Twist or Stick? Is Mr Wenger a Gambling Man?

Crunch time and given the group who would have thought we would be a neck in front with the finishing line in sight? It took ages to work out the permutations after the Marseilles game but now we know – lose by less than 3 goals and we are through.

But ….. we also know the pitfalls of finishing second in a group. A draw or win will result in our avoiding some difficult ties.

I stated during the summer that finishing 4th was fine and dandy for the balance sheet but as we had no chance of winning Big Ears, it would be better to have a tough group and go out early. My reasoning being that less games would allow us to have more “puff” come season’s end. Well, I now think my opinion is a pile of doodlysquat, we can and probably will win the thing.

It would be expecting too much for a repeat of the first 25 minutes at The Emirates – Napoli were doomed from the first kick and we could afford to cruise through the second half. If we score early the tie is over although Napoli can still go through if they win. Is this the best scenario? It would dispose of a brilliant Dortmund team who could prove a difficult hurdle later in the tournament.

ar v na

Napoli are without Hamsik but have quality throughout their team. Any team with Inler, Pandev, Higuian and ex-Real Madrid star Callejon is a threat.

Benitez is back tinkering which is causing ructions amongst the Napoli fans. He has played 14 different line-ups in their first 15  Serie A games! Napoli were booed off the pitch at the weekend after squandering a 2 goal lead at home to Udinese but perhaps their minds were focussed upon tonight. They also lost their previous home game against Parma.

Arsenal:  It will be of huge interest to see how Mr Wenger sets up the team tonight. Twist or stick? Attack, or defend and play on the counter? My preference is for 5 minutes of all out attack followed by containment through the first half and the first 20 minutes of the second, then stick it to the Neapolitans for outbidding us on Higuian.

The midfield axis of Flamster and Arteta must start as should Theo, though Mr Wenger has shown a reluctance to start our speedster – perhaps he is not 100% yet.

My Team:

n v a

Ramsey needs a break, his performance on Sunday was poor compared to his early season work and could be rested ahead of the MC game. Same with Wilshere, and as such I would be tempted to bench them both. TR or Cazorla? Santi is not back to his best and Tomas is the better defender so I would go with him but either will do an excellent job.

Should we rest Özil whom I thought he was excellent vs Everton? He is accustomed to a winter break and has played almost every game since his signing but if we are to get a result tonight his presence is essential. Mr Wenger has been playing him primarily on the right and if Theo starts Mesut can influence play in a different way. I can’t wait for their understanding to develop but then I think the same of Ozil and Cazorla – it hasn’t happened yet but we know it will.

So …. can we get a result tonight? Will the referee be biased in a town renowned for it’s – how shall I put it without causing offence – “perversity”. Huge money has been thrown into this Napoli side and they are a fine team who are desperate to show their mettle. They have beaten Dortmund at home, which we failed to do, and are playing in front of their very vocal fans. It will be tough but I think we have enough.

written by Big Raddy

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220 Responses to Twist or Stick? Is Mr Wenger a Gambling Man?

  1. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Perfect line up Raddy.
    Solid and effective side.
    Now to read.

  2. arnie says:

    Micky, 0-0 on Saturday. :razz:

    Raddy: Theo and Rosicky starting, no complaints about that. Lovely lineup. Have only a few minutes to read, quick quick quick.

  3. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Top notch read, Raddy, thanks.

    I think Santi will only fully regain his brilliant form of last season when he returns to a more central role, so if he started there in place of Mozart, I’d be very happy.

    Love your Arteta/Flamini axix, and the inclusion of Theo. If the speedster is fully fit, then I’d definitely like him to start, as opposed to coming on later, as we need Napoli to have to watch his speed right from the off.

    An early goal from us, and it’s all over red rover.

  4. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Arnie,
    End of yesterday I responded to you, thus:

    Morning Arnie
    If offered right now, I’d take a 1-0 tonight and a damage limiting 0-1 on Saturday. We will lose the odd league game. So damage limitation is fine by me. We’ll then do City at our gaff and secure the title

  5. JanMan says:

    Nice post BR. I think it will be a 1-1 draw tonight. Agree with the line up but I do ask myself if Vermaelen would be worth a run out instead of Jenkinson? Personally I believe Jenks is a bit of a liability going forward and sometimes seems to forget his defensive responsibilities. Maybe the cool head and defensive experience of Vermaelen would be worth a try in a game like this. I realize Vermaelen favors his left foot but I think he can play either fullback position.

  6. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Hi JanMan

    Worth remembering that by the time Jenks has left the right flank exposed resulting in their only goal, he will have pinged across the perfect ball for Ollie to head home.

    We draw. Top of Two Leagues :-)

  7. arnie says:

    Raddy: great pre-match. Love this 5:65:20 strategy. What an idea!!! :D :D Rosicky the better defender and attacker for me at the moment. :D :D On with teh show!!!!

    Off now!!!!

  8. JanMan says:

    Hello Micky, Now that is a very good point :-)

  9. arnie says:

    Micky: I saw your response. And my response is above. 0-0 on Saturday. :razz:

  10. Manthan says:

    BR, Very good Prematch report as always How about this line up

    ——————-SCEZ—————-
    Jenks—–BFG—–KOzzer—-Nacho
    ———-Arteta——Flamster——-
    —————ROZZA——————
    Theo———-Bedny———-Gnabry

    I know LE-Prof will never field this side but if we do we can sit back and hit them on counter by theo and Gnabry.. :D

  11. Norfolk Gooner says:

    ‘morning AAers, Thanks BR for another great pre-match.

