Crystal Palace, West Brom Away. Arsene Wenger Will Equal–Then Surpass–Sir Alex Ferguson for Matches Managed–in the Very Same Games Where Last Season Went Wrong. Can Arsenal Make This Season Different?

Of course, we must take them one game at a time, but this does seem a defining pair of games.

Not only will they mark Wenger’s 810th and 811th Premier League matches–putting his greatest rival, Ferguson, into the rear-view in this category (Ferguson still has more first division matches as manager)–but they will also mark the turn of the calendar year.  2017 most certainly had its ups and down.  Heading into a tricky set of January fixtures–we open by hosting defending League Champions, Chelsea, then play them twice more in the the League Cup semi-finals–it feels like Arsenal need to finish out the year on a high note.  We’ve only taken six points from the five league matches we’ve played in December; doubling that total by winning at Palace and WBA would certainly make the festive season seem a bit merrier.

And, as we should remember from our 3-nil loss in this same fixture back on 10 April, winning at Selhurst Park cannot be taken as a given.

That game was a true nadir for Arsenal and it was the match that prompted Wenger to switch to a formation featuring three center backs.  The change seemed to right our (sinking) ship, and we closed out the season with nine wins from our final ten matches, culminating with our victory in the FA Cup final in late May.

That was the high point of the calendar year.  Things have changed, however, and the three at the back formation has been scrapped after we conceded early goals vs Manchester United and away at Southampton in consecutive matches early in the month.  We chased those games by switching to a traditional back-4 set up and used a similar approach, albeit in turgid style, to eke out a nil-nil draw at West Ham and a 1-nil victory against Newcastle at home.  Last Friday night, the revived formation looked just as poor early on when Liverpool took a 2-nil advantage before we came roaring back with three goals of our own.  Unfortunately, we conceded a third and only took a point from that one, setting up the desperate need to win these next couple.

Will Wenger stay with the four man back-line?  Will he make some changes to his line-up?  What will be the key to getting us the full points tonight at Selhurst?

Your guess is as good as mine, but I will say this: it won’t be easy.

Palace began the season in dire form, sacking manager Frank de Boer after only four matches.  His replacement, Roy Hodgson, couldn’t stop the bleeding in his first three games but then beat Chelsea (by a score of 2-1) in his fourth.  They’ve only lost two matches since and none in their past eight.  Can Arsenal be the club that ends that streak?

A feature of CP’s fine run has been keeping goals out of their net.  From the Chelsea match forward, Palace has allowed 12 goals–while scoring 16 of their own.  (Over the same period we’ve conceded 15 while scoring 23.)  That’s not bad for a club that, early on at least, looked a sure bet for relegation.  Currently, they sit just one point above the bottom three clubs, meaning that their taste for additional points will not have been sated.  Moreover, they should be strengthened by the return of center-forward Christian Benteke after a one-match ban, as well as the fine form of Wilfried Zaha.  Many Gooners once stumped for Benteke’s big presence at our club, much as some believe Zaha should be targeted to bolster the attacking end of our midfield.  Those sorts of Arsenalistas might be wary of the trip to West London; most, I fear, will believe this match should be a simple and straightforward win even if current form would suggest otherwise.

So then, how should Wenger set out his team to give us our best chance tonight?

I believe he’ll stick with a back-4 but restore Sead Kolasinac to the left side of that line in place of Ainsley Maitland-Niles.  With Nacho Monreal out injured, Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny will likely start in the middle, while Hector Bellerin–to the dismay of many Gooners–has yet to lose Wenger’s support and will surely start at right back.  With Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud out with soft tissue injuries, the rest of team will likely feature the same guys who started vs Liverpool: Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere, Alex Iwobi, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette.

It won’t appear this way on the television coverage, but I’m putting it down as a 4-1-4-1 given that we need the full points tonight and should see plenty of the ball.






Substitutes: Ospina, Mertesacker, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Elneny, Welbeck, Walcott

That’s just my prediction of the team I think Wenger will put out.  Others may believe the manager has other ideas.  Given almost a full week between this match and the previous one, I reckon the manager will think he can get by on just the two changes noted, saving more rotation oriented changes for the coming games with shorter rests in between.

Of course, Would-be-Wengers may have their own preferences.  Iwobi seems many Gooners’ scapegoat-flavor-of-the-moment, while Bellerin has been holding down the role in a longer term manner (perhaps since the torrid time he was treated to by the traveling support in this fixture back in April).  English boys Danny Welbeck and Maitland-Niles seem fan favorites–not to mention, of course, he who walks on water, (not so) young Jack (26 next Monday)–while Theo Walcott, most appear to think, is a couple of contracts past his sell-by date.  Personally, I like Mohamed Elneny, especially if Wenger prefers more of a 4-2-3-1 look, though Francis Coquelin might be even better suited if we’re looking to keep steady at the back and pack things up in the middle.

Those are just some of my ideas.  What are yours?

I’m a bit under the weather after perhaps having too much fun over a busy X-mas period.  Still, I hope to be around for some semblance of a live-blog.  Please join me in the comments as surely I’ll be needing some help… Almost as much as Arsenal need to get back to winning ways, end the calendar year in good fashion, and right the wrong that was heaped upon us back on April 10th.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

202 thoughts on “Crystal Palace, West Brom Away. Arsene Wenger Will Equal–Then Surpass–Sir Alex Ferguson for Matches Managed–in the Very Same Games Where Last Season Went Wrong. Can Arsenal Make This Season Different?

  • Christmas is over and after a great fight back against Pool on Friday, we now have our next big game: away to Crystal Palace.

    The first half of the season saw us win just 10 out of 19 games, and tonight’s game gives us a good opportunity to start the second half with a vital win. Arsenal are in sixth position, three points behind the despicable ones, and a win would reduce the gap with MU to six points. MC will run away with the title this season so they can say that was money well spent, but we just have a chance to finish second, as all other teams are as inconsistent, brilliant and vulnerable as us. It is all about a good run of games and we know that Arsenal usually have such a run. After CP we will play West Brom away and then the Chavs at home; hardly ideal for starting a good run, but somehow I feel it could start tonight. Time to put up the sleeves and grind out result after result.

    Respect to Roy Hodgson who has got his team two places above the relegation zone and his players working for him. Last April CP smashed us 3-0 and the players and supporters will use this as a motivator to get at us and play for the win. They have Benteke back and Zaha is starting to look the player many of us believed he would be, and, with our defence anything but settled and secure at the moment, I am a little nervous about the battle tonight.

    Luckily, we have Mesut and Jack playing together at the moment; together they have the quality to find the gaps in the Palace defence and dominate proceedings in their half. This will be crucial for a win today: we need to play our attacking game in their half and smother any attempts at springing a counter-attack. I have little doubt that Palace will score a goal, maybe two, today, but we have the fire-power to score more than those one or two goals. Having said that, 34 goals in 19 matches is not good enough for Arsenal, and the likes of Lacazette, Welbeck and especially Alexis, will have to focus more when  the chances will come their way.

