Santos Charged With Dangerously Driving Forward

Are Arsenal supporters ever really happy without a scapegoat? By Arsenal standards it’s been a while since we have had one but I notice that a couple of candidates are coming into focus. I am mot sure why I am talking about supporters in the third person because when it comes to moaning I have been as guilty as the rest of you. My first memories of doing such come from copying my dad who I remember repeatedly criticising one particular player in days gone by.

We all know this happens and we all know the list of scapegoats is long, some may be able to name them in sequence over the last twenty years; others might even be able to go back further.

There has been a bit of a lull recently but I sense the collective have two particular players in their sites and are homing in. The two, who I am sure you have already worked out, are Gervinho for his frustratingly erratic style of play and rather more surprisingly to me Santos.

There were so many comments backing up this theory yesterday, fearing the presence of Santos at left back on Saturday, some clung to the hope that Gibbs might return only giving up when it was officially announced on Arsenal.com that he will definitely miss the game. After that people split up into smaller groups, some suggesting Sagna on the left with Jenkinson on the right, others suggesting Vermaelen at LB, others Koscielny and even a few putting forward the case for Jenkinson at LB.

What has brought on this fear of Santos that some would prefer to play right footed players in the left back position? Some accuse the Brazilian of being guilty of playing Holt onside enabling him to score and cause our embarrassing defeat against Norwich. Some accuse him of being culpable for the Schalke’s first and many around me at the Emirates screamed with anger as Macke for QPR with only five minutes to go came down the left at speed cut inside of Santos and created a one on one with Mannone who fortunately not only saved the shot but saved the three points.

Well, I don’t agree with any of those accusations, I don’t agree with the first because Santos was not guilty of spilling the ball from the twenty yard shot as much as he wasn’t guilty of losing possession which enabled that long range shot to happen in the first place. Schalke’s first goal came through the middle which had nothing to do with Santos and lastly if you look again how Mackie was able to cut inside you will notice that Santos had rightly stayed with the his man further out on our left.

I don’t quite understand how this player, who is obviously getting back to speed with the pace of the EPL, has even been nominated for scapegoat status. My closest guess is that English people are not used to his style; I’m English so I can say that, we all love Jenkinson for running everything down in that “oh so Brit way” but Santos is a bit cooler; a bit more Brazilian; he doesn’t run if he can walk, why should he?

Santos has not been guilty of any mistakes that have led to goals. I am amazed that people cannot remember how we all felt about him before he got injured in the CL — we were falling over ourselves to praise him. He was and he remains a very good player, that said I think it is fair now to say that he now has had enough time to get himself up to speed, this excuse will not be valid on Saturday, he should rightly be judged on that performance.

In the words of the great British sailor Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson: “Arsenal Expects” Come on Andre don’t let me down.

Written by London

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125 Responses to Santos Charged With Dangerously Driving Forward

  1. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    Well said LB, a sterling defence indeed.

    However…I have to admit that I too am worried about Santos tomorrow. I know he’s got it in him to play very well…but based on his recent performances I’m praying that he plays better tomorrow.

    I agree that no single player should be blamed for the goals you and chances you mention but aside from that he was awful.

    He certainly hasn’t been helped out much by Podolski..who reallly should have been helping his team mate when he was struggling. We haven’t seen much of Podo back fighting for possession down by our corner flag lately. It really was a feature of his first few performances in an Arsenal shirt. Is Podo in need of a rest..??

    They’ll really need to support each other properly tomorrow..in both directions

  2. First he’s London then he’s LB and now it back to London, my god you are as bad as me.
    Great post LB
    I’ve given him stick and lots of it, so guilty as charged.
    He’s fat, out of shape, and not up to the pace of a starting berth. Well he was V Norwich anyway, he was marginally better against Schalke. Who knows there may be some more improvement against Utd.
    Knowing he’d struggle (Wenger must of), why was he given license to get up field as much, that was his main problem, being caught out of position. Ok our offense might suffer as a consequence, but i’d rather we shored up the defence first and concentrate the efforts down the right side.
    I hope on Saturday, Santos & TV are chained to our half of the pitch.

  3. GoonerB says:

    LB, What an excellent and thought provoking post and one which I think will create much debate today. I too was guilty yesterday of wanting a different option at LFB for tomorrow. I do think that most AA readers are more reasoned in their analysis and I would describe them as more expressing concerns on areas or players that may expose a weak underbelly. I think you are correct though that with many Arsenal fans (maybe more on other blogs) the word “scapegoat” is accurate.

    I think you could add Gervinho and to some extent Ramsey to the list of potential scapegoats. For me I prefer to look at where I feel they are in their current and future role with Arsenal. They can have different strengths and deficiencies, and in some cases it is maybe that they are still developing, and it will be 2-3 years before they look a regular 1st team player.

    In short Gervinho for me is more an impact sub in the attacking wing forward position. I don’t believe he is quite good enough, and maybe never will be, to be a 1st 11 starter in the bigger games if everyone is fit. Ramsey is a defensive midfielder for me and not a winger. He lacks a bit of pace that sees him exposed at times but also has many strengths to his game. Interestingly I would not say that Arteta is any quicker, and their games have similarities, but he is a more matured player whose strengths hide the slight lack of pace. I have said it before but for me Ramsey should be considered as Arteta’s understudy to take over the role in 2 seasons when Arteta gets to that age where his game starts to slightly decline. If Ramsey hasn’t improved in 2 years and can’t take over the role effectively then we can look at alternatives. Santos is interesting. Now I believe I heard that the Brazil coach said that he is not a full-back, and should not really be played as such, but is a wing back player. I also believe, but will stand corrected if wrong, that he came from a Fernebache side that was playing 3-5-2, so if we could play a system that keeps him slightly higher up the pitch we may not be talking about him in a more negative context. For me with all these 3 players they potentially have roles to play in our squad. I think what causes more problems is when they are over-promoted into the 1st 11 before potentially better options, but even more so when we are either playing a system or asking players to play positions that don’t maximise their strengths and more highlight their weaknesses. Systems is something I am sure Micky, GIE and others will debate on when they post.