    Wenger has said that at this stage in the season, with our five point lead in the Premiership, his priority is the Champions League. That said I don’t expect to see any player being rested, ahead of Saturday, he’ll play his strongest eleven, I’ll leave everybody else to argue just what that is. :D

  12. Räsp says:

    Excellent PM Raddy. I would like your line up to start against city :P

    Tonight I think he may rest Giroud and give Bendy a start. I agree Ramsey looks tired. Jack and Santi are still some way below their best – is it better to rest players who are not in form or should we give them more time on the pitch …. I don’t know.

    If we score one goal tonight (hopefully the first) we can relax and I have an idea that Theo might be the man to put it in the net for us ….. here’s hoping.

    I’d take 2nd in the CL group and no less than a draw against city and the chavs the way things now stand. City’s defeat of Bayern shows that we need not fear anyone in the CL this season :?

  13. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Swim time, back later.

  14. LB says:

    Thanks BR

    Your line up is spot on as far as I am concerned.

  15. TT says:

    Good point, Norfolk 10:09. Wenger did speak as if he would go for it tonight, ManCity notwithstanding. That’s not such a bad strategy I think. Make sure to get CL tonight, and if possible get top of group. Getting the higher seed for CL should also provide us with less demanding matches later on in the season, if nothing else. Given the way the difficult matches bunch up for Arsenal this season, I think any alleviation would help.

    Committing resources to tonight makes losing at City more probable. Such a loss would give the doubters more negative talking points, and allow the Swingometer to punish Arsenal further. But oh well… At worst, there would still be a two point gap. Given such a tight schedule, I would rather that Arsenal survive to fight other battles with healthy players, than to get a result at City at the expense of injuries.

  16. Big Raddy says:

    I would be happy for AW to pick his best team tonight and rest players on Saturday because I believe all our first team squad have quality (even NB).

  17. Manthan says:

    When is Poldi expected coming date any idea?

  18. TT says:

    Manthan, I think Wenger mentioned Podolski would start practicing with the team after the Hull City match, and would need one week of prep. This means he should be in contention tonight if all went to plan. We might see him as a late sub.

  19. TT says:

    Oops, I was wrong. According to the BBC:

    Arsenal squad: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud, Fabianski, Vermaelen, Bendtner, Monreal, Cazorla, Rosicky, Arteta.

    which means no possibility of Podolski tonight.

  20. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rasp

    Wow, you are tough to please with this “I’d take 2nd in the CL group and no less than a draw against city and the chavs”

    I am convinced we can lose at least two games in the league and still be Champions (probably 4), and right now, we could take a loss on Saturday and still be top.

    I sound like a right old doomer regarding Saturday, but for me, a draw would be a massive bonus.

  21. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Copy that TT

    A draw or win tonight, and topping the group could prove very valuable indeed.

  22. Räsp says:

    Hi Micky, I don’t see draws against the chavs and city as a massive ask. If we want to be the best we have to beat the best as the saying goes :)

  23. TT says:

    With hope, a loss followed by a win would satisfy demanding Rasp :)

  24. arnie says:

    Topping the CL group is top priority for me, together with not losing on Saturday. No compromises. About Chavs, we will see later. That probably means going for bust for part of the game today. Raddy’s plan sounds good. First 5 mins, final 20 mins, perhaps I would also add the 5+5 mins before and after the break. Parking the bus on Saturday, with sufficient threat in counter attack will be good. We are good enough to do this. :D :D

  25. Räsp says:

    Guys, take a look at the newly updated GiE Swingometer …. if we don’t get at least a draw against city and the chavs, we’ll be in the relegation zone :roll:

  26. TT says:

    Arsenal parking the bus? Not with the infamous “handbrake” I hope :) Sounds like a plan, arnie. I don’t mean to suggest Arsenal would lose Saturday, but like Mr DidIt, I would be quite happy with the second team getting a draw. Please, just do not redline Giroud/Ramsey/Özil/etc.

  27. JanMan says:

    Personally I think it is vital that we top the group. I still believe it will be 1-1 tonight but of course I would love a good win, as that would morale wise, give us a big boost for the city game on the weekend. I think you will find that City are more concerned about us then we are of them!

  28. TT says:

    I knew it! That Swingometer is as bad as the MOTD gang :D

  29. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rasp

    To be The Best, you have to beat The Best to win a cup competition, but the league is about most points come May, and we, like everyone else, will lose the odd game.

    I cannot see how a loss on Saturday could be too disastrous. Three points from the two fixtures against each of Chavs and Oilers would be spot on.

    Of course, come Saturday, I will be going all out for a win :-)

  30. JanMan says:

    Rasp. Sorry but the whole swingometer thing is way above my head. You can tell it was a creation of a master accountant, lawyer or banker and not to be understood by the common man :-) :-) :-)

  31. arnie says:

    love the banter. have to go now, back later. :D :D

  32. Räsp says:

    :lol: Janman

    Micky, I get what you’re saying, but ‘belief’ is really important and if we were to lose to city and the chavs, not only is there a possibility that our belief could be eroded, but lesser teams will see us as vulnerable. We need to create the belief that we are the best team in the league….. self fulfilling prophecy etc etc

  33. Räsp says:

    ….. But I agree that to ensure a smooth path into the CL quarter finals we need to secure top spot in our group ….

  34. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Actually JanMan,

    The Swingometer is, in fact, way beneath you. It’s cunning is in it’s ability to fool people into thinking it’s clever.

    It’s like a Pseudo Intellectual. They make out that the trivialities of life are confusing to someone of their massive intellectual ability. They do this by looking awkward, rolling their eyes about and trying to act like everything is beneath them.

