Just go for it Arsene: Xhaka deep, Ox box to box, Perez, Iwobi, Alexis and Ollie in Attack.

Arsenal – Bayern Preview

What can we say about this game? We should be excited to welcome one of Europe’s best teams, currently as well as historically, to the home of football. But we are not. The season held a lot of promise but it has almost all fizzled out, and a big reason for this is the second half humiliating drumming by the Germans a few weeks ago.

We have a more than decent defence and plenty of excellent attackers but Arsene cannot get the midfield right, and this seems a structural problem. Would a fit Cazorla have made all the difference? Should we have kept Jack Wilshere? Would Rambo have turned our season round if he had played without recurring injuries? Who knows. Fact is that we are weakest in our midfield and that is where we are losing the battles with the big teams, and sometimes the smaller teams too. It sucks like a drain.

What is Wenger going to do tonight? Try and avoid further humiliation by defending deep and play on the counter? Attack, attack, attack from the start and go for it? Or a balance between secure and adventurous? Je ne le sais pas. But I reckon Wenger has not much choice in the matter… his midfield options are very, very limited without Santi, Elneny and a surely not fit enough (read too rusty) Rambo. Other than a youngster in the centre of midfield, which is not a good idea, he can only play two out of Coq, Xhaka and Ox. The first two are too similar in terms of wanting to be the anchor of midfield, so it has to be one of the them. That is Xhaka for me. So Xhaka and Ox, our attacking (b)ox to (b)ox for the night, is the duo to go for imo.

The rest is a matter of individual confidence and hunger, and I reckon Wenger will pick the strongest team, even though he knows the game is up for us, and possibly him. The game will still be watched all over the world and pride (and avoiding further humiliation) is at stake.

Predicted Team for tonight:

———Ospina———–

Bellerin – Mustafi – Koz – Nacho

—– Xhaka—————-

————Ox to Ox——-

Perez——Iwobi——-Alexis

——-Giroud————-

Theo or Welbeck could start instead of Perez or Giroud, or come on later to make a difference. Rambo could replace the Ox in second half to put new energy into the midfield.

Let’s go and attack them and just go for it. Entertain the fans and regain some pride, even if it means risking another drumming. Es gibt viel zu tun, packen wir es an.

COYGs

By TotalArsenal.

Giroud and Alexis up-front, Holding and Mustafi CBs, Coq and Xhaka to get new chance: Preview

Sutton United v Arsenal – FA Cup fifth round Preview

I am not sure whether to spend many words on this must-win game. Sutton United deserve all the plaudits for getting through to the fifth round by eliminating Leeds United. they will play us at their stadium, the Borough Sports Ground, on their artificial surface and will want to give us a game of course. And what is there to lose for them? These are the sort of games the players and supporters dream of, and even if the former lose handsomely against us, the latter will still see them as heroes. And if they were to manage to beat us tomorrow night, the local hospitals’ midwifes will be in overdrive come November this year. 🙂

Arsenal’s only real enemy are themselves. After that utterly demoralising second half against BM last Wednesday, there is a chance of a lack of focus or appetite for tomorrow’s game. That would of course be unforgivable, so it is quite unlikely that the boys Wenger will select for tomorrow’s game against the U’s will not be really up for it. This is about pride for the shirt as much as anything else. And with a more than doable home tie against Lincoln City next up, there is an additional incentive to play well and make winning the FA Cup a big priority for the remainder of the season.

Wenger finds himself in a difficult and dark corner right now, but he knows that nothing more will bring back the light than winning games again. He also needs to re-balance the team as to get back a better spine and resilience, which should form the basis of a strong run towards the end of the season in both the league and FA Cup. I am not sure he has the players for this right now, but by playing Elneny and Xhaka in the DM-pivot and playing a bit deeper and more compact, we should see a much needed improvement. Well, that is what I would do, but not necessarily against Sutton. Reintroducing Giroud, who luckily cannot be blamed for our recent disasters this time round, seems also a good idea. Welbeck played today so is unlikely to play again tomorrow.

Looking at the training pictures on Arsenal.com, I reckon this could be the line-up:

Iwobi and Alexis are likely to swap positions and fill the space in the hole. Ox (or maybe Theo instead) will also be allowed to move into the hole regularly, and Giroud will become a strong central pivot to create space for the team and connect with fellow attackers as much as possible. As Sutton are likely to park the bus, we also need Ollie’s aerial presence to add variety to our attacking play.

