Arsenal Blitz Palace 4-1 After ALEXIT

MATCH REVIEW: Arsenal v Palace

Faithful Treated to Rapid Return of Wengerball at The Home Of Football.

The joy of playing worry-free football was made evident 6 minutes into today’s match versus Crystal Palace. A swift-moving build-up left-side of the box resulted in Alex Iwobi’s well-hit shot from 18– being parried over the bar by Palace GK Wayne Hennessey. Granit Xhaka’s ensuing top-spin corner was overhit across goal– met by Nacho Monreal (outfoxing marker James McArthur)– heading downward into an open left-side of goal from 4yds. (No questioning the exuberance of this celebratory mob!)

1-nil. And the shackles came off.

The ball moved keenly around and through Palace’s defence (Jack!). Following a pair of promising build-ups– a slide-tackled ball squirted out of the box to Monreal on the left. Taking several measured touches on an unfettered diagonal run to the goal line– Nacho cut a pass back toward the 6, where Iwobi deflected his shot at a right-angle– slotting home just right of Hennessey.


2-nil. Energy positively crackled and popped about the pitch.
Every wayward ball was finding an Arsenal foot. It’s what happens when things are going good.

Two-minutes later, Cech scooped up a ball that bounded to him after a lobbed cross– then uncharacteristically lined an Ederson-like offensive pass down the left flank to a streaking Iwobi; taking the ball in-stride. The move didn’t create a chance straightaway– but resulted in a possession that found Lacazette battling for a pass on the goal line with the GK and a defender. Resulting in another corner by Xhaka.

Palace MF James McArthur was already having a bad day. Monreal had scored, then assisted. Both times in McArthur’s supposed custody. It got worse. Xhaka again overhit the corner in from the right. Replays show Monreal (using judo-like moves) escaping McArthur for a third time. This time one-touching the ball back toward Kos front of goal, who, calmly bundled the ball in.

3-nil. Cool and ruthless. 13 minutes. 4 shots. 3 goals. (Arsenal would finish with 16/10 on target.)
Left to perform? A bit of artistry, leading to a predestined goal– for Alexander Lacazette. Which came shortly after.

In the minute building up– a 16-pass possession culminated with Mesut Ozil receiving a pass on the 18, touch to his left, windup and shoot(!). The rebound/clearance was captured about 30yds out and centre– leading to another dozen, 1-touch or 1-2 passes– with the brilliance of Mesut Ozil on display in all it’s splendour:

Elneny to Ozil to Xhaka to Iwobi (wide, dribble-in), to Elneny centre, squared to Ozil left (at 30), forward to Xhaka wide (at 20), returned to Ozil, diagonal to Iwobi (at 22), one-touch return diagonal to Ozil forward (at 22), square to Wilshere (at 20), one-touch return diagonal to Ozil forward (at 18)– who then flicks foot-top-of-ball behind to the lurking Lacazette who fires right-footed into the bottom-right corner from 12yds. (Gave me goose bumps!)

4-nil. A thing of beauty.
Arsenal quickly, efficiently, and to a man, wholeheartedly effected the act of ‘Alexit’ in front of an approving throng at The Emirates.

Iwobi had a 20yd rocket denied about a minute later. There were other chances too. But the energy in those first 25 minutes were exactly what the exorcist ordered. A clean break from the cursed morass of the day before. And days before that. Alexit.

Saw things today I’d not seen all season:
Ozil tracked back to our goal line and prevented a cross!
Iwobi popped around and played the role of conduit very effectively.
(Alex scored in taking three shots, and even had a defensive grass-stain on his bum!)
Xhaka played effectively in tandem with Elneny.

Also saw things we all suspected were true:
Jack was a field-general today. Playing instinctively, spraying advantageous passes to runners. Mesut looked fresh. His periphery was widened, as was the pitch– for everyone.
The wingbacks performed the length of the pitch. Hector was pretty good today.

The other guy?

MoTM. The Nacho Man.
Goal and two assists. In just 33 minutes.


Performances like this one?