    The reality is, they’ve read a couple of simple books on philosophy and actually know bugger all about anything.

    That, my friend, is the Swingometer.

  35. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Try this JanMan, creep up all stealthlike behind the Swinger, go “booo” loudly and watch it wet itself :-)

  36. TT says:

    Hmm I hope my 13:31 didn’t cause offense, arnie. Rereading it made me realize it might. I just wanted to pair handbrake with bus parking, but it came out clumsy.

    It would be great if on Saturday Arsenal can get a result by absorbing the pressure and counter attacking. :)

  37. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oh Rasp, you may sing in tune an’ all, but come on. We will lose a game or two, Champions is how you bounce back and don’t go all girly and cry.

    We won’t do that.

  38. JanMan says:

    Micky. Some funny comments there. :-) :-)
    On a serious note, I hope all of the travelling fans stay safe tonight.

  39. TT says:

    Rasp 13:47, Mr DidIt and I will wear you down yet :)

    Reputation-wise, I think a loss at City wouldn’t gain Arsenal more rep, but nor would it lose Arsenal much. Many people do not even regard Arsenal as title challengers right now. I think realistically the fear factor has to be built up anyway.

  40. Räsp says:

    :lol: Micky, I hope you’re right,…. I’m in the ‘try to win every game’ camp. We were well below par against Everton and that wasn’t because they pressed us … it was because we were below par …. can anyone tell me why?

  41. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oi Rasp

    Hang on a minute. Don’t try and come over all heroic and martyr type on us. “I’m in the ‘try to win every game’ camp”,. We’re all in that camp.

    It was you that said ““I’d take …. no less than a draw against city”

    All I’m saying, is that it would be far from the end of the world if one of the few games we WILL lose this season, was away at City.

    If, in the rare event we did lose, I’d still be very bushy tailed, while you will be a miserable git for eight f’ing days :-)

  42. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oh, there there, please don’t sulk. We’ll win. For you :-)

  43. Räsp says:

    I do think there is a difference between getting a point in a hard fought draw against a good side (Everton) compared to losing to the team everyone expects to win the league.

    It will be an achievement if we don’t drop any points to teams we feel we should beat for the rest of the season.

  44. evonne says:

    Rasp – what did you make of the ‘Best of Enemies’, apart from PV proving he always was a Gunner

  45. MickyDidIt89 says:

    In fact, absolutely nobody has reason to be more miserable than Moi today. The sun shines (exceedingly rare event) and there’s a gentle off shore wind making surf conditions perfect (another very rare event during winter months), and my Wife has buggered off for the day in one car, while my car is stuck in the garage for two days.

  46. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Here’s proof.
    Go to the bottom and see Bude Beach this am. Their rating for today: SURFECTION, and I’m stuck at home :-(

    http://www.zumajay.co.uk/surf-check-widemouth-bude-webcam/

  47. 26may1989 says:

    Don’t know what all the fuss is about. We’ll beat Napoli, we’ll beat City and we’ll beat Chelsea.

    And then we’ll probably lose to West Ham.

  48. MickyDidIt89 says:

    26
    As usual, you have a Camp all of your own :-)

  49. LB says:

    No, then we will beat West Ham.

  50. Räsp says:

    Looks bloody cold to me Micky :?

    Hi evonne, I thought Vieira, Arsene and Arsenal were portrayed in an excellent ‘we’re the artistic good guys’ type of way while Keane , Fergie and Manure looked like a bunch of thugs.

  51. LB says:

    In a conversation with a friend he asked if I would take two wins and a draw, I looked to the heavens and said I would bite your arm off for that, but if we get three draws I would be very happy indeed.

  52. RockyLives says:

    Top stuff BR as ever.

    I hope we use the twin pivot of Arteta and Flamini.

    (I don’t actually know what a ‘twin pivot’ is, but I am a pseudo intellectual and wanted to sound knowledgable).

    I can’t see neither of Jack or Aaron starting, but I would be perfectly happy seeing your 11 trot out for the game.

    Keep ‘em quiet for the first 20 mins and all will be well…

    As for Citeh – I am very confident that we will win up there. Don’t know why, I just am.

  53. Räsp says:

    LB, I’m with you @ 3:27 ……. but like Rocky, I have a sneaking feeling we will beat city.

  54. 26may1989 says:

    It’s lovely and sunny in my camp, micky!

  55. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Micky is it because of the campness that 26 is all on his own? :D

  56. 26may1989 says:

    Galatasaray knocked out Juve this afternoon? Blimey.

  57. 26may1989 says:

    Norfolk, you’re not going to get a rise out of me that way…….
    :)

  58. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Hi Rasp, a comment has been eaten by WordPress, it’s not important, just annoying.

  59. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Rasp, please ignore my last. It’s just appeared.

    26, ooh er missus, keep your rise to yourself.

  60. Rasp says:

    Hi Norfolk, the following was in spam …. but not attributed to your blog name? ….

    The team picks itself at the moment and Gnabry will have his first “big game” this season. This will be the true test for him. Can he cope with the defensive duties when Napoli attack? Can he be ruthless in his movement and final product when we attack? Will he overcome possible fatigue and push himself to the limit? These will be the questions hanging over him and I think he has the potential and ability to come out of this fixture with flying colours. Giroud will need to be more clinical as he’s failed to score in his last three games now. We also have Rosicky back who could add a different dynamic if we’re struggling to score.

  61. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Rasp, it’s not mine, but if nobody claims it I will happily. :D

  62. Norfolk Gooner says:

    I’ve been wondering why the “behind the sofa” syndrome has been missing from games recently.

