front of goal.

    Oh well…

  • Seems that Arsene was suggesting some more rotation over the next few games, the League Cup for sure, in his press conference. So maybe Kolasinac will be back for Newcastle whilst AMN is held back for West Ham?
    If Arsene is thinking in terms of AMN, Chambers, Holding and Debuchy for West Ham, then tomorrow’s defence picks itself.

  • I wonder if Giroud retains his place for Newcastle?
    He wasn’t outstanding against West Ham, but our best chances in general came through him.
    If Lacazette has a slight injury, then I’d leave him on the bench and go with Giroud again.
    Means that possibly Welbeck will be leading the attack against West Ham next week?

    Danny Mills described our game as like a funnel. We funnel everything through the middle where the PTB teams camp.
    1) Sanchez on the left must cut in to run into the fortress of the narrow low block.
    2) Ozil ditto from the right to run into the fortress.
    3) Our striker naturally is positioned in the fortress.
    4) Our B2B drives forward through the centre into the fortress.
    5) Kola’s great asset of touch line runs is vanished for mere lateral passes that is part of the funneling through the middle to the fortress.
    6) Bel stretching of play is rather pedestrian particularly its end product.
    7) These are why Danny Mills says we are easy to defend against by the PTB teams. Narrow low block bemuses our structure.

    1) Sanchez starts right to help stretch the field (played mainly on that side before he came here).
    2) Ditto Ozil from the left (plays there for Germany).
    3) Otherwise on the left Welbeck, who not only stretches the field but is able to get Kola doing what he is best at (remember Kola early in the season before Welbeck got injured).
    4) Stretching the field with attackers means no wingbacks which means a back-4.
    5) In a back-4 Deb trumps Bel.
    6) Or if we we have to use inverted inside forwards, we must get our wing backs (in a back-3 formation) effective offensively. But I will never use Alexis with Kola ( they don’t mix well) and it needs be investigated if Niles would be more effective on the right than Bels. I don’t see what Niles should be doing on the left in our 1st team when we have Kola and Nacho available.

  • PE, agreed on all fronts

    Sanchez and Ozil roles are to make crosses into the box, that is why they are on the left and right. I am not sure if swapping positions will work out, as in the game they swapped positions a few times but did not work out.

  • njk, the PTB teams defend narrow and low as a strategy. Looks right to me that we come with a game plan to stretch them both horizontally and vertically.

  • ManC uses Sane left, Sterling right so Bruyne and co can go thru the middle.
    Ozil left, Sanchez right, Wilshere and co thru the middle instead of all thru the middle.

  • When Sanchez gets the ball wide left he is immediately confronted with the first task of cutting the ball to his right foot. This first act completely absorbs him and during it he sees nothing else, not even a golden chance for his mates.

    His success rate with this first action is 100%. One wonders if defenders now allow him to do that to attack him as he drives towards the thicket (PTB teams) where invariably one of three things happen.
    1). He achieves a shot at goal (about 75% blocked)
    2). He is dispossessed.
    3). He passes the ball to a mate on the other side of the field.

    Each such drama best described as a lot of smoke without fire full of twists and turns. But on the wide right Alexis, I believe, would be a handful (against PTB teams). It’s simply not working for him anymore (wide left). That huge talent needs to be tried in some other position.

  • If there is one player who should be rested today it’s Koshienly.

    My predicted line up;

    4:2:3:1 FORMATION


    3:4:2:1 FORMATION;


    I’d root for the latter (3:4:2:1).

  • HT, am already reving my engine but still wondering how you are able to type so much, read others and still know what’s going on. That’s Messi’s mesosphere!

  • Hi fellas… Third try at posting something with my phone..

    My travels have been jammed packed so I’ve only had a bit of time to look at the comments when I’ve had some internet…which I don’t have now…

    The place I’m staying also has no tv…or at least no tv with the match… So, I’ll go looking for it…and an internet connection at a place called “The Hair of the Dog” here in Palm Springs… Wish me luck…

    As such, there will be no live blog post, BUT there could be some in match reporting IF the planets all line up…

  • Hey PE… You may have to carry the ball for this one… My plan seems a real long shot…

  • At least my traveling coffee set up is working for me this morning so I can dream…

  • The pub is supposed to open at kickoff time… 7 a.m. Like I say… Seems like a long shot…

  • HT, yes up tho the first blast of the whistle.