As long as our attackers play with a high tempo, passion and concentration, which means helping out midfield and defence as much as possible, we should create plenty of chances and then the goals will come.

Let’s get behind our team once more. COYRRGs!

By TotalArsenal

 

Xhaka-Rambo DMs, Ozil back in hole, Iwobi/Alexis/Perez in Attack: Line-Up and Preview

Bournemouth v Arsenal

Image result for vitality stadium images

Bournemouth away just 48 hours after beating Palace is not an easy fixture… but maybe this is not a bad thing. These festive fixtures are all about focus and the Cherries’ ‘cup game win’ over Pool a few weeks ago will still be crystal clear in Wenger and the boys’ minds; this should help us with taking the game serious from the start and play with the required tempo and intensity to take all three precious points back to Ashburton Grove. Pool went to lowly Sunderland on a high after beating Man City but then gave a lead away twice to drop two big points – something I have seen Arsenal do many a time over the years…

We have a fantastic squad and Wenger should not struggle much in avoiding tired legs and minds on the pitch. However, he will not want to tweak too much as to not disrupt the flow of our game/style of play.

A win will take us to one point off Pool and six off the Chavs, and the latter are playing the Spuddies at the swamp tomorrow so there is a decent opportunity to reduce the gap with the leaders and/or increase the gap with our North-London rivals. But we need to focus on our game and Eddie Howe’s outfit want to play football, which, especially for an English manager, is of course great. Even though they will be without Jack, they have the players in midfield to give us a game and they will create chances. Afobe has cancelled his participation for DR Congo in the ACN and of course he would love to score a few against his former club. The Cherries are as strong at home as Man City or Man United and they will be on a high after beating the Swans away convincingly three days ago, so let there be no doubt that we will have to battle hard to get that much needed win.

Arsène Wenger

Who is going to do this for us? There does not seem to be team news on Arsenal.com this morning, so I have to make some assumptions.

Predicted Line-up:

Le Coq could start ahead of Xhaka but I reckon the Swiss maestro was so good in controlling and orchestrating our game from deep that Wenger will be tempted to start him again. Rambo in the B2B for me, and this will be a big opportunity for the Welshman to establish himself in the team again (and with Elneny away at the ACN and Jack out on loan, and Santi still out injured, THIS is his opportunity). As Bournemouth are likely not to sit deep we need good attacking runners in the team, so I have gone for Iwobi, Ozil, Perez and Alexis. Perez needs, and imo deserves, another game and I reckon Ozil will have recovered from his ‘cold’… a typical Wengjury if you ask me. Gibbs is still an injury doubt apparently, so Nacho to play another game. I am not overly confident to get 11/11 today but let’s wait and see what the gaffer does.

Looking forward to this one. 🙂

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!

By TotalArsenal.

Rambo/Coq in DM pivot, Iwobi/Theo on wings, Alexis CF: Arsenal v Spurs Preview and likely Line-up

A short but sharp match preview as we all know what is at stake here: pride, NLD bragging rights, a six point gap, and leading the table before the November interlull. I reckon it has been a great achievement to get level with Pep’s City and now we have the chance to overtake them, which would just be bliss. Of course Pool will have something to say about who will lead the table at the end of the day, but we must just concentrate on our challenge. It is about time that we beat the Spuds again, but it will not be easy despite their recent form.

Wenger has been able to rest the players who do most of the running for us: Nacho, Bellerin, Iwobi, Ox, Elneny and Theo. It is not entirely clear who of those are deemed fit to play as Arsenal.com has not updated its info re this since Thursday. It is to be expected that the Spuds will mainly play compact at the back with a desire to spring a counter as soon as we make a mistake. They will also press us high when they can but always in such a way that there is very little chance we can break them easily. Pochettino has his teams play a lot like Mourinho’s old Chelsea: they are hard to break down and score against and rely heavily on an in-form striker or two to win games for them. The latter they do not have currently and let’s hope this will remain the case today. We must play with care but also take the initiative and without any doubt will give away a few chances today, so our defensive discipline and their ability to take their chances will be a key factor.

Having said that, Arsenal have an in-form strike force and a strong midfield to boss the Spuds in their own half, and can create chances in the process. But we will have to take those opportunities early on to have a really good chance to win. If we are not leading by say 30-35 minutes it could become a tricky one for us.

