Why Bernd Leno Should be Our First Choice Goalie

Cech is an amazing shot stopper. He is looking as trim as ever. You can see in his gait that he is battle ready and he proved it in our pre-season match against Chelsea. But one thing happened in that encounter that demands an inquest. Sokratis with the ball was under pressure and Cech had positioned himself to receive a short back pass. Instead of the back pass, Sokratis decided to put the ball out of touch for a corner kick. The resultant corner kick came to naught but why did Sokratis choose that option? Was it out of anxiety that Cech might buckle under that close press?

Bernd Leno’s record last season as a shot stopper isn’t too exciting. Yet we paid in the region of £19m for him in spite of the fact that we had Cech and three other keepers with us. His purchase doesn’t seem to make much sense unless there is something different the management knew he can bring to the team. If so what can that be?

We know that Emery is hired to infuse new life into the team. Unfortunately he has to get on with this task while hostility which starts this weekend rages. That is always going to be tough. Luckily he has had a month of pre-season with most of the squad, enough time to get his message across which though in its infancy is gathering momentum.

The changes he is bringing to the team starts with an added commitment to play the ball out of the back irrespective of the pressure. That is an essential element if the team has to be the protagonist. In the last two friendlies it has been the one area of obvious contrast to our previous pattern of play.

The commitment to this pattern is so central to Emery’s philosophy that it has to be well structured in terms of its tactics and the personnel executing it. Important to its success is that the conductor of this phase of play has to be the keeper, being the spare man that guarantees a favorable overload each time. That means that the keeper must enjoys the confidence of the players around him when with the ball at his feet. He has to be a baller too. Such a keeper is as much an outfield player as a goaltender. Such has been the redefinition of goalkeepers.

Germany is very quick in responding to new concepts in football philosophies. There are already a host of young brilliant modern keepers in the German leagues and Bernd Leno is one of the most exciting of them. We held our breath as he masterfully conducted that phase of the game against Lazio on Saturday. For us fans, it takes some getting used to.

Yes Cech is battle ready for the season but Leno is a basic building block in Unai’s revolution. In the overall scheme of things, today is important but tomorrow is even more important and Leno is there to lead us into tomorrow.

On Sunday we clash with Pep who professes the philosophy that his team travel with the ball. I hope it’s understood what he means by that. Emery is planning to steal the ball for his own journey. Welcome Bernd Leno.

Gooners lets get your take on this.

By PE

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Kola Out, Nacho Not Ready: Who to Play at LB? Time for The Skodran!

With Kolasinac out for a few months and Nacho apparently not fit/ready to start against Man City, who can Unai pick from to play at LB?

Let’s have a heated debate! 🙂

Will it be Ainsley Maitland-Niles? Young, very talented and powerful but also lacking a bit of focus at times, Ainsley looks to be our first option right now. I like him a lot and am sure he can do a more than decent job v City – he is that talented. But can he keep his focus for ninety minutes against the rampant Champions?

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We could see Holding playing at left back. Not his ideal position but he is a bit more mature (and older) than AMN and able to focus for 90 minutes. Not my first choice as Rob is more of a CB than a FB but I could live with it.

A more natural option could be Mustafi – with Holding and Sokratis as our CB-pair. I would prefer this to the above options. Mustafi has the energy, aggression and running ability to make the LB position a success v MC.

Final options are Mavropanos, the right backs – Lichtsteiner or Bellerin – or even Elneny or Torreira?

So I am not worried re cover at LB at all, and my man for the job is the German who was left out v Lazio. A man who will show everyone what a great defender and Gunner he is: The Skodran!

But who would you like to stand in for Kola/Nacho at LB?