    Confirmed line up. One change. Lacaz for OG.

  • Only the one change… Okay, off to try and find the match… First light barely starting to pierce the darkness…

  • Hey guys. Looks like I can be a bit more active for this one. Pity, 17HT; it’s usually hard to find EPL games on TV in those parts. The pubs are always a good shout though. Hope you sort it out.

    As for the team line up, a bit surprised that Wenger has gone with the same team, save Giroud. If tiredness isn’t an issue, it is perhaps the right call because what it says is “Go prove you can score some goals, lads. I believe in you”. The team didn’t do too badly, from the highlights I saw; just a few wrong decisions which can be corrected today. AMN taking over from Kolasinac should be a good kick up his backside as he’s looked rather lethargic at times, recently. Besides, as it was observed last thread, it seems Alexis worked better with AMN than he’d ever been seen to work with Kola. No fault of Kola’s though but if Alexis has to play, then why not with a player he is more willing to give the pass to?

    No complacency here, so expect the team to play compact initially, then go all out for it, as we get control.

  • Surprised we don’t even have Debuchy on the bench. Bellerin won’t be worried about Chambers being his back-up, or should he? That will be up to Calum Chambers then.

    Newcastle do have some quick and strong wingers, so we need to be aware of that pace; perhaps another reason Wenger has retained both AMN and Bells (more for the pace than for the strength).

  • Thought we should show the line up for both teams, with subs….

    Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Wilshere, Xhaka, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette, Iwobi.

    Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Elneny, Welbeck, Giroud

    Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo; Hayden, Merino; Murphy, Perez, Atsu; Joselu

    Subs: Darlow, Clark, Dummett, Diame, Aarons, Ritchie, Gayle

  • PE–
    With Sanchez’ single focus to shoot when he launches from left-toward-middle? Defenses have begun springing a defender forward toward him– keeping the first look from being a clean one. Also forcing him to dribble away from goal while moving middle– till he gives up the ball. It’s a very good strategy with no downside– as Alexis has no Plan B.


  • Ok… I arrived at the pub at the same time as the owner or barkeep so now I wander the streets waiting for her to open the place…the televisions were already on so that seems a good sign… Awfully cold here in the desert so early in the morning…

  • jw1, agree on Alexis one dimensional play. It’s surprising that a man with his skill sets cannot realize he’s been sussed out and should adapt or be less predictable. He can do so by playing passes quicker; basically, start looking for the first movement and release the pass as against his habit of cutting inside, chased by a posse of defenders snapping at his heels, before he takes a long, cross field pass, or loses the ball.

    However, it’s a good thing the manager keeps the faith in him because he’s got the ability for the occasional magic moment…

  • I hope Isaac Hayden doesn’t choose today to play the game of his life, as ex-players are wont to do. 😎

  • Off to a quick start, I should say….

    Lacazette shoots from outside but rob Elliot gathers well.

  • Xhaka fouls Atsu and visitors have a free kick from our left side. Petr Cech had to parry wide from the resultant header. The visitors are not going to lie down it seems.

    They have another corner from a Kos error.

  • Hey! 17, I hope you join up soon because I am unable to cope as you do. Need to just watch the game. 😉😀

  • We are passing quicker now and a pick out by Bells finds Laca whose attempted curler is deflected to Bellerin but his shot was blocked for a corner. Good move and intent.

  • Crucially, our passing has been quicker and impressive, only slowing down when Alexis gets it as he likes to have too much time on the ball to make his decision. Cech clears a loose ball into touch when it looked easier to hit that to a team mate.

  • I’m here but not able to comment too much as the game is up high and I’m down at the bar…drinking the world’s worst cup of coffee… but still very pleased…

  • 12 minutes in, still no goal. We must not allow the intensity go down.
    AMN drives forward gets to the edge of their box and let’s fly, but only finding the side netting. Good fast break. Bellerin should watch to see how it’s done.

    Another corner for he visitors off Bellerin.

  • Handball around the edge by Merino. Free kick for Arsenal. Chance to loft it in to the area. But it is well defended.

  • Some good link up play by our lads breaks up at the most inopportune point. Alexis loses the ball to Hayden but Monreal takes charge as the visitors bore down from that turnover. Ozil loses possession but we recover and play our way out.

  • Wow! He did catch that. It was off a blocked Alexis shot, after good wing inter-play by Iwobi. 1-0! Let’s see how many more.

