Breaking up THE partnership Cost us | Why Sub Mesut? No debate re MOTM! 8 Observations

Our winning run came to an end today but we remain unbeaten. Not the result we hoped for but overall I reckon Palace deserved a point and an away draw isn’t too bad a result. Yet I reckon Unai got his subs wrong today and that may have cost us…

Eight initial observations:

  1. Breaking up the Xhaka-Torreira combo in de double-DM positions probably cost us two points today. Guendouzi did not play badly but he is no Xhaka when it comes to simply controlling the game, protecting the shape of the team and finding that extra man with quick diagonal balls. Guendouzi likes to run with the ball – a bit like Rambo does – whereas Xhaka likes to receive the ball in space with the aim to find the best free man available. Torreira and Xhaka look like partners whereas Torreira and Guendouzi looked like two einzelgangers. I didn’t think the CBs had the same level of cover from the double DM-pivot as in previous games either. As a result we looked messy and nervous for 90 minutes and in the end we paid for it;
  2. Palace were well set up in defence and clearly were keen to avoid our FBs to get behind them. At the same time, the Eagles targeted our FB-areas to cause us damage and we looked vulnerable on both sides. Emery made a change at half time but he didn’t really have many options. Still, we played better with Licht at RB, but the return of Nacho and Kola cannot come soon enough;
  3. Iwobi and Ozil were less effective and I reckon this was due to the lack of quick balls to them from the midfielders – see also my first point. I expected us to increase the tempo in the second half and we did start well, but we lacked shape and our passing was not sharp enough for the entire game, whereas usually it is much better in the second half at least;
  4. I did not understand Unai’s decision to take Mesut off. If it had been for another creative midfielder like Mkhi or Rambo I could have lived with it, but Ozil out Welbeck in didn’t make sense to me. We lost our impetus to attack and looked even more disorganised. Ramsey came on later but he never got into the game, understandably so given the little time he was given to have an impact. Emery’s subs have been fab until now so I am not going to be too critical, but I didn’t understand the Danny for Mesut subbing;
  5. I was getting used to Auba coming on after 60 minutes and give the team that shot in the arm. Today AubaCazette started and it did not really work. Auba got his goal anyway, but a start for Welbeck or Mkhi had my preference today. Auba and Xhaka did not give us much from the left flank today but then you can argue that both players are not at their best on the left;
  6. How good is Torreira?! Graeme Souness said last week that Torreira is ‘neat and tidy’ indicating that he was not more than a hard working, decent midfielder. I would say that Souness’ commentary is not even ‘neat and tidy’ but that is for another time. Torreira gives us shape at the back whereas Xhaka gives us shape in attack and together they strengthen each other at each side of the pitch. Lucas’ ability to anticipate danger and where the ball will be next is very, very good, and so is his first touch and quick passing ability. These are the sort of deeper midfielders that make a team tick: What a gem!;
  7. We allowed CP too often into our box and I was not impressed with the Leno-Mustafi-Holding triangle today. Mustafi was clumsy when given the first pen away, but all three showed little calm and looked all over the place at time. To be fair, without the Xhaka-Torreira protection and no Nacho to help out either, it was never going to be an easy game for them. Holding on the other hand had a good individual game;
  8. Yet in spite of all the above observations, we would have won the game if the gullible Atkinson had not given a second pen against us. Yes we were lucky too with the referee not spotting that Laca’s hand had touched the ball for our second goal, but the Palace players had been trying to get pens all afternoon and he fell for the Zaha move (to be fair I did too initially, but I ain’t a ref…).

All in all, I am happy with the point and I hope that Unai will have learned a few things from it.

By TotalArsenal.

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55 Responses to Breaking up THE partnership Cost us | Why Sub Mesut? No debate re MOTM! 8 Observations

  1. Jnyc says:

    First off, great live blog 17 and everybody. I’m enjoying these Europa Sunday games because I always have the day off, rolling out of bed and onto the sofa is pleasant.
    My main observation, is that we looked exactly like a team who was playing their 3rd game in a week. Where we had energy and were winning every ball last week, we always seemed a step slow in contesting balls today. The shots on goal stats also confirm it, i think. Palace does deserve credit, they played really hard all match, but,….. I really despise dropping points because of a penalty, especially 2!
    I thought Auba was basically invisible all game out wide and in midfield. I think Torreira is a genius of a technical player, and I noted how he got us Xhakas goal opportunity.
    I like the coach’s rotation in general, and I thought the subs were exactly as I would have done them today. Needed energy (and size on those set pieces)so Welbeck, then Ramsey. Both more defensive helpers than Mesut. I like that he wasn’thappy to come off though.

