Nil – Nil to the Arsenal, Nil – Nil to the Arsenal…. Match Report.

Having just returned from a holiday in the South of France; a country with a wonderful climate and a farming industry that provides its people with more or less everything that one could wish for – French supermarkets are the closest earthlings can get to heaven, if you are, like me, one of those who lives to eat rather than eats to live – I cannot help but wonder what the likes of Giroud (French, born in Chambery, situated in the wonderful French Alps), and Cazorla (Spanish, born in Llanera, North-West Spain) made of their trip to the Country of Wrath – The Land of the Orcs.

Just imagine our new signings pronouncing the word(s): ‘Stoke (on Trent)’: I reckon it would sound like somebody choking on a lump of baguette. Compare that to the poetic sounds of ‘Chambery’ and ‘Montpellier’, or ‘Llanera’ and ‘Malaga’, and I think you know where I am coming from.

Going to the North-West/East has seldom or never been easy for Arsenal, and Sunday’s trip to Stoke was the first big physical and mental test for both Arsenal as a ‘new’ team and for our new arrivals in particular.

Luckily, in quick succession, the Northern ‘B-teams’ – Blackburn, Bolton, Blackpool, Burnley – have dropped out of the Premier League in the last few years, resulting in fewer visits to that doomed corner of the country this season. And long may it continue.

Whatever Santi and Oliver made of the place, and its physically/intellectually/emotionally challenged people (booing Aaron Ramsey sums it all up), they showed no signs of weakness or need to adjust to their new surroundings.

That, combined with another fine performance by our defence, are the main positives we can take away from Sunday’s game.

First Half

From the start, it became clear Stoke expected us to dominate play and a row of 4 defenders and five midfielders were positioned in front of their goalie, in order to make life difficult for us. Arsenal combined well and was able to pin Stoke back from the first minute. The ball was being passed round the way we have become so used to over the last few years, and we were able to breach their bus-shaped defensive walls on a number of occasions. If, now and again, we lost the ball in Stoke’s half – especially Diaby and Gervinho had a few moments of weakness at the start of the game – our defenders pressed the opposition quickly and forcefully, resulting in us regaining possession almost instantly. On Sunday, we owned the area between their box and the mid-circle once again, and long may it continue.

We were bullying the Orcs and it felt fecking brilliant!

There were a number of opportunities in the first half. As early as the eight’s minute, Giroud combined with Podolksi in the box and the latter had a decent opportunity to score. The Stoke defender Wilkinson lost his balance as a result of Giroud’s and the Pod’s quick movement, and whilst falling over, the former, serendipitously, ended up in the path of Pod’s attempt on goal. He handled the ball but I don’t think it was a penalty, and we are not Chelsea of course; so nothing given.

The excellent Prince Poldi, who often could be found away from his left wing position, made a mazy run through the middle and was cynically fouled by Huth. The subsequent free-kick, from a promising position, just outside the box, was wasted by Cazorla. Unfortunately, it would not be the last free-kick to be wasted by Arsenal during the game.

Another good move led to a cross from the left which Giroud just could not reach with his head. On top of that, Cazorla had a number of shots at goal from distance, and all in all we deserved a goal from our efforts.

However, it is fair to say, that although we created a number of chances in the first half, we still looked quite rusty in our attacking efforts.

This should not come as a big surprise to us, as except for Gervinho, all our attack-minded players are new. On top of that, Diaby has not played regular football for a long, long time and Arteta has only just returned from a long-term injury as well. They will need time to gel so they can become more instinctive and effective, and the only way to do this is by training hard, and especially by playing more and more competitive games together.

Stoke were only able to get a few set-pieces against us and our defence, including our stand-in goalie Mannone, remained calm and organised – never allowing the crowd any satisfaction. Once again, we were the ones who controlled the game.

Second Half

I can be short about the second half. It was disappointing to see we could not move a gear up with regards to our attacking efforts after the break. I have seldom seen Arsenal so risk averse. The FB’s did not offer as much support to our wingers as we’ve got used to over the years, and the CB’s stayed continuously behind. I felt Cazorla got more and more isolated and tired as both Diaby and, the once again excellent, Arteta sat back more and more. Diaby and Arteta helped out our defence when it really mattered though in the second half, which was great to see, as well as crucial.

The substitutions of our ‘wingers’ Gervinho and Podolski, by Theo and The Ox, made sense, but they also could not make a significant difference. There were still a few half-chances for Giroud, but a combination of tiredness and over-eagerness, meant he was not able to turn them into goals – although he almost clinched the three points for us with a beautifully imagined, and subsequently executed diagonal lob over the goalie from 25 yards or so. But, it was not to be.

Conclusions

I watched the game in a busy and loud pub, which made it difficult to analyse the game with a bit more depth. I would love to watch the game again with just one objective: to check out how much support both Arteta and Diaby gave to our attackers.

Having watched a couple of Chelsea games and also the game between Dortmund and Bremen in the last few days, I came to realise once again how important it is for one of the two deeper laying midfielders to support the attacking midfielder as much as possible, in order to dominate the opposition in front of their box and add creative thrust (without losing positional discipline of course). Chelsea’s Mereiles really impressed me on Saturday against NU. Every time he came forward to support the attacking players, the Barcodes were put under severe pressure.