    Ramsey, Nacho and Ollie are still out, so I reckon we should see the following first eleven:

    Bel – Koz – Must – Kola
    Ozil —– Jack ——- Alexis

  • Clarification – Wenger will pass and overtake Fergason’s Premier League mark. Ferguson managed another 225 games at United before the PL was formed, so his English top flight games managed count is 1035

  • Excellent preview 17ho. I like the background info on CP since Hodgson took over. Clearly, they will be up for this and we will need to match that energy at least. I feel that moving Jack up and Elneny next to Xhaka we will have a much better balance in the team for tonight’s encounter. Will it happen? Probably not.

  • Thanks for the clarification simsikan, I’ll edit in the correction…

    Hey, TA… Sorry to come in over your much more pithy preview, which highlights a bunch of the same ideas… and avoids the snark I felt compelled to include… (Sorry, but the absurd blame gaming by some Gooners really brings me down…) We should maybe stay in better touch about who’s planning to write what… That said, I think I’m the one who owes the other an e-mail… 😉

    I would also support your idea about dropping Iwobi in favor of Elneny–esp. if young Alex has been on social media this week and taking some of the “not good enough, feck off to Nigeria, wish he were dead, etc., etc…” stuff too seriously… While I think the scapegoating of Iwobi is completely over the top, I do think a stint as a super-sub could be in order. He runs very well on the break and can slip in a good pass or three. Unfortunately, his finishing has been pretty stinky. He doesn’t quite whiff them like Welbeck but his chance to goal ratio can’t be a whole lot better than Jack’s–or Hector’s… (Why one is loved and the other despised I cannot say, but so it goes…) Elneny (or Theo…) might also be our best right-footed corner taker which could be another reason to include him… (Alexis would probably still take them, but his corners have been woeful as of late, IMO…)

    To me, this one is all about the first goal. If we get it, we could beat them by the same score they beat us last time around… If not…


  • HT/TA,

    Looks like HT was a split second faster on the draw. Likely again TA might just have said ” After you”. Who cares. Two great previews. Or is the latter a comment. If it was the other way round, I’d not have doubted.

  • We both went for the ball at the same time, PE… I’ve seen it happen on the pitch more times than I’d care to mention… We need to buck up our sense of teamwork, I guess…

  • I reckon Iwobi has gone a bit stale which is to be expected for such a young player. Wenger does best to protect him a bit and use him wisely in the coming games. He is a very talented player and I have no doubt that he will come good, but a little break may do him good right now. I reckon Alexis should get a lot more criticism at the moment as he is at an age and has the talent to lead the team forward. 4-8 goals more from him could mean we are second rather than sixth right now…

    Good to see we both agree on Elneny. We need a tidy player next to Xhaka and Mo could be just what we need there right now.

  • I believe the 4 at the back has come to stay. Wenger has giving indications. Conceding a bit too many goals and not scoring enough, he decided to tackle the latter. That’s why I also expect Alexis (whom he wants further up the pitch) to start. Because of this I feel he might come up with a 4:1:3:2 formation.

    CP is a middle of the road team, neither PTB nor capable of blitzing us. So, my prediction is that he would go with Coq as the 1 shielding the back line.


  • I like your line up TA. Though I would have a punt that AMN keeps his spot. No issue with Kola but Wenger tends to stick if players have done well. Esp the young ones. So my punt there. I’d love Elneny to start in the middle but I’m doubtful of it. Again will he keep Alex as a vot of confidence in him? Wouldn’t surprise me. I would like to see Danny start though. He needs games. I will join you to track the game later hopefully.

  • Hey PE 🙂

    I like that line-up too. The problem is that Alexis is such a bad team player when it comes to fellow attackers; he is just to egocentric imo. The only way to get the best out of him is to play as lone CF in the centre but that would mean no Lacazette or the Frenchman playing on the wing. This is unlikely to happen. I really hope Wenger sells him in January, even if it means no suitable replacement.

    Nice to see you sticking with Iwobi in your line-up. And the stats are with you! 🙂

  • Is that your preferred line-up or what you think Wenger will do, PE?… I don’t see any indication that AW will drop Xhaka… I also don’t think we’ll see anything like Alexis up front, though it’s not a bad idea at all… To my eye, we look SO much more dangerous when Alexis does more than just stand there out wide (left) waiting for somebody to give him the ball so that he can do his (ever more predictable…) thing. In my view, ANYTHING that might get him moving a bit more would be a great thing. If telling him that he should think of himself as a “left side center forward” works better than “left side attacker in a group of three” or whatever it is that makes him pouty, go for it, AW… Or maybe just kick down an extra 100K/week and a few mil for his agents…

    AB, glad to have you back in the fray and I look forward to your match time comments… There seemed to be some good hints about Kola and him getting a winter break last season in the Bundesliga, etc., etc. that suggested he was likely to start this one–and maybe the next several. AMN has done well, however, so no worries, either way, IMO. We probably need Alexis’ inherent quality, but a more active and team-oriented player over there (who wanted to work more with the Herzegovinian Hulk…) would be my preference… Should have sold the former–and bought the latter–in the last window, I think… I’m happy to eat my words–or throw away my hat–after Alexis’ scores his (three) goals tonight, however…

  • Wenger explained that he benched Kola because he is a wing back even though he did some covering up by saying that he can as well play as a full back. To play him at full back today is the reason why he might start Coq to give that extra defensive cover …. the closest thing to a back 3. But if he starts AMN at LFB then it’s likely he’d choose Xhaka over Coq.

    I expect Wenger to start Iwobi (not just for morale management) but also because he creates movements that can pull opponents defensive shape apart for Ozil and Jack to thread their passes.

  • HT, Wenger has said he has been wanting Alexis further up (maybe like a support striker). His quickness is most lethal in the box. Furthermore, the higher up the field, the less harmful his turn overs.

  • 17HT: If telling him that he should think of himself as a “left side center forward” works better than “left side attacker in a group of three” or whatever it is that makes him pouty, go for it, AW…..

    To be honest, I feel that’s what he’s been told to do but as they say, old habits die hard and Alexis finds himself playing like a “left side attacker”. Wenger has recently indicated that what he wants from Alexis is more forward play but it would seem his desire to have the ball makes it easier for him to come deep for the ball. I am not sure if it is a clash of style or egos, or a case of the star’s downright neglect of the manager’s instruction (I doubt that, though), but someone needs to stamp his will here.

    As for Wenger’s picks, I expect Kolasinac to play; also feel Xhaka will be in there at CM, maybe a good idea to have one of Elneny and Coq beside him, early on.

    In the end, whatever we put out, our quality should see us to the win.

  • The difference in HT’s and TA’s lineups are Elneny or Iwobi.
    I’d prefer Elneny to start for the defensive assistance he’ll offer Xhaka. If it’s some further attacking required– bring him on at half or after 60 minutes. I’ve been critical of Xhaka in the past month– but feel that this match suits his passing talents. Both he and Alexis are due for breakout matches. Tonight would be a great time for both.