    At first I thought it was the goal scoring form but we have always been able to score plenty of goals, at least since the day’s of one nil to The Arsenal. Now I believe it’s down to the solidity of the defence augmented by the midfield graft of players such as Arteta, Ramsey and Flamini in particular. The fact that Nacho Monreal can move seemlessly into the left-back position when needed is a bonus and, with a little improvement, Jenkinson could be equally as effective on the right.

    The BFG and Kos have developed a marvellous understanding and Szczesny must be our most improved player so far this season.

  63. evonne says:

    Rasp – I agree. Pat was diplomatic, eloquent, relaxed and smiled though the whole interview. He clearly enjoyed the memories. Roy didn’t.

    The only faux pas from PV was not to chose Dennis for the best XI, truly unforgivable.

    I am camp-less, lonely, miserable and scared :( Cannot see the next 3 games going our way. 3 draws would be more, much more than I expect

  64. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Evonne, wrap yourself in the warm embrace of the AA family, figuratively speaking of course, sip at a cheering glass of red wine, and think uplifting “Dennis” thoughts. All your doubts will drift away and you will be able to come out from behind the sofa with confidence. :D

  65. Big Raddy says:

    Juve are the Italian side to get knocked out of the CL this season. Who could be the second?

    If we get through all 4 EPL sides will have progressed.

  66. evonne says:

    if it was as simple as that Norfolk….

  67. evonne says:

    Raddy – just read the post, interesting, very interesting. It is good to know that Rafa is damaging them from inside, hoping to win the CL. He must think he is the European King and Queen in one

    I am not sure for us giving it all attacking in the first minutes, this team often needs time to settle, especially during the away games. I cannot see them flying from the blocks, no. I suspect it will take time to adjust, gain composure and fluency. If we don’t concede in the first half, we won.

    Thank you for the PM, you never let us down, solid as a rock

  68. arnie says:

    Lovely discussions today. I am following, but dont have the opportunity to participate.

    TT: No offence at all, just a busy day. :sad:

  69. Big Raddy says:

    arnie. Be around for the game. We can share our nerves …..

  70. chas says:

    Nice one, BR.
    Cmon you Gunners, let’s put in a fine performance and top the group.

    I think this proves that Wenger is a gambolling man. :)

    http://fuldans.se/?v=tpoljgeecn

  71. RockyLives says:

    Replying to Rasp’s question from earlier (about why we weren’t on our best game against Everton)…

    I would say a combination of factors including some fatigue and the quality of a very confident opposition, but it felt to me that the most important factor was that we haven’t quite figured out our best tactical set-up yet.

    Ironically the returning players (like Santi and Theo) have slightly disrupted the smoothly running machine that we had while they were out.

    I think it will all gel perfectly in time, but at the moment Santi and Mesut are not quite dovetailing and Theo has not yet had a proper outing.

    We have an embarrassment of riches in midfield but we all have trouble identifying our perfect starting line-up and I’m sure it’s not completely different for Arsene.

  72. RockyLives says:

    Chas
    Dancing Arsene never ceases to make me chuckle :)

  73. chas says:
  74. chas says:

    Sky Sports 2 highly recommended.

  75. arnie says:

    Raddy: I am always nervous before a game :razz: I will try and be around as much as possible. I am also a Professor in Aveiro University, and here they have their Christmas dinner tonight. Cannot wholly let my students down, but will try and be around as much as possible. Life is hard! :sad:

    Will be with you guys all along, at least in spirit! :D :D

  76. MickyDidIt89 says:

    When’s the next round of the CL draw?

    Now, there’s confidence :-)

    Must keep my diary clear in case a peach of an away venue comes on to the radar.

  77. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ah ha, Arnie, a Professor, not a Parcel :-)

    Which Scottish University?

  78. arnie says:

    Micky: Heriot-Watt, now dont ask where it is? :D

  79. chas says:

    It’s Monday, Micky

  80. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Not St Andrews then.

  81. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ah, thanks Chas.

  82. arnie says:

    It was, I moved from St Andrews in 2010.

  83. MickyDidIt89 says:

    And no Peaches, I can’t :-)

  84. chas says:

    Interesting tweet from the Galatasaray goalie.

  85. chas says:
  86. chas says:

    Is that 10 out of 11, BR?

  87. chas says:

    Thierry asking Arsene if he thought of starting Walcott.
    Captain non-committal answer, as you would expect.

  88. Oh go on ……. Who will then?

  89. chas says:
  90. arnie says:

    Why is Arsene not starting with Theo in any game? Is it protection (as TT suggests), or is it some other strategy that we do not quite understand?

  91. LB says:

    Woo, that really is belt and braces.

  92. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Wow, thanks Chas. No Theo.

    Reckon that team could still blow them away in the first 20 just as we did at home. Happy memories. Possibly my favourite 20 mins at The Ems.

  93. chas says:

    I think the rationale was that without Rambo and Jack playing we need Santi and Sicky in there to “take care of the ball” as Thierry just said.

  94. chas says:

    Well it was more “take care of ze ball”. :)

  95. arnie says:

    Chas: fair point, I suppose!!!!!

  96. RA says:

    Micky, I hope you are suitably contrite, after reflection, following your somewhat anarchic attack on pseudo philosophers @ 1:50.

    I spent years perfecting my pseudo self which goes so well with my metro-sexual inner man and now you have outed me like a mangy old dog banished to the cowshed, next to the midden heap.

    I am sure you can recall what Sun Tzu said!

  97. chas says:

    Half-price hoolis. :)

  98. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Completely pointless question, but what do we reckon Arsene would rather win this season, League or CL?

