A Wilshere brace ……. match report

“Overall we were always in control and our only regret is that we could have scored more goals.”

The Prof’s words summed it up pretty well. But then one glance at the Marseille bench showed us all how they approached the game: most of their star players, Thauvin, Valbuena, Cheyrou and Mendy, were all subs. But then they are facing a run of nine games in 30 days and had already been knocked out of the Champions’ League, so it was easy to see why they wouldn’t be going all out in this game.

Arsenal dominated the game, simple as that. We had some phases with a degree of intensity in our play, but with a goal in the bag after a minute, and facing unambitious opponents, we coasted for much of the game. Wenger was right, we controlled the match throughout and really should have won by more than two goals. The Özil penalty miss and Ramsey’s shot at the keeper when he was played in by Wilshere were the most obvious examples of goals that should have been, but even in a game played very much in second gear, there were numerous other efforts that presented great chances for us to score.

Not that the penalty should have been given, Ramsey, following his cute turn past the Marseille defenders, was tripped just outside the box, not inside. But in seeming recognition of the lack of justice in the penalty decision, Özil’s effort was as poor a penalty as one could wish to see: not enough power, not in the corner and at the perfect height for the keeper. Still, the miss seemed to kick-start Özil’s game, he was much better after it, including in winning a dangerous free-kick moments after the penalty miss.

The training ground bragging rights for the game went to young dad, Jack Wilshere. Some disagreed, but I thought Wilshere had an excellent game at the weekend against Southampton, and that form continued tonight. He notched his first brace, starting with a lovely shot into the far corner after half a minute and then finishing crisply in the second half when played in by Özil. Wilshere was also unlucky not to get two or three assists, with Ramsey and Özil not finishing chances he created.

On the few occasions that Marseille mustered an attack, the defence and Szczesny had things covered. TPIG made a couple of smart saves (is there a better keeper these days for diving at a player’s feet?), and when Thauvin thought Szczesny’s save would not keep out his shot, the quietly brilliant Monreal was there to boot it off the line.

Rosicky and Flamini’s inclusion in the starting XI saw the two veterans turn out some good performances too. When Flamini holds his position as he did tonight, and sits as a shield for the defence, he really is excellent, and he clearly has a good understanding with the centre-backs. As for Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Giroud, like the team, they played within themselves, but what they did, they did well. Walcott, Cazorla and Arteta got run-outs too – there wasn’t much to report there, other than to say that Santi looked a bit rusty in his passing and shooting.

We should have won by more than two, that’s obvious, but I didn’t feel that annoyed at a lack of ruthlessness. From the first minute, it was obvious to everyone and his chien that we were going to win; goal difference didn’t matter either; and we have an away trip on the weekend to a team that has beaten Man City and drawn with Man United, so energy conservation was justified. We did what we needed to do to win, and not a lot more.

So, going into the last match, the group is balanced as we had all thought, with the astonishing possibility of three teams finishing on 12 points now closer than ever. We should go to Naples with the confidence that we are better than them: the bare minimum for qualification is that we should avoid losing by three goals, and to say the least, that should be achievable; I would say we should aim at getting one or three points in the final game, which would mean we would secure top spot in the group. Qualifying from this group, as we should, will represent a real achievement.

One quick word about our friends from SW5: you lost to Basel, twice? Pl*nkers!

Written by 26May

74 Responses to A Wilshere brace ……. match report

  1. arnie says:

    Great stuff, 26may. Coming to your post soon, but here is a late response from yesterday’s post.

    JM: yes, PSG is a very good side, and Ibrahimovic is hurt by Sweden’s ouster from the World Cup. I still stand by my post of October 3 “We are Top of the League, and our real competitor is Bayern Munich”!!!! 😀 😀

  2. LB says:

    Excellent match report 26, that was the game I saw and certainly agree that Wilshere was MOTM.

  3. arnie says:

    Great report, 26may.

    Thauvin and Valbuena were a handful after they came on. I did not really get Marseille’s strategy. Yes, they are out of CL, but if they do not manage to score any points, surely the French press is going to eat them alive!!!! I hope they try (a bit) harder against BvB, not that it will help, though.

