Two Players MOTM, Iwobi the Difference, What a Spine We Have! 8 Observations v Watford

For us British-based Gooners a 3pm kick-off means either being at the game, listen to the radio or try and find a dodgy stream; there is no showing on Sky or BT Sports. Luckily, showed the full game this morning and, with the score-line already known and having listened carefully to the radio coverage, it gave me a good opportunity to look at the way the team was set up and eventually won the game.

Eight observations from a pulsating game of near-cup-final football:

  1. Yes the tempo was high and both teams played to win. The Hornets had nothing to lose and were clearly full of confidence, and they took the game to us as much as we took the game to them. This made for a good game of football with a great battle in midfield. Watford are a tall and physical team with plenty of technical ability, and our players – in defence, midfield and attack – were made to work hard for the entire game. What pleased me most is that we kept matching the Hornets for energy till the end and then made the difference in the last ten minutes. The first goal required bad-luck from the opposition but the second one was a razor-sharp punishment of a slackening in midfield. The players are fit (only Torreira looked done in at the end) and know that they need to keep going till the end, and because of this we won the game.
  2. What also really pleased was the strength of the spine of the team: Cech/Leno – Holding – Torreira/Xhaka – Mesut – Lacazette held the team together and won most of the battles with their Watford counterparts. For me this is likely to be the Spine for the season, with Sokratis and Holding becoming the preferred pairing in defence.
  3. Mustafi is a bit of a chancer who relies heavily on his high energy levels and over-my-dead-body attitude; this has to compensate for both his lack of reading of the game and physicality. He relies a lot on fellow defenders compensating for his occasional errors, but he also covers for them a lot when in good form. Mustafi gave away more than once an unnecessary free-kick and was skinned in defence a few times too. With Holding looking solid and Sokratis returning soon, our German whippersnapper may well end up on the bench for a while.
  4. Cech’s injury was Leno’s opportunity to announce himself, and the German took it very well. This was not an easy game to come into. The Hornets had real presence in the box and the sun was constantly low and in Leno’s face, but he stood his ground well and made some vital saves to eventually win the game. Petr had already been important and Leno just took over from the Cech from the moment he stood between the poles. I loved the way he read the danger, made himself big and imposed himself on the attackers – he did not hide once.
  5. Ramsey was clearly affected by the contract withdrawal announcement. He did his best to get into the game but nothing worked for him. It was Ozil who came to get the ball of Xhaka-Torreira time and again and start attacks from midfield. Why was Aaron not doing this? He looked lost and often more in the way than anything else. Emery will have to decide whether to continue playing both Ozil and Rambo from the start, but on yesterday’s evidence, it is not looking good for the Welshman.
  6. Iwobi made the difference as soon as he came on for Ramsey. It gave the team much more balance: Iwobi is used as a winger who can stretch AND penetrate a defence with the ball. This allows Mesut to be the natural nr10 and it also creates more space for our main attackers, Auba and Laca. Iwobi’s wing-play gave us extra energy and it was from his cross into the box that we got in-front fortuitously. It was a difficult cross both for attackers and defenders: Laca failed to make contact and the defender made the wrong contact, and it was 1-0 to the Arsenal.
  7. The second goal was a beauty. Welbeck won the ball with an aggressive tackle and Iwobi and Laca combined superfast to free-up the hard-working Frenchman, who then showed Iwobi how a ball needs to be delivered into the box for an attacker: beautifully weighted and never leaving the grass. Mesut, who worked his socks-off all game and was involved in almost all of our attacking play, was there to convert the perfect pass with a snooker-precise left-foot shot between keeper and goal-post. 2-0 to the Arse and game over. As hard and present Mesut and Laca – both my MOTM – were, Auba had a difficult game. He struggled to get into game and fluffed a few chances that came his way. We need him on the pitch for the extra goal threat (and goals) but Emery has to work with him to make him more part of the team.
  8. Xhaka-Torreira looked solid and composed, and they had their work cut out yesterday against strong midfield opposition. Torreira is the more natural defender and his reading of the game – as in feeling where the danger will be next – is very impressive. Xhaka is good at moving the ball forward and finding the free man with his precision passes. Both have plenty of physicality and I just feel that the longer they play together the stronger a duo they will become. For the first time in a long time I felt the defenders were well-shielded in the middle, and long may it continue.

By TotalArsenal.

73 thoughts on “Two Players MOTM, Iwobi the Difference, What a Spine We Have! 8 Observations v Watford

  • Hi all.. Hi TA..
    Huhh.. a very tough game.. Watford are a good team.. Very glad we win it at last.. hehehe..

    For me Iwobi is my MoTM.. minutes of playing wasn’t a significant point.. his contributions were..

    I am a bit sentimental.. I think the referee did some decision against us.. hehehe..
    Torriera suffered a lot from that..

  • hi hehehe, good to hear you re ok after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Indonesia. Iwobi made the difference so fair shout but Laca and Mesut were immense throughout the game and the second goal was a beautiful combo between the two of them.

  • Thanks TA.. We have been in Earthquake situation for months.. Palu is the newest after big disaster in Lombok..
    Just hope it will be the last.. And we can recovery soon..

  • Great post Total, I agree with everything your wrote/typed, I’m really pleased for Iwobi, the new regime has been great for him and for Holding, both these young players are open to the new methods on the training field and it’s showing in their confidence and performance.

    So pleased for Leno, a clean sheet and two more games for him to show his mettle before Emery has a decision to make perhaps?
    The new goalkeeping coach?