By TotalArsenal 

 

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Guendouzi and Mkhi Impress, Defence Work in Progress, Iwobi more Direct: 8 Observations

Tonight Arsenal played their last official friendly and here are my eight observations and points for discussion:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (centre) celebrates scoring for Arsenal

  1. Leno looked dynamic and was very confident with his feet throughout the game. It was the first time I saw him in action for Arsenal and he impressed throughout the game. He did not have to make too many stops as Lazio were wasteful with their changes, as they seldom hit the target from promising positions. Therefore, it is hard to compare him to Petr, who I hear had an excellent game against Chelsea earlier this week. It will be interesting to see what Unai will do re his nr.1 GK…
  2. Iwobi had a strong first half and seems to be buoyed by the signing of a new contract. He worked well with his partner on the left flank, AMN, and together they produced some good chances. A bit unlucky not to score himself but at least his effort came off the post and into the path of the equally impressive Nelson who just could not miss from there. Loved that Alex had some good running with the ball and being very direct at times.
  3. The CB pairing of Holding and Chambers did not impress. They were too often exposed in the air and did not organise the team well with regards to set-pieces. They also were too often out of position and struggled to read the game when Lazio attacked on the ground.
  4. Lichtsteiner, Torreira and Xhaka all started (the first two had their first game for Arsenal) but they all looked rusty and struggled to make an impact on the game. Xhaka and Torreira in the centre of defence is a work in progress, especially in Unai’s experimental 4-4-2 set up: who of the two should sit deepest and who should do the B2B stuff? Lichtsteiner produced a few nice balls over the top and into the box.
  5. Why did Mustafi not play at all (good question GoonerEris)? Unai decided not to play his strongest team together and maybe this was done with the aim to keep Guardiola guessing…? I expect Mustafi to start (with Sokratis) next week Sunday.
  6. What to do with Lacazette? The man gives his all but his link up play outside the box was hasty and imprecise. I love the partnership with Auba, but only with the Frenchman as our CF operating in and around the box rather than filling the void between midfield and attack (as is often typical of a 4-4-2 system).
  7. Guendouzi impressed. Except for a few overeager runs with the ball which led to him being disposed and leaving the team exposed, he had a good game. Guendouzi offered good link up play between defence and attack and added energy all over the pitch. He also kept his head up and produced some fine passes.
  8. Mkhi had a strong thirty minutes or so. Just like Guendouzi, he added energy and forward movement with the ball at his feet in the second half. Auba scored a good, calm goal and Ozil had a few nice touches in and around the box.

All in all it was a good 2-0 win even though the score flattered us due to a lack of clinical finishing by the Italians. It is hard to pull any big conclusions from the game as there were too many substitutions and the Italians weren’t as bothered about the game as our boys. But defensively alarm bells are ringing and Unai has his work cut out to get the defence to work as a well-drilled unit. The good news is that we keep scoring in every game and that we are pressing teams a lot more than we used to do.

The real test will follow in due course…. eight days to go…

By TotalArsenal.

 

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Wenger spoke and Emery listened: A Smooth Baton Change.

Arsene and Emery

Not long from now, weekend of August 10, emotions will begin to pour as the new season starts. Already, the bookmakers are all over the place, miles off the mark as they are wont to be. Only old time can tell and all we can do at the moment is steel our nerves as our dreams and our fears jostle for a pride of place.

I watched again the videos (Emeryesque) of four of our best performances last season. The away and home wins against Everton, the home loss to Manchester United and our home win against Burnley. They were displays, bar the out of sync errors, that only a talented squad could have produced.

Just before Wenger departed as manager, he said in nearly as many words that what he was leaving behind is a talented squad. As he offered that opinion in a voice that hardly carried a sound I felt he was pleading that it be not dismantled. Re-watching those matches I understood his sentiments. We truly did and do have a talented squad.

In stepped Unai Emery with a mantra of wanting the team to be protagonist, to play with energy and intensity, and win the ball early. Emery, no doubt has studied all the videos of the games of his new team and recognized that it is a talented squad that for debatable reasons lacked the right energy and intensity in many of its games. For him the right ingredients are there, only how to bring all to bear.

