How Does The Ox Get Back In This Side?

That is the question that one fine gentleman asked me last Saturday before the Norwich game. Said gentleman is known to many of you, and I will not divulge anything more other than to say his name rhymes with gasp. My response to the question was that maybe a post should be done about it. Listening in on said conversation was a mighty fine lady, also known to many of you, and again I will respect confidentiality and say only that her name rhymes with breaches. Well I am glad I have bamboozled you all and not given too much away, but I digress.

The point is that no sooner had I mentioned the words post, done and should in the same sentence than there I was with my thumb pricked and signing a declaration in my own blood that said slip of the tongue would in fact become a reality, upon pain of an extremely eye-watering forfeit. Having considered the remote possibility that I may require some use of the last 4.5% of my remaining fertility, here I am.

So how does the Ox get back into this side? I have mentioned in the past that I don’t necessarily see it as being an issue because I don’t see our players all being fit at the same time. I would also consider that some of the younger players, such as Gnabry, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wilshere, may change the position they play over the next 3-4 seasons as their games further develop and as certain older players start to play less or move on. For the benefit of this analysis I will consider it as if we have all players available, and I have mainly focussed on those players who I feel are mostly in consideration for 1st team places currently. I have not taken into account any additions in January, as that is too speculative.

Forgotten man?

Forgotten man?

For me the main aspect to consider is the other players we have in the squad and what their best positions are currently. What are the main strengths of a particular player in what they can bring to the team and how it affects our system of play. We do have many players who are adaptable to two or maybe even three positions, but I will focus on where I feel they can offer the most to the squad currently.

There are only 5 positions to be filled between the back 4 and lone striker and my list of possibilities reads as follows :

Flamini, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky, Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gnabry, Podolski.

That is some list and comprises 11 players for 5 positions, and is particularly heavily loaded in the attacking midfield department, so how do we get them all playing regularly? Are we actually overloaded with too many similar style players that leaves us unbalanced? One big question is would any of you be happy to see any of the players on that list leave the club? I feel that if we get the players positioning right with our current system then it doesn’t necessarily have to become a problem.

I feel we currently like to play with 2 deeper midfielders behind 3 attacking midfielders behind the lone striker. With regard to the deeper defensive two I feel we play with one as more a pure holding midfielder, and the other one who has more licence to go forward or be a bit more box to box, as long as they don’t lose sight of their defensive responsibilities. I feel this latter defensive role is very similar to the role played by Schweinsteiger at Bayern, and is a role I would like to see Wilshere play currently. I actually feel Jack is a very good attacking central midfielder also and may move more into this role later on. I do however feel that Jack is the best midfielder we have to bring the ball out from deeper midfield and has the best blend of defensive and attacking attributes to make him the most suited to the box to box role. With the attacking midfield area so heavily loaded I would prefer to see Jack, at least for now with us (England being another matter), play in the deeper 2 in a rotating combination with Arteta and Flamini.

That brings us to the tricky area of the attacking midfielders. Three positions and 8 players left from the list. Many may not agree with this but I would immediately remove one from that list and state that, when fit again, Podolski should battle it out for the strikers role and prove he can play this position at the highest level. His natural finishing ability means he has the potential to be world class in this role, so it is down to him now to step up and stop Arsene reaching for the cheque book again. If that were to happen I would fear for his future with us, and I do feel the clock is ticking on this becoming a reality.

This leaves us with the following for the 3 attacking positions behind the lone striker :

Rosicky, Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gnabry.

Although many of these players are adaptable to where they play in the attacking roles I feel that the first 4 would be more classed as attacking central players while the latter 3 have attributes that would class them as attacking wider players. I think Theo is nailed on to continue as an attacking wide right player and he will be heavily utilised when fit. Some would prefer to see Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gnabry in central roles but with the list of players we have for this role is it really feasible currently. Both of them are also far more natural at giving true width and directly taking on full-backs which is an area that our squad is slightly limited in. When played wide I have a personal preference for AOC to play from the left, where he can either take on the full-back outside or cut in on his dangerous right foot.