In our game, I felt that Diaby and Arteta were not always effective enough in their support of our attackers/AM, but I would need to see the game again to see whether this was indeed so. Dare I say it; I thought we missed Song yesterday, although I also believe that both Arteta and Diaby will get better at supporting the sole AM as the season develops: they are both well-rounded, quality midfielders.

However, I thought both Arteta and Diaby supported our defence really well when it mattered, and I was pleasantly surprised by Diaby’s physical/aerial presence; especially in the second half.

I thought our defence played with discipline and focus and, on the few occasions they were called into action: they were a joy to watch.

Unfortunately, the departures of brave sir robin and Song means we will have to go through another year of transition. But I have no doubt that Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski are quality additions to our team, and whilst they are gelling together with our other players, they will get better and better.

The most important thing, though, is the back-to-basics approach with regards to our defence. We will not win anything anymore until we have a mean, lean, defensive machine again, and the first two games have been very encouraging with regards to establishing just that.

With Liverpool away, Southampton at home, City away and Chelsea at home, between now and 29 September, our defensive will face tougher tests ahead, but like many others, I am getting more and more confident that Steve Bould has been making real progress in making us defensively sound, this summer.

Add to that, that Giroud and Cazorla have come through the ‘Northern Test’ very successfully (and I expected nothing else from the Pod – the man is simply indestructible), and that Wenger keeps hinting there will be one or two more signings in the coming week, and there are plenty of reasons for us to be positive, despite the somewhat dull second half today.

After all, only the Southern Oilers have been able to win all their games and, as unlikely as it may sound after two draws, we are above the Spuds and Pool, just two points behind the Northern Oilers, and only one point behind the Mancs and the Barcodes. It looks like Lady Luck is helping us to settle this new team in this time!

Player ratings

Mannone and defence: 7.5 – all solid, disciplined and focussed – a real unit: 7.5.

Arteta: 7.5 – quickly getting back to his very best.

Diaby: 7 – better second half, despite tiring at the end. If he can stay fit for a while, he will become better and better. Fingers and all other body-parts crossed!

Cazorla: 8 – real quality: our new dynamo and a natural strings-puller. MOTM.

Gervinho: 5 – worked very hard, but this was not his best day.

Podolski: 7.5 – loved his energy, physicality and thrust. Really happy to see he can play effectively for us on the left wing. Goals and assists are just a matter of time.

Giroud: 7.5 – loved his energy, physicality, thrust and link-up play. Obviously, he is very eager to score goals and they will come. He just needs to settle in a bit.

Total Arsenal.

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96 Responses to Nil – Nil to the Arsenal, Nil – Nil to the Arsenal…. Match Report.

  1. barumgooner says:

    Nice report Total. Totally agree with the midfield point. Arteta and Diaby were both very effective in defensive duties but Diaby is way too slow to release the ball when moving forward, Arteta is better at this but I think he is very disciplined and saw his role as the main protection. A natural dm will come in and take Diabys position I think. I’m not entirely sure I agree with the little Spaniard as motm either, Yes he had loads of the ball but for me he didnt really do a lot with it. Couple of poor free-kicks, a dozen corners which didnt threaten and one very good shot from range. And before I get verbally attacked i’m not running him down, I think he is and will be excellent for us but for me Jenks was the best player out there yesterday in performing his own duties. One thing is for sure Gerv was the worst, needs to find form very soon or he will be running out of chances.

  2. LB says:

    Very good match report TA, I particularly like the entertaining start, no easy task with a nil-nil draw.

  3. goonermichael says:

    photo/1

  4. goonermichael says:

    photo/1

  5. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Excellent summing up TA, Diaby seemed to be back to his infuriating best, clever on the ball but with little or no end product, can anyone tell me when he last completed ninety minutes in a match, rather than ninety minutes in a season?

    Gervinho seemed almost afraid of the Orcs, little or no use of his pace and dribbling skills, no penetration.

    Still too early to judge the three newbies, given time, I think, they will come good.

    Everybody else played their parts well, Mannone surprisingly so, is he the new number two?

    Glass half full, We weren’t intimidated and bullied by the Orcs, two games unbeaten and no goals conceded.

    Glass half empty, no goals scored.

  6. Slimgingergooner says:

    Barum,

    Gervinho was MOTM last week. I think it’s consistency he needs to find, and his final ball needs to improve.

  7. 26may1989 says:

    Like the report TA: the fact my only disagreements are about the quality of French supermarkets (as opposed to the heavenly world of French markets) and the lumping of together of decent football outfits like Blackpool and Burnley with the utilitarians of The Potteries shows that we agree on all that matters!

    I think if I’d been watching live, I’d have been very frustrated (one shot on target from 18 attempts and 67% possession). But having watched the game last night, already knowing the score, I quite liked our performance. As St Gary of Neville said, we were in complete control. Poor finishing meant we didn’t get our just deserts, and I was one who said yesterday was a must-win, but watching a real team performance gives me confidence. I was especially pleased with Giroud and Jenkinson.

