Wenger is Wrong. Bould is Right.

It would be nice to think that Emmanuel Adebayor, in kicking Santi Cazorla up in the air, has also kick started our season.

After some toothless displays (from an attacking point of view) against Norwich, Schalke and Manchester United it was also nice to see further evidence that our goal scoring touch has returned. Even against nine men and an ape, a five goal haul is impressive.

However, the worriers and pessimists will still have found something to chew on in the two goals we conceded. For the first Spud goal our defence did not seem sure whether it was stepping up or falling back so, in consequence, it did half of one and half of the other. Mertesacker, Vermaelen and Szczesny could all have done better for that goal.

As for the second Spud score, we gave Bale so much room to shoot he must have thought he was back at Windsor Safari Park.

Certainly we still don’t seem to have the balance right between attack and defence – and there have been rumours recently of a  fall-out between Arsene Wenger and Steve Bould over where the team’s priorities should lie.

Let’s assume that, like the majority of internet rumours, it’s mostly rubbish.

But even so, it is not hard to imagine that there is a grain of truth in it: that the Arsenal manager and his first team coach may have different ideas about whether our emphasis should be on defence or attack.

A couple of weeks ago Wenger was quoted as saying that he thought our players should stop worrying so much about trying not to concede and should, instead, be more cavalier in attack:

“I think what is most important right now is that we find our game back. Our game is about creating chances, about going forward, about having an offensive drive…

“That, at the moment, is missing a bit. I believe I have a team of great players and perhaps they have forgotten a little bit how good they are.

“What is most important is that we play again with our enthusiasm, desire to create chances and enjoy our game, more than thinking about if we concede a goal or not.”

I was not alone in interpreting that comment as Le Boss reasserting his control over the team’s direction after an early season period in which we looked more solid defensively than we had done for a long time. Much credit for this perceived transformation was given to Bould by fans and journalists alike. And, indeed, Wenger may well have felt obliged to listen to his new coach, having just appointed him.

The problem was that although we were not conceding many goals, we weren’t scoring many either.

I understand what Le Boss was getting at with his comments. Successive Wenger teams have succeeded by dazzling the opposition with fast, deadly attacking play and scoring more goals.

He clearly felt that in some performances this season our creative approach has been constipated. The progressive players have been worried about our porous defence and have sacrificed attacking effort for the chance to help out at the back.

You can imagine training ground discussions (if not exactly rows) where Bouldie would be arguing that we should continue to give a priority to not conceding, while Wenger would be saying that it’s not the end of the world to let one in provided we get two or three at the other end.

Obviously both are right up to a point, but I think Bould is more right.

The reason our attacking players are anxious about us not conceding is that they know only too well that we concede far too easily. And rather than the conceded goals not mattering, in fact they regularly wipe out all the good work done by the forwards.

Our strikers scored three good goals against Fulham – but we still couldn’t win. They got two against Schalke – same result.

Just like us fans, the forwards know that we have become far too good at giving away STUPID goals.

All teams concede goals, but we really have been cornering the market on idiot ones:

  • Vermaelen passing the ball to the deadliest striker in the country in our penalty area in the opening minutes of the game at Old Trafford.
  • Letting the poisonous dwarf that is Patrice Evra score from a header in the same game.
  • Berbatov being allowed to head into our net unchallenged from the edge of the six yard box. Unchallenged because Mannone did not come to claim the ball and Sagna (who in any case should not have been marking Fulham’s tallest player) was inexplicably “marking” him on the wrong (non-goal) side.
  • Torres being given time to connect with a cross, again in our penalty area, which should never have reached him.

I’m sure you can add to the list – but you get the point.

We cannot expect to win games when we are so prone to shooting ourselves in the foot.

Most of the idiot goals we have let in have not come as a result of a poor “team defence” performance. Instead they have come from stupid individual errors. It’s a continuation of last season, when we would often dominate possession only to concede to our opponents’ first attempt on goal.

Until we can cut out those errors, our forwards will never feel secure enough to fully express themselves.

That means Bould’s work with the defence should take precedence over everything else. He certainly knows what it takes to defend at the highest level and he needs to impart those skills to our current back line.

I have no idea whether the “zonal marking” issue is part of the problem, but there must be a way of ensuring that our defenders do not keep making schoolboy errors.

I would certainly settle for a little run of “one nil to the Arsenal”s right now.

All of our defenders are capable of playing to very high standard and cutting out the daft individual mistakes. Bould needs to be allowed to continue prioritising working with them to ensure they do so.



135 Responses to Wenger is Wrong. Bould is Right.

  1. Big Raddy says:

    “Even against nine men and an ape, a five goal haul is impressive.”

    Thank you for sending me off to work with a laugh.

    Great stuff as always Rocky

  2. Rasp says:

    Challenging and entertaining post as usual, thanks Rocky …. “we gave Bale so much room to shoot he must have thought he was back at Windsor Safari Park” 😆

    Like you I don’t profess to be an expert, but I can’t argue against those that oppose zonal marking stating that the striker has forward momentum to attack the incoming cross whilst our defenders are static, and a zone never scored a goal.

  3. Fabulous post Rocky, though i don’t agree with your conclusion.
    Our game as long as Wenger is in charge should focus on the offensive, that is playing to our strengths and if the defenders can’t do their job in open play then we need to buy top drawer defenders that can. I’m not saying our attackers and midfield shouldn’t defend, they will have to on set pieces and corners. But if our offensive game isn’t compromised by the worry of a leaky defence then they can concentrate on their job of keep ball and creating chances and limiting the opposition to less than 5 chances per game, a figure that competent defensive personnel should be able to cope with all day long.

  4. glic says:

    Another top installment of the Rock Files .

    Being hard to beat is the first priority imo. I thought their second goal was like an easy training ground goal, Cheeta had too much time to peel back the banana and let fly !.

  5. LB says:

    It would have been churlish not to have focused on the fact that we beat our cave dwelling neighbours over the weekend but are there many who really believe that that would have been the case had Adebayor stayed on the pitch?

    The correct answer to that question I suppose is who cares but our defence was poor, so poor and so frightened I swear I could smell the fear from as far away as I was sitting. In short, I believe we would have lost.

    Above is a good idea for a post and entertainingly written as ever by Rocky but I do not buy into this idea that there is a tug of war going on between Wenger and Bould over the which style of play should be prioritised.

    If Bould is solely in charge of the defence then we need a major rethink because it is not working.

  6. Philbet says:

    30% of all goals are scored from set pieces, corners etc, whether man marking or Zonal is the better, can only be determined at the season end, we should note however, that we did not concede a set piece goal on Saturday, despite zonal marking and it is a fact that is always overlooked, it is also a fact that Man City had the best defensive record in the league last year and have conceded more than 50% of this seasons goals from set pieces, (and City man mark)……You cant forget when we don’t concede with Zonal
    defense and only remember when we do…

  7. Rasp says:

    Different managers have different styles. AVB and AW come across as one-man managers during games whereas Mancini (in particular always talking to David Platt) and even SAF are constantly discussing the game with their assistants and presumably listening to suggestions.

