Unai’s Big Statement, KosSok Rock, Leno’s PL Arrival, End the VARce: 8 Observations

Eight observations from a season-defining game for both North-London teams:

  1. We are right to feel disappointed not to take the three points from our second home in London and the Spuddies will feel relieved that they got away with it, but the big picture is that we were stronger and out-classed them, AND that they have now been dragged into a top-four fight rather than a title-fight/ sitting comfortably in third place, as they were just a week ago. It was really important not to lose this one and a win would have been great and just, and had the refereeing been up to European standards we certainly would have won. This is Emery’s best away performance of the season; let there be no doubt about it, this is a big milestone for him at Arsenal.
  2. Emery got the tactics about right. Starting  with Guendouzi instead of Torro seemed a bad decision, and was enough for me to fear the worst. It is almost like Unai wants us to be vulnerable as to entice our opponents forward and have a go at us, which then leaves space for us to attack in; would we have scored our goal if we had started with a more solid midfield set up? Still, I was pleased to see Emery plug the midfield gap after half time, as we were struggling towards the end to get them away from our box. Emery’s changes were all spot on imo; we were more solid throughout the second half, controlled the game and had very good chances to win it. The fresh legs of Ozil and Auba kept our momentum going, which was of course vital in an away-derby.
  3. This was also a big game for Leno. His second stop late on in the first half, was de Gea-esque. It is one thing to anticipate were the ball will end up and to put your arm there, but then it needs a lot of strength to push it over the bar. It was a magnificent stop at a crucial moment in the game.
  4. The KosSok partnership is working very well. At last we have two central defenders who combine calm with craft and operate in partnership. They are leaders both physically and verbally and let’s hope we will see them combined for the rest of the season.
  5.  The Spuds missed the aggression and forceful runs of Dele Alli through midfield; we, on the other hand, had such a player on the pitch in Aaron Ramsey, yesterday. It was a good, mature Lampard/Gerrard-esque goal by Ramsey and a reminder of what a player he could have been had he been more consistent for us in recent years. Am I said to see him go? No, but thanks for that one, Aaron.
  6. Laca worked so hard based around his energetic, sometimes frantic, approach to the game. Auba is by nature calmer, stealthier and more calculated in his efforts. Together they prepare and score a lot of our goals, and we are blessed to have them. Unfortunately, yesterday the apparent character traits of Laca and Auba did not work so well at the crucial moments: Laca fluffed two very decent chances where a little calm would have served him better possibly; and Auba could have done with a bit more aggression/energy both for the penalty (which seemd v soft to me) and the rebound that came his way.
  7. It is a real ‘varce’ that the PL is still without VAR. I am not saying it is perfect, but the linesman and referee made a few poor decisions that would have been overturned in no time. As Unai said to the men in black: VAR is coming for you.
  8. The Torreira sending off is a costly one for us. Although there were no bad intentions, his leg and boot were high and could have caused a bad injury and so I believe it was a correct decision. Not having El Torro against the Mancs in a week’s time is a real concern, and it may well be that we will start once more with the Xhaka-Guendo combo. First we are off to Rennes, though, and that will be another fine challenge for our boys in red and white.

By TotalArsenal.

26 thoughts on “Unai’s Big Statement, KosSok Rock, Leno’s PL Arrival, End the VARce: 8 Observations

  • Allezkev wrote:

    “Nice to see you back Total, shame about yesterday after such an impressive performance by the lads, but the ‘process’ looks like it’s producing some encouraging results.
    I thought that Iwobi and Mkhitaryan were very good and Sokratis was a giant at the heart of our defence. To me Emery got his tactics spot on, only our finishing let us down.
    Man Utd have had a sign over us in recent years, we just cannot beat them.
    They’ll come to the Emirates confident after beating us in the cup and in the midst of their unbeaten run, so it’s going to be tough, not least getting the ball past their goalkeeper.
    But first, let’s get a positive result in France…”

  • Nice read, as always, TA.

