Iwobi puts Panic into Defenders | Ozil is Back, Beauty is Back | Alexis/Giroud Two Top CFs | Danny is Welbeck

Winning in Swansea was sweet and our Northwest rivals dropping valuable points even sweeter. We all knew that we needed a win against the Swans but not many were confident that the boys would be able to overcome a team that we have struggled against in recent seasons and would be out to play for their new – third this season – manager. The boys are so confident in their ability to turn anything round again that they once again did not bother much in the first half. Of course this is nonsense, but what is a worry is the team’s apparent inability to gel and play at the right tempo and intensity¬†from the start.

As discussed in previous posts, this is largely due to the lack of cohesion and dominance of our midfielders in the DM pivot. Rambo and Xhaka are fine midfielders but they are struggling to play together effectively and as a result the whole team often suffers, as these two players have a pivotal linking, protecting and enabling role in the team. Luckily, Arsene is time and again able to lift their game significantly during the second half of recent games, which has made a huge difference. We have to hope that the boys will soon start to play much better together from the first kick-off.

Eight Positives From Game:

  1. Giroud keeps delivering and Wenger knows he has more than one quality option for the CF role. OG has 13 goals from 18 attempts on target and only needs 71 minutes for each PL goal on average, which is fecking awesome (best in the league by some distance). Losing twice in a row against the Toffees and Citeh seems to have made Arsene realise that he needed to put Ollie back up-front and either rest Alexis or play him on the wing. The Chilean firecracker does not seem too happy about this but I can see why Wenger wanted to freshen things up. It has worked out very well, with three wins and a hard fought draw in Bournemouth, but I have no doubt that Arsene will play Sanchez as CF again sooner or later. Key is not to become too predictable and over-reliant on the one player. Hopefully, Wenger can explain this to AS-Baby. ūüôā
  2. Iwobi is dancing his way into this team. He is learning very quickly and the combination of incredible close control of the ball, great vision and fabulous passing ability is making the team¬†play much better. Alex was for many the MOTM and quite rightly so. Often a young player does well initially and then starts to struggle with dealing with the expectations by the fans and manager, after which they usually¬†struggle with form and self-belief for a long time before possibly coming good again (the Ox being a prime example). But Iwobi, just like Bellerin last season, appears to be able to keep growing steadily and is becoming a regular first team player as a result. His final ball, especially on goal, still needs improving but luck was on his side with two strong deflections leading to two Swans’ OGs. He is starting to put panic into defenders which is a sign of a quality attacker.
  3. Cech is a safe pair of hands. Made a very good safe in the first half and just does not do anything that makes his fellow defenders nervous. Petr is no attention seeker; he is the night-watcher.
  4. Ozil is back – Beauty is back. Our German conductor is endlessly mobile and inventive on the pitch and we have missed him. All the rest re him has been said many a time: Mesut is Mozart!
  5. Gabriel is becoming a very good utility defender, being able to replace both Mustafi and Bellerin with relative ease. The combination of Gabriel and Mustafi needs more work, but I am happy to play him with Koz in any defensive combination.
  6. Three clean sheets in the last four PL games, after conceding at least one in the previous eight PL games, is giving us hope that our defensive play is improving. It is by no means perfect, but if we can build further on this we have a good chance to get much closer to the Chavs in the next couple of months.
  7. Alexis, despite his shenanigans when he gets substituted, is playing very well for the team and is joined top scorer in the Premier League with 14 goals already. On top of this he produced seven assists which makes him the best attacker in the league. Wherever he plays he always creates danger for the team and is an outlet for fellow players. Let’s never forget this.
  8. Welback is beck. All digits crossed he will get fitter and fitter and help us win silverware this season. The attacking combinations we can draw from with players like Welbeck, Alexis, Giroud, Perez, Iwobi, Ozil, Theo and Ox are almost endless. The versatile and enthusiastic Welbeck really adds a lot to our attack going forward. He could be the difference come May.

By TotalArsenal.