AOC, and also Gnabry, are young and have time on their side and can easily switch to a different role even some 5 years down the line. Rosicky is 33 and Cazorla 28 (29 in December), while AOC and Gnabry are 18 and 20 respectively. There is plenty of time for them to switch to a central role later, if that looks the best option, as older players start to vacate these positions.

Against Dortmund we seemed to play with predominantly 3 attacking central midfielders behind the lone striker. Without the natural width we didn’t really stretch them and made it easier for them to compress the space centrally. We were reliant on the full-backs providing the attacking width which didn’t happen to great effect this time. With it not quite working, and Gnabry probably still being considered slightly on the young side for a game of this magnitude against that level of opposition, I feel we really missed the option of AOC, and also Walcott, to change the lines of attack and give us that different option. Once you assess the squad in this way I do feel that AOC, once fit, should still have an important and regular role to play in our first team.

Written by GoonerB


66 Responses to How Does The Ox Get Back In This Side?

  1. Big Raddy says:

    GB. Great stuff and very well written.

    Para 1. Don’t know who you are writing about.

    I agree with your assessment. In particular your wise words about Podolski. His time is now or never.

    I need to think further about AOC and where he fits into our squad. The signing of Ozil raises questions as does the startling development of Ramsey.

  2. GoonerB says:

    Hahaha. Don’t worry Raddy. I was writing it a bit tired last night as I promised a post and didn’t fancy the forfeit. I have no idea what I am on about either.

  3. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Good morning to you all.

    Excellent stuff GoonerB but shame on you for overlooking the one player who would walk into the mid-field of any club in Europe. I mean, of course, Abou Diaby. I do also use the word “walk” in the loosest possible way. 😀

  4. ken says:

    So far this season Ramsey has been our most effective midfield player, and were he English would be picked ahead of Wilshire for England. When they’re all fit I expect our middlle five to be
    Arteta or Flamini alongside Ramsey
    Walcott Ozil Cazorla

    Jacks best bet is to mature and take over from Arteta, the Ox understudying Cazorla and Gnabri keeping Walcott on his toes. We desparately need cover for the outstanding Giroud.

  5. GoonerB says:

    Ken, do you think that Podolski can become the cover and competition for Giroud once fit again? If not where does he fit into the team? Can he still challenge for a role behind the main striker looking at the other players we have? I still feel JW should have a big influence on us this season and feel he will get the most game time if he drops into a deeper role alongside either Flamini or Arteta.

    When you look at that list of 11 players for so few positions it is quite comprehensive and that is before you consider Diaby, (who sadly I feel has reached the end of the road with us anyway), and some of the other quality young players or loanees such as Zelalem and Eisfeld.

    I think we can just about accomodate all those players now and keep them all happy or happyish but feel that if we are to bring in other players in January then it cannot be in addition to that list, and at least one player from that list will have to be moved on.

    For those that want january additions it would be interesting to hear which players you all feel should be looked at and how they fit in with our current players, i.e which player may need to be sacrificed for the new arrival.

  6. GunnerN5 says:

    Do you believe in the Gunners?

    Posted by Ian Darke
    A strange thing happened to Arsenal this week. They actually lost a football match.

    Borussia Dortmund’s triumph at the Emirates in the Champions League was the first time the Gunners had been beaten in any competition since the opening day of the season, when Aston Villa left them in shock and awe.

    Arsene Wenger’s side still sit stylishly atop of the Premier League, yet find that most pundits and British bookmakers simply do not believe they can last the distance and win their first title since the 2004 “Invincibles.”

    Well, why not?

    The Gunners suffered a setback in the Champions League, but still sit atop the Premier League table.

    It is not as if Arsenal’s form is a flash in the pan. After all, they finished last season with a run of 26 points from 30 in a sprint finish that took them past Spurs and into the Champions League. The signing of Mesut Ozil has given the club a massive injection of confidence, optimism and belief that this can be a trophy-winning season at last. And it has ended the Emirates “civil war” in which some fans, disillusioned with Wenger’s previously miserly approach to transfers, were on the verge of mutiny.