  • With a semi-assist from Sanchez for his effort chasing the previous high-caromed shot toward goal– in forcing the defender to get less on his headed attempt to clear.


  • Bellerin skies from a good position when the ball was lofted to him by Alexis. How has he missed that?

  • Tough with your off foot… Hard to compare to that Ozil strike, I think, which should be a goal of the year candidate…

  • Alexis has been laying off nearly every ball almost immediately– a help in how smoothly the ball has been moving.


  • Hayden leaves one on his old friend, Jack and he goes down in a heap. Thank goodness, he’s up quick enough.

  • jw1, I guess he’s been paying attention. Someone’s been talking to him. Alexis, that is.

  • A clash of heads injury, after a Newcastle corner stops our break-away move. Just from the layout, it would have been a masterclass counter attack broken up their by the ref’s whistle for treatment to Monreal and the Newcastle player.

  • Snap shot from Alexis misses the goal after good interplay in the opponent’s goal area. Alexis is sometimes too quick even for himself.

  • Ref blows the whistle just as it looked like we could score after some scrambling in the visitors’ box. Half time! Nice flow to the game so far, but one nil isn’t enough, as we all know.

  • Hm.. it gets really hard to scroll when you have 2 matches worth of comments here.

    The refereeing is very suspect to me, and i do not see why he should not wait until the ball is cleared before blowing the half time whistle.

  • Halftime…

    Time for some reward with some search terms for the owner of the bar here…

    The Hair of the Dog is the place to go in Palm Springs for English Football… Opens at 7 am so not so good for early games. Nearby is a pizza place for European games (noontime) where under 21s can also watch.

  • With 2 minutes of added time– at 47:08– with Sanchez just emerging with the ball from a cluster top-of-the-box? Ref Stuart Atwell blows the whistle for half just as Alexis was going to turn and look to shoot.

    Stuart must have someplace important to be later.


  • Alexis wasn’t watching the clock so his attempt to take it outside and regroup on the turn wasn’t so good at 47:15 or 20…

  • Watching highlights now.
    At 0-0– Brighton’s Glenn Murray wins a PEN vs Burnley.
    Murray then proceeds to airmail the shot several yards above the bar.


  • Toonies are leaving plenty of space but re-grouping in the box… To me, it’s all about the pace of moving the ball as we bring it into position so that then you can lay-off or slide in slower balls that can be hit first time, or moved with a touch (around aggressive defenders) and then shot. What I see is slow build-up and then too much pace with the passes as the defense tightens up, i.e., the exact opposite of what we need. Shot of the season might save us… As might Toonies fear of us running up a score… They’re not bringing too many guys forward when they break. That might change under instruction from Benitez at half-time and more and more if it’s still a one goal match as the 2nd period goes on…

    In other words, IMO, we’re far from home and dry…

  • jw1, we both know Alexis won’t be shooting without shimmying this way and that, eating up some more seconds. 😉😉.

    Chelsea score late to lead against S’pton. Watford down 0-2 against Huddersfield town, with Troy Deeney shown a red card for dangerous play. Burnley v BHA is 0-0, while Stoke v WHU is just started after delayed kick off. All that after a stunning 3-0 win by Crystal Palace at Leicester city.

  • I miss doing the play by play, I must say… but I probably see a bit more. Slow as we play, however, I get most of it… Gotta agree about the general criticism of Alexis… Iwobi and Bells get into some good positions but are guilty of pinging in (overhitting) those final balls… They might bounce up for chances, however, I guess… Jack, I must admit, is a bit more cultured with his final balls… even if he runs like he just got down from riding a horse… or in his case maybe a burro…

    OK, time for me to shut up…

    2nd half on!!!

  • If Newcastle become any more offensive, that will be just what the doctor ordered for us, methinks.

  • Might be more inclined to agree HT if it was 47:15 or :20.
    Though did check the clock at the whistle. Play had not yet ‘halted’.
    Also did a rewind– Sanchez and Laca both stood looking incredulous — while Xhaka approached Atwell who pointed to his watch.

    And sure- recent events indicate an additional shot wasn’t going to go in.
    But it’s not as if we need any help from the ref to ensure that. 😉


  • Iwobi almost pounces on some poor keeper work… AMN can’t possibly score from there, can he?…

  • Ritchie on for Atsu for Newcastle. We’ve been on a search for the 2nd goal but been unlucky and at times wasteful. Like that one there by Lacazette, who has blasted over from a good position.