    Mkhitarayan has been rumoured to have withdrawn from the trip to Baku, apparently his own decision. It’s disgraceful that a footballer cannot feel safe travelling to another UEFA member and questions the original decision to give Azerbaijan the final…

    I’d start Aubameyang up front in Baku and rest Lacazette for Fulham, maybe even leave Alex at home to put his feet up, take Welbeck and Nketiah instead.
    PEA needs a goal to lift his mood and Unai needs to carefully rotate to get the two wins to send us happily into another Intersnooze.

  • Thanks Kev..
    By location its far from Jakarta actually..
    Usually big earthquake came only once in several years.. but this Palu earthquake come sooner than ever.. only a week after hundred earthquake at Lombok in two months finished.

  • Hey, henrychan. Just realized you are in Indonesia. Sorry to hear about the devastation from the earthquake and Tsunami. Glad to know you and yours are alright in the midst of all that. Be safe, man.

  • TA, well reasoned post, after such a hard game. Only trouble is I am still sceptical about the whole approach of looking all over the place in the first 20 minutes to 30 minutes of the first half, especially at home. It doesn’t suggest we are in sync as a team yet and begs the question as to for how long we will be a work in progress.

    Don’t get me wrong. I thourougly enjoyed the win and will take that all day long. However, after being used to seeing us dominate such teams at home (even where we, on occasion, concede late to lose the game), it is hard to accept that Watford will come to our place to give us a fright early on, while having more shots attempted and on target. The implication is we rely on our defending, goal keeper and a huge bit of luck; at least from the evidence of the last few games. Can we keep that streak going or begin to address that situation? I will feel better with the latter.

    Agree on much of your submissions but will remain cautiously optimistic, until I see we’ve found our swagger back. We do have (always had) a good spine and only needed to be organized enough to deal with situations and the pressure. Emery may be the man to bring that but he has to ensure it isn’t at the detriment of our sleek, quick passing game (of seasons past, till Wenger’s last season, when it seemed we just lacked confidence and drive and lost our sleek passing game). Hopefully, it all comes back slowly even as the consecutive wins are bound to help confidence, trust and team spirit.

  • Happy Monday folks…and greetings to any and all who live in low-lying (rapidly drowning?) areas… These days the hurricanes/typhoons seem worse, AND, if there’s seismic activity nearby… Gulp… Tsunami warning systems, however, may be one of the things that could (actually) be improved by the new technology (cell phones)… IF there’s high ground nearby that can be gotten to… Sometimes I fear for even larger sections of humanity than just those who support Arsenal…

    And, for the moment at least, no alarm bells, sirens, etc. Arsenal keep winning. Gooners are gonna moan anyhow but it’s just a steady bleat, not an all out panic…

    Onto the post. Good observations as always, TA, and I don’t think you’re gonna get a ton (tonne?) of disagreement from the positive types who are regulars here. Also, I like the way you’ve gone a bit deeper on the Mustafi argument to hint at his abilities (raw talents in terms of playmaking = “chancer,” maybe?… ) to suggest he could be a good partner for our other CBs. I’d go a (baby) step further and suggest that under Emery’s system where the CBs split wider as we play the ball out AND cover wider for our (extremely) AWOL FBs, his native abilities are even more important (and the less schooled parts of his game might hurt us less) than under the previous regime.

    That’s not enough, of course, if you’ve already consigned him to the slag pile, and it may not be enough, full stop. Shkodran is in the midst of another good run of results but correlation is usually not considered much of an argument. Unfortunately, we’re very bare bones in terms of CBs right now and both Mavro and Kos probably won’t be available until well into November or even later, so, for better or worse, I’d expect us to have to ride his/our luck…at least in the near-term.

    As I said post-match, I thought it was a consummate team effort, but, if we must, Ozil and Laca as dual MOTM seems good enough for me, as does Hehehenry’s plump for Iwobi. Our entire MF was (at least semi…) invisible for long stretches which might rule out Ozil, and Laca didn’t get that early call nor convert his great 1v1 after his fine steal, while Iwobi has the playing time issue. So, back to “Team of the Match,” I say…)

    It was better than vs Everton (maybe?…) but we still need to improve and I think we’re going to get more leaks (to the press) that might make it easier for Emery to drop Ramsey so that we might have a more functioning MF from the start of our matches. Kev’s news about Mkhi not traveling (for political reasons) might be one such piece of news… He’s right, it is outrageous (if true) and it’s a true shame that we have to wait until Thursday to make the trip. I’m hopeful for a deeply rotated squad for that one and a bunch of fellows not traveling who will go at Fulham on Sunday, some 50 or thereabout hours after our return flight touches down back in London.

    That said, it’d be nice if we could blame all our troubles on he who won’t sign da ting (esp. now dat ta ting has been withdrawn, or something…) but I think our MF troubles go a bit deeper than this. Tiny Torreira will get there in time, but I wonder about the demands of the system and sometimes I think somebody with an extreme work-rate and no-nonsense but quick passing might help. I’d point to my avatar guy but Xhaka’s been part of the winning too (like Mustafi). Again, since I can’t pull the strings, I’ll have to wait on Emery to do so. Nobody will engage with me, but I see Emery’s system as featuring diagonal runs to the touchline corners of the 18yd box (for higher percentage crossing and pull back ops)…and I think Elneny could work a charm making them. Everybody else has to cover, of course, when this tactic is employed. Head’s up Danny Welbeck and (works harder than you think) Lacazette did well in this regard. Aubameyang has got a good spirit (trying to do likewise) but it doesn’t quite seem his game. We’ve been feeling that we need both of our pricey forwards in the game, but if the clean sheets keep coming, maybe other approaches start to seem viable.