    With Ramsey and Giroud out– the style of the team is set offensively. There is no Plan B.
    So lace ’em up tight guys– and go do a job tonight!

    (In the office today watching (shhhh!), so no commenting live.)


  • Wenger has slipped thru fingers again. 3:4:3 confirmed.

    Kosh Musti Chambers
    Bel Wilsh Xhaka Kola
    Ozil Lacaz Alexis.

  • Lol. Wenger is becoming difficult to predict, something he’s long been accused of being anything but.

  • I think Chambers is a good call. He deserves it and is probably the next in the pecking order now. He should help to check the aerial prowess of Benteke while also offering raw defending when it is required; the type Gabriel offered.


  • Hoping Alexis and Kola have come to terms with the other’s presence on that flank.
    If that pair have a dynamic 90 minutes– Arsenal wins.


  • I like that set up. Last time I said that was before the manure game mind. But I do like the 3 at the back. And good to see Chambers back. He showed huge promise and this will be a big boost to his confidence getting a start. Like you HT I will be glad to acknowledge Sanchez getting a hatful, of goals. But I still think we should have sold him in August. Anyway on to this game. We need a run of decent performances. The squad is more than good enough for that. Let’s hope they are prepared and up for it. COYG! !!!

  • Just getting back from walking the dog…

    I was sort of thinking he might try the back 3–even if I didn’t mention it 😀 I didn’t want to get too many more words in front of my guys… More smileys…

    I like it. It’s a big call for Chambers and I’m wondering which side he’ll be of Mustafi, who has to be a sure bet at middle-middle. I guess y’all are suggesting he’ll be on the left. That means his back is to goal if he’s using his right foot to play the ball back across to the middle…. Hmmm…

    Full teams plus the ref…

    Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Tomkins, Dann, Schlupp, Townsend, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Loftus-Cheek, Zaha, Benteke. Subs: Van Aanholt, Hennessey, McArthur, Fosu-Mensah, Sako, Puncheon, Riedewald.

    Arsenal: Cech, Chambers, Koscielny, Mustafi, Bellerin, Xhaka, Wilshere, Kolasinac, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette. Subs: Ospina, Walcott, Holding, Iwobi, Welbeck, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin.

    Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

    They’ve got some good individual players…and recent results would indicate they’re coming together as a team. This is a tough one, I fear…

  • I can’t decide between the 3rd espresso of the morning (the one that tends to be no good for anyone…) or switching to the (black) tea… The usual switching time is high noon… Which is exactly the scheduled kick-off…

  • I decided to go for both… The tea is in my big Arsenal mug (red) while the 30ml of black goodness (orange crema on top) is in the very little (white) cup… I don’t believe they make demitasses with the logo…

    What are you guys drinking?…

  • We have kickoff…

    Oh shite… They’re showing Arsene struggling with his zipper…

  • Chambers playing on the right…

    We’re getting onto the front foot though passing it around with no penetration… Xhaka’s ball is too long and fast for lil’ Alexis to bring down…

  • I can’t drink no milk, TA… Too much ice cream is even a bit tough on my belly…

    Ozil dispossessed trying to untangle a Chambers pass… We get it back but tight work by Ozil and Alexis doesn’t come off. The former might have shot if he trusted his right foot…

  • Xhaka almost finds Lacazette with a square pass but CP are able to hoof clear and force some goofy work by Cech and Chambers outside of the box…

    That seems to encourage Palace but their next attack ends with a very misplaced ball behind Benteke…

  • Jack stands strong (or fouls…) to keep possession… Alexis is moving well and popping up all over the pitch… Should’ve shot on his right rather than pulling back to his left…

    Xhaka tries a bomb…lands about row f or g…

  • Kos is a right footer too…but his experience puts him in the more difficult position, I guess…

  • Chambers stands up to Zaha nicely but the ball is overhit to Jack… Cabaye tries a long one but screws it well wide…

    Back with us… Until Alexis is flagged off…

  • That one was from Chambers who has been very involved in the action thus far…

  • Palace are getting plenty behind the ball… Bellerin loses it into touch but we get it back… Our long balls are yet to come off…

    1st corner goes to Palace off Bellerin…

  • Chambers being tested and doing ok thus far. Bellerin needs to be helping out defensively down that side too

  • Good delivery but Cech gets a fist to it and we clear… Palace starting to fancy things a bit and their fans are making a good noise… No Lee Dixon doing commentary so I’ve got the audio on…

  • Cabaye goes again from deep but his daisy cutter is wrong side of Cech’s right post…

  • Some good action on our right side but shots and crosses by the likes of Bellerin and Alexis are blocked…

    Fans are screaming for calls but Oliver is letting ’em play… Replay looks a pretty bad handball from Chambers…

  • Bells make a tantalizing cross but our runners are late… Alexis looks to be playing very central as he was one of them…

  • Lotsa good work on the left and Ozil pulls back for Xhaka but his shot is deflected up in the air… As is another attempt by Alexis… Eventually Jack tries one from distance and it’s so central it almost creeps through Speroni’s legs… Didn’t he do one of those in an FA cup semi (for Reading, maybe) a few years back?…

  • Kolasinac is making some nice overlaps for Alexis but he goes central with it and loses it… As does Ozil a moment later. Palace don’t get too many folks forward and Kos does enough to tame Benteke in the corner…

    Jack wins a FK but it’s a long way out…

  • WOWSA… Mustafi from a very tight angle after Lacazette forces a save from the other angle with almost as tight a shot…

    There’s your first goal!!!

  • Sanchez needs to be shooting a lot more tonight. He’s been provided the spaces, really.

  • Now we can sit and break a bit… Though it may not break the pattern of the match given that it’s just the one and we’re the Arsenal… Some balls bounced off Palace defenders but won back… The last one out for a corner…

    Alexis takes it and if fails to clear the guy at the front post… That seems like it could be a copy and paste…

  • That was a good tackle by Jack there and not sure why Ref Oliver has deemed that a foul.
    And what was Sanchez doing as last man there, toying with the ball?

  • Wow… Alexis flirts with too much self-belief deep in our area but Kola saves his arse and we break through Ozil… We lose it though and Chambers takes the professional foul and a yellow card for his troubles…

  • Chambers didn’t need to foul there. Now, we have a CB on a yellow, and our youngest CB at that, which means he needs to be reminded he cannot foul for another yellow again. Good chance for 2 there but their keeper does well.