    In view of the Utd game tomorrow. I feel Utd have a great attacking strength from the right flank. Many of their goals seem to come from balls in from that area for the strikers and attacking midfielders to run onto. Tactically it would be an area where I would want to cut out or minimise their threat. As I believe AW will start with a flat back 4 I would still stand by my assessment that someone like TV will more minimise their threat down this flank than Santos would. That is not to say I dislike Santos or can’t appreciate what he can bring to certain games. Games against the bigger and better teams are like a chess game where I believe tactics are more important than against lesser teams. I believe you have to decide where in your line up you will set up more for containment and where to try and attack more. Tomorrow I would be asking TV and Podolski to primarily focus on containing Utd’s right flank and offer some attacking input when they are able. I would look to try and cause them problems down their left flank with Sagna and Walcott teaming up. Then we can watch Jack, Arteta and Santi control the midfield and Giroud and Walcott bagging 2 a piece and it is 3 points in the bag. Easy!!

  4. richie says:

    @Kelsey from last post; Memory is a strange creature in this case it’s failed you on 2 accounts. First the MacDo’s you’re talking about wasn’t in the Holloway Rd, neither was Burtons. They were however both in Seven Sisters Rd, just around the corner from the Nag Head. The first Macdo’s in London was in Haymarket Piccadilly.
    I sound like a bloody MacDo expert even though you wouldn’t catch me dead eating in one! My eldest still thanks me for how I (expertly) weaned her away from the horrors of becoming a fast food junky. 30 odd years ago, just as today, all the kids wanted to go to MacDo’s. So once a week usually Saturdays before the match I would ask to my daughter were do you want to go to get something to eat? MacDo’s every time!

    I hated going anywhere near the place because the smell of the old oil was enough to make me wanna heave, but kids are easy prey to the lights, the colours, the packaging, and the little toys that the Bastards bribe them with. So I’d take her but I wouldn’t touch the stuff, which she couldn’t understand. I hit upon a cunning plan before I took her to MacDo’s I’d stop off at a little Turkish Restaurant and get myself a take away, which I’d take and eat with her while she ate her burger and chips.

    I purchased several dips which had the bread to go with and a feta cheese salad also chopped, important because it’s easy for kids to eat, and a chopped sausage dish that is cooked in tomato onions and garlic. I laid them all out “Meze style” opposite her and started dipping bread into the various dips. Eventually she asked to taste one, then the next, until she’d had a go at everything including the spicy garlic tomato sausage.

    The following week when I asked her where she wanted to go to eat she said could we go to the place where we got the dips. She’s never looked back, and I didn’t have to suffer twice.1st I didn’t have to smell their rubbish, and I didn’t have to pay for shit!

  5. GoonerB says:

    You see Richie, it is all about tactics and systems. The way you tactically handled your take away food issue was bordering on the genius.

  6. kelsey says:

    Thanks for the post LB.

    Personally I have never targeted players who have a bad game and certainly not boo them . We have a tradition of being an attacking team and Santos being Brazilian has that as second nature. Many are frustrated with him as he does seem to get caught out on the counter attack,but he isn’t the only one, and one also has to consider that we haven’t had a settled back four for a while and they haven’t developed a telepathic understanding between them as yet.
    I still think he could be a bit slimmer :)

    Having said all that SAF will for sure test his resolve (if he of course plays) ;)

  7. kelsey says:

    richie,

    you are right I am just too old but on the other hand I haven’t been to England for 12 years and Highbury for 32 years.
    I do remember Haymarket as being the first in the west End .

  8. kelsey says:

    richie, you remind me of my wife :) work that one out.

  9. Gooner In Exile says:

    LB an interesting post. Are we making him a scapegoat? Or are we just being over critical.

    Surely the most scapegoated player is Ramsey, it has now become a running joke on twitter, “I’m pissed off at the performance and I can’t even blame Ramsey” kind of thing.

    Whilst Santos didn’t directly contribute to goals against, although he was slow out against Norwich and Schalke, and that is one job of a defender no matter where the ball is. What do you think would have happened inthe days of Winterburn, Dixon, Bould and Adams if Lee or Nigel had walked out lazily leaving TA and SB out of position, I think we can safely assume TA would have put a boot up their arse.

    It actually wasn’t the defensive element of Santos game I worry about, I think he is a very good one on one tackler and reads the game well to intercept. If he misses that interception he will struggle to regain position.

    But the biggest issue in the Norwich game was how he was going forward, I have no problem with him providing width up to their 18 yd box and cutting in from there, but too many times did he go inside Podolski too far up the pitch, the wide midfielder could pass him on which then meant Arteta spent too much time covering the easy outlet and not picking up the pieces in the middle as we have become accustomed.

    This is a small adjustment needed the wider he stays the more he will force the opposition wide player back, think Barca think Cole at Chelsea, think pretty much any attacking wing back. This is where as you say his Brazilianess comes into focus….it’s fine in a team of 10 other Brazilians, who expect and adjust for it, with a disciplined German in front I’m not so sure.

    We have a shape and for the system to work the shape has to be retained, it’s why I get on Vermaelens case when he goes bombing forward for little or no reason with a well set defence in banks of 4, it’s fine when you’re breaking from a corner.

    All that said I’d much rather a natural leftie at left back on Saturday, right footers will come inside and upset our system and tackling across wingers with the right foot leading will result in a lot of unneccessary and unwanted free kicks around our box. Also there is no way we can play Kos at CB after 120 minutes on Tuesday, so TV at left back is not an option.

    Personally I really hope for probably the first time we give United something different to think about and we try to change our formation, perhaps 4-4-2 or perhaps 4-3-1-2 but whatever we decide left back should be Santos.

    As for Gervinho I think it’s too easy for fans to criticise without seeing what his movement creates, and he is fast becoming Gooner Enemy No 1. he will always scare defences they don’t want to tackle for fear of free kicks and will more often than not double up, this should (if teammates are close) give him spare men to pick…question is can he find them.