 

Wenger has Turned Alexis into a Lethal Mixture of these two PL Giants

More or less a quarter of the PL games have been played this season, and slowly but steadily we can start making some conclusions on how the mighty red and white are doing.

The big, obvious¬†conclusion we have to make is that we started the PL season¬†slowly, dropping five points in the first two games, but then recovered very strongly to now¬†be joined top with Pool and Citeh after nine games. This is some achievement we can be really proud of. With Citeh winning game after game, it looked like we were in a bad position until a few games ago, but Pep’s team has lost its fizz, and the Gunners, bar a tired game against Middlesbrough, have¬†lately been firing from all cylinders.

I will post a number of early-season-conclusions over the next week or so, starting with Wenger upgrading our approach to creating and scoring goals to a multi-facetted and disciplined attacking machine.

Conclusion nr.1: Wenger has turned Alexis into a lethal mixture of Giroud and Aguero

Last season we struggled to average two¬†goals¬†per PL¬†game – in fact at the end of the season we only managed to score 1.7 goals per game –¬†but this season we are finding the net¬†at about 2.1 goal a game – 2.4 before last weekend’s draw. It is great to get¬†goals from a variety of¬†scorers: from¬†Koz to Xhaka, from¬†Santi (penalties) to Ozil and from Theo to Alexis, etc. There are also a great number of assist producers,¬†and what this all does is that it¬†makes us unpredictable and highly effective. I love this more than anything else.

The big change Wenger made here is replacing Giroud with Alexis. Regular BKers know that I am a big fan of the bombastic Frenchman, but I can also see that Alexis as¬†our main CF¬†is an improvement for Arsenal – especially when teams allow us space rather than park a bus full of stubborn defenders. Actually, I suggested last season on more than one occasion that if Wenger wanted to have ‘an Aguero beast of a CF’ he did not need to look further and¬†just move¬†the Chilean firecracker¬†to the middle.

What I like about Wenger, who is, contrary to what many like to think, always reinventing the ultimate ballgame, is what he did with Alexis this season. He did not turn him into a ‘pure’¬†Aguero after all; he made¬†Sanchez better¬†than his fellow South-American. Arsene turned¬†Alexis into a total, multi-disciplined and dimensional¬†attacking machine,¬†who¬†also offers¬†the work rate, constant willingness to occupy central defenders,¬†and ability to create space and key passes for others that¬†Giroud has to offer.

Alexis already has four goals and three assists and produces 2.1 key passes per PL game; Aguero, who to be fair played less PL minutes than Alexis, scored five but produced no assists and only manages 0.9 key passes per game. The Argentinian is a top quality predator-finisher who needs to be serviced and brought into striking range constantly, whereas our South-American wildcat takes and gives in equal amounts, thus allowing the likes of Iwobi, Ozil and Theo to not only support the goal production efforts but also be at the end of them.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ozil+goal+against+swansea+youtube&view=detail&mid=05125335C93D64D916D805125335C93D64D916D8&FORM=VIRE

Alexis revels in the dirty work of chasing defenders and never letting them rest¬†– he is such a hyena; Alexis also¬†has an eye for a pass that kills a whole defence in one stroke (Mesut is still licking his lips from the Chilean’s diagonal Bergkampesque¬†ball over the top against Swansea – see above); Alexis has the composure and technical ability to finish from anywhere in and near the opposition’s box, and against any opposition; and Alexis has the engine to keep going, and with his energy and passion he motivates the entire team from game to game. He has simple added another dimension and more intensity to our attacking play, and for that I applaud both him and Wenger.

There are still some doubts whether Alexis is also our best option if and when we play stubborn and ultra-disciplined ‘park the bus’ teams like Middlesbrough last weekend; and once Giroud is fully back to fitness we will have to see¬†who will get¬†the CF slot¬†for these sorts of games. But there is no doubt in my mind that Wenger’s move to play Alexis as an all round, multi-disciplined CF has made¬†the whole team¬†less predictable and more deadly up front. And long may it continue!

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

 

 

What to do with Olivier Giroud in the ‘New Arsenal attack’?