That should explain why Emery said of the team that it is not so much about the formation as it is about energy and intensity and by implication that it is also not so much about the ins and the outs as it is about protagonist and winning the ball early. When Wenger spoke about this squad and the talent in it there were important ears that heard him. The new recruitments made so far appear to be essentially for ironing out mere creases.

To get the gist of this post, watch again those four matches mentioned above. Even in the one we lost by 3-1 to Man United we had 75% possession of the ball, made 33 attempts on goal, 16 shots on target to Man U’s 4. Despite the fact that we conceded three careless goals it was a match we still would have won but for the magical de Gea between the Man United posts. That day there was energy and intensity, we were winning the balls early and were clearly the protagonist. That day it was Unai Emery’s team on the field and all he is racing to do is resurrect that performance and keep it at a full rolling boil.

His players have gotten his message but old habits die hard. In the three pre-season matches so far, more movement has been evident especially when not with the ball though it still needs to carry more bite. It is an exciting beginning watching this seed sown on Wengersoil sprouting. With patience and care it would grow to bear beautiful fruits.

Ferguson and Moyes bungled their baton change. Ours is promising to be as smooth as the Jamaican 4x110M relay third baton change that had Usain Bolt as the anchor man. Will the roof be brought down? We steel our nerves.

BY PE

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Guendouzi and Smith-Rowe Impress, Leno Not There Yet: Match Review from Singapore

Today we have a match report from our very own Singapore-based Bergkampesquer, 84. Enjoy. 🙂
Here is the match report on the events and take-aways last night.
On a cooling night, a pre-season game was played out in Singapore. With an attendance of just over 23 thousand, it is definitely not something that would make any local fan feel proud of.
We started with a young team. Matteo Guendouzi started his first match for the club against a proper top-class team, in the DM position, while Reiss Nelson started on the right of midfield, playing in front of Bellerin. Bernd Leno started in goal.
The game started on a positive note, with Guendouzi and Emile Smith-Rowe running the midfield. Atletico’s youngsters started the match in the absence of players playing in the World Cup, and they were kept in their own half for most of the game, and played a counter-attacking game.
We were playing 4-1-3-1-1 in a flat formation.
We had a couple of good chances in the first half, with Lacazette and Auba leading the attack. Atletico’s strength is in their defence and their ability to turn defence into attack quickly, thus it was no surprises that we were almost caught out at times. However, Holding, Guendouzi and Mustafi did well to protect the ball from going into the net.
The problem with our playing style is that we liked to pass the ball a lot in our penalty area. So many times we were doing that and a slip by the defender will mean that we will lose the ball and concede a goal. We were very lucky that this time Emery put his DM nearer to the defence, a similar style to where Elneny will play, to put an extra man to help the defenders.
We conceded from a quick Atletico counterattack from a cross, and the defenders should have done better.
The first 45 ended with lots of half chances, and misplaced passes, and the team will gel better by the time we start the new season.
The second half started with a bang.
Our stadium announcer for the night was split between Nigel, in charge of announcing for the Gunners, and a local announcer for Atletico Madrid. Our changes for the night was a little mixed up, as the assistant referee and the team wanted to bring on the subs but were thwarted by the referee. Confusion also reigned when we had a few fouls against us that should not have been given at first. That was the trigger for the loud boos in the stadium.
Then came the equaliser. Smith-Rowe did a Rambo and ran at the Atletico defence, and he decided to take a chance to shoot. And what a chance that was. Arrowed into the net.
We had a good chance from Nketiah too, but the keeper saved it.
There were times when Perez and our Tank failed to get on the same wavelength, and some through-passes were misplaced on both flanks of the pitch.
The game ended 1-1 and Penalty Shootout is the tie breaker for the day. With so many youngsters and Cech in goal I did not think that we will win it.
The feelings during the penalty:
The first Atletico penalty was against the right upright. Game on for Arsenal.
Mkhi got his spot kick saved by Adan. Downcast for me again.
Atletico got their penalty saved by Cech. Game on again.
One of the youngsters got his penalty saved. Oh man.
Atletico scored their first penalty. Sh**. 1-0
AMN scored for Arsenal. Ok, we might be scrapping through. 1-1
Atletico scored again. 2-1.
Another youngster got his penalty saved.
Then Adan scored his spot kick, bringing an end to the game.
My take on this game was that there were good passes and bad ones within the team, and the youngsters should try to shake off the rust if they are to be a mainstay in the team. Guendouzi and Smith-Rowe are quick players, and they can grow to be world-class players.
Bernd Leno is still young and needs to gel with his defence better. For me, the current number 1 is still Cech. Leno as his number 2 until he gets better with dealing with pressure.
Overall a good kick-about from the lads, and the game against PSG will be better as the atmosphere will be huge and the stadium will be packed on a Saturday evening.
Cheers!
NJK84SG
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This Loyal and Fabulous Gunner Will also Be Unai Emery’s Man