  10. evonne says:

    jonathan – he was ‘Lee’ yesterday :)

    London – great post and interesting topic. I don’t blame Santos for goals conceded, but for lack of discipline. I like players to hold their position and especially defenders ought to be solid. How can the team rely on their defender when he randomly decides to play a forward??

    It’s great when a defender is capable of scoring, but preferably from set pieces.

    I find Santos unpredictable and although he is undoubtedly talented, he makes me nervous.

    Thanks for the post

  11. GoonerB says:

    GIE, I have seen you mention before about Santos cutting inside Podolski. It is an interesting analysis. Do you think a 3-4-3 set up would remove this as a problem so that even if he does cut inside it doesn’t unbalance us so much?

  12. Gooner In Exile says:

    GoonerB, perhaps it would, I’m not sure Wenger will play 3 CBs especially considering the grief Mr Mancini has had recently for doing so, but if we were trying to put our best players on the pitch a 3-4-3, or even as I think I said the other week a 3-4-1-2 could also get a lot of our quality on the pitch.

    But we all know Wenger is not for changing.

    I often repeat something Lee Dixon said after his playing days, another expro said during a 5Live discussion that they believed Arsenals system was that only DB10 was allowed to face away from goal and play the ball away from goal, everyone else had to bomb forward. Dixon replied that it wasn’t anything that complicated they were just told to play without fear. So from that point you are relying on the players on the pitch to do the right things in any situation. Be that bombing forward, playing a simple pass, trying a chip pass or a flick because its the only way to keep going forward etc. but doing that without fear of a bollocking for it going wrong probably means you get it right more often.

    I am not sure in recent seasons we have had the players that “know” when it’s right and when it’s wrong to try something risky on this idea of playing without fear.

  13. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Thanks LB

    Lets face it, cutting out all this tactical talk, Gibbs and Jenks run forward, but unfortunitely Santos has a fat arse.
    .
    When things are going wrong and you see him huff and puff and get exposed positonaly because he hasnt got the energy to drag his fat butt to the right place no one can tell me that they dont get pissed off.

    He has many qualities to his game. Highly skilful, and when the ball is around him, he always seems to win it, and with that cheeky grin seems very likeable. However, i prefer my fullbacks not to have the need to ask the question “does my bum look big in this”?

  14. GoonerB says:

    TMHT, you just got a little chuckle out of me. Your sense of humour seems to appeal to me (or were you being completely serious). I thought I noticed a wicked mischievous glint in your eye when I saw you at the Tavern at QPR. I wish I had taken and had more time to chat with you. Maybe next time. Anyway of for a bit now.

  15. richie says:

    I’m with GoonerB it is a great thought provoker. Especially the idea of us Gooners looking for a scapegoat angle. However I do have some caveats to add, especially on the Santos angle. First I’m not a Santos hater and I’m not on his back about him being such an attacking full back. I know from both his Brazilian and Fenebache exploits that he isn’t a typical British style full back anyway. He is exactly as GB describes him a wing back, now that’s not a term many people in England are familiar with. It is well known both in Brazil and Holland two country’s I submit known for their love of the total football concept. I think it would be advantageous if we could play Santos as a wing back, because it’s his best position, but that means that we’d have to change our formation. Now I’d like to see us play in this formation as I’ve stated on AA previously, because its an extremely attack minded formation that I think would suit the current squad personnel.

    However until Arsene decides to make that change we are playing 4 3 3 and there’s the rub. Andre Santos can’t decide to play as a wing back when we as a team are not playing with wing backs! Which means he can’t leave the sort of space behind that a 737 can land in? More to the point if he was playing as a wing back he wouldn’t have been playing Holt onside for Norwich’s goal. He can’t have it both ways! He’s a wing back when he goes walk about, but a full back who isn’t keeping the back line when he isn’t wandering. I’m one of those who is gonna be mightily concerned about his positional discipline come Saturday. I know he’s coming back from injury and I’ve been willing to cut him some slack because of that, but as you say Arsenal now expects.

  16. richie says:

    @ Kelsey Yeah I know what you mean the oracle, she who remembers everything, or she who knows best, or she who isn’t wrong. As I say about her indoors.

  17. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    No worries GoonerB, will buy you a drink next time your in the Tavern.

    i was been serious. Santos has a fat Arse, theres no getting around it (thats not meant to be funny either because unfortunitly opponents do get around it)

    Modern footballers are athletes and hence tend to look like athletes. Santos looks like hes just got up from a saturday night out and been to the cafe having a full english to dampen the hangover.

    I dont want to be too harsh on the guy, he does some great things on the pitch, but physicaly he just dosnt look up to it.

  18. richie says:

    @Kelsey Haymarket was the 1st in the country. MacDo’s are franchised, but that one was MacDo’s corporation, it was the flag ship to open up their franchising business in England. I think the Seven Sisters Rd branch was the 2nd branch opened therefore the first franchise.

  19. 26may1989 says:

    Bloody love that post, LB. But there are two different points in there:

    1. “Are Arsenal supporters ever really happy without a scapegoat?” Abso-bloody-lutely, I am sick and tired of the way this habit has built up in the last five or six years (yes, I know it’s happened in the past, but it’s way worse now): our fans constantly want to pick on one or two players, recycling whatever garbage they pick up from Chris Waddle, Tony Cascarino, Stewart Robson or Alan Hansen as ammunition to bang on about our own players. Drives me nuts.

    2. But (and I appreciate the contradiction you might see) Santos is a mixed bag of a player. I wouldn’t dream of blaming our pretty lame defeats vs Norwich and Schalke on one player, but he didn’t play well. As I’ve said before, I find him a strange one: superb in one-on-ones and superb in contested headers, useful going forward, but terrible in positional discipline. And I don’t just mean when he gets marooned up front, there are times when he’s gone walkabout while defending, allowing a right winger acres of space in which to work. At one point vs QPR, Mannone (still a kid of a keeper) bawled him out for it. And it’s that positional dimension that brings risk into his game, for all of his quality in other aspects.