    Ritchie’s got a good left foot as he shows there after some hesitant defending by our lads.

  • Sooo… If Ayoze would part his hair in the middle–and gain 80 lbs–He’d look a lot like Kim Jong Un, no?…

  • Friendly whistle there… After Cech earned his money on a VERY open shot… Toonies starting to fancy a point here…

  • The visitors are fighting back a bit, making a game of it now, it seems. We need to get the insurance of a second. Patience needed though.

  • Really liking Jack’s motor today.
    He’s been chasing the ball and stifling Newcastle in MF– often getting the ball back.


  • Lacazette fluffs a good goal opportunity after some strong heading play by Monreal. Why not blast away at that (I know, after that last one…)? But….still 1-0.

  • Lob too strong… nice ball in from Iwobi after Nacho and Hayden bump heads (again?)…

  • Iwobi… That’s a bicycle no one could ride… Nice delivery from Ozil on the corner…

  • Better play there… I like the Alexis head down as well as the quick pass in from Ozil… Gotta get a 2nd, however…

  • Some touch passing in front of NEW’s goal– goes for naught.
    Sanchez passes when he ought to have shot.


  • Iwobi chooses scuffed shot after good footwork when scuffed pass (maybe offside, though) might’ve been the better choice…

  • Gayle is to come on for the visitors. Now, that’s one dangerous guy who must be kept quiet as much as possible. He likes to prove a point to his manager. We need to get a second, guys.

  • More good Bellerin D…and he’s upfield quickly to try and keep the play going… Still unsure why I’m the only one here who thinks he’s any good…

  • Ozil extremely heavy… Still loving on Hector who set him up centrally there…

  • Ozil should have taken a touch before deciding to flick to Laca on a break.
    Laca now off for OG.


  • Jack with the right foot a bit too on target? That looked a goal…

    OOoooh… Kos header wide of goal… and between it and Alexis’s diving head…

  • Giroud seems OK now and we need to run down the clock as Toon look likeliest to score now… Well played, big man, I say…

  • More let off… Kim Jong Un hair might’ve put that into the top corner… 😀

  • Professional foul by Nacho probably deserves a yellow… Has there been a card in the entire match?…

  • Ya’ know?
    Now would be the time for the swing the ball, time-ticking possession-keeping style, we are so profoundly good at.


  • Xhaka WAS having a good match, I thought… Erase it (the thought, that is)… Now that WAS a cynical foul…

  • Ozil wins a touch, Ollie a corner and we just might be able to kill this… Take it short, please…

  • Quite an unexpected scoreline, if you ask me and it was all down to our profligate shooting/link up play. We should have scored a bit more, in my view and it looks like we need to get out of a rut.

  • FT…

    That was a VERY tough week for the Arsenal… 4 points? Seems like we rode our luck to avoid totals of zero, one or two…

    Take it and run…And hope for some sort of improvement from somewhere…

    It’s almost January so I’m all for selling Alexis (so that Kolasinac can play…) and then spending the money on Ozil’s new contract… And then spending some extra on somebody who might have the potential to replace him (Alexis)…

    Sorry to be so negative… Must be the coffee… 😀 😦


  • HT–
    Don’t see it as negative– but realistic with a dollop of snark.
    Only sell Alexis if it’s out-of-PL. Only if a short-termer can be bought (I like Zaha).
    CL/Top-4 is a requirement in allowing Sanchez to run-down (or leave now).


  • We looked good at times and I can say Newcastle were probably lucky to leave here without a bag full of goals, but we did wrong was allowing them back into it when we failed to add a second. All in all, a good game of soccer, which would give Newcastle some confidence for the rest of their season (not that we should care).

    Ozil was outstanding and it was nice to see Alexis hugging the ball a lot less than he usually will do. AMN did well and I am starting to think he can play as right (wing) back for Kolasinac to come on, whenever Bells needs a rest. Jack has got to make it hard for Ramsey to just walk right back into the side. I noticed Lacazette seemed unhappy to be subbed off but he has to reign that urge in. He was not potent enough today and seemed to be too anxious to be accurate. Let’s take the 3 points and run. Always another day to rack up the GD.