Does Giroud still feature in the new, Alexis-as-CF, Arsenal?

Ollie G is an interesting case, because I don’t see him as a starter at all. This isn’t because he’s not good enough, as he certainly is. Instead, it’s because our style of play has changed to be based around an attacking quartet of players who are all mobile and interchangeable. The first choice seems to be Iwobi/Sanchez/Ozil/Walcott, with all of them flying around the opposition half attacking from different angles with rapid interplay. It’s hard to defend against this style of play.

Ollie G, on the other hand, is suited toward a style of game where a strong CF acts as an attacking focal point, a fulcrum around which attacks are launched and goals come from headers, knockdowns and late runs from supporting attackers. That’s how we played last year and teams were becoming adept at playing against it.

Looking at our bench for a reserve attacking quartet, we would be better to have a combination like Ox/Perez/Welbeck/Ramsey where again there is a plenty of pace and finishing ability, but, more importantly, they can play the same attacking system and maintain the same understanding with our attacking fullbacks and midfield duo. We have to play with one system and become incredibly efficient at that system, if we are to match Man City and the European giants this year.

Giroud‚Äôs role in both of these teams is not as a starter in my view, but perhaps as a very different plan B to have available when for some reason we are unable to break through with plan A. Whether or not it is generally feasible or effective to attempt a shift from a plan A to a plan B mid-game is of course up for debate ‚Äď I suspect it is not.

I sense that our team has evolved, and that the next step up for us is to make our combinations so rehearsed that they become intuitive, almost instantaneous, and able to withstand the loss of one or two individual players. But I also feel a bit sorry for Oliver Giroud because he is being, and perhaps must be, left behind by all of this.

What do you think fellow Gooners?

By davydavy

Costa Skinny-Latted by Koz and Mustafi, Alexis the CF Beast, Home-Grown Iwobi Arrives: 8 Positives Arsenal v Chelsea

Sometimes you need a bit of time after such an Arsenal performance: to let¬†all the goodness¬†stew and sink in. It is fair to say that the game only really lasted 45 minutes. The Chavs were hoping Arsenal would not push on and spare them in the second half, and we did. I have a strong feeling Wenger¬†told the troops to show mercy for Conte’s men at half time, but this would have been very different if the original¬†gatherer of¬†yesterday’s first Chelsea 11 was still managing that team. For that Arsene¬† has to wait a couple of months. ūüôā

Theo Walcott scores

Arsenal outclassed¬†Chelsea in every department. We had more energy,¬†better¬†healthy aggression,¬†better running, better passing, better tempo, better creativity, better chances and better finishing. The only area I was less happy about, and on another day it could have cost us at least a goal, was the cover for our left back: either Santi or Iwobi left Monreal dangerously exposed on more than one occasion in the first half. I guess that is why Wenger called the first half performance ‘near perfect’…

There are so many positives to take from the game, but the one that matters most is that we played as a team; in fact, we played as an all conquering machine. From defence to midfield to attack, we almost always were in control through our collective, fully integrated approach to playing football.

Key in this all was the way we pressed the Chavs and never let them settle. We had already witnessed eight days ago what high and vigorous pressing of¬†Conte’s men¬†can do them, when Pool destroyed them in just 45 minutes at the Bridge. We did exactly the same. They might have a few fast attackers, but as a team they lack energy and tempo, and they do not have the sort of¬†quality players anymore who can dominate proceedings on their terms. Those days are over.

Key was also our dynamic, hungry yet disciplined¬†CB duo, the fire in Coquelin’s belly and the creativity of the likes of Santi, Mesut and the superb Iwobi. Add to that the energy of the full backs, Theo and CF monster Alexis and you have our team summarised in a nutshell.