    I’m probably the one to blame for suggesting playing Sagna at LB tomorrow, with Jenks at RB, and I don’t seriously expect it to happen with Santos being available, but with Valencia or Nani supported by Rafael being on offer tomorrow, I am worried about what will happen on our left flank. To an extent, the angst about Santos stems from the progress that Gibbs has made – it’s not like we felt that secure with Gibbs last season, but he’s pushed on this season, and looks more reliable than an off-form Santos.

    I would never pick on one player, but if Santos does play tomorrow, he will need to be more disciplined than he has been in recent weeks.

  20. Mike says:

    Santos is fine. He ain’t the greatest, but there’s plenty worse. He might struggle a bit against Valencia, Rooney and Judas. But who wouldn’t. He ‘s solid, the best 1 on 1 tackler I’ve ever seen bar none and he’s a Gooner. What more could you ask?

  21. Big Raddy says:

    LB. Fine post. I am another who placed the blame for both Schalke’s goals at Santos’s feet. IMO he just wasn’t aware of where his CB’s were and thus played the scorer’s onside (as GIE said)

    But …. why shouldn’t we expect more from a player who has been in England for a season and had time to adapt? It’s not as if he was cheap at €8m.

    I guess like many players he needs an extended run in the first team to find his form but defensive cohesion is a basic skill and not one which requires fitness – jut eyesight.

    Of course, Santos starts tomorrow. It will be an interesting battle for him against Young or Valencia. As long as he doesn’t allow them the space to run past him we will be OK.

  22. LB says:

    Hi all

    I really think we will learn all will need to learn tomorrow about Santos, all the past excuses will be redundant; he is going to have to stand up and be counted or he will, probably deservedly, get the abuse some think he deserves.

  23. Big Raddy says:

    As to scapegoats, they are inevitable. I could write a long list – anyone remember Lee Chapman?

  24. Big Raddy says:

    LB. Love the title

  25. RockyLives says:

    Great Post LB
    I was thinking of writing something very similar myself – but I’m glad you got there first!

    Mike @1.13 says it all for me.

  26. @ Kelsey (and all)
    “Are we making him a scapegoat? Or are we just being over critical.”

    Neither. He’s simply not Arsenal standard; never will be.
    He is without question one of the worst full-backs I can remember ever at our club. He was bought at an ‘injury-crisis’ point early last season, the only other left back seemingly available at very short notice – transfer deadline days away, being Wayne Bridge, on a loan deal only.

    Against Man Utd, Koscielny, I think, will partner Mertesacker, with Vermaelen moved to left back.

  27. LB says:

    BR

    I can’t claim the title, that was by the King of Titles.

  28. MickyDidIt89 says:

    LB,
    You’re here, he’s not. Claim it.
    It is damn nearly as good as the post :-)

  29. MickyDidIt89 says:

    An obvious comment from me would be: “Santos is perfect for a 3-5-2″, but that would be getting boring.

  30. Red Arse says:

    That Post headline reads just like a Times cryptic crossword clue! :-)

    How about a title driving the Post like;
    “Theo up blind alley, consideration, mugs keeper?”

    No I don’t know what I mean either — bet Rasper, the crossword king, can tell us! :-)

  31. Mike M says:

    It was infuriating to hear commentators blame Santos when he was trying to defend against two or three opposing players. When he lost the duel, they failed to mention how overloaded his side was and how he was over-numbered. Podolski was not helping to track back and Santi was not fast enough to alleviate the threat. It made Arteta unbalanced because he had to shift a few meters from the center. Bould did nothing to rectify the situation. All this deficiencies was placed on Santos’s lap, and it made me realize how lacking in analysis commentators can be.

  32. GoonerB says:

    You know I have often agreed with you on the 3-5-2 Micky, and it is a system I would champion for the right game. I am not sure if this is that game. There will likely still be space behind Santos with this set-up that I think, if anyone can, Utd and Ferguson will target. They are dangerous from this area I feel more than most other areas of the pitch, and I think we would become heavily reliant on TV bombing out of his position to the left of Mertesacker to try and intercept the danger. The question would be can he do this effectively the whole game. I don’t think there is an easy solution to tomorrow and we will all have slightly differing opinions on it. It would probably be a game where I would prefer a back 4 but with the LFB being more solid defensively and even recruit Podolski to cover more defensively in this game. I think we can hurt them down their left flank if we play Walcott and Sagna and get them teaming up effectively. I think we have the better of them in central midfield and would look towards having good possession here and get Jack, Arteta and Santi pulling the strings and looking for those angled passes to Walcott and sagna behind their LFB. They have the greater goal threat for me in RVP and Rooney. It is difficult to control those 2 the whole game, but if we can cut out supply from their right we could starve them of a lot of the supply they rely on. Still, a tricky one.

  33. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Big Al,

    Splitting up Vermaelen and Mertesacker just as they are developing an understanding is a no no. Koscielny has been poor this season, can’t think why, but it’s sadly true. The only option, if Santos is not to play, is to put Sagna at left back.

    The right wing is a problem, the one player I do not want to see there is Ramsey, he is most definitely not a winger.

  34. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I hear you GoonerB.
    Two problems for me. To play Podolski as the man in front of Santos, you play him completely out of position. The other problem is that Sagna and Walcott are simply never in sync. Jenks and Theo is the better combo.
    We have to start with Art, Jack and Santi as you rightly say, which leaves me to believe that we may see Ramsey out on the left, which I think is plain horrible.
    I believe we have to score first to have a chance, as the moment Utd start to sit deeper and hit us on the counter, we are in trouble.

  35. GoonerB says:

    I agree Micky. If they get their noses in front and we have to chase the game I think they could pick us off on the counter. There doesn’t seem to be any easy solution. The thing is I feel we are actually stronger than them in some departments and weaker in others and have enough strength in our squad to get the 3 points if we get the tactics right on the day. The problem is that I think Fergie pays more attention to tactics in the bigger games than Wenger does. Will this see them have the edge over us?