  • Spurs are being bullied here by City; hopefully, we get a better 2nd half from them to prove city aren’t really invincible. Fat chance of that the way Spurs are even struggling to get out of their own half. Still 1-0 though, crucially.

  • WHU have gone to Stoke to maul Mark Hughes’ team 3-0! Anyone else think their results against Chelsea and Arsenal were flukes? City are really up for this game, I must say. Any side will be too, if you are 11 points ahead of the chasing pack.

  • Looks like we wait another day for this record setting City juggernaut to be stalled. Spurs are all over the place and aren’t even giving Ederson much work to do. It’s amazing to just watch this City team make good sides look so ordinary. Petrol and ideas, indeed, as the manager so aptly put it.

  • Think back to the lineup Wenger fielded in a 3-back set (3-4-2-1) for MC vs ARS on 11/5.
    Coquelin at the center CB? Was Arsene’s precursory acknowledgement of City’s formidable quickness in attack. In essence, a normal 4-back set (Bels/Kos/Nacho/Kola) dropping the DM flat into the back line making a 5-back.

    Wenger saw what was coming. And took the ‘best shot’ for a result.
    Without Sterling’s dive for PEN– and a blown offside on Silva allowing Jesus’ tap-in– that game may well have been a draw– or better. Possession was 58-42% and shots were 9-6. Eight YKs (MC 2- ARS 6) indicates Arsenal weren’t pushed around.

    Arsenal’s was the best effort since City have become ‘aware’ of their promise this season.
    Other notables: Moyes’ Hammers in a 2-1 loss was a great effort 2 weeks ago– but playing for a 1-1 draw– spoilt by a late 83′ Silva goal. Everton’s 1-1 result in Match Week 2 saw 10-man City draw level through Sterling’s 82′ goal.

    While Chelsea held City to 1-0 — it wasn’t that close a match (17-4 shots, City).
    Today’s MC 4-1 TOT scoreline indicates… more than my valuable time allows me to express. 😉


  • Yes, it’s quite worrying when you hear about people turning up outside of pubs and bars before they’re open… 😉

    Not seen the game yet, but from what I’ve heard and read AMN had another encouraging 90 minutes.

    Does today’s line up mean Kolasinac playing against West Ham next week?

  • Kev–
    Don’t know if you’ve seen the flick Kingsmen: The Golden Circle?
    Did so earlier this evening– and thought of you during the lengthy black cab chase scene– the movie opens with. You’d like to have a model with those options at times, I’m sure.


  • I’ve not seen it JW, but by the sound of it I’ll defo have it on ‘must see’ list, one of my all time favourites is the classic Taxi Driver, you know “You looking at me” etc.

  • A point to note: If AMN plays like this every week it will spark tha players to do the same and go direct.

    However the others just like the extra passes and i thought that Bells was his usual self: got the ball from the defender and passed back to the defender. Speechless. Play AMN on the right side and Kola on the left.

  • If so Kev? See the first movie– first. It’s an action-packed spoof-ish twist of a 007-like theme.
    A whole lotta’ fun. Here’s an edited YouTube take of the opening scene:


  • Yep JW, I have days like that, dodging white van man, suicidal cyclists and Uber SatNav jockeys.
    But I liked the missiles, I could do with them… 😉

    Have to say, after watching some highlights, that AMN carries the ball forward in a Michael Thomasesque fashion. I think he’s going to be very good when he permanently switches to C/M.

  • Kev–
    Got a bit of the driver DNA too. Seen it all.
    Drove 6 days a week as a bank/document courier in the early-80s.
    Logged a half-million miles in/around Houston over 5 years.

    (Uber SatNav jockeys! 🙂 Heh. Heheh.)


  • I’ve been driving a cab, JW, since May 1989, that was a memorable month for me as it concluded 2.5 years of doing and finishing the Knowledge of London and doing a sort of advanced driving test, although it had a lotmore to do with how you handled the manoeuvrability of the taxi etc.
    And then a few days later Arsenal winning the League at Anfield, quite a month indeed.

    In the early 80’s I was still a postman.

  • Just a thought, with Anfield 1989 in mind and how the TV companies would love to recreate that kind of drama, so if Man City or Arsenal reach the League Cup final ,then Arsenal’s home fixture with City will be postponed.

    Now how would Sky or BT Sport love to engineer another 89 type finale where Arsenal entertain the prospective new Invincibles at the end of the season, if City can carry on their remorseless march to the title?