  8. LB says:

    Good comment Phil

  9. Rasp says:

    Thanks Philbet … so are you saying you are in favour of zonal marking? The fact that we didn’t concede from a set piece at the weekend is not sufficient evidence. The goals conceded against Fulham (Berbatov) and the chavs (Torres) could be attributed to ZM.

  10. Rasp says:

    Maybe our marking system for set pieces, our tactics in general and the formation we employ should take into account the strengths of the opposition.

  11. Morning all

    Good point Philbet – I sat terrified each time we conceded a corner and yet either their corners were really rubbish ( probably ) or we were more in tune to defending them this week.

    We shouldn’t be worried when we’re 4-2 up against 10 men but it was as if a blast of cold air had been blown into the Emirates when Bale scored their second goal.

  12. chas says:

    Cheers, Rocky.

    I seem to remember the “rift” rumour originated from Stewart Robson around the time he was sacked by Arsenal after a campaign by fans to rid the club of his negativity.

    Therefore I’d assume, like you, that it’s mostly rubbish started by “a woman scorned”.

    The Norwich and manc games were the most worrying. We barely created anything in either and looked dodgy in defence to boot.

    There’s always going to be those who say ‘goals win games’ and those who prefer ‘ keep a clean sheet and you always have a chance of winning’. Finding the right balance is crucial.

    It’s interesting that Sir Albert Fergusmoan often talks about a strong defence being the platform for victory yet it’s the red mancs who have conceded the most goals (17) out of the top 7 teams. Mind you, they have also scored the most (29).

  13. slimgingergooner says:

    The issue here isn’t wether we go attacking or defensive, it’s about finding the right balance.

    There is no reason why we can’t be great at both, but to have any chance of doing it we must first have the correct players, and also have them in the correct positions.

    Firstly, we don’t have a DM. This has been something that has gone on for a long time, afterall, even Song was more offensive than defensive. We need an anchor in midfield who is defensively minded and unselfish enough to let his team mates do the attacking.

    What we also need are full backs who know when to go forward and don’t just bomb on at every opportunity. More importantly, they need to know how to defend. I think Gibbs and Sagna are ideal, but it doesn’t matter if they are injured!

    We also need CB’s who are exactly that. Whilst I love Kozzer and Verm, they both have an itching to storm forward when there is no need to do so. If they were both masters in defence then I would say fair enough, but they are not. They should concentrate on excelling at defence before considering being forward players.

    The final piece, is to work as a unit defensively. Winning the ball high up the pitch is one of the most effective ways of scoring goals. Barca do it time after time and there is no reason why we or any other club can’t do it. Once again we have seen our high pressing game fall off after about 10 games of the season. It happens every year and it needs to be more prominent in our game.

    Get these things right and both Bould and Wenger could be correct, but at the moment we are like 2 sides of a coin.

  14. chas says:

  15. Rasp says:

    Quote from Ray Parlour on TalkSport last week ……

    “They train exactly the same at Arsenal now as they did when AW first arrived, nothing has changed”

  16. VCC says:

    Fine post Rocky.

    For all our sanity, I have sent a copy of your post to Mr.Wenger ( hope you don’t mind). Its an old cliche, but defenders need to learn to defend first. When we perfect that element of our game the AM and Forwards can press on with confidence.

  17. chas says:

    Time to peel back the banana…..

  18. Alexgunner ethio says:

    Nice rocky, but u should hav to make annalysis on when ramsay on z pitch would arsenal can score goals? I think may b a goal not goals. When we start z season well we didnt use rambo for almost 4 games, when we played with him we lost our creativity and…

  19. kelsey says:

    At least there are some good honest comments on here. Our back 4 is still not settled and Mannone has played the majority of games this season, but as peaches said there was a nervousness in the crowd even when we were 4-2 up against 10 men.
    To concede 5 goals at home in two consecutive games is not good enough.
    One can put it partly down to the whole team still finding each other,but even though we are overjoyed at beating our neighbours we were once again slow out of the traps which is something one didn’t see in the Arsenal of old, but is seen far too often for my liking this season.

  20. moses gyabi chihi says:

    my weekend was good for we had a 5-2 win over totts but our defence needs to be worked on for we dont look good there i just dont know how but but we need it good for our coming games

  21. slimgingergooner says:

    Just to interpret Alexgunner’s comment,

    He’s saying its a fantastic post Rocky, and one he will read to his kids when they are older, but why waste your time writing it, when what we should all be doing is moaning about Ramsey! 🙂

  22. GunnerN5 says:

    You will really enjoy this post – it’s very long in words but it’s also deep in reverence.


    A high holy day: how my Arsenal love affair began

    Posted by David Hirshey

    Though the iconic Highbury was closed in 2006, Arsenal’s spiritual home for 93 years made hardcore fans out of many.

    Over the past two years, readers of “Kicking and Screaming” columnist David Hirshey may have noticed a slight bias in his posts. Call it a pathological need to reference Arsenal no matter what team he’s writing about. In an essay that first appeared in the new soccer magazine Howler, Hirshey finally explains the origin of his 40-year sickness. On the eve of the North London derby, we reprint it here in the hope that Hirshey’s love affair with Arsenal will resonate with supporters of all clubs. Except, of course, fans of Tottenham.

    Ever since I was old enough to juggle my pacifier with both feet (a good six days, family legend has it), my soccer destiny led to the hallowed gates of Highbury.

    My dad preached two elemental truths of Goonerdom. First, that Arsenal embodied all that was good and noble about sport. Second, that across London lurked an abyss crawling with the spawn of Lucifer. Others called them Spurs fans.

    The men with the iconic cannon on their shirts were only my Dad’s third love. While growing up in Chemnitz, an industrial town in what later became East Germany, he was drawn to FC Schalke. Then, when sent to boarding school in Geneva, he adopted FC Servette (and later played as a Swiss U-17 international). He became an Arsenal fan in the mid-1940s when he was posted to London after being wounded at the Battle of the Bulge.

    By then, my father’s days of competitive soccer were over. His right foot had nearly been blown off by a Nazi landmine and the shrapnel so deeply embedded that he considered himself lucky the doctors had decided not to amputate. Laid up in London, he jumped (on one foot) at an Army buddy’s suggestion that they catch an Arsenal game during the 1946 season.

    The Gunners had dominated English soccer during the thirties, and my father had followed the heroics of Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin on grainy newsreels while at his Swiss school. Highbury had taken a pounding during the Blitz; the roof of the North Bank had been reduced to smoldering rubble and the famous Clock End had fared only slightly better. Five years later my father could still see the wartime scars as he first stepped into the Laundry End, where he sang, swore, and drank along with 45,000 other Gooners — a “joyful, communal atmosphere of red,” he would later tell me.

    Never mind that Arsenal got thrashed by Wolves 6-1.

    I was born a tad outside the Highbury zip code in New York City, where my father emigrated after the war. But even in my earliest imagination, the famous football cathedral loomed, floodlit and imperious in the London mist. My father owned a chandelier factory in Spain, and traveled there several times a year, stopping in London on his way home. Hearing, as a boy, of the Arsenal matches he attended, I was filled with an almost patricidal jealousy, a feeling he’d always quell with the same line: “Someday, you and I will go to Highbury.”