    Aaron Ramsey has suddenly flourished into a world-class talent and Olivier Giroud is winning over critics who felt he lacked the touch and class of a world-class striker.

    Wenger’s problem — and perhaps it’s a good one to have — is how to fit his vast array of midfield talent into the team with Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini competing with Ozil and Ramsey. Keeping them all happy will not be easy.

    Obviously Ozil has to start, and so surely does Flamini to provide some bite alongside all those wonderful ball-playing poets and dreamers.

    Flamini’s comeback at Arsenal has been one of the stories of their season. The Frenchman turned up for training to keep fit and stay sharp, but he looked so impressive that Wenger decided to re-sign him and put him straight into the starting line-up.

    Perhaps it’s no coincidence that with their best “security man” injured, Arsenal conceded a sucker-punch winner to Dortmund.

    The problems for Wenger might start if Flamini was missing for any length of time. Arteta can fill in there as he did last season, but playing the enforcer is not his natural role and, putting it bluntly, he lacks Flamini’s nasty streak.

    The other Gunners’ concern must be what happens if Giroud picks up a long-term injury. The alternative is Nicklas Bendtner, who has been so far on the wrong side of the tracks at Arsenal that he could barely hear the train whistle. The only other option up front would be Theo Walcott, who loves playing there but probably lacks the physicality needed for the role on a long-term basis.

    Wenger must surely buy some better strike cover in January.

    What of a much-maligned defence? Keeper Wojciech Szczesny appears to have rediscovered his form after being taken out of the firing line late last season, but you wonder whether Wenger might be tempted to make a move for someone like the increasingly impressive Aston Villa and U.S. keeper Brad Guzan.

    Laurent Koscielny is prone to hot-headed moments and Per Mertesacker is clearly no immediate threat to Usain Bolt’s 100-metre world record, but the stats tell you this is a decent pairing at the back for Arsenal. Only Villa have breached that defence more than once in the Premier League so far, and in that storming run at the back end of last season Arsenal conceded just five goals in 10 games.

    It is true that the Gunners have not had the most demanding set of league games so far — though they did beat Spurs — and the upcoming tests against Liverpool and Manchester United might reveal more about their title credentials.

    With 30 games remaining, only the brave or foolhardy would make hard and fast predictions about how this season might pan out, but there is no real reason why Arsenal, with their abundance of flair, cannot stay involved in the argument.

    While I still lean tentatively towards Chelsea to win the league, the 5-1 odds being offered against the current leaders are tempting.

  7. chas says:

    Excellent, GoonerB.

    If you take Pod as the back-up striker we have two players for every position. What was all that start of the season nonsense about a paper-thin squad? 🙂

    Your analysis is spot on. The Ox doesn’t really fit into our first choice XI at present, but he is very versatile and get many chances to replace others in a variety of positions.

    Particularly interesting was him playing as one of the deeper lying two in that final game of the season at Newcastle. That much talent will come to the surface eventually.

    From the current squad we have 16 non-homegrown plus the unfortunate Diaby and the mysterious Park, so we can easily fit a couple more in without having to sacrifice any of our midfield talent.

  8. chas says:

    The laughter on this is infectious…..

  9. chas says:

  10. GunnerN5 says:

    Fine analysis BG,

    I hope your omission of Diabi doesn’t mean that you have written him off as there is always the outside chance he will be back and surprise us all.

    To add to the mix we also have Zelalem, Yenarris, Eisfield and Aneke lurking in the background.

    We really have an embarrassment of midfielders.

    But I’m not the least bit embarrassed?

  11. Gööner In Exile says:

    GoonerB a good thinking piece.

    To answer your headline question I would say …… when Arteta gets injured?

    He has the range of passing coupled with physical presence and a good long range shot. And he is less likely to get knocked off the ball in possession than either Aaron or Jack.

  12. Gööner In Exile says:

    I see Chas and I agree on something finally 🙂

  13. chas says:

    Haha, GIE.

  14. ärnie says:

    Cracking good stuff, GB, thank you.

