Firstly let me say that I have not seen any highlights or read too much this morning so I am not in a position to comment on refereeing decisions or any controversial incidences. As you know they do not show anything controversial as a re-run so I will need others to fill me in on this. Certainly from the stands I was suspicious of off-side for their 3rd and with UEFA not using goal line technology I would welcome some feedback on their 2nd.
This was a strangely disjointed performance that left me slightly puzzled, and I know what you are thinking, a puzzled GoonerB with few tactical solutions is verging on a national crisis :)
Reading through some comments there does seem to be many feeling that this performance (or others like it) is down down to non recruitment of certain personnel or too much rotation and inexplicably not playing our strongest team.
The first may have some merit that we do lack certain qualities in the squad. It is probably, though, also about missing certain qualities through injuries. Notably I felt the way Olympiacos defended was made for Giroud’s presence in the box, but he wasn’t available. Theo wasn’t bad, but I do have a couple of gripes regarding him that I will comment on later, but I would have preferred Giroud to have been brought on up top (once we had seen how the game and their defensive line was developing) with Theo moved wide right (due to the Ox having an off game IMO).
I think the game also craved Jack’s intricate ability to operate in the tightest of spaces with those subtle 1-2’s, so he was also badly missed as an option. Add potential missing options in Welbeck and Rosicky and our options to change the game tactically were limited.
On the rotation side of things, I am sorry but it is necessary. When and how is a different matter, but I question why many feel we went in with a weakened team last night. With what we have, and had available, many would say that Walcott, Alexis and Ox is our strongest front 3….I do…. Many would say that Ozil is the best 1st choice starting option in that number 10 role….I do…. Many would say that Le Coq and Santi is the best CM pairing….I do…. Bellerin and Kos are generally considered 1st choice. Gabriel will now be considered by many as being ahead of Merts. Monreal was a massively improved player last year but for me there is not much difference between him and Gibbs, certainly not game altering differences.
That leaves the keeper. I get it that Cech is better and is truly world class but big teams win big prizes even with injuries to 1st choice keepers by having excellent ready made back-ups, even if slightly inferior to the first choice. Are we really saying that we have lost this game because our2nd choice keeper, the number 1 Columbian international keeper, is not good enough to help us beat Olympiacos at home??? I really struggle with that one, and if it is the case then he has no place being in the Arsenal squad at all. On paper it looked a strong, fine, and balanced line up to me so I am looking for answers to last night elsewhere.
So we once again we gifted some poor goals, I think everyone will agree there, and I just don’t think you can do that as often as we do in Europe, even against some lesser teams. Is this a personnel or training issue? We again left ourselves a mountain to climb and to be fair to Olympiacos they were very organised, compact, and solid in defence. We couldn’t easily find a way through tight central spaces and the fact we did twice should have been enough, if we did our job properly elsewhere.
The route through them seemed to be from the wide areas. We are good at this by and large, and mostly use the overlapping full-backs to good effect so all we then need are dangerous balls into the box (some aerial some low and powerful). I do however have an issue with theOx and our right flank last night, but will say more later. If we get into dangerous wide areas and get the balls in, we then just need players in the box to finish these good chances off…..errmm….seems to fall down at that point!
I have a big problem with this, especially with the aerial balls. The default seems to be that we miss a big CF in these instances so we can immediately jump on the Giroud bandwagon. Personally though I think many of the most prolific goal-scorers in the air are just technically good at it, and are good at finding and attacking space gaining a half yard on the defender. The height obviously does help at times but even as a biggie Giroud for me is an average threat in the air. Sanchez (all 5′ 6 1/2” of him according to Wiki) is good in the air and a good technical header of the ball. He has learnt this away from Arsenal. I then look at many of our attacking players that have been with us for some time, so their skill set is more shaped by Arsenal’s training of them, and I ask who else do we have that has good technique in with heading, regardless of size? It leaves me questioning our coaching and training unfortunately.
Was last night “just a bad day at the office”, or are we getting too many bad day’s at the office to keep saying this. What do you guys think?
Written by GoonerB
Back on the bike after a nasty fall in Zagreb; we need to win to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages. Even Mr Wenger says so.
Olympiakos shouldn’t be in the competition and it is only due to UEFA’s incompetence (read corruption) that we play them tonight. They were under investigation and the very day after UEFA accepted them into this years CL their MD was arrested for 5 counts of match fixing. Such is the manner in which the football governing bodies work. It is a disgrace. Imagine that happening in in the PL – Platini would have permanently banned an English team from the CL.
But, they are here and we play them in a very important game in our season; lose and the Fat Lady is doing her vocal exercises.
Our record against the Bubbles is strange – we always beat them at home and always lose away. Perhaps it is the food – Moussaka-Gate??
Our team should be strong and I think AW will not make the 6 changes that ruined our chances in Zagreb – though both he and I maintain it was a poor performance as opposed to poor selection
Bellerin Gabriel Kos Gibbs
Ramsey Santi Coq (if fit) Sanchez
If Le Coq is unavailable I would like to see Ramsey play further back and OC on the right. It may be a bit too attacking but I expect Olympiakos to παρκάρετε το λεωφορείο.
We have 4 days to recover before our big weekend game so no concerns about exhaustion
I have written about Olympiakos visits to the Emirates three times over the years always predicting a win and so far have always been right. Tonight should be no exception.
I am 79% confident
I risk my bloody life for Arsenal, and come to think of it, countless other innocent road users as well.
Picture this, and it’s an ugly scene. 1:28 yesterday afternoon, and as I’m driving home I log on to this site and read the word “breather” apparently used by Arsène.
