Ox-to-Ox does it – Why Arsenal don’t want a Chelsea win

Who needs strikers? Our midfield scores when it wants! :)
Who needs strikers? Our midfield scores when it wants! 🙂

 

Our game against Crystal Palace was a predictable one:

  • They parked the bus as expected
  • We played calm and disciplined in the first half, yet tiring them out in the process
  • We upped the tempo and intensity in the second half
  • Subsequently found the gaps and finished them off (with a small wobble between the two goals, though)
  • They were happy with a small loss
  • Both went their merry ways: Arsenal TotL and Palace continue their relentless relegation battle.

Mourinho can complain about 19th century football by West Ham the other day – whatever that means – it is up to the big teams to crack open the panzer-positioning of the less fortunate/visionary teams. Wenger showed again how it should be done: patience, movement, crisp passing and occupying the ‘central tanks’ – CBs and DMs – constantly, so cracks can be found.

I felt we missed Jack a lot in the first half as he is a young master in both finding the cracks with his passing and entering them with his clever runs – with or without the ball – in these sort of games (especially when playing together with Ozil and Santi). For me, he has been our best player in January and hopefully he will be back soon.

During the first 45 minutes we did not get close enough to their box and played a tat too slow. But we did manage to work Palace really hard which will have used up a lot of their energy. Pulis has Palace working in an organised way now, and I was impressed with their discipline in the first half, as in sticking to the tactics and playing aggressively but not unfairly (although, how Jedinak escaped a yellow card for consistent fouling is beyond me).

Ox was finding his way during this half; and I don’t know what Wenger said to him during the break, but he played a lot better during the second one. In a 4-2-3-1 formation, the box to box player is so crucial in adding that extra thrust and dimension to our football, and ‘Ox-to-Ox’ did it brilliantly after the break. The second half was only a couple of minutes old, when Cazorla spotted AOC’s run into the box, whilst Giroud and Ozil occupied the defence. Our young Englishman controlled the ball with Bergkampesque feeling in his foot (as some TV commentators apparently called it), and finished off with composure and class: a brilliant goal.

Then we did what we tend to do a lot: not deal well with pressure higher up the pitch by our opponent, once they apply a change in tactics. I will not go into this too much as it will rekindle Saturday’s debate about my, and many a fellow Gooner, view, that we need to add defensive steel and organisation to our first team, now that Flamini ruled himself out for so many crucial games.

Both Arteta and Ox worked their socks off to readdress the balance, and they were helped well by other midfielders, but we lost our shape quite a bit. It made for an uncomfortable period in the second half in which CP could have even equalised. Szczesny came to the rescue with one of his typical ‘octopus’ saves, and then Ox-to-Ox put the game to bed with another fine team goal, completed by a cool, confident finish.

Giroud was rewarded for a lot of hard, thankless and often unspotted work throughout the match with a fine assist. He moved towards the midfield, away from the ‘D’, to create space and receive the ball with his back to the goal; a measured ball into the Ox’s running feet was enough to create a fine scoring opportunity, which the Englishman took with Henryesque calmness and confidence. What a fine second half attacking performance by our ‘new signing’! 😉

Northern or Southern Oilers to win?

So, we did what we had to do and are back where we belong: top of the league. Whether we stay there or not depends on tonight’s result between the oil-doped silverware buyers of the South and the North. The majority will want a draw in this game, as it will keep us top of the league. Some are even hoping for a Chavs win but this is the last thing we want right now.

Looking at the remainder of the games, the Southern Oilers have the easiest run of all three teams, and therefore the bigger the gap we can create between them and us now, the better. After tonight, of the ‘top teams’, they have Everton, Spuds and us at home and just Liverpool away. We have Liverpool, Spuds, Everton, and Chavs away, and Mansour City and Moyes United at home. Mansour City have Moyes United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton away still to come, which is a similar run in to us.

So a draw would be a good outcome and I would even prefer a home win. It would mean a gap between us and the Chavs of five points rather than four, which might turn out to be crucial in the end. Despite the fantastic attacking football by the Northern Oilers, they are, in my view, more vulnerable during the run in than the Southern ones. So for me, a home win, or a draw, are good outcomes, but an away win would be pretty disastrous.

Anyway, let’s prepare ourselves for Maureen’s 21st Century football show tonight! 😆

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Five Reasons Why Arsenal Will Win The Title

SONY DSC

Dedicated to: Mr. and Mrs. Bond. Though I’ve never met James, I think of him as a friend. I think of all the regulars on this site as friends. Close friends even. Refreshing the Bergkampesque page is like walking into a room of close friends. Almost everyone knows each other, even beyond Arsenal. We all fight sometimes, but so do friends. And in the end we always make up. And most importantly, we all support each other.