    For me as well, Jack and Monreal were the stars yesterday, very happy for both of them. I am glad you pointed out the goal line save by Monreal, superb, with his face to the goal as well!!! And Szcz did what he had to do, brilliantly.

    Ramsey and Rosicky played within themselves and were good. I agree with you that Ozil had a decent game after the (missed) penalty. There was another penalty shout before that which was more clear, apparently, I was only listening to the commentary, dont know for sure!

    Santi’s passing was rusty, yes, but a couple of times, he intercepted and brought the ball away from our defence very well. Theo seems to be getting into his groove, probably needs a goal or a good assist to settle his nerves. Giroud’s hold up play was good, but he missed a couple of half chances as well.

    All in all, job well done. On to the net game!!!! 😀 😀

  4. Norfolk Gooner says:

    ‘morning AAers,

    Nice one 26, watching on the box left me with the impression of a game played at half pace and virtually over as far as Marseille were concerned after just thirty seconds. It was noticeable though how well we hounded their players on the odd occasions when they had possession, quickly winning the ball back and denying them any space.

    The beer and peanuts went down well and I went to bed with a rosy glow. 😀

  5. arnie says:

    We have wondered many times on AA how we can manage our embarrassment of talent in the midfield. I would assert again that I think the current system appears to be working well.

    First, a strong defensive midfield combination provides support in defence but allows our attacking midfielders to roam further up teh field. I think this is working well. Second, Ramsey has pace and guile, and his combination with Flamini/Arteta is I think good. Retains our strength in the DM, but leaves him the opportunity to wander up. Most importantly, with this formation I think our wings are working better. At the very least this stretches the oppossition defence and creates gaps in between.

    The immediate test of course will be Cardiff in the weekend, but then comes the small matter of playing Shitty later in December. The Chavs and Napoli I am not so worried about, but we should be wary!!!!

  6. LB says:

    More than the limp wristed penalty kick from Ozil I was disappointed that the penalty was given at all; the turn from Ramsey leaving him one on one with the goal keeper deserved the opportunity to score what would have been one of the great goals of Arsenal history.

  7. LB says:

    It is so true what you say about Ozil 26, that penalty miss really kick started his game; he looked so sheepish after that. I bet he would have scored the pen if he was playing for the national team lol.

  8. Räsp says:

    Excellent match report 26m, it reflected my view of the game perfectly. If there was a game where we could afford to squander decent chances, this was it. I hope we will be more clinical when we come up against the chavs and city.

    Szczesny made a couple of excellent saves and I also thought that Nacho was very good – there’s very little difference between him and Gibbs in class.

    I like the way the supporters sang to Giroud when he missed a couple of chances and it was surprising that Santi blasted the ball over when he also only needed to pick his spot.

    Valbuena is a very good little player who would fit into our system perfectly but since we’ve already got plenty in that department we will have to admire him from afar.

  9. Räsp says:

    Wenger’s quote on Ozil’s penalty miss made me smile …. “Well its good news for England” 😆

  10. arnie says:

    Nice one, Rasp!!!! 😀

  11. Gööner In Exile says:

    Morning all, nice write up 26.

    The thing I took from the match that this must be like sitting at London Colney watching the lads train.

    There was an element of freedom in the things they were trying, reverse passes, chipped passes, cheeky back heels etc etc. hopefully they will be reminded that it won’t be as easy in South Wales on Saturday.

    Wilshere MotM, a very capable display from Monreal, and I need to just say again how much I am enjoying watching Rambo at the moment, he is confidence personified and the way he and Jack were very good at winning the ball back when they had given away.

  12. chas says:

    Perfect summation, 26, ta.

    Jack was excellent, as you say, and he genuinely looked fully fit (touchwood). I wish he stop wearing those Ronald MacDonald clown shoes though and get some proper football boots.

  13. chas says:

    I presume our massive red bubble means we win this one as well. 🙂

  14. chas says:

    Yep, nailed it.

  15. 26may1989 says:

    Thanks all.