    Plenty to do, and perhaps another signing is needed, but the good signs were there for us. Bring on Liverpool!

  8. Gooner In Exile says:

    Thanks for the report TA, the game is on sky plus and I really must sit down and watch it.

    2 things encourage me from your report and the third from the highlight reel Chas posted this morning:

    1) looking mean in defence
    2) the slightly negative/risk averse second half
    3) Girouds lob and Cazorlas shot.

    On 2) whilst it is not like us it shows that both the coaching staff and players knew Dtoke would have a bit of a go second half after getting to the break at 0-0, in Pulis’s world the less time the oppo have to equalise the more chance of a win so he will always go out to keep ia clean sheet in the first half and commit more men as the game runs on and time runs out.

    On 3) I have seen some criticism of Giroud for not spotting Rambo, well in my view Ramsey had maybe ten to twenty yards more to make into the box, Giroud would have to have taken at least a touch and one centre back was only a couple of yards from him. He looked up assessed a couple of options and tried the lob, that was something Wrighty would have done….the pass would never have been on, and he was close to being an I stand hero. He appears to have an unfussiness to his demeanour…something he shares with Kozzer.

  9. Total says:

    Thanks for comments guys. Will be out till early evening. Speak to you then! :)

  10. barumgooner says:

    Fair point slim, I think he does offer us something different in the sense that he runs at players. Unfortunately as soon as he stops and looks around the moment is lost. Just think there is a bit of competition for the wide positions and he is in danger of being pushed out.

  11. LB says:

    The Giroud pass to Ramsey wasn’t on, the Frenchman made the right decision.

  12. goonermichael says:

    Great post btw. Japanese supermarkets are better! I’ve been to Normandy for two summer holidays and it pissed down on both. La Vendee wasn’t much better either.

  13. goonermichael says:

    I loved Giroud trying the lob. It shows he has an eye for goal and it nearly came off.

  14. Red Arse says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely article, TA :-)

    Not only was it entertainingly written, it was also an accurate assessment of the match as I saw it, with only a minor addendum.

    Arteta was excellent as part of the defensive unit, which was his first and foremost objective, while also finding time to help support the offense.
    He was particularly instrumental in forging the overall cohesiveness of the team and deserved the MoTM for me. [Cripes - never thought I would say that] :-)

    In the first half, Cazzor and Diaby played very well and both showed flashes of brilliance in supporting the attack. OK, they did not succeed as often as they, or we, would like, but they were trying things, and unlike lesser players, on another day they would have succeeded in their efforts.

    Both also played their parts in helping a much improved defensive show, but with both fullbacks curtailing their attacking instincts, to give defense priority, (as they were no doubt told to do) this inevitably had an impact on the team’s offensive efforts.
    {As a side bar, can we get away from the use of that banal old hypothetical question that starts with ‘Can someone please tell me what……..’ – frankly, if anyone needs to be told what to think by someone else, well………..!}

    Coincidentally, both Cazzor and Diaby tired quickly in the 2nd half, and that was no surprise to me given the circumstances. They will get stronger and fitter as the season progresses.

    As they tired, we became more ineffective up front, and when they came on neither Rambo nor Theo did anything to change that state of affairs, altho the Ox brought some ingenuity, at times, and much promise for the future.

    Other than Gerv, the rest of the team did their jobs well and again on another day we would have won at a canter.

    You have got us up and running TA with your excellent post match foray. :-)

  15. RedandDread says:

    Agree with you to a tee. In answering your question re Diaby supporting the attack-I thought he did this better in the 1st half but was seen more in a defensive role in the 2nd. IMO he didn’t slow things down in the final 1/3rd as much as some people think. I watched a replay of the game and thought he had a very good game, particularly in the 1st half. Gervinho wasn’t “bad” as some people have made out, just ineffective and he didn’t really have any help from Jenkinson in the attacking 1/3rd.

    Overall, I’m happy with the point because we dominated the game, looked comfortable and intelligent in our passing (final 1/3rd needs work) and as a team we looked more defensive cohesive than at any point in the last 4 seasons IMO.

    I think we have a good base to move forward and we can look forward to the game against Liverpool with confidence.

  16. goonermichael says:

    I love Gervinho

  17. Red Arse says:

    Getting the defense right after last year’s dismal goals against record had to be the priority, and Stevie Bould has started very well.

    It might take a little while to get the balance right between offense and defense but it will come shortly, and then watch us go!! :-)

    The Gerv has it in his locker to be a really influential player for us, but seems to lack that little bit of arrogant confidence that marks out all top players. When we win a few games and he does not feel the pressure to ‘perform’ …………………. he wil!! :-)

  18. Big Raddy says:

    TA Fine assessment and very much as I saw it.

    Diaby surprised me as to how well he coped defensively, particularly in the air. More games, fewer injuries and perhaps we have the new PV4.

    RA. “Gervinho, arrogant confidence”. Well said. Once we are in a game where we are 2 up at half time I expect Gerv to blossom and gain that confidence which is essential at a top PL club.

  19. dandan says:

    Fine article TA thank you. Thought both Diaby and Gibbs had good games and seeing as both are on the way back from injury and a bit short of fitness can only improve.