JB has gone through an extremely tough time recently. And while I have never met him (though I hope to one day, along with all regulars on this site), I do feel a portion (albeit, probably a relatively small amount compared to JB) of his pain. I want to be here for him, along with everyone else. I can’t write a beautifully deep dedication such like many have done, especially 17HT. But I did want to take time to let JB (and everyone else know) how close I think of all of you are, and how truly important you are in my life. I will end with this as I have no words of my own:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm tender hand.” –Henri Nouwen. We all feel your pain JB.

January 19, 2014. That is the date at the time I am writing this. As of this moment, Arsenal have not made any signings in the January transfer window. This has many pundits and fans (of all teams, including Arsenal), saying that we can’t win the title. But worry not, Gooners, I am here to tell you that we can win the title! And this is why: 

1.    There are 12 days left in the transfer window.

Most signings during the transfer window take place during the last week. This is especially true for Arsenal. Wenger seems to like evaluating players in the last week of the window, based on their performances to date as well as injury, and deciding who should be sold and bought. For example, Nacho Monreal last season. Gibbs suffered a long term injury and Andre Santos’ performances to (that) date had been lacking (to put it nicely). Wenger decided to dip into the market and get a quality player who he could improve and could challenge Gibbs for that left back spot for years to come. So far, Nacho has been even better than expected, improving in leaps and bounds in our very solid squad and he looks like he will continue to improve and serve the club well for years to come.

So far this season, I can’t think of any players who have truly been underperforming. We did excellent in the summer to rid ourselves of our deadweight and the only player in the squad who is currently useless is Diaby. He is a good player on his day, but is really too injury prone for a club like Arsenal. We will likely sell him in the summer (assuming we can keep him fit until then). As for signings, we have a fairly deep squad (which will be discussed in a later ‘reason’). The only signings we really need would be cover for Giroud and maybe a young centre back to cover for us just in case a defender or two get hurt. We could also maybe use cover for Theo, but Gnabry has stepped up so hugely lately, that it really does seem unnecessary. So perhaps a striker could be a nice addition, but if Wenger can’t get one of his main targets, we can afford to wait until the summer because Nicky B is beginning to live up to the potential that many of us expected, and we do have young Yaya Sanogo back later this week if we really are out of options.

2.    We are in fantastic form.

We are just off a solid 2-0 win at home to Fulham. So let us take a look at Arsenal’s recent stats.

Our last 5 games:

Wins: 5

Goals Scored: 10

Goals Conceded: 2

AVG Goals For Per Game: 2.00

AVG Goals Against Per Game: 0.40

We are on a five game win streak and a six game unbeaten streak (these five games and the Chelsea draw). We are scoring plenty of goals and have the top defence in the league. This means we have most clean sheets and fewest goals conceded in the PL. Our next three league games are against Southampton (A), Crystal Palace (H), and Liverpool (A). Southampton and Liverpool could be tough games, but we have plenty of time to rest between all of these games. Also we beat both already this season and we are better away than we are at home. All of this together, means we should take maximum points from all of these games.

3.    Wenger knows how to do well during the run in.

The past two seasons Arsenal have been outside of the top four heading into the final stretch of the season. And the past two seasons, Arsenal have ended in the top four. Most notably, last season when we were unbeaten for majority of the end of the season, starting with a 2-0 away win at the eventual Champion’s League winners, Bayern Munich. Wenger has experience on his side, both at winning titles and motivating a team for the run in. Arsene just needs to combine these two and lead the team to as many points as possible from now until the end of the season. Last season Manchester United won the title with 89 points. We currently have 51. Based on that we could theoretically lose up to ten points and still get 89 points. However, this league is far more competitive than last season, and I firmly believe we could possibly need up to 95 points to win the title. That means no more than one loss from here on out. It will be difficult, but I firmly believe this team with this manager and this spirit can do it.

4.    We have a deep squad.

Most top teams have at least two players in every position they play on the field. I see a lot of people saying we lack squad depth. But let’s look at how deep our squad really is

First Line Up (Not necessarily a first choice line up):

ArsenalLineup1

Second Line Up (Not necessarily a second choice line up):

ArsenalLineup2 

The weakest spots here are right back/centre back and winger (only due to Walcott’s injury). This is not terrible and easily fixable with a purchase or two, which can definitely be put off until the summer. On top of these players we have Viviano, Ryo, Sanogo, and various youngsters. We also can’t forget we have players such as Joel Campbell and Akpom currently out on loan who will be back next season. To sum everything up, Arsenal really does have a strong side despite popular belief; and this window, as well as the summer window, could really complete our squad.

