Player Ratings: Cech MOTM, Jack OK, rest Below Par | Wenger’s Big Balance Issues

The secret to a happy life is not low, or even no, expectations but balance. Balance in everything: expectations, pursuit of your goals, effort, judgement, opinions… you name it.

The B-word is currently missing at the mighty Red and White. Arsene and his Gunners have lost it, big style! Is it a matter of playing style, tactics or quality of players or a bit of everything? You tell me. Fact is we cannot defend, and when we tried to compensate for this – as we did so admirably during the first half against the putrid Spuddies by sitting deep and play with discipline and compactness  – we lost our ability to attack. We also lost our identity and courage through this strong tactical adaptation, but at least we remained in the game during the first 45 minutes.

Our midfield was Xhaka-Elneny-Jack. They did well to form a strong wall in front of our back four and disrupt the Spuddies’ game. You could argue we gave them too much respect and should have gone all out attacking; but as a strategy to get something from the game, I thought Wenger was spot on. Our defence lacked confidence so they needed protecting. Unfortunately, our three attackers – Ozil, Mkhi and Auba – had only their second game together; they struggled to find each other and needed more support from midfield.

Our midfielders tried to find the right balance, and especially Jack made some good contributions to our attacking play, but as soon as they left their strategic positions, the Spuddies had a chance to get at our low-on-confidence defence; and this proved to be costly even before the first five minutes of the second half were over. A ball was pumped into the box and there was half-moon-faced Kane to beat our sorry defenders. A goal straight from the Eighties: awful to concede – a bit like being killed by a pack of wolves in the 21st century.

After that the game became a horror-show and we have Petr Cech (and dollops of luck) to thank for saving us from further embarrassment. We finished the second half quite strong with one or two decent chances to take a point, but it was not to be. It would have been undeserved if Lacazette had scored in extra-time, but who would have cared about it?!

I can take the loss, but the way we have lost our balance in the team is really worrying. The proverbial is never far away from the fan(s), and especially our encounters this month/1 March with the blue side of Manchester may get very, very ugly. Can Wenger get the balance right again and rebuild confidence? I suggest he follows Leia Organa’s lead and ask for help from the ultimate master: “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope”.

Player Ratings:

Cech – 8: iffy (re)distribution of the  ball but never wavered when called upon.

Nacho – 6: part of a creaky unit. Worked hard.

Koz – 5.5: Worked hard but too much overcompensation. Needs a taller, more athletic CB next to him.

Mustafi – 6: Worked hard but too much overcompensation. Also needs a taller, more athletic CB next to him.

Bellerin – 6: Worked hard but neither a rock in defence nor force in attack. Still developing. Also needs a taller, more athletic CB next to him.

Xhaka – 6: Looks more and more lost in our system of play: identity crisis? Good discipline in first half but neither a rock in midfield nor force in attack.

Elneny – 6.5: solid enough but nothing more yesterday.

Wilshere – 7: Played a very disciplined game in first half and tried to link up with attack when possible. A couple of key passes that could have led to a goal.

Mkhi – 5.5: Lost on the left and in the new trio of attackers. Unfortunate with his passing.

Ozil – 6: Lost in the new trio of attackers. Came deep a lot to connect midfield with attack but his passing was well below par yesterday.

Auba – 5.5: Lost in the new trio of attackers and suffered from lack of dominance by the team in the attacking half. How many touches??!

By TotalArsenal

40 thoughts on “Player Ratings: Cech MOTM, Jack OK, rest Below Par | Wenger’s Big Balance Issues

  • Bravo TA,

    Don’t know what to say anymore.

    A central issue is that we have virtually the whole of our midfield personnel as players suited to playing through the centre strip of the pitch : Ozil, Mkhi, Wilshere, Ramsey, Xhaka, Elneny, AMN, Iwobi, you name it. Playing with full backs (4 at the back) who then would stretches the field? Nobody. Tot bombarded us not through the middle but through wide areas. And we couldn’t do same.

    To make matters worse (possibly because they are midfielders) our wide men are inverted wingers (Mkhi left, Ozil right) so they all have to come through the centre which makes defending our attack easier. If the empty flanks entice our full backs to provide width they leave our defense line exposed.

    With these too many center strip midfielders it might be best to revert to back 3, not for defensive reasons, but to enhance our offense through the use of wing-backs.. It looks at the moment that we cannot do anything with the present personnel about the defensive phase of our game. So why don’t we focus on having more bite offensively.

  • Koz – 5.5: Needs a taller, more athletic CB next to him.
    Mustafi – 6: Also needs a taller, more athletic CB next to him.
    Bellerin – 6: Also needs a taller, more athletic CB next to him.

    If unintentional TA? Thanks nonetheless for sparking a bit levity.
    Our defending had a Pythonesque-quality to it.
    As instructed for the 1st-half:
    F: Look it’s quite simple. You just stay here, and make sure Kane doesn’t leave the room. Alright?