    I know he always makes noises about League judging a team over a whole season, consistency blah blah, but methinks he secretly wants The CL more.

    Me too.

  99. chas says:

    Has someone been dissing the swingometer?
    Scandalous.

  100. MickyDidIt89 says:

    RA
    You read thick books. I know that :-)

  101. Big Raddy says:

    Love the Rotherham firm!

    Still no Theo. The man must still be knacked

  102. chas says:
  103. chas says:

    It sounds as though several Ajax fans have been stabbed.

  104. RockyLives says:

    “I can’t see us starting with neither of Jack or Aaron.”

    Hahaha – shows what I know!

    It reassures me that AW often surprises me with his selections.

    Come on you Gunners!

    (I’m getting in the mood now :) )

  105. RockyLives says:

    Chas
    Love the picture of the TV studio with Thierry’s halo :)

  106. chas says:

    Haha, Rocky.
    A lucky screen print.

    Thierry talks so sensibly, he really sounds as though he could make a great manager.

  107. chas says:

    Jamie Redknapp always sounds a bit of a dick but alongside GNev and Titi, he sounds like a 12 year old.

  108. RA says:

    Raddy you do not need my belated thanks for a well written and inspirational Post — but thank you nonetheless. :-)

  109. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Really ready for this. Something in me waters about the CL this season.

  110. Manthan says:

    chas I loved Neville and Thierry Pre-Match analysis.. I also feel Neville is very good pundit he speaks so sensibly too.. Its already 1:00 AM here waiting for match too start got a meeting early in the morning tomorrow :(

  111. RA says:

    Shame on you surfing man – first a pseudo pseudo and now a claim that I read stupid books. (oh yes, I know what fick means).

    OK, the cover looks thick, but the good stuff inside is intellectual pictures of clever fings like tits.( Long-tailed, blue, and cole among others). Truth be told, credit goes to arnie my Professor of pseudo ornithology who has taught me everything I know. One foolscap page! Oh, yeah!

  112. arnie says:

    Micky @7:23 pm: Love that. :D :D

  113. arnie says:

    Redders: pseudo ornithology????? :D :D Bird-watching?

  114. RA says:

    Manthan, you are not the guy who phones me from India at 6 a.m. every morning to sell me Rupee Bonds are you? :-)

  115. Manthan says:

    Ha Ha No NO I am a software engineer.. I develop websites I don’t work in call centers :)

  116. arnie says:

    Nothing as useful as ornitology, dismal science, I’m afraid ….. :sad:

  117. evonne says:

    manthan – I was a software engineer once too, great job to have

  118. RA says:

    Stop being bashful arnie.

    There is nothing you do not know about bird watching. (I have learned Brit-speak.) :-)

  119. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Blimey, there are some clever people here.

    I must consider getting a proper job one day :-)

  120. arnie says:

    Redders: :D :D

  121. Manthan says:

    evonne its a great job but its hectic at times when you don’t get where the problem is.. Spend whole night in finding problem and morning when you find the problem and guess what it might be one line problem.. But Yes I love this job..

  122. Big Raddy says:

    10/11 is OK but I despair about Theo.

  123. chas says:
  124. arnie says:

    Have a good start to the game, guys. Laters. :D :D :D

  125. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Raddy
    Conspiracy theory brewing. Theo. Suarez. No further clues :-)

  126. chas says:

    You’re a risk-taker, Micky.

    Well at least that’s what BR said. :0

  127. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. It is all well and good having a “proper” job but you and I know that happiness and work/life balance is the prime aim

    Thankfully, I have the life I choose though there are financial consequences!

  128. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Risk assumes weighing up the possibilities :-D

  129. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Come on you Gunnnnners

  130. Big Raddy says:

    wow, ground 2/3rds full! Never happen at THOF

  131. MickyDidIt89 says:

    What is a risk taker?

    I asked a mate who is a Head Hunter what he could do for me if I came for a job.

    He said nothing. Said I was 100% unemployable, and wouldn’t last one week in any job :-)

  132. chas says:

    You see a risk and take it.

  133. Manthan says:

    We are not able to keep ball well at the moment and BFG is spot on with his positioning…..

  134. jnyc says:

    Raddy! I cant believe u had been thinking we would be better not getting out of the group!

    i would have told you we need that extra cash from going through, thats where the money is, especially now that we are starting to look at more expensive players and splashing some cash like on Ozil.

    now lets get through on top and dream of more. :-)

  135. evonne says:

    manthan – i loved bug finding and fixing (not on the release day of course), but documenting it was killing me :)

    the team is warming up now, we shoud see more possession now

  136. Manthan says:

    I hate documenting too :D.. But ya bug always comes on day of release… :D :D

  137. Manthan says:

    Micky, Get a job which gives you work and personal life balance and software developer aint that job :D

  138. Manthan says:

    I am seeing Mozart all over pitch :D very good workk rate from him…

  139. Half-time phew. I’m really nervous :(

  140. Big Raddy says:

    Once again the CB’s superb. Kos gets better and better.

    We are doing enough, and I can see a Napoli player getting a red.

    COYRRG

  141. Manthan says:

    BR,
    Me too They are not able to put a good tackle in because of our quick one touch pass

  142. RA says:

    Well, that was interesting and atypical Arsenal performance.

    We have only had Giro’s shot on goal – well on the keeper more accurately, but the defending by the whole team has been first class.

    The attack has stuttered because we have been muscled off the ball both by hard pressing and by some dubious tackling.

    Come of fellas. :-)

  143. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Interesting second half coming up. Would be very good to top the group, and we may need a goal.