Eight Positives from  a great win at THOF:

  1. The unpredictability of our attacking football: we were so dynamic yesterday and once again we spread the goals and assists. The Chelsea defence just did not know who to concentrate on to eliminate our danger. The first goal was the result of a clever, never-give-up hunt down by Alexis on the sorry Cahill. After that he had to chip the keeper which Alexis did with great composure. The second one was orgasmic and I am sure not to have been the only one who made the accompanying sighs of pleasure when the goal was being created by the slick and sexy moves of Ozil, Iwobi, Bellerin and Theo. The third was also very sexy and really good to see that Ozil was fed by the unselfish Alexis to score his second PL goal this season.
  2. Arsenal have scored 20 goals in all competitions already this season with nine different goal scorers. I have always said that Wenger would like our goal threat to come from a variety of players rather than being over reliant on the one ‘Van Persie’; and we are spreading the goals alright now, based around our Total Football approach to the game!;
  3. It is great to buy a top quality player and see them succeed but it will never surpass the joy of seeing a youngster make it to the big stage. This season it is Iwobi’s turn and boy has he been brilliant until now. Alex fits in so well at this Arsenal team. He has great close ball control and has that rare little bit of extra time when on¬†the ball,¬†and his confidence is growing every week. He had a lovely, well spotted¬†pre-assist for our all important second goal. Iwobi is a team player despite having two ‘I’s’ in his name, and he is currently our king of assists with three already. Go and watch him live if you can, is all I can say;
  4. The partnership between Mustafi and Koz is starting to look very good. Together they dealt really well with pantomime villain Costa who they totally skinny-latted;
  5. I have covered my views re Alexis as our CF on here many a time, but it is good to see how many are now agreeing that he is really lifting this team to another attacking level now. He now has four league goals and one CL goals but he also makes space and opportunities for others, with Theo already netting three league goals and Ozil having two league goals to his name. The whole team was MOTM, but if I had to choose one player it would be Alexis;
  6. The collective chasing and harassing of the Chavs, never allowing them to settle and then getting the job done in just 45 minutes. Class. And Theo’s hunger and discipline stood out yesterday: this is the way to play yourself back into our hearts my friend.
  7. The home support was awesome: it is a good example that if and when we play well and give our all the supporters will follow. It would be great if it worked the other way around sometimes as well, but yesterday the fans did their bit to overcome the much loathed opponent from West London;
  8. Wenger deserves credit for his first team choices and tactics: they were spot on and credit should be given by the entire Gooner community.

There are plenty more positives to add, so please do so.

By TotalArsenal

Wolfgang Amadeus Mesut: Arsenal’s nr1 Conductor Ozil holds the key to Silverware

Mesut Ozil would always be one of the first players on my team sheet if I was the Arsenal manager. I have never seen him play a bad game but in some games he is more effective than others. In order to fully appreciate him, though, you have to see him play live: not in an arm chair but in a football stadium, which I know many Gooners are unable to do.

His creative genius and willingness to work hard, combined with his desire to ALWAYS add attacking value to his team with every ball he touches, make Mesut so special. His running with and without the ball is superb, and his ability to find the killer pass is unsurpassed. He is not a loud extrovert but a humble introvert who lets his feet do the talking Рthis, among many other qualities, he shares with his nr10 predecessors, Cesc Fabregas and the great Bergkamp. And the English game has been blessed with the services of three of the finest European nr10 geniuses Рtwo of whom are luckily still in action and should meet each other once again tomorrow evening.

It is fair to say he has not yet reached his peak this season. Mesut had ‘just’ 2.3 key passes¬†and 57 passes per PL game, and he scored one goal and is yet to produce an assist, this season; whereas he reached a brilliant 4.2 key passes and 65 passes per PL game, and scored 6 goals and produced a whopping 19 assists, in 2015-16. But it is of course early days, and I rather see him peak towards the end then at the beginning of the season.

Some believe Mesut is still tired from the Euros but I reckon he is simply lacking form and has been given time by Wenger to improve it gradually. Tomorrow, against the Chavs, he needs to be close to his best form if we are to find a way through the parked blue and white buses. Mesut will be 28 next month and is reaching now his best footballing years. If we are to win the league we will need a strong core of six to seven players of top quality and the right attitude. Mesut will be one of them.