  • Kev– as boy, I grew up in Miami Florida– a fan of the NFL Miami Dolphins.
    The ‘Fins greatest Coach (Manager) was Don Shula whose trajectory of success matches favorably to Wenger’s beginning at Arsenal. Miami was a newly-created team in 1966 with a losing record until Shula’s arrival in 1970. In his second season they made the it to the first of 3 straight Super Bowls (winning SB VII & SB VIII). In the 1972 season the ‘Fins went 17-0-0, while winning SB VII. The only time in the NFL’s history a team went an entire season undefeated and untied (no draws). Don Shula remained Miami’s Coach until 1995– for 26 seasons. His teams returned to the Super Bowl twice in the 1980s– losing both times.

    In 1985– the Chicago Bears fielded a team considered among the best ever. IMO that Bears’ defense WAS the NFL’s best ever. The Bears were 12-0 and had beaten their previous 3 opponents by a combined score of 104-3. The game was to be televised on Monday Night Football versus the Dolphins (8-4). In an incredible display of passing by QB Dan Marino– the Dolphins beat the Bears 38-17. The dramatic outcome left the Dolphins unique. To continue to be known as the only undefeated team in NFL history.

    Every year since, when the last team– loses their first game– of each new season? All the old-timers from the 1972 Dolphins undefeated team– gather at Shula’s Steakhouse in Miami to pop the corks, drink champagne– toast their record– and unique place in history.

    A record still standing after 55 years.


  • JW, I remember Dan Marino, wasn’t he a quarter-back, the schemer of the team?
    He was one of the big names when TV first started showing grid-iron over here in the UK.

    And the Chicago Bears are another name I can recall winning the championship with a guy called The Fridge, I just loved that name.

    Green Bay Packers, a kind of community team and The Raiders, with the really snazzy badge.
    Dallas Cowboys of course, thanks to JR Ewing etc.
    I think there’s quite a decent base of fans in the UK for American Football, whenever the NFL visit it always sells out Wembley.

  • Just popping my head above water…and it’s good to see some of the oldsters speaking across the pond about city driving and football (of all types)…

    Our one moment of brilliance (vs their nil) seems enough to keep folks at least moderately satisfied… Some of the takeaways about individual players (that I’ve scanned, both here and elsewhere) boggle my mind, but what’s new about that?…

    Where’s TA? We could use a new post, in my very (very) humble opinion… With no television for me tomorrow AND still in travel mode, I probably won’t even be thinking about the West Ham League cup match… Some Arsenalista, I am… 😦

    I should be back and at least somewhat re-settled for the Liverpool match…

    OK, back under water… Just not sure if it should be in the pool or in the hot tub (or both)…


  • We pretty much know the kind of line-up that Arsene Wenger will pick for the League Cup tomorrow, a strong starting XI of fringe 1st team quality players, most of whom would walk into the West Ham team and with a subs bench made up of our talented, promising youngsters. But this is also a cup tie and West Ham traditionally do well in knockout matches at Highbury, well they did when we played at Highbury. This situation would often be reversed at Upton Park funnily enough, with the Gunners being successful, this before the Hammers moved to the Olympic Park, so Arsenal usually did a number on them in their own backyard and vica versa.

    David Moyes has steadied the West Ham ship and stopped their inexorable slide into the Football League, but it’s still early days and he still has a lot to do and needs to protect his resources, so how does he approach this tie?
    Moyes, for all his time in management, has yet to win some silverwear and the Football League Cup is at the stage where you can start to imagine running around Wembley with a cup!
    At the same time victory over Arsenal would expose his valuable resources to a double headed semi-final, draining energy and risking injuries, so it’s a subtle balancing act he has to play between a possible trophy and survival.

    I reckon he’ll rest a few key players but still go with a near full strength team.
    It’s going to be a tough encounter, it might even go into extra time etc, but I think we’ll just squeeze past the Hammers and into the semi-final.

  • Game day today, but first a shoutout of condolences to those affected by the Amtrack derailment on the first day of the expanded service.

    We should play Matt and Theo and stick to a back 4. While we should have an eye on the Liv match, this match should not be taken lightly, and we should move on to the next round.