I boiled. The legs became stiff. Car swerved. The Bad Feelings had begun.
Used in any context at all, this word oozes arrogance and complacency. Then, later, I saw the team selection. Okay, it’s at this point in my little story that our paths could diverge. The reason being that you may be a cretin, whereas I am not.
Thing is Arsenal should strive to go as far as they can in the Champions League, whereas a Cretin might think it’s pointless because we’re not going to win it. Utter tosh. Wrong attitude, and never under estimate the opposition.
As for the game, you saw it, so I don’t need to bother with trivial details.
However, as a general point, I do think understanding between players is vital, and none more so than between CB’s and The Keeper. So why rest Cech? Midfield: Coquelin every time, unless that is, you bothered to go out and buy CL Level quality cover. Up top: don’t ask me, ask Mesut and Alexis.
Right, so we are where we are, so let’s just deal with it and no blubbing. CL just got a bit tougher, but we can do it, and we have the very pleasant prospect of beating Chelsea on Saturday.
Written by mickydidit89
Zagreb. Champions League. Away game in delightful Croatia. Winnable? Why not?
This is why we celebrate finishing in the Top 4 and yet there seems to be a bit of “so what” about this game. You know what I mean – I bet you are thinking “well, it is great to have an Arsenal game on the tele tonight, but win, lose or draw we are going out in the next round so does it really matter?” Come on …. you know you think that way!! Another viewpoint might be – and we have already seen comments confirming this – that the game at the weekend is more important as such we should play a weakened team full of (quality) squad members.
And yet, as I said before, this is what we strive for – a mid-week night game against a League winning team (unbeaten in 42 games), so let’s celebrate and remember we could be playing on Spursday :-)
I know nothing about Dynamo Zagreb. A little research shows the club have won the Croatian League 10 years running, that they have a 35k capacity ground, that they have produced some fine players including Corluka, Modric, Dejan Lovren, Mario Mandvukic and the much loved ex-AFC player and Crozillian, Eduardo. They managed just one point in the CL group stages last season with a minus 13 goal difference.
The players focus may be diverted by the fact that DZ’s manager and CEO are out on bail having been accused of embezzling €11m from the club and tax-man!
Eduardo is still in the squad and could play tonight.
On paper we should win this tie, DZ’s highest paid player earns less in a year than Ozil does in 3 weeks (true!) but it doesn’t work like that does it? Hard work, a partisan and passionate crowd and an opportunity to impress managers in the Big Leagues will drive the Zagreb players – we need to be careful.
What of our team? Who should play? Well, I have absolutely no idea. I cannot even say with any certainty that Cech will start ahead of Ospina (who is a fine deputy). Ramsey, BFG and Bellerin are out, I expect Kos and Gabriel to be our CB’s. Ozil and Sanchez could get 70 minutes but beyond them …… ???
Monreal or Gibbs? Gibbs has done nothing wrong and deserves a start, should it be here or at Stamford Bridge? Same goes for Debuchy, Arteta, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, even Flamini.
Perhaps AW will give Joel Campbell a run though it would preclude him being sold to any club remaining in the CL in January. Given Theo’s start last Saturday and the expectation that he will play centrally at Stamford Bridge I believe Giroud will start tonight.
Here is my punt:
Debuchy Gabriel Koscielny Gibbs
Ox Coquelin Cazorla
Wouldn’t put LB’s sofa on it though.
We should win this game, we are better all over the pitch and we are good away from home.
I am 71% confident.
This was inspired by a few comments on twitter during Tuesday evening.
The first speculated that the Champions League was becoming so predictable that it had become a case of fighting for the 4th Semi-Final spot left vacant, after Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich had taken theirs.
The second was in response to the two hammerings which were taking place that evening. The Quarter Finals of the top competition in the world and the ties were not even close as contests. As a result, the person commenting asked if the Champions League would eventually “eat itself”?
So as a matter of interest, I decided to have a look at the semi-finalists for the last few seasons and see if this trend was true. Here goes………
Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Lyon
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Schalke and the Mancs
Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Chavski
Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Chavski.
(Barcelona went out in the quarters to Atletico)
Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Semis at a canter.
Atletico could stop Real Madrid getting there with a couple of away goals and as for Juve v Monaco, we all know what’s wrong with that tie, don’t we, Micky?
What do you think? Is this exactly how you would like it because you get to see the top players at the climax of the competition each year? Or does it make you seethe that a team like Nottingham Forest or Villa could ever win the trophy (albeit, in a completely different competition and totally different footballing era)?
Worst of all, are The Arsenal fighting for that 4th Semi-Final spot each year from now on?
Seeing the Rich Kids from Monte Carlo lining up against The Young Boys from Turin this week really cheeses me off. Then I note that some blokes from a fortified wine growing region of Portugal are hosting The Bavarians, and suddenly the blood begins to boil.
However, what really makes me very most vexest of all, is seeing two teams lining up in Madrid. That was MY spring break right there. Either Team. Not bothered. Preferred Real, but whatever.
Just penning those two short paragraphs may give the impression I am an angry doomer. I am not. I am a happy person and all is well. I am, however, slightly concerned that a good many Gunners are more sensitive than I. Mood swingers, if you like. All is rosy then wallop, one Cup defeat, one League defeat and suddenly Arsenaldom is an unbearable hellhole.
How utterly depressed are you that Our Boys are not lining up tonight?
I am not depressed at all, just bloody furious, that’s all.
Ed: I’ve added this poll – just for amusement value :)