    Someday took 20 years.

    Throughout the sixties as soccer became more tribal, the “communal joy” my father had experienced at Highbury began to dissipate (as did his marriages; he was on his third). The decade also saw the ascendancy of Satan’s spawn, Tottenham. Spurs won the Double in 1961 (and, I’m happy to report, have won little besides my undying contempt since).

    On his one trip to Highbury during those sinister days, my father narrowly managed to avoid being hit in the head by a coin — its edges serrated like a knife — thrown by a Liverpool supporter. He later described the scene at the ground as a “war zone” that, hyperbole notwithstanding, he knew a little something about.

    The mood — both in my life and at Highbury — brightened in the late sixties and early seventies. I escaped to boarding school, proudly sporting my Charlie George jersey in honor of Arsenal’s first rock star who scored the winning goal against Liverpool in the 1971 FA Cup Final. With his flowing mane and cocksure snarl, George brought a Jagger-like swagger to the team. My father once told me about a game against Newcastle when George put his hands around the throat of the Magpies captain Bobby Moncur, who had been hacking away at his ankles. “Don’t keep f***ing p***ing me off,” he shouted at Moncur, “or I’ll nut you.” Moncur, no wallflower himself, all but rolled over like an obedient puppy. Near the end of the game, George executed an audacious one-two off Moncur’s legs as if they were a backboard before blasting the rebound into the net for the winning goal.

    In college, I played on a team that, to put it mildly, did not conform to my father’s refined soccer aesthetic. He would drive five hours to see me play and afterwards would always quote Brian Clough: “If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he would have put grass in the sky.” I didn’t mention that in those years, Arsenal favored a similar style. Hoof and hope.

    Not that I’d ever seen it in person.

    Then, in the summer of 1979, a seismic event jolted my father to his Gooner core. “Liam Brady,” my dad said one night, in the muted tones one uses when describing the death of a family member, “has put in a transfer request.”

    This was the same Liam Brady whom he had anointed “the first footballing genius in Arsenal’s history” after witnessing an outrageous piece of skill in Arsenal’s 5-0 evisceration of Spurs at White Hart Lane in 1978. How many times had we watched the video of Brady winning the ball at the edge of the box and lashing it viciously with his left foot into the upper right corner of the goal? “Look at that!” the announcer kept exclaiming, “Just LOOK AT THAT!!!”

    Now, after seven years and no league titles (sound familiar?), the Irishman had finally been driven to seek a bigger stage. One of his most ardent suitors was the Italian giant Juventus, and when the teams were drawn against each other in a two-leg semifinal of the Cup Winners Cup, my dad knew the time had come for our Highbury hegira. After all, what kind of father would fail to take his son to see his favorite player? Tickets were purchased; flights were booked; Highbury beckoned. It was 1980 — time for the bar mitzvah’d boy to enjoy his Arsenal baptism.

    Juventus was a powerhouse. With Dino Zoff in goal, Claudio Gentile and Antonio Cabrini in defense, Gaetano Scirea, Franco Causio and Marco Tardelli in midfield plus the golden boy of Italian soccer, Roberto Bettega, up front, this Juve team contained the core of the Italy side that would go on to win the 1982 World Cup. At the club level, they were a terrifying blend of aggression and skill.

    Two hours before kickoff, we alighted at Finsbury Park tube station and made our way to the Auld Triangle, the famous Arsenal pub — another rite of passage.

    My father had arranged for tickets in the North Bank, where the real fans stood shoulder to shoulder (seats were for the soft, the weak, the Spurs fans) and swayed back and forth for 90 minutes.

    At first I was disappointed. I had grown up believing that the iconic Clock End, or the magnificent Art Deco East and West Stands, were the most suitable places of worship. A friend of mine had even said that the North Bank reeked of cigarette smoke and stale urine, since the bathrooms were close to the stands. He was right on both counts, but I came to cherish the memory of that acrid smell years later when the Gunners moved to their soulless Emirates spaceship and replaced the wafting of ammonia with the antiseptic stench of corporate leather.

    To be a true Arsenal fan is to be a North Banker. If three quarters of Highbury would occasionally regress into a librarian-like state of fugue, you’d never know it from listening to our untidy, sweaty corner of the Gunner universe.

    Still, the rush of adrenaline I felt climbing the stairs to the North Bank was accompanied by a queasiness in my stomach that owed at least as much to anxiety as to the soggy meat pie I had consumed on our way to the stadium. How could the reality live up to almost three decades of expectations? What if it turned out I had been worshipping a false idol all of these years?

    We walked into a cauldron of noise. “We’re the North Bank High-bu-ry” banged around the stadium as I caught my first, astonishing glimpse of my Elysian Field: the brightest, most beautiful expanse of green grass that the divine ever permitted to see the sporadic light of English day.

    It looked much smaller than it had on TV and was clearly designed to prevent teams from playing with any width. There was one other visible shocker: a wooden sign on the way up the stairs sporting the alarming words No Alcohol Beyond This Point. I turned to my father. “Good thing we stopped at the pub.”

    “Not to worry,” he said. “They sell beer at the concessions, but you can’t bring it to your seat.”

    It is among my proudest moments that by distracting the usher with my American accent and a five pound note that “accidentally” dropped out of my coat pocket, I was able to smuggle a pint back to my Dad. “Oh ye of little faith,” I said.

    I could barely hear his response above the din of nearly 60,000 full-throated congregants.

    Arsenal was chock full of players from the Emerald Isle — Eire internationals included Brady, the center back David O’Leary and the lethal finisher Frank Stapleton, while the Northern Irish claimed goalkeeper Pat Jennings and defenders Pat Rice and Sammy Nelson. The London Irish flocked to Highbury to celebrate their heroes, and their singing drew in the stiff-upper-lipped Englishmen until the whole stand heaved while chanting “There’s only one Liam Brady” every time the Irishman possessed the ball. Everything ran through Brady — including Marco Tardelli’s studs.

    The Italian midfielder tried everything short of homicide to prevent Brady from imposing his mastery on the game. When Tardelli was eventually dismissed for a reckless tackle on Graham Rix, it was the inevitable result of a night spent chasing Brady around the field, unable to cope with his adhesive ball control and elegant swerves. Later, a road flare came hurtling out of the Juventus supporters’ section and struck Arsenal defender Willie Young, enveloping him in a cloud of purple smoke. My North Bank responded with the kind of pre-PC anti-Juve invective that today would get you banned from the stadium. It grew worse after Bettega tattooed O’Leary’s shin with a two-footed challenge that ripped a hole in the Arsenal defender’s sock.

    The game degenerated into a glorious war of attrition. Arsenal’s Brian Talbot felled Bettega with a retaliatory foul — in his own penalty box. Cabrini banged in the rebound of his spot-kick and Juventus moved into that most Italian of motifs, defending a one-goal lead on the road.