    Time will tell, but better to keep winning (and trying out longer explanations for what we see) than losing, blaming and shouting (simple) solutions, I think…

    Again, Happy Monday…

  • I just wanna add (you know, because I didn’t already write enough)…in response to Eris’ (spot on) impressions…and, of course, I’ve said it elsewhere before…

    …But, this is the new normal, and the way that A LOT of teams, even the very best ones, are playing. Absorbing pressure on defense and trying to spring in the split-second(s) of transition when we do get the ball back is what the game is all about. Swaggering domination through possession (Wengerball?) is a thing of the past, I fear…

    …Although maybe we’ll see a bit of it with Leno in goal and guys like Mustafi and Xhaka and Elneny–bought back when AW, supposedly, bought guys he felt suited his style–playing it out of the back…esp. against those teams that really do try and park the bus, i.e., the ones who lose the ball (sometimes on purpose…) and retreat quickly into their defensive lines. If Ramsey starts getting used in the rotation (midweek) matches, maybe he too will show his value from a deeper starting positions… Kenny G(uendouzi) too, of course…

    Playing on the break IS the way forward and it is very much a work in progress. And, because we have no such thing (yet) as a coordinated forward press we only occasionally make the sorts of quick chances that we’d like to see. (Laca made one vs Watford but missed his chip…)

    Get that first goal and it all gets easier… Two weeks running we’ve gotten one goal then quickly gotten another… If you don’t, however… What’s plan B?…

    Wenger, of course, started with plan B, offense is the best defense (American spellings, sorry…) and push those punks as deep into their own area as possible… But, he had no plan C…(or so we’ve been told)…

    Pony Eye, in his match preview, suggested that, with the ball, Emery and Wenger approached the game with similar ideas. I don’t see that AT ALL, and I’ve tried to explain (here and there, just a bit…) what I do see and (for the moment, but beware…) I don’t feel like repeating myself. The bottom line, however, is that Emery doesn’t (seem to me to) value possession for possessions’ sake, nor territorial advantage, just so the opponents have more pitch to cover before they score. So, I think we will be fated need to feeling a LOT of anxiety with our shaky play on the ball and (hopefully not-so-desperate) defending deep in our own territory, punctuated by moments of quick and (hopefully) incisive play towards our opponents’ goals. Nerve-wracking? Indeed. Effective? It’s done well enough in these past 8 matches and there have been a few really slick half and full pitch counterattacking moves that have bulged the opponents’ net…

  • Eris–
    Simplest solution to our first-half slogs is likely to occur versus Fulham next weekend. It seems that whomever plays the No.10, either Ozil or Ramsey– the other is marginalized to such a degree as to be ‘in the way’ — for how the other revs the team’s engine. I’ve alluded to it feeling as if we’re tying one leg back for 45-minutes every match. Seems each time the other (Mesut/Aaron) comes off at 60′ — we kick into another gear. Was thought it might be Torreira’s subbing-on that changed the complexion– but could be simpler. That Ozil and Ramsey shouldn’t play paired together.

    I see where Iwobi deserves the start at Fulham– with Ramsey’s contract now a weight suppressing his minutes. Ozil in his favored No.10 role. Et voila! If so? Wager we run rampant at Fulham.


  • 17ht & jw1, hope you guys are right and there’s a method to the pattern we’ve seen, with slow starts and nervy moments. I’d rather it’s part of a grand plan and so, sustainable, rather than mere good fortune that we went on to win against both Everton and Watford. The thing is we would be coming up against more clinical forwards soon and could be 2 goals down before we rally back.

    With Mhki unlikely to play on Thursday, it means Iwobi gets to start. If he plays the full 90, it may just mean he would not play (definitely won’t start) at Fulham. What Emery puts out against Quarabag will have to depend on the strength of the opponent; I’m sure he would like to rest as many 1st teamers as he can get away with.

  • No, Eris, I think it has been “mere good fortune” and that we’re going to have trouble against (let’s call them…) top half clubs if we don’t score first. But that might not come for a bit… I think Fulham have a pretty strong chance of staying up this season, but I don’t see them having higher aspirations. Watford, Everton, Wolves, CP, WHU and maybe (all of) the South Coast teams plus Burnley are the sorts of teams which can (and will) take points off the top teams without unseemly amounts of luck. Their chances for doing so, of course, increase (exponentially) if they get the first goal…

    What we love about English football is this sense that there are no easy matches. English fans are nervous nellies (hence the need to pour beer upon themselves–and not just in their mouths?–when things do go well, maybe?…) so the ball down at our end AND not in our possession was something Gooners loved not having to experience quite so much under Wenger. On the other hand, watching opponents score EACH time they had the ball in our half got tiresome too…

    So, I think we are riding our luck a bit, but the winning continues and you (or I…) can sense that Emery is working his way through the smaller conundrums towards stronger ideas for when we hit the better opponents…

    That’s the manager…as for the fans…

    Elsewhere in the Goonersphere, supporters are having a WAY WORSE case of the “Mondays”… I don’t look at too many other sites and I only delve into the comments at one other place. In that spot, Mustafi isn’t even mentioned (because defending him is so pointless) and Xhaka is the (current, biggest) target in the cross-hairs. Ozil-Ramsey and Laca-Auba are unsustainable combinations too, but at least there you can pick a side (if you don’t wish to pick at the scabs on each individual)… As such, it’s only a matter of time and the regression promises to get (even) mean(er)…