With Alexis as CF and excellent runners next to him with the likes of Iwobi, Theo, Ox and (possibly) Perez for Wenger to pick from, Mesut has to find his form to be our nr1 conductor once again. The sooner this happens the quicker Arsenal can reach top level.

No pressure Mesut but tomorrow you have to rediscover your inner Mozart and make the troops¬†play to your tunes. Ich glaube an dich! ūüôā

By TotalArsenal

 

Akpom CF, Ozil nr10, Perez and Ox on the Wings: Arsenal Predicted Line-Up

Did Arsenal ever have such a deep squad as we have currently? Well I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to how our current ‘second choice’ players will do against the Tricky Trees, or is simply ‘The Reds’ more appropriate? You tell me.

We will be meeting two ex-Gunners at the City Ground tomorrow: Henri Lansbury and Lord Bendtner. One just did not make it to the top level but looked promising for a long time, and the other one has tonnes of talent but lacked the focus to make it at THOF. Nottingham Forest is still a famous name in football and we all know why, and there is no doubt that the locals will be looking forward to playing Arsenal at home and give us a hell of a game tomorrow.

Image result for nottingham forest football ground images

17HT, the one who used to do match previews for us for a while, and I watched a similar game live last season; Arsenal were abysmal and Sheffield Wednesday knocked us out of the League Cup. I hope we will play a lot better tomorrow and do the away support proud. To achieve this we need to field not just a strong team but, even more importantly, a committed team. For me, that means we need to select those players who are hungry to play. And there are plenty who are desperate to play some meaty football tomorrow.

NF made it to the next round by beating Doncaster and¬†Millwall away (both 1-2),¬†but they are not doing¬†that well in the Championship with just three wins out of eight, and currently sitting in 13th position of the league table. This weekend’s loss against the Canaries at home is further evidence that they are there for the taking.

So how should we line up? It is hard to predict the line up but if we base it on a combination of players who need a game and anticipated appetite to give their all, I reckon we could see something like this:

ars-v-nf

Ospina seems to get the cup games, Gibbs, Holding and Debuchy all need a game and will be hungry. Arsene has said that Gabriel could play which I reckon means he will play. Elneny and Xhaka need a game and will be very hungry. Ox could do with another start and, to please some of the regular BKers here, I have put him on the right wing. Perez needs a game and could well start up front, but as I reckon Wenger wants to play Akpom as well, it is more likely that the Spaniard will start on the left Рwith a licence to move centrally as a second CF regularly.

I also think Ozil will start tomorrow. Mesut has yet to hit form and started to play club footie again only recently, so another game to get him up to speed and get the best out of Akpom, Perez and Ox should do him good.

Let’s hope our boys do us proud.

COYRRG!

By TotalArsenal

 

Iwobi’s Best Game, Alexis Brings Theo and Iwobi to Life, Motoring Mustafi: 8 Positives Hull v Arsenal

Now that is the Arsenal most of us love so much: dominant, creative, strong and banging in goals left, right and centre.

After the midweek CL game, legs could have been tired and minds preoccupied, but we started the game with a ferocious tempo and appetite that drove the Tigers back in their proverbial cages and made us dominate the¬†proceedings. When you play from home against a team that has made a good, ‘against expectations’, start to the season and¬†which was rested during the week, you need to start well to set the tone and not get overwhelmed.

And that we did!

Hull City v Arsenal - Premier League

Arsene had opted for the same back five and double DM pivot as on Tuesday and for¬†Alexis as our CF, once again. Ozil played¬†in the hole/free movement role and two quick and energetic wingers, Iwobi and¬†Theo,¬†to complete the attack. A selection pattern is developing and it worked a treat this time. Rumours are that Giroud has a toe problem, either from a PSG player or Wenger’s punishment for reckless behaviour on the pitch… So on the bench we had the Ox and Perez to support the attack if required. It turned out that we did not really need them. ūüôā

I guess the omission of Xhaka and, to a lesser extent, Elneny still surprised many of us, as both would have been raring to go, but we can see why Wenger is sticking to his settled DM pivot couple CoqZola: they were solid and dominated the game for the first seventy minutes or so. More about this later.