5.    We are top of the table.

Simply put, we are already top of the table! We have no climb to make. Technically winning all of our games now, would ensure us the title! 😉 Another positive, we were top at the beginning of the new year. At the end of almost every season (at least in recent history) people look at the table of the end of the season and compare it to the table at the new year, and the champion is almost always top then. This is a huge deal and should not be taken lightly. There isn’t much to this reason. It’s very simple. We’re top of the league. Let’s keep it that way.

Thank for reading! 😀

Written By: Dylan.

Bergkampesque is an inclusive blog and we welcome constructive comments from Gooners and other supporters: the more the merrier. We always welcome new bloggers to comment and share in the debate as long as they stick to the blog guidelines (see at top of page). 

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TotalArsenal.

Arsenal’s midfield fluidity starting to resemble Total Football again?

ARSENAL V FULHAM

 

The Review

Thanking Voetbal International for today's picture
Thanking Voetbal International for today’s picture

Is this the small beginnings of not quite ‘Total Football’, but the nearest that Arsene Wenger will get to it?

I was intrigued by the first half display. They played some really delightful build up play in the first 20 or so minutes, but without finding the net. Fulham, predictably set their stall out to not concede. In that respect they were the more successful. With Brede Hangeland back, and his young partner Burn, who was very impressive, they must have the tallest centre back pairing in the league? With other players around them willing to put in a shift, it was a far cry from the side that lost 6-1 in their previous league game. So scoring was going to be difficult. And apart from some long range efforts from Gnabry, who snatched at one when the whole goal opened up before him; and instead, it went the same as his other efforts, wide or high.

However, that was not what intrigued me. It was the movement from the front five or six that was different. So Gnabry played more central? Yes and no. He moved in from the right when Ozil went wide. When he switched flanks, Cazorla came more central. If Ozil went to the left side, then Gnabry went left of centre. All this was going on throughout the first half. The only constant player who never strayed wider than the width of the box was Jack Wilshere. With Giroud going out wide and leaving Gnabry as the central striker, it was very difficult to see if it was successful, because of the lack of goals. But what it did show was that there was a conscious effort to get an understanding between all of our attacking midfielders. I say this as a back drop with the penultimate post questioning individuals to work with Mesult Ozil. And the answer was that that all bar one player, it had some great moments in this battle for space in a crowded area?

The odd one out was Mesult Ozil.

In a later post yet to be released, I posed the thought that Ozil would be able to work around the others. In this example he failed to do so. But that is for a later discussion.

Right now, I was inspired by the fluidity, and I think in a more open game it would have produced a hatful of goals. It is still a work in progress I feel, and one that Ozil may or may not become a master of? Why it failed here was mainly because Giroud was not given more space by the movement around him, and he too, looked the odd one out? Gnabry’s improved: running into spaces to get the ball led to numerous one-two touches, and switches of play, and both Monreal and Sagna providing width and crosses that should have been better used. As a work in progress, Gnabry is coming along well. As to the cohesion of the rest of the midfield, we will have to see how that unfolds later. But it is intriguing?

From the opening corner inside two minutes, a through ball from Wilshere saw an Ozil shot blocked, when he ought to have done better? A blocked shot from Cazorla from a touch on from Giroud, The wild long range effort from Gnabry, and another one-two with Giroud saw a second Cazorla effort blocked. This was followed by the snatched Gnabry shot, and a blocked effort from Ozil: a rare long shot from Ozil(?) blocked, and a Giroud shot over after a good touch from Gnabry. It shows the variety I spoke of above, and all in the first 20 minutes … it looked only a matter of time?

However, it took a superb save from Chezzer, getting his right hand to a fierce half volley from Sidwell, and turned it away to safety, to keep the score at 0-0.

The rest of the half became more a battle for control, rather than shots raining in from all angles. Gnabry had an attempted curler that went wide, and Cazorla had another shot blocked. But for the most part, Arsenal were comfortable at keeping Fulham out, and Ozil apart, who looked a little off with his thinking, so receiving and giving passes were going astray, and Gnabry’s youthful keenness to score, the rest had a pretty good game. Although, it tailed off a tad in the second quarter, perhaps missing that urgency and energy that Rosicky or Ramsey might bring?

There was a different feel about the second half. I suspect the boss had reminded them not to repeat the Villa performance? Fulham started brightly, but when Arsenal did attack, shots were on target, and brought about a string of good saves. An angled shot from Giroud on the left, Gnabry’s fierce drive to the bottom left-hand corner, a blocked shot from Cazorla all preceded a goal mouth scramble. A cross from Cazorla to the far post, Sagna shot block, Koscielny shot blocked, Gnabry shot from equally close range, blocked. You could be forgiven for thinking it was not going to be our day?