    I didn’t see the post-match comments from the ITV pundits (which included our beloved Dixon and Wright, plus Roy Keane), but I did catch the half-time comments when I watched the game second time around, after my return from teh ground (doesn’t everyone do that??). The pundits seemed to be going more than a little OTT in criticising Arsenal for not killing off Marseille, with Keane saying something like Arsenal should be disappointed if they don’t score three or four tonight.

    To a degree, yes, that’s true, but it does fail to see the game in its perspective: Marseille weren’t there to compete very hard, while Arsenal just needed to get the three points (GD being irrelevant), and keep as fresh as possible for a demanding run of five games in 17 days. That run includes trips to Napoli and Man City, as well as matches against Everton, Cardiff and Hull. You do get the sense that a Unietd or Chelsea performance like ours would be heralded as being efficient and sensible, whereas we’re described as lacking ruthlessness.

    There is also the sense that numerous people in the game still haven’t fully accepted that our defensive game has acquired real solidity in the last 18 months, and especially in 2013. Being 1-0 up these days doesn’t leave us all quivering wrecks of insecurity, many of us trust the team much more than we did before. So, while it’s always nice to get loads of goals and get them early, I do think Arsenal played perfectly well last night, given the oppo and the fixture.

  16. Gööner In Exile says:

    Agreed 26 but I guess the itv pundits are paid to keep us watching so are encouraged to suggest there could be some jeapordy and there might be a reason for the neutral to hang around for the second half.

    I had to remind myself several times that the goals part of the result didn’t matter should we come to the 12’s situation, because I’d read about goals scored being a deciding factor earlier in the day it crossed my mind rather too often that we should be going for 5 or 6, I’d also read the stuff about Marseilles result being excluded but after the goals scored, so it was always the second comforting thought.

  17. Bayonne Jean says:

    Nacho had a great game last night, all the more notable given his lack of full match exposure. Leads to this question: if both Gibbs and Nacho are fit, and something were to put Sagna on the sideline for a match or two, would you deploy both Gibbs and Nacho in the fullback slots over the Corporal? Would that depend on the caliber of the opposition?

    Speaking of Sagna, he is very quietly having a solid professional campaign; would like to see his contract situation resolved.

  18. Charybdis1966 says:

    Hi guys, nice write up Mr 26, I felt very little anxiety while we were only one goal up. Good to see the Peacher, Raspers, Chas and the delectable Evonne before the game albeit briefly. My view of the game is over here plus some free fuzzy pictures. 😑

  19. dhakka09 says:

    A much fine piece of writing, 26May. Like an aged wine, your words swirl around the palate and tingle the Arse-buds while giving a sensation of gradually ascendant optimism.

    Regarding Giroud and Ozil’s supposed penalty strengths and hypocrisy around it; please, watch Giroud penalty again, it was hit at about half-way point between mid-goal and post. Had keeper dived correct, he would’ve got a hand on it (not that it matters or I’d rather see that happen. This is just to prove a point). Ozil’s penalty yesterday, while lacking the power of Giroud’s, was actually better placed in terms of being nearer to the post. If their keeper hadn’t been off the line as he was not supposed to be, it would’ve been tougher for him to stop it.

    In conclusion, I don’t want Giroud to usurp our German in penalty duties and neither should anyone else. The current rank of Arteta –> Ozil –> Giroud is perfectly fine.

  20. LB says:

    I have just had the opportunity to watch the after game chat with Keene, Wright and Dixon; I thought it was interesting what Dixon said about Wilshere’s favoured position in the midfield, anyone else see that?

  21. jnyc says:

    Good report 26. I think your view of the match and our situation is right on point.
    we must be practical and never lose sight of possible slip ups in coming opponents like next saturday, because we are setting the pace in the league, which i think we can definitely win.

  22. 26may1989 says:

    dhakka09, I do agree with you about the Giroud pen, and did think at the time that its positioning wasn’t fantastic. But then part of the dark art of taking penalties is manipulating the keeper into going the wrong way – Giroud might have been lucky and Ozil unlucky, or Giroud might have got Boruc to go the wrong way whereas Nemo didn’t do the same to Mandanda. But then with Mandanda having run half way to the penalty spot before the kick is taken, one might have some sympathy for Ozil.

    LB, what did they say post-match?