    “This could get ugly,” my Dad said, as all around us the North Bank seethed with anger, jeering Bettega’s every touch.

    Finally, five minutes from the end, the object of our unremitting scorn got his karmic comeuppance as Brady surged up the left flank and delivered a seeing-eye cross that Young nodded down in the box. Bettega swiped at it, but in his haste spun the ball backwards into his own goal. 1-1.

    I thought the North Bank would spontaneously combust from the explosion of primal noise and emotion. As I hugged my father, a large bloke wrapped his meaty paws around us both and started jumping up and down. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, and the police made sure that the Juve fans had departed long before they allowed the North Bank to empty out. The party moved onto the streets, accompanied by a river of beer, delirious Arsenal chants, the sweaty embrace of strangers and the rampant abuse of anybody who looked remotely Continental.

    But the moment that remains with me today, two years after my father’s passing, is him with his arm around me and his voice in my ear:

    “So, when are we coming back?”

  23. rustagun says:

    He (Bale) had so much room to shoot he thought he was back at windsor safari park lmfao Hahahaha classic

  24. richie says:

    @Rasper10:35 So what are you saying? Is that good or bad?

  25. sube says:

    We have not seen any positive influences in our defending since the arrival of Bould have we? We are as vulnerable in defense as we were last season. How can you judge if Bould is wrong or right when we have not improved. In fact, I think Arsenal are more vulnerable to concede from open play than the previous seasons. Set-pieces have always been our Achilles heel.
    I don’t know how many have noticed it but I have a feeling we are missing Pat Rice!

  26. Rasp says:

    Hi richie, I haven’t a clue 😕 Maybe it just means that if the players are good enough and play as a team the AW system works beautifully, but if they aren’t/they don’t we lack balance and look vulnerable in defence.

  27. Rasp says:

    GN5, thanks, fantastic extract … I’d have loved to publish that as a headline

  28. Bryan says:

    Well writen & entertaining Rocky!

    Don’t you just love this smug feeling you get from beating the spuds haha

  29. Rasp says:

    Maybe the reason AW likes zonal marking has a lot to do with referees and the instructions they are given. We all know our manager likes to see the game played artistically and with fairness. Referees will happily award a penalty if a player has his shirt pulled when running into the opposition’s box yet turns a blind eye when defenders climb inside the shirt of our strikers when defending set pieces … same offence, different result … can’t be right.

    TH14 would hold both hands up in the air whilst the affectionate defender behind had his hands clamped around his waist.

    You do not see this with zonal marking because the defenders and strikers are standing apart.

  30. Hi all, on phone so will be brief. Rocky – great post, N5 – moving story, Peachy- lucky girl to be at THOF to see another spud spanking. UTA !

  31. richie says:

    @GunnerN5 Thanks for that what a great read! That’s a piece of writing to warm the cockles of your heart! Marvellous!

  32. richie says:

    Looking at Man City’s ‘zonal marking’
    Over the past few weeks, zonal marking has again taken a bit of battering. Only on Saturday, Jamie Redknapp was readily criticising use of the system during Man United’s win over Arsenal, even though zonal marking had nothing to do with the goal he was talking about. Surprisingly he wasn’t so quick to point out a set piece chance for Arsenal in the first half where a simple block from Mertesacker on a man-marker left Giroud free in space for a great chance.

    Because of this, you may forgive me for being surprised it took over half an hour for Andy Townsend to have a go at zonal marking (or ‘zoning’ as he called it) in Man City’s draw with Ajax on Tuesday night. This time it was the old ‘players don’t know whose job is whose’, even though if you bothered to study the system, it’s generally pretty clear.

    There are worse cliches trotted out admittedly. ‘A zone has never scored a goal’ is a big favourite for many clueless pundits, completely ignoring the fact that most teams pretty much use zone defending in open play. They also ignore the fact that from free-kicks in certain positions, like out wide, teams pretty much always use one line of zonal.

    And that brings about another thing. Just like in open play where teams use a mixture of man marking and zonal marking, teams who use so-called zonal marking from set pieces are often instead using a mixture of both. This varies admittedly. Some have players on the posts (another example of zonal marking which is never pointed out), some have a different amount of players defending in different positions. The most important thing however is how the players perform it .

    For full analysis check out this link below.

  33. Rasp says:

    Thanks richie … so are you saying you’re in favour? 😆

  34. richie says:

    I reposted the above because when teams use zonal marking and end up with the fewist goals against, there isn’t a rush in this country to give credit to zonal marking, because the lazy pundits who criticise it often never used it (in their day). In the above mentioned game both Ajax and City used the zonal system.

  35. VCC says:

    @GunnerN5. What a great piece.

    Last sentence was lovely, how moving.

  36. Rasp says:

    Maybe the answer to the zonal marking debate can resolved if a 4th (5th?) official stands by one of the goalposts and flags up fouls so that the holding by defenders becomes outlawed. In basketball, the slightest degree of innapropriate contact is penalised – I’m not suggesting that, just a means of seeing fair play. The laws apply to the goalkeeper on whom minimal contact is often interpretted as a foul.

  37. Rasp says:

    Still haven’t had your answer richie 😕 I simply don’t know, GiE is the one who usually convinces me that ZM is good, but I usually lapse back into scepticism.

  38. richie says:

    @Rasper I’ve criticised zonal marking myself, but in all honesty since the changes in the offside rules with the passive/active (bullshit) man marking in open play is no longer really practicle, which is why those of our own who harken back to our old famous back 4/5 aren’t being realistic because the game has moved on, our old back 4 “en mass” would’ve been too slow for the modern game. However a keeper like Seaman who could be relied upon to come and claim in the area is if anything even more important.

  39. Shard says:

    Interesting article Rocky. I’m not sure I agree with your conclusion though. While defensive stability is essential, Arsenal’s identity is as an attacking club. I think clubs which are more focused on defending are invariably those that are poorer in quality. Defending should never take precedence over everything else at a club like Arsenal.

    We have, however, had defensive problems for some years now, and that is worrying. But I think it’s something that hasn’t been ignored. Two seasons ago set pieces were a huge problem. Last season we didn’t concede so many from them at all. It was clearly something that was worked on more. This season, we’re also defending set pieces ok I feel. We have conceded more from individual errors. But at least, it doesn’t seem like we’re conceding every time the opposition attacks. I am not sure about the numbers, but I think we’re making teams shoot more to score against us.

    As regards the discussion on zonal marking, I don’t get the big fuss over it. I think statistically, less goals are scored against zonal marking than against man-to-man marking from corners. (Not sure how the numbers are calculated) And I agree with richie that the commentators don’t bring up the issue of man to man marking when a goal is scored against it. They simply blame the player. They seem happier with man to man because it makes it easier to apportion blame if something goes wrong. They make no attempt to look at it as a systemic issue.