    Of course we were all worried about Xhaka dealing with tricky attackers, but I trust Emery, who must have thought his depth in midfielders was better to use than his LB options.

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers JYNC. Disagreed on the subs though. They did us no favours today and in my opinion probably cost us.

  3. Goonereris says:

    Fine observations, as always, TA. To be honest, I am not sure to what extent the breaking up of our midfield partnership has determined the pressure CP put us under and the result; if anything, I thought having young, energetic runners served us well seeing as the hosts moved the ball quickly and never gave our midfielders space, as soon as they got anywhere around our side of the centre circle. Xhaka would, of course, provide some dangerous transitions but will likely get caught on the ball to worrying effect.

    The way the game was going, we probably needed more physicality (a quality Emery seems to require in some game situations); that, for me, would explain Welbeck coming on to give us a chance in offense and if defending set pieces, which CP were racking up on. Ozil does well when everyone is on his game and we are keeping possession well. That wasn’t the case, this game. We were incapable of keeping possession for long enough to allow Ozil work his magic. Don’t get me wrong, I’d leave Ozil as a luxury in hope of a moment but, maybe Emery saw it differently. If the fact it wasn’t a direct swap for Ramsey got us confused, imagine what it’s done to the opposition. It’s something managers do: mix and phase out the substitutions to leave the other manager guessing.

    Torreira was immense today; I thought Holding also did a good job of it as well. He has this determined look on his face always, then is never fazed by the odd occasion when he gets lucky or has made an error of judgment.

    In summary, a draw leaves us unbeaten and isn’t a bad thing to have at this stage. I only hope our rivals will also be given a game when they visit. We need to seek to start the games the way we do from the 2nd half. Very few sides can recover from going 2 or 3 down by the first half. 10 games in and we are still to go into half time holding a lead. That may not mean much if we always went on to win it. However, it isn’t everyday we get to play teams we can bully in the second half. Onto Blackpool, then.

  4. Goonereris says:

    I didn’t add that I agree with all of your other observations. You didn’t state it clearly who your MOTM was, but I am guessing Torreira? The little man did well today and stood out. I thought Xhaka enjoyed himself today. Played with a smile all through, after that goal, then frowned a bit after giving away the penalty. He was interviewed afterwards and he straight away said there was contact so it was a pen. New spirit in the team (move on; no excuses or blame)?

  5. Jnyc says:

    I forgot to mention Holding for his work lately. His job is harder without Nacho, and even more so with Xhaka on the left.

  6. Pony Eye says:

    Interedting observations TA.

    I agree with your No. 1 in the sense that Douzi is still lacking in maturity. He is too keen to play the ball forward and quite often it makes him linger with the ball a bit too long. He should understand that against top opposition that opening is not alwsys there. He can always learn from the little neat tidy package, the MOTM, Lucas T.

    But what probably had the biggest negative effect on our game was Xhaka at LB. He represented no offensive threat at all and if there is one thing he can not do it is defending. Incredibly slow feet which he compensates for with his brilliant use of space. But manufacturing spaces at FB ain’t easy. Emery is maybe yet to fully understand Xhaka’s big limitation. SLOW FEET.

  7. allezkev says:

    Shame I missed the live blog, seemed as if you guys had a gas.

    Can’t comment fully on game as all I’ve seen was MotD, here’s my thoughts on what I saw.

    1st goal, clumsy dive in by Mustafi when he could have stayed on his feet, poor defending.

    2nd goal, an Exocet by Xhaka, we need more of that.

    3rd goal, handball by Lacazette. Should have been disallowed. But Arsenal should have been given a penalty as a Lacazette was having the shirt ripped off of his back before and as he waved his hand in the air.

    4th goal, tired challenge by Xhaka, poor defending tbh.

    I did read comments from other sources about our team looking tired so maybe JNYC was correct in his assertion regarding 3 games in 7 days and it’s effects.

    17tino, well done for the commentary.

    Total, even laid back Dutchmen get grumpy then?
    I didn’t realise… 😃

  8. 17highburyterrace says:

    Well done, TA, trying to write a post about the football game…and I basically agree with what (I think) you’re getting at… I’d put it more succinctly (which I think I tried to do during the match)…We got outplayed (esp. in the middle of the park) and ref Atkinson looked a deer in the headlights from the kick-off and eventually (you could see it coming…) made the decisions one would expect of him, giving CP a(n almost) fair result. We should take the point (on top of all the others we’ve been lucky enough to grab) and get back on our side of the river without any complaining, nor looking back…