    I like your thoughts on the position that Jack may take ultimately, defensive-attacking Schweinsteiger-type role. Jack is young and still learning, and it will be fantastic if, in two years time, he grows into this role perfectly. And your plans for helping him grow into this role seems perfect.

    With regard to Poldi, I am personally happy with your idea that he can also potentially play in the CF role. If we find to opportunity to bring in a fantastic player, well and fine, but otherwise this seems to be good. The problem is that he is injured, and some cover is needed to Giroud, who appears to be overworked at the moment. Not everyone is as fit as BFG that they can continue to play at a high level continuously every week, and midweeks as well!

    That leaves me, then with a different classification for the 3 attacking MF positions:

    Right/Centre (read as prefer Right, can do Centre): Walcott, Gnabry

    Centre/Right: Ozil, Ramsey

    Centre/Left: Cazorla, Rosicky

    Left/Centre: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Poldi

    Your analysis of the Dortmund game I agree with. We were not able to spread the game wide. The problem is mainly against strong sides, where the moment a wide player starts to come in, he gets crowded by 3 opposition players. On the right side, we are somewhat helped by the fact that Sagna can overlap very well, even if he was not his usual efficient self on Tuesday. By and large, Sagna has also been able to drop back quickly when required. But then there was Lewandowski, and it could also have been Anelka the previous week. It takes only one mistake to create a disaster.

    On the left, I think it is a serious problem. Gibbs gets caught between the two roles, and on Tuesday did perform neither sufficiently well. So, we need the Ox, and need him soon. No player can continue to play at the intensity that the modern game demands, week in week out. So, I would not be worried about a chance to play, certainly not for the Ox, who has time on his side. He should be able to get 45 minutes of every game when he is fit.

    But it is the shape of the left side that I am worried about, in the absence of the Ox and Poldi. Let us hope we can get this sorted soon.

  15. ärnie says:

    Terry: Fantastic point yesterday about the path that the team is taking towards the top. Yes, being on the right path is what we care about. We are getting to the Top, maybe not as fast as we may hope, but surely we are!!!!!

  16. RA says:

    A really good read, GoonerB Good, and very cleverly argued. 🙂

    Incidentally, I pretty much cracked your coded names references and with a bit more work I will improve on my latest offerings of ‘Wasp and Leaches’!! Watch this space, or as you might put it ‘carapace’. lol

  17. RA says:

    Don’t believe a word that Terry says, arnie, and while you are about it – lock up your wives and daughters!! :-0

  18. LB says:

    Looks like it’s all going Pete Tong for Bale at Real, if it continues to nose dive we should be able to pick him up cheap in the January transfer window, this would solve our left wing problem………………..

  19. ärnie says:

    RA: 😀 😀

  20. GunnerN5 says:

    One thing that was painfully obvious against Dortmund was the amount of space open up our flanks when either Sagna or Gibbs were acting as wingers. I buried my head in my hands prior to their second goal and said to my son just look at the open space that we have left for Lewandowski. Moments later we got hit with the sucker punch…

    Both Gibbs and Sagna are fine defenders but we need to find some out and out wingers to round off our team and to allow players to [play in their natural positions.

    Another obvious factor was just how badly we missed Flamini, his courage, engine and tenacity would have made a huge difference, their forwards would have been looking over their shoulders attempting to avoid his ferocious tackles. The other possibility is that the gaping hole that allowed them to score may well have been filled by his land mines.

    IMLTHO I would wish not for a striker in January but winger/s and CB/s to give us more depth and coverage.

  21. ärnie says:

    GN5: spot on, I was in the ground and biting my hands, ever time there was an attack, it was panic time. There was a clear sense, it was going to happen, and it did!!!! And so late, we could do nothing about it. Why? We could have put our bodies on the line and just defended the last 10 mins. As they did whenever we attacked. The shape is very important.

  22. GunnerN5 says:

    arnie – our shape was like a mushroom with the stem pointing towards our goal………….


    Nice one GB

    Ox will get his chance

    In my younger days I had a mentor, sadly no longer with us, “Alonso Medallionios” a strange name for someone originally from Hartlepool.

