There are a few things in football that are certainties. I don’t mean the kind in which a particular team is certain to win the league; this often turns out to be wrong. Neither do I mean the kind in which the club with the largest wage bill like Manchester City fields a team that is certain to beat a lesser light such as Stoke City.
No, the kind of certainties I am talking about are the smaller ones, the kind Arsenal encounter against teams like Leicester: you could have bet your mortgage that they were going to park the proverbial bus and try and hit us on the break and unsurprising to everyone, or at least it should have been, that is exactly what they did and they did it well.
As predictable as it was Wenger fielded a team designed to be able to find a way round such a stubborn defense. The team selection made complete sense to me: with the defensively able Flamini sitting in front of the back four whose principal jobs were to be alert when the breaks inevitably came. The rest needed to possess super close control, precision passing and all be capable of scoring; in other words, there was no need for Wilshere. Or so I thought.
It also made sense to give Sanogo a start; it was only Leicester, the team who had been embarrassingly knocked out of the Capital One cup in the week by a team from a division I had never heard of.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the answer to that question is our game plan in which we were supposed to stroll home with all three points, that’s what went wrong.
It was a very frustrating afternoon in which a collection of some of the best midfielders in the League managed to play as disjointed as a chicken after Sunday lunch.
If that is the best team we can field for the next four months and let’s be clear here — it is, then we have got a lot more problems than any of us dared imagine.
Things, of course, didn’t start off this gloomy, the team took to the field with their game plan in tact, followed the script by laying siege to the Leicester goal and got the break through. It wasn’t pretty but we were ahead and I thought that this is one more game in which the players could use to iron out the rough edges on their quest for the Holy Grail of Wenger Ball.
But the one step forward made by Sanchez scoring his first league goal was reversed with the two steps back caused by Koscielny’s injury. Should he have stayed on, shouldn’t he have stayed on, I don’t know, the fact that he did stay played a huge part, in my opinion, of Leicester getting an equalizer.
Can someone remind me how it is that we thought, and I am as guilty if not more, of thinking that the arrival of Ozil and his play last season was something akin to the second coming. Genuine question, I am seriously struggling to remember what it was. Perhaps the first assist when he squared the ball to the on rushing Giroud, this could turn into the “Life of Brian” sketch of “What have the Roman’s ever done for us”. It is interesting to note that he was playing on the left wing that day, just saying.
You all saw the game, we huffed and we puffed but it is just as well that it came to an end after 90 minutes rather than the next goal wins or they could still be playing now.
I want to give special mention to Szczesny whose fine save towards the end of the second half kept us in the game. I also thought Sanchez did very well down the left. I am going to keep a little something back before Sanogo gets both barrels as I want to see what happens when he scores; so much changed for Sanchez when he got his goal against Besiktas in the week that I want to see if the similar uplifting feeling has the same effect on the young Frenchman – but I am not holding my breath.
Not the easy win that some of us foolishly expected and still miles away from the idyllic flowing football envisaged by many, the good news is that Stan is in town, and you know what that means?
Written by LB
We were lucky enough to have two posts for today, here are kelsey’s thoughts.
Every man and his dog can see the deficiencies in our squad and it wasn’t pleasant viewing yesterday as it was obvious that the whole balance of the side was wrong and I feel that Wenger is still experimenting with his best formation.
Let’s be absolutely honest Leicester deserved to win the game and bar a couple of fine saves by Szczesny we would have lost.
We only know one way of playing and that is Wengerball and it just doesn’t work anymore.
For all the flack Giroud gets he does a good job against the majority of teams, but when you look at how close we came last season, the opening games are showing me that we have regressed.
We have more money than for many a season and the buying of Sanchez showed that we can buy quality players but one can’t honestly say that Sanogo or Campbell are at this moment of time the type of player to fill the void and score vital goals when we are playing against a resolute defence.
People talk how much we miss the speed of Walcott especially down the flanks but at this moment of time no one knows for sure when he will be ready and fully fit to play and at a guess that could be several weeks or months judging by our track record.