  • Whattapass from Alexis into the tightest of spots and Ozil tries the same finish he used vs Pool… Speroni just gets enough on it to keep it out…

    Wilshere slide tackled badly by Cabaye… FK coming…

  • Alexis tests Speroni but it’s very central and a nice height… Other end, Zaha tries and angled shot after a nice pull-back but it’s wide of Cech’s far post…

  • Very nice work by Lacazette on the right to set Bells in but his pull-back is toe poked away…

  • Arsenal are pushing for a 2nd but Kola’s pull back finds Ozil who he didn’t see…

  • Nice work on the left between Kola and Alexis but the final pass is too long…

    Lacazette does some tidy footwork along the top of the box to get his right footed shot off… Goes wide of the near post, however…

  • First time I’ve seen Kolasinac combine with Sanchez in the forward movement. He looks a different wing back from the swashbuckling, strong specimen we got in the summer. Almost like his good offensive play has been coaxed (coached?) out of him.

  • Bells and Chambers goof around a bit but eventually put a ball in our area into touch…

    Alexis, chasing back, toes a ball for another throw but prevents a corner…

  • Unless he is under instruction, I would have expected him to bomb forward as Bellerin has been. A good quick counter ends up with a shot from Xhaka being saved. We are creating but need to get 2 so we can enjoy the game even more.

  • Hmmm… I’m pretty impressed by the pace down the left tonight, Eris… AMN is a great prospect but Kola looks the real deal to me…

    Ozil puts himself clean through but his touch is too heavy and he decides to go square rather than try the dink… Speroni was awfully close to it and Ozil couldn’t quite untangle his feet…

  • Agreed about enjoying things with a 2nd goal, Eris…

    Palace rallying a bit and a corner just goes over towering Benteke’s head…

  • Well, jw1, maybe if you prefer his defensive side. He’s done well and been steady. But you want him whipping in crosses and just generally giving the full back trouble. Anyway, maybe I am nit picking.

  • Kola after having his shirt tugged by Townsend gets whistled against for a grab around the waist…

  • Agreed about the nit-picking there, Eris… Though I also wouldn’t mind him getting in and scoring one…

    Laca almost brings down a long one but is just a hair offside…

  • Kola pushes forward and inside of Alexis who gives him the ball. His first touch is heavy but the pass was a bit under his feet to be fair…

  • nitpicking***

    I would like a second this half. However, we are playing so well it will be hard to see how they come back to trouble us. Ozil defending well there and Jack has been clever to draw the foul from Zaha.

  • Jack goes to ground deep on the right but gets a nice whistle… Ozil defending looks a bit gangly but at least he’s helping out in a deep spot…

  • There’s the HT whistle… That was a very good half but that 2nd goal would’ve been sweet. If I know Hodgson, he’ll preach patience rather than pushing hard too early… Keep Alexis moving, he was more tied to the left as the half went on, in my view, and good things will happen…

  • AB, TA…Anybody else… Half time assessments, please… Gotta grab a bit of lunch…

  • Good half of football by Arsenal. Compact when we attack and compact when we need to defend, which is not often. Ozil lacked a bit of luck and sharpness to and the wing-backs need more composure when they are in and around the box with ball. Lacazetter working v hard and Alexis produced a very fine throughball for Mesut. Jack and Xhaka keeping it simple and position themselves really well. But the ball is round, so we need that second goal… COYGs!

  • Good news is I’m getting out of the office early.
    Bad news is the 2nd half will be mostly done by the time I’m back in front of the TV.

    Counting on more very good reporting– to catch up!


  • Someone did say it may be a game where Xhaka will thrive and its looked so, indeed, but there are some who just cannot see any good in the still undroppable midfield man. He’s ran things while leaving leaving room for Jack and Ozil to run the sporadic attacking side of the play.

    We’ve been the better side and dominated in every area. The only thing missing is for us to get the goals (as our rivals have been doing) to match our dominance. Which brings me to Lacazette. The man does so much more for the team you can’t question his lack of goals. Brilliant hold up play for a little man and quick on the turn. Chambers will need to get some bit more support with Zaha in the 2nd half because he is bound to be the outlet they will rely on in the second half. My hope is that as the hosts come forward to get something, our front men will get some more openings to score another and another…. and another, ad infinitum.

  • All agreed re Xhaka there, Eris. I bet Wenger is telling him to put a bit more belief in his shots in the second half, though.

    Lacazetter is crying out for somebody to play close to him; either Ozil or Alexis need to feed more of the Frenchman’s hard work to create space and opportunities

  • Better from our boys and it has seemed ages since we scored first. More of the same will do it. Haven’t seen any stats but we seem to get better results when Mustafi is on the pitch.

  • Alexis and Lacazette need goals and it will be nice if the team works with them for this to happen. Play a bit more for them, watch their runs and just help them grow in confidence.

    Let’s not forget this CP team gave Chelsea a game and a beating in October.

  • Good effort and good performance. My worries are two fold. 1 our current inability to have a decent conversion rate between chances shots on target and goals. We need to fix this as not scoring when we are really dominating is getting to be a habit. 2 Kos is well below par again. I don’t know if he is really carrying something and only playing because Nacho is out or whether we are wat hing his decline. Very sad if it’s the latter as he should have another season or two in him if his Achilles hold together.

  • The only midfielder who had a sense of possible danger was Jack and this is something that worries me with our team. So, Chambers is left to take on Chambers on his own, while Bellerin stands watching proceedings when I’d rather he was doubling up on Zaha. Then, somehow, Xhaka didn’t close the space in front of our 6 yard area. We are looking ragged, all of a sudden and they’ve had 3 opportunities to trouble Cech. Zaha has to be checked better!!!

  • Still eating a bit of lunch and only put it down to watch Palace level… Zaha cleared Chamber but his pull back was nice and slow so Townsend could pick his spot and score… A certain midfielder could have intercepted it had he been tracking back…

    Instead, let’s blame it on Bellerin…as he works hard to clear Palace’s next attack… Chambers will take stick for the goal but he also blocks one as Palace are on top now…

  • players rattled out there. Need to stay calm. Weather this period. And know that we can come again, playing as we did in th first half

  • That wasn’t Xhaka who was watching on the goal, I’m pretty sure, Eris… But he’s not our golden boy, so maybe it was…

  • All we need to do is go back to how we started but someone needs to be doing the talking. Who is shouting at the players to get their act together. We need to go back onto the front foot and not let this setback get to us.

  • Commentator said he doesn’t know what Hodgson said at half time but it’s working. I suspect he said attack down Arsenal’s right hand side.

  • Arsenal do seem rattled and the freedom of the first half is gone… Golden boy gets a very friendly whistle on a heavy touch… Replay shows I’m too harsh and there was a pull back…

  • Maybe, you want to look at it again, 17; first Bellerin (assist Chambers by doubling up on Zaha), then Xhaka (close the space within the 18 yard box, just in front of our 6 yard area because that’s where the Zaha cross came for Townsend to shoot, free, under no pressure) who could have done something to prevent that goal.

  • We are bouncing the ball nicely in the Palace area but can’t get it settled for a shot… Ozil wrongly called offside on a long one from Xhaka who is spreading the ball nicely tonight…

  • That’s a relief. Back in the lead before too long. Now get another boys. Don’t squander again.