  36. GoonerB says:

    Just a thought. Has any AA’er out there got any stats that indicate where Utd score their goals from. It would be interesting to see if the lions share is when the attack is initiated down the right. I can remember their first 2 against the Chavs last weekend coming from there and the third in the cup game I think was drilled in from the right also.

  37. MickyDidIt89 says:

    GoonerB,
    You’ve hit the nail on the head. AF is the better tactical manager, but tomorrow AW can change that :-)
    We definately have the players to do some damage, and they will naturally be “up for it”. Just a quetion of getting the right players on the pitch, at the right time, and in the right order.

  38. johnnie nyc says:

    london is LB? ok, great post LB! totally my style. fans really can be too hard on our boys at times. I was one who liked Santos before his injury last season. agreed about great tackling, really steals, because he stays on his feet (a little dangerous when close to our box)-maybe he needs to focus on staying back a bit more, try not to cut in so much to keep width.If Arsene cant get him to do it enough in his opinion, go with Sagna at lb for this week. he has played there. … overall LB, i think Santos is a good 2nd choice.

  39. @ Norfolk Gooner
    in reply to your “splitting up” comment, 4.48pm…
    …true, but Santos must NOT play.
    All Man Utd’s three goals vs Chelsea (Prem game) came from their right wing, and Ferguson will surely target our weakest link, Santos, down the very same wing. He’ll be a lamb to the slaughter.

    What I find interesting, and somewhat amusing, is the lack of support nowadays for Djourou, a player who was so hotly debated all last season. Where are his supporters now? I’ll be having this discussion re Santos in the future, I’m in no doubt of that. What I said about Djourou many times on many sites I am now applying to Santos. As far as I’m concerned it beggars belief anyone can give a positive opinion on either.

  40. @ Norfolk Gooner
    Sorry, forgot…
    in reply to your “The right wing is a problem” comment, 4.48pm…
    Walcott will almost certainly play there, after the Reading hattrick.
    I’ll be surprised, and annoyed, if he doesn’t.

  41. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Big Al,
    I have an horrible feeling Theo will be on the bench. Tired.
    AW will, wrongly in my view, see him coming on to do damage later in the game if needed.
    If needed, means us losing, which also means Utd shutting up shop thus rendering Theo next to useless with zero space to operate in.
    My hopes and aspirations rest heavily on the team sheet.

  42. LB says:

    I think many miss what exactly is going on with Ramsey; most people seem to assume that he has been playing right wing recently. I suggest different. At kick off you will see him right of the CF suggesting a 4.3.3 set up but if he plays there tomorrow, just wait and see how long that changes; manu will come at us hard and Rambo will drop back, the formation then will be 4.4.2 or even 4.5.1. If, as I hope, there are opportunities to take the game to manu then Rambo will make his way out to the right resuming a 4.3.3.
    In a nut shell, it is a very fluid formation, what we lose in attack by not playing Walcott there we gain in defence; because, as I have said before, Ramsey may not offer much in the way of defence but he does offer some and certainly more than Walcott.

  43. johnnie nyc says:

    interesting point about Rambo LB. i understand in some ways what Arsene is trying to do, to help possession and defence. But i just think we need another answer ———-
    because overall..i really only see Ramseys best when he comes on as a sub.. then his energy really makes a different impact. so i am always disappointed when i see him starting matches lately. but i always defended him against criticism last year, and when he starts, i really want to see him succeed, and prove me wrong.

  44. richie says:

    @MDI89 If all your hopes are resting on the team sheet you’ll be knackered by K.O. :-)

  45. LB says:

    johnnie

    I make the case above for what Wenger is doing with Ramsey now but it is obviously not ideal; the Ox seems far better suited to that role. So with the return of Wilshere making one less midfield place available I think Rambo’s days are numbered.

  46. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Richie ROLF
    LB,
    Fair point and you are right in what you say. It is just that our right sided attack becomes so blunt. Ox is a better bet imo.

  47. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ah snap LB.

  48. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Okedoke, that’s the right sorted :-)
    Now, Herr Podolski. Defensive duties to help out Sagna? From one of the most prolific scorers in the Bunderswhatnot? Can’t be right.

  49. evonne says:

    Pan Podolski to you Micky

    Guys, sorry to change the subject, but something is on my mind and I cannot think of anything else today – a small matter of a fixture ManU v Arsenal tomorrow. Do you think we stand ANY realistic chance of a draw?

  50. GoonerB says:

    LB, you make an interesting point about Rambo providing more defensive cover than Walcott on the right but I wonder if it is one of those situations where attack is the best form of defence. Obviously no-one can be certain but I can see a situation where the lack of pace and therefore threat that Ramsey gives on the right wing encourages both their left winger and full-back to push up. This could pin back both Sagna and Ramsey as they take the attacking initiative and we could end up sitting deep in siege type mentality. If Walcott is out there I don’t think they will be pushing too high up the pitch, at least where the full-back is concerned, so we may actually end up looking less threatened down that side if we play our more attacking players. I hope Ramsey’s days aren’t numbered but it is something I have thought about. As I mentioned before I would prefer to see him as an understudy to Arteta for the next 2 years and then see if he has made the grade.

  51. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Evonne, Evonne, Evonne…we can win….no doubt at all :-)

  52. johnnie nyc says:

    Evonne :-) i really believe we can win.. not just dreaming. look how well we have played against city and chelsea in the past couple seasons. and they are better than united ! we need to get past the psychological barrier with united… but it will be even harder to do that because of rvp factor.. we need to be mentally strong and play our game.

  53. kelsey says:

    Is the Ox in the squad ?

    Not sure if I should watch. I turned off at 3-0 down to Reading and the only other time I couldn’t watch the second half was a few years back when we were drawing with the spuds at half time and beat them was it 5-4 at WHL,. richie has fecked up my memory :)

  54. @ MickyDidIt89, 5.21pm

    I think you may well be right.
    I was surprised that Coquelin played in the Reading game. I thought Wenger would have kept him fresh for the Utd game, to help in a defensive role alongside Arteta.