    This is a match (Kev, others?…) where MOTD is probably all you need to see… I know I don’t want to watch it again, even if I’m trying to write at the same time… (That’s my real problem with Emery’s Arsenal: but for the inspired moments of individual and team brilliance, watching us actually try and play football is pretty damn painful… You can’t argue with the results, unless, of course, you note how lucky we’ve been and the level of the competition… This could be the subject of a full post, but I think people are getting pretty tired of my schtick…)

    So, breaking down the individual “moments” and talking points is probably what we ought to do… but, I’ve already read Arseblog and that was good enough for me… I’m a bit surprised TA didn’t go after the “chancer,” but maybe JW will… If it’s not too busy a workweek… At some point, my friend will find time to shkratch that itch, I’m guessing…

    Coach it out of him, Unai, he’s a talented player… And keep coaching Leno (on set pieces, esp.)…

    The problem, again, for me, is that this new Arsenal is nothing BUT chancers–or moments when the chances happen–or praying that we take ours while they don’t take theirs. Torreira did a Zaha dive to win Xhaka’s (Wowza!) FK but Laca’s hand to Auba’s poked goal was even better, millimeters over the line and everything, IMO… It was Atkinson’s game in the end and zero goals from open play says it all. Maybe we were tired from the (eye-gouging) match in Lisbon, but man oh man, I’d have preferred actually CONTROLLING this one and playing out a nil-nil… Or, once we chanced ourselves into the lead, controlling the match and stealing the full points (from another lower team) once again…

    Back to the football then… Let’s face facts, neither team wanted to play in the middle of the pitch (and maybe Arsenal doing so, like Arsene himself, is just a thing of the past…), BUT CP got their lines set up soooo much faster than we did and Zaha (with some help from Townsend and the rest) basically could dance into our box all.day.long. whereas we.simply.could.not. Iwobi tried and we improvised a chance or two over on that side, but, after Bellerin went off, there was nothing over there beyond Lichtie’s bad attitude… It was (kinda, sorta) a match for Zaha, a guy who is years ahead of Iwobi (Auba and Ozil too) when it comes to getting into the box and then flying for the penalty. Note to the other Swiss fella… fouls outside of the box don’t (always) lead to goals…Side note: I think the looming threat of VAR is lessening this part of the game–which is a good thing. When the ref, however, can’t get on top of things in the first minutes of the match, that threat goes away. So too does the football and it becomes EVEN more about the talking points, controversial plays, etc., etc…

    But, we should also face another fact. Emery is all about those moments and yanking off the only #10 just after an hour for another chancer (Welbeck) says it all. Folks know I think of Ramsey as a suitable #10 for only a mid-table (or lesser) team, but what about Mkhitaryan, a guy who can glide through spaces (with or without the ball) find a pass and get in on the goals himself? I’d get him in as my avatar guy (Elneny has yet to play a minute of PL football and can’t even make the bench) but Guendouzi is preferred?… I think it must be the hair (big)…or the contract (tiny as Torriera)… Paying midfielders? Hah! That’s a mistake Mourinho makes… THIS is the Emery Revolution, my friends, and it’s not gonna be without bloodshed… Most likely starting next weekend when Pool come to town.

    That said, maybe we’ll have some FBs back, we can park our own bus (and do that painful playing out of the back–before punting it thing) and play for these “moments,” when, you never know, we get lucky, and some quality shows and the FKs go in, corners get scored (handballs get–or don’t get–called) etc., etc., etc…

    Wengerball (THE version of football, I grew up on, sorry, I missed the Chapman years…) is dead, and now we’ve got Chance, er, Emery, er, Moments of, er, Ball… Enjoy… Or maybe we (or I…) just watch MOTD and those guys can tell us (me…) what’s happened…

    Oooh, that certainly sounds easier… Anybody gonna watch Totts-City later on? if so, still in search of some football, I’ll be around… Otherwise…

    Happy Monday!!

  9. Goonereris says:

    PE, I’m sure Emery would have known about Xhaka’s slow feet but, “what to do”? He had 3 natural LBs out injured (AM-N, included) and probably decided he should have at least, one full back on the bench (Lichtsteiner), which turned out a good decision seeing as Bellerin had to come off. Being wholly left footed, Xhaka was perhaps, the one defensive minded (term used loosely) player we could afford to use as replacement for Monreal and Kola.

    Kev, I have viewed Xhaka’s challenge for the pen again and again and while he’s made it easy for the Ref to make that call (by the positioning of his leg), the fact is Zaha has played for that contact and I have seen refs ignore such. I commend him for moving beyond it though, by accepting it was the right call simply because there was contact.

  10. Goonereris says:

    Sad story (no longer news, though) coming out of Leicester City, about the death of their owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, in a helicopter crash, after a game in the stadium. May his soul Rest In Peace.