    Not me, I’m procrastinating on getting my week going BECAUSE I’m enjoying all the luck that has come our way…long may it (that particular regression) continue…

  • Thank you all for commenting. 🙂

    Eris, you make a good point and Seventeenho has given an in-depth response already. Yes we dominate less these days and play in a way more like Manure used to do under Rednose. Absorb pressure and pounce on the rebound. And with a good defence, effective midfielders, good wing(back)s and two lethal attackers, we could go far this season. It will be less comfortable and yes some teams will have better attackers and punish us, but it is likely to pay off more and more the longer the team is together. It is about outscoring more than anything else right now. Watford could have scored two but we could have scored four on Saturday. Auba and Laca have to become more deadly in this system, but the latter is making a real difference with his all-round attacking play.

    I agree with JW that getting the Ozil-Rambo conundrum sorted is key. The other one is the balance in the centre of defence and we also need to get the best out of Auba and Laca. Finally, Emery needs to find a balance between pushing the wingbacks forward and not leaving too much space on the wings for the opponents’ counterattacks or even build-up attacking. We are vulnerable on the wings.

    We have definitely had luck on our side and it will not always be like that, but the boys also work very hard and Emery is gradually tweaking us into an awesome team. Like others have said, I love the way the likes of Iwobi and Holding are looking much more effective this season and the way the team fight till the end, with real joy when we score. There is a feeling of new adventure in the team and the home crowd was really good this weekend. Well done Unai Emery.

  • Hi there HT. I agree we are running on good fortune, and i cant but wonder ‘what if’ at times. But we are past that now. And so I can only be grateful for the good luck. I fear we will take a beating sometime, and will be interested to see what the mental resolve is then. I’d like to think we will give out a beating at some point too, but while we only click for 20 minutes in the second half this wont happen.

    I’m sad to see Rambo out of touch and on his way out. There is a quality player in there, but he’s not showing it at present. That’s as much to do with coaching and team shape as it is him. But if he cant fit the system then there’s no point having him compromise it. He will come back and haunt us though – unlike some of the others who have passed on.

    I’m with you on Mustaphi; he still has qualities and at his age I don’t think we should give up on them. I cant keep saying that though; he needs to rise in the face of competition this season or else he will be on his way in the summer.

  • Evening TA. You are doing a great job keeping spirits focussed on a better future. I still haven’t bonded with UE, but I’m pleased with his results. I also like the way players on the margins are fighting and performing well – Iwobi and Danny. I hope the former kicks on and takes Rambo’s space and that we keep Danny too – 10 goals plus this season for us maybe?

  • Well done to you, TA, for watching the match “after-the-fact” and getting us your observations. In a tight match it’s hard for me to get an assessment of the crowd, esp. if I don’t have somebody like Lee Dixon telling me that “the crowd is/was about to turn on the team…” (as he did in the Everton match). A pair of 2-nil scorelines (with a 3-1 and a 4-2 in preceding mid-weeks) all on the home pitch *should* help the supporters get on board. That said, if/when you read around a bit, some of the negativity is astounding… Maybe that’s the nature of the game…or maybe that’s the nature of watching it in this day and age, i.e., with help from the internet. Frankly, a couple of away matches (usually a bit more challenging and at least different)–and then an international break–might allow for good things to continue. I’m agreed about the “buy-in” from the players… Could the support do likewise? Frankly, I wonder… One hiccup (probably) isn’t a crisis, but how many does it take (these days)?… Time to check the Moo-U blogs to find out, maybe…

    I can’t be arsed…and there’s actual football on here at (my) lunch-time…

  • Hi AB…

    I was pondering the Ramsey situation and I think (and maybe heard a bit about) him refusing a move somewhere, perhaps up to ManU, so that Moo might’ve been able to (ship out and) end his battle of egos with Pogba…

    I fear AR (and his agents…) might be in a bit of bother. In England a well-skilled running MF like him is probably only wanted by the lower teams (I include ManU here, lol…though sadly not for the longterm…) and they could break their salary structures for our guy… Of the teams that actually pay big money for players we’re just about the least competitive (at the moment, hopefully that changes) along with that other Europa League team (Chelsea). Is Ramsey really going to fit in on ANY (starting) group among the richest teams? I wonder…

    So, unless we ship out Ozil (and his salary) in January–and who wants the guy German (or Turk?)…

    But then there’s Xhaka (or Torreira…Curls seems a midweek guy suddenly…) I read (elsewhere) that Ramsey has moaned about being played too far forward (by Emery). Could he show some discipline and play in Emery’s MF two?

    Again, it’s not my problem… and seems a ship (about to or) that’s already set sail.

    And this match is now tied, Van Aanholdt scores for CP even if the linesman must’ve been waiting for the VAR to make the call…

  • When’s our next Monday night match? Martin Tyler announcing is a real pleasure… Actually treats the characters as humans…rather than just working towards the talking points to get a rise out of the audience…

  • The answer is Monday, October 22…vs Leicester…after the Int’l break (which will thus feel REALLY long)…

  • Mike Dean intervenes…And Bournemouth convert the penalty to get the win…

  • AB, I guess Emery is one of those new bosses we have to deal with in working life some times. He is a hard task master and relationships have to be rebuild, but slowly a new dawn will occur and it will be for the good. I can only admire the man for his willingness to change things round and for given everything to our club, and also for getting his players to fight for him and believe in him (despite his limited command of English). Nobody did better over the last five games; only Arsenal won them all. I don’t think we will get anywhere near to winning the league this year, but a fight for third or fourth may be on. Let’s see how we fare in November first!