It is not easy to be a great talent and also an introvert, especially in sports – and even more so in the biggest one of them all: football. Mesut Ozil reminds me a bit of Donnie the Quiz Kid in one of my favourite movies ‘Magnolia’. Mesut, just like Donnie, is so talented and has so much ‘love’ to give but he is just not being appreciated enough, even though our new nr.10 actually knows ‘where to put it’.

Ozil is the PL Champion of the key pass; and key passes are like the Quiz Kid’s love in Magnolia: they provide others with the opportunity to be in the limelight and win for us. Every striker wants nothing more than a great and regular producer of key passes; and as we know, they are like gold dust in football.

And that’s what Mesut is all about: making others look better and play for the team. Last season’s 3.2 key passes per game in the PL makes him king of the key pass; next up is KdBruine with 2.9 key passes per game. Yet Mesut is only shared 10th in the PL regarding producing assists, with just eight of them in 26 games. To score a goal it takes at least two to tango, and, until Auba joined us, we were pretty woeful at finding the net in many a game, especially away from home.

KdB was the king of the assists last season with 16 in 37 games (Mesut did even better than that at the start of his Arsenal career). During the World Cup Ozil produced a whopping 5.5 key passes for Germany but it did not lead to any assists; the holding champions were woeful and went out during the group stage with their tails between their legs. The media and some self-celebrating DFB Dummköpfe still liked to blame Ozil for the Germans’ embarrassing exit from the WC.

Let’s face it, Mesut is also often our scapegoat when things are not going our way.

He never stops trying to find those key passes for others, to make himself available as to pass the ball to him, to create space for others and speed up our attacks, to look for the best possible way to move our game forward. That is what I love about Mesut. Yet many are so quick to criticise him when we are not winning; he is such an easy victim for our very own red and white Dummköpfe. He is not your in your face midfielder who shouts and puts in tackles to get the team and crowd going; but then who is these days?! Yet he runs as much as anybody in the team and helps out defence whenever he can. And I have never ever seen him have a bad game. Never.

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Mesmerizing Mesut – King of the Key Pass!

Always remember, MO10 knows that he serves the  team best by focusing on creating opportunities for others, and that attack is often the best form of defence for the team. This is not a luxury to have when the absolute King of the Key Pass is donning The Shirt.

With both Laca and Auba likely to play in attack and either Rambo or Mkhi (or even both) also on the pitch, Ozil has every opportunity to put last season’s disappointments behind him, and come on top again both with key passes per game AND (this time also) assists.

There is no doubt in my mind that Emery is delighted to have the master of key passes and assists in his first Arsenal team, and he will be central to his plans. Mesut has so much to give  to us and we should show him much more unconditional love going forward. He signed the long-term deal; he will finish his football career at the home of football. If we stand behind him at all times, he will keep delivering for us (even if it doesn’t always ‘show’).

By  TotalArsenal.