  40. Rasp says:

    True richie, it must also be an advantage if your defenders are man mountains and have the gravitas to withstand an onrushing Andy Caroll

  41. richie says:

    The bottom line is, I think, zonal making works if it’s used properly. Our problem in England is that when a set piece is taken rough house tactic’s come into play and they aren’t penalised. Open shirt pulling in England is considered normal during a set piece, the continental’s shirt pull just as much, but it’s covertly done. A favourite tactic of say “Stoke” is for 4 or 5 of their players to start off at the near post for a corner then all run out to around the penalty spot before surging back in “en mass” at the far post steam rolling all before them in the manor of a Rugby scrum-type maul. This type of tactic isn’t confined only to Pulis’s mob because many use variations of it. This tactic wouldn’t be allowed by European Ref’s

  42. slimgingergooner says:

    Frimps gone to Charlton until end of year. Hope he does well.

  43. Rasp says:

    Talking of zonal marking, this report seems pretty fair and makes the poiint that most of our attacking endeavour came down the right, how much more destructive might we have been if we posed a similar threat down the left? …. Arshavin anyone?


  44. Rasp says:

    We agree richie ….

  45. Big Raddy says:

    Arshavin for whom?

    We do not have a Bayel, few teams do. Spurs realised that we attacked mostly from the right and had 3 players trying to stem the flow, it didn’t work. Sagna/Walcott were too good for them.

    Zonal marking. Works if the players are disciplined (see Sagna letting Berbs get in front of him)

  46. Rasp says:

    Arshavin as a 60-70 minute sub for Podolski at the least and a proper pacy overlapping LB either in the form of a fit Gibbs or A.N. Other.

  47. Big Raddy says:


    But do not agree with LB that we would have lost but for Ade’s red card.

    Yes, we were slow getting into the game but we were/are/always will be capable of beating Spurs, especially at home. We have played against teams with 10 men and struggled, we have played with 10 men and won.

    True they were disadvantaged but we scored 5 goals, not one or two and was this purely due to a CF being sent off?

  48. Hi all

    We need a post for tomorrow ……..any takers??????

  49. VCC says:

    Your spot on BR. I agree with you. Its impossible to say wether we would have won or lost.

    Our excellent forward play in and around their box had nothing to do with them having only 10 men. Spurs would never play all eleven men packed in their own area against Arsenal.

    I agree we were shaky in the first 20 minutes.

  50. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sterling work as always Rocky. Thank you.
    Me? I want both. The defence to defend better and the attack to do as Arsene wants, and to attack with more freedom and joy.
    We heap unnecessary pressure on our defence by starting slowly, and then again when we start believing the job is done.

  51. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sorry Rocky, I know others have mentioned it, but your reference to Windsor Safari Park is an absolute classic 🙂

  52. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Peaches, relax.
    The cold chill around the emirates on 71 minutes had nothing to do with the Bale Goal. At precisely that moment, my mother-in-law had left her coven on the Essex coast, and begun to move in a Westerly direction. The cold front moves quickly.

  53. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I have the seed of an idea. I’ll try to get the little sod to germinate before tomorrow. No promises just yet.
    Back to work for now.

  54. Red Arse says:

    Zonal marking? The defenders mark a ‘space’ in the penalty area and are responsible for clearing the ball from ‘their’ space.

    Reason for zonal marking? All the defenders know their responsibility regardless of which opposition player is involved, and should not get pulled out of position. [In a perfect world].

    Against? There can be a mismatch of physiques between defender and forward, with the inevitable consequences.
    It is not a perfect world and without exhaustive training and self discipline from the defenders, they can and will get caught out. Running and jumping for a ball will give an advantage over someone standing and jumping.

    Summary: ZM works with disciplined, quality defenders who know each other well. Defences continually changing because of injuries, or with poor quality defensive players will never make ZM work!

  55. RockyLives says:

    Good day all and thanks for the comments.

    My headline was a bit more emphatic than the post itself (which argued for a slight shift in emphasis towards cutting out defensive errors) but I can understand where those who advocate the “Arsenal way” of focussing on attack are coming from.

    What has really been bugging me are the apparently stupid defensive mistakes that have cost goals, rather than a problem with defending as a team.

    If we had cut by half the moments where “individual error leads to opposition goal” this season we would probably have four or five more points.

  56. RockyLives says:

    I can see where you’re coming from with your comment that we would have lost if Barndoor had stayed on. We certainly looked wobbly in the first 15.

    But your conclusion only works if you believe that the pattern laid out in the first 15 minutes of a game always maintains itself for the remaining 75 minutes.

    If footy that is very seldom the case.

    None of us knows what would have happened but I do feel 100% confident that we would have improved on our shaky start one way or another.

  57. Rasp says:

    Hi RA, also there is a reason why athletes have a run up to perform the high jump – it allows them to generate greater vertical lift. If the defender can be rock solid and stand his ground against an incoming striker then great the system works, but he will be at a disadvantage in terms of momentum and height. One advantage of ZM I can see is that it allows the defender to watch the ball whilst being aware of the striker in peripheral vision as opposed to the other way round with man marking.

  58. Brigham says:

    Another enjoyable read and this particular line had me laughing out very loud…

    …thought he was back at Windsor Safari Park.

  59. Red Arse says:

    Excellent Post, Rocky, 🙂

    Actually I did not really have to instruct my fingers to type that, they already know the form!! 🙂

  60. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Redders
    I suspect your comment “Summary: ZM works with disciplined, quality defenders who know each other well.” would work equally well for any other defensive system if you substituted (New System) for (ZM).

    Which brings us to the rather mundane conclusion that it’s all about the quality (and fitness) of the players…

    Hmmm – I can’t work out whether that makes me feel happy or sad.

  61. LB says:

    Hey guys

    This is not an argument I want to win or am going to try.

    One of the principle points of the headline post was how shaky the defence was, I simply extrapolated the time Adebayor was on the pitch and the effect spuds attacking play was having on us and applied it to the following hour. My conclusion is that we would have lost.

    If any of you guys think our defence was good in the first 20 minutes then you saw something that I didn’t.

  62. RockyLives says:

    Cheers Brigham
    I have happy memories of a couple of childhood family outings to Windsor Safari Park (we always went by coach because we didn’t have a car).

    We also went to Woburn Abbey, which also had a safari park.

    Are they both still in existence?

  63. Rasp says:

    Hi Rocky, I agree, the inevitable conclusion is that the quality of the defender is No.1 followed by the coaching and system employed.

  64. RockyLives says:

    Point taken LB
    I suspect everyone is in agreement with your assessment of our defence in the first 17 minutes.

    But some of us (believe/hope) that we would have improved during the game even if it had stayed 11 v 11.

    Of course all theories are equally unprovable and therefore equally valid.

  65. Red Arse says:

    I am surprised that someone said the shirt pulling of forwards by defenders is not permitted on the continent.

    Whilst it is true that a relatively few teams, such as Barcelona, seem to have adopted defensive ZM, that is because they have a plethora of brilliant ball players throughout the team, but the vast majority of teams in the Italian and Spanish leagues prefer the ‘man for man’ marking.

    The referees in the CL games seem to tolerate the most outlandish nudging, tugging or diving by both the offense and the defense in either penalty area.

    Watch the games this week, and I can guarantee that during corners, the forwards will all be facing the corner to see where the ball will be delivered, while at least half of the defenders will be facing away from the ball with their arms wrapped around an opposition forwards like frogs in the mating season.