    I see a combo of defence stiffening in Monreal as well as the Theo goal threat at some point.

  144. Gööner In Exile says:

    Evening all, sat down for kick off without knowing the starting line up. Mr Raddy very close to it but after first half I agree with Mr Wenger, when we get the ball up the pitch the three of Ozil, TR7 and Cazorla are the best at winning fouls and keeping close possession. Even if they keep it for 30 seconds it’s long enough to move the lines.

    Flamini and Arteta pairing a no brainer and working well so far, the team needto listen to Flamester a bit more though he understands the importance of shifting the line up the pitch and making more space between our defence and our goal.

    Koscielny has been great at the back, he is in control of his game at the moment, and he is quick enough and calm enough to keep possession rather than aimless hoofing.

    Current scoreline in France means we are safe anyway. Napoli will tire soon and their two centre midfielders on yellow means we should get a bit more time on the ball.

  145. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Exile
    Well that’s the first half of the match report done. Top work :-)

  146. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Manthan
    I’m considering becoming a Career Guidance Councillor when I grow up a bit :-)

  147. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Come on lads, one goal.

  148. OMG you have to love Koscielny

  149. Who’s on our bench?

  150. No gifts, could we stop trying to give them a gift please.

  151. We do like to make it hard for ourselves don’t we.

    Come on Arsenal

  152. Big Raddy says:

    Shite refereeing. It was a foul but Never a yellow for Arteta.

    Going to be a tense last 15

  153. Big Raddy says:

    Not a good night so far.

  154. chas says:

    Bring on the big boys. :(

  155. Gööner In Exile says:

    Who was worried?

    Squeak

  156. Big Raddy says:

    Not happy. This was a game we could and should have won.

    Our tactics allowed Napoli to play almost the entire game in our half. We created nothing.

    He who Dares ……

  157. Most difficult game I’ve watched all season

  158. chas says:

    Madrid, PSG, Bayern, Athletico, Barcelona.
    No problem

  159. Gööner In Exile says:

    Horrible match because we were waiting for them rather than imposing ourselves on the game second half. Why Napoli stopped at 1 I’ll never know, surely they didn’t think Marseille could hold out for 45 minutes? I’m glad they did obviously.

    We looked tired and whilst Arteta’s second yellow came from the number of rolls it was a silly tackle when already on a yellow and with them just having gone 1 up. The seniority of the team suggested Wenger felt he needed old heads who wouldn’t get sucked into that kind of thing, Arteta could have cost us there.

    Two days off then City but we looked worryingly tired.

  160. Rasp says:

    We will need to up our game considerably against city. We have very little to offer down the right, Jenks is a weak link I’m afraid

  161. Rasp says:

    Flamini got us to the CL final playing at left back – I wonder if he can play right back?

  162. I would suggest that perhaps AW underestimated Napoli, did we ever look like we wanted to win that game?

  163. Gööner In Exile says:

    Bit harsh on Jenks there Rasp, not sure Gibbs offered much going forward on left?

    They had a job to do tonight, they did it…..just :D

  164. Big Raddy says:

    We carried Ozil tonight, he should have been subbed on the hour preferably for Theo.

    BR is seriously pee’d off with that performance. Worst of the season so far and all because IMO AW bottled it.

    This was the crux of my post. AW played safe which was hugely disappointing

  165. RA says:

    Pleased we got through, but really disappointed with the second half, although that ridiculous and unjustified sending off did not help.

    We were over run in midfield and Corp Jenkinson did not really get to grips with either the winger or the left back. I rate him but – not tonight.

  166. chas says:

    My suggestion for a match report…….

  167. Rasp says:

    I’m not blaming Jenks for the result GiE, he just leaves too many gaps and hardly managed a cross this evening. City will target him

  168. chas says:

    Please, no scapegoating. The whole team were responsible.
    G’night.

  169. Gööner In Exile says:

    Wenger was telling Szczesny to play rather than waste time, but you can’t change a players mindset, they knew what they couldn’t do (ie lose 3-0)….we set up to do just that. Probably at the same time conserving as much energy as possible before Saturday.

  170. Rasp says:

    One thing that was highlighted this evening was our need for the option of a centre forward who has pace

  171. The pundits are enjoying this, they can get their teeth into us again :lol:

  172. Big Raddy says:

    I am not scapegoating anyone but the manager

  173. dhakka09 says:

    I have got to rant, plz! Don’t stop me. Many things to get off the chest:

    A) I totally understand Walcott not starting, but having been on the bench, why the HELL was he not on at 60 min. mark when both their full-backs were pushing so high up? Surely, he was capable of providing us the speedy outlet that Giroud doesn’t.

    B) It’s about time we hand the starting left-back berth to Monreal. Gibbs has had more than a few dodgy moments of late (Campbell free header, Deulofeau non-closing and even today, I remember few instances where their winger was able to make dangerous crosses in the box using similar technique to take ball away from him like Deulofeau) Monreal surely is better defensively positional-wise even though Gibbs can recover better; Monreal also offers more in link-up play up front. Gibbs needs a Szczesney like wilderness from the side atm.

    C) When will Jenkinson learn to pass to a team-mate and not hoof forward everytime he is under slightest of pressure? He needs to step up big time and right now Sagna is miles ahead if him.

    Phew! Got them off my chest now. It’s a shame that the boys couldn’t top the group when even they knew they had it in them (it’s surely Barca in next stage now :( ) I hope they will face City game more determined now.

    Kos and Rosicky were immense today.
    My combined MoTM.