By good-but-not-star players can happen– when a team uses the entire pitch and plays without subconscious restriction. The news so far about Monreal’s substitution at 33 minutes is ‘not bad’. Supposedly precautionary. Took a ‘kick’ to his just-healed hamstring (Please be true!). AMN filling in admirably.

The remainder of the game was less-than exciting– but solid. The defence was pretty good. (Mostly wagering myself when Zaha would be carded, and what hue. I lost that bet. Yet still, somehow, get a Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate for being a sport. 🙄 ) CP had 2-3 chances. Palace got their consolation goal late. Cech still waiting on his 200th clean sheet.

Reiss Nelson made his PL debut, coming on for Ozil (at 72′). Sead Kolasinac returning from injury, on for Iwobi (at 82′)

So? Everybody good? (So good? I nearly had a cigarette. And I’ve never smoked 🙂 )

Now that we’ve performed the Alexit ceremony?
Can we please just get the Hentrance exam completed now!


By jw1

42 thoughts on “Arsenal Blitz Palace 4-1 After ALEXIT

  • Great Match Review, JW1. Full of bounce and positivity.

    To me it looked like there was a team that was allowed and happy to be a team. Our left side of the pitch lacked an enormous ego and the space was filled by team players like your MOTM. Loved the joy and energy and the way Mesut and Jack combined. The team goal was indeed a work of beauty. Looking fwd to the next games to see whether this can be sustained.

  • Looks like the swap deal is done, subject to medical. This is good news. We need somebody to take the pressure of Jack and Ozil to play in all the games, and I can see them all play together as well. Still think we are going to get a goal scorer this January with Alexit and Theo gone now. Unless Wenger opts to promote a youngster or orders back Perez.

  • Jw1, brilliant as always.

    We really needed to win this game, if not we will be winning the 6th place trophy. We reverted to our nerve wrecking self in the second half so please do not do it again lads. On the field we should never give favours to the opponent team.

    TA, it seemed that Perez will not be playing under Wenger again, and Auba looks a decent done deal soon. Mkhi swap is becoming more and more possible, so it will not be long before it is announced.

  • Hey JW1 great report. A great win for the boys. I guess I am so into attending the odd match and watching most games on tv, it’s hard to get excited when you are 4 – O up and listening to the radio.. hopefully without our superstar, we will perform better as a team, but still far to early to get excited (as we often do)

    I like the idea of Xhaka moving forward a little, as I think he is a liability at the back.

    From what I could make out we only had two really bad players yesterday,
    Bellerin and Elneny who were awful. Just kidding, 17HT where are you buddy? I miss the banter.

  • Ok JW, you’ve passed the test, you’ve got the job… 🙂

    The guy co-commentating on Talksport 2 yesterday was fullsome in his praise of Arsenal, it made a nice change from the doom and gloom of recent times, although (pedantic alert) it made me wonder where this Arsenal team have been for most of the season and why they cannot perform in this manner more consistently? It cannot have been just down to Alexis…

    Great to have Monreal back, he really is one of Arsene Wenger’s best signings over the last 10 years, or Emirates years I guess. Nacho is just consistently good either at centre or full back.
    He is the consummate professional.

    JW, great that in all the well deserved praise heaped on Ozil that you gave a well deserved mention to Jack and his growing influence on the team and how we play. I can imagine Jack and Mesut in training both trying to outdo each other with their technical brilliance.

    Nice to see Iwobi put in a performance, we all know he has it in him and with the imminent arrival of Mkhitaryan he has to do the business as it’s his place in the side most at risk at the arrival of the Armenian midfielder.

  • Hey 17tino, you’re going all Greta Garbo on us are you me ol’ china plate? 😄

  • jw1, I just finished reading your post a 2nd time. Mathematics rolled into an art. Facts and figure yet creamy and light.

    A number of things stand out from yesterday’s game.

