Southampton – Arsenal: Eight (mainly) Painful Observations

So there it is, we finally lose a game again. Did we deserve to lose? I guess the answer is yes. Here are my eight observations:

  1. With Holding out for a long time and Mustafi and Sokratis both suspended, Unai was left with little to choose from for the centre of his defence. He picked three at the back – Lichtsteiner, Xhaka and Koz – and played Bels and Nacho on the wings next to central midfielders Torreira and Guendouzi. This makeshift ‘defence’ was all over the place and we got hit by three goals the old fashioned way: ball goes out to someone who could put in a cross, they manage to do so and we get simply beaten in the air. It is like being killed of by a wolf, a bear and then a leopard whilst walking the woods around Loch Lomond. Unai will be fuming to see his defence beaten so easily: why was nobody trying to avoid the crosses into the box? why were we so unable to deal with the crosses?
  2. The good thing was that Koz held out for 90 minutes and fought with all he got. He was rusty and struggled with reading the danger in time, but with such little aerial support for Licht and Xhaka, I am not going to blame him one little bit. Welcome back, Kozzer.
  3. We all knew it would be hard to beat the Saints at their home ground, with their new manager refreshing things and they having kind of nothing to lose. In such games, we HAVE TO start with the right focus, and intensity and when chances come our way we need to take them. I thought we started quite well but failed to score from a decent opportunity, and then we conceded the first goal once again. Auba, my friend, you have to step up the intensity in games like these. We need you to really want to beat the defender and keeper and get that ball behind the line by hook or by crook. Today I missed that desire in you and you really should have scored once at least.
  4. Unai is desperate to get Guendouzi into the double-DM pivot and regulars here know how much I dislike that combo. Okay, sacrificing Xhaka for a CB role was a necessity for Emery, but I reckon it cost us. We lost our defensive discipline in midfield and as a result it became embarrassingly easy for the Saints to put balls into the box. The big question is: why didn’t Emery play Elneny today – not even as a sub? I reckon that was a stubborn(?) mistake.
  5. The 3-4-3 formation leaves three big gaps in the team: behind both wing-backs and between the central midfielders and the three attackers – the hole area. In theory the ‘wingers’ – Iwobi and Mkhi in this game – have the freedom to play in the hole. But they also have to provide width and support the lone CF, and so the central midfielders – Torreira and Guendouzi – are enticed forwards into the hole area. That is what I do not like about this formation. There simply is no option to play Ozil in the hole and I reckon we are much poorer for it. The only way to make it work is to push up high and keep the opposition in their own half, so the central midfielders can link up with the ‘wingers’ and find a way through the opposition’s defence. But that comes with the risk of being extra vulnerable to counter-attacks and one of them – for their third goal – cost us at least a point. My big point is, IF we are to play 3-4-3 we really cannot afford to split up the Xhaka-Torreira partnership, and I would have played Elneny in the centre of the three at the back (next to Koz and Nacho, with AMN as our left wing back).
  6. The big plus of the game – other than another fine performance by Torreira and Kozzer playing a whopping 90 minutes – was that Mkhi scored a brace. As soon as he changed shirts he was a different player, so I hope he will keep this one as his lucky away shirt and keep scoring goals for us. In the 3-4-3 formation it is so important that all three up-front carry a serious goal threat. Iwobi misses this at the moment and Mkhi is a bit hit and miss, but at least today the Armenian found the net with quality (and luck). I think it is criminal not to play Ozil anymore, and I reckon Unai is taking big risks with this apparent change in first team selection policy.
  7. Leno did not have a good game. Okay he was left exposed by the makeshift defence but his decision making was not great and I reckon he should have done better for the third goal. I love his agility and quickness of thinking but I reckon Cech would have been the better option today with both all the changes in defence.
  8. My final comment is that Unai will learn from this game and it may well influence his January player purchases policy. With Holding out for a long time and both Sokratis and Mustafi not overly impressing as automatic first choices, I reckon Emery must look at a super-quality CB to steady the ship at the back. And if he wants to continue with 3-4-3, he will also need to look at getting a proper winger who can put away between 12-18 PL goals a season. But first we have to re-group and prepare for battle with the Spuddies this Wednesday.

By TotalArsenal.

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85 Responses to Southampton – Arsenal: Eight (mainly) Painful Observations

  1. jw1 says:

    Close to spot-on from my perch too TA– well writ.
    If things had worked out for the 3pts or even 1pt? Might not be such introspection. Most everything except the season-opening schedule have gone close to right for Emery.

