Willock has That Knack, Nelson and Sheaf Impress, Holding/Chambers Dovetail Perfectly: Match Review

Arsenal – West Ham 1-0 – Progress to semi-finals of the League Cup!

Lots of empty seats in the stadium this evening, particularly among the seats up at the back. It’s difficult to assess, but I reckon the attendance was around 40/42,000. Plenty of West Ham fans behind the goal at the Clock End, or whatever it’s called these days. The atmosphere, however, was quite good with lots of youngsters in the crowd.

First half was a bit so so. West Ham didn’t really threaten, it was really a case of Arsenal being efficient in front of goal and, despite the messy finish, the build-up was quite good and I was delighted to see Danny score, whatever way it went in.

Carroll was the pantomime villain, and when he came on he injected a bit of an edge both on and off the field, but in truth all he did was give away a succession of free kicks. He is quite a dumb footballer.

Arsenal maybe should have added a second goal in the 2nd 45 minutes. Walcott had a game to forget; nothing he tried came off and his finishing was forgettable. Giroud battled away against the rather industrial West Ham center-back, but then hobbled off with a nasty hamstring. If we see him back before Nottingham Forest, I’ll be amazed. Welbeck never stopped working and battling away, and, with Giroud injured, Danny will hopefully get a chance more centrally, where he is more effective from a goal scoring perspective.

Midfield was quite strong: both Elneny and Coquelin had good games, but for me Joe Willock showed his quality and had that knack of doing something encouraging. A turn here, a dummy there, a tackle, a run with the ball and a few errors, but I was very happy with what I saw from him and I think in 18 months he will be a big player for us.

Kolasinac was steady, Debuchy was very good and our center-backs Holding and Chambers dovetailed perfectly; they really do make an effective team and seem to enjoy playing with each other, I do hope that Wenger brings them on together.

Ospina, despite concerns about his handling of the high ball did a really tidy and safe job in goal.

Nelson came on and showed some impressive and thoughtful stuff. You can see that he’s an intelligent player who is thinking about what he’s doing, for such a young player he kept possession and helped run the clock down as the game petered out.

Sheaf was only on briefly but he showed a cool head and a sound technique. He always looked as if he had time on the ball; I was really impressed by his calmness in those hectic last few minutes of the game.

DaSilva came on right at the end.

Yes, it was a good learning exercise for our impressive youngsters, I enjoyed it.

By Allezkev

43 thoughts on “Willock has That Knack, Nelson and Sheaf Impress, Holding/Chambers Dovetail Perfectly: Match Review

  • Fine summary of the game from a man at the match, Kev. Cheers. Another clean sheet and that famous one goal to the Arsenal, is all we needed to progress. The ‘second’ string team is doing well in both competitions and they will get a real a big test against either a Manc club or the Chavs in the next round (unless Bournemouth or Bristol City spring a surprise). Not seen anything of the game as yet, so cannot comment but will do once I have see the extended highlights.

    I have been away for a while but will now have more time to follow the footie and comment on the blog.

  • Get together of Bergkampesquerers!

    I was wondering whether there is any interest in a get together next year of Bergkampesque bloggers. We would meet in a pub during the day and hopefully then go and see a match together, and afterwards we’d meet up again at the pub. We could do a stadium tour etc….

    I know most of the regulars live far away from North London and it may be hard/too expensive to get there, but if we plan it well in advance, say next October (2018), it could see us having a decent number of bloggers at a venue there. So to gauge initial interest, please could you let me know whether you would be up for this at all?

  • Kev– thanks for the great report!
    Debuchy had a fine outing (Mostly covering for Theo’s time-delayed decision making).
    Sead, too, ran hard all match. Elneny and Coquelin were the right pairing yesterday. Mo was in the right place consistently.

    Though not an eventful contest? A good test for Willock. Now wishing that Nelson had gotten Theo’s minutes. The kids are going to be asked to take the next step up– by this time next year IMHO.

    Kev– one thing you mentioned as apparent live? Carried over to the TV.
    At times was wondering: Whose bones are pointier? Carroll or Fellaini?