    Wenger will be a brave man to rely solely on Arteta only.
    So, will Coquelin play? I think maybe, even though he may a tad tired.

    We’d all prefer Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla in the lineup, but if we don’t win the possession game, we won’t have the ball to play with.
    Perhaps, as suggested by others, Ramsey will play wide right.
    As regards work rate, that boy can do no wrong for me.

    Like you, my hopes and aspirations also rest heavily on the team sheet.

  55. Big Raddy says:

    LB. It is not O-C who will rain on Ramsey’s parade, it is Eisfeld. O-C will play a roving role behind the main striker.

    Shame because prior to the leg break Ramsey looked a fantastic prospect. He still is a fine player but will be overtaken by others – should he improve his defensive game he could take Arteta’s role.

  56. GoonerB says:

    Big Al I think it will be Wilshere all the way tomorrow over Coquelin. He may be more a pure defensive midfielder but Arteta and Wilshere are no slouches in getting stuck in but more importantly they will provide better control and possession and initiate more forward penetration from deeper midfield. If we control this area through these 2 Santi may also have more opportunity to take up an advanced position between their midfield and defence where he is most dangerous. Fergie often lines up with his dogs of war in CM against us to literally hunt us down and give us no time on the ball. There is no-one better than Wilshere in keeping possession and keeping us driving forwards against opposition that are running around like lunatics trying to close you down. I think getting that midfield area right could be one of the key areas between winning or losing tomorrow as I think it is one of the areas that we can boast greater strength in.

  57. evonne says:

    ok Mr DidIt and Johnnie, I believe you, many wouldn’t

    I listened to TalkShite radio earlier on and not one caller gave us any chance, ejeets of course

    What are the odds at PaddyPowers? checking….

  58. evonne says:

    nay, that Paddy Power is clearly an ejeet too

  59. johnnie nyc says:

    Raddy, i have wanted Ramsey to learn from Arteta because i see physical similarities, and hard work, so i think that could be his best chance in the future to take over eventually… i havent seen much by way of tackling ability, i wonder if its in him?

  60. kelsey says:

    When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip flops and fluorescent ‘spokey dokey’s’ on our wheels. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags – riding in the passenger seat was a treat. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same.

    We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing. We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one actually died from this. We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

    We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.

    We did not have Play stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet chat rooms. We had friends we went outside and found them.

    We played elastics and street rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt.

    We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones but there were no law suits. We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents.

    We played knock-and-run and were actually afraid of the owners catching us. We walked to friend’s homes. We also, believe it or not, WALKED to school; we didn’t rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was just round the corner.

    We made up games with sticks and tennis balls.

    We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood.

    The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law unheard of.

    They actually sided with the law.

    This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

    We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you’re one of them. Congratulations!

    Pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow as real kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives, for our own good. For those of you who aren’t old enough, thought you might like to read about us.

    This my friends, is surprisingly frightening……and it might put a smile on your face:

    The majority of students in universities today were born in 1983……..They are called youth.

    They have never heard of We are the World, We are the children, and the Uptown Girl they know is by Westlife not Billy Joel.

    They have never heard of Rick Astley, Bananarama, Nena or Belinda Carlisle.

    For them, there has always been only one Germany and one Vietnam. AIDS has existed since they were born.

    CD’s have existed since they were born.

    Michael Jackson has always been white.

    To them John Travolta has always been round in shape and they can’t imagine how this fat guy could be a god of dance.

    They believe that Charlie’s Angels and Mission Impossible are Films from last year.

    They can never imagine life before computers.

    They’ll never have pretended to be the A Team, RedHand Gang or the Famous Five.

    They’ll never have applied to be on Jim’ll Fix It or Why Don’t You.

    They can’t believe a black and white television ever existed and don’t even know how to switch on a TV without a remote control.

    And they will never understand how we could leave the house without a mobile phone. Now let’s check if we’re getting old…

    1. You understand what was written above and you smile.
    2. You need to sleep more, usually until the afternoon, after night out.
    3. Your friends are getting married/already married.
    4. You are always surprised to see small children playing comfortably with computers.
    5. When you see teenagers with mobile phones, you shake your head.
    6.You remember watching Dirty Den in EastEnders the first time around.
    7.You meet your friends from time to time, talking about the good old days, repeating again all the funny you have experienced together.
    8. Having read this mail, you are thinking of forwarding it to some other friends because you think they will like it too…

    Yes, you’re getting older!!!!

    How life has changed

  61. johnnie nyc says:

    I look at the matchup this way- i prefer our midfielders, i prefer our back four… we just need some inspired play up front to make those other areas pay off.

  62. Adrian says:

    Jenks and Walcott have better a better understanding compared to Walcott and Sagna? Surely that must have been a typo, I was under the impression that most fans agreed that the Sagna and Walcott combo was one of the more effective pairings in the team throughout last season before Sagna’s injury. Jenks may have improved by leaps and bounds but I think Sagna’s reading of the game and link up with the winger in front is still better than his.

    As for Ramsey being played in the RW spot to bring more defensive solidity to the squad, it can be a double edged sword and can hurt us. When we lose the ball in high tempo games which incidentally M.U like to play when playing against us, Ramsey dropping deep to cover will encourage their opposing fullbacks to push up forward and team up with the wingers which makes it even harder defend esp against teams like M.U who are heavily reliant on wingers. When Ramsey drops a bit too deep, the midfield gets way too crowded too and passes start going astray. When we do get the ball back, we will not be able to counter attack effectively too due to Ramsey’s deeper positioning and obvious lack of pase compared to Walcott/The ox. Ramsey’s crossing is nit his strongest ability too. Therefore i’ll be a little pissed if Walcott isn’t played down the right flank considering his confidence and form is at an all time high.

    Man Utd will definitely try to exploit the our left flank, I fear Santos may be in for a tough game. If only gibbs was fit.. I would be much more optimistic about the game tomorrow. One thing that I am already looking forward to though is the midield partnership of Arteta/Cazorla/Wilshere. And maybe throw in frimpong in the dying minutes if we need someone to rough up RVP. :)

    Cmon you gunners, lets not give that RVP any chance to rub it in our faces.