  • Again, good lay off by Lacazette. The commentators are now attributing Alexis’ performance on the approaching transfer window. Mugs!

  • Very nice layoff by Lacazette…

    Perfectly placed shot at the near post which Speroni thought he had covered… blew right through the fingers of his glove…

  • Cech r7ns all the way to the corner flag to clear a loose ball, when Kolasinac should be taking responsibility for that action. Just smh.

  • Townsend well blocked off by Kola tries a dive… Oliver ain’t buying it…

    Good play by Loftus-Cheek but Mustafi blocks Zaha at the point… Palace still have belief…

  • What a pass by Jack. And the finish by Alexis is what he needs to improve his confidence. How about going on to add a couple more?

  • Alexis working on that transfer value, I guess… Our commentators must be different, Eris… I’ve got Martin Tyler (the best…) and Danny the guy from Fulham whose name I’m blanking…

  • So Lacazette has two assists to match Alexis’ two goals, right?…

    Ugh… Ozil boots one way over but Kola’s blistering run was better than his pull-back… If Ozil believed in his right foot he might’ve let it run further central…

  • Hahahaha! 17; you sarcastic man, you.

    Yeah, guess we have different commentators. Not sure the names I have; will have to listen up for that. The assistant is the one who chips in some very biased comments.

  • Indeed TA, Jackie made up nicely for letting that pull-back go softly by for the Palace goal… 😉 We can afford a bit of banter at 3-1, I hope (and pray)…

  • GB is short with a forward pass but good enough recovering and passing back to his keeper…and then his central defender…

  • Aww! Bellerin elects to go back when Alexis may have been put clean through, but we still have the ball.

  • Coq to come on for Lacazatte. He looks unhappy but still shakes hands with the manager.

  • Hi all..
    Great play from Sanchez.. But not so good with Ozil.. Will Ozil replaced..??

  • Bellerin IS the WORST!!! Sell him NOW!!… I must’ve missed that one, Eris… Did see the decent pull back that Laca couldn’t quite hook towards goal… His curse might be getting open for SO many attacking moves… the pity…

  • Lacazette had a very nice game and surely would like a goal of his own… We play West Brom on short rest so I gotta side with the manager on this one…

  • So, Alexis goes into the middle and Coq sits in front of the defence while Jack and Xhaka can c9ntrol the runs of McArthur and Sako.

  • GB has a very nice backward touch to put Ozil through the middle… he shovels onto Alexis but even Bellerin can’t keep that pass in…

  • Ozil has not had his best game… Hopefully that means the transfer value drops and we can sign him for some pennies…

    Mustafi hits a poor one and Zaha is off… Chambers, Musti and Cech force him wide and we clear the ensuing corner easily…

  • Good thinking there by Bellerin to take on the shot. It peppered Speroni’s palms, quite clearly and had we had someone in position, who knows?

  • That was a pretty good shot from a tight angle from Always Open (that would be Bellerin, by the way)… Speroni blocks it so he’s still shite…

    Xhaka hurt?…

  • GB was dancing out there…until he gave it away… Palace get the cross in but Zaha is put off the header by some really poor 22 yr old defender we’ve got–unfortunately under contract for years and years to come…

  • Palace still pushing with some skill in the box, mostly from Zaha… His square ball is cleared by Kos (I think)…

  • Sahko blasts over after some bouncy, and handsy, action near the top of our box…

    Now this I like, AMN in for Xhaka in his preferred position…

  • It should be Chambers over there, no?… Though I did see Bellerin’s elder statesman, our golden boy, screaming at him re: positioning…

  • Now THAT wasn’t so good from Bellerin… Heavy touch and trailing the bounce all the way…

    Uh oh, set play goal for Palace… Not quite home yet at 3-2…

  • I always get nervous when we start bringing all the defenders on. It means we sit back and invite on pressure. And bloody hell we go and concede again. God we are making hard work of a game we have dominated.

  • Kola with some excellent time wasting play in the corner… Alexis has no such ideas… And Jack shows some good experience to win a whistle from a tight AMN pass…

  • Uh oh… A Palace corner but we clear it… Where’s the whistle? After we break we’re a full minute overtime!!!

  • So, we did it… Onto WBA… Hodgson has got this group playing well enough that staying shouldn’t be a problem… despite starting the season with zero points from 21 on offer… Certainly, with their talent it never should’ve been an issue… Buy Zaha with the Alexis cash? On today’s match–with our guy finally moving around a bit–I’d say pull out the stops for both guys…

  • It shouldn’t be but we made it look tighter than it should have been. Some work for the manager and the team to do then. I feel for Welbeck now as he can’t get a game, even when we didn’t play Iwobi. He has to show he wants it when he gets his chances though.

    We should have made this a lot more easy but it seems we have lost sharpness in front of goal and are not confident when we are holding on for a win. We brought on 2 defensive minded midfielders and still conceded. Why we didn’t have men at the posts, for that corner kick, I will never know but we should have because we were defending to prevent a come back. Cech was blocked off somewhat but needed to be stronger if he wanted to come for the punch.

    Very good game to end the game week.

  • Caught the last 10mins-plus.

    Commentator made a good point.
    Why is it that when CP had more height front of goal– we don’t put a man on the back post?


  • Staying up, I meant…

    I will try to put the Bellerin and Wilshere extremism to bed…

    I’d have to say that both are a good deal better going forward than back… For me, the 3 at the back is good for both Bells and Kola but also demands plenty of tracking from the MFs, in this case Xhaka, JW and Ozil, none of whom are known for their defending. Still, it clears space for those guys and Alexis. Lacazette can move too and he did very well in some wide spots (both sides of the pitch) to get his assists… He might be my MOTM, truth be told…though both Alexis goals were very classy and his general movement and liveliness might tip the scales, that one bit of scary play at the back notwithstanding…

  • AB, spot on. We just do not seem to be able to play defensively. Attack is definitely our best defence under Wenger. That is why Wenger often chooses to keep attacking…

  • Eris… All agreed…except that this game (on 5 days rest) only BEGINS the week… Now we’ve got 2 days off between this one and WBA then another 2 before we host Chelsea… And they will just keep coming what with the League Cup semis in between the weekend league games… We’re gonna need to go deeper (much deeper) into the squad so Welbeck and Iwobi (and others) will surely get their game time…

  • TA, AB… We miss height at set pieces w/o Giroud subbing in late and our captain (the BFG) not even making the bench. And it got even worse with Xhaka subbing off with a knock… The point about players on the post is a good one but we could also bring in Holding and go for a flat back 4, and–if we can’t sell him in the January window–push Bellerin up into a true wing spot… Maybe?