    1) Bel, Musti, Kosh, Nacho are our best back line arrangement. 4:3:3 tailor made for our team.
    2) Xhaka a bit further up the field suits his skill sets. His value is justified in that role.
    3) Iwobi is so much better operating from the left.
    4) It’s love at 1st sight between Ozil and Jack.
    5) Elneny’s ball security is under appreciated by many. It requires 360 degrees vision, good skill, tidy mind and intelligent movements.
    6) Lacaz is a goal scorer who is also equipped in so many other areas. We can Lacazauba.
    7) Alexis was great for us, but Alexit has unchained us.
    8) Wenger is negotiating some nice headache for himself in Mkhit and Auba. A brilliant bench is a lot of headache.

  • Ok Kev I give up on Greta Garbo. 17HT is either a Swedish actress or a spy? Given the lack of options hopefully the latter?

  • Could be Retsub, maybe 17tino, coffee pot in hand, has gone off up into the hills, to contemplate. Just don’t be up there too long mate 😉
    I often go off up into the hills of Essex to try and find myself Retsub, places like Hermon Hill, Noak Hill, Harold Hill. 😀
    I can imagine Total also, up there in Scotland, marching across the glens Retsub, wearing his orange kilt and trying to play his bagpipes, in order to clear his mind. 😃

  • Many thanks guys for the praises (I blush. :blush: ).

    There is so much ’round-peg talent’ that’s been jammed into ‘square-hole lineups’ for every variety of reason. That I can’t help but think (hope?) that yesterday’s effervescence was the reaction to Wenger having finally put things right. Likely out of necessity– but I’ll again hope it was strategic 😉
    What stood out from above comments (thanks PE for re-reading!) were PE’s bullet-points #2 and #5:
    2) Xhaka a bit further up the field suits his skill sets. His value is justified in that role.
    5) Elneny’s ball security is under appreciated by many. It requires 360 degrees vision, good skill, tidy mind and intelligent movements.

    Let’s not skim by the history and on-field relationship the two had at Basel. There’s an inherent value and measure of confidence when performing alongside a player that compliments your abilities. We’ve been through combos of midfielders that ‘don’t click’. Yesterday Elneny and Xhaka did. Elneny is no Cazorla, and Xhaka no Coquelin. But the skillsets of the two mesh. Just differently.

    Possible point? The two crosses taken by Xhaka resulting in goals. Without the confidence he has in Elneny? Perhaps Xhaka’s level of focus doesn’t hit the height it did at those moments. Small thing? Sure. But possibly the ingredient resulting in 2 goals.

    Do wish to point out I’d erred in first-naming CP’s Alex McCarthy as ‘James’.
    That my apology to Everton’s James M. goes deeper than it might normally; seeing as how he suffered a double-break to his leg yesterday vs WBA (as Rambo had years back. Still gasp when thinking about it.). Alex M. getting pantsed by Nacho– was light punishment in comparison.


    PS– I really, really missed live-blogging yesterday HT.
    (And the band just doesn’t sound the same. :sunglasses: )

  • Kev. There are hills in Essex? T A if you go for the authenticate kilt, watch out for those midges.

    Kev also if 17HT has wandered off into the Hills with his coffee pot. Where will he plug it in? Unless you meant Beverley Hills? So unless I am mistaken, we are looking for someone who may be a cross between Mohammed Elneny and a Swedish actress wandering around Beverley Hills looking for a plug point for his coffee pot?. Sounds like a job for Chips?. Kev I think most people will be to young to understand.

    17HT ok that was my last attempt to flush you out

    jw1 apologies for going off topic on your excellent post.

  • No sweat retsub.
    I’m as concerned as you. Though while less ‘confused’? Anguished possibly more so.

    See? While I don’t believe I’ve actually met 17HT? We both played the sport of Ultimate in the late-80s/early-90s. Teams like ours traveled the country to play in tournaments. We may have actually been in proximity to one another– or even had a beer together at the Saturday-night keggers that were requisite.

    Now? After innuendo and imagery above– my conceptual imagination make me ‘see’ a middle-middle (in a zone defense)– defending side-to-side (in caffeinated fashion) wearing a blonde wig, low-cut (red) dress and matching stillettos. (Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!)

    It’s not quite yet noon here retsub, et al.
    But I’m going to have to start early with the ‘brain-bleach’– thanks.