That all changed a minute later. A lovely pass and move with Monreal, Cazorla kept moving with the final assist coming from Wilshere, and a first time shot hit with more accuracy than power saw the ball nestle in the bottom right-hand corner. Cazorla was a happy boy again. Five minutes later he repeated the trick in the same corner, hitting low first time. 2-0.

With 20 minutes to go, Lukas Podolski came on for the fast developing Serge Gnabry. He too had a terrific shot saved by keeper and woodwork, but had little else to add to his claims for a first team start, but not from the lack of trying. Fulham also tried to get a consolation goal with their sub, Darren Bent, who looked clear on goal but a late intervention by Koscielny forced him to shoot wide before he was clattered in the box. Certain penalty had Bent not got his shot away first, but I’ve known refs to give it anyway?

Ox came on with about 5 minutes plus stoppage time, and he became the third sub on who might have made it on to the score sheet late on, with a backward leaning header that had direction but too much height. Just a late corner scare that ended the game, otherwise the clean sheet was never really threatened.

It would have been nice to have written this as something to put the smile on one of our number who is having to face a very tough battle in the coming days. Instead it is written for the records, and despite the background on a personal level, I hope JB will not mind if I stuck to purely my insight of the game. Our thoughts are with you, but we understand that being TOTL is a triviality in your circumstances.

Best wishes, as always, JB.

 

Written by: Gerry.

Arsenal vs Fulham Pre-Match. 110 years and we dream of Draxler

618w_james_bond_in_pictures_2 

Additional Intro by 17 Highbury Terrace 

Our Maestro of Match Previews, Oz Gunner, has brought the goods once again but things in our little world of Bergkampesque are different this week and 17 Highbury Terrace also had started a match preview.  I’d like to include it here as it mirrors some of my own thoughts. 

Arsenal – Fulham Preview –Dedicated to James Bond

Bergkampesque is a blog about Arsenal Football Club, emphasizing the more positive aspects of the club and the team as exemplified in the beautiful and professional play of Dennis Bergkamp.  We have a match tomorrow, against Fulham Football Club, but one of our own, in fact our top comment contributor, James Bond, is going through an extremely difficult moment in his personal life (see comments, previous post), and I want to dedicate this preview to him.  James is an extremely optimistic AND passionate supporter of Arsenal and a great contributor to this site.  Despite much cajoling, he’s yet to write a blog post of his own, but he’s put out many interesting and bold ideas.  Sometimes we’ve gotten small glimpses into his personal life, but nothing on the scale of what he wrote yesterday.  Though blog comments tend to be about Arsenal, over time a community of intriguing individuals builds and many of us feel as if we know one another.  I’ve had fun, interesting, and heated debates with James (I often call him 007 or our Superspy…), always with an underlying tone of intelligence and respect.   We don’t “know” each other, but we do… All I can say, Bond, at this time, is that we’re all pulling for you and hoping for the very best outcome for you and wishing that, sooner than later, you can be back here on the site, discussing goalkeepers and center forwards, matches, transfers, finances, etc., in your inimitable way.

Maybe Arsenal can brighten your day tomorrow with a convincing win over Fulham.  I know you’ve been eager for a strong performance and a lopsided score-line, and I’ll wish that for you—along with my much bigger and more important wishes for you.  Being me, of course, I’ll take the three points, however they come.  Every match presents challenges, and this one feels no different.  Your challenges are on another scale entirely.  Best of luck, stay strong, keep the faith, etc., etc., my friend…

17highburyterrace

Preview Intro

promo

A battle of teams on the opposite ends of the table, but Fulham will be looking to break a 110 year drought of losses against Arsenal at home. A win is a must for both teams but for different reasons. Arsenal needs 3 points to fend off the oilers, Fulham to fend off relegation.

A quick fire double saw Arsenal keep a resurgent Villa at bay taking it to 4 league wins on the trot.

Fulham were torn to threads (Shreds, Shreds of threads…) 4-1 last week by Sunderland making it 20 goals conceded in their last 6 games.

Let’s get in to it shall we: Draxler!

Missing in Action:

Diaby sick bay

Arsenal: Rosicky (Nose) – Broke it thanks to a gabby. A mask is an option but I don’t think he’ll be risked so soon unless absolutely necessary. Monreal (foot – this one worries me because info is water tight and Arsene appeared worried), Diaby (Knee/missing), and Sanogo (back – STILL!). Walcott (ACL – knee), Ramsey (Hip/thigh), Arteta (calf/shin), Vermaelen (knee), Bendy (Ankle/foot)…god we could almost field a whole team of crocked players.