    In hindsight– the solution looks obvious enough– employing a 4-3-3:

    Bellerin-Kos-Monreal-AMN (or Lichtsteiner)
    Guendouzi-Torreira-Xhaka
    Mkhi-Auba-Iwobi

    ‘Less desperate’ than the lineup we started with– in keeping the Torreira-Xhaka synergy intact. Guendouzi less responsibility– and might have freed Torreira for occasional forays into the attack. Even would have worked when Bellerin had to come off (Laca on).

    Though I’ll play Emery’s Advocate here.
    If the footie gods had offered me– 5th place in PL, 3pts off 4th-place, after 17 matches. With a 22-match unbeaten run, and Group Stage win in the EL ?
    Yep, in a heartbeat.

    By all accounts the sun is on schedule to come up on Monday morning.

    jw1

  2. njk84sg says:

    I agree with you on all points TA.

    Douzi is good in an attacking role. Play him in Iwobi’s position is the best.
    His covering of the defense still needs major work, but his positioning is just a tad better compared to Iwobi.

    We need a good centre back. Nothing else matters. And Cech back in the lineup please.

  3. Pony Eye says:

    TA, good observations.

    Can’t understand why Emery fancies Xhaka as defender whether as a left sided CD or as a left full back. The one thing he is not is a defender and in this match our most capable left sided defender was available. The bigger downside though is that his absence in the midfield impacts poorly on the team. If there is one effective combination we can point at, it is the Xhaka/Torreira. Why disrupt it.

    Guendouzi, has potentials, but he is still an inexperienced lad. In the last 2 matches that he played there was a disconnect between the midfield and our forward players. That occasional ball over the top is not enough.

    I still don’t get our slow 1st halves. It is ominous being only ahead of Cardiff on the 1st half table. I insist that Emery should start getting his starting 11 ‘substitutions’ right. If it’s his strategy to start poorly and end strongly it is wrong. He should start strongly and end strongly.

    I agree with you TA about bringing Ozil back. We need more creativity in the team. Emery should focus on getting the best fron the players he has and adjusting as he is able to recruit his preferred players.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers fellas 🙂

    Hope it did not come across too doomy and I agree with JW that the wider perspective is positive. But reviewing the game in isolation it was quite painful to watch, and when we manage to score two in an away game, it is hard to take that we got nothing for those goals. A game to forget asap.

  5. njk84sg says:

    My only worry is that spuddies see how our defense were broken last night and were planning to beat us the same way.

    We have to plug the holes in defense and win against spuds.

  6. njk84sg says:

    Bate Borisov will be our Europa opponents next year.

    What say you fellow Gooners?

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Little doubt we can master Bate but it will be freezing over there. 😀

  8. allezkev says:

    Good analysis Total, it was just one of those games, injuries, a bit of fatigue, if we beat the Spuds it’ll quickly be forgotten.

    Can’t believe the flak that Koscielny is copping, he’s just come back and is bound to be rusty, then he plays in a back three partnered by a full back and a midfielder, you have to credit Southampton for targeting our weakness and profiting from it.

    We did have the chances but our wastefulness in front of goal came back to bite us this time.

    That’s a kind draw 84, just what we’ll need during that period of the season.
    If we’re still in everything that is? 😉

  9. RA says:

    A super analysis, TA, and well explained. 🙂

    We lost a game we shoulda, coulda won — but that is football — you lose some, and you win some.

    Leno is usually a very shot stopper, but he has been suspect on occasion, but as you say he has not been helped by the makeshift defence.

    Three headed goals is at least 2 too many, and relying on players who are not natural CBs, because of injury or suspension should be avoided where possible.

    We saw young Zech Medley last Thursday and he is a skilful and gifted defender, and, tho he is only 18, there is a case to argue that he should have been one of the CBs alongside Kozzer. And the leaking of headed goals seems to bear that out.
    He is tall, 6′ 3″ or 6′ 4″, and very athletic, which with Kozzer still rusty from his enforced layoff, and Xhaka being perennially slow and cumbersome, I think Medley should have been the choice.

    But — as you have already been brave enough to say — a real problem in the last couple of games, is the missing of relatively easy chances by Auba.
    From what I have heard, he has been a joy to watch this season (and the last part of last season) but certainly on Sunday he seemed to be a little cavalier when scoring would have been easier than failing to connect.