    I have often railed against a myopic or ‘stupid’ referee who hasn’t seen, or chooses not to see, a surreptitious push or a nurdle on one of our players who is rising for a flighted ball from a corner.

    Sadly this ‘professional’ defending is very effective, and even shitty low quality players can become very adept at this type of defensive ‘skill’.

    Until UEFA and the FA in this country make the referees get tough on this type of cheating, I roundly compliment Bouldie, if indeed it is he, for trying to convince Arsene that we must match professional gamesmanship on a like for like basis.

    Zonal marking? Phoee!

  66. Red Arse says:


    You said, “Of course all theories are equally unprovable and therefore equally valid.”

    Leaving aside, as unintentional, the concept of all theories being equally unprovable, because that would disappoint Einstein and anyone else with a scientific bent, I think there is a position we might mutually agree upon.

    It is possible to postulate something as accurate, or not, based on limited data, and for which the scientific conclusion is also equally accurate, or not, but it then makes the invalidity of the statement conditional, and not absolute.

    Agree? 🙂

  67. RockyLives says:

    Great article – thanks for re-posting.

  68. RockyLives says:

    Ah Redders
    You have slipped into extrapolating the generic from the specific.
    My comment was referring to the specific question under discussion (would Arsenal have lost if the Spuds had retained a full complement).

    If you isolate the words “Of course all theories are equally unprovable and therefore equally valid” and apply them as a general principle, clearly they don’t stand up.

    For example, I might have a theory that tomorrow the sun will rise in the West. And who can say with 100% certainty that it won’t? But I could not contend that this theory is as valid as the theory that the sun will rise in the East, because the latter has proved accurate for approximately the last thousand billion (trillion? gazillion?) days…

  69. Red Arse says:

    Rocky, I am content to give you odds of one thousand billion (trillion? gazillion?) to one, that the sun will not rise in the west tomorrow! 😀

    But I have a theory that you may not pay me the dollar!! 🙂

  70. Red Arse says:

    Now here I was hoping to get into a nice philosophical “Is absence of evidence the same as evidence of absence” debate and I have sent you all off to hide, instead! 🙂 [It’s not, by the way] 😆

    I shall give myself a red card!

  71. Rasp says:

    The Mail on Sunday reckons we’re interested in this left back …..


  72. RockyLives says:

    Is the fact that the other bloggers have all gone absence of evidence? Or evidence of absence?

  73. Brigham says:

    Rocky, Windsor closed a few years back, early nineties I believe and became Legoland, Woburn is still very much in existence.


  74. RockyLives says:

    Blimey Brigham – I’ve been to Legoland with the kids without ever realising it used to be Windsor SP.

  75. Brigham says:

    LOL – I went to White Hart Lane a lot and never realised they once won the league! 🙂

  76. Brigham says:

    When I say a lot, I meant as a Gooner! 😉

  77. Big Raddy says:

    Can’t be many Spurs fans who have seen them win the League and there is no way they will win again.

    They have as much chance as Leeds. Similar size club, similar history.

  78. chas says:

  79. chas says:

    Letter sent in to 365 mailbox about MOTD.

    Ranting About MOTD
    I know writing in to moan about MOTD is hardly original, but this Saturday they somehow failed to meet my barely existent expectations.

    Getting Vincent Kompany on was an interesting idea, and at least Gary Lineker asked a couple of questions that could have illustrated a top professional’s knowledge, attitude and expectations for the season. But it mostly just served to highlight what a horrendous, old-pros-bantering-after-18-holes joke the show has become.

    Rather than analyse City’s game, they just ribbed Vincent, with Hansen actually asking him whether the City players knew the United score in the dressing room!! I hope/choose to believe that Hansen just botched a question about City being motivated by the slip in upcoming games because, well, he can’t have declined that far since the good old days, right?

    The news that Harry Redknapp was on sent chills down my spine, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. An out-of-work manager who’s very much looking to get back in the game is not going to p*** anyone off too much anyway, but Redknapp is the epitome of the cosy, dumbed-down relationship between top-flight footballers and managers and the media.

    He added nothing to the show but a heightened sense of ill-deserved smugness. He was, completely, depressingly predictably, f***ing awful.

    In their wisdom, they decided they’d deal with the Adebayor challenge with a ‘He’s not that type of player’ one-liner (Robin van Persie might tell you different), then when Kompany introduced some actual debate by saying he felt Arsenal were the best team City have played this season there was no attempt at all to follow it up. This in a segment about Arsenal.

    But the person who did most to annoy me wasn’t actually in the studio. It was Jonathan Pearce. While his voice grates, I’ve always thought of Pearce as a man who got where he was through application. From Capital Gold to the Beeb’s main commentator on MOTD, he’s put a lot of effort into getting where he has today. But like everything else connected with the once-esteemed, now-dismal show, he’s resting on his laurels.

    While his ‘Chim, chim Giroud’ line was completely inexplicable, an in-joke for a grinning circle of one, the nadir was his completely ridiculous, totally invented framing of Per Mertesacker’s first goal for the club. According to JP, Mertesacker was a clumsy pariah before scoring, an inept figure of abuse who Arsenal fans had scapegoated since his arrival.

    Complete and utter cobblers.

    Mertesacker has been warmly received by Arsenal fans – see the BFG chant, which is more than the rest of our back line have inspired – and this season he has been far and away our best defender (even if he was at fault for Adebayor’s goal). The highlight was against Schalke at the Emirates, when he basically kept them out on his own in the first half. His height is a source of relief after seeing a succession of short centre backs toil against centre forwards and his bravery has made him highly popular. In among the nonsensical redemption narrative, Pearce’s line about careers turning on single goals was the one that stood out. This is a man with 85 caps for Germany, ferchrisake.

    So basically Jonathan Pearce thinks it’s okay to just make stuff up. As opposed to actually knowing about these players’ seasons and back stories – and it’s the Premier League, he hardly has to work particularly hard to research them – he just rehashed something suspiciously similar to Alan Hansen’s embarrassingly OTT criticism of the player whenever international tournaments come round and then pinned it on the fans.

    I know I wasn’t the only one left shouting at the TV either. A quick look on Twitter saw plenty of punters and a few opportunistic talking heads giving it a well-deserved kicking. Stanley Victor Collymore was probably the most vocal. A serial self-promoter he may be, but it would be brilliant to see someone who is actually interested in analysis, and doesn’t mind saying what he thinks – and he’d be a damn sight better than Henry Winter, who was being talked up by a lot of people who have failed to sufficiently consider what a self-congratulatory pillock he actually is.

    But something, anything, has to change. A Sky Sports subscription and a change of allegiance to Goals on Sunday looks more tempting by the week.
    Will (sorry, I evidently needed to get that off my chest) O’Doherty

  80. GoonerB says:

    A bit late on today but afternoon all. A lot of debate about zonal marking vs man to man. I can see the arguments for both, so here is a question. Can we not employ a hybrid of both? Could you not identify their 2-3 most dangerous players at set pieces and man mark them with our respective defenders good at defending set pieces, and then have the rest of the defence cover individual zones. I don’t know if this could work or not.