    Interesting comment Re David Levy by Young Rednapp “that this is David Levy’s favourite week of the year, Bet AW. doesn’t feel that way, :-)

  20. Candid gunner says:

    …the nothern ‘B’ teams have dropped in recent years… Can’t wait for the ‘S’ teams to get the hell out too- Stoke city, Sunderland! Then we can have a better league all together!

  21. LB says:

    Candid

    You forgot spuds…..N17……that is so far north it is practically south Leeds.

  22. RockyLives says:

    Nice write up TA and pretty much how I saw it.

    Cazorla was excellent again (especially when you think he hasn’t even hit his stride yet) but I have to agree with Redders that Aretatata was MoTM.

    Gervinho worries me. Slim mentioned he was MoTM last week – well, he wasn’t my MoTM. Against Sunderland he was incredibly willing (I read somewhere he had the most attacking runs in an EPL game since Ronaldo four or five years ago). But he always seems to try to get to the goal line regardless of how many players are in front of him and regardless of what pull-back options are available behind him.

    When he does get to the goal line, gets clear of his defenders and we have someone in the six yard box it’s brilliant. But nine times out of 10 that doesn’t happen. He needs more variety in his play (like the ability to cut back onto his right and switch play if he’s in a blind alley) and to take surprising options now and again.

    One caveat to this: with our clear extra emphasis on defence, I feel he’s not getting as much support from the LB as he might have had previously. Especially against Sunderland there were times when he was having to try and dribble through three players partly because no-one (i.e. Gibbs) was giving him an option to cut it back.

    He has plenty of dribbling tricks and speed… it’s all down to that “football intelligence” thing (or maybe confidence). Either way, if he can add that final 10% to his game he could be awesome.

  23. neamman says:

    I thought a good display but like others..am just not convinced about Gervinho. Would rather have Theo or Ox on from the start. I am not worried as our attack still needs to gel but i would like to see another midfielder.. we would be in trouble if Carzorla gets injured.

  24. LB says:

    If the Ox had been playing instead of Gervinho I think we would have won both games. Gervinho and Walcott contributed nothing to the forward thrust of the team against Sunderland and Gervinho created nothing yesterday. I don’t give a monkeys how hard he tries, all the S team players try hard I expect him to score or create goal scoring opportunities and he did neither yesterday. I hope like last seaon Wenger gives him a chance and then moves him to the bench to chat to Chamakh for the rest of the season.

    The winning formula.

    Podolski, Giroud, The Ox.

    The defence has changed in such a way that the full backs move forward far less.

    Notice how Jenkinson only started going into the Stoke half when Walcott came on. This was calculated and he was working under instuctions.

    Gibbs moved further forward yesterday but was clearly under orders to say further back against Sunderland.

  25. goonermichael says:

    I think you are wrong about Gervinho LB he created a fantastic chance in the Sunderland game. Chamberlain didn’t do much when he came on. Isn’t it true that if he’s a handful and keeps people occupied it gives space for the others. He had a shit game yesterday but he was good against Sunderland.

  26. RockyLives says:

    GM
    I think he has a bit of the Theo problem of being less effective against a packed defence. In both games so far he has been at least double-teamed every time he makes a run.

    Unlike Theo, however, he does have some good tricks to beat defenders. I still think he needs to get his head up a bit more though – and not always take the same option of trying to dribble to the byline.

  27. RockyLives says:

    What price a 0-0 against ‘Pool on Sunday?

    At no point last season did we manage to keep three consecutive clean sheets in the EPL (although we managed two on a couple of occasions).

  28. LB says:

    The important thing that the Ox does nine times out of ten is get the ball into the box. He can go past a player even when space is tight and when he does the ball is sent into the danger area and now we have a serious ariel threat many of those opportunities should be taken.

    By contrast, Gervinho flatters to decieve, he looks like he knows what he is doing because of all his shimmies and shakes but then what? He trips over his feet nine times out of ten and we lose possesion.

    Sending a player on is far different to starting with him but when space is tight I would always go with:

    Podolski, Giroud, The Ox.

    Next week will be different, I would start with Podolski, Giroud and Walcott. There will be space and when there is Theo is at his best.

  29. RockyLives says:

    LB
    I agree with every word of that!

  30. Bayonne Jean says:

    Not worried about the current lack of scoring, as both Podolski and Giroud should come around soon enough in that department, but they already show a lot of “nous” in other parts of the attacking game.

    Good point on missing Song; to me, the loss of van Persie is less of a concern than the breakup of the Song/Arteta axis, which after RVP was the next most effective facet of last year’s squad. Arteta does a great job holding but he’s so much more valuable if he can go forward more than once or twice. Can’t wait for Wilshere to return to the midfield, as I see him and Arteta being able to work off each other in offense/holding interplay to maximum effect. I suspect we won’t see another DM type being signed, as Wenger would envision the mix of Cazorla, Arteta, and Jack to be his dream midfield.