    I am sure that is just a small glitch, and he will be back to his usual elegant best very soon.

    These things happen. Whereas ‘Pool have benefitted from some very fortunate ‘flukes’ which I hope will not always be the case.

    [Rambling? Yes, probably, but it takes time to get back into the swing of blogging. M apologies, guys!] 🥺

  10. RA says:

    Incidentally, I have had my own enforced absence from football, but before that, I was thrilled at the pace and intensity of our pressing game which made other teams look exhausted — but I saw most of the Qarabag game on Thursday and also the S/Hampton game and was amazed by the sluggishness of our players — and we looked like we were exhausted.

    Too many games in a very short time maybe, but let’s hope Emery will put that right — I think the high pressing game is essential to our style.

  11. AB says:

    Loads to agree on here TA.

    The context to this game is all pretty positive – we are much more together as a team and across the fan base, playing with some steel and much less flaky in seeing games out. And this game was played pretty much without a defence and against a team who were going to turn up with some fight about them. As such it was a quite plausible banana skin for us, but also not one for us to despair over necessarily.

    Emery is still learning about his players and experimenting with deployment, rotation and substitutions. In the main he has shown bold and excellent judgement in this, so he can be allowed the odd game where things don’t quite come off. It happens. I think we can all speculate reasonably that some more height at the back and stability in the mid-field might have made a difference. It didn’t happen though and what matters now is the reaction – I look to the team to show us that this was a blip by making the next couple of teams we face regret that they came after our first loss in 23 games.

    There are two areas that are of deeper concern to me. The first is our attacking mid-field. Not starting with either Ozil or Ramsey is frankly a mystery to me. I can accept Ramsey not fitting in with the scheme of things and being allowed to move on; but that is very much on the basis that Ozil is the clear and outstanding 10 in our squad. If Ozil is going to be marginalised – and his handling is being done in a pretty rough manner at the moment – then leaving Ramsey on the bench too feels like madness. I don’t get it, however pleasing it is to see Mikhi score a couple in this game, and see Iwobi come on in the first part of this season. We have some very talented players in our attacking midfield, but we don’t seem to be making the most of them at present.

    The second concern is our pattern of poor starts. I do agree with your view TA that Emery wants a strong bench to inject a lift in the second half. But I don’t believe this has to be at the expense of our first half performance. The truth is we are starting slowly in games, whatever the selection, and this has to be a management/preparation issue, which we cannot afford to allow to persist; there is no good reason to be always playing catch-up. Again, I hope this blip can be used as an incentive to start the next few games with greater urgency and concentration and put this unhelpful pattern of starts behind us. I don’t think our squad is missing too much to be honest, and I think we could be a frightening prospect to teams if they were chasing our lead in the second half, rather than defending one of their own.

    I’ve been impressed by Emery so far – surprised and impressed – so I’m looking forward to seeing how he responds to this set-back. Given what he has shown us thus far, we should be confident that he will respond and do so quickly and effectively.

  12. retsub1 says:

    Well written T A and apologies for my quietness recently. I too have had some health issues, but hopefully on the mend. Sorry to hear about your Dad and hope he will be on the mend soon.

    As so many others have said if we had been offered this at the start of the season we would have been overjoyed to take it.

    Looking back at the Saints game it was an accident waiting to happen. Stupid bookings and bad luck on the injury front, cost us big time. Kos has been on the wane for few years now and to expect him to perform at that level after his injury was never going to work IMHO.

    I still don’t get Xhaka, although everyone else in the world seems to. He just cannot play 90 minutes without one or two brain farts. More to the point though he shouldn’t be playing at the back, so it was hardly his fault.

    Liechsteiner was a great buy in my opinion and our Hector is so much better because of it, but to expect him to last 90 minutes with an unfit, Kos and Zhaka alongside him was never going to happen.

    I thought Iwobi was awful and Mhky wasn’t much better. Although he took his goal well, the 2nd was very lucky.

    Ozil came on when I wanted Rambo. But once again that’s just me. Nice dummy to set up the Saints winner though. I very much doubt Ozil will start tomorrow and wouldn’t be surprised if he left Arsenal soon. I know I won’t be popular for saying this, but I saw something the other day, which I believe to be very true. The moment Arsenal fans saw Torreira they loved him, he was the player we wanted. Whilst Ozil is super talented, he was never reliable and was never loved the way Torreira is. We know Torreira will always give 100% Stats say Özil been very good, but how many times has ozil actually had rave reviews? Against Leicester he was fantastic , but since then little. Emery suggested that Bournemouth away wasn’t the right game for him. To many of those imo.