Maybe more of us are starting to see why Wenger wants to play Alexis as our ‘CF’ this season.

His movement, running off and with the ball, constant energy and involvement in the game is making all the difference. But what I loved most of this game is that Theo and Iwobi really are starting to understand what they need to do, and especially where they need to be, when Alexis goes deep(er) to create space behind him.

Attacking football¬†for many is a matter of getting the ball to a super CF in dangerous positions as much as possible…¬†and he will do the rest. But it is not that simple (any more). Winning football is about dominating¬†proceedings and¬†creating¬†chances – and then taking them – through creating space, excellent passing football, team pressing,¬†and clever running off and with the ball. Anyone can score and goals are ideally spread among a number of players, so we are less predictable and dependable on the one Aguero or Ibrahimovic.¬†If you have watched the first halves of MC – MU and Chavs – Pool, you will¬†know what I mean. And Arsenal’s first half display against the Tigers fits with these performances albeit against lesser opposition.

Of course we dominated the second half too but that was further influenced by the Livermore¬†sending off. The only negatives of Saturday’s game were the missed penalty and the penalty we gave away, totally out of the blue. But also that is football.

Eight positives from Hull v Arsenal:

  1. Iwobi’s best game in the mighty red and white colours: he played so mature and composed you would believe he has been¬†in Arsenal’s first team¬†for years. He assisted two goals and you could argue our first¬†one should have gone to him anyway. He has that rare ability to create time for himself when on the ball, and then he makes virtually always good decision on what to do next with his head held up. His passing and running with the ball is sharp but his sense of creating opportunities and executing them on the spot is even sharper. He also is often in the right place at the right time in and around the box, which again is very special for his age at the highest level of football. And I loved how he worked with Ozil, Sanchez and Theo. My MOTM;
  2. Alexis’ ability to create space and link midfield with attack AND Theo’s and Iwobi’s ability to benefit from this and link up with the fabulous Chilean (as already explained above). Before the game Arsenal had the best conversion rate of the league, and with four goals from nine attempts on target, I reckon this will have been enhanced further;
  3. Mustafi’s drive and reading of the game is awesome, and his partnership with Koz is blossoming quickly. This is allowing his CB partner to take it a bit more easy and preserve energy, which is just what the doctor has order for King Koz as the season is long… I loved Mustafi’s reading of the game and interventions, his drive to link up defence with midfield. In a way, he is our pace setter from the back. Long may it continue.
  4. Coq-Santi DM pivot. Wenger has been indicating that Xhaka is doing very well and now needs to be linked up with a DM partner as their collaboration and mutual understanding are pivotal to the team. Coq and Santi, as a partnership,¬†are ahead right now. He also sees Xhaka as a box to box player, given his enormous energy, rather than a deep laying ‘Pirlo’, so it seems. So Granit needs to find himself a deep laying DM, which could be either Coq, Elneny, or even Santi. Let’s see what will happen midweek against NF re this;
  5. Theo is in his element. Theo will often frustrate us but playing in this ‘Alexis the holding AND mobile CF’ system, he is likely to thrive and¬†deliver the goods more regularly. It creates space for him to which he is not just addicted but also¬†very dependent on. Theo is a chancer and sometimes his attempts come off spectacularly and sometimes disastrously, but as a ‘second CF’ on the wing he will get his goals and assists. He¬†scored a fine goal and was¬†involved in a lot of our attacking play. Theo may have found himself a new lease of¬†Gunner life;
  6. Ozil, Bellerin and Monreal featured less prominently¬†in this game it seemed, but their running (with and without the ball)¬†and passing were still vital for our dominant TEAM¬†play. Mesut’s final ball is still not as sharp as we are used to,¬†but can you imagine how we will play once he finds his form?! Chavs be warned! ūüôā
  7. The quality of the bench. We are still missing the likes of Ramsey, Welbeck, BFG and Gabriel,¬†and Ollie was left at home nursing his big one, but to be able to bring on Xhaka, Perez and Elneny to close out a game is a thing of beauty. And Granit’s bullet into the left corner for our last goal topped it all off;
  8. Wenger for evolving our game once more and getting the very best out of his players. Time to get fully behind him once more. The season just kicked off properly.