  81. Gooner In Exile says:

    Evening all, thanks for the post Rocky, I don’t really buy the thought that their is a rift between Bould and Arsene or even a disagreement as I have said before Bould would not have been given charge of our young prospects if he had them out there looking for 1-0 wins.

    Now on the subject of his work with the defence, if we assume that Bould is given control of defending set pieces, and if Bould is telling them to play Zonal, can we assume that Bould is doing this from experience of his own?

    By the way the answer is yes, when interviewed on the subject previously Keown stated that they defended zonal at set pieces.

    The counter argument to “a zone never scored a goal” is neither has a post but you often see two men standing on them. As Richie said earlier defending in open play is about limiting open space, so why should set pieces be different. And also as well as the two men on the post how useful is the man in front of the near post, Giroud on Saturday for us, Crouch at Stoke etc. another man marking space but key to the successful defending of a corner.

    The final thing i’d say on the subject is that zonal marking and criticism of it came to a head during Liverpool’s failed title run in under Benitez they gave away several goals from set pieces in key matches and it was considered “the reason” they would fail to win the title. Thing was they had the best defensive record from corners that season, which at the time was glossed over.

  82. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rasp @ 12:52 mentions the fact that we did a lot of attacking down the right, and that we could be more devastating down the left.

    As you know I like to counter and inthe games Schalke and ManUre it was applauded by most pundits that the teams attacked our weak link (Santos/Pod) didnt we do the same to Spuds (Naughton/Bale) on Saturday?

    See the weakness and go for the jugular. Besides only 1 goal truly came from an attack down the right, but the threat of it unbalanced the Spud midfield meaning we had space centrally to create Pod and Girouds goals.

  83. jnyc says:

    Rocky, i am in agreement on this issue. We seem to be caught in between two minds as a club as tactics and strategy are concerned.

  84. chas says:

    A couple of belters from a quick tour of the blogs.

  85. Rasp says:

    Hi GiE, good points all – but you’ve misquoted me 😉 I didn’t say we could be more devastating down the left (than the right?) I wrote “how much more destructive might we have been if we posed a similar threat down the left? ” at times with the current available personnel, it can be a bit of a dead end.

  86. jnyc says:

    Slimginger, i like your point about our high pressing. I have been complaining that we dont do it nearly as well as last season. We were among the best. I cant figure out why we have changed. —- and rasp, i think n5 comment/article is worth turning into a post for those who might have missed it.

  87. Red Arse says:


    Not quite sure what point you are making.

    I have not assiduously trawled thru’ the site, so I may missed the comment you may be referring to.

    The discussion, from my perspective, was not on the merits or otherwise, of ZM as a strategic philosophy, it was about whether or not it was a suitable ploy for Arsenal as compared to man for man marking, given the quality of defensive players we currently have.

    Incidentally, you also said, “defending in open play is about limiting open space,” and in itself that is a sound observation, but I do not see how it is an exemplar of zonal marking.

    Surely the addendum to that statement is, “defending in open play is about limiting open space — by pressing the opposition”.
    Colloquially known as “getting in their faces!”

    Sorry — but that sounds like the antithesis of zonal marking to me. 😀

  88. GoonerB says:

    Excellent post by the way Rocky and I, like jnyc @5.27 and Slimginger would like to see us pressing higher. I feel Giroud works hard to close down but I made a point yesterday about the position of Santi when we are not in possession. It was more in relation to us looking more dangerous going forward when he stays higher up the pitch than Wilshere and Arteta. I feel that Santi’s positioning could be the key to a couple of the problems mentioned and that he should stay in the space between their defence and midfield even when we are defending. When he does this and we win the ball back we have a quick forward passing option that takes out some of the oppositions midfield. When he comes too deep alongside Wilshere and Arteta and we win the ball back we often only have sideways or backwards passing options available. This allows the opposition to press us higher up the pitch (in the direction they are attacking), and we start to look too cautious and defensive. Also if Santi is higher it doesn’t mean he is absolved of all defensive duties it just means he can help out Giroud in pressing them higher up. We then get benefits both defensively and in an attacking sense. maybe this is one of the compromises between AW and Bould that could strike the balance where they agree to instruct Santi to never drop too deep even when we are not in possession.

  89. RockyLives says:

    Thanks GoonerB
    I noted that point when you made it yesterday. I can’t claim to be any kind of tactician, but it makes sense to me.

    In the Invincibles era we always had an out ball for a quick break between the defence and attack (usually Pires).

  90. Gooner In Exile says:

    Sorry for misquoting and misunderstanding 😳

    Admit I only skim read comments and just wanted to put some views out there.

    At Under 21s match v Norwich.

    Their keeper had a shocker allowing Akpom to close him downand tackle the ball into the net for 1-0. Gnabry returned the compliment by passing to Norwich number 9 who hit a very good turn and shot for 1-1.

    Gnabry then played a sublime reverse pass for the on rushing Eisfield to make it 2-1.

  91. Gooner In Exile says:

    The level of sublimity can be measured by 4 grown men all gasping as he did it.

  92. Gooner In Exile says:

    Eisfield just made it 3-1 lovely run down left wing, cut on to right and curled past keeper from a tight angle

  93. harry671 says:

    Evening all, Rocky quality post as always……

    I can see the foundations you built the post on, much of what you have said can be argued either way, there does seem to be a stuttering style that has been apparent of late, with some caught in two minds……
    There is a plethora of individual errors that have cost us this season, even though we have played poorly at times, no one team has really taken us to the cleaners, albeit Schalke mugged us for the last 20mins or so at home and away, but still the games were littered with individual errors.
    I feel that the players seem to feed off the confidence of our keeper and as i pointed out in yesterdays post I do not rate Mannone, as a Number one. I am now hoping that the defence will gain some confidence and improve.
    Wenger and Bould have got to learn to work together and perhaps that has more time yet to settle in fully. The three newbies are starting to settle as well, Giroud has started to show his potential.
    Work to do, but certainly not in crisis………..

  94. LB says:

    Hmmmmm, there is an interesting comment.

    Thinking about it, Leeds strike me as a bigger club than spuds.

  95. slimgingergooner says:


    I bet you saw more passes in the opening 20 minutes than I’m going to see in the next 90 watching West Ham v Stoke!

    This reminds me why I hate Allardyce and Pulis. It’s football at its very worst.

  96. glic says:

    I was thinking the same thing LB, Leeds a one team City. Much bigger club than the Spuds !.

  97. Gooner In Exile says:

    Harjovic concedes a penalty (stupidly) diving in with attacker going out of touch. 3-2

    SGG plenty of passing

  98. Gooner In Exile says:

    Olsson 4-2 outside of the boot, curled into far post.

  99. RockyLives says:

    I saw a report today that Akpom has been listed in our CL squad and is expected to get some first team football this season.

    Does he look ready?

  100. RockyLives says:

    I suppose we want Pubis to win or draw, otherwise the Irons go above us.