    All it required was a greater desire to leave Wembley with the 3 points and it would have happened. Just read Ramsey’s lips as he celebrated his goal and you see a man who believes Wembley is Arsenal’s second home; we should have won, but no one is scoffing at a draw at the temporary home of our rivals.
    Another two who seemed to know what it meant were Kos and Sokratis (KosSok). Something magical is developing there and what we need now is solid full backs and we may be looking at a lot of clean sheets next season.
    Everyone worked hard but special mention to Lacazette, indeed. He missed two good chances and will not be happy with himself, especially as he was brought off too early (in my view). Leno is starting to enjoy this league and Torreira/Xhaka was a handful for the Spuds, who had to resort to long balls as alternative tactics to get straight at us. We will surely miss Torreira over three games but it will be an opportunity for Elneny, Guendouzi and even Ainsley Maitland-Niles to show what they’re made of.
    All in all, a performance which just went to disprove all of the premature talk of a power shift in North London. We need to hope for a clean bill of health after Thursday night in France, beat United on Sunday and resolve to go through each of the last 8 games as if it were a cup final. Top 4 (even top 3) is still a possibility, if other results go our way.

  • Re: Torreira, reading we may appeal. I thought we should too because he’s played the ball and only grazed Danny Rose’s shin because he has lunged in himself. Dangerous and out of control? Yes. But no more dangerous than Rose’s two footed karate kick, studs showing, on Leno’s mid riff.

  • Thanks Eris! Good comment and not much to argue with. We will miss Torreira loads if indeed it is a three game ban. However, had forgotten about Elneny and I reckon he will do a good job to support (and thus get the best out of) Xhaka. The Rennes team did not play this weekend as to be fully fit and focussed for the game with us. So we will need to put in a shift and Torreira will be able to start and play the whole game, which is good. I would give Xhaka a rest for that one and play Tor-Eln for 60-70 minutes, and then bring on either AMN or Guendo for the rest of the game.

    I agree that top four or top three remains a possibility and we are also still in a good position to win some major silverware, so the game on Thursday is also v important.

  • I’m not sure too many of us expected to see Laurent Koscielny make such a complete recovery from his terrible injury, my thoughts at the time was that he would, if he recovered, become a bit part player for a short period then return to France to see out the remaining part of his career, but he is in fact very much a major part of our defence again and if he can stay healthy could maybe extend his career into his late 30’s.

    That’s a bonus for Emery and Raul as it could mean that the need for central defenders become less acute and that our limited transfer funds could be targeted elsewhere.

    Wenger managed Tony Adams towards the autumn of his career and maybe Emery can do likewise for Kozzer?

    We’re still to see if the enormous potential of Mavropanos can be realised and Rob Holding will need time but when you add those two to Koscielny, Sokratis and occasional C/B Nacho Monreal, then even if we were to move on Chambers and Mustafi in the summer, it still leaves a decent group of centre backs – notwithstanding the promising potential of Zach Medley.

  • Hey, Kev. In one sentence (your last paragraph), you’ve simply described our “Defence” situation, naming all our CBs and giving pointers as to ‘ins and outs’, for the next season. Nicely done.

    I recall reading many fans on some other sites writing off Koscielny as well, citing the nature of his injury and his age. The fact he’s returned so strong tells you the power of self motivation and importance of feeling wanted by your team. A new manager has come in and that could have discouraged him but as soon as Emery reminded us all he was still Captain, even while he was still out, that can do something for morale.

    PS: looks like we aren’t appealing Torreira’s Red Card. We would have to look on the bright side and say he will come back into the EPL fresher and more aware, I guess.

  • Oh, and my details have now been saved on the comment section……only my display name now starts with small letter (lower case) ‘g’. My fault, I know; but I can live with that. 😉😋

  • Cheers Eris, both Mustafi and Chambers can generate some decent funds that we can recycle.

    I was speaking to a Charlton fan last week and asked him about Krystian Bielik and how/where he is playing? He came back that Bielik is playing really well ( I think they like him over there) and that he’s playing – in his proper position – in front of the back four. He also added that he didn’t think that he was quite good enough for Arsenal – maybe he was hoping that they could keep him?
    He got quite animated when I mentioned Francis Coquelin, so Arsenal players seem quite popular at The Valley…

    With our financial constraints Emery has to do some inventive juggling with his resources next summer, especially if we’re back in the Europa and he has a history of developing young players as he showed at Seville, so Bielik maybe has a chance?