    Uh oh, there I go again…apologies… 😉

  • Very important win that will get us closer to CL qualification. A good one to take to West Brom, where we will have a similar battle. So happy to see Jack play well and the team playing as a unit today. In defence we need to get it right but as I put it in the opening comment today, we have to potential to outscore teams even if they score a couple of goals themselves…

  • Look Seventeenho, we know you love anybody Spanish and that is fine with me. The thing is, Hector’s final ball is lacking confidence and precision at the moment, and I dont think he will get over this anytime soon. He is still young and it should come but I feel that he is our weakest player in most games. But he wears the Shirt and gives his all, so I will support him.

  • Like to add regarding Bellerin:
    He’s young, locked-in long-term at a good price– and has an upside.
    Bells is not going anywhere.


  • Commentators at Sky are making a lot of noise about the fact that when. Arsenal scored only five or 6 players celebrated. I don’t know if they are making too much of this – heck what do I know? But I think they do have a point that When City scored at Newcastle just about everyone in the team celebrated together. Perhaps the Newcastle keeper shouldn’t have celebrated as well. Just kidding

  • Wow… OK, TA… Gotta agree to disagree on the Spaniard… And on my prejudices for people of certain nationalities…Which, I believe, is a huge reason people seem to see Jack’s play through such rose-tinted glasses. I don’t want to generalize, but people seem to “appreciate” the Caucasian English players the most… Or maybe it’s that they fear getting Cesc-ed by the guys from Spain… For me, I just see the juxtaposition of the way people view the two players as completely over the top. To me, Bellerin’s ball to Alexis vs Liverpool asked a whole lot less of the Chilean than Jack’s (equally fine) one today, but (alas) it seems to get as much credit as Iwobi’s assist for Xhaka’s blast in the same match…

    Fact of the matter is that there will need to be A LOT of generational change at Arsenal as many of our guys are on the down-side of their careers. For me, that means Bellerin (at 22) has to be a big part of the squad going forward. Like I said at the bottom of the last thread, sadly I think Jack (and Ramsey, but to a much lesser extent…) looks like he could be the next Diaby or Rosicky–a player with great, but unrealized potential even as we cling to hope they have lots of footballing years left in their bodies. Of course, if he walks on water every time he plays, that potential could be savored for what it is… Despite his failing to track on the first Palace goal (among other deficiencies only I seem to see) that one great pass–and plenty of other good things he did–makes me agree that he’s on the up. Stay healthy and keep improving (including with the defensive play and he MIGHT be good value for a new contract… Just like Bellerin… To each their own, of course…and, like with Alexis today, I’d be more than happy to be proved wrong…

  • OK, gonna leave it there for now… And try to enjoy the win… I gotta say, retsub, as the pundits came on with all their routine post-match negativity, I had to turn them off… Hating on Arsenal seems great sport for the “neutrals.” Do we really need to follow their lead?…

  • Seventeenho, indeed it is very wrong to generalise, so let’s not go there. I only judge a player on the talent and motivation they display, and I believe so are other bloggers on BK.

  • I have patience, JW. On this blog we should be able to say our opinion on a player’s ability or current form, and it is good/ok to disagree. We all hope Hector will come good, as he is a good egg.

  • 17HT. I really don’t believe most of the rubbish that’s said. It does bother me a little when an Arsenal god like Thierry Henry says it though. As for your theories on why we like players. In all the time I have supported Arsenal there are very few players but I haven’t liked other than Gallas who I thought was a bit of a twat. My two favourite played in recent history are Henry and Fabregas, case closed I think.

    However we do also like a player who puts his heart and soul into it., such as Jack a player who hates Spurs and sings it to the world , such as Jack.. I think he is playing a little more careful these days, hopefully he will benefit from this in the long run.

    As for Bellerin he hasn’t been the same since the big money Barcelona runour a year or so Kev suggested the other day. About the same time he started sporting dodgy haircuts which doesnt work for me personally unless your first name is Freddie

  • I just found my mobile phone which had been awol for a while the following texts were from a Brighton supporting friend friend of mine (Brighton and Palace hate each other). Just a selection of his thoughts. Ps he is also a qualified coach.

    Today 20.04
    You are personally responsible for an Arsenal victory nothing less is acceptable.

    Why didn’t Ozil shoot when he got through? One goal wa never going to be enough

    Sanchez is a waste of space

    I stand corrected

    And again

    Ozil is awful

    Bloody hell too much for my heart.

    Not my opinions at all, but interesting

  • Hmmm. That’s the problem with real-time tweets, midway into the game. It can come back to bite you. But, boy, do the media take full advantage to write screaming headlines like ‘… “Sanchez is a waste of space”, tweet frustrated Arsenal fans’.

  • Eris–
    I refuse to click on any piece that proclaim ‘Arsenal fans… claim, fume, disgusted, trash, etc.’.
    Clicking on those links both validates the continued writing of headlines like that– while putting a fraction of a pence in their coffers.

    Just Don’t Click. 😉


  • Great game and good work by Jacko. My MoTM. Ozil was quite involved though, but Jacko cared to defend more than Xhaka and Ozil and there is more willingness in Jack’s game to get involved in incisive passes.

    Were we back to a back 3 with Chambers, Mustafi and Kos?

  • I know, jw1. I do ignore such click-baits. It’s just so hard sometimes when it’s something you’ll like to add your counter comments over….

    It was a back 3, JK and I feel it had to do with the threat of Townsend, Zaha and Benteke in the middle.

  • JK–
    Kos looked far more comfortable at left CB than previously at the right CB spot.
    Chambers acquitted himself well too.


  • Retsub, there will be the usual transfer nonsense between now and January 31st as there usually is, with Wenger putting out mixed messages, but frankly i’ll be amazed if there are any major transfers either into or out of the club and I include Walcott and Debuchy in that as I think we’ll need them and all our players if we’re to continue to compete on four fronts.

    From December 31st until January 30th, Arsenal have 9 matches and if we get past Nottm Forest in the FACup that’ll increase to 10 matches, in only 31 days, a huge workload, thankfully made a tad easier by facing Chelsea in the League Cup (travelling). To me, releasing players isn’t an option, I’d leave all that for the summer.

  • Hi all..
    Well Kev.. Walcott and Debuchy won’t go nowhere.. They will play in our last 2017 game against WBA.. We need them.. Cause Chelsea’s game is waiting..
    With all our second team.. We will still can beat WBA..
    And playing 4-3-3 will suite our team more..
    Nile – Chambers – Holding – Debuchy
    Elneny – Coquelin – Willock
    Iwobi – Welbeck – Walcott

    About Bellerin.. I think he played a great game yesterday.. Minus his unsuccessful finishing.. It’s not his fault according to Zaha.. Zaha is one of the best wingers.. You can’t depend on one wingback to cover it.. You need some other player.. And that’s way we play with 3 CB.. Hehehe..
    And I think.. Zaha can be a great buy if Sanchez go.. Hehehe..

  • Am already spending my energy thinking about rotation. Am so keen we face Chl with a full fresh enough squad. They have 1 extra day rest on us. We suffer greater psychological damage loosing to any “big 6” team, worse at home. Looking at our squad I feel we are good enough for 6 changes against W Brom.