  • Glad I could help Total,
    it was an unusual atmosphere, for almost the entire game West Ham posed an almost zero threat, so much so that many of the people around me chatted for long periods of the game without giving the match their complete concentration, they all came alive after the goal of course, but our football isn’t really gripping the attention, all the same you never know when it’s still 1-0, a mistake and the whole picture changes. Fortunately we kept a clean sheet for as much as I love my football, extra time didn’t really get the juices flowing. 😉

  • JW,
    Carroll certainly has sharp elbows, but is a cretin, Fellaini is a tad smarter, but not by much, personally I think that Fellaini is the dirtier of the two, not a lot in it though.
    Holding and Chambers were pretty much in control even when Carroll came on, I mean Holding dealt with Costa last May so Carroll would have been a cinch by comparison.

  • fellow gunners, i’m concerned Wenger will start bellerin against Liverfools, he’s not just up for it looking at his previous performances, just a free rider with no impact or whatsoever. Should be rested hoping that’ll work as a wake up call.. Kolasinac to retain his place and star Maitland Niles on the right flank.

  • I recognise that, Kev. The footie needs two to want to play football for it to be sexy. Moyesnaise seemed to have preferred boring tactics of sitting back and play on the counter. Ah well, we won and that’s all we needed. The fun will come in the next round.

  • Kev, that’s a lovely report. I was unable to watch the match but I have watched the extended highlights. I’ve read some reports and looked at the stats. You piece got to me as the best assessment. The most heart warming part is that you watched the match through also the prism of the future … Willock, Nelson, Sheaf, Chambers and Holding. You had a good word for every one except understandable for ….. well that header was not a miss-header. The bloke just didn’t know where the posts were.

    I enjoyed our only goal. The build up was perfect and Welbeck’s finishing was tops (watch it again). He was tightly sandwiched between two defenders and chesting it down that cutely left no space or time, with Hart rushing out, but to shin it in.

    Who says we can’t sometimes play Kola ahead of Monreal at full back ie as a wide front man. His crosses can’t be improved on. And if you ask me, Debuchy is knocking very loudly on the other side.

  • News: ‘little Mozart’, Tomas Rosicky announced his retirement from football today at age 37.


  • That’s a brilliant summary of the game by Kev and I enjoyed the player assessment too (guess I made that point in the last thread). From the highlights, not much in it but we did what we needed to do to get into the semi-final and that’s what it is about.

    It was a downer to hear our fans didn’t fill up the stadium whereas, the visitors took all 9,000 seats available to them. It is the quarter final of a Cup competition and the visitors had understanding of the occasion than our own fans? What’s the game coming to? There was a time when merely qualifying for the semis would elicit great celebrations; fans are starting to have a sense of entitlement, methinks.

  • Yeah, TA. It is Chelsea v Arsenal; and Man city v Bristol city in the semi-finals.

    Looks like it may have worked out as a London and Manchester derby, which would have been brilliant. Games are fixed for January 8th and 22nd, which means we are likely to see the usual rotation by Wenger while Chelsea will typically play a few first teamers, just as they did today with Cahill, Cesc, Willian, Pedro and Zapacosta, amongst the starters. Those draws should bring the interest and improve attendance.

  • Last two clubs Arsenal faced in succession to claim silverware in May?
    One, 1-1-3 last five vs Arsenal. And RCs last 3.
    The other 2-3-4 last seven vs Arsenal.

    In a season where City looks dominant– and 3 of four Cup semi-finalists are 1st,3rd,5th in the PL?
    A trophy is a trophy.


  • 3rd Jan— Ars v Chl PL
    9th Jan — Chl v Ars Carabao
    23rd Jan -Ars v Chl Carabao

    7 matches on the whole in Jan : 2 Carabao, 1 FA,, 4 PL.