Fulham: Etheridge (Hip/thigh), Briggs (Groin/pelvis), Amorebieta (Knee) – fitness test.

Draxler!

Predicted Line-up:

starting line-up (6)

The back four picks itself thanks to injuries. I expect Jack the lad to continue next to the junkyard dog Flamini. Ozil behind Giroud, Santi on the left, and Gnabry down the right. The only question mark is whether or not Arsene plays Podolski down the left. Gnabry down the right is a must because Fulham have really struggled on their left this season. Give the boy some legroom and he’ll make you pay! Draxler!

Previous Encounters:

Fulham v Arsenal 1 – 3

A bit of luck allowed Giroud to open the scoring and Podolski followed it with a brace. It was a confident and assured performance from the team, and it never looked in doubt. Bent managed to score a debut consolation goal in the 77’…he’s always had a bloody talent for scoring against us.

Fulham v Arsenal 0 – 1

Ex-gunner Sidwell was given his marching orders on 12′ for a dangerous tackle on Arteta. Despite this Fulham closed the game down in their predictable boring fashion. The BFG scored the breakthrough from a Theo free kick. A hard fought victory and it was 8 wins in 10 games for the mighty Arsenal! Draxler!

Arsenal v Fulham 3-3

This is the one which irks.  Early goals from Poldolski and Giroud made this seem an easy 3 pointer but Fulham, with 2 goals and an assist from Berbatov looked like they might actually take all the points.  A late header, from Giroud levelled it and then, at the very death, referee Phil Dowd awarded us a penalty when a desperate (and cheeky) Andrei Arshavin chipped a ball onto the arm of a Fulham defender Sasha Reither.  With such a strange turn of events and maybe not trusting normal forces (i.e. gravity, etc.) Mikel Arteta struck a weak penalty, easily beaten away by Fulham goalkeeper, Mark Schwarzer, costing us two very valuable points.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAVEaGRp1iw

 

EPL Form Guide:               Arsenal:   : WWWWD         Fulham: LWLWL

Arsenal are unbeaten at the Emirates this season (not counting that diabolical opening fixture) and sitting pretty on top of the table. However, City and Chelsea are breathing right down our necks and it’s about as enjoyable as TMHT setting his sights on you… One slip up and it could be all over, red rover! We haven’t been at our best but like Man U of seasons past we are getting the job done anyway we can. We’ve heard it all before, sometimes you have to win ugly. I would like to see us belt a team soon though because this squeaky bum stuff is knocking years off my life.

Take away the one blemish game and we’ve conceded a mere 13 goals this season. A good defence has been a long time coming!

Fulham on the other hand have let in 46 goals this season. 11 more than any other team. This is a far cry from the Fulham we’ve come to know of seasons past. Previously I’d dread this fixture because I knew a goal against Fulham was like getting blood from a stone. The loss of Mark Schwarzer, a long term injury to Hangeland, an unsettled defence, and ex-Arsenal defender Senderos have made them easy to break down. Just ask Hull, they knocked 6 past them in Fulham’s last away fixture;  Relegation zone Sunderland also put 4 past them at Craven Cottage a week ago.  Since then, however, they dispatched Norwich in the FA Cup 3- nil. Two spots above the relegation zone means every point is vital for Fulham. Draxler!

Arsenal Archive

This week I’ve dipped into the Arsenal Archive and pulled out this video clip. It’s a 2 goal victory against Fulham during the 2004/05 season. Henry was on another level that day. What a team we had! Have a look: (Draxler!)

One to Watch:

This week’s one to watch is ex-spud and ex-red devil Dimitar Berbatov.

Berbatov-Arsenal-Shirt

From the opening of the January transfer window he’s been linked with Arsenal (heaven forbid he actually came). I think he’ll be out to impress the home crowd and Arsene in this fixture. With Berba it all comes down to enthusiasm. Last season he was motivated, this season his clear cut chance conversion has dropped from 59% to 33%. He’s capable of great things but I expect Kozzer to entrench him firmly in his pocket.

Arsenal’s one to watch is none other than Santi Cazorla. Despite Podolski scoring 2 goals last time the two teams met I would have given the MoTM to Santi. The pitch was wet, the midfield compact and he had Parker snapping at his heels constantly, but he was on another level and oozed class. He hasn’t had the best of seasons (partly because we hold him up on a mantle after his exceptional first season) but when it all clicks for him magic happens. I’m sure Arsene would have told him how important he is going to be with Theo going down, and I have no doubt Santi will begin a meteoric rise once again.