  63. Adrian says:

    Btw sorry for the couple of typos, typing on my phone is a pain indeed.

  64. kelsey says:

    I think most are agreed that we have a very tough fixture tomorrow, a biased ref, fergie time and santos will be targeted.

  65. MickyDidIt89 says:

    But Kelsey, these days we are at our peak in Fergie Time

  66. @ GoonerB, at 6.57pm

    Good analysis… what you suggested is fine by me, as long as we gain enough possession, and don’t end up chasing shadows.
    But my BIG concern is the back four, Santos particularly.

    It seems tomorrow’s team sheet is causing more interest and concern than usual.

    I’m off to bed, it’s 2.40am here.

  67. Rasp says:

    Evening all,

    Apologies for my very late arrival and thanks to LB for another searching article. I’m on the fence on this one, I like his Brazilian-ness going forward just wish he could be more Italian in his defending.

    LB if you’re still around – were you as surprised as me that AW came out and said that Theo’s future was through the middle and he’d always thought that way? …. smells of a negotiating ploy to me

  68. LB says:

    Hi Rasp

    I haven’t seen that, I must admit it does smell a bit fishy, I mean how many times has Wenger played Walcott through the middle in the last two seasons………….nil.

  69. LB says:

    GB

    I think the Walcott or Ramsey question as to who should play there tomorrow, defence verses attack is six of one and half a dozen of the other.

    I am not sure who I would prefer, I just wanted to add a different view as to why Wenger may pick Ramsey in the first place.

  70. Big Raddy says:

    Adrian. Great stuff.

  71. glic says:

    Thanks LB
    I just dont rate Santos, he will be targeted ( you can bet Clunge van Paedo has had a word in the sweaty socks ear ).
    Still not convinced with the Pod, he works hard enough and is as strong as an Oxlade, but he`s as much of a winger as Ramsey is !.
    Shame it looks like Ox is out, as I would have liked two fast tricky wingers keeping their defence busy and stretched, but I bet we have Pod and Ramsey instead and try and play a containing game, which will fail with no pace to counter !. We`re doomed ! hahaha
    It`s a funny old game though, you never know !.

  72. glic says:

    Is it just me ? , with reff; to Theo, but what top club will play him through the middle ?. His hero TH14 played coming in off the left and he can do the same. Just sign !.

  73. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    LB, i am with you about Ramsey. When playing the top sides (not Norwich at home) i like Ramsey on the right. His workrate is tremondous and he comes infield meaning we keep the ball better. i bet if we look at the stats we will see that when he plays wide we dominate the ball. To beat utd we must keep the ball.

    Its horses for courses.

  74. Rasp says:

    LB, this is the exact quote from AW…..

    “I always said it is important that he plays in the correct position and that certainly would be through the middle in the future.

    “The positions on the flanks are changing – you need to do a lot of defending. He should be dedicated more to offensive work.

    “I have always come out publicly and said that I see him in the future through the middle as well. He loves to score goals. He has good pace, [makes] excellent, intelligent runs, and what has changed with Theo is he has [become] a very good finisher.”

  75. Gooner In Exile says:

    I dread to look at Untold Arsenals ref watch analysis, bloody Mike Dean!!

  76. Gooner In Exile says:

    GLIC it’s not just you.

  77. Big Raddy says:

    It is just him…..

  78. glic says:

    And my mirror !

  79. richie says:

    @Kelsey now come on your memory’s going again! We did knock and we definitely ran, but it wasn’t called knock and run, everybody knew it as “knock down ginger” these things are important (for Dennis’s sake) its important you remember the details, just ask your wife. :)

  80. richie says:

    @Adrian I don’t know about you but I’ve never bothered listening to a Ladyboy before. Not a Ladyman either! I’ve never been interested in what they think! Their opinions are weird and best kept to themselves.

  81. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning Kelsey :-)

  82. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    richie ‘12.09.sorry I haven’t got a clue what you are talking about.

    Rasp @ 5.13. I don’t see the point of Wenger’s quote re Theo as he doesn’t practice what he preqaches. I would wager AW knows already if Theo stays or not.

    So we are without Szsney,Gibbs,Gervinho and The OX ( can’t count Diaby and Rosicky)

    I am not sure if this is the right game for Kos. He is a bit gung ho at times and isn’t playing as well as last season when he was one of our most improved players.

    I know there is a lot of shite written in the media but maybe Bould and Wenger don’t actually see eye to eye at the moment.I think whoever would be No:2 AW would still do everything his way and won’t listen to anyone else.

    United don’t lose many games at home yet they are conceding more than usual.Only two clean sheet so far this season so I feel we can score but they are the masters of coming from behind to win games.

    If we were to get any result the team must come out firing on all cylinders and not let United dictate the game. history is against us,but if at least we give a good performance i will be happy

  83. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Well, I am happier. Thought I was missing the whole match as friends coming for lunch. Mrs DidIt got back last night with the devastating news that friends will not be able to get here until two.
    I watch the first half :-)

  84. kelsey says:

    I was waiting for yoy micky, been up since 4.00 a.m. your time :)

  85. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Most teams have a set way of playing. With the players at Arsene’s disposal there are so many variations available today. How we approach the game tactically will be critical.
    Interesting point about AW and SB. I would say that AW is a control freak, although, what great leader isn’t?

  86. MickyDidIt89 says:

    What, needed a wee did we? :-)

  87. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Kelsey,
    Once you have walked the dogs and had breakfast, would you be kind enough to pop down to the Police Station and bail out Chas and Ant. Thank you so much.

  88. kelsey says:

    It is pissing doiwn here.the wife is the dog walker thank you very much.

    No not a wee just two of the dogs decidedd that we were sleeping in their bed and snuggled up to my wife and i got the emission fom the rear end.boxers are notorious for that,

  89. oz gunner says:

    Morning one and all.
    Micky you are too kind accommodating people in your home for such a big fixture.