  11. Pony Eye says:

    Eris, Xhaka is a brilliant passer of the ball and nothing more. Reduce the 360 degree space he enjoys in the middle for passing and he’s robbed of that one thing he cherishes. I thought we could have gone 3 at the back and any of our left field midfielders like Welbz or Iwobi used as a wingback. Not ideal but better. Then there would have been the added advantage that the Xhaka/Torreira partnership wouldn’t be broken.

    Probably Emery was keen to create space for Douzi/Torreira. Understandable as he has to keep testing out combinations. I’d wager he learnt a few donts from the match.

  12. Pony Eye says:

    Yes Eris …may his soul rest in peace.

  13. Goonereris says:

    I like to hear Adrian Clarke’s unbiased analyses after our games. This one makes for interesting viewing/listening. Interesting he thought Holding was “main man”.

    https://www.arsenal.com/news/analysis-why-our-winning-run-came-end.

  14. 17highburyterrace says:

    Well, nobody too moved by my comments… Time to shut it down…Soon, soon, I promise…

    Indeed, it’s VERY sad stuff for the Leicester City football community…and some moving tributes that Wal-Mart people (the kin of Stan Kroenke, for example), I fear, will never see…

    On the other hand, if you want to see some folks dying due to the investments of other football owners (and the sponsors of lots of teams including our own)…the New York Times (yeah, yeah, fake news, blah, blah, blah…) has recently done a (quite graphic) photo journal about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, actively supported by Emirati (and other local princes/kings/reality tv stars/etc…) May their souls ALSO rest in peace…

    Too political, I know… Sorry…

    JW? testing, testing… Do you still read my drivel? If so, don’t you have a background in political blogging?…Quit that job and start a(n unafraid…) football (or Arsenal) blog, I say… (If you like, I could write something…I’m searching for readers, after all…testing, testing…and I actually WATCHED some of that frisbee sh*te…)

    Time to watch one of the Princely teams play some football , even if I’ve been fooled by the time change and find myself tuning in too early… Interesting that Pochettino is starting Ozil, er, Eriksen, on the bench…(The South Korean) Ramsey too (Son)…not to mention the Jack of (all of) North London…Dele Alli… The old 7-2-1 and trying to hold out as long as possible…Or maybe you’d call it a 9-2-1 if you can get the ref and the pitch helping to defend… City have the BOTH the English
    AND the Algerian Zaha (Sterling and Mahrez), so, if everybody can figure out the lines (leftover from the throwball game) expect some pressure on their friend, er, Mr. Friend (the hunchback with the whistle)…

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    Game over? Or maybe some of these defenders have to try and play now…

    And still nobody to blog with… 😦

  16. Goonereris says:

    Beating this Man city side is going to take some doing. They practically wiped the “NFL marked” floor with the Spuds tonight, until late in the second half when Spurs started to get going, albeit with nothing to show for it. Could easily have been 0-3 by half time. We have to be ready for some physical battle when we do face Tottenham.

  17. Goonereris says:

    I am not sure how the fixtures are arrived at but if a team that plays in the league on Monday night has to play in a cup game on the Wednesday after, then they stand little chance of a result, especially as the cup game is a derby.

    That is Spurs’ lot tomorrow night. Strange, unless there’s a perfectly good explanation.

  18. henrychan says:

    Spurs lost with a quick 6 minutes goal from Mahrez.. Anybody happy..?? Me at least.. hehehe..

    To be honest 2-2 is a fair result for us.. we might lost.. but two penalty were too much.. he should give Ayew a second card for diving instead.. that would change all the game.. hehehe..

  19. jw1 says:

    Moments. Spot-on HT.
    When all of the goals come from static scoring opportunities–all due to actions that preceded. Eris? Appreciate the call for ‘spirit without blame’. This is however, a fairly stark situation where The Shkarecrow cost us 2 points.

    On the second PEN? Never should have seen Xhaka in the situation he faced with Zaha. At change of possession, Mustafi took on the CF near midfield. Poorly. Considering the game situation? His job was to take the professional foul and cut down the CF before a pass could be made. Take the yellow. Save the points. Instead, meekly pokes at the ball, stumbles away from the player.

    Nonetheless. A player with every bit of athletic talent one could ask. With unnerving inability to misread or bung-up under pressure.

    My teeth get millimeters shorter each year he remains. 🙄

    jw1

  20. jw1 says:

    *With unnerving inability– to misread or bung-up under pressure.

    jw1

  21. Goonereris says:

    Saw that too. Certainly, Shkodran should have done better there. He has these moments of brain farts where just charges after his man, even all the way upfield, sometimes to good effect; but in this case, not so much. I can’t recall if he was on a yellow, so I’ve got to agree. Take the yellow for the team and 3 points.