Pre-Match Finger:

pre-match finger - injury curse

This week’s finger goes to our injury curse…again.

Come on, it’s getting a bit ridiculous now. We would like to win the title this season, rather than thinking back to what may have been. Surely the balance of luck should be tipped in our favour for the next 100 years.

Pre-Match Pat on the back:

This week’s pat on the back is going to the Big Feckin’ German.

bfg-by-zama

great work by @The_Zama

What a massive difference he makes to this team! I really can’t say enough good things about the BFG. When he first came to the club I was over the moon. After a few performances… Not so much. The game against Chelsea a couple of seasons ago sticks in my mind. He appeared lightweight and despite his large stature he seemed to decrease in size when he went up for a header. Something changed. Now he tackles, he barks, he scores goals, and best of all…he organises the troops. Over the years I’ve thought a few players deserved to be taken out back and slapped around bit so they might pull their finger out and start to perform. After Mertz’s first season he definitely did extract a digit. Whether that can be attributed to getting his body right, settling into the EPL, getting to know the players, or Bould taking him under his wing, I’m not sure, but whatever happened, he has transformed into our most important player. I do enjoy seeing/hearing him let his teammates recognise when they’ve made an error out on the pitch (first the Ozil incident and then the Santi situation against Villa). It’s hard not to love the man. Draxler!

Ask the opposition fulham

‘Ask the opposition’ returns again this week. It is designed to get some friendly banter from our opposition fans and get their insight for the match ahead.  This week the answers were kindly provided by Cookie-6262 and dempsey’s revenge…there were others but let’s just say tensions are high for Fulham supporters these days. Let’s see what they’ve written for us this week:

1. What are your thoughts on the Morrison ‘taping up’ row?

Cookie – The tapping up row is a load of rubbish, Rene was asked about transfers and he replied “we have bid for Ravel Morrisson but it has been rejected.” He was then asked, “Do you think he wants to come” and he replied, “Yes, I think he does want to come.”  Hardly the crime of the century; he was just saying what he honestly thought.

DR – It’s nothing. They’re not playing him, so why would they care?

2. How is Senderos travelling?

Cookie – hopefully Senderos is travelling via Beijing and won’t arrive at the Emirates until next Thursday…. Most fans have him as our fifth best Centre back and our weak link yet he still sometimes gets games. Our chance of getting something from this game is 10% at best; with Senderos it’s about 2%.

DR – He’s an idiot, so he frequently loses his luggage. Hope to God he’s not playing.

3. What do you want during this transfer window?

Cookie – A left back is a must–someone who can go straight into the team.  To keep Berba but if he goes we will need a striker and possibly a centre back although young Dan Burn has come in for the two cup games and looked very good.

DR – All new players except for Riether and Parker.

4. What position/ player is your weakest link?

Cookie – Weak link is centre back, just look at the goals against column.  But Hangeland is back after 3 months out so hopefully he will make a difference.  Left back is an issue as well. Iif Walcott were fit he could have done double figures.

DR – All positions except where Riether and Parker play.

5. What position is Arsenal’s weak link?

Cookie – Do Arsenal have a weak link???  Possibly up front if Giroud is off form.  You are light up top, but does it matter when you have a midfield including Ozil and Carzola plus Podolski?

DR – Manager thinks he’s God.

6. Which Arsenal player would you love to have in your team and why?

Cookie – Ozil is world class and a joy to watch

DR – Nearly all of them. I’ll make this observation; Arsenal players nearly always thrive after leaving the team (but not Senderos), which shows that a) Wenger has a good eye for talent and b) the coaching there is top class.

7. What is your match prediction?

Cookie – Not expecting anything from the game but just hoping for a half decent performance and not getting a thrashing.  A good display in a narrow defeat wouldn’t be a disaster for us though you never know, a Mertesacker red card in the 2nd minute and Berba slots away the pen.  (You can but dream…)

DR – We will get our heads handed to us and probably slip into the zone as a result.

Prediction:

It will be an improved performance by Fulham thanks to the return of the big Norwegian Hangeland. However, it won’t be enough and I think he’ll be lost at sea out there as the team crumbles around him. Watch for them to park all the buses in Fulham in front of their goal. It won’t be enough though because Gnabry is going to kick a hole through them en route to a  4-0 victory!

What is your prediction?

What starting line-up would you choose?

What position is our weakest link at the moment?

What tactic would you employ to beat Fulham?

What two players would you buy during this transfer window and why?

By Oz Gunner

Draxler! (hey if I say it enough he just might come!)