    I think in summary we had so many problems at the back, Emery has to use his substiutes more sparingly and we lacked our 2nd half bite accordingly.

    Apologies for the mini rant, I never set out to pick on individuals. In fact I set out to compliment you on your tactics to Master Bate, which seemed to slip though unnoticed.

    Let’s crush Spurs tomorrow and cheer everyone up., Southampton was going to happen sooner or later. If the 2nd half of the season (not the matches); is anywhere near as good I will be delighted.

  13. jw1 says:

    Jose gets paid to do less than he’s been doing. Details at 10. 😉

    jw1

  14. Goonereris says:

    This is becoming a pattern with Jose. Take over club and do well in first season; earn an extension with a huge pay-out clause if sacked; show promise in the second season. Then, by 3rd season, boom! Do so badly, get fired and pick up a big fat cheque. Travesty! He and his agent need to be investigated.

    Was hoping it won’t end for United, to be honest…😜

  15. Goonereris says:

    TA, fine observations and very blunt in your take on the players. Got to say I agree with it all, except it was not “another fine performance by Torreira” on Sunday, to be fair. He could hardly keep possession and was forced into hurried action. I put that down to the absence of Xhaka next to him. As a foil, he is able to give others time because of the attention he gets, being a targeted man in our build-ups.

    Emery has punched above the expectation, replacing a club legend who’s spent 22 years shaping everything…. I think the whole club has done well in the timing of the decisions, the choice of manager and the support system around him. Now, we’ve seen we have a decisive and hungry man at the coaching helm, it’s time to back him financially to get his targets. I also feel we could use a centre back and sure footed winger with skills and pace. Nicholas Pepe does look good and the kind of player who will help make our offensive player more potent. Maybe, we add an all rounder midfielder in the summer too.

    Bellerin’s injury is unwelcome at this time, but maybe it gives the likes of Am-N the chance to stake a claim. I feel he will do a better job as wing back, if you ask me. Lichsteiner too may benefit from a good run. He is usually slated for not being at optimum performance but unless you understand what a good run of games can do for 34 year old, you’d think he is a waste. Let’s not forget he was a part of a serial winner club in Italy.

    Well, bring on the Spuds. Very little rotation expected for that one.

  16. jw1 says:

    Eris–
    For various reasons we need to temper expectations at present for Torreira. In addition to this being his first pass through such a compression of matches, as is the PL during December? He (and Guendouzi) have been fouled (stats bear this out) at a rate similar to top-attackers. I’ve been watching the level of contact too. Lucas gets hit once or more a match on par with what would be a chargeable offense off-the-pitch. That type of contact is cumulative when you don’t have the necessary time to recover fully.

    Emery did Torreira no service by playing Xhaka in CD. Left Lucas exposed to ever more focused physicality from the opposition.

    jw1

  17. Goonereris says:

    I agree, jw1. I was merely pointing out to TA it wasn’t a typical Torreira performance on Sunday; and it could be due to a combination of the factors you’ve stated, key of which is the intense December fixtures.

    Teams have studied us and seen how important our midfield play is to all we do, hence our midfielders have been subjected to the treatment, lately. I think it began at Old Trafford. Torreira and Guendouzi (even Xhaka) have this been at the receiving end of some serious fouls. The Refs look the other way in most cases and encourage the rough treatment. It can only get better for us, from here, as Mustafi and Kolasinac should be okay to play by the weekend.

  18. Pony Eye says:

    Keeping our eyes on the ball is being focused on the top-4 finish. Carabao Cup is the least important to us and with the tight festive period schedule plus the injuries and available players in red zones, the decision of what team to use in today’s game ought to be easy, except that our opponents are the Spuds. It’s not easy decision one way or the other but at the end of the day our focus must remain the CL qualification.

    The more yrs we are out of the CL the more difficult to get back to it. Our solace here is that the Spuds with the burden of their new stadium must be even more desperate for CL qualification and therefore likely to make a lot of changes for today’s match.