  • Good to see a few of the “old” regulars getting back to it… How goes the cab driving, Kev? Cheers for the loan update on Bielek. I have an affinity for the Valley/Charlton having seen a match there in 2006 and meeting a fellow Gooner (in 2012) who lives out there. I liked that (low-set) stadium, and (IMO…) it’s so close to the old Woolwich Arsenal that it’d make sense for it to become a regular loan club for us…

    Eris, I’m glad you figured out the WP issues…you will always be a Gooner(eris) with a capital G to me… 😀

    And, of course, TA, you’re always strong with the eight observations… Glad you’ve found your mojo and are back at the blogging…

    I (mostly) said my thing doing a kinda/sorta in-match commentary/live blog thing upon discovery (in the wee hours here in California) that the blog was back up and running. I’m pretty out of the loop having not seen a lot of our recent matches (due to my travels) and only reading the basics of “the narratives” which, I think, get well summed up on the Arseblog. I also look in on the US Pacific Coast site, 7amkickoff, but can’t bring myself to go too deeply into either the stats stuff nor the (mostly well written) battles amongst the brigade of comment writers there. Where else should I be looking? Did anybody (any blogs…) step up and fill the vacuum while TA was away?…

    My big takeaway from the match is that I miss playing with a midfield, i.e., wanting possession of the ball and being the “better team” (esp. when playing the Totts) and trying to take it to the enemy. I guess that’s just nostalgia for the past as NOBODY (in England at least) seems to really want to play this way anymore. Certainly I saw nothing like it in the parts of the LIverpool match that I watched (yesterday) and Spurs, despite their big possession advantage over us, were clearly living for the set-pieces and wide balls in (from the right). Most of the ManU match I lost to snow on the dish, but it’s all punt and pray up there, right? ManCity might be different (and maybe I should be happy that they’ve nosed ahead in the title race…) but I would truly need more careful and thorough observers to tell me what’s what.

    It’s good to see, however, that you (TA) came away feeling like Emery is getting things right. If anything, he seems to have the group believing in his rotation plans and there’s a core of 15 or 16 that seem pretty fit and focused. I guess one of those is Mustafi, so it’s not quite “all good.” Shoving in the box after getting away with a shove down the sideline literally a minute before has me going full J-Dub on the German. Is there a “Europa only” group (Cech, Elneny, Lichtsteiner, Suarez, others?…) that makes the team even deeper? Do we have a legit chance of making it back to the CL (by hook or by crook) even after losing Welbs, Bells and Holding to big injuries?
    Again, I’d love to hear what others say on this front…

    As for the match itself. Ugh, what a painful way to drop points that should have been ours. Give Anthony Taylor credit: he tried to make up for his linespeople (and Mustafi…) and the egregious error(s) on the Spurs pen. The Auba pen was super-soft and maybe it was that guilt that made him gift Lloris with the weak PK. Where Laca maybe rushed his chances, PEA looked almost too calm. Somewhere in the middle and we win at a canter… Spurs look done and seem like they’ll need to replace their manager and maybe a good player or two when they (finally) get into their new stadium. That point, however, might be a good one for them hanging in for the top 4… 😦

    Now, a draw vs ManU feels like it isn’t quite good enough, and, somewhere down the line, a showdown with Chelsea seems to loom in the lower European competition. That it’s all about “just” getting back into the CL (and maybe having a bit more money to shore up the squad in the summer) seems (more than…) a bit of a comedown from what the club was supposed to be about when I first tuned in (2006)… But that’s a whole ‘nother story (as they say)…

    Thanks for reading, Happy Monday, etc., etc…

  • Howdy 17tino, how things in dem there hills? 😀

    The taxi trade in London is struggling thanks to the duplicity of Transport for London, an absolute shower of a licensing authority, bordering on the corrupt.
    But then so are most governments, so it is what it is…

    I visited ArsenalArsenal and had a read 17tino, it’s TA’s old stomping ground, but I didn’t comment a lot, probably much to their relief. 😉
    It’s seems a lot of ‘the action’ is on Twitter these day, which is a shame as I generally find blogs less aggressive than those other platforms.

    It’s seems to snow a lot where you are 17tino, you mention it quite often,
    you sure you’re not really in Alaska? 😁

  • Charlton Athletic have a pretty impressive record at developing young talent and giving it a chance, so I agree 17tino, if it was convenient for both clubs then I’d be quite happy to see us loan one or two players to the Valiants every summer.
    Stephy Mavididi spent two spells on loan there before joining Juventus last summer, Coquelin spent time there a few years back, virtually saving his career.