We have had all Summer to address the problem and Debuchy is a more than adequate replacement for Sagna and Chambers impresses a lot but was he meant to be playing so regularly at this early stage of the season.
Just look at all our games so far, have we been convincing ?
Winning ugly doesn’t apply as for all our possession, in the majority of games, we have failed to take our chances time and time again. But more alarmingly, every single team has sliced through our defence on the counter attack and IMO we have been fortunate not to concede more.
When I hear our manager speak it’s all double dutch to me or the same old excuses like fatigue from the World Cup or a player needs time as he is still recovering from an injury, or negotiations are extremely difficult when trying to secure a player, but the latter applies to all clubs.
We were predictable to an extent last season but there were times when there was far more fluency to the team.
Why does Wenger keep playing players like Ozil out of position? He adds absolutely nothing out on the wing.
Podolski, regardless of what we think of him has been out of favour and invariably has been a sub, but now our manager states he is an option at Centre Forward. A week ago it looked likely that he was being sold or at least offered in part exchange.
Many of you will say that we are only three games in but just look at our forthcoming fixtures which on paper will provide a much bigger test.
We are into the last day of the transfer window so let’s see what happens, if anything at all, and even if we buy,we will get “the player needs a bedding in period”.
I really think whoever we play in midfield the balance is wrong and there isn’t enough physical presence and again the system we play leads us to be alarmingly cut open by every team we have played so far this season.
Dreaded injuries reared their ugly head yet again and at this moment of time it is not clear how serious they are to Kos, Ozil and Oxlade- Chamberlain.
Silent Stan was in attendance yesterday though I don’t suddenly see him changing his track and even expressing an opinion.
I have to say after careful consideration and allowing for the fact that one accepts that Wenger has total control on absolutely everything, there are too many issues on the field that he should have addressed earlier.
I would like to be proved wrong but my gut instinct tells me we are in for a a very difficult season.
For those who are new to the Emirates or do not go to games the “and Leicester” refers to a terrace chant sung to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory
“We all follow the Arsenal,
Over land and sea ….. and Leicester
We all follow the Arsenal
onnnn tooooo vic-to-ry.”
Why Leicester? Well, in the old days Filbert Street was an awful experience on a wet Wednesday evening; muddy pitch, poor facilities at the ground and very physical opposition. The club moved to the Walkers stadium in 2002 which has been re-named the King Power stadium and this is Arsenal’s first visit to the King Power (as far as I can find out!)
Until a few years ago I liked Leicester. Decent club, well run, loyal and vocal fans – then they signed Robbie Savage.
I have a mental top ten of the first people to be executed when the world finally sees sense and makes me World President. Savage has always been up there – not at the top, but always there or thereabouts.
Perhaps my affection for Leicester stems from my admiration for one of their stalwarts who became an Arsenal legend …. Mr Frank Mclintock who captained LCFC to two losing FA Cup Finals before coming to Highbury and captaining our ’70/71 Double team.
Leicester had a fantastic season in 2013/14. Winners of the Championship with 102 points! The season could hardly have gone better but now they have to find out if they can survive with the Big Boys. What do you think? They haven’t spent big just adding experience to the squad and relying upon the abilities of the team which brought them promotion.
I like the Schmeichel son. He may be a smaller version of his brilliant father but he is nonetheless an excellent keeper whose career path is interesting. I wish him well but hope he has a stinker today. We also have a chance to see another old boy in Matthew Upson (injury permitting). There were high hopes for him when he signed for AFC in 1997 (￡2m at a time when a million was big money), he struggled and was sent out on loan until finally settling at B’ham and then West Ham. Given Upson is now 35 y.o. we must hope he plays 😃
The Arsenal: A result today would see us go into the 2 week International break (FFS!) unbeaten. which for a team that has hardly got going is excellent. It would be churlish to say we are not playing well as qualification for the CL, a home PL victory and a draw away at Everton is a very positive return, but let’s be honest, we have not exactly performed to the heights we know this team can achieve.