  • Seventeenho, negativity, especially on-line, is just something we have to deal with. Just don’t go looking for it my friend. We can focus on the frailties and need for luck or we can admire the way Leno came out and made himself big, Torreira never gave up to deal with Deeney, Xhaka produces those diagonal openers time and again, Laca kept that ball low and Mesut used his left to score an inch-perfect goal, Iwobi whipped up the tempo of the game, Holding held strong, Laca just kept going for 90 minutes etc, etc. If I was not so busy I would watch that game again now.

  • Totally…agreed… My point is that, because it’s out there and because it’s smart people (doing some very neat “compartmentalizing,” IMO) it inspires some of our best writers, etc., etc… It’s not where I want to go, but it’s an interesting and (for me at least) worrisome thing, not so much about the football (who cares, in the end?…) but for humanity more generally. Good things happen when folks compromise (agree to disagree) and then pull together for what they can concur over… The energy put into really quite negative (splitting hairs) “winning” (of arguments) is just a little bit stunning. Gooners have had a go (with fists) at each other in the stands, but (correct me if I’m wrong, regular game attendees…) only when results are bad… If writers MUST win on-line–even when results are good–I fear spillover to the real world… It’s the opposite of being part of something larger than oneself, IMO…

    In happier news, I kinda like Emery’s use of English and think he’s improving week over week. He knows what he wants to say (all very positive) and he’ll (eventually) get it across. And, with that interesting post match coverage I got the other day, I saw that he will (purposely or not…) not quite interpret questions that are trying to lead him onto the wedge issues… Not quite as clever as AW, but working on it, again, in my opinion…

  • TA ….. yours is a confirmation that one sees a lot much better watching without the real time tension. Your observation on how we now fight to the end is most pertinent imo. That’s the big thing Emery has brought to the team and must be contributing a lot on our ability to win “ugly*. In other words we leverage our assets to win, not that we win lucky. The link below shows game week 7 table of the number of sprints made by each team. Our possition is very interesting and educative:

  • The table shows that Emery is making huge progress in attaining one of his targets: more energy and intensity in our play. Naturally at this early stage that greater energy and intensity would lack sophistication or intelligence. But with time those would grow. Klopp’s Liv was raw energy at the beginning but it’s become so intelligent now. We are on the road and I believe we will get there in a much shorter time than it took Liv.

  • Just read your initial comment AB, so sorry if anyone else has covered it but yes amigo, a beating is possible, it’s always possible, it’s what makes voetbal the sport it is, it’s unpredictability.
    As Arsenal fans we’ve suffered quite a few beatings in recent years, so that won’t be a new experience, and that’s despite our previous penchant for dominating possession, in fact it makes me wonder if having the lions share of possession isn’t overrated, because however much possession you have, it’s what you do with it that counts?

    On the face of it Emery’s Arsenal have been lucky, or that’s how it seems, but if it’s just luck it will eventually run out – probably against Liverpool.
    Until then, I’ll take all these last 7 wins and fingers crossed we can possibly add a few more until November 3rd and our demise, or not as the case may be…

  • 17tino, like you I’m quite astounded at all the negativity I find across the Goonersphere, some fans just can’t get off it unless they’ve had their daily gripe about all things Arsenal.
    Twitter has a lot to answer for, I avoid it like it was a dose of 1918 flu and I don’t go on Facebook either, that’s probably why I haven’t been hacked.
    My old blog that I visit daily has a few doomers and naysayers on there bringing the whole atmosphere of the place down, it’s a shame as it used to be a right blast on there.
    Coming on here though is like a tonic, I come over all positive 😀, it’s saved me from taking up an alternative past time like fly fishing or clog dancing in order to escape the gloom.

  • HT, I kinda think that Ramsey would fit in very well at Liverpool, Man U or Chelsea, but what do Arsenal do in January if we receive an offer?
    Of course with 6 months left on his deal in January we aren’t going to get anywhere near his value, maybe an offer in the region of £5m, that is unless Man U offer a player exchange as an alternative deal, they do have quite a few players who seem surplus to requirements.
    But I guess it’s down to Emery, if we sign someone in January then Ramsey could leave, otherwise selling him at a knockdown price could leave us short in midfield?

  • Well then, from all the “Reply” comments above, it’s agreed that there’s some method to the (at times) disjointed play we get to see and so long as the wins keep coming, I won’t be complaining. With more wins, I’ve always felt the confidence to try new things will return and cohesion will improve. Frankly, I experience a kind of aloofness in the early stages of the games, never fearing we can be beaten; rather, knowing there is another gear in the team it can get up to, to secure the win….and that’s been the case. A bit of luck too, but we seem to ride it well.

    Kev, funny thing is we probably will do better against the top sides (we did play well vs City and Chelsea); so, maybe we are developing the hard work to match the smaller sides while retaining the guile to give the bigger sides a good game. Liverpool game could be a watershed one, where we turn that guile into a win or draw. November 3rd is a day to look forward to, then.

    Curiously, I find the “negativity” in the comments section of the blogs less about the club (unless on some topical issue like Ramsey’s contract) and more about the players pre-elected as villains, just because they were Wenger’s buys. Xhaka, Mustafi and Ozil seem to be the regular picks, after Iwobi last season. Bellerin is another who gets slated, regularly. In the heat of the games, one can have his say but, afterwards, I rather like to have perspective of the overall performance of the players and will usually find positives to look at.