I reckon, subject to fitness, that Arsene knows 9 of his 11 starters. The two areas where he will have some doubt is who to play next to Coquelin and whether to play Theo, Ox or Rambo on the right. We need to be solid in the double DM pivot with a strong focus on defensive duties and athleticism to cover the box to box challenges. Santi could play a big part in helping Ozil to crack open the Spuds’ bus but he may not be fit enough to play. I also doubt whether he is the right player to play as B2B in today’s game. For me, it is either Xhaka, Elneny or Ramsey. I would go for the Egyptian and play Rambo on the right ‘wing’ position. But I expect Wenger to play his strongest and most exciting team to watch.

Predicted Line-up:

submit football lineup

Whatever team will play, I am sure they will give their all for all the reasons given above; and let’s hope we will beat the Spuddies playing football the Arsenal way. Ooh to be…

COYRRGs!!!

By TotalArsenal.

Rambo and Xhaka DMs, Iwobi and Ox on Wings, Gabriel for Kos? Match Preview | Predicted Line-up

ludogorets-arena

Tomorrow Arsenal play a crucial game against Ludogorets Razgrad in the CL. A win and qualification for the next round should become a formality, if it will not be in the bag already; a draw or a loss and we will be up against it with hard games against PSG (at home) and Basle (away) to come. Add to this that Arsenal will have tough fixtures in November, and it becomes obvious that Arsene would love to secure early next round CL qualification tomorrow evening.

Wenger also seldom or never plays a weakened team in CL games, especially not when there is still something to play for. From what we saw in the home fixture, Arsenal should be able to win tomorrow, but this will not just happen by itself. The home crowd (about 9000 seats only) will be behind their team, and they will want to revenge the dreadful 6-0 defeat a few weeks ago. And if we play with a low tempo and lack of intensity and aggression, it could become quite difficult for us to secure the three points. They definitely have players that can hurt us and are pretty strong in midfield to give us a game.

I reckon we have too many ambitious and proud Gunners in the squad to be at risk of underestimating the challenge, and Wenger will select the right team to achieve victory. But he also needs to guard for fatigue and keep an eye on Sunday’s big NLD encounter.

As always, predicting the exact line up is not easy, but a mixture of what I reckon will work and what Wenger is likely to do leads me to the following starting eleven:

Predicted starting 11:

submit football lineup

Ospina in goal is more or less a given. Gibbs to continue on the left and Jenkinson on the right in defence as Bellerin is ruled for tomorrow’s game. Mustafi starting once more and I reckon Koscielny could do with a rest and Gabriel with a game, so I am going for a MusGab central defence duo.

There are a lot of training pictures of Xhaka on Arsenal.com and this seems a great game to reintroduce him. I also feel that Rambo will get a start which will allow us to rest Coquelin and Elneny, who will be desperately needed on Sunday.

Mesut Ozil struck his first professional hat-trick as Arsenal thrashed Ludogorets

Either Iwobi or Ox should get a rest as they both looked knackered after playing 60 minutes on Saturday. However, Wenger has not got too many options right now with both Welbeck and Perez injured and Theo not fully fit either. So I reckon both Ox and Iwobi will have to start even though it is unlikely they will play the full 90 minutes. Ozil in the hole and Alexis up front for at least 70 minutes, but maybe Arsene will start with Giroud instead. I have no doubt that Ollie will play at least 20 minutes tomorrow and let’s hope he can add another goal, or two, to his impressive tally.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

 

Santi Returns | Giroud to Lead the Line? Sunderland v Arsenal Preview/ Line-Up

253FF7F900000578-0-image-a-2_1422894082588

At 12:30 pm Saturday early kick-off, our team will line up against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. It will be a confrontation between the joint table toppers Arsenal and the team firmly rooted at the bottom Sunderland. The result looks a fore gone conclusion, but that’s on paper only. This is the Premier League where nothing is ever assured. Nine games have been played and Sunderland stand at 2 pts: 1 pt at home, the other away. The team has scored a total of 6 goals, conceding 16 with an average possession of 41.7%. They also average 9.6 shots per game.

One thing these stats tell us is that this is a team that sits deep counting on counters for their goals.  Even more loudly, the stats tell us that the team is not very proficient in these tactics. On the other hand, our stats show also a clear lack of proficiency on our part at unlocking ‘parked buses’, as we were able to score only 1 controversial goal in 270 minutes of football against Middlesbrough, Burnley and Leicester where we enjoyed our most possessions of the season so far (75%, 67% and 61% respectively). Such high possession ratings indicate games against ‘park the bus’ teams, and so toothless has been our displays on such outings. It might be apt to note that we banged in 6 goals where we had the least (43%) possession of the season in our game against Ludogorets. We love playing against teams that love to play. The other way, not at all.