I see the problem like many others. How does Mr Wenger want this team to play? I love to see technical players passing intricately all over the pitch but sometimes I would like to see a player put his foot through the ball. Only Flamini seems capable of doing so and for that reason I am hoping to see Podolski’s name on the team sheet. To be fair, the Ox is also a man who can get “physical” with the ball.
Why? Because when going to the Midlands it is important to have “thrust” and we have been lacking in this department so far this season. Giroud sometimes gives us a bit of power and his loss could prove costly, we must hope Mr Wenger has a contingency plan (could be a forlorn hope). Artistry is all well and good but it must lead to goals.
We have conceded three in 4 games – the defence looks solid., still a little suspect at set pieces but otherwise OK. The return of our CB pairing brings more security as Chambers, good as he is, is not at the level of Koscielny.
Now this may be heresy but when Ramsey is playing I would rather see Ox or Podolski than Cazorla. Santi may well be a wonderful player but especially away from home I would like to see us play a stronger left sided player who is less likely to venture inside. Let Santi come on as sub and provide the type of pass he gave Ramsey last saturday. Podolski adds some strength to a small side and he scores, something we need to do more of.
Big Raddy is going to try and find foods from the region of our away games, so let us start with the humble Pork Pie. Leicester is the birthplace of the pork pie and Melton Mowbray is the zenith of art of pork pie manufacture. Apparently there are 15 Indian food manufacturers in Leicester and I could easily have chosen Red Leicester or Stilton cheese but there is something about the pork pie and the artisans of Leicester City F.C. It just fits.
If I am honest I will be disappointed should we not get at least a point today but yesterday’s results show that nothing can be taken for granted. This much I know – Leicester would be cock-a-hoop should they beat us.
written by Big Raddy
Full name: Mathieu Debuchy
Date of Birth: 29 July 1985 (age 29)
Place of birth Fretin France
Height: 1.77m (5ft 10in)
Playing position: Right back
With Sagna moving north to Citeh where they have been working him to the bone, we find ourselves with a new right back. “The Boosh” has played four competitive games now which I would say is enough to form an opinion; do we think he has been a good buy? Would Jenkinson have been better? Is he likely to keep his place with Chambers breathing down his neck?
So, do we like him? Over to you.
Group D: Arsenal Dortmund Galatasaray Anderlecht.
Hardly Michelin Starred food but the beer is pretty good. Don’t know about the ground or the travel arrangements, maybe someone could expand?
German food, really? What’s good to drink with it?
Probably the best food and the best city, shame about the fans.
We will just have to top the group to get one of the culinary big boys.
The blame for this goes to LB
Well as I suggested earlier in the day this was going to be a squeaky bum time 90 minutes, and so it turned out to be.
There will be countless opinions about the referee but on the whole even with his bizarre booking of Chambers and to an extent Szczesny we got lucky on at least one penalty call when Wilshere was a cigarette paper away from conceding, which he admitted could have been given.
There was no doubting our commitment and energy levels and IMO there were stand out performances especially from Cazorla, Wilshere, Debuchy and of course Sanchez for his work rate and sealing the win.
We so often don’t make it easy for ourselves, but to be fair after only four competitive games we have had to make several changes to the line up through injury and suspension. There were signs of the return of our fluidity especially on the counter attack but there is still improvement needed and hopefully at least one if not two quality signings before the deadline approaches.
One minute in the game stands out for me.
Oxlade – Chamberlain really should have made it 2-0 and within thirty seconds Debuchy received a second yellow, so from basically having the game in the bag we had to endure twelve odd minutes of extreme angst, however overall the team dug in and there was relief all round as the final whistle was blown.
I hope Wenger was bluffing when he said there was no need to buy an additional striker. Sanogo and Campbell are raw recruits who hopefully will come good. Walcott is still at least twelve matches away from being considered and Podolski who was on his way to the airport forty eight hours earlier is now apparently another option upfront.