    That trio has loads of “football sense”, and that’s why so many despair over players like Diaby, Gervinho, and Theo. Physically gifted, to be sure, but lacking in football intelligence. That’s why first team should have Giroud, Podolski, and Ox up front. Gervinho and Diaby are just late game subs, or “horses for courses” players to be featured against certain opponents (e.g., Diaby for physical teams like a Stoke). The way Gervinho’s going, his only role would be as that late game sub to dribble the ball into the corner when sheltering a lead.

  31. kelsey says:

    Thanks for the write up TA.

    I tend to agree with LB about Gervinho. He is frustrating to watch and another who hasn’t got a shot on him.In a sentence,just not good enough.

    I am concerned about a few things, yet pleasantly surprised that the defence look far more solid but taking away history and Stoke’s home record, they aren’t much of a team and finished 14th. last season .

    In my view RVP was off after the final whistle at WBA and knowing our budget AW had time to an extent and bought Podolski and Giroud who because of the Euros joined up with the squad later.

    It is fine saying that they will come good but our next 3 matches are against Liverpool,Chelsea andd City which will be a much sterner test than our opening two games, and we don’t want to be to far off the pace after 5 games.

    I still believe there are major doubts about the return of Wilshere to full fitness and maybe AW is considering that in these last few days of the window.

    One direct shot at goal just isn’t top four form and it wasn’t much different against Sunderland. Pity Bendtner didn’t work out but with so much chopping and changing I agree it will take time.

    The Ox is pure class and needs to play whenever possible and finally though I am no great lover of Mertasacker he has done well in these opening games and has definitely come on.

  32. kelsey says:

    I must add that Cazorla looks a magnificent buy but after only 2 games we appear to look for him alone to create scoring chances. Other teams will be watching that and for that reason alone Podolski and Co need to get their game up in the direct attacking field , more where it counts. (as micky would say, “I will get my coat” )

  33. Brigham says:

    Nice report TA, as per normal and I enjoyed the readiing of it.

    Right, we are yet to score and although that could be a worry and if I am honest, it is, but, we are also yet to concede and that for me is a big plus over last season already. We look much more composed in defence and we dealt with all the normal high balls Stoke threw in. We are yet to be tested against better strikers, but it does look much better so far and long may it continue.

    Striker wise, we really need to get more work completed on the training ground, especially with the free kicks, which are still pretty dire. I think Bouldy has been working on the corners attacking wise and its almost like the old Arsenal routines with near post flick-ons.

    Two points from two games and no goals, not much to really shout about, but it could be worse. Onwards and upwards Gooners.

    Three points at the Self Pity ground next week, for sure!

    COYRRG

  34. Big Raddy says:

    kelsey. It is a difficult balance between making the defence tighter , which must be this seasons main aim, and bolstering the attack.

    For this reason, our front 3 are going to have to make more chances themselves. It was a surprise to see Theo benched and my first thought was …. he hasn’t signed, and he is off. I hope this isn’t the case because IMO he offers more than Gervinho does at the moment.

  35. kelsey says:

    BR,

    in other words, a transition season :)

  36. kelsey says:

    I agree that was strange Raddy.

    Walcott made an impact in those 18 minutes but who knows ? Would you pay him 80/100K a week or make a profit. ?

  37. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Kelsey, how much would we have to pay for a Walcott replacement? How much in wages would the replacement want? How long would he need to “settle in”?

    Better the devil you know…..

  38. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Thanks for the post TA. As usual i find it difficult to disagre with anything. If i must quibble your portrait of stoke is a bit harsh. That picture of that nice man and his Dog looks lovely. Back in the eighties i myself owned a pair of those trainers and they were highly functional and fashionable, so lets keep things in perspective..

    On the team, its all very exciting. In essence its a new line up and we are sitting back and examining each new chalange. 3 new players. Mert, Gerv, and Artetas second seasons, and an abundance of young players gaining experience and improving from day to day. And of course there is Steve Bould. I have nothing but 100% respect for Pat Rice, but a new face and fresh approach has come at the right time.

    Finished article?, of course not, and there will be hicups and disapointments along the way, but the signs for real progression are very encouraging. I have no doubts that the core of experienced foreign players along with the maturing and predominantly British talents we have will eventuly lead us to glory, the only question is when? i hope its this year but if not then it will most certainly be the next.

    Just a quick point about sunderland and stoke. According to Mr Wenger, last season these 2 teams conceded the least possesion behind there midfield than any others in the premeirship. In other words they are the 2 most defensive sides in the league.

    Different type of examination next week. Last year i thought we would go to Chelsea, win, and kick start our push for top four. This year we will beat Liverpool and kick start our push for the title.

  39. LB says:

    By the way, Arteta’s talents are being wasted in the present set up; he has so much more to offer.

    Playing him as the sole defensive shield is a waste of his offensive talent. The word sole is important in the sense that last season he alternated with Song. The Basque felt confident enough to make forward forays safe in the knowledge that Barça’s latest bench warmer would cover his back.

    So far this season he has stayed much further back, my guess is that he does not trust Diaby to share the defensive responsibility.
    I am not suggesting that Arteta hasn’t done the job he has been asked to do well, I am just trying to say that we miss him further forward linking up closer with Carzola.

  40. LB says:

    We already have cover for Walcott…………his name is Oxlade-Chamberlain.