    Then a half-time intermission later:
    G: Oh I remember, uhh can Kane leave the room with us.
    F: No. No, no, no. You just keep Kane in here and make sure Ka…
    G: Oh yes, we’ll keep Kane in here, obviously. But if Kane had to leave, and we went with Kane…
    F: No. Wait. Just keep Kane in here,
    G: Until you, or anyone else…
    F: No, not anyone else, just me.
    G: Just you.

    And just like that– Kane begins singing, it’s 1-nil– the castle burns down, falls over, and sinks into the swamp. And we begin building a new one right atop of it.


  • TA, you should write to Arsene and the board to employ you to make the squad more balanced. Director of Football should be you.

  • Hi all.. So quiet.. Hehehe..

    TA.. I never really care about the rating..
    Yes Wilshere is our MotM.. But what happened to the rest.. They seem confused with the strategy..
    Were Wenger putting 3 DM or playing Wilshere as our CAM..??
    Yes we did great in defense.. But that’s not the way we play football..

    For me Ozil can do much better than Wilshere did.. If he played in his best position.. The CAM post..
    He was and still is our God of Assist..
    But we all knew that he didn’t as fast as Mhiki, Bellerin, Iwobi.. Or even Ramsey..
    He need to be surrounded by our fast and lethal strikers.. And we do have such strikers.. Lacazette, Mhiki, Auba all are fast and lethal.. Hehehe..

    I can’t blame Wenger strategy for giving more power in defense.. It’s worked..
    But if He want a quick counter attack.. Putting Ozil as our winger is a bad decision..

    So for me.. Either give Ozil in his position or don’t play him at all.. If the problem is his big salary.. Then put him in his best..
    Let’s prove it with next UEL game..
    Give him back the CAM position.. Play 3 strikers up front.. We will see what he can bring to the team..

  • We (BKers, possibly all fans, possibly the team too) are all critically anemic. Ostersunds on Thursday might be a life saving blood transfusion for us all. Wenger has hinted that he will go with his strongest team. I said hinted. He went something like this “there is no reason why he would not field his strongest team”. For the life of him he wouldn’t ever be categorical.

  • If I was the coach of the team their are a few habits of theirs I would stamp out within 5 weeks of assuming duty.

    A player or players in critical possition(s) raising their hands in the air glancing repeatedly in the direction of the lines man because he (they) thought an opposition player was off side and in the process losing a vital 1 second of reaction time. I will stamp it out. Play to the whistle. Have you noticed we do it a lot?

    Same when any of our players seemed to have been fouled, the team momentarily freezes as they demand the whistle. I will stamp it out. Play to the whistle. I’ve noticed this on several occasions. It makes my blood boil.

    The ball goes out of play for our throw-in. Because Iwobi, say, is nearest to it, he picks it up. Bellerin is in acreas of free space. Instead of Iwobi throwing the ball to him, Bellerin races up to Iwobi and takes the ball from him because he is the designated throw-in man. By that time the opposition team had put men on each of our players. This gets me raving. How can any modern footballer not be a product of the total football philosophy’s? If the situation is right, the keeper can do the throw-in.

    Our player sleep walk into the field coming in at the star of the game and at the start of the 2nd half. I will use a simple method to wake them up. I will station myself at the exit of the tunnel. As each player walks past, I will give him a sizzling slap on the face that would instantly wake him up 100%. After 5 weeks of this therapy any time they are approaching the exit of the tunnel, on their own, they would reflexly wake up. This is what I will do, believe me. There is no other way.

    By 5 weeks I’ve turned them into real professionals. Then tactics would begin in earnest.

  • PE, of course we are gravely anemic right now. And yes, your slapping tactics will do just the trick to wake the whole team up.

  • You know something else I would do? I would employ a specialist who would hold classes with my players. His job would be to teach them how to yell and how to give stone cold glare. The player who scores the highest marks in that class I’d make my captain. When a player out of position, my captains face should look as ugly as John Terry’s.

  • Henry, Ozil has a free role – is not a winger.

    PE, it is all v frustrating at the moment. Balance and confidence are shot. Let’s hope for a new beginning on Thursday. Obi where are you?

  • Hi TA..
    I don’t agree with you..
    Yes Ozil playing deeper than what he must be as our strikers..
    But why..?? Because he didn’t get what he want in the RW position..
    It’s a lot different when Sanchez still there.. And we still played 3-4-3.. He find himself more ease in attack.. He used to score some nice goals.. Hehehe..

  • Just some observations from peering at the table.
    Occurs to me there is a top-5.
    And a bottom-14.
    And Arsenal.
    No team has ever been relegated from the PL after reaching 38pts.
    Every team below us is under that threshold.

    6th place is an odd place.
    To be in both stasis and freefall.


  • JW1, still believe if we win three in a row we will get close to top four…. but we don’t seem to be capable of this anymore. 😦

    Less than six months till next season… and there are a few cup competitions to keep us occupied in the meantime.