  • Hahaha Kevski, do you drive up those hills in your cab?

    No kilt for me – don’t like draft on my precious. Clogs though are brilliant for hill walking! 🤪

  • I live… And am actually down from the hills (and actually trying to do some work)… Taking a break right now to watch So’ton-Spurs… Great job with the match report JW, though I have to say I’m most inspired by your note about quitting (political) blogging cold turkey. I guess, with this note, my cold turkey is getting warm…

  • Good, good HT!
    Now please put my fertile mind out of it’s misery– and confirm you’ve never played middle in a 2-3-2– in drag(!).


  • Sorry, JW… Plenty of middle-middle, but never with a skirt on… My cabinet guy, however (the legendary Ant-man) was a cocktail dress wearer, at times. He joins me on the job tomorrow… 😀

    Spurs match is still 1-1… Spurs scoring both goals… IMO, set piece goals (incl. pens, FKs, corners and even long throws…) should only count 1/2… As such, yesterday’s match should have finished 3 to 1/2… and Spurs should be losing this one. 😀 Let’s encourage open play, I say…

    Here’s what I think: 1) The transfer business is all about bossing around the clubs who refuse to spend as much as your club does. We’re ManU’s whipping boy, just as Dortmund will be ours, though we might need to wait until the end of the month. That’s the law of the jungle, I fear, these days at least, because the poor won’t organize and only dream of becoming rich, somehow. Oooh, ooh, please buy me Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump, Mr. Xi… Hell, even Mr. Berlusconi could do a job, you know, back in the day, before he got caught…

    So… Do the games even matter? You’d hardly know it, reading most of the stuff in the Goonersphere… 😦

    Let me hop on that train…

    I’ve been dreaming of Alexit for a couple of years now, so consider me happy. Miki, I hope, can become a bit of a Santi (whose loss is both tragic extremely underappreciated, in my view) while PEA should be a major upgrade to Theo, an inherently selfish player (given his lack of ball skills) and might even knock in enough goals to make us not miss the guy who failed at Barca and couldn’t get his national team past the likes of Peru and Colombia. Meantime, we’re gonna have to count on young guys like AMN, Iwobi and even (debuchy forbid…) Bellerin. Obviously, I’ve always believed in Elneny, even though, like Iwobi and Bells (Mustafi and Xhaka too…) he’s not good enough for Arsenal (folks have told me, over and over again).

    Simply put, we now have an opportunity to become “more than the sum of our parts,” which will be needed if we’re to get back into the CL, most likely by winning the Europa League. On that note, thank dennis we’re out of the FA cup… And, sorry, I don’t think we’re there yet–as a real team–to get to the league cup final on Wednesday… I’d have liked our chances of a top 4 league finish if we hadn’t had SO much trouble in these transfer windows. We did good business getting rid of Ox and Alexis (for the supporters who both require we do make our money and then–almost immediately–bitch about how we don’t spend enough!!!) but the drama surrounding their transfers lost us a bunch of points, I think.

    Sum of our parts, I also fear, includes the support. (As I’ve said before, I used to think we had the smartest supporters, but now I know that most just lap up the poo served up by the media and have just about zero ability to look at things in the longer term.) The blame game, which our manager, heroically, IMO, tries to absorb, almost on his own, is the true killer. It’s killed our players and it’s killed my enthusiasm for writing about Arsenal. Maybe I’ll get back into it after the window closes… Hard to say… And does anybody really need me (and my bad attitude) anyhow?…

    OK, Still 1-1… Same as we did at St. Mary’s… but plenty of time to find a winner…

  • Oh, and, this is how I do my coffee when I’m not staying with one of my espresso machine/grinder set-ups…

  • Like to slather a bit of healing salve on the issue of Alexit:
    Thanks Dennis– we didn’t plonk down £92M last Summer for Thomas Lemar (3 goals/4 assts/25 apps all comps) this term.

    See? There IS a bright side– to everything!