    As for Ramsey, it was clear he would be sold if he failed to sign up soon enough after we dragged negotiations into the start of the season, after the window shut (I know the stories suggest the contract was pulled because of our wage bill, but I’d rather think there was an offer with a deadline and the club took a stand). I just thought with a new team now in charge, Arsenal would want to send a message to other potential contract rebels. It won’t matter if it is at a cut-throat price; just sell for the heck of it. It’s unfortunate but it’s what it is.

  • …another aspect of the negativity I glean is from those papers and blogs who go about picking up on and compiling the most negative in-game tweets about a specific player, and put it out as the opinion(s) of “Arsenal fans” about the player in view. It’s so absurd because some of the tweets may have come ten minutes into a game, or right after the player has made an error during the game. Of course, the comments will be scathing.

    Some comments have alluded to improvements in the likes of Iwobi and Holding “under Emery”. I find such uncomplimentary of the previous management’s insight to promote/buy those players when they were younger. The reason you spot talent early (and promote to the first team, as it was with Iwobi) is to educate them and observe them grow from season to season, in the hope they become a part of the team. Iwobi always had it in him and had even better games for the club. But for his lack of real pace, Ive always liked Holding’s grit and bravery (he kept Costa quiet, after all, in that FA cup final, paired with Per Mertesacker in an unlikely combo). So, the display of those lads is a predictable progression. The player I’d want to see back to his early potential is Hector Bellerin.

  • ….finally, I do hope some resolution is reached on Ramsey, despite the deal being off. Surely, we would be better off having him settled in than playing him, in that state of mind, when we know he’s off.

  • TA,
    Credit to you on faith in Iwobi. I’ll still say he had almost no match influence under Wenger, who saw potential, but couldn’t bring it out. We obviously have the right coach for him now. More explosive, using that body and strength much more aggresively. Welbeck looking very good too. I always loved him as a sub for a myriad of reasons, but he’s also shining in this setup.
    2 players I was desperate to get rid of. Lol.
    I love, absolutely love, the rotation and subs as Emery does it. Seeming to keep everyone hungry and also rewarded with game time.
    We have to find some way to get Auba some games starting through the middle. He’s been a team player, with a great attitude… And I also want him to be rewarded and happy.

  • Ko Henry, condolences to the people of Sulawesi. Although Palu is far from your home it is still part of Indonesia.

    TA, been travelling so had less time to comment.

    I should say i mostly agreed on the points, and we did well to contain the attack. With Torreira and the midfield clicking we were more stable, and Ozil and Auba had a quiet game in the first half, but did better in the second. Auba is on a break in form we should be patient with him.

    On Rambo’s situation, it does not feel good when you hear news about the club removing a new contract offer for him. He is the last of the youngsters where Wenger brought in, and maybe Emery wanted the team to play his own kind of Total Football, and not Wengerball.

  • Well, Jync, it only goes to show you are just a fan and fans will be fans. On Iwobi (I know how much you wanted him off 😀), you are entitled to your opinion. Everyone thought he was fantastic against Barcelona, Chelsea (most games) and Everton (a game where he came on as a sub and tore the right back a new one). He was always this good and is improving as any youngster should. I’ve said it on here how he is strong, direct and does a job when required.

    If a player is encouraged, he will perform. When fans like you begin to affirm he is improving, it can only work out well for him, whether it is Emery’s doing or not. Before the World Cup, many players were distracted, especially those whose “shirts” were in the balance for their national teams, or those who were going for their first World Cup. I think one or the other affected Iwobi’s output going into the end of last season as World Cup fever approached, so Wenger had to drop him to the bench most games. When he came on, he seemed to be concerned about copping an injury (so as to make the team, for sure) and looked distracted, which was unusual for him.

    I think we should just support the team and players and trust the management to make the personnel decisions, whether it is to buy, promote, sell, drop or play.

  • Eris–
    I have to take issue with– and in a friendly fashion oppose– your sentiment of:
    “I think we should just support the team and players and trust the management to make the personnel decisions, whether it is to buy, promote, sell, drop or play.”

    As a teen, my fave bumper sticker on my 74 Mercury Capri was ‘Question Authority’. I’ve always had a bit of a revolutionary attitude. So, to me? What you suggest sounds as if we all ought be– ‘Stepford Gooners on Prozac’.

    See, I have no choice but to ‘support the team’. It’s (now) in my DNA. I may not have grown up in the culture of being an Arsenal fan. But I am every inch (pound/stone?) a Gooner.

    The 3 sites I tend to visit most– have their share of critical voices. But by-and-large, the writing is backed up by a writer’s analysis of ‘why’.

    Now? Everything that’s ‘important!’– is said in 140 characters-or-less. The whole world who have smartphones are now standup-insult-comedians. Don’t much care for ‘kneejerk’ anymore. Because, of course– everything published on the internet is true! And why, though my stock and trade professionally for the last 20+ years has been online– I eschew all social media.

    So– while I wasn’t as hard on Iwobi as, say J had been? I’d seen an upside in a 22 year-old young man– that has in the past year– ‘just’ turned into a man physically. I’d been critical of his lack of progression last season– but then almost everyone at the club had an off-year.

    So then? The one guy I feel the club should move on from? I’ve described at-length and in great detail ‘why’. I’ve expressed the value in cashing in while there’s still value– and investing more wisely. I’ll agree, improvement could happen. But until I see it? I just can’t whistle ‘Don’t Worry. Be Happy.’