    “what love you need some ice? be back in a jiff. Sorry wifey the cars broken down, but a couple of hours until I get back. Im sorry”

    and didit walks into a pub playing the game. Some gum on the way home, bit of grease on your cheek and everyone’s a winner!

  90. MickyDidIt89 says:

    You are a wise man Oz, no doubt.
    I did approve the invitation, but this was at a time when for some reason I thought it was a sunday game!

  91. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Incredible though this sounds, I’ve just done some research.
    Against City, AW went with Pod, Gerv and Ramsey with Theo on the bench.
    This was, of course, before Chamakh came into form :-)

  92. evonne says:

    you are such a space cadet DidIt, not the first time you got the important dates wrong.

    http://www.arsenal.com/fixtures/fixtures-reports

    Leave Chas and Ant in jail, we don’t know if them being abroad is a lucky omen for us

  93. evonne says:

    I’d have OG and pan Podolski starting, with Gerv and Cham as power subs. Actually, put all 4 of them from the start. Let’s face it, we are probably looking at 1 point today, so we might as well go with all the guns blazing. And Frimpong to take care of the dutch thing

  94. oz gunner says:

    Just keep 19th and 25th of May free. Two important days in Arsenal’s history

  95. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Evonne,
    Odd one is Didit. Work half of his life is unbelievably organized, disciplined and structured, the other half is an absolute bloody shambles.

  96. evonne says:

    Oz – oh yeah, 25th May is the D-Day. You could ask London Lee to buy you the ticket to UK that he promised

  97. evonne says:

    don’t worry, I have split personality too :)

  98. evonne says:

    Kelsey – do not get a staffie, they will outfart any dog. Why did you sleep in dogs’ bed??

  99. oz gunner says:

    Gerv out for 3 evonne. Walcott and Cham as the subs will do nicely…actually it’ll be jenks, kozzer, and coquelin coming on to protect the lead!

  100. oz gunner says:

    Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder Evonne, I forgot about that. With any luck yours truly will be heading to the match in Indonesia next season. In a sea of short Indonesians you’ll see one ultra white guy pinching himself

  101. evonne says:

    but Frimpong is strong and heavy, and in any collision he would come off unscathed, whereas the other party might suffer a tad

  102. evonne says:

    London is buying you a ticket to Indonesia?? why, has he lost another bet?

  103. Gooner In Exile says:

    Morning all glad to see everyone is on fine prematch fettle.

    Adrian for the record as well as having an amusing surname Ian Ladyman is the Mail’s North West correspondent, unlike Wenger Fergie likes to regularly ban journalists from press conferences and Ladyman has been no exception and so favourable articles unsurprisingly get written as platitudes for being allowed back in.

    Only the TV pundits have rights to attend everyone else is there by privilege.

  104. Big Raddy says:

    I feel confident about the team BR picked today.

    Dogs on beds is disgusting and I say that as a dog-lover. Dogs enjoy and need discipline but it would appear as though things have gone awry in Kelsey’s household :-)

  105. Big Raddy says:

    The Murdoch press have always favoured United- they even tried to buy them

  106. VCC says:

    Morning all.

    Our passing game must be spot on today, keep possession and don’t give it away too easily.

    Would like to see Giroud play up front today, I think he could cause problems for Ferdinand and Evans.

    Can’t wait to see the team sheet. Will be an interesting one.

  107. oz gunner says:

    That is very true. There’s a few in that team that i’d like to see frimpong collide into.
    haha nah I go to Bali a lot with the Mrs and i’ll be there for 3 weeks next year so hopefully it falls between then. If not I guess we’re going back.
    I’m looking forward to giving Arsene Micky and my resume. You can never have enough scouts. Play your cards right Evonne and I’ll ask if he can fit you in too. Although Arsene probably already has a woman for cleaning, dishes and cooking! haha

  108. oz gunner says:

    can’t disagree with any of that VCC.

    I feel it’ll be stock standard (same as last week). Arsene’s pull rabbits out of his hat in recents seasons against Manu e.g Coquelin last season, Song as CB, Szczesny in goal, and Ramsey starting, but not this time

  109. Big Raddy says:

    OZ. :-D Just as well you are half the world away from evonne…

  110. VCC says:

    BR 8:13……most press favour United, in fact most of the media favour them, along with referees as well.

  111. oz gunner says:

    haha BR trust me if and when I meet Evonne I’ll have my running sneakers on just in case.

  112. Gooner In Exile says:

    Also there is still subtle mind games going on within his quotes:

    “They are physically stronger” = note to Mike Dean, don’t give soft free kicks these boys can handle it, and they can dish it out too

  113. Big Raddy says:

    VCC. I would never say this in public but …. I have huge respect for MU as a club. From Best and Charlton through to Cantona they have always entertained. MU have never parked the bus in my memory and deserve credit for it.

  114. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. Dean is already a Manc, he doesn’t need a prompt

  115. evonne says:

    Oz – you are a typical sexist Aussie. I watch footy darling, while an almost ex cooks my dinner :)

    Dean is bad, but it could be worse, think Webb or Clattenburg

  116. VCC says:

    BR…..not disputing they have been a very successful club, but they get much more rubs of the green than any other club…….

  117. oz gunner says:

    exactly. 9 penalities vs United in the Wenger era. & of those for united and all at Old Trafford

  118. Big Raddy says:

    VCC / Oz. I saw that stat. Remarkable.

    Is it luck? You will enjoy my post.

  119. oz gunner says:

    Too convenient BR, I’ll take bias.

    As always BR, I hope you enjoy mine also

  120. kelsey says:

    Arsenal Gentleman ‏@ArsenalGent

    Ah! Fond memories of this fixture last season. The only time we have scored more than once away against United in the Premier League.

  121. kelsey says:

    kelsey ‏@robinsbigtoe

    I hope the best thing today is not our fantastic away support

  122. Morning all

    New Post ………………….

  123. richie says:

    It could be worse think Manc M Riley! Thankfuly retired although with a very healthy pension which unlike most people he doesn’t have to go to the post office to collect, he just grabs another brown envelope from under his bed.

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