Is the stage then all set for a stalemate?

It is this threat of another stalemate against a PTB team that brings the big question of who leads the line: Giroud or Sanchez? That is assuming we are able to shackle the duo of Jemain Defoe (4 goals) and Patrick van Aanhole (2 goals) who between them have scored 100% of Sunderland’s epl goals.

If Giroud is selected, Walcott would cease to drift inside as Giroud is now there. Instead, Walcott hogs the wide areas for whipping in crosses for Giroud to attack. With Walcott that wide, Bellerin’s overlap is largely stifled. Ozil would have no need to again push up as Sanchez, aka false 9 or is it aka double 10, is no longer there to suffocate Ozil’s #10 spaces. Instead Sanchez has moved wide-left, seconding our best vertical ball carrier Iwobi to the role of bench warming.

Nacho or Gibbs would have to bump up the field more frequently because Giroud in the box is excellent when feeding off crosses. Coquelin would be asked to keep an extra eye on the space vacated by ‘wing back’ Nacho or Gibbs and the rippling effect of Giroud for Sanchez continues, affecting the entire structure of play. Your guess is as good as mine, whether the great ripple across the whole of our play would improve or lessen our fortunes. Poor Wenger, this is his headache. All we care for is that Sunderland will be trounced.

To be or not to be is the question for Mr Wenger. Nacho or Gibbs? Iwobi or Ox?  Should he risk Santi, the brain box, who has been seen training since last week or does he play the exquisite but safe passer Elneny? Is it Ox in place of Walcott who has a hamstring alert? Ludogorets away looms on the horizon also? And our eternal enemy Spuds soon after? Questions, questions and questions all poised delicately on the knife edge of us wanting Sunderland trounced.

  1. S. Eliot maybe was making reference to this conundrum when in his ‘The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ he wrote:

“And indeed there would be time

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions 

And for a hundred visions and revisions

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.”

Image result for micheangelo david image

The assurance I can give here is that by the time Wenger gets his line up ready for submission Saturday morning, he would have poured himself another cup of tea because the first one is gone cold. Dead cold.

Predicted line-up:

submit football lineup

Bench: Ospina, Gabriel, Gibbs, Elneny, Ramsey, Walcott, Giroud.

Score: 0-2 (Arsenal win). Alexis and Iwobi to score.

COYG!!!

By Pony Eye

Perez CF, Ox and Theo on Wings, Santi/Coq in DM-pivot: Arsenal v Swansea Preview/ Line-up

Swansea, home or away, have not been easy opponents for us in recent years and I don’t expect tomorrow’s game to be a walk in the park either. All games after international games are hard, but luckily we play at home which should give us a better chance to take three points. The Swans will be reenergised by the arrival of another new manager, the American Bob Bradley. The players will want to make an impression on him and I figure they will give us a game. Anything less than 100% commitment may cost us points tomorrow.

Image result for arsenal football ground images

So we have to hit the road running and play energetic and dominant football, take our chances when they come and don’t get lulled in a false sense of security. The team that can do the job will likely be:

submit football lineup

Cech in goal, full backs Nacho and Hector Vector, and King Koz and Mustafi as our CBs…. Cannot see Arsene messing with this back five. Coquelin is fit again and Santi was rested for two weeks, so I reckon that will be our double DM pivot. Always hard to leave out Alexis but with a late game on Thursday, followed by a long flight, I reckon Wenger will start Perez and put Sanchez on the bench. Walcott is as fit as a fiddle after two dreamy international games, Ozil is ready to rock again and Wenger may rest Iwobi and start Ox.

Well that is my predicted line up. COYRRGs!!

By TotalArsenal

 

This midfielder’s Return Will Complete Arsene’s Arsenal Revolution

I don’t know how many times I have seen fellow bloggers write, less on BK but regularly on other blogs, that Wenger needs to be replaced by a younger manager with a modern and fresh style of play. There seems to be a belief that older managers cannot be inventive and ‘fresh’, like Klopp or Guardiola for example. The opposite is true.

Wenger is always innovating the way we play; in fact, I sometimes wish he would stick longer with a certain system of play rather than moving on too quickly. Having said that, I am very excited about Arsene’s change of style this season.

He seems to opt now for speed and movement by all 11 players, rather than have a few players in the spine around whom the game is played i.e. the BFG at the back, Cazorla in the middle and Giroud up top.