  • Been looking at the schedule and table from Moyes’ perch. While it would be a perk to continue playing in a Cup competition for their fans? At this stage? A couple of losses, from overuse of attackers (Arnautovic, Antonio, Lanzini), or an injury to one of those three? Means the uphill climb gets infinitely harder. Hammers fans would gladly gift this Cup tie in trade for good health and stamina reserved.


  • Nice pre-match stuff there, Kevski. That is more I could have said about the game. I hope we play this at a high tempo and mean business from the start. Only then will we be able to move to the next round and treat the supporters to a feast of football. COYGs!

  • Hi all..
    So we continue this post untill tonight Game was over.. Hehehe..
    Cause we will meet the same team again..

    But tonight we will change at least 8 players.. For we will face Liverpool two days after.. And we must put all our energy there. We can’t lose another game by Pool. Pool don’t play the Carabao.. So they will be totally fit against us.

    But, this trophy is something that we never had for a very long time. And with a new name Carabao, we can be the first who get it.
    And I think this trophy could be easier and most reasonable to get, than FA or EL.

    So, will our second team strong enough to beat the Hammer that cause our first team troubles.. Let’s see..

  • The Hammers have a lot of injuries and they would be keen to consolidate their relegation escape momentum only just acquired. This match eould be way down their priority list.

    What intrigues me is who we play at left back tonight. Niles or Kola. My guess is Kola.

  • Shucks! No game on the channels here; reason I miss the TV coverage of soccer from Nigeria. I will have to seek out a link or hope the club’s site will run a live visual coverage of the game.

    Team list is out and the hammers have some changes but retain many 1st team players, as expected, with Hart in goal.

  • Arsenal XI: Ospina, Debuchy, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Willock, Elneny, Walcott, Giroud, Welbeck

    Bench: Macey, Sheaf, Dasilva, Reine-Adelaide, Nelson, Akpom, Nketiah

    West Ham XI: Hart, Rice, Reid, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku, Obiang, Quina, Ayew, Chicharito

    Bench: Adrian, Zabaleta, Makasi, Haksabanovic, Arnautovic, Sakho, Carroll

  • Evening all. I’m happy with that starting 11. There’s no experience on the bench to call on. So here’s hoping the starting line up can score and avoid early injury. Our mid field looks a bit light. We have plenty in the front 3 but will we be able to get decent ball to them? Soon find out! COYG!!!

  • Hello AB. You think Coq, Elneny and Willock is “a bit light” in midfield? If anything, I will say it is loaded with ball playing defensive midfielders. I rate young Joe Willock and feel he won’t let the manager down today.

    However, with what David Moyes has retained on the bench, it is easy to see he hopes to keep scores down till some time in the 2nd half when he could bring on his big guns. Still can’t get a link to see the game. What a shame.

  • PE, it looks like it is Kola who starts tonight. I would have been surprised to see AMN, to be honest, seeing as he played only on Saturday.

  • Hi Goonereris. Not a. Criticism of the 3. I haven’t seen much of Willock though I have read plenty good. But not much creativity from the other two – though they should be defensively sound for sure. But a lot of responsibility on Willock to be our creative hub. Elneny will run for sure. Will we have more wing play tonight? Hope we can keep a clean sheet with the strong defence we have put out.

  • I’d be interested to know our average height in this game. One of our taller starting line ups. Hands of a set piece but we don’t have the strongest choice of delivery.

  • Not sure if a one out there has sight of the game. I’m following on radio and web. Sounds like dominant possession and pressure from us but a bit scrappy in terms of final ball. Not sensed any great threat thus far.

  • Intermittent attention from me while at my desk today.
    Content with much of what I’m seeing– but counting on Mo or Coq to provide the ball up front consistently is a big ask.

    Though Coq– just now– sent a long pass that Theo couldn’t out run a defender for.


  • That’s halftime (with a minute added)..
    Believe the cross from the right was delivered by Coquelin.
    Giroud barely got his head on it– deflecting the ball a few yards further across Hart’s goal.
    Welbeck who was originally sizing up the cross (with a defender draped on his back)– managed to stop it with his body– with the ball falling to his feet just 6-8 ft in front of goal– tapping in uncontested by Hart.


  • Stand corrected by replay. (Sorry small window to watch!)
    Ball in from the right– headed by Debuchy. The rest accurate though.


  • Sounded like we finished the half applying a little more pressure. A goal for Theo now please. Or maybe one of the young lads. Giroud due one too for that matter.