    Medallionios tought me everything I know about style and fashion. Collar sizes, correct flare capacity, accurate chest hair exposure etc. Without him I would not be were I am today. Living in a Loft, penniless, womenless, and dining on ready mades.

    Anyway, Medallionios was a firm believer in “seizing the moment” and that even if a women did not like you, this could be turned around by waiting for your opportunity to whisper sweet nothings or exposing flare size. The man was genius.

    This is were Ox is now, a man waiting to seize the moment.

    When it comes he must take it, And after he does celebrate his victory at the local disco with a dancing rendition to staying alive.

  24. evonne says:

    Hi GB, i am sure glad that gasp and breaches persuaded you to write yet another classic. Very good post and an interesting subject. It is almost inconceivable to think that a player of Alex’s ability won’t get his place in the starting Xi.

    But I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Several of our players looked tired on Tuesday night and a doctor may recommend applying rotations of the squad.

    There is not such thing as an easy game this season, but there might be a few where we are comfortably winning and more senior players can be subbed. Alex is young, he will be ok; plenty of time to make his mark. Loan? No, I want to see him in our shirt.

    Thanks once again

  25. evonne says:

    Transplant – I give you another tip – if a woman doesn’t like you, don’t waste your time, move on, plenty of fish in the sea 🙂

    Got my members’ pack, finally. Amazing that people from all over the country got theirs long before it arrived in North London! I love the badges

  26. GoonerB says:

    Terry ROLF; Are you suggesting that AOC just needs to wear flares and expose more chest hair? Have you offered him your mentorship yet? (that is not code for membership).

    Speaking of my codes I can’t believe you broke them RA. Back to the drawing board it is. I need to be a bit more cunning with you RA. Just booked up a 4 week course at Bletchley Park. Give it a few weeks and you’ll have no chance Redders.

    LB, Bale for £30m at the end of the season? Mmmm.

    Thanks for all the comments from Arnie, GN5, Evonne, Chas, GIE, Norfolk et al.

  27. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Bale to clean Mesut’s boots maybe. 😀

  28. RA says:

    Wandering hither and thither around the blogs, I could not fail to notice that Flambo has become the latest ‘In’ thing, and although I have nothing against that, as the one legged tap dancer said, it does seem to this correspondent that his reputation has grown with his absence.

    It has even been mooted that his influence on the team has been greater than that of the inestimable Ozil, and frankly it is at that point I take my leave from their train of thought.

    I am very happy that Flamini has had such a beneficial impact on the team and long may it continue, but possibly a good deal of the success attributed to him has been because of the remarkable propensity for attacking play that the team, under the prompting of Ozil, that has taken the strain away from the defense.

    In a way, our rather rustic attacking performance on Tuesday meant the defense was asked some searching questions and, whether or not Flamini had played, perhaps the result may have been the same, although it must be admitted that our lacklustre pressing game could not have failed to improve with the energy he has shown so far this season.

    Still, for me, the change in our performances and prospects has emanated from Ozil, and it was noticeable that he had, by his standards, a very quiet game and the team suffered as a consequence.

  29. RA says:

    GoonerB, 🙂

    Since you first alighted on AA your writing style has been a blessing to me for two reasons.

    Firstly, prior to your arrival, like a chirpy spring chicken with a wonky wing, I was tagged as the most loquacious [a polite word for long winded] blogger imaginable and credited with choosing to use 10 words where one would do, and boring the ass off everyone.
    Just ask Wasp! 🙂

    Since making your initial comment on the site, you have bested me in terms of the average length of your comments, with the important proviso that you are not at all boring.

    Which takes me to my second point.

    I am much taken, as I am sure is every other regular, with the thoughtful way you make your points which are couched in a very convincing but circumspect and non-confrontational manner.

    This is reflected in the way you write your Posts, which are laced too with a leavening of humor, and, although you are wont to apologise for the length of your scribing, that is entirely unnecessary because it seems to me that the number of words you use are entirely attuned to the point being made.