  • Chan,
    That’s a brave line up for a PL game. All the same that’s no mean team.Close to the team that restricted W Ham to 1 shot (free kick) at goal (not on target) at the league cup. But I wonder if they’ll be able to brake down W Brom famed defensive wall. I predict he would retain Cech, Musti, Kola, Ozil, Lacaz (reason for early sub yesterday).

  • PE.. This WBA team aren’t the same team we face in September.. They seem to fall down and great enough to be still in PL next season..

    Yes they have Evan and Krychowiak.. Which link to move to Emirates several times.. And still.. Hehehe.. But I think they lost motivation there in WBA.. Maybe January break will bring them back to their best.. But not against us.. Hopefully.. Hehehe..

  • Well said Eris and JW1.

    Yes they defended well and i do not blame any of the centre backs or Cech for the 2 goals that we conceded. We needed the wing backs to pair up with 2 attackers on the wings to provide defensive support or interplay as Zaha definitely overworked Bells.

    Ko Henry and PE,
    The team worked well, i really cannot fault anyone, but the point is that interplay against quick passing teams is a must. And everyone must be doing some defensive work.

    And the talk about transfers, we are currently a little light and i feel that we need to add rather than sell.

  • JK.. No way you bring someone without selling others.. Cause if it so.. Our youngsters will suffer the most..
    Surely we don’t want to see AMN, Nelson, Willock, JRA, Nketiah and others back to U21 for the lack of opportunity.. Hehehe..

    What’s happening this season is the best thing for our youngsters.. I think if Wenger do it earlier, we won’t lost some potential youngsters..

  • Agreed Henry, but the state of our squad is that if there is any injuries we will have lack of players.

    Surely we should have some spare ones, no?

  • Henry, as big a game as Chelsea (Lge Cup) is to the fans, I suspect that those two game, plus Nottm Forest, is where you’ll see any kind of rotation by Wenger, he has history in this and a leopard never changes his spots.

    As far as the EPL is concerned, that’s where you’ll see a team quite similar to the line up at Selhurst Park yesterday because a top four or even top three finish is within our grasp still and that’ll remain Arsene’s priority.

    Not finishing in the top four and failing to qualify for the CL is, I believe, a huge blow to Wengers ego and he has an ego as big as any other leading manager. You need an ego to survive in top level management and a belief, a stubbornness that you are right. Success can be fleeting, Mourinho was the master at one time, now he is yesterdays man, a man out of time with his risk averse tactics. Arsene had that magic touch, now he does not, Arsenal were once competitors, now they are a franchise, but I still have faith in Gazides, I think he is a good man.

  • Kev.. Our second team win against hammer a week after our first team fail.. Didn’t it sound good..?? Hehehe..

    I don’t think there is a big gaps between our two teams.. Ospina, Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott, Elneny, Debuchy, Kolasinac, all are good players.. We can count on them.. For sure..

    Something happening this winter.. Players are changing.. Pool, Spurs or Chelsea may lose their players as we do.. Some others will come.. We just hope for the best..
    For some reason I still believe Wenger is better than the others manager to overcome this situation.. He proved it in his 21 career except the last one..
    And I believe we will back in the CL soon..

  • Henrychan, …..and I put the failure of last season down to the bit of uncertainties (Manager and two key players-Ozil & Sanchez) which pervaded the club.

  • Though Kev? I’ll point out that Arsene surprised all of us with a back-3 formation yesterday!

    So, yes– while top-4 is the goal this season? There’s still the ace-in-the-hole Europa card as a fallback. FA or League Cup silverware can be icing on the cake– or at the very least a salve of some substance. Seems so many forget– there’s only one winner for every trophy. Savor them all.

    With all the attendant drama via-pundit-and-press since Summer? The club is still alive in 3 competitions, with 2 shots at a CL spot. Only City exceeds, with Chelsea on par, with Arsenal in these respects. And I might add? Arsenal have the better recent record versus both.
    All the ‘white-noise’– all the ‘proclamations of doom’– doesn’t change facts.


  • A couple of reflections on our defence. I like a back 3 formation at present because I don’t think our DM situation provides enough cover for 2 CBs. Even 2 playing at the top of their game. I also like 3 CBs because of our perennial vulnerability in the air. Our CB squad is in transition though I think. Our captain seems pretty much spent I’m sad to say and Kos is either carrying something bad or in decline (or maybe both). Mustafi seems the only really solid CB we have. With potential there from the two youngsters. Nacho has provided fine cover. But he lacks height and physical presence.

    We were wide open from set pieces yesterday. Yet when we sought to close thing up we opted for short DM subs. These might be fine facing a team playing the ball on the ground through the middle. But they were a waste of time when it comes to tackling high balls into the box. There we need commanding CBs or others as HT pointed out like Giroud late on in the game.

    In short if we persist with short mid fielders and medium ball playing CBs we are going to carry on with this familiar frailty. Most exposed playing against bottom half teams who bring out their big lumps against us. Of course it won’t matter if we convert most of our chances at the other end. But that is wishful thinking at the moment!

    I don’t see Wenger changing tack on his midfield preferences any time soon. Which leaves me thinking CB looks like our priority for acquisition next. I won’t hold my breath for January. But unless Chambers or Holding really kicks on this spring that will be what I’m hoping we invest in come the summer.

  • A much needed victory but it was another largely sterile performance from Arsenal.

    In terms of individual performances:

    GK: Cech
    Another solid performance by Cech who wasn’t culpable for either of Palace’s goals.

    RWB: Bellerin
    One of if not Bellerin’s best defensive performance this season. His positioning was solid and he was aggressive in his tackling. Offensively he show great intent with his crossing, with at least five attempted crosses for the match. That said, all were inaccurate and he attempted only the one dribble which was disappointing.

    RCB: Chambers
    A so so defensive performance by Chambers. He really struggled to contain Zaha’s forward dribbles. That said, he did come up with a couple of crucial blocks, made a heap of clearances and was strong aerially.

    CB: Mustafi
    A very aggressive tackling performance by the German. While his defensive positioning was a bit questionable at times, he produced a number of blocks, clearances and was very strong aerially. He also took his goal very well.

    LCB: Koscielny
    A very strong defensive performance by Laurent, with a couple of biting tackles and numerous interceptions. He wasn’t really challenged aerially.

    LB: Kolasinac
    A quiet day defensively for Sead as Crystal Palace channeled the vast majority of their attack down the opposite flank. Offensively, he was very poor with no forwards dribble and just the one attempted cross. He seemed to curb his attacking intent during the match. I’m hoping that it was just an off day for the Serb as opposed to Wenger encouraging him to curb his dribbling and crossing instincts to prioritise ball retention.

    RCM: Xhaka
    Another poor defensive performance from Xhaka both in terms of his tackling and positioning. Offensively, his transitional passing was excellent, as always, as was his passing accuracy (90%). He again didn’t offer anything in terms of forward dribbles.