It is still early in the season of course and Arsene may well revert fully back to the system of play of previous seasons, but the success of the last few games, both in terms of style of play and results, may have encouraged him to stick with it now. And there is a buzz around Arsenal now that nobody will want to lose anytime soon, and especially not Arsene.

Mustafi has been a revelation – see also last post. He adds speed and bite to the defence and is already one of the top ten most successful passers in the PL. Up front, Wenger has made a personal wish come true by turning Alexis into a beastly, all conquering CF.  This has added speed and mobility to the attack, whilst Sanchez is also pretty good at coming for, and holding on to, the ball ala Giroud. Alexis is supported by pretty alround ‘midwingers’ who add  bite, speed, creativity, assists, and goals: Theo scores when he wants and Iwobi is in the top three of PL assist makers, and long may it continue. And Perez, and sooner or later Welbeck, are ready to compete with them for first team places.

The final piece in the speed-mobility jigsaw is pairing up Rambo with either Xhaka or Coquelin.

We need a player who connects defence with attack, supporting the deeper sitting DM  and our nr10 with continuous horizontal and diagonal runs, slick passing, interceptions, assists and goals, etc. That player is Rambo: the quintessential box-to-box midfielder. This does not mean there will be no first game time for Cazorla or Elneny. Santi can be played regularly as second midfielder in the DM pivot, or as Ozil’s best mate in an occasional 4-1-2-3 formation; indeed, Santi can also replace Mesut in the nr.10 position, if and when required. The Spaniard could become our super-sub and as such a very important player for the season. And Elneny is also a very useful player to have for a number of positions.

But once Rambo is fully fit he will most likely get regular starts to complete Arsene’s revolution based around speed, energy and mobility, and I cannot wait to see this team take to the stage once all are available:

submit football lineup

By TotalArsenal

 

 

KosMus: The Arsenal CB Pairing that Rule Time and Space

Until recently, I have always believed that a good defence consists of a centre back pairing of an organiser type and a wild ‘kuitenbijter’, a carve biter, type. One has the overview and organises their defence and the other one operates as the first soldier of the defence, with ferocious energy and an unrelenting desire to win balls in the air and on the ground, and defend the box area with whatever it takes. The former is usually calm and tall and physically very strong and the latter is simply an energetic, fast, beast of a defender.

We all know the Arsenal pairings we have come to love over the years. For me the dream couple was probably Campbell-Toure from the INVINCIBLES (see below) but Adams-Keown were also brilliant of course. I am sure those who go back a lot longer than me will come up with some other fine Arsenal CB pairings. 🙂

Arsenal "The Invincibles" XI

In recent years, we have struggled to get the CB pairing totally right. The BFG-Kos combo did come close to a King’s couple of CBs, as they fitted the above mentioned short role descriptions to a large extent. Especially if and when we played in a more compact formation and game plan, Koz and BFG made us look solid and in control for many a game. Unfortunately, the BFG’s extraordinary ability to read the game and organise his defence was occasionally undermined by his Achilles’ heel: his slowness in turning around his own axis and lack of recovery speed. And Arsenal are not the sort of team to sit back a lot and absorb pressure: we love a high line and hemming the opponent into their own half.

The downside of this style is of course the space left behind the highline which makes us prone to deadly counterattacks/balls over the top; and boy have we suffered from this at times in the past. Last season, I regret to say, the BFG was our weakest defender in for example the key seasonal games against Chelsea and Barcelona at home. This is what Wenger, who will never directly name and shame a player, had to say after the Barcelona game: “Barcelona is a great team, we knew that. Nothing new. We put a lot of energy in the game. Technically we were very average. Once we look like we dominated the game in the last 20 minutes we gave the goal away, similar to Monaco. Very naive. Two goals makes it realistically very difficult if not impossible. We will have to go out there and fight. There was room to score but we didn’t. And they are lethal. One thing we could not afford – and we knew before the game – was to let them counterattack”.

I had a feeling back in February that Per’s time as first choice CB would be up in the new season. We don’t really know what Wenger’s plans were regarding the first choice CB pairing for this season, but the bad injuries to first the BFG and then Gabriel, before the season even had started, forced his hands in the transfer market anyway. He had already bought Holding – ‘one for the future’ – in the summer, and the young Englishman impressed us all with some fine performances. He also gave Chambers a few  games to show him that he could be ready for regular PL starts, but Calum was not up for the task unfortunately.

Wenger then bought Mustafi from Valencia and rushed back Koz to make them his first choice CB pairing. And what a difference they have made. They have played five times together now, two CL games and three PL games, and conceded just two goals in total. Of course, it is still early days and we have to give it at least 20 games before we can say that KosMus are the perfect rulers of space and time, but the first signs are very promising.