By TotalArsenal.

 

Xhaka/Elneny in DM Pivot, Alexis CF, Ozil to Rule, Theo/Perez on wings: Preview and Predicted First 11

We love the group stage of the champions league as some of the best games are being played in this competition every season. It is quite special that the two favourites of the group meet each other in the first group game, rather than in game three and four as usually is the case. PSG are yet to hit form and the same goes for us to some extent, so both teams could do with a very good match of football and three points. A good performance and a draw would also probably suit both clubs. With a bit of luck we should witness a feast of attacking football tomorrow.

For Arsenal this is an opportunity to lay down a marker¬†in Europe, England and¬†for ourselves. We need a good game and I reckon Wenger rested Sanchez, Giroud and Xhaka so he can field a very strong team in the capital of his home nation, even though I don’t expect Ollie to start. A good start is not crucial in this competition, but as we are playing the favourite team to win the group stage, a win tomorrow would give us a strong position to win the group eventually: an absolute necessity to get far in this year’s CL competition.

PSG like to play football and push opponents into their own half. If they do¬†that we will have the weapons to punish them on the break. Arsene could start with Giroud and play a France national team style formation with Alexis (as a Griezmann)¬†behind our solid Frenchman. He could also opt for pure speed up-front with Alexis as our ‘holding CF’ and¬†with a licence for him¬†to take on defenders left, right and centre.

I have a feeling that Giroud will have to miss out on a start in Paris. Wenger would be sentimental enough to allow Ollie to shine in their joint capital, but this is too important a game to not do the right thing. And against a team that is able to push us back into our own half, it is better to not start with a slowish holding CF. So I reckon we will start with Perez – Alexis – Theo, but would not be surprised if Iwobi gets a chance instead of Perez or Theo.

At the back, I think we will see the same GK and defenders as against the Saints. This leaves us with midfield and this is a game for Xhaka, no doubt. His ability to launch our attackers and get Ozil involved as quickly as possible, should be absolutely key tomorrow. Who shall we play next to him then: the steel of Coq or the immaculate passing of Elneny; or is Santi ready to start once again? Really hard to predict who will play in the double DM pivot, but I feel Xhaka and Elneny will get the nod, with both Coquelin and Santi coming on at some point in the second half to shore up the game and/or replace tired legs. And tired they will be tomorrow evening.

So my predicted starting eleven looks like this:

submit football lineup

What do you think fellow Gooners: Will we win this game and is this the starting eleven to do it?

COYGs!!

By TotalArsenal.

 

Cech/Koz/Coq/Santi ALL MOTM; Mustafi at Home; Perez Promising: Review and 8 Positives

Three very welcome points is very important, of course. And there is no doubt that we needed a dollop of red and white luck to get them against a resilient and good footballing Southampton.

Arsene made three changes from our win against the Hornets and it is fair to say we did not start brightly. The team lacked energy and drive, despite playing three fast players up front with the Ox, Perez and TheO, and playing two play makers in Santi and Mesut. The latter two started very quietly and the former three hardly had any of the ball in the first part of the first half. The Saints looked calm and in control, playing some easy on the eye football with plenty of penetration and danger up-front Рjust like they did against the Mancs a few weeks ago. Especially Tadic, Redmond and Rodriguez, supported deeper by the excellent ex-Chav Romeu, were very comfortable on the ball and we did not make it hard enough for them.

They scored from a well taken free-kick that needed a big dollop of luck though, as Cech scored his second career own goal with his back pushing the ball over the line. You would have expected Arsenal to up the tempo after the goal but we still lacked collective drive, with Santi being pushed back too much and the four of Ozil, Ox, Theo and Perez not involved in the game enough.

The game needed something special and it came from one of the two Arsenal birthday boys: King Koz.