  23. evonne says:

    thanks 26m, great write up!
    The only issue I have is with ‘and his chien’, especially the ‘his’ word 🙂

    I sat in JC’s seat (with ‘AFC’ written in Chas’s blood on the little wall behind) and we watched the first 45mins right in front of us. Very seldom the two sets of players moved to the other half.

    It was a stable situation throughout and we lost interest in the game from time to time 🙂 Instead we watched the fantastic Marseille supporters sitting below us.

    All in all, a good evening and completely justified result.

    Hi Chary!

  24. Hi Evonne, until last night I hadn’t seen you for ages, you looked different to last time, but then it could be my ageing memory that’s talking.

  25. LB says:


    Wright and Dixon were discussing Wilshere’s performance, Wright said he prefers for play more centrally than the wider role he played last night to which Dixon said actually he prefers to “play deeper”. I obviously paraphrase.

    I thought it was interesting because this is something as you may know that I have been banging on about for ages.

    One of Wilshere’s biggest faults is that he tries to dribble past players, often losing possession, when a simple pass is on. Much to my frustration he was regularly committing that schoolboy error on Saturday. But, the big difference last night was that he didn’t do it once.

  26. Big Raddy says:

    26. Lovely report on a very satisfying evening.

    We have been spoiled already this season and yet almost all goners believe there is more to come from this team.

    Should Ozil be rested on Saturday?

  27. evonne says:

    Ozil rested on Saturday?! No! It is going to be a tough game, Cardiff are very good this season. Perhaps for Hull on Tuesday, but no this Saturday Raddy

  28. evonne says:

    anyway, what game are we going to watch tonight?

  29. 26may1989 says:

    Cheers LB. I agree, Wilshere is better when playing deeper. But I wouldn’t necessarily agree about his dribbling being one of his biggest faults. When it fails, as it did on a few occasions on Saturday, it looks bad, and yes, there are plenty of times when Wilshere tries to hold onto the ball when a give and go is the better option. But last night, his first goal came from taking on a defender, albeit out on the wing. That time, he was able to breeze past the exposed and unprepared full-back and then work the angle for his shot.

    It doesn’t always work out that way, but the start of the move that led to his goal of the season candidate in the Norwich game came with him taking on and dribbling past a Norwich player deep in his half.

    I like Jack running at defenders with the ball because he can make things happen by doing it. Of course, he needs to use his judgment more effectively but he’s only 21, judgment comes with experience.

    One thing I liked about Wilshere’s perfomance last night was that he played off the wing pretty comfortably. With Ozil drifting out to the right wing a lot on Saturday, and with Cazorla, Ramsey, Walcott and Rosicky (plus the Ox and Podolski, when they return) all comfortable on the flanks too, I think the interchangability of our attacking midfielders/inside forwards is just going to build and build. Each one offers something slightly different, but they are knitting together well and will be harder and harder for defenders to keep under control.

  30. evonne says:

    no, sorry, not showing 😦

  31. LB says:


    Excellent comment. It made me re-read my own and I realise that I perhaps should have said that Wilshere’s problem is often trying to dribble past too many players. The dangers are obvious, notably that he often losses possession and annoyingly it slows our play down, it gives the opposition time to re-group when we are breaking.

    This is different from taking someone on when a player is playing wide this is obviously to be expected and as you say Wilshere did this well last evening.

    If you look at the Norwich goal, it was the one touch interplay that made that goal so good.

    It’s at times like this that a blog limitations come into focus: one clip would explain exactly what I am trying to say in seconds.

    Still I like what he said last night that he now relaxes in front of goal.

  32. chas says:

    Here’s a little clip….

  33. 26may1989 says:

    All agreed LB.

    OK, over and out for now, here’s hoping Manchester Tweedledum United and Manchester Tweedledee City embarrass themselves this evening.

  34. chas says:

    The red manc is the only one to watch as it’s the only one with something riding on it.

  35. chas says:

    Banned by Le Grove for being too much of a w*nker.
    That’s a bit like being chucked out of slimming club for being overweight.

  36. chas says:

    Sniffer posing at home.

  37. evonne says:

    chas you are a lovely lemon, my favourite type of a lemon 🙂

    Did you have a good journey home?