  22. jw1 says:

    Guendouzi the only one on a yellow.
    Might be said that he should have done so either way. 10 minutes and a man down? I’d prefer those chances. Granted, that’s hindsight. But not alone in my views either. Two writers whose blogs I read/post most frequently (other than BK) concur.

    Yogi at ACLF: “Should he be near the Premier League team? I feel more comfortable seeing Sokratis and Holding in the XI than Mustafi and anyone.”

    Tim at 7amKickoff: “But structural problems do not wish away Mustafi’s endemic problems. Structural problems don’t make a player dive into a tackle in the six yard box. Or how about how weakly he tried to foul Sorloth in the buildup to the second? The problem with Shkodran Mustafi isn’t the team around him, he’s the problem in the team. He is error-prone to the point that he makes everyone around him worse.”

    TBH Eris? Today, it doesn’t bother me.
    I was convinced at the season’s outset we ‘might be better’ than last year. That this year was ‘transitional’. I’m all-in for Emery– good or not-so-good.

    But I’m not just some old man shaking my fist and yelling at clouds (on the internet!). Well. Maybe I am. But it’s cheaper than therapy. 🙄

    jw1

  23. Admir says:

    Nice review, TA.

    I agree that Torreira-Xhaka axis is the key to get the best out of Özil. It’s a game of chemistry and little connections between team departments. With Xhaka on the FB position we lost any chance to widen the pitch and the midfield chemistry that seems to be established. Guendouzi is still far from being good enough for Arsenal XI in tough games and, if I’m allowed to make a negative prediction, I see him is a new Denilson. Even the real Denilson was seen as a bright star by none other than Thierry Henry back in 2007 only to fade away.

    As for our attackers, without proper supply unit behind them, Auba and Laca can do very little on their own. Auba scored but it was a very poor outing from him while Laca, a focal point of our attack, was largely anonymous. Iwobi still blows hot and cold. Leno doesn’t control his area at set-pieces, it is only a matter of time when the opponents will target him.

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    Thank you all for the comments. Good to see a variety of views and we don’t have to agree on everything. I think most of us believe a point away is not that bad an outcome but also agree that when you turn a 1-0 defeat into a 1-2 win, you should not give it away anymore late on. I agree with the notion that 3 games in a week is a lot and the team travelled back from Lisbon really late I would imagine. Onwards and upwards again against Blackpool tomorrow.

  25. Pony Eye says:

    Kev … I have a name puzzle for you.

    Kindly fill up the blanks ……? with Acadeny player to make up the line up that would play against Blackpool. You are my go to man for the Academy players.

    —————-Cech————
    —–? Mustafi, Sokratis. —–?
    Guendouzi ——– ?
    Mkhitaryan, ESR, Welbeck.
    ————–Nketiah———-

    Bellerin is uncertain for Saturday so I guess Lichsteiner would be rested just in case.
    I haven’t heard that Nacho and Kola have started training.
    ANM still, maybe, needs more psychological and physical rehabilitation.
    Elneny is out injured.

    Or do you see a completely different line up?

  26. Pony Eye says:

    Kev,
    I just remembered Jenkinson, so maybe only 2 blanks to fill. Left back and double pivot. Merci.

  27. allezkev says:

    Pleguezuelo can play centre back or full back PE, he trained with the squad yesterday and wasn’t involved in the defeat at Cheltenham yesterday evening in the Checkatrade trophy (6-2)…
    Osei Tutu can play full back but he’s just back from injury so I doubt that he’ll be fit.

    I reckon that you’re right about Jenkinson playing right back, Lichtsteiner is an option at left back depending on the fitness of Kolasinac and Bellerin? It’s going to be a bit of a dogs diner tbh.

    Centre backs? I’d save Sokratis and Holding for Liverpool, I mean can you imagine Mustafi diving into reckless challenges against Salah, Mane and the best set of teeth in the EPL?
    So I guess Mustafi to start tonight?

  28. allezkev says:

    Chris Willock also trained with the squad so he might get a start now that Elneny is out for two weeks? Guendouzi and AMN should play I reckon.