  • Lol. To be fair, jw1, I was just looking for the best way to round off my post so that wasn’t intended to come across as suggesting we (fans) should just take anything dished out. Not, at all. The statement was made in the context of the matter being addressed, being: player bashing and the “all is much better under Emery” sentiment. I love that we picked Emery as Arsene’s replacement when we did (I’ll probably love any good manager brought in) but just wish fans will cut out the frequent attempts to make comparisons (maybe that can’t be helped, but we can be reasoned while at it) and just support until we get the team we crave. Anything else, and you feel the manager may be put under the kind of pressure which eventually consumed Wenger.

    OT. Hopefully, we get to see Reiss Nelson against Man city tonight. He will love to come on and strut his stuff.

  • “So then? The one guy I feel the club should move on from? I’ve described at-length and in great detail ‘why’. I’ve expressed the value in cashing in while there’s still value–…..” – jw1

    Tell me one more time, who this is. 😜

  • Loving the comments today. JNYC, nice comment. Iwobi is having a good spell but he may drop back a bit again soon. With young players it goes like that until they reach a certain level of consistency.

  • FWIW?
    That CSKA Moscow bunch we dispensed with in Europa League last Spring?
    Beat Real Madrid 1-0 in CL Group play today.


  • Seems that Petr Cech could be out injured beyond the Intersnooze, up to four weeks it’s being reported now, a chance for Leno to cement his place in the team?
    Emery has, it appears, no favourites, so if a player performs (Lacazette) he stays in the team.
    That’s how it should be imo…

  • Adrien Rabiot of PSG is in exactly the same position as Aaron Ramsey in terms of his contract.
    Rabiot has turned down PSG’s latest contract offer and will therefore be free to negotiate with interested foreign clubs this coming January, the same as our Welshman.
    Emery will know all about the Frenchman having been his manager, so I wonder if the French AR could well be the eventual replacement for the Welsh AR at Arsenal..?

  • CSKA scored their goal in the 2nd-minute (on a backpass error ironically enough!) and held on for 90+ more against a strong XI fielded by Real.


  • jw1-
    The Shkarecrow. 😉

    Like I didn’t know that already. 😂.

    He will improve, though. We probably need his type (swash-buckling, strong tackling, fires quenching, good leap…), after many years of being accused of being soft.

  • For the CL games, I only had eyes for United v Valencia (after seeing good bits of Hoffeinheim v City. I was looking out for our ex-boys, you see. Loved to watch Coq and Paulista show that they still had it. That one ended 0-0 though owing mainly to some wasteful moments by the Spanish side; Guedes the biggest culprit.

  • Eris–
    He’d improve in my eyes a great deal if he didn’t leave his feet unnecessarily (especially outside the 18 box). Oblivious to moments of danger. Cluelessness that just chaps my a**.


  • Four players costing £230m, astonishing figures Total, let’s hope that Mourinho stays in situ for the rest of this season and beyond, he’s doing a great job….

  • I’ve got a comment that simply Will. Not. Post. I wonder why… It’s a bit personal, with a touch of politics…but it still seems pretty harmless…just the sort of thing my regular, er, readers, could simply skip… ? Is there a list of banned words I should know about?…

    I bet I could find a way to wedge it in there given my (still-not-yet-revoked) back-channel access…

  • Nothing showing in the comment sections, neither in ‘pending’ or ‘spam’ Seventeenho…. so I guess your dreamed that comment up. 😀

  • Oh my did I have a screwed up day yesterday…and tomorrow looks kinda similar, meaning I may have to miss at least part of our match. Question: Would this trip to Azerbaijan be shorter for Hehehenry or JK than for Kev or Retsub or TA?… And why can’t teams from Latin America or the US compete in the Europa League if Quarry-a-bag can. Certainly the top teams from North Africa should be allowed, no?…

    Is team news out yet?… I’m imagining that the players who have to play might already be on the plane…

    Which leads me to say this… I miss the CL…Sure, the group stages aren’t ALL that critical and Arsenal (under Wenger, at least) ALWAYS got through, BUT at least you always had some idea that it was the same game being played. (And even on the long trips, like to Moscow, good teams can lose…) Sometimes the locations were exotic and the cultures (footballing and otherwise) were different, but, basically, you had to show up and play. It’s great that we *could* play a team of reserves and maybe win in Baku–or lose but still win the group–but doesn’t that make it all the more pointless?

    What have we got en la television para ver hoy? Spuds-Barca… Muy Interesante… Totts may have some trouble in that group of theirs (and end up competing with the likes of us) trying to get back to Baku…

    Yesterday I was able to watch a bit of the ManCity match and they needed the full 90 (and some individual brilliance from David Silva) to get their win in Germany–which they needed after their opening home loss. I also did some switching between Bayern-Ajax and MooU-Valencia. Both ended in draws but at least the first game had goals. ALL the big teams will almost certainly be just fine (including RM, probably happy that their trip to Moscow happened in early October rather than later in the stage). I’m curious about Azerbaijan (wasn’t the whole country a shirt sponsor for Atletico?…) but that’s about the extent of it.