Our CB scored a brilliant overhead kick that will have ha the approval of Zlatan, no doubt. We did not do enough until then to deserve the equaliser but Laurent has a knack of scoring very important goals, as he did four times last season.

That goal gave us back our mojo, at least in terms of playing football in the Saints’ half rather than ours. All of a sudden¬†the Saints were happy to park the buss and we could push forward both Mustafi and the energetic Coquelin to help the attackers.¬†Yet we missed sharpness, movement¬†and creativity, and this¬†especially from¬†Ozil and our mid-wingers. We also missed the goal threat of Giroud and/or Alexis up-front which made the team look¬†like it was missing¬†its normal focussed and aggressive¬†identity.

For some reason, the combination of players in our starting eleven did not work well yesterday. Was it perhaps too much to ask of Perez to start with the Ox next to him rather than Alexis or Giroud? Theo and Ox are the sort of players who have good moments in a game but do not add enough to the team to be picked together in the starting eleven imo. One of them is more than enough, and then I still think Iwobi, or indeed my personal favourite Joel Campbell (now out on loan unfortunately), would serve the team better on many occasions.

The second half started not much better. Tempo too low, movement too predictable, Ozil not involved enough, and Perez struggling to translate his presence in the box into clear cut chances and a goal. Luckily, Santi was getting into the grove now, working hard to get the team going by finding gaps and getting as close as possible to the Saints’ D’.

It was clear though that we needed to bring on Giroud and Alexis to lift the game and get that extra bit of quality into the box, even though we started to play a lot better from around the 55th minute. Perez worked hard and you can see how he could fit into the team, it will take a bit of time though.

As soon as we brought on the Frenchman and Chilean we looked sharper, but we also gave a way a couple of quite big chances that could have cost us dearly. And that tells you all about the risks and opportunities associated with substitutions, and why Wenger often waits longer with them than most of us want him.

Luckily, we got the penalty and Santi was cool enough to convert it.

Eight positives:

  1. Mustafi settled in quickly and looked solid and composed. Really good to see him drive forward regularly as well. Need to see him more games but that was pretty impressive in front of the home crowd;
  2. Birthday boy Koz had an outstanding performance and scored a superb goal – so happy he is still a Gooner and let’s hope he will be signed up to end his career at THOF;
  3. Le Coq had his pecker up and was awesome throughout the game, both in defence and supporting the attack. Xhaka will have been rested for Tuesday’s game no doubt –¬†and I expect us to play Perez, Theo and Alexis up front for that one so Xhaka can help us beat the Parisian Oilers on the break – but yesterday we needed the steel and defensive discipline of Francis Coquelin. And boy did he deliver;
  4. Santi moving forward in the second half made a big difference in terms of our attacking intent. Ozil was not at his very best today and he needed Santi to add creativity. On top of all his fine passes and crosses, he produced a calm and venomous penalty that left the time wasting Foster picking the ball out of the net. ūüôā
  5. The spine of Cech, Koz(Mustafi), Coq, Santi, and eventually Giroud, held strong and delivered a performance worthy of the Arsenal. Cech, Koz, Coq and Santi were altogether my men of the match. And Ozil and Alexis added the necessary quality to get us over the line, even though the former did not have his best day ever;
  6. The full backs were driven once again and added a lot of width to the team, but both still need to improve their final ball into the box. Good to see them both taking chances themselves as well, and especially Bellerin was pretty close to scoring a Theo-esque diagonal daisy-cutter;
  7. Cech’s presence saved us at least two points today, making Shane Long rush and waste¬†his two good opportunities in the second half;
  8. Perez’s movement and hunger and sheer guts to take on the CF role at the home of football was awesome. I liked his energy and willingness to run and run and get into any available spaces. I rate this Saints’ team highly and reckon they will finish in the top 7-10 this season once they get going. Especially defensively, they are very good and¬†made it hard for our attackers. So not an easy start for Lucas, but more is surely to come.

Up next are the Parisian Oilers. Let’s load the Canon. ūüėČ

By TotalArsenal.