  29. allezkev says:

    PE it wouldn’t surprise me in the least, if Aubameyang started tonight, maybe not for the entire 90 minutes, but possibly an hour…

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey there…He of the long wind wants to weigh in…on a couple of topics… Please read on…or ignore…according to you preference…

    First off, there’s a game tonight, no? Will there be a match preview for it? Pictures of the (iconic) amusement park up in Blackpool would, er, amuse, me… (The Santa Cruz of the far NW?…)

    Sporting wise, the links at Royal Lytham are probably the bigger attraction… Yeah, I used to play me some golf… Photos of them would be nice too…

    As for tonight’s match. Play the full reserves team, I say, and let’s get OUT of this tournament ASAP… Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s our lot… Hopefully none of the first-teamers get hurt and we get an away draw in the next round (so we can bow out in front of fewer Gooners). Truthfully, I think the marketing department needs to link these matches to the U-23 games and try and build a crowd who will come out and regularly support our next generation of players (and those who will play professionally elsewhere). I might try and give it a listen, however, if I’m around at lunchtime, otherwise, let’s face it, it’s a big ask for the average (global) Gooner…

    Like JW (testing, testing to see if you still read my comments…) I used to play “his” sport though I believe our paths never crossed. If they had, I bet I would’ve been assigned to defend against him. That was my specialty…

    So, on that topic, let me offer praise for–by far–our most talented central defender, One, Shkodran Mustafi. In terms of pace and play-making ability, he’s right up there with a guy I hope we see sooner than later, Laurent Koscielny. I believe, the “other” Greek, Mavropanos has some equivalent gifts… Next probably comes Callum Chambers, then Rob Holding and finally, the wise one, Sokratis… What do LK6 and

    Trust me, I have nothing but total respect for the lesser talents who live on their ability to read the game and make critical decisions at the right moments, doing so with an eye to the most important guy on the pitch, the referee. That’s how you make the most of your talent, as I feel I did in my sport, way back when.

    That being said, the way a guy like me could help my team the most, was by sharing his knowledge (aka, “wiles”) with the taller, faster, more athletic guys on my team (that’s called coaching…) AND encouraging them to make the plays (that’s called supporting) if they were in and I was on the sideline (or even alongside them on the pitch). We had a different refereeing system, of course, but I was good at “playing” that element too. Sometimes you had to foul, other times back off. Eventually, it became not so hard to read the opponent (er, referee…) and know what you could and could not get away with.

    My point is this. There is no way (IMO) Mustafi plays tonight–or maybe I should say, doesn’t play vs Liverpool on the weekend. He’ll likely get roached by the likes of Salah, Mane, Firmino and/or Sturridge (and probably appear to make a bad decision–or three–in doing so…) but he’s also our best chance of keeping the game tight and even helping to nick something at the other end by way of a set piece.

    Were there better “35 million pound (a couple of years back…) CBs” out there? Probably (your list, please…). Should the club (Wenger) have bought him? Maybe not… It’s a lot like Ozil, our most talented playmaker, at least for some Gooners…

    In a perfect (i.e., fantasy…) world, we’d rub him out and replace him with somebody better. And, maybe, soon enough, that will happen. For now, however, he likely starts, so I hope he gets both coaching AND support…even if smarter, harder working guys (like myself?…) have to watch from the bench…or the seats…or the sofa…

    Sorry…for not being OGAAT, and for not wanting to shkewer our shkoldiers before we (or the powers that be at our club…) conshkign them to the shklag heap…

    OK, off to see the wizard… (and hoping he can give me shkomthing to shkelebrate on Shkaturday)…

  31. Pony Eye says:

    Thanks … Kev.

    I’ll now fill in the blanks.

    Cech
    Jenks. Musti. Pleguezuelo. AMN
    Douzi. Willock.
    Mkhi. ESR.Welbz.
    Nketiah.

    I expect Auba to lead the line against Liv as they play the high line. The Blackpool match is one game we do not have to obey the OGAAT. It would be great if we do well against Liv. Top 4 is so important for remaining competitive in the longer time.

  32. Pony Eye says:

    Confirmed line up.

    Cech
    Jenko, Musti Pleguezuelo, Lich
    Douzi AMN
    Mkhi Ramsey ESR
    Welbz.

    The arrangement could be different.

  33. Goonereris says:

    Team sheets out a few minutes ago:

    Arsenal
    Cech; Jenkinson, Mustafi, Pleguezuelo, Lichtsteiner; Guendouzi, Maitland-Niles; Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Smith Rowe; Welbeck

    Subs: Martinez, Holding, Torreira, Willock, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Nketiah

    Blackpool
    Howard, Nottingham, Heneghan, O’Connor, Bola, Turton, Spearing, Guy, Thompson, Feeney, Delfouneso

    Subs: Mafoumbi, McLaughlin, Pritchard, O’Sullivan, Taylor, Cullen, Dodoo

    Looks like AM-N will attack from the left side of the front 3. Jenkinson is back and thrown on, but at left back. Mac Bola returns to play against his former side. Big game for Pleguezuelo. Let’s look forward to being in the next round.