  • Finishes 1-1… Arsenal inching up… Go Swansea… If a relegation zone team (So’ton) can take points from Spurs, why can’t the Jacks do likewise hosting Liverpool?… The table reveals it could be quite a battle down there… A spread of just 9 pts covers the entire bottom half… Fabianski to play a blinder on MNF, I pray…

    JW, I’d be careful about those stats… Monaco is a decimated team due to sales of everybody (but) Lemar… Surely he’s still quality, just as (goal deprived this season) Alexis is worth his 500K/week up in Moo-chester…

    OK, back to work… See y’all in February… 😉

  • 17HT We all have different views and that’s what makes the world go around. You think getting rid of the Ox and Alexis was good business, I didn’t. You blame their transfers for causing disruption and I agree with you, but in my view the biggest culprit was Wenger himself. His message to the fans seemed to be. I may stay, I may go and I will decide when to tell you fans. w who only after all pay my wages. Do I think money ruins the game, yes, do I think video refereeing will spoil the game, yes, but having seen it I may change my mind. Are there hills in Essex? I dont think so , but I am sure Kev will tell me otherwise.

    So things are a changing. I will never boo or disrespect Arsene Wenger, but sooner or later he will realise it’s time to change. The longer he leaves it the more supporters will turn against him.

  • Great review, jw1. It was, indeed, some kind of Alexorcism at play. But, like someone warned above, I will not allow myself to get carried away till we do this more consistently.

  • Indeed, retsub, gotta agree to disagree… That’s what might keep the species from going extinct, perhaps…

    And, we AGREE that Wenger sticking around = disruption that causes us to drop points, so clearly there’s some common ground…


    Is it HIS fault or the fault of folks who get more out of the transfer drama than the excitement on the pitch (including the players on the move…some of them playing the ultimate in the individual game)… If I were to try to write a longer piece, that’s something I think would make a good subject. Fact of the matter is that these games in January get a fraction of the media attention that the wag-the-dog transfer stuff does… Of course, blaming those who get taken in by all that stuff is quite (and akin to swimming against the strongest of tides)… compared to believing that it’s the fault of one man… As the folks on twitter say, I hope he dies… 😦

    As, such, I also appreciate the respect you continue to give him…

    Also, of course, if I wasn’t clear… Excellent and really fun match summary, JW… Yeah, focusing on the matches, is the (only?) way to go… Keep it up!!

  • Excellent review JW, and entertaining too.
    Jack’s return has been the highlight of the season so far. I think, especially with spurs dropping points today, and just a bit more luck elsewhere, we can make a push for top 4. There is still time.

    Mustafi, as I thought last year too, is really a baller. I have immense respect, though, I’d like just a bit more prudence. I’ve never seen a more aggressive attacking cb., which creates some risks. It’s one reason that his reported desire to get away over the summer was so mystifying and worrying all at once. .

    One more point about Wishere…. I’ve been gratified to see him avoid dangerous runs and moves and not running into contested balls that endanger his feet and ankles…, but the more he plays, I’ve noticed him being a little less cautious, .. old habits die hard, and I think he needs reminding that he’s too valuable to the team. His performance is just as good without the recklessness and risks.

  • Also, I read an interview with Coquelin, which basically affirmed what most of us were saying all summer. Alexis not disliked by teammates, but—- it was a major distraction for the team going into the season with him obviously on the way out.
    It’s funny that we may somehow come out of this with a better squad. Lemonade from lemons, hopefully. Get it done Ivan.

  • Thanks J–
    In my athletic prime at 26?
    I was an idiot with regard to my body. Luckily, no major injuries. Never.
    Saw many great athletes/teammates, blow knees, tear ligaments, that were never the same– or never played again. Was fortunate to enjoy a long, slow, fade-to-black career.

    If Jack has taken the downtime, the injury warnings– to heart? And come out the other side still motivated, still with his quiver full of skills? About to hit his prime? Jack could still be the player he was projected to be. A bit shorter span– but by all rights very productive.

    He’s going a full-90 frequently. And better yet, he’s now flashing instinctively to-the-right-place to give advantage to teammates. That can’t be taught.

    That Jack’s now looking to mesh with Ozil? With Mhki just a taxi-ride away (bring him in Kev!)? With a pair of boxfox finishers? There’s the bases for a creative resurgence at Arsenal.