  41. LB says:

    What have Alex Song and David Luis have in common?

    No, not that they are both wanted by Barcelona or not only that anyway. They were/are both criticised for advancing too far forward and not just sitting there in that British statuesque way that is expected here in the UK.

    It seems the ability of a defender to augment the attack is a quality that is appreciated in Catalunya.

  42. jnyc says:

    TA, its amazing that u can give such an in depth report watching under those conditions! Great job. I want to say to Rocky, i agree with you again, why does gervihno have to try the same route every time, going all the way to the by line waiting,, letting the defense set up and double team. He can try cutting across the box, with his ball skills he would have a great chance of drawing a penalty more than anyone in the league, yes, even hazard. Of course we wont get most of the calls we deserve, but we may get some. And of course he still doesnt go for goal enough

  43. RockyLives says:

    I should emphasize that I’m not down on Gerv – he has a lot to offer and I hope the coaches can get it out of him. He can be a fullback’s worst nightmare.

  44. Big Raddy says:

    LB. I disagree about Arteta. Yes, he does have other skills but his work as a DM combined with those of Diaby are working well for the team. Less goals conceded means more points.

    That said, let us see how he plays against Liverpool who will be sure to attack.

    As to Song’s advances, I felt he was unfairly criticised for his forward play. His assists tally show how he contributed. Song wasn’t used as a classic DM and AW played to his strengths.

    chas. Thanks for the pics – they add greatly to the post.

  45. California Gooner says:

    BR, I agree regarding the balance between attack and defense. If we continue to favor defensive solidity, we may simply loose to many points early in the season while offense if finding itself to make a run at the league (2 ties < 1 loss+ 1 win), but do very well in the cup matches, where not conceding can get a team through. This seemed to be the pattern of Liverpool under Benitez, and while I doubt Wenger will ever be as conservative, that is what the early season pattern.

  46. LB says:

    BR

    I am not saying that there is a problem with Diaby and Arteta; I am suggesting that it could be better.

    Song and Arteta alternated vertically.

    Diaby and Arteta have not, the result is that Arteta is stuck further back than he was last year and in my opinion less effective and therefore wasted.

    Actually, looking back at your comment Im not sure where you are disagreeing with me.

  47. Gooner In Exile says:

    Just a point on Theo….I don’t think there is a profit to be made, he has years of top earning left so can happily run down his last year. Although I wonder whether it’s a case of the player saying he wants to sign but on money that the club are not prepared to match….so yesterday could have been a signal to him that he is not indispensable.

    Or it could have just been tactical.

  48. Gooner In Exile says:

    Also if there were others interested wouldn’t the news wires be buzzing with the words of his agent?

  49. evonne says:

    TA with memory of an elephant :) I found the second half a bit tedious to watch and as a result cannot remember much. It’s good to be reminded and know that there is someone there watching the game for me :) Thank you TA for yet another excellent match report

    Call it Lady Luck, Sharkey and I call it ‘that bitch Karma’

  50. Slimgingergooner says:

    There are 2 types of DM in this world. The type that sweeps in front of the back 4 and dumps the ball off to his more cultured midfield partners at every opportunity. Players like Lucas, De Jong, Mikel and Makelele fall under this category.

    Then there is the type that we have missed since Vieira. The one that sweeps up in front of the defence and then has the ability to cover ground quickly in order to launch a counter attack. Yaya Toure and Essien (when fit) are excellent at this and it is something that is hard to come by these days. If we could find a DM that has this ability, wether in the youth team or a signing, then we could have a winning team once again.

  51. LB says:

    GIE

    Or it could have been that he was ineffectual the week before against Sunderland and was dropped.

    Unsurprisingly, I suspect, I am going for this one.

  52. chas says:

    Thanks for the match report, TA.
    Much better than I could have ever done.

    At the end we were wondering how Lee Mason could have thought 3 minutes was an adequate amount of injury time. There were six substitutions, albeit only four separate substituting occasions. Giroud was injured and the Stoke goalie must have wasted 3 minutes just on his own.
    (Not that we would have scored if there’d been another 20 mins.)

  53. Probably right LB :D

    But its the one time of year we get to try and see a hidden message behind every single bit of body language, tactical decision, quotes etc etc……well actually some do that all year but once the 1 September has arrived I will stop….maybe….

    Chas in the highlights an Arsenal player picked up the ball and placed it on the 6 yard box for Stokes keeper, it seemed to get a cheer from the Gooners, was it Pod? And secondly should we do this all the time, it will kind of prove to the ref that there is time wasting if the keeper moves it to the other side of the goal.

    Actually that is the one rule/law that is constantly overlooked by the referee’s. The law was brought in to allow the ball to be returned to play quicker, if the ball went out on the left side of the goal but the keeper got it on the right side he could put it down and play there and then it wasn’t to allow them to walk it across the goal to whichever side they fancied.

  54. RockyLives says:

    Evening Chas
    What were your interactions with the Stokies like? (If, indeed, you had any).