    Torreira would be rested (also on 4 yellow cards). Also I expect most of those who started on Suday to be rested. Kola and Mustafi need to be given more time for recovery from their muscle strains.

    Prediction:-

    Cech
    Jenko Sokr Medley M-Niles
    Elneny Douzi
    Willock Ramsey Iwobi
    Laca.

    Subs:- Martinez, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Saka, Ozil, Nketiah

  19. njk84sg says:

    PE, as was last season, I will leave Iwobi totally out. Unless he can convince me that he can be better in positioning, he will be out of all my starting lineups.

  20. Pony Eye says:

    Njk… yeah he is still lacking in end products which is why I have included him in this team wich by my valuation is about 70% 2nd string.

  21. allezkev says:

    Interesting game tonight, the Arsenal crowd will drive on whatever team Emery picks and Pocchetino will be desperate not to lose twice on the trot to Arsenal, so this is a hell of a game to call, I have absolutely no idea how it will go?

    As is usual, the Arsenal line up will be a surprise, I haven’t a scooby which way Emery will go, best team available, heavily rotated with youngsters or a combination of the two?

    My initial reaction to your suggested line up PE was ‘I’m not sure about that’, but on reflection you could well be closer to the XI than I first thought, I just hope it doesn’t go to penalties…

    I kinda think that Emery would like to go three at the back with Mustafi coming back into the side.
    Apparently he’s been training this week.

    With Burnley parking the bus, it makes sense to save Ozil for that match.

  22. Goonereris says:

    I expect to see light rotation with a sprinkling of youngsters like Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi (does he count as one?), Saka and Willock, at some point. Emery will want to keep the same balance as he had in the league game while retaining some intensity in offense. I also feel Xhaka will start. But, hey. It is Emery we are talking about here. Pochetinno will put out a strong team as he will be hungry for a trophy (any trophy); Emery will be aware of that and will match him, because we are home.

  23. Goonereris says:

    Team sheet is out and it is another not so comfy looking CB pairing (Xhaka and Sokratis) unless it is 3 at the back that’s being contemplated. Spurs have come with a strong squad, leaving only the injured Kane out (on the bench, maybe?).

  24. Goonereris says:

    Arsenal
    Cech, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Xhaka, Monreal, Torreira, Guendouzi, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobi, Aubameyang

    Subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Lichtsteiner, Elneny, Willock, Lacazette, Nketiah

    Tottenham
    Gazzaniga, Trippier, Alderweireld, Davies, Rose, Winks, Sissoko, Eriksen, Dele, Lucas, Son.

    Subs: Vorm, Foyth, Walker-Peters, Skipp, Lamela, Llorente, Kane

    For those who can see the game, enjoy it. COYG!!

  25. Pony Eye says:

    I don’t understand taking Xhaka out of CM and playing him as a CD. Ozil not even on the bench. Looking more and more like the centre can no longer hold.

    Am suprised there aren’t more changes. Strong 11.

  26. Goonereris says:

    PE, yep. Ozil looks to be off then, if his manager doesn’t trust him (official word is tactical reasons), he’s better off going somewhere else. Shame.

  27. Pony Eye says:

    With Ozil’s £17.5m per annum we’d probably not make a penny from his sale. I suspect it wasn’t our fortunes on the field that ended Wenger’s era. It was the shambolic state of players contract with the club.

  28. Goonereris says:

    Strong 11, yes. Reasons not far fetched. For one, it is Spurs. Then, we are at home where we recently embarrassed them. Lastly, Poch hinted at a strong selection, as he has. It’s a chance for a trophy.

  29. Pony Eye says:

    Eris … yeah except that I worry about players in the red zone. Torreira for example is one yellow card away from suspension. The match on Sat is far more important to me because my focus is CL qualification. Our long term health lies there as we operate the sustainable model.

  30. AB says:

    Simply don’t get this line up. Have we put Xhaka back to make space for Guendi? Madness

  31. Pony Eye says:

    Our abysmal 1st half record against premier league team continues. 10games, leading 0, drawing 6, behind 4.

  32. Pony Eye says:

    The Spuds have spared us 2 semi final encounters this Jan for a cheap Carabao cup. That might save us 6 pts in the PL. Worth a whole lot more.