    Salutations!! 🙂

  30. RA says:

    Off to lunch! Ta ra. 🙂

  31. GunnerN5 says:


    Are you saying that BG’s post are well worded, thoughtful and concise?

  32. GunnerN5 says:

    That should read GB’s and not BG’s.

    I must have dyslexia, but I don’t know what that means and RA has gone to lunch so he can’t explain it to me – not that I’d understand his explanation.

  33. GunnerN5 says:

    To quote some of the words of the old Beatles song, not so long ago quite a few were wondering whether Arsenal would still need Arsene Wenger when he was 64.

    Arsenal were without a trophy in eight years, many of the natives were rowdy and restless and plenty were wondering out loud whether the great alchemist of his Highbury years had lost the touch forever.

    And yet here he was celebrating his 64th birthday riding a fresh wave of optimism at Emirates Stadium as Arsenal, top of the Premier League, confronted last season’s losing finalists Borussia Dortmund after opening their Champions League campaign with two wins.

    Sadly for Wenger, there was no perfect present as Arsenal had holes – not a lot but enough – picked in their resurgence by Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund.

    Arsenal’s last three Champions League defeats at home have been to German clubs. The Gunners loss was just their fifth in 48 home games in the Champions League

    The pessimists would say Arsenal had failed their first major test of the season. The far more rational, and realistic view, is that Wenger’s team were unfortunate to lose 2-1 to one of Europe’s best teams thanks to a late goal by Robert Lewandowski, when he could just have easily been taking first use of the shower for an elbow on Laurent Koscielny.

    Wenger is normally the great supporter of his players but here he was arguably the harshest judge as he accused Arsenal of being “naïve” and “not being mature enough” when most agreed many aspects of the display were worthy of more credit.

    Arsenal and Wenger need not be hard on themselves. This was the performance of a developing team, one that will suffer setbacks along the way.

    There are lessons to be learned, though, and on a rain-lashed night in north London two of the most sobering involved Wenger’s most influential summer signings.

    Mathieu Flamini was missing after suffering concussion against Norwich City on Saturday. Also missing was his ability to shield the back four, take up crucial positions and also add a ruthless air to proceedings that might have prevented two rather soft Dortmund goals.

    The first from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the man on which Liverpool would have loved to have spent £25m in the summer, was the result of uncharacteristic ball concession by Aaron Ramsey on the edge of the area, and the 82nd minute winner from Lewandowski – while a finish of some expertise – was aided by slack marking in the build-up and the final execution.

    And then you come to Mesut Ozil.

    Ozil made some headlines before kick-off when it was revealed in Sir Alex Ferguson’s lavishly-publicised “My Autobiography” that Wayne Rooney, during a period of discontent at Manchester United, got a flea in his ear from his manager and told to mind his own business when he suggested Ferguson should sign the Germany midfield man.

    Arsenal’s £42.4m signing from Real Madrid has spent this season providing strong evidence that Rooney certainly knows a good player when he sees one – and that he may have been well served offering the same advice to Ferguson’s successor David Moyes.

    On this night, Ozil was thwarted by a Bundesliga team and a German coach in Klopp who know him well. Give Ozil room and you invite trouble but here, for the most part, he was confined to small spaces and his influence was limited.

    It is not a case of “stop Ozil and you stop Arsenal” as they have too many creators for that. It is a reality, though, that if you can subdue this graceful operator then you remove one of Wenger’s most potent weapons.

    Ozil was only seen in flashes but one pass set up substitute Santi Cazorla for a shot that glanced off the woodwork at 1-1.

    There are also ongoing concerns over Jack Wilshere’s fitness as he limped off to apply an ice pack to his ankle only 57 minutes, the result of an awkward first-half landing.

    The result leaves Group F in the balance with Arsenal still top on the same six points as Dortmund and Napoli, but with visit to both places to come.

    And yet, despite the loss, there should still be plenty to please Wenger despite his somewhat uncharitable final analysis.

    For 20 minutes Dortmund were the pressing machine Klopp so desires, relentlessly hunting Arsenal in possession and denying them any room to play the passing game that has served them so well in the Premier League.