  34. Goonereris says:

    Looks like a straight 4-3-3 to me.

  35. Pony Eye says:

    Lich playing indicates Bellerin might be fine for Sat.

  36. Pony Eye says:

    Kev … spot on with Pleguez, ESR, AMN with Willock and Nketiah on the bench.

  37. jw1 says:

    Gosh HT!
    Overt bromancing aside? I have never stated The Shkarecrow wasn’t able or talented. Just that he has the footballing IQ of an idiot (apologies, idiots!). I’ve played Ultimate with talented idiots too. I’ve fed them when traveling. Housed them. Once even? Signed a consent form for a probation officer to allow one particularly-talented idiot to travel out-of-state. So– in reality? I know a talented idiot when I see one.

    And good luck if we ever meet in a digitized XBox version of Ultimate HT. I might have been one of the toughest covers you could imagine. Ambidextrous backhands meant– you either played me straight-up– or gave me an unforced/unmarked and open throw. Able to throw either side? Also meant I didn’t set a pivot foot until I decided to throw. When I did? I had a half-body length advantage to stretch beyond a marker (plus at 5’10’ had a 6’4″ wingspan). Only guy who gave me fits was a Mobile AL player name of Larry Brooks. Coast Guard lieutenant stood 6’5″ with a wing span of about 7-foot. Was real happy when Larry moved to Houston and began playing WITH us!

    Then, too, had some hops as well.

    jw1

  38. njk84sg says:

    Guys, lack of coverage of the game? Apparently we made our 13th consecutive win-draw and i have to admit the red card to Douzi is harsh. I hope the FA can see the review and it never looked like a second yellow offence.

    We need to play Holding and Sokratis in the back. I have seen enough of the German defender to be convinced that we will be slaughtered with him playing.

    We really need Nacho back. Our defense is too weak without him.

  39. Goonereris says:

    Game ended 2-1, Arsenal, with goals from Lichtsteiner and ESR for us and O’Connor, for Blackpool. From the commentaries, it was largely a drab game in the 1st half.

    Credit to Blackpool for making a fist of it, albeit only late into the 2nd half; we had led 2-0 before we saw a reaction from the visitors. Mustafi is said to have had a very good defensive performance. It is understandable that our defending did not inspire any confidence for the game at the weekend but this was not our first team, it must be said. Also, we should raise our game for the opposition to come.

  40. Goonereris says:

    The red card to Guendouzi emboldened them to come out, it must be said. O’Connor was also sent off for them, late into the 2nd half.

    We face Tottenham in the last 8. Will make for a spicy encounter.

  41. njk84sg says:

    Eris, too soft to be a yellow. Too soft

  42. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi J-Dub…Thanks for reading… Yeah, I’d probably have preferred to guard one of your throwing targets. I used to enjoy guarding that pretty fellow Brian (from Hell)… And yes, the best solution to a good opposition player is having him join your own team… In my final two (West Regional Champs) years, I believe we had 5 guys 6’4″ and taller…

    In your video, I noted that they seem to now allow a double mark (but also a “step through” move)… Truth be told, it must seem pretty silly to any of the football watchers who might have (at one time) tried to understand what (TF) we’re talking about…

    Sorry, but I’ve had a big day on the road (and working with the elder generation) so I missed all accounts of the match until now. Winning seems good. Red card for Kenny G., not so good. And, drawing Spurs at home worst of all…. Making the final 4 of this tournament = a very busy mid-winter schedule, esp. given the extra round in the Ropy league…

    Kev? Man at the Match report? Or are we moving onto (into?) the deep end (of the Pool)…

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oh, also, in my opinion, I think you’re being too harsh on Mustafi… 😀

  44. jw1 says:

    Yeah HT, probably so, re Mustafi.
    Last season, because it felt that a fine man was dying a death-by-a-thousand-cuts. Wenger was chained inside of No. 20’s blast radius– with no other choices.

    The most important aspect about his moments-of-terror follow-up performance versus Blackpool HT? He did start and play 90 minutes. Meaning the bench at-best on Saturday.

  45. allezkev says:

    Morning All, PE, you got the line up spot on, well done you mate.

    I missed the opening 15 minutes, traffic etc, but I enjoyed the game even though it won’t live long in the memory back.
    Blackpool were really well organised, defended in numbers, smothered our attacking movements then broke at pace.
    They noticed our lack of height at centre back and threw a lot of testing high crosses into our box throughout the game. Not just hit and hope either, but quality crosses.
    Fortunately , their finishing was awful, but credit to Mustafi (cheers in California) and Pleguezuelo who both had steady games under difficult circumstances.
    Lichtsteiner (I do like him) worked really hard and scored a great goal from a fabulous pass from an otherwise below par Guendouzi.
    Jenkinson struggled at left back, poor sod hasn’t played for us for two years, had a miserable time with injuries and then gets played out of position, but he didn’t hide despite his limitations.