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    Well that was disappointing and I think I would have to make similar observations as for the previous game. I would like to add that Spuds defended space very well all game and we lacked sharpness to pounce on the few real changes that came our way. I have a lot of respect for Unai as he has done a great job until now, and I am pretty sure he will get us up and running again. But I am currently seeing things that worry me (as per the points made in the post above).
    No Ozil

    Weakening midfield and defence by moving Xhaka back

    Insistence of playing Guendouzi deep

    3-4-3 not working for us
    We have gone blunt in attack

  34. njk84sg says:

    Why play Xhaka at CB again when it is clear that we are leaky when he is playing. And the 2 goals looks offside.

    Iwobi’s display reiterated my belief to stop playing him.

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    Iwobi was our best attacker, 84. We lack dominance and creativity in midfield at the moment.

  36. Goonereris says:

    That was disappointing but I accept PE’s position that exiting this competition could save us injuries and points. Let’s move on from this defeat (when did the Spuds last get a win at the Emirates?).

    84, I didn’t see the game but we have to now accept there’s something Iwobi does right to get the trust of two managers of our clubs now. He is one of our most forward looking players; I saw a stat which puts him at the top 4 of players in Europe with most offensive passing, per 90 minutes. The others include Messi, Neymar and Sterling. Till we find someone who brings what he does, let’s support the lad, as he is a confidence player.

  37. njk84sg says:

    Eris, TA, yes he can be our best attacker. But the major problem with him is that his unwillingness to win the ball back (ok he tries, but his positioning let him down massively) is what irks me.

    Without Xhaka in midfield we are nothing. Absolutely nothing. Pair Sokratis and Kos and put Xhaka back in midfirld.

    Have we stopped practicing shooting? Looks like our shots on target are not as good.

  38. allezkev says:

    Mkhitarayan should have buried that chance he had, pathetic shot after great approach play.
    Sokratis should have buried his header, 50p head…

    Major difference to me was the efficient way Tottenham finished their chances off whilst we continued to be wasteful, it’s a worrying trend carried over from Southampton.

    Ok, the bright spots are we don’t have two titanic tussles to face with Chelsea in January followed by the strong prospect of another disappointing meeting with Man City at Wembley.
    Tottenham can have that while we rest players and hopefully pick up the necessary points to challenge for a top four finish.

  39. njk84sg says:

    Kev, that’s the only positive. We do not need to play Wengerball or Emeryball.
    We need to gain points and score in every match to have at least a chance of winning.
    Fresh pair of legs please?

  40. allezkev says:

    84, this weekends opponents Burnley have been playing it very tight at the back so it’s a game made for Mesut Ozil, as is Brighton.

    I’ve read that Mavropanos has been doing light training so he might be ready by early January, maybe the trip to the Seasiders in Blackpool?

  41. njk84sg says:

    Kev, consider me paranoid, but i guess that Emery will go for brawns over brain.. so Ozil will sit this one out too..

    But we need the brain to attack the stoic defense, so maybe Ozil might cut it.. Xhaka back in CM please..

  42. allezkev says:

    84, just chill my man, make yourself a nice cup of tea and relax, it works for me. 🙂
    On the odd occasions 84, I’ll treat myself to a Dutch coffee to really make me feel mellow. 😉

  43. njk84sg says:

    Wow Kev, Dutch coffee. I should try it.
    Ko Henry, do they sell it in Indonesia?

  44. Pony Eye says:

    ….. a lemongrass tea does it for me.

  45. njk84sg says:

    Yeah.. I am more of a tea person, however, many years ago Coffee was my choice of drink..
    Does drinking tea make me more British? Hm…

  46. Goonereris says:

    It worries me that Emery isn’t doing enough to dispel the rumours of a falling out with Ozil, whereas I don’t think there’s been any; Ozil looks to me a respectful, if sensitive man. He is more likely to seek pastures new if he feels unwanted, but if he understands it has to do with his fitness, then his heart will be in it, whenever he is called to help out.

    Could it be Emery’s words are lost in translation, where he means to convey a different response from what comes out? Or, is he sending a warning to Ozil that he won’t be protected and team tactics won’t be adapted to his game? We would know more in the coming weeks.

  47. Pony Eye says:

    Not even coming wks Eris, tomorrow’s game would tell a lot. It’s a very delicate situation. If the face off is true and there happens to be a chain of loses, Emery would be in for a bumpy ride. But if results are good then his stock would rise. Am just hoping all is well.