  • Laca our for 6 weeks after a knee op. Auba ineligible for Europa and Giroud sold. We have a problem. Danny needs to show us he can finish. Auba needs to stay fit for the league. It’s precarious times.

  • TA.. You know that we’re not always disagree.. I believe that TA.. Not only three in a row.. But five or even seven in a row.. We can beat Brighton, Walford, Leicester, Stoke, Soton, Newcastle and Westham.. Until we meet MU..

    So sorry for the news of Lacazette..
    But we will overcome that problem.. We will..
    We still have Welbeck and Nketiah.. Sometime they just need to be forced to shine..

    The more important thing now is the UEL and Carabao Cup.. How can we handle City..

  • Hi there JW. I always think Eddie the Eagle when I hear that chant! Hope we have a good one in Nketiah. Looks like he will have the chance to show his worth in the next few weeks.

  • I’m still of the view that the competition is sufficiently inconsistent that if we put a run in like at the end of some previous seasons then we are not out of it. But we seem incapable of it at the moment, for reasons that are plain hard to fathom. We will need luck as well as a performance in the City games I suspect. Though Pool have shown that they can be rattled if attacked with purpose.

  • Step forward Sir Daniel Welbeck of Manchester, your football club needs you.

    Terrible luck for Lacazette, but it may answer a few questions about his poor form of late.
    One player’s misfortune is another player’s opportunity and whilst we all hoped that Alex could use the double header vs Ostersunds to rediscover his mojo we now have to hope that Danny boy can pick up the slack.

    I’ve always liked Danny, think that he’s been messed about by Wenger, but that on the rare occasions he’s played as a striker that he’s acquitted himself well.
    His robustness might be just what we need in these next two crucial games…

  • I really hope they give Eddie a chance on Thursday. Some bad luck involved, but having shown Giroud and Walcott the door, Lacazette injured and PEA cup tied and Alexsis enjoying getting beaten in Newcastle, we are a little short (no pun intended) up front. I like Wellbeck he works hard, but he is not a ‘natural scorer’Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

  • really hope they give Eddie a chance on Thursday. Some bad luck involved, but having shown Giroud and Walcott the door, Lacazette injured and PEA cup tied and Alexsis enjoying getting beaten in Newcastle, we are a little short (no pun intended) up front. I like Wellbeck he works hard, but he is not a ‘natural scorer

  • OK then. Nacho it is!
    What I love about this place. No one lacks for a sense of humor.
    (Thing is? Welbz has the skillset to be a great LB.)


  • You know what Total, you read my mind regarding Ramsey, I think that he could do a damn good job in an emergency up front, he’d certainly be a more effective striker than Asharvin. 😳

  • Can’t see it with Rambo. He likes to arrive late and strike on the run. But I doubt he knows how to play with his back to goal or on the turn. I like Danny as others have said. I’d love him to find his finish, as his pace and work rate are great. But it seems awfully late for him to discover it. Eddie meanwhile looks more of a natural. Whether he can make anything of it remains to be seen. Does anyone know he score with Rambo? Is he likely to be fit to play?

  • It’s curious how so many other sites have been writing Laca off and yet now that he’s injured despair of our fortunes. The doom merchants really are out in force. For my money he hasn’t played badly at all. And if he’s been carrying an injury then we have all the more to look forward to. We will miss Giroud. But if it really was a straight choice between him and Auba then the latter has to be the more forward looking choice. Time will tell if it’s the right one.

  • It is not just Welbeck’s finishing that is under par; it is his box anticipation and positioning that is so poor too. Rambo is indeed no CF either, but at least he can hit the ball cleanly when it arrives in the box for him.

  • Hi retsub. Just remember their league record. It always makes you smile. Over 50 years and still counting. Pity and hate often sit close together.

  • Hi all..
    Retsub.. We must be happy for that.. Cause if Spurs lost early.. They don’t have any business anymore.. And they will focus on PL..

    So better to make them busy.. As we all know that at the end they will never got any trophy at all.. Hehehe..

  • Guys we are difference class to Spurs it was just so painful watching them do so well tonight. But look on the bright side Spurs have only ever one the top division (ie old division ones Premiership. We have only won it twice……… White Hart Lane

  • Yeah they really made Jive look second rate. Dembele and Eriksen bossed their midfield like they did ours, I dont think they will but who knows would be sickening if they won the champs league before us.

  • I really need for Real Madrid to get knocked because they would surely look to fire Zidane and hire Poch away. Does anyone else rate Leonardo Jardim the Monaco manager, I like the look of him and his name has been brought up in Chelsea rumors. Like Poch before totts hired him I also wouldnt want to see Jardim go to the bridge.

  • The Spuds always do well in the miserably cold winter months. The swampdwellers dont like it when it gets light and warm; makes them wither away.

    Anyway, a short and sweed New Post! 😀

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