  • Yeah, Kev. Our youngsters seem to get it right at Charlton Athletic so no surprises that they still laud Coquelin’s output there and are loving Bielik’s contributions too. I like Bielik but, unless he suddenly develops some special (abnormal) abilities, he may not be up to Arsenal standard for now; but who knows? I am a fan of Jeorge Bird’s Arsenal youth report where I catch up on how the kids are doing. Usually, very encouraging.

  • 17ht, thanks again.
    I do think Emery is starting to know the players better and appears to have settled for rotation, to keep the players fresh and competitive, as we pursue the double goal of top 4 and a Europa league trophy. What’s even better is the players seem to have accepted it. For instance, it was easy to tell that Ozil won’t start at Spurs having done 90 minutes in midweek. With Lacazette suspended for the double header in Europe, it’s not surprising to find he starts the league games while Auba is rested for the games against Rennes. After that round, I fully expect Auba to return to the starting line up in the EPL to pursue the top scorer gong. There is a lot more consistency with the back 6 (keeper, defenders and DM), for obvious reasons.

    After some not-so-Arsenal-like displays, we’ve started to pass it slickly around again…. since Mesut Ozil was allowed back into the squad. Yes, I said it. I think the prospect of him being in the manager’s Bad book didn’t help with team spirit; soon as he was part of the squad available for selection, we started to really play again. Sometimes, having a superstar team mate pays dividends. I hope Emery has learnt, as we get into the business end of the season.

    Other than that “shove in the back” error, I thought Mustafi played well defensively and was one of the reasons Sokratis (along with Kos) had Kane and Son in his pocket all game long. The crosses they thrive on were not as frequent. Sad that the linesman failed to see a clutch of Spurs players offside, when it was in his eye line, for the award of the penalty. Corrupt or biased? Who knows?

    It will be really hard to make top 4, unless Spurs do their “thing” and United drop points, with them still needing to play City, Chelsea and some relegation battlers. Chelsea are a point behind us with a game in hand. Win that and we are suddenly 6th, potentially. Chelsea are the one side you feel have it in them to win all the games they are expected to win. It’s going to be a very intense end to the season in England, for sure.

  • Can you get me a black cab license Kev? I figure I could avoid the blogs (and Twitter…) entirely if I could chat up “supporters” of ALL the various London clubs…(esp. those smart enough to know they’ve had too much drink to drive–or even walk–themselves around)…

    They only discovered the jet-stream 75 years ago (during WW11) but this climate change bid-ness seems to suggest that the old mid-latitude oscillations have now become pole-to-equator pathways–which don’t move around the planet as quickly as they used to… The problem is that when one of them sets up over you then it’s here it comes…and here it stays… Colder (but drier) from the north, or Pineapple Express from the south. We had the colder stuff while I was away but we remain in a wet pattern but the temps (at my elevation) can’t decide if they’re gonna make it snow or rain. A sticky wet snow is the worst for the satellite dish–another reason to go (back) to the cable… (or just give up on television altogether)…

    I did feel like I missed a critical 6 or 8 minutes (getting dressed, going up on the roof and sweeping off the glop…) just before the pair of Mustafi shoves and the Spurs goal… When I came back, Rambo had been subbed off for Ozil. To me (and I love me my Mesut…) I didn’t get that switch (one’s been sold, er, had has offer rescinded, with the other surely to follow as part of the Emery Execution of the Rami Revolution… which to me = all counterattack, all the time…) Switch to a back 3 and bring in Kolasinac (who must have a ton, er, tonne, more assists than Ozil) which also helps move Mustafi further upfield where his shoving matters less… ANYBODY could see that Spurs were only gonna score by way of a foul (set-piece) or maybe something else coming in off the right foot of Eriksen or Trippier. To me, they always look better with Lucas Moura but also them missing their 3 best deeper mids (Dembele, Dier, Winks) can’t help either. Still good enough for 3rd or 4th, I fear…

    Oh well, it just makes the next one (ManU) all the more critical. Win that one and expectations will rise. Drop points there and it becomes difficult to not drop further points in the run-in what with the need to prioritize the Ropy League…

    Exciting times…if you like fighting for :not a trophy, er, CL football…

    Gotta get Elneny off my avatar… But for whom?…

  • Simulpost, Eris… Sorry about that…but thanks for your views, which seem to jibe with my own.
    Thanks esp. for the greater detail about the rotation plans, in particular…

    I will say, however, that Taylor’s gift of a pen (for Auba’s fall…) was the closest thing I’ve seen to the proverbial “make-up” call. If he’s gonna take it, he needs to bury it… If that’d happened (and LT11 wasn’t red-carded) all would be right in (the red part of) North London. Do I even need to mention that Spurs play in West London (currently) and Middlesex County (if they ever finish their stadium)…?