    I can see for miles and miles…


  • Jync you make a good point about Coquelins view of Sanchez, which does make sense., two things sort of trouble me though.
    1. It does sort of confirm our 2nd tier status

    2. I wonder if the same a plies to Ozil?

    If Sanchez. Is successful at United, what’s to stop Ozil joining for free in the summer. Nothing to stop him going there for a huge wage increase?. I did hear mention today, that Pogba is a little upset by Sanchez’s wages..chuckle chuckle.

  • Chips?
    For a moment Retsub I thought you meant Chips Keswick.
    Then I recalled that US cop show about motorcycle police, unfortunately. 😉

    No Oranji kilt Total, damn that’s spoilt my image of you purposely bounding across the heather. 😀

    17tino, good to see you’ve returned.
    I have to admit I was a little concerned that you may have joined a hippy commune.
    You know dropped out man, nevermind the coffee pass around that joint man. 😄

  • Jonnie, on top of the Coquelin comments you should read what Bobby Pires says, you can get a link to it from Arseblog News

  • Thanks Kev, I took your advice. It says a lot about what’s happening for a loyalist like Pires to say what he did.
    Retsub, I’m sure the fact that it was both of our superstars Sanchez and Ozil with lack of clarity, must really have cast a shadow over the summer and season. Enough to make Oxlade leave to almost anywhere…. Most of us were for selling for that reason. Obviously we were in a bad state. Foolish miscalculation by the braintrust.

  • ‘Obviously we were in a bad state. Foolish miscalculation by the braintrust.’

    Respectfully disagree J–
    Perfect calculation IMHO. These actions run parallel to the gospel I’ve been preaching about retooling the roster. Though? I honestly did not see the possibilities of seeing a Mhki and PEA being available in this January window (as Alexis to City was etched in stone). Historically, the club doesn’t do substantial business mid-season.

    But here we are. And it doesn’t look panicky to me (yeah, thanks again Ian Wright!).

    Give the braintrust credit for having acted so swiftly in moving along Ox early, then Theo/Coq (totaling +£72M; -£300k/wk) when the chance to retool presented itself. We’re seeing the types of fiscal moves promised since 2010– now.

    Until something occurs that runs counter to the Moneyball (StatDNA) motivations I’m familiar with? I’m going to keep beating the drum– that this makeover is going swimmingly.

    If quicker than I’d envisioned.


  • Early rumour that a £200 million bid for Harry Kane is coming in as per. sky Sports. That might upset our upstart neighbours. Once again though it shows how money will ruin the game and the very elite clubs will get the very best players.

    It also emphasises the importance of youth players. Kane cost Spurs nothing, hope the scout got a big bonus

  • retsub–
    The modus operandi of Moneyball is to identify those prospects. More of them, and younger (nee: less-expensive). Than clubs who employ lesser/traditional scouting techniques. Refining of the system to begin locating even-younger prospects is in process. Data required for that type of discovery did/does not exist. When Arsenal started this project (circa 2012), data and video of former players as far back as 1999 were inputted for comparative analyses.

    Until Arsenal can begin identifying the cream of top-tier youth prospects– they’ll begin by back-filling with the (late-teenaged) players who fit neatly into profiles of past players. I think Rob Holding may have been the first player uncovered by Arsenal’s data-driven system. Cohen Bramhall another. Recently, Konstantinos Mavropanos. All 3 brought into the club for a total of < £4.5M.

    Unfortunately, wishing this process could be brought-forward faster can't make it so.

    When Arsenal can deploy data from the current generation of youth players (starting 5 years ago) for comparative purposes? The club might then be able to create a pipeline of players. Fielding an inordinate number of academy-grown stars– and/or fund future purchases in obscenely expensive transfer markets– that the Tottenhams of the world could well be priced out of.


  • Sky Sports and announce the swap has been made official.
    Mhki is a Gunner!


  • Yaaaaaay! We knew it was going to happen anyway but the wait was becoming unbearable. Guess United will have done the same with Alexis?

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