  174. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Had to pop out for last fifteen minutes to get my Daughter, and I get back to That Pic, Chas. Nasty, very nasty :-)

    On the upside, some tasty away venues Raddy :-)

  175. I agree with GiE, the plan was to conserve energy

  176. jnyc says:

    Not happy, but we must put it behind us and get back to OUR style of play for saturday.

    we are obviously not comfortable in this type of match situation, it takes us out of our normal game. Rosicky and kozzer were excellent. Cazorla worked so hard too.

    on the bright side —- we assured the good champs league money. Now lets go beat city
    OUR way.

  177. ………..but I suspect we didn’t :( :( :(

  178. The high point of his evening is that we won’t be playing on spursdays :)

  179. Who wants to write something about it for a post for tomorrow?

  180. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Look Lads, we’re through a very tough group. So, who next?
    I’d like to go to Madrid or Munich very much :-)
    Goodnight from him. Goodnight.

  181. fatgingergooner says:

    Tough game and not the result we wanted to be heading to the Etihad with, but if someone had offered us 2nd in the group when it was drawn, then I would’ve bitten their hand off.

    Also, winning the group certainly helps get one stage further, but from the quarters it makes no difference whatsoever. If you want to win a tournament like the CL, you have to beat the best.

  182. Manthan says:

    I am not happy but am not sad either I am proud that we came out of group of death when pundits has write us off as soon as draw was made

  183. fatgingergooner says:

    A certain German team lost 2-0 to a certain London team last season as their manager didn’t know wether to stick or twist.

    That German team nearly got knocked out, but went on to win the trophy.

    The situation we were in dictated our performance and clouded the managers and players minds. It can happen to the best, even treble winning German sides!

    Don’t be too harsh on the lads .

  184. RockyLives says:

    FGG
    Great comment

  185. fatgingergooner says:

    Cheers RL!

    Just an update for anyone who knows my wife’s current situation. We have been at the hospital for the last 3 days trying to pursuade a new Arsenal fan to enter the world! However, he/she seems to get his/her stubborness from his/her mother!

  186. Good luck fgg, my daughter went through a similar lengthy labour three weeks ago. What is it about baby Gooners?

  187. Gooner in Exile says:

    FGG as a man who has been in that situation…..i feel your pain….hope he/she gets a move on before the City game :D

    Hospital food starts to suck after the second or third meal…..don’t know what your local hospital does but ours is free food for patients, visitors pay. When we went to canteen i had fry up she had bowl of Special K, cost £6 (Special K free)….next time we went down we swapped trays :D

  188. fatgingergooner says:

    They keep the patient and visitors food separate here, fortunately for me though the hospital food is pretty terrible whereas the canteen food isn’t too bad! Laura and the baby may be eating crap, but my full English is bang on! ;)

    Hopefully fatbabygooner will be here before the weekend! Not sure Laura can handle too many more days waiting.

  189. Gooner in Exile says:

    Good luck buddy, and best wishes to your better half

  190. Kgööner says:

    just watched the game. on delay, rerun actually. I didn’t look at the scores and completely isolated myself.

    What I got from this game is we have to continue working on the project. We are not yet there despite our recent run of good form.

    Also, the turf may have played a part, albeit small, in some of our flow football.

  191. arnie says:

    AA-ers I followed the game all evening on mobile. Ate more of my fingernails than the food. Quite sad. I do not know why we are trying to play this type of game – trying to sit deep. We are rubbish at it. We have to play to our strength. I take back my previous suggestion of parking the bus (TT, handbrake or not) on Saturday. Any such plan will probably spectacularly backfire.

    Two other brief points. 1. Well, we have qualified, and that is no mean achievement. Tough games coming. Well, we have to play out of our skin, and we will do so.

    2. Both Everton and Napoli show that we are lacking in confidence. Somehow, we need to get out of this rut. Perhaps, some fresh blood from the start (Theo, Gnabry?, even Poldi?) might help.

    We need a break. I am cautiously optimistic this will come on Saturday.

    Good wishes, FGG!!!!!! :D :D

  192. I think we would have done better if we’d needed to win. Very flat performance but we’re through. I agree with Rasp we need someone quick. Theo would have been good.

  193. dhakka09 says:

    Folks, watch this video and take your mind off today’s disappointment. You’ll feel better :)

    P.S: the boy at 3:32 is a mirror image of Wilshere :)

  194. RockyLives says:

    Thinking back to FGG’s comment about how our performance reminded him of Bayern M’s last year (not needing to win, so end up losing)…

    The other classic example is Liverpool in 1989. If we’d gone into that game needing a draw and ‘Pool needing a win we’d probably have lost.

    It’s not about how AW sent the team out – it’s all about psychology.

  195. Adrian says:

    Surprisingly I thought we controlled the first half really well, they didn’t look like scoring at all and I was confident we’d see out a draw at the very least, that’d make our draws for the next round much easier..

    What this game did highlight to me though, was the need for a pacier striker (dare I say it, in the Higuain mold). Giroud’s hold up play is great but in games like yesterday’s, a Higuain or Suarez would have been much more effective with darting runs with players like Cazorla, Rosicky and Ozil feeding the front line. I feel that a striker is the missing piece to us truly challenging for the title this season.

    Another question that is raised is Arteta’s role as a DM. Considering that he has never played as a DM at Everton before, you have to give him due credit for some fine performances in that position since Wenger converted him. However, his lack of pace and strength has been highlighted in the past, and this was further shown in the last 2 games. As a DM, being disciplined is key as well and Arteta’s second yellow was definitely avoidable and unnecessary. At the age of 31 already, it might not be a bad idea for Wenger to start scouting for a defensive midfielder.