  55. neamman says:

    I think Theo, Gerv and the Ox are all similar and do we need three players with those skills. Gervinho is the better dribbler but his end product is useless most times. Theo cant dribble his way out of a leaky coffee cup but his speed amends assuming we have the midfield with the nous to free him. He scores goals whicg Gervinho doesnt. Myself..I would favour keeping Theo and Ox and calling time on Gervinho. Unless there are some dressing room issues of which we are unaware.

  56. Gooner In Exile says:

    3 stattastic tweets for your amazement:

  57. RockyLives says:

    GiE
    Those stats bode very well for a positive season. Once some of those shots start going in there’ll be no stopping us.

  58. kelsey says:

    Wenger: There’s something missing from today’s Sun headline.
    more or less word for word what I said a few days ago and RL thought it was cryptic

  59. 26may1989 says:

    Excellent stats, cheers Exile.

    I just watched the game through again, and the players’ performance without the ball was great: instant pressure on the opponent, lots of second phase ball won, good shape. And the link-up play in the final third was good too – it won’t take much for Cazorla, Poldi, Giroud, Ox, Gervinho, Diaby etc to be on absolutely the right wavelength.

    When I saw it first time, I also didn’t notice how good was Ox’s ball to Giroud when Giroud tried his long-range effort: the weight on Ox’s pass was absolutely perfect, and created the possibility for Giroud to go for goal.

    The ref had a good game, got all the big decisions, and most of the little ones, right.

    We should have got three points yesterday, I can see why Pulis was so pleased to get something from it, but that performance was very respectable.

  60. 26may1989 says:

    Mannone looked pretty solid yesterday, didn’t he Kelsey? ;)

  61. LB says:

    Nice thought to go to bed with:

    The Ox’s pass to Giroud, thanks for reminding me of that 26

    Night, night.

  62. It wasn’t just the pass 26 it was the way he won the ball off a Stoke wide man as he was winding up another delivery into the box, Ox forced him onto back foot and nicked it, then played that pass

  63. 26may1989 says:

    Absolutely right, Senor Exile, the boy has the appetite for a bit of a battle.

  64. Total says:

    Evening all, thanks for all your great comments. :)

    Re Gervinho/Theo/The Ox: all three have something to offer which is different and, as I have said previously, the life of a winger is one of ups and downs: good games followed by average ones. The very best wingers are able to play a number of good games in a row, before they have an ineffective one. I find it more important to look at the whole attack, rather than individual performances. Gervinho had an off-day, but the Pod was very effective. Next week the Pod could have a disappointing game and Gervinho or Theo steel the show.

    There is a feeling, though, that Gervinho is not breaking through to the next level. I think most of us feel he is capable of it, but it needs to happen soon or it will all become psychological for him.

    Re LB’s point on Arteta. I agree that Arteta has more to offer to Arsenal. I wonder whether he feels more comfortable in the deepest midfielder position. Arteta works hard and is disciplined enough to make that role a success. If he were to play in a more advanced position the pressure on him will be higher, and so is the risk of failure. Is it time now to get a more traditional, holding DM, so we can move Arteta forward?!

    Last season, Song and Arteta had no ‘Cazorla quality player’ in front of them (except for a few good games by Rosicky) and it meant that both had to make due/adjust their game. Now we have Cazorla (and JW hopefully coming back soon) in the AM position, but we let Song go – leading to another season of having to gel together our midfield which is very frustrating. Once we get this right though, we will be flying again.

    Terry, my Stoke related comments are of course tongue-in-cheek. My way of paying them back for what they did, and keep doing, to Ramsey. ;)

    26, French markets are indeed heavenly. The only problem is they are not air-conditioned! :)

    RA (and others), Arteta was very good but Cazorla was extra-quality yesterday. He led, he took initiative, and never got frightened by the aggressiveness of the Orcs. That’s why I thought he deserved to be MOTM.

  65. Slimgingergooner says:

    64 games, 81 goals, 31 assists.
    55 games, 41 goals, 10 assists.

    11 games, 40 goals, 21 assists, that is the difference between Messi and RvP last season! Not sure why I have put these stats up but just thought it was worth sharing!!!! Astonishing.

  66. 26may1989 says:

    Slim, Messi is a phenomenon. I was lucky to see Maradona play once, and he was incredibly good, but Messi is beyond compare. Over the last five years, he’s averaging more than a goal a game, and as you showed, the rate is increasing.

  67. Slimgingergooner says:

    26,

    Messi has a hand in nearly 2 goals every game! It’s just ridiculous. I would love to see how he would do in the PL. Even Ronaldo’s stats struggle to compare with Messi (64 games, 71 goals, 16 assists).

  68. RockyLives says:

    Kelsey
    It wasn’t me who thought it was cryptic – I think it might have been Evonne or Peaches.

    I would have said “gnomic” :)

  69. Gooner In Exile says:

    26/SGG isn’t the difference between Messi and Ronaldo and PL players all about the opposition? PL teams are satisfied taking a point, something I don’t believe the Spanish fans would take from their teams.

  70. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. I watched a few minutes of the Getafe/RM game and there were at most 10k in a ground which could hold at least 25k and many of those were RM fans. RM are one of the best and most entertaining teams in the world.