    A word of warning guys – do not, a repeat do not believe in Ant and Duck’s shortcuts!

  38. chas says:

    We got back pretty late in the end, thanks to you putting a curse on the quick way back to the station. 🙂

  39. cheese says:

    Arsenal is like fool’s gold. They’re all nice and shiny from a distance and make the uninitiated wet in the trousers. But upon closer inspection and under true scrutiny they fail the litmus test and don’t amount to the real valuable article.

  40. evonne says:

    me putting the curse??!! you two led me the dark alleys at night, pretending it is the shortest way!

    Did you see Rasp’s question who should take penalties? What about Vermaelen 🙂

  41. chas says:

    Sniffer, if you mix your metaphors, you just end up with unintelligible garbage.

  42. chas says:

    Didn’t Vermaelen used to thump penalties in your dreams?

  43. evonne says:

    he sure did!
    Watching United, i can see them winning tonight 😦

  44. Hi evonne – did you enjoy your trip to THOF?

  45. We need a post for tomorrow, is anyone up for writing one?

  46. evonne says:

    hi peaches – of course I did 🙂 no better place or company, is there?

  47. evonne says:

    oh yeah, Chas – did you read about your Nigella? See, I always thought it was suspect for any woman to be so happy in the kitchen

  48. Everyone relax ……… 26may is writing another post for tomorrow 🙂

  49. Poor Nigella, she’s having a pretty rubbish year tbf

  50. dhakka09 says:

    United comfortably winning tonight 😦 It’s that lad Rooney who delivers peaches after peaches-like (not you, peachesgooner ;), you belong to the good guys) set-piece and otherwise deliveries. If it were not for him, United would truly be lost this season. It’s amazing how any decent result these days are hailed by United fanboys as the evidence of their continuing superiority. The mighty have indeed fallen hard. Anyway, that’s good for us as it will only delay the inevitable sacking of Moyesie which is what we support anyway 🙂

  51. dhakka09 says:

    cheese: “Oftentimes. when people are miserable, they will want to make other people miserable, too. But it never helps.”
    I do not wish ill of you; may you find some happiness in your sad life. good luck 🙂

  52. Adrian says:

    What a difference Kagawa makes to the united team, let’s all hope Moyes gets back to benching him after this game.

    One more thing, I can’t Bayer Leverkusen is second in the bundesliga. They were that poor tonight.

  53. Adrian says:



    Sniffer, what a boring turd you are. An unhealthy jealousy of Wenger, humourless drivel, and a lonely paranoid feel to everything you post. What a total wanker.

    Ive told you before. Like me, if you get the urge to go out in your pyjamas at 2 in the morning to nick ladies underwear from washing lines, then just phone a stranger and indulge some heavy breathing, works for me.

    Maybe you were boring as a kid and got picked on by the others? Thats a shame. The last kids party I was put in charge the little sprats had a great time.

    I had a great time on the bouncy castle, but some of the kids started crying when I commenced practicing martial arts on them. Ungrateful little sods

    After all that fun Sniffer, i fancied a kip, so gathered them all round and said they could all have a box of matches if they left me alone. You should have seen there little faces light up.

    Didnt get much sleep though Sniffer. After 15 minutes I was to busy trying to douse fires to the garden shed and bouncy castle. Cant trust anyone these days.

    Had to leave the party early after that, angry parents and all that stuff

    See Sniffer. If you had me as a party organiser as a kid you wouldnt be such a loser.

  55. Bayonne Jean says:

    Here’s an out of the box suggestion on who should take penalties: Chezzer!

    Not as outlandish a suggestion as proposing Artur Boruc as an attacking midfielder. Keepers are always in the game, so you don’t have situations where designated takers have been subbed out. There is also precedent. For example, keeper for Paraguay’s national team (the maniac Chilavert) always took the PKs. He also took close-in free kicks on goal and corners!

  56. chas says:

  57. Gööner In Exile says:

    Just read the news about Pat, very somber start to the morning, here’s hoping he can beat it.

  58. Räsp says:

    Morning guys,

    Where did you read the news about Pat Rice?

  59. Räsp says:

    OK, just found it, in the Independent

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