What is the score The2-0 Wal2-0tt? Reflections on 12 tough days

ARSENAL v TOTTENHAM

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A reflection of a demanding 12 days

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Due to a mis-communication, the review is somewhat later than might have been the norm for such an important game like an NDL. But maybe we needed some time to celebrate the victory, without analysing the various aspects that went to produce such a stunning victory.

Perhaps Jack Wilshere summed it up best when he said … ‘Arsenal have clicked’?

So let me just roll the clock back to where our Christmas schedule began: December 23rd, a home-tie against Chelsea. We had not won a match since December 4th. We drew 1-1 in a very open game against Everton, Then lost away at Napoli in the Champions League, but it was enough to get us through to the group stages. Then came the dour home game with Chelsea that finished 0-0. Not surprising, given how few shots on target by either team. But that point is the difference between us and the rest of the chasing pack right now. It might have been a disappointment at the time, as a win would have pushed us 7 points clear, but less so now?

Three days later we travelled the short distance to West Ham. This was the game where we lost Aaron Ramsey, and welcomed the return of Podoski from the bench. Two goals from Theo Walcott and a sealer from Lukas Podolski, meant we ran out comfortable winners in the end. For Theo it was an impressive return to his best, after being shut out against Chelsea. It also got us back to winning ways.

Three days later we make the long trek to Newcastle, who were in impressive form themselves. Another game remembered for injuries and sickness before the game, and big ones in it: the changes that were made because Vermaelen and Monreal did not travel through sickness. Ozil was left behind because of a shoulder injury. Then, both Gibbs and Giroud came off with injuries that would mean they would miss the next two games at least.

Despite starting the stronger of the two sides, it took until 65th minute for Olivier Giroud to have a glancing header and thus break the deadlock. It left it for Newcastle to dominate the final 20 minutes, but our defenders stayed calm and we secured a 0-1 victory. Those three points took us back to the top of the table going into the New Year, but it was MOTM performance by Tomas Rosicky that gave the team the drive and determination that helped maintain this winning sequence.

Yet another 2-day break before we took on Cardiff at home. Nacho Monreal recovered enough to replace Gibbs, while Jack Wilshere replaced Rosicky, who had a slight injury from the previous match. But it was over to Lukas Podolski, making his first start as the central striker, replacing the stricken Giroud, with Waclott continuing on the right and Santi Cazorla on the left. This game needs little in the way of refreshing the memory, it being the most recent. There was the disappointing return of Podolski as the main striker; and Cardiff seemingly able to keep us out. So it was no surprise to see him being replaced Nicholas Bendtner in the 65th minute, along with Tomas Rosicky, after Flamini was withdrawn.

Almost immediately the balance of the team looked better, as Arsenal lay siege to the Cardiff goal. The dramatic concluding minutes will long remain in our memories? A nice interplay with Cazorla and Monreal and his cross to the far post, Sagna sees his header saved by the ‘keeper, but only to witness Bendtner arrive and rifle in a bullet across the goal and into the far corner.

1-0, but the drama did not end there. Nicky B landed on his right foot and it got caught under the diving keeper. Yet another injury, out for 4 weeks minimum with a sprained ankle. But he had barely made his assisted walk around the pitch to the much relieved fans applause, when a quick breakaway saw Walcott dink a second goal. His first home goal of the season. 2-0, and still TOTL!

That was the backdrop to this FA Cup and NLD match.

I felt it was worth taking that in, to place this fixture in context if you like. It was not just any Cup game. It was not just any NLD. It came on the back of some extreme physical effort from the entire squad that took part, and could be forgiven if the whole thing suffered because of it.

However, nothing could be further from the truth – apart from the opening few minutes when Spurs moved the ball about nicely, and a misplaced clearance by Koscielny went straight to Ericksen. He got first run on Sagna and only had Fabiansky to beat, but delayed too long and Fab blocked it away for a corner. Thereafter it was Arsenal who made the quick passes, got the better chances, and really dominated the game with ease.

We were superior in virtually every department. Spurs had moments of individual skill, but Arsenal had the collective skills, and it was that which proved decisive. Perhaps also, it was the speed at which we could move the ball forwards. No surprise then, that it was another master class from Mr Endeavor himself, Tomas Rosicky, who provided much of that, and for once he got his reward with a goal he created by that very tireless running that I speak of now. That was an individual moment which he thoroughly deserved.