    So, Ozil to start on Thursday but then Rambo on Sunday?

  • Fine comments this afternoon and lots of good points. 🙂

    I reckon Seventeenho is correct re our midfield play, or lack of it. I guess that is why Emery is so keen to play Guendouzi next to either Xhaka or Torreira: the curly one is mainly focussed at going through midfield with the ball and look for the best attacking pass. He does this well and will only get better over time. Yet his defensive skills are underdeveloped and I am not sure he will ever become good at it. So is he destined for the nr10 position? I think over time that may be his best position, and it may also explain why Ozil has been sidelined for a while (and AR has been allowed to leave for the Italian barcodes).

    I really enjoy watching Xhaka and Torreira play in midfield together and to me it is obvious that Ozil is the one who should play ahead of them (with Guendo getting games/game time there regularly, as to develop him). I just don’t get it why we don’t see more of that trio in midfield: they have everything we need!!

    What I do like is that Emery is giving Iwobi a proper chance and he is doing really well. We need more goals from him but that will surely come (only 22 years old remember). It is also good to see Mkhi in such fine form at the moment. Now we have to hope for a period of top-form for both Laca and Auba and KoSSok to stay fit as well, and then we really could go ahead of Chavs, Mancs and Spuds. Exciting times ahead!

  • I know I’m looking from my red/rose-tinted glasses but I thought Sanchez has clipped Auba, cleverly, as he was always trying to remain touch tight to him. At that momentum, the slightest contact will floor a man (except the likes of Messi, Aguero or Laca). I won’t argue the Ref May have had something of a “make-up” thing going on in his head, but…..

    Yup! Ozil to start on Thursday, except Emery feels he will need his skill set for Sunday v United. Away at Rennes, he may want us to be solid and opt for Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ramsey, though. If we go there to attack, Ozil starts, for sure.

  • We have to ferry Ozil across the Channel for the Rennes (or Rennais) match. Our current forwards are out of form and would feel better if they play together, and dropping Iwobi.. Iwobi needs to have a better vision ahead of him to make the best out of him.

  • 17tino, I wouldn’t suggest a black cab license to anyone these days, it’s not a growth industry. Around 2014/15 there was just over 6,000 applicants on the Knowledge of London (learning to be a black taxi driver) now the latest figures available 2017/18 it’s plummeted to just under 180, so the best taxi service in the world is being strangled by TfL.

    The weather in the UK has changed a lot in the last 20 years, the way it’s going we’ll soon be growing our own pineapples..,

  • OT. Against all odds, Manchester United have gone to Paris to eliminate PSG from the CL. The difference two months and a sack/appointment of a manager can make. When the draw was made, with Mourinho in charge, no one gave them a chance. Ole gunnar Solskjaer has changed the whole temperament at the club. I will say this (in the confines of an, hopefully, all Arsenal site), that club has SPIRIT. Hats off to them.

  • Eris, don’t forget that we are facing them on Sunday.

    I hope our lads have the same spirit to overcome Rennais later today.

  • Oh, I’m sure we can get the result we desire today. The more crucial game is the one on Sunday. We must dent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s run.

  • Home sweet home. I can see I’ve been missing some fun but first TA hope your Dad is much stronger.

    I expect a lot of changes. The good thing is that it’s difficult to label any team “A” or “B” irrespective of the 5,6 or 7 changes. That shows a strong bench always. Today my guess is:

    Niles. Musti. Sokr.. Kola.
    ——Torre. Xhaka.
    Suarez. Ozil. Iwobi.

    2-0 to the good guys.

  • Thank you PE and good to see you. My dad is much better with another op to come this month, which hopefully is the last one and all is good after that.

    New Post New Post! 🙂

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