  • jw1, yeah. That was a header from Debuchy which fell for Welbeck. Come the day he will score a ‘clean’ goal. He’s fast becoming the king of the scrappy goal, isn’t he? 😀

    I am unable to see the game but listening in on the website’s visual/audio commentary. Looks like we are dominating with WHU sitting back to catch us on the counter or with a set piece situation. Bet they will throw on Carrol and Arnautovic in the 2nd half, but I am sure Chambers should be able to handle that aerial threat, while Kola and Debuchy will give Arnautovic a fight.

  • At present Eris? I’m thrilled he put one in.
    Aesthetics are fine when you’re up by a couple. 🙂
    Which would also be fine by me.


  • Theo starts the best move of the night offensively– for WH.
    Gives up the ball at MF and off went WH– culminating in a cross cleared by Debuchy.


  • Welbeck featuring a bit more I’m pleased to hear. A bit of confidence will do him no harm at all.

  • Are we working hard JW or just cruising? Can’t discern a load of effort from anywhere. But we have plenty of players who should want to put in a decent showing?

  • Chicharito outrunning Holding to a ball that’s about to enter the box.
    Holding bodies Him hard– both go down no foul called.
    Might should have been.


  • Short answer– yes, AB.
    Both teams running and closing.

    Debuchy whistled about 20yds our left of center.
    Mosts time a YK. Creswell clears the wall with a good shot that dives to the right post– Ospina gets a hand on it to save!


  • Long pass to Welbz– Hart out of goal– ref clains Danny had exited box barely before Hart fouled him — no PEN.

    FK Mo. Deflected for corner by Mo.
    Caught by Hart.


  • There will be no cards given tonight.
    Unless someone draws a weapon.
    Masuaku high-kicks Debuchy in the shoulder– no card.


  • Giroud goes down– lieson the turf– holding his hamstring. Giroud limping to sideline
    Nelson being readied.


  • Losing Giroud over the Christmas period will be a blow. Sounds like a couple of weeks minimum from the description.

  • If Nelson is to come on, hope he gets the instruction to simply run at the WHU defence; forget about structure or discipline. We need a second goal soon otherwise, it will be a nervy finish.

  • Quite a contrast between our subs and theirs. They bring on their big guns and we bring on the kids.

  • Narrow win, but I’ll take that all day instead of extra time or some replay.

    On to Friday then.

  • Thanks for the live report JW1..
    Glad to know our second team win..
    It will give power to our first team against Liverpool..

  • I just read that it is trending among Liverpool fan sites that Kolasinac played tonight, so they are rubbing their hands at the prospects of AMN against Salah. Guess they (we all) will find out on Friday. I think if he starts, AMN will be a handful for Salah because he will match him for speed and I will trust AMN more to dispossess Salah much less aggressively and efficiently.

    We’ll see if he does start.

  • Salah is their best attacker by far IMO. If Arsene thinks AMN is the guy– I’m good.

    OTOH Kola played hard tonight– and he’s been rested for the last week.

    Either will need to be at their best.


  • Play the second team against the Fools.

    Matt looked solid and crosses were good and Kola looked good too.
    Should have scored more but we were guilty of not doing so

  • Hi guys… And a special shout to AB… ‘Sbeen awhile…

    Good stuff (everybody) on the in-match commentary. I was actually able to get some internet and hear the audio (while watching the announcers–very strange…) but it’s quite helpful to hear all of your impressions. Kev was at the match (right?) so even better. The Giroud injury seems a problem, but otherwise, getting more games for the 2nd group seems good. I’m not sure we should put them out vs Liverpool (JK’s idea…) but who am I to say?… Finally, it seems the AMN-Alexis combo is trumping Kolasinac at LB. Is it due to the Beast’s play (not as good as AMN’s?…) or is it more about the combinations and who works better with Alexis? Maitlaind-Niles is also (like Alexis) a right-footer…making things all the stranger, IMO…

    Anyhow, a long drive tomorrow–possibly with some snow to get through, then I should be well settled in for the Pool match, a big one for sure…

    Thanks again…

  • Kev, thanks for the post-game “in swingers” and player assessments. I’m particularly happy to hear how well, Willock, Debuchy and our CB pairing have done. We probably have the most match-fit 100% 2nd team in the land.

    Have a safe drive, 17ht. Nasty driving weather out there, these days.

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