    LCM: Wilshere
    Like Xhaka it was a poor defensive performance from Wilshere both in terms of his tackling and positional play. Offensively, his transitional passing and forward dribbles were good, and included a beautiful long range assist for Alexis’ goal. He was best on ground in terms of his passing accuracy with an excellent 94%.

    RCAM: Ozil
    Another underwhelming performance from Ozil. While he had a couple of attempts on goal (one of which was on target) and made a couple of forward dribbles, it wasn’t enough when you consider the position he is playing in and the requirements of that role. His passing lacked any real creativity and he increasingly seems unwilling to take risks in that facet of his game.

    LCAM: Sanchez
    A return to form for Sanchez with a man of the match performance. He had a total of four attempts on goal, three of which were on target and two of which he scored from. In addition, he had a total of five forward dribbles and one successful through pass. With his skill set and work ethic, he would be nigh on unstoppable as an attacker in a team that stretched the game vertically. It’s unfortunate that won’t be at Arsenal (given Sanchez’s contractual situation and Wenger’s tactics).

    CF: Lacazette
    He battled well in a crowed penalty box where he was completely outnumbered and unsupported. It was another match in which he was starved of clear cut goal scoring opportunities as the likes of Bellerin, Ozil, Alexis and Kolasinac failed to create for him. As a Les Gones fan it is painful to watch the way in which Wenger is misusing him.

    It was the same old same old Arsenal type performance but with a slightly quicker passing tempo than we’ve seen in recent weeks. Despite that and Palace being more willing to commit players in advanced positions than most teams Arsenal have played recently, Arsenal again struggled to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities. Arsenal’s offensive struggles continue to be rooted in Wenger’s slow and overly complex possession monopolisation approach which effectively encourages opposing teams to crowd their box, making it extremely difficult to create quality goal scoring opportunities. On the plus side, given Arsenal’s defensively porous midfield, I was glad to see Wenger revert to three central defenders.

    Looking forward, the way in which Wenger has built his current squad presents him with a significant conundrum in that:
    – Wenger’s favoured front three (Ozil, Alexis and Lacazette) require the game to be stretched vertically to give them the time and space to create and score from quality goal scoring opportunities.
    – However, Wenger’s central midfield options are not good enough at recovering the ball from the opposition to be effective in a game that is vertically stretched.
    – Also, with the exception of Per, Wenger’s central defensive options are all front foot defenders who are best suited to aggressively pressing an opponent as opposed to sitting deep. The result of which is that the defence struggles to withhold the opposition when the game is stretched vertically and their required to sit deep.

    It is a conundrum which requires significant personnel and tactical changes to resolve and I don’t envisage Wenger deviating from his current footballing philosophy in order to sufficiently solve that riddle.

    In the interim, I would like to see Arsenal switch to a 5-3-2 high pressing system of play (comprised of the following personnel) and take more risks in terms of their crossing, dribbling and passing in an effort to create better quality scoring opportunities.

    GK: Cech (Macey)
    RWB: Debuchy (Maitland Niles)
    RCB: Mustafi (Chambers)
    CB: Koscielny (Holding)
    LCB: Monreal (Belik)
    LWB: Kolasinac (Da Silva)
    RCM: Wilshere (Nelson)
    CDM: Coquelin (Willock)
    LCM: Ramsey (Iwobi)
    RS: Lacazette (Walcott)
    LS: Alexis (Giroud)

  • WhenI’mdrivininmycarandamancomesontheradiohe’stellin’memoreandmore’boutsomeuselessinformationsupposedtofiremyimaginationIcan’tgetnoohnonono…


  • Well, yeah.
    Indoor soccer– 3 goals is a bad haul. Nearly doubling your goals per 90?
    Maybeit’snottheendoftheworldasweknowitandIfeelfine. 🙄


  • Indoor soccer (football) scores at least 3 times as much as 3.. and that is in a 10 minute spell. Jw1 you can do better aren’t you?

  • Read media reports of King Henry’s comments on Alexis and had this thought: Does he want to burn the bridges like our well liked Mr Arsenal did?

    Actually maybe not, but the way he questioned (or the way the media reported it) it seemed that the players celebrating the second goal is a little less, but the celebration of Alexis’ third goal is what the media did not talk about.

    Media stoking the fire, yes?

  • Debuchy, if healthy, deserves some chances, and maybe, Hector needs some rest. Overall, at their best, Debuchy is a better player at both ends.
    Great to see Jack playing so well. I’ve resigned myself to Ozils and Alexis leaving, depending on where they end up…. it may feel MUCH worse.
    I think Jack will stay. I will be astonished if he doesn’t show some loyalty. But if he leaves, I will be really disgusted at our situation.
    So much talk about van dijk .. silly overspend. I would never, ever have paid that.
    But, Liverpool under Klopp have already improved defensively without him, and they’re a top 4 rival going forward, they may have actually surpassed us, and could be contenders next year if they have a good start. And they have an excellent midfielder coming from Germany… Keita? I think he’s exactly the type of player they need. They can afford to lose coutinho, I think. Tottenham will, I think have trouble keeping players, so I’m not worried even with their stadium coming.

    As for Arsenal, not feeling so great about the future direction. That’s just me, and it’s been over a year now feeling that way.

  • Jnyc, it’s maybe nearer the fact to interprete Bellerin’s role as … a wide front man who tracks back to help the defence. Obviously not the other way round. Wenger might have set it up that way. Ozil drifts leftwards from his inside right position leaving the right side unoccupied which invites Bellerins presence. He is about the only one who regularly gets behind the opposition backline. Unfortunately his final balls aren’t of the best quality.

    This should mean that with Ozil and Bel playing a back-3 becomes a bit of an imperative. More so if Kola is on the other side.

    No doubt Debuchy is so much better than Bel defensively. But what about that space up front that arises from Ozil’s movements? Will Debuchy have the lungs to be motoring up and down the touch line? As for his final balls, I rate them superior to Bel’s. All things considered am with you (Jnyc) ….. Debuchy ahead of Bel.

  • Wow… I continue to stand alone regarding Bellerin…

    Well, not quite alone… at least I have Wenger in my corner…a guy who has managed exactly 810 more PL games than anyone else contributing here… Of course, if he’d been replaced by those who know better than him, he’d have been gone (exactly) 809 games ago… And, using similar methods, we would have had (exactly) 809 other managers… Instead we’ve had to endure (and endure and endure)… Oh, the pity…

    2018? The year the internet blows up and takes the world with it?

    It (the internet) hasn’t been able to take AW yet, but maybe this year will be the lucky one…

    Celebrate safely…and have a happy New Year!!!

  • Jnyc, i think you have to take back your words about Liv getting better defensively.
    The match against Leicester is just 4 minutes young and they have already conceded.

    As per Bells, he is younger and more opportunities for him to learn, that is why Wenger chose him over Matt. Not the best choice, but understandable choice. And also Debuchy played a few games this season so it is a risk given his injury scares.

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