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Longing for those North Bank Days

Nostalgia

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Just finished cloning my collection of Arsenal books, when I came across an old favourite of mine called “The End, 80 years of life on The North Bank”.  The book is made up of short paragraphs from supporters, players etc

If anyone wants 10 minutes break from it all, I have picked a few amusing quotes (I have removed expletives):

Petrrovic. That man was a genius.  he was a replacement for Brady, never given the opportunity and then they sold him.  The last game the North Bank were screaming his name, they knew it was the last time they would see him play.

Going to football, going to Arsenal particularly for the big games is a love/hate thing.  It is not something you can do casually; it is not like going to the cinema.

I’ve got glasses, underpants, socks, french letters, I have got cannons all over the place.

On the occasion of the Leicester City match our band gave the first rendering of the Up the Gunners march which, we hope to add to our musical programme as the Club song. Today when it is played once more the lyric will be sung by Monte Rey.  The March has been composed by Gilbert Stacey and it will now be possible for copies, words and music to be bought at all cafes and bars in the stadium at the price of 6d (six pence) A F C PROGRAMME

 Unfortunately the present day Arsenal fan does not appear to be interested in a club song.  the old one lasted 30 to 40 years but was suddenly considered to be ‘SQUARE’. We  ran an opinion poll via th supporters club and a new song was devised, but nobody sang it so we gave up

A F C PROGRAMME

People wore rosettes I had a red rosette and went to the Peterborough cup match when we lost 2 -1 I picked up a further 8 rosettes from the terraces, when people started slinging them away.  they lasted me about 10 years.

Avoid barracking the players and the referee and don’t be too partisan . Dont call ungentlemanly remarks to players, it does not add to the pleasure of your fellow spectators   Herbert Chapman 25/8/1928

 John Barnwells confidence was destroyed by The North Bank , I think Jon Sammels would say the same and there have been others.  there are always going to be lads who are the butt of the crowd. Bob Wilson

 Ian Wright has got it.  I mean he goes into the crowd when he scores and he is celebrating as much as we are celebrating.

If we get beat by a better team, I will clap the other team off.  Very few times have I done it though.  Spartak Moscow were one.  they done us 5 – 2 that team was outstanding.

Before Wilson , after Kelsey we had McKechnie.  McKechnie, McLelland, Burns, Furnell – put all of those together and you wouldn’t end up with a goalkeeper.  But that McKechnie I’m not being hard on him but he was a lump.

That’s what football is all about its a mix of all ages.  You go to pubs and there’s the 15 year olds pubs, the 20 year olds pub, there’s the old geezers pub whatever.  but football mixes it all up and I hope seats won’t stop that.

There’s a different atmosphere when you’re standing.  It’s more fun.  when you stand you’re part of the game and I do like to have a good shout. You’re all standing there together and once that goes, the game is not the game anymore.

The Bank Holiday weekend we won the last league Championship and Liverpool were playing at Forest.  Four of us were down early.  We went for a drink at the White House in Green Lanes,

Outside- you couldn’t get in – and Forest scored.  Everybody went mad.  I was shaking like a leaf.  I thought I have got to go to the ground.  I didn’t know what to do.  I got to the North Bank, pacing up and down. I had more wees in that half an hour than I’ve ever had.  A Guy came in with a portable T V everyone was going to have a look.  Before that, Liverpool had equalised.   And I just watched his face.  If Forest were attacking, you could see it on his face.  they scored.  He’s got the telly in one hand, he’s sort of juggling with it.  the whole north bank went mad.  that last five minutes were the longest of my life.

The question of the erection of a refreshment stall on the unused ground at the Gillespie Road entrance was left to the manager for further reports. A F C Board minutes 9.5.28

Arrangements have been made with Messrs Gilbarts, the popular confectioners, to purvey their toothsome commodities in the Highbury Ground.  the salesmen will wear distinctive attire.

By Retsub.

 

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