    Stoke sell out their ground (usually) and continue to play negative football (less than a goal a game).

    Weird.

    It seems Spanish fans don’t care about much at all.

  71. Big Raddy says:

    Strange that AFC have not made a concrete bid for M’vila. He seemed ideal for us.

  72. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning all.
    Thank you for an excellent report Total. Good to have you back in the saddle.

  73. Big Raddy says:

    Morning Didit.

    I am off to the Viking Museum in Roskilde today in search of Orc ancestry

  74. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Raddy,
    I would have thought we needed to sell first, so waiting on offers.
    Guessing here, but I very much doubt that we are in for M’Vila. I hope not as well.
    A 26/7 year old would be better.

  75. Big Raddy says:

    I would even go older in the expectation of one of our kids filling the spot over the next couple of seasons.

  76. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Raddy,
    I wouldn’t bother. Stay at home and drink would be my advice.
    What could you possibly see there? Hats with horns, azes, boats and some jewellery.

  77. Big Raddy says:

    Alonso or Mascherano would be good …

  78. Big Raddy says:

    It’s a study tour. Offski (as Arshavin would say)

    HAGD

  79. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Raddy,
    Fine by me. Either way, young Coquelin would have an excellent teacher as well as adequate playing time.
    Plus, an experienced player slots straight in, knows what he is doing, needs no coaching (!!!) and we avoid the “transitional” excuse.

  80. Red Arse says:

    AVB: We are not interested in M’Vila.

    Levy: Bids £13m for M’Vila – likely to rise to £15m and a deal.

    Either AVB is a liar, or Levy is dictating to him who he will get.

    Can you imagine Arsene putting up with that?

    And good morning to you, Micky! :-)

  81. evonne says:

    So M’villa signed for spurs?? How come?

    Slim, you should have compiled the same stats for Per$ie and Messi over the last 3-5 years; let’s not forget that the last season was exceptional and only one for former. Messi does it year in year out, no comparison between the two

  82. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Good morning RA.
    Do I detect a shift in your blogging operational hours?

  83. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sorry Chas,
    I forgot to thank you also for the pics. Thank you.
    The grass does look rather anti-football longish from where I’m sitting.

  84. chas says:

    G’Morning.

    GIE,
    It was Giroud

    Rocky,
    Didn’t have much interraction this time. Last season we were right on the boundary of Stoke and Arse fans. This time much closer to the tunnel. On the way back to the car I got the impression they weren’t as happy with their team’s performance as Poolis was; similar to the Sunderland fans last week, resigned to the fact that it’ll be a long hard season with little attractive football on offer.

    As far as the songs went, we enjoyed.
    ♫Tony Poolis is a wanker, is a wanker ♫
    and ♫Tony, Tony, you’re a front bottom, Tony, you’re a front bottom ♫
    also ♫ You’re best player is the towel ♫ ( I think it only came out once)
    ♫ He came from Malaga, to play with Arteta ♫ was ok

    We couldn’t join in with ♫She said ‘no’, Robin, she said ‘no’ ♫

    Giroud has impressed me immensely and is picking up English quickly.

  85. chas says:

    Micky,
    Cheers, two of the pics were Ant’s.
    The pitch played really well. Good to get that fixture out of the way in the summer. Usually we play them after Christmas when it’s bobbly and suits their aerial approach.

  86. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Chas,
    While I really like the Podolski work ethic and power, Giroud for me will be as integral as Santi. The “non-pass” to Ramsey shows exactly one difference between him and Chamakh. This man is goalward bound.

  87. evonne says:

    GiE – http://arsenaldirect.arsenal.com/summer-sale/jog-set/invt/a9248/

    Chas – he spoke English before; nobody can gain such command of the language in 2 weeks, not even you:) He’ll become our next legend

  88. chas says:

    Oh right, though I thought he signed 26th June, 8 weeks ago. Why has he only been learning for 2 weeks?

  89. chas says:

    Oh, I get it, he’s only allowed to start learning English once the season starts. Makes sense now. :)

  90. Red Arse says:

    Hi guys, :-)

    Micky, I have a wide range of blogging hours (minutes) which, like my opinions vacillates depending on other peripatetic factors. (I sometimes blog elsewhere) sshh!

    You have, of course, cut me to the quick as you clearly do not remember my incisive and brilliant early morning comments the last time I graced the ‘early’ morning shift!!! :-( :-( :-(

  91. evonne says:

    Chas – you said he is picking up English quickly. My guess is he started about 10 years ago, at school, but I don’t want to argue with you, you are right.

  92. chas says:

    No, no, it must be you who are right. What do I know about learning English?
    I could never do the ‘speak another language’ bit.
    I can read French of a fashion, but converse in it, not a chance.
    I envy you bi-lingual folks.

  93. evonne says:

    Chas – your English is better than 90% of this country’s population, 50% of which are foreigners :) I am glad we are still mates

  94. Rasp says:

    Morning all …..

    ….. New post …….

  95. [...] Reading: Nil – Nil to the Arsenal, Nil – Nil to the Arsenal…. Match Report. ← Arsenal want to buy in 4 positions – We have until Friday 23:00 to make it happen Stoke [...]

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