    We can mock the happenings at ManU all we like, and, it’s true, they’ve been adrift since Fergie stepped down. I’d be careful not to glance too closely in the mirror, however. Our departed strongman, (one, Arsene) Wenger, actually tried to work within the, er, parameters, of the new American owner (parallels? Can anyone see the parallels…) for over a decade, while TAKING RESPONSIBILITY the whole time. Now, we’ve got management by committee and all the elements are there for similar pass-the-buck (and blame) if things go poorly. So far, Emery and the players (and even some of the support) seem to be on the same page and winning these winnable matches (by hook or by crook and please don’t look too closely…) seems good. What happens if the (can’t quite call it) fun stops?… Esp. given that our American owner doesn’t seem like he wants to throw Glazer style money at the problem…

    Wasn’t ManU the dominant English club with Arsenal a modernizing (modernising?) maverick from the capital nipping at its heels? (And plucky ‘Pool hoping to nudge in there with their walking together and all that…) Fast forward fifteen years–past an economic collapse and the rise of Putin’s Pals, Princes and P*mpous Pr*cks (with orange hair…) and football is (one of) the victim(s). The two leading lights of English football from the early aughts look the best bets to be on the outside looking in when the next (tired and predictable…) draw for the CL group stage takes place.

    To me, it’s all rather grim and the WHOLE sport (if not the whole world…) needs a reorganization. Or, just forget about the big picture and OGAAT myself Baku to the match in front of me. (Or whatever else I can find on my internet/television…)

    Or, maybe I can just blame…I’m spinning the wheel and it lands on…the line between Mustafi and Xhaka (which is skinny and looks a lot like Ozil)… Ahh Germans, oops, German-Swiss, if they win, but Albanian (or Turkish) if they lose… And (the great thing about club football vs the national game)…they’re Gunners (until we sell them, if we can…) BUT (All?) STILL sh*te if we win…

    Too p*litical?… Sorry, please delete (or I can)…

    Happy Wednesday…

  • I put in some of these: **** and then went for a walk… (It’s supposed to be raining but it isn’t, darn it… 😉 …) and now it’s here^^^ for your (meaning: nobody’s…) pleasure… Enjoy…

    I’m gonna scout the new Ramsey, Adrian Rabiot…who starts vs Red Star Belgrade (I think, it’s written as Crvena Zvezda, which looks close enough)… Already I like him, tall and looks like a thinking man (scratching his chin during the song–the one thing I don’t miss about the CL…) and his hair isn’t quite as silly as our up and coming New Ramsey (Guendouzi)…

    PSG kinda makes me sad… I remember when Arsenal were the best French team… 😦

  • You ought get your ducks in a (Smith-)Rowe HT!
    You’re just not thinking straight. The NewRambo is not either Rabiot or our PrettierDavidLuiz– but E(s)mile! 🙂


  • Hey, Thanks for reading (both of you… 🙂 …)

    I haven’t been watching Rabiot since PSG went up 2 nil (he started that move with an interception and clearly he’d be the next Xhaka not Ramsey)… Instead the match in Moscow has been a fun one with everything except goals… Gotta step out. (It IS raining now… 🙂 which means that fire season might be officially over…) but hoping that Totts-Barca is still a match by the time I get back… For some reason my DVR won’t record Spuds matches… 😮

    Late set-piece goal for the German team…

  • Barca up 1-0 on Totts at 19′.
    Coutinho scoring at 2′ before Spuds could say: ‘Heyyyy — wait!’.
    Now time for rotational diving practice to begin.


  • Everything took longer than expected so I got back just in time to see Messi 1v1 with Lloris and ending whatever drama they might have been trying to create on the dead grass of the national stadium… Hoping to see some highlights here… and to see a group table that reads Tottenham 0…

  • Ended 2-4 at Wembley. Could have been more for Barca. Saw snippets of Ospina looking comfortable in Naples. Napoli beat Liverpool 1-0; deserved win too.

  • Indeed, Eris, the table in that group looks a good deal more balanced than the one with Barca, Inter (both on 6), PSV and Spurs… TA might enjoy a Dutch outfit sending Totts our way in the 2nd division…

    I’m not sure if I’ve written about it (but I’ve certainly been thinking it)…but I think Emery’s job #1 is to show Arsenal as truly competitive with our arch rival. Finishing above them in the league is the most important metric, but the individual matches will mean A LOT in terms of the local (ticket buying) support. The more the better, I say, as our superior financial position *should* allow us to have a deeper team, letting us rotate and compete well if/when we play them in non-league play…

  • 17ht, maybe an hour less of flight travel. Not so much of a difference, as it kicks off at 12.55 am local time, 11.55 pm Indonesia time. About 2 hours earlier of the other matches.

    I remembered Qarabag playing liv a few years ago and it will not be good to underestimate them too, like with Vorskla.

    A strong second team with midfield thrusts is the only way to win this one.

  • 17tino, I also read your 17.46 and stayed with it until the end, funnily enough Quarabag is the Azeri name for Nagorno Karabakh, the disputed area of Azerbaijan that is populated by Armenians, some 140,000 of them in an unofficial state which now calls itself Artsakh, but isn’t recognised by the international community, probably because Azerbaijan is a major producer of petroleum – a by product of which is plastic – a substance that we all hugely rely on but is also destroying a large part of our eco system in the sea because humans can’t stop throwing it into the sea, because humans are, or an extremely large proportion of us are, basically a bunch of mindless arseholes/ assholes.

  • Like all Gunners I am happy that Spuds are losing out in the CL. But it is still quite sickening to see a team field Messi, Suarez and Coutinho plus some more world-stars in midfield and defence in the one team. The two games between Spuds and PSV will be much more interesting to watch. The radio commentators were already talking about Spuds next game with Inter to be the deciding one – obviously believing that the double v PSV meant six points in the bag – but I reckon that the Van Bommel led lampjes (little lamps) will give them a proper game home and away. By all accounts PSV were unlucky to lose to Inter.

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