    Our original Teams A and B are beginning to mix! Jack, Niles, plus Deb and Welbz knocking and ……………

  • Did anybody else than 84 read my second comment? Or should I take the silence as a collective ‘no’? Fine with me, but just want to know…

  • TA, suggestion of a get together is a brilliant idea to look forward to. I have had fantasies about hooking up with “cyber” Arsenal fan pals at some major trophy parade (CL or PL), but it just never materialized. Will look forward to this one and there will be plenty of time to confirm/notify of participation, so….

  • And Kev, please let me book you for being my tour guide when this become reality.

    As to PE, if we are able to rotate it would be nice, and it is good to see those second stringers stepping up and mixing with the rest of the team.

    Will this spell a winning streak? Lets start with tomorrow.

  • TA that’s a wonderful initiative. We’d never stop comparing notes if we find ourselves sitting together as we eye each other with thrill. How unreal it would look if I find that TA is on the fat side. I see you as not an extra ounce of flesh.

  • Cheers PE, you have a point regarding Welbeck, he did seem to hit it into the ground so it went under the goalkeepers block, intentional or luck, I’m not 100% sure, but hey, it went in…

    I’ve always had an eye for the youngsters coming through from the academy, players you develop, in most cases, have an affinity and loyalty to the club.
    I get a lot of enjoyment from seeing a young player make his debut and then sharing his time as he matures, hopefully, into a 1st team regular.
    That’s why I cut a Jack a lot of slack, he’s done some daft things in the past but he bleeds red n white.

  • Thanks Eris, I think the time of year (expense) had an effect on the crowd, all the same with Man City running away with it I’d suspect a lot of fans at many other clubs as well as Arsenal, might be losing a bit of interest.

  • JW, I know he can be as daft as a brush, but he is what he is and maybe that’s why he’s the player he is, It would be nice if Alexis and Ozil etc would come out and say as emphatically as Jack, that they want to stay.

  • 84, I always tell tourists, relatives and friends the same thing mate, the best way to see London is from one of the many double-decked tourist buses, the traffic in London is the worst I’ve ever seen in 28 years of driving a cab. On top of one of the many hop-on hop-off buses you get a better view, a tour guide gives you all the info you need and you can get a ticket that includes other attractions such as the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace.
    You can also get boats trips up the Thames, they’re very interesting and give a unique view of the city. My favourite is the trip to Greenwich- the Cutty Sark, the Maritime museum etc.

  • ……plus the caliber of the competition. Tomorrow’s top four duel should be a sellout. Watch out for the preview.

  • TA, interesting read. Most seek the answer to our defensive vulnerability in our back line formation. I believe we have to look somewhere else. Our midfield. No Viera and Gilberto. Our personnel there are not properly balanced between offense and defense. They are too offensively tilted and any back line (3 or 4 or 5) is vulnerable when unprotected. To me the best we can do with our present MF personnel is to compensate defensively by adding one more number to the MF in a 4:3:3 which is more of a hybrid between 3:4:2:1 and 4:2:3:1.

    Better defensive cover to the back line is the way to go, imho.

  • PE and TA,

    The answer to the midfield issues is play Le Coq together with Rambo/Jack and Xhaka with Elneny.
    Could not be more important than that.

  • OK, just catching up after a pair of exhausting days, one on the road, the other trying to put out some home fires (including some clean up of some snow…) and gearing up for this holiday which is upon us… Sheesh… In fact, there’s quite a bit more I need to get done… And sooner than later, I fear…

    That said, I will be trying to block out the couple of hours around tonight’s big match to do a live blog post. I have to say that I really enjoyed working with my boys (mostly JW and ‘Eris) while I watched in the pub down south. Apologies for getting a bit negative with my impressions as the game moved on. (Again, I blame the coffee…) I continue to be stunned by the differing impressions (and blame or credit given) observers have of our various players, not to mention the formation and personnel ideas folks have for solving our various problems. If TA is putting out Pony Eye’s post (I note, however, that, in England at least, morning has come and gone… 😉 ) folks will see one such approach. Once again, I guess I’m swimming against the tide…