However, in the collective spirit he was ably assisted in the running of Walcott, the interplay with Cazorla and Wilshere, but special mention has to go to Serge Gnabry. 18 years old, playing in his first NDL, indeed, having his first start since September, and he positively shined. His interplay with Walcott was great. The perfect pass for Cazorla’s goal was sublime. He made a couple of others of equal merit, and had a snap shot from the edge of the box that skimmed over the bar. If it was somebody’s first visit, they would not have known he was: a, not a regular team member; or b, just 18 years old, such was the mature performance he put in.

The second goal came about after Danny Rose thought he’d be clever and twist away from the rapidly closing Rosicky. So, in failing, and being the last defender, he doubled his ignominy when Rosi darted away for a one-on-one with the keeper, and delightfully chipped him with a sand wedge instep.

It was not a game without flashpoints. Wilshere squaring up to Bentaleb, the Spurs youngster, but the ref dealt with that quietly. Chiriches clipped Wilshere late, but advantage was played and he escaped a booking. Indeed, he escaped a ‘second’ one where he caught Walcott on the foot when he had no chance of getting the ball. A couple of penalty shouts, both denied.

Other things like injuries did not leave us alone though. First Vermaelen was replaced at half time with a cut just below the knee. Then, after we had changed Arteta and Wilshere for Flamini and Ozil – nice to have replacements like that? -Walcott picked up a knock, accidental this time, and had to be stretchered off.

This led to one of the photo moments of the game, as he was carried past the Spurs fans who, it is reported, sang some distasteful songs at him while he was being treated, to which, two fingers and a zero reminded them of the score. One for the album without doubt, but the unfortunate stretcher bearers received more missiles than some of their counterpart did at times in WW1.

Very sensitive, and no sense of humour these Spurs fans?

So the final 10 minutes or so we were down to 10 men. But even then the Spurs could not muster a worthwhile shot on goal.

It was expected to be a tough encounter, but with the ease that Spurs were brushed aside, I think we can safely say … …. ARSENAL HAVE CLICKED!

Discuss: Key battles?; Does 4-3-3 always beat 4-4-2?; Overall tactics?; Greater loss – Giroud or Walcott?; MOTM… majority say Rosicky, and I agree.

But remember what the squad has achieved over this short period is nothing short of a miracle, built on sheer hard graft and a collective desire to win, and keep winning. 

Written by: Gerry.

How should Arsenal line up to beat West Ham?

Arsène Wenger will listen to constructive criticism about Arsenal but not opinions based on hunches

After a couple of tough weeks it is time for Arsenal to bounce back with a full-blooded, quality performance against the Hammers. We might not be ready yet to put the bigger teams to the sword, but as Manure has demonstrated often enough, we don’t have to do this in order to become champions. The next games against West Ham, Newcastle United and Cardiff are our bread and butter games this season.

Win today with a convincing performance and the wind is back under our wings. We mustn’t grumble or sulk about the last few weeks but just concentrate now on our next fixture with the discipline of OGAAT: three points are at stake. Sammi Allerdici will do absolutely everything to deny us a win today and only a fully committed performance will get us there. This game will have the feel and intensity of a cup game, with both the Hammers and Gunners having good Boxing Day records.

It will be interesting to see who Wenger will start and what sort of formation he will go for. It looks like Koscielny is back in contention, and nobody got injured on Monday so the Frenchman has a strong group of players to choose from.

It was quite a surprise to see Flamini rested on Monday; maybe Wenger did not want to give Dean a half decent excuse to send one of our players off (no risk there with Koz and Jack 🙂 ), or he just was not impressed with the fellow Frenchman’s slightly under-par performance against the Northern Oilers. I reckon we will need him back though, as Arteta had a hard, knackering game just three days ago.

TV5 did well against the Chavs and it will be interesting to see whether he will get another game or whether Koz will return tomorrow. My gut feeling is the latter but I would be happy to see Tommy getting another game.

Who will play in midfield and on the wings is another good question. Will Ozil get rested, and if so, will Cazorla play in the hole? Will Pod and Theo start this time round, or are we going with four or even five midfielders? And will Giroud get another start, or will we try Theo or Pod up-front?

I feel Arsene will not make too many drastic changes as he will want his ‘A-team’ to get back to winning ways, but I could be wrong.

  1. What do you reckon will be Wenger’s line-up and formation today?
  2. If it was you, what formation would you choose and who would you play?
  3. What is your predicted half time and final score?
  4. Who will score for us today and who will assist (if any)?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Please also check out this great blog by a blog-friend of mine with the godly name of Dennis, who has a real passion for football shirts:

http://www.26kits.com/

He also recently set up a dedicated Arsenal Kits page, and you will find yours truly back at the bottom of it:

http://www.26kits.com/my-favorite-arsenal-kit-top-football-kits-part-1-arsenal/