  48. jw1 says:

    Not questioned much at all– of what Emery has wrought to-date.
    Got to believe what he’s seeing in training sessions– with Xhaka on the back line? Must be working far better than it does live. That, to me, has greater repercussion than whether Mesut is on the pitch. Why or why not — notwithstanding.

    On a side note…
    Wolves have been in-form the past three weeks.
    Their style might just play havoc at home vs Pool today.
    Here’s hoping.

    jw1

  49. Pony Eye says:

    TA,

    A MAIL IN YOUR BOX.

  50. Pony Eye says:

    TA,

    A REVISED MAIL SENT TO YOUR BOX.

  51. Goonereris says:

    TA, I do hope it is well with you, seeing as we’ve not seen your “New post” entry with minutes to the game today. Cheers, chief.

  52. Pony Eye says:

    Yeah … the silence is deafening. Hope all is well.

  53. Goonereris says:

    Ozil captains the side today.

    Arsenal XI: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Papastathopoulos, Monreal, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Elneny, Xhaka, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang

    Burnley XI: Hart, Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Westwood, Cork, Hendrick, Barnes, Wood

    COYG!

  54. Goonereris says:

    Subs:
    Arsenal
    Cech, Lichtsteiner, Torreira, Ramsey, Iwobi, Saka, Nketiah.

    Burnley
    Heaton, Lowton, Vokes, Gibson, Vydra, McNeil, Koiki

  55. Pony Eye says:

    We lead at the interval for the 1st time this season.

  56. Goonereris says:

    We get a half time lead in the league, for the first time this season and under Emery. Great (no, unreal) vision by Ozil to see that pass to Kolasinac who has laid it on for Auba to get his 11th in the league.
    We’ve played well, but have allowed some physical domination in midfield at times. Not sure what changes will look to make in the 2nd half (we’ve already had a forced change with Monreal leaving injured, for Lichsteiner) to improve the forward tempo. Lacazette has been show boating a bit, for some reason; we need to see the serious side of his game or we risk being surprised by this Burnley side.

    Iwobi and Ramsey could come on to do a job, so a good day to rest Torreira, maybe.

  57. Goonereris says:

    ….would have liked to see Bukayo Saka get a run. May be, too soon for the kid, perhaps.

  58. allezkev says:

    As much as I’m happy to see Nketiah and Saka on the bench I wonder if one of those spots should have gone to Zach Medley or even Carl Jenkinson?

  59. jw1 says:

    A light-hearted post-game interview with Auba and Papa on Sky.
    Find it if you can. 🙂

    jw1

  60. Goonereris says:

    Was that a mis-cued shot or a pass to Iwobi by Ozil? 3-1 is about fair except we should have kept the clean sheet, really. Would have liked to see Torreira rested for this especially as he risked a suspension for the Boxing Day fixture. We have Liverpool coming right after Brighton, so we have to protect the lad for the games he will be truly required for.

  61. Goonereris says:

    ….or, better still, he should have gotten a booking today, miss Brighton and be squeaky clean for Liverpool.

  62. jw1 says:

    Now you’re on the beam Eris. 😉
    Mentioned it two weeks back. Done with forethought we could have staggered all of our players through a rotation this month:
    Sokratis 6 (w/1 today)
    Granit Xhaka 6 (w/1 today)
    Shkodran Mustafi 5
    Matteo Guendouzi 4
    Lucas Torreira 4

    Xhaka out of the way. Need Torreira to avoid a booking vs Brighton– or simply sit out. Rather see Guendouzi unavailable vs Pool.

    jw1

  63. jw1 says:

    Rather see Guendouzi unavailable vs Pool, *of either he or Torreira*.

    jw1

  64. RA says:

    Some very interesting scores today in the 90th minute — and somewhat unbelievable!!

    Chavs 0 : 1 Leics
    Citeh 2 : 3 Palace.

    both about 3 or 4 mins left.

    Wham 0 : 2 Watford

    Xmas games, eh?

  65. RA says:

    Did any of you guys enjoy that game — apart from the result?

    Disappointing performance from my perspective! But ….. 3 : 1 is fine by me. 😁

  66. njk84sg says:

    Citeh lost 2-3 to CryPal..
    Chavs lost 0-1 to Leicester….

    What a day it is for us to have the 3 points to close the gap..

  67. Goonereris says:

    Liverpool will be the happier bunch today, though. They can now afford one stumble and may still be top at the turn of the year. Leicester had to fight hard for their win today; I enjoyed that one.