    For me, it’s far less about playing at being manager of the team and asserting my (un-testable) notions and critiques of whomever is on the pitch (while lauding those who aren’t)…one after another after another… than it is trying to interpret what our (excellent, legendary, brilliant, etc., etc., IMO…) manager is thinking so that I might learn more about the game. I’ve got nothing against assessing the players but I find myself defending the ones who get picked on the most. In fact, with what little time since getting home I had for a bit of respite, I went to re-watch the (2nd half of the) Newcastle match to note the spots where Hated, er, Hector Bellerin’s (woeful) play left JK speechless (and others ready to drop him for players who’ve never played the position). Although I found myself nodding off, I was able to find the spot where he allowed Toonies their best chance (saved by Cech and found right before 56:00). Even I had seen that one incorrectly. It turns out that Jack actually blocked Hector out of the play allowing the space for the shot(!) I was gonna try to balance that “mistake” vs that sequence of excellent play I remembered from watching the game live but I took the siesta instead. This morning I found it (from about 66:20 to 67:40–a great slide tackle on one end and that great one-touch to send Lacazette into space down the right (and which he–Laca–passed straight to a Toon defender)… Yay for me!

    I know no one gives a poo, but I’m just trying to share how my mind works… OK, back to TCB (taking care of business)… Back with the Live-blog post at some point after the line-ups go up…

  • I have said it a number of times that defending is a collective responsibility, which was why we were able to make it hard for the spuds when they came to our patch a few weeks ago, with every player defending from front to back. Man for man, I can’t see any of the City backline being that much better than ours, but you find they concede fewer goals because of the press their forward players offer (an aggressive hunger to retrieve the ball when they lose possession) even before their defenders get to do any work. We need to have a bit more of that in the side; trouble seems to be that we have a number of players who detest the defensive side of the game – Ozil (he’s changing, mind, but it is fashionable to name him); Iwobi (just goes through the motion of appearing to track back or put in a tackle, for the heck of it, as if to impress the manager only, not with conviction); Kolasinac (yes, because as wing back, he fails to track back at speed); Bellerin (too indecisive in situations portending danger for the side; how can he allow a midfielder prevent him from taking a defensive action, per 17ht’s observation above? He needs to take responsibility more often, please).

    We need every player working in sync to ensure we become feared and give the fans greater assurance of a performance each time we step out into any arena. Let’s start by smashing Liverpool tonight.

  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may not be a sure starter at Liverpool but you just know he’ll be up for this game, no matter how much he’s booed (boy looks impervious to personal insults and likes a good banter, so…). We just have to have someone who can match him for pace and strength, to nullify his penchant to run at defences; which is why I am thinking AM-N. I like the way he dispossesses players of the ball plus, he has the pace. My guess is Coquelin or Elneny come in today to pair with Xhaka, with Jack further forward, thus forcing Ozil to play from the right in a fluid role.

    Another possibility is for Iwobi to play from the right (in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 type formation); so it will be Jack, Xhaka and Ozil in midfield. Mustafi and Kos at CB, Monreal and Bellerin at full back. Lacazette and Alexis to complete the forward line. I know the manager will be dying to find a role for Welbeck but with the fear factor Alexis offers, he will be pressed (best served) to start with Sanchez.

    I feel Liverpool are going to have a game on their hands tonight.

  • TA–

    Read the Guardian piece. Inquiring now– about a juncture in PL history that I have had a face-value perspective on– which now, for me, was affirmed by the writer of the article. Regarding the UK/domestic fans’ opinion at the time– of Abramovich’s injection of nouveau-foreign wealth– obliterating PL status quo.

    Having occurred just prior to my interest in Arsenal (being sparked in 2005)– it’s a period I know of, but had no grasp of– in the moment. More recently, I’ve viewed as an ‘event horizon’ for European football. Both unstoppable and inescapable.

    Would love to hear some considered thoughts guys– whether now or over the holidays.


  • If truth be told, am in awe of Liverpool’s energy, the kind of awe Mohammed Ali had for Foreman’s power. If am Wenger I’d do my rope-a dope (what the books say you should never do) employ the sterile possession (lean on the ropes) to give them a runaround (absorb the punches) get them tired (Foreman sapped) and sucker punch them (Foreman counted out).

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