I don’t generally like to pick out players for a poor performance but if we persist playing Ozil out on the wing we will never get the true benefit of his class. His whole demeanour and body language is quite different to anyone else in the team yet I get the feeling he is uncomfortable in the chosen role that Wenger has allotted him. Any thoughts?
Finally, seventeen years of consecutive Champions League football is to be congratulated and hopefully as players get more playing time their fitness will improve. I wish with additional funds available this Summer we would have been bold and added a couple of quality players earlier and not have a last minute rush as in previous seasons, if we actually further strengthen at all.
Much is made of today’s game being a Cup Final. It is. A one off game which will determine who goes into the CL group stages.
Unusually the away side are slight favourites given the away goals rule but first they have to score. Can they? Well, we have conceded 3 in our last 2 games and were hardly secure in Turkey where Ba missed a couple of easy chances (or TPIG made a couple of excellent saves). And this Arsenal team have yet to show us that they have developed the fluency we have come to expect.
Then there are the injuries. We have played 3 games and lost a player a game; Arteta, Gibbs and Giroud and given that Koscielny, BFG, Ozil, Podolski and Wilshere look less than 100% we are struggling. I have no doubts we will come good later in the year but right now there is cause for concern.
Much is made of CL qualification as the carrot to ensnare new signing, I don’t completely agree. MU, Spurs, Everton and L’pool have shown this is not true. What attracts players is money (or in Balotelli’s case a team which will accept his “difficulties”). Did Di Maria move for CL games and the resultant profile? That said, qualification allows us to earn the bug bucks which attract the best players and as I have repeatedly written – I want Cavani, Carvalho (or at least an agreement that he will sign next summer when Arteta and Flamini leave) and a CB, all of whom will be expensive.
The loss of Giroud must be seen as an opportunity for the players who will take his place yet Sanogo looks way off the required quality to win anything (though he has an FAC medal :-) ), and Campbell has yet to start a PL game. Sanchez is likely to get the chance tonight, he scored 39 in 88 games for Barca so knows his way to goal.
Just as interesting to me is how Wilshere will play without the need to look for Ramsey. We have discussed at length whether the two can play together and tonight we will see if JW can influence the game in the way we hope. He will need to – Ramsey has scored in 5 of his last 6 games and will be sorely missed tonight.
Mr. Wenger is “bigging up” Oxlade-Chamberlain, I wonder why. Does he think O-C needs a confidence boost? He appears to be a man brimful of self-belief. Or perhaps he wanted someone who is comfortable talking to the media so he could take a rest. Either way it gave us another insight into what a lovely man Ox is – Southampton must be the best place to develop well-balanced, intelligent young players.
We know how good Besiktas are. We were fortunate to escape with a draw, thanks to fine work from TPIG and strikers who couldn’t find the target even when one on one with our keeper. They work hard in midfield, defend well and are pacy on the counter. I can only recall Ox’s shot which was well saved by their keeper as good chances created by the Arsenal. We could blame the dreadful pitch but it was the same for both teams.
As we are without the experience of Arteta and Ramsey I would like to see Chambers on the bench and a return to the security of BFG/Kos, though given the total lack of pace from Mertesacker in the Everton game perhaps Chambers and Koscielny will be our centre back partnership this season!
Flamini’s role will be vital in a clogged midfield. He is playing in his normal style so far – two games, two yellows. Hopefully Arteta will return before he picks up his first ban.
So … no Sanogo. I just do not think we can go into such an important game with Sanogo leading the line. Mr Wenger is likely to disagree but I would put my faith in experienced battle-hardened players who have performed at the highest level. All the above team have done so and experience counts.
In the highly unlikely event that we are in trouble he can come off the bench and perhaps have a similar effect to Giroud at Everton, though I hope he only comes on for the final 15 when we are coasting.
History shows that we do well in these games, A good defensive display and some luck in front of goal should see us through but please Arsenal score early, otherwise the tension will be unbearable.
Quiz Question: How many consecutive seasons have we qualified for the Champions League proper?
written by Big Raddy