    Fair analysis up there, jw1. Surely, someone on the crew should have been thinking that way..

  68. jw1 says:

    3-1 result and 3pts. No qualms over style points.
    Burnley, morphed into North Stoke– with 14 fouls and 5 bookings today. Recent trend of playing Arsenal roughly continues (Thanks, Jose– you ratb^stard!). Day like today proved good to have Papa, Kola, and Stephan to go toe2toe.

    Ozil flitted about with moments of brilliance. Glad to see it. For him. For the club. Matter of fact– all of our creative types had their own moments. Ozil, 2 assists, Laca with one. Kola had a pair of ‘pre-assists’.

    And of course– Aubameyang. PL-leading 12 goals. On pace for a tally of 25 (I’ve chalked on the blackboard for him) this season.

    Like London, a clear and bright, sunny, mild day here in Houston.
    Positively enjoyable with this result. 🙂

    jw1

  69. allezkev says:

    Mavropanos back in training, could take him awhile yet but I wonder if he’ll be back for the FACup next month?

    Koscielny back in for Brighton, Dunk is suspended for them, which is handy as that’s going to be a physical battle – actually most of them are….

  70. njk84sg says:

    The only Downer.. spuds won, so more gap between us and them..
    However, Merry Christmas to TA and all Gooners.
    Selamat Hari Natal to Ko Henry in Indonesia, although i am saddened by the Sunda Strait Tsunami.

  71. TotalArsenal says:

    Good morning BKers

    Just returned from another trip to Holland for my dad’s second operation. Very busy before and after the trip and apologies for not letting you know I was going away. The op went well and he is recovering well too, and it was good to be there with him.

    Really happy with the three points and I managed to watched the game with one eye. Disappointed in Dyche’s tactics who I rate as a man. We need our players to stand up more for ourselves and to the referee and I thought Sokratis was brilliant at this. The sooner Unai puts Xhaka and Torreira back in midfield the better (obviously) but I guess he is struggling to get his defence in order at the moment.

    Highlights were Ozil’s creative additions to the team, Kola’s fizz and Aubangbang decisiveness. Now another big game awaits u v the Seagulls away.

    Have a fab Christmas if you are celebrating!

    Love, TA.

  72. Goonereris says:

    TA, great to hear from you and to know your Dad is holding up well.

    Merry Christmas, One & All! And Best wishes for a glorious 2019!!

  73. Goonereris says:

    In other news, Mkhitaryan is ruled out for 6 weeks (minimum) with a broken metatarsal.

  74. jw1 says:

    Also happy to hear your Dad is recovering TA! 🙂

    Sad Eris, about Mkhi. I’ve had that same injury. Top-of-foot. It’s at least 6 weeks, then re-strengthening. Likely longer for footballing purposes. Only silver-lining for the club? It occurred before the January TW. Sven and Raul will be working overtime.

    Where’s the tally at present?
    An attacker and a CB (two maybe)?
    Does Papa have any brothers? I do like his toughness. 😉

    jw1

  75. allezkev says:

    Merry Christmas Gooners…

    Vrolijk Kerstfeest bedraagt Vader…

  76. allezkev says:

    Eris, that’s awful news on top of all the other injuries…
    Time for Saka to make an impact over the next few games perhaps?

  77. Goonereris says:

    Sounds like a plan, Kev. Others will think it is the excuse we need to add some quality winger in the January window. Either way, we just need to do what we must to remain competitive because the top 4 race may be won via a war of attrition and the fittest teams may just be the ones to stay in it.

  78. Pony Eye says:

    Merry Xmas all.

  79. Pony Eye says:

    TA … glad hearing from you. Glad also that your dad is making progress.

  80. Pony Eye says:

    We are down to the bare bones. Emery’s early substitutions is also a method of resting legs. It’s that tight for us. Something has to give this Jan window.

  81. allezkev says:

    A defender for me Eris, maybe a couple, of Sven ‘finds’…?

    Xavier Amaechi is fit now, he’s another young gun who can sparkle on the right wing, Saka is the best 17 year old we’ve had since Cesc, why spend millions when these two could be the real deal in a few months….

  82. VCC says:

    Hi TA. I hope your Father makes a full recovery, fingers crossed for a Healthy and Happy New Year. Thoughts are with you and your family.

    COYG

  83. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Vickers!! Really good to hear from you. How are you and the family and what do you make of Emery?

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