    Dortmund are on an elevated level from most opponents Arsenal will face domestically, and it showed – but there was great resilience to set alongside the style and Olivier Giroud’s equaliser just before half-time was the reward for hanging in throughout a torrid opening before imposing their own influence.

    Even in the second half, which ended so despondently, Arsenal more than matched Dortmund but the lack of street wisdom Wenger noted let them down.

    Arsenal now have it tough to get out of the Champions League’s most taxing group, but this is not a result that should dent confidence. They deserved a point.

    Wenger’s birthday may not have been a joyous occasion – but as he indulged in some belated celebrations he will should still have found aspects of Arsenal’s game to give satisfaction.

  34. LB says:

    “Bale to clean Mesut’s boots maybe. :D”

    This made me laugh.

    It becomes even funnier if you imagine him literally doing it.

  35. GoonerB says:

    GN5, I think he is saying I have a good version of verbal diarrhea. Thanks anyway RA.

    If you are back on later RA I have also been thinking the very same thing about Flamini. I championed his arrival as an absolute coup, and thought he would be important to us. I still do and am very happy with him in our squad. I feel he filled a needed void in the team, but it seems that currently any goal conceded when he is not playing is now solely put down to his very absence. I am sure we have, and still will, concede goals when he is playing and will even lose games he plays in, so without downplaying his important role in the squad I feel that the reactions to his absence when goals are conceded is somewhat extreme.

  36. ärnie says:

    GN5 (and previously GiE): At the risk of perhaps upsetting you a little bit, let me just say that I find no harm in a bit of carrot and stick policy. Played out perhaps a bit publicly for my taste, but thats OK. So long as it works. Arsene had got the team to deliver in Munich last year, and we all hope he will do the same this year as well. What is so upsetting about this? After all, the phrase “spare the rod and spoil the child” comes from England, does it not?

  37. GunnerN5 says:


    I have no idea what you are referring to, please explain.

  38. ärnie says:

    GN5: This

    “Wenger is normally the great supporter of his players but here he was arguably the harshest judge as he accused Arsenal of being “naïve” and “not being mature enough” when most agreed many aspects of the display were worthy of more credit.”

  39. GunnerN5 says:


    Well I most certainly do not endorse the public repudiation of individual players by a manager but I do agree with a manager speaking his mind. However there can be no doubt that the team were naive and immature in going for a win against such a potent team as Dortmund when a draw would have been a very satisfying result.

    It’s about time he spoke out and let the fans know a little more about his inner feelings.

  40. ärnie says:

    GN5: My feeling is that the team has dug a hole for themselves now, and they will have to fight even harder to come out of it. And they will!!! But the manager knows best how to get the best efforts out of his players. We have to trust him in that respect. Taking names in public is not fair, but he has not done that. He has spoken publicly about the team, and that is OK by me! We have to hope it will work!


    My take on Arsenes comments the other day are that he didnt deliberatly go out to have a pop at the team, he just got pissed off with the result because of its importance and the fact that he probably thought “shit birthday”

    I love Arsene. Infact, visitors to my house who upon observation of my shrine and eight foot Arsene statute have left in a frantic hurry and spread rumours of Idol worship, but the truth is hes as human as the rest of us

  42. GunnerN5 says:


    Arsene has taken a lot of crap over the years and has taken it on the chin without pointing his finger at anybody else. I think it’s been long overdue for him to let off bit of steam in his own gentlemanly manner.

  43. LB says:

    Personally, I am quite happy that Wenger is being a bit tougher; a bit more stick and a little less carrot would not go a miss in my view.

  44. Gööner In Exile says:

    Arnie for fear of Chas posting another lot of links 😉 I think we all agreed with Arsene, for me it appeared to be a change of tack when facing the media after a defeat.

    As GN5 says public damning of an individual is not good and something Arsene has never really gone in for…..does anyone think Arsene’s autobiography will read like Fergie’s (and they call Arsene egotistical!!), anyway main point I think he said what he said because he believes this team has got what it takes, and it’s only their own decisions on the pitch (which no matter how much arm waving a manager does he cannot really change) that will decide their fate.