And this is not just reflected in our fine, post-Liverpool, defensive record – to which Holding has contributed as well – but also in the style of play it has allowed us to play as a team.

Neither Koz nor Mustafi are the embodiment of Campbell or Adams; it is more like playing two perfect Koscielnys, or two beastly Toures, with both players happy to push up high and having enough confidence in their recovery speed and ability to intercept and deal with any counterattacks coming their way. Together they organise their defence very well, lead the team all over the pitch, and give away very few chances: they have been in control, sometimes in total control, in almost all games, except the PSG game perhaps.

It is fair to say they also get great help from the full backs and the deeper laying DM (Coq or Xhaka) for which they deserve massive credit.

There are promising signs that KosMus is the CB pairing for the future: the rulers of space and time Arsenal have been needing for so many years.

By TotalArsenal

Theo the Panther, Iwobi the Polar Bear, Alexis the Pack of Woles: Arsenal are Full of Deadly Animals

Two games, 3-0 and 2-0 to the Arsenal, five goals, clean sheet and mesmerizing football for two times 45 minutes. It is good to be a Gunner this week! 🙂

We expected it to be hard to break the Swiss defence down, and previous Basel games on British soil proved very hard for our PL colleagues. We were warned. So what is the best thing to do: bamboozle – or bambasel – them with high pressure, run around the emmental holes  like crazy killer animals and pounce as soon as possible.

Arsenal’s first half against Basel was as good as football gets. We could have scored five in that half alone, but two was still a fine reward for the attacking football we unleashed on the Basel players. Just as against the Chavs, the job was done after 45 minutes, and Arsenal once again put on the handbrake in the second half to see out the game and spare our opponents. This may sound easier than it was, as it still requires discipline and concentration. The fact that we were able to see out the two last games with such composure and maturity is also very welcome.

Eight Positives from Arsenal v Basel:

  1. Theo the panther: Walcott loves space to hunt down his pray and pounce instinctively on any opportunity that comes his way. Theo does not overthink things and sometimes this shows but often he is victorious as a result of it. His second goal was a typical Theo finish: beautifully executed. But his first goal was even better: as a desperate panther he pounced on Alexis’ fine cross and left the Swiss defence for melted, fondue-ready Gruyere. What a fine brace by the reborn one;
  2. Alexis the pack of wolves ‘in one’: flipping heck I love this Alexis even more than the previous seasons’ one. What an engine this guy has, and what a desire to play football, enjoying the dirty work as much as the lofty stuff. Desperately unlucky not to score himself but he won the game for us with two selfless and clever assists. Burnley are you hearing that sound of howling wolves coming your way?!
  3. Ozil the enabling chameleon: Mezut is just so adaptive and flexible, always aiming to add maximum attacking value to the team whatever it requires. He still does not have an assist this season, yet we score about 2.5 goals per game now – wow. He has two PL goals already, though, after missing the first few games and could have had one or two more on Wednesday. The link up play with his fellow attackers is such a joy to watch and more is still to come.
  4. Iwobi the polar bear: Alex is fast when he attacks and already has an artic cool head when it comes to decision making. He also has stamina to run and run  between the defence and attack lines, and sniffs out danger with his footie nose. A really good team serving performance on Wednesday and looking a bit better after the Cheese than during the weekend. Monreal appreciated it;
  5. Xhaka the black bear: you don’t mess with Granit. He protects the forest behind him and will pounce on you if you leave him any space. A very disciplined performance based around his excellent positioning and presence on the pitch – gave his fellow countrymen no chance.
  6. Santi the puffin: Is there a more colourful and joy-inducing animal on the British shores? Cazorla brings joy and creativity to the team with a constant and positive energy and a fabulous ability to spot and pounce on openings. What a well spotted pre-assist for our first goal.
  7. Ospina, Koz and Mustafi the triangle of doom gorillas: they did not have too much to do, but every time they had to get involved they formed a triangle of morale sapping doom. They are fast, they are hard (but fair), they don’t give up till you are well outside their domain, and if you do not get the hint you will come to regret it. A vey mature and focussed performance.
  8. Bellerin and Monreal the hyena-leopards: is there one animal that sums up our fantastic full backs? For me they have the never give up attitude of the hyena and speed and pounce of the leopard. The final part of the hunt still needs improving a bit as we need more key passes and assists from them, but they are vital animals within our team.

By TotalArsenal