    The rest of the team weren’t at their best, Welbeck fed on scraps, Torrieira and Aubameyang made a difference when they came on, PEA seemed to stretch the game as Blackpool were gearing up for late all out assault.

    Gotta catch up on comments now.

  46. allezkev says:

    Ha, serves me right for not reading properly before posting, that was the confirmed line up you posted PE, 😀
    I gotta get me some new glasses.

  47. allezkev says:

    17tino, my Man of the Match will probably go to Lichtsteiner, but then I’m biased, aren’t we all? 🙂

    Smith Rowe did ok, but Blackpool were quite physical in the challenge and he got knocked about a lot, but that’s good for his education.
    Mkhitarayan flittered in and out of the game and I have to say that Ramsey looked a tad disinterested, maybe I’m being too harsh on him but that was my impression.
    Iwobi came on but he is nowhere as effective down the right as he is down the left.

    My seat is almost at pitch level so sussing out the formation is more difficult, therefore I haven’t a scooby what we played. It certainly wasn’t 4 4 2…

  48. Goonereris says:

    Saw that article earlier, TA. Alex Scott is doing well trying to make a life in the game, after retirement from active playing. Good Lass. And spot on with much of her observations too. What she didn’t address in-depth was the fact we are still vulnerable at the back, despite no longer being a soft-touch, per last season. Against Liverpool on Saturday, I don’t think there will be much shame in showing them a lot of respect and playing a cagey game at the start; to contain and break at speed (God knows Liverpool have speed across their ranks), as the only chance we have to stop a haemorrhage while being dangerous, at the same time.

  49. jw1 says:

    Kev–
    The physicality (23 fouls, 2 RCs) seemed to be the story. Only 3 shots on target– and 3 goals between both teams. Lichtsteiner as MoTM for me too . Both for the goal (fine assist from a later red-faced/carded Guendouzi)– and tracking back early-on to save Cech from a certain point-blank 1v1. Felt Smith Rowe wasn’t far behind though. His finish had a scruffiness about it– but proved the eventual winner. Aaron Ramsey (IMO) saw his future flash before his eyes. Wearing #55.

    Had Guendouzi not gotten himself banished– not sure if Torreira would have been subbed on. Lucas’ presence, a man down, was the steady hand on the tiller. Had it been 2-0 at 60′ 11v11? With an eye on Saturday, might have seen Willock on instead.

    Is it just me? Or does Mkhi seem to get the most difficult chances provided to him? He seems to have at least 2-3 balls per match come to him– but at every weird angle, height, speed and bounce. With any pinch of luck he could have a half-dozen goals by now.

    That’s twelve on the b-bounce. 😉
    Who’s next? 🙄

    (Live blog Saturday HT? 🙂 )

    jw1

  50. allezkev says:

    Nice points JW, Smith Rowe does look a real player.
    Also looking beyond Liverpool, the Sporting game is very important, beat them and the group is in the bag, not least the fact that Emery can rotate to his hearts delight without any damage and players can be rested during the hectic period between Nov 25th to Dec 16th, when we have 7 games in 22 days.

    All that leading up to the Cup shoot out with Tottenham.

  51. allezkev says:

    Total, that is a great piece, Alex Scott has really come on a bundle in the TV pundit stakes.
    She always has something worth listening to, a great improvement on many of the ‘jobs for the boys’ herberts you get on TV, still…

  52. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed Kev and Eris, Alex Scott is doing really well on TV and her analysis is pretty solid.

    Really happy with another win and for ESR to score again. I listened to the radio and it sounded like a decent workout even though the first half did once again not inspire by the sounds of it. I think it is a good thing to be in the micky mouse cup this season. Emery is using the squad well and the next match against the Spuddies should be a cracker. A game of meaningful football involving the mighty red and white is all we need. And they are coming thick and fast now…

    My friend Dave, a Pool supporter, will do the match review this weekend, so we get a different perspective which is always good. Preview should go out tomorrow.

  53. Pony Eye says:

    TA …. just seeing “The view from the enemy” for morrow. Wonder if mail sent to your box can make it for today. Cheers.

  54. TotalArsenal says:

    I think Dave is doing the match review rather than preview, but another preview from a Pool perspective would also be good. Might write something meself tomorrow. Anyways…. New Post New Post 🙂

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