    Exactly GN5

    Hes very controlled with his emotions and even when he seeths, is careful with his words.

    I just believe he to rode along with a small element of expectancy and realised the importance of the result so got a bit upset.

    He was also narked off when in the morning he opened the gift from his wife, finding instead of a Hornby train set the dreaded Mama Mia tickets

  46. GunnerN5 says:


    You never fail to bring a smile to my face…………..

  47. ärnie says:

    Agreed. What Arsene has done, let us hope it works!

    Fergie’s autobiography, what a d**k! So full of himself!!!!

  48. chas says:

    One little thought I had……..

    When AW said,
    “you can say that we can only look at ourselves for not being mature enough in situations like that. If you cannot win the game, you don’t lose it.”

    Does anyone think he may have been talking as much about himself as the team? He replaced Jack with Santi on 59′. Admittedly this was partly because of Jack’s perceived ankle tweak, though I’d imagine it was a planned substitution but just happened 10 minutes early.

    Now Santi for Jack makes us defensively weaker, we would probably all agree with that. If that is the case and not losing was most important, then surely a defensive substitution on 70′ would have been a sensible move from the manager, bring on Monreal or Vermaelen thereby sending a message to the players that we have what we hold.

    What do you think?

  49. chas says:

  50. chas says:

  51. Shard says:

    A very well explained argument GoonerB, and I completely agree with you. Thanks to gasp and breaches for trapping you into writing it 🙂

  52. ärnie says:

    tough one, Chas, I can see where you are coming from. but there were some things about the way Arsenal played the end of the game that I did not understand. So, here are two reasons:

    1. Arsenal wanted to attack on the counter
    2. Experience

  53. chas says:

    Sorry, lost me there, arnie.

  54. chas says:

    New widget, Gasp? 🙂

  55. ärnie says:

    Chas: These two reasons would be consistent with Santi rather than Monreal as a strategy for trying to win, but at least protecting a point. But, of course, there were so many things about teh endgame that I did not understand. For example, when there were rapid succession of attacks, the two players upfront (Ozil and Giroud) were not really trying to hassle the BvB defenders from pinging the clearances straight back into Arsenal’s defence. Short answer is: dont know, dont understand!!!!

  56. chas says:

    I actually meant a defensive substitution as well as Santi for Jack.
    i.e. Vermaelen or Monreal for say, Rosicky.

  57. Gööner In Exile says:

    Chas I can provide the top 6 mini league from my swingometer….it has all the data just need some Sumifs and Countifs and Vlookups and it’s done…….in fact I have done it for last few seasons.

    They used to do a Top 4 mini league, I guess it’s now a Top 6 maybe 7 if we include Dippers?

    I was going to write a post based on the mini league results and league position, as it has been a bone of contention for some fans that we have not done well enough against top sides. I remember some time back watching Sky before an Arsenal game and we were top of the Top4 mini league but 3rd overall. But in the end I couldn’t be arsed because I didn’t know how many teams to include, if someone wants to set the teams I can provide the widget.

  58. Gööner In Exile says:

    Now trying to think why 7 was on my mind as clearly there is only a top 6 (only can think I was including someone who was close to the top or who was between us and 6th!)

  59. Gööner In Exile says:

    I remember now Everton were in my top 7.

  60. […] In this ever-increasing injury list, the only player that would be assured of a first-team berth will certainly be Theo Walcott but as Arsenal Arsenal asked, how will the Ox get back into this side? […]

  61. evonne says:

    slowly slowly catchee monkey

  62. evonne says:

    so Spurs beat Sheriff by one goal, amazing. i had a quick look at half time thinking it would be at least 5 goals to spuds and could not believe they were struggling against a team that until recently had some part timers in the squad

  63. chas says:

    I was only joking about a new widget.
    DidIt would be ROLFING about Sumifs, Countifs and Vlookups

  64. Big Raddy says:

    Anyone read the DB book?

  65. Räsp says:

    Morning all ……

    ….. New post ……

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