  101. glic says:

    Reality check Spuds.

    Title wins :

    Clungechester Utd…………………….19
    Bin Dippers……………………………….18
    The Good Guys………………………….13
    Everton, posh scousers…………………9
    Aston Vanilla………………………………..7
    Alan Sunderland…………………………..6
    Chavs pre-history 1, bought 3 =……. 4
    Ant & Dec Utd……………………………..4
    Sheff Wedding Tackle……………………4
    Dog Leeds Utd …………………………….3
    Mansour City………………………………..3
    P N E…………………………………………..2
    Spuds………………………………………….2 hahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahaahhahahahahahaa hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahah hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Derby & Joan club…………………………2
    Sherwood Forrest…………………………..1
    Sheff Utd……………………………………….1

    Now please keep quiete, as there are plenty of bigger clubs between us and you !.

  102. Rasp says:

    Hi glic – what are those figures based on?

  103. Gooner In Exile says:

    Hi Rocky,

    For me Akpom not yet ready, we have a few others who I’d say are, Eisfield, Miquel, Meade (who played in the middle tonight), was impressed by Olsson in midfield also, was actually impressed by Harjovic at centre back although still a bit to learn. Oh and of course Gnabry.

    So for me the players who could do a job now if needed Eisfield, Miquel, Gnabry and Meade and possibly Olsson.

    What was interesting was the way we played, there was a 4 at the back and 1 up front and 1 holding midfielder. The other 4 played deep, up, wide, wherever the game took them.

  104. chas says:

    Another beauty

  105. glic says:

    Hi Rasp
    They are all the Title wins of the teams in the Top league, ie,
    The Football League 1888 – 1892
    The football League 1st Division 1892 – 1992
    The Premier League 1992 – Present
    Only 23 different teams !
    Obviously there were two World War stoppages, but not sure if they had Fergie time in them days ! hahaha

  106. chas says:

    Click on the photo a couple of times to see it full size.

  107. chas says:

    Another cracking fan vid. Best watched on youtube in full screen.
    Just a shit Theo Walcott. 🙂

  108. chas says:

    Same goal, different view.
    Even the East Stand Upper was rocking.

  109. glic says:

    chas, thats better than watching MOTD, better commentary too !.

  110. chas says:

    Nice camerawork on this one

  111. chas says:

    Haha glic, definitely better commentary.

  112. Gooner In Exile says:

    Anyone else seen this? Tevez Wage Slip from March 2010, monthly take home pay £408k

    And there’s a £24 FA Fine as a deduction, so that means they pay the same for a yellow card as Sunday footballers!!!

  113. Gooner In Exile says:

    Great vids Chas….wish the atmosphere was like that every week.

    Do love the Giroud song, not too many words and everyone knows tune.

  114. RockyLives says:

    Brilliant vids Chas
    Definite Northern accent in the first one. Was Wiggy at the game?

  115. oz gunner says:

    typically great Rocky Monday special.

    Like slim (i think?) mentioned we need a happy medium between the two. Play the attacking way with good quality defenders (which we have).

    Akpom is definitely ready, the article was strange because there were a lot of youngsters listed in the champions league ‘B’ side. Not sure why he was singled out.

    Eisfeld is a ripper though. A midfielder who scores…I’ve miss that sort!!!

  116. oz gunner says:


  117. RockyLives says:

    I haven’t seen much of the Ice Field apart from his goals.

    What sort of MF is he?

    Who would you compare him to?

  118. oz gunner says:

    The obvious comparison everyone jumps to is freddie. Mainly because of his knack for turning up instead the box at the right time. Almost 6th sense like. I see him as more of an attacking midfielder, that’s where BD saw him as well but Goetze was blocking his path. It’s going to be very exciting if Eisfeld ends up the better player given the price tag (500 000 vs 30 million). Another Arsene gem, i think so!

  119. oz gunner says:

    Burton on Eisfeld: “He’s a very intelligent footballer and arguably plays better with better players because he is intelligent. He gets in good positions and, as you saw again tonight, he’s got excellent technique and can finish things off.”

    Arsenal.com also lists him as AM

  120. RockyLives says:

    From what I’ve seen I got the sense he was more Gerrard than Fabregas, but maybe that’s wrong.

  121. RockyLives says:

    How are things with you at the mo Oz?

  122. Gooner In Exile says:

    Oz your comparison of Eisfield to Freddy is very apt, he and Gnabry were in advanced positions most often, and Gnabry’s assist to Eisfield for the second goal last night was very much like Bergkamp playing in a Freddie run.

    The reason we all gasped is four Norwich defenders were tracking left, the reverse pass played by Gnabry left the Norwich players continue tracking left whilst the ball went inthe opposite direction to Eisfield making the run.

    Reason I didn’t think Akpom is ready is his finishing, couple of good chances to get more goals last night, one he waited forever and sliced over and the second he couldn’t get his feet sorted out. Much like Giroud he was happy to run away from goal to leave spaces for others to run in to.

  123. Gooner In Exile says:

    PoznanInMyPants has written another quirky post for those who need a bit of humour.

  124. oz gunner says:

    good as always Rocky, hope all is good up in Canada!

    cheers GiE, will give it a read

    Bergkamp and freddie, thats enough to get our mouth watering!!!

  125. chas says:

    The quality of this video is really poor but you’ll get the gist of it.
    It’s Gary Neville analysing Stoke’s goal last night.

    Man to man marking cancelled out by blatant cheating. Charlie Adam stops the defender following Walters. A training ground move worked out by Poolis.

    Gary Neville says it’s one of the goals of the season. Pah

  126. Big Raddy says:

    I watched about 20 minutes of last nights game and it was awful.

    No passing, little skill and too much aggression. I really pity fans who watch this rubbish week in week out just to support their team.

    Yes, it works. Fat Sam has taken a poor WHU up to the PL and they will stay up but at what cost?

  127. Big Raddy says:

    In all games so far this season (bar friendlies) we have scored 43 goals. Spurs have scored 23.

  128. LB says:

    Morning GIE if you are around.

    I am fascinated about the match you went to see last night. I really like Oz’s call of comparing Eisfeld to Freddie, this hadn’t occurred to me before but makes complete sense. Having thought about it I would slightly adjust that by saying that I strikes me as a cross between Wilshere and Freddie.

    I still don’t understand Knabry but I suspect that is just because I still haven’t seen him in a match where he has been able to shine.

    My question is this: between Eisfeld anf Knabry who do you think is likely to be the greater success?

  129. Morning all

    New Post ………………

  130. richie says:

    @RA I didn’t say continental’s don’t pull shirts (we all know they do) I said in the prem shirt pulling is overtly practised and is accepted as part of the “normal” game, especially where corners are concerned, as are the scrum-maul type of rough house corner tactic’s often used by the Pulis’s of the prem. I said those tactic’s wouldn’t be accepted by European Ref’s. We all know shirt pulling goes on in Europe, my point was in England our players do it openly the Europeans are far sneakier. Especially the Italians who have taken it to the level of an art, they shirt pull with their hands seemingly glued to their sides.

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