  196. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning all,

    Well, I am happy to be through. Bit close for comfort, and yes, on another day you’d expect the type of performance from us that could or should get a point there.

    Theo was on the bench, and therefore fit enough. Forgetting the Arsene tactics choices, but Theo must be mightily hacked off he had no role to play in a game like that. No?

    As I said after the game, the flip side is some very tasty looking fixtures. Really don’t want PSG. Loathe them.

  197. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Can we assume red and yellow cards carry through for rest of competition, or is there an amnesty at some point?

  198. Gooner in Exile says:

    Putting something in drafts Peaches

  199. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oh brilliant Exile. I was bracing myself for a saga :-)

    On a serious note, I don’t like doing MR’s because I know sweet FA about all the real technical/tactical stuff. Don’t think I’ve ever read a Newspaper report on an Arsenal game. Simply watch the matches and that’s it.

    You make comments like Flamini “understands the importance of shifting the line up the pitch and making more space between our defence and our goal”, and I read this in awe and wonder :-)

  200. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I guess from a “best chance” of winning the next game, we want Athletico, as they came through atop the easy peasy group.

  201. Gooner in Exile says:

    Micky we will beat whoever is in front of us :D

    And according to UEFA the card suspensions carry forward

  202. Morning all

    Thanks GiE for the post.

    I’m thrilled that we’re through to the knock out stages and while winning the group would have possibly given us an easier task next round, we’d be up against anyone after that.

    Rocky made a good comment about the psychology of not needing to win and I’m sure we’ve seen if before over the years at the end of the group stage. We’ve ended up second when we should have been first.

    We definitely need Theo back soon.

  203. TT says:

    So disappointed. I was sure that Arsenal would manage at least a tie. So sure that I didn’t even watch the second half. Silly me.

    Even I don’t buy my “protect Walcott” theory anymore. Surely he must feature at City.

  204. Big Raddy says:

    I am a little more critical than you lot!

    If you play on the counter-attack then there is an absolute need for speed. We had none but had Gnabry and Theo available. At one point there was a ricochet which allowed OG a run on goal with the GK, at no time did I think he would get there ahead of the Napoli GK – Theo would have and we would have scored.

    We went to contain, managed it for most of the game but when we had to be more expansive we didn’t have the personnel or the mindset.

    I would have subbed Ozil for Theo on 60 mins, not bring on Ramsey for Santi.

    A poor night for AW – his first of the season

  205. evonne says:

    poor game, poor result, good outcome – we are through, just.
    The most worrying aspect is the early kick off on Saturday. I hope that it won’t be a slaughter, it could seriously damage our season.

    ginger – congrats! My neighbour is 2 weeks overdue, must be something in the water :)

  206. evonne says:

    I agree Raddy, they deserve some criticism. They looked blunt and tired. They are young athletes, why are they so tired? Surely they should be trained to play the whole of the season, nut just the first 3 months.

    Why was our awesome midfield not working? Defence was good, Giroud worked like a horse, but there was little happening in the middle, stale and ineffective

  207. evonne says:

    Looking at the EPL fixtures and table, I see us slumping to 3rd before Christmas

  208. TT says:

    Agreed on your 8:15, BR. Flamini + Arteta is a combo built for defense, and Rosicky + Ozil + Cazorla is a combo that offers more pass oriented ball retention than offensive thrust. Wenger was more interested in getting a draw than winning it.

    Mind you, a draw would have been enough for Arsenal to top the group. We all know, however, what often happens when a team plays for a draw.

  209. arnie says:

    Motning all!!!!!! 1. Ah, the “not needing to win” mentality. Its all (or most of all) in the mind!!!!!

    2. Defending well “most” of the game is useless, if we play to defend it has to be “all” of the game.

    3. For me, the most worrying bit is drooping shoulders and lack of confidence. We need some fresh players, quick.

    Please turn this around, Arsene!!!!! :sad:

  210. arnie says:

    Agreed, TT. Defence was the strategy. Unfortunately, we are not very good at it. Just one mistake and the whole strategy fall through. On the other hand, and attack strategy needs just one moment of brilliance, or maybe, a couple.

  211. TT says:

    Time to put into practice what a wise man on AA said earlier:

    “We will lose a game or two, Champions is how you bounce back and don’t go all girly and cry.”

  212. arnie says:

    Yes. On with the show. Bounce back time!!!!!

  213. Rasp says:

    Morning all,

    I’m in the Raddy camp. We’ve done very well to get out of the group, but I feel we could have scored and got at least a draw if we’d had some pace up front or out wide. Its an old saying but defenders hate pacey forwards. Higuain showed that the top strikers can create a goal out of nothing.

  214. Rasp says:

    The commentator last night said that Ramsey had been nursing a groin injury …. this does not sound good, it will only get worse and lead to a longer period out if he continues to play.

  215. JanMan says:

    Somewhat disappointed that we did not manage at least a draw last night. Still don’t understand why Walcott wasn’t used as I feel the game was crying out for us to use his pace. I don’t want to make anyone a scapegoat but again Jenkinson showed his weakness, I have said a few times he needs to concentrate on defending as he was caught out far too often. With that said lets’ not forget how tough this group was, so to qualify from it is an achievement but it would have been so much better to have been 1st as coming 2nd gives us some massive teams to play in the next stage. Granted we would meet them at some time or other so does it matter?
    My big concern is can we recover in time for the early kick off on Saturday? Should we lose on Saturday we are then under huge pressure against Chelsea should Chelsea win this weekend. Things could get very bad for us real soon! Some how I will try to keep faith :-)

  216. Sorry all my internet died, back